Thursday, January 31, 2013

OM-D and Me.. Not Meant to be..

I wanted to do a follow up to my previous entry with regards to the Olympus OM-D. See "Pondering Olympus OM-D" for that article.

Previously I went through some of the features and thought about the many benefits of the OM-D. And the fact is, I really was pondering whether or not I should stick with my Nikon system or ditch it for Micro Four Thirds.

I've always felt that my place in photography was a little bit different than most. One example of this is that for most photographers, portraits, weddings, travel etc.. the 70-200 or 24-70 range are perhaps the most important. Whereas for me, I always wanted the longer and longer and longer focal length, to get up close to the wildlife. So where some would ponder upgrading their 70-200 f/2.8 VR to the 70-200 f/2.8 VR II, I would contemplate if I should step up from my 300mm f/4 to a 300mm f/2.8 etc. Some would hold FX cameras in very high regard, but I always wanted the extra reach of the crop factor. Therefore a D300S replacement was my holy grail.

After pondering the OM-D for a while and trying not to get myself sucked into whats new, cool and popular. I decided I really should be looking at is what's best for the type of photography that I want to do. So what kind of photography do I want to do?

2012 was a year off, photography wise. Late 2011 brought the birth of my first child and all of 2012 was my wife and I learning how to be parents and adjusting to our new lives. Of course, I broke out the camera to get baby photos. But as far as nature photography goes, it was a quiet year. Over the course of that year I think my photography desires changed a little bit. I decided I wanted less of a focus on wildlife and a stronger focus on landscapes, night photography and time lapse. I also have become interested in travel photography. I don't travel as much as I'd like, but it's one thing that my wife and I really enjoy doing together. So that is a photographic opportunity I don't want to pass up.

So how would the OM-D fit into this slightly different role? I would say that it would have fallen into the roll wonderfully, with one exception. The fact that I didn't want to say good bye to wildlife photography altogether. I simply want to refocus my attention on landscapes as my primary subject. Although the Micro Four Thirds system does have the benefit of a 2x crop factor, it still falls short in autofocus and selection of quality super telephoto prime lenses. Now, what would happen if a micro four thirds 300mm f/4 lens came out? That would be the equivalent of a 600mm f/4? Wowsers! That would be pretty insane. It may not address the AF issues, but it should be known that the AF issues will be addressed over time.

In the end I decided to go with what's best for me now, not what could be best if this, this or this happened. And what's best for me now is a camera that has a feature set that would excel in landscape photography, night photography and time lapse. A camera that would be good for photographing my now 1 year old boy as well as be a good travel camera. A camera that would still be able to become an excellent wildlife camera when paired with one of the many great super telephoto lenses available.

So what did I choose? Stay tuned

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pondering Olympus OM-D E-M5

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is an interesting camera. Initially I wrote off the whole micro four thirds segment and thought it just a more advanced "Point and Shoot" camera. In my mind I placed them just below the entry level DSLR's. To be honest, I haven't given it much thought since.

Enter this week's guest interview on This Week in Photo podcast. Scott Bourne who was an original host of the podcast and has been an inspiration of mine for years. Now Scott is onto other things but as I was browsing my podcast feeds, I noticed he was making a guest appearance. Scott mentioned a lot of interesting things about this Olympus camera, many of which got me thinking.

It should be noted that at this point I have never used the camera and so these are just my initial thoughts on the subject. Scott mentioned that the OM-D has excellent image quality especially when paired with some of the high quality prime lenses. The Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 has been getting rave reviews. So have the 45mm and the 75mm. In fact, Scott mentioned that the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 may be the sharpest lens he's tested, and believe, he's tested everything. See the full blog post at What makes this even more interesting is a kit with some of these lenses may cost less than a DSLR set up.

So begins my internal dialogue. If a micro four thirds camera, when paired with the correct lens, can have as good of image quality as anything... Certainly it must be as good as my Nikon D7000. If that's true, what new possibilities could this smaller camera offer? The more portable frame is much more likely to be with me. I can't tell you how many times I've brought my camera bag, but end up leaving it in the car. For me, bringing a camera means bringing a backpack.

Thinking of those great prime lenses, I could do many types of photography at professional quality. I could photograph my son (1 year old), do other portraits and landscape photography, plus the added portability.  As someone accustomed to DSLR's, having a quality electronic viewfinder is a nice benefit. Shooting video through a viewfinder is more natural for me and offers better stability. Currently, I use a LCDVF which works well but adds even more heft to the rig. Whether it's casual video of my son, or wildlife or nature video for this website, I think it's an advantage over DSLRs.

As with everything there is a negative. I've seen multiple reviews that mention that although the autofocus for static or slow moving objects is very fast, however, tracking fast moving subjects, such as sports and wildlife is problematic. Scott mentions in a recent blog post on his personal website, that the AF can be a bit dodgy tracking wildlife, but his conclusion was that it is possible.

But there is benefit with mico four thirds system and wildlife photography. A 2x crop factor. This means I could use the Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8 which would be a 150-600mm equivalent on a 35mm format. If only somebody would make a 300mm f/4 on the micro four thirds system. This would be a 600mm f/4 equivalent. It would likely be a fraction of the price and a fraction of the size.

I also want to mention the added benefit of having a new camera to get excited about photography. I know we all probably focus too much on gear, but lets be honest, for some of us, it's part of the fun. I've heard it before, if your creativity gets stale, or your passion fades, a new toy can give it a spark. I have to say, whether I buy the OM-D or not, I like the idea of it, what it brings to the table, has indeed sparked my interest.