Olympus Has Amazing Shutter Sounds

Malaysia is now under total lockdown, and we are not even allowed to step out of our houses without good reasons, not even exercising in the park, and public parks in KL are banned from the public. My itch to shoot and create content is still there, and I need to scratch it somehow. I gathered a few Olympus cameras that I have, plus a few that were borrowed from Olympus and friends (some were overdue for return, but hey, lockdown and everything right?) and I thought, wow, I do have quite a few cameras to play with. Then the idea came, what if I made a video just to show off the shutter sounds from each camera? I did a quick search on YouTube and found nothing on shutter sound from Olympus cameras! 

The first Olympus DSLR using Four Thirds image sensor format. The legendary E-1, launched in 2003, 18 years ago. 
The setup for the shooting process was quite simple, I used one light, and placed the microphone as close as possible to the camera. I recorded everything with E-M1 Mark III and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, except for the shot of E-M1 Mark III which was then recorded with E-M5 Mark III. The video output matched perfectly. I did not tweak the audio at all, except lowered the ambient sound pickup immediately before and after the camera clicks. I did this because I was living in an apartment bedroom with thin walls and windows, just by an open highway, it is impossible to get 100% zero sound environment even when I was filming in the middle of the night, which I did. 

In the list of 12 cameras, I managed to include the first Four Thirds DSLR Olympus E-1, which was launched in 2003 and also was known to have a very quiet and sweet shutter sound effect. I also managed to fit in the latest system camera - Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. I have the oldest and newest Olympus system digital cameras in the mix (at least at the date of publishing). Among other notable cameras include various OM-D and PEN cameras over the years, and I even threw in the Olympus Air, which did not have a shutter unit at all, and it emitted fake electronic shutter sound effect via its speakers. I thought that was kind of ironic and funny at the same time. 

Unfortunately, I wish I have a few more popular cameras like the E-M5 Mark II, or the fan favorite PEN-F in the mix. I wanted to wait and see if I can ask around to borrow but then now everything is so impossible to do with the nation-wide strict lockdown and I guess, let's do this first, even if the list is not really complete.

I did have an E-520, my first Olympus DSLR that got me into photography, and fell in love with Olympus, but somehow the camera decided to act up and did not turn on at all. Not a surprise, I have tortured the camera a little too much over the years. I also have a faulty E-P5, which had a dead screen. I can still press the shutter and it will still click, though I cannot set the self-timer. I'd probably be able to do so if I have an external EVF (VF-2, 3 or 4), which I don't have at the moment. Having the E-520 and E-P5 into the mix would have been cool. 

The whole process was so fun and enjoyable to do, the filming took a little over an hour, time well spent I must say. 
PEN E-PL7 which I borrowed from a friend to do a comparison shoot against a smartphone (Xiaomi's Poco X3) half a year back and I have not returned the camera yet. Oops. 

OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which I wanted to make a video discussing how this is the perfect E-M10 and Olympus should build their future E-M10 cameras based on this, but never got to do it before the lockdown. Another borrowed unit, and I should be returning it soon too. 

This was mine. E-M5, I got this as a back up to E-M1, which I did use as my professional shooting workhorse for many, many years before I upgraded to E-M1 Mark II. I still really like the original E-M5 a lot. 

I set all the cameras to self timer for consistency sake, so you don't see my hands/fingers in the frame, and the video emphasized the camera as the center of attention. The shutter speed was fixed at 1/80 sec. I tried various shutter speeds and I figured 1/80 was the sweetspot - not too fast that you don't hear the first and second curtain, and not too slow that you feel there was something wrong with the camera. I have to admit some cameras like the faster newer models E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III sound much better at 1/60 sec, or a bit slower, because the shutter unit was so much speedier in response. But I want to keep it consistent for all cameras, so at the end I decided to go 1/80. 

I did the video in vertical/portrait orientation, I think much to a lot of people's annoyance. I was experimenting with YouTube #SHORTS, that has two criteria - the video must be less than 1 minute long and it must be in portrait/vertical orientation. I am still new to this YouTube game, and this was my second #SHORTS video, but I also realized if I don't try new things I will never learn and grow. Since this video did not have any talking head shots, and it was solely on camera clicking, I thought the #SHORTS format suits this perfectly. Only time will tell how this will perform on YouTube. Whether it will do well or not, it does not matter, at this point, I just want to give new things a go and besides, there is not much I can do being in such tight lockdown situation. 

Out of the 12 cameras, I am sure many of you owned at least one, or even several. Which shutter sound is your favourite? Do tell! I am curious. 
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  1. I really enjoy the shutter sound of my E-M1. I was just out this morning and it hit me, I really like the sound of the shutter. Reminds me of my SLR.

    1. Yeah the E-M1 shutter clicking does sound like a serious camera!

  2. Here, the Olympus Air stands out for the wrong reason, but did you review the Air at any point? I searched and didn't find anything obvious, although I have my suspicions that you have at least mentioned it before.

    I seem to remember that like the similar Sony product, the Air was pitched at smartphone users (with that special rest or grip to hold a phone), but reading reviews about it, there seem to be people who struggled to get their devices working with it.

    From my distant perspective, the biggest disappointment was that Olympus had a really obscure "development kit" or "API" and never tried to engage the maker community. If one considers that people get quite a lot out of camera boards for things like the Raspberry Pi that are more or less "webcam" level, it seems to me that having a "proper" camera module with a documented and comprehensive API would have opened up new markets.

    Do you think it is the case of an established company not wanting to take risks that they should really be taking? Especially in the light of what Olympus eventually did in terms of corporate reorganisation.

    1. I think you searched at the wrong place. Just Google up Robin Wong Olympus Air. That video was a hit.

    2. With almost 900000 views, you can definitely say it was a hit, but it is a good video! I think I agree with your main suggestions. On a product like this, the "tethering" has to be seamless and the interface responsive.

      I vaguely remember something about 3D printing in the Olympus developer scene around the Air, but a clearer way of attaching it to, or building it into, other things would have been attractive.

      One could imagine accessories including something a bit closer to a more conventional camera body, which might seem like a step backwards, but it would encourage ergonomic experimentation and might even uncover some interesting new ways of packaging up cameras and taking pictures. I could imagine getting two and having some kind of 3D photography rig.

      Anyway, nice video, and sorry not to already be following your YouTube output!

    3. Not a problem at all! My blog readers here will always have a special place, whether they follow my new YouTube or not. I started the YouTube to monetize it, it pays a lot better than writing blogs, that's a simple truth. Other wise I'd be happy to not bother about making videos and just happily write here.

    4. I must admit that this was the first of your videos that I'd watched, but if the others are anything like that one then I think you are pretty accomplished in that medium as well. I thought it was well put together, nicely edited, and we got to see lots of your pictures, too.

  3. E-1's shutter sound is second to none.