The implications of a good wi-fi app for the Olympus OM-D E-M5

Firstly here are two posts that I composed on my iPad earlier today and posted straight to my blogger account. They are self-explanatory. 

I've been spending some time over the past couple of days working with the Olympus Image Share Wi-Fi App. and using it with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II and my iPad and Panasonic CM1 smartphone. I've already written about it in a couple of posts and used it.

http://www.soundimageplus.com/soundimageplus/2015/4/12/olympus-om-d-e-m5-ii-smartphone-controlled-video

http://www.soundimageplus.com/soundimageplus/2015/4/12/olympus-image-share-app-and-om-d-e-m5-ii-it-works-hdr-forget-it

Now both Panasonic and Olympus have very decent Apps. that work well and add useful and workable options to their cameras. And from what I've seen, both these m4/3 manufacturers are class leaders in this currently. I've already written about the Panasonic Image App. in previous posts and how good it is. (I think it's actually better than the Olympus Image Share, but this is a close second.)

To begin with, it's easy to set up and works every time I've used it. Which is more than I can say for the Sony, Fuji and Leica apps. I've used, which are all seriously flawed, inadequate and a total pain to use. The Olympus version however is VERY useful and opens up all sorts of possibilities. It integrates well with the camera and my phone and tablet. One is an Android phone the other an iPad, so both platforms work well and are in fact pretty much identical in operation. And they both work very well for video as well as stills. Plus switching between those is easy.

So already there's an advantage over some of their competitors.

Just a few of the things I've discovered so far.

  • I can control the basic functions of the camera from my tablet or phone.
  • I can download the images from the camera to my devices, simply and quickly. Even at full resolution.
  • From there I can send them wherever I want. Social Media, Image Libraries or my Cloud accounts.
  • One little bonus is that manual focusing via my iPad screen is a lot easier, quicker and simpler that using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II camera itself, either EVF or screen .
  • Another bonus is that when I'm shooting video footage, because I'm triggering it from an external device, there is no vibration as there would be if I press the red video button. This may seem a small thing but it means ALL of the footage is usable.
  • Composing on my iPad is a lot better than using the cameras EVF or view screen.
  • Being an external device it's portable and flexible in terms of my positioning. I'm not 'chained to the camera.'

In one of the blogger posts above I wrote about the small footprint tethering that this enables. It's mobile, easy to work with and a lot more portable than carrying a computer + monitor or even a laptop around. Plus with the aforementioned ability to use an iPad virtually anywhere and show other people what's going on etc. it's a really nice system for a location shoot. Because we don't all have teams of assistants carrying this stuff around and setting it up for us. 

As well as a location system it also works very well as a small-scale studio system. And coupled with the OM-D E-M5 II's high-res mode, this has all sorts of attractions for studio, still-life and product photography. And the advantages over lots of other seriously expensive and cumbersome tethering systems, up to and including medium-format are obvious. With the cameras ability to shoot 64MP raw files, this app. and a decent tablet, all of a sudden all sorts of professional photography workflow suddenly got a lot simpler. 

Above is a gallery of images to show how this works in practice. All were shot with the OM-D E-M5 II plus Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4, either wide open or close to it. Focusing, via the app. on my iPad means it's spot on where I wanted it. And I've already uploaded the images to my social media accounts and a picture library where they are already for sale. And the whole of this process is simple, quick and (so far) snag free.

So, this is (mostly) all good. There are problems using tablets and phones outdoors on bright sunny days, but I've got a 'sunshade' for my iPad, so that's OK. There will of course be increased battery use with all the wireless networking going on, so a few spares are a necessity. But overall I have to say though I'm very impressed. I started all of this with all sorts of memories of frustrations and suspicions coming from my experiences with Sony, Fuji and Leica and their half-hearted attempts at wi-fi functionality. But I am pleasantly surprised by how good the Olympus Image Share is and how well it works with the OM-D E-M5 II. 

This does add an extra dimension to the camera and this is one of those features that take the latest m4/3 cameras from both Olympus and Panasonic beyond DSLR's and indeed other supposedly 'better' mirrorless cameras with bigger sensors and more pixels. I mentioned in an earlier post about how this camera is in the lead for Soundimageplus Camera of the Year 2015 and I thought it would be difficult for anything to overtake it. Well, currently it's so far in the lead, it's almost out of sight. Quite simply, for the right kind of shot (i.e. nothing moving) and as a hybrid stills / video studio camera, there really isn't anything to touch it. (Yes the Panasonic GH4 is better for video, but the IBIS and high-res mode are much more useful for me.) For eaxmple used for my property work, it is pretty mich perfect and I'm also convinced it's going to work for some high-end landscape work as well. Plus when you consider that in the near future there will be 7-14mm, 12-40mm and 40-150mm f/2.8 'pro-spec' zooms available for it, this is a 'powerhouse' system yielding incredible quality at a price way below top of the range DSLR's and medium-format. Now I think it's that good and if you'd seen some of the high-res 64MP files I shot for my estate agency job, then you'd probably agree with me. Add in the portability and overall small footprint of all of this and I think you can see why I'm as enthusiastic as I am. 

I used to be very negative about wi-fi and it's possibilities, almost entirely because of the complicated and unreliable nature of it's implementation. In fact in many cases it's inclusion was a headline generator only, because otherwise it's a complete waste of time. Not so with this Olympus App. It works, it's useful and it hasn't had me wanting to throw the whole lot into the stream that runs through my garden. That's a surprise, but obviously a pleasant one and I wasn't expecting that. So if you have this camera and haven't checked the app. out yet, give it a try. You may well find something of real use there. I certainly have.