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Photography Student Seeking Advice

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by cmercer, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. cmercer

    cmercer Mu-43 Regular

    Hello again everyone, it has been a while since I have posted on here although I have been lurking in the background.

    Last time I posted, I mentioned that I was completing a level 2 in photography. I am pleased to say I passed using nothing but my Olympus PEN EPL1! I recently started level 3 and I can't help but feel a little outclassed. My tiny Olympus, is dwarfed by my classmates large full frame pro spec, Canons and Nikkons. I can't help but feel a little outclassed. Camera envy?

    I am also occasionally reaching the limits and capabilities of my current little PEN. It has been a great camera but the time has come to upgrade.

    I am really looking forward too the release of the OM-D and from what I have read the specifications seem reasonably impressive! I would like to start pushing myself towards more automotive and motor sport photography. I understand that for motor sport, I would benefit from a camera/lens combination that can react and focus very quickly. Quick enough to capture a car screaming past.

    I suppose my question is, will the OM-D be good enough for this or am I kidding myself? Is it time to start looking for something a little more professional or will the OM-D cut it. Am I the only one that thinks that the OM-D actually looks quite serious, and you wouldn't be laughed at if you turned up to... say a level 3 photography course with it instead of a full frame pro Canon.

    Interested in your opinions towards my perhaps slightly different dilemma.

    Thanks chaps, Chris
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Lessee... the E-M5 using native lenses is tested to have the "Fastest Autofocus in the World", even testing against pro-grade DSLRs using native lenses. The E-P3 had that same claim, but with the limitation of "for S-AF". With the new 3D Tracking Imager-AF of the E-M5, this now applies to both S-AF and C-AF.

    So do you still think the E-M5 is going to be slower than anybody else? ;) 

    Let me just say that when they say "fastest AF in the world", we're talking about an unnoticeable difference. So that doesn't mean that the E-M5 is going to blow anybody else out of the water. What's important though, is it means that it will keep up with the top dogs, no problem. After all, it is one of the top dogs, or even the leader of the pack (in the respect of focus speed and reaction).

    It should also be noted that when Olympus tested this, they also include shutter lag in the test for both the E-M5 and the competitors. What that means is that you have the total "combination that can react and focus very quickly" which you asked for.

    One thing I will add though... If you're using zoom lenses then the Micro Four-Thirds system is still waiting on fast zooms. The ones we have will handle AF with all the rest of the top dogs, but won't get you fast lens speed (wide aperture) yet. However, you can still get those wide apertures in prime lenses, but not in telephoto lengths yet. This year we'll have f/2.8 zoom lenses from 12mm to 100mm (from Panasonic), and f/1.8 primes up to 75mm (from Olympus), so we are building up in that area.

    So as a result, you have a choice of either slow AF and fast aperture (with Four-Thirds lenses), or fast AF and slow aperture (with native Micro Four-Thirds lenses). However, you're investing in a system which will hold you well into the future when the lens lineup is complete. DSLRs are on the decline, while Non-Reflex is on the rise.

    PS, has anybody told you that you look a lot like Michael J. Fox? ;) 
    • Like Like x 1
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I have no idea where in the educational scale of things a level 2 or 3 sits... are we talking A levels? or some tertiary qualification?

    While I can understand maybe feeling you are growing out of the EPL1... at the end of the day you are going to be judged by the photographs you take not the size of your camera.

    If you are doing things like motorsport.... well that is a very specialised area... and maybe there are arguments for moving to a canon or nikon system....but to get the kind of pictures you associate with those sports you are talking of investing in serious money for long lenses as well as a lot of learning on how to get into the situations to take those photos.

    OM-D is probably a good step up from the epl1 - its probably the best package - perhaps along with the GH2 - to move up to the eye to the viewfinder experience which is what the SLR is all about

    • Like Like x 1
  4. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Overall, do you feel that your results are being held back by your equipment? How does your work technically compare to your classmates (judge by the output, not the gear)? Has anyone ever said anything to you about your image quality? I would ask your professors for recommendations, but for action and sport photography, the m4/3 cameras can't hold a candle to the full-frame crowd. The OM-D features no new technology that isn't already available in m4/3 land. For example, this poster today just showed his motorsport work done with a GH2 and 14-140mm lens:
    While solid work and not lacking from a photographer's-capabilities standpoint, the technical capabilities of the camera lens/combo can begin to be seen (that isn't sharpness that would hold up to printing large, and the blown sky is obvious in photos like #3). For motion, CDAF just can't keep up with Canon's or Nikon's AF system (or Sony or Pentax, to be fair). Plus, there are no solid motorsports lenses like the workhorse 70-200mm f/2.8 that allow you to work in a single aperture, while giving proper subject isolation and image quality.

    It's really not about being laughed at. You are what you are, and your work speaks for itself. If your work is being laughed at, then that's something else. If your m4/3 camera is giving you the proper results, then so be it. There are many professional photographers that routinely use the m4/3 cameras for professional work. However, if you use it for action, I think you'll be disappointed. With planning and prefocus, you can get some solid shots, but some of the more spontaneous shots will be lost to you. Again, go talk to your professors first, and get their advice. Also, why don't you go and talk to your classmates to an event, like motorsports, and compare your camera against his or hers?
    • Like Like x 1
  5. cmercer

    cmercer Mu-43 Regular

    Thank you Ned, I think that you have very quickly quashed any fears that were developing. I recently added to a blog of mine, that I felt that m43s cameras may one day phase out the larger DSLRs. It just seems to make sense in my head.

    I have also recently re-established my love my urban exploring. So having a small, robust camera is a must. Another tick for the OM-D.

    I also have an old OM-2 that my girlfriend gave to me for my Birthday last year. I think an OM-D would sit well next to it :biggrin:

    ha ha, I look noting like Michael J Fox. Back to the Future is a favourite film. I have also owned a few Honda CR-X's which sort of resemble the famed DMC 12.

    Thanks again,
  6. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    If you think you really want to do motor sports ...

    ... you are going to have to spend some money. Although you don't need to buy new at all. Nikon 300s are getting cheap fast. You could find an older but still VR 70/200 f2.8 for under a grand. 200mm plus crop factor is enough. You don't have to shoot to the far side of the track. The wide aperture and fast focus is indispensable. :thumbup: JMO
  7. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    We'll see about this, but overall Olympus has been having to tout their "fastest AF" because the first generation PENs were so piss-poor at it, so they've had to shake their bad reputation. The E-P3 also gave us this song and dance, and I didn't see any marked improvement; my father sent his E-P3 back, and maybe he'll pick up an OM-D if it shows a real improvement. The tracking motion so far has only been shown to be truly effective when using face detect.

    Another thing is when shooting in full burst, you won't be able to track with the viewfinder, as the best it can do is show you the last photo you took, while an SLR literally shows you what's framed between shots. Plus, the focus tracking with the E-M5 drops the framerate to 4 fps.
  8. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    Yes. Proper tool for the job and all that. I wouldn't be doing m4/3 if shooting fast action was my thing. :smile:
  9. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    Oly's AF claims for the OM-D are still unverified IMO. Even the E-P3's claim is dubious; my brother still preferred the AF of his Canon T3i.

    As important as the AF though is the glass, which M43 currently lacks for serious motorsports. If that's truly the direction you think you will be going, now might be the time to start investing in gear that you'll use to pay the rent. And as much as I like M43 and Pentax, if I was shooting sports for work, I'd be with Canon or Nikon. It's one thing to handicap yourself in school; it's another thing altogether to do so for a living.

    Don't forget that you can still use M43 in the paddock. In fact, you'll probably be able to get shots that are otherwise tough to get with dSLRs.

    Good luck!
  10. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Small threadjack: I'm in Austin! You wouldn't happen to be that guy at Precision camera on Saturday that was getting a viewfinder and 100-300mm lens for his GF2, were you? I was there with my girlfriend, seeing if they had any used 14mm or 17mm lenses for a reasonable price, or if there were any flashes worth investing in.
  11. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Even with the new OM-D body, I think the lack of a fast zoom and decent tracking AF is really hurting m4/3. Something like an older Canon with one of the nice big zooms is likely to be a much more effective combo than m4/3 and plays to the strengths of the individual cameras better too.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. cmercer

    cmercer Mu-43 Regular

    Level 3 is essentially the equivalent of an A level. After this I could go on to complete a foundation degree etc etc.

    The cameras and equipment I have been looking at are just ridiculously expensive, well at least they are for me. Part of the reason I decided to go back to college was because my hours had been cut back at work. I no longer have the money that I was used too and I can't afford expensive gear. I wouldn't have done photography if it weren't for finding micro four thirds and from then on everything fell into place. The size and adjust-ability just made sense. I already have the VF2 for my EPL1 - although honestly I was quite disappointed with it.

    Sometimes yes although no real examples spring to mind. Sometimes I will take still pictures of vehicles late at night. Despite being dark, the cars are parked up so I can leave the shutter open for as long as possible. I still find that occasionally I have to turn the ISO up. My PEN really struggles with this and noise soon becomes clearly visible.

    I have to be honest, I haven't tried any real form of fast paced or panning shots, it is just an area that I am keen to move into.

    To be fair, my work is as good and I personally feel sometimes better. My tutor commented how high the quality of my images were. I do suspect that he thinks I should be using a more professional set-up and I do feel that my equipment is holding me back slightly.

    I quite like those photos, do you think a half decent polarizing filter might help to add some feature and contrast back into the sky?

    My work hasn't been laughed at, I don't think? :) 
    Feel free to take a look and tell me what you think. Flickr: Christopher Mercer's Photostream

    Asking to compare cameras isn't such a bad idea. A big part of it is cost, with the recession here my hours at work have been cut back. So I cannot afford to spend as much as I would like on photography equipment. That doesn't mean I want to settle for rubbish.

    Thank you again to everyone helping,
  13. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That's just it though, the E-P3 never claimed to be fast with C-AF or Tracking AF, only with S-AF. It's always been a well-documented fact that if you rely on Tracking AF then the CDAF system is not the system of choice. The E-M5 is the first to challenge that because it can somehow track on a 3D plane alike to Phase Detect.

    You are right that Olympus only touts "Fastest AF" because of the bad reputation built from the first generation PENs in that area. The AF is not markedly improved, and you should not expect it to be. What they're saying is that it wasn't that bad, but now we can prove that it keeps up with everyone else (in S-AF only with this current generation). I have not personally known any DSLR users who have been unimpressed with the E-P3's focus speed unless they're using Tracking AF. Even the E-PL2 gave good results, which correlates with what you said about "Fastest AF" being a marketing gimmick.

    It's not a lie, you just need to understand how it applies. :)  As I said, the important thing to glean from that claim is that it "keeps up", not that it's "the fastest".

    Well, the E-M5 does have a mode that's made just for that now, which doubles the frame-rate in the viewfinder. Only time will tell, but this should help with that. At least we know that this is an area which is being improved.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Seriously? APS-C based DSLRs have always been the the traditional choice of sports photographers over Full Frame. The Nikon D700 was the first Full Frame DSLR I can think of which really "broke the mold" to make Full Frame fully acceptable as a sports camera.

    Many of the things which make APS-C ideal for sports also makes traditional Four-Thirds (not m4/3) well-suited to the task as well. Broad DOF with fast lens speed for instance, fast, light-weight telephoto reach, and edge-to-edge sharpness and brightness, to name a few. APS-C based DSLRs have traditionally had faster frame rates than Full Frame too, though that hadn't been seen in Four-Thirds yet until the recent 5.5 fps PENs and the 9fps OM-D. Lighter cameras with less mirror shake also helps.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That's probably because claims of "fast AF" through a body is pretty silly when you consider that "fast AF" is mostly a factor of the glass and in comparison is only slightly affected by the body. Your brother probably had faster focusing glass on his Rebel.

    The point of the claim however, is that the m4/3 body isn't holding you back in comparison to a DSLR body. If both are mounted with similar glass, then the difference is negligible. That's the whole point of that claim, or at least what a photographer should get out of it. Final AF speed is still determined by glass, not bodies.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    You don't know my brother and are speculating a bit here, Ned. He was an early adopter to M43 (with the E-P1) and has the fast Oly 45/1.8 among others.

    Trust me, i'd personally love for M43 to be a good sports setup, but the lack of really good AF.C, long/fast glass, and other things like VF blackout, low FPS, etc..., make it less than ideal. Fine enough for an amateur or hobbyist, but a hindrance for paying work.
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Please do consider your options carefully, but do not be mislead and swayed by prevailing myths.

    What is it about your gear that you think is holding you back? I'm a professional commercial photographer and work in the industry which has the most stringent requirements for quality control. Other professionals in consumer or news based fields (ie, weddings, portraits, photojournalism, etc.) don't have the same quality control requirements.They often have a lot more creative requirements than I deal with but in terms of "technical perfection" in photography, commercial photographers have it hardest... and my personal standards are actually a lot higher than my clients in the industry.

    Yet, I was shooting with Four-Thirds DSLRs long before the Digital PEN existed, and I chose that system over all the others BECAUSE of the overall intrinsic quality I got out of it, not despite it. Quality is the last thing that my clients will complain about with my photos ("when will it be done?" is the first... xP).

    So if your photos are not letting you down and in fact are putting you above the class, then I wouldn't be worried about your equipment holding you back. If you think so because "professionals use Canons" or some such nonsense that tends to float around, then forget that. There are lots of professionals who use Olympus cameras in various fields and achieve fantastic results from it. We're just a less visible group because Olympus has traditionally been a boutique manufacturer instead of a mass production company.

    In fact, all that shows is just how much HIGHER a standard of quality we have to keep as professional photographers who shoot with Olympus, in order to dispel the myths and to stand out above the competition through the work we produce. My gear never lets me down in that regard, only I do.
  18. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I do agree looking only at current capabilites, but every area you've mentioned are exactly where Micro Four-Thirds is currently showing drastic improvement, on the verge of breaking down the barriers between Non-Reflex and DSLRs. I think calling the system fine for hobbyists or amateurs is rather short-sighted.

    I don't think my PEN is currently better than an E-5, but I do think that it shows more potential for the future, which is why I shoot it now.
  19. cmercer

    cmercer Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks Ned, everything that you post is geared towards bringing me some hope. I really want to buy the OM-D, but I need to be able to broaden my field and expand into motor sport. I have to be fair and say that I have not used the PEN in a motor sport environment, however I find the PEN holds me back in other ways and I am confident that it will not perform to a high standard within that environment.

    Firstly, not necessarily motor sport related but when taking pictures in a studio environment, I have to use an adapter to operate a main flash. Thankfully the PEN does have the hot shoe, however this renders my VF2 useless. I am aware the OM-D has a built in EVF so this wouldn't apply unless there is an adapter for the accessory port?

    Secondly, noise levels can be high when ISO levels are raised even slightly. I have heard that the OM-D is more flexible.

    Thirdly, operating the camera setting can be slow with the push buttons. DSLRs come with a wheel and this is something my EPL1 really lacks.

    That is another part of the problem, I don't think I could be taken seriously if I turned up to a wedding (I wouldn't turn down a wedding if someone asked me, work is work!) with my silver PEN. Larger DSLRs look more professional although arguably the OM-D looks the part too!

    I'm still not sure though.

  20. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nope sorry. Not me. Used to go into precision a lot. Even rode motorcycles with the manager. Bought my D3 there. :biggrin: But now Austin is a universe away and I haven't been over there to weird town for over three years. :smile:
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