Every few days anybody engaged in the professional photography world will probably field a number of misconceptions and assumptions about our industry. The reality of professional photography is usually far removed from public perception and I frequently encounter beginners and hobbyists who see this as an easy, fun, and lucrative job. For most photographers the […]

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  • Samuel - December 30, 2012 - 11:50 am

    This is a very honest and open essay, Lindsay — informative in various ways. You’re eloquently putting a human face to your demanding profession. I certainly wouldn’t have the backbone for it! Being creative is one thing, but managing all the background organisation and trying to have a private life as well is obviously a ongoing challenge at the best of times.

    I’m just an amateur myself but to an extent at least I can identify with your comments about the physical side of things. And it’s not just the weight. I was recently in the woods crouching in the dirt on a steep slope at a weird angle that made me think my left kneecap was about to ping off! Oh the joys! Yes, there’s a direct link between serious photography and aches and pains.

    Your top quality results justify your full commitment. But let’s hope you get enough ‘you time’ as well?

  • Lindsay - December 30, 2012 - 10:51 pm

    Hi Samuel, indeed it is a matter of trying to juggle a number of different roles under the umbrella of ‘professional photographer’. Eeek – don’t mention knees, that’s another part of the body which doesn’t last as long as photographers would like! Just to be even more grim, the eyes suffer a bit as well, as do the teeth from all that grinding. The move to mirrorless systems (which will be good for more than half my work) will ease the burden somewhat. But I do miss my amateur days when I could just shoot what I wanted to, when I wanted to. Alas ‘me time’ has been non-existent for a few years (my own fault for being obsessed with growing the business) but that is slowly changing and new systems will hopefully make the office more efficient.

  • Paul Crouse - January 3, 2013 - 1:24 pm

    Hi Lindsay,

    This is a well written and honest piece.

    I agree that most people don’t understand the reality of the photography business.
    Business is business.

    Keep up the good work. You really do have nice images. I like your portraits.

    Paul Crouse
    Kyoto, Japan

  • Lindsay - January 3, 2013 - 2:07 pm

    Hi Paul, as you say running a business is quite a responsibility if that business is to generate not only profit but enough income on which to subside. Quite often I receive communications from parents who are looking for careers for their sons or daughters who may have just left college, the general view is that photography will be easy and fun. Anyone who has put in the many years of learning and the gruelling hours involved in running a business will say otherwise! But with the right attitude and the right work ethic it is possible to be successful in social photography. One photographer who I greatly admire is a US wedding photographer called Jasmine Star, she has an amazing outlook and the ability to communicate with the right clients in the right way, delivering consistently good results and impeccable customer service. She also freely shares her experiences on her blog. As you will see, very often social photographers will be a partnership with a spouse or life partner, since this is the best (or only) way of maintaining a relationship! The alternative is to run a part-time photography business alongside another career which many photographers are able to do very well indeed and it could be argued that this is the safest way forward. I’ve been running my business for quite a long time now so I’ve seen many changes which have shaped the industry we see today. With that in mind, going back a few years, the part-time route would certainly have been the least demanding.

  • Paul Crouse - January 7, 2013 - 4:01 pm

    Hey Lindsay,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I did look at Jasmine’s website. Very impressive. She really understands marketing.

    Personally, I am going to try and do my photography part-time. The last time, I got burnt-out in the news biz. I am still searching for my niche. I am focusing more on my other service, which you can check out my website if you like.

    I must say that I like your website, your photos and your attitude very much. It is refreshing. There are so many bizarre geeks in the photo subculture on the internet. I am glad a found someone cool.

    I really appreciate you spending the time to chat with me.

    Good luck,

    Paul Crouse,
    Kyoto, Japan

Most successful photographers will tell you that one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the way in which most of us will struggle to “see” a shot, at least in the early years.  Creating simple compositions is a vital first step to making pleasing photographs, yet so often the basics of composition are overlooked. […]

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  • Samuel - December 17, 2012 - 3:54 pm

    Interesting and helpful comments from someone who knows what she’s talking about, and good shots to back it all up as well.

    Three are of particular interest. I love the simplicity of the landscape window shot. And I like everything about the image of the bed with the strong shafts of sunlight from the window. Very atmospheric to me, especially in the context of a frugal lifestyle from so long ago.

    Then there’s the unexpected framed picture on the wall of the futuristic gal in a red jacket. ;)

  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 4:04 pm

    Hi Samuel, great to hear from you! I really enjoy reading your articles and the essay on composition I found to be excellent. It certainly gave me plenty to think about – I don’t consider myself to be a naturally creative person, I rely instead on a methodical sense of order, if that makes sense. I have a very tidy house …..

  • Stephen Scharf - December 17, 2012 - 9:14 pm

    What a wonderful and instructive article, Lindsay! Really a labor of love to foremerging photographers!

    As someone whose shot a LOT of motorsports, I also use some of the key principles you’ve described to add drama and “peak action” to a photograph. As you’ve mentioned many times in your blog, there is no “easy out” in developing your photography skills, it takes hard work and practice! For example, many newbie motorsports photographers shoot at too high a shutter speed as their panning skills are not well-developed. This results in the subject looking completely stopped, or as we say in the biz, “parked” in the shot, which results in a dull racing shot. For these photos, it’s better develop your pannings skills (with lots of practice, of couse!) to be able to shoot at a consdirably lower shutter speed (e.g., I never shoot panning shots faster than 1/250th second) to be able to freeze the rider or driver while the background is completely blurred out. Using this background motion blur as a key compositional element adds drama to the sense of the speed that is actually present. I also will often do unconventional things such as tilting the camera to make the car or motorcycle appear to be rushing up or downhill. This angle in the photo helps to create an additional sense of speed and drama for the viewer.

    The other compositional element that is well-used in motorsports, or in almost all sports, for that matter, is color and form. Sports photographs are often dominated by beautiful shapes and colors which can be very effectively utilized compositionally to add interest and involvement for the viewer.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 9:50 pm

    Hi Stephen, great to hear from you and thank you for adding some interesting points about the more creative side of composition. Adding dynamic elements to a shot is also one of my favourite ways of making an image more stimulating to the viewer. Learning how to build each element into a scene (or when to use minimal compositional techniques) takes time but more importantly of all – practise. The very best photographers I know, no matter how famous, will constantly work to improve their skill and vision.

  • Mark Gardner - January 19, 2013 - 6:45 pm

    This is an interesting and instructive presentation. I am an aspiring amateur who has been “taking pictures” all my life and would now like to progress to compositions that I am pleased with. I’ll get out and shoot this weekend, I promise! Thanks–Mark Gardner, Colorado USA

  • Lindsay - January 19, 2013 - 7:07 pm

    Hi Mark, lovely to hear from you and I’m pleased you’re going to get out and shoot this weekend – I wish I could, but here in the UK we are under several inches of snow (though given you are in Colorado you will know how that feels)! As you will have seen from the article I encourage people to keep their compositions very simple initially, in fact often the simplest images are the most effective. I also suggest working on just one or two elements at a time so that they become second nature before introducing more complexity.

I originally wrote this in December 2012, but I’ve felt the urge to update this article after some recent experiences. There are plenty of articles on this blog discussing the road to becoming a professional photographer, and still further articles thrashing out all the things which need to be in place in order for your […]

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  • Stephen Scharf - December 16, 2012 - 8:58 am

    Great post once again, Lindsay. One that details the requirements, the mindset, and the temperament that it takes to become a successful professional photographer. As one who’s worked around many professional photographers for several years, one of the things that I’ve learned is that it’s an extremely competitive industry, and it takes a special understanding and ability to differentiate one’s business and one’s work in order to be able to become successful. The other key requirement, as you pointed out is to really think of it as running a business, and not a hobby. One of the best books that I found for professional photographers is “Focus on Profit” by Tim Zimberoff.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

  • Lindsay - December 16, 2012 - 10:38 am

    Hi Stephen, lovely to hear from you and thank you for the book recommendation. Indeed mental determination is a huge part of running any business. In terms of photography, the vast majority of professional photographers are sole traders – there’s nobody else to do the accounts, sort out IT issues, do the marketing/filing/presenting/processing etc. This all adds up to dozens of tasks that are unrelated to actually taking pictures, and which leaves many of us at our desks into the small hours each night! Thus the ‘glamour’ aspect needs to be taken out of the equation. Building efficient workflows and processes is key.

  • Mag D - July 29, 2013 - 11:27 am

    Brilliant write-up Lindsay, so very true, as well as obvious things ‘for and against’ the proffession, you gave an insight into detail, hard work, endless time spent on each project, and to always think possitive. The ordinary person has absolutely no idea as to exactly what is involved in photography. Thank you, I certainly view things differently now.

Last week I mentioned that the final rounds of The Societies (SWPP and BPPA) professional imaging competition had been marked and in the last few days the photographers nominated for the title of Photographer of the Year have been announced. I am still reeling from getting a nomination for the second year running, but I […]

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  • John Branes - December 12, 2012 - 11:27 am

    Lindsay, very many congratulations on this latest “set” of awards. Wonderful images as ever. As a great admirer of your work I am really pleased to hear that you have been nominated for Photographer of the year again this year…..hugely deserved. Well done ! All the best, John.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 11:39 am

    Thank you John, I do hope I’ll see you at the awards dinner.

  • Mag D - December 12, 2012 - 12:07 pm

    Lindsay, absolutely delighted to hear your news. Then I looked at your winning photos….. brilliant as always…. a true deserver of such high awards, well done.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 12:10 pm

    Thank you Mag, it’s great to be nominated. I will also have the chance to admire the work of some truly inspirational photographers on the big night.

  • Stephen Scharf - December 16, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    Congratulations, Lindsay, on your photos being elevated to Gold Medal status! Well deserved!

    Best,
    Stephen

  • Lindsay - December 16, 2012 - 8:57 pm

    Thank you Stephen, it’s been quite a good year in terms of awards but next year I must step back a little from the competitions and concentrate more on all the different kinds of work I’d like to offer my clients, the problem is there is so much to do and so few hours in the day!

As many of you will know there is currently a huge amount of interest when it comes to both of these exciting compact system cameras. On the basis of the many questions we’ve been asked I thought I’d summarise my current findings in a Fujifilm XE1 vs Olympus OMD EM-5 question and answer session. I’ll […]

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  • Nat - December 11, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    Thank you Lindsay, for another well balanced and informative report on two exceptional cameras. As you say they are very different and will appeal to different people. You raise some vital points as well which users often fail to consider. I can see that you prefer the feel of the XE1 but when the situation demands it you will use the OMD for speed. Great that you can own both cameras! (-: but I am still having problems deciding which one will suit me. I don’t photograph children or animals so your statement that the Fuji might be the better buy is probably correct.

  • Lindsay - December 11, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    Hi Nat, yes there are some things that I prefer on the Fuji and other things that I like on the OND. This really boils down to features, and whether or not those features may be applicable to you. For example the tilting screen on the OMD is not something I would have listed as being important to me, but I do enjoy using it particularly for street photography. Alternatively, I love the feel of the XE1, particularly the buttons – also the white balance on any Fuji X camera is outstanding. It’s a question of deciding which features and benefits are most relevant to how you shoot and what you shoot. I suspect that, given your budget, the XE1 and zoom might be all that you need. If you purchase the OMD and the equivalent fast zoom you will be spending a huge amount.

  • Neil Kristiansen - December 11, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    I’ve just come upon your site thanks to a link by Fujirumours. A very interesting read on the pros and cons of the Fuji and Olympus cameras. I have subscribed to your Blog :-).
    I recently ordered the Fuji X-E1 but having not being able to handle it in any local camera store I was unsure whether it would be right for me. Unfortunately having handled it for a couple of days the slow focus and viewfinder lag just drove me crazy. It has therefore gone back. I’m in a difficult position of having no local dealer who has the latest CSC cameras in to try! I recently sold all my DSLR gear due to long term illness and being unable to carry the weight around any longer.
    I’d be interested to know if you looked at/considered the Sony CSC’s such as the NEX 7 and new NEX 6 and if so what were your thoughts. I know there isn’t a great lens range for these at the moment, although with focus peaking and adaptors there’s a whole world of manual lenses. Having sent back the Fuji I am now considering either the Olympus or the NEX 6, but I am going to have to find a dealer who has them in stock and do some travelling.
    Out of interest I notice you’re in West Sussex. My sister lives in Fareham, Hampshire and I was wondering if you know of any dealers who has these cameras in stock down there as I will be down that way over Christmas.
    Sorry for the long ramble, and once again I am glad I’ve now found your site and will follow your work/blog with interest. Thanks for any help you can give,
    Neil Kristiansen

  • Lindsay - December 11, 2012 - 4:20 pm

    Hi Neil, you have highlighted an extremely important point and that is handling and ergonomics, which can be a real dealbreaker irrespective of the other features and benefits of any given system. I can understand the slow performance frustrating you, it frustrates me a lot of the time and so I tend to reserve my XE1 for static work. I wonder if this could be improved in a firmware update, but only time will tell. In terms of a dealership with a comprehensive range (and good staff) the only place I can think of is Park Cameras at Burgess Hill, West Sussex. That’s a bit of a journey for you, but if you find yourself over that way it is well worth the visit (you may want to phone them ahead of time to check they have all of the systems available, but they normally do). I’m afraid I don’t know of any other large camera stores so you may need to do an Internet search in your sister’s locality. I greatly sympathise with anyone who has health issues, that is one of the reasons I am switching to compact systems. I haven’t considered any of the Sony Nex cameras mostly because the lens lineup does not cover my needs (and I don’t want to use legacy glass which will complicate the work I do) however I think the Nex 6 in particular sounds like a lovely piece of kit and well worth looking into. So far the best all-round performer I have come across is indeed my Olympus OMD, but depending which lenses you buy it can be quite an expensive option. It’s very hard for me to find fault with the EM-5 other than to point out that the buttons are very small and I would always advise having a play with one before making a purchase. It is also a little bigger and heavier than the Nex.

  • Luis Passarella - December 12, 2012 - 5:17 pm

    Hi Lindsay, my name’s Luis and I live in Brazil. I found your blog and I think that was a very interesting way to approach the two cameras. I have a question and hope you can answer. What size magnification pictures that we can do to a photo exhibition without losing quality and keeping the ISO under control? I used a D700 and knew where I could get but I sold it and think about buying one of the two because the “cost x benefit.” Thanks for your help.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 5:42 pm

    Hi Luis. large prints from either camera are a few weeks away so I can’t comment fully I’m afraid. Print size does of course depend not only on ISO but on the tonality of the image – a shadow-rich image will benefit from a lower ISO value, and an urban landscape or monochrome will often tolerate higher ISO values. For my own work I don’t print exhibition work above ISO 800 from my non full frame cameras if the print is over 16″, but that is mostly because I specialize in portraiture. From the 5D MkIII I will print 30 inches and above from ISO 1600 images, but ultimately it boils down to the kind of image you have, the extent to which you can eradicate noise whilst maintaining detail, and your own personal aesthetics. The only answer unfortunately is to do some test prints from a crop of the enlarged file and see what you think.

  • Robert Yanal - December 13, 2012 - 7:04 pm

    Very helpful article, as I’m probably getting a new camera for an upcoming trip to China.

    It seems to me, though, that the shadow areas in the Olympus shots lack detail, which may be a function of the time of day the shots were taken or perhaps of your personal taste.

  • Lindsay - December 13, 2012 - 7:33 pm

    Hi Robert, I hadn’t noticed any loss of detail in the OMD shadows, but since you raise it I will scrutinise that a little more next time. The thing with the OMD is that it has very highly customisable, and the out-of-the-box settings are rarely ideal, whereas the Fuji JPEG engine is fantastic from the word go. I think this was the second time I’d used the Oly so I hadn’t finished setting it up, since then I have tweaked things further. However I do stress to people that they should buy the camera they like best given the performance attributes which are most important to them – pixel peeping should always be quite low on the list in my view given that most of the leading CSCs are all great in that department. I do envy your trip to China, that will be wonderful!

  • martin o halloran - December 17, 2012 - 12:14 am

    I am considering buying an xe1 for a forthcoming wedding. Thanks for your comments. Do you think an xe1 suitable for weddings? I have a canon 500d with kit lenses, and i think the xe1 will be a big improvment.
    Whats your opinion? I value it. thanks once again
    Martin o Halloran

  • Geoff - December 17, 2012 - 3:19 am

    Thanks Lindsay for your very informative review. I have both the OMD and the X-E1. Trying to decide which to keep. The thing is, there are things I like and dislike about both. I wish the OMD had a built in flash. I wish the X-E1 had a video button. Overall though, I love the AF speed of the OMD. I do own and love my Fuji X10, so that I’ll keep. I may do as you did and just keep them both.

    Thanks again for such a fine review.

  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 9:57 am

    Hi Martin, I try not to make specific equipment recommendations beyond setting out my own personal view of any given camera, but as you can see from my report (and others) the autofocus on the XE1 is not particularly fast, particularly in low light. I would recommend that you ask a wedding photographer who is currently using X system cameras for weddings. However wedding venues vary greatly and the specific environment you are going to will dictate your equipment. If you are attending the wedding as a guest with no expectations placed upon you then I would simply take whichever camera suits you best. If you aim to undertake a paid wedding then testing all your kit thoroughly beforehand in typical wedding conditions is of course essential.

  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 9:58 am

    Hi Geoff, many people end up owning both the OMD and the XE1 – they are very different machines but they compliment each other well.

  • Boris - December 28, 2012 - 4:18 am

    Hi Lindsay. Thank you for your time in setting out your experience with both of these camera.

    I noticed you mentioned that one can alter the white balance warmer or cooler using both cameras (I ask about the XE-1). Does this mean that in auto-WB a bias can be made for all pictures, or are you referring to the different WB options (sunset, incandescent, etc)? As far as I was aware, this is only possible with different film emulations, but all are quite washed blue. I particularly like the lenses of the Fuji, but I prefer the warm tones of the Olympus and I would like to emulate these (apparently I see the world through rose-tinted glasses!). I seem to see other people asking for the opposite often though (Fuji colours in Olympus).

  • Lindsay - December 28, 2012 - 10:04 am

    Hi Boris, you’ve raised a very important point and you are not the only person who prefers the Olympus colours. Personal preference should always come into play and it would be a very boring world is every camera produced output which looked the same. Yes, you can create a warmer or cooler bias in either camera (without resorting to manually setting specific white balance). It’s a case of playing around until you find settings which appeal to you.

  • Luc de Schepper - December 28, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    Hello Lindsay, so much useful info on your blog. Thanks a lot for sharing all this. Your X-E1 vs OM-D posting is packed with practical info with emphasis on the things that matter in real photography. Great stuff! I own a Nikon D700 with a set of fine prime lenses and a X100. However the weight of the Nikon set is becoming a problem for me, especially on holidays and city trips. So I’m considering the X-E1 or the OM-D. Or perhaps wait for a future X-Pro2 as I do like the Fuji X-series image quality. I’ve handled the X-E1 and OM-D. The X-E1 is nice but rather small and I don’t like that you have to press the AF button before being able to move the focus point. And there’s the slow autofocus of course. The OM-D is really small, it feels like an electronic toy, with very small buttons. Still, we are spoilt with these luxury choices these days. Thanks again and I’m looking forward to reading your future posts.

  • Lindsay - December 28, 2012 - 9:43 pm

    Hi Luc, it is a difficult choice but ultimately I think it may come down to ergonomics, and whether you need good autofocus ability and of course RAW – both of which are currently limitations of the XE1.

  • Iain Sword - December 30, 2012 - 10:24 pm

    Hi Lindsay. Thanks for sharing this really interesting article. I currently shoot with a crop-sensor DSLR but am thinking about switching to a CSC kit, so it’s great to hear your thoughts about these two exciting cameras.

    Just one small point to make – under the section about the OMD’s increased depth of field, you mention that 4 factors govern an image’s DOF: aperture, subject distance, focal length, and sensor size. However sensor size has absolutely nothing to do with DOF – the necessity of wider focal lengths on smaller sensors is what really increases the DOF. I don’t mean to sound pedantic, but thought this statement might confuse some of your readers.

    Keep up the great work. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

  • Lindsay - December 30, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    Hi Iain, IQ wise you won’t be giving up anything by switching to a modern CSC and your back/neck/shoulders will thank you for it. With respect to DOF perhaps I should have said that sensor size affects ‘apparent’ DOF. You are not being pedantic at all, but I normally leave the more scientific explanations from my articles since many readers are novices. Good luck with your purchase and do report back on how you find the system once you have it.

  • Daniel - January 2, 2013 - 5:00 am

    Hi Lindsay, I was wondering which camera you would be happy with if you knew you wouldn’t be able to upgrade for the next 2 or 3 years. I can see that the Fuji has better high ISO performance and a good future lens roadmap. But the Olympus already has many wonderful lenses in production. Do you think you would yearn for a better camera body with better high ISO performance if you picked the Olympus and knew you couldn’t upgrade for the next 3 years?

  • Lindsay - January 2, 2013 - 8:51 am

    Daniel, IQ and ISO ability of both cameras is great, and very close, so that would never be the determiner in my decision (as a professional I’m interested in real world performance so pixel peeping between the two is of no value). As a professional, for the work I do (your subject matter may differ) there are performance failings in the Fuji which limits its usefulness and therefore its cost/benefit ratio (not necessarily something which would trouble most amateurs or hobbyists). The OMD meets almost all of my performance criteria therefore that is the system I would choose to keep the longest and it is also the system I happen to prefer. The lens roadmap of the Fuji is only ‘good’ if those lenses meet one’s needs and they do not align well with my own needs, however the u4/3 lenses cover all my requirements and more.

  • paul miles - January 2, 2013 - 7:40 pm

    Hi Lindsay’
    Stumbled across your review by accident…but good it certainly is.
    I’ve had for the last 2 years a Nikon d7000 with various lenses including a nikon 50mm 1.4, nikon 18=200 and a Tamron 90mm1:1 2.8 macro which is my choice of lens for macro photography which is my favoured following.
    I’ve had some really good photo’s from the Tamron and I’m ready to give it all up in favour of a Fuji xe1….but will the image quality suffer as a result of me going to this kind of set up??
    I can accept that technology moves as fast in cameras as it does in computers but will I be making a big mistake moving across to this type of camera???

  • Lindsay - January 2, 2013 - 8:12 pm

    Hi Paul, I’m afraid I don’t really know anything about Nikon systems, but your decision will probably need to hinge on your subject matter (presuming you photograph more than just macro). The XE1 cannot be compared to a DSLR since it is completely different in pretty much every way. For example, currently there is no viable mainstream RAW support for X Trans and the autofocus will be much slower than your DSLR. In addition the X lens lineup may be limiting. Of course these limitations may change, perhaps even soon, but I think the best thing to do is to try and get to a camera store where you can have a play with the Fuji and see how you feel about it. On the other hand the OMD is rather like a miniaturised DSLR and so it may be a better choice.

  • Timothy Bell - January 5, 2013 - 11:19 pm

    Lindsay,
    Have you ever listed the settings you apply to the OM-D in regards to changes from the default. I am also a portrait photographer who has recently acquired an OM-D(in addition to my DSLR) and I have agreed with your comments and would appreciate this baseline info to set up my camera.
    Thanks,
    Tim

  • Lindsay - January 6, 2013 - 3:38 pm

    Hi Tim, as mentioned in my article(s) I turn sharpness and NR down, warming to off, and WB bias a notch towards blue. That’s it pretty much, I like a flatish neutral starting point but everybody is different and much depends on final workflow. But with portraits the colour and lowering of sharpness is the most crucial, in my view.

  • Sunil - January 21, 2013 - 4:15 am

    What OMD lenses do you recommend? What would say about the quality of the OMD kit 12-50 mm? Thanks.

  • Lindsay - January 21, 2013 - 2:56 pm

    Sunil, lens choices are very personal and are of course dependent on your subject matter. As a portrait photographer I use the PL25 f1.4, the 45 f1.8 and the 35-100 f2.8. I’m afraid I can’t comment on the quality of the 12-50 as I don’t use kit lenses as a rule (too slow for the work I do) but one of the key features of this lens is the macro capability.

  • Joel - January 21, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    Hello Lindsay, an absolute gem of a review. The approach and contents are perfect. Very useful. Thank you. When I first came across the X100 I fell in love with it. My only hesitation was its fixed lens. Then Fuji annouced the XE-1 with interchangeable lenses; huge smile on my face. I wanted to wait for well informed reviews before taking the plunge. Your review is it. I note that you still have and presumeable use your X100 and have now sold the XE-1. What made you sell the XE-1 rather than the X-100 (Perhaps you have written a comparative review of these two elsewhere) If so I would be grateful for the link. I love the retro look of the XE-1 and may well go for it. But if its advantages do not far outweigh those of the X100, then I have a dilema.

    Many thanks.

    Joel

  • Lindsay - January 22, 2013 - 9:07 am

    Hi Joel, many thanks indeed for the kind comment. We try to keep things as balanced and objective as possible, I have no brand allegiance but instead weigh up any purchases according to the intended purpose. On this occasion both cameras under discussion were brought into the business as professional work tools. It turned out that the XE1 was not suited to the kind of portrait work I undertake and therefore it was uneconomic to keep it. On the other hand, my X100 was purchased very much as a camera for personal enjoyment therefore the performance criteria applied to that decision was far less stringent. Why did I not keep the XE1 as my personal use camera? That came down to size, the fact I prefer the OVF on the X100 and also my preference for the files produced by the X100 (I am not keen on X Trans). Without a doubt a fixed lens can be limiting at times however the quality of the glass on the X100 is spectacular and I also have the X10 for personal use on the occasions when I think zoom will be needed. So ultimately it all comes down to what you will be shooting and how you like to shoot. But I agree it is a difficult decision!

  • Sunil - January 22, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    Thank you for your response, Lindsay. Is the fact that the sensor is exposed when changing lenses no longer an issue with mirror less cameras. I have not seen that come up lately. My main interest is travel photography and I was leaning towards zoom lens.

  • harold - January 22, 2013 - 7:36 pm

    Sorry; I lost interest when he mentioned no difference in dof.
    Clearly regurgitated 4/3s fanboy talk and somebody whos knows little about photography

  • Lindsay - January 22, 2013 - 7:47 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean Harold, nowhere have I stated there is no difference in depth the field – in fact in my articles I often refer to the fact that the DOF differences (less than a stop if comparing to APS-C) could be either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the situation. DOF is controlled by a number of factors of which sensor format is but one. I am brand/format agnostic and shoot with a range of equipment from different manufacturers, including Fuji, Olympus and Canon. For the record I am a “she” and am reasonably well known in my field.

  • Ryan - February 2, 2013 - 3:53 pm

    Hey Lindsay, loving your blog posts and pictures!

    I currently own an X100 and although I love the image quality, the lens and the hybrid viewfinder, the EVF lags quite a bit until you half press the shutter button and the AF/having to press macro for anything <70cm or so is extremely frustrating.

    I mostly shoot candid scenes and street but a lot of the time I'll be taking casual pictures of family and friends, especially in houses/restaurants where AF is crucial.

    I'm currently looking at the Fuji X series and the OM-D series and was wondering what you would recommend. I would personally love something that's hassle free (quick AF and something that just works) but I also love the physical dials of an aperture ring and exposure compensation. What do you think of the two dials on the OM-D? are they easy to turn and do they give a positive feedback so you can feel confident about changing exposure compensation? also do you find the OMD's high iso comparable to the X100?

    Thank you,

    Ryan.

  • Lindsay - February 2, 2013 - 7:56 pm

    Hi Ryan, many thanks indeed for the kind words. I also have an X-100 and I agree that the image quality is sensational. It does of course have its quirks, like most Fuji cameras, and I also agree that the EVF can be quite frustrating (I tend not to use it very often). Where autofocus is concerned the OMD is very good indeed, vastly better than the Fuji X cameras (in fact the autofocus is one of the reasons why I recently parted company with my XE1). I found the aperture ring on the lens quite annoying, the slightest knock or movement and it would shift, slowing the photographic process down still further. With respect to the buttons and dials on the OMD, they are smaller than other cameras and I would say that if you have large hands they may prove fiddly. I would suggest trying to get to a camera store to see if the buttons would be a problem for you. I haven’t done any kind of precise comparison between the OMD and the X-100 on ISO, since these days most modern cameras are very good in low light. I advise people not to get too hung up on small differences between one machine and the next. But the OMD is very good at high ISO, I’d say it’s very close to the X-100.

  • Ryan - February 2, 2013 - 9:09 pm

    Thank you for the reply Lindsay,

    Seems like the OM-D might be the camera for me, unless the X series AF is drastically changes when they implement the phase detection pixels alas the X100s. So is the aperture ring a lot looser on the XF lenses compared to the X100? Since I have hardly many problems with the X100 aperture ring.

  • Lindsay - February 2, 2013 - 9:51 pm

    Hi Ryan, the X100 aperture ring is nice and firm, but the one on the 18-55 zoom (and the other X lenses I’ve used) is much too loose in my opinion, annoyingly so at times.

  • Steve - February 3, 2013 - 5:54 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    Thanks for a great review, I am still torn between OM-D and X-e1. I am off to Mustang in Nepal in April/Maya nd want to take pictures for a book I am writing, (landscapes, buildings, people with some flash and low-light stuff). In your view which camera has the best image quality/sharpness of the two and is the AF on the X-e1 vastly inferior?

    Thanks again

    Steve

  • Lindsay - February 3, 2013 - 6:26 pm

    Hi Steve, as mentioned in the article image quality between the two is a non-issue (in fact image quality/sharpness is largely down to optics) and the lowlight capability of the OMD is very good, certainly good enough for the many professional wedding photographers who have now adopted this camera. Ultimately the quality of your images are of course down to your abilities as a photographer and has nothing to do with pixel peeping, however if you need to photograph moving subjects or if you need to work quickly in lowlight situations then the OMD is far more capable. They are very different machines, the OMD is a fantastic performer across the board (rather like a small DSLR) however the Fuji X cameras are better suited to slower more considered shooting. It all comes down to your personal style, preferences, and handling (so the best advice I can give is that you try to get both cameras into your hands before buying). If you’re travelling do bear in mind that the OMD and many of the Micro 4/3 lenses are weather sealed, and the X cameras are not. There are also vastly more lenses available for Micro 4/3 systems, from fast primes to fast zooms and beyond. I no longer have the XE1 as I found it to be unsuited to the work I do.

  • Steve Kemp-king - February 5, 2013 - 10:30 am

    Thanks for this, looks like it’s going to be the OMD as the dust on the Tibetan plateau can be a menace. There are hardly any camera shops left in London, and Curry’s/pc world don’t have either where i live. can you recommend a good dealer anywhere?

    Finally is the OMD kit lens 12-50 good? I’ve read mixed reviews.

    thanks again

    steve.

  • Lindsay - February 5, 2013 - 10:58 am

    Hi Steve, Park Cameras in Burgess Hill, Sussex, are excellent and usually have a full inventory. If you’re in the area they are well worth a visit (you may want to phone them ahead of time just to doublecheck they have what you want in stock).

  • Steve Kemp-King - February 7, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    I now have an olympus OM-D so that, at least, is settled. Thank you for your kind advice! now to get it out of the box. Hmmm……….

  • Lindsay - February 7, 2013 - 4:07 pm

    Hi Steve, many congratulations on your OMD! The hard part is ploughing through the manual, it’s quite a complex camera in many ways as I’m sure you know – it’s worth taking the time initially to set things up to suit your own way of working.

    The online manual can be found here: http://olympusamerica.com/files/oima_cckb/E-M5_Instruction_Manual_EN.pdf
    And a good quick start guide can be seen here: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/9115179666/user-guide-getting-the-most-out-of-the-olympus-e-m5

  • Eric - February 19, 2013 - 4:38 pm

    Lindsay, thank you for your real world review of the two cameras. May I ask what in particular you found most problematic regarding the XE-1 in its application as a tool for portrait photography? From my limited use of the camera it seemed like it would excel in these types of scenarios where blazing fast AF isn’t a necessity. The reason I ask is that I’m quite disenchanted with my 5DII for portrait work, despite the wonderful IQ it provides and was considering either an X-PRO 1 or XE-1 to replace it. I am, however, not a professional (although I do shoot the occasional headshot session) so I realise your requirements may be different than my own.

  • Lindsay - February 19, 2013 - 6:44 pm

    Hi Eric, the key thing to remember is that photographers are all very different and as you rightly point out professional requirements will be very different to those of an amateur or hobbyist. When shooting professionally there is not much room for error, we cannot miss our shots nor will a client tolerate even a relatively small proportion of mis-focused images. Portrait photographers vary wildly, particularly location photographers such as myself. My shoots tend to be quite fast paced where we work from one concept to the next, providing a wide spectrum of images for the client. This will involve different locations and very different kinds of light. Both the speed and the accuracy of the XE1 meant that it was not a tenable work tool for me. However on personal outings this is rarely a problem since I’m not repeatedly asking the camera to accurately focus on a human face, but I already have two Fuji X cameras for recreational use. I will add to that the lack of mainstream RAW support which is not yet good enough for many professional applications.The OMD on the other hand is proving to be an immensely capable professional camera and of course the lens selection for Micro 4/3 is fantastic. For me it comes down to using “the best tool for the job”.

  • Simon - February 26, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    Thanks for the review.

    I have a OMD EM5 and quite like it but find the buttons a bit small and irritating. The focus although it is fast sometimes missfires as I find the focus area on the EM5 too big; I therefore have to rewly on the eye focusing feature which is a bit hit and miss. I have only found a way to reduce the focus area size in live view; any thoughts?

    I also have problems with the kit zoom but the Olympus 9-18 mm I have is quite a nice lens; as is the 45 mm F1.8. The 17mm F2.8 is OKish.

    BUT I really need a good standard zoom for travel snaps as I don’t have time to change lenses with the family in tow.

    I have recently tried the XE1 and standard zoom in Calument and liked it. The focusing seemed fine to me, even in the shop light; the AF sensor was a little finer grained so it seemed that I could be more specific with the focusing. Not much point having fast AF if the camera hits the wrong spot. Am I the only one who would prefer slower but accurate focus to quicker inaccurate focus?

    I am going to Focus next week and if there is a deal I may come back with an XE1 and standard zoom. My tests seem to indicate it is a pretty sharp lens and I can get the whole camera and zoom for the price of the Panasonic 12-35 mm F2.8 zoom, which itself doesn’t get reviews good enough to warrant £900 expenditure.

    However I won’t sell my OMD EM5 until I am sure over the XE1, but as I don’t want to spend the dosh on the Olympus fast primes, it seems like the better camera for me at the current time. However before I buy the XE1 I want to find out how much the new 10-24mm Fuji is!

    Else I will end up using the EM5 with my 9-18 and the XE1 with the standard zoom! It seems life is never simple!

  • Lindsay - February 26, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    Hi Simon, I agree that the OMD buttons are small and can be a bit fiddly at times. However I have not yet had a single mis-focused image in any of the situations I have shot the OMD in. The focus area is a little deceptive, in that you need to ensure the centre of it aligns with the point where you need critical focus.

    If you are referring to the 12-50 kit zoom, it is of course very slow and not particularly good at resolving fine detail. If you’re seeking a high quality standard zoom then I would recommend the 12-35 f2.8 if budget allows. The PL25 f1.4 is a nice walkabout lens if that FOV suits you.

    When applied to professional situations the inadequacies of the XE1 focus became glaringly obvious, those flaws are rarely evident during my personal work (and there is no reason why it would not be perfectly fine for general travel photography) but were problematic when it came to environmental portraiture When accurate focusing on a face is crucial. These may not be considerations for many users but as a professional it is a dealbreaker, however there were also other reasons why I decided not to keep the XE1. In terms of autofocus the latest firmware is said to improve the accuracy somewhat. If the camera is simply for your own personal enjoyment then it becomes far easier to just buy whatever you prefer. But it is still a difficult decision and quite often the only way to determine what is best is to own it and see how you get along with it.

  • Randy - March 12, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    Dittos on the “Wonderful Article”
    I’m very glad to have fallen upon your blog.
    I sold my two Canon 2.8 zooms after a major financial hit and attempted to be happy with the 70×200 F4. I wasn’t! I sold the 30D and lens.
    After stumbling from one camera to the next I’d pretty much set my mind on the OM-D…. I’ve been looking for a quality camera that performs well in all areas and exceeds in others. I can’t go down the $2K per lense road again… Therefore 4/3 seems like a no brainer. However I’m 6’05 and have larger hands- longer fingers. I live on an island, so a trip to the camera store is out of the question. I’m starting to get the idea that I may need to go the route of a GH3 or back to dslr since the small/large size really isn’t an issue for me. With that said, I’m a bit disheartened… the OM-D seems like such a quality piece with endless options and within reason- quality glass at affordable dollar points- all good things, but if may be just too small and frustrating for larger hands so it seems. SO, if I have to jump to a bigger that can give me the OM-D level of quality and speed, where would you be looking? Or am I being too wrong to worry since I’m a hobbyist- so not something I’ll be using for work. Thanks Again :o)

  • Lindsay - March 12, 2013 - 6:17 pm

    Hi Randy, one of the things which makes the OMD so attractive is the combination of performance, image quality, all in a very small package. But as you rightly point out small cameras don’t suit everyone. Your island location will as you say make the choice more complicated, unless you can find a seller who will accept a return. I think you are correct in that the GH3 would be the next best thing size-wise, but it is more expensive than the OMD unfortunately. If size isn’t an issue then a DSLR such as a 7D or 60D might be worth considering, but then you may be forced to consider expensive lenses. Not an easy choice in the absence of a camera store.

  • offtheback - March 20, 2013 - 3:38 pm

    Lindsay-thank you for your unique perspective/review of the Oly/Fuji set.I’ve had an EM-5 for 6 months now as my first above point n shoot after several years with film SLR’s.While it took me a couple of months to figure out the menu systems and features(no thanks to the horrid documentation)it is an excellent overall system and the portability is a huge plus.I encountered a strange problem the other day while shooting in a light rain.The auto switching between viewfinder/LCD stopped working and was stuck on the EVF.The problem was a drop or 2 of rain that landed in the switching detector area and simulated my face being at the EVF.Another beguiling moment with the OMD-5.Kinda like a love affair.Thanks again for you wonderful blog+photos.

  • Lindsay - March 20, 2013 - 4:12 pm

    Hi offtheback – yes, it’s fantastic that really good portable systems are now a reality, it’s made a huge difference to my comfort level (I no longer dread packing my camera bag). Interesting you should mention your OMD playing up, good that you could spot the problem – my shutter button locked momentarily in the rain last week, I had to switch the camera off than on again, after which it was fine. I never believe that electronic devices are as water resistant as they say!

Portrait Photographer West Sussex Every year I make a point of entering the amazing professional imaging competition run by The Societies (SWPP and BPPA). This can be a daunting process at first, but it’s also a fantastic way to push yourself forward. The quest for self-improvement should be part of every professional photographer’s mindset and […]

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  • Stephen Scharf - December 5, 2012 - 3:43 am

    Congratulatons on your Gold Medals and Highly Commended, Lindsay.

    Certainly well, well deserved.

    best,
    Stephen

    PS I must look into joining some of the societies….

  • Lindsay - December 5, 2012 - 9:08 am

    Thank you Stephen. As for the various societies, as you can imagine all are different with a very different flavour and ethos. Some better represent certain forms of photography than others.

  • John Barnes - December 5, 2012 - 1:55 pm

    Lindsay, Well done. Many congratulations on this latest set of awards. The images are fantastic. The recognition is hugely deserved. All the best, John.

  • Lindsay - December 5, 2012 - 2:09 pm

    Thank you for the kind words John – and may I say I have watched your own work come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years!

I have a friend who manages a camera store and the question he is most often asked is “which camera takes the best pictures?”  The only viable answer to this is “any” simply because the picture will generally look fairly similar irrespective of the camera, given the good standards of most modern equipment. A big […]

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  • Simon peckham - December 3, 2012 - 8:18 pm

    Great piece on an important subject. I agree its a syndrome that will become more and more prominent. I am about to trading in my Nikon D300s and a whole bunch of lens for a Fuji Xe1. Why …. Because I have owned a Fuji X 100 for the last year and its been a revelation. The image quality is what I have been searching for for me personal tastes. The X pro 1 is now out of date and I almost never use the optical viewing on the X100. So I am daring to take the plunge and convince my existing and new customers. All is well look at the quality and remember the old days of huge DSLRs in years gone by. Wish me luck :-)

  • Lindsay - December 3, 2012 - 8:27 pm

    Hi Simon, lovely to hear from you and thank you for commenting. The lack of weight is wonderful and being able to comfortably shoot for as long as I want to has transformed how I feel at the end of a long working day. I too have an X100, which I love. I’m not sure that you will immediately notice a difference in image quality if you move up to the XE1, but I would say that in terms of ISO you will have about an extra stop when shooting JPEG. Just be aware that the autofocus speed has not really been improved, despite what was promised, and even with the new zoom lens the XE1 is really quite slow and this could be a frustration at times. It is not really a step up from the XP1. I am a big fan of the optical viewfinder on the X100 and I would gladly have paid more for this feature to have been included on the XE1 (I didn’t invest in an XP1 since it is a little too large). I will be holding back a couple of our DSLRs because there are situations when they will be the best tools. But yes, remind your customers that they are hiring you for your professionalism and your quality imagery, not the size of your cameras!

  • Samuel - December 6, 2012 - 3:33 pm

    Spare a thought for the poor old amateurs — I’ll have to take my big, heavy Slik tripod with me now if I want to look like a pro!

    I was recently comparing my X-E1 with my old Minolta XD7 and there isn’t much difference in size. Yet, in its day, Lindsay, it was commonly used among professionals. We’re so used now to seeing pros brandishing a couple of big black cameras and huge lenses. Times they are a-changing…

    I enjoyed reading your post.

  • Lindsay - December 6, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    Hi Samuel, indeed it is interesting how things are changing, but old attitudes die hard. I was at a local event a few months ago and there was an overwhelming number of snappers who were strung with DSLRs (or sometimes two) – how their backs held up I’ll never know. Anyway, I had a Fuji X camera with me. One of the big-camera gents came over and told me that if I wanted any tips on how to take pictures he would make himself available. Whilst we chatted, I noticed his cameras were set to Auto, and he didn’t seem to take many photographs throughout the morning. I always think of him whenever I have a nice small kitbag with me! I too started out on ‘small’ film cameras (I will not admit when) and it feels good to have a similar form factor in my hands again.

  • Kevin - December 25, 2012 - 7:00 pm

    Good stuff Lindsay. I’m a designer/photographer of too many years(!) and I’ve decided to ease myself into a smaller system with the XE-1, running side-by-side with my DSLR, until I’m confident that the compact can handle paid work, all on it’s own.

    For instance, I’m not prepared to risk an entire wedding on the XE-1… yet. Having said that, I’m a two primes (35/85) and two bodies man, so I don’t think the transition will prove too difficult. It might take the 24-70 / 70-200 ‘brigade’ a little longer to make this sort of change.

    From a client perspective – and I’ve commissioned and art directed dozens of photographers – they don’t care about your gear. Period.

    It’s only photographers with little self-confidence (and perhaps too little ability) that fret about such things.

  • Lindsay - December 25, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    Hi Kevin, lovely to hear from you and great to get your perspective on an area which many pros are currently grappling with. I think you’re very wise to keep a DSLR in the bag, I do that too since some situations are best served by a faster focussing body. I feel we also need RAW support for X Trans before larger numbers of wedding photographers will feel confident enough to jump ship (though I find there is tremendous latitude on the Fuji X series JPEGs).

  • Jason - December 27, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    That’s a nice leather case for the OMD!!!
    May I know what case is that?

  • Lindsay - December 27, 2012 - 4:11 pm

    Jason, it’s the Ciesta case – they’re on e-bay, there are now quite a lot of leather case options for the OMD, including Kenji, Gariz etc.

  • Dave - January 10, 2013 - 5:59 am

    I just picked up the OMD, with the idea of getting rid of my Canon 5D MKII because of all the weight associated with it, especially for travel! I’m having a hard time getting used to the EVF and split second where I don’t see my subject after taking a photo. I think I’ll get used to it though…

  • Eric - April 10, 2013 - 1:26 am

    Thanks for the post Lindsay. I’m in the same boat. I’m going from a 2 FF body setup to a m4/3 setup. I started selling my equipment (one of my 5D + a couple of lenses) but I’m still holding on my 5DII and some lenses (14 f/2.8, 35 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4 and 70-200 f/2.8) for this year wedding season. I’m not ready to ditch all this at the beginning of the season but I will try to go 2nd or 3rd shoot a wedding with only the OM-D, E-PM2 and the nice m4/3 primes I have to see how it goes. If all is well, next year, I’ll probably work with only micro 4/3. I now have shot some commercial gigs and some portraits/newborns with the OM-D and the clients never mentioned anything about the size of the camera. They know what I’m capable of since they hired me for the job so I guess they simply don’t care about the tools I’m using.
    It’s really nice to see other pros going the “light” way too. If you want to check my first 4 months with the OM-D, here’s a link to it: http://blog.ericcote.net/2013/01/quatre-mois-avec-lolympus-om-d/ . Feel free to remove it if you want though, I don’t want to promote myself on your blog.

  • Lindsay - April 10, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    Hi Eric, it’s great to hear from a fellow professional who has successfully adopted the OMD system. I enjoyed your article – your photography is beautiful. I feel that the OMD has helped me to become more creative, mostly because I can take it on trips where my DSLR system would be far too heavy and cumbersome, and of course I no longer get tired now that I have a lightweight camera. I find the Micro 4/3 lenses inspiring too, I’m blown away by the quality (I’m loving the 35-100 for portraiture). Do stay in touch and I’ll look forward to following your work.

  • Stephen Burke - August 5, 2013 - 11:48 am

    Hi Lindsay

    I’ve enjoyed reading your pieces on the Olympus OMD EM-5, and the Fujifilm XE-1, they have steered me towards buying the former. I have one question of a very non-technical nature, silver or black, which do you think looks best?

  • Lindsay - August 5, 2013 - 1:21 pm

    I’m terrible at making choices Stephen. I like the retro look so I went for the silver, and I told myself that when I’d saved up for a second OMD I’d get a black one. The camera looks great in either colour, it looks a bit more old fashioned in the silver and a bit sharper and more modern in the black. I’m probably not being much help!

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