Mirrorless cameras – Olympus OM-D E-M1 – They say “the best camera is the one you have with you” and lately I've noticed that I rarely carry a camera and have come to rely on my iPhone. Now, as I've said before, I love my iPhone but in all reality its not the best for a photography enthusiast. Photography has been a hobby of mine for over the past 10 years and although I've found myself going through spells where I didn't use my camera that much, overall it's been a constant in my life. When it comes down to it, I want to try to capture as much of my life on film as possible – my family is so precious and I don't want to miss one beautiful moment if possible.
I've always been a Canon girl and for the last 3 years I've been using a Canon 60D. My camera has served me well but as I mentioned at the beginning of this post I found that I was taking it with me less and less. It's so heavy and cumbersome and frankly not that enjoyable to carry around. I also noticed that I hadn't taken it with me on our last few family vacations either because it was too big and took up too much space in my luggage. About a month ago I was taking stock of my all my lenses and thinking about what lenses I was needing for my kit when I had a huge ah-ha moment, “why am I doing this, why am I accumulating more stuff that I never actually take anywhere.” That was the beginning of the end for my DSLR system.
I decided to try to see things from a different point of view. I assessed my needs: I wanted something that's smaller and lighter that still has versatility and produces amazing quality photographs. While moving to a point and shoot camera was too drastic for me, I came across a relatively new type of hybrid camera called the mirrorless micro 4/3 cameras. They've been on the scene for 5-6 years or so but have only recently come into their own. Mirrorless camera's are a cross between a compact camera and a DSLR – generally they are simpler, smaller, lighter and as such can be more versatile than a DSLR. Also like DSLR cameras, the mirrorless system gives you a choice of various lenses; you can get amazing prime lenses, fast standard and telephoto zooms, and petite collapsible wide angle zooms. Depending on which brand of mirrorless camera you get, there can be a myriad of lens choices (as with the Olympus OM-D which lets you use Olympus, Panasonic and other 3rd party lenses).
The next task was to narrow it down and make a decision on exactly what brand and model of camera I was going to purchase. After tons of research, I decided to go for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 which I've found nothing but glowing reviews for. This camera has also been voted camera of the year by many photo magazines, editors and websites. I also researched the lenses on this great resource, dxomark.com, which lists the best lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1. From this list I narrowed my choice down by picking something that had relatively high points but was also in my price range. This Amazon.com list below shows all my final choices – click on an image to get all the details.
I won't go into all the technical specifications but I will say that I've been incredibly happy with the exceptional quality so far in the first week that I've had the camera. I purchased the camera with the 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens which is simply stunning and I also ordered the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f1.7 and the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lenses. The 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens is as nice if not nicer then any of my Canon lenses and the 45mm prime in particular is breathtaking.
It's taking a while to learn all the ins and outs of the OM-D but I'm catching on pretty quickly. I'm not trying to sway anyone but I wanted to mention a few things about this great camera:
- Portability and stealth – easy to keep in your purse.
- Great lenses – not that there are more choices than with a DSLR but there is a huge line up of Olympus and Panasonic lenses that you can use with this camera, many with professional quality glass that costs considerably less than other traditional SLR lenses.
- Solid weatherproof build – this crazy beast is dust, splash and freeze proof down to -10 degrees Celsius (14° F).
- 10 frames per second and awesome auto-focus – blazing fast!
- WiFi enabled – control the camera shutter and settings with your iPhone, great for remote situations when you want to jump into the shot and easily send photos to your iPhone.
- Incredible electronic viewfinder – there's nothing out there yet that compares to this amazing viewfinder. See what your finished photo will look like with live-view before you even take the shot.
- In camera stabilization – no need to find lenses that have image stabilizers, the camera already has one built-in.
- For the joy of shooting – a camera like this opens up opportunities you didn't even realize you were missing before. No tripod needed in most situations and people aren't intimidated by a huge camera and lens pointed at them.
Now, keep in mind that while I'm a huge advocate of the smaller mirrorless cameras, DSLR cameras still ultimately hold top place (for the moment). The DSLR advantages list includes: superior image quality, fabulous low light performance, total creative and technical control, huge selection of lenses, optical view finders, larger sensors, extensive battery life, highly customizable, and many offer HDTV quality video. Keep in mind that these DSLR advantages may only be relevant at this moment in time… I know for a fact that many of the items I've listed in the advantages list are things that are being worked on by the mirrorless camera engineers as we speak. I'm sure in a year or two mirrorless cameras will pretty much hold their own against DSLRs.
You may have asked yourself why I've written this post and my point here is simply to say that its OK to stop and take a look at your equipment and ask yourself if it's really working for you – if you aren't carrying it with you then it's not working. Technology changes so quickly these days you may not even be aware of the options available to you. As a mother, my favorite thing to photograph is my child and if I don't have my camera with me then what's the point. Now I have a stunning camera that I can keep in my purse and am not burdened by its huge size and weight but also know that I can count on amazing quality every time. I'm looking forward to many more fabulous photographs in my future.
By the way, I'm not affiliated with or get any money from Olympus to talk about this camera… I just love it.
Here are some of my first test shots from the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Below is a cropped close-ups of the moss photo so you can see the great sharpness and detail that this camera and lens can capture.