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MirrorLess on the Job

Date: 02/07/2013 | By: Mathieu

Mirrorless on the Job – Episode 1: Working with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 as my primary camera

E-M5, 1/50, f/ , ISO 320

Mirrorless on the Job – Episode 1: Working with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 as my primary camera

Update: I now use an OM-D E-M1 as my primary camera for work. You can read about my experience with it here.

On a professional level, changing your gear isn’t something that you want to do on a whim. In our work, everything lies in the details, and when you change the setup you use everyday, all these details must be reconsidered, from the simple familiarization with the new features of your camera, to understanding how the camera will react in any given situation. While it takes time and patience to harmonize with a new body, it is also an invaluable personal step forward, whereby you add something new to your photographic approach.

Changing gear: why am I switching from DSLRs to mirrorless.

Just to be clear from the start: this isn’t an article championing one system over another.

Every camera has its strong and weak points, and in the end, the gear a photographer chooses is his or her own personal choice.

With the Olympus OM-D E-M5, I have found exactly what I am looking for: DSLR potential in a small and compact body.
I was looking for something more portable, more discreet to work with. The weight was one of the primary reasons for my choice, and there’s no getting around it – it is awesome to carry around something this light.

My daily bag: I easily carry my OM-D with 35-100mm f/2.8, the 12mm and 45mm primes, the FL-600r flash and my Fuji X100s, plus extra batteries, memory cards etc.
My daily bag: I easily carry my OM-D with 35-100mm f/2.8 attached, the 12mm and 45mm primes, the FL-600r flash, my Fuji X100s, plus extra batteries, memory cards and an iPad.

I was looking for something more comfortable to work with when I move around people. I wanted to be quieter, I wanted to get close without attracting too much attention, I wanted to be more agile.

I like to be under the radar, capturing moments without interrupting the scene. I wanted to feel “free” to do what I like working with a small camera that only a few people would notice out of curiosity more than anything else.

So, why the OM-D?

For the time being, the OM-D E-M5 and the Micro Four Thirds system in general offer the best alternative to DSLRs as a system: this includes lens choice, accessories, and so on. My primary concern when I started to look for an alternative to DSLRs was that I had to retain certain features: speed, performance, autofocus accuracy, low light performance and fast zoom lenses.

With the OM-D, there was no need to compromise for any of these features: it is fast, has exceptional ISO performance despite its smaller sensor and has a great choice of lenses, including the Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8, a zoom I always have on hand.
Of course, being part of an original system, there are a few differences you have to accept. I will list them in the following paragraphs, but the point I’d like to drive home is that, with the OM-D, there is no concession in terms of features.

Great, but what about image quality? MFT sensor vs FF sensor.

Some of the most popular debates regarding MFT cameras involve depth of field, “creamy dreamy” bokeh, dynamic range and high ISO performance.

Since a picture speaks 1000 words, I’ll answer this question with some images:

E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2, ISO 400
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2, ISO 400 with the M.Zuiko 12mm f/2
E-M5, 1/50, f/2 , ISO 500Voigtländer 25mm f/0.95
E-M5, 1/50, f/2 , ISO 500 with the Voigtländer 25mm f/0.95
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2, ISO 800M.Zuiko 12mm f/2
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2, ISO 800 with the M.Zuiko 12mm f/2
E-M5, 1/15, f/ 5.6, ISO 6400
E-M5, 1/15, f/ 5.6, ISO 6400 with the M.Zuiko 12mm f/2

Now, we could play the scientific game of “which camera is better,” comparing the same scenes taken with different cameras to see which has more detail in the shadows or in the highlights but… do we really need this?

I am not naive – I know that my Nikon FX camera has more dynamic range than my OM-D, and I won’t try to prove the contrary. But what I can tell you is that the OM-D has more than enough of all the tech specs to satisfy myself and my clients.

And yes, it also has less depth of field, but with the right pieces of glass, you can have all the bokeh you want, and then some. And remember, less DoF can also be a positive thing! Sometimes having more elements in focus is important. With the OM-D, I can shoot a group of people at f/2.8 with the assurance that a) it is unlikely that one of them will be out of focus and b) that they, as subjects, will remain isolated enough from the background to create a pleasant image.

E-M5, 1/2000, f/ 2.8, ISO 200
E-M5, 1/2000, f/ 2.8, ISO 200 with the Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8

Switching to mirrorless made me realize this: in the end, it isn’t about the aperture or the ISO value you set but the moment you capture.

And I admit I didn’t used to think in this manner at the beginning of my career, when DSLRs were my world and like a lot of people, G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) had started to spread through my veins. It is almost a natural path that you have to cross, much to the chagrin of your wallet/family/wife.

I spent a lot of money on gear and lenses. I was pulled in by the f/2.8 constant zoom first, then by f/1.4 primes. The most beautiful lens I have ever owned was the Nikkor AF-S 24mm f/1.4. I shot almost all my Canadian roadtrip with it last year. But then I sold it. Why? Because I had only used it two times in a year, and because in the end, it was the scene captured and not the lens used that made 99% of my photographs stand out.

NIKON D700, 1/50, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
Niagara Falls – NIKON D700, 1/50, f/ 5.6, ISO 200

I wanted to get away from this, update my approach to photography, and differentiate myself from the crowd. And that’s what I did with the OM-D and I could not be happier about it.

So, now that the poetic/emotional part is done, let’s have a look at some concrete examples!

Working with the OM-D: reportage for the National Cinema Museum

Low light performance and dynamic range

At the cinema museum, my job is split in two: I have press conferences, exhibition openings and general events to cover on one end, and interior photography on the other. When documenting an event, I have to make sure to take photographs of the most important people present. When I do interior work, the most important thing is to reproduce the atmosphere of the museum, which is awesome to shoot, but challenging for its particular low light conditions.

E-M5, 2/1, f/ 8/1, ISO 200
E-M5, HDR, f/ 8, ISO 200

In the case of event shooting, I require superior ISO performance, good autofocus in low light and a good flash. I don’t like flashes in general but in these situations you’d be walking a risky line not to have one.

ISO is the first feature that strikes me. It is incredibly good. It is perfectly usable up to 6400 in my opinion, after which you start to really lose some detail. This said, it is nice to know that in desperate (and I mean desperate) situations, 25600 ISO will still give you a reasonable photograph, if just for the purpose of documenting an event.

E-M5, 1/20, f/ 1.8, ISO 25600Taken at the Massimo Theatre during a live music screening. Meaning, no light at all exepct waht is shown on the screen.
E-M5, 1/20, f/ 1.8, ISO 25600
Taken at the Massimo Theatre during a live music screening. Meaning no light at all except that which is reflected by the screen.

The ISO is so good when using this camera that often, if the ambient light is decent enough, I don’t use the flash.

E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600Sandy Powell, three times accademy award winner for custom design at the opening of the Martin Scorsese exhibition.
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600
Sandy Powell, three time Academy Award winner at the opening of the Martin Scorsese exhibition.

Of course, when the scene is too dark, I use the Olympus FL-600r. Coming from the Nikon SB-900, I was really curious to see how this small flash could compare in terms of recharging speed and continuous shooting, and I was again surprised by how it performs.

My ideal OM-D E-M5 setup
My ideal OM-D E-M5 setup

It doesn’t reach the level of the SB-900, but I have never had a problem with it so far. You can wirelessly control it if needed, and the LED lamp is a nice addition, even though I haven’t had the chance to use it yet. I guess it is more of a feature for video.

E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 800
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 800 with FL-600r Flash

The lens I use the most in this case is the Lumix 35-100 f/2.8. It’s the only telephoto zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture available for MFT right now, and honestly, I don’t miss my old Nikkor 80-200mm at all.

X100S, 1/30, f/ 28/10, ISO 800
The Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8

It is sharp and fast enough to cover all my needs. I shoot 99% of my photographs at f/2.8 to isolate my subjects and it works like a charm.

The only difficulty you might encounter in poorly-lit situations is with the electronic viewfinder. You have to get used to it when shooting in low-light environments, as the live view will be slower and darker than the optical viewfinder of a DSLR. However, once you get the hang of it and learn how the camera reacts while shooting, it is perfectly fine.

Taking interiors pictures, on the other hand, is actually my favourite kind of shooting, because I like to observe a scene and capture it from varying perspectives and unique point of views.

E-M5, 1/2500, f/ 2, ISO 200M.Zuiko 12mm f/2A close-up of the intense portrait of Daniel Day_lewis in Gangs of New York outside the Cinema Museum for the Martin Scorsese exhibition.
E-M5, 1/2500, f/ 2, ISO 200 – M.Zuiko 12mm f/2
A close-up of the intense portrait of Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York outside the Cinema Museum for the Martin Scorsese exhibition.

Also, time is not my enemy. I can walk free and undisturbed around the museum and take pictures where and when I want. Often, I take different exposures and merge the RAW files into HDR, but on occasions where I have to work with a single file, I never encounter any limitations. The Olympus ORF RAW files are very good, and I have managed more than once to open shadows or recover highlights by almost two stops without losing any quality.

In this case, my favourite lens to work with is the M.Zuiko 12mm f/2. It is very sharp even at its full aperture, and has a focal length that I love, the 24mm (equivalent on 35mm format).

In cases where there is a severe lack of space, a wider lens could useful. This is why I am also considering the Lumix 7-14mm f/4 as a future acquisition, but for now, I am fine with the 12mm. Not too wide, just perfect.

E-M5, 8/10, f/ 8/1, ISO 200
E-M5, HDR, f/ 8, ISO 200

Working with the OM-D: the wedding experience

Speed and autofocus

I did my first wedding with the OM-D last month. I had the Lumix 35-100, the M.Zuiko 12mm and 45mm f/1.8 with me, as well as the Voigtlaender Nokton 25mm f/0.95.

Often, brides are nervous about the idea of being photographed, especially at the start of the day. Most of them try to hide their nervousness, but as a photographer, I know it’s there and as such, I want to be as inconspicuous as possible. I don’t like to make them pose for me. Rather, I prefer to capture their natural and spontaneous expressions throughout the day. Of course, smaller gear helps in achieving this. It is a subtle thing, but I noticed that the bride was very comfortable with me moving around. She probably felt less intimidated.

E-M5, 1/50, f/2, ISO 500
E-M5, 1/50, f/2, ISO 500

At the bride’s home, I used the Nokton 25mm quite a lot. I love this lens and the look it gives my pictures. I just have to be careful to not use it at its fastest aperture as it is too soft. Also, it is strictly a manual focus lens, so I have to use it in situations where my subject is not moving back and forth, or where I haven’t the time to check my focus. I set the fn1 button to the magnify function for that. I would prefer to have peak highlighting as it would smooth out the process, but this solution works just fine. I also mounted the 45mm for a couple of shots but there wasn’t a lot of space and the lens doesn’t let you focus very close.

E-M5, 1/60, f/2 , ISO 200
E-M5, 1/60, f/2 , ISO 200
Voigtlaender 25mm f/0.95

I also brought my Lumix GH3. Since it shares the same sensor/mount as the OM-D, it is a perfect second body. I mounted the 12mm on it to get a wide angle view of the church with some nice details.

DMC-GH3, 1/50, f/ 4/1, ISO 800
DMC-GH3, 1/50, f/ 4/1, ISO 800
DMC-GH3, 1/100, f/ 2/1, ISO 800
DMC-GH3, 1/100, f/ 2/1, ISO 800

This is another positive aspect of MFT cameras – you can use two bodies produced by different brands (Olympus and Panasonic) because they share the same lenses.

In the church, my biggest requirement is speed and AF accuracy, and that’s where I mainly used my E-M5 with the 35-100 lens. The AF works really well, but in a situation like this one where the church was small and crowded, you want to make the AF point as small as possible. Otherwise, the OM-D will tend to focus on an element in the foreground or background rather than your subject.

N.B.: Olympus released a firmware update (version 2.0) in January 2014 that adds Small AF target to the AF target settings (like the OM-D E-M1).

E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 800
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 800

The only limit with the OM-D is focus tracking. It isn’t very reliable, so I prefer to use AF-S mode as the camera is very quick to focus and take the shot. It works well if people are walking slowly towards me for example, like the bride and her father entering the church, but in other situations, this could be a limit.

As for speed, the OM-D is incredibly fast. So fast that I often use 4.2fps instead of 9fps, as I would end up with to many nearly identical RAW files.

I worked at this wedding with a colleague who uses a Canon 7D.

When we mixed our photos together for the final output, we both agreed that there wasn’t any notable difference between her shots and mine.

Working with the OM-D: theatrical performance

Discretion and the electronic viewfinder

Another great field test I had the chance to perform recently was for a theatre show. It was a two-man show with live jazz music in the background. The light was generally very contrasted in the foreground but very low in the background.

E-M5, 1/50, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600
E-M5, 1/50, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600
E-M5, 1/200, f/ 28/10, ISO 1600
E-M5, 1/200, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600

I kept my ISO at 1600 maximum and my shutter speed between 1/100 and 1/200 to ensure sharpness.

Here again, the 35-100mm was the lens I used the most.

E-M5, 1/100, f/ 28/10, ISO 1250
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 1250
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 800
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 800

Now, in a situation like this one, with two actors talking most of the time and the public quietly listening, the OM-D is a winner as the shutter release sound is very low compared to a DSLR.

Often, for shows like this, you have to place a body cover over your DSLR that reduces the noise of the mirror flipping. With the OM-D, I felt free to shoot as much as I wanted without any worry of bothering the audience next to me, even during moments of complete silence. This is without a doubt one of the most interesting advantages.

E-M5, 1/200, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600
E-M5, 1/200, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600
E-M5, 1/100, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600

In these particular light conditions, there is an important option which you must set correctly on the EVF. In the D custom menu (Disp/Sound/PC), you want the Live View Boost to be off. If set to on, the live view will give priority to making your shot visible and will therefore not give you a realistic preview of your actual exposure. Most of the time, the two actors at the front of the stage were illuminated with an intense white light, while the musicians in the background were bathed in a coloured low light. The Live View Boost tends to compensate between light and shadows, and sometimes I would see my subjects completely overexposed while the background was correctly exposed. Normally, I leave this option set to on, but in this case, I had to turn it off to be able to compose my shots with ease.

This is an aspect you have to get used to: the EVF requires some setting adjustments depending on the light conditions around you.

That, of course, wouldn’t be necessary with an optical viewfinder, but it is just a question of becoming familiar with it, and remembering to apply the right settings before you start shooting.

E-M5, 1/50, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600
E-M5, 1/50, f/ 2.8, ISO 1600

As I already stated before, the ORF Olympus RAW files give you a lot of versatility, even at 800 or 1600 ISO. I was able to recover much information in the shadows and highlights for a couple of photos without the quality of the picture deteriorating too much. I really like to shoot knowing I can count on that. Even though I always try to correctly expose the photos during the shoot, I know I can depend on the RAW files to adjust the imperfections.

For this, I rarely if ever miss the RAW files from my Nikon D700. The sensor, despite being small, is very good in terms of image quality.

The fear of looking less professional

A common topic I encounter is the fear of looking less professional when using smaller gear. It is true that people who hire photographers are used to seeing them work with big/fat DSLRs and lenses, but…

In my experience so far, the only reaction I have met with is curiosity.

People are intrigued, often pleasantly surprised when I tell them that it isn’t a film camera! So, I guess it is more of a personal fear one can have rather than anything else. I also think that the retro design of the OM-D looks different but not any less professional. It gives the impression of a niche choice made by someone who knows exactly what he is doing.

In my case, the impressions of other people, both clients and colleagues, have been very positive. Since everyone is happy with the results I give them, I can say again that my choice so far has been the right one.

So, is there any tangible limit? Can the OM-D E-M5 really replace a DSLR system?

In my opinion, no, at least not yet. There are times when a full fame sensor will give you better results for specific kinds of work. I still have my Nikon D700 and consider it for certain job assignments. For instance, I have recently been asked to shoot a still life on location inside a factory, and since it isn’t my primary genre, I am not yet confident enough to use the OM-D on its own.

Unfortunately, the job has been postponed, but when the time comes, I will bring my D700 for the main shots, and my E-M5 as a back-up camera so that I can test it. In this way, I can provide the agency with the DSLR files they are used to receiving, but at the same time, have the chance to show them the OM-D RAW files so they can judge the quality. If the OM-D passes the test, I would not hesitate to branch out into using MFT for still life as well.

In short, if you fear looking less professional, or actually producing sub-professional results, using a DSLR and MFT camera during the same session is just another way to continue the “switch” with caution and professionalism.

Additional tips and recommended accessories

With my OM-D, I always use the HLD-6 grip as the body alone is a little bit too small for my hands. For short assignments, I only use the landscape unit to keep the camera as compact as possible. For events like weddings, where I have to work all day, I also use the vertical grip as it is more comfortable to hold, especially for portrait-oriented shots. Since the HDL-6 is proportional to the size of the OM-D, the complete setup still remains small and lightweight.

NEX-5, 1/60, f/ 35/10, ISO 200
The OM-D E-M5 with the Landscape Grip
X20, 1/100, f/ 22/10, ISO 100
The OM-D E-M5 with Landscape and Vertical Grip.

A word of caution: while holding the camera, you can accidentally press the shutter release button on the vertical grip, so when you don’t intend to use it, it is better to switch the lock lever. Also, keep in mind that the horizontal grip alone will drain the battery more, while with the vertical grip you can insert a second battery.

The OM-D has a good battery life but if used extensively, you will consume two batteries in a day. Three batteries will keep you safe for an extensive day of work.

If you like working with automatic white balance as I do, know that the E-M5 is very precise. Inside the menu, there is an option to let the camera choose between warmer or cooler colours for auto WB. For landscapes or general outdoor photography, the warm setting is better, but for people or indoor shooting, especially with ambient light, it is better to use the cool settings or your skin tone could end up too red.

With Micro Four Thirds sensors, you may sometimes notice more chromatic aberration or purple fringing on pictures taken in bright sunlight, especially with backlighting. Nothing to be afraid of as it is easily removable with Lightroom or any other editing software, but it is a weak point worth mentioning.

Conclusion: the OM-D E-M5 isn’t the only mirrorless camera I am using…

I recently started to pair it with the Fuji X100s, another camera that I love. But to know more about that, you will have to read the second episode of Mirrorless on the Job!

I want to personally thank the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Serena and Pietro, Helleana, Eugenio and their daughter, Andrea Murchio, Alessia Olivetti and their cast for allowing me to publish their pictures.

You can also check out the low-light performance review of the E-M5 that I performed at the Cinema Museum, as well as a portrait session gallery made for the Italian actress Alessia Olivetti. They are both nice examples of how you can use the OM-D on a professional level.

If you’re curious about the gear I use along with my OM-D, here is the list:

And…as always, feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Patricia Roe

    Walked into camera store intending to purchase an additional lens for my Canon bodies..gonna go “shoot” some birds in Florida. Salesman mentioned I might want to play with the used OM-D EM-5 they had and lined it all up next to the lens I was considering with a comparable body. For the same price, I walked away with a new system. Compared to lugging around my DSLRs, this system feels weightless. 3 days later, I’m overjoyed (still stumbling through menus, of course) and putting my Canon gear on the block. Wow! Just, wow!

  • Mathieu

    Thanks Jeff. I sometimes shoot with the 3:2 aspect ratio, I never noticed a loss of quality so it isn’t a problem for me. I could always shoot in the native 4:3 aspect but as you said, if you have lots of pictures to post process, cropping each of them add more time to the editing.

  •!home/mainPage Jeff

    Love the idea of this, truly I do! I am sick of lugging around my slr at gigs. BUT! What are you doing about the print size dilemma? The images produced are going to require cropping, much like the aps-c and others, but much more dramatically. Especially in the 4×6 size. Which as you and I know is the size most used to fill up all those wedding books out there. SO! Are you cropping each and every shot and thinking well in advanced in order to get what you intended? That would seem like mountains of editing and in terms of time is money, the full frame hulking lugs we all know and “love” make up even more of their cost in time spent behind the editing screen? Great right up pal. Seriously enjoyed it. I love this little camera and am on the verge of picking on up for myself, but am weary about pro use of it as of yet.

  • Mathieu

    Great to hear it Justin. Which lens are you using for portraits?

  • Justin Bonaparte

    Hey, thanks for the great writeup. It echoes my thoughts very well, having been using the cam for the past six months or so for mainly portraiture. Keep on truckin!

  • Mathieu

    Hi Jonathan. I never really used the 12-50mm but from what I heard and the pictures I saw, it is a more than respectful kit lens to begin with. What kind of lenses do you use on your 60D?

  • Jonathan

    Great practical report, Mathieu!

    I’ve been eyeing the OM-D for awhile, specially since I hear the Olympus jpeg engine is more punchy compared to panasonic.

    I don’t have the budget for several lenses off the bat, so wanted your opinion on the 12-50, if you’ve ever tried it.

    I have a Canon S3 IS and 60D – a GH3 would fit nicely with the two, but I just want a weather sealed walk around mirror less. Is the OM-D w/d 12-50 hold its own ground, even just below the 60D?

  • Mathieu

    Don’t worry, I’m happy to answer any questions that might help 😉
    I find the ergonomics better on the GH3 if I have to be completely honest: more function buttons, feels nicer in your hand because it has a DSLR design, especially if you have big hands like me :) However, I find my personal solution with the OM-D and its landscape grip. Occasionally, I also use the vertical grip.
    As for the EVF, the OM-D viewfinder is better. The GH3 EVF has the far edges of the screen appearing blurry and distorted. It’s not a problem related the OLED screen itlself but I rather the piece of glass that stands between your eye and the screen.

  • Rainer

    Thanks for the reply.. I just saw the layout of the GH3, and the ergonomics seams well and the function buttons etc. I have sort of big hands, so without the battery grip I cannot shoot with the OMD easy…
    How is the EVF? Better then the OMD?
    Sorry for bombarding you with the questions :)

  • Mathieu

    I use the GH3 for video mostly, and sometimes as a backup camera for my OM-D. Both the cameras share the same sensor, so when it comes to still image quality, you will get the same results. I love the GH3 ergonomics, but at the same time it is more like a DSLR and I prefer the smaller size of the OM-D. The GH3 really stands out for its video capabilities and I’m using it for personal and professional work.

  • Rainer

    great report… would have a question referring the difference of OMD and GH3… you have both and in practice you use more the OMD. Is it due to low ISO performance and better still image quality?
    Thanks for sharing your thought :)

  • Mathieu

    Hi Rainer, I tried the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 and really like it. Sharp at its fastest aperture, very small but with a solid metal build and a fast AF. And given its 34mm equivalent focal lenght, it is perfect for street photography. I never tried the Lumix 20mm but everyone wrote a lot of good things about it. Be sure to try the new edition first, as I heard the the previous model had some issues with the OM-D (banding). The 12mm is a wonderful lens but It depends on what kind of focal lenght your prefer. Did you notice what it is the most common focal lenght you use with your 12-35mm? It could help you with your choice 😉 Also, there is the Pana Leica 25mm f/1.4, if you like the 50mm equivalent.

  • Rainer

    great artical.
    I also had a D7000 and sold it and switched to OMD. Love it.
    I have the 12-35, 35-100 and the 45mm…
    I saw you shoot a lot with the 12mm one… I consider to buy a “smaller” lens then 12-35 :) as a walk around lens for street… considered the Pana 20mm or the Olympus 17mm. Do you have experience with these lenses vs the 12mm? the 12mm is more expensive and owning two major lenses already , I am not sure if the budget would allow a 12mm. since it might be too luxury to have it as an addition to the 12-35.
    What would you think?
    Thanks a lot

  • Ander

    Thanks so much! That was very helpful!

  • Mathieu

    Hi Ander, 2 cm will be a snug fit. See the two pictures below. I have two covers for my ipad, the apple smart cover and the Targus Versavu.

    Apple Smart Cover


    As you can see, with the Targus, it becomes bulkier. The bag will still close but everything is tighter, so I prefer to use the smart cover when I use this bag.

  • Ander

    Thanks for the Event Messenger review as well. Your review helped me clear my mind and it’s most likely the one I will end purchasing. You mention that the tablet compartment is a bit tight; can you clarify this a bit? With the cover, my tablet is 2 cm thick, and I’d hate not to be able to carry it as it’s very convenient to position it upright. If I were to judge from Lowepro website, it would appear that there are more than 2 cm, but I’d like the straight opinion of somebody who has it :)

  • Mathieu

    Hi Ander, yes it is 😉 We wrote a review about it if you are interested.

  • Ander

    Thanks for the nice article. Is the bag a Lowepro Event Messenger 150?

  • Mathieu

    Hi Matthais and thanks for sharing your experience with the OM-D.
    About the 35-100mm, I recommend it because it is the only professional zoom available for MFT (along with the 12-35mm) and it is very versatile for some of the work I have to cover on a daily basis. I have the 45mm but use it for portraits mainly. I would love to have the 75mm, I tried it two weeks ago and I loved it. Maybe in the future I will add it to my gear.
    What I would really want to do is have two or three OM-Ds (or two omds and the e-p5) and work only with primes. That would be a great improvement in my photography approach. But the investment is more expensive and I also admit that coming from a D700 + 70-200 f/2.8, I preferred to switch carefully and find an equivalent combo.
    On the other end, what I would really want from the Olympus FT gear, is a new edition of the two f/2 constant zooms but with MFT mount. In the same time, they would be quiet expensive :)
    I didn’t mention the stabilisation performance, as I already wrote about it in my E-M5 review but you are right, it is really good.

  • Matthais

    Hi Mathieu,
    thanks a lot for the elaborate report.
    I am also working with the E-M5 and and I can confirm all your findings working with the E-M5.
    Whats intriguing me is your recommendation for the 35-100 lens. Can you compare the quality with the 45/1.8? And – Did you ever consider the 75/1.8 for your gear?
    What I am actually missing is a really good lens like the 12/60 FT from Olympus. On the other hand there are excellent fixed focus lenses available for uFT which are missing for FT.
    I am also using the HLD-6. It helps a lot to get a really good grip and to shoot portraiture.
    What I am really missing from my E-5 are the additional direct access function keys. Selecting functions with the menu keys is not really fun. But this basically is my only concern with respect to the E-M5.
    Two things you did not mention in detail which I like a lot is the view finder which actually shows the REAL image as it will be stored on your memory card. This make over-/ under exposure an easy task. The second thing is the excellent stabilizer which helps to shoot at low light with low ISO settings.
    Looking forward to your next experience – even though it will not be uFT related…

  • Jay

    Loved your post. I shot a wedding with an OM-D for the first time just last night, pairing with my existing Canon kit. I’ll be putting the Canon gear up for sale this week. The OM-D just works better, especially with flash, for my purposes. And I don’t wake up Sunday morning with back pain!

  • Mathieu

    I have not used it yet. It is on my G.A.S. list :) The thing is that here in Europe and specifically in Italy the prices are higher than they are in the US. So I guess I will wait a little more. I chose the 35-100mm instead because it covers the focal lengths that I need.

  • RV Abbott

    Just wondering, have you used the Panasonic 12-35mm at all? It’s now available online for about $1,000, which is only $300 more than the Olympus 12mm. Much more flexibility, although one stop slower and bulkier.

  • Mathieu

    Thanks for your nice comment, Mike.

  • Mathieu

    Hi Paul. I agree with you about the eyecap, it has happened to me more than once but I always find it again right away. I guess I have been lucky so far. As for the overall robustness of the camera, I have never had a problem but I also have to admit I have never traveled two months with it and faced different weather conditions and other things that you can encounter during long trips. The work I do is mostly indoor or outdoor for events like wedding. I have sometimes used it in light rain without any problem.
    I always found the various buttons “delicate” but the rest of the camera seems fine to me. That being said, I don’t think it is as robust as a pro DSLR.

  • paul

    Hi , good detailed artical . I have been using the OMD extensively for the last 12 months as i travel around Australia. I have been impressed with its size , ability and flexibility (size/performance) . I would be interested in what you think around the robustness of the OMD for professional work . I have lost 3 eye cups ( the worst design feature i have found on a camera) , the programme button constantly moves if carried for any length of time against your body (needs a lock button) , the small grip is used all the time , and the finger rubber is now superglued back on . The larger grip/battery holder also lost the rubber base support now super glued . And one screen screw is cracked . I have concerns that this little camera will not be robust enough for longer term pro use , i would be very interested in your views . Paul

  • Mike O’Sullivan

    Excellent real-world review, well written and thorough. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I also have an em-5 and mostly use it for fun, but it’s good to see that in the right hands, the camera has professional potential.

  • Mathieu

    Thanks Don. Don’t hesitate to ask more questions if you need to 😉

  • Don

    Wonderful report. You’ve helped clarify my thinking for replacing my bloated Canon system.

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