Gear talk 1/3: My Olympus OMD system

I am lucky enough to have three different camera systems. A Sony DSC RX100, an Olympus OMD EM10 and a Nikon D750. In the coming weeks I will post my personal experiences with all three systems. Since there are enough technical reviews on the web already, I will focus on how I experience the systems: what works for me and what does not work for me. I will start this series with my Olympus OMD system.
olympus-om-d-e-m10
Mid 2014 I bought an Olympus OMD EM10 camera. I did so because my Nikon DSLR was too heavy and bulky to take with me all the time, and my point and shoot Sony DSC RX100 compact camera did not provide me with all the features I needed.
I can honestly say that I have seldom been immediately so happy with a new camera as I was with the Olympus OMD EM10.
Two days after my purchase I took  this camera with me on a trip to New York . I had no time to read the manual on beforehand, and, since it was only provided on a CD-ROM, I could not read it on the plane either. However this did not prove to be not a real problem: I could immediately take pictures that I really liked.

What I like about the camera

  • Reliability – I have the idea that the camera will always get me the results that I want
  • Focus speed – The camera focusses very fast, I almost never experience ‘hunting’
  • Portability – The camera is extremely light and compact. Contrary to my Nikon D750, I never feel that I am carrying a camera if I have this one with me
  • Light weight system – The lenses are very light and compact as well
  • Image stabilization – The in-body stabilization works perfect and saves money: there is no need to buy lenses that are individually equipped with image stabilization
  • EVF – The Electronic view finder shows exactly what the picture will look like if the settings are changed, e.g. with exposure compensation
  • Discrete –  I love to do street photography and this camera is extremely inconspicuous. In this context the tilt screen at the back of the camera is also a great feature
  • Kitlens – The camera comes with a cheap and lightweight lens (incl. plastic mount) … but one that delivers great pictures

What I do not like about the camera

  • Menu system – The menu system is horrendously complex. In all honesty, after working with the system for more than two years I still do not know exactly how to operate it all the time. I find the menu systems of my Nikon D750 and Sony DSC RX100 much, much easier to work with
  • Noise level in low light situations – This problems is inherent to the micro 4/3 sensor
  • Dynamic range – I experience the dynamic range of the camera (possibility to capture pictures of situation with contrasting lightning situation) as limited

My lenses

I am using the following lenses:

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R Lens – This is the kitlens I discussed earlier. XXL lightweight and cheap (pastic mount!), but it focusses very fast (also in low light situations) and is also very sharp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Closed for Ceremony’ and ‘Furner Bach (CH)’ – Pictures taken with Olympus Digital ED 14-42 f3.5-5.6 II R lens

Olympus MFT 9-18mm F/4.0-5.6 zwart ED M.Zuiko Digital – A very versatile wide angle zoom lens. Great for capturing landscapes and buildings, but also still suitable for portraits.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Abandoned Coppermine’ (UK) and ‘Gattiker Weiher’ (CH) – Pictures taken with Olympus MFT 9-18 fF4.0-5.6

Olympus MFT 17mm F/1.8 zwart M.Zuiko Digital – This is a beauty! Very solid (all metal), equipped with a clever mechanism to switch between manual and auto focus, and extremely fast. I love this lens for low light situations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘St. Antonkiche Zurich’ (CH) – Pictures taken with Olympus MFT 17mm f1.8

Olympus MFT 75-300mm F/4.8-6.7 zwart ED II M.Zuiko Digital – What can I say, the most portable and powerful tele(zoom)lens I ever worked with. In 2015 I attended the Fairford airshow with two of my my children. All full frame and APS DSLR users were using large and heavy tele(zoom) lenses in combination with monopods to get decent pictures, whereas I was able to take pictures with my hand-held OM-D-EM10 in combination with the 75-300mm lens.

A number of full frame and APS-C DSLR colleagues could not believe their eyes when they experienced the size and weight of my equipment in relation to the pictures I was able to make. I think I converted quite a number of full frame and APS-C DSLR photographers to the micro four thirds system that day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Fairford Airshow 2015’ – All pictures taken with the Olympus 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 EDII lens

My favorite camera bags for this system

wp-lowepro-ex160-tmpIf I want to take all my equipment along, I use my old Lowepro EX160 bag. Even if I load my body, 4 lenses, 2 spare batteries and a battery loader) in this bag, I still have space left. All thanks to the compact size of the micro four thirds system.

WP TMP lowepro_lp36591_pww_streamline_sling_bag_971433.jpg

For most other occasions I use the Lowepro Slingbag LP36. This one of smartest bags I know. I can put my iPad in the back, the camera with a lens attached plus an additional lens in the lower pocket, while keeping plenty of room in the main compartment for my wallet, keys, spare batteries and a battery loader.

My wish list …

I love my OM-D system and woud like to expand it in due course. My current wish list system looks as follows:

  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II body – In all honesty, the only reason why I want to acquire this body is because it is weather sealed; the feature set of my OM-D EM10 still satisfies all my other needs.
  • Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens – I have two reasons why I would like to have this lens. First of all because it is weather sealed, and secondly because it is much faster than my kit lens, and I take a lot of pictures in low light conditions
  • Olympus 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED – First of all because there are situations when I can only have one camera and lens with me or when the conditions do not allow the changing of lenses, and secondly because the lens is dust and splash proof.
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