Olympus... 4 months on...
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
So... It is now 4 months since I made the big decision to switch systems. When I decided to switch I made a decision that I would keep my Canon kit for 6 months, just to be sure it was the way I wanted to go. Well, after just 4 months the Canon kit has gone and I have also just added a second body: a new and shiny OMD-E M1 Mark III.
To say I am happy I made the switch would be a massive understatement. I feel my photography has gone to a new level with this kit. My images feel so much better, sharper, more vibrant. The M.Zuiko lenses are so good. The system is lighter and much easier to hand carry all day, even with the 300mm f4 and an MC14 fitted.
I have been out a lot with the Olympus kit. Even through the Covid restrictions I took the chance of early mornings for my daily exercise and made the most of every minute. Most of my time has been at the local nature reserve as it is a 10 minute walk away...So lucky to have it on my doorstep. As restrictions have lifted though, we have managed to get out more - RHS Wisley being a favourite for a visit and also recently getting the chance to go back to Richmond Park. The most used lens is without doubt the 300mm f4 Pro. The image quality is amazing and at f4 constant it makes it really usable in most lights. Honestly, it struggles a little in blue hour and you will need to bump the ISO up a bit. In golden hour and daylight though, you can easily pair it with the MC14 or even MC20 in better light. With the MC14 fitted you get f5.6 constant, and the AF is still really accurate and fast. I noticed with the MC20 my keep rate is a bit lower, but could be just me, and the sharpness doesn't seem quite as good, (again could be I need more practice). Using the lens without the extender is my personal choice where I can. It's really fast and the image quality is outstanding. Couple that with the IBIS and I rarely miss a shot.
I tried out Pro Capture after about 2-3 weeks of having the system...WOW!! I filled my card up in about 2 hours and also got some great shots, but it does have a downside. Unfortunately, your usual editing time will multiply considerably. I found using different software made a big difference but not sure that is for everyone. I got a 90 day trial of Photo Mechanic. It made it a lot easier to scroll through the shots and decide on the keepers. It's quite expensive at just over £100 but for the time it saves it's probably worth the money. I haven't moved away from Lightroom/ Photoshop yet, although I have a full copy of Capture One Pro but not had the time to sit and change my way of doing things. I have read it is better with .ORF files than LR/PS, so time will tell.
The image on the left is taken on the 40-150mm f2.8 Pro, another outstanding lens for focus speed and image quality, I'm not the most patient so it was hand held as I, (as usual), didn't take a tripod out with me.
Could of done with a higher shutter speed too maybe...
I use this lens as my walkaround, (it is so adaptable), and throw the MC14 or 20 in your bag and you have huge options, 40-300mm. Being an f2.8 you get plenty of light at most times of day, and a reasonably wide angle for some landscape photography.
Early morning in not much light, the lens easily picks the colour out still and gives a great feel to the photo. This was with the MC14 fitted and taken at f4, 56mm and ISO 800. I could of removed the extender to keep the ISO down but really...Who does that? You just shoot with what's in your hand normally I find.
The image had a little noise reduction, but nothing major and was purposefully kept a little soft.
The level of detail achieved by these lenses is really good, The three pro lenses I have are the 12-40mm f2.8, 40-150mm f2.8 and the 300mm f4. The quality and feel of the lenses are great and the image quality is some of the very best I have seen. I also own the 60mm f2.8 macro, and although not one of the pro range, the image quality is excellent with this one too. I haven't used it as much as the others so far and it is quite different to use compared to the Canon 100mm 2.8L that I owned previously, but that was an exceptional lens. I find with the 60mm I have to work a little harder to get everything just right. That's no bad thing though as it never hurts us to put a little extra effort in.
Another image taken on the 40-150mm and as you can see, great background blur and amazing sharpness on the subject. Taken at f8, 1/125 and ISO 100. The light captured on the flower is excellent and the depth of colour shines through. The Olympus image quality surprised me when I got it. I had been used to using Canon L lenses which are considered extremely highly amongst Canon users and the camera industry generally, but almost immediately I noticed the image quality seemed better. The depth of colour achieved and the sharpness were incredible.
It was such a big decision changing systems completely from one brand to another and I had so much money invested into Canon, but it was without doubt the right decision for me. I mainly shoot wildlife and nature, a little landscape and a small amount of street photography. I also do a little product photography, but with the lockdown etc, I haven't had a chance to try the Olympus on this subject. For Wildlife, this system has so many advantages. The compact size and weight of the body and lenses is a big advantage when you are walking through fields and woods all day. The micro 4/3 system gives the feel of a huge reach compared to other sensor sizes from relatively small lenses. I had a Sigma 150-600 for my Canon and you needed to go to the gym regularly to hand carry that for any length of time, or use a monopod which is also limiting. But I get the same reach with the 300mm on my Olympus and the image size is not really that much smaller as there is less need to crop.
f5.6, ISO200, 1/160 on the 300mm with the MC14 fitted (420mm).
f4, ISO200, 1/160 on the 300mm.
f5.6, ISO200, 1/160 on the 300mm with the MC14 fitted (420mm).
f4, ISO200, 1/200 on the 40-150mm with the MC14 fitted (210mm).
As is evident from these images, the system easily adapts from wildlife to landscape and far more. It performs really well in low light and gives sharp, detailed images.
The AF on the Olympus is really fast and you will nail your focus the vast majority of the time, even without using Pro Capture. You can get really great single images without having to get really close. This image again is the 40-150mm. The detail is superb and the colour depth stands out beautifully.
I have tried out a few of the modes now on the M1X. The high res single shot is awesome and you can even do it handheld. The built in ND filters are so handy... Why don't other camera makers do this? When you're out and about you see an opportunity for a little long exposure shot, but damn, I didn't bring my filters as I hadn't planned on doing anything like this. No worries on the Olympus, anything up to ND32, just sitting there inside the body, nothing to carry, nothing to remember to pack, such a good idea...
The silent shutter is a godsend when you're trying to creep up on a deer or a bird. So many times the click of my camera has scared them off. It doesn't seem that loud until you are in that position, and these animals have amazing hearing too.
It was just my clumsy feet that alerted this little Roe buck, but as I stood still he relaxed again and carried on about his business while I clicked away. Luckily I was down wind too, so I think he lost interest...
f4.5, ISO100, 300mm on the 300mm f4, early morning light is great with this lens.
f16, ISO100, 1/125, 300mm with MC14 fitted (420mm)
f11, ISO640, 1/320, 40-150mm with the MC14 fitted (210mm).
Another feature that I'm surprised I haven't seen on other cameras is the 'Digital Tele-converter'. This is such a good feature, especially when you're trying to focus on something quite small or a long distance away. It really is a game changer for certain shots.
There is so much built into the body on the M1X. It will take me a long time to get round to using everything on it, but for the things I have used, it has surpassed my expectations time and time again. I know, I know, I sound like an advert for how wonderful Olympus cameras are, but I get nothing out of writing this except the hope someone else will read it and find it helps them as it has me on their photography journey. This system is a game changer for me. I have health stuff that makes it hard to be out for long periods carrying heavy kit and this is like a new lease of life. Hand carry on a shoulder strap for 10-12 hours without an issue. That to me is so important.
So not affiliated, not sponsored. I've never even had an image published yet haha!!!!
But I have a passion for what I do and I really know what I like.
f5.6, ISO100, 1/125 on the 60mm macro, natural light, I still need to find a suitable flash, any recommendations appreciated.
f13, ISO100, 1/125 on the 12-40mm at 40mm.
So I have now just bought an OM-D E-M1 Mark III. I haven't had a chance to give it a decent test yet, but I'm off to Weymouth next week for a few days so it'll be coming with me. First impressions are the menus are identical to the M1X, very good for switching between the two. It is really little and light, perfect for throwing in your bag when travelling, although I'll be taking both cameras. It has dual card slots like the M1X which is useful, and it uses all the same lenses, I've got it mainly as a second body, but I have a feeling it'll be a bit more than just a spare. Watch this space!
f10, ISO200, 1/160 on the 300mm with the MC14 fitted (420mm).
I am a big fan of the system that I have changed to, and I hope I will go on being. There is a new lens coming out soon that I have my eye on...would love to give it a try before I buy it. It's the 150-400 f4, due out later this year. I have found with the 300mm my subjects can get a little too close at times, so having the adaptability of the zoom is really appealing to me. I will try and get a pro loan again on this if I am allowed to use the service more than once. I think it will be the finishing touch to my wildlife and nature kit. I'd like the 7-14mm pro lens at some point too as one genre I would really love to try is astrophotography, and this would be a great lens for this.
f4.5, ISO100,1/125 on the 40-150mm at 150mm
f5.6, ISO100, 1/125 on the 40-150mm at 150mm
Well hopefully you have found this a useful read. Feel free to drop a comment or message me on social media if you have any questions. The kit was bought by me after less than the 2 week period of the pro loan. The 6 month time limit I had for keeping my Canon 5div and L lenses didn't even make it to 4 months. It may be that it suits me better than it will others, but for me this system is better on many levels than the system I had. The weight is better for me as I love to hand hold/carry. The size is more compact for travel and carrying around. The image quality, to me at least, is better. The colour depth is better. The Olympus system has so many built in extras that I'll never use them all, (probably). I do find the Canon handled low light better in general. I get a little more noise on my images now, but again, could just be a learning curve for me and it's nothing a little editing doesn't sort out anyway. My thoughts...Get yourself a pro loan if you would like to see how the system is. If you like it, buy it! If you don't, you haven't lost anything.
f11, ISO100, 1/160 on the 300mm
I will try and get more regular with these blogs so please check back regularly to read more on how I find the equipment and what beautiful images I am getting from it.