2.08.2015

Why I think the EM-5-2 might be an important tool for photographers who also want to be videographers.

After the announcement of the new Olympus EM-5.2 I wrote a piece about the two things I thought were important to photographers and videographers in the new camera. For people who are only concerned about still imaging it was that the new high resolution setting could provide fully accurate color. I didn't really see the enormous files as so much of a benefit as much as the nice work around of the bayer pattern of color interpolation. Pure colors means no aliasing and wonderful tonal separation. That's a distinct plus in the realistic rendering that so many want. But the thing that makes the camera a potential boon to videographers (now that the camera has a more detailed and robust selection of bit rates....) is the potential to do much more hand held work with the camera instead of always trying to tie the camera to a tripod or to some sort of (cumbersome, and largely ineffective) handheld stabilizing rig.

Of course the remarkable stabilization in the camera works beautifully for still images but the potential for moving video and smooth hand holding is huge. If the rolling shutter effects are engineered out this camera should be able to do some pretty amazing stuff. At least that's what I talked about at first blush.

But then I thought about it and realized that I had never really tried using the Olympus EM5s I already have for any kind of video. I just took everyone's word for it and assumed the internet was well informed and that the EM5 was a dud for video. I bought a GH4 to use instead of the EM5 for video and never really looked back. And that was a big mistake.

So yesterday I grabbed an EM-5 and went toe-to-toe with conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom also states that if you want to minimize the appearance of camera movement in handheld video you are always better off with shorter lenses. I put my 60mm Sigma lens on the front of the camera, left all the conventional rig stuff, at home and headed over to the graffiti park to make some video. It's a test. Only a test. But it showed me that even the older EM-5 could actually shoot decent video at 1080p 30.

This test is meant to show one thing. It's meant to show that the image stabilization in the EM series of cameras can provide a very stable platform with which to shoot handheld video. I've been shooting black and white with these cameras lately and decided to keep doing so for this test. There's a long sequence of people going up and down the wall followed by a much closer shot of two women sitting at a picnic table, watching the crowd and smoking. Finally, I added some footage of a movie truck rushing by. What I hope I've shown is the stability of the system for handholding. It's a major benefit for still photo and video shooters.

With the addition of much more sophisticated video files I think it makes the new EM5.2 a very capable second camera in a narrative project. And for not a lot of cash out of pocket. Not every advancement has to be high ISO noise abatement or megapixel increases to work for at least some of us....

Untitled Project from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

Handheld in the late afternoon. 60mm Sigma lens. No tripods, monopods or shoulder mounts were harmed or even disturbed in the creation of this short piece. This is not an art piece nor is it for any client. It's just what we used to call a test.