[OPINION] Shooting a wedding with a M43 Camera - YES YOU CAN!

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by adic88, May 27, 2012.

  1. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    I'm not a pro, just an enthusiast. YMMV. Originally published on my blog, reprinting here to share with the M43 community. Click through the images below for the larger versions on Flickr.

    Well, the Olympus OM-D EM-5 is a compact camera in terms of size. But it delivers fabulous results, comparable to what you'll find with a DSLR. Good enough for a wedding shoot, certainly.

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    P5260001-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

    I ran into a friend the other day, a professional photographer. We both happened to be covering the same event. He was decked out in a rapid sling body harness with at least 20 lbs of gear hanging on him. Two bodies, Canon 1Ds, 24-70mm on one, 135mm on the other, both with 580EX speedlights, then several other lenses in pouches, and a monopod hanging off his belt. I had a tiny Olympus OM-D EM-5 hanging around my neck, a pancake 14mm. I didn't even have a flash attached.

    I looked at him, and he looked at me. We both had a good laugh. He asked, "I've heard a lot about the OM-D, how does it handle?" I replied, "It's great." He smiled.

    "Why don't you use a smaller setup when you go on assignment?"
    "I wish i could. It's not what the client expects. If i don't come looking like this *decked out*, then they don't think i'm doing my job."

    And there lies the rub, isn't it? It's not that smaller, lighter cameras are not good enough; i believe we've past the level of photographic adequacy a long time ago -- the limiting factor now is not the camera, but the photographer. But it's because clients expect an uber geared warrior otherwise the photographs simply can't be good.

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    P5260005-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

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    P5260008-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

    The last time i shot a wedding, i brought along my full frame gear, and multiple lens choices. Admittedly, i think i captured one of my photographs of the year at this wedding, but i can honestly say i think my gear choice wouldn't have made the difference. I knew what i was looking for, and when it happened, i made sure i was in the right place to capture it. Even with a tiny Point & Shoot, i would have gotten the shot, and considering how good these cameras are nowadays, despite the low light, it still would have worked.

    This time, for my cousin's wedding, i was travelling very "heavily" -- in the sense that i had my family with me. So baby in one arm, i only had one other arm free. The only way i was going to get any photographs was with a smaller camera, my Olympus OM-D EM-5. Even with a spare lens in my pocket, the whole setup weighed the same as 2 loaves of bread and about as bulky as a mid-1990s mobile phone. One handed shots, no problem.

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    P5260012-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

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    P5260041-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

    Moving around, the one thing i noticed immediately was the small setup i was sporting made it easier to get into position. Mobility isn't an issue with a full frame either, but it was simply easier. Being easier, who doesn't prefer that? The other thing i noticed quite quickly on was that fatigue took a lot longer to set in, despite the fact that i was running around like a bunny snapping photos at nearly everything that moved.

    Getting home, and looking at the images on the computer, i was very pleased with that i had. I don't think i missed a single shot due to something i wished my full frame could do that my compact micro four-thirds camera couldn't. If i missed something, it was because i missed it; i would still have missed it regardless of any camera used.

    So, the question remains, can you take a small camera to a wedding and expect to walk away with very satisfying photographs? I believe so. At the end of the day, what makes the difference is the photographer himself, rather than the gear used. Can he "see" the shot, does he have strong "anticipatory" instincts, is he patient enough to capture that "decisive moment", is he creative and bold enough to engineer the moment? That makes the difference, that will make the shot.

    It's a different story whether clients can be convinced to accept the output from a photographer using a small camera.

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    P5260096-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

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    P5260142-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

    The full photoset of 15 shots can be viewed on Flickr.
    • Like Like x 18
  2. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Beautiful photographs and beautiful words. Thanks for sharing.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. tdekany

    tdekany Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 8, 2011
    Loved reading your post. Great shots as well.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. noohoggin1

    noohoggin1 Instagram: @tomnguyenstudio

    May 21, 2012
    Real Name:
    great photos, great job. :) It is too bad that people's perception about camera size translates into how they may view one as a "professional," though. You've proven that it has always been the final product that matters.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    Real Name:
    I did once the wedding shooting though I wasn't supposed to be the serious photographer there, just felt like doing it.

    Your pix look impressive, which country was that in? Seems like South Asia.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. broadway

    broadway Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 27, 2011
    Do clients ask to see the camera when deciding on a photographer?
  7. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    Thanks. The wedding reception was in Malaysia.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    Probably not, but i suppose confidence levels might drop when you turn up with a small camera. To those who don't know, an OM-D, as good a camera as it is, might as well be a point&shoot compact due to the size similarities.
  9. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Lovely photos and impressive processing. You've done a nice job. I like this one heaps.

    • Like Like x 1
  10. CUB

    CUB Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 19, 2012
    You can shoot weddings with any camera, from a Hasselblad to a cheap disposable camera, from Nikon D800 with a full frame sensor to a smartphone whose sensor would fit on the head of a pin.

    However, as anyone who has shot weddings professionally will tell you, control over depth of field is key. You need to be able to concentrate on the couple to the exclusion of almost all else. You should aim to render distracting backgrounds as a blur.

    You took some very nice snapshots but the combination of an m4/3 sensor and a wide angle lens is never going to give enough separation between the subject and background, so there are plenty of distracting backgrounds here. It would have been interesting to see the results with, say, a 45mm f/1.8, but you did well with the equipment you had.

    Wedding photographers often work in pairs with the assistant taking candid shots that give greater insight into the whole event while the photographer concentrates on the traditional shots of the couple and groups. You admirably fulfilled the assistant's role. It would be interesting to see the professional's shots to see how you complemented them.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    The pro crew at the wedding had 7 members buzzing around covering all angles; i was there as the cousin to the groom, taking shots for the family. :)

    Here are a couple i managed with the 45mm. Your point about subject separation is well received, completely agree with you.

    P5260119-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

    P5260096-Edit by aizuddindanian, on Flickr

    On the same note, it's one of the reasons why i think the new 75mm for m43 is going to be a great option.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. briloop

    briloop Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    Mount Juliet, TN
    Agree. My wife nearly flipped when I pre-ordered the E-M5. She took one look at it and thought it wasn't "professional". I convinced her this was the way to go.
  13. CUB

    CUB Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 19, 2012

    Thanks. 7 photographers is an amazing number! But I still feel sure that your shots will have added something special.

    I agree, the 75mm f/1.8 will offer new possibilities. But it is an unusual focal length - 150mm was never popular on 35mm film - so we will have to wait and see whether or not it sells well.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    Thanks for the vote of confidence. :) I've shared my photos with the family and the newlyweds, they do like it if for no other reason than i'm the only one who shot with B&W luminance in mind.

    Over here in Malaysia, weddings are a big deal and large camera crews are not uncommon, budget permitting. It's a real cut-throat business here, thus prices are very low, though quality is good. I think for the afternoon of shooting each shooter earned RM200 (about USD70). Of course the Director, who organized everything and ultimately responsible for the PP and the prints to the client normally walks away with a lot more, but the whole deal wouldn't have cost more than RM3-4k, about USD1250.

    As for the 75mm, it's reasonably close to the famed 135mm, and at f1.8 will likely be able to produce some amazing quality. Not to say that i'm lining up to buy it, but i think it will fulfill a nice niche in the m43 arsenal and round out quite a number of lens portfolios, thus bringing the m43 system ever closer to "respectability" (i use the term cautiously, in line with the overall purpose of this topic) for professional use.
  15. EP1-GF1

    EP1-GF1 Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 12, 2011
    I wonder if "people" are really the general public or just the camera enthusiasts that don't own m43 and think they "know". I reckon most non-photographers would be impressed with anything that has non-disappearing lens and a hood - I'm serious about the hood, whether it's needed or not :smile:

    If I were selling myself as a wedding photographer with a m43 setup I would let my work speak for itself and then maybe explain to the bride/groom that my results were achieved with smaller kit. I think in a lot of ways it's because of the smaller bodies/lenses that the results are so engaging and natural. Smaller cameras are far less intimidating (IMO) to people and that alone tends to make for far more natural shots.

    Generally speaking the professional wedding photos I've seen over the years are technically good and emotionally dull.

    Yours are wonderful.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. adic88

    adic88 Mu-43 Regular

    May 25, 2012
    Thanks for the kind words.

    On your point about those in the "know" frowning on the m43 system for pro events, i have anecdotal evidence to suggest that they wish they could shoot with something as light, versatile and capable as the m43.

    Besides my friend whom i mentioned in my post, i also had a chat with the the crew at the wedding and as normally happens in such chats with photogs, we got around to sharing stories about gear.

    Rather than getting all high nosed about gear, they were genuinely interested with what a small camera could do. But that's to be expected i suppose, pros don't get hung up on gear too much. They make do with what they have; for them, it's all about the client (it is a service industry, after all).

    On your point about small cameras giving the shooter more mobility and stamina (the latter is a big deal, fatigue can be a real killer of good shots), that's very very true. After a full afternoon of shooting, several hundred frames, i still felt fresh at the end.