A walk through modern paradise with the Olympus EM5/2 and an ancient, classic, amazing lens.

Lately I've been slagging the Olympus EM5-2. Talking trash about it's feeble video performance. But that's kind of silly given how good the camera is as a day-to-day shooter. I worked in the studio this morning, both shooting new EM5-2 video tests but also working on editing a video project we shot earlier in the year on a GH4. After I hit the point where I was uninterested and antsy I grabbed the new EM-5/2 and carefully placed a venerable classic lens on the front of it. The lens I wanted to shoot with today is the 60mm f1.5 Pen FT lens that was made by Olympus for their series of half frame cameras back in the early 1970's. 

I went into the I.S. menu and dialed in the nearest focal length (65) so I could take advantage of the 5 axis image stabilization and then I set the camera for focus peaking. Parked the car at one side of downtown and walked all the way east and then came back all the way west. After a week of photographic people in close quarters it was a nice change to take a stab at shooting buildings. With the 60mm f1.5 hanging in around f4 and f5.6 I was amazed (as usual) at the amount of detail that this optic delivers. It's really amazing to realize how good optics could be back then.

The camera is delightful to shoot with. Every control is exactly where I would have designed it to be. The exposure, for the most part, is right on the money and the look of the files is gratifying. 

At some point I decided to try the HDR function as it was sitting right there in the middle of the menu. It works well and I am happy with the results. They aren't garish as so much HDR can be (is). At one point I called HDR "technicolor vomit" but the Olympus implementation makes me re-think the whole subject. It's more subtle and more mature.

As for the camera....I like it so much that I'm planning to take all four of my EM5's to my favorite camera store for consignment at which time I'll pick up a second EM5-2 body. Cameras are like rattlesnakes; they always like to travel in pairs...

When I got home from shooting in the downtown area we got phone call from our son, Ben. He's a freshman at Skidmore College in N.Y. It was great to talk to him. Last semester he made the Dean's List with a 4.0. I didn't think he would hit us with another piece of good news in such short order but he's been hired by the college to be a peer mentor in the philosophy department for his sophomore year. I think it's rather rare for a freshman to be asked and I couldn't be prouder of him. That good news certainly takes the sting out of my recent camera video tests.... :-)


Rick Baumhauer said...

If I shot much video, I'd be more upset about the shortcomings in that area, but the E-M5 II is an absolutely brilliant stills camera. I still can't get over how quiet even the normal shutter sound is (let alone the actual silent mode) - I've had clients unable to tell when I've taken a shot.

Also glad you've tried the HDR mode (HDR1, I'm assuming?). I've been using it extensively for all kinds of things since the E-M1 came out, and it's rarely let me down. It works great for any high-contrast architecture shots, but I've even used it on wildlife with good results. There's some serious smarts built into it, as it just about never gives ghosting - they seem to be getting image detail from the "correct" exposure, and just using the over- and under-exposed shots to tone map areas of the shot that need less contrast.

Finally, congratulations on the latest news from Ben - it doesn't surprise me that you've raised a good kid, and you have every right to be proud.

John Meredith said...

Hey Kirk, which is your worst nightmare, that you will never find the perfect camera that replaces all others or that one day you will?

Are you still resisting the RX10?

Grant said...

"I decided to try the HDR function as it was sitting right there in the middle of the menu" ..... or the middle of the top plate. ;)

Certainly loving my 2 week old M5 II. I am casual in my demands on video though -- in fact this camera is inspiring me to get more into video. Possibly, (just possibly), assessing video based on stills while editing is a bit like assessing stills performance by pixel peeping? Being as you are a pro with clients, though, I totally respect your thoughts in that context.

cheers Kirk. *Do* keep up the blog, you're a beaut.


Phil Stiles said...

Was a filter used on the B & W shot of the tower? The sky seems dark. I suppose it could be the lens, or something in post-processing. I used to shoot Voigtlander lenses, and they had a color saturated look similar to a polarizing filter.

Craig Lee said...

Curious what you'll trade in for a third EM-5II, as I thought you liked the three camera prime lens combination of yore.

Pandabilt1 said...

Kirk ..
I have read that manual focus was a pain with the MKII.
How did you find it, and were you able to assign a button to your liking to speed manual focus?

Anonymous said...

Love the colour and rendering from that lens. The armchairs and the flower shadow pics are great.


Michael Matthews said...

Cameras aside, the important news is Ben's continuing stellar performance. Congrats to him -- and his parents.

Kirk Tuck said...

Thanks Michael, I can't tell you how proud I am of the kid. He's so serious but at the same time he seems to be having so much fun. He couldn't have picked a better school for him.

Dennis Elam said...

I am still trying to learn the menus on my Pany G5 and original EM 5. But I really find the G5 touch screen and menus much more intuitive than the Oly. And so aha, Olay adapts the articulated LCD and touch screen features. I am guessing the third iteration of the EM 5 (coming?) will ramp up video. Meanwhile the G6 has ramped up its video capabilities. Now if Oly could get its menu system organized I would like it a great deal more, I fell like I need to tote the Busch book with me all the time to use the Oly EM 5.