AP teamed up with Olympus back in March to give readers the chance to spend a day with the company’s flagship OM-D E-M1 Mk II on a photo walk around Brighton, and also try out some of the excellent lenses in the Olympus range.
AP Editor Nigel Atherton was the host and tour guide for the day, which started with heavy rain and ended with sunshine and blue sky – giving the participants a year’s worth of seasonal weather all in one afternoon! Technical experts from Olympus were also on hand to help the participants get the best out of the equipment, most of whom currently own DSLR systems and are looking to make the switch to mirrorless. Here’s a selection of the pictures taken by AP readers during the day, along with their thoughts on the camera and the wider system.
Current kit: Canon EOS 100D, Nikon D500
It was a brilliant afternoon and the Olympus kit was amazing. I loved the E-M1 Mk II. I only used it with the standard 12-40mm f/2.8 lens but I found the camera easy to use and I loved the art menu. If I had the money or if I could take up photography as a job I would definitely look at getting this camera.
Current kit: Canon 1 DX Canon 5D Mk4
I used an E-M1 Mk II, initially fitted with the 12-40 f2.8 lens, which I was a little worried about as I usually like a longer focal length, but to my surprise I used it for a good part of the afternoon. I also used the 12-100mm f/4, which is much more my normal focal length and found it to be a fantastic lens. Compared with my Canon 5D Mk IV and 70-200 f2.8 the weight saving is considerable, and the image quality doesn’t seem to suffer at all. I managed to try the 300mm f4 too, which I also thought was fantastic, and much lighter than my Canon equivalent. It was my favourite lens of the day, though a difficult choice between that and the 12-100mm f/4.
Canon EOS 5DSR, EOS 7D
Current kit: I was so impressed with the E-M1 Mk II, that I have bought one… and three Pro lenses. I’m still keeping my full frame Canon cameras for specific work, but I’m now using Olympus system all the time. Ideally I would make the shutter button and lens collar clutches stiffer (too often I have moved them by mistake) but all other things I love, especially the ability to have back button focus and EV and ISO assigned to my choice of fn2 button. I love the fact that with a mirrorless system I can review the image I have just shot in the EVF, without having to take my eye away from the camera.
In Brighton I was very impressed by the 12-100 f/4 IS Pro lens. To have such image quality in a lens covering 24-200mm (equivalent) is extraordinary. Combined with the E-M1 II it’s unbeatable. I love a bit of motion blur, (say, people in a street scene) and this is now easily possible without a tripod.
Current kit: Panasonic FZ1000
My first proper camera, in my late teens, was an Olympus OM-10. After injuring my back in 20 years ago, I was never able to graduate to a full-frame DSLR or carry additional lenses, owing to their weight. I love the very manageable weight of the Olympus and the fact I would easily be able to cope with carrying extra lenses with this system. I found the size of the camera sat very well in my hands and the controls easy to reach. I particularly liked the focus ring clutch mechanism, and how quick and easy it was to react instantly to switch between auto and manual focus without moving my hand from the ring. I also liked having a lot of menu items on the top level of the rear screen and not having to delve into sub-menus for them.
Current kit: Nikon FX and DX system
I used the EM1 Mk II with the 300mm f/4.0 and 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses. I liked the portability, usability and weight saving of the long lens combination compared to my usual Nikon/Tamron 150-600mm set up, and I thought the 12-40mm was an excellent standard zoom. Although new to me, I found the electronic viewfinder good to use and think it could offer some advantages over conventional optical ones. I’m definitely considering replacing my heavy Nikon system with an OM-D but I’d need to take a more in-depth look at the C-AF and C-AF + Tracking performance with 300mm for wildlife/birds/birds in flight.
Current kit: Canon EOS 5D Mk II
I loved the fact that it is not as large or heavy as my own camera, and that it is totally silent when you take a photo, both of which are just what I’m looking for to enable me to do more street photography. It took a while to get used to but that is always the way when trying out a new camera. I would definitely consider investing in one as it’s so portable for everyday use.
Current kit: Canon EOS 5D Mk II, 700D
I used the OM-D E-M1 Mk II, firstly with the 12-40mm f/2.8 and later with 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses. All felt well-made, with a strong construction. Both lenses focussed well, giving good clear images. I went with an open mind, hoping to find lighter weight kit to my current Canon EOS 5D Mk II set-up. The Olympus lenses may be lighter and smaller but the camera didn’t offer as big a weight saving as I had hoped. Also the longer zoom seemed less comfortable/balanced to hold and use. I enjoyed the experience but will probably decide to keep my Canon kit after all.
Current kit: Canon DSLR
I’m currently a full frame Canon user but I’m thinking about buying into the Olympus system. I loved the 45mm f/1.8 prime lens on the Olympus, but my passion is Astrophotography so I’d like to try the camera for a longer period and see how it performs with that before making a decision.
I managed to test the camera with a range of subjects, in weather that went from overcast and drizzly, to bright sun. It coped well with all these conditions. As a DSLR and CSC user I found the camera fitted my hands very well and was easy to use, with the buttons well spaced and not easy to press by mistake. There was nothing to dislike about it, except having to hand it back at 5 o’clock.
I stuck to just one lens, the 12-40mm F/2.8, for the duration, but found it ample for what I wanted to do. My favourite features of the EM1 Mk II were the ease of use, the image stabilisation and the electronic viewfinder – which is a big plus as it saves making mistakes with exposure. The main cons were that the camera is a little heavier than it looks, and the initial purchase is at the top end of my budget. But I have been looking for a back up system that’s more compact than my Nikon D750 kit and this is definitely something I am seriously considering.
Olympus E-M5 Mark ll
I just used the 12-40mm /2.8 pro lens. I am just an amateur but I was very impressed, it was very sharp and lightning fast. The team were very helpful and I learnt a lot from the day. I bought an Olympus E-M5 Mark ll not long ago, but would love to upgrade at some point in future.
For details on future Olympus events head to: www.olympus-imagespace.co.uk
With thanks to Finn Hopson at the beachfront Brighton Photography Gallery for his tips and inspiration on photographing Brighton.