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Week one with E-M5: words and images

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by thinkcooper, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    The camera arrived on Wednesday, April 18th. E-M5 in black, with the 12-50 lens and HLD-6 grip. Like everyone else that pre-ordered, I was very excited when the package finally arrived. Unfortunately, I had been sick throughout that week so I wasn't able to experiment as much as I'd hoped.

    The first week I spent trying out settings, the new kit lens, working out the ergonomic differences between my trusty E-P3 and the E-M5, trying to replicate as closely as possible my setup. There were a few surprises and new things to learn. And there were even two calls to Olympus tech support. Those folks at Olympus are very helpful, and it's a big plus to have a support number you can call, get through to a real person, and have them seem genuinely interested in trying to answer your questions or solve your problems with the camera.

    The surprises:
    - With the kit 12-50 zoomed in, the E-M5's LCD preview is darker in low light than on my E-P3 with the exact same lens, zoom and f-stop. Adjustment of brightness doesn't seem to improve the low-light performance or visibility. It appears that the LCD's exposure adjustment in preview is clamped to about 1.0-1.5 stops on the bright end in low light and is overall about 2-3 stops darker than the actual image based on current exposure value. So even when dialing the exposure compensation up 3 stops high, the LCD display still appears too dark, and significantly darker than the actual image captured at those values. Also the color desaturates. All this contributes to challenges when composing in low-light with the 12-50. The EVF is closer to actual exposure results but is still darker than the same settings and lens values when using my E-P3 with the accessory VF-2. Other lenses such as the Oly 45, or Pany 20 or Oly 9-18 do not exhibit this clamped preview characteristic. Tech support was able to go through their camera and lens set-up, replicate mine and confirmed this problem. Perhaps this will make it into a firmware update.
    - The E-M5's max 1/250th sync speed doesn't drive the FL36R and FL-50R flashes to that same speed. MU-43 Forum Thread Here.
    - During a bicycle jump jam, shooting primarily in burst mode at 10fps, I was able to capture ~2500 images before the only battery died. Looking forward to a second battery, but man - that's a lot of image capture. In typical use though the battery lasts predictably on par with the E-P3 battery.

    New things:
    - It took a little experimentation to get the E-M5's EVF to configure to my liking.
    - Shooting in 10fps mode was a blast
    - the 12-50 is a great walk around lens in dusty/wet conditions, it'll great when I head to Black Rock desert this summer; but it's not as sharp as I'd like and the f6.3 limit at 50mm is constraining. Overall though, it's a good lens in daylight conditions, or with additional lighting like a flash.
    - the little attachment flash works great for triggering both my FL-36R and FL-50R. Cool.

    Overall, I'm thoroughly smitten by the E-M5. It is great to handle, and even with the accessory grip/battery holder attached, it is still so much smaller than typical DSLR. At Sea Otter Classic last weekend, three folks asked if they could handle the camera. And at the Jump Jam, John Shafer, the lead reviewer at Photography Review was all over the camera, and wanting to actually snap some images, as the pre-review unit they received didn't have a battery. But sadly, my battery was already kaput. John asked me to pen a review for their site.

    This is a remarkable camera. I haven't had this much fun shooting since my old Canon FN days when processing and film was still affordable. My E-P3 will be a great second body, and make it into tight backpacks on mountain bike rides. But the E-M5 will be the shooter most any other scenario.

    Images to follow.

  2. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    Handheld Canon FD 300. Viewfinder image stabilization? Magic!


    Playing with fire at a BB Gun/BBQ/Bonfire



    Jump Jam @ Aptos Post Office Jump Track \ 10fps burst = most excellent. 12-50? not as sharp as a prime.






    Check out the full series of this flip on my flickr photostream.

    • Like Like x 5
  3. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    Here's a shot that is just a tad too soft from the 12-50. I predict it'll be a great crappy condition snap-shooting lens.
  4. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    Another handheld 300 Canon FD shot. And again, the viewfinder's image stabilization is remarkable, along with the 5-axis IS set to the focal length of the lens.

    Dramatic effect? I like it. Not everyday, but it'll have it's uses.

    Birds and flowers. Handheld 300 Canon FD. Flat, dull lighting, in overcast mid-day skies, but it's all I had. IS works.


    • Like Like x 2
  5. Gyroscope

    Gyroscope Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 20, 2012
    SE London
    Love the cycling (?) ones. Those guys are nutters!
  6. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    Those are my BIF* images.

    *Bikes In Flight
    • Like Like x 1
  7. dino8031

    dino8031 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 27, 2012
    Boulder, Colorado
    Big difference in IQ between the FD and the 12-50, not surprisingly.

    But the 12-50 does looks very soft.

    It's really cool that you can hand hold that FD monster. The IBIS alone seems worth the cost of admission to the EM-5.

    Great post BTW. I'm one of the unlucky ones still waiting for an email confirmation from Amazon about an EM-5 ship date. Sigh....
  8. ZephyrZ33

    ZephyrZ33 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 18, 2010
    Southern California
    Nice review and bike shots.

    Ryan Nyquist is still killin' it. :thumbup:
  9. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    John M
    Well done.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    I have some great Nyquist shots that I haven't uploaded. Yes indeed. He still flies.
  11. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    Good luck on the wait - I understand that all too well. I think pre-ordering from Olympus had its advantages.

    I love the 12-50's range, the zoom, the macro feature, the weather sealing and the weight/size, but yep - it's soft. It'll be relegated to specific uses, mostly when I know I'll be in dust or rain.
  12. ZephyrZ33

    ZephyrZ33 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 18, 2010
    Southern California
    Coincidently, I recently rescued one of his signature Haro's from storage. It's almost ten years old.

    I was on the fence about letting it go... until now. :cool: 
  13. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    Ride it like you stole it!
  14. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2011
    Thinkcooper, have you shot with the EP3 and an EVF? If so, how would you compare it to the EM5 with a long telephoto like your 300? The same? Better?
  15. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    I shot legacy glass with the E-P3 and VF2 electronic viewfinder a lot. Including that 300. Frankly, the only way I could ever truly, reliably pull focus on the legacy glass was with the VF2 and magnify view. Using the 300 with the VF2 field magnified was really challenging. The image in the viewfinder would bounce all over. Even in non-magnified view in the VF2, there is a lot of swing in the 300. Basically I'd need to set my focus and compose, one or the other. But trying to simultaneously focus and compose, then shooting while handholding was a challenge. It could be done, but not without a braced stance, and really careful breath control and trigger release discipline.

    The E-M5 with stabilized viewfinder is very different when shooting the 300. edit: It is much better.

    With a half shutter press, the viewfinder stabilizes. The effect is like the image just gels in place. It stops bouncing and really helps to focus the 300 without having to rely on the magnified view. I have been using the magnify view just to confirm focus, but the magnify feature is dismissed as soon as you half press the shutter. I'm finding the E-M5 a lot easier to compose with when using the 300.

    As for actually shooting with the 300 and the E-M5? The IS just works. Plain and simple. The fern shot closeup was taken through the 300, handheld at 1/80th shutter speed. I was seated but not braced otherwise. Out of five shots, four were totally sharp. I simply selected for composition.
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