I’ve had a few cameras over the years. Well, to be honest I have quite a few cameras right now. My latest camera is, in many ways, my favourite, and it’s nearly always in my bag. I’ve had it for nearly two years and shot about fifty thousand exposures on it.
Prior to buying it I sat down and made a list of the features I’d want in a new digital camera.
- Professional quality images should be achievable.
- Small size and weight.
- Advanced image Stabilisation.
- High shooting speed.
- Great ISO and equally great dynamic range.
- Weather sealing.
- Access to a good range of lenses.
These wish-list specs led me away from a traditional DSLR into the realms of Compact System Cameras (CSC). Many of these were too slow, or had stuttering Electronic Viewfinders (EVF). Or, were simply too expensive for my budget.
After some research I bought and Olympus OMD EM5 with simply the best kit lens in the market at the time.
The Oly is packed with features, but for me the best thing is the ability to select manual and have the benefit of the outstanding ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) EVF showing me how the choices I made impacted on the final exposure prior to shooting. If you really crave creative control, then this is really something to look at.
Ninety percent of the time, the Oly with its kit lens suits me fine, but for the other 10 percent?
Back in the 1970’s when David Bailey was the Olympus guy, the OM1 and OM2 were cameras to dream about. Partly this was their small size; something the new Oly cameras have adopted, but for many it was the superb Zuiko lenses.
One of the massive advantages of the smaller CSC cameras is that, with an inexpensive adaptor, you can fit older ‘classic’ lenses. As I had a 50mm f1.8 Zuiko lens, it was an obvious choice for use on the new body.
A disadvantage of smaller sensors is that they create more depth of field. It’s really quite hard to separate the plane of focus from it’s surroundings. The Micro four thirds sensor used by Olympus is a case in point. In the camera, it is very difficult with the kit lens to obtain any real sense of differential focussing. However, the addition of my ‘classic’ 50mm to the OMD body means that I can achieve something that would normally cost a substantial sum.
This does mean that I actually have to adjust the camera settings (including focus) manually, but again the WYSIWYG EVF is very useful.
The image stabilisation within the camera helps as well. In my Nikon, the sensor is simply stuck onto the back of the camera. In the Oly, the sensor floats in a magnetic field, and constantly adjusts to movement I make. Shooting at F1.8 usually means high shutter speeds, but the combination of a large aperture and the image stabilisation means that I can reduce the ISO to 100, and even in poor lighting conditions safely hand-hold the camera for static subjects.
Is it perfect? Of course not. Even within Olympus, there have been great technological advances since the introduction of the model I use, and other manufacturers have pushed the boundaries in other ways.