There is a common answer to the question ‘What is the best camera for landscape photography?’ - which is, the camera you have. Although, fundamentally and practically, this is true, in reality we need to delve a bit deeper into the subject.
Although in the past I used a large format Ebony camera along with Mamiya medium format film, my digital years have seen me using Canon cameras. This is not because of a love affair with the brand or satisfaction with their products, it is because I have invested a reasonable amount of money in some of their really good lenses. Besides, for the last three years I have been complaining about the company’s stubborn refusal to produce a proper camera for landscape photographers. They claim to have done so with their latest offering, the 5DS r – well, I beg to differ.
In recent years my photographic style has been moving towards ‘long exposures’ as some might call them. Actually, what I really like doing is photographing in the very early or very late hours of the day – what one might call ‘the twilight’. Photographing during these hours, however, requires extended shutter speeds due to low light levels, even if one does not use any ND filters. The result can be reflected in the pictures, which display a certain amount of peace and tranquility – this is exactly what I like to achieve in my images. Obviously, there are ways, and even apps, which will calculate the desired shutter speed for you – though without much accuracy, I have to say. The problem is that light levels change really quickly during these hours and what seems like an accurate calculation of the exposure can turn out to be false. By the time you have performed a 10 minute exposure, the light levels have already changed dramatically. Get the exposure wrong and the game is over.
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At a recent meeting with a fellow landscape photographer I had a chat about some of the features of the new Olympus E-M5 II. One of those features is called LiveTime. This is a similar function to Bulb, but with a difference. While the camera is performing a very long exposure, the picture is displayed on the rear (fully articulated) screen together with the histogram every few seconds, depending on your settings. I am now the owner of an E-M5 II and on a recent trip to the north of Scotland I captured this featured image. While on LiveTime, the exposure was displayed on the screen every 30 seconds. When the picture looked well exposed and the histogram confirmed this, I stopped recording the exposure – the result was a very well-exposed image.
Also, I should mention that the camera allows for up to 60 seconds normal shutter speed in Manual and Aperture Priority modes, which is a big difference to the 30 seconds other brands offer – every little helps.
Fully articulated screen
What a godsend. I really love photographing with the camera at waist level, or lower, and I find this type of screen absolutely amazing. There are a few more lovely features on this little camera that I believe can make a landscape photographer’s life so much easier. If you are not into the megapixel race and you are happy with only 16 of them, then I can really recommend it.
Please note that, due to my position as the editor of Landscape Photography Magazine, I cannot promote any products and I wouldn’t want to be seen as doing so, and this brand (Olympus) is no exception. As a landscape photographer I wish to share my views on specific features and not brand names. I hope one day that all cameras can offer features that will truly make our lives much easier.