Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DPReview Awards E-M1 GOLD, and Some Macro Shots from 12-50mm Kit Lens

If you have not noticed yet, DPReview.com has released their complete review for the Olympus OM-D E-M1, and awarded GOLD with 84% high rating (not something very common for Olympus products). DPReview has also stated in their conclusion page that in comparison to Nikon D7100 and Canon 70D, both being E-M1's direct competitors, there really is no noticeable difference when it comes to side by side image quality comparison and this can be negligible. The only significant difference against E-M1 would be comparison with full frame cameras, but of course that is an entirely different story altogether. Ultimately this was consistent with my own findings in my review, the gap between Micro 4/3 and APS-C DSLR is almost disappearing completely now with the E-M1, and mirrorless is surely the future. It is amazing how far Olympus has come with their mirrorless technology in just a few years!

All images in this blog entry were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens







Last Saturday, after the street shooting session with Shaun (the footless fish), we had delicious, filling Indian food for lunch. We decided our hands were still itchy and proceeded to another round of shutter therapy. We went to the butterfly park, Kuala Lumpur for macro shooting. Knowing that the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 kit lens can do very decent close up shooting, I decided to just use this lens instead for my butterfly park shooting. If you are not aware of how I shoot macro, please read my "Shoebox Flash Reflector Experiment" here (click) and here (click) for full description on how I performed my macro shooting, down to settings and wireless flash execution. 

At the entrance to the butterfly park I met Amir, who came up to me and said hi. He said he bought the OM-D after reading my blog. All I ask is, keep shooting with the OM-D and make great photographs with it!

Shaun who has the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens! I am so jealous. 






For large insects, and shots that do not require extreme magnification, the kit lens does very well. Of course we are not expecting the kit lens to be as sharp as true dedicated macro lens that would be a stretch too far. Did I wish my images had better fine detail resolution, yes, of course, but at the same time, knowing the images were taken with kit lens they looked perfectly fine. If I reeaaaaaallly wanted better image quality I could just mount my ZD50mm F2 macro lens (via MMF adapter) and for macro shooting I was comfortable shooting with manual focus anyway. 

A lot of people asked why do I use flash for macro photography. There are so many reasons that I can write a full blog entry about the importance of using flash for shooting insect macro. There is no right and wrong methods, and obviously there are many alternatives to flash out there,  but one important aspect to consider when shooting any macro is lighting. What kind of light and how to diffuse or create the lighting effect desired. My main reason for shooting with flash is simple: there just simply is too much shadow, and the insects I always shoot do not stand at auspiciously brightly lit locations. They are often hiding beneath a leaf, or under a large branch, or inside a flower. They are hidden from light, and I have to deal with a lot of shadows. I shall illustrate with examples below:

With Wireless TTL Flash

Without Flash

I think the both two images, one taken with flash, the other without, are self-explanatory. I choose wireless flash off camera so that I can control the direction of light (how cool is that to be able to bend light), distance from the light source, and how I diffuse them (via the shoebox reflector). The goal of the usage of flash is to blend the subject well into the available background. Notice the beautiful background bokeh? I was exposing to that and I added the flash as a forced fill to have the butterfly's exposure balanced against the background. 

A lot of people seem to underestimate, or look down on the 12-50mm kit lens. True, it is not the sharpest lens, it cannot give you shallow depth of field, and it is slowish in aperture. However, for what it does, as a general all rounder lens, it does its job rather well. at 12mm F3.5 widest end, I find it do well enough. So far I had no complains and was satisfied with the wide angle shooting, and actually I do treasure the extra bit of width the 12mm provided in comparison to the norm of 14mm from the other kit lens, 14-42mm. I know when you zoom it to 50mm, at F6.3, there really is not much to be desired, but then there is the macro mode (more like close up shooting mode, since it is not true macro) which can create very admirable close up shooting as you can see from all the images I am showing in this entry. I don't mind having this lens, surely. 

I shall put a stop here and stop talking about how kit lens is actually a good lens, because I have done so previously here (click). Lets just say, I am happy with the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens, and do expect to see a lot more photographs I shoot with this lens from the OM-D E-M5. Oh how I wish I can afford the E-M1 right now, since the stock is already here!

11 comments :

  1. It is surprising that DPReview gave the E-M1 a good review. There seemed to be a point when Olympus didn't even want to send them a camera to evaluate, given their attitude toward Olympus during the time--maybe that was the E-3 that they didn't get. I was less surprised that What Digital Camera gave the E-M1 such a high score--just a point or two away from their review of the E-1, which got a very high score way back when.

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    1. To me, no surprise at all, because I already know E-M1 is a great camera! Anyone who has used it before will agree with this.

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  2. Waiting EM1 patiently :D :D :D

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  3. DAMN. this post just got me itching to head back to the butterfly park for more macro shoots. It's amazing what you did with the kit lens. :)

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  4. Do you get attack by these insects being so close!? :)

    I have got the EM1 now and was all thanks to your blogs!!

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    1. Nah, I was too nice to be attacked by insects! Kidding. The spiders sometimes would jump to the lens, but that is perfectly fine.

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  5. Wonderful, truly wonderful shots again Robin. Good example for young players too, showing the importance of balanced fill-in flash. I read the DPR review too, and -of course- wasn't surprised by the high rating. It was already abundantly clear that the EM1 is a spectacular camera. But I must say, your "old" EM4 is doing very, very well too!

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    1. Thanks Andre! Sometimes it is very difficult to justify the need of wireless flash, and using flash at all for macro where some "experts" keep proclaiming the use of available light. In my opinion, if the flash is needed, it is needed!

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