During the last year I used two Olympus OM-D E-M1 cameras with prime lenses for my wedding work. On one side of a Holdfast Gear harness I used the 12mm 2.0 lens and on the other the 45mm 1.8. I really liked the advantages of the M4/3s system. For some special occasions, I switched to the 60mm macro or the 75mm 1.8 lens.
However I sometimes missed the flexibility of zoom lenses. Especially in church and during receptions, a longer telephoto range would have been helpful.
So last spring I added the 12-40mm PRO lens to my gear for more flexibility and I am very happy with the results of this lens. For the longer reach, I waited for the 40-150mm, which Olympus presented at Photokina in Cologne.
At Photokina 2014, I tried the new 40-150mm PRO lens and was pleased by the professional haptics of the lens, but disappointed by the autofocus, which did not nail the focus 100% when I tried it at the Olympus booth. The perfect focus is crucial because you cannot fix any AF mistakes in post-production.
In December, Olympus updated their firmware and I gave the lens a second try. This time the focus was perfect.
I decided to keep the lens because my feelings were the following:
- In combination with the 12-40mm, it gives you a range of 12-150mm (equivalent to 24-300mm on Full Frame) with a constant aperture of 2.8.
- Both lenses are extremely sharp even at 2.8.
- They have a high quality build and a professional feeling.
- I am shooting fully manual (which is very easy because of the perfect electronic viewfinder) and for this reason I have to switch the ISO quite often. Both lenses have a programmable Fn Button and I assigned ISO to this. It is very fast and easy to change the ISO because it can be done with the left hand, which supports the lens.
- Super fast autofocus. The AF of both PRO zooms is extremely fast and no different to the prime lenses.
- Manual focus ring. During the dance, I like to switch to zone focusing. I retract the front ring, putting the lens in manual focus mode. I then set the aperture to 8 and the time to 1/30 + ISO 1600 and set the focus distance to 1.5m. With these settings, all the dance action is in focus. The lighting is done by two flashes – one on camera and one held by my assistant on a monopod as a rim light.
- Weather resistance. Both lenses are rain, freeze and snow resistant so they let you take photos even in harsh conditions.
That said, I still have mixed feelings about the following:
- Size and weight of the PRO zoom lenses. The 12-40 lens is at the limit of the size and weight you really want to carry for 12-14 hours and feel comfortable. The 40-150mm lens is much larger and heavier. It is relatively small and light in comparison to a full-frame 70-200mm 2.8 lens, plus it gives you the additional reach up to 300mm. But in comparison to the E-M1 Olympus camera and the M4/3s prime lenses it is quite heavy. I decided not to use both cameras simultaneously with the Holdfast Gear harness and switch between cameras instead.
- The maximum aperture of the lenses is 2.8 and this is more than one stop slower than the fastest prime lenses. For me the maximum ISO is 3200 and even with an aperture of 2.8 you have to choose quite a long shutter speed indoors. The stabilizer of the Olympus cameras helps a lot and if the objects are not moving it is no big problem. The wedding scenes in the church are usually quite static, but at the reception the guests are moving, which was my main concern. In terms of Depth of Field, the M4/3s 2.8 aperture is equivalent to 5.6 on full-frame, but if you consider the telephoto range for me this depth of field is absolutely sufficient. (It also depends on the style of the photos you want to take.)
Considering all these aspects, I decided to use the two PRO lenses exclusively for a winter wedding at the end of December in Wuppertal, Germany.
How I used the lenses
All the photos in the bride’s dressing room were taken with the 12-40mm lens because of the size of the room.
At the wedding ceremony I used the 40-150mm lens most of the time. The large zoom range was a great advantage at that moment.
For the photos of the bride and groom, I switched between lenses. Sometimes the bride and groom were happier to be on their own and in that case the longer telephoto range was of great help.
At the reception I preferred the 12-40mm (although initially I thought I would use the 40-150mm more) and the dancing was captured with only the 12-40mm using zone focusing.
Additional findings during the wedding day
I found the focusing range very pleasing. Even the macro shots of the wedding rings could be done with both lenses. I actually used the 40-150mm instead of my 60mm macro lens.
Switching between cameras was not so easy. I attached conventional straps to both cameras and sometimes I used them simultaneously. I am still looking for a more comfortable solution that doesn’t involve carrying both cameras all the time.
Both lenses worked perfectly and did not disappoint. The 12-40mm lens is very versatile during a wedding and 75% of all photos were taken with this lens. The size is perfect for documentary style photos. The 40-150mm lens gives the additional range for more candid photos and more intimate moments. Especially with a reach equivalent to 300mm you can stay quite far away and still get some close-up shots. The combination of both lenses is an excellent solution for capturing a wedding day.
– Katrin Küllenberg
Have a question for Katrin about her use of the Olympus PRO lenses? Why not leave her a comment at the end of this article. Also be sure to visit her photography website, Facebook page, Google+ profile and Pinterest profile to see more of her amazing work with the OM-D E-M1!