Photographer and Olympus user Robin Whalley recently visited the Snowdonia National Park where he spent quite a bit of time shooting landscapes with his E-M5
The weather forecast for the time he spent in the National Park was meant to be 'sunshine and showers', however due to the area having its own micro climate due to the mountains, the sky actually remained heavy with clouds and rain, hail, snow and lots of wind battered Robin for the whole day. Even though the conditions were challenging to shoot in, Robin came away with some cracking results and also discovered some characteristics of the E-M5 that made the task easier, as Robin explains:
"The E-M5 body is weather sealed so you don't need to worry too much about trying to keep it dry. You do need to keep your lenses dry though but again this is made easier with their small size. I was able to walk round with the camera under my coat when it was raining and then easily pull it out to make the shot. The Tryfan image below was an example of this.
Because the lenses on Micro 4/3 cameras are small and compact it allows me to use 67mm filters. This is the old Cokin A series size filter and they are tiny compared to the 100mm filters most landscape photographers use. This meant that I could leave the filter attached when I had the camera under my coat and so I was ready to capture any great breaks in the light.
Many people worry about loss of image quality if they moved from a traditional DSLR to Micro 4/3 but this isn't noticeable for the majority of images. The image from these cameras will produce A3+ prints without enlargement but with enlargement easily go to A2 or bigger.
Another advantage of the Micro 4/3 system for landscape photography is the depth of field. Most of the time I was shooting between f/5.6 and f/7.1 which gave great depth of field. The trick is to take care where you place the point of focus. On the E-M5 this is really easy to do using the directional keys on the reverse of the camera or if you prefer to use the touch screen you just tap where you want the camera to focus.
The wide aperture (relative to a DSLR) and the base ISO of the E-M5 allowed me to hand hold the majority of shots. This makes it much easier than having to fight with a tripod all the time and allows you to be quicker and more creative. You are able to explore the scene from more angles and get into positions that you might not otherwise be able to if you had a lot of bulky equipment. The image looking down the valley at Nant Francon (below) was shot from a rather tricky overhang and was no place to be setting up with a tripod.
The only time I needed to use a tripod was for the waterfall shot below for which I also used an 8 stop ND filter. As this was an A series filter it was less than half the price of the equivalent filter in 100mm. Also with the camera and filters being small and light I was able to use quite a light tripod which makes it easier to carry.
If you check your camera and equipment you will find the majority of the weight is down to the accessories rather than the camera and lenses. With small cameras you can use lighter weight accessories.
The two panoramic shots (one can be seen above and the other at the top of the article) are stitched from three shots each and were hand held. I have found the 'rule of thirds' grid that can be overlaid in the E-M5 is a great help to lining up the shots when doing this."
To see more of Robin's images visit his blog - thelightweightphotographer.com