Burning Man 2014 with an OMD E- M1 By Steve Richards

Burning Man 2014 with an OMD E- M1

By Steve Richards

IMG_1941 - Version 2

Hi Steve, since it’s while since I posted anything on your site I thought your readers might be interested in my latest trip – I went to Burning Man for the first time this year and after much reading and deliberation I decided to leave the M240 at home since although the latest body is weather-sealed the lenses are not and I didn’t want to risk my expensive glass. (Wuss!)

I’ve always liked the m4/3rds format since my first Lumix G1 years ago so I took an Olympus OMD E-M1 with a single lens – the Oly 25/1.8 – the challenge to see if I could capture some decent shots with a compact and simple set up.

The conditions are extreme, high daytime temperatures and dust storms that can totally envelop everything. The set up was left unprotected – some photogs put their kit in a plastic bag, I didn’t – you can see from the camera shot it got totally dusted! Although the lens is not weather-sealed it didn’t seem to get any dust inside during the week I’m sure partly because I stayed with the same lens the whole time. It’s all perfect now I’m home and it’s cleaned it up beautifully.

As for the pictures, I’m really pleased with the outcome, apart from the real night-time shots that are noisy, even post cropping the quality is ok for my purposes. The real bugbear is the crazy number of buttons on the camera body and the super complex non-intuitive menus, that combo drives me crazy and will chase me back to the simplicity of a Leica M for my next trip. Why don’t the mfs have a “simple menu” option that closes down all but the basic functions?!

My FB page link to more Burning Man shots below


Keep up the good work fella, your site is one of the best around…

Best regards
Steve Richards








Related Post


  1. I’ve been to Burning Man several times and would never take a camera I was not prepared to throw away. The dust is pervasive and insidious. I met fellow photographers with expensive DSLRs that were trashed. Even with weather sealing, you just got lucky. Having said that, the event is a photographers dream.

    • “I met fellow photographers with expensive DSLRs that were trashed. Even with weather sealing, you just got lucky.”
      Because, as I said earlier, many so-called “weather sealed top line” cameras aren’t really weather sealed.
      For a difference, go see the videos of the E-M1 used for taking shots ten minutes under a bathroom shower, or taking a video under a little mountain fall… 😉

  2. I totally agree on the crazy E-M1 menus, but they are not the only guilty party. I have an X-Pro and found that I keep accidentally pushing buttons on the rear right of the camera. I ended up making a super wide thumb grip that covers over most of those buttons so I could just grab, shoot, and not worry about what new setting I have just inadvertently selected. I’d love to have the simple elegance of the M-240, if I only had the money…

  3. Great choice taking the E-M1. I often leave the M9 at home and take my E-M5 when conditions aren’t ideal (backpacking mainly). I’m always impressed by the files produced by the M43 primes and bodies. There can be a noticeable difference while pixel peeping. I have found though that when printing the difference is negligible. Thank you for sharing your adventure. Document everything…..


  4. Nicely composed images. However, some of the images above appear to have some banding in the blues. Reference in particular Image 2 of the bikes and Image 4 of the couples sculpture. Is this from the raw file or compression?

  5. hi Steve,
    there is kind of a steep learning curve to get used to EM-1 controls, I’ll say maybe 5-8 hours. Once you get it the “crazy number of buttons” gets you where you want in a heartbeat though.

  6. hope you are right and your camera and lens did not collect dust in the interior. Great images anyhow. I especially like the colors and the light out there seems to be beautiful. looks like a cool event.
    thanks for sharing

  7. Although I find some Oly bodies sorely lacking in ergonomics some praise has to go to their SCP (Super Control Panel) coupled with a touchscreen a lot of things are covered. Such a shame it’s not setup as a default display but in stead only made live by menu digging.

    Lovely shots and well done for keeping it simple kit wise!

  8. “Why don’t the mfs have a “simple menu” option that closes down all but the basic functions?”

    If I had a nickel for every time that thought crossed my mind… I would actually have no nickels, because all my mental space is taken up with remembering the menus for my E-M5. But man, that’s a great idea. And these are wonderful shots.

    • Yes, those are nice images!
      I had a E-M1 for 5 days for a test and it threw out some nice pictures especially with the 12-40/2.8, but…
      the camera drove me nuts. the menus and the 2×2-switch got me so confused, I missed a lot of shots or had he wrong ISO/aperture. the on/off switch on the left side was the dealbreaker in the end and I finally got a X-T1. That is far from being perfect. But I love the handling having learned to make photographs with semi-automatic SLR in the 70s.

      • I had the same issue with 2×2 lever, it’s a poor design judgment from Olympus IMO. Luckily you can work around it. The trick is to assign ISO and WB to the function buttons and assign the 2×2 to AF/MF. All other basic functions can be accessed with the SCP. Admittedly, it took me about 4 months to figure this all out, but now that I have, I don’t visit the menus much at all.

    • There is, it is called Super Control Panel… Besides, all functions are controlled by on-camera wheels or buttons, could not be simpler. But you do well to not trust other brands “weather sealing”, that in many cases is simple ludicrous – ask to pros with top of the line C*N***n bodies…

    • Hey, you guys all know about the “Super Control Panel” (SCP), right? Which puts crucial functions all in one screen, available by pressing “OK”?
      Sadists/sociopaths at Olympus decided it’s best to hide it so that no one would accidentally discover it. :^{

      Here’s a little guide I found, showing how to enable it:

      (scroll down a screen or so)

    • Not really sure what the complaints about the controls on the EM-1 are getting at. The 2×2 control layout is (for me) so intuitive and simple – the two control dials and the selector switch are pretty much all you need to worry about once you’ve got the basics of the camera set up. For example in aperture priority (by default) with the selector switch in position one the front dial is exposure comp and the rear dial aperture, whilst in position two the front dial controls ISO and the rear dial white balance. All controllable with the thumb and forefinger of your right hand without having to remove your eye from the EVF. And if you don’t like the default setup it’s virtually infinitely customisable.
      I don’t understand why people criticize a camera’s ergonomics/haptics when they clearly haven’t given themselves enough time to learn the control layout (5 days is not enough time to fully familiarise yourself with a camera at this level).
      It is however completely, utterly bizarre that Olympus doesn’t have the Super Control Panel activated by default. Why go to the trouble of creating such an intuitive touch screen control interface, and then conceal it within a labyrinthine menu system?

Comments are closed.