BY ALAN RICHARDSON
With the eye-catching promotion running on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II until 31/10/20, we asked designer and enthusiast Alan Richardson how he gets on with his and if he thinks it would be a good entry to the OM-D System.
As a Graphic Designer and photography enthusiast, Olympus has been the camera of my choice for many years. I started using the Olympus E-30 DSLR system back in 2009.
In 2018 after trying out a friend’s newly released mirrorless Olympus, and being impressed with the lightweight body and versatile telephoto lens selection, I decided to upgrade to this camera for my many diverse projects. Since then I have been converted to Micro four thirds cameras. In 2019 I purchased the recently introduced Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
I had read many favourable reviews online confirming that this was a particularly good body for action and sports photography with 60 fps burst of shooting and I was not disappointed, especially in covering motor sports and air display events.
My photographer covers a wide range of subjects so an all-round performer is what I needed but I did not have a fortune to spend on lenses – yet at least.
Motor Racing – Rain or Shine
In 2019 I attended a motor racing event at Brands Hatch which was a perfect opportunity to see if the OM-D E-M 1 Mark II had lived up to its good reviews. It was also interesting photographing this event because the schedule included the new W Series. This is a new motorsport programme aimed at helping women get into top motorsport championships such as Formula 1; the series featured cars that looked very similar to the Formula 1 cars. For safety measures photographers are kept a safe distance from the racing cars behind the crash barriers which meant I needed a long telephoto lens to capture the action close up, and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75‑300mm F4.8‑6.7 II was a perfect lens for my needs. The in body image stabilisation proved to be invaluable and its light weight made it very easy to handle. The weather conditions were typically British, with bright sunshine one minute to heavy rain showers the next! However, these conditions actually turned out to be a perfect opportunity to capture rather unique pictures of the W Series racing cars.
The picture of Jamie Chadwick’s purple W series racing car is a good example. I used a shutter speed of 1/160 to capture her car speeding through the wet conditions on the track. When I reviewed the frames I was very impressed with the camera’s focusing, image stabiliser (as the photo taken was hand held), and the lack of noise, considering the photo was taken in overcast conditions using a relatively slow shutter speed.
As conditions changed the camera also lived up to expectations in bright sunlight as my picture of W Series racing driver Sabre Cook in her dark grey W Series racing car shows with her car glowing in the sunshine whilst approaching a corner on the track (For this shot I used a shutter speed of 1/200). I was very impressed with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s high sequential setting which allowed me to take multiple shots while panning the cars on track.
Birds in the Wild
I also took my OM-D E-M1 Mark II to Skomer Island in Wales to photograph Puffins. While my photographs make the breed of bird look very static and obliging as subjects, they were actually very challenging to photograph. The birds would constantly move about and had a habit of constantly turning their heads. However, the Puffins’ habit of turning their heads actually made for some rather interesting photographic compositions when the birds were standing amongst the plants and daisies on the Island.
I was very impressed with the camera’s image quality picking out every detail on the puffin’s beak in exceptional clarity which is a testament to the 20 mp sensor.
The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is also a perfect travel camera. On a recent visit to Lisbon in Portugal last year, I took my Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14‑150mm F4‑5.6 II lens with me which had a great focal range particularly if you were shooting subjects such as the city’s towering statues from a distance. Both the lens and the body are light and compact enough to carry in a small camera bag which is ideal for travel. The amazing bright, sunny weather in Lisbon gave me a perfect opportunity to capture some artistic photos of the city.
The first day I went to Lisbon there was a fisherman perfectly backlit against the city’s iconic “25 de Abril Bridge” as the sun created a strong reflection off the water running underneath the bridge, I underexposed the image to capture the silhouette of both the fisherman and the bridge in the late afternoon sunshine. The sunlight shining through the arches of Commerce Square in Portugal was also another perfect photo opportunity creating a rather interesting pattern of light through the Square’s arches. I felt this image would look good in black and white. Another option of the in camera system.
Overall the OM-D E-M1 Mark II has been a camera that has exceeded my expectations in a variety of different environments; the lightweight compact body has made photography a more enjoyable experience for me when I am on the go and I feel using the camera has given me more artistic freedom when photographing more challenging environments such as cars at Brands Hatch.