Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Some Thoughts on Micro-4/3rds


Olympus E-M1, m.Zuiko 12-50 f3.5-6.3 EZ

A friend asked me today for some advice on camera gear for serious adverse weather shooting after having their older DSLR quite literally freeze up solid while shooting Aurora images in -50C weather. 

I immediately recommended an Olympus E-M1 II with the m.Zuiko 12-40/2.8 Pro as just about the best option for that sort of work for the dollar due to the absolutely outstanding sealing and the electronic shutter (allowing the camera to take images without moving the probably frozen shutter).

Now I left Olympus in 2019 because I thought I needed a more capable sensor than I could get in that system for the sort of work I do, but I continue to think they are by far the best option for severe-condition work. OM Digital Solutions seems to agree with me as their marketing is shifting rapidly in that direction compared to the more general marketing Olympus did.

Looking back at the system, I honestly think I jumped too quickly. I don't regret where I ended up, but I think that if I'd upgraded to an E-M1 II with the newer 20MP sensor I probably would have been OK, especially with the improved multi shot capabilities the E-M1 II has as well as the improvements of the 20MP sensor over the 16MP sensor I used on the E-M5II, E-M1 and E-M5.

I do miss a lot from m43. The absolutely amazing IBIS performance, which is unmatched on any other system, although Canon RF comes close until you get down to >1s exposures, the build quality, the colour (Yes, I do like it better than Fuji colour) and that little gem of a 9-18mm lens. 

I think there is a real niche out there for OM Digital Solutions, the new successor to Olympus Imaging. That niche is severe conditions/backcountry photography. OM cameras are small, tough and can do certain things handheld that require a tripod in all other systems (live ND mode on the E-M1 III and E-M1X especially). The lenses are outstanding as well. That's perfect for situations where you're size/weight limited, operating in all conditions and cannot miss the shot. 

They do need to do some work to get there, mostly on the lens line. All of their mid-range lenses need to be sealed. The f1.8/2 primes and the 9-18 most notably. Oly should only have 2 unsealed lenses in the lineup, and that's the 14-42 and 40-150 kit lenses for the E-M10's. I do find it slightly ironic that Fuji, with no sealed mid-range bodies has a full set of sealed mid-range lenses and Oly is in exactly the opposite situation, having the bodies but not the lenses.

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