Olympus OM-D E-M5 … Yes, I Like it!

I’m still amazed at all that this camera can do and how well it does it. Sure, I have a few little annoyances … okay, maybe a couple … but overall I just like it – a lot! Going forward, I won’t be attempting to do a professional review or any technical tests and comparisons. Almost everything here will be very subjective according to my personal tastes.

Today, I’m just going to post a few of the initial images and maybe a few comments about various features I’ve discovered, so far. Most of these images have had some light processing in Lightroom 4 since they were RAW files and needed a bit of contrast and saturation added.

Just for fun, this first photo was taken using the Key Line filter found in the Art Mode. One really cool thing the Art Mode can do is bracket all of the art filters available. Even if you’re using only RAW, once you’ve selected this and take the photo, the camera does in camera processing to give you a JPG of each art filter, plus you’ll still have the original unedited RAW file. It does take a few seconds to accomplish this so there will be a short “time-out” before you can take another shot.

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200; Key Line Art Filter

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200

 Here, the ISO starts to bump up, 2500, but still very clean at web sizes.

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 2500

This image was taken at ISO 25600 and at this size looks fairly good. When “pixel-peeping” the full sized image, there is a lot of noise and noticeable loss of detail and it is certainly unsuitable for any kind of commercial printing. However, it is still VERY usable and when that once in a lifetime chance comes for a moon light shot of Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, this could make you famous! 🙂

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 25600

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 6400

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 1600

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 800

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 8000

Next, I’d like to address a couple of the complaints I’ve read here and there on the internet.

  • Noise: There have been lots of comments about the noise from the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization). It’s mostly what I would call whisper quiet, a bit like a laptop fan on its lowest setting. Sure, you can hear it, but the only time I “notice” it, is when it stops – i.e. when I turn the camera off or it goes to sleep.
  • I’ve read a couple of complaints about how the right strap post is in the way and very uncomfortable. Maybe I just have the right sized hands, but I’ve never even noticed it.
  • Too Slow to Wake Up: One blogger complained that he missed shots because his E-M5 took too long to wake up. Frankly, I can’t even imagine that happening. From Sleep, it took about a second, maybe 1.5 seconds, for the camera to wake up, focus, and get the shot.
A couple of my favorite things:
  • IBIS – So far I’ve taken sharp photos with the Leica 25mm lens (50mm equiv.) at shutter speeds as low as 1/5 second. I think it is as good a stabilization as I’ve ever experienced and I’ve owned some pretty high end equipment.
  • Autofocus Speed – Olympus claims it is the world’s fastest autofocus (contrast detect I think) and I have no reason to doubt that claim. It is very fast and very accurate even in dim light on dark subjects. I’ve only seen it hunt one time and that was shooting a dark object in low light. Of course, a good Phase Detection AF system like you find on DSLR’s can out do it, but not by much. It’s a huge improvement over what I saw with the NEX-7 and Fuji X100.
Finally, I do have a complaint. I love the size and I’m still amazed at how much they have packed in to this small package. However, that small size does cause one problem for me. With the arrow keys set to move the focus point around, I find that my thumb pad is often inadvertently changing the focus point. Maybe there’s an elegant solution I just haven’t found yet – I hope so.
So, as you can tell, I LOVE this camera. It’s small and fast, looks fantastic, takes excellent images, and is fun! Now, it’s time to get back to taking pictures! 🙂
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Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Do you ever get that feeling? You know … the feeling that “someone” is watching over you, like a guardian angel or something. The feeling that someone is, not only protecting you from yourself but keeping you out of harms way, too?

You don’t see anything – or anyone – but, still you feel a presence and wonder if you turned quickly, you just might catch a glimpse of them.

I wouldn’t know how to explain it. I suppose it could be a local ghost, a real angel, or maybe a long-gone ancestor who still walks among us.

Now, I don’t really believe in ghosts, but yet …… sometimes I just get this feeling – you know?
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This image was taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL1, using the in-camera feature to do a double exposure and then lightly processed in Lightroom 4.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Update: I’ve been notified to expect delivery on Friday, April 27th … Yay!

Spring Time in the Rockies

Spring time in Colorado brings snow and cold one day, and bright, beautiful spring flowers the next. These two images were both taken just 2 days after a spring snow storm blew through, dropping 10 inches of fresh snow in the foothills of Colorado.
Both photos were taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL1. For the top image I used my new Pansonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens which I am really loving after just one day. As you can see, it gives great color and contrast and what I think is a beautifully smooth, soft bokeh. Plus, at f/1.4 it’s still sharp enough to give nice sharp photos and also allow you to hand hold in some very challenging low light situations.
For the bottom photo, I used the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens which continues to impress me with it’s sharpness and detail.

Bringing Out Dynamic Range in Lightroom 4

I’m still frequently surprised at how much dynamic range Lightroom 4 is capable of extracting from an image. I’m also pleasantly surprised at how good the images can be from the “older” Olympus PEN E-PL1, especially using the 14-42mm kit lens.

For comparison, you can check the image at the bottom of the post, and you can see the main adjustments on this screen capture from Lightroom 4. As you’ll notice, the four sliders below Exposure/Contrast did most of the work with a little help from Clarity.

What you can’t see are the settings from the “Adjustment Brush”. I just reduced the saturation a bit and then brushed over the areas of the trees and the deck to reduce the blue cast on the snow.

So, from a 1EV underexposed image, Lightroom 4 enabled me to bring out the shadows, control the sun, and get a “near” HDR look from this photo. Nice!

If you’ve got any tricks to share, please drop me a message.

Images from the Olympus PEN E-PL1

I’ve had the little Olympus PEN E-PL1 for just over two weeks now and thought I would share some sample images.

I’m enjoying the camera a lot but find I REALLY need a viewfinder when shooting outdoors in bright light – the screen just isn’t bright enough, plus since I don’t wear glasses (and I need to) I have a hard time telling if it’s in focus or not.

What I love about the camera is that it takes high quality images up to a reasonable ISO of about 800 and still okay for some applications above that. As a habitual “tinkerer”, I also really appreciate the deep menu system that allows a high level of customizability. Lastly, at current prices – I’ve seen body only for $150 online – I think this camera is a steal, especially if you’re a micro four thirds (m43) user and can share lenses with another m43 camera. (Like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 whenever it finally gets here!)

These images were all taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL1 using the 14-42mm kit lens. They were shot at various ISO’s and some have had some processing done.

This black and white was done in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

The following two images were done with “Light Painting” … darkened room, 10 second exposure, and lighting with a flashlight.

Learning the Olympus System

Ever since ordering the Olympus OM-D E-M5 over a month ago, I’ve been waiting rather impatiently for it to ship. Unfortunately, that probably won’t be for another couple of weeks.

So in the meantime, I decided to get an Olympus PEN E-PL1 ($289 on Amazon w/lens) and begin to get familiar with Olympus’ menu system and general camera functions. In reading about both cameras, it appeared that they had similar menu setups and would make for an easy transition to the E-M5.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the E-PL1 and have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of images that can be coaxed from this little “PEN”. These images reflect a few of my favorites, so far, and have various amounts of post processing applied, from just a crop to some fairly aggressive black and white work.

All images are from the Olympus PEN E-PL1 with the 14-42mm kit lens.

ISO 1000, f/5.3, 1/40s, 37mm

ISO 200, f/8, 10 seconds, 42mm (light painting)

ISO 200, f/8, 1/1250s, 39mm, B&W processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1500s, 42mm, cropped only

ISO 200, f/8, 10 seconds, 42mm, (light painting)

Light Painting with an Olympus PEN

Light Painting – Beretta Px4 Storm Pistol

This was another “light painting” session, this time with the Olympus E-PL1.

This is really very easy to do. I set up in a darkened room with the camera on a tripod, set manually at f/8 and 10 seconds, with the drive mode in 2 second timer. Focus was achieved with the flashlight full on and then switched to manual focus. After shutter release and the 2 second timer expired, I illuminated the subject with the flashlight, moving it around and also pointing from different directions to reduce harsh shadows.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the Olympus PEN E-PL1. With care, the image quality is very good, and sharpness is excellent even with the 14-42mm kit lens.

This image was taken in RAW, then processed and tweaked in Lightroom 4 and Nik Viveza