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Why the OMD-EM-1 is a Game Changer.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by SpecFoto, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    Bold statement but first some background: I shoot with a group of 7 or so photographers and we have monthly shoots with models at the beach, in the mountains, in the desert, all in very bright conditions, or in a studio. (I Luv LA) Funny that we all mainly shoot Nikon, there are 3 D800’s, 3 D600’s and 2 D700’s in the group, although an occasional 5D Mk II shows up. I am the only one who has ventured into M4/3, having bought a OMD-EM-5 about 14 months ago and I have used it alongside my D800 at many of the shoots.

    Shooting usually noon through sunset, I use the Sunny 16 rule for my manual outdoor exposures. In case you don’t know what the Sunny 16 Rule (*1) is, it is an exposure guideline for film, but still works great to this day with digital. With my D800 at ISO 100, I can shoot throughout the day with my Nikkor 85mm AF f/1.4D, 105mm f/2 DC or 135mm f/2 DC, all at aperture f/2, in the brightest sun at 1/8,000 shutter speed, all the way to sunset at 1/125 shutter speed (*2) without changing the ISO or f-stop, and pretty much get the perfect exposure. I don’t have to worry about overexposure, ND filters or other items to cut the amount of sunlight. This makes manual exposure so much easier, as the only thing I have to change, unless I want more depth of field, is shutter speed.

    Unfortunately at the base ISO of 200, the EM-5 has a more limited range, 4 stops, in the same situation as above for accommodating different lighting conditions. At 1/4000 shutter speed and ISO 200 the widest f/stop available, without over exposure, is f/4 (1/250 ss to 1/4,000 ss = 4 stops and f/16 to f/4 = 4 stops). F/2.8 would need 1/8,000 or ISO 100, neither of which the EM-5 has. My D800 has a 6 stop range and can go to f/2 as shown above. The D700 and D600/610 have a 5 stop range to f/2.8, even though their base ISO and maximum shutter speed are different, they are overall equal. And Yes, using ND filters will adjust the stop range, but in equal terms for all cameras. (As will higher ISO, VR lenses, IS lenses or IBIS when shooting in darker conditions, but these don’t help in bright sunny conditions.)

    To put it another way, with my EM-5 vs the D800, since the lowest ISO is 200, a stop is lost, and another is lost due to the 1/4000 maximum shutter speed. Thus for shots in bright sun, and to avoid being overexposed, ND filters, scrims or other items must be used to cut the sun and make up the lost 2 stop difference. All require forethought and setup and take away from some of the spontaneity of shooting. Couple of my buddies just look at me, shake their heads and say “why don’t you just shoot with the D800?”

    OK, so why is the EM-1 a game changer? Because it has the same 6 stop range as my D800!!

    Yes 1 stop is by going to the Low ISO 100 setting, which is kinda fudging, but from what I have read this is most likely where my ISO will be set. This and the 1/8,000 maximum shutter speed adds 2 stops to the EM-1 vs. the EM-5. The ability to shoot with my OLY 45mm 1.8 and 75mm 1.8 lenses at full aperture (technically at -1/3 stop exposure compensation) in full sun without filters or scrims, just like my D800 and 3 fast Nikkor primes, is a game changer for me.

    This is why I am upgrading to the EM-1. There are other reasons, the improved controls and buttons being next. But having seen posters here say the 1/8,000 shutter speed and ISO 100 is no big deal simply have not shot in the conditions I have.




    * 1 - Sunny 16 Rule. The rule, updated for digital, is: on bright sunny days (EV15) for the correct exposure of the subject at f/16, the shutter speed should be set to the reciprocal of the ISO. Thus for ISO 200, your camera should be at 1/250 shutter speed (1/200 actually, but not all cameras can deal with 1/4 or 1/3 speeds). For an ISO 100 setting, it would be 1/125 shutter speed. From this starting point it is easy to adjust shutter speed or f-stop to accommodate different lighting conditions. Cloudy bright light -2 stops down (EV13), full shade -4 stops down (EV 11), Las Vegas at night, outdoor night baseball, football games, campfires, 7 stops down (EV 8). ISO could be used too, but I shoot at the lowest ISO possible. BTW shooting the D800 and 85mm f/1.4 at 1.4, and not f/2, ads a full stop and its range becomes 7 for darker conditions. Gotta believe I WILL be in line for the Pany 42.5mm f/1.2, even though I love the Oly 45mm f/1.8.

    *2 - When shooting with longer lenses I like to use another old, but golden, rule for shutter speed of: keep the minimum shutter speed at the reciprocal of the lens length in mm. 85mm or 105mm should be 1/125 shutter speed for example. When shooting at f/2, with such a narrow depth of field, the slightest movement on my part, or the models, and the shot has lost sharpness. For this reason, I try to shoot models at 1/250 shutter speed.
     
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  2. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    983
    Sep 8, 2012
    Chad
    did some quick tests with iso 100 on my OMD last week and I don't think its fudging ? while it can be in the past and I might have to do more testing but its not the same fudge as other low ISO IMHO at least :)
    and that opinion is from a working photographer that has to make a living with my gear :) comparing to my D600 which I do think is kinda fake low iso I am very impressed by the low on the OMD ;)
     
  3. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    Thank you for that, it is very encouraging to hear!
     
  4. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    Bangkok
    rob collins
    Good to hear that it works pretty well. You will note, however, that iso 200 is marked 'recommended' in the iso menu and Low is marked 'extension' in the same way as iso6400 and above.
     
  5. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    The sensor is almost identical in both (if not identical) so shooting raw at ISO 200 on M1-M5 is the same. Since the ISO 100 is a fake software trick, the only real difference is the 1 stop from the 1/8000. This necessitates RAW usage, but still.
     
  6. bipinsnair

    bipinsnair Mu-43 Veteran

    310
    Sep 7, 2012
    Herndon, VA
    Bipin Nair
    Those are the only 2 things that I really miss in E-M5. As you said, there are other improvements, but I am not bothered as the E-M5 performs quite
    well and I only wish if I had ISO 100 and 1/8000 shutter speed on my E-M5. It really comes handy when shooting with fast primes in bright conditions.
     
  7. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    983
    Sep 8, 2012
    Chad
    curious what or how you tested with your E-M1 ?

    I know one thing the sensor is like a engine in a car ? its still what surrounds it that can bring out the little things and how its tuned etc..

    fake trick or not which I am familiar with :)

    IMHO its nicer than bringing 200 down again just from looking at what I did last week I felt the 100 E-M1 files were nicer than 200
    either way its nice to spin it on the dial and let me work with lights a bit easier and see what I get :)

    for sure in the JPG if people shoot that way also it seems something is going on ? no noise suppression or something ? I shoot raw so jpg output is not a big deal to me and I know they don't cross over :)



     
  8. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I'm really, really looking forward to 1/8000 and ISO 100 - I shoot quite a lot of low light, so the higher ISO matters there, but when traveling I still often run into scenes that are too 'bright'. Portraits in bright sunlight are a particular bugbear - having to either grab an ND or stop down to f4 or f5.6 with a 2.8 zoom or a fast prime is just annoying.
     
  9. The ISO LOW setting does't stop the camera from overexposing in bright light, but the 1/8000 shutter sure does.
     
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  10. gr8Shot

    gr8Shot Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Nov 13, 2013
  11. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    You echo what 2 other professional photographers blogs said about the new EM-1 sensor, there is an improvement.

    When first looking at the EM-5 last year I did a lot of reading and research, as I was planning on dumping my Nikon DX format for this system. I remember reading one test labs report on the EM-5 that concluded the base ISO on the sensor was not really 200, but actually closer to ISO 100 base. They arrived at this because in testing the 16 mp sensor against the Panasonic and other APC ones, the ISO 3200 photos from the EM-5 were slightly better than any M/43 camera out there. So they ran a test to establish the ISO and concluded at ISO 3,200 it was actually a lot closer to 1600. Same conclusion for the 6,400 shots, they felt the sensor was nearer ISO 3,200.

    What is fact is that in the 18 months since the EM-5 was introduced, Olympus has improved the shutter, improved the processing engine and dropped the AA filter. It only makes sense that they have also improved the sensor. In the interview i read with EM-1 management team at Olympus, they said they had improved and tweaked the sensor, why not believe them? If the test labs conclusion was partially right, lets say the EM-5 base shutter was actually ISO 150, how much more would they have to tweak it for Olympus to say it was OK to shoot at ISO 100?
     
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  12. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    Yes, the D800 is amazing at what it can pull from the shadows. I found the EM-5 was pretty good at it too, but the D800 had at least a stop more. (I tend to shoot underexposed, never wanting to blow out the highlights.) If the EM-1 is anything like the D800 in this ability, that is a terrific bonus.
     
  13. gr8Shot

    gr8Shot Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Nov 13, 2013
  14. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    713
    Sep 24, 2011
    If E-M1 fans are so confident that the E-M1 "is a game changer" and "equals FF" they should post two photos and then ask us: "guess which one was shot by the E-M1 and which one by the FF?"
     
  15. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    This is indeed fascinating. Re pulling highlights, as mentioned that is something I don't usually worry about. Years of shooting slides, then 11 years of having Nikon D bodies that tended to blow out highlights, has taught me to to shoot slightly underexposed. Highlights and Shadows in PS has long been my friend :cool:

    Tomorrow my EM-1 arrives and I am so looking forward to this 4 day holiday weekend to shoot.

    Thanks for your comments!
     
  16. bcaslis

    bcaslis Mu-43 Veteran

    302
    Jul 3, 2011
    Wilsonville, OR, USA
    Brian Caslis
    This is a good point. Personally, I think it's a great camera and in some cases might give equal or better pictures than a FF camera. But that's not because the IQ is as good. It would be a situation where the IBIS and a fast prime shoot at lower ISO than the FF which has to use a higher shutter speed and higher ISO.

    The E-M1 is probably better for many people than a FF camera. But the IQ isn't close enough to claim it's equal purely on the image.
     
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  17. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    As far as equals FF in IQ, I don't think that is what anyone here implied. My original post was specifically talking about the sensors ability to capture the same range of light as my D800, 1 more stop than my D700 and 2 more than the EM-5. At no time did I mentions IQ.

    For what it is worth, I have 16 by 20 prints on my living room wall of Nature scenes. Currently 2 are D800 and 2 from the EM-5, 1 from a D300 and 1 from a D700. I can't tell the difference in IQ at normal viewing distances and neither can people I have asked. But no doubt, the FF sensor has more resolution and depth. The ability to take a D800 36 MP shot, crop it down to half size and still have a hi resolution photo with as good of IQ as any APC or M4/3 photo is pretty amazing.

    And re your posting idea, actually I did that last year with my EM-5 vs D800 and PC-e tilt and shift lens. Half got it wrong because trying to see the difference on a web monitor with the posting size restrictions of this forum is pointless, the resolution is just not there.

    Here is the thread, in case you are interested.

    https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=35317
     
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  18. bigal1000

    bigal1000 Mu-43 Veteran

    337
    Sep 10, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Exactly what will you get from half crop on an MFT file exactly does not come close. MFT vs FF apples and oranges comparision it's like comparing a 35mm film negative vs an 8"x10" view camera back in the good old days of film.
     
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  19. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    No cheating.

    the_win_2_.

    P8310118_1_.
     
  20. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hi ..people have often done that and at web resolution no one can tell any difference . Moreover it also depends on the lenses which bring the best out of any camera. I don't think we need to compare FF and MFt again and again. Each has its own merits and demerits and people should choose any camera based on their own needs and comfort not just based on reviews . All MILCS and DSLRs are exellent and far more capable than many of us.IMHO ..choose the tool you are confident with :thumbup: I won't dump my EM5 just on basis of minor IQ difference between EM5 and any FF camera nor I would suggest that everyone should dump their current gear and jump on MFT bandwagon . It's very personal and based on many other factors . In the end these comparasion have no meaning or impact on daily needs of 99% photographers out there and remaining 1% photogs clearly know what they are shooting with and why ? Finally it's the photographer who makes the images look different .
    Cheers
     
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