Switching to Manual – Olympus e-pl5 Camera Review

The Hippest Camera Strap around? 3

Olympus e-pl5 Camera Review

For years now I have said I need to get better at taking pictures and for years I have been putting it off. I’ve gotten by with the help of automatic features from high-end point-and-shoot cameras but have always thought,

I can do better.

Laziness aside the main reason for me not making the jump to a DSLR set up is the simple fact that they are so damn big when compared to point-and-shoot cameras. I’m awkward enough without lugging around a massive camera and lenses to go with it. I just couldn’t see myself traveling like this. That is until the introduction of Mirror-less cameras. These almost pocket-able interchangeable lens bodies have intrigued me enough to start shopping around.

Purchasing this Olympus E-PL5 camera was strictly based on reviews from other bloggers as well as ones from camera specific sites. I was between the Fujifilm X100, the Sony NEX-5R, and the Olympus e-pl5. For the most part they were all comparable but the Olympus E-PL5 seemed to edge out the competition with a greater lens selection and faster focusing. Notable that my cameras for the last 5+ years have all been Cannon and they did not make the shortlist. Apparently they are a little behind the game when it comes to the mirrorless camera market.

A black Friday deal pushed me over the edge – The Olympus e-pl5 body for $450 + 2 lenses. Sold.

My kit

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First impressions

Out-of-the-box I had a few concerns:

  • Pictures were super vibrant. Like screaming red.
  • The tilt screen, a feature I didn’t want, is bulky.
  • The touchscreen, another feature I didn’t care for, fired at will when my thumb accidentally touches the screen.
  • Navigating the menu was confusing to say the least.

First session

To get a better feel of the camera and what it’s capable of a took it for a test run along Vancouver’s scenic seawall. I was more than impressed with the results. Notably the ease-of-use. Also…

  • The Program setting (auto mode) takes absolutely great pictures with no fussing around – exactly what I’m trying to get away from.
  • Turns out I love the touchscreen. What I thought was gimmicky turns out to be the best feature of the camera. With it you can quickly tap on a subject, focus in and fire away. Super fast and super easy.
  • Turns out I also love the touchscreen. Walking around the market with the touchscreen out made it ridiculously easy to focus and fire great shots without having to bend over.
  • The telephoto lens and the pancake lens are great. Very happy with these additions.

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Getting off  the Program – Switching to Manual Mode.

After doing a bit of reading and research I was able to navigate my way through the confusing menu that initially put me off. Being used to Cannons menu layout for the last 5+ years wasn’t helping.  After tinkering I was able to calm down the vivid reds in the LCD display and in the shoots by setting both to cooler settings. I also unlocked the “super control” menu, something that should be on by default. With this feature enabled you can easily access most of your manual settings by P1280023pressing one single button. Der.

Next up was seeking some professional help to get me off shooting in automatic mode. I  enlisted the services of local professional photographer  Rob Kruyt for tips and direction. If you are from Vancouver chances are you’ve seen Robs work featured in the local papers.

I was very naive to think that I could learn the ropes of shooting in manual mode in a short morning. Rob filled my head with the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to the point that I was spinning. In theory I understood but to make it relate in reality was another story. It is definitely something I will need to play with on my own. What I did take away from my morning session with Rob was unexpected yet welcomed. Rob pointed out the need for a human element in a photo in order for viewers to make a better connection. Being a quiet gray morning in Chinatown subjects were hard-to-find. I watched  (and learned) while he engaged shopkeepers and local customers and broke down that barrier of some asshole stealing your picture  (how I feel at least) to someone genuinely sharing your story. This is a great pick up and something I need to work on. But I digress…

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Overall

I obviously need to play around and understand the manual settings but from what I have read and seen so far it sounds like this camera is more than capable for producing some amazing shots. I just need to learn how. I’m very impressed with the quality of images from the program setting and I’m excited to unlock the full potential of this camera (and my ability) soon. So far the Olympus E-PL5 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm Lens (Black) is a great camera for my needs and my future learning and extremely happy with this buy. Many many great photos to come.


 

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