Impressions of OMD with Portrait (strobed) work?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by crashwins, May 15, 2013.

  1. crashwins

    crashwins Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 13, 2010
    Northampton, MA
    I've had an EP1 and a small collection of terrific m43 glass for a while: Oly 45, Panny 20mm, etc..

    I mostly do street stuff (sort of why I got it in the first place), but I want to give portrait photography a shot. I'm talking pocket wizards, 580s, a softlighter or 2, etc. Basically, staged stuff with lighting. I mentioned this to my friend who does a lot of this work and he balked at the idea of me getting the OMD for this (Mark 2/3 all the way for him).

    Would the OMD be up to snuff for this kind of portrait work? The idea of buying a new system (especially the insanely expensive Canon system) for this is rough. I'm not a pro, I don't get paid for my work. That said, I don't need anything blown up to poster-sized print, but a gorgeous 8x10" would be nice :) Thanks!
  2. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    Do you mean a regular flash portrait, or strobed as in:

    Actually the E-M5 is fine with both...I've used mine in the studio (I've shot with the E-3 and E-330 before that). The question is though if the 580 flashes can work in "dumb" (non-TTL) mode.

    Also with Live Bulb you can see the strobed image "develop" as it's being exposed, and know when to close the shutter.
  3. cstevens

    cstevens Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 11, 2010
    I have started to use mine in the studio also, its perfect….only issue sometimes is its a bit dark in the studio
  4. Arvin

    Arvin Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 18, 2012
    Hey Crashwins,

    Your path sounds very familiar :)

    My roots are in street photography and it still continues to be my #1 passion (can't get enough of that RAW human interaction!). But that slowly trickled into doing portraits for friends using the OMD - that coupled with having to shop around for wedding photographers and being surprisingly wowed by some of the work of great wedding photographers (not to mention their asking price) I eventually formed a business doing it on the side, which is still VERY new. That said, I have been using the OMD for 100% of my portraits and although it has it's limitations is a very capable camera.

    When you throw on off-camera lighting then the OMD in my opinion really shines because low-light/high iso becomes less of an issue. A lot of my friends are surprised when they learn that my shots are taken with an Olympus and even more so when they realize how small it is.

    That said you'll be fine with prints as small as 8x10 - I've printed large 20" prints and they look pretty decent.

    If you want to see some strobed portraits, I did all the Team photos for the new Essential Design website, where I am currently having my last day as a designer there (I'm moving to California next month!). The website is in development and buggy, but scroll to the bottom and click till you get to the Team page - all of those portraits were taken with the OMD (except Tammy) and some off-camera lighting.

    For more strobed portraiture, check out my website at OpenGlass Studio » Weddings and Events and scroll down to the comedy troupe gig.

    Good luck!
  5. noohoggin1

    noohoggin1 Instagram: @tomnguyenstudio

    May 21, 2012
    The OMD works just as well for studio/strobist as my Canon 5D did. Here is a recent shoot I did with the OMD....

    Attached Files:

  6. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    Yes. I don't have the OM-D but there are plenty of great examples of people using it for portrait work here in the forums. The sensor quality is high, and with the built-in VF you have the hotshoe available for radio triggers or the Olympus remote commander flash attachment.
  7. Heavy Doody

    Heavy Doody Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    I just picked up a few flashes and some Pocketwizard Plus Xs. I haven't taken them out to shoot people yet, but I've stress tested them and they work great together.

    If you don't already have flashes, do some serious soul searching before you invest in 580s. A big part of that big price is the TTL, grouping, etc. If you're like me, and use your flashes exclusively in manual mode, there are some really great flashes out there for a lot less money. I got a pair of Yongnuo YN-560 II. Great power and excellent recycle times for a whopping $75 each.
  8. crashwins

    crashwins Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 13, 2010
    Northampton, MA
    Thanks, folks! I was originally turned onto this work by this guy's blog/photostream:

    I once had a Mark ii and I definitely liked the camera, but for street? Noooope. I never explored it for portrait stuff, but it seemed obviously capable for that. The reason I ditched it was bc I could never imagine pointing it at someone in the street. It's great to hear that the OMD is a capable little camera for portrait work. I imagine with my 45 it would be pretty sweet. My understanding it that I would be acting a bit rash in buying a new camera system if the OMD can do the trick? Thanks folks :)
  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    For some more really well done examples, check out Sean Archer on 500px. Most of his portfolio was done with a Panasonic G3 and 45mm f/1.8 lens (though I believe he recently got a Canon 5DII).
  10. crashwins

    crashwins Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 13, 2010
    Northampton, MA
    Uhhh, this portfolio is...well...full of outstanding women. How did this guy get that many gorgeous women to pose for him?! I mean, really quality shots - but seems like he just started in 2012. Ha, wow.

    That aside, definitely some good examples of portrait shots. I searched OMD on this website and it seems like lots of solid portraits shots on there.
  11. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Yeah don't ask me, I have no idea :biggrin:

    I think it might have something to do with being in Russia. I've noticed a number of portfolios like this from Russian photographers on 500px... it seems to be overflowing with beautiful models looking to break into the business which in turn creates more opportunities for photographers.

    I was very impressed with what he was able to do with a simple G3 and 45mm with mostly natural light. Looking through his work you can also see the progression as he added lighting etc. The OM-D has several improvements over the G3 so it certainly shouldn't be a problem getting good results!
  12. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Quick question... Does your E-P1 produce good images on the street, in ambient lighting?

    If so, then why do you think you need a BETTER camera body for studio work? Studio work means controlled lighting and a controlled environment. In ambient light your lens is a much greater factor than your camera in determining the potential quality available to you. In the studio, your lighting creates MUCH, MUCH greater potential than any lens or camera could think to conceive on its own. If your lighting is good, then you could wow people with photos from a Canon G12 if you really wanted to as long as it can trigger your lights... though I think that would be a waste of all the effort you put into a shoot. ;)

    Here are some photos from one of my recent promotional shoots for my new Wig Wednesdays studio special (see my website at for more info), all shot with an Olympus E-PL2 Pen Lite, which is significantly older than the OM-D E-M5. Using good glass and good lighting. The headshot looks particularly amazing when blown up big, and has not had any editing.

    For what it's worth I've shot many product photos using the same E-P1 you have currently, for publication in one of Canada's largest distributor catalogs.

    Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
    Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
    Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
    Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5
    Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
    Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
    Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5