1) The loaned Olympus E-5 is an initial production unit.
2) This is a user-experience, non-technical oriented review.
3) General settings: Picture mode - vivid, Saturation 0, Sharpness +1, Contrast 0, Noise Filter low
Before I dived into my next write-up on what I have done with Olympus E-5 in Malacca, allow me to direct your attention to my friend, Frederick Yap. He is an active Olympus user, and he was generous to offer me a place to stay in Malacca over the weekend and spent a great deal of time guiding me around for shooting there. Thanks Fred!! His hands have become unbearable itchy with E-5 right in front of him (who wouldn't be? Right?), so I decided why not I let him have the camera for a little while, and see what he can do with it? I am quite sure most of you would love to see something different apart from what I usually cook up in my usual blog entries.
Frederick, E-5 and the Droplet Experiment
In the morning, while we were at Taman Seribu Bunga as I have blogged in my previous entry, Frederick whipped out his OM lens, the 50mm F1.8, and plugged in a few extension tubes to transform it instantly into an extreme macro manual lens. He intended to capture the water droplet with a flower being displayed within the droplet. His execution and technique to produce this particular shot was not easy, as it involved extreme magnification via manual focusing, lots of trial and error on placements of subjects and position of the lens, and employing the wireless TTL Flash.
A Flower on a Flower.
Photographed by Frederick.
OM 50mm F1.8: 1/250sec, F/16, ISO800, Wireless TTL Flash
His photograph that stood out at the end of the day was nothing short of stunning.
Frederick, E-5 and Pre-Wedding Shoot
Later in the afternoon, right after our walkabout in Malacca town area which I have also included in my previous entry, coincidentally Frederick's friend were having a pre-wedding shoot by the sea side. We decided, why not just drop by for a little while, and join in the fun? Since there was only one E-5, and it was Frederick's friend's pre-wedding shoot, I decided to hand over the E-5 to him again, and commanded him to make some good shots out of it. Again, he did not disappoint.
Danny and Stephy
Photographed by Frederick.
7-14mm F4: 1/1250sec, F4, ISO400, wireless TTL Flash (with Super FP)
Please take note that this was just a very brief shooting session, and none of the photographs were used commercially, or being paid. We just went in to see what the E-5 can do. It was approaching sunset, and the sky was just beautiful. Frederick used 7-14mm lens, and I helped him by holding the FL-36R flash off-camera, being triggered wirelessly and fired from the top left corner side of the image frame, to provide illumination to the subjects. This is a two-point lighting system, a very basic setup, one coming from the pop-up built in E-5 flash as gentle fill light, and one wireless off camera flash as the main light.
Who would have thought the Olympus E-5 would be used to take pre-wedding shots on the very same weekend? Everything happened so spontaneously !! Frederick was astounded by the sharpness/resolution, high ISO handling, as well as the improved flash control and handling of E-5.
Malacca Seaside Sunset
Photographed by Frederick
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied. 7-14mm F4: 1/40sec, F/4, ISO400
Please head over to Frederick's entry (click) for more photographs that he has created with very, very limited time I gave him with the Olympus E-5. I am sure you will be pleased from what you see there, since all his shots are rather different from mine.
Alright, PLEASE COME BACK after viewing Frederick's photo-blog. I still have plenty more to share with everyone.
A Stroll along Jonker Walk
So after the pre-wedding shot, which was after the sunset, we went to Jonker Walk, Malacca for dinner, and conveniently some night shooting. I have been to Jonker Walk a couple of times now, and I knew this was a great place to do some Night Street Shooting. The place was very famous, and always flooded with people. There were many vendors selling all sorts of stuff ranging from cloths, accessories and local food. Everywhere was full of smiles and laughter's I felt so compelled to shoot all of them. There were many beautiful lights and colours, my photography sensor was beeping all over.
Clip on Fans. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/125sec, F/2.8, ISO1600
Mini Displays. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/30sec, F/3.5, ISO1250
Fresh out of the oven. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/160sec, F/2.8, ISO1600
Cheerful vendor. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/160sec, F/2.8, ISO1600
Sugar Coating, literally. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/250sec, F/2, ISO1600
Low Light Shooting with E-5, Again.
If you have done night street shooting before, you would have noticed a few challenges that can destroy otherwise a great photography opportunity. Obviously, this can be considered a low-light condition, hence shooting without flash (which can be annoying in public) only means you need to bump up the ISO sensitivity. I shot mostly from ISO 1250 to 1600, and I found myself not needing anything beyond ISO1600. I am not some crazy people who would shoot ridiculously with high ISO in any situation. I only use it when necessary.
Sugar, fruits and sticks. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/100sec, F/2, ISO1250
Chocolate on the outside. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/100sec, F/2, ISO1250
Night Dim Sum: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/50sec, F/2.8, ISO1600
Lights in a cage. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/500sec, F/2, ISO1250
Multiple Mixed Lighting Condition against E-5 White Balance
Besides low light, the street was bathed with multiple mixed lighting. There were the street lamps, fluorescent lamps from the vendors, some tungsten, and God knows what other odd lights all blending in together creating a dreadful nightmare for the camera's white balance handling system. I would not claim that Olympus E-5 white balance was perfect, but I dare say it handled such mix lighting condition very well. I set the White Balance setting to "Auto", and it nailed the balance in nearly all shots. The colour casts from the original source of light can still be evident in all the photographs, but they were all balanced, and looked very "believable", without being destructive to the overall presentation. When I look back at the photographs, I can feel as though I was really on the streets, because the colour representation was quite "true-to-life". This is something that I really, really love about Olympus.
Mini pancake. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/80sec, F/2.8, ISO1250
A table of selection. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/80sec, F2.8, ISO1250
Hammering it hard. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/50sec, F/2.8, ISO2500
Not the right choice. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/80sec, F/3.5, ISO2500
Grilled Cuttlefish. 11-22mm F2.8-3.5: 1/40sec, F/2.8, ISO1600
Low Light AutoFocus
One of the challenges that I have constantly mentioned during my street shooting sessions (all of them were during day-time) was the speed of Auto-Focus, especially when it comes to moving subjects, or spontaneous reaction to a moment that suddenly jumped right in front of you. I used three lenses in this shoot, 7-14mm, 11-22mm and 50mm macro, and I found all lenses performed rather well, even under low light focusing. They locked on focus fast, though my subjects were moving constantly. Added the high ISO shooting to boost up the shutter speed, I could freeze the rapid motions, which was very impressive. Yes, the autofocus has improved, and in low light situations, I find my shooting with E-5 to be very pleasant.
I really love shooting in Malacca. The people there were friendly and warm, in stark contrast to my usual street hunting places in KL.
Drummers. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/250sec, F/2, ISO1600
Munching on snacks. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/320sec, F/2, ISO1600
Jonker Walk, Malacca. 7-14mm F4: 1/20sec, F/4, ISO1600
Tabletop Motorcycles. 7-14mm F4: 1/125sec, F/4, ISO1600
Colorful accessories. 7-14mm F4: 1/60sec, F/4, ISO1600
I have always thought that shooting with a small camera can save you a lot of trouble on the streets. You can shoot unknowingly, and being less threatening with a smaller camera body, instead of a large DSLR black meanacing body. In contradiction to that, I felt completely comfortable with Olympus E-5, which was something I did not expect at all. I thought the weight and size would kill me, but the more I use it, the more I want to use it. I initially did not plan for a long walking session, but I have covered more than I have originally intended. I do not deny the advantage of having smaller and lighter camera bodies (such as my current Olympus E-520), but having blazing fast AutoFocus speed on the street, I think that is irreplaceable.
Sisterhood. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/160sec, F/2, ISO1600
Sleepless on Jonker. 50mm F2 Macro: 1/30sec, F/2, ISo1250
Alright, that is all for this segment of my user-experience based review. I remember I have read somewhere in the forums that someone commented on my low-light shooting at Aquaria, KLCC not too long ago being something that not everyone would do frequently. I love street shooting, but the reason why I chose Aquaria, KLCC was because it represented a more extreme challenge for the camera, hence putting it to difficult tests.
Nonetheless, in both cases, the Olympus E-5 performed rather well.
I have probably one or two more (still have not decided) entries coming up, before I round up my user-review episodes. If you have some feedback or questions, please feel free to drop a comment below, or email me directly. I will try my best to get back to you as soon as I can.