Using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for Landscapes By Steve Gosling
By Steve Gosling
Over the years I’ve owned a number of Olympus cameras – icons like the OM1n and the OM4, the original Olympus Trip (I still have a collection of these) and compact classics like the 35RD, 35RC and the XA. I’ve always been attracted by the marques blend of style and functionality. And that attraction continues today with the PEN and OMD range.
When the EPL2 was launched I acquired one and loved using it as a lightweight, go anywhere camera (usually combined with the Olympus 9-18mm lens – still one of my favourite zooms for M4/3s). That was eventually joined by an EP3 and more recently by an EPL5. But I’m a traditional kind of guy when it comes to photography gear, particularly for landscape photography and I struggle with composing images on a rear LCD (particularly when handholding a camera). So when the OMD came out I was keen to see if it offered me the portability and quality of my PENs with the convenience of a built-in finder.
Other than occasional use of the Olympus VF2 it was the first EVF I’d really tried and I have to say I was impressed. For the way I work the absence of an OVF wasn’t a great loss (my main camera for landscapes is an Alpa TC & Phase One P45+ back and the Alpa doesn’t have any viewfinder at all).
I’ve been using the OMD for around 12 months now and really enjoy it as a supplement to my Alpa based outfit, particularly for those occasions when I want to be more opportunistic and require the flexibility & portability of the Olympus gear.
Undoubtedly, when I need the highest quality or want to take a more considered & methodical approach to my landscape photography then nothing is ever going to beat my Alpa and the P45+ (this combination is a landscape photographers dream).
But when I’ve wanted to travel light it has been my Olympus OMDs that I have turned to, not my Canon 5DmkII. In fact, in spite of being a Canon user since 1990, I’ve now sold my entire Canon outfit – it just wasn’t getting used.
If I had to highlight the features that really work for me on the OMD it would be the following: –
– Small & light but solidly built – when it’s in your hands it feels like it’s got some substance to it (it reminds me of my much missed OM4s);
– Weather sealed body & lens – essential for outdoor photography in the UK (I believe that if I haven’t got wet then I probably haven’t got a good shot!);
– Live Bulb/Live Time feature – great for monitoring the exposure progress on the long exposure photography that I love to do. This is a fantastic feature that I don’t see mentioned very much in reviews of the camera;
– The viewfinder – as I’ve said I much prefer to view the scene through a viewfinder than looking on the back of the camera. It’s also better in bright light and makes it easier to judge the effects & positioning of ND grad filters;
– The tilting screen – however the addition of the angled screen is a great option to have for candid/street & low level photography. I’m not getting any younger and getting down onto my knees is still possible – it’s the getting back up again that has become harder!;
– The built in level – off kilter horizons are generally a no-no in landscape photography (unless as a deliberate, aesthetic choice) so the level visible in the viewfinder really ensures handheld scenic shots aren’t spoilt by this problem.
– The Art Filters – I love to use these on my PEN & OMD cameras; they’re a great stimulus for the creative photographer. I really like using the B&W Dramatic Tone filter – it can give some atmospheric results with the choice of the right subject matter.
About the Photographer
Steve is an award-winning professional photographer based in the UK. He specializes in producing creative & contemporary landscape images (his signature style is moody & atmospheric black & white photographs). His photographs have been published internationally in books, magazines & newspapers and on greetings cards, posters & advertisements.
He particularly enjoys writing & teaching about photography and frequently gives talks to photographic groups in the UK & abroad as well as being a regular contributor to photography magazines in many different countries. He has run a successful workshop program for several years encouraging and inspiring photographers of all levels from across the world.
Further details about his workshop programme and a selection of his images can be found on his website