USER REPORT: Wedding Photography with the Olympus E-M5 by David Charlwood
This year I switched from photographing weddings with my full-frame Nikon gear to the Olympus EM-5. The response from my clients has been entirely positive. The very first time I used the camera for a couple’s engagement photo shoot, the groom looked pleasantly surprised when I pulled the EM-5 out of the bag and said ‘I’m so glad you didn’t bring one of those massive paparazzi cameras!’ That is the biggest advantage of the EM-5 at weddings: it is so small that people barely notice it, especially on a day when there are so many cameras around.
From a professional perspective there are a few things that could be improved: small buttons mean the camera can feel a bit fiddly in operation and because the base ISO is only 200 and the shutter has a maximum of 1/4000 of a second using a bright lens on a summer day requires a neutral density filter. (Both complaints fixed with the newly released EM-1, I should add.) The reduced battery life takes some getting used to, but overall the EM-5 is wonderfully intuitive and offers so much customization that I have found I can operate the camera completely one-handed. One advantage of that is that I no longer have to carry an extremely heavy camera bag.
The lenses available for the EM-5 are simply superb. I used to shoot with Zeiss prime lenses and to all intents and purposes, the Voigtlander and Olympus primes I now use are just as good, not to mention a quarter of the size! I mostly use the excellent Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 and the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and 17mm f/1.8.
Many professional photographers are wary of moving to a smaller sensor, but an f/0.95 lens gives excellent depth of field control, as well as enabling shooting at a lower ISO. Almost all my clients will buy the full size digital files and not a single one has questioned the image quality. In short, the Olympus EM-5 is definitely up to professional use, just take a deep breath and go for it.