Shooting Wedding Photography With Olympus OM-D System

This is not a new topic here, I have written about doing weddings with Olympus OM-D several times, and the most recent one was on Ming Thein’s  site (article here).  I shared my techniques and experience in shooting weddings previously. This time, with an accompanying video, I want to tackle the sufficiency of Micro Four Thirds system, especially the Olympus OM-D when it comes to weddings. Typical technical limitations brought up in popular discussions include dynamic range, high ISO noise and AF reliability. I personally have seen some amazing work by other photographers who shoot weddings with OM-D system, and I have been dabbling with wedding photography for several years now.

The popular complain is definitely about not having sufficient shallow depth of field effect. Those comparing to full frame system will be quick to point out that the smaller sensor size used in OM-D cameras will achieve twice as much depth of field. While this statement is true, I also must say that having too much blur is not necessarily a good thing. Though Olympus OM-D can’t blur the background as easily as full frame system, I have found myself stopping down the aperture and not shoot wide open to get more depth of field. Sometimes you just need more in focus (eg group shots, or images with more than one person). There should not be an issue with getting shallow depth of field now, with Olympus having the trio F1.2 PRO prime lenses, an assortment of fast F1.8 primes. Even shooting with the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO, zooming into telephoto range can give you amazing subject isolation. I have found the F1.8, and especially the F1.2 lenses to provide more than sufficient background bluring that I need.

Also high in the list of concerns are high ISO noise and dynamic range of the image output from Olympus OM-D. It is true that much physically larger sensor can result in wider dynamic range and better high ISO noise ceiling, I have not found the OM-D inadequate in any situation. In fact, with the availability of F1.8 and F1.2 lenses, in combination with the powerful image stabilization built in, I rarely find myself shooting anything above ISO1600. Yes, in very rare occasions I do need to bump up to maybe ISO3200 or 6400, even so, if I am careful with my exposure and not do crazy things (like underexposing intentionally) I can get away with very usable results. Clean high ISO images is not everything, having massive dynamic range won’t being  your photography to the next level. When it comes  to wedding photography, even if there are traces of high ISO noise, even if there is blownouts in the highlights, as long as the precious moment is elegantly captured, that is still a great photograph. It is the story, the emotion and the expression in the photograph that matter more.

I particularly love the fact that my gear that I am carrying with me weighs so little. Weddings in Malaysia can be gruesome to photographers, they start as early as 5am and end close to midnight sometimes. It is practically a full day shoot, carrying much lighter and smaller system is a godsent. Also, having smaller shoulder bag that I use helps me maneuver and run around more effectively. I may need to dash over to the next room when something is happening there, would be troublesome to do so with larger and heavier setup. The ability to move around freely and react better guarantee me higher keepers. Everything in the bag, including the bag itself weigh less than 5Kg. 
I can fit the following items:
E-M1 Mark II (main body)
E-M1 (backup body)
7-14mm F2.8 PRO
12-40mm F2.8 PRO
25mm F1.2 PRO
45mm F1.8
Plethora of SD cards, spare batteries both for cameras and flashes.
Situational items:
40-150mm F2.8 PRO
(Even if I add on another lens, say the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO, the bag would still about 5kg or slightly more.)
Are you a wedding photographer? Do you use Micro Four Thirds system? I want to hear your story!

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