olympus is still the brand i use

February 6, 2016
two of a kind

Older E-M5 with 14-150mm II zoom on the left, and newish E-M5 Elite with 12-40mm PRO zoom on the right.

About a month ago I wrote a glowing post about the as-yet-to-be-released Fuji X-Pro2. Looking at the photos of the X-Pro2 with the Fujinon 2/35mm, I couldn’t help myself being drawn into the system by the overall look of the camera and lens combination. And then Olympus released it’s new Pen F to great acclaim on the various camera web sites, such as Andy on ATMTX (here and here) and Steve Huff (here). And then I did something that I always do when new gear comes out that strikes my fancy; I pull out my trusty old calculator and start adding up how much it would cost to replace what I already have in Olympus Micro Four Thirds gear. Most of the time I stop at that point, but not this time

This time I was inspired to go out and purchase, from B&H Photo and Amazon, another Olympus E-M5 Elite body and a 12-40mm Pro lens, respectively. The E-M5 was on clearance and the 12-40mm was on sale. Their combined price was less than what I would have paid for just the Pen F if it were available, and considerably less than what I would have paid for the X-Pro2 body plus 2/35mm lens if the X-Pro2 where available. And therein lies the tale of modern digital photography: the great expense divide.

I now have in my possession three E-M5 bodies of varying vintage (January 2013, mid-2015, and February 2016). I also have an E-M10 body. All of those bodies were purchased at heavy discount, the E-M5 Elite at considerable discount (roughly 1/3 the cost of the E-M5’s initial release price). I’ve now got four bodies, three of which are identical, the other nearly so, and various Micro Four Third lenses.

Last November I also picked up the 14-150mm II zoom lens when it went on sale. With the 2.8/12-40mm Pro zoom I’ve now rebuilt the Four Thirds system I had stolen in August 2012. This includes grips for two of the E-M5 bodies. The focal lengths of the M.Zuiko lenses don’t match the older 50-200mm and 12-60mm Digital Zuikos, but they don’t have to. The M.Zuikos are considerably lighter, the image quality is noticeably better, and the cost through prudent shopping allowed me to build the system I really want to own going forward, a system that travels around the world a lot lighter than in 2012. That’s what happens when new gear is released; gear from one to two generations back gets heavily discounted in an effort to clear the shelves. And I have learned to be ready for the deals.

There’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with the new stuff, just like there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the older stuff. All of it is far better than I am as a photographer. My ego isn’t tied up in the kind of camera I use, and i hope it never is. With my style of photography the older stuff is more than sufficient.

I’ll use what I have and enjoy using it. Just like I’ll enjoy what everyone who owns an X-Pro2 or a Pen F does with their cameras. I’ll always keep in mind that every time I see good photography using the newer gear, it’s that a talented photographer just happened to be using a certain brand and model when they took that photograph.

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