Falcon in flight © Paul Stewart 2016

Interesting weekend trip to Ronda, just north of Malaga in Spain to check out the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II mirror less camera.  The camera boasts a 20 MP Micro 4 thirds sensor and is the  new flagship of the Olympus range.  Image quality is the best I’ve seen from a Micro 4 Thirds chip and auto focus was crisp and speedy. 

The image opportunities were at a ranch, Reservatauro Ronda, about 5k from the city of Ronda itself.  First up were some falconers with a number of birds of prey.  I opted to use the excellent 300mm f4.  Due to the magnification factor of the sensor this is the equivalent of a 600mm on a full frame camera and yet its only about 30 cms long.  This is a really crisp lens and is well balanced with the body and it gives good results.  The bird photography was a lot of fun too.

The Next thing we did was something called “Raging Bulls” I had to confess a little queasiness at this, as I assume that a ranch breeding bulls and stallions would have some connection to bullfighting and I would not have been involved in anything like that.  This it seemed was more about bull running as the animals ran down a hilltowarda bank of

Kiwi the dachshund herds the bulls © Paul Stewart 2016

photographers, who were behind a steel gate.  The bulls were driven down the hill by an extraordinarily sporty wire haired dachshund named Kiwi, who really had a sense of his own importance in the proceedings.   We then had some horses doing a similar run followed by another run with the bulls.  It all made for some greg action shots, but if I’m honest I did not feel the great warmth and love between the horses and riders, as I do when working with the horses and people of Operation Centaur and the Royal Parks Shires.

Next we tried filming with the image stabilising system and while I admit it was the best I have ever used on this type of camera, it’s perhaps not something I would tend to use as when shooting footage, I will whenever possible, use a dedicated video camera.  Howver i would like to try the system out further.

Stampeding Bulls in Ronda © Paul Stewart 2016
Stampeding Bulls in Ronda
© Paul Stewart 2016

We Then took some images of an archer and some balloons. Not that special maybe, except in this case we used the Pro Capture high speed photography setting. In this mode a half press of the button starts the camera recording and when you fully press, the 14 frames before the push are also written to the card. This makes for some good frozen action shots as can be seen here.  I n the real whorl of press photography, it might be useful for some sports work, especially as it uses the electronic shutter and is completely silent. As can be seen from the image, there was a lot more water about than just that in the ballon as the heavens opened and we got drenched. This at least had the advantage of showing how well the water resistance works on the OMD.

Pro capture setting freezes and captures motion.

It was a fruitful day and I liked the camera and I would recommend anyone looking at this kind of kit to short list it, especially in view of the really superb range of lenses that are now available for it.  Lastly we went to a restaurant at the foot of the gorge in Ronda.  This enabled the testing of the camera in low light. The image below was shoot hand held at 30th of a second using a sensitivity of 6400 ISO

The Bridge at Ronda from the Gorge.  ©Paul Stewart 2016

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