Harsh Truths About Cameras

Recently there have been a lot of complains directed toward new releases and launches of cameras, and I would like to share my thoughts and harsh opinion on camera truths. I think the obsession for technical perfection and the chase for drastic numerical increment of specification numbers is quite an endless and frankly pointless pursuit. The cameras have been around for a long, long time and strangely people are getting more and more dissatisfied even though the innovation in camera making has progressed far beyond what was made possible decades ago. There were claims about camera companies "not listening to customers" and some new cameras are "dead on arrival". I think we do need to slow down a little bit and truly look at ourselves, not just easily pointing our fingers at camera manufacturers. 



1) THERE IS NO PERFECT CAMERA

There is no point chasing perfection. There will never be a perfect camera, people will never be truly happy with what they have, and they will continue to complain. Cameras are improving and they have gotten so much better in the last 10 years, in comparison to the previous half century. The numbers in camera specifications - megapixel count, high ISO capabilities, dynamic range, AF speed, buffer depth, burst sequential shooting speed, etc - the numbers will continue to change and increase and there is no end to this. What you think is the best today will be superseded tomorrow and this cycle will keep turning and repeating, when will it stop if you want the latest and the greatest all the time?

 Camera is not a gadget - people often just want the best of the best, if we want more and more from the camera, we are missing the point of photography in the first place. If you are a professional photographer, the tools that we have today are more than sufficient to get any photography job done, if there are cases where you think the cameras fall short, I'd think it is the photographer's (most cameras are better than photographers these days). There are truly amazing photography work in the past decades that were shot in less powerful and capable cameras. How did they do it? They did not complain that their camera was not good enough, they did not have 100MP, they did not have 5-Axis IS, no blazing fast C-AF, no super high dynamic range capable image sensors, they just went and made photography happen. 

Do we need the camera to be perfect? No. Because there are no perfect photographers. We cannot even fully utilize the capabilities of what we are given today!

2) NO BAD CAMERAS, ONLY BAD PHOTOGRAPHERS

Any cameras released in recent times are good enough. We have reached the point of camera sufficiency, I don't believe there is truly any bad cameras. We have a lot of choices, and that is a good thing, we can choose the gear that works for us and our specific photography needs. Even the lowest level camera, such as the entry level Olympus PEN E-PL8/9/10 can deliver great results, having fast AF and decent overall camera performance. It will not be able to compete with the latest and greatest out there but do you really need the greatest and latest? Why is the camera not good enough? 

I have seen many newcomers to photography believing that just because they don't have the better equipment, they cannot perform as well as their other friends who have superior cameras and lenses.They also believe that they should upgrade their cameras to be able to achieve better photography results, at least to match what their peers are doing. Here is the plain and simple truth - you don't have to break the bank to enjoy photography. If you are an enthusiast or hobbyist, you should allocate a suitable budget that will not cause you any financial strain - photography should empower you, not drown you. Buy the camera and lenses that you can afford, and trust me, they are good enough. What you have now, is good enough and you should be focusing on improving your craft, and learn new skills than worry about what your camera can or cannot do. 

If you think that your photography is not good enough, it is not because your camera is not good enough. There are no bad cameras, only bad photographers. 



3) LENSES MATTER MORE THAN CAMERAS

Lenses allow you to achieve specific photography objectives. If you don't have the right lens to get the job done, you won't accomplish the desired results. For example, if you want to shoot birds from a distance, being stuck with an ultra wide angle won't bring the birds any closer to the camera. Similarly, not having a dedicated macro lens means you won't be able to get sufficient magnification to fill your frame with the tiny little bug you are trying to shoot. Many photographers emphasized on camera performance but often failed to put enough thought on the lenses they own. 

The most popular questions I have received over the years would be what lens to buy or upgrade to next. If you are asking me what lens to get next, that simply means you are not sure of what you are doing, and it won't matter what lens you upgrade to, that won't make a difference. The best solution is to continue to use the kit lens, fully explore photography and maximize the potential of the kit lens while doing that. After a while, you will realize what you want more from the kit lens, the limitations will help you discover yourself, what you want to do with your own photography and in turn help you make a better decision on what lens to buy next. There is no short and quick answer to what lens is best for you, you have to find that out on your own. 

4) CAMERAS ARE UNIVERSALLY THE SAME

The basics of how the camera works is the same and has not changed for a very long time. The exposure triangle - ISO, shutter speed and aperture remain similar in ALL cameras, across all brands, at all levels from pro grade cameras to entry level cameras. It is like driving a car - the gear, steering wheel, brakes, signals, are all the same. Learning the driving language is very important, it is universal, red light at the traffic junction means stop, green means go, you just have to know this there is no escaping it. 

The biggest mistake I see a lot of newcomers to photography (and a lot of self-claimed pro, I boldly add) is not making enough effort or spending time to truly understand how the camera works and master the fundamentals of photography, before moving on to the more advanced photography shooting. 

There is no shortcut in photography. 

Many people want to skip the boring part - the basics. They just want to do the fun part, the advanced level of photography. Some of these so called "artists" would blanket their shooting mistakes and sloppiness by saying something as silly as "blur is art". Blur is blur, there is no excuse for your mistake, you cannot fool others and confuse them with your artistic statement. If your blur is intended to enhance your photography people will be able to see that, and you don't have to justify your mistakes. Not being able to use your camera to its full potential and truly control it shows what kind of a photographer you are. Don't skip the fundamentals. Learn it. Embrace it. You cannot learn to run before you are able to walk. 

5) THE CAMERA CANNOT READ YOUR MIND

You are the master, you are in control and the camera is your slave. I often observe the complete opposite. 

Whenever the camera does not give a satisfactory result, the camera is to be blamed as if the camera knew what was happening. Wrong white balance? The camera is lousy it cannot give accurate colors. Wrongly exposed images, with severe over or under exposure? Oh it is the camera's poor metering capability, not being able to calculate the available ambient light accurately. Missed your focus, did not nail that shot in perfect, tack sharp focus? The camera AF system is too slow, not efficient enough. The camera is always blamed as if the camera knows what you want and can read your mind. 

The camera is a piece of equipment, used by the photographer. You have to tell the camera what you want. if your image is overexposed, don't blame the camera, go and balance the exposure by whatever means necessary, you can do it by easily turning the exposure compensation dial. The camera gave you the wrong color, fix it! Focusing is not as simple as pressing the shutter button, understanding how the camera works and telling the camera exactly what you have in mind (something as simple as moving the focusing point to the intended target area to be in focus) can get you your desired results. The camera's job is to capture exactly what is presented, and if the camera fail to do that, it is often the photographer's problem. 

I do hope this simple sharing on some harsh photography and camera truths can benefit those who are new to photography, and seriously guys, stop complaining about cameras and start shooting. 

Life is too short to be unhappy with what we own, why not leave a legacy behind with an incredible body of photography work? That is a life goal worth chasing for, not camera perfection. 

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Low Light Shooting With Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

One of the few complains I received about my recent Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III was me not having low light shooting samples in my image gallery. The main reason I did not do any low light shooting tests was because the E-M1 Mark III basically has the same image sensor as E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III, both cameras I have done full reviews here in this blog, my YouTube channel and I have been using these two cameras extensively over time that I thought I already have shown more than sufficient samples of what that 20.4MP Live MOS Image Sensor can do. Olympus did not claim any improvements in the latest E-M1 Mark III and based on my own experience during review I also did not see any difference worth writing about. 



I guess it gets increasingly difficult to make people happy, and even so I have received quite a loud nagging on how I made some mistakes here, and my quality of presentation/review is not up to standard as an Olympus Visionary. Seriously, guys, I have done the best I can and I am doing all this out of my own time, resource and I cover any expenditures incurred out of my own pocket. Olympus Malaysia did not ask me to do any of these articles or videos, I made them because I thought they would genuinely benefit the community. I do it because I enjoy doing it. I am human, I make mistakes, to expect absolute perfection from me and beat me down so harshly when I made some mistakes, that is a stretch too far don't you think?

Anyway, venting my frustration aside, here, a blog entry and a video dedicated to those who are interested to see how the E-M1 Mark III performs in low light shooting, torturing both the image stabilization capabilities of the camera and also the high ISO shooting.

All images were shot with Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4 PRO (F4 requires higher ISO in low light) and I kept the aperture wide open at F4 throughout all the shoot. All images were shot in RAW and post-processed in Olympus Workspace with only minor correction (white balance tweak, contrast, exposure compensation). Noise filter was set to "Standard", sharpness to "0". 

Spoiler - there are no surprises. The camera performed exactly as expected. Same image quality from the predecessors E-M1 Mark II and E-M1 Mark III when it comes to high ISO shooting, with perhaps improvements in 5-Axis IS, but I shall let the images speak.

f/115s12mmISO200

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4 PRO vs 12-40mm F2.8 PRO

In my recent review video of Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4 PRO, I asked if there was an interest of me doing a side by side extensive comparison between the 12-45mm F4 versus the older yet much revered 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lenses. Looking at the comment section of that video I received overwhelmingly "yes" response to that question, so here it is, I am doing both a blog article and a video comparison for the two mentioned lenses. I did make a bold claim previously based on my early observations the 12-45mm F4 PRO seems a little sharper than the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, but I made that claim without an extensive side by side comparison, so this article and video will be a continuation from the previous review. This comparison tests took a lot more time and effort than usual, I did have a tonne more samples but I am only showing the best few selected ones in this blog entry and of course, my video. 



On specifications, both lenses exhibit many similarities and some obvious key differences. 

SIMILARITIES between 12-45mm F4 and 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
1) Full weather-sealing, splash, dust and freezeproof down to minus 10 degrees Celcius
2) Metal body construction
3) Internal focusing mechanism, the front element does not rotate when zooming
4) No internal zooming, the lens extends out when zooming in

DIFFERENCES between 12-45mm F4 and 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
1) F4 constant aperture on 12-45mm versus F2.8 on 12-40mm, allowing 12-40mm to render shallower depth of field and is better in low light scenarios
2) 12-45mm F4 is smaller and lighter, better suited for smaller cameras
3) 12-45mm F4 does not have manual focusing clutch and L-Fn button, both features available on the 12-40mm F2.8

Here is my testing methodology and its limitations: 
1) The test camera is my own Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. This camera is representative of the best image quality achievable by current Olympus OM-D system, having similar image sensor with E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X. 
2) All images were shot hand-held, with approximate matching framing. Even if tripod is used I cannot 100% match the composition between each images, there will be slight variance, and in real life shooting scenario, where I do need to move to many locations, having a tripod is not practical and is cumbersome. Hence there is a slight mis-match when it comes to composition but this should not affect the overall outcome significantly. 
3) All camera settings are controlled and maintained the same for both lenses used in each scenario. I shot at aperture priority as I fixed the aperture at F4 and ISO200 (except for the bokeh test). Shutter speed is fast enough to be inconsequential for all tests. 
4) All images were shot in available light, in late afternoon, either outdoor or with sufficient window side light (except the bokeh test which was shot at night). There is a possibility of light shifting from one frame to another as I cannot control the cloud movements in the sky. I have shot many samples to have large enough data pool to minimize lighting inconsistencies. 
5) I am not comparing distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting as these technical lens flaws are effectively corrected via in camera software.
6) All images were straight out of camera RAW, previewed via Olympus Workspace with zero adjustment performed. Noise Filter were set to "0" and sharpness setting was at default "0", both in camera settings. 
7) There is also the possibility of sample variance. My 12-45mm PRO lens is a sample review unit from Olympus, which they claimed to be similar to mass production quality. Having said that, even there is sample variance between mass production units, so your 12-45mm lens may be slightly better or worse than the one I was using for this test. 

I am human. I do not claim to be perfect. Recently someone bombarded me for some of the few mistakes I made in my recent articles and videos. I can only do my best. If my best is not enough for you, feel free to go to other review websites and channels.  I am already spending too much time doing this, and if you do not appreciate it, there is nothing I can do. 

For easy reference - image on the LEFT 12-45mm F4, image on the RIGHT 12-40mm F2.8. Click the images to enlarge. 

TEST 1 - WIDE ANGLE 12MM AT F4
First test, both lenses were set to the widest focal length 12mm and the sharpness at the center of the frame and corners are inspected. Both lenses were set at F4 for consistency in comparison. 

For this wide angle shoot-out, at center sharpness, the image quality in terms of sharpness and fine detail rendering are extremely close between the two lenses, but the 12-45mm F4 does show a slight advantage in resolving a little more fine detail, contrast and better defined lines. You do need to pixel peep very closely to notice the differences, but the 12-45mm F4 is a better performer.

However, when it comes to corner sharpness, there is no denying that the older 12-40mm PRO holds the upper hand, but the corners of 12-45mm F4 is still very good. 

LEFT 12-45mm F4, RIGHT 12-40mm F2.8


Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4 PRO Lens Review

Olympus launched a new PRO lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4 PRO together with their new flagship camera, OM-D E-M1 Mark III. The new 12-45mm PRO is the smallest lens in the Olympus M.Zuiko PRO lens line-up, has a constant aperture opening of F4 and is fully weather-sealed. I have had this lens for over a week, and have been shooting with the lens in various photography scenarios. I personally believe the new 12-45mm PRO being a compact PRO lens reflects the true ideologies of Micro Four Thirds system. I am sharing my experience using the lens with a new series of fresh photographs in this review article. 

For those of you who prefer to watch a video instead of reading a 1500 words article, here is a YouTube video I have made for this lens review. 


Here are some important disclaimers first. I am an Olympus Visionary, an ambassador to the Olympus brand. I do not own this lens, the 12-45mm PRO was a loaner from Olympus Malaysia and will be returned to them after review purposes. My review is subjective and there will be no technical tests, data or charts/graphs shown in this article. Instead this is a user experience based review, I am sharing my thoughts and opinion based on my shooting experience using the 12-45mm PRO lens. All images were shot with either the new E-M1 Mark III or my own E-M5 Mark III. All images were post-processed with minor corrections (straightening, minor crop, exposure and white balance adjustments) using either Olympus Workspace for E-M1 Mark III images, and Capture One Pro 20 for E-M5 Mark III. 

For full resolution images, you may go to the online album here (click), all with full EXIF data intact.

Let's get the obvious question out of the way - why did Olympus make another standard zoom lens when they already have the amazing existing standard zoom PRO lenses such as the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO and 12-100mm F4 IS PRO? The redundancy is obvious and a lot of people are questioning the overlap when it comes to focal lengths coverage, do we need another standard zoom lens? Outside of the Olympus family, we also have some good alternatives from the Panasonic camp. 

I personally think having more choices is not a bad thing. While the existing 12-40mm and 12-100mm PRO lenses are not monstrously huge in size, they are not exactly small and truly compact either. To match smaller Olympus camera bodies such as E-M10 Mark III and E-M5 Mark III, the new smaller, lighter and more compact design of 12-45mm F4 PRO is a better suited lens. If the goal is to truly keep the footprint as minimal as possible, the 12-45mm surely accomplishes this goal. Does the optical performance live up to expectation of a true PRO lens? This is what I want to find out in this review article. 


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Review

For those in Malaysia, you can pre-order Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III directly from Olympus Malaysia here (click). 

Edit 12/2/20 - 6.15pm: Correction on specification of EVF - EVF has 0.74x magnification, not 0.83x as previously mentioned. 

Olympus has just announced the much anticipated OM-D E-M1 Mark III, a direct successor to their E-M1 Mark II which was released in 2016. The new E-M1 Mark III has a new Truepic IX image processing engine, porting over useful shooting features from the E-M1X such as hand-held high res shot 50MP and Live ND shooting, while also featuring a few new features such as starry sky AF and reworked eye/face tracking AF. I have been shooting with a review unit loaned from Olympus Malaysia for about 2 weeks and I am sharing my full review of E-M1 Mark III with plenty of image samples in this blog entry. I have also made a video review, for those who prefer to watch than read. 


Before we go further, here are some important disclaimers.  I am an Olympus Visionary, an ambassador to the Olympus brand. The E-M1 Mark III camera was loaned from Olympus Malaysia, and will be returned after this review. This is a non-technical review, there will be no graphs, charts or numerical comparisons. This is a user-experienced based review, and I am sharing my experience using the E-M1 Mark III, subjecting it to various shooting environment. The images were all shot in RAW and post-processed in Olympus Workspace with minor adjustments. 

You may find all the FULL RESOLUTION images with full EXIF data intact shown in this blog as well as the video in my Google Photos online album here (click)

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III shares a lot of similarities with both E-M1X and E-M1 mark II. The E-M1 Mark III has many features ported over from E-M1X but packed into the smaller body closely resembling the E-M1 Mark II. The E-M1 Mark III is essentially a mini E-M1X and more. 

The body design of E-M1 Mark III is almost identical to the E-M1 Mark II, and here are the similarities shared between the two cameras:

1) Battery holder grip, HLD-9. 
Those who already own the HLD-9 for E-M1 Mark II can share the battery holder grip with the new E-M1 Mark III. 

2) 20MP Live Mos Micro Four Thirds image sensor
The new E-M1 Mark III shares the exact same image sensor used in E-M1 Mark II, E-M1X and E-M5 Mark III. I can foresee this as the main point being attacked by ALL photography reviewers. I shall comment on this in my later part of this review. 

3) Battery BLH-1
The BLH-1 is quite a high capacity battery, and was a joy to use on E-M1 Mark II. Glad that the E-M Mark III shares the same one. 

4) Full Weather-sealing 
Splash, dust and freeze proof (down to -10 degrees Celcius)

5) Magnesium alloy body construction
The body design looks 99% identical, I am not surprised if the E-M1 Mark III used the exact same mold of E-M1 Mark II, with some minor tweaks.

6) Same Electronic Viewfinder
Exact same EVF panel from E-M1 Mark II is used - same resolution 2.36M dot, same magnification 0.74x and same refresh rate. 

7) Dual SD card slots 
Slot 1 is UHS-II compatible, slot 2 is UHS-I, and this will be another point that is attacked by reviewers. I do wish Olympus has included both UHS-II capable slots. 

8) Shooting  speeds and buffering
Silent Shutter burst sequential shooting 60FPS, mechanical shutter burst sequential shooting 15FPS. While I initially wished for faster speeds, the 60FPS is still the fastest in market today, with 15FPS being almost on par with even the fastest cameras. 


Some Unusual SD Card Tips - Leave Your Contact Information Inside!

SD cards are important, without them there is no way for the camera to work - you can press the shutter button but no image is recorded. It is important to get compatible, optimized cards for best camera speed and performance, and also take care of the card so it does not get damaged too easily. Some of the tips I am sharing in this blog entry are applicable to any memory cards used on any camera bodies. However, since I am a monogamist Olympus shooter, I will be speaking from my experience shooting with OM-D cameras using specifically SD cards only. 


TIP 1: DO NOT USE SLOW CARDS
Olympus OM-D cameras (as well as any new, modern, not too low tiered camera) are extremely fast - the camera can capture up to 60 frames per second in full RAW file using silent shutter, and 15 frames per second in mechanical shutter. Olympus E-M1X, E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III support UHS-II (ultra high speed II) SD cards up to 250MB/s read and write, allowing the camera buffer to clear almost instantaneously, even when shooting in high burst mode.  Refer to the video comparison between a UHS-1 slow SD card and a high speed UHS-II card. The speed difference is night and day. Be sure to check the maximum speed that your camera can support, there is no point buying UHS-II card for an older camera that does not support the speed, say an Olympus E-M5 original. Nevertheless, a faster card enables the camera to perform optimally, not just for faster burst sequential shooting but also general shot to shot response and overall smoothness of camera operation. Why get one of the fastest cameras in the market if you are doing to cripple it with a slow SD card?

TIP 2: BUY MORE SPARES
SD card is not expensive. Photography can be an expensive hobby, and there are ways to save some precious cash but you definitely should not cheap out on SD cards. SD card is such a thin, small, fragile piece of plastic that can break easily by usual wear and tear. For someone as clumsy as myself (I am not the worst I believe) a little mishandling can destroy the SD card unintentionally. It is wise to have more back up than necessary. Also, it is common to hear SD cards being corrupted for no apparent reason, and if you have enough spares, you have less to worry about. 

TIP 3: FORMAT OR ERASE ALL?
All cameras generally have two options to delete the images - erase all or format card. Formatting a card will wipe the entire card empty, leaving it fresh and at a clean slate. On the other hand, erase all option will only delete the image and video files specifically, and leaving any other non-related files, if stored inside the card, intact. We will explore why this is important in TIP 4. For common practice, if you use the same SD card for the same device consistently, without switching the card to other devices, it is safe to perform erase all. However, if you always use one SD card in multiple devices, especially using different brand and model cameras, the different devices will write different file formats and folders into the same card, increasing risk of bugs, corrupted files and ultimately card failure. Therefore, if you switch SD cards often between devices, it is advisable to format the card each and every time you insert into a new device to prevent corruption or file clashes. 



TIP 4: LEAVE CONTACT INFORMATION INSIDE 
If you choose the erase all option, this tip is applicable. I am sure you have heard of many wonderful stories about lost gear and how the camera and precious SD cards with important images found their way back to the owner, thanks to the good Samaritans. In case of gear being lost, it is a lot easier to track the owner if contact information is provided, and one way to do that is to insert a text file into the SD card with name and contact details (if you are uncomfortable with leaving your address or phone number for privacy reasons, I am sure a PO Box or email would suffice). This could save the other party some serious CSI grunt work to find you. 

TIP 5: PROTECT YOUR SD CARDS
SD cards are fragile little things, so protection is crucial. Do not use a hard case that is too rigid even from the inside, I have friends who use both metal and plastic hard cases that crushed the SD cards stored inside due to too much pressure applied. Also, do not opt for soft pouches or carrying cases that offer no protection at all, the SD cards can be easily bent and broken (refer to video). I would recommend a hard case from the outside with good soft padding for impact absorption from the inside to prevent crushing under pressure.


TIP 6: STORE SPARE SD CARDS IN WALLET
We cannot prevent ourselves from forgetting, it has happened to me, to my professional photographer friends and the best of us - we are only human. It is not about trying not to forget, that is a bad way to prepare for an emergency, instead we should find a viable, fail proof alternative solution. I propose carrying an SD card inside your wallet at all times, as your wallet is something that you carry with you everywhere. Also, there are wallet designs with slots to store SD cards, it is commonly available (at least here in departmental stores of KL, Malaysia). 

TIP 7: LEAVE SD CARD DOOR OPEN
I must thank Tobias and some other blog readers who suggested this - leaving the SD card door on the camera open when the card is taken out is a good move. When we see the door is still open, we are reminded that the SD card is not inserted, hence minimizing the chance of not bringing  SD cards out. A simple, and useful hack indeed. 

Do you have other tips on SD cards to share? I am sure you do, and I would love to hear them!


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Why The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Original Was Such An Important Camera

Olympus followed up the game-changer E-M5 by releasing their first mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera targeted toward the professional and serious enthusiast market - OM-D E-M1 in 2013.  Scrutinizing the paper specifications, nothing much have changed, the core of the two cameras were rather similar - same 16MP resolution Micro Four Thirds sized image sensor, 5-Axis image stabilization built in, weather sealing, built in electronic viewfinder and the claim of having the fastest AF at that time. However, those who have used the E-M1 extensively would testify that the E-M1 was a more refined camera and certainly better suited for professional and more heavy duty use. E-M1 was the camera that successfully convinced me to switch from DSLR to mirrorless camp, and since then I have always believed that mirrorless is the future. 


Olympus got a lot right in the E-M1, and they did not do so by beating the competition in any specific manner. The E-M1 was not the best in any aspect of a camera, it does not have the highest Megapixel count, not the best C-AF tracking for sports, not the best low light shooting camera and certainly pales in comparison to full frame cameras when it comes to dynamic range. However, why was E-M1 such a popular camera and became so successful? DPReview crowned the E-M1 their two most prestigious awards in 2013 - The Best Camera Of The Year as well as The Product Of The Year. Olympus must have done something right, though they did not particularly excel in any singular aspect of a camera capability. 

The answer - Olympus managed to strike a balance, and paid attention to every single aspect of the camera. The camera may not be the best at anything, but it does everything very well. The 16MP image sensor won't beat a full frame image sensor, but it comes very close to APS-C DSLR performance. The AF was shockingly fast and accurate, and Olympus managed to include some interesting features such as 5-Axis Image Stabilization (which was improved from the E-M5). While the E-M1 was a mirrorless camera, Olympus did not skimp the handling part, they gave the E-M1 a beefy hand-holding gripping area, and those who have held the E-M1 knew that Olympus made sure the ergonomics of the camera was well made. The electronic viewfinder was bright, large and lag-free, certainly a peek into the future of possibilities when it comes to mirrorless camera imaging. 

What made me switch over from my old DSLRs to E-M1? 

I was using the Olympus DSLR E-5 and E-520 for photography jobs (I was freelancing) as well as personal shutter therapy sessions. The E-M1 came along with EVF that matches the LCD screen in color and contrast. The color was visibly different between the LCD and EVF in the previous E-M5, and Olympus managed to fixed this quickly. The EVF was further improved - increased in magnification, refresh rate and resolution. Having the superior what you see is what you get advatage of live exposure simulation, or as Kirk Tuck put it - pre-chimping (you see the results before you press the shutter button), it was indeed revolutionary for my photography, at least for my own shooting. The AF was miles ahead in terms of speed and accuracy in comparison to many cameras available in the market that that time, and certainly was better than my DSLRs. I knew I had to make the switch. 

I have been shooting with the E-M1 and a plethora of Micro Four Thirds lenses for many years, before I finally made the switch to E-M1 Mark II. Mind you, all these happened even before I joined the Olympus Visionary program. 

I truly believe that the E-M1 was the first real professional mirrorless camera in the market. It certainly checked all the right boxes, and when Olympus designed the camera they had professional photographers in their mind, making sure they final product is a balanced camera that can perform well in any given shooting environment. It has served me well for many years, doing countless photography jobs and many many more personal shoots. I could not have been happier to make the jump to the OM-D camp when I did. 

Olympus did many things right with the E-M1. They introduced the venerable M.Zuiko 12-40mm PRO which was their first PRO lens to match the E-M1, a worthy standard zoom lens that was well constructed, sharp optically, fast in AF and weather-sealed. Olympus also listened to customer feedback and quickly fixed many issues that were found in the predecessor E-M5. I would go as far as to say that the E-M1 was what the E-M5 was supposed to be, and it was a more refined version. 

The continuous support from Olympus by releasing Firmware Upgrades was commendable for the E-M1 camera. Over the four iterations of Firmware updates, Olympus has not only fixed the bugs/errors but made significant improvements when it comes to real practical shooting. They managed to increase the burst sequential shooting with continuous AF from the limit of 6.5FPS to 9FPS, that was an almost 50% increase of performance. They also added many features into the camera, such as better movie recording modes (audio level control, more frame rate options eg 24p, 25p), live composite, focus bracketing and stacking, silent shutter, S-OVF, new Art Filters, and many more. 

Today the E-M1 stays in my camera bag as a fail-proof back up for my main workhorse, E-M1 Mark II. Truthfully, even now in 2020, I can still confidently take out the E-M1 with no hesitation and I know I will be able to deliver satisfactory shots to my clients. The E-M1 was genuinely a camera that shows Olympus DNA, and I am glad Olympus continued that in the E-M1 Mark II, and hopefully in their future iterations. 

I am sure many of you have used, and still use the E-M1. Share your experience using your E-M1!


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