EM-5 landscape woes.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by monchan, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. monchan

    monchan Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 7, 2012
    Tottori City, Japan
    Since getting the em-5 to take great shots of my kids and it does and I`m really happy with it for that.
    I`ve become interested in other areas, a bit of macro and a bit of landscape or scenic shots around towns and cities.

    I`m not happy with my landscape shots at all. While some do look quite good, most just seem a bit off.
    I`m usually using my kit 14-42mm, but have also used the panny 25mm.
    for most of the last year I just thought it was me, lack of experience (still might be)

    I`ve come to the point where I`m thinking of going for the 12-40mm and do away with my 25mm to fund it.
    Although the 25mm is my most used and favourite lens.
    my oly 45mm is also on the chopping block, just dont use it much.

    Or going for a used nikon d7100 which I can get for just a bit more than the 12-40mm.

    I use a steady tripod, and the timer on my camera. still need to get a cable remote.

    But before I jump the gun, does anyone have or know any tutorials on using the em5 for landscapes?
    Also last year I could get any really good shots in the snow playing with my kids
    any advise for using it in the snow settings wise.

  2. BeyondTheLines

    BeyondTheLines Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 23, 2012
    Do you have any example photos that show what you think are the faults? This would help greatly I think since both the EM-5 and the Panny 25mm are more than capable of producing nice landscape pics. When you use your tripod are you turning off IS? Have you tried in really windy conditions? how long are the exposures? A remote cable, tripod and use of the anti-shock feature in combination with proper focusing/depth of field/exposure/low ISO should result in very good results with your setup so I'd be curious to see some pics to narrow it down
    • Like Like x 1
  3. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    I second Patrick's idea. Example shots with some comments on problems would be helpful. I've been using the E-M5 for backpacking & landscapes for over a year now using the 25mm (and other lenses).

    I'm sure though, that we could work out what the problem is. You may, for example, have a decentered element in the 25mm that's causing your problems.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Example photographs are definitely a good idea.

    However, your problem may well indeed be the lens. The Olympus 14-42mm is a poor lens: lacking in sharpness (especially at the edges and generally when zoomed in), and also lacking in contrast. Both are important for landscape photography, but it is the latter that will make your pictures with it look lacklustre even when the image size is small enough for the lack of sharpness to matter less. If you are getting good results with the 25mm lens (this is a good focal length for some landscape work, but you will often need to go wider than that; when using it for landscapes, make sure to stop it down to f/4 or more to maximise edge sharpness) but your photographs with the 14-42mm look dull by comparison, then the lens is very probably your problem. The 12-40mm is an excellent lens and very versatile, covering much of what you might want for landscapes (save possibly for ultra-wide), but it is very expensive; you might consider the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and/or Olympus 12mm f/2.0 instead, although the latter is somewhat dear, and the 12-40mm is actually sharper than both. The Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, however, is a very good value for money lens and also delightfully small.

    If you are having just as much difficulty with the 25mm as with the 14-42mm, however, your issue is more likely to be technique than equipment, as the 25mm is an excellent lens. The only way that that can be assisted is if you upload for us to see what your issues are.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    I typically shoot landscapes as wide as possible, or I use a long zoom to get distant landscapes or to make the sun or moon appear larger in the scene. I rarely use anything in the middle.

    Before buying anything, read this: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2013/12/lens-review-olympus.html He found a used 12-50 for $200 and really likes it.

    I'd avoid getting rid of your 25mm if that's your favorite lens. You'll miss it. If you need wider than 12mm and want to keep your 25, look into a used 9-18. I wouldn't spend a bunch on a lens specifically for landscapes right now because I hear Olympus is working on a new wide angle zoom. Don't worry too much about the slower aperture on the cheaper lenses. If you're doing landscapes chances are good you'll have a tripod with you and you'll be shooting at about F8 anyhow. You probably won't want to go slower that on M4/3 or you'll start introducing problems with diffraction, and make sure to manually turn off the IBIS on the E-M5 when you use a tripod.

    Snow, like white sand, is hard on a camera's metering system. I live too far south to try to offer you advice on this. I've tried it once, over a decade ago, using film. It was a mess. I've since then learned more about it, but I'm still waiting for the opportunity to try again one day. I'd search Google for photographing snow with digital. The gist of what I've read is that you want to adjust white balance manually, adjust exposure compensation as needed and ignore the histogram in the snow because it lies (which is why the built-in light meter doesn't do such a good job). Having a real light meter helps. You could also use the camera's spot meter option and meter off of something specific, other than the snow (like the sky for instance, just don't get the sun in the shot). There are definitely much more experienced people that you should be taking advice from on this subject than myself. Just know that snow exposure issues aren't specific to the E-M5, or Olympus, or M4/3 (or digital).

    Before spending any money, try to find a local user group and see if someone has a lens you can try out, maybe even pick up some techniques. You shouldn't need a new camera, unless yours just has some kind of defect. The E-M5 is capable of taking very good landscapes.

    Good luck!
    • Like Like x 2
  6. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
    One of the joys of the EM-5 is the ability to see highlights and shadows before taking a shot. I never use the histogram, only highlights and shadows and use exposure compensation as needed. This way sand, snow and whatever else are no longer an issue. You can get it right every time. You can set it in the Built-in EVF info settings in Menu J
    • Like Like x 1
  7. monchan

    monchan Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 7, 2012
    Tottori City, Japan
    Heres a few shots taken with the kit 14-42. just about all from this day to me look strange.
    it was overcast that day,
    I do turn off the IBIS, when using a tripod. I have never used the anti-shock wasnt sure how to use it.
    I use my 14-42 quite a lot, and was thinking about the panny 12-35mm but now there is the oly 12-40mm..

    Opps. Sorry just saw these were taken with my oly. 60mm macro. which I have taken super sharp images with.
    but the reult is the same, when I try to get scenic type shots with everything in focus? strange.


  8. monchan

    monchan Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 7, 2012
    Tottori City, Japan
    Heres one taken with the 25mm
    ISO 200 f14 1/200 nice sunny day.
    full size the whole dune and all the people look crap.

  9. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I have taken my GX1 hiking all over the place, no tripod, and either the pany 20 or 14 on the front, and have gotten decent landscapes. Maybe my shots are falling short in ways I don't notice, but with m43 and a shorter FL, a tripod doesn't seem necessary (one of the reasons I love it!).

    You can get the 14mm new from a kit (no box or documentation, but unused) for $170-$190 on E-bay. It's a pretty good lens for outdoor shots (its a bit slow), its TINY, and its a good focal length for landscapes. Maybe at that price you don't have to sell anything to fund it.

    My guess is that it's not an EM5 specific issue. Replacing the EM5 with another camera will probably not create better landscapes. Aside from tutorials on landscapes, look for tutorials about shooting wide angle lenses. With wide angle lenses its easy to end up taking photos of nothing. By that I mean photos where there is no clear subject or focus (Look at my Flickr stream, you will see plenty of examples of this). When you are taking photos of your kids, there is a clear subject, and everything else is context. Landscapes can be a lot of context, and you have to think differently about composition to insure there is a subject and enough of a focus to create visual interest. You also have to think of ways to communicate size and scale. A mountain range can be spectacular in real life, but looks boring in a photo because there is nothing in the photo which communicates scale. On the other hand a tiny vehicle far down the diminishing perspective of a road with the large peaks behind it can create a focus, show scale, and lead the eye from the foreground to the peaks. So… I'm very much a student, and my landscapes are hit and miss as well, but I hope that gives you some things to think about next time you are out in the wilds with your EM5.

    I know there are plenty of mediocre landscapes here, but I think there are also a few well composed shots as well: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gusfriedman/

    Also, If I go out and shoot, and %15-20 are good shots, that is a great day. I have a LOT of rejects. I think most here have a similar experience.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. woody112704

    woody112704 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 13, 2012
    I would also look into finding a book or two on landscape photography. I want to get more into landscapes as well and that's what I'm planning on doing. I could see your lack of sharpness in your photos being from not using the anti-shock. But I'm just guessing on that and I'm sure someone else here can give you better advice for that. And as for the snow, JamieW had it right. Metering the sky should work for you.
  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    It's difficult to say anything definitive at this magnification, but you're shooting at 3-stops past the diffraction limit of the lens, so I would not expect good per-pixel sharpness.

    I'd suggest posting the image at a large enough size to show the deficiencies you're encountering. Otherwise, we can at best offer educated guesses.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    The Hue and Saturation look off, as well as too much of the clarity slider, and too much vibrance. Some will say clarity is your friend, I think it's a two sided beast best avoided. the less contrast adjustments the better with m43, outside of some advanced photoshop in some very delicate methods with some very labor intensive HSL, and dodging and burning methods. IMO m43 and APS-c image files files break quickly and easily.

    I don't see metering as any problem at all otherwise the sand (high luminance) would be off, and the grass is where it should be in the overcast shots. I think your aperture is too small, and diffraction is kicking in, and for the pictures you are looking for I wouldn't move above f 5.6 at 14mm.

    If you have the cash check out the 9-18, I'd say the 7-14 but problems are noted on your camera. The wider you can get, the wider the DoF you'll get at larger sized apertures.
  13. Joelmusicman

    Joelmusicman Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 1, 2013
    At f/14 you're FAR into the diffraction effects on an E-M5. Ming Thein comments that 5.6 is the maximum f/stop for diffraction free images; it really begins to show by f/8. Has nothing to do with lens and everything to do with the pixel pitch. The D800 has a similar problem but if I recall correctly it actually has less DOF available.

    Also, you should definitely use the anti-shock feature here as it functions like a "mirror lock-up." Even though there's no mirror, because a mirrorless camera always uses live view, when you press the shutter button, the shutter: CLOSES before the exposure, then immediately opens again to expose, closes to finish the exposure, and opens again to return to live view mode. Anti shock pauses between steps 1 and 2 which is the most critical for reducing vibrations.
    • Like Like x 5
  14. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    The question being asked is whether you are stopping the lenses down too far, trying to get everything in focus, and diffraction is ruining your pictures.

    Test this by shooting the same scene at all apertures, on manual focus, same focusing distance. Any long distance scene will do, even the street you live in.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
    Before you charge off to buy a book or two, it's worth thinking about what sort of landscapes appeal. You can also learn a lot from looking at the work of photographers that you like. I'm not keen on grand landscapes as in Ansel Adams but much prefer intimate landscapes as in Eliot Porter. There's also not much point in buying gear at this point. I would be inclined to start taking images and developing my composition skills by looking at results and trying to understand what works and what doesn't. Landscapes are all about vision not gear.
    • Like Like x 3
  16. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    Take everything I say with a grain of salt. I am not sure I should be giving out advice, but here it is.

    1 - one weakness of M4/3 is lack of detail in far away landscape scenes. I read that coming from a pro.

    2 - unless you want to slow waterfalls down, F14 is not needed. However, I find that for deep DOF, 5.6 is not enough sometimes either. Like wth my 7-14 I love F9.

    3 - METERING - I feel that my pictures look a lot better since I have switched to ESP

    4 - as always, and while Ming Thein doesn't take many landscape pictures, he can take pictures with kit lenses, that I can only dream about with primes. It is almost always the person behind the camera, that will make the biggest difference. I see terrible looking shots taken with FF gear almost every day, if I want to find them on any of the forums.

    5 - the good news is that I have seen the OM-D being used with shots that on my screen look as good as the D800.

    6 - here are some shots that I really like with the OM-D (Bobby is a very capable photographer)



    Different shooter, with the 12-50 kit lens


    7 - Also, check out the OM-D thread on FM. you will see excellent examples with it.

    Hope this helps a little.
    • Like Like x 3
  17. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    PS: Are these Jpegs? Either way, you will need to do PP work

  18. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
  19. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I'd like to see more details on this. I can't think of any particular explanation. Here's an example of a fairly distant landscape. What other 16MP camera would you expect to do better?

    Full scene.

    100% crop.
    • Like Like x 4
  20. monchan

    monchan Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 7, 2012
    Tottori City, Japan
    Seems like you guys might have found the answer. I have read some, seems not enough. small hole = more detail. large hole= less detail.
    Looking over my landscape shots the aperture is as large as it can be in most of them. (smallest hole)
    So even though the lenses can have large apertures, the em-5 or M43 is not suitable for it. Is that the basic jist of it. (depending on lens/ conditions etc)
    I`ll get out there and try again.

    heres a larger file. dune_blur_1_of_1_-3.jpg