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Experiences with the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

I was one of the 20 lucky winners in a street photography contest organized by Chip Photo Magazine and Olympus. All of us were invited for a workshop by professional photographer Brendan de Clerq and got the opportunity to play around with the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. The grand price - winning the camera - went to Albert Dros with a beautiful photo.

The workshop was a lot of fun. Brendan is a great guy and before hitting the streets he talked us through some of his favourite photos from his portfolio. Besides being informative he also triggered a spark again. I want to go out and shoot more!

After the presentations we travelled down town for some street photography. Let me share my three favorite shots of the day. All these pictures were taken with the Olympus camera; at the end of this article I'll share some of my thoughts on the little performer.

Tattoo shop in the red light district of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) - Olympus 14-42mm
This is my favourite of the three. You have to look twice, but there's a guy laying on his side while being tattooed. The scene is nicely framed by the letters on top (Tattoes),  the reflections on the left and that shady x-mas tree on the right.

Man crossing the roads, Amsterdam (The Netherlands) - Olympus 14-42mm
For this shot I stayed put for about 20 minutes until I could finally catch some person in this frame. I liked the contrast between the vertical lines vs the tracks crossing diagonally through the frame.

Man walking towards the Dam Square, Amsterdam (Netherlands) - Olympus 14-42mm
Brendan gave us the assignment to get the subject in the left part of the frame. For this reason I searched for a small alley and spotted this location. After waiting some minutes this guy passed with a bicycle. I like how  the text on the right side guides your eyes towards the silhouette of the man.

About the Camera

Let me take some time to reflect on the OM-D E-M10 Mark II. As a reference I can only use my ancient Pentax K-5 (that I love to dead), so I'll just share some random thoughts after this experience.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
  • The camera has a great mechanical quality; the metal body feels solid and I wasn't worried about the camera getting damaged. It started to rain a bit during the day and it didn't seem to bother the camera. I Particularly liked the sturdiness of the dials.
  • The articulating screen is very useful. I never used one before and somehow I've always thought it was a useless feature ... and was very wrong about this.
  • The electronic view finder (EVF) is bright, fast and full of features. Nevertheless I felt disconnected to the scene I was trying to shoot. Maybe one needs to get used to it, but I'd rather have an optical viewfinder or otherwise just non at all. 
  • Olympus is a German brand! Hell, somehow I've always thought it was a Japanese company.
  • I was very impressed with the tiny Micro 4/3 16MP sensor. The RAW files are comparable to my DSLR (also 16MP), albeit with more noise when cranking up ISO.
  • Unfortunately I needed to search and download some converter tool to open the files on my MacBook. This was not very straight forward.
  • To be blunt, the navigation in the menus is horrible. The camera is feature packed but accessing those features is as user friendly as the Olympus website is sexy... 
  • The auto focus of the camera was extremely fast and the shutter operates silent. I was very pleased with this. 
  • The zoom function of the 14-42mm lens is motor driven like in a compact camera. I left it on 14mm for most of the time but when I tried to zoom it responded much slower than I wanted. 
It's a robust little performer and very useful in the streets. A Micro 4/3 sensor has its obvious physical drawbacks (e.g. don't expect to play with a shallow dept of field). But hey, one buys a small camera to be portable and not for having stellar medium format performances. Verdict: thumbs up but I would put my money elsewhere.

Let me share one last photo to conclude the article. I like this shot just because of its timing. The photo was not converted to black and white because her skin tone and green jacket are in nicely contrast with the surroundings.

Lollypop girl in Amsterdam (Netherlands) - Olympus 14-42mm


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