The Unconventional Pinoy

Travel Logs of the Unconventional Pinoy


The New Olympus OM-D E-M5 Compact SLR Camera will finally hit our shores this April 2012.

I have been watching out and raving about this new Olympus Camera. It’s one lavishly retro-fied and distinctly looking camera. Slightly bigger than the PEN models, but everything is already built-in, including the electronic viewfinder (E-VF2), which is usually sold separately for the PEN system.

Much more like a souped up full-spec PEN E-P3 with weather sealing and better IQ. Better kit lens too!

The OM-D E-M5 design is based on it’s older siblings from ages ago – the film SLR OM system. That distinct looking triangular top and silver body really blew me away!

I guess the trend nowadays are retro-looking or retro-fied cameras. From the PEN system and Fuji X models (x100, x10, x-pro) which are rangefinder-type design, now Olympus really took us back to the 60’s and 70’s with this OM SLR design. I myself was an OM-10 user way back high school.

Some of the key specs I really liked: (copied from

Olympus OM-D E-M5 specification highlights:

  • 16MP MOS Four Thirds format sensor
  • Weather-sealed body
  • Twin control dials
  • New, ‘5-axis’ image stabilization
  • Shoot at up to ISO 25,600
  • Up to 9fps shooting (4.2 fps with continuous AF)
  • 800×600 pixel (1.44M dot) LCD electronic viewfinder
  • VGA-equivalent 3″ OLED touchscreen display – tilts 80° upwards and 50° downwards
  • Latest TruePic VI processor
  • Improved C-AF autofocus with 3D tracking
  • Flash sync speed up to 1/250th sec

I’ve been meticulously reading all online reviews and youtube videos these past two months and this definitely is one hell of a camera.

I’ve been looking for a good-enough camera that I can use and take with me everyday. I already fell in love with the PEN system, but this OM-D really got me thinking. Do I really need all these bulky and heavy equipment for non-professional use? This actually suits my shooting needs.

And boom, I decided to sell my current system. Yes, I sold my beloved DSLR and all my lenses for this. Retained only my strobist equipment (umbrella, softbox, stands) and eneloop batteries. 😉

The retro SLR-look, small size, weather sealing and high ISO handling of the OM-D E-M5 already sold me.

I used the comparison tool of dpreview and this baby can produce clean and sharp-enough images even at ISO 3200. Way better than my current DSLR which is already quite grainy at ISO 800. Better than the E-P3 too! Doh!

The M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 is a great kit lens as well. From wide to zoom (24mm-100mm equivalent for full-frame 35mm), plus the weather sealing and macro capabilities, this lens is very promising. Haven’t tried it yet though, but after reading loads of reviews from the net, I definitely need one.

Add to this lens another powerful (and cheap!) arsenal, the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, then my line-up is complete! From wide/landscape shooting, street shooting, macro and portraits with great bokeh, this new set of equipment really got my heart pumping!

And oh, the E-M5 also has a nifty accessory available, a battery grip! Yes!

Local pricing (Red Dot Philippines) SRP is Php62,750 for Single Lens Kits, and Php55,000 for Body Only.

Now the waiting game begins… Can’t wait to get mine next week!

Official Photos c/o Red Dot Ph

*Some online reviews you might want to check out:* — Olympus OM-D E-M5 official website — check out the high ISO test shots. — detailed review and real-world tests and sample shots — some sample photos and macro shots of the new 12-50mm — just another review — — just another review


A thorough review of the Olympus PEN Mini (E-PM1)

December 10, 2011 (Sorry for the late posting)

Our climb to Mt. Pulag was postponed due to inclement weather. DENR called us Friday afternoon and advised not to push with the climb as it was raining the whole day at Ambangeg. We re-scheduled the climb on January 13, 2012 instead (Friday the 13th!).

It was a Saturday and I had nothing to do. My GF and I decided to go to Manila Ocean Park to spend the day and it was my chance to thouroughly test the camera and just use it for my personal photos. This way, I would have a feel of how it would perform on a daily basis. Hehehe!

By the way, there’s this promo at Manila Ocean Park, the Ultimate Experience Package for Php900 only. Included are the Sea Lion show, Oceanarium, Fish Spa, Jellies, Trails to Antarctica (Penguin Exhibit) and Musical Fountain Show. It was all worth it as this package would normally cost around Php1,400 (Penguin exhibit not included).

The camera performed well and even exceeds my expectations! I truly love this camera, but I still want the enthusiast brother of this PEN mini, the PEN E-PL3.

Some tests I did the whole day:

1. Night/Dark Room Auto and Manual Focusing

– This camera has 35 AF points plus an illuminator (orange-red light). Although auto focusing was a breeze at the center to mid-center points, I had difficulties focusing using the outer/corner points that were not covered by the illuminator. Still, the AF with contrast detection is very quick and snappy even for night shots.

– There’s also a feature of the camera for AF Assist + MF. This combines auto focusing with full time manual override focusing. One can also activate the MF with live view magnification/zooming for more accurate focusing. IMO, this is best used for more detailed shooting like Macro and Portraiture.

– I really liked the focus tracking mode of the AF. While shooting, this AF mode can easily follow a subject while its in motion. This can be best used for videos with good lighting. I made a test video during the musical fountain show and the focus tracking was bouncy. I still need to test if I can use this for panning shots.

2. Color rendering

– I truly love the output of colors straight out of the camera. I did several 4×6 test prints on my Canon Pixma E500 and the images looked sharp but a bit too contrasty and saturated. There is a very very slightly yellowish/greenish tinge that is very common to Olympus and Nikon. One can easily correct this using color modes.

– Aside from the Auto WB and WB presets like what DSLRs have, this camera has a customizable white balance setting and one can manually adjust white balance (in Kelvin) to one’s preferred output. There’s also a WB function on Live View mode wherein one can see the WB output live and one can easily choose among the WB presets. This is a very nifty feature for those shooting in JPEG.

3. ISO Performance

– At ISO 1600, the images are still useable and sharp. IMHO this PEN outperforms my Canon EOS 500D on ISO performance.

4. Video Capability

– This camera shoots 1080p Full HD Videos on AVHCD format. I think I was able to shoot at around 15-25fps in full HD on P-mode Auto ISO. One can also use the art/creative filters but will definitely slow down frame rate to less than 10fps. Video is decent enough but a bit wobbly. No IS on video mode.

Overall, the camera handled well on all the tests I did. Of course, these are just my simple requirements for a good camera that would suffice to my needs.

I’m pretty much convinced this would be a great camera to add to my current lineup. But it won’t be replacing my DSLR soon. It’s just a good pocket camera to bring with you everyday.

It has been two weeks since I’ve been using the Olympus E-PM1. I’ve been using it daily and I’ve been quite productive these past two weeks and have produced more keepers (good photos) than using my DSLR in the past 6 months. The size, portability and image quality of this camera truly is a standout for me. This is a really good complement for DSLR users who wants a camera to bring with them everyday and anywhere they want to without the hassles of lugging heavy and bulky equipment. This is a perfect companion for travelers and bloggers alike.

I have been thoroughly researching and comparing this newest line of Olympus PENs (E-PM1, E-PL3, E-P3) versus the latest mirrorless compacts from Sony (NEX series) and Panasonic Lumix (GF, GH & GX models). I also compared this PEN to the Fuji X100 and X10 though the latter aren’t really MILCs.

All of these cameras do have its own strengths and weaknesses. The Olympus E-P3, Sony NEX 7, Panasonic GX1, Fuji X100/X10 perhaps are the most sought after cameras in the hobbyist market today, but are very expensive. With its current pricing, these cameras are best for enthusiasts and serious hobbyists only. For those casual users, there are also entry-level units available like the Olympus E-PM1/E-PL3, Sony NEX3/NEX5, and Panasonic GF models. But these entry-level cameras are still priced similarly to entry-level DSLRs.

With the current trending, newbies and those first-time photographers would still opt to get a DSLR instead of these. As what I’ve posted on my previous blog post, DSLRs are good necklaces and bling-blings. And yes, they still are today.

As what I’ve always suggested in the past:

1. If you’re an enthusiast or serious hobbyist wanting a pocket camera, go get a micro 4/3s but don’t get too attached or you might end up fully shifting to the system. It’s quite addicting, really. Try the Fuji X10 instead so you won’t be needing upgrades and accessories, just the cam. 😛

2. If you’re a professional seeking a cheaper second body or backup camera, try the micro 4/3s as well. Better technology, better ISO handling, better stabilization, very handy. Way better than getting an older second hand DSLR as backup.

3. If you’re a newbie or an amateur who wants to learn the craft without the hassles and bustles of heavy and bulky equipment, the micro 4/3s is the best way to start. With its portability, image quality and upgrade-ability (wide choices of lenses and accessories), you won’t go wrong with it.

A video I took using the E-PM1 on P-Mode, ISO Auto.

Photos I took with the E-PM1.

Now, who needs a DSLR to take great photos? 🙂

All geared up for Mt. Pulag

All geared up

December 3, 2011

I’m scheduled for a climb on Mt. Pulag, Philippines’ second highest mountain peak (via Ambangeg-Ambangeg Trail), this coming Friday, the 9th of December 2011. I will be climbing with Al Del Barrio of Voyager Adventure Club (VAC), Al will be our Team Leader for the climb. I  sure hope we could see and experience what they call “the sea of clouds” at the summit. Also, we will be seeing a Lunar Eclipse (December 10, 9PM) on top of Mt. Pulag, hoping we would be blessed with clear skies and very good weather. Fingers crossed.

I’ve been on a very long vacation from mountaineering, almost two years, I think.

My last climb (or trekking to be exact) was at Mt. Romelo (Buruwisan and Lanzones Falls – Siniloan, Laguna) way back when I was with Accenture. I even disposed of some of my equipment as I changed hobbies from mountaineering to photography.

Last September, I was invited by Al to join the Mt.Pulag open climb c/o VAC. I wasn’t really interested but Iya (my GF) was too persistent since she’s now “in to” mountaineering. I then agreed to join as she wants me to join her back to this hobby. She’s been climbing with MMS (Metropolitan Mountaineering Society) these past few months and I haven’t joined them even once. I just don’t have time for mountaineering and I was too busy taking pictures and organizing events.

As preparation for this climb, I’ve been doing some running and jogging at least twice a week for the last two months. I’m still quite nervous with my lack of physical capacity to walk distances and high elevations. As far as I know, the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail is the easiest, even kids and elders can do it. But still, high elevation along with extremely cold weather (e.g. 2deg C at 2922MAS [meters above sea level]) can take its toll on my body. I might experience AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness or Altitude Sickness) that would hinder my ability to conquer Mt. Pulag. That’s why I took the liberty to recondition, exercise and lose some weight.

Since this will be my first climb this year, I also started purchasing additional mountaineering gear. First thing I bought was a cool pair of New Balance 626 All Terrain shoes (my first ever New Balance shoes). This pair of shoes is very very light, very comfortable and my huge feet fits snugly on its wide capsule. I’ve been running with these shoes since then and I’m very impressed with its excellent build and quality.

I also bought a new Conquer Outdoor Assault 30L bag, the nifty feature of this bag is the detachable assault pack/hydration pack. You can leave the whole bag at the campsite and just use the assault pack to the summit. The assault pack can fit a 2L hydration pack/bladder, a t-shirt or towelette, and a small camera or cellphone.

Other items I acquired in preparation for this climb:

1. A pre-loved Powderidge aluminum lightweight trekking pole c/o Retzel Orquia (Ironman 2011)

2. A very cheap Alpinetek snow/outdoor jacket c/o Surplus Shop SM Megamall

3. A long sleeved dri-fit shirt, long sleeved knitted sweatshirt and a microfiber bath towel c/o Surplus Shop

4. Puma thick sport socks, bonnet and knitted gloves c/o SM Dept Store

5. Conquer Outdoor trekking pants and a sleeping bag

6. First aid kit consisting of Meclizine, Paracetamol, Mefenamic Acid, and an Oxycan.

Now, this what I call extreme preparation. I’m also considering these an investment for future travel plans. 🙂

Oh by the way, I won’t be bringing my heavy camera and other photography gear for this climb. I was loaned an Olympus PEN E-PM1 Camera with 14-42mm kit lens by RedDot Philippines. This surely will take some load off my bag. Thank you Dindin of RedDot Ph.

I’m sure I’ll be taking home (again) awesome photos from this trip using the PEN. I will be assessing its performance, as well as its value as a travel companion. Most of us from the group uses a DSLR and I’m sure they’ll be amazed with this camera.

I have one more week to prepare and I need to do some more running until I can call it even and FIT to summit Mt. Pulag. Wish me good health and good luck.

Olympus PEN E-PM1

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