1) The loaned Olympus E-5 unit is an initial production unit.
2) This is a user-experience (non-technical) based review.
3) The general camera settings were: Picture setting – Vivid, Saturation – 0, Contrast – 0, Sharpness – 0, Noise Filter – Low, Gradation – Auto
4) The lenses used for the images in this entry: (All Olympus Zuiko Digital Lenses) 7-14mm F4, 50mm F2 Macro, 8mm F3.5 Fisheye, 40-150mm F3.5-4.5
Thanks to all of you beautiful readers from all over the world, due to your very positive comments on my previous blog entries on Olympus E-5 reviews, as well as all the kind emails I have received, Olympus Malaysia has allowed me another chance to do what I love doing with a camera: make photographs happen. I have had another go with this Olympus E-5, and this time, I have brought the E-5 out of Kuala Lumpur into Malacca for shooting. I have taken tones of photographs over the weekend, and much to my surprise I have come back with so many good photographs, I am having a difficult time selecting the best of the batch to display here on my blog. As previously done, I shall be concentrating my reviews based on user-experience, and the blog entries will be very photograph-image oriented. I believe photographs in real world situation speak a lot louder than words.
Me and Olympus E-5 at Taman Seribu Bunga, Malacca
50mm F2 Macro, 1/250sec, F/13, ISO640, Flash Fired
50mm F2 Macro, 1/250sec, F11, ISO640, Flash Fired
What did I miss out in my previous Review write-ups?
In this entry, I shall address an item which I have unintentionally left out in my previous reviews. That item is the “dynamic range” performance of the Olympus E-5. Do expect a lot of photographs below making strong reference to dynamic range handling. Do bear in mind all photographs were shot in JPEG, with almost no tweaking or post-processing, except for minor cropping and slight exposure adjustment for overall consistency presentation.
To Malacca, out of KL
On Friday night, right after work I rushed to the interstate busport at Bukit Jalil, and took a 2 hours bus ride away from KL down to Malacca. Thanks to my friend Frederick Yap (he has a very nice blog dedicated to photographs taken with Olympus too) I had a place to stay over the weekend, and a friend to bring me around and accompanied me while I was shooting. Why Malacca you may ask? The origin of Malaysia as far as history has recorded, started in Malacca. Malacca was famous for once a powerful and ruling empire which was long, long time ago. This very same ground has also been occupied by the Portuguese in 1511, and much later the British (gosh my history is getting rusty).
Naturally, the places in Malacca are full of strong historical influence, with a mix of both local and foreign origins. The buildings, people and culture are so diverse, making it such a compelling place for many photography genres.
Me, attacking a dragonfly with E-5.
50mm F2 Macro: 1/640sec, F/4, ISO400, Flash Fired (Super FP)
50mm F2 Macro: 1/40sec, F/13, ISO640
50mm F2 Macro: 1/640sec, F/5.6, ISO400
Taman Seribu Bunga
I started the morning in Taman Seribu Bunga (loosely translated to” garden of thousand flowers”) for some light macro shooting. My aim in that garden was to produce some creative shots, which shall be blogged In coming reviews. However, I have also shot a few creatures lurking around the garden. As usual, the 50mm macro performed flawlessly, recording fine details. Macro was the perfect start for the day, as it oriented our minds technically (especially on camera controls) before heavier shootings later in the morning.
To the Heart of Malacca
After the light macro shoot, we went to the city area of Malacca. The sky started rather cloudy and hazy in the morning. I was rather disappointed in the beginning, but that did not dampen my spirit to go out and make photographs happen. I was determined to at least come back with some usable shots in this entry. Why the city area? In one large area, there were so many interesting subjects to photograph, mainly historical buildings and old streets with shops dating more than half a century old.
As I started shooting in the city, the sky slowly cleared out, and unexpected there was blue sky for the rest of the afternoon !! The sky was not exactly deep, clear blue, but it was good enough. The sun was harsh approaching the afternoon, creating heavy shadows and high contrast. Perfect opportunity to test out the dynamic range performance of the camera, no?
7-14mm F4, 1/200sec, F/8, ISO200
Take note on how the dude on the left was still brightly esposed, despite the fact that he was sitting in the shaded area, while the bicycle was placed out in the open under direct sunlight.
50mm F2 Macro, 1/800sec, F/2, ISO200
The lady's face under the shadow of the hat was well exposed, balanced well against the top of her hat facing upwards.
50mm F2 Macro: 1/4000sec, F/2, ISO200
7-14mm F4: 1/40sec, F/4, ISO1000
A traditional tricycle. A popular mode of transport in Malacca long time ago.
DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied. 7-14mm F4: 1/320sec, F/8, ISO200
Olympus E-5 Dynamic Range
I shall now delve too deep into “how many stops have the dynamic range EV improved”, or how does it compare with previous Olympus DSLR cameras or cameras from other manufacturers. I have photographed the images in rather extreme conditions, with stark difference in shadow and highlight regions in one frame. I believe in usability in practical situations.
I may not be able to tell you the answers in numbers, but let my photographs show you what Olympus E-5 can do. I realize how important wide dynamic range is in today’s photography demand, and I also realize how bad dynamic range is on Olympus Four-Thirds sensors. Nonetheless, what I have found out from the E-5 was truly something I did not quite anticipate.
Shooting with Live View on 3inch Dual-Axis Swivel Screen, with 7-14mm F4 ultra wide angle lens. Live view and the swivel screen helps a great deal when dealing with extreme low angle shots.
Dramatic Tone Art Filter was applied and can be previewed in real time before pressing the shutter button. In addition, now all art-filters can be used alongside all other shooting parameters, such as Aperture priority, and all other controls and settings to further fine tune your shot. Processing speed on art-filters have been improved, and there was almost no lag after shooting with art-filter.
An Abandoned House in Malacca. As seen in previous two photographs on Live View shooting.
DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied. 7-14mm F4: 1/100sec, F/8, ISO 400
DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied. 7-14mm F4: 1/40sec, F/8, ISO400
DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied. 7-14mm F4: 1/60sec, F/8, ISO400
Yes, THERE IS IMPROVEMENT. There are minimal, if almost no highlight and shadow clippings in most of my shots (minus the ones shot with the art-filter), even shot under direct backlit situations, or against the harsh, cruel afternoon Malaysian sun.
This certainly has never happened before in ANY previous Olympus DSLR cameras. Sounds too good to be true? Then you just have to wait for professional reviews to justify this fact. It may not be as good as other rival cameras in the class, but to me, in real life application, the dynamic range on E-5 is more than sufficient. I know what bad lighting situations are, so I will avoid shooting in such situations, or use counter-measures to balance out the lighting. Knowing that Olympus E-5 can handle such extreme situations well, I do think it is an extra “insurance” in case I bump into some inevitable and unplanned situations, which can happen at times.
Two friendly workers offloading goods from a truck. Pay attention to the guy on the right. He has very dark skin tone. His face was heavily cast in shadow by the hat he was wearing, under bright, harsh afternoon sun. Yet, the exposure came out rather well balanced.
7-14mm F4: 1/500sec, F/4, ISO200
Outside a Grocery Shop.
50mm F2 Macro: 1/1600sec, F/2, ISO200
An old shop, with a friendly shopkeeper. How friendly? He asked me in for a drink. KL people lack such warmth I must day.
DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied. 7-14mm: 1/60sec F/4, ISO200
DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied. 7-14mm F4: 1/200sec, F/4, ISO200
The details are very well-maintained in the shadow region. Please check out the photograph below.
Christ Church, Malacca. Take a good look at shadowy region behind the grilled bars at the low left corner of the frame.
7-14mm F4, 1/400sec, F/9, ISO200
The shadows did not wash out into black, and you can still see good amount of details there.
Also take not how consistent the colour reproduction is, even under very harsh lighting. The colours did wash out a little, but on the whole, is still very presentable and natural looking. Details are well maintained. The flare and ghostings were mainly due to the lens’ being dusty, and smeared with finger prints. Yes, yes, my fault for not constantly keeping the front element of the lens clean. That apart, I do think that the overall outcome in handling strong lighting against shadowy areas quite impressive.
Beads of Water suspended in the mid-air.
40-150mm F3.5-4.5: i/2000sec, F/4.5, ISO200
St Paul's Church. I love PERSPECTIVE DISTORTION. So sue me. I seriously love it.
7-14mm F4: 1/500sec, F/10, ISO200
7-14mm F4: 1/400sec, F/10, ISO200
Looking up, shot from floor level, inside St Paul's Church. The flare was due to smudge and dusts on the lens. Nonetheless, see how well the strong mid-day sun was balanced with the inner walls.
8mm F3.5 Fisheye: 1/640sec, F/10, ISO200
Another good example of balance between brightly lit zones and the dark, shadowy areas of the photograph, with strong sunlight.
8mm F3.5 Fisheye: 1/320sec, F/10, ISO200
I love BARREL DISTORTION too. Hence I really love the 8mm. If only cash grows on trees.
8mm F3.5 Fisheye: 1/125sec, F/10, ISO200
Do not worry, this is just my first episode of my second round of Olympus E-5 reviews. Yes, there will be low light shooting. On top of that, there are some shooting done in very harsh situations, when the camera was drenched in river water. There will also be some creative usage of the camera, which I shall blog next.
I know there are a lot of expectations, and a lot of requests coming in. However, I have done what I can, within my usual photography preference and choices. Please do not expect me to test everything on the Olympus E-5. I appreciate your understanding.
8mm F3.5 Fisheye: 1/160sec, F/3.5, ISO200
8mm F3.5 Fisheye: 1/1000sec, F/3.5, ISO200
A-Famosa Fort. This was an extreme backlit situation case. See how the people under the heavy shadow can still be clearly seen.
8mm F3.5 Fisheye: 1/1000sec, F/7.1, ISO200
Special thanks to Frederick Yap for accompanying me everywhere I went to, and helping me take some photographs of myself in action with Olympus E-5. Also, my sincere gratitude to Fish Ee who also came to join us for shooting. It was very kind of Fish to lend me his Olympus ZD 8mm F3.5 Fisheye lens, which was an incredible piece of glass.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment, or email me directly. Due to heavy work obligations (yes I do have a full time job, photography is just my passion), I might reply to your comments and emails a little slower this time.
More to come, on Olympus E-5 !! Stay tuned.