Olympus camera comparison

I use an Olympus E-M1 mark II camera as a web cam because my walk around camera (a mark I) doesn’t have a video feed.

The old camera has a few faults:

  • The play button is unreliable, and if that wasn’t bad enough the camera frequently drops out of playback mode.
  • It regularly switches into automatic aperture, even though the dial is set for aperture priority.
  • There’s an intermittent screen fault where a bar of random pixels appears across the screen.

I want to see if it makes any sense to get a beater second hand unit as a web cam so I can press the mark II into service, and there’s some specific features I’m interested in, set out in the tables below. I checked models that MPB had available.

HDMI feed. There’s two particular specifications of interest:

  • Is there a feed? In the “Viewing camera images on TV” section of the manual, it’ll say either:
    1. “Use .. to playback recorded images on your TV. This function is available during shooting.” – in which case, there’s a HDMI video feed and it can be used as a web cam. For example, the E-M1 mark II.
    2. You cannot shoot pictures or movies when the HDMI cable is connected.” – in which case, it’s of no use as a web cam. For example, the E-M1 mark I.
  • Is it a clean feed?
    1. If configuration options note: “When set to [Record Mode], only image is output. The camera information is displayed on the camera screen.” and/or there’s a reference to “[Record Mode] is selected for [Output Mode]”  this is a ‘yes’.
    2. Other models are less clear, stating things like “To hide the information in the shooting display, press and hold the INFO button.” or “When displayed information in (video) mode is hidden ..” – it’s unclear if this is a clean feed or not, and for my use case, having to press a button would be a problem.

TL;DR

  • E-M1 mark II and later, or  E-M5 mark III or later appear to be the options. These all have an HDMI feed and can be configured to have it in record mode, with no information display.
  • E-M5 mark II and PEN-F I think will work, but if so to get a clean feed a button has to be pressed. I can’t reach the buttons, so this isn’t an option.
  • Co-incidentally, all the candidate models have a flip out display. The tilting and fold-down displays wouldn’t be visible from in front with the unit mounted on a tripod, so even if a later E-M10 model had the HDMI features (they don’t) the display is not suitable.

Data below is skimmed out of the manuals.  I might have made mistakes, and later firmware revisions might have made improvements. Check .. don’t rely on this.

E-M1 mark IE-M1 mark IIE-M1 mark IIIOM-1
HDMI socketType D (micro)Type D (micro)Type D (micro)Type D (micro)
HDMI feedNoYesYesYes
Clean feedN/AYesYesYes
Screen designTiltingFlip-outFlip-outFlip-out
BatteryBLN-1BLH-1BLH-1BLX-1
Sensor16m20m20m20m
E-M5 mark IE-M5 mark IIE-M5 mark IIIOM-5
HDMI socketType D (micro)Type D (micro)Type D (micro)Type D (micro)
HDMI feedNoYesYesYes
Clean feedN/AUnclearYesYes
Screen designTiltingFlip-outFlip-outFlip-out
BatteryBLN-1BLN-1BLS-50BLS-50
Sensor16m16m20m20m
E-M10 mark IE-M10 mark IIE-M10 mark IIIE-M10 mark IV
HDMI socketType D (micro)Type D (micro)Type D (micro)Type D (micro)
HDMI feedNoYesYesYes
Clean feedN/AProbably notProbably notProbably not
Screen designTiltingTiltingTiltingTilting
BatteryBLS-5BLS-50BLS-50BLS-50
Sensor16m16m20m20m
E-PL1E-PL3E-P5
HDMI socketType CType D (micro)Type D (micro)
HDMI feedNoNoNo
Clean feedN/AN/AN/A
Screen designFixedTiltingTilting
BatteryBLS-1BLS-1,BLS5BLN-1
Sensor12m12m16m
Pen E-PL8Pen E-PL9Pen E-PL10
HDMI socketType D (micro)Type D (micro)Type D (micro)
HDMI feedNoYesYes
Clean feedN/AProbably notProbably not
Screen designTiltingTiltingTilting
BatteryBLS-50BLS-50BLS-50
Sensor16m16m16m
Pen E-P7Pen-F
HDMI socketType D (micro)Type D (micro)
HDMI feedYesYes
Clean feedProbably notUnclear
Screen designFold-downFlip-out
BatteryBLS-50BLN-1
Sensor20m20m

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