Italy, Transylvania, Austria with Sony A7s, Olympus E-M1 and Leica
by Neil Buchan-Grant – See all of his guest posts HERE
I thought it was about time to share with you some of the pictures I’ve been making over the last year. As ever my photography has been mostly made with the Olympus EM1 but following on from your enthusiastic response to the Sony A7s, I decided to trade in my A7 for one. I only use the Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH on the A7s but its a combination that, although limited in application, has proved to be a great one.
I spent most of the summer at home in England enjoying the fine weather we had here, but I booked myself a week of shooting in a villa on Lake Como in northern Italy for the end of August. The village I stayed in was buzzing as George Clooney was in town shooting his latest coffee commercial just before his wedding in Venice. I then had a very fruitful week in the marvellous city of Sibiu in Transylvania. I was given backstage access to a fashion show there which led to some intimate low light shots made with both cameras.
This was made in the hotel Villa D’Este, in the games room, with a Sony A7s and Leica M 50mm Summilux, 1/160s, f1.4 ISO 1600 Model: Thorn
Shot with the Sony A7s + Leica M 50mm Summilux in available light, 1/320s, f1.4 ISO 100 Model: Bethany Cammack
Another shot in the city of Sibiu made with the Olympus OMD EM1 + Leica DG 25mm 1.4, 1/200, f1.4, ISO 200, available light. Model: Amalia Beksi
In London this shot used only available light and was made with the OMD EM1 and the new 40-150mm 2.8 lens @ 45mm, 1/50s, f2.8, ISO 1600
During a quick break in Vienna Austria, I was lucky to come across an exhibition featuring the work of a New York fashion photographer of the 1950’s called Lillian Bassman. I found her work incredibly beautiful. She was a contemporary of the likes of Richard Avedon and Irving Penn but for me she took things to new levels of artistic endeavour with her innovative printing techniques and her eye for elegance and drama. I’ve since bought her book “Women” and I now long to work with long-necked women and couture hats!
This was shot in the villa on Lake Como with the Sony A7s + Leica M 50mm Summilux, 1/200s f1.4 ISO 800, available light (grain added later in Silver FX) Model: Donutella Viola
This was made in the villa on Lake Como with some continuous lights I had brought with me. Shot with the Olympus OMD EM1 + Olympus 17mm 1.8, 1/80s, f2.8, ISO 800 (grain added later in Silver FX) Model: Chiara Sgarbossa
I made this shot in the garden in Como with the Sony A7s and Leica M 50mm Summilux, 1/80s, f1.4. ISO 100, available light Model: Jessica De Virgilis
Another shot of Jessica made at the edge of Lake Como. It was shot at dusk with an off camera flash through a mini softbox on the Olympus OMD EM1 and the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 lens @ 12mm, 1/250s, f3.5, ISO 200. The image is a composite of the original colour version and a black and white conversion, blended to give a dramatic effect. Model: Jessica De Virgilis
Shot with the Sony A7s + Leica M 50mm Summilux in available light, 1/320s f1.4, ISO 100 Model: Bethany Cammack
Finally the prospect of more dark winter skies was too much so I booked a week in the Spanish Canary Islands over Hogmanay. I had the new Olympus 40-150mm 2.8 PRO lens on loan, it just went back today..:( and I was dying to use it in good light. Its’s a lens which I would happily recommend to anyone with a micro four thirds camera, it’s bitingly sharp! By some ridiculously lucky chance encounter, I ended up shooting a UK model who was there on vacation. This gave me some great opportunities to test this new lens on something other than landscapes. Thanks again for the opportunity to share these pictures with your readers.
I took this shot backstage at the fashion show in Transylvania with the Olympus OMD EM1 + 45mm 1.8, 1/60s, f1.8, ISO 3200 available light, (grain added later in Silver FX) Model: Raluca Mararu
This was also made at the same event with the OMD EM1 + 17mm 1.8, 1/100s, f1.8, ISO 1000, available light (grain added later in Silver FX Model: Rosalinda Mihaela Zadaroinea
This image was made in the changing rooms with the Sony A7s and Leica M 50mm Summilux, 1/125s, f 1.4, ISO 1000, available light, (grain added later in Silver FX) Model: Cucerzan Adelina
During my stay in Sibiu I was lucky to work with some of the models on locations in the city. This was made with the Olympus OMD EM1 + 12-40mm lens, 1/320, f2.8, ISO 200 using an off camera flash through a mini softbox (18”) Models: Amalia Beksi and Flavia Bodi
British Travel Press Photographer of the Year
A few more…
This landscape in Fuerteventura was made with the OMD EM1 + 40-150mm 2.8 PRO @ 40mm, 1/320s, f4, ISO 200 Polariser
This image was made at sunrise in Fuerteventura with the OMD EM1 + 12-40 2.8 PRO @ 12mm, 1/2500s, f2.8, ISO 200, Polariser
Another one in Fuerteventura this time with the Olympus OMD EM1 + 40-150mm 2.8 PRO @ 115mm, 1/1600s, f2.8, ISO 200 available light Model: Bethany Cammack
This picture was made in Fuerteventura in available light with the OMD EM1 + 45mm 1.8, 1/3200s, f1.8, ISO 200 Model: Bethany Cammack
This picture was made during a rehearsal of the English National Opera’s Nutcracker at the Colosseum in London. It was made with the OMD EM1 + 75mm 1.8 lens, 1/400, f1.8, ISO 3200 (grain added in Silver FX)
This photo of people watching a firework display in Winchester was made with the Sony A7s and Leica M 50mm Summilux, 1/125s, f1.4 ISO 25,600
Beautiful images. Loved them all! The first image has such a beautiful mood to it, the colors, the look, awesome! And the Bethany images are scrumptious! I did a quick search and discovered you are the same photographer who took that stunning AOP winning image! A complete treat.
After looking at a few shots I feel secure the photographer k we what he/she is doing. I start looking at the photos. With people I’m drawn to the eyes, then the composition. For B&W the dynamic range what’s suppose to go dark or light do. Some photos suggest an expert.
The last thing I think about are camera, lens, and stats such as ISO, ETC.
clearly this photographer could afford any body and any lens. A pro is obvious by the quality of models and how clearly they are at ease and secure with person behind the camera.
I find it v very interesting that an OMD EM 1 AND Oly lens were part of the gear. I’m sure the cost and weight of the Oly gear totaled less that the one Leica lens… just a guess.
I own the EM1 AND EM10. and 4 lens 2 primes and 2 zooms. I’ve bought and sold 3 other 43 lens before settling on what I’m shooting with.
Two years now and I’m stilling learning the EM1 lately shooting in monochrome and when in color using the color wheel.
I’m 76 and have shot with over a dozen camera from 4×5 to Hassy to Nikon and Canon. I agree with one commenter that I take the Oly cameras everywhere. Including shooting in a light rain. I love the EM1 BODY and what easily can be controlled with my eye at camera.
And I can afford the gear i have and clearly am encouraged this photographer took the same gear on such an extensive trip.
One thing for sure… the Oly gear doesn’t limit what can be done.
Bethanny and Cucerzan will be forever burned into my memory. The women are extraordinary and your images capture their unearthly beauty marvelously. It ain’t the camera folks, its the vision and the subject.
Wow the FF Lux portraits are spectacular.
EM1 looks ok with the 17mm, but the longer focal length clearly don’t compare.
Could the EM1 with Voightlander 42.5/0.95 compare a little closer?
Beautiful work! Love the A7s/Lux shots and your processing. Nicely done.
Really nice pix! But Steve, why do you think in image #17 the subject seems to be like copy-pasted on the background (imho)? “Effect” more dominant on right arm over water (imho). Do you think it might be high contrasts between subject and background? Or because of smaller sensor? I have seen this in a few pictures done with an EM5 and GH4, more often than on an APS-C it seems. Thanks for your input!
It has to do with the lens used, the contrast, the detail/sharpness (which Oly is fantastic at) and colors. I have seen this effect with a few cameras..Leica M9, Sony A7II, and others.
Thanks for your answer. So basically with too good material, sort of, which is ironic. I wonder if there is a way to smooth those transitions with masking the sharpness in Lightroom…
Beautiful! I agree completely that it doesn’t matter what camera gear you use when you have a nice photographic subject 🙂
the pictures of Bethany Cammack were so beautiful i had to google her, and, sure, she is pretty, but your photos made her look gorgeous, better than any other photo of her i found.
Why Transylvania and not Romania ?! … great photos 🙂
Wonderful photographs, every one of them.
Very beautiful photos especially Bethanys stunning! I went to Sibiu on vacation brings back good memories!
Comment 15! Hilarious….
The first shot w Beth is very special. Just stunning. If you are willing to divulge the lighting conditions that would be great? Is it window light?
Hi Steve, thanks for the comments, with both of Beth’s 1st 2 shots, they were made inside a large dark room, near the doorway with the doors slightly open. The key element was that outside beyond the door was a very bright place, indirect powerful sunlight, and a bit of an external roof too.
Thanks for the response Neil. Just beautiful work.
I rarely post on stuff on here, but man those are good BW conversions. Im a big film fan (m6’s) and Im always trying to emulate bw film better…youve done a tasteful job here.
I really like the shot of the ballerina.
Don’t like the strong grain you add in a lot of the shots.
I Also don’t like the processing in allot of the shots but I do like the photographs digital grain looks like
“Digital grain” to me but I’m old and know what film grain looks like thanks for sharing
Neil, this whole shoot was very well done. In my opinion, no particular pictures stood out as “spectacular” compared to the others as they all were quite wonderful. Perhaps next time you post the pictures wait until later to post what they were shot with and I’ll bet the comments will be quite different.
Note to some of my fellow commenters:
Some of these comments are like telling a chef that the food he cooked on the stove on the left was far superior to the food he cooked on the stove on the right. How do you think the chef would feel about your comments?
Well, it is obvious and very easy to tell the difference between the cameras and lenses. The Sony shots have more depth, are much richer, have a more shallow DOF, are sharper at the focus point and have a more “velvety” color compared to the Olympus’s more “poppy” color. The Sony/Leica combo is superior for the beauty of the shots, no question. With that said, the E-M1 shots are equally as fantastic as the Sony’s due to the skill from Neil. He is quite the masterful photographer IMO. I feel like a mosquito bite on his arm in comparison 🙂
I guess I’m the only one here who seems to prefer the Oly better. Weird
But I’m biased as I own the E-M1)
E-M1 is fantastic and as we can see, provides almost full frame level quality. For me, the E-M1 beats any APS-C for IQ and Body. It’s close to Full Frame but can’t quite get there. For it to be able to do this is quite spectacular.
you are not the only one. I was thinking the same thing. EM1 is freakin awesome and these pictures show it. I love EM1, EM5 and my EPL5. i so happy that i tried Olympus and sold my D300 2 years back. I carry my camera more, take more pictures + Oly colors & m43 cheaper lens selection is an awesome package. i cannot get why people dont get it?
Again, it’s down to the photographer and his/her ability. There really is so much rubbish talked about cameras and lenses and full frame versus whatever.
For an honest opinion, go to the website of a Pekka Potka or simply look at the images Neil produces from the “wee” Olympus. Other than bragging rights/GAS/the need for very large prints, who really needs anything more?
Outstanding! Wow. Absolutely love the backstage/fashion show shot…love the expressions on the faces of the two models. Beautiful capture.
And the Oly doesn’t get enough credit for what it’s sensor can pump out. I haven’t been in a situation where I needed ISO 3200, but at 1600 (for the Oly EM5), it’s never failed me.
Great portraits, Neil! This demonstrates once again that the camera does not matter, you make excellent photos with both the Oly and the Sony. Thanks for sharing!
Most sensible comment so far. Cameras and lenses are important but it’s the photographer and his/her eye that counts in the end, a fact which Neil ably demonstrates.
Amazing captures, Neil. Agreed that A7s and lux 50 asph alon with your model Bethany steal the show. Great stuff, as always….I can tell from your images that the A7s really inspires you. I feel the same way about it.
Thanks Ashwin and everyone else for the comments. Yes I think the A7s suits my way of shooting better than the M9 although I did love that sensor! The A7 cameras are the best option right now for a 50 Lux owner, its still a bit sluggish in use compared to the EM1 but I do like going out at night with it as you can just shoot anywhere in any light:) I get a lot more good shots with the EM1 to be honest but as you can see, the A7s/50Lux does one type of shot with a lot of style!
Me too, although I prefer the Sony glass on it 🙂
Nice photos! Love the one of Rosalinda shot with the EM1 and the 17mm f1.8. Beautiful model. You get a great B&W look out of the EM1.
There are two basic rules to create a great shot:
Rule # 1 – use hot models
Rule # 2 – see Rule # 1
Great work Neil!
Wow! Great set of photos in general, but A7s & Summilux photos are especially fantastic – thanks for sharing.
Neil, your posts and photography are always inspirational. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to more!
Fantastic shots Neil, espeically the back stage in Transylvania! The Bassman Lingerie book is also worth a look.
Really didn’t notice what camera was use for what image. They are all excellent images and prove to me camera choice is tertiary to skill and eye of the photographer. Thank you for sharing.
Great images. They make all the lens and camera combos look fantastic. I have the 50 lux R on the A7S and are very happy with the results it produces.
oh my… the first picture of the guy at a table. Wow. The rim of light makes it look like his moustache is projected all the way around the room. Just brilliant.
The people watching fireworks is also just superb!!
The A7S / Leica combination clearly comes up with some awesome goods – in the right hands of course, and these clearly are two such hands. Thanks for sharing these photos.
Would have Leica produced the better picture? Or at this point, it’s up to camera man?
I say whatever makes you comfortable and turns your inner artist “on”
Fantastic images as usual.Im interested to know what size prints are being made with the Olympus camera thanks
Thanks for all the comments, – for ‘coastingnz’ I’m making A3+ prints of these and all look great although I have upsampled a few of the more severely cropped A7s images
Way to go with A7S/50 Lux! What a combo!
Was just about to post the same comment!
Enjoyed all your pictures, thanks for sharing! I add that I’m not a big lover of the “extreme” shallow depth of field on the A7s + 50 ‘lux combination, but it’s a matter of personal taste.
Lately I’m adding contrast and grain to my pictures, I really love how you post processed the black and white photos.
Really nice images. The Oly is excellent but the Sony is spectacular.
Agree… The M43 are good but the Sony/Leica combo is spectacular!
As an Olympus Em1 owner, I’m blown away by your EM1 shots. I must admit, the Sony with the Leica photos are my favourite. The rendering is gorgeous.
Good shots there , especially those from Romania
Bethany and the A7S/50 Lux stole this show! Very nice set, well done.