Thursday, November 18, 2010

Walk with E-5

Side Note:
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.

Old shophouses.

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.

Selling fruits

Hot and boiling

How to kill a pineapple

Fallen sign. Dramatic Tone Art Filter applied.

Cheerful people

Climbing high.

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

Bent wheel.

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 comfortable

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.


  1. OMG! It's so so nice! Almighty Shutter God!! XD

  2. Kim Hang,
    What la, just a noob exploring photography !! Not qualified to be called one ahahah...

  3. Great set of images and an enjoyable read, Robin. I was happy to see you have the E5. I've been enjoying mine for the past couple weeks, moving up from the 620, and I also miss the mode dial, though I'm slowly getting faster when mode switching. I guess those dials must be hard to weatherize.

  4. Hi John !!
    Nice to hear from you again.
    Thank mate.
    I also believe that it is the weathersealing part that made Olympus decided not to include the mode dial. I guess, I just have to start getting used to it, and train my fingers to move faster.

  5. walau leh....ur pic gonna make more ppl fall in love with Olympus..gonna ask my friend read ur blog n see the picture themselves. :-) Waiting for more fr u..

  6. Hi Amy,
    Thanks a lot !!
    Wah I only free on weekends and holidays one leh. Normal days I have no time to shoot la ahahhaha

  7. I guess it's time to set up a TT and for you to show off your new toy... :P

  8. i haven't been reading your blog for quite some time so pardon me when i ask DID OLYMPUS GIVE YOU THE E-5??? o_0

  9. Hi Compmac,
    TT when where? ahahah

    Hey Feli,
    Yes they did !! I mentioned about it in the previous entry here

  10. The two kids photos are excellent in attractive colour. The night shots are also attractive in white balance - not too yellow and not to antiseptic.Sharpness on that nangka seller is awesome. Must be high ISO too, eh?

    More, more.......

  11. Hey Ananda,
    Thanks so much !! The white balance is very very reliable, I did not even need to do any adjustments during post processing.
    More shutter therapy sessions this coming weekend !!

  12. I like Your photo, Very natural, very lively!

  13. Great Pics, Robin! I love your work with E-520 and I do so with E-5. It´s the guy behind the cam, not the cam!
    But I admit: Dramatic tone Art Filter ist fantastic!!

  14. Hi SvenReinhold,
    Thanks for the compliments !! I will always love the E-520.
    I do agree though, photographer matters more than the camera.
    Dramatic Tone Art Filter is addictive, I am trying very very hard not to overuse it ahahaha

  15. Hi Robin, do you trigger flash during night shooting on the street? I mean for the above "therapy" session of course. If so, is it on board or external? Thanks. :)

  16. Hey JS Chong,
    No, I did not use flash of any form. It was all natural lighting. I do not shoot with flash on the streets, but for most other photography works, I do utilize the flash, and I use the external flash.

  17. Thanks for the reply. I think so and I do believe the flash will annoyed your "victims". :P It seems like large aperture is a MUST for street photography.

    Need to gain some experience on street photography, please announce your "therapy" session here when you coming back to Kuching. I'd like to learn from you if you don't mind. ;)

  18. Hey JS Chong,
    I believe the widest aperture for any lens, kit lenses included (F3.5-5.6) would be sufficient under street night lighting. It was not that dark to begin with.
    I will usually post up on my blog one week early before heading back to Kuching. Would be nice to meet up some local photographers !

  19. that noodle photo is so yummieeee :D

  20. Hi daniel,
    It was indeed, yummy !!

  21. A statement to the first few sentence in this entry

    Guys out there , stop talking . start making good photographs with your tool irregardless of what you are using. I believe a person should speak more about photography and what the tool is capable/incapable of doing thereafter rather than procrastinating all the time
    without providing a constructive feedback on how an individual can improve further.

    * Take it with a pinch of salt if you cannot take a pie coming right at your face.

  22. Robin, do you tend to use Auto-ISO more with the E-5?

  23. BTW, those are all excellent images!

  24. Robin, you know what? :) You took better pictures with E-520 from artistic view point. I'm sure when you'll get fully acustomed to E-5 you will again take truly outstanding photos. I'm sure you will surpass everything you ever created.

    Your faithful reader

  25. Robin, do you know Henri Cartier Bresson's photography? I would recommend watching this documentary (it has 5 or 6 parts). Personally I love Bresson's works!

  26. hi Wong,
    You have put it in such a direct manner !! Yes, we should all concentrate on making more photographs instead, that is the core of photography after all.

    Hey Raj,
    No, I still believe in controlling ISO manually. Thanks for the compliments.

  27. Hi Bartosz,
    Thanks so much for your compliments. Surely it will take time to get used fully to this new camera. I look forward to push myself further and explore more with Olympus E-5.
    Yes, I have heard of Bresson. He was a legendary Leica user, and a great street photographer. I do admire his works.

  28. The fallen sign photo shoot is just amazing!.. I like it a lot!

  29. Thanks Indra !!
    That is my favourite too !!

  30. OMGGGGG!!! very very nice of them! but you deserve it too.

    hmph. time to use my camera more often. but no chance on the island. i think i'm too preoccupied with worrying that i'll look stupid.

    gaargh. must save enough to get another camera with underwater casing! am eyeing an olympus, but it'll set me back about 3k (including the casing)!

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  32. Hi feli,
    Thanks a lot !!!
    I think it was very generous of them to give me the E-5 too, not something that happens every day.
    You are not stupid la, aiyooo, I do think you have a natural eye for photography, and your super steady hands, remember?
    Yes, you must have an underwater capable camera. I am sure you will open up an entirely new world of photography with that. Looking forward to seeing what you can do !!

  33. This was really interesting. I loved reading it.

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