My Year with the Olympus OM-D E-M5

I can’t believe that a whole 12 months has passed since last years Focus on Imaging (the last one as it turned out) when I made (for me) the momentous decision to fully switch to the Olympus micro four thirds system based around its (then) flagship mirrorless camera the OM-D E-M5. So what have I learned in the last year and do I have any regrets?

Quite simply using the OM-D has completely re-invigorated my photography. Prior to purchasing the E-M5 I found I was taking fewer and fewer photographs simply because my old gear (a Canon 40D and numerous lenses) was too heavy to lug around. Having to carry a huge backpack around to get all of my kit in was, literally, becoming a pain in the neck. With the Olympus kit I can now carry all I need in my Billingham Hadley Pro and don’t really notice it is there.

Other great things about the E-M5 are the electronic view finder which shows the shot you are getting before you take it, the fantastic 5-axis image stabilisation, the near silence of it’s operation and also the art filters which I never thought I’d actually use much however find really useful. When I purchased the camera I got the grip and battery holder for free which makes it a great camera for portrait shots as you can easily rotate it into portrait mode and use the additional shutter release on the battery holder.

It’s well known that Olympus make excellent quality lenses at a price point that doesn’t break the bank. Since purchasing the OM-D I have rediscovered the pleasure of using fixed focal length lenses. The 25mm and 45mm (both f/1.8) lenses are superb examples both of which give great results for studio portrait work.

ISO 200, 1/125 @ f/5.6, Olympus M.ZUIKO 25mm

ISO 200, 1/125 @ f/5.6, Olympus M.ZUIKO 25mm

ISO 200, 1/125 @ f/6.3, Olympus M.ZUIKO 45mm

ISO 200, 1/125 @ f/6.3, Olympus M.ZUIKO 45mm

Some people have commented that the menu system of the OM-D E-M5 is a bit difficult to navigate and find the setting you want. I find that most of the settings I need are available from the rear LCD which you can get to with a few button clicks so don’t really see this as a problem. I do agree that some of the buttons are a little fiddly but I do have large’ish fingers so that doesn’t help!

The other thing about Olympus is the community that comes with the brand. As well as there being a great bunch of passionate and active Olympus advocates and photographers such as: Damian McGillicuddy, Neil Buchan-Grant, Steve Gosling and Nicholas Goodden, to name but four, Olympus themselves organise a huge range of events through their Image Space website. Many of these events are free and give you a chance to meet with like minded photographers as well as to try out some of their cameras and lenses.

So, any regrets? Just one, I should have moved to the OM-D sooner! I’d actually been playing around with the micro four thirds format, in the form or the Panasonic GF1 for a while but never really treated it as a serious camera. I’m not really sure why to be honest as it was a perfectly good camera and went with me on a number of foreign trips. For some reason I always thought that when I wanted to take some ‘serious’ pictures I should switch to my Canon. I think what buying the OM-D taught me was that micro four thirds is a more than adequate system and the fact it is an ‘open’ system (well as open as it gets in photography) meant I could build up a nice set of lenses to share between more than one manufacturer. I have only recently traded in the GF1 for another Panasonic (the GX7) as my second camera mainly because I wanted a built-in electronic viewfinder (and the OM-D E-M10 wasn’t available at the time). I love the fact I can switch my lenses between the OM-D and the GX7 and the M.ZUIKO f/1.8 25mm and GX7 are definitely a match made in heaven.

For another view on usage of the OM-D see Neil Buchan-Grant’s two years with the OM-D and PEN video here.

So, that’s my first year with the OM-D (as well as my first year of this blog). Hopefully the E-M5 will see me through a few more years yet (unless I get tempted to upgrade to its bigger brother that is).

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