Lean, Clean and Bluesy

Lean, Clean and Bluesy is a phrase that chimed with me the moment I saw it on Credence Clearwater Revival’s Cosmo’s Factory  album. It described Creedence’s stripped down music to a ‘T’ but I found myself applying it to many things in my life including photography. I want lean in a picture, no more in it than necessary. Clean, it should look thoughtfully, even neatly composed. Bluesy? Simple in form but able to convey deep feelings.

I also apply it to my ideal camera outfit. Minimal, efficient, versatile, easy to use. And that’s the reason the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 zoom has been in my mind so much lately. It is exactly the type of Micro Four Thirds lens I’ve tried to avoid because, like the superb Panasonic 42.5mmf/1.2 Nocticron, it is simply too big. And big is the reason I got rid of my DSLRs. I use both Panasonic and Olympus cameras and lenses and have no deep feelings about either, certainly no brand loyalty. Any brand loyalty I have comes about because I’ve invested in a system and it would be expensive and inconvenient to change. But the 40-150 f/2.8 is compelling. And then along came the Olympus EM-5 Mk 2.

Here are my thoughts. My main working outfit consists of Panasonic GH4, GX7 backup, 7-14 f/4, 12-35 f/2.8, 35-100 f/2.8, 100-300 f/4-5.6 and a 300mm f4 IF manual focus Nikkor used with a Metabones Speed Booster to give me a 400mm (ish) f/3.2. There’s nothing redundant there but the there is one glaring weakness in the overall line-up. The long end. The Metabones and 300mm Nikkor give a neat, sharp and fast 420mm but it is manual focus. The 100-300mm zoom is good but focusing is relatively slow and at the 200mm mark it is quite slow at f/5. It’s also not so  sharp at 300mm, though I have little use personally for 300mm anyway.

Looking at my long end (quiet at the back!), I have three lenses to cover the 35-400 range that i need. The wonderful f/2.8 35-100, the Nikkor 300mm with Metabones and the 100-300mm. Now consider the alternative. The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 has a 1.4x converter available. Yes, you lose a stop in speed, making the combo a half stop slower than the Nikkor 300mm/ Metabones combo but you gain autofocus and autoexposure. And sharpness at least as good, if not better. In other words, one largish lens and converter replaces 3 lenses and a converter. I said it was compelling.

So, two camera bodies, 7-14 f/4, 12-35 f/2.8 and 40-150 f/2.8 plus converter. Lean, for sure.  Clean, certainly. Bluesy? Yes….except. Spot the problem. No stabilization just where you need it most – with the long lenses. True, the Panasonic GX7 does have in body stabilization but it’s vestigial compared to the in lens facility which Panasonic themselves recommend over in body using their lenses on the GX7. The answer to this problem can only be to use Olympus bodies with their amazing sensor based stabilization. But then you have to accept rudimentary video capabilities, swivel only monitors and no silent shutter mode.

Or rather, you did have to. Olympus has now stepped in with the EM-5 Mk 2 and added all those things. All it lacks is 4k video but   I’m not a video specialist and 4k is of no great interest to me since I publish all my stuff on YouTube and have no video ambitions beyond FHD and 50mbps.

So, thinking it through, if you take the weight of the lenses into account rather than just the size, what do we have? The Nikkor 300, Metabones, 100-300 zoom and 35-100 f2/8 have a total weight of 2,600 grams or 5.7lbs. The Olympus 40-150 f/2.8 plus converter weigh in at 930 grams, a third of the weight and is two items instead of four.  Like, I said, a compelling argument and a measure of how fast these things move in Micro Four Thirds.

What stands out to me is how Panasonic Panasonic have neglected long lens users – and let’s face it, there aren’t many serious photographers who don’t need a 300/400mm in their bag.  Olympus’s big f2/8 zoom feels great on the GH4 but a lens of this focal length really does need stabilization.

The 40-150 plus converter has been bit of a game changer for me. Olympus EM-1 and EM-5 Mk2 plus 7-14 Panasonic, Olympus 12-40 f/2.8, 40-150 f/2.8 and converter give an astonish focal range from ultra-wide to long tele in 3 lenses all stabilized. Plus my video needs are met.bag

Here it all is in my Lowepro sling bag. And there, inset is the weight of my outfit with accessories and including the bag itself – 3.8kg. For comparison, 2 Canon EOS -1D bodies and one standard f2.8 zoom weigh more. I’m not comparing them other than weight but when I’m out on my bike it is amazing that I can carry such a comprehensive and above all high quality outfit without a murmur of protest from my back.

A disturbingly high number of my professional acquaintances suffer from back problems due to long-term hauling of heavy gear. I was lucky enough never to have a serious back problem but all respect to Mr MFT for helping me keep it that way.  And strangely, as a result of using one of the heaviest lenses in the system!

Lean, clean and most definitely bluesy!

53 thoughts on “Lean, Clean and Bluesy

  1. Richard

    Late to the game.
    Decided to treat myself to a nice camera and thought it would be the M5mii as it was the newer of the bunch. That was shot down after handling it the store.

    I see they are still available in USA at $899 and I will be there mid month.

    So… with the camera at 3 years old of technology and Olympus seriously appearing to announce it’s successor in September, do you see this camera still being a value at this time at this price?

    I have no problem waiting 6 more months for the newer M1 AND just maybe Panasonic is going to come
    out with the GH4 successor.

    What advice would you give your best friend?

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      I’d advise my best friend to try a Panasonic GX8 or GX80/5 with a Panasonic lens for the dual stabilization to match the Olympus variety. If they didn’t satisfy, I would wait for the new Olympus (or Panasonic if the new olympus wasn’t to my taste). I’d recommend the GX8 wholeheartedly apart from the matter of shutter shock and the GX80/5 apart from the EVF size. The shutter shock isn’t a factor for me, since I use the electronic shutter as standard.

      The E-M1 is a great camera but it is a bit long in the tooth and its focusing isn’t up to the Panasonic’s – having said that, none of the Olympuses have the out and out focusing capability of the new Panasonics and it is the wonderful eager, lively performance of the GX8 and GX80/5 that make me enjoy them so much. I probably wouldn’t buy an E-M1 right now even at a bargain price because I know that when the new one comes out, I’d buy it at some point. Cheaper to wait! I hope that helps a bit!

      I did just advise a friend but he was new to photography and I advised him to buy a G7 with 14-140mm zoom. A lot of capability for a relatively small amount of money but I think you have more experience and a better idea of what you want.

      Reply
      1. Richard

        Thanks David for the sound advice. It was just about the way I have been thinking.
        The in body stabilization is my preferred technology, but since I have nothing invested (MFT) at this point, I’m going the wait and see approach for now.
        One issue for me, regarding Olympus, is the loss of the world wide warranty on most of their MFT line. IF you buy in the Americas, it must be sent for warranty in the Americas. That is not going to work for me as I travel too much and I do not want to be stuck with a bad lens or body in Asia that I bought in the USA or vise versa.
        Thanks

        Reply
        1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

          Good point about the warranty, I didn’t know that. Considering how comparatively few people would need to use an Asia warranty in the USA, they are shooting themselves in the foot I think.

          Reply
  2. Nick

    Hi David,

    I have watched many of your YouTube videos and I wonder whether you could offer me some advice… I am currently considering whether to upgrade from my G6 to the GH4 or to the new EM 5 ii – there are a few reasons why I am thinking of doing this which I won’t bore you with. However, a possible constraint is the view in some forums that the lenses are not quite as fully interchangeable between Oly and Pana as we might like. Clearly they share a mount and are able to auto-focus correctly and from a certain point in time (just before the EM1 & G5 I think) are able to interpret each others lens aberration data in camera correctly to pass on to our favourite RAW editing suites etc. But I’ve read that the lateral CA in Pana lenses doesn’t get fully corrected when used on Oly bodies. I wonder whether you could comment on whether you have ever felt that using a Pana lens on an Oly body has ever reduced the IQ in a discernible way? I’ve got a few Pana lenses (12-35, 14-140, 45-200) and I would be reluctant to swap them all out for their Oly equivalents.

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Hi Nick – lenses are fully interchangeable between the two makes or any other MFT standard lens for that matter and I don’t hesitate to use any lens on any camera. It’s true that CA isn’t corrected on Panasonic lenses with Olympus bodies. However, all MFT lenses exhibit CA and it’s a question of whether the camera removes it or if you do. It’s a small matter taking just one click on Lightroom and I wouldn’t let it affect my choices.

      Given the lenses you have, a Panasonic body would make more sense anyway. I bought an Olympus body because I wanted to use the 40-150mm f/2.8 but apart from the stabilization the two camera bodies you mention are very similar in facilities and capabilities. The Olympus’s EVF is better and the GH4’s video better but there’s no killer difference apart from the stabilization.

      Reply
      1. Nick

        Hi David – many thanks for the confirmation of the CA issue and also the fact that its easily corrected in Lightroom so as to really be a non-problem! I’ll just need to learn how to correct it quickly if I spot some CA as I finally decided to go for the EM 5 ii on account of its smaller size compared with the GH4 (ie. similar to my G6) and also the excellent IBIS. I also bought the 45/1.8 Oly lens which is proving to be an excellent portrait lens. Nick.

        Reply
        1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

          The stabilization is amazing and that 45mm is a must have lens. It’d probably hand holdable down to 1/10th of a second on the E-M which gives amazing low light capability without a tripod. Lightroom, yes, make the correction how you want for each lens and make it a preset. The CA just magically vanishes, though it’ not apparent on most images anyway.

          Reply
  3. Vincent Riboni

    Hey David,

    Well I completely have no idea what to buy anymore lol. I bought my Gh4 for making video as that was all that I was interested in, but as I got more involved with video and photography, photography has taken the lead as far as interest goes. During the last trip I was on I realized that I’m strongly in need of some good zooms, as I became frustrated changing lenses so often. As my collection right now consist of the metabones speedbooster with tokina 11-16 2.8, Nikon 35 1.8 & 50 1.4, Pan. 20 1.7, Oly. 45 1.8, and 14-42II kit lens. My dilemna is I can’t sell the gh4 because the video capability is still important to me, I can’t buy an Olympus camera for the ibis because before that I need a pair of zooms from the short to the long end. Any suggestions from anyone? What would you all do? One last question or two lol, Pan. 12-35 or Oly 12-40 for the Gh4? Is OIS really that important in that focal range? Oh ya I also have a gx7 which I bought for it’s size if that matters.

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Hi Vincent – difficult decisions. I’d actually buy the Panasonic zoom for the GH4. While stabilization is less necessary on a standard zoom, it still enables lower light shooting so you might as well have it if it is available. Performance wise, the two f/2.8 zooms are very similar but the extra 5mm of the Olympus is mor useful on portraits than you might expect. On the other hand, the Panasonic lens is smaller and lighter and a better fit altogether for your GX7. I’d go for that. I’g do for the Panasonic 35-100 f/2.8 too. The likelihood is that these will be the lenses you’ll use 90% of the time, actually. I’d never get rid of the 45 f/1.8, though.
      On last thing – don’t forget the 14-140 Panasonic. It’s slower than the others but for video is good, having that wide range without having to change lenses and is good as a do-it-all lens with less performance hit than you might expect. But, overall, the two Panasonic f/2.8s.

      Reply
      1. Vincent Riboni

        Thanks for your reply David, I actually did buy the 14-140 and am really impressed with the image quality and love the range, I just need something a little wider. Do you really like the Panasonic 7-14? I do wish you could put filters on it. Time to save for the Panasonic zooms mentioned. As always thanks for your advice, opinions, and great reviews.

        Reply
  4. Allan Gould

    David
    One final thought – if you do manage to get hold of a Panasonic 45-174mm zoom, besides testing it natively for sharpness etc, would it be possible to test it with the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter.
    I know the 1.4TC is for the Oly Pro 40-150 zoom, but it would be interesting to see if it can be used with this zoom.
    Hope you had a good Easter.
    Regards, Allan

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      The Olympus converter can’t be used with any lens other than the 40-150 f/2.8 because the front element juts out into the rear of the lens.. It seems to have been designed expressly for it which is probably why it works so effectively.
      converter

      Reply
      1. Richard Harris

        The Oly converter is fantastic – giving a 420mm eq. f4 with very little weight or sharpness penalty. The same converter will also work with the forthcoming 300mm F4, giving a 840mm eq. f5.6. Relative to the old 300mm f2.8, the lost stop will be more than made up for by the whole ensemble being one third of the weight.

        Reply
        1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

          Yes, it’s very impressive. Very obviously purpose designed and to my eyes any sharpness loss is at the pixel peep level. I was using it on some sport yesterday, brilliant, a 60 – 400 odd f/4 zoom.

          Reply
  5. Allan Gould

    David
    In regard to the 12-50mm Olympus lens, I’ve been using the macro feature of this lens as it’s so versatile and as an example of its capabilities I’ve added a link to a recent posting (http://www.mu-43.com/threads/24326/page-35. Message 697 near the bottom of the page) . Maybe I have a freak version of the lens but I don’t think so and I suspect most criticisms are a little harsh.
    If you are interested I have images taken with the Pan 45-175 at the Australian Tennis Open as well as some others.
    Allan

    Reply
  6. Allan Gould

    David
    Ive been a lurker on your site and youtube videos and see you have been rationalising your equipment profiles in relation to their usage etc.
    Ive been through a similar process for OS travel, but one lens that consistently gets overlooked in most reviews is the Panasonic 45-175mm zoom lens. Ive found this to be a great travel lens along with the 12-50 Olympus kit lens and the 7.5mm Samyang fisheye. These three lenses cover everything I want in good lighting and as a backup I use the 12mm and 45mm Oly lenses for low light imaging.
    Id really like to see you do a review of the 45-175 zoom, commenting on sharpness and versatility.
    Thanks for consistently intelligent reviews

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Hi Allan – yes, I seem always to be rationalising one way or another. I have to say that I enjoy chopping and changing within reason. That Olympus 12-50 is about the most versatile all rounder I’ve ever come across. Now and again I come across moans about its sharpness but while it’s not up there with the 12 and 45 primes, it was more than sharp enough for anything I wanted to do. And the power facility for video was icing on the cake. As a travel lens, perfect.

      I’ll try to get hold of a 45-175 – interesting lens. And thanks for the kind words. I use equipment until it feels familiar before I review it which does enable me to talk about its actual use and real word capability rather than the headline attractions he makers need to push. I must say, that’s an incredibly well chosen combination of lenses you have there for travel. There could be different choices but not better ones which to me is the ideal point to reach.

      Reply
      1. Daniel J. Cox

        Would love to read your comments on the 45-175mm as well. I’ve also always thought this was a sleeper lens. Nobody talks about it yet it’s a fabulous range for travel shooters. My experience with the 45-175mm is sometimes blown away and sometimes unimpressed with sharpness. This lens and the Lumix 100-300mm seem to have been cut from the same mold. Both have amazing range but both impress and disappoint when it comes to seeing the final image. I honestly think it may have as much to do with Panasonic’s early, less than stellar OIS. The 45-175mm has the ability for much faster AF however than the 100-300mm. This could be another hole for Panasonic to fill against the amazing 401-50mm Olympus. Just wished Panasonic would kick their long lens development in to overdrive. No that I think of it just getting started at all would be step in the right direction. I do think they will and then we’ll have great ergonomics and great lenses from the same company.

        Reply
  7. Daniel

    David, your youtube channel has been immensely helpful with M43 equipment. I’m new to all this and have learned quite a bit from your posts. The blog itself is a recent discovery so I am looking forward to reading it as well.
    Any chance you’ll be reviewing the Olympus 12mm f2 any time soon? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this little prime.

    Cheers!
    Daniel

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Hi Daniel – I used to have the 12mm but sold it when I bought the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8. For primes I like to have the 17mm and 45mm f/1.8s but the extra stop speed isn’t so important on wide angles like the 12 over f/2.8. I say that because a wide angle can be easily hand held at slow speeds even without stabilization.

      If a 12mm prime appeals, the Olympus is a rally good one. Its optical performance is pretty much faultless. From f/2.8 it is sharp edge to edge. At f/2 the edges are less sharp but not noticeably so in ordinary work. And in this respect no worse, in fact better than most lenses of this type. It gets boring saying how good lenses are but essentially this lens is faultless, made of metal, smooth to use just….nice. In fact I’m beginning to wish now I hadn’t sold it. Thanks Daniel 🙂

      Reply
  8. Joshua

    Hey David,

    Really enjoy your YouTube reviews. Can’t wait for your 40-150 review. I’ll probably get it in the next few weeks. Any chance you can include a link for the 40-150 at B&H in the US? I’ll buy it through your link. Think it’ll be a good lens for shooting toddlers in action? Keep up the great reviews!

    Josh

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Thanks Josh – I’ll be working on the 40-150 review soon.It’s a remarkable lens, that’s for sure. I’m not sure about how the link would work but I’ll look into it. A nice thought and thanks.

      Reply
  9. Reinhard Becker

    I’m actually at the same decision : A lot of Pana gear (GH3, GX7, 7-14,12-35, 35-70 and only the 60Macro from Oly).
    From my point of view, the E-M5II changed nearly everything, why I decided for the GH3 instead the E-M5 two years ago. Therefore I already ordered my Mark II, but in Germany the silver Pro Kit isn’t available yet…
    I understand your argument about total weight, but how do you compare handling of the 40-150 in comparison to the 35-100? I like the X because it’s so small and lightweight for a tele zoom. Nobody get’s notice of you with this lens. I think this will be different with the Oly.

    Another question: did you notice flare problems (the purple blobs) a lot of people mention in forums from the 7-14 on Oly bodies? That is a problem I fear from the new body…

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      I’ve used the 7-14 today and seen no flare blobs. But I often find that I don’t see problems that others do. Just lucky, I suppose. The 40-150, I prefer the size a of the Panasonic but I want that 150mm and with the tele-converter, 210mm. It’s true the Olympus makes you more noticeable but there again you can frame up from further away with a 150mm. It’s all compromises but for me this lens gives me something that Panasonic promised but didn’t fulfil. I’d like it to be the same size as the Panasonic, I’d like the Panasonic to go to 150mm. In the absence of that (impossible) specification, I am forced to the Olympus lens.

      Reply
  10. Luis

    I completely agree with you. Except that 300mm is my most used focal length.

    Actually, I am even worried about Panasonic. It seems they are sleeping? Maybe planning to abandon the camera business? All they seem to be doing is releasing overlapping lenses.

    Why did they gave up the long end completely? Why did they gave up IBIS??

    I have and still use the old Panasonic FZ50, what a wonderful camera. Yet, for m43rds, I have the so-so 100-300, the 20mm 1.7 II, and all the rest is Olympus: EM1+12-40+60. And I prefer Panasonic!! More reliable in my experience: my two Zuiko lenses 12-60 and 50-200 have broken SWD motors, 3 times in 5 years, while my oooold FZ50 still works like new. But, like it happened with you, Panasonic “forced” me into Olympus.
    It would be very sad if Panasonic abandon the camera business.

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      I agree with absolutely everything you say. Especially that it would be sad if Panasonic gave up on stills cameras. They are great innovators and MFT needs both makers. Olympus makes nothing like the GM5 – Panasonic makes nothing like the 40-150 f/2.8. The more manufacturers take an interest in the MFT standard the better.

      Reply
      1. Luis

        But then, do you have any idea why Panasonic has this “strategy”? What are they thinking, what’s the plan?

        Reply
        1. Daniel J. Cox

          Have to say I’m not sure myself David. I’m holding on to hope since the competition is good for photographers. If there is only one in the game unfortunately THEY win.

          Reply
          1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

            Yes, I’d like to have seen another maker in the game. Fuji would have been good or even Sony. I guess they prefer to make their own rules. I’ve been a bit surprised that more makers haven’t produced native MFT lenses. Sigma do some but they are adaptations of other formats. Otherwise they tend to be a bit half-hearted, manual focus only and so on. Mind you, I don’t know how successful MFT has been in worldwide sales terms. I get the impression that MFT is doing very well but as a user of the equipment, that’s mainly what I read about so I don’t have a balanced outlook.

        2. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

          I wonder if Panasonic has a strategy right now. The 15mm and 42.5mm f/1.7 lenses are very nice but just fill gaps whereas the high quality area above 100mm is empty and has been for a long time. I can’t be the only person who has seen the 40-150mm f/2.8 and wondered why Panasonic didn’t at least fulfil their promise of a stabilized 150mm f/2.8. Daniel has bought the lens – I imagine he’d have preferred a Panansonic lens if one had been available. He’s comfortable with it being unstabilized but I’m afraid my hands are too shaky for that. But although he is using it with his GH4, the lens still represents a large wad of dollars going to Panasonic’s rival. Can Panasonic be comfortable with that? If there is a strategy, it’s hard to see what it is. Like Daniel, I would be very upset if their strategy was an exit one. Both Olympus and Panasonic produce fine cameras but like Lennon and McCartney, the whole is much greater than its parts,

          Reply
          1. Luis

            It’s hard to imagine many people buying Pany GH5 without a single good stabilized lens above 100mm, specially after Oly releasing the 300 F4 (if ever released, that is…). I really, really don’t understand Panasonic.
            A pity.

  11. tom

    Thanks, nice article – and I totally agree, panasonic is letting down their users by not investing in developing longer quality lenses. I am still not quite sure to make the jump as video I more important to me, but I will see what the follow ups to em-1 and gh4 look like. Something has to give..

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      If video is important I don’t think Olympus is a viable choice yet. My video is purely YouTube and I like FHD/50mbps. The new Olympus does that fine for my purposes but my video is pretty rudimentary with no PP and technical wizardry limited to cross-fades. I wish I had another lifetime because I would go heavily into video. I find it fascinating.

      I must say, if I ever get to the crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil, I’d have to make a decision. Do I ask for devilish skill in my guitar playing or in video? I probably don’t have much to bargain with as those who know me tell me I don’t have a soul to sell.

      Reply
  12. Daniel J. Cox

    I’m having great results with the new Olympus 40-150mm on the GH4 body. I shot for 25 years without image stabilization and that was with Kodachrome 64. Today with the GH4s high ISO capabilities and the wide aperture of the 40-150mm I don’t miss the IS nearly as much as I thought I might. I feel the Lumix’s superior handling and ergonomics is as important as the new glass. Thankfully I can have both. For more info on how these two work together you can read more at http://naturalexposures.com/one-year-shooting-the-panasonic-lumix-gh4/

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Thanks Daniel – I know how the lens performs with the GH4 since I have been using it on it. I prefer the handling of the GH4 as I have said many times but I don’t want to be forced into using high ISO – not the strongest point of the smallish MFT sensor – and unnecessary noise inhibits the sale of pictures as any good agent will tell you.

      I shot for more than 50 years without stabilization and can genuinely say that it is better to have it than not. That’s why I bought stabilized Panasonic lenses.I don’t feel the Lumix’s better handling _is_ as important as the glass. My last pictures sale a few days ago was made with the 40-150 full extended at f/2.8 at 60th of a second. You can reliably hold such a speed without stabilization maybe but I can’t. The stabilization gives me an extra 4 stops capability.

      I’m afraid I have no loyalty to any brand or type of camera. When I really need noise free (ish) high ISO I borrow a mate’s Nikon D something. If someone was prepared to _give_ me a camera outfit that would do what I need, that’s what I’d use. In the absence of such generosity, I have to pay for them. That means using what I consider the most versatile combination and for me a stabilized body and 12-300 f/2.8 zooms are that. Having been a user of Leica, Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Rolleiflex and many others plus plate and studio cameras over the course of many years, I find I am quite quick to adapt to any new equipment. If Panasonic had made a 150mm f/2.8 prime plus extender as they said they were going to, I’d still have the GH4. They don’t and don’t seem to plan to so I don’t have the GH4.

      Reply
      1. Daniel J. Cox

        All good points and I too am not thrilled it’s taking Panasonic so long to bring us long glass, and unfortunately they may never do that. However, I’m as disappointed in OLympus and their lack of common sence features like a dedicated ISO, WB and +/- EV that are easy and efficient to use. Their lack of real touch screen technology, their horrific menu system, their maddening complexity of moving AF to the rear of the camera and removing it from the front shutter button.

        Obviously this is all just my opinion but I’ve got every bit as varied a photographic background as you and I’ve shot for the best including two cover stories for National Geographic. For me a camera needs to be fast, easy and efficient. If it’s too complicated it becomes useless.

        Reply
        1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

          I seem to have come across as an advocate for Olympus cameras. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the GH4 had good IBIS I’d still have it. If Panasonic produced a 150mm f/2.8 I’d still have it.

          I don’t really change settings much, so on the Olympus as the GH4, I set up RAW and the rest of my preferred settings and assign them to Custom or MySettings. I find that gets rid of the complication. I operate my Panasonics mainly through the Info screen which it mirrored in the Olympus by the Super Control Panel. On the Olympus, on A, I set the the rear dial to change aperture, the front one exposure compensation (same as my GH4).
          I flick the lever down and those dials now change ISO and white balance. All I ever change in shooting is aperture, ISO and compensation so for me, the Olympus is no more complex than the GH4 was. Interestingly, the focus lock button on the Olympus zooms simplifies things for me because I now don’t need to set up back button focusing to a custom setting since its built in to the lens.
          Do I prefer the feel and ergonomics of the GH4. I do. I’ve written about it comprehensively. Outside of my Hasselblads, it’s the best handling camera I’ve ever used and for someone who loved the ‘blads as much as I did, that’s a big thing,.

          I think the only difference we really have is that you don’t need stabilization on a 150/ 210mm lens and I most certainly do. With a small MFT sensor I like to keep ISO way down – I dislike going above 400, actually.

          I seem to have come across as being rather patronizing and if I did I apologise. All I was trying to say was that I have enough experience to make my own decisions and by my lights Panasonic have left me a bit high and dry. You have a steadier hand and see it differently.

          Reply
  13. Richard Harris

    Having switched from DSLRs for all the reasons you describe, the 40-150mm is indeed a game-changer. I’ve lost track of the number of times now I’ve either been asked about switching from DSLRs (by people sidling up to me and muttering out of the corner of their mouths, as if asking for a little something for the weekend…) or trolled by partisan fools. So I posted a fairly thorough weight comparison article a few weeks ago, which very much backs up what you say. Good article, BTW

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Hi Rchard – thanks. Yes, when you look at weight it is necessary to take everything into consideration. The 40-150 f/2.8 is heavy by MFT standards but in comparing weights you have to take into account that it replaces 2 or more lenses. The same applies to the price, too. It costs a lot more than the Panasonic 35-100 f/2.8 but then it covers with converter a range to 220mm which is likely to be at least two lenses. And, of course, if you want a native MFT 300mm f/2.8, it is the only option.

      Reply
  14. QBNY

    So did you sell all of your Lumix gear and went out and purchased all that Olympus gear, or did Olympus give you the gear?

    I’ve watched your videos and you mentioned Size a lot.. both Olympus 2.8 lenses are much larger than the Panasonic pair of zooms that you own/ed, so I don’t get the switch.

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      No, I haven’t sold all of my Lumix gear. I have the GX7 and GM5 plus the two tiny zooms and the 14-140. The switch is pretty straightforward. I’m an ex newspaper and magazine photographer. A 300mm f/2.8 is an integral part of my photography and I’ve always had such a lens. I was hoping that Panasonic would come out with a 150mm f/2/8 prime and a converter but they haven’t. So when the Olympus lens came out there was – at last – a piece of high spec glass. Just that is was from Olympus not Panasonic. A 150mm lens needs stabilizing – that meant an Olympus body. So it was an obvious move to move to Olympus for some of my gear. An E-M1 body with 2 f/2.8 lenses covering from 12-300 is no heavier and takes no more space than carrying the two Panasonic zooms plus whatever f2.8 150mm and 200 lens I could get hold of or the less than fast 100-300mm Panasonic zoom. The clincher is that the 12-40 Olympus focuses really closely so that I don’t need to take macro lens out with me. So, one camera body (I often take 2) plus two lenses does virtually everything I could want want when out and about.That what I mean by lean, clean and bluesy!
      Re Olympus giving me the gear, I can only burst out laughing. Panasonic ignore emails and letters, I have never had a reply. Olympus answered one, more or less telling me to **ss off. Occasionally ePHOTOzine lend me a lens for a couple of weeks. Other than that I buy and use myself every bit of equipment I write about. The pictures you see in my videos are taken by me on the equipment I am writing about. I can’t do that or really understand a piece of equipment unless I have worked with it, rather than just snapping a few pix of friends and so on. The money I make from my videos, selling my pictures and from the books pays for 75% of the equipment use. That’s it. I love photography and I love pictures and that’s why I do the videos. Olympus or Panasonic giving me equipment – best laugh I’ve had this week.

      Reply
  15. Marek

    I was wondering where this was going when reading through it and I had my suspition that you splashed out on that 40-150/2.8. Though I didn’t expect 12-40/2.8 and definitely not the EM1 🙂
    We all need to treat ourselves now and then, don’t we?

    But I am really pleased that you bought the 12-40/2.8 as I expect the review is in the pipe line for the following reason: I currently have Oly 17/1.8 and 45/1.8 (based on your recommendation) which I love. But I am missing a wide end (12mm) on my travels. So I could either buy Oly 12/2.0 prime or the 12-40/2.8 zoom. The Pro zoom would be more versatile but I am worried the image quality will suffer compared to three above mentioned primes. So I hope you can let me know your thoughts on how the pro zoom compare to Oly’s premium primes. Neither cost or weight are the issue, only the IQ.

    And I have another dilemma: I decided to RMA my 7 month old EM5 due to shutter severly under-exposing at speeds of 1/2000 and faster (well known issue with EM5s) and the retailer was kind enough to offer me a full refund! Yes, I was shocked too 😀

    So I am trying to decide on a replacement between EM1 and EM5 II. I absolutely have to have a (L-shaped) grip so I am leaning towards the EM1 but not enough at the moment to pull the trigger. The only reason I am considering the EM5 II is the improved IS (but I would have to buy a grip for it). It helps that with EM1 I will get a battery grip for free which I don’t need but probably could get £100 for on Ebay. For EM5 II I would have to spend on a grip (£100+ expense).

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Treating is nice isn’t it? I also have the excuse that for the reviews I do I need to have longish term use of a camera and for the menu books I need to know it through and through. I’m good at learning new things but I seem only able to do it hands on. I just can’t learn from books or theory. I wish I could. But also, it takes time to find petty annoyances. But one way and another the books and videos pay for my cameras within reason.

      The 40-150, I’ve always had lenses covering from 24 to 300(equivalent) in my bag or car boot and that lens, especially with the converter covers the whole long lot in one go. I hung on and hung on because what I really wanted was a stabilized 150mm f2.8 prime+converter from Panasonic. But they show no signs of making one so I finally bit the bullet at which point the 12-40mm Olympus seemed a logical buy. The 17 and 45, nothing will ever wrest those from my grasp and I’m keeping my GX7 for them alone. The GX and those two lenses are made in heaven!

      Re the EM-5 and EM-1, there’s no contest for me personally. While I like the EM-5 and it has all the things I want, the EM-1 is a much nicer camera to use. I think it focuses much better too but that may be subjective. The size is right and it feels grown up and professional in a way the smaller one doesn’t. The IS is pretty stunning on both of them but for me the EM-1 is more than good enough(and I have annoyingly shaky hands). What I really wanted was a GH4 with IBIS. Panasonic said you couldn’t do it with high bit rate video but while the EM-5 doesn’t have 4k and the extreme bit rates of the GH4 it is more than good enough for me and even most video enthusiasts. That’s a good dealer you have there!

      The 12mm, I sold mine when I got the 12-35mm f/2.8 which to my eyes was sharper. The 12-40 is similar in performance to the Panasonic equivalent. I’d go for the zoom. I’d keep the 17 because it is fast and compact so a good carry around lens. The 45mm, well the best lens in MFT to my mind, not expensive, lovely shallow out of focus and tiny.

      Reply
      1. paul

        Hello david i recently purchased the 40-150mm and em-1 and i am really pleased with the set up ,seems the perfect event lens cant way to try it some air shows etc later this year
        keep looking at the em5 mk 2 also for video ibis ,sort of equal, s out not having 4k implemented and a reason not to purchase a gimbal.
        l am looking forward to your review on the the lens with t/c as ive just recently purchased the tele convertor although at the moment its a bit of one trick pony ,due to only fitting the 40-150mm
        OH well just have to wait for the 300m f4 to be released so i can use it on two lenses and 840mm f5.6 35mm terms in fl sounds impressive .
        you will now get punished by those olympus menus again dig deep .you know its there somewhere ,

        Reply
        1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

          Hi Paul. I’ve just posted a review of the E-M5 MkII. The 40-150 is bigger than i’d want but the fact is that overall it makes light of my camera bag since I can have 7mm through to 420mm with 3 lenses and a little converter. Amazing, really. I’d have preferred to stay with Panasonic (menus, handling) but the IBIS and the 40-150 + 1.4x are game changers, really. I get on OK with the Olympus menus but as you say, you have to dig deep to find stuff. It illustrates the difference between the two companies,in a way. Panasonic make lots of consumer items. If instructions for those were Olympus complex, they’d lose sales so they have learnt how to make it easy for ordinary human beings. Olympus make equipment for photographers so they don’t care whether it’s easy or not. But when you look at the E-M5 MkII with articulated monitor, electronic shutter and decent video you can see that they are listening. Who knows, maybe they could reorganize their menus for ordinary humans one day!
          Meantime, the 40-150 f2.8 is a landmark lens for me. Fabulous.

          Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      I much prefer the GH4 to the EM-1 in terms of handling and menu but Olympus’s IBIS and that 40-150 and converter make a powerful case.

      Reply
  16. Mark Rychel

    In pursuit of the perfect are we. I think you are selling 4k video short, extracting frames at 8mp changes a photographers approach to image capture in certain situations. I am “old school” like you, I don’t shoot 100 images to get one using a burst mode but the 4k extractions are an advantage to Panasonic

    Reply
    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      I’m always in pursuit of the perfect really. It’s not that I want perfection as such but that I enjoy building things. The down side of that is that when I’ve built something, got it exactly how I want it, I lose interest in it. I like the 4k extractions but I have little personal use for it. Reality is that my interest is in finding out how to do it and what I could use it for. If I had a professional use for it that would be one thing but I don’t. The most perfect thing I have at the moment is the GM5 (GM1 would be just as good) plus the two midget zooms. I can’t think of anything more suited to purpose than that. When I was a full time working pro I had my Nikons and my Hasselblads. I hardly changed equipment at all unless something radically more suited to my purposes came up. The 180mm f2.8 in place of the 200mm f4 for my music photography for example. The Hasselblads, I bought a couple of bodies, 6 backs and 50, 80, 150 and 250mm lenses in 1977 and the same items were still my mainstay 20 years later. I sold them for what I paid for them, too!

      I like the liveliness of the pix on your site, by the way. I’ve always thought that the actual photography is less than half of a photographers success. Most of it is that ability to bring something out in people which you obviously have. You can learn photography but you can’t so easily learn personality.

      Reply
      1. Mark Rychel

        Thanks for the reply. by “we” I meant the collective we as in “all of us. ” I too am in pursuit of perfection as my 30 camera bags in my closet can attest to. 🙂

        Reply
        1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

          We ought to all just swap cameras around amongst ourselves every now and again. Save a lot of money!

          Reply

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