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OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO • F4.0 • 1/800 • ISO 800

The first time I tried an Olympus camera was in 2014. At that time I was photographing the branding for Tough Mudder in Europe and Olympus was one of its sponsors in Germany. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II wasn’t out yet but I was introduced to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I.

From the first time I held the camera I was so impressed with the quality, lightness of the body and the lenses. It was pretty mind-blowing that such a small “thing” could take such great photos! After years of carrying around heavy SLRs and even heavier lenses, it felt a relief to know that there was or might be a different system out there without having to break your back when in the process of taking professional shots! However, much of my work requires me to shoot fast and in low light. This is where I still unfortunately needed to use my DSLR equipment, especially when photographing sports.

Every photographer has a favourite camera or reason for using a specific brand or equipment. Being a professional photographer, it goes without saying that exceptional quality is a must. Since my photography is very diverse and takes me all around the world, weight and compactness are two aspects which feature extremely high on my check list as well.

So when I was invited to test the E-M1 Mark II in Nov 2016 I was super excited to see if all the changes Olympus were claiming would actually be realized in their new equipment.
When I tested the new OM-D E-M1 Mark II I was seriously impressed and felt really positive about all the new features and improvements in its performance. Before I could completely park my DSLRs I felt I needed to get out there and push a few boundaries with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and see if I could use it under pressure, for example during an international sporting event.

I was really keen to give the Olympus another go when I covered Wimbledon. Being a spectator and watching tennis at Wimbledon is great fun of course but having to run around for 2 weeks from morning to evening carrying heavy equipment isn’t as glamorous as it might seem, even if you are a huge tennis fan like me! So this time I was really hoping that my initial feeling about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II would prove me right and I could actually enjoy photographing the tennis without feeling exhausted after the first week and killing my back while covering the tournament for my client.

I have to say you don’t see many mirrorless cameras at international sporting events. So rocking up with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II did draw some attention or should I say some funny looks at the start of the event.

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO • F4.0 • 1/2000 • ISO 800

At an event like Wimbledon you will experience all sorts of weather and lighting conditions. All your cameras and lenses need to be able to cope with any problems or unplanned situations. Obviously and most importantly, they need to be able to capture fast-moving action shots.

With the constant changes in lighting (sunshine/clouds), I would never shoot using anything but manual settings, continuous autofocus, high or low sequential shooting; and it’s also so important to have an accurate AF Target mode, which the OM-D E-M1 Mark II performs really well in now.

Last Wimbledon I used the Olympus for the full two weeks without a break! I didn’t have to pick up my DSLR camera at all and I didn’t feel I was missing out on any shots. The strange looks also turned into more interesting and very genuine queries from other photographers that year who were sitting next to me. Of course you still get certain sports photographers doubting the performance of a little mirrorless camera with small lenses compared with the equipment they use. But wouldn’t you, if you needed to lug around cameras and lenses weighing up to 8kg each instead of a maximum of 1 to 2 kg for the equivalent performance? “There must be a good reason for all that extra weight!” When I did show my seat neighbors the shots I took with the Olympus they were seriously impressed. So who knows, maybe next time, there will be a few more photographers using mirrorless camera for shooting Wimbledon!

I definitely have a few favourite lenses for tennis and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro (equivalent 80 to 300) F2.8 lens is one of them. It’s a fantastic lens for tennis, as it’s got such a wide range while maintaining an aperture of F2.8 throughout, which is definitely needed later in the day.

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro • F5.0 • 1/800 • ISO 250

This picture was taken from a viewpoint looking down on Centre Court. Great place to photograph from, especially to capture a few more interesting shots with player shadows when the sun hits Centre Court.

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm F1.8 Pro • F5.0 • 1/60 • ISO 200

This is of course a great opportunity to use the fisheye lens. The fact that the Olympus fisheye is so tiny makes it even more attractive to me because I can still easily carry it around with all my "must have” gear to capture a few extra cool images. I physically just wouldn’t be able to that if I had the weight of my full frame camera when running between courts.

Obviously I try to keep my ISO as low as possible, but when I’m photographing tennis I do take advantage of the camera’s great ISO performance, and sometimes keep my ISO quite high even if it is during the day. As for any action photography, unless you want to do some panning shots, you obviously want to have a fast shutter speed. Due to the light constantly changing, players running into shady areas or the sun going behind clouds, I sometimes keep my ISO fairly high so I can concentrate purely on changing my aperture and shutter speed without having to worry that my shutter speed will drop below 1/1000.

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 Pro • F4.0 • 1/8000 • ISO 800

For this shot I used my M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 Pro (equivalent 14mm to 24mm on full frame camera). What was great for this shot that I could place the camera virtually on the ground and use my touch screen to shoot this. I avoided any picture distortion by being able to place it on the ground while still having the precise control over what I was photographing, which I couldn’t have done with my full frame camera.   

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.8 • F2.5 • 1/2500 • ISO 400

This is another one of my favourite lenses for tennis ( M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.8). Perfect for sitting in the pit photographing the action. It’s equivalent to 150mm full frame and you definitely don’t get sore arms holding it throughout the match!

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO • F5.6 • 1/3200 • ISO 800

This might look easier to photograph than it is. You need all the help you can get when trying to focus on the eyes and framing the shot at the exact moment when the eyes are fixed on the ball. Having 16 shots per second certainly helps.

The equipment I used during Wimbledon was as follows:

2 x Olympus OM-D EM1 Mark II
M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO (equivalent 600mm full frame camera)
M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm F1.8 (equivalent 150mm full frame camera)
M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40mm-150mm F2.8 PRO

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