Property Photography with the OM SYSTEM
I do find it interesting that the Olympus/OM SYSTEM is touted as a wildlife and landscape camera, as I find the system to be so much more than that. Don’t get me wrong, as I definitely agree with the system being ideal for wildlife and landscape, and for a vast number of reasons. The lightweight kit when travelling, the extra reach of the lenses due to the sensor size, which also translates to the increased depth of field. To be honest, I know there are a lot more benefits than simply those I’ve mentioned, but I’m not a wildlife photographer, and I only dabble in landscapes when it’s part of my brief, such as an automotive shoot. I’m sure the other OM SYSTEM Ambassadors could talk for hours about the benefits the OM SYSTEM has brought to their work. They can be found here, for those of you interested.
But for me, the advantages of the system is proven in so many areas of my work. I’ve already talked about the huge benefits with food photography, and to be perfectly blunt, you would have to prise my Olympus camera from my cold dead hands. I’ve tried a lot of systems over the years, including film, digital in various formats such as full frame, cropped and medium format. Nothing can compete with the Olympus. If you want to know why, it’s summarised here.
I’ve also described the use of the Olympus/OM SYSTEM in my automotive work here.
Bearing in mind, I’m still using the Olympus E-M1 mkII, which is now some six years old. I didn’t bother with upgrading to the mkIII, but I’m certainly hankering after the OM-1 to say the least. Both my E-M1s have put a lot of effort in over the last six years, and delivered on every occasion. However, the advances made with the OM-1 make the upgrade well worthwhile.
Okay, getting back to the E-M1 mkII and property photography. The Olympus cameras, and it’s the same with the OM-1, have a built in bracketing feature. Yes, I believe most digital cameras offer this same feature, although the Olympus has a caveat. The sequence is restricted to five frames at a full stop difference, giving you five stops to play with when editing. You do have the option of a seven frames sequence, but it’s restricted to two thirds of a stop difference between frames. Hence I stick with the five frames.
Yes, I don’t doubt there are an awful lot of folks raising hands and jumping up and down, about to proclaim that their camera can do more frames at a full stop difference. Sure, very true. In fact I used to use a D4 which would manage nine frames at a full stop. Did I use it? No. I did make use of seven frames, but generally it was still five frames.
So what makes the Olympus/OM SYSTEM suited to property work? Oddly enough, it’s pretty much the same as the food photography. The sensor size means the focal length is effectively doubled, or at least appears so. Shooting at 12mm on the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens, gives the same angle of view as a 24mm lens on a full frame camera. However, the depth of field at a given aperture is still governed by the physics of the lens. What I mean is, the depth of field at f8 on the Olympus/OM SYSTEM lens at 12mm, is equivalent to f16 on the full frame 24mm lens. And if you are shooting interiors, you really do need that depth of field. So f16 and above is pretty much standard if using full frame.
Hmmmmm, still think it’s not a big deal? Think what it means to have an extra two stops of light available in some of the dark holes we sometimes have to photograph. That two extra stops of light can make a world of difference. Yes, the process of HDR blending can reduce the effects of noise, but two extra stops of available light is going to make quite a difference, believe me.
And then there’s the image stabilisation. The number of times I’ve gone to do a food shoot at a hotel, and I get the “Can you just…”. Usually, it’s “Can you just get a quick shot of the interior of the restaurant”. I simply switch to high speed at 60fps, continuous shooting with the electronic shutter, which effectively reduces the overall time to take all five images in a sequence. I can then hand hold the camera for their “Quick shot of the restaurant”.
That was certainly something I couldn’t do on the old D4, and I realise there are a lot more systems with image stabilisation that can probably manage it now. Although I’m not sure if they can match the speed at 60fps, which may affect the overlaying of each image when processing the final bracketed sequence.
I often end up using the camera handheld when shooting exterior images, and using the technique outlined above. The high speed electronic shutter is a real boon, and given the fact it’s usually decent light when photographing exteriors, I’m often at a decent shutter speed with a very low ISO.
My clients range from hotel groups, restaurants, estate agents and airb&b hosts. Not to mention the fact they are scattered all over the UK. Why should that matter? Because lugging a lot of heavy kit in and out of the car becomes tedious, to say the least.
My two E-M1 mkII camera bodis, each with attached battery grips and batteries, weigh about the same as a single D4, which was one of the points for switching to Olympus. Although I switched to the E-M1 mkI back in 2014. The advantages of the weight saving, not only with the body, but the lenses too, are still relevant today, if not more so. I seem to be travelling more, with more jobs much further afield. With the kit being that bit more compact, I can take more in a given storage space if I feel the need.
I would strongly recommend having a look at the system. Take a card along and squeeze off a few shots, and let the results speak for themselves.