In my quest to find an action cam that will suit the sort of video that I want to produce, I’ve gone through several camera iterations and have been disappointed every time. So once again I went in search of another action cam and this time took a completely different approach. This story is about the Olympus Tough TG-5, a versatile compact camera, and why I think it may well be the ideal camera for use as both an action cam, all round video camera (as well as a regular stills camera) and a great addition to any DSLR or mirrorless camera kit. I’ve come to the conclusion that with certain products you simply won’t be happy buying at the bottom end of the market and It’s not that cheap is always bad, but with things like action cams, cheap usually means bad. And then there are other things to consider.
I’d like to note from the outset that I’m not a professional videographer, but I can and do take video and do so for many events and activities. To me, a professional or serious amateur videographer is an individual that does more than just own a capable video camera and who goes about pointing that camera at all and sundry and doing little more than minor editing (if that), like some happy snappers with high quality still cameras are known to do. I’ve had several discussions on photography forums about video, from a stills photographer’s perspective, and it never ceases to amaze me how many seem to think that video is easy and the higher the quality available (such as 4K), the easier it is to produce. It often sounds just like the old/new megapixel wars that wax and wane year after year.
After a pretty dismal and cold Winter, followed by a pretty wet and dismal start to Spring, there was at least one form of life that really revelled in the conditions. And while the weather hasn’t been all that conducive to outdoor activities and associated enjoyment, there were a few interesting diversions where such subject matter kept me out of the doldrums. In this instance it was once again one of those interesting things found in damp and wet places, fungi. You can kind of call it mould, as fungi is related to mould as well as yeasts. This won’t be so much of a story, but more a pictorial record of some of the types of fungi that I came across this year. These ones were perhaps the most interesting, as there were lots of small mushrooms about that were quite ordinary.
One ever present issue when it comes to any m4/3 camera is the perception that the sensor is simply not good enough for genuine photography, especially professional use. It doesn’t matter how much evidence is shown to the contrary, there is always one or other that tries to perpetuate this myth. The reality is that for the vast majority of photography enthusiasts and even professionals, the sensor size is rarely the limiting factor when it comes to results, you can get top quality results with pretty much any camera nowadays. The limiting factor always has and always will be the photographer. There is no doubt that the camera can at times make things easier, and digital camera technology has been advancing in major leaps and bounds, but the best camera in the world won’t produce anything worthwhile without considered intervention by the user.
Before I get into how the MkII performs, I’d like to note some differences between the E-M1 MkI and MkII, and what were immediately noticeable. On unboxing the camera, the first thing that was obvious was that the MkII was slightly larger than the MkI and that was mainly in the height, making it more comfortable in the hand than the MkI, which required a camera plate to make it comfortable for me to hold. The other thing that is significantly larger is the battery, to provide much greater longevity, an issue that has plagued many mirrorless cameras, though I never really had a problem with the MkI batteries (I’ve been able to take 1400+ photographs on one battery). The MkII no longer sports an accessory port on the electronic viewfinder (EVF) hump, making that part slightly trimmer but, in other respects, the overall differences are mainly cosmetic with all the dials, buttons and levers pretty much as they are on the MkI. The MkII does differ in one other physical aspect, in that it has a fold out LCD screen rather than one that just lifts up and down, a source of constant angst and debate on forums.
In Part 1, I wrote how a government department (a local council) had used one of my photographs without permission and, after alerting them to the issue, they decided to remove the photo rather than giving a simple attribution of ownership. It’s somewhat disappointing how people assume that because a photograph is on the internet, it can be used freely and especially without any attribution. The hardware store chain where I work part-time, held a competition this month seeking photographs that depicted the local area. The store submitted some of mine and, at the end of the competition, the organisers sent out requests to confirm that photographs submitted were authorised, as many were simply taken from the internet (Google images), with no permission evidently sought.
I don’t generally discuss my cameras, as I don’t believe that the camera one uses is that big a deal, but anyone that has read my posts and is interested in photography would have realised that my system is Olympus digital. I started using Olympus digital SLRs in 2004 after attending an expo where I watched a salesman at a camera stall put the very first Olympus digital SLR, an E-1, repeatedly under a indoor waterfall, wipe it off with a towel and take shots. I was intrigued by this waterproof marvel and ended up buying one. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite Olympus cameras often lagging the major brands in some aspects of technology, I just loved how the cameras performed, especially the wonderful colours, and have stayed with Olympus through all of its trials and tribulations. I still have that very first E-1, and it still works as well as the day that I bought it, even though it’s pretty much gone through the wars and looks rather tatty on the outside.
One of the most discussed, debated and often heated arguments on photography websites and forums revolves around the use, or not, of protective filters on lenses. On one side of the camp are those that believe filters are useful and beneficial additions to expensive lenses and do not affect image quality and, on the other side are those that believe any filter degrades the quality of any lens. To be up front, I have always used high quality filters on all of my lenses from day one and believe that the benefits far outweigh any minor issues that they may cause. There’s a reason for that and I’m going to explain why. While at the end of the day you might not agree with me, I will at least have provided my side of the argument for the use of filters.
Last year I made some hesitant steps towards giving film a try once again, after not using it for more than 15+ years. I certainly can’t remember having touched film since around 2000, even though I have plenty of film cameras, so that recent nostalgia hit was interesting in many ways. It brought into focus (pun intended) what film was all about and why I’d lost interest in using it and, to a large extent, photography as well for what seemed a very long time. After those first rolls of film that I put through the old Kodak Retina and Olympus Trip 35 cameras, I was really keen on taking it further until reality, or perhaps pragmatism, hit home. I realised after a while that film, for me, was no longer relevant in any shape or form and it really didn’t bring back the ‘good old days‘ or any resurgence of potentially lost creativity.
An old axiom goes along the lines of: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘. That axiom has some history behind it but I don’t fully subscribe to it in the way that it’s often interpreted. However, I feel much more comfortable with a related one that says ‘Every picture tells a story‘ (not the Rod Stewart one). While the two may sound similar, I think there are some fundamental differences between what they mean or how they can be interpreted. The former suggests, to me, that a picture is proof or evidence of something, while the latter suggests that a picture evokes questions, emotions or one’s imagination. So what is my story all about? Well, it’s a bit of navel gazing as I’ve been giving thought to the things that I write and photograph for this blog, why I do so and where it might lead or what else I might do to keep it relevant (for me anyway).