No perfecto for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 but mucho amor

Chatting about the Classic Olympus OM-D E-M5
Over the year I began to appreciated photo camera that have more character. These models have a tendency to push us to more creativity to get the result. Yes they are a kind of perfect cameras made mostly by the two big leaders Canon and Nikon. Such cameras are truly efficient especially if you have a tendency to reproduce stereotype art director results.  
Photography can be an art of expression of provocation and to reach that level you have to overcome the comfort to be conformist.  I am interest in images that will question us and be part of a cultural evolution. Yes you can be excellent reproducer as many were asking for but we need to overcome even the most renowned clichés.
Using an unperfected, nonconformist, incomplete camera may lead us to concentrate on pre-visualisation of results true unfamiliar way of seeing things and persons. Polaroid photography has done that for years and still does.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 & M.12-50mm F3.5-6.2 

It is a big introduction to validate my choice of working with the Olympus OM-D E-M5. But wait! There is already a version II of this model you might say…but nevertheless since I love the first version and I am still learning from it. But I can understand the appeal for the newest novelty.

What can we summarize about the Olympus OM-D E-M5? In fact it is an imperfect camera. The autofocus system cannot be compare to the optical reflex counterpart for technical reasons. Sometimes you will have to proceed by focus anticipation and in doing so determine our final composition depending on the position of the subject. In one word it force you to be pro-active instead of being purely reactive and just  kept shooting on a follow sequence. As a direct consequence your rate of success will be more limited but with time your analyst of the situation, the context and the subject will become far superior compare to the usual happy triggers.

One interesting way of working with Electronic Viewfinder is the possibility to have an instant review of your picture into the viewfinder without has to check to the LCD screen. In that way you stay ready to resume your photo session in good shooting position (looking into the viewfinder). Furthermore the EVF are working more efficiently in low light by using the automatic gain. 

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Electronic Viewfinder – EVF
The E-M5 is a small camera in fact smaller than the original and classical OM-1 film camera. There is no direct technical legacy between the OM camera series for traditional films and the new OM-D digital counterparts except for the general idea of compactness and the physical presentation. If you have manipulated an OM-1/2 you will have to acknowledge that the E-M5 is a user-friendlier camera and a lot more sophisticated.

The E-M5 gives you a real control of your picture. Much functionalities are simply on the professional level as for many moderns D-SLR models. All exposure fundamental adjustments are available if you ask for and you can shape your own path in creating your image
Olympus OM-D E-M5 & M.45mm F1.8

The selection of your personal bias for picture taking will be part of building your own visual signature. That is why the E-M5 is pushing you to do so right at the beginning when you will first experiment the camera. This process involves learning the menu setting and configuring the different function buttons and dials. Doing one change at a time and compare results is the best way to mastermind the camera. You have to understand what image implication and why these adjustments are designed for.

Every body has his special way of setting a camera. For myself I am the kind of person who like to challenge the fully automatic system and add gradually some specific adjustment that will fit my palette image vision. The fundamentals classics parameters such as shutter speed/subject movement perception, aperture/deep of field selection and focus/subject selectivity are staying the basic rules of photography.
In the field
Working with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 on the spot is a charm since it is not an intruding camera. Be discreet helps to stay more confortable and prevent the intimidation of the subject. Even coupled with a bigger lens such as the M.12-50mm it is still an acceptable package. My preference goes with the black version but it is up to you to select which color you prefer.

Since it is a smaller camera all the controls are near by located. That can be annoying for fast and reliable access to the different functions of the E-M5. With time you can get used to but this is not definitely a strong aspect of this model. The EVF gives you a fair idea of you image with certain limitations of color perception in bright light. To follow the movement of my subject I prefer to stay looking at the viewfinder so that my naked eye perception cannot interfere with the delay imparted by the electronic transmission of the visual information.  In reproduction work, the swivel and touch-option LCD panel is a strong point of the E-M5.
Lens selection

Almost every Zuiko M. lenses will fit neatly with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and be simple to operate. The best quality results will be obtained if you are using the prime fixed lenses such as M.12/17/45/75mm. For my part I don’t prevent myself to use the zoom options such as the M.14-42mm or even the M.40-150mm. They are very flexible lenses, lightweight and they are giving acceptable image quality. Trying to use too much different lenses has never been for me convenient because it induces a tendency to disperse your creativity by selecting the so-call good lens for each situation. It is like painting simultaneously with two or three different canvas.

I am not really enthusiasm in using flash since it has a strong tendency to destroy the light distribution of your original perception of the situation. Accent flash is still the way I prefer to work with these supplemental light units.  Historically Olympus has managed correctly mixed flash/ambient light contexts. You can rely on that but I am used to cut down the flash power a bit to prevent overexposure in the flash enlighten area. And I must add that I hate to manage all these small pieces of covers for the hot shoe and electronic contacts of the camera and for the flash shoe by itself.

Olympus FL-M2 Flash Unit


For the battery issue simply bring other ones. Adding the 2-parts battery grip: it is up to you but remember that it will add a certain volume to your camera but I agree that for using long lenses or doing intensive portrait sessions or working in outside adverse conditions such as extreme and nature photography the grip option can be a good help.

Notes on using the grip: There are at least three ways of using the HLD-6 Battery Grip. As a whole kit with the front handle, the bottom vertical handle complete with the supplemental battery pack which is in  my humble opinion the best outdoor option for action or nature photography. The second way is without the supplemental battery pack and yes all the functionalities stay available without flaw.

It is my best option to do portrait session since the camera maintains its low weight. And lastly in using only the front handle to get a more prominent grip without enlarging too much the size of the camera.

 Save your lens cap at home and add photo opportunities by using a good quality protective filter in front of your lenses. Add the lens hood is also a good idea to prevent the lens flares.

Connectivity debate

There is no provision inside the camera allowing a direct Wi-Fi connection and it can be considered as a modern design flaw in view of the new photographic user criteria. That will not permit you to do direct file transfers and to use remote controls from other devices such as tablets or portable computers. But all the newest models of the OM-D series have partly or totally solve that omission in term of connectivity. If you are used to workflow your picture files with your memory card or by using the USB connecting cable it won’t represent a major issue for now.

The Olympus E-M5 was the first model of the new OM-D series that have opened the gate of general reconnaissance of many photo enthusiasms and even some professional photographers. It is one of the few new traditional cameras that were able to attract older users and newcomers at the same time.  More than that it is an inspired design that encourage people to do and experiment photography.

Adventure with (late) Apple Aperture

Post-treatment with Apple Aperture
Following the breaking news that Apple will cease the updating of their Aperture photo software, I was really disappointed considering the good services that I have experimented over the years in using it.
I must add that I am not really fond of most other photo editing software that are far more related to graphic designers or “photo painters” as I like to call them.
Post treatment in photography is a subject of long controversy and this is not a new theme. It began right from the start of this form of art expression.
Even if I really appreciate certain works done by “photo creators” I do have a more classical view in doing and showing photographic work. And it starts by pre-visualisation of your picture reality and transposition as near as possible on the media of presentation. That can be seen as a modern translation of the Ansel Adams precepts exposed in his books “The camera”, “The film” and “The print”.
But enough philosophy and more on photography!
What I love in using Aperture is the way fundamental picture parameters are presented and can be altered. Everything is based on the normal language of photographers. For example all the exposure factors are simply listed in a very friendly user way. Exploring the possibilities is easy.
Jpeg versus Raw
This is big debate since the beginning of digital photography. Suffice to say that all your raw files will need to be converted in jpeg files to allow you rapid sharing of your pictures. And that can be a bit annoying in term of delay. But the best results will be obtained by starting with raw files. Lastly the raw files are greater space consumers into your memory card and system.
Personally I use raw files in very rare occasions.
Enhancing your pictures
As a start, many pictures need to be fine tune to correct small disparities from the original light and framing conditions. Redressing the horizon line and choosing a different frame cropping can be the first steps. Correcting the color temperature of the overall picture can be the next step. I am not really fond to use the tint correction but it may save some really off-color pictures.

Redressing and cropping
Original Picture Taken
Exposure is a fundamental. Exposure correction will apply for the overall rendering light distribution. The luminosity option can be used but result are often destructive of the details contained in high and low light so you have to be precautious.  Working with the high and low light detail correction option can be mandatory to recover good information in these areas. I suggest increasing just a little bit the contrast setting to give punch to your result.

Croping and Color Temperature


Redressing, Cropping, Enhancing High-Light Details


The others fine-tuning setting may be suited for particular needs on your picture. It is just a matter of experimentation. My only suggestion is to keep it simple by using one correction at a time and evaluate the result. Depending of your expectation and the way your picture-taking equipment behave, you will find a personal combination of settings that will be frequently used.

Black and White Effect (moderate contrast)

Strong transformation

There are a lot of special effects that can be applied to your pictures. For myself I love to transform color images in black and white by using the different types of filters available. If you found that the color rendition is distractive you may try these options.
“Painting” with Aperture can be done with relatively ease if you invest a bit in learning to do so. Dodging and burning image areas are a classical way to enhance your picture. You can copy part of your image and reproduce it on another part. I use this option to salvage some portraits mainly by removing distracting object or person from the original image. Again it need a bit of learning.

Special “Retro” Effect

There is also an assortment of “special” effects that will alter more severely your picture mostly in the range of classical photography rendering. That can be interesting if you are using your image on a particular illustrating context like anniversary or typical event. The more you will find applications for your photos the more you will be motivated to do photography and post process the results.

This short presentation of certain applications of Aperture has been done as an incitation for using it. My only hope is that Apple will develop its new iPhoto application in retaining most of the aspect of the present Aperture.

Portrait Extract with Background Removed and Replaced.