Friday, 27 September 2013

Olympus OM-D E-M1

I have just returned from Castle Leslie In Ireland after being invited across by Olympus to look at their latest mirror less camera the OM-D E-M1.

Now I have been brand loyal to Canon since I became serious in photography, it was the market leader and was an easy decision to make and to date I have never been tempted to change brands, until now!

I went in feeling a little skeptical as I thought most "smaller" cameras would struggle to give me what I get from the Canons I use. So when I saw the size of the camera I felt as if maybe some of my suspicions would be justified. The size of the camera is around one third smaller than my 1D, loaded with a lens and a battery grip it weight almost half of my street kit.


Now most people that know me also know I'm not technically savy, I'm a self taught photographer that just kept hitting buttons until I stated to get things right. So If your looking for a whole pile of technical information then you are at the wrong blog. What I can give you is my opinion on how I felt when using the camera. 

The first thing I noticed that even thought I am used to the Canon 1D and 7D the amount of buttons on this piece of kit seem somewhat overwhelming when you first look at it but with a little direction I managed to find my way around but I did struggle from time to time. Given more time with the camera I feel though it will become as intuitive as the kit I already use. One feature it had that I did not really like is a touch screen on the rear display. The screen is simply too small to be able to manipulate with your fingers, an improvement would be an introduction of a stylus incorporated in the camera you can take out when needed. Either that or I need smaller fingers. 

Another I was not that sure about was the Art Modes where you could do in camera editing, normally this would be something I would run a mile from but as I was there I gave it a try, a bit of fiddling to set it up we then went on to do some model shots.

I was surprised by how well it worked and I have to admit I liked the finished result (The fog was curtsy of a fog machine not in camera processing) Would I use this feature? Maybe but I prefer to do my own editing but all the original information is retained in the raw file so its handy to have. Work for a client that you want to show them how the finished image will look there and then, you will love this feature.


On the second model shoot we shot in ambient light, the intention was to try some other Art Modes but if I'm honest I turned it off just to see how the camera dealt with with shooting in this light, most of if not all of my work is done using natural light and ambient light. Did it handle it? Oh yes, in bucket loads. 

Now something dear to my heart, clarity, I needed sharpness in my images unless I want to take it out, Can this camera deliver sharpness? To test this they took us to the lake on the estate, with a little help setting the camera up they had two riders on horseback gallop through the lake at speed so we could shoot in rapid mode. The first thing you notice is the speed of the camera, one of the advantages I suppose of having a mirror less system but it blew me away. So I managed to fire off the images but what about the clarity? I think I would struggle to find a camera that can deliver sharpness of image at the speed it gave me like this one.

Another feature that way beyond cool was LiveView Mode when using Bulb for long exposures. Once again with a little help setting the camera up we were ready to go. They brought a light painter in and after a count in we hit the start button, then as he painted you can see the progress of the shot taking place on the back screen of the camera, it shows you depending on the way you set it up (In my case every 4 frames) what is happening in the camera, its like watching a stop motion happening before your eyes. If you shoot long exposures do you need this camera? Very much so, no more spending a lot of time hoping the image will work, now you can see it as you do it, no more guessing or calculating the time required to get your shot, just hit the button when you see how you want it.

Its not all sweetness and light though, the noise you do get (show me any system that does not give you noise and I'll buy it tomorrow) is "irregular" I'm used to seeing noise/grain in images that resemble film but the noise here is chaotic, the upside is though is its only noticeable when you really enlarge the file.

Would I buy one? If not for the amount I have invested in the kit I had now then yes I would. Why? I would like to see how this camera fares in the street, due to its size I would not stand out like a sore thumb and I think its capable of delivering everything I have now with a much larger camera/lens, if not more. Would I recommend you buying one? Go look at it, get used to it and see what it can do and make your own mind up, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

All the images are direct from camera, the only editing is reduction in size for web and the horse image has been cropped.


pio dal cin said...

Thanks for the insight Mike. Olympus was my first camera.(OM1) I loved the Zeiss lens they mounted. I later turned to Nikon (FM2- F3) Those were the cameras you could hit a nail with. Long time ago, millions of frames away...

Mike Shaw said...

Hi Pio, You should check out the E-M1 when you get a chance, it really surprised me :)