Olympus OM-D EM-5 vs OM-D EM-5 Featuring Chester Chen

Two Photographers, Two OM-Ds, Two Visions.

Picture: Chester Chen (Left) & Allan Lee, Editor (Right) with their OM-Ds.

A beautiful embodiment of the “best” of Olympus, the OM-D EM-5 is a new class of cameras on its own. Contrary to popular beliefs, the OM-D is not a continuation of the OM line (35mm SLR) which once rules the classic SLR world. The OM-D is a Micro Four Thirds, running alongside with the Pen Series, but targeting at a different crowd I would say. In my view, the Pen Series are great cameras targeting at the younger crowd who are trendy and artsy, but when OM-D was announced, I see it as a M43 for the serious enthusiasts. Why? The specs is so near to the Olympus Four Third Flagship E-5, its not too difficult to see it that the OM-D was made for bigger things.

When I received the review unit (pictured above) from Olympus Singapore, I was at a lost on how to review it. Given my style, I will not compare it with other maker’s M43 as each brand has its own following and selling points, but the OM-D is a different breed altogether. So after some careful consideration & planning, I decided to roped in another Professional Photographer to do a dual review, he is none other than Chester Chen, a renowned Professional Photographer in the local imaging circle – and he owns an OM-D too.

Picture: Blending into the crowd – Allan, Editor (Left) & Chester Chen (Right)

The planned review goes like this. We go out together, with our OM-Ds in our hands, to a single location and shoot using our own style – well that should be fun – especially with what we might produce as both of us are very different photographers. We ended up at Little India, most appropriately at this time of the year as Deepavali (The Festival of Lights) is around the corner. The theme? Street Photography.
Here’s what we got. (Commentaries after the photo spread)

Picture: “Gathered” by Allan Lee (Editor).

“Gathered” – Hordes of people gathered together having their little conversations & sharing of stories over
beer & snacks, this is a true gathering. Done with my own method of stitching for pano shots. – Allan Lee

Picture L-R: “Deepavali” & “HungryGoHere” by Chester Chen.

“Deepavali” (Above) & “Lightup” (2 jumps Below) – It quickly became dark and the celebratory decorations took to lighting up the street. – Chester
“HungryGoHere” – Some businesses who started working very early in the day were still at it whilst other more interested in the evening pub crawling patrons started to get customers and what better way than a real-life display of the dishes. – Chester

Picture L-R: “Coco-Licious” & “Color Order” by Allan Lee (Editor).

“Coco-Licious” – The coconut seems to be most popular drink at Little India’s Deepavali Bazaar. Every other
person taking a break by the road can be seen with 1 or sometimes 2 coconuts. This is enjoyed over a conversation
before moving off for more shopping. – Allan Lee.
“Color Order” – An Array of colored syrup drinks on sale adding to the atmospheric-ambience colors creating a happy &
refreshing mood. – Allan Lee.

Picture L-R: “Fence” , “GotNews-Paper” & “LeanOnMe” by Chester Chen.

“Fence” – I shot this twice but kept the one where I can see the fence. – Chester.
“LeanOnMe” – The subdued shadows from the indirect natural light caught my eye with this shot. And you can see the subtlety of the blues with the wall and his jeans. Then you get hit by the contrast of the red and white shirt. – Chester.

Picture L-R: “Ground Up” & “Drink Seller” by Allan Lee (Editor).

“Ground Up” – Using the tilt-able LCD screen on the OM-D, it allows me to do low-to-ground shots like these.
I love ground up perspectives. – Allan Lee.

Picture L-R: “Light-Up” & “Mosque & Moon” by Chester Chen.

“Mosque & Moon” – Multiple exposure shots was something I liked to try back in the day. Not many cameras incorporate this feature. The OM-D incorporated the feature and even though I love the feature but don’t feel it will give the desired results. – Chester.

Picture: “That Moment in Time” by Allan Lee (Editor).

“That Moment in Time” – Done with a tripod and having the lens zoomed to the telephoto end, I attempted this shot
with a slow shutter with the smallest aperture (F22) at 50mm (100mm). I am like some 20 metres away when I
took this shot. – Allan Lee

Picture L-R: “Toy People” & “Traffic” by Allan Lee (Editor).

Picture: “Rush” by Chester Chen.

“Rush” – it was like the sea opened up and allowed all to find safe passage. A very slow shutter speed was used but I had with me a mono-pod so the photo came out better than not having the monopod. – Chester.

Picture: “Pandora Window” by Allan Lee (Editor).

Picture: “Triple-Take” by Chester Chen.

“Triple-Take” – Look once and curiosity gets the better of you. Why or what made these 3 guys get the exact same shirt and similar trousers. Note this was shot with the Art Bracket feature. – Chester.

Picture: “Stop” by Allan Lee (Editor).

Picture: “Sitting” by Chester Chen.

“Sitting” – I like to shoot my panoramas in portrait mode. This allows me to capture surrounding elements like the buildings because in this shot it allows me to show the scale and mass of the people gathered. You can use the panorama assist mode on the OM-D but I choose to use my own method because it will have to be stitched later in software. – Chester.

Picture: Chester Chen.

Chester: “I have been using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for some time and the itch that got me interested in micro-fourthirds even longer. In a nutshell, shooting with the electronic viewfinder with manual focus lenses is a godsend. Hence, when I packed my bag for this Olympus shootout inside was a Nikon 28mm f/3.5, Zenit Helios 44M-7 58mm f/2.0, the 14-42 kit and the 40-150mm. Seems like a lot but when compared to my other full-frame setup it is at least half the weight and bulk.”

Picture: Allan Lee (Editor)

Allan: “The Touch Screen Focus is very useful in this instance as it complements the already pretty fast focusing and this ensures that I am ready to take a shot the way I want it within fractions of a second. The compact profile of the OM-D also makes it easier for me to navigate through the crowd without breaking anything. The issue lens 12-50mm (24-100mm) is very useful for this shoot as it allows me to cover a good focal range – just that this lens needs a little getting-used to, otherwise, it’s a pretty decent lens to go with the OM-D. “

Chester: “The small diminutive size of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 does make it difficult for people with large hands and fingers. The ‘Play’ button in particular is not friendly. Other inconveniences are quickly put aside when you see the quality of the images. My shooting requirements don’t usually call for large prints so I can easily make use of the high ISO up-to 3200.

If you get tired of being Mr Professional shooting raw files in manual mode. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 gives you both options of shooting where you have full control or it can just as easily setup for full auto or semi-auto for a newbie.

The features I like and use regularly.

  • Built-in Image Stabiliser (because it makes using manual focus lenses easier)
  • Sensor (good light sensitivity and clean output up to 1600. With a little work and creativity ISO 3200 is also a good working .
  • Small easy to handle size and weight. It means I can early carry it in one hand on a wrist strap
  • Bracketing – you can bracket ISO, exposure, art filters, etcetera”

Allan: “I must say I am impressed by what the OM-D had produced in this review-outing. The colors are natural and rendered correctly (Auto WB) and there is little effort required handling the little, but solidly built OM-D. Ergonomics are well thought of and buttons are easy to find and access. Probably for my fat fingers, I find some of the button a tad too tiny, but that should not pose a problem to anyone with normal fingers.

I like the tilt-able LCD screen a lot as I am one of those “low to ground” photographers that insists on having a foreground in my photos and this is a very useful feature. During the processing, I found that most of the photos are already nicely saturated (camera were set to Natural/Default for all settings) and all I need to do was to crop a bit and the photo is good to go.

On overall, the OM-D EM-5 is a nicely packaged monster. Everything is nicely sorted, the array of professional functions found in other high end cameras, the options of art filters, the magnesium alloy + weather proof body with touch screen LCD, the high frame per second, better ISO handling and very useable up to ISO 6400 (still clean), the break-neck speed of focusing and face detection, the attractive price and the lure of Zuiko lenses. Every professional photographer should have one OM-D EM-5 in their gear bag as a second camera or as a main camera.

For More information on the Olympus OM-D EM-5, please visit http://www.olympusimage.com.sg/products/dslr/em5/

Picture: Olympus OM-D EM-5 Put to Good Use.

Thanks to Olympus Imaging Singapore for letting me play with the OM-D EM-5 for this review.
My Heartfelt Thanks to our Guest Photographer Mr. Chester Chen (retsehcnehc@hotmail.com).
Special Thanks to our Behind-the-Scenes+Cover Shots Photographer Mr. Julian Tan (jtacdf@facebook.com)

About Olympus Imaging Singapore

Olympus Imaging Singapore is the unparalleled industry leader in opto-digital technologies, delivering award-winning digital imaging products for the consumer and professional markets in Singapore. Driven by a strong commitment in providing innovative products and solutions of the highest quality, Olympus Imaging Singapore works closely with industry partners, customers and other Olympus business units in producing leading-edge products. These include analogue and digital cameras, professional SLR imaging systems, and voice recorders, amongst others. Olympus Imaging Singapore’s unrelenting efforts in superior customer service also bear testimony to its brand promise of delivering the best user experience to all consumers and professional users in the imaging field. For more information, please visit http://www.olympusimage.com.sg.

About Editor AL

About The Web Editor: http://about.me/shutterjourney
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