Ok, confession first up. The featured image was taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 as I took this and the newly released E-M5MkII. I was challenging myself to shoot the E-M5MkII with the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 lens and had the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 on the E-M1, but when I needed to compose this shot in a hurry I just reached for the camera with the correct wide angle lens attached.
I remember when the first E-M5 was released in 2012 and was lucky enough to be a part of the Olympus / CNET Australia Sydney Photowalk. I was impressed with the tiny size, retro look and of the fantastic 5 axis image stabilisation. I dreamt of the day of walking out of the house without a tripod at night and that is what I did when we traveled around Europe last year for 3 months. I just took it for granted shooting at night or dark situations didn’t require a tripod any longer. Unless you were after longer exposures of a second or more. ( Even though I had heard of people shooting the E-M5 handheld for 2 seconds and getting a clean image.)
This fact hit home in Florence when I got a little too close to a laser show and burnt 2 rows of pixels across my sensor, one vertical and the other horizontal. My world collapsed. We were travelling to Venice the next day so the timing was cataclysmic. I did have a backup camera. My old Nikon D90 but on the first day when shooting blue hour, I couldn’t get a clean handheld shot and there was an ice cubes chance in Hell of getting an image at night handheld. Luckily for me I stumbled upon the only camera store in Venice the next day that had just received an E-M1. I bit the bullet, handed over my credit card and bought it at a financially painful exchange rate.
Now the latest E-M5 has improved the image stabilisation even further. So what better way of testing than shooting at the maximum reach of 150mm, equivalent to 300mm on a full frame camera. Now a general guide is your shutter speed should be no less then your focal length to maintain a sharp image. So 1/150 second should be your slowest shutter speed. Well Olympus is right with their latest ad campaign of “You are free” as you can kiss this rule goodbye. I went 3 stops under that to 1/15 second!!! and at f 2.8 achieved nice bokeh from about 20 feet away.
I then switched back to the E-M5MkII with the 12-40mm f2.8 lens near the end of the walk and captured this guy doing a FaceTime conversation so that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was his back drop. I don’t know how his phone was handling the dynamic range but I had no problems capturing everything I needed for this shot. I even increased the contrast a bit to give it a more dramatic feel.
As I had my own lens and cameras I didn’t need to borrow any gear the Olympus reps had. They had enough E-M5MkII’s and lens to suit the attendees which they limit to 15 people for this type of promotion. The good news is they will be holding more photowalks / social gatherings in the near future so if you missed out this time learning more about the Olympus gear don’t feel left out. You will have more chances this year.
As the walk ended I was just getting in the zone so ventured out on a solo mission around the back alley ways and walk ways around The Rocks area. Here are my 3 favourite images from that jaunt.
As I was making my way back to the train station I thought I would capture one last shot of Circular Quay Ferry Terminal with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background. It had been a long day with only 3hrs sleep, so when my camera changed into that uncharted territory of video mode I was stumped on how to change it back. Searching through the menu system trying to get back into picture taking mode was frustrating the life out of me. Then the penny dropped. Yes I’m an idiot. I had not locked the mode dial and had inadvertently changed it. That was the signal to go home to the missus and get some rest.