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Studio Shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Photogenic Lights

by Andy Hendriksen on 10/11/2012

After I moved entirely to micro four thirds with the OM-D E-M5 a few months ago, I was really curious to see how this camera could perform in a wide variety of situations. I’m primarily a street photographer, with a focus on shooting portraits in natural light, but Photogenic was kind enough to loan me one of their fantastic studio lighting kits to try out some studio shooting with this little powerhouse of a camera with one of my very favorite lenses.

Gear Used

 

In Use

I’m not a studio photographer by any stretch of the imagination, and I went into this project with very little experience shooting in an environment like this. That being said, I think my lack of experience with studio shooting really speaks to the camera’s ability to make seemingly complicated shooting situations easier to grasp.

The goal here was to setup a home studio, get two or three good shots, and tear down in under 3 hours. The Photogenic StudioMax III lighting kit made this a breeze. The entire kit comes in a large travel case on wheels, and everything is organized and laid out in a way that even the least experienced studio shooter could understand. I had the lights up and firing in under 30 minutes.

To trigger the strobes, I used the Cowboy Studio flash triggers that cost next to nothing on Amazon. They’re simple, no frills flash triggers that do their job as expected and work well in exceedingly simple setups like this.

On the camera, I of course used the Olympus battery grip for the OM-D, as this gives me a more comfortable (and vertical) hold, and twice the battery power that I was going to need to trigger these strobes the entire time. For the lens, I used my very favorite Olympus 45mm f1.8, giving me a 90mm equivalent field of view, which worked well for the relatively tight space that I was shooting in.

Once I started taking some test shots, I quickly noticed two Olympus OM-D features that made studio shooting a breeze: the fast and accurate autofocus, and the excellent manual controls. Eye-detection assured me that I was always getting the right part in-focus, and the two multi-function control dials made adjusting aperture and shutter speed second nature, just as if I was using a DSLR.

I have no complaints at all with Photogenic’s StudioMax III lighting kit, and I feel that it’s a must-have for anybody looking to put together an inexpensive beginner home studio. The lights are powerful and versatile, and all the gear feels well built and durable, especially considering the low price. For somebody like me just getting started in studio shooting, this really is the way to go.

The Results

As I mentioned, the goal was to get two good head shots, one each for my girlfriend and her brother. I came away with several that I’m happy with, but the two below are my favorites.

Conclusion

Is there anything the Olympus OM-D E-M5 can’t do? I’m not sure, but it hasn’t disappointed me yet. It’s excelled in every situation I’ve thrown it into, and continues to surprise me with the results. The excellent glass available (with more to come), and the proven dedication from Olympus and Panasonic to develop this system shows that micro four thirds is here to stay, and it’s only going to continue to get better.

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