Thursday, October 25, 2012

Falling in Love with Olympus All Over Again

It has been about two weeks since I last acquired the Sony DSLR system (A350 body, 2 lenses and a flash) and I have been shooting with the Sony only since then. It was earlier this evening, coming home from work with itchy hands for shutter therapy, I decided to go back to Olympus, which I am missing for a while now. Then that sky threatened to rain, which it did, and it poured like it never poured before, until there was flash flood happening downtown in KL. You know me, if I do not get my shutter therapy, I won't be happy. That forced me to dig out my older shutter therapy sessions with the Olympus and found some unused photographs, and oh my..... what a discovery.. or more appropriately put, re-discovery !!

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens

Bear in mind that all the photographs in this entry were sort of recycled from my older collection, that did not make it to my first selection process of usual blogging routine. I have my reasons for not choosing these photographs, so they were perhaps not the best of the bunch to be used. However, having a second look, I do think these images, re-selected from a few sessions, would be sufficient to illustrate what I wanted to describe in this blog entry: Why I love Olympus so much. 

Lets begin with the amazing resolution. Take a look at the image below. 



I know, not my best portrait shot, there was lacking the "connection" with the portrait... but then again... look at the 100% crop below......


Looking at this image suddenly made me wanting to throw away the Sony. I am not kidding. 

Everything about the Olympus DSLR E-5 is just so right. The great signature Olympus colors, the crazy amazing amount of details captured, the unbeatable skin tone... everything just feels right. There really is very little to complain about the image output. Then there is that "pop" of the subject, that seems so real and alive, even in such a simple portrait as the image above. The clarity of the image was very impressive, it was as if shooting with the Sony, there was a veil covering the front of the lens, blurring details away. Perhaps some would say it was not fair making comparisons because I was utilizing the Olympus super legendary 50mm F2 macro, but hey, I know, even if I was using the budget lenses, such as the pancake 25mm F2.8 or even the lowly budget kit lens 14-42mm, the results would far surpass what I could do with the Sony. No, I am not bashing Sony, that camera system is respectable, and I am warming up to it. But if I were to place it side by side with Olympus that I have, well, you know what happens next. I don't even have to spell it out. 

Coming from All directions

Hanging out

Backalley


In conversation


In my conclusion of the Olympus E-5 review about 2 years ago, I mentioned that the E-5 has soul. Many Olympus users, or people who connect very well with their camera can understand this and relate to the "soul" I was describing. At the same time, I got ridiculed and slammed for making such conclusions, mainly because the "soul" cannot be measured and quantified. It is very true, the soul is a very personal thing, and it can never be justified by any means, or put down into meaningful numbers. Shooting with the E-5 for almost two years now, I felt that the camera does what I want to do, responding very well to my command and vision. It just gets what I have in mind out into the final images right. It is the camera that I enjoy so much using, that it encourages me to take it out again and again and again, week after week, without fail. I do my shutter therapy all the time with the E-5, and I never got tired or bored with the camera. In fact, even after shooting so long with the E-5, I love the camera even more, and my desire to shoot has not receded even the slightest bit. I have evidence on this blog to show: more than a thousand of blog posts showing my shutter therapy sessions with dozens of images in almost each blog entry. 

Believe me, that Olympus E-5 has soul !!

Something in the eyes

Wiping hands clean

Family outing on Saturday morning

Black framed glasses

I understand my judgment and conclusions may not be valid since the Sony DSLR A350 is 4 years old, but then the reasons why I have stayed with Olympus and still actively continue to use the E-5 and few amazing Zuiko lenses, are real. 

I also have thoughts of switching to fully OM-D E-M5 and micro 4/3 lenses, but there is no equivalent offering of two very critical lenses that I use a lot: Olympus Zuiko 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50-200mm F2.8-3.5. If you are going to suggest the Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 and 35-100mm F2.8, please, those lenses do NOT even come close to the previous mentioned Zuiko lenses. 

I shall be staying with the E-5 for quite a while longer, for now. At the mean time, that Sony shall be doing its job to shave away some shutter count, and take some beating while I abuse it instead of my main Olympus system, especially during my street shooting sessions. 

33 comments:

  1. Soul. I can understand that. For me it's the E-520 still, which also has it.

    I've briefly handled the Canon 600D of a neighbour, and today in a big electronics supermarket, a Sony A57 (and man, its autofocus was "snappy", like in "instantly"!). Nice cameras no question, but I don't know if I could ever get as "warm" with these as I am with my E-520. And the E-5 should be even better of course (never tried one).

    As for IQ, yes, I'm thinking about an E-M5 as well, but have the same reasons like you which make me hesitate. The 45mm is surely wonderful as a portrait lens and I know I would be more than happy to have one (my wife has it, and I'm jealous), but it's no 50 macro. And the 60 macro? Well it's also no 50 macro. Adapter? Hmmm. Still waiting for a successor of the E-620 (in an E-520 body please!) I think, with that OM-D sensor in it... if something like that came out, I'd instantly get more digital Zuiko lenses as well. The 11-22 or the 12-60 plus the 50-200 are hard to beat.

    Nice photos as always Robin!

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    1. Thanks Wolfgang !!

      Yes, that E-520, another camera that I have connected with so well. It has its own place, and the camera just works wonders !! If mine was not dying and been over-used over the years, I would have never considered the Sony to begin with.

      I see that you also love the 50mm F2 macro !! Very difficult lens to replace, after seeing what the lens can do, not just for macro, but for general shooting, and especially portraits. The images come out so pleasing and beautiful.

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  2. Robin, Besides being a great gearhead, you are one fine photographer!

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    1. Thanks, but do please leave a name when you comment next time

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  3. I want an OLYMPUS now... Robin I hate you! lol Cheers... Lots of great shots and amazing work. The E-5 really rocks. And its a four thirds.

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    1. Thanks Johan !! Yeah staying with 4/3 for now.

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  4. Now we're talking.
    I do realize the Olympus colors are more neutral and natural. Especially the red when comparing to your previous Sony post. Sony's red is redder ... Olympus' red look more neutral, and probably more natural. Tho i like Sony's red a little more.
    Skin tones, Olympus is streets ahead. Overall, i still prefer Olympus colors, as its more neutral and real.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Calex,
      Yes Olympus just does something to their colors, they look simply amazing even without post-processing on the straight out of camera images. They look so pleasing and true to life. Not an easy thing to achieve, definitely not by many new cameras these days.

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    2. I think that Olympus produces very good JPEGs, but I do find the colors a bit too warm for certain scenes. For example, fresh, green grass (or bright green foliage) look too warm, yellowish-brownish. And bright blue skies also look dark and purplish. For other kind of scenes the colors do work fine, though.

      The E-M5 has partially corrected that (for example the E-PL1 was way too warm), and the E-5 is also more neutral. Still I think that for green-blue scenes Olympus colors need to be fixed.

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    3. Hello Luis,
      But I love that famous Olympus blue and green !!!

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    4. Well, it's of course a matter of taste. Some people love the Fuji colors which are opposite (very cold greens). Depending on the scene, each camera/brand will give better results, but in general I personally think that Canon and Nikon are a bit ahead of the rest in color rendering. Olympus has better JPEGs in some ways (sharpness, quite obviously, but also dynamic range), but those famous Oly colors I guess are not so much for me (sometimes, at least).

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    5. i personally hate Canon's blue. it look so artificial. Love Olympus' blue, but i do agree olympus' green is a bit too warm.

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    6. Calex, Canon doesn't know blue, really, and they have a red bias in skin tones too. When I shoot a sky with Canon, it's got too much magenta in it, it's not bluish, it's more towards a purple tone. This is WITH the correct white balance. If I shoot raw, I can fix it but out of camera, no way. Same for when there is a blue lighting at an event, Canon will be the first to give it a purple colour tone, sometimes no hint of blue at all. I've shot this, seen it in JPG, RAW, and video, I've seen it a bit in Nikon JPGs but, a simple hearted Panasonic GH1 gives blue, in JPG, RAW and video without editing, Olympus EM5 gives awesome blue in JPG, RAW and video, with amazing highlight roll-off, no hint of crazy clipped channels and false colours like with Canon. Canon's green rings around a sunset are horrible, Fuji X100, S5Pro and Olympus EM5 however give true to life sunsets.

      So far, I've only been happy to deliver out of camera JPG from my Olympus EM5, with just the right balance and great dynamic range in JPG. If I messed up colours on site, I fix it in raw, but if I got it right, it looks great. Panasonic, Fuji, Canon... I was never happy as it's never a correct balance of shadows, highlight roll-off, accurate colours and correct sharpness out of camera, and I HAVE tried a lot. I hope they all evolve, but for now Olympus is great, I DO think I've missed out on those lovely Zuiko lenses that Robin has though since I only have m4/3. The Panasonic 12-35 is good but not amazing, the Olympus 45 f1.8 is superb, but I wish I experienced Oly 4/3 Zuikos.

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  5. Not everyone will have a connection with the E-5 or Olympus cameras. What's important is that your tool "does what you want it to do" and basically delivers what you want and need at the end of the day. Others will have this connection with a Leica, Canon, Pentax, Sony or Nikon. You're right, describing it as having soul cannot be quantified nor measured but it's basically that connection you have with it. It just so happens you found it on the E-5. One issue with the internet nowadays is not everyone is thinking on the same wavelength and I understand that. Actually, I even think it's good even though annoying sometimes because it's a reminder that not everyone has the same preference or thinking. So I believe you when you say it has soul. I don't have to agree with it although I do :).

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    1. Hey Eugene,
      The connection and soul would be very personal and can be subjective, of course not everyone would feel the same about the same camera. No one shoe size to fit all feet, so it is a very individual preference. In this blog, I was only talking about myself, and what I write openly here reflects only my own opinion, which is very, very obvious and in no way represent anyone else or any other group of individuals.
      Yes, you don't have to necessarily agree with what I say, or anyone else. That is how it works. Nonetheless, reading what others say and think are always interesting, no?

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    2. I agree Robin! Maybe in the future you'll be shooting with the E-M5 and some nice Oly glasses. We'll see what else are coming. The Panasonic 12-35 and 35-100 are not going to cut it for me specially with its prices.

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  6. I.want.that.lens!!!!!!!!!!!

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  7. That soul-thing is right on the bang. Maybe it takes a lot of time to get connected to a camera? My old E-P1 with 1,7/20 is still the one I prefer to pick up over the recently acquired E-P3. I dont know why, but it still feels right.

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    1. Hey Alex,
      Yeah, perhaps it does take time to get connected to something, or someone !!

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  8. It's undeniable, these Oly lenses are deliciously sharp, sharp, sharp. The first portrait proves it. A gazillion pixels is nice, but what if they are not quality pixels? I rather have less pixels (who needs approx. 40 megapixels? I sure don't!) but then pixels of the quality as seen in your Oly work. The colors have a special sauce as well.

    One day, or so I dare to predict, you'll use that new Oly body, the E-M5. I can't wait to see what kind of pictures you'd produce with that one. If money was no object, what set of Oly glass would you buy c.q. recommend?

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    1. If money was not an issue, all the primes !! 12mm, 45mm, 75mm, 60mm macro and the coming 17mm !!

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  9. All camera has a soul, it's whether the user can find and connect with it is the question.

    I don't feel at ease using others' 40D. It's just different.

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  10. I've been wanting to write this blog post for about a month now. Now I don't have to. You've put it perfectly!

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    1. Hey David, glad someone can relate to what I am feeling too !!

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  11. Robin, beautiful photos, great composition, details... I could go on and on. I can now admit to my one addiction, which is reading your blog. Just plain awesome. I'm also an Olympus shooter, started with C-3020, then E-300, then E-510 (still have it) and then E-30 which is my main. Recently i got a bargain deal on a E-500 (those beautiful CCD colors) that came with Signa 30 F1.4, and two kits: 40-150 (love it) and 15-45. I also have the mighty 12-60 and 50mm macro, and the 9-18. If you ever feel like doing some of the shutter therapy on the streets of New York, feel free to come over and I'll make sure you have a place to stay. Keep on posting these beautiful shots of yours!

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  12. Ce test prouve que vous êtes un photographe de première force, Robin, et quel que soit le matériel que vous utilisez vous en tirez le meilleur!

    Il prouve aussi que ce XZ-2 est magnifique.
    Reste à voir les qualités du XZ-2 en faible lumière.

    Merci pour vos tests.

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  13. Have been following your oly blog and plan to get one EP3, 3 weeks back, Court offer its EPL3 plus 1442mk2R for only RM999.00 and had purchased it.Is there any great different in pictures between them

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  14. Robin, you have used the 60mm macro f2.8 m4/3 on OM-D also. Can you tell me if this lens is comparable to 50mm macro 4/3 zuiko? Excuse my english. Thanks.

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