A New Baby… Camera

If you spend any sort of time around me, you’ll know I love photography.  In fact, anyone in my immediate proximity is pretty much a sitting victim for my camera, no matter what you happen to be doing.  I love photographing my cats or old ruined buildings or taking up the challenge of capturing the ordinary moments because those seem to be the times we’re more likely to forget.

That’s what I love about photography.  Here’s what I don’t love:

  • My camera weighs around 1.5 kilograms, even with my smaller lens attached;
  • Camera bags are a) ugly, b) often not easy to access, and, c) pretty much only have room for a camera and lenses;
  • It’s far too heavy to hang around my neck;
  • It’s far too precious to trust it to a strap slung over my shoulder (paranoia and I are BFFs);
  • It is incredibly unsubtle.  There’s no way you could miss the fact that I’m taking an Important Photo with a Serious Camera.

All of this tends to keep me from bringing my camera with me everywhere, which means I’m failing to practise and improve my skills.  So here’s what I decided to do about it…

Baby Camera

Yes, right after I wrote my post about not spending money, I went and spent money on a new camera.

On the right is my old camera; on the left is my new baby one.  There’s a little bit of a difference, as I’m sure you can see.  My new camera is an Olympus OM-D E-M5 – a micro four thirds camera.  It weighs a little more than you think it would, given its size, but it’s still nothing compared to the 60D.  But look at it.  It’s so tiny!  When I put it in my bag, it’s almost possible to lose it in a forgotten corner.

Because, yes, it’s possible to put it in whatever bag I happen to be using without worrying about space or ending up with one shoulder permanently lower than the other.

Is is any good? you may be asking.  And I thank you for doing so if, in fact, you did.  It is any good.  The first thing I generally notice about any camera is the shutter sound and it has a rather splendid shutter sound.  Does this affect anything other than my ears and their enjoyment of the sound?  Probably not, but it makes me happy.

The best thing about the E-M5 is that the sensor is just a bit smaller than the one in my old camera, which means image quality is splendid and this makes me very happy indeed.  The manual focus assist is brilliant and Olympus’s incredible stabilising system means I can use shutter speeds I wouldn’t touch without a tripod on the 60D.

But the menu structure…  Well, I’d heard things about it but you can’t appreciate just how convoluted it is until you’re lost in the middle of it, desperately trying to remember what you were looking for in the first place.  In the first few days of using the camera, you would have been able to spot me flicking through all the menu options, muttering: “But I saw it here just before!” as I tried to find the good old metaphorical pin in Olympus’s epic haystack.

These are all just words, however.  And as much as I love words, the true test of any camera is the sort of photos it takes with you in control.  Luckily, I just so happened to be heading off to visit the parents in Beechworth the weekend after I picked up my new baby camera, thus providing myself with many opportunities of a photographic nature.  Here are some of the snaps I took.

(Click on an image to enlarge it and to browse through the gallery.)

Thanks to my recent stay in the old Glen Bakery in Rutherglen, I can now spot a Small & Shattell baker's oven at fifty paces. This one resides in the delightful Hide's Bakery in Benalla, which is well worth a stop if you're feeling peckish.
The top of this jar is just so gorgeous. The ma is using it to dye some fleece for spinning.
Ma tests the dye to see if it's ready. If the water is clear, then it's good to go.
These flowers were just sitting around, looking photogenic. I cropped the dead ones out.
While I am on the verge of being allergic to the scent of lavender, I love the look of the stuff. These ones were standing like sentinels as the sun went down.
And these are... hips or berries of some sort. I mostly used them to put the manual focus assist to the test.
This tree was chopped down because it was dead and on the verge of falling, unfortunately. It left behind this amazing stump.
Here we have Lake View House, the home of the Australian author Henry Handel Richardson (actually a woman). Top marks to me for finding an angle where you can't see the powerlines.

Honestly, the only limitations I experienced were all to do with the lens.  Thankfully I can fix that by purchasing a new one at some unspecified future date.  In the meantime, I’m pretty excited by how it performs and I can definitely see myself popping this little camera in my bag and photographing whichever unfortunate victims friends I happen to be seeing on any given day.

What do you think?  Would you be tempted to try this serious little camera, too?

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0 comment

oanh 2nd March 2015 - 4:34 pm

I have been tempted already … I purchased the E10 in November last year (I researched whether the E1, E5 or E10 and concluded E10 but I can no longer recall why … maybe just price?)

Presuming the menu of the E series are the same, it is a bit of a pain, isn’t it? But after a lot of fiddling, I got happy with it, and I do like the shortcuts that you can create yourself, especially as I already know what particular settings I change, and those I don’t touch (so don’t mind digging deeper when I do have to change ’em up).

I will never be a D-SLR-er because of the weight (my photography is mostly during hikes, so, no way. I need that extra few kilograms for my food!) but I’m excited by the possibilities of the micro 4/3rds interchangeable lens! Of course, I’ve also got rather used to the phone camera, and its been years since I’ve used a non phone camera so my workflow from camera to photo uploading is very poor … we still have not reviewed and uploaded photos from our November trip to Mt Buffalo or our December trip to Tas. But … bokeh!

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd March 2015 - 8:37 am

It’s so easy to be lazy with getting photos from camera to blog. On my old blog, it was not unknown for a whole month or more to pass before I finally uploaded photos from a roadtrip or an expedition with the Failboats. There are some micro four thirds cameras that have built-in wifi, which sounds brilliant to me. As it is, I’m tempted to look into one of the wifi-enabled SD cards because taking the card from my camera and putting it into my laptop is apparently too much effort for me.

I can’t remember why I chose the 5 over the 10 now. It’s quite difficult to tell the difference between the two, I think. The only one that really stands out is the Pro, but I’m incredibly happy with the 5, so I regret nothing.

P.S. I hope you get a chance to upload your Mt Buffalo and Tassie photos – I’d love to see them.

oanh 3rd March 2015 - 2:17 pm

The E10 is wifi enabled, but it’s stupid. I have to re-install the wifi connection every single time. I don’t know why it’s not just using blue tooth technology? Or is blue tooth completely passe now?

(P.S. One day … one day … maybe this long weekend. Maybe.)

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd March 2015 - 4:49 pm

Well that sounds like way more trouble than it’s worth. What a shame.

P.S. Huzzah!

Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!! 2nd March 2015 - 4:53 pm

Having something that is easy to handle is half the battle. Your photos are beautiful!

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd March 2015 - 7:57 am

Thank-you! Weirdly, it’s required a little adjustment getting used to a smaller device, but I just love being able to take it with me anywhere.

Trey 3rd March 2015 - 3:09 am

You know, I’m trying to get out of debt this year, and you’re not helping. I could see this as a finally-paid-off-my-credit-cards gift to myself, though.

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd March 2015 - 8:10 am

Sorry about that – turns out I’m not the best advocate of putting a stop to spending after all. This may make it worse, but it’s possible you could get a good price on this camera as it’s a superseded version, now that the mkII has come out.

athousandtimestooshort 3rd March 2015 - 7:22 am

I often think the same about the weight of my camera – sometimes I just don’t want to take it with me because of the weight. But…I love my massive old Canon! Can’t see me downsizing any time soon (my plan is to invent a decent camera bag instead). The weight feels reassuring in my hands, just not round my neck 🙁 Hope you get to grips with the menu soon, it can really slow you down wandering through masses of options!

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd March 2015 - 8:18 am

Ooh, if you ever do invent a decent camera bag, let me know! I just can’t find one that combines usefulness and with attractiveness – you either get one or the other. Sometimes neither. Like you, though, I do enjoy the feel of the Canon when I’m taking photos. It seems to fit my hands so well.

Thankfully, now that I’ve set up most of the things I need, I can avoid the main menu and just use the quick menu instead, which is well-designed and logical. Apparently, they operate in extremes at Olympus.

Kathy 14th May 2015 - 6:00 pm

Hi Katie, have you considered a Po Campo bag for your new small camera? I use the Pilsen handbag for my Olympus OMD, and it a small 80-200mm lens in it too. I found it worked well on a recent trip to Uluru, concealing the serious camera, while allowing me to travel and shoot great photos with a wallet, and phone – just the essentials. Contact me if you’d like to try it

Katie Writes Stuff 16th May 2015 - 12:53 pm

Oddly, I was looking at Po Campo bags for my bike – I hadn’t even considered them for my camera! The Pilsen looks a little small for my needs – I always like to carry a book with me – but I’m still quite tempted by some of the others.

Tess 3rd March 2015 - 9:04 am

I am in love with the Canon cameras and I thought I would honour and worship them till death do us part…sort of.

Then again, reading the test results and your evaluation of this Olympus OM-D, well, I started drooling over the size, the various filters and the resolution….the prize not so much though. I am planning to buy myself a new camera when I get a job. The faithful Canon EOS 600D has been my companion for 3,5 years and will soon be subject to retirement. The battery is getting slightly tired and after thousands and thousands of shots, maybe it is time to pass it on to the next generation. My 7-year-old cousin is treading in my footsteps and uses my Canon very frequently when she get the chance (close-ups of carpet patterns, curtains, dead flies inside a lamp, furniture…well, you get the picture 🙂 ) So, you like photographing? I asked her a couple of weeks ago. No, not really, she said. But I love taking shots…! Smart kid!

Good luck with your new camera, I am excited to hear more about it as you get more acquainted with it. 😀

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd March 2015 - 9:54 am

It’s just like a DSLR, except a lot smaller and easier to cart around on adventures! I’ve lost count of how many thousands of photos I’ve taken on my 60D. It’s probably glad to have a little bit of a break, actually. I’ll still be taking it to my friend’s wedding this weekend, though, because it brings a certain gravitas with it, but that may well be the last time I use it. The longer I think about it, the less sense it makes to keep two cameras that pretty much do the same thing. That being said, if I do end up parting with my 60D, it will be with a little sadness. I’ve learnt so much about photography on that camera.

Your little cousin sounds very artistic! She’d certainly be perfect candidate to adopt your 600D if you decide to replace it.

Bonita Vear (@bjvear) 3rd March 2015 - 1:56 pm

Ah, the DSLR switch… I’ve pretty much decided I’m going to do the same thing as yourself – weight, bulk, difficulty to carry with me everywhere, the necessity for a huge (ugly) camera bag has meant that over the 4 or so years I’ve owned my Cannon 550d I have shot less and less photos and taken it out less and less. It didn’t even come to the hospital for the last two babies we’ve had! Yes, we used our phones instead…. Sacrilege? I don’t know. Any regular sized prints will come out just fine, and when you already have tons of stuff you just can’t lug around ANOTHER huge bag just for the camera!

That, combined with the fuzziness of my lens means I’m totally ready for a whole new camera kit! I’m thinking the Sony a7 with a 55mm f/1.8 and maybe the 25-70mm f/4. Yup. Mirror-less here I come! I’m looking forwards to upping my photography game from just my phone to a camera I’m actually going to carry around with me.

bonita of Lavender & Twill

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd March 2015 - 4:54 pm

The saying goes that the best camera is the one you have with you. And if your main camera is a heavy thing that is more easily left at home than taken with you, then we have to conclude that it’s not the best camera!

I’ve heard good things about the Sony, so I hope it goes well for you if you buy it. Those sound like very nice lenses, too. I definitely want to get something a little faster with no cursed variable aperture for mine. In the meantime, it’s just lovely to have a very portable camera.

The Twisted Yarn 4th March 2015 - 2:34 am

Oooh, like it! And it clearly takes impressive photos. But if the menus are complicated then I may have to steer well clear, because I’m struggling just to find my way round the deepest corners of my basic Canon DSLR. Anyway, enjoy. 🙂

Katie Writes Stuff 4th March 2015 - 8:37 am

The quality is definitely comparable to my DSLR, which is what makes me think it may become my main camera very soon indeed. The weird thing about the menus is that there are two: one for the basic functions of the camera (focus, ISO, white balance, etc.) and one for the set-up of the camera (image quality, button functions, etc.) The former is easy-to-use and completely logical; the latter is a nightmare. Perhaps they had two designers working on the menus and they weren’t talking to each other…

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