As I’ve been writing about over these past posts, I’ve decided to make the move from Nikon to Olympus. I spent about a week with some rental equipment, and while I didn’t love all of the gear I rented, I did love the micro four third system.
I spent some time evaluating my Nikon gear, to figure out how much money I would get for it’s sale. I used KEH for this process, since it’s a lot easier and a lot less work than trying to get it all listed for sale myself on eBay.
As I began this process I was initially considering selling off just my Nikon digital gear, and holding onto some of my well loved film cameras and lenses. But, as part of a broader push to reduce the amount of stuff I own, I chose to sell it all. I sold off every DSLR, film SLR, lens, flash, and accessory I had accumulated over more than a decade. It was bittersweet to pack up that box!
With that complete, and a rough idea of the amount of money I would get for the sale, I began the process of selecting the items I’d need to build an Olympus micro four thirds camera system.
Firstly, I chose the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II as my camera body. In my testing with the EM-5 Mark II I learned that, for my shooting, I would need the more powerful AF system, and the grip built into that camera would also be most welcome. I didn’t rent the body first, but I knew I could send it back for a refund if I really didn’t like it.
For lenses, I started with the Olympus 17mm F/1.8 lens. I had rented the lens, and was very happy with it. It’s very small and light and performed great. The Olympus primes are a little more expensive than I was expecting, in relation to their Pro zoom counterparts, but I ordered this lens used and saved some money that way.
I also knew I wanted to order the Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8 lens. One of the things that drew me to micro four thirds was the much lower cost of extremely high-end lenses. In the Nikon system, to buy the Pro 24-70mm F/2.8 lens it would have cost more than $2000. This Olympus lens has a longer effective focal length, 24-80mm, the same fast aperture, less than half the weight and an $850 price tag. It’s the first time I’ve been able to consider owning top tier lenses for a camera, instead of using the slower variable aperture zoom lenses. This lens was part of my rental, and I loved it.
When I was making my purchase, in early 2019, this lens was available as a kit with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II and the two together were less expensive than buying them used. That was a great surprise. I have very happy to buy used, but getting a good deal, and getting it new, is always nice.
From there, I needed to balance my options. In the Nikon system I had the 35mm focal length equivalent of 15mm through to 450mm covered across a variety of zoom and prime lenses. On the Olympus side, I didn’t want to spend a lot more money than my Nikon gear sale brought in, but I wanted to make sure I could still handle most of the shooting situations I find myself in. And, I wanted to do it with the higher tier of lens, wherever possible.
Olympus offers an incredible zoom lens in their Pro line, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO Lens. This lens offers the equivalent focal range of 80-300mm with a fast F/2.8 aperture and is smaller than most of the zoom lenses I used in my Nikon days. That would get me to 300mm, but I do use the longer end of my zooms when shooting wildlife, and live music. Pairing this lens with the Olympus MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter gets me to 420mm equivalent, and at a still very good F/4.0. This was a bit more money than I was hoping to spend in my initial purchase, but a year into my Olympus system, I’ve not regretted it for a single second.
I also added a few accessories to the initial kit, including a remote shutter release cable and some Flashpoint flashes to allow for flash photography in larger spaces than the included flash would be able to really help with. This also give me the ability to do off camera flash, which I used with my Nikon system. I do keep the small included flash in my day bag though. It’s so small, and doesn’t require it’s own batteries. It’s great for a bit of fill flash and since you can rotate the head around can be used for bounce in smaller rooms.
All totaled, I ended up investing (…lets be honest, the word is SPENDING) around $1000 above the sale of my Nikon gear, and I had a lot less actual stuff to show for it. But, I have the right stuff now and nNot just lots of stuff.
The question is, am I happy with the new system? The answer is, unequivocally YES. I haven’t had this much fun, this much enjoyment, from photography since my very first DSLR, the Nikon D40. I am so happy with the image quality. Sharpness is incredible and I’m just not seeing any issues with sensor noise. A properly exposed image, even at ISO6400 in the ‘noisy’ micro four thirds system, looks great and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Beyond just pure image quality, I’m also really impressed with the computational photography features Olympus puts into their cameras. Being able to shoot HDR images in camera is awesome. I’m not one for the ultra processed HDR style images, but having a RAW file with that extra data can be really helpful. Being able to use their live composite mode means you can shoot star images, with star trails, in camera so you can see what the final image will look like as it develops. No guesswork. No wondering if you captured what you needed. It’s great. I’ll dig more into this in some future posts, but I’m having a lot of fun trying out these features.
Having such a powerful and small camera systems has been awesome this year and I’m just as excited about the system today as I was 12 months ago when I took the plunge. I find myself going out for a hike with the camera much more often, and I’m much happier with the images I’m taking.
Look for more posts this year about how my camera kit has grown, and how I’ve been using it.