Gear: how I ended up shooting with Olympus

It’s raining outside and cold, like in January, not that it’s a few days before the Orthodox Easter. So I’m cleaning my office and my folder with photo equipment invoices. I’m recycling all the invoices from the gear recently sold, as they were no longer needed. 

On this occasion, it occurred to me that this December, it will be ten years since I bought my first Olympus mirrorless camera, an OM-D E-M1, and that it will be eight years since I’ve been shooting exclusively with Olympus. 

As such. it’s an excellent opportunity to write this article I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It explains how I transitioned to mirrorless, how my camera kit has evolved over the last decade, and showcases my current equipment. 

Ten years ago, I was a Canon user. At the same time, I was also looking for lighter and less bulky equipment for travel photography because I was tired of carrying my Canon everywhere. I had read hundreds of reviews and was thinking of a Panasonic mirrorless camera. 

Then in September 2013, Olympus announced the release of the E-M1. This mirrorless camera had weather sealing: dust, splash, and freeze resistance (-10˚C). It was a camera that would have met and even exceeded my needs. 

I had to wait until December for the new Olympus gear to appear in stores in Bucharest. I was among the first to buy it, together with the 12–40/2.8 Pro lens, also with weather sealing. 

At that time, it was an exceptional travel camera. Its only downfall was that it only had 16 Megapixels, four megapixels less than the Canon camera I had at the time. 

In the next two years, I used the two systems in parallel — the Canon camera for serious stuff and the Olympus for travel and fun. The big change came at the end of November 2015, when Olympus released firmware version 4.0 for the E-M1, bringing some features previously unavailable in a camera. 

Among the new features introduced was the ability to perform focus stacking directly from the camera. I hope I’m not wrong, but it was the first mirrorless camera to implement this feature. For me, this was a game changer. It also opened my appetite for macro photography, so I added an M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro lens to my camera kit, capable of a 1:1 magnification rate. 

I was working with an online shop selling electronic components then and took their pictures for the website. It wasn’t long before I discovered that focus stacking with the E-M1 and a 60mm macro lens combination was far superior to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a 100mm macro lens.

So, I have completely changed the system. First, I sold everything I had Canon. Then, over time, I bought new lenses: M.Zuiko Digital ED 40–150mm F2.8 PRO, 7–14/2.8, 12–100/4 (primarily for travel), and then the 100–400mm F5.0–6.3 IS. 

I have also changed some camera bodies over time. For example, when the OM-D E-M1 MkII came out, I rushed to get it because it finally brought more megapixels. Then, I sold the old E-M1 body and got an OM-D E-M1 MkIII.

An then it came the COVID-19 pandemic. I realized there would be a period of little travel and nature shooting ahead, so I sold the 7–14 F2.8 and the 100–400mm F5.0–6.3 IS lenses. 

And here I am now. I have a photo kit that meets all my needs. I know new cameras and lenses have appeared, but I’m in no hurry to buy them. I’m only interested in the new 90mm macro, but it’s not a priority.

Overall, I am happy with my choices as I’m trying to transition to a minimalist photo studio without much unnecessary stuff. 

Plus, the rental equipment segment has evolved a lot in recent years. So in those few situations where my equipment is insufficient, I can rent whatever I need rather than keeping seldom used gear, which takes up space and is a bad investment.

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