In The Beginning…
So i’ve been watching Olympus for years. Always waiting…always hoping. I got started in photography just before digital became “readily available” to consumers. I was young and still couldn’t quite afford the good stuff. Then again, it was film, so as long as the box had a shutter, and the lens was decent, the film stock and size had the largest impact on look. (to over simplify things) Olympus pro film gear was out of reach to me then. I kept shooting on what basic film gear I had and started dabbling in digital compacts. Those were big back then. Cell phones were still bulky telephones with a single function…phone calls. I shot with the classic Canon G2 for a while as I waited for digital to improve and become more affordable in the higher end. I finally made the real transition to digital when Canon announced the 5D. That was my kind of camera! Same size sensor as film, clean ISO 1600, and I could use my lenses without a tighter field of view than I was used to.
Everything is getting bigger…
Then everything started getting bigger. And bulkier. And heavier. With huge grips. And needing larger bags. What happened to our sexy 35mm cameras? Pentax LX, Olympus OM, Leica M? Where is everybody? The digital transition was a bit awkward for everything we knew and loved. Why did a pro 35mm SLR with a fast pro lens now feel like the size of a Hasselblad? I’ve shot 6×9 cameras smaller than some modern dSLRs!
In comes Olympus. Their E-series had insanely awesome glass and F/2 zooms! Their bodies were supposed to be smaller too. Well I tried them all. Every time a new one was announced over the years I would run and try one. (When we still actually had “local camera stores.”) They just were not that much smaller, and never that much lighter in the end. Small viewfinders. And the sensors were just not amazing past 400 ISO. It was a good attempt, and they were great cameras…but they just didn’t quite cut it against the competition.
Olympus did what!?!?!
Then the announcement came. Olympus tossed the mirror out of their camera. Oh yeah…and they reintroduced sexy. Welcome digital Pen #1. As soon as I saw this I knew the future of cameras were changing. They were on to something. It made sense. I almost bought…but it would just be a side camera. It wasn’t anything I that would change the world for me. I’m shooting 36mm dSLRs and 49mm medium format digital. This was a tiny camera with a 17mm sensor…but it offered really good quality in a large pocket size. Hey…better than a compact. And it blew my cell phone away. I just couldn’t live with them though. In most of the situations were I would use a compact, m43 still struggled a bit. I did buy an E-PM1. That was so small I couldn’t resist. I had a ton of Olympus OM lenses at this point too and it was great fun to shoot with them digitally. It didn’t last though. It just always left me wanting when it came to the image. The files never looked that “great” to me. A little too digital, a little too grainy, and a little too weak at higher ISO. I sold it and my OM lenses.
Now we’re talking!
Then comes the OM-D line. I watched this carefully…but hesitantly. Each generation was bringing us closer. Each generation made a leap over the previous. Finally the E-M1 was announced. Olympus made a statement to the serious user with this one. I gave it a very hesitant shot. I rented one…and then didn’t want to send it back! So I bought my own. And then it took me months to get over the, “it can’t be this good…the sensor is so small compared to my P45…and how can it possibly be outperforming my Canon gear…this has to be me justifying it…”
I finally got over it. And I have to say the E-M1 is hands down one of the best camera bodies I have ever used. It is quite a step up in feel and handling compared to even the E-m5 line and the pens. The E-M1 has now been integrating itself further and further into all my shooting, including paid shoots. The 12-40 F/2.8 and 40-150 F/2.8 sealed the deal. Having a 24-300mm equivalent system that performs in an amazing way, with solid quality up to ISO 6400 that fits in my vest pocket is insane. A 300 2.8 equivalent in my pocket!!!! A lot of people argue that its not…and the 2x crop, etc.. etc… etc… I have plenty of reasons why in use this has actually been more of a benefit than a hindrance. In fact, I have many reasons why this system is arguably one of the best systems made today. And that’s why this site exists.