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Friday, October 1, 2010

Zuiko and E-5: Day 1


As promised, I picked up the Olympus E-5 test unit from the Olympus Malaysia office at Mont Kiara during lunch.

Weather-proofing legacy from the E-1 to the E-3, and now the E-5

As always, I was briefed by the Olympus Malaysia executive, Mr. Yang (not a real name) with regards to this little monster. In summary, Olympus sees E-5 as having 4 major improvements or sales pitch.
  1. Highest pixel sharpness
  2. Dust-and-splash proof body
  3. World's 1st 3" Hypercrystal LCD with dual-swivel weather-proof monitor
  4. Dramatic Tone art filter.
To me, the real deal from his presentation was on how Olympus worked on the image quality. Learning from the E-3 debacle, the new TruePic V+ is the super-engine behind the new and improved sharpness. Simply put, the new image processor kicks ass!! Compared to TruePic III+, the E-5 does not require a strong AA filter to reduce the Moire. In effect, with lower strength AA filter, the overall resolution captured by the 12MP Live MOS Sensor is maintained. The TruePic V+ then effectively cleans the Moire.

He also pointed out that the Art Filter now is no longer part of the camera Modes, but part of the image parameters; it's in the same category when selecting Natural, Vivid, Mute or Portrait. This is a good thing, as the camera settings are retained in the Mode selection which enable me to change any image parameters that I want such as ISO, F-number, WB and shutter speed.

My first touch of the E-5 is rather ordinary, as it is really an E-3 construction. The balance, heft and ergonomics are the same. The changes at the back panels are negligible for me. But one thing I notice is the LCD screen presentation. The crisp images are a welcome for chimping; well, I am a chimper! If you think E-30 trumps E-3's LCD, then E-5 is KING!!!

There's this new battery, BLM-5, which is white in color and has a charge of 1620mA. It's compatible with BLM-1 with the exception that it only can be charged with its own charger. Bummer!!

One caveat, though. Although it was confirmed the Firmware to be 1.0 (production), he told me that the AF performance is still not stable. Hmmmm... so much for drawing AF speeds conclusion.

Right after the briefing, I straight away dived into the menu and quickly changed the settings to my liking.

After a quick lunch, I did a quick shoot. Since this test unit is loaned over the weekend, I do not have much time to lose.

A quick trip to Kuala Lumpur City Center was the easiest. The sky was getting darker as the strong winds blowing in the dark clouds. I had to move fast!

In this 30-minute rapid shoot, I shot in Art Filter 10, aka Dramatic Tone. I also shot in RAW for processing later using Olympus Studio. Oh ya, that reminds me to update the Studio to support E-5 RAWs. It has been a while since I did the last update.

UPDATE!! The Olympus Studio is using the latest software; meaning I can't RAW process the Dramatic Tone art filter!!!

Towards the last 5 minutes, rain was pouring. Nothing to worry here, as the whole system is weather-sealed!

E-5 with Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0
Dramatic Tone art filter that tries to mimic HDR effect

Upon coming back to office, I happened to bump into my colleague who owns a Canon 7D. Without hesitation, I offered him a look at the E-5. He being a hardcore Canonite, was not smitten with the E-5 with the exception of the Dramatic Tone filter. He deliberated the E-5 for a while, and end up asking about video. I told him it's not full 1080p, only 720p. Well, he's not that particular about it, nor am I. But the funny thing about his question was how to activate the video!!

It was hell when there's no manual to guide me, and I scrolled into the menu many times to look for the button. To no avail, it's not in the menu. After 5 minutes scrolling, we never stopped noticing that the AF points button has a video icon next to it. Pressing the button won't do anything except selecting the AF points. I was feeling embarrassed with my Canonite friend. Then, I thought to myself... Oly tends to do things differently, being odd mostly!! Though there's a button for video, it's shared. Thinking outside the still photography box, and into motion photography box, I concluded that "Hey, what if I activate the Live View?". And yes sir, the AF button is transformed into the Video button. Whew, but why, oh, why do I need to press 2 buttons in sequence to activate the video?

Going back home, I had to walk about half a kilometer to the parking lot. There's a mega construction going on down the lot, and I took a shot.

Comparison of Natural colors with Dramatic Tone. Click texts to see full resolution, and feel free to download as these are set as Creative Commons.

Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0, 7mm, f/7.1, 1/400s, ISO200, -0.3ev.

It's night time already. Time to make some the low light shots.

For tonight, I am just warming up to the feel of shooting high ISO; thus, won't be making much time writing techno-babble. For a start, the ISO acceptance seems to be up by 1 or 2 stops from E-30. In effect with E-5, I am starting to use ISO1600 as my confident level before having to sweat out perfect exposures (see, with higher ISO, perfect exposure is very vital for low noise images). This is also based on the Noise Filter set to Low, which is my default setting.

E-5 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0
50mm, f/5.6, 1/30s, ISO1600

There are some complementary tin-can-bottle images depicting ISO increases by 1 full stops from 800 to 6400 in my portfolio. You are free to download these, as I changed them to Creative Commons. Most of the images are full copyrighted, sorry.

Link to E-5 portfolio on Flickr HERE.

Maybe tomorrow I will try to focus on some comparison among the E-5, E-30 and E-3. For a start, I might plan for some AF speed tests (though E-5s AF is not stable yet, at least for the test unit I am using now), or some high ISO tests. Let's see how things go tomorrow.


Safa Soib said...

up sikit gmbar iso 1600...

sam4605 said...

That's great start for a review. I would also would like to do a review.. how to contact OM for the unit? =)