Visiting Prague with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 by Trent Cooper

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Visiting Prague with my Olympus OM-D E-M1

by Trent Cooper

Hi Brandon and Steve,

Love your website. I have been enjoying it; reading your reviews as well as getting inspiration from  you and your readers. Your website was instrumental in my decision to purchase my Olympus OMD EM-1. Another factor was the retro feel and look of the camera, which was further enhanced by my  burgeoning interest in fixed focal length lenses. If the greatest photographers throughout history could  make incredible photographs using one lens, I could at least give it a try to get lucky enough to get one or two good shots.

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Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Europe that included a visit to the incredible city of Prague.  During this trip, I challenged myself to spend time shooting only with my fixed focal length lenses, often  going out with just my camera and one lens. I have the Olympus 12mm, 17mm, 25mm, and 45mm lenses,  all of which are small, light, and of very good quality. I would estimate that I used the 17mm (35mm full  frame equivalent) about 75 percent of the time. I discovered that it just worked for me and it was  definitely my favorite focal length. (So much so, that upon returning home, I found a good deal on a used  Fuji X100S, to continue my retro, fixed focal length theme.)

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I purposely did very little research before arriving at our destinations. I wanted to discover the  cities for myself, and not be tempted to try to replicate the work of those that have been there before me.  I found the city to be absolutely magical, and the photo opportunities are endless. I must admit, there  were a couple of occasions where I could have used a long zoom to compress the perspective, or reach  out to an interesting subject some distance away. However, generally speaking, after the initial  adjustment, I didn’t miss having a zoom lens at all. I found shooting with fixed focal length lenses to be  rewarding, interesting, challenging, and just plain fun. I felt like an old-school photographer, following in
the footsteps of Cartier-Bresson or Kertesz.

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Having spent many years shooting a DSLR with a range of zoom lenses, limiting myself to shooting  with fixed lenses was an interesting challenge. I found that it definitely forced me to look at things  differently, to slow down, and to work harder to find the best vantage point to allow me to get the shot I  wanted. It forced me to become more deliberate and thoughtful in my shooting. It required me slow  down, think, and work to get the shot. It also forced me to accept that there were shots that I just  couldn’t get, given the limitations of the equipment I had with me at the moment. I quickly learned that it  was okay, and to just move on and find the next good spot.

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With zoom lenses, I have a tendency to shoot  many frames, adjusting the focal length of the lens in the hopes of getting something interesting. Most of  the time, I would just end up with a bunch of shots I wasn’t happy with. With a fixed lens, I had to work  harder to get the shot I wanted. I actually had to move my feet! Interestingly, and somewhat  contradictory, I found myself wanting to take my tripod with me when going out and about. I used my  tripod more often than I ever have while travelling. By slowing down and being more deliberate in my  shooting, the use of the tripod did not feel like the burden that it often does. The end result? A higher
percentage of shots that I was happy with.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and my photos.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/trentcphotos/

34 Comments

  1. Regardless of city…beautiful pics taken with an affordable camera and set if lens that akl easily fit is comfortable bag that can be carried around,all day. I shoot with EM1 and 25mm f1.4 and 12 – 40mm f2.8 pro zoom and even carry the $100 40mm – 150mm f4.0 R just reviewed on Robin Wong Blogspot. Thanks for sharing your shots of 2 beautiful cities.
    Bob in Chicago

    • Thanks, Bob. Glad you liked them. We had a great time visiting both cities, as well as Vienna on this trip. I should have inadvertently included some photos from that trip, too. That would have thrown everyone off!! 😉 I really enjoy using the EM-1, and their lenses can’t be beat. I also own the el cheapo 40-150 (although I admittedly don’t use it much), but it has proven to be a lens that punches well above it’s weight, so to speak.

  2. why are you not posting my comment of not all photos are of Prague? Too (or to for you americanos) embarrassing to admit mistake?

    • Ummmm…no. See comments above, where I admitted my mistake several times. No “facts” to get wrong…just selected a couple of photos from the wrong folder. Lighten up.

  3. Funny to see the parlament of Hungary above the title saying visiting Prague 🙂
    Nice pictures, both cities are beautiful.

  4. To everyone that caught my mistake, my apologies!! You are all correct. A couple of them are from Budapest. I was clearly not paying attention when I went through my photos, choosing them for this article. (Trying to catch up on my back episodes of Dexter!) My apologies to everyone, especially Steve and Brandon for the inaccurate info. Thanks for calling me out on it!!

    P.S. – Thank you all for the kind comments on the photos, despite my mistake!

  5. Wonderful pictures of a very beautiful city. I would love to claim them as my own:) Your photos are helping to push me towards my first M4/3 camera.

  6. Thanks for sharing the process of your shooting with primes. All “limitations” are challenges, and you’ve really caught the character of that beautiful city.

  7. Nice shots.
    I prefer prime lenses too: 21/1.8 and 50/1.5 are my standard kit. Have a 40/1.4 and a 75/1.8 too for special jobs.

  8. Hi!
    The main frame is the parliament of Hungary, and one of the photos is also contains the same building. It’s not in Prague. Otherwise all of the photos are beautiful!

    Peter

    • You are so right. Mea Culpa. Budapest was one of our destinations on this trip and I got them mixed up. I obviously wasn’t paying attention when I was selecting the photos for this article. Thanks for pointing that out.

  9. I LOVE your shots of Prague. Visiting last month for a few days, I had trouble getting good shots as it was very cloudy and overcast, but mostly I was freezing and didn’t take the time. I wish I had your photos in my memory album of Prague!

    • Lucky you!! I loved that city and will definitely go back. Great history, great food and drink, great museums and galleries…so much to do and see.

    • Hi Michal, since you live in Prague, perhaps you can give me a good advise. I will be in prague in 2 weeks. I use Nikon systems (D810 and would take 5 lenses (3 Nikon, Zeiss Otus 28 and 55/-1.4). I also have the Olympus OMD E-Mark II and M.Zuiko 7-14/2.8, 12-40/2.8, 40-150/2.8, 12-100/4. My question: which system would be better to use in Prague?? I use Lee filters also, for landscape photography. Thanks for your advise.
      Carlos Rios

  10. Lovely shots of a very beautiful city. I very much share your feeling on primes. I’m discovering that I force myself to think more about perspective and composition with a prime. My friend commonly calls it ‘leather’ zoom – zoom with your feet 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    • Sure, but don’t walk backwards over a cliff (a recent case here, causing the death of a young woman).

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