Shooting Video with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

I released a short video "Robin In The City" yesterday on YouTube, if you have not seen it kindly check it out here. That video was filmed entirely on Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III in Kuala Lumpur. I am a noob when it comes to videography/cinematography, so I am reviewing the video shooting capabilities of the E-M5 Mark III from a newbie's perspective! I will explore the effectiveness of 5-Axis Image Stabilization for video, the C-AF capability while filming and also my general experience using the E-M5 Mark III doing the short film "Robin In The City". I made a video to share my experience here (click to watch). 

The concept of the short film was fairly straightforward - it was about me (Robin), being represented by a Robin Lego Brickheadz going about in Kuala Lumpur city. I came from a smaller city, Kuching which is situated in Borneo,  and having lived in KL for many years, it has never failed to awe me every time  I stepped into the city. I wanted to capture that sense of wander and grandeur, from a small town boy's perspective. The video also chronicles my daily journey, I commute on the LRT and the places and scenes shown in the video were places that I do visit. In the second part of the video, the city was caught in a thunderstorm, and yes, it rained a lot in this tropical weather. Sometimes I was caught unprepared and was drenched wet in the heavy rain. I wanted to show that too. There is nothing too deep or layers of meaning to peel from the short film, but one important emotion I did want to convey was a feeling of loneliness. I am not sure if you can see it, but yes, the theme was loneliness, though it was very subtle. 

Now coming back to the technicalities of filming the short video. 

1) Everything was shot on Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, and I did this video alone, with no aid from anyone else. I wanted to ask a few friends to tag along for some behind the scenes footage, but I figured I have bothered too many people and asked too many favors from my previous review video, so it is not nice to trouble any of my friends further. 

2) It took me about 7 hours out on the street to get all the footage (I was out at 10am and finished the last raining shot at about 5pm). 

3) Everything was shot hand-held, with no use of tripod, gimbal or any sort of stabilization support. I used both Movie Stabilization 1 and 2 modes. For wide angle, uncropped scenes I used M-IS 2 mode. For everything else, M-IS 1. I may have accidentally used M-IS 2  when I was walking around, some wobbly effect was seen, which was not supposed to be present with use of M-IS 1. 

4) I used 3 lenses for this short video. The lens I used most was M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8, which covered 90% of the shots. For close ups of the Lego Robin and some scenes during the rain, I used M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8. I also used M.Zuiko 12mm F2 for wide scenery shots. 

5) I used C-AF for the entire video shooting. I tapped the screen to "pull focus". 

6) I used ND filters for all scenes before the rain. I had Variable ND 2-400 for both 45mm f1.8 lens and also 17mm F1.8 lens (17mm and 12mm shares the same filter thread). 

7) The whole movie was shot on Manual Exposure mode. Shutter speed was kept at constant 1/50sec, Aperture varies depending on situations (for blur background, I used wide open, for scenery shots, I used F4 or narrower), ISO was fixed at 200. I adjusted the ND filter to achieve correct exposure balance. 

8) The video was shot in "Natural" color profile. I decided not to use Flat Profile, because I did not want to do any color grading, and honestly, I don't know how at this moment. I relied on Olympus' superb straight out of the camera color profile, which I have come to love over the years. I did not do any other changes to the image profile parameters (contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise filter, all on default). 

9) White balance was set to Daylight. If there was a greenish/blueish tint, that was because of the ND filter (I used cheap no brand filters). It could have been easily corrected if I set the White Balance to Auto, but I wanted to maintain color consistency, hence I set to Daylight. 

10) The footage was all shot in 24p, on Cinema 4K, except the slow motion rain scenes, which were shot in Full HD 120FPS mode. 

11) Battery life was not great. I managed to get a total of about 30 minutes footage before the battery died. Do consider to get MANY spares if you want to shoot video with E-M5 Mark III. 

I am seriously noob in making video, so please do cut me some slack and forgive some of my mistakes if I did any. I figured I have to dive in now, and started doing something, else I will just remain noob forever. 

The stabilization works like a charm. You must know I am new to all this and I know not how to do "cinematic movements". I was happy with how shake free and stabilized the output was, and I have to say, this is the best that you can get from a system camera, the most capable image stabilization, without the use of gimbal. The gimbal or steadycam will still give you steadier results, but not everyone wants to carry more equipment. Not all of us are cinematographers, and I don't see myself venturing into making videos seriously. My passion is in photography, that will not change. So for someone like me, who does not intend to use a gimbal, who keeps the setup as minimalist as possible, the 5-Axis IS from Olympus is a Godsent. 

The Continuous Autofocus just freaking works! The one thing I worried the most while shooting the video was AF during filming. I had no idea what to expect since I lack experience from doing video work, and unlike shooting stills, I cannot zoom in/magnify my shots during preview to ensure critical focus. Inspecting all the shots, they were ALL, I repeat, ALL in focus. I was genuinely impressed. If the E-M5 Mark III works for someone as new to video as me, the C-AF is almost foolproof to anyone!

Overall I just love how small the camera is, and how well it handles with all the small prime lenses. I strongly suggest using the prime lenses, 12mm, 17mm, 25mm, 45mm and 75mm, these lenses can give you sharp footage with incredible shallow depth of field effect, low light shooting and super reliable AF during video. Yet they were so small and easy to move around with the camera. 

If you are a cinematographer I am sure you already know the kind of gear you are getting, the professional kind. E-M5 Mark III is not competing with that, instead it allows people like me, people with very limited knowledge and experience with video shooting to just pick up the camera and shoot. Yet I come home with very usable results! The image stabilization works and the AF is insanely reliable. Vloggers out there, I don't think there is other camera better than this! You get Cinema 4K at 237Mb/s, Flat Profile (if you want to color grade) and 120FPS Full HD slow motion!

I will do ONE more post/video about E-M5 Mark III, and I will be doing it the typical Vlogging style. It shall be out in a few days. Stay tuned!

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