Thursday, May 31, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review Tested with14-42mm II R and 12-50mm EZ Lens Sample Images, Photos and Videos

Last weekend I tested the  new Olympus OM-D E-M5 mirror-less interchangeable lens digital camera  with it's two interchangeable lens kit options, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R lens and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ Lens. The OM-D E-M5 and it's lenses proved to be an excellent outlet to not only express my creativity but also to practice my documentary  photography skills as well. (I was delightfully surprised when Occupy Wall Street Protesters met at Bryant  Park in NYC the day I was shooting and allowed me to take some cool shots!) The Olympus EM5 has been turning heads of photography enthusiasts ever since it was first released and now I know why!

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is the newest model in Olympus' line of Micro Four Thirds compact system cameras. The E-M5 has been a hot item since its release, in fact, this camera has been so popular  that I've actually seen photography blogs reviewing the Olympus E-M5 digital camera without even having the battery for it yet! I skimmed through such reviews, I hardly think they have much to say about a camera they can't even turn on but anyway, the point is, if you haven't heard of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 yet, you might want to know what all the hub bub is about!

Well for starters, the E-M5 is 16.1 megapixel model that offers the world’s fastest auto-focusing system and the world’s first 5-axis image stabilization system. These two new features in themselves make this a unique and desirable camera currently on the market. However, other key features turning heads include  dust- and splash- proof magnesium-alloy body, 1.44-million-dot electronic viewfinder, 3 inch articulated OLED touchscreen, 9 frames per second burst shooting, full 1080p video, and an impressive sensitivity range of ISO 200-25600.

Outward appearance-wise, it is a good looking camera. It has a classic design that comes in your choice of either silver or black. It felt lightweight and compact hanging from the camera strap around my neck. While shooting with the E-M5,  it felt easy to hold and fit comfortably in my hand. Also, it didn't feel obtrusive or heavy during those times in between shooting.

The only real complaints I have regarding the OM-D E-M5 aren't actually about the camera itself but with the Olympus lenses I used with it. As far as the Olympus 12-50mm EZ lens is concerned, it was overall a very excellent lens, however, it was a tad tricky trying to figure out how to use it for macro photography at first. The zoom ring on the lens can be adjusted by sliding it into 3 different positions. The first position that is closest to you if you are shooting is for using manual zoom, the second position or middle position is for using electronic zoom and the third and last position that is farthest from you while shooting is for macro photography. Although there is a window on the top of the lens that indicates what each of these 3 different positions are:  "M-Zoom," "E-Zoom" and "Macro," I was getting frustrated as I attempted to slide the zoom ring to the third position to shoot subjects close-up and it wouldn't budge! As it turns out, you have to press the button on the side of the lens that says "Macro" while sliding the zoom ring to the third position simultaneously. Hopefully this tip will save you the irritation and help you out when your trying to shoot macro.

Once I finally got the OM-D E-M5 with the 12-50mm lens in Macro mode, the details and clarity of the subjects were absolutely pristine. I have shot with a lot of different cameras that offer Macro mode or lens that are designed specifically for Macro shooting and this camera-lens combo holds a place among my top ranking macro photography gear.

Below are some sample images I shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ Lens using the lenses Macro Mode option: 

Macro Mode IMG01

Macro Mode IMG02

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R lens also proved to be an excellent lens  for macro shooting as well when using it with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 digital camera

Below are some close-up sample images I shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 using the Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R lens : 

Macro IMG01

Macro IMG02

However, if you are thinking of purchasing the Olympus E-M5 or already own one and you would like to shoot macro photography, I would recommend getting the 12-50mm lens over the 14-42mm lens. The Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R is a high-power wide to short telephoto zoom (28-84mm in 35mm equivalent) that offers optical performance in an extraordinarily compact and lightweight (3.9 oz, 111g) design. In order to fit the requirements for Micro Four Thirds System cameras, this lens features a reduced lens diameter (2.2", 56.5mm) and overall length (1.9", 50mm). It's constructed with 8 elements in 7 groups, employing three aspherical lenses. However, the zoom range of this lens is ideal for portraits, interior scenes and landscape photography that is why I would choose the 12-50mm if your an avid macro shooter , otherwise the 14-42mm lens is an overall great standard lens for any photographer. 

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 comes with all those wonderful creative art filters to add some pizazz to your shots. It included some additional art filters I haven't seen in any other new Olympus digital cameras I've tested this year. These include "Cross Process II" and "Dramatic Tone II" which provide variations on the popular existing filters, and the two new Echo Effects for movies leaves a momentary residual image of a subject's movements when activated during movie recording. Users who like to perform their movie post-editing on a PC will particularly appreciate the Full HD 1080i movie recording function, which adopts the MOV format (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264). Also, the "Key Line" art filter which enhances the edge lines of the image to make it look more like an illustration.However my favorite new art filter is the "Art Bracket"  filter which will apply all 11 art filters to one shot and  will automatically save  each version as a separate image. This is a huge time saver and allows you to pick and choose which art filter version of your image that you like the most.

Below is my set from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 using the Olympus 14-42mm II R lens shoot:

So focusing our attention once again to the Olympus 12-50mm lens. This lens has a magnification up to 4.2X, which covers a range extending from a wide angle of 24mm (35mm equivalent) ideal for landscapes and group photos to a medium telephoto focal length of 100mm (35mm equivalent) which is ideal for portrait shots. It has both electronic zoom, manual zoom and as I said earlier, it can also shoot macro. Similarly to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 digital camera, this lens is not only both dust and splash proof but also movie and still compatible (MSC) as well.

Below is my set from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 using the Olympus 12-50mm EZ lens shoot: 

*By the way, I forgot to mention that this set was shot in Bryant Park, NYC and was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time because the Occupy Wall Street Protesters held a surprise meeting for "Occupy University" at the park that day. *

Whether I was using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the 14-42mm or the 12-50mm lens, you can see the clarity and detail in my still images demonstrating this cameras capacity to deliver superb image quality. In addition to impressive stills, the full 1080p HD movie recording capability makes for excellent quality videos as well. Olympus had this mind when designing the 12-50mm lens to be sold with the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Our videographer Alexis Arredonde compiled several videos he shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 using the Olympus 12-50mm EZ lens below:

Although I tested the Olympus E-M5 with only two lenses, the camera is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds-compliant lenses, including two new lenses that Olympus will introduce later this year. These lenses are the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. The 75mm lens is a high-quality metal design with fast aperture settings for portraits and indoor sports shooting, while the dust and splash proof 60mm lens features 1:1 macro and a closest shooting distance of just 7.5 inches.

For pricing and availability:

- Olympus OM-D E-M5 Digital Camera Body Only (Black)
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ Lens
- Out of Stock - The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm II R Lens 
- Out of Stock - The Olympus Om-D E-M5 Lens Kits