Olympus OMD EM-5

2 Cameras, 1 Phone, and 100 or so Balloons.

Over the last year I have been doing a little experiment using mixed video and audio sources in a series of small video productions. No commercial projects just a series of personal projects to test workflow, camera  comparisons, and end results. The video below was shot a couple of weeks back at the Great Midwest Balloon festival on a Canon 5D MkII, and Olympus OMD EM-1, an iPhone 4s, and 5. All the footage was imported directly into Adobe Premier, with video stabilizing, and color correction being handled by After Effects.

What I was looking for was could I spot the difference between cameras, and how would the Adobe workflow handle the differing camera footage when they were mixed. I have to say, once again I am pretty impressed with the way things turned out. The OMD did a great job, and it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the footage it produced from the 5D. Even the iPhone footage when color balanced and graded in After Effects looks pretty impressive, and blends in just fine with that from the larger cameras. It’s pretty amazing just how much things have changed form a shooting and editing perspective in just the last few years. I never would have tried this five years ago.

Going Analog with My new/Old Olympus OM-2.

A couple of weeks ago I bought an Olympus OM 2, and slew of lenses on eBay for less than 200 dollars. I bought the camera kit for a couple of reasons. First the lens selection, while all manual was pretty outstanding. Second, those lenses will work on my OMD EM-5 with an adapter, and I’ve been interested fin trying that for sometime. Third, the OM2 was a top of the line 35mm camera in its day back in the mid 1970’s. Then there was the design and nostalgia thing pulling at my heart.

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This camera really is a beautiful piece of design and innovation. The OM2, like the all manual OM1 featured a shutter setting ring right behind the lens mount. This allows the photographer to focus, set the f-stop, and shutter speed with one hand. At the time, this was the only camera on the market that allowed you to do that. Compared to my 2012 OMD, this camera is a tank, but in 1975 it was small, and light compared to most other models.

After getting the camera late last week I installed new batteries, bought some film, and did some test shooting to make sure everything works. The camera and lenses look almost mint for something that is 37 years old. That doesn’t mean there aren’t issues with the shutter, or seals, or any number of things that can leak light or hose your analog experience. I haven’t gotten my film back yet, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. While shooting with the OM2 I was struck by how quiet the experience was. Not the sound of the camera, but the experience.

The OM2 like so many cameras of the day, doesn’t offer the instant tech feedback that even the simplest of digital cameras give you. When you look through the viewfinder all you see is the split focus ring, and rudimentary light meter. Your in focus or not. Your exposure is right or not. ISO is set by the film you installed, and you can’t change it. By using a camera that has none of the digital feedback, no histogram, levels, exposure compensation, iso settings etc. my shooting experience became very quiet and focused. I wasn’t interrupted by all the instant feedback the LED screen on my OMD offers. Instead I focused more, got in the zone, and hopefully produced some decent images.

After using it for a week now, I probably won’t be dropping my digital cameras anytime soon. The OM2 is a blast to shoot with, and the lenses it came with are great. But, 37 years of ever improving technology has me sold on digital imaging. I’m in love with the OMD and what it can do. I’m sure I’ll use the OM2. I know I’ll use the lenses. I probably won’t use them as my daily gear though.

The Olympus OMD vs Canon 5D MkII at Greaserama 2012.

A couple of Sunday’s back my friend Tim and I took his Canon 5D MkII and my Olympus OMD EM-5 to Kansas City’s Greaserama hot rod show that takes place every memorial day weekend at the Boulevard Drive-In. Aside from shooting video of some pretty amazing rat rods, hot rods, and vintage bikes, we wanted to do another comparison between the cameras.

The video below was shot all hand held with no steady rigs, or other camera mounts. Like the video from the Kauffman Preorming Arts Center, this is a mix of footage from both cameras. The 5D was stabilized with Adobe After Effects using the Warp Stabilizer. The Olympus used the 5 axis image stabilization built into it with just a few of those clips getting the Warp Stabilizer.

There are a couple of things that bug me about some of the Olympus footage. When the camera is not in manual focus mode, it tends to shift focus when tracking a moving object. The shift is subtle but there on some of the clips. Overall though, I think the OMD EM-5 holds it’s own with the 5D MkII, and beats it for in camera image stabilization.

Olympus OMD EM-5 + Canon 5D MkII + After Effects + a Stunning Piece of Architecture = Impressive.

Yesterday morning my friend Tim and I went down to the amazing Kauffman Preforming Arts Center in Kansas City to shoot some test footage with the Olympus OMD EM-5. In the process Tim shot footage with his Canon 5D Mk II, and the idea of doing a little comparison was born.

All the footage in the video below was hand held. Both cameras were shooting at 1080p with the same ISO, frame rates, and exposure settings. What you will see is there is some camera shake. Its inherent in hand held footage without a steady rig of some kind. What you will also see is how well the OMD’s 5 axis image stabilization system works.

All of the 5D footage was stabilized in post using After Effects Warp Stabilizer. Less than half of the OMD EM-5’s footage was.The Warp Stabilizer was used to reduce camera shake, and to eliminate rolling shutter in some of the horizontal pans across the building.

Now can you tell which footage is from the Canon 5D MkII, and which is from the Olympus OMD EM-5?

Santa Fe, OMD, Autostitch, Big Sky.

Part of the great thing about being on vacation is getting to see things you haven’t seen before. I’ve been to Santa Fe before, but photographically I’m getting to see it through a new lens. This image is from Fort Marcy looking east. It was shot on the amazing Olympus OMD EM-5 with the Olympus 17mm lens. 3 images that were shot, then stitched together with the Autostitch app to create the panorama.

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Beating the Heat With the OMD EM-5 Inside

The more I use the OMD EM-5, the more I love it. Since this summer has been hotter and drier than any one I can remember, I have been looking for opportunities to use the camera inside. Tonight when Kristy came home with a vase of fresh sunflowers, I jumped on it. All the images were shot aperture priority with the Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens wide open to get razor thin depth of field and killer bokeh when I could.

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First Impressions With the Olympus OMD EM-5.

Yesterday afternoon, after 3 months of waiting my Olympus OMD EM-5 arrived at the office. Later on, after I have actually had a chance to put the camera through it’s paces I’ll write a more thorough review. Although there are so many out there already you really don’t need one from me. What I’m going to post here and now are a couple of test images and some first impressions.

My rig is the silver and black OMD with the battery grip, and the powered zoom kit lens. Fortunately for me, I have a number of lenses for my EP2 so I’m ready to roll. I’m not knocking the kit lens in any way. It’s actually a really nice piece of hardware. I just like having options, and the 45mm f1.8 Zuiko is a go to lens for a lot of shooting.

So what do I think?

After just a couple hours of use I think this is one of the best micro 4/3 systems available today. The camera is small. Very small. Almost smaller than my EP when the grip is detached. It’s light, quick, and so far a blast to shoot with.

The autofocus is one of the quickest I’ve seen on any camera including my friend and colleagues Canon 5D.

The tiltable HD screen on the back of the camera is bright and crisp, the EVF system, while not as good as optical, is still very nice lending itself to a solid shooting experience.

The camera feels great in my hands. It’s well weighted and balanced. The OMD feels like a solid DSLR, without feeling huge and obtrusive like a DSLR.

Image stabilization is pretty remarkable, keeping shots taken at shutter speeds as low as 1/8 of second useable.

Noise at high ISO settings so far seems better than average, although I haven’t had enough time with the camera to have any real conclusive data.

The touch screen, and in camera adjustment features are really nice, although somewhat difficult to use when shooting on the fly. They’re a nice feature, I probably won’t use on a daily basis. I say that now, but you never know. Give me a month and that could all change.

Will this be my primary camera?

Yes.

Is it worth the price?

I think so. The OMD has a great sensor, it’s small, light, and fast. I personally love the retro styling of the body. Some might not,

My only gripe is the somewhat cryptic menu system. While there are tons of programmable features on the camera, crawling through the menu system can be painful. I know part of my bias here comes from learning a new piece of gear, but Olympus and pretty much every other camera maker need to go to the Apple school of UI design.

So at the end of 4 full hours with the OMD EM-5, I’m sold. I really believe this camera represents a game changer for Micro 4/3 camera systems. Hopefully in a week or so, I can post a bit more thorough review.

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