hans groen


olympus om-d e-m1ii and my equipment

Currently I own an Olympus OM-D E-M1-ii — bought it in the beginning of July 2019, on advise of my partner who saw me having fun with pictures I took at a party of my choir. My main lens is now the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45/4. Together with the Lumix 35-100/4-5.6 which makes a handy and light travel kit. For low light and ‘normal’ fun I have Lumix 25/1.7; then a Zuiko 50/1.8 I use for fun and as portrait lens at street events. I also own a Meike 35mm/f1.4, for fun and for wide aperture shots.

Contax with Carl Zeiss 50/1.7, versus Olympus with Lumix 25/1.7. Size does matter, a bit. (Picture was made with my handy, an LG, just in case you were wandering about the low quality.)

My gear right now

The M.Zuiko 12-45mm/4 is my workhorse: bright and with an excellent reach, from 24mm wide angle to 90mm tele, in fullframe terms.

The Lumix 25mm/1.7 I got because I wanted a traditional prime; it is of course a much lighter lens and it makes a good set for a relaxed ‘traditional’ walk around. Good for low light and shallow depth of field. Still, I am not completely satisfied with the results, though I cannot exactly indicate what it is — a lack of punch, a lack of ‘deep sharpness’, I’ll still have to find out what it is.

The Lumix 35-100/4-5.6 I got as a telezoom for events — it is comparable to the 70-200mm that is widely used in these circumstances. This lens adds the extra reach beyond the M.Zuiko 12-45. I am becoming a bit dissatisfied with this lens: it lacks crispness at the tele-end and it has no constant aperture. It is a good lens for a very low price, it is compact (therefor I did not buy the Olympus 40-150/4-5.6 lens), but since I do not have use any more of the journalist versatility of a ’70-200′, and when I want a telelens, it is too short.

And then I still have a Zuiko 50mm/1.8, which produces amazing pictures, still; the lens is of course fully manual, and I sometimes hesitate using it, but I have made quite a few ‘keepers’ with this lens. It brings back more of the craft behind the art. It also teaches you that tests and blur units are not the final word: this lens tests quite mediocre, but I find the results at f4 very pleasing, with a smoothness that some modern designs lack.

Recently, I added the Meike 35mm/1.4. I wanted to have a wider aperture lens, and this one is cheap and good — for €135 I got a fun and usable lens. Honestly, not completely my cup of tea: 35 mm (70mm in FF-equivalent) is not a focal point I often use. But then, I wanted an f1.4 lens, and I’m learning to put this lens to use for my style of photography. Wide open one has to be careful with subjects and backgrounds, but it can do a very good job; from f2.8 till f5.6 it really shines, competing with much more expensive lenses — at these apertures, this lens has the ‘deep sharpness’ that I miss in the Lumix 25/1.7.

Decommisioned gear

To soften the pain in my purse when the 12-60 broke down I could trade in my Lumix 14/2.5-II for a surprisingly good deal. I had bought this little lens to take with me when I bike through the countryside and taking the D.Zuiko 12-60 was too much bulk and weight. It is a nice little lens, but it relies on extreme software corrections. It can produce very good pictures, but in the end I feel that the necessary corrections take away too much of the quality.

The D.Zuiko 14-45/3.5-5.6 came with the E330 kit. Not a bad lens, just a bit mediocre: barrel distortion all the way to the tele-end and I found that the images missed clarity. The lens got some re-appreciation when used it on a long trip. Maybe I got a better photographer, meaning that when one is better, one does complain less about equipment. It might also been that I switched to a better raw-converter.

Maybe I should have kept the D.Zuiko 4-150/3.5-4.5 which I traded in when I bought the EM10. It would have worked with the EM1-ii, though its autofocus would still be noisy and rather slow. Probably the image quality would have been a disappointment with the higher resolution sensors now being used (mind you, the E330 was just 8Mpix.).

Wishlist

The Olympus 17mm/f1.2 would be my perfect walk around and all-round lens. ‘Zoom with your feet’ is a real alternative to optical zooms. Only a bit expensive.

The Laowa 10mm/f2 wide angle might also be a keeper on my OM-D body; I like wide angle shots, and don’t mind to move closer to my subjects.

A to-be-developed 45-175mm/f4 constant aperture zoom would solve the issues I have with the 35-100: at least a constant aperture, and a bit more reach. Preferably an Olympus lens, because of the optical quality and because the IS would work with the OM-D body.

History

I started out long ago with the Zenith-B. More serious work I did with the Olympus OM10. After I lost that camera, together with two lenses, on a trip, I did not do much photography, until I got the Minolta Dimage D7. With that camera, I felt free to experiment and further develop my skills. I mainly do landscapes, architecture, and unusual objects from unusual viewpoints. Flowers I pick along the road, but not systematically and I never know their names. I like to take pictures at street events, though I am not good in events such as weddings and conferences, or portraiture: I am not good in arranging people to pose; at street events, I am able to catch people when they are posing spontaneously or ‘snatch’ them when not posing.

After the Minolta I went back to Olympus with the E330 — Minolta had sold its camera division to Sony, and Olympus had launched the FourThirds standard. The E330 came with a 14-45/3.5-4.6 and a 40-150/3.5-4.5. I got the D Zuiko 12-60/2.8-4 after a year, because I found the 14-45 a bit disappointing in quality, though I later on used it as walk around lens on a long trip where we had to pack lightly and then the results I found pleasantly satisfying — I think I also had developed my skills further in time.

When the E330 started to feel outdated (8Mp + AA-filter), I looked for a replacement, knowing that would be difficult. I love my D Zuiko 12-60, but that lens is made for phase detection AF. That was only available at that moment, early 2016, with the E-M1, but in a bit of a rudimentary form. I tried the E-m10 when there was a sale of the original model, and judged the af-behaviour with the 4/3 lens to be acceptable. I traded in the kit lenses, sold the E330 to someone who needed the body, and got back to the routine I had developed with the Minolta D7: look at the EVF to adjust the exposure, pick the focus point, compose, and press the button. What an improvement the E-M10 was in that regard: a good EVF, 16mp, and no AA-filter — almost rediscovering photography! Despite the slight mismatch between a Micro FT and the original Four Thirds lens, I got good results at street parties and was also able to use my old Zuiko 50mm to good result.

In the end, we concluded that we could just as well get a matching camera for the D Zuiko 12-60, so I got the OM-D EM1-ii in July 2019, I enjoyed the jump again in quality with the newer image sensor and better EVF. And the af-behaviour with the DZuiko lens is the way it should be: fast and accurate with no rattling. After reading an article about how to set the camera for birds in flight (on Mirrorless Comparison), I will certainly look for those subjects again (after I stumbled on pelicans in Loreto, years ago).

But then the D.Zuiko 12-60 died, and I bought the M.Zuiko 12-45/4; birds in flight have to wait, still, but maybe the coming year brings a M.Zuiko telezoom from 40-150/4.