Ok, this is not a post about my fall from the perils of vanity, nor is it an attempt to hide from myself. I’m definitely not vane and I actually like the person I am. My selfies are by accident, usually a refection in a window, LoL. No more mirrors is the next step in my photography. The shutterbugs have probably guessed by now that I have gone mirrorless as in mirrorless cameras. Technically, I will still have mirrors as I will always be a film shooter. Nothing can replace the experience of shooting with my OM1 SLR, not even a fancy new digital camera. Technically speaking again, the majority of us including myself are shooting mirrorless already. We don’t call our cell phones a mirrorless camera, but that is exactly what they are. Today the term mirrorless mainly refers to interchangeable lens cameras that look like their DSLR counterpart. I’ve been shooting a 10 year old DSLR. My DSLR is still viable, but I’m starting to hit the ceiling on some things I’m wanting to do. Throw in an erratic mode button, ON/OFF switch issues, focusing problems, and a memory card door that won’t stay shut, you have yourself the signs of the beginning of the end.
I’m not a frivolous spender. Anything I purchase regarding any of my two hobbies, amateur astronomy and amateur photography, is justified in my needs for pursuing the hobby in the manner that keeps me moving forward. I’m lucky enough to have a wife that understands the need for a connection with oneself and the world we live in outside of the daily grind. I was also lucky to find a great deal on a camera and some new lenses to start my new system. So, what’s the new system? Those who follow this blog would probably guess the Olympus OMD mirrorless cameras, and you would be correct. The featured image for this post is also a dead giveaway. You could say that I’m an Olympus ‘Fanboy’. I wouldn’t object. However, I would object to the negative connotation that the term fanboy carries. In a nutshell, typical fanboys hail that their system is the best and that all other systems are inferior for one reason or another. Well, that’s not me and that is not true. I could care less what brand name is on the strap. When I look back over my camera history, I’ve used Canon, Nikon, Kodak, Sony, Olympus and Mamiya. I’m sure I left out a few. I bought each camera based on price and what I needed at the time. To me, the most important part of any camera is the person behind it, regardless of the camera used. The camera is just a tool, just like a hammer or a screw driver. Can you imagine telling an award winning chef that is entrees are delicious because he must have a nice oven? Don’t mention anything about his lifelong ambition and study of the culinary arts, it’s just the stove. Photography is no different. If you make crappy photos with a $100 camera, you’ll make crappy photos with a $10000 camera.
So why the OMD? Well, it was a natural progression for me. My first DSLR was the Olympus E520. I loved the reviews and my research showed that Olympus was known for their quality glass. Even their kit lenses were extremely sharp. Couple that with a great price, I was on my way to starting a new endeavor. I probably took about 6 months reading reviews and comparing cameras. There was something about the Olympus company that I really liked. Their history of innovations and their renowned Zuiko glass reeled me in. Fast forward to today. Olympus has abandoned the DSLR after making the E-5 back in 2010. Two years later they introduced the first mirrorless OMD camera, the EM5. The EM5 took mirroless and micro four thirds to the next level. This was exciting to me. There was finally a path for me to grow with the four thirds system. While new micro four thirds lenses were being introduced, I could still use the lenses I already had with the use of an adapter. I watch closely over the years as the EM1, EM5M2, EM10, EM10M2, EM10M3 and the EM1M2 emerged. Reading the reviews and seeing the results of these cameras kept me from jumping ship to an entirely different system.
The other aspect I had regarding going mirrorless was the shift in camera technology. It appears that mirrorless is the wave of the future. I figure I would go ahead get started in this system so I would be poised for the lastest technologies coming from the OMD line. I found stories on the internet where some professionals are abandoning their so called ‘Full Frame’ gear for the OMD, especially for the EM1M2. If some of the professionals are switching to this camera, there has to be something to this OMD mirrorless line of cameras, right? As I mentioned earlier, the camera is just a tool. Giving up your gear for something else or choosing a system from scratch is a personal choice. What works for one doesn’t mean it will work for another. Isn’t that the beauty of being a photographer in today’s age? We have so many excellent choices to get the job done.
So, what OMD did I choose? I know what and how I like to shoot, so I wanted to pick up a camera that would help me get the job done better in my world of photography. After much studying and deliberation, I decided that I needed to go for the gusto. You guessed it, I am now a proud owner of the EM1M2, the ‘Flagship’ camera of Olympus. Of course, it will only be the flagship until the Mark 3 arrives. Since I am not independently wealthy, I’ll be using the Mark 2 for many years to come.
The EM1M2 has many features. Here’s a list of a few that led me to make this decision.
- The ability to create usable photos at ISO settings from 1600 to 6400. I have found myself in situations where I wished I could bump up the sensor sensitivity to extend my depth of field or reach a higher shutter speed. I also would like to shoot nighttime landscapes with a starry night sky or even our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
- Continuous Focus Tracking. This has always been a shortcoming of this system, even with the first EM1. There has been a vast improvement with the Mark 2. This will come in handy when I am shooting my son’s baseball games.
- 20.4 Megapixels. I never fell for the ‘more megapixels means better quality images‘ myth. I’ve been shooting with a 10 megapixel camera since I started this hobby. I welcome the extra resolution because it gives me more options when it comes to creating larger prints.
- An Articulating Touch Screen LCD. I love the versatility of an articulating screen. When you add the touchscreen, you have a powerful combination. I can see myself taking street shots without my subjects knowing what I’m doing.
- Frame Rate. The mechanical shutter is capable of 10 frames per second (fps) with full resolution images. The electronic shutter can produce 18 fps in continuous autofocus. With focused locked, the mechanical frame rate goes up to 15 fps while the electronic shutter goes up to a blazing 60 fps. Needles to say, I think I will be able to capture some action.
- Pro Capture. Have you ever anticipated capturing something at the exact moment? Pro capture gives you the ability to increase your chances of getting the shot. When you press the shutter half way down, the camera starts to take photos at your selected frame rate. It will take up to 14 photos before it deletes them. When you press the shutter all the way down, it will keep that photo and the 14 that came before it. Very cool!!
- 121 Focus Points. I’m used to only 3, so this is a big change. I like the idea of being able to select my focus point without adjusting the frame. This will work great on the touch screen!
- 4K Video. I hardly ever shoot video, but it’s nice to have the capability of shooting a high quality video if needed.
- 5 Axis Image Stabilization & 6.5 Stop Sinc IS. There are times when I can’t use my tripod or I left it behind. With 5.5 stops of stabilization and even 6.5 stops with Sinc IS, you can get sharp hand held shots at long shutter speeds.
- HDR Mode. I will be able to create HDR images right out of the camera. I don’t shoot a lot of HDR, but this will be very handy.
- Customization. I believe almost every button on the camera can be reassigned to do something else. I will stick with the standard setup, but it’s nice to be able to change the button functions based on my shooting style.
- Size. I love the small footprint of this camera. My old DSLR was small, but the EM1M2 is even smaller. Don’t let the small package fool you, it has a good quality feel. The real gain in portability comes with the lens sizes. A 600mm equivalent focal length on a micro four thirds camera is much smaller than a 600mm lens for a full frame camera. They cost less, too!
- Weatherproof. Olympus cameras are second to none when it comes to the elements. This camera is splashproof, freezeproof and dustproof.
The list of features is long! The above list of features and specifications are just a few that stood out for me. Olympus admitted that they overdeveloped this camera. I’m glad they did. This little camera packs a huge punch! This feature set is usually reserved for full frame professional cameras.
Veteran photographers will tell you that the key to good image quality is a quality lens. A great camera body is nice, but an excellent lens is the key component. Here are the lenses that I chose to start out with this system.
- 17mm f1.8
- 25mm f1.8
- 45mm f1.8
- 75mm f1.8
- Using an adapter, I will still utilize my old 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 and my 70-300 f4-5.6.
The 75mm is an outstanding lens. I will be using it as much as possible when it comes to portraits. It and the 45mm will compliment each other nicely.
As you can see, I love prime lenses. Prime lenses are typically sharper as they don’t have the extra glass for zooming and they are easier to make in larger apertures. The f1.8 apertures will be a plus for low light situations. I use all prime lenses with my film cameras. I’m not a fan of zooms unless I’m shooting sports. One of the reasons for going this route was my desire to take more portraits. More and more people are asking me to make portraits for them. I have turned down people in the past because my gear was not optimal for portraits. They could get a better product from someone with the right equipment. These new lenses has given me the confidence to get my feet wet if you will. Based on a 35mm format, the equivalent focal length for the 25mm on the EM1M2 is 50mm, the ‘nifty fifty’. The 45mm is equivalent to 90mm, a tried and true portrait focal length, and the 75mm is equivalent to 150mm, a great lens for head shots. I know there is much more to portrait photography than just the lens. As with anything, lighting is key. I will have to start taking a serious look at external lighting gear and lighting techniques. I acquired the 17mm because it’s 34mm equivalent is right in the middle of a 24mm and a 50mm focal length. It will work great for landscapes and I can use it for street photography. If I need to go wider, I can use the adapter with my 14-54mm zoom which has the 35mm equivalent focal length of 28mm-108mm. Keeping my 70mm-300mm will give me the reach of a 140mm-600mm equivalent focal length range. As I look toward the future, I hope to be able to obtain a ‘PRO’ lens or two. These lenses are Olympus’ top tier lenses. You Canon shooters can think of it as your ‘L’ glass. I almost purchased one, but I would not have been able to get additional lenses. The Pro glass is very expensive. However, the 75mm lens that I was able to purchase is a premium lens. I will be using the 75mm most of the time as space allows.
This is a monumental upgrade for me coming from the E520. I look forward to getting some extended time behind the lens. Stay tuned for images from the EM1M2 and my initial thoughts on using the camera. Thanks for reading!