Caffeine Priority: Chasing dolphins at dusk with the Olympus E-M10 II


posted Friday, October 16, 2015 at 8:16 AM EDT


I've always had a special fascination for dolphins, and have long held the desire to be in their natural element with them. While shooting with our production sample of the Olympus E-M10 II along the South Carolina coastline for a second Field Test, I was able to get fairly close for the first time! It was October, so I put on tight-fitting winter clothes (didn't happen to have a wet suit on hand) and waded out to chest-deep water in order to get close enough. These bottlenose dolphins were returning from a day of "strand-feeding", a behavior that's somewhat unique to the South Carolina and Georgia coastlines. I was able to get close enough that the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro provided enough range for a few shots before the light faded.

1/250s / f/5 / ISO 200 / -1.0 EV / 58mm eq. / M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro

As seen in the image below, the swells brought the water over my head and I had to time my jumps to keep the camera dry. [Ed. Note: Dave's crazy :-0 ] The 12-40mm Pro is water-resistant, but the E-M10 II is not and as such I had to be extra careful (but this just added to the adventure of the shoot). The light was dimming quickly so I only had a few chances, and had to play the typical exposure balancing act. The first shot is f/5 and 1/250s at ISO 200. I could have upped the ISO in order to gain a faster shutter and/or greater depth of field, but such is life in chest-deep water. All in all I'm pretty happy with that one, and very much enjoying my last few days with the E-M10 II. The third shot is with the (eminently cool) M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro on a shoot earlier that morning, in only waist-deep water, which was good prep for the deeper evening shoot.

1/400s / f/5 / ISO 200 / -1.0 EV / 80mm eq. / M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro

1/500s / f/8 / ISO 200 / 28mm eq. / M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro



At one point during the evening shoot a dolphin turned towards me and submerged before I could get a clear shot (or draw a breath). My daughter, spotting for me from ankle-deep water, told me that she saw him between me and the surf, flopping his tail close to her as he fed. She later told me that was the highlight of her whole trip. 

I'll have my second Field Test report up on the E-M10 II shortly, including exploring other cool things like 4K timelapse video, but wanted to share my experience with the dolphins first.

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Caffeine Priority is a new series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!




(Our cool "Caffeine Priority" logo is derived from a mode dial icon designed by Ariel Lepor. You can see other examples of Ariel's graphic design work and great macro photography at Thanks, Ariel!)