A Vintage Year with the OM-D E-M5 and E-M1 by Neil Buchan-Grant

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A Vintage Year with the OM-D E-M5 and E-M1

by Neil Buchan-Grant – His website is HERE

From Steve: Hello to all today and happy Wednesday! What you are about to see is an incredible collection of images all shot with Micro 4/3 using the OM-D E-M5 and new E-M1 by Neil Buchan-Grant. As it is all about who is behind the camera, I feel that Neil really shows what these cameras are capable of. My full E-M1 review will be here SOON and I am having a blast shooting with it. Enjoy!

 

Hi Steve and readers!

Its been quite a good year so far photography-wise. Unlike many people who take their camera out every day, I tend to concentrate my photographic efforts into short projects based around travel or events. This year I have been very fortunate to attend a number of amazing ‘vintage’ events and as my relationship with Olympus UK has flourished, they have let me try out their new gear in sunnier parts of Europe

My last submission back in January announced how little I was using the Leica M9 since buying my Olympus OMD-EM5. Well now that the EM1 has been launched, the time has come to say goodbye to the M9 (but I’m keeping the lenses!).

The year started with a long weekend in the Canary Islands where I had always wanted to shoot the dramatic sand dunes of Maspalomas on Gran Canaria.

Shot with the Olympus 12mm f/2 – E-M5

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12mm – E-M5

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On rare occasions I wake early and venture out into Winchester for a dawn shoot, this shot was from the last time this happened.

12mm – E-M5

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Next, a one-day workshop I was asked to host in the historic city of Cambridge produced these two shots

Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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I was commissioned to shoot Wayne Hemingway’s vintage festival which this year took place in Glasgow, it was good to be back in Scotland for a weekend. These two pros attend many of the Vintage events across the globe, they own the dance floor!

 Olympus 17 1.8 – E-M5

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Then I was sent out to Budapest with Jay McLaughlin, a very experienced fashion photographer (and Olympus user) to create some marketing images. Here are two of my favourites from the shoot.

Olympus 75mm 1.8 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Goodwood Revival is heritage motor sport race meeting held in the Sussex downs and always attracts a vast number of impeccably dressed vintage enthusiasts from around the world.

Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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And lastly I just came back from Portugal after a week of testing the new OMD-EM1. As a result I am quite smitten with this camera! It was a joy to use on an extended shoot where I took over 5,500 frames. The Swiss/French model who came along for the job had broken her foot 2 weeks before but fortunately didn’t have to wear a cast. She did extremely well, considering she needed crutches to go anywhere. Here are a few of my favourites from the week.

E-M1 and 75 1.8

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E-M1 and 45 1.8

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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E-M1 and new 12-40 Pro Zoom

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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 Hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these as much as I have making them, much more to see up on my blog as usual.

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130 thoughts on “A Vintage Year with the OM-D E-M5 and E-M1 by Neil Buchan-Grant

  1. hello neil — thank you for the inspiration as i think about my next photographic steps. i was in china for 8 months and used the em5 which i have learned to love. i experimented with a few lenses and now know what i want to get rid of and what next to get. i predominantly used the 45mm f1.8 which i adore and am looking into the 75mm f1.8. i’d love to know if you know anything about the panasonic 100-300. i had the lumix g 45-200 and hated it. anyway, i know of some people with very expensive cameras and lenses which i cannot afford so it is re-affirming to see such wonderful photos can be taken with the em5 (given the skill and eye, of course). thank you for posting this and showing off your photographs. it is truly appreciated.

    1. Don’t forget the Sigma 60…..just give it a try…..it’s verry close to the 75 for a fraction of a fraction of the money…..value for money wise it can’t be beaten.

      Greets, Ed.

  2. I’m a total beginner and thinking about going down the OM-D route. Can’t afford the EM-1 yet so thinking about the EM-5 with kit lens. Any suggestions on other good lenses without breaking the bank?

  3. Greet shots, but mainly because of your talent and skills rather than the gear used. And the write up is equally excellent. Yet I`m surprised that you let the M9 go. Your Sicilly shots with the M9 and Summilux are of a quality even the newest mft simply can`t touch, not even close, and maybe never will.

    1. I’m sorry to disagree, but Leica is clearly complacently stuck where it is, whenever the m4/3 consortium is in full forward acceleration – 18 months ago the overall quality of its newest sensors would be unthinkable… Just a matter of time before the overtaking will be a reality.

      1. well I think the 50 lux has a special look to it which you can only replicate on a full frame body but now that Sony have brought out that ugly beast:) which will take incredible shots I’m sure, Leica are on a sticky wicket!

  4. Yeps,

    If you are good as a photographer you can shoot great photos with any camera even an OM-D, but all those people considering an OM-D (EM-1 or 5 is irrelavent) and for one moment think it is gonna give them these quality pictures should have there head examened (big time). To shoot like this you need three things, and all of them can’t be bought at Amazon or B&H.

    1) An enormous amount of raw talent.
    2) An enormous amount of photographic experience to respond to different photographic environments
    3) And for the model shoots you need enormous amount of tenatiousnes to access and work with a group of equally talented people (from make up artist, over a stylist to a set dresser and not forgetting the faboulous models involved, and yeps modeling is one of the hardest professions around).

    Greets, Ed.

    P.S. I own an OM-D EM-5 and it’s a great camera, but creating these photos I’dd have to pass.

  5. Very amazing photos; I love them all but particularly the portraits are fantastic.
    Congratulation for your work and thank you Neil to share so beautiful pieces of art.
    Jean-Paul

  6. Seriously considering an OMD. Beginner also looking at dslr such as 70d or 7100. These pics are tempting me to OMD and spend some money on lenses. Probably just a em5.

  7. Great shots!! 2 questions:
    1. What are your suggestions for getting shallow DOF despite small m4/3 chips? Long focal length & of course very fast lenses which are not easy to find?
    2. As a non professional do you think I would be happy shooting BIF with EM1? For example, eagles, hawks etc?

    Thanks,
    Bob

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for your comment!

      On the subject of ‘small chips’, if my post serves any educational or PR function, I would hope that to be that pleasing shallow depth of field images are just as capable from an m43 sensor as they are from the more commonly used APS sensors used in Canon and Nikon cameras.

      In fact, its a regularly touted myth that APS sensors are ‘much’ larger than m43 sensors and that APS sensors are only slightly smaller than ‘full frame’ sensors. This is not the case. There is a much larger difference in size between APS sensors and full frame ones than there is between m43 and APS. There is only a small difference in size, and therefore the shallow depth of field potential, between m43 and APS sensors.

      As for fast lenses being ‘not easy to find’ I would suggest they are in abundance for m43 cameras. I use the Panasonic Leica 25mm 1.4, Olympus 45mm 1.8 and the Olympus 75mm 1.8 lens (these focal lengths need to be doubled to get the FF equivalents) Olympus also make a nice range of 43rds lenses which are exceptionally fast and high resolving such as the 35-100mm f2, the 90-250mm f2.8, the 150mm f2, and the 300mm f2.8. There are also a number of fast lenses coming out very soon with the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8, the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 and the 150mm f2.8. And of course there are numerous superfast manual focus options from the likes of Voigtlander.

      As for birds in flight photography, I’ve never tried that kind of thing myself but I would imagine that the new 40-150mm 2.8 used on an EM1 in continuous AF mode would be able to capture that effectively.

      And as my second shot in this post shows, if you go in close enough, even with a 12mm f2 (24mm equivalent) lens, you can get a shallow depth of field.

      On a personal note, I used to crave the super-shallow DOP look I got with my Canon 85mm 1.2 and 50mm 1.2 lenses. But shooting with such a slim margin of error was not without its problems. For me the fast lenses available with the m43 system offers a more practical balance of pleasing background blur and sharp subjects.

  8. I took a look at your photos and you did very well with the OMD too. Some of the shoots in London specialy are really beautiful.

  9. Excellent photos!

    I currently own E-M5 and Canon 5D mark II and each day I find it more and more difficult to justify exactly WHY I need to own that big full frame machine. Given equal shooting conditions the rendition with good quality lenses is very very close and in many cases the little Olympus comes out as a winner. Especially the lighting meter is way more accurate on E-M5, so considerably less try an error with that one when compared to Canon.
    These pictures of yours once again prove that it’s all about the photographer, camera is just a tool. With right light and composition the photos are just as good regardless of the gear used, allowing that the photographer knows how to use his tools.

  10. I believe I now have to get myself one of these… that 12mm f2.0 and the 25mm f1.4 is a great start. i was considering the Sony rx1 but then i realized i love wide angle lenses… Great work!

      1. that’s a tough one! optically the 75 is the better lens and its probably easier to get dramatic impactful shots with. Its a very useful length for all types of photography. For straight portraits of people you meet, I like the standard lens working distance because you feel a little more connected with the subject and I think that comes across in the picture. Also you’re close enough that you can talk to them quietly, without having to shout!…:) You can make them laugh or develop an expression with a casual remark at that sort of distance!

  11. Well, this isn’t good. There i was thinking that EM5 was a reasonably capable camera. However, these images are absolutely fantastic.

    1. Thanks:) The EM5 is a very capable camera as most of these were shot with one:) so if you have one stick with it, but if you’re buying from scratch, you should check out the EM1, its a future classic! (but then I think that’s what everyone said about the EM5..:)

  12. All you need is:
    Love to your subject (i.e. photography) and fantasy
    A great photographer (professional or enthusiast)
    The best prime lenses you can get for your system
    An up to date camera system
    Great environment, be it landscape, models/people, streets, … you name it

    Neil has it all, congratulationts o a real showcase.

  13. I don’t want to sound like I’m exaggerating but I think these photos are the best I’ve ever seen at Steve Huff’s website and I’ve been following it for years now.

    I’m even forwarding to friends

    1. Very nice indeed Neil ! I’ve seen your website too . Remarkable images. I’ve been a M4/3’s user right from the GF1 and am currently using the EM5 which I love. Apart from speed and accuracy of AF are there any major differences in IQ between the EM5 and EM1 ? Value your opinion as you are a working M4/3’s Pro. Thanks !

      1. Thanks Jimmy, I reckon they are a tad crisper with the best lenses (75mm in particular) but there’s almost no difference. I think for me the EM1 is all about the handling, the EVF is a treat to see through, the shape and controls are a little more ergonomic and ‘comfy’ in your hand, the buffer is huge, you never have to wait to see a file on your screen (not that the EM5 is a slouch) it just feels better to use but for all practical purposes, you won’t get any better pictures than the EP5 or EM5. I was highly impressed with the 1.6s handheld exposures which came out of Malaysia so perhaps the IBIS is a bit better…

  14. Wonderful shots, what can I say more. Those shots with PL 25mm makes my decision harder for cristmas, I still can’t decide if I will buy myself Voigtlander 25mm or PL 25mm because I really want 50mm FOV.

    1. cheers Lenny, I have to say the eye recognition system used on the Olympus bodies is very useful for shots like many of these where you only have a few seconds to play with, it leaves you to concentrate on the subject.

  15. Neal, great photography. As some of the others, the reflection of trees immediately struck my eyes. About 20 years ago, my wife and I were lucky to acquire a premier print of Paul Caponigro’s Redding Stream. When I saw your image, I was immediately reminded of that image. The reflection of trees in water, the vertical separation between two seemingly disjunct parts of the image, the eye searching for clues, the ah-ha moment, very similar emotional response evoked by the two images. Chapeau. Is you image for sale? As a reference, http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/photographs/paul-caponigro-stream-redding-connecticut-1968-4952977-details.aspx

  16. You peppered JUST the right amount of text in to glue these stunning images together. The best post of this kind I’ve ever seen. I simply can’t wait until my EM-1 arrives!

  17. Why am I still carrying around a heavy full frame DSLR??? Simply stunning photos here and a great example of what smaller sensors are capable of.

    I might have to give m4/3 and serious try again. 🙂

  18. Great photos! Having looked at your work with shallow DOF with such unconvinient from this point of view MFT, I am already ready to quit with my plans to get FF (the only reason were DOF and picture plasticity, not high ISO or noise).

  19. Something tells me you could have taking these beautiful shots with anything.

    I think that my only criticism is that in the color shots and many other the images look somewhat 2d. It’s like it jumps from one plane of color to another without enough range. Perhaps the relatively low level of dynamic range shows itself more in harsher light.

    In the studio and soft light shots these images look like they could have been shot with an M9.

  20. This post finally made me listen to Steve’s “Don’t just sit there! Join in and leave a comment!”

    These are truly wonderful – thanks very much for sharing!

  21. Great stuff Neil as per usual.

    I sold my EM5 to give the Leica MM a go (obviously completely different experience and thats why I did it), though it is really a great camera the EM5. I have been missing colour a bit of late so having kept the 45mm 1.8 just picked up a Pen 5 to have for colour and something small enough.

  22. Very nice pictures!

    It is people like you (Robin Wong, Ming Thein, and of course Mr. Steve Huff) who share these great images (from M43s) that made me not want a Full Frame camera anymore.

    I have a lot to learn to even come close to make these pictures so anything more (money spent on equipment) is a waste on me. My OM-D E-M5 is producing some really nice family pictures that I wouldn’t have gotten with my old NEX.

  23. Beautiful tree shadows and the goodwood portraits. As an em5 Cambridge boy I was always going to be interested in this post. I love the pp on the goodwood portraits – please tip me off or drop the UK mag issue where you will spell it out please! Finally big up to you and Steve for producing the indisputable evidence that we don’t need to go FF (Leica/RX or dslr) to create magic with a digital camera. I love my 20/f1.7 for size against output but that 25 sure does produce the goods. Is it a must for any serious m43 user?

    1. The 20mm and 25mm are very different lenses. The 20mm is very good as a walk around lens. Ideal for street photography, interiors or environmental shots. In situations when you want a background. The 25mm is better for portraits or other situations when you don’t want a background. Neil’s beautiful portraits speak for themselves. The 25mm is sharper, but I use the 20mm a lot more. Especially when I only want to take one lens. And it is easier to move towards your subject than moving away from it. (Since we do not have eyes at the back of our heads). Get them both!

  24. Your photos are some of most attractive I’ve seen here.
    But after reading many reviews on EM1, I’m just not convinced.
    You’ve thrown the best M43 prime lens at it, the IQ of the system seems still lacking in comparison, e.g. to the new Pentax K-3:
    http://www.ricoh-imaging.co.jp/english/products/k-3/ex/
    (Click and then click on the “+” to see the full image)

    I’m a fan of the M4/3 system, own 2 such cameras and have been thinking of upgrading to EM1.
    But it seems still lagging a bit.
    (This is not to question your photos. And I know Steve’s enthusiasm and read his reviews carefully)
    I need more enlightenment.

    1. Folks probably need to relax a bit about this. All of these high-spec cameras possess capabilities well above that of most photographers. And all will generate the images you’re looking to obtain … if YOU’RE good enough to obtain them.

      One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard over the decades concerning cameras is this: assuming an overall similarity in output quality, judge design, ergonomics, features, menus, haptics, and so forth. Pick the one that “feels” right to you.

      If you want to go out to the margins with analysis, then you can. If you want to make 4A0 size fine-art prints for gallery display, then M4/3 probably isn’t the right choice; you should probably be using at least full-frame — if not medium format — for that. If you need to be able to shoot at ISO3200, hand held at night, or similarly, if you need to track fast moving action, again in reduced light, then you probably need a Nikon D3s or D4.

      But I think for most applications, the current crop of high-end M4/3 and APS-C cameras will serve most people’s needs.

      1. Quite right Rob, personal choices. I used Nikon cameras before but these days I favor M4/3 because I do travel stuff. Small kit is nice. Olympus Lenses are great quality There are NO issues with image quality at this point with the M4/3 system. However, i miss the days of film when i didn’t need to charge batteries constantly after shooting!

    1. He certainly is..:) His name is Tony and he’s a fine chap who works in motorsport publishinhg. He used to have the biggest nose in Britain (until a bigger one came along) He was given free flights to the USA (on concorde) and to Australia to have his conk compared to those of other continents!

  25. I’m not convinced. I need to see more images of the French and Budapest models.

    Seriously – great shots. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Beautiful images! Thank you for sharing!
    It is very hard to pick favourites from this lot, but I will try and will go with the the picture of the trees, the one of the puppy and the first pool shot (she is unbelievably beautiful). I used to have a girlfriend like her, but unfortunately our personalities were very different..

    Have you had a chance to compare the 25 1.4 with the Voigtlander 25 f0.95? I am planning to get one of these two lenses at one point, and can’t really decide which one. Both have pros and cons … difficult 🙂

    1. Thanks digga, I haven’t had a chance to try the Voigt but my previous experience with Voigts is that they often benefit from stopping down to f2 which defeats the purpose for me as I like to shoot wide open. I definitely want to try one out someday though… AF is pretty handy though and the PL25 has never let me down on image quality. I hope Oly come up with a standard lens to rival it someday:)

    1. Thanks Christopher, I used ISO 2000 for that header shot of the dancers as the light was very poor in the dancehall, but most of the others were low ISO, I use auto ISO from base to 2500 on the EM5 and base to 3200 on the EM1

  27. What they all said!
    I do find the images often lack that ultimate sharpness but with the exception of the first shot of the sand dunes it matters not a jot. Thanks for posting these wonderful images.

    1. thanks Doug, any lack of sharpness is probably down to the export sharpening in LR5 (medium screen) and also blog software does a bit of resizing too although it does seem better on Steve’s site than on my own…:) They all started off really sharp…. I promise…:)

  28. Very nice Neil. I particularly like the shot of the bicyclist in Cambridge. Was that a ‘staged’ shot? Also, was that early in the morning? I was there recently (in that spot!) and there was a non stop flow of traffic.

    1. Thanks Huss, no it was about mid-day if I remember correctly. It wasn’t staged, I was just lucky, I saw her coming from a long way off and had plenty of time for her to just cycle right into the perfect spot!

  29. Ooh MY god what great portraits, I read Steve’s site since a while, by the way, you are running a wonderful site. These photos, especially the people shots are amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Wonderful images Neil. There really is something for everyone here. I grew up in Southampton and lived in Cambridge for years, some familiar sights there!

    That you’ve covered portraiture, environmental portraits, candid shots, more abstract imagery and landscapes with a range of great lenses really shows how these cameras can shine in the right hands.

    Thanks for sharing (and I can’t believe I’ve never been to Goodwood… trickier since I live in Canada now)!

  31. Neil – I take it these aren’t straight out of camera JPEG’s. Wondering if you’d share the software you utilize? Unbelievably sharp images! I’m hoping to improve my E-M5 processing.

    1. Hi Darren, indeed, all of these images have been varying amounts of PP, I use PS5, LR5 and Siver Efex Pro 2 and I was experimenting with DXO4 for colour but I’m still looking for a better film emulation software. I use no general sharpening at all, just the default LR5 uses to export (medium screen) but for portraits I often use a 3% sharpening of key elements. I might be doing a series of PP videos for a UK magazine in a few months so everything else I do will be in those.

  32. Great to see that the comments so far focus on the quality of the photographs rather than the (currently topical) gear that you used. Really excellent stuff. And good to see some pictures from Blighty as well! Love the Goodwood Revival photos – I go to the Festival of Speed every year but you’ve convinced me that I really must get to the Revival as well.

      1. Peter Fonda was at the Festival of Speed this year, riding his Stars n’ Stripes chopper bike from Easy Rider up the hill so there was a good showing from Uncle Sam!!

  33. You know I like your photography a lot Neil, and these are just great. They show what an excellent eye can do with a reasonable bit of gear 😉

    1. +100000 Every image is great. Actually these cameras produce the most constantly impressive images I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it’s the types of people who use it, or what but man if you can avoid sucking this camera (lenses) will REALLY help you out!

      Awesome

        1. It is funny how when we see images shot with a Leica someone goes all “Now you see how Leica glasses are exceptional”, but if it is some “lesser” brand, there is a “Yeah, it is clear that is the photographer and not the gear”…

          1. ??
            It’s always the photographer.
            Neil is brilliant even if you gave him a disposable camera.
            Leica glass can’t make a picture any better – You can’t polish a turd

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