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Surfing, a skateboarding rabbit and Olympus cameras

Surfing, a skateboarding rabbit and Olympus cameras

I decided to check out out the latest and greatest trends of camera gear on my visit to the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach last week. Surfing really draws a huge crowd. It’s no question who’s the most popular: mega-star  Kelly Slater, who, because of his fans, needed security to help him get to shore. Everyone wants an autograph or photograph.

I figured this is a great place to see what’s popular in photography, to check out what kind of cameras people are using. In my informal study, the cellphone camera was king. These cameras are certainly convenient, but you’re not going to reach out and get great tight photos of surfers traversing the waves. I did see an array of compact cameras, GoPros and DSLRs, but the amount of long glass really stood out. Nikon and Canon rule this category with the more expensive fast shooting DSLRs and super-long telephotos lenses.

Probably the favored lens of the professional sports shooter would be the 600mm f/4 with an addition 1.4 converter, which would multiply the 600 mm lens to a 840mm with just a one-stop loss of light.

I tried to find something a little different or unusual at this event. It was a tie between a skateboarding rabbit and the new Olympus OM-D E-M5.

OK, I know it’s a little hard to compare the two, but I’m a sucker for skateboarding animals.

Olympus was the only camera vender I notice at the event. They were promoting two camera lines. The Tough and OM-D series. Both are a perfect fit for the beach. The Tough series, which includes the TG810, which I have reviewed — and juggled — before, is water, drop, and crush proof. Each camera in the line has a different level of toughness. Check their website for the exact stats. The OM-D is also a natural fit because it is dust and slash proof if you use it with certain lenses. They had a nice deal where you could try the cameras on loan with a credit card.

The brand new Tough TG-1 iHS feature added wide angle and telephoto lenses, which really adds versatility to the camera.

The first thing I noticed with the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 is how closely it resembles the old-school OM film camera introduced in 1973. It was advertised as “the world’s smallest and lightest 35mm single-lens reflex camera.” Olympus broke away from the standard SLR cameras at the time and made a small, more compact version in the 1970s and 1980s.

I was amazed at the resemblance — the OM-D E-M5 has such a retro look. I had the most fun when I got to pour water over the camera. It is important to remember that this camera is not a DSLR (digital-single-lens-reflex). It only looks like one. It uses the micro four-thirds, mirror-less technology to get the smaller form factor and a secondary electronic eye-level viewfinder.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 with its retro look, is a great choice for someone moving up from a compact point-and-shoot who wants the feel of a full-size DSLR, but doesn’t want the size or weight. Or simply wants to downsize from the tradition heavier professional style cameras. It’s a great alternative for travelers who don’t want to be too careful around the water, snow or sand. Remember, when you’re on the river raft, the camera can withstand a splash, but it’s not submersible. So don’t it in drop the water.

The OM-D E-M5 does not have a built-in flash but includes one which attaches to the hot shoe. The camera has 16.1-megapixel sensor that should work great for most photographers.

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Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachman


  1. August 9, 2012, 2:41 pm

    Strangely, the Oly rep at the beach (in the video clip) said they basically had put the sensor of the E-5 in a smaller body…which is not the fact. Many would have liked the E-5 to have had the sensor of the OM-D, whch actually is more than notably better than the one in E-5…
    I have a E-5, it is very good but the OM-D is better for sure in hi ISO and dynamic range to name the most important aspects where it betters the E-5, not to mention resolution. 16 MP is admittedly not much better than 12, but in the shape of the total package offerd by the technolgy in the OM-D EM5 i´s not bad either. That, simply, give a bit better possibility to get nearer the ultimate from the avaliable Zuiko and mZuiko lenses (& Panasonics m4/3 lenses can of course be put on the camera as well)

    By: MaN
  2. August 10, 2012, 6:29 am

    I own the Olympus om-d as well as two full frame Nikon's. I have to say I love this camera for its size as well as the image quality. This has become my "always with me" rig, leaving my beloved Nikon gear on the shelf. While it is hard to believe that I have invested well into the 5 figure's on Nikon gear, this little gem gives me shots I never thought possible from such a light weight, small lens camera. The best thing is that all the security guards that always tell me"sorry, no pictures allowed" have not come up to me to tell me that there is no photography allowed. This allows very stealthy photography, and you are left alone to create:)

    By: bob allen
  3. August 13, 2012, 4:31 pm

    I agree, the camera with its retro look, smaller size, and quality, make it a great choice for an easy to carry camera, especially for those looking for one similar to a DSLR.

    By: Robert Lachman
  4. August 13, 2012, 10:34 am

    It's called the E-M5, not the E-5. The E-5 is a wholly different camera in the Olympus DSLR line-up. Might want to edit this article…

    By: Amadeo Plaza
  5. August 13, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Thanks. It has been corrected to the E-M5. RL

    By: Robert Lachman

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