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Switch from Canon full-frame to Micro Four Third OM-D E-M1 Mark II

For the impatient of you already looking for my conclusion:
Yes, I’d do it again!

With my Canon 5D MKIII I have taken countless shots in mines and caves and I was always very enthusiastic about the results. But then, the day came when I looked at a good friend’s picture taken on a holiday in Mexico. “The Pit!”: Wow – what a great shot! I contacted him and asked him to send me the Exif data of this wonderful photograph. When I finally got them, I could hardly believe them. Have I always done it wrong before? I probably haven’t. A phone call brought some light into the dark: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO. “But this is a Micro Four Thirds camera with a much smaller sensor”, I thought. “This cannot be right.” My online research began and kept me busy for many nights.

Björn Dorstewitz • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye PRO
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP02

As luck would have it, I got the chance to test this exact camera and lens through a friend’s connection. As I was given the equipment I was sceptic and thought: “Well, you already got a full-frame equipment but hey, you can try to convince me of this camera.”
No sooner said than done. At home I went through the first moment of surprise: The menu was as different as it could have been and I found settings that I had never heard of before. For normal photography, that’s okay. But under water, when the camera is locked in its housing, this is a completely different challenge. So, I got used to all the buttons and jumped into the water – with all the usual settings I had always used.

   

Björn Dorstewitz • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye PRO
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP02

Crap! Was I doing something wrong? Not really … Aperture, ISO, shutter speed … it was all well-known and yet something was different. 

The shutter speed and ISO were completely different to what I used to set. But then, enlightenment came to me! As the camera is a Micro Four Thirds camera, doesn’t have a mirror and comes with a crop factor of 2, the depth of field changes times 2. This means where I used an aperture of 5,6 before, I now only need an aperture of 2,8 and so, I can shoot with a much smaller ISO while I still have the same exposure and depth of field. This extra light intensity comes in especially handy in a very dark environment.

Björn Dorstewitz • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye PRO 
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP02

I must admit, the first time diving with this camera kit was different to what I was used to. The view through the viewfinder was quite similar to the view through night-vision glasses. First, I couldn’t believe it but I did actually see my buddy’s face behind his lamp. This could not be real. But it could – because with the Olympus gear I had the possibility to set 3 different kinds of LV extension.

  • „Off“ shows the lighting settings. The brightness of the pictures shown equals the brightness of the final pictures
  • The first setting LV1 doesn’t show the lighting settings, but it shows an adapted picture for an optimal display. So, the brightness of the pictures shown doesn’t equal the brightness of the final pictures. (same as you are used to see when looking through a DSLR viewfinder
  • The second setting LV2 doesn’t show the lighting settings but it also shows an adapted picture for an optimal display especially suitable for dark areas. So, the brightness of the pictures shown doesn’t equal the brightness of the final pictures. (live view is amplified to be able to focus and follow the object in very dark environments)

On the left, you see a picture like I knew it from my DSLR.
On the right, you see the picture that the Olympus camera can show. Like I said, it’s like looking through night-vision glasses.  

   
Setting: off                                                                                Setting: LV 2

The next highlight I found in the Olympus camera was such a delight that I almost lost my controller from smiling so hard:

Using the DSLR, taking photos always looked like this:

  1. Focus on the diver through the viewfinder using the AF (small white spot in a large dark space)
  2. Press the release button and check the photo on your display to see if the cropping and the exposure are okay
  3. If not: repeat steps 1 and 2 until you get it right

Using the Olympus the whole process is a bit easier:

  1. Focus on the diver in the now not so dark space through the viewfinder
  2. Press the release button and immediately see the picture in the viewfinder – yes, the picture can be shown in the viewfinder! If you want to, you can look at the picture on you display in its full size

Björn Dorstewitz • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye PRO 
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP02

Since I started using Olympus gear, the editing of pictures has drastically declined. And my models quickly picked up on my having fun behind the camera and on the much faster process.

After a 2,5h dive in a mine at a water temperature of only 7°C I returned home to my computer with many pictures. I uploaded them into Lightroom and well, what can I say? I didn’t expect that. The color and the sharpness of the pictures were so impressing that even my wife said: “Wow, that looks totally different than before!”

The camera and lenses are really completely compatible and made for one another. It always fascinates me what this combination can deliver. The 7-14mm 2,8 PRO as an ultra-wide angle lens is also truly magnificent and delivers shots just as impressive! 

  • so great article - i also love mine.

    And yes it is true. When using the camera and the PRO lenses - you really feel that they are made for another.

  • Yep the LV extension is a great feature by dark environment. I realized it on a night dive. Without it was nothing much to sea. Even with a focus light and without the LV extension, there was only a small spot visible. With the LV extension everything is visible and it is much easier to compose the image.

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