Monthly Archives: March 2013

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March 29, 2013 · 11:48

A Street Photographer’s Camera

Featuring the EM5 micro four thirds system

What would be the perfect camera for a street photographer? One might wonder. Well, I do believe that it’s quite up to every individual photographer to decide for themselves. But I can name a few things that might apply to the majority of people:

  • The camera needs to be lightweight
  • It needs to be relatively compact
  • It shouldn’t be all to noticeable
  • It needs to have fast AF (except if you prefer manual focus of course)

And for most street photographing ends it would be nice to have a focal length of approximately 50 or 35mm (full frame equivalent). These are the old standards from the days of film photography, back when all camera’s had full frame sensors (35mm film that is). A 50mm will give you a nice field of view to frame your subjects, and a 35 will give you a bit more wideness in your FOV.

Olympus

I used to own a Fujifilm X100, which seemed to be the perfect street photography camera, it has everything any street photographer could ever want, fast 35mm lens, lightweight an compact construction, yet retaining a high quality and very good looking build (it’s so damn sexy looking). And I still love it! But the doubtfull autofocus combined with a limited manual focus function made me miss too many shots, and caused me to get rid of it eventually. So it was back to the old Pentax K5. But that wasn’t too proper either, because it has that DSLR bulkiness. I then opted for the Olympus OM-d EM5 (they should’ve done something about that name though). An advanced Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens camera, the Pro Pen system.                                                                                                             And as you might have seen/read in my previous posts, I took it out for a spin on the streets of Newcastle.

I combined the Oly with a Sigma 19mm f/2.8 (38mm FF equivilant). Which by the way, is a great value lens, bought it down at my local camera store for €100,-! And after the €100,- mail-in rebate offer from Olympus I had the entire set-up for just €899,- which is an amazing price for a system like this.

I will summarize my experience with this camera in a good vs bad comparison:

Good

  • Good quality photos for the small sensor size
  • Very Lightweight. Had it slung around my neck all day, never bothered me.
  • Small size
  • People barely noticed it, so it makes candid shooting much easier
  • Autofocus is amazing, spot on every time

Bad

  • It had delays sometime in booting up or switching from LCD to EVF
  • It froze up on me twice (needed to take out the battery to get it to work again)
  • The battery drained itself on me after just one day of shooting
  • I personally prefer OVF over EVF, but that’s just personal.

So there you have it, the good and the bad. I really don’t want to give you a conclusion or whatever, because I do believe that everybody has to decide for themselves what camera would be good for them. All I can say is that this camera has worked quite well for me on the streets and I’m sure it’ll make a load more people out there happy photographers. But with cameras like the X-pro 1 or the X100s, or for the overly rich amongst us the Leica M and X series, the competition is fierce. But this system delivers, and it does it at an amazing price, and that’s something that for a lot of people out there still is the #1 criteria.

I posted some sample shots taken with the oly and the sigma lens down below. But in my previous two posts you’ll see a lot more pictures taken with this set-up: I & II

B&W Ship in port Barred Goodbye HDR Photo

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Newcastle Street Photography: II

This is the second part of my Newcastle street photography post. In this post I will upload some photos that are taken from a more pedestrian level perspective. Photos taken on the ground, walking around the city. If you haven’t seen the first part of this post, click here!

I’ll share some thoughts on the Oly Em5 (the camera I’m currently using) as a street photographer’s camera later. And please, do let me know what you think! Photography is all about sharing and drawing inspiration from one another. Here they are:

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Newcastle Street Photography: I

I had the chance to stay in Newcastle for the weekend. And after getting my new Olympus OM-D EM5, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to test it out some more. During the short time I was there, the city surprised me a lot. Old architecture was seamlessly merged into new architecture, it seems like the city is constantly evolving. This made for a very photogenic location to shoot.

The city is also quite cramped, packing together everything a big city is supposed to have into a small city centre on the Tyne river banks. And for the kind of photography I like, this city is great. It gives you layers, lines and forms to compose, combine and shoot. I’ll be posting my pictures in two series. The first will be a sort of architectural portrait of the city. They are pictures of the buildings, roads, tunnels and alleyways that form the city. The second set, will be one that will breathe a more pedestrian-like atmosphere.                            Both of the posts will be sets of street photography, but in my eyes they are quite different.

Here’s the first one! Enjoy.

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Me & Micro Four Thirds

Micro four thirds 

Sefanja Vitalis

OM-d EM5 with Pentax 50mm f/1.7

 Not so long ago, I decided to sell my trusty old Pentax K5 camera and buy a Micro Four Thirds body. It took me some time to make that decision though, I did love that old thing. It was probably the best camera I’d ever owned. But it was a DSLR, which meant it was big and heavy (even though the K5 is one of the most compact DSLR’s out there it still weighs a bunch). Big and heavy also means you don’t take it with you nearly as much as you might want to. And when I finally had gotten around to taking it with me, it wasn’t all that easy to get the camera out of the bag in time to not miss the shot. Having a brick slung around your neck all day also felt a little cumbersome (hence the in-bag placement). And one of the most important things; DSLR’s tend to be slightly intimidating for subjects. Looking into a giant piece of glass that reflects their own startled faces doesn’t make a person all ready and nice for a candid street shot.

But times change, technology has matured, and the monopoly of DSLR’s in the world of quality image making has somewhat disappeared. Cameras like the Fuji X-pro 1, X100(s) and the Olympus OM-d have proven to be excellent machines for high quality shots. Sony’s development of the RX and NEX cameras also saved a lot of backs and necks from breaking to pieces under the awful weight of pounds and pounds of camera gear.

I myself went for one of the most stylish and compact options in the line-up; The Olympus OM-d EM 5. This little guy gives you a modernized version of a micro four thirds sensor that promises high quality images and also some proper ISO performance (unlike the old M4/3 sensors). One of the big advantages of this camera as opposed to the K5 is the very small body which retains a very good weather resistant build quality.

The Micro four thirds system also has another advantage; Loads and loads of lenses available. Unlike many other interchangeable system cameras such as the Nikon 1 and the Fuji X series, the micro four thirds system’s got some third party brands onboard like Sigma for instance. And the many available adapters will give you the opportunity to fit all sorts of other lenses.

I must say though, that this camera is probably not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person that expects nothing short full frame performance, this camera will not bring it. The small sensor competes happily with some APS-C size sensors out there, but definitely plays a different game in an entirely different ball park than any modern full frame sensor machine out there. But at ¼ the size of a professional DSLR body, you can’t really expect it to bring the same kind of performance. Rest assured, for its size this camera packs one hell of a punch and will do fine for any semi-pro/enthousiast photographer, once you get the hang of it.

But before recommending any type of equipment to any type of photographer, I’d like to quote one of the greater photographers known to us:

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams

It is not the camera that composes your pictures, it is you, the photographer. And for me I have chosen a camera that doesn’t get in my way, while still delivering the quality I need for my photographs to have. And that’s something every photographer needs to ask themselves, what suites me best? And not, which camera has the best spec sheet?

I haven’t really gotten around to testing this thing out the way I should, but I’ll be in Newcastle upon Tyne this weekend. I’ll try and make soms nice shots for you all, look for them in a next post!

Em5 back

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