Olympus Malaysia takes local pre-orders now (9 to 31 March 2012). There are promotions with FREE gifts too, choice of MMF-3 adapter or 32Gb Sandisk EXTREME card. Do check out their official promotional page here (Click).
1. This blog is written from a user-experience perspective.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large SF (super fine) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.
In my past review entries I have been receiving quite a number of feedback and suggestions from you beautiful readers. One popular request was for me to use the bundled kit lens M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 together with the E-M5. I have done one dedicated shooting session with the 12-50mm lens alone.
I understand that I rarely used the 12-50mm lens in my past reviews of the E-M5. My justification for not using the 12-50mm lens is simple, it is not the sharpest lens among the current Olympus Micro 4/3 lenses line-up. I used the best prime lenses, 12mm F2 and 45mm F1.8 in most of my photographs previously, to vanquish any shadow of doubt that the images could have been better if better lenses were used. If I have used 12-50mm, the imperfections of the lens would have skewed the overall impression of what the E-M5 is truly capable of delivering. We know well that prime lenses will always be sharper than zoom lenses (optimization of optics for single focal length, and simple optical elements design). I was reviewing the Olympus OM-D E-M5, hence I wanted to push the camera and see how far it can go, it is only fitting to use the best lenses Olympus offers.
Sanjit, a dear friend who has worked so hard on the video shooting with E-M5 is almost done with his part of "behind the scenes" sharing and video capabilities review of the E-M5. At the mean time, he has released yet another fantastic video, summarizing my previous parts of reviews. Do give the video a look here:
Video by FULLCIRCLEPIX
Beautiful Music by SILENT SCENERY
You can buy Silent Scenery's music from www.silentscenery.com
About the M.Zuiko 12-50mm lens
I have also done an extensive user experienced based review for the M.Zuiko 12-50mm lens a few months ago. I have covered the primary strengths and features of the lens, such as the close up/macro capabilities, the 12mm wide angle and also the use as a general standard all rounder zoom lens. I shall not repeat myself in this entry, but before I go on with my shooting session with the E-M5 and 12-50mm on the streets, the following is a list of summary on my impressions on the 12-50mm lens:
You will like the lens if:
1) You want a general all-rounder lens that can do a lot more than an ordinary kit lens
2) You do not intend to buy a macro lens, but want much better magnification for close up works
3) You need something wider than the standard 14mm (28mm equivalent focal length)
4) Technical perfection is not a priority, and you do not require absolute sharpness in your image
5) You need a weather sealed lens to go along with the E-M5, and shoot in harsh conditions
6) You do a lot of video recording works, where the power zoom will ensure smooth and silent zoom operations.
You will NOT like the lens if:
1) You love bokeh. This lens will not give you much useful bokeh at all.
2) You are crazy about technical perfection (Chromatic Abberation, distortion control, etc)
3) You need a very sharp lens and critical about the amount of details resolved (I am guilty of this)
4) You won't shoot in rain or dusty conditions, and you treat your camera like a porcelain vase.
5) You always shoot indoors, or low light conditions, and you need to freeze movements in such circumstances
Indeed, as I have highlighted above, the 12-50mm lens is a good general all-rounder lens, capable of producing good shots in many situations. However, if you push the camera towards it limitations and shooting in extreme conditions, there are better suited lenses for the job. Lets not put our expectations too high on the 12-50mm lens, it is after all, just a kit lens !! If you want to read further on the 12-50mm lens review, please do so in my reviews of 12-50mm lens (links at the side bar of my blog).
50mm, 1/200sec F/6.3, ISO800
22mm, 1/400sec, F/4.9, ISO800
42mm, 1/250sec, F/5.9, ISO500
Hawker Stall operator. Shot this against a white wall.
12mm, 1/800sec, F/3.5, ISO500
26mm, 1/30sec, F/5.2, ISO500
Sleepless train station
40mm, 1/125sec, F/5.8, ISO500
The umbrella lady
Shooting in Pudu, KL
For this shooting session, I have brought the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens mounted to one of my favourite street hunting grounds, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur. Pudu is dominantly a Chinese area, with many old shops which have been operating for more than half a century, and there is a large (possibly largest in Malaysia) open air wet market. I have shot here for my previous reviews works for Olympus E-5 as well as the E-P3. It is only natural that I would return to Pudu with the E-M5, because I personally love this place, and it is rich with photography subjects everywhere. People are generally very friendly here too.
I used only the 12-50mm for all my shots in this entry.
Knowing that I am shooting with the 12-50mm lens, there are certain limitations which are presented to me, and I was fully aware of them. I love to use bokeh to isolate my subjects, especially when I go close and do portrait headshots of my street subjects. With the 50mm zoomed in, restricted at widest aperture opening of F6.3 only, there really is not enough bokeh to properly blur the background away. This reason alone actually stirred me away from choosing the 12-50mm lens as my primary weapon on the streets. You must understand that my usual shooting lenses all this time have been the marvelous Olympus Zuiko 50mm F2, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, and most recently, the Sigma 30mm F1.4. Furthermore, having stuck with F3.5-6.3 on the 12-50mm lens this time means I might need to push up the ISO setting when I shoot in heavy shade conditions, to accomplish fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion.
Perhaps, those are the only limitations the 12-50mm poses for me in my street shooting. Being a photographer, it is my job to work around the limitations and still squeeze some results out of the lens. For street photography, we do not require technical perfection. The images does not necessarily have to be tack sharp, they do not have to have the nicest colors, and even if the corners were full of chromatic abberation or poor distortion control, if the subject content and the idea of the photograph came through, it is still a valid and good street photograph. Therefore, I decided to give this 12-50mm a spin, and much to my liking, I did come home with a few favourite shots.
50mm, 1/400sec, F/6.3, ISO400
15mm, 1/1000sec, F/4, ISO200
Check out the dynamic range of E-M5. Doing pretty well here.
22mm, 1/60sec, F/4.9, ISO400
Smell the hair
13mm, 1/800sec, F/3.7, ISO640
21mm, 1/125sec, F/4.7, ISO250
"Kuih" seller, local Malaysian delicacies.
43mm Macro Mode: 1/200sec, F/6, ISO640
Fried Spring Rolls
I treasure the extremely fast Autofocus of the 12-50mm lens. Olympus claimed that the 12-50mm lens being used on E-M5 is 20% faster than it being used on E-P3. To be frank, there is no way I can tell whether it was faster, or by what margin. It did feel the lens worked blazingly fast, and the autofocus has always nailed my shots very accurately. I could say the same just about the other lenses that I have tried: the amazing 12mm F2 and the 45mm F1.8, they were all just splendidly fast. I believe that the autofocus speed of the micro 4/3 system has come to a point that it is so fast you cannot tell the difference apart from each other. Obviously this is a good news, and having a kit lens that you will use as your all rounder lens, it is a definite advantage to have very reliable focusing capabilities.
I used the horizontal/landscape hand grip portion of the HLD-6 with me at all times, while handling the 12-50mm lens. I felt that with the added grip, the lens and camera combination felt just right, and well-balanced in my hands. I did not use the portrait battery pack, because I wanted to keep the setup as small and light as possible, without jeopardizing the comfort of handling. I really do not understand how some people can complain that the lens is actually larger than they wanted it to be. Yes, we know that the collapsible 14-42mm lens from Olympus, and the pancake X lens from Panasonic are significantly smaller in size. In the 12-50mm defense, it is weather sealed, it has very good built quality, internal zoom and focusing mechanism and added few functional buttons, which many will treasure. Considering what the lens can do, I do think the size is reasonably small.
19mm, 1/15sec, F/22, ISO200
19mm, 1/500sec, F/4.5, ISO640
50mm, 1/125sec, F/6.3, ISO640
26mm, 1/50sec, F/5.2, ISO1250
22mm, 1/160sec, F/4.9, ISO400
By the roadside
50mm, 1/100sec, F/6.3, ISO640
Gourmet Lunch with Ivy Soon
After the shooting session, I rushed to Ivy Soon's place together with Jason Lioh for a home cooked lunch meal. Ivy was very generous to invite us over and cooked such delicious lunch for us.
When I arrived at Ivy's place, I was already exhausted from the shooting and hours of walking under cruel Malaysian hot sun. I just chucked the E-M5 aside, which was subsequently picked up by my dear friend Jason. Being curious, Jason snapped away merrily with the E-M5 and the 12-50mm lens attached.
As he was shooting, the first thing that he complained was the slow aperture of 12-50mm lens. You must understand that Jason comes from a background of Canon and its wonderful L lenses. Having F3.5-6.3 to work with in a very dimly lit house kitchen was not exactly very satisfactory. I then suggested to push up the ISO to 3200, which Jason did. As you can see almost all the food images were shot at ISO3200, and still having very slow shutter speed. That should give you an idea of how dark the room lighting condition was.
I was not paying much attention when Jason was shooting. Obviously I was very hungry and tired and can't wait to sink my teeth into Ivy's yummy dishes. We stuffed ourselves silly, and I had two servings of rice. I did not even care about the photographs, and not giving it much thought.
The following food shots were taken by Jason Lioh with the E-M5 and 12-50mm lens.
49mm: 1/2sec, F/6.1, ISO1600
Roasted Spare Ribs.
Crazy Jason shot this at half a second at 49mm focal length !!!! It is either his hands were like tripods or the new 5-Axis IS works better than expected. Or both.
38mm, 1/80sec, F/7.1, ISO3200
Mixing the ingredients
32mm, 1/30sec, F/5.6, ISO3200
Adding coriander leafs.
26mm, 1/15sec, F/5.2, ISO1600
Steamed Squid in Thai Style
43mm Macro Mode: 1/10sec, F/8, ISO3200
Macro on the squid.
Another crazy steady hand stunt by Jason.
25mm, 1/13sec, F/5.1, ISO1600
23mm, 1/13sec, F/5.0, ISO1600
Chinese Sausage Omelette.
It was until I got home, transferred the photographs and truly viewed it on my computer screen, I was reminded why I admire Jason Lioh as a photographer all this time. His food shots were just fantastic. He has very good and strong composition to make the food look extra mouth watering. I personally would not have been able to achieve such shots. Another surprise that came to me was when I opened the EXIF data, and found that Jason has incredibly dragged the shutter. He has shot quite a number of images with shutter speed lower than 1/20sec, in macro mode (at fixed 43mm) and normal shooting mode but zoomed in at 50mm. There was even one shot he took at 49mm, but only at shutter speed of 1/2 second, HAND HELD !! What a stunt, really. I previously have managed to capture confidently 1/2 second shots with the 12mm lens, but I dare not push the shutter speed so slow for longer zooms. Jason did it, and this just shows how much more potential the new 5-Axis stabilization in the E-M5 has.
On the whole, I was quite happy with what the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens can do when coupled with the OM-D E-M5. Certainly the better high ISO performance coupled with very good new 5 Axis IS system provided extra use for this lens, when it comes to darker aperture range of F3.5-6.3. I fully agree that we need a better and more capable standard zoom lens (constant aperture F2.8 or better, F2 please !!) for more serious photography works. Nonetheless, for what it is, the 12-50mm works just fine.
I have returned the loaned equipment to Olympus Malaysia. There will be one (or more) blog entries coming soon, and this time we shall shift the limelight over to my friend Sanjit, who has been working extra hard (and sleeping at ungodly hours) on the videos. I am also eager and excited to hear what Sanjit has to say !!