Musings

This post is a little out of order as it was started before I bought the EM1, but the thinking is still relevant.

I hope my thought processes are of some value to my readers. The fact is, I am not comfortable talking about myself ad nauseam, but I am also aware how hard it is to get deeper, neutral information on processes and choices.

This was proven to me when I posted a review of the Filson field camera bag.

I had trouble finding more than passing thoughts or a couple of nice, feel good reviews that lacked useful specifics when looking at one and the purchase price (in Australia) was prohibitive for a blind purchase. This is common with bag reviews. many will talk about what fits, but not the usability of the stowed gear. I do not want a bag that just fits me gear packed tightly. I want to know what will actually work.

As soon as I received my blind purchase, I thought about a review to help the next review chasers get some more useful information. It proved to be my most popular post.

The next most popular was a review on the Domke f802 satchel. Also popular, even though this bag has been around for a while. It seems that no one had previously talked about the Tenba insert other than in passing or how to fit the extra lens bags. Simple stuff but so hard to find without internet fatigue.

Self indulgent it may be, but I hope that saying what I am thinking out loud can help my own thought processes and by sharing my thinking I may help others with a similar dilemma.

*

For me, the missing link in my gear has been tracking AF and to a lesser extent improved AF and MF application with some lenses that play critical roles in my kit. The 75 f1.8 for example is a powerful compositional tool, but it’s focussing on an older camera is slower and less predictable than my other prime lenses and it has a tendency to get “stuck” on a subject, then hunt. It’s stable mate, the 75-300 is a great lens but also not the fastest in either AF or aperture choice. In effect I do not have a fast/long enough option for sports/action, especially indoors.

The 40-150 was a revelation here. It not only focussed more consistently, but it was so fast, I felt like I had passive tracking on an old OMD.

Selling that lens in response to wanting to get back to basics, reduced certain capabilities in my kit.

Options for me at this stage were two fold.

If I buy an EM1 mk2 (great special going with $500 off with a free battery grip and a voucher that would cover a second battery, I assume in response to the flood of new camera releases), all of my lenses are elevated to at least a slightly higher level. The 75 on an Mk2 at work tracked quite well when I tested the older non firmware updated demo one. The 75-300 will probably gain the same boost or maybe better. The 12-100 will be at the cutting edge for M43 and it’s better weather seals will be matched by the camera. The other primes will all benefit to one degree or another. Waiting for the EM5 mk3 may be frustrating as Olympus will most likely wait until next year and the specs may be less practical, falling somewhere between the Pen F and the EM5 mk2. The current price (with free grip) is probably cheaper than a new EM5 3 anyway.

+ I would give my whole kit a focussing upgrade, some lenses performing to a level I have not enjoyed since the 5d3. My 12-100 especially would be perfectly matched in all areas to the camera it was released with.

- I would have 5 (!) working cameras and the added features are not things I have missed much for my current work (although I am aware of a direct connection between the subject matter I tackle and the gear I have).

 Old camera, cheap lens.

Old camera, cheap lens.

If I retrace my steps and get the 40-150 again, I avoid some camera obsolescence and regain the AF performance I enjoyed before, but will know there is still much more to be gained in camera upgrades currently available. Selling that lens was partly due to stepping back from pro work and a lack of connection to it’s standard lens partner. Weight was under question also, but I was not in a great place personally at the time.

+ I would gain a quicker focussing, faster, longer, slightly sharper mid range telephoto. With my 12-100 it would give me back my “pro” level confidence. The 75 would become a portrait/travel specialist and the 75-300 a travel/distant sport option.

- I would be relying on old model cameras for the bulk of my work, granted, cameras that have never really failed me and a newer “serious amateur” Pen F camera for some of the things the oldies cannot do as well.

 Old camera, new lens, ISO 3200 and cropped 50%.

Old camera, new lens, ISO 3200 and cropped 50%.

The thought of ditching my EM5’s (placing them “in reserve” at least) for a new work horse is a little disturbing. The Pen F was more of an exercise in pin-pointing specific kit weaknesses and addressing them in a non destructive way. Loyalty to an object for it’s own sake is pointless, but they have served me well. I may be a little touchy at the moment as we are caring for an elderly dog and my thinking is becoming habitually protective.

The logical option was the camera upgrade. It added tangibly to my capabilities and fixes known issues. The deal is also very good at the moment, while the lens is on a mild special that will undoubtedly be repeated again soon. I also have a sneaking suspicion that if I recommit to the older cameras, they will start to fail (each has 100k+ frames on them and 6 years of constant handling), while Murphy’s law says if I replace them, they will likely plug along for ever.

The older cameras? They will be ideal for travel as they now owe me nothing and have proven to be tough and reliable. 16mp on an older sensor/processor has been my base line for so long when travelling that I would have no trouble sticking to then for that alone. They will also do duty as back-ups and save me hundreds, even thousands of wasted frames on the newer cameras for general grab shots, extending their lives also. I may even get one Infrared adapted.

What if a camera comes along that makes even the newer ones look redundant? I reckon by then the OMD’s will be falling away naturally though wear alone.

It would be a commitment to more serious work, but that is my lot. Whenever I drift away from photography, I am called back. There has been a lack of satisfaction in my photographic life for a while. This is due in part to a paired down, single dimensional kit (in response to not wishing to work as much commercially and concentrate on other things).

No macro, no wide angle, poor tracking AF, no weather proof support for my WP bodies, then no high res weather proofed camera for my new WP lens etc , etc have all made me feel thinly resourced, even unbalanced.

More involvement and constant gear upgrades seem to be interrelated, so why fight it. I am probably the most serious photographer who has not upgraded recently that I personally know and although I am no Kirk Tuck, ignoring the improvements made over the last 5-6 years seems regressive.

Musings done.

Thanks for reading.