Oh my, my previous entry has caused quite a philosophical debate in the DPreview forums. Allow me to clarify a few things:
1) I did not expect anything in return from Olympus when they asked me to do the reviews on my blog, and they did not promise any "reward", until much later they contacted me after all the reviews are done on the "small token of appreciation".
2) I love Olympus. Everyone knows that. Call me a fanboy if you want. Is it not obvious on any entry I have written here for the past few years? Yes I will always praise Olympus, because I believe it is a great camera system. I write from the bottom of my heart.
3) I know my opinion will be biased towards Olympus' favor. That was the main reason why I decided not to do any technical reviews and camera comparisons.
4) My review was user-experienced based, and I concentrated heavily on photographs taken with the Olympus E-5. You may not trust my words, but my photographs do NOT lie. My photography work (from a photography-enthusiast's point of view) with the E-5 alone justifies the validity of my blog entries.
Give a boy an Olympus E-5, and what will he do? Go out and shoot and shoot and shoot.
It was a public holiday for Malaysia on Wednesday, and my hands were itching crazily for some shutter therapy actions. I brought the newly acquired Olympus E-5 out for a spin on the streets. Having used the camera rather extensively for review purposes before, the camera did not feel alien to me. I did not have anything particular in my mind that I wanted to photograph, or anything I wanted to test out with the E-5. All I wanted to do was to enjoy myself out there, and concentrate on shooting at subjects that move me. (Thanks David, I got this from you).
Lets start the day with a delicious bowl of Wonton Noodles. Yummy !!
A narrow alley.
Look into the Olympus E-5.
You better not pout, Santa is coming.
Another street sleeper.
Photography is not meant to please everyone else. It is the photographer's vision that drives the photographer to continue shooting. Everyone sees tings differently, thanks to the diversity and uniqueness of each individuals, we all have different perspectives to share through our photography work. I just focus on shooting the things I want to shoot. If the subjects on the street attracted my attention, then I knew there must be some quality in that subject that was worth capturing. Only by shooting for myself I can truly enjoy photography, because I am expressing myself freely, and inserting my characteristics and identity into my photography work. Of course, if you are doing commercial photography/shooting for clients, it is an entirely different scenario. Therefore I have my own separate shutter therapy sessions, to just focus on my inner vision and let photography be the therapy to heal my soul.
Upgrading to Olympus E-5, coming from an entry level E-520 was quite a huge jump. However, I did not find it difficult at all to accustom myself with this "higher level" camera. There are several differences, which I think many of you already know, but I want to highlight here. Again, I will not talk much about comparisons in technical terms, but more of my user-experience based opinion.
1) Bigger and Heavier
The E-5 is certainly not small, and not light. It is significantly heavier and larger than my E-520. Oh great, I need a bigger camera bag now.
I am not saying whether lighter or heavier cameras are better, they all have their places. Having used E-520 for more than two and a half years now, it is not exactly an easy thing to suddenly use a camera more than twice its weight. Yes, I do suffer from left hand wrist and arm muscular pains after shooting with E-5 for a full day, but that is due to the way I hold my camera and lens. I place more emphasis on my left hand gripping the lens, while my right hand gently stabilizes the grip on the camera and softly presses the shutter button to minimize shake. Oviously this method is not really working very well on larger and heavier camera bodies like E-5, but it worked extremely well with my E-520 all this time. I just need to get used to this weight, and of course, this could take time.
I promised myself not to get too carried away with the Dramatic Tone Art Filter, but sometimes I just could not resist.
Thats a lot of things on a cart.
What could a girl possibly want with empty bottles?
Malaysians should go green and use bikes more.
Some scribblings on the wall. Dramatic Tone Art Filter applied to enhance the texture and contrast.
2) Better Grip
On the contradiction, I do welcome the larger and more substantial grip. The hand grip ergonomics are very comfortable, and my palm can rest and fit nicely on it. I do not have large hands, so I am not sure how this would feel for larger hands. Minus the weight issues, the grip actually added more comfort and stability for long hour shooting. The camera just somewhat feels right on hand.
3) Top LCD Display Panel
E-520 only has one display (not counting the tiny-hard-to-read display in the viewfinder), which is on the LCD panel. The super control menu offers flexibility and good control on overall settings for the camera. I have no complains at all. Nonetheless, I really like the idea of having a smaller screen that only shows all the important shooting parameters. For this shooting session, I have offed the super control panel and only rely on this top LCD panel, and I found it to be very useful, and a joy to use. Yes, occasionally I still go back to the super control menu to activate/deactivate a few settings such as IS or picture mode settings, but for 99% of the camera controls, I am happy to just use the top LCD display panel.
4) Different shutter sound
I am not quite sure how to explain this, but I am very, very particular about shutter sound. I have always liked the shutter sound that comes out from the E-520, it has the positive, masculine tone every single time it clicks, assuring that you have nailed down the shot. I have friends who used Canon, Nikon and Sony (Sony has the weirdest shutter sound of all, no offense) who have all become very attracted to and really like the shutter sound of the E-520. Hearing the shutter sound for 2.5 years now, using a camera that produces a different shutter sound is almost an alien experience !!
No, I am not saying the shutter sound of E-5 is ugly. I also do not understand how people can say E-1's dampened shutter sound is so good, but I admit the softer and lighter sound does have its advantage in certain shooting situations. The E-5 shutter sound is quite similar to E-3, but slightly further dampened. I know the shutter sound has nothing to do with photography, but hey, it has everything to do with the photography experience !! Sometimes it is the process of making the photograph that is truly enjoyable, and how can you not notice the shutter sound every single time you click the shutter button? E-5's shutter sound is completely new to me. Again, I guess, I just need time to get used to it.
Offering prayers on the ground.
Hot and boiling
How to kill a pineapple
Fallen sign. Dramatic Tone Art Filter applied.
5) Shooting in RAW
For the first time, I have shot all images in RAW. I always shoot RAW, but for the review purposes I decided to use JPEG for safety reasons, you know, just in case the pre-production software has bugs or other unknown issues, and I only had like a few days with the camera and I did not want to risk anything. Now, the camera is mine, I will ALWAYS shoot in RAW.
I have not done any direct comparisons, whether there is an advantage in shooting RAW vs JPEG, or that the JPEG engine in the camera is so almighty it negates the need to shoot RAW altogether (which I think is not going to happen anyway). Come on, cut me some slack, I only had one session with the camera, I cannot discover everything in such short time.
Post-processing with the provided software, Olympus Viewer 2, I managed to convert all the photographs in this entry, which was originally shot in RAW into JPEG. Initial observations suggested that, yes, there are some flexibility (as expected from the main advantage of shooting RAW) in pushing up the exposure, and still retain dynamic range, details and minimizing noise. There is one thing I must mention though. The original white balance was sooooo accurate, the reproduced colors were so pleasing that I did not find the need to tweak any white balance settings at all, and just left them as captured by the camera in "Auto" mode. Considering some shots taken under extremely difficult, mixed and bad lighting (night street), I must say the results were impressive. The skin tone still came out very natural looking.
Dressed for the celebration
Sitting, waiting for someone, or something?
6) No dedicated mode dial
One of the thing I instantaneously miss from the E-520, which I wish was incorporated into the E-5 was the mode dial for quick access to shooting modes, such as the P A S and M modes. Not having the dial was quite a pain, and having to press the "mode" button and scroll was an additional waste of step, impacting the quick response a photographer can do. One clear example how this can affect a practical photography would be panning shots. On the streets, sometimes I do see some subjects that I want to pan, when the opportunity came along. Say, an old man on a shabby looking bicycle. If it was E-520, I can immediately move my finger by feel on the dial to the "S" for shutter priority and start shooting instantly, since I have set all my panning settings to the "Shutter Priority" mode. However, this was not the case for E-5. Lacking the feel of an actual physical mode dial, I needed that extra step to push a button and scroll, which requires BOTH hands to operate.
Video cam craze
Can you smell it?
Getting too comfortable
No man deserves this, really.
Look at the street photographer.
Sugar cane juice, have you had one?
Alright enough of my complains.
I walked along Pudu, the same place where I did my first part of the review for the Olympus E-5 about a month ago. Then later in the evening, I decided to make a short stroll along Petaling Street, a busy "China Town" street in Kuala Lumpur.
This was only the first session I had with my new E-5. I cannot wait for the weekends to come, so I can bring it out and make more photographs happen.