Prague and the Olympus E-M5 Mkll

Are you free on the Sunday?

Yes, what do you have in mind?

A day in Prague testing the new camera….. It would be an early start.

I’m coming!

This was more or less the conversation that led to me going to Prague with Olympus to try out the brand new E-M5 Mkll. Landing at Prague in the snow, I was glad I packed my winter warm gear.

After checking in at the Penta Hotel, we were transported to the ‘Olympus Action Factory’ where, after a short intro to the new camera and what would be happening, we were issued our own camera for the day.

Being an owner of the original E-M5 I was intrigued as to what improvements had been made. The venue, an old water treatment works, currently used as a studio set,  had been set out in different locations to test each bit of the new camera.

First stop was the hight resolution 40mp image section, this mode requires the stillest of settings as it  takes 8 images in quick succession and combines them to make a massive high res image of just under 40mp jpg. Any movement in camera or subject must be eliminated for this mode though to get the best out of it, although I could see movement could be used to creative effect in some situations.

These were taken using the new 40-150 f2.8 Pro lens. The image below is a 100% crop.

Next section was the movie set, we were introduced to the film crew, where we made our group movie, in the manner of a ‘Mission Impossible’ style movie. The five axis stabilisation came into its own in this section, shooting handheld and assisted by the crew, we were able to shoot our movie which was put together and edited for us by the production team. Part of it was shot in the underground tunnels of this ex water treatment works, where part of the original ‘Mission Impossible’ was filmed.

Next was the low light modelling shoot, shooting handheld again to demonstrate the stabilisation abilities. I was shooting down to 1/15th at ISO 4000  using the Zuiko 25mm f1.8 in this low light, and the results were fantastic.



These mono images were created in Lightroom with a mono conversion and added grain.


Onto the final section, the live composite mode….  I must admit, this is one that least interested me, and it was the biggest surprise. I’m not sure if this has a commercial use and what you would use it for, but for making artistic light painting images it was great to watch. The sensor builds up images by refreshing at a rate set by the user, this builds layers on to layers leaving the earlier layers intact and will not over expose them no matter how long an exposure time you use. You can watch the image build up as it appears on the monitor, very clever stuff.

The camera itself is a stunning piece of kit, I love the Mk1 and it does everything I need it to do. If I were into film making this would be a great addition, with the multi positional LCD screen and five axis stabilisation.


Four thirds Cake!

I know… this is a street photography site… well mostly it is, but as this is Micro Four Thirds related, Ive published it here too… the downside of having two blog sites running at the same time!

When my pal Ian told me he had booked us onto a free afternoon shooting cake at Olympus Image Space  I was more than interested…. even more so when they said you could eat the models afterwards!!

Hosted by Rob Pugh (see his website HERE ) it was an introduction to food photography, using the fantastic Westcott Ice Light system, these are cool looking ‘strip lights’ that are daylight balanced, giving a beautiful natural light…. ideal for food photography.

Rob was very informative, showing various techniques that he utilises for his own food shoots, and there was as always, an abundance of Olympus goodies to play with. I used my own E-M5 with the very versatile 12-50 ‘kit’ lens, as it has a great macro feature that is very handy in this sort of shooting environment.

So a fun time was had by all, and mucho cake was eaten afterwards!




Zuiko 25mm Lens

I had (somehow) ended up with another EM-5 body, I intended it to be used as a spare but it has sat unused in the box. So I’m thinking what do I need that would be used, and could I do a swap for this body? I have been lusting after a 25mm in black for sometime but they are so pricey, I couldn’t justify the outlay. Ker-ching! lightbulb moment!

I am a member of a group on Facebook that is for buying/selling of Olly kit, so I stuck an add on there for anyone interested in a swap, lens for a body. It took a while, but eventually I struck up a dialogue and the deal was done.

The lens arrived a day late thanks to Royal Mail, (to be honest I have done lots of mailing lately and it’s the first time I’ve had any problems). Anyway I was due to be out and about in London the next day so it would be a good time to take it for a test ride.

The lens is light, compact and in black it is nicely discreet fitted to my EM-5. the focus ring is smooth and is quick to focus. The only downside for me is the lack of zone focusing distance scale markings, something which is on the 17mm and is very handy for street photography.

On AF it is lightning fast and super quiet, it’s also very sharp and gives a nice bookeh, although I’m an f8 kind of guy so not too interested in this.

Overall I’m very pleased with my swap, it will be a well used addition to my Olympus street kit.







Olympus Legacy lenses

I recently discovered Olympus legacy lenses to work on my E-M5. Ok I’m a bit late to the party here and some photographers have been using them for years, but if you shoot Olympus micro four thirds and you fancy trying something a bit different that won’t cost you a fortune, this is the way forward.

I was snooping around on ebay looking at my latest photography dream purchases when I stumbled upon the Zuiko 50mm f1.8 lens. I looked into it and thought I’d give it a go, along with an adapter to fit it to my camera. I managed to snag it with a bit of ebay sniping, for a £14…. bargain!, and the adapter cost around £9. So effectively I got a 100mm equivalent lens for a great price and if it didn’t work out I could easily recoup my outgoings.

After checking it out online, apparently my lens is a very early model, there are 3 variations on this lens, mine is what’s known as a ‘silver nose’ and serial numbers look to be quite early. I’m not into pixel peeping and so this is not a technical review (there are loads out there if you want to read), I just wanted to share a bit a of a bargain, if like me you are on a budget for lens purchases.
As a portrait lens it is the perfect focal length and this is mostly how I will use it .

Anyway, as I mainly shoot street candid, and 100mm is not my usual go-to focal length, I thought I’d try another lens and go for the 28mm which effectively gives me 56mm in the Micro four thirds world. So once again the search on eBay was on!…. a bit more difficult this time, as the prices on the 28 are so varied and tend to be more expensive the the 50…. sniping skills were going to be put to the test here!
Eventually, after a couple of weeks I had one in my sights, and nabbed it for £25…. nice!

The 28 is a f2.8 and is simply stunning to use, I think my one is sharper than my 50, but with these lenses being around 30 years old, some variance is to be expected. Physically the lenses are the same and the sit nicely on the E-M5 with the adapter. The 28 (56) is a good street photography focal length, although I do like to use 35mm more, I think but for this money I’ll use it.

So there you go, if you are looking for something for something a little different to try, don’t want to spend your mortgage money on lenses, give these beauties a try, you won’t regret it.


Olympus OMD Event

I recently went to a ‘hands on’ event organized by Olympus UK, at Brick Lane in East London. It was good to meet up with people I’ve only met via twitter, and to have little play with the Olympus OMD EM-1 the latest micro four thirds camera.

First impressions are size, it’s a little bigger than my EM-5 with the side grip on, and the button layout seems less fiddly to use and better laid out, the usual rapid AF was ultra fast but that’s what we expected from this one, Olympus set the bench mark with the EM-5 and this didn’t disappoint. This model also has focus peaking which works well if you prefer manually focusing and wifi, which was very impressive to see in action although a bit gimmicky for me, no doubt it will have it’s use for others.  The lens on it was the new 12-40 f2.8 which is apparently freeze proof! and will be a great walk about lens, with the pull back ring for manual focus mode.

For me I won’t be upgrading my EM-5, it does everything I need, and I can’t justify the cost. For someone contemplating moving to Micro 4/3 this would be the first choice, and as more pro’s are now seeing the benefits if lighter kit bags and smaller, less obtrusive cameras, I think Olympus have brought out another winner.

The event its self was well organized and had lots of photographic opportunities with urban performers putting on great demos to try out the new kit. I used my EM-5 with the Zuiko 17mm.

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