Photographer and videographer Michael Hurren’s typical work week is a blur of video shooting, editing, planning and even the odd spot of set-building (he’s a qualified carpenter). [Olympus Featured Promotion]


Finke Desert Race, taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

But come the weekend, the lifelong 4-wheel drive enthusiast is as likely as not to have an eye glued to the dust-caked viewfinder of an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II as he covers another event on the off-road racing calendar.

Proprietor of Melbourne-based Filmic Productions, Michael’s commercial work is mainly focussed on the production of video clips and ads for social media campaigns from the likes of Corona and Nissan.

Challenging and rewarding as the commercial work is though, the former off-road competitor’s passion for shooting dirt racing ““ in all its forms — runs deep.

‘I use the Olympus a lot for that kind of work because they’re quite versatile and they’re tough’, said Michael. ‘They get pretty hammered with dirt and rocks and stuff and I like that I can put one on a tripod to shoot video or if I want to get some moving action, I can hand hold it and the shot looks like it’s on a gimbal or it’s on rails because the 5-axis stabilisation’s so smooth.’

Off-road events are by their nature well away from urban areas and that means if you’re the guy doing the photography, you’d better be carrying everything you need. ‘I’ve often got two Olympus cameras hanging off me, plus I’ll carry something else on a tripod,’ said Michael. ‘It’s generally only me and one other photographer doing the shooting. There might be 70 cars and you’ve got to get a couple of shots of each one.  And some races are point to point so you only see the cars once — maybe twice — so you’ve just got to cover every angle you can.’


Bill Larmin 4×4 legend portrait.

When your work day runs from dawn until well after dusk, the OM-D system’s compact size makes a real difference. ‘That’s just a huge advantage for me’, said Michael, ‘because I can carry two bodies and six lenses and still carry a big video camera all at the same time. You could never do that with a Nikon or Canon. The OMD system is just so light and small and compact.’

When it comes to lenses, Michael says that his go-to glass for covering the action at off-road events are the ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO  and the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lenses. But he can also reach into the bag for one of his primes when the occasion demands. His particular favourites are the ED 12mm f/2 or the ED 75mm f/1.8.

Tough customer

It’s the sort of video clip that goes viral. An off-road car looking like something straight out of the latest Mad Max movie is hurtling toward the camera. It’s coming down what seems to be a poorly maintained goat track running along a ragged fence line. Suddenly the car hits a ramp-size bump and it’s in the air. For one horrible moment it looks as though it’ll go straight into the camera. Ace driver Alan Dixon deftly corrects the slew as his wheels hit dirt again. But the rear end breaks loose on him and fishtails into the fence line ““ with spectacular consequences.

The instant the car launched, Michael, himself a former competitor, read the situation and sprinted away from the tripod-mounted Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II he’d been glued to a second earlier.

‘I was on the car, on focus, but as soon as the car started to lose it, I ran. And as I was running, I looked back and thought “that’s pretty good, my camera’s still pointing at it.”  I just stood back and watched the car go past the camera. It was still dragging the fence for about 15 seconds after, so there were posts flying past the camera and wire and all sorts of stuff and I was thinking, “it’s gonna go, it’s gonna go” ““ but it didn’t,  so it was all good,’ he laughed, adding, ‘sometimes, I do get pretty close.’

Despite the shower of fencing posts, wire, dirt, rocks and dust, Michael’s OM-D E-M5 Mark II survived the ordeal, not only to shoot another day but ready to shoot the next car in the race.


Seagulls on the New Zealand coast.


Aerial landscape, New Zealand.

All above images by Michael Hurren, shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Michael Hurren’s website

Olympus OM-D website