Last week I went on a road trip to outback Australia to play with my new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera and primarily used it with the lovely but moderately expensive Olympus m.Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0 lens.
I love walking the streets at night to take urban street scenes at night when they have a totally different character, but carrying a tripod and a big camera when you are by yourself is just asking for trouble!
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera with the Olympus 12mm lens is small enough to easily fit in a jacket pocket so you can be discrete and hide it when there is potential for trouble, furthermore it means you can still go into a pub for a drink and not draw attention to yourself.
This combination allows you to easily do fun night shots as the image stabilisation combined with the 12mm f/2.0 lens, EVF so you can still see your subject in the dark, fast AF in the dark, adequate DOF for street landscapes even at wide apertures, and high image quality at ISO 1600 breaks barriers that no other system can match for hand held shots at night of static subjects, easily beating my Canon 1D Mark III pro dSLR for this purpose.
You can hand hold this lens down to shutter speeds of even a half a second if you are very careful, although I would recommend you try to limit yourself to 1/4 or 1/6th second to get more reliably sharp photos.
At f/2.0 or f/2.8 and ISO 1600 at 1/4 sec you can get into some quite dark environments and take successful shots, plus the slow shutter speed allows you to add some motion blurring effects if need be.
Here is a typical hand held shot walking around the remote outback mining town that is Broken Hill – which I think is actually quite a lot safer than Melbourne at night but still, I wouldn’t want to push my luck!
This is essentially straight from the camera (although converted to B&W, cropped and resized for the web in Lightroom).
Shot details: Olympus 12mm f/2.0 lens at f/2.0 with ISO 800 and shutter 1/20th sec hand held.
I have also posted these earlier related blog posts:
- A very quick night street shot as I walked across the road and an ambulance started bearing down on me
- The incredible Olympus OM-D E-M5′s hand held low light performance plus a high image quality wearable camera system! No more back pack, good bye tripod! Includes a 1/2 second exposure shot.
- The Olympus OM-D E-M5 makes hand held infrared photography easier
This combination makes an awesome, compact, high image quality, versatile travel photography kit, just add in a walkabout zoom lens and a 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens, and you are set!