OM-D review after extensive use while traveling

Started Sep 4, 2012 | Discussions thread
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pvdk
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OM-D review after extensive use while traveling
Sep 4, 2012

fter selling all my dslr gear last year and buying into the m43 system, I kept an open mind and I told myself only to judge my new camera system after a while. First I got to know the camera back at home before taking it on a voyage with me.

While I'm writing this review, I spend my last hours on Vancouver Island. I've been here for two weeks and used my camera on a daily basis. To keep me going while on the road I took what I think was important to me.

The OM-D E-M5 camera, the 12mm f/2 oly, the 17mm f/2.8 oly, the 25mm f/1.4 pan leica, the 45mm f/1.8 oly, the 12-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 oly and the 40-150 f/4-5.6 oly. I also took 3 batteries + charger, the FL600 flash with two packs of batteries and a very small tripod. Also the Macbook air 13" went along + a remote shutter release cable for the camera and a set of ND filters from B&W + adapter step up and step down rings.

Well, ALL THAT fitted in a Lowepro AW180 classic. That was a major relief and plus for me. A relative small slingshot bag with all my gear, easy enough to take on the planes as carry-on luggage and total weight being under 5 kg's.

This is one of the major reasons why I choose m43 over dslr and made the switch. Smaller size and smaller weight and after two weeks all I can say is: a BIG plus for me.

I've been shooting street life and nature most of the time. Did some bear and whale watching (more action focused shooting) and I did some night photography and long exposures to. A few days I even got in to video to document some things I've seen while traveling. Second BIG plus for me: the video. Maybe some camera's offer more video capabilities but the OM-D did a great job for me shooting 1080p video while on the road. And thanks to all the lenses being image stabilised thanks to the 5 axes engine inside the camera I got some decent video clips to edit into a fun and good looking movie.

I dare to say that the camera performs very well. Some days I would go out and just hang the camera with neck strap on my body and tucked two small lenses in my pockets. Some days I took all my gear with me in my Lowepro AW180 classic. The bag is good and served me well. I like the sling shot idea and I can reach inside to get lenses or other stuff. I'm impressed with the flip up lcd screen and the way it let you take pictures in the field. I did use the EVF to but only in 40% and that was when I tend to shoot more action or moving subjects. But for landscape and still live I love the lcd on the back.

Even more when I started using my mini tripod. It is really small and just is good enough to put the camera in a low position for long exposures. Thanks to the flip up screen I can set and adjust settings and check composition very well. I love the time based long exposures. Very handy as you SEE the images being created in ambient light. Cool. But what HDR concerns I think a software update is in place to increase the number of shots and at least the possibility to change or increase the f-stops. If you take HDR serious you need a larger f-stop range and more flexibility. So that area can be improved. I found myself using manual mode for some HDR and set a fixes aperture and increasing the time myself with one f-stop per image.

Image quality to me (personal experience) is on par with most midrange dslr cameras. The quality can not compete with full frame 35mm cameras but I was used to work with cropped 1.6 or 1.5 factor. I must agree that when subjects are further away from the camera, dslr benefit from better dof. With m43 it's harder to isolate a subject when it is not that close to your camera, even with fast glass. That's a small minor. On the other hand, It let you shoot beautiful landscapes even at f/8 with a lot of in focus dof.

I use Lightroom 4.1 and some NIK software filters to post process my photos. I've shot all images during the trip in raw and my camera was set to standard settings (sharpness, colours, etc.) I've tried to always use iso200 except for the early morning when we went bear spotting, I needed iso1000 to get decent shutter speeds. Images were still VERY acceptable to use and even crop if needed. So I think this camera can be used in most occasions up to iso1600 and even beyond that for occasional use.

Ergonomics are good but not exceptional. While on the trip I altered some buttons because I found myself pushing some buttons accidentally without the need for it. That's the price I've paid for smaller size. I do like the extra grip but used only the first part most of the time, keeping the camera smaller while having a good grip and shutter release to get the dslr feel. One thing I bumped into: while the camera hangs on your neck, and bumps on your body while walking (when switched on) the lcd screen sometimes get touched so some actions might occur without even knowing it. I had occasions where the focus point was changed just because the back of the cam era touched my body while walking. So I ended up disabling the touch screen sometimes.

After two weeks and a few hundred of shots, I'm pleased with my decision. The biggest benefit is the small size and weight, ideal for traveling (to me). I can take a bunch of lenses and extra stuff and even a lightweight, decent laptop in one relative small bag and having it ready all the time. The biggest plus to me.

I also learned that I was using just a few lenses. Funny, but the 12-50mm kit lens, maybe not the best around, still got used a lit because of the weather sealing and the video zooming to be good. For video a great all-round lens. The 12mm f/2 became my favourite lens. Sharp, good contrast, fast focus, good performer. I used it a lot for landscaping and night shots.

 pvdk's gear list:pvdk's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm 1:2.8 Pancake Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 R Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8 +2 more
Olympus OM-D E-M5
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