Day Out with an Olympus

Shot at ISO 800 on the Olympus OMD, handheld with a 45mm lens. The RAW image file displays low noise, excellent sharpness and lovely colours.
Shot at ISO 800 on the Olympus OMD, handheld with a 45mm lens. The RAW image file displays low noise, excellent sharpness and lovely colours. I didn’t take any brilliant shots but it was a great day out.

I won’t bore you with the details but all of my free time (including that I use for blogging) has vanished, at least for the short term. I am actually putting this blog together whilst trying to eat some lunch. Yesterday however I was fortunate to have a day out on a photography course designed to allow you to try out a camera – the Olympus OMD.

This Olympus Experience Day was put together by Olympus with pro landscape photographer Steve Gosling. I like Steve’s work a lot and having been on his “Business of Photography” course some years back so very interested in attending this day. The course was held at the RHS gardens in Harrogate and whilst not my usual subject matter I found a few things to shoot and try out the camera. What I thought was good (other than the exceptional value of the day) was that I had an OMD to myself for the entire day.

At the start of the day there was a short session to help delegates understand how to use the camera followed by a questions wrap up at the end. In between Steve spent time with each person individually to answer any questions they may have. I think this is a great way to allow people to try before you buy and I wish more manufacturers would follow the model (other than Hasselblad and Phase One as I can’t afford their hardware). It was also a great day with an experienced pro photographer and opportunity to draw on his experience and thinking.

Now you know I was impressed by the day, what about the camera.

I really like this camera, but to be honest I didn’t expect to at the start of the day. I had read some horror stories about the poor menu system which is something I have experienced before with my NEX5. I actually found the OMD’s menus quite logical and was able to set up the camera relatively quickly. It was certainly much better in my opinion than the NEX5 (when first launched).

I tried the camera with the 12-50 Olympus lens, my 14-45 Panasonic lens and my 45mm Olympus lens. It handled extremely well with all and felt very solid in the hands. I wasn’t however that impressed with the 12-50 lens other than a very nice macro function it offered.

To me, the most important aspect of a camera is how it handles and the image quality produced. I have to say, this is an exceptionally well made camera which feels very durable. The image quality is also very impressive for a Micro 43. Much of the day I was shooting at ISO400 or ISO800, something I would avoid with my GX1. The image above was captured inside a potting shed at ISO800 and my 45mm lens hand held. It’s very sharp with no camera shake and is very clean in terms of noise. In fact I can’t believe how clean the images from this camera are. I will have no issues submitting ISO800 images to stock libraries and believe me; I am very picky about this.

So will I buy one of these cameras? I would certainly like to. The only thing stopping me is that I have just sold my Canon 9500 printer with a view to upgrading to A2, so that’s my current priority. I may therefore need to stick with my trusty GX1’s for a while longer.

11 thoughts on “Day Out with an Olympus

  1. Hi,

    I bought an om-d some weeks ago, having used a ff dslr for years. I can honestly say that it is a very enjoyable camera that feels very decent and solid. It took me some time to arrange all the settings but in fact, most settings you really need can be very quickly changed in the super control panel, within seconds. The real pleasure for me is the ability to mount a wide array of different lenses on it. In fact, I dont use a single olympus lens yet. Instead, I increasingly tend to use manual focus lenses (SLR magic 12mm f:1.6 and Leica R Elmarit 19mm II). I found that, by using the focussing scale on the lens barrel, I am able to focus more effectively and more consciously than I did using autofocus. By anticipating, I can shoot frames without bothering about focussing or exposure. I admit it takes continuous practicing but I have the impression I will miss less shots, especially during street photography. The biggest challenge here? Estimating distances! Landscape wise, I still have to put my little setup through its paces, especially considering noise and dynamic range. Long exposures will really test the Oly and decide if M43 is my future setup which I truly hope will be. Via an adaptor ring I will be putting huge Lee filters (DSLR heritage) in front of the tiny 12mm and the poor Oly will be sitting on a big fat RRS BH-55 ballhead. I cannot wait!


    1. Sounds like a great set up although the large Lee filters might get in the way. I used mine for a while but in the end bought a set of HiTech 85mm filters and used them with a plastic Cokin filter holder. They work great. I hadn’t though about the lenses you mention, I must look into those. If you get the chance try out the Olympus 45mm which although a little long is quite good for street portraits. The Olympus 9-18mm is superb for Landscapes and my fav lens.

      1. A longer lens is still missing in my bag, I have an eye on the 75mm for its outstanding sharpness. The 45 I think is just ideal for portraits and I consider it a ‘must have’. Can’t buy the 9-18 because the front diameter is too small to step up to my filter set via an adaptor ring. These filters just cost me too much money to end up being replaced by a more appropriate set. Tomorrow I receive my RRS L-bracket so landscapes here I come!
        Your website convinced me to abandon DSLR systems and fully focus on squeezing max quality from smaller sensors. This challenge alone I find most enjoyable.

      2. I’m pleased you are enjoying the small sensor challenge which actually has some advantages for Landscapes. And don’t write off the 9-18 lens because of filters. Most of the time I only carry a single 85mm 0.6 ND grad from HiTech. It’s cheap and gives sufficient effect to the adjust the rest in post production. Having said that just shoot a couple of exposures and blend them – its even cheaper. Look forward to seeing some of your landscapes in due course.

  2. Go on, you know you want one! 😉

    But seriously, how did you find the electronic viewfinder compared to the Panasonic LVF2? I haven’t had a chance to handle an OM-D yet, but it does look like an appealing camera. I find the EVF is still a weak point on m43 cameras and I’d like to see improvements before spending £900 on a body. I’d love to be proved wrong though!

    1. Yes I do want one but the printer comes first. To be honest though Ed I didn’t use the viewfinder that much. The articulated screen is really nice and I didn’t have any problems seeing it. When I did use the viewfinder I didn’t think this is an EVF and soon forgot about it. It’s obviously not as good as an optical finder for realism but its more than good enough to use when you need it.

  3. I have a G3 with the articulated screen, and I wonder if I wouldn’t prefer the simpler tilting screen. Is there an actual use case for the screen to tilt side to side? I haven’t found one yet although I’m new to this camera. I enjoy your blog (LX5 is my other camera) and your photographs.

    1. Hi Mark, pleased you like the blog. Unfortunately I can’t answer your question. Regarding the simple titling of the screen, I know what you mean. WhenI have used the multi angle articulated screens I have tended to also title the image and find it difficult to judge when the image is correctly composed. With the OMD screen I don’t suffer from this. The downdie with the simple title is if you shoot a lot of portrait oriented images as there isn’t then much benefit. Swings and roundabouts I guess. Robin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.