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OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO • F11.0 • 1/2s • ISO 200
It's a few years ago now that I switched to the Olympus system. In the beginning people I spoke to would often tell me “You’ll end up going back to 35mm format.” If I’m honest about it, I had my doubts myself to start with – but now it makes me laugh thinking about it. Anyone who does any kind of outdoor activity (hillwalking/trekking) knows how important it is to keep an eye on the load (weight) you're carrying.Before, every time I went out with my 35mm system I had to cart about 5 kg around with me. That 5 kg consisted of the camera, 14-24mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, converters and batteries etc. Not forgetting the daily rations you need for a hike or trek. The Olympus system I always carry now weighs about 3 kg and I have an extra lens in my rucksack. If you are in the great outdoors for a few days, it's not unusual to pack a few extra things in the rucksack, which of course means you have even more weight to carry. A lot of people told me “In that case, you’ll just have to lift more weights.” But I’m not in this business to lift weights! I want to stand out for efficient, high-quality work.
Of course, when it comes to systems, weight is not the only thing to consider. All the various components have to work in harmony with each other. This creates synergies, making sure the trip and the pictures go smoothly. I would like to highlight a couple of features I wouldn't go without nowadays. When I go on trips with other photographers, they spot the features on my system very quickly. The conversation starts something like this: “WOW! That's so cool!” And I have to admit that these conversations always put a smile on my face. So what are these features, then?!
OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO • F8.0 • 1/80s • ISO 640
The whole system is hugely stable and extremely well-built. I should also emphasize that the system is outstanding in all sorts of weather conditions. Snow, rain, mud, dust – the works – are no problem at all for the camera or the lens. My treks provide the ideal opportunity to illustrate these features – in every sense of the word. When it rains, for instance, I don't have to worry about my equipment being damaged by exposure to the elements. At the Oberstdorfer Fotogipfel 2018 (Oberstdorf Photo Summit 2018) I took part in an Olympus Instahike with the olympusXplorers. On the hike I could take my pictures in the rain with barely a second thought for the equipment, despite being confronted with monsoon-like conditions – not to mention hail and everything else that goes with it.
OM-D E-M5 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 PRO • F4.5 • 1/80s • ISO 200
But it wasn't the rain that surprised me so much as the fact that the people who WEREN’T using Olympus systems were so apprehensive and felt literally compelled to hide their kit away. Which just shows that the huge stability I mentioned is only available with an Olympus. Thanks to the system's 5-axis stabilizer, you can take 2-second freehand photos. What? No way! Yes! With exposure times of 2-seconds or even longer. The autofocus also works brilliantly in the dark – focusing is completely effortless. My system even helps NON-Olympus photographers: When I photograph in the dark, sometimes without a tripod, they copy my settings and use them themselves. Occasionally I hear comments along the lines of “the pictures are not sharp enough” or “I can't focus.” Well, that's because NON-Olympus products don't have a 5-axis stabilizer. And it gets better: As soon as you combine the 5-axis stabilizer with the new 12-100mm F4.0 Pro lens, you get massive synergies, which then allow you to stabilize right up to a 6.5 aperture setting. That's beyond good – that's awesome!
OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO • F8.0 • 1/5s • ISO 200
For long-exposure shots, and in Live Composite, Live Time and Live Bulb modes, photographers using other manufacturer's kit have to calculate and set their exposure times manually. I think this takes way too long. So it's a good thing that, thanks to Olympus, I don't have to deal with complicated system settings, because Olympus has a very convenient solution: All the user has to do is check the display to make sure the picture is exposed exactly the way they want.
For people who like to take a minimalist approach, the idea here is similar to the principle of minimum effort for maximum return in economics. It's all about reaching your intended aim (namely taking high-quality pictures) with the minimum of effort (i.e. the weight and size of the bags you're carrying).
OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F8.0 PRO • F11.0 • 1/80s • ISO 200
I would like to leave you with the following quote: “Nature is the best medicine.” – Sebastian Kneipp
wonderful images! Thanks! Have the gear, now need to become proficient!
I agree with you and will just take my 12-100 and 7-14 lenses when I go to Nepal at the end of the month. Out of interest, what tripod do you use? I am thinking of replacing my Gitzo traveller for a smaller Sirui one.
Hi, I use the Gitzo Traveler Serie 1 (GK1545T-82TQD) tripod. The tripod is very compact and reliable.
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