I have been, over the last 18 months, been on something of a camera equipment purchasing tear. In that period I’ve purchased an Olympus Pen-F, a Panasonic Lumix GH4, and a Panasonic Lumix G9. I’ve also purchased three lenses; a Panasonic Lumix 30mm/2.8 macro lens, an Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm/4 PRO zoom, and the M.Zuiko 17mm/1.2 PRO prime lens. All told, across those six items, I’ve collectively saved roughly $2,000 over all their initial MSRP due to the various discounts offered at the time of each item’s purchase.
Buying this equipment doesn’t make me an expert photographer. It never has, and it never will. I’ve been buying micro four thirds gear since 2010, starting with the Olympus E-P2, which I still have and it still works. I’ve slowly and carefully built up a modest system based primarily on sale clearance prices (meaning I always bought at the trailing edge, rather than the leading edge of photo technology). Every item I’ve purchased was for the express intent of having a camera system I could easily enjoy using and would produce photographs I would enjoy viewing. Based on my two requirements everything I’ve purchased has performed outstandingly. As a consequence it’s made me a loyal user of Olympus and Panasonic.
I started this current purchase sequence because all the cameras and lenses were the next generation of micro four thirds technology, and I sorta wanted it. I’m too cheap to buy full price, so when Olympus and Panasonic started to announce major discounts and sales, that was it. My last major camera purchase was after the initial release of the original Olympus E-M5. By the time all was said and done I’d picked up three bodies, two regular, and one called the E-M5 Elite (a speckled paint job, bigger dials, and heavier body wrap), all at considerable discounts. They were good enough to travel with me around the country, and later overseas to Japan and Korea on business trips.
Those latest bodies and lenses represent the next major engineering level in micro four thirds development. While the E-M5 generation was excellent to outstanding, the Pen-F, GH4, and G9 are all that much better, especially the Pen-F and G9. I’ve been able to mix and match between all the new equipment, as well as the older stuff I have (M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8, Panasonic Leica 25mm/1.5, etc) and gotten wonderful results with all the older primes and zooms I have. The whole system is a blast to use. My favorite combination so far is the Pen-F and the 17mm PRO, especially in very low light.
There’s a lot in common with the three new cameras. All the bodies come with fully articulating rear view screens. I haven’t had anything like that since my E-3, and it was stolen in 2012. I’ve missed it ever since, and I’m glad to have it back. I’m particularly glad to have the G9 because it does remind me of the old E-3, but so much better. I like the color science of all three bodies. When I process the excellent output from all three, it’s real hard to tell them apart, and that’s a very good thing indeed.
I know all about the latest mirrorless offerings from Canon and Nikon, and the announced 35mm cameras from Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma. Everything is equally superb and well outside my budget. I’m sure that great work will be created with all three by highly talented individuals. I wait to see it all. For me, I’ve got a system that is affordable for me and will challenge me in a good way to stretch my meager skills to create more personally satisfying photography. And I’m more than satisfied with that. If I ever write any reviews of this equipment, just keep in mind it’s from the perspective of a non-professional but “keen” user who appreciates it all. And it will come only after a lot of photos have been taken under a lot of different circumstances. In the mean time I’m going to dive in and really learn how to use as many features as practical.
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