It wasn’t that long ago (March) when I returned from a trip to the US having visited Death Valley and San Francisco. At the time I was raving about what a great travel camera the Panasonic GX1 makes and that in my opinion it’s probably the best travel camera. Well, I have just spent the last week in France (visiting my daughter who lives there) and I’m going to revise my opinion.
The GX1 is still a great travel camera but it has now been knocked off the top spot. The Olympus OMD EM5 is now the best travel camera in my opinion. It is just as discrete as the GX1 but the image quality it definitely superior, as is the low light performance and it has some other great features. If I had this camera and a 14-45mm lens, I would travel happily in the knowledge that I would be able to capture some great images. In fact, over the past week I didn’t use my 9-18 lens at all and only used the 45-200 lens on a couple of occasions.
During my trip I was able to shoot very freely in locations where larger cameras were being frowned upon because people found them obtrusive; the inside of churches and cathedrals spring to mind immediately as one example. The low light performance of the camera also allowed it to cope well with the low light levels and the image stabilisation in the camera is superb. Outdoors the camera was equally able to handle the bright conditions and produce amazing image quality. All this is on top of the great depth of field you can achieve with Micro 43 cameras and a body that isn’t much larger than the GX1 but is built like a tank.
I now see the OMD EM5 as my perfect travel camera and looking on Amazon the prices seem to be coming down. Could this be as the result of a new Olympus on the horizon?
The shot above was captured during a visit to a nearby coastal town. The images from the OMD RAW files seem to convert very nicely to black and white and give a feel of very fine grained film. When viewed up close the image quality reminds me a little of Kodak TMax100 film which was one of my favourites.
When I did this particular conversion using Nik Silver Efex Pro I thought the image reminded me of an old style (film) black and white image so I enhanced this a little further by using “clumsy” dodging and burning. Notice there is a slight halo around the lighthouse to help give this feel. This is similar to the dodging and burning that would have been in the done in the darkroom as it would have been difficult to align the effect with the lighthouse. I could easily have achieved a perfect dodge/burn effect on the lighthouse in Photoshop but I thought this halo effect help suggest an image from a time that has now passed.
If you are interested in the full conversion from colour and how it was achieved I will be putting together a fact sheet over the next week or two and make this available for free download.
Hope you like it.