PROST! Oktoberfest with the E-M1 (sort of)…

PROST! Oktoberfest with the E-M1 (sort of)…

Just a fun Sunday night post before getting serious on Monday Morning πŸ™‚

Over the weekend we drove in over to Scottsdale AZ for some Oktoberfest fun πŸ™‚ NOTHING like the real deal of course but I brought along the Olympus E-M1 and when I arrived my 1st thought was “Uh is way too dark in here for photos..should have brought the RX1R”.

I had the 17 1.8 with me as the only lens. Even in the dark conditions the camera focused blazing fast and while I only took a few shots in various conditions ranging from ISO 200-3200 it never let me down. I converted these to B&W using VSCO as I felt this would give a good vibe to these dark low light condition photos. The look you see in the images, the washed out grey and whole “look” is due to the VSCO filter I chose. Has nothing to do with the camera and there is no way to get this look without the filter. I chose this look for these “just for fun” images and have used this same filter with the Leica M, Sony RX1, etc. They look Β the same πŸ™‚

To see images without filters, just look at my lengthy E-M1 review.Β The E-M1 is just as contrasty as the next camera and has image quality as good as any APS-C camera (but with much faster AF).

So once again, the little E-M1 performed very nicely and never once did it even come close to hunting for AF. Press, focus, fire. Every time. Keep in mind, this was indoor, no windows to the outside world so I was dealing with the interior lights only. Some shots had to be taken at 3200 and the lens was shot wide open 95% of the time. The 17 1.8 is probably the best “one lens” solution for the E-M1 due to its sharpness, AF speed and performance. Highly recommend it.

Seeing that it was a local Oktoberfest celebration the beer was good..too good in fact because after an hour I forgot to take photos! Β I was too busy enjoying the music, the fun and the friendly atmosphere! Still, when I take a break from this website it seems I am still working on the website, but I love it.

All have a VSCO filter applied which gives it B&W, Noise and a Washed out look











and by request, one without the filter below, straight from camera – RAW – must click it to see it larger sized



  1. Hello, Steve! I like the smoothness and contrast of the grade you applied to these photos. But i have failed to mimic it with any vsco preset (01-04). The closest result i got was using VSCO-03 S-Fuji FP-3000b Negative ++ with a grain set to none and a massive tweaking in develop module. With such an efforts using vsco is no more that fun. Did you do it with all your pics or there is a short way around? Please share your technique on this serie. Thanks in advance and greetings from Russia.

  2. Steve, this is why your site is great. It is a review of how a camera works in the real world, with a story about living a life and taking photos at the same time. Your style is very encouraging and not condescending, which helps to get to the real ‘meat’ of a review, instead of listening to a bunch of complaints and overly subjective BS. FWIW I’m not a huge fan of the filter on those pics, but to each his own! Keep up the great work.

  3. Love the images. But all the washed out blacks… (nah, just kidding, I read it was the filter you used) Hope you get to see the real deal at some point, as I’d be very interested to see what you make of it. πŸ™‚

  4. Steve… after reading many of these comments…. I realize that you are a Saint! Thanks for the work.

  5. I read and accept that it was your choice to use filters! Thanks for posting. I think some readers may be so excited/anxious about trying to decide whether or not to order the EM-1, they are trying to draw inferences about the camera no matter how extreme the post processing of posted images.

  6. I think the low contrast and washed out look is from the VSCO processing, kind of looks like the Ilford delta 3200 to me, correct Steve?

    • The washed out look was MY CHOICE using the VSCO filters. The originals are NOTHING like this. I chose the washed out grey – as I stated (VSCO filters). Anyone who thinks this is due to exposure does not really know much about photography as this look would not even be possible with exposure change. As I said, it was a Just for Fun Sunday night post, not to show IQ of the E-M1. For that read the review πŸ™‚

  7. Would the lack of the AA filter likely to make the 25mm Lumix perform even better on the M1? Image-wise, do you think it will still out-perform the 17mm?

      • I read it myself and understand fully. However ……

        When images are processed thus I fully understand why so many viewers complain about the images being underexposed Steve, whether they’ve read the words or not.

        Let’s be fair, when processed in such a manner the images speak very little about a new camera’s image quality or capabilities. Ain’t criticizing, just saying is all. LOL πŸ™‚

        • Well this post was not to show capabilities of the camera, it was posted for fun, more so to show the VSCO filters. If you want capabilities of the E-M1 you can read the review which has loads of samples and tests. Thanks.

          • “to show the VSCO filters” … from the comments … I think you cost them some sales. πŸ™‚ … although I’m going to take a look at them, so you succeeded after all. πŸ™‚

          • Oh not at all. I reviewed them a while back and sent tens of thousands of hits to VSCO’s web site (of which I make ZERO money from). This is one of MANY filters and variations of. All personal preference my friend. VSCO are known as the premiere film filter plug in available.

  8. Great shots to show what the EM1 has in it. I’m about to receive my pre-order EM1 but after a terrible time with shutter shock on the EP5 I had briefly am more than a little concerned. Have you seen any of this issue so far in your EM1?

    • Odd about this shutter shock. I tried to replicate on the E-P5 and E-M1 and E-M5, never ever could. The E-P5 I tested was very sharp and never once did I have an issue with blurred or messed up images.

      • Good to know, hopefully just a fluke on the EP5 I had. Never saw it before that, hopefully never see it again.

  9. Steve,

    Nice coverage of the event. The images remind me of maxed out Tri-X. I was looking a bit more closely at the “grain” structure in the face on image #8. It looks like the onset of the artifacts that I get when I push my X10 sensor a bit too far, usually a very sensitive interplay between sharpening strength and radius. I find that it shows up most in smooth well focused skin textures as it’s kind of “anti-skin-texture” in nature. Perhaps I have my pixel-peeping turned up too high. The loss of shadow detail is significant, really blocked up in places. The lens seems to hold up well against the direct lights. This must have been a tough venue to meter.

    It’s such a dark overall cave that it doesn’t look like you can just let the shadows go to black.

    Great study in digging something out of what’s served up.

    Best Regards,

  10. Steve,
    Can you please describe the focus mode and settings you used? It seems that there are so many options for autofocus settings. Single poing vs multi etc..
    Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

      • Thanks Steve. I have been thinking about moving away form dslr to get a more compact systems that is more fun to use. Now my problem is all teh great choices we have. Hope I don’t go into analysis paralysis. πŸ™‚

  11. “Severely underexposed” means you should have dialled in at leasdt one stop underexposure, to compensate for all those pitch dark areas that now came up a washed-out grey. Might also have prevented some highlight blowouts.

    Pretty basic really. I sincerely hope the E-M1 is capable of better results in similar situations.

    • Again, read the descrip. What you see is 100% from the filter. It is an effect of a film filter in VSCO. This is the look I chose for these – personal choice.

  12. Vailed blacks … typically = underexposure

    I remember what a bitch it was shooting our local Oct. Fest last year! … so props to you and that camera/lens.

    Can one lower contrast in camera?

  13. I think they are all nice shots except for the high black levels – was you monitor calibration off, Steve?

  14. These look very underexposed; no real blacks, just flat greys and few hightlights. Was that intentional? There was nothing more in the files?

  15. Great shots. I assume you went with B&W because of chroma noise? The portraits look great, but the group shots seem a little gloomy, even with backlights.

    Speaking of backlights, are there any other cameras you think would focus as well in those conditions? How about the A7? (My NEX-5 would have been distracted by the backlights.)

  16. Lovely shots, just out of curosity, when will you be getting your hand on the 12-40 pro lens, would love to see how it performs in low light situations like these

  17. interesting, I would like to ask since the Sony A7 + 35 2.8 and EM1 + 17 1.8 are very similar in size and not that much different in price – disregarding IBIS and AF speed which would you prefer? I notice the highlights even in black and white are typical of smaller sensor systems and clip very fast, which was why i sold of my EM5 and V1.

    Since you’ve used a D800 before I guess you know what i mean by that amazing huge dynamic range look that the sony sensors can achieve. As most previews I read state the EM1 has the same internals as the EM5, but you’ve mentioned that its a stop better, in your opinion in terms of dynamic range how good is the EM1? Im not interested in shooting above iso 800 either, keeping things at iso100 with sony sensors results in addictive image quality.

    Could you possibly provide some of your expert opinion?

    • Cant answer your question until I actually use the A7 or A7r πŸ™‚ But my answer will be that I will take both, for reasons I have outlines here last week. But, DR is not an issue with the E-M1 at all. What you see here is a result of processing and plug ins as well as some ISO 3200 noise. The E-M5 sensor had the same DR as the Fuji X100. Not very far off from the Leica M 240. The RX1 is a beast with DR, about as good as it gets (along with D800) but today, DR is not much of an issue when talking about the latest breed of cameras.

    • I would really really like to see a detailed comparison of the Sony A7 + 35mm f/2.8 with any recent Olympus + 20mm f/1.7.

      The reason why is that the absolute aperture of these lenses is the same, and the focal length very similar. The 20mm is a stunner with great rendering. Such a comparison would really show me how big the full frame mirrorless advantage is over micro four thirds.

      I mean, it’s obvious that a large $2000 f/1.4 prime on full frame will perform better than any micro four thirds camera combo. But how big will the advantage be with compact f/2.8 primes?

  18. With the M5, I greatly preferred the images produced by the Lumix 25mm to those produced by the 17mm and therefore returned the 17mm in about a week after receiving it. However, I would prefer the 17mm for its size and focal length, if it performs as well as the 25mm when it’s used with the M1, even if it’s a stop slow. Does the optical corrections made by the M1 or other factors make a real difference and make the 17mm lens perform appreciably better on the M1 than on the M5? What do you think?

    • I have the same experience with the 17mm on the E P5 and returned the lens for the same reason.
      Might have been shutter shock. Steve is commenting that the 17 mm performs better on the E M1.
      Why ???

      • I have an E-P5 and the 17mm f/1.8 and I love the results of the combo (also own the P/L 25mm)…I have checked my E-P5 very thoroughly and do not seem to have any instance of shutter shock…I can seen none (even at the 160/sec as reported by DPR)…
        I believe that Steve Frankel above is referring to the M1 being advertised as the FIRST Olympus camera body (please correct me if I am wrong) that makes internal software corrections to its native lenses. That coupled with the fact that there is no AA filter on the M1 could be two of the reasons for an improvement in output quality?

    • The 17 happened to be the first lens I put on the EM-1 for a few test shots. I was shocked at how sharp test shots looked because the 17 didn’t look all that good on the EM-5. If the EM-1 improves the performance of all lenses, that will be terrific! I’m looking forward to testing my other lenses.

      • Well I believe it will, which is one reason why the E-M1 is so good. The Voigtlander 25 was actually SHARP at 0.95 πŸ™‚ I have yet to try the 25 1.4 on it but hope to soon.

      • The (second) copy of the 17mm f/1.8 I had was sharp wide open on my E-M5 and it’s sharp on my E-M1 now too.

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