Olympus OM-D E-M5

First day out with the new camera, exciting! And what’s even better, it was snowing in the morning and I just kept looking outside to see when it would be light enough to go for a walk, eager to get out. The first photo opportunity wasn’t very far away, I can see this view from my kitchen window and the dark spruce looked nice among all the white. I had to zoom in to isolate the tree and I have to say that the first impression got me really nervous – the picture in the viewfinder was shaking like crazy and I had no idea if the stabilisation is supposed to steady the EVF picture or not. With the optical viewfinder and lens stabilisation, you can see the picture go steady in the VF so you know when the stabilisation kicks in. So just to be on the safe side, I also took some frames using the monopod for support and when I saw the pictures on the computer, it turned out to be a good idea.

18/365
18/365 (first keeper from new camera)”

It seems like it’s very difficult to get a sharp picture when the shutter speed is equal or less to the millimeters (I’m referring to the handholding rule, for example if you’re shooting with a 60mm lens, you should use a shutter speed which is 1/60 sec or faster). And this is despite the stabilisation. I also took some pictures with the lens zoomed at max (effective 300mm) but in those pictures the shutter speed was 1/1000 or faster, and they came out sharp, so at least I could verify that there’s nothing wrong with focusing or sharpness. I think this problem is related to the so called shutter shock phenomenon. Basically, what it is, is that the camera/lens combo is so light that it’s difficult to keep it steady when you press the shutter button. Because the movement happens precisely at the moment of taking the picture, the stabilisation isn’t able to catch up to compensate. This is quite widely discussed in different forums and the camera has a setting to alleviate the problem, so now I just need to find out what the best setting is and maybe I can avoid it in the future.

Ljusnan
Wideangle zoom at 9mm

But this shutter shock is the worst thing I can say about the camera. The only other negative thing I can come up with at the moment is related to the EVF. The colours are horribly bland in it, for example when I was shooting the golden river picture, there was really nothing golden in the EVF, so I just had to trust the camera to record the colours anyway. If in doubt, press Play to review the taken picture. And of course the camera delivered the colours, so I just have to get used to the viewfinder blandness.

Ljusnan
Ljusnan at 150mm (300mm effective)

I used both lenses today and I’m happy with both of them. Admittedly, the monochrome winter landscape doesn’t provide much of a challenge to any lens so it’s too early to say anything definitive, but the first impression is good so I’m not worried about lens performance.

And then we have the bottom line – image quality. The E-M5 has 200 as the lowest ISO, which is not so perfect for me (I was thrilled to get ISO 50 with the Canon 6D), so I had some concerns. For sure, as the days get longer and there will be more light, it will be interesting to see if the fastest shutter speed of 1/4000 is going to be fast enough. But that’s not an issue right now anyway. As I was looking at the full res pictures, I can say straight away that they are not as smooth as I’m used to. But having said that, I wouldn’t say that they are noisy, in fact, shooting in the ISO 200-400 range as I did today, noise was not an issue at all. So that thing which makes the pictures “not-so-smooth” is actually reminiscent of the good old film grain, except much finer (you won’t see it unless you’re looking at the picture at 100% resolution). So I’m not really concerned about it, although of course the winter landscape is not optimal for reviewing pictures for noise either.

All in all, it’s a very positive first impression. The only real catch is the shutter shock so I will have to keep an eye on the shutter speed when I use the telezoom, until I figure out how to prevent it. Apparently, I do need to read the manual…

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