Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Still Has the New Camera Smell

The first picture I made with my new OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the 40mm - 150mm f2.8 Pro Zoom, along Minnehaha Creek in Minnetonka. 

I'm working out the kinks on my new camera bodies. As regular readers might know, I've been using Micro 4:3 gear for years now. First as a complement to my Canon full frame cameras and lenses. For the last eight months or so I've been using the Micro 4:3 as my main cameras and the Canon gear as a complement to them. I've been very happy with my E-P5 bodies but there were times when they weren't quite up to the task in the same way that my Canons were, especially when it came to spot news and using flash. I bought the E-M5 Mark II bodies because they should fill in the blanks left with the E-P5 bodies. They're both Micro 4:3 bodies, so they use the same lenses. They also happen to use the same batteries which is important when you're carrying multiple cameras and batteries. 
The entrance to Tabanero Cigars, a cigar factory/coffee house in the Ybor section of Tampa. E-M5 Mark II and 12mm f2 lens. 

The new bodies offer several advantages over the E-P5 bodies. 

They're much better weather sealed. They're not waterproof, but there are some crazy videos on the internet of people subjecting their E-M5 Mark II and E-M1 bodies to ridiculous amounts of abuse

They offer a built in hot shoe and better flash integration. This is a tricky one. The E-P5 has a built in hot shoe AND a built in pop up flash (the E-M5 Mark II doesn't have a built in pop up flash). But I use my E-P5 bodies with the VF4 viewfinder, which sits, you guessed it, in the hot shoe. So when I have the viewfinder on the camera, which is pretty much all of the time, I can't use an external flash. The little pop up works okay, but is pretty weak. Also, the pop up part of built in pop up flash, significantly degrades the weather proofing on the camera because water and dust can get into the body from the seam around the flash. 

The E-M5 Mark II has an electronic shutter that offers completely silent operation. Dead silent, not even a soft click like the Canons do in their quiet mode. This is great in temples and churches or for some sports (golf) where an audible click can be annoying. 

The E-M5 Mark II offers a unique "high resolution mode" which outputs 40mp files. File size has been the Achilles Heel of Micro 4:3 systems. They're currently limited to 16mp, which is on the smallish side of modern digital cameras. The 40mp mode, although it has caveats, allows the E-M5 Mk2 to compete, sort of, with the Nikon D800 series or Canon's coming 5Ds series cameras. (I haven't tried this hi res mode yet, but the tests others have done look promising.)
A tree branch reflected in Minnehaha Creek, E-M5 MkII, 40-150mm f2.8 zoom. 

The E-M5 Mk2 is a tiny bit smaller than the E-P5. Their weight is so close that it's not a factor, but the VF4, which is a class leading electronic viewfinder, is pretty big (in comparison to the rest of the body) and because the EVF is built into the E-M5 Mk2, it has a slightly smaller profile. 

Both cameras use the same sensor, but the E-M5 Mk2 has an improved processing engine. Both cameras have similar image quality which makes it very easy to use them side by side on an assignment. 

I've used the E-M5 Mk2 bodies exclusively for the last two weeks and so far they've been flawless. The only issue I've had has been battery life, which is not as good as the E-P5's. 

I don't know why this is, but others have reported the E-M5 Mk2 battery life is pretty short. I can squeeze about 300 frames out of one of the Olympus batteries, which is enough for a normal day's work, but when I'm covering a big event or working especially hard is not. I now have 11 batteries for my Olympus cameras. I carry 2 or 3 spares with me at all times. 

I also bought the two Olympus Pro zooms. The 40-150mm f2.8 and 12-40mm f2.8, equal to 80-300 and 24-80 in full frame terms. 
A busker in Ybor City, Tampa. E-M5 Mark II, 17mm f1.8 lens and off camera flash. 

I use my prime lenses for most of my work. But there are times when primes are not practical, like spot news, weather (rains and typhoons) and sports. For those times I have the zooms. The zooms are excellent but they are, by M4:3 standards, pretty big. 

The 40-150, in particular, is comparatively huge. It's about the same size as the Canon 70-200 f4 (but still half the size of the Canon 70-200 f2.8). It's saving grace is that it's it's a 300 f2.8. The Canon and Nikon 300mm f2.8 primes are behemoths that cost more than $4,000. The Olympus zoom, while not cheap at $1,500, is quite a bargain compared to the CanNik 300mm lenses. And I will say this about the Olympus lens. It is an amazing piece of glass. Very sharp with excellent contrast and color. I didn't buy because it's a zoom. I bought it because I needed a 300mm lens. This one happens to be in a zoom. 
A mallard drake in Minnehaha Creek. E-M5 Mk2 with 40-150 zoom and matched 1.4 teleconverter = 210mm. Full frame equivalent 420mm. Uncropped. 

I haven't used the 12-40 much yet. I made some family snaps with it in Minnesota and the results were very nice. It's a very sharp, very fast focusing lens, but I haven't put it through a ringer yet like I have with the 40-150. It will get a lot of use in a couple of weeks, when I expect there will be some spot news in Bangkok. 

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.