Allow me to begin with a little history. A couple years ago, after Susan had been a presenter at Out of Oregon, Olympus contacted her and asked her to try out their system. After much vascilation, we ended up buying a complete set-up centered on the omd em1x.
Flash forward to last November when I was finding that my elbow was again giving me trouble and hand holding the Canon 500mm was challenging. I began contemplating giving Olympus and the micro 4/3rd system a try. So, on one of our trips to Beaverton, I packed up Susan’s system and brought it back to Yachats with me.
As with any such change there are challenges. Even switching from one version of the Canon 5D to the next provided many new things to learn. Switching from one manufacturer to another is close to starting over. Modern cameras have so many switches and buttons, so many menus, that it seems like one needs to take a class just on how to turn them on. The other side of that coin, however, is that each of these buttons, switches and menus, is a feature that one didn’t have previously. Lets face it, modern cameras are a marvel of technology.
The menu on the Olympus OMD EM1X is layered and has lots of options. Here I am at level J1.
I am not going to go into all the ways the Olympus OMD EM1X is different from the Canon 5DSR or 5D mkIII that I have been shooting. That type of comparison is available elsewhere and is more about technicallities. I am more intereted in what the camera will allow me to do, how it might change my shooting.
This biggest and most obvious difference is the lighter weight. Often we hear about the lower weight of a mirrorless camera being a big feature. This is somewhat missleading as the Canon R5 weighs 1.6 lbs vs the 5D MkIv weighs 1.76 lbs, not a lot of difference. However, when one moves to the micor 4/3rds cameras, the focal length of the lens drops and, therefore, the total weight of the system drops. So the OMD-EM1X with a 300mm lens weighs a total of 5.44 lbs. This compares to my 5DSR with a my 500mm lens weighing in at 8.92 lbs. This weight difference is significant. It is also helpful that the entire system is more compact so that weight is closer in to my body making it quite handholdable.
A second feture that was quite important to me was the increased frame rate. The OMD-EM1X, when using the electronic shutter, can shoot at up to 60 frames per second. I generally do not shoot at this high rate but opt for 15 or 20 frames per second. At the lower rate, one could ask why not stay with Canon since the R5 can shoot at those frame rates. And the answer is the third feature that I think may be a game changer.
Olympus has a feature that they call “Pro-capture.” When this feature is activated, the camera is essentially taking images all the time and holding them in the buffer. When the shutter butt is pressed, the camera writes the images that are in the buffer to file. This means that one gets images from just before the shuttter it pressed. How many images pre-shutter is adjustable and I have been using anywhere from 15 to 30. The result of this is that there are fewer “missed” shots.
One down side to shooting in this manner is that one takes a lot of images that are thrown away. If one figures that, each time the shutter is pressed, the camera records 30 shots, then taking a chance on ten shots actually results in 300 images that need to be looked at, reviewed and picked through. I can live with this if it gets me more keeper images.
After 6 months of modest shooting I am still pleased with what I am getting and am still learning more about what this camera will do. Below are some of the images I have been able to make.
Charley taking flight. Being handheld allows for faster picking up of the subject.
Charley and his bro having a little ruff and tumble play. Fast frame rates allow for better selection within the action.
The “crop factor” of micro 4/3rds means that I was able to get this image with a 300f4 and a 1.4x extender without having to crop the image in lightroom.
Timing the shutter release for a shot like this is very difficult but the high frame rate and pro-capture help a lot.
An example of how frame rates and timing can play a roll in landscape images as well.
The “crop factor” also plays a roll in landscape images. This image was shot at 7mm.
This one was also made at 7mm.
Capturing the precise moment is often a function of knowing your subject but having high frame rates helps assure one gets the shot.
The following are all images that I doubt I would have gotten were it not for the Pro-capture feature. These are all very small birds that move from stationary to gone in fractions of a second. Having the ability to get a shot or two before I reacted made all the differance.
Of course Pro-capture works with big birds too.
In the end, I can’t say that I could not have made these images with my old equipment or that they could not be made with other brands or models. It still remains true that the camera is but a tool. I may, some day, decide to switch to something new. For now, however, I am loving the Olympus System.
Thanks, and happy shooting