Field Testing Olympus Gear

We are preparing for some changes to our business. These shifts will impact our photography work. Our approach to video. And, the scope of services we provide to our clients. While I still intend to use our Nikon 1 equipment, some of the changes we have planned for our business will extend beyond the capabilities of the Nikon 1 system. This will result in the need for us to add some different camera equipment to our kit. The purpose of this article is to advise readers that for the next while I will be actively field testing Olympus gear on a selective basis.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-5000

We spent a good amount of time to define our future needs and did an initial assessment of various equipment options available. After some deliberation, we decided that our future needs may potentially be best met with some Olympus camera equipment.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/4, 1/160, ISO-6400

Olympus Americas Inc. has provided us with some loaner Olympus camera equipment on a no-charge basis. We will be using this loaner Olympus equipment to conduct our field testing. This will help us determine if adding some Olympus camera gear to our kit is a good solution for our evolving video and photography needs… or not.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-2500, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

We are under no obligation what-so-ever to Olympus Americas Inc. in terms of our use of this loaner Olympus camera equipment. There is no expectation or agreement of any kind with Olympus Americas Inc. that we will create and share with readers any images, articles or videos, or on what that content may be.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 16 mm, efov 32 mm, f/4, 1/125, ISO-400
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/4, 1/2, ISO-400, Hand-held Live ND Mode

All of our readers can rest assured that anything that we may create and share with them will represent our honest assessment and opinions of the Olympus camera gear.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-6400, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

For each one of us, making the decision to potentially add an additional camera system to our selection of equipment is one that is never made lightly.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 80 mm, efov 160 mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-2000, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

Our Nikon 1 kit has served us extremely well since the fall of 2013 when we first invested in the system. Using the Nikon 1 system exclusively for the past four years was absolutely the right decision for us.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-800, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

To say that our Nikon 1 gear has done yeoman service would be an understatement of epic proportions. For the past 6 years Nikon 1 really has been The Little Camera That Could for us. And, for a number of things, it will continue to be our camera system of choice in the future.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO-200, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

For those of you who visit this photography website specifically because of the Nikon 1 content we publish… please bear with us over the next while. We are not abandoning Nikon 1, and we will still be publishing content featuring photographs captured with Nikon 1 gear in the future.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-1000, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

Overall there will be less Nikon 1 produced content for the next number of weeks as we make room in our schedule to feature photographs captured with Olympus equipment.  Hopefully the work we do with Olympus camera gear will still be of interest to all of you.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-4000, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

We plan to photograph a wide variety of subject matter to assess the capabilities of the Olympus gear. We will also be testing out a number of video and photography features of the Olympus equipment.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-2000, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

As you review the images in this article you will see that a number of them were captured using the Olympus Hand-held Hi Resolution Mode. Also included is a hand-held waterfall image created using the Live ND Mode.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-1600, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

The images featured in this article were my first ‘out-of-the-box’ attempts to capture some photographs using the Olympus loaner equipment… which just arrived. I haven’t even looked at the camera manuals yet… so please consider these photographs as early samples only.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held this afternoon at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images are straight-out-of-camera jpegs with no post processing or cropping done to them at all. Photographs have been resized to 1200 pixels for web use.

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19 thoughts on “Field Testing Olympus Gear”

  1. Hi Tom,

    It’s a very pleasing set. While I am still biased towards Nikon colors as far as jpeg rendering is concerned, I’ve also always liked Oly’s as well the few times I borrowed my friend’s Olympus cameras. Very natural looking, none of that out-of-this-world saturation that has sort of become de-rigeur now.

    Looking forward to your field test of the camera body with the 40-150 f/2.8 Zuiko lens for birding.


    1. Thanks Oggie… glad you enjoyed the SOOC jpegs! I’m actually just leaving to do my first test with the E-M1X with the 40-150 f/2.8 with 1.4X teleconverter for bird photography. It will interesting to see how this works…

  2. From my perspective, these images are vastly superior to the Nikon 1 system, which were excellent too.

    1. Hi Ed,

      Since these are SOOC jpegs it is difficult to assess how much latitude the RAW files will have. Hopefully DxO PhotoLab will have OM-D E-M1X modules available soon. We’ll then be able to get a much better idea of the potential image quality.

      I agree that the SOOC jpegs were quite good… better than I anticipated actually. Using the Olympus Hand-held Hi Resolution Mode does help image quality with the jpegs.


    2. Personally I see very little difference and not in the favor of the Olympus. Generally I like the colors and rendering from the Nikons much more.

      1. Hi Anders,

        I think it is good to remember that all of the Nikon 1 images that I publish on my website are prepared from RAW files. These initial images from the OM-D E-M1X are straight out of camera jpegs. So, the comparison isn’t apples to apples, especially since I often make curve and hue adjustments to my Nikon 1 files.

        In terms of comparing colours, like you, I have always really liked Nikon colours. As I do more field testing with the Olympus gear, I will specifically go out and photograph identical subjects with both Nikon 1 and Olympus cameras. For this future field test I will use straight out of camera jpegs so readers will be able to see a true apples-to-apples comparison without any adjustments made in post. I will use a Nikon 1 J5 when I do this field test.


  3. Hi Tom,
    I have read reviews of the E-M1X with great interest. While the Sony RX10 iv or other M4/3 models were interesting, it was not enough to convince me that shooting birds in flight would be “in another league” as compared to my Nikon V2 and V3. This might be different with the E-M1X that offers a lot for BIF.
    Your findings will be highly welcome.

    1. Hi Stefan,

      I will only have the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 with the 1.4X teleconverter for bird photography during my test time frame. That will provide an efov of 420mm on the long end of the zoom… far less than I am used to having at my disposal. I will do the best I can with what is available.

      Olympus does have a 150-400 mm f/4.5 with a built-in 1.25X teleconverter that is scheduled for release in 2020. That lens will also be compatible with Olympus teleconverters. With the soon to be announced 2X Olympus teleconverter that new zoom would have a maximum efov of 2000mm @ f/11. Since the 150-400 will be an IS PRO lens it would have 7.5 stops of image stabilization… that would allow hand-held photography at 2000mm. I anticipate that many bird photographers will have significant interest in that lens.

      There is an excellent 300mm f/4 IS PRO M.Zuiko available. I’ve seen some other photographers’ work with that lens and it was beautiful.

      I will be trying my hand at BIF within the next few days…


  4. Tom,
    I look forward to your reviews of the Olympus OM-D E-M1ii and E-MX. It has been apparent to me for quite a while that Olympus has the best IBIS system currently available–probably because the m4/3 sensor mass is significantly smaller than that of APS-C and full frame sensors.

    I have considered the Olympus system for birds in flight, but the weight of the Sony APS-C system with the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens plus 1.4TC is nearly identical to that of an Olympus system with the 300mm f/4 lens plus 1.4TC. The advantage of the Olympus stabilization vs the Sony stabilization isn’t relevant to birds in flight, but certainly would be for birds not in flight.

    You captured some beautiful jpeg images of the butterflies–without extension tubes. I hope you will also try your hand at birds in flight with the Olympus gear.


    1. Hi Jack,

      One of the biggest reasons we decided to look into the Olympus product line was the IBIS system. It is pretty early in the review process, but I must say I was very impressed with how easy it is to use the Olympus Hand-held Hi Resolution Mode. This would not be possible without an outstanding IBIS system.

      You can rest assured that we will be photographing a wide variety of subject matter. Birds-in-flight is one of my passions so I will be doing the best I can with the loaner gear I have available… the 40-150 mm f/2.8 with the 1.4X teleconverter.


  5. Tom,

    I have followed you for quite a few years now. I have always found your images inspiring. Your interest in the Olympus system has given me one more reason to continue visiting your site.

    I too have moved to Olympus when I found the Nikon 1 V2 I owned to not fit my personal photo adventures. I moved to Olympus about 4 years ago with the OMD EM1 and then to the EM1 Mark II over 2 years ago.

    I wish you well with your search. You may feel free to contact me if I can provide you with any incite I may have.

    Looking forward to sharing your findings.

    Bob West

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks for sharing some background on your movement to the Olympus system!

      As I noted in the article, we did a good amount of work defining our needs, then did an initial evaluation of various options before we decided to do some testing with Olympus gear. It is obviously far too early to make any kind of decision, but I have been pleased with the initial results we have seen so far. I anticipate that we will be sharing a good selection of images and discussing various factors over the coming weeks.


  6. Hi Tom
    I certainly am looking forward what experiences you are going to make with the new camera and the reasons the little one could no more and the big one can (to paraphraze, if I may).
    Please share as you did up to date. Good luck with the Oly!

    1. Hi Robert,

      The primary reason for a potential addition to our photography kit is pretty simple… the ability to do 4K video. The Nikon 1 J5 can do 4K video but only at 15p which is not acceptable for our purposes.

      We decided to seriously look at Olympus because of their IBIS system, available lenses, and the fact that their system utilizes an M4/3 sensor. Our industrial client work has a significant emphasis on needing as much depth-of-field as possible at any given aperture, which was one the biggest reasons why the Nikon 1 system was a perfect fit for us. Four years ago, moving from full frame gear to using the Nikon 1 system allowed us to capture onsite video without the need to bring a bank of studio lights with us. As you can imagine this saved us quite a bit of time when doing location work for our clients.

      We are always looking for ways to streamline and simplify our business. To this end, we will be field testing two Olympus cameras, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the OM-D E-M1X along with a select number of M.Zuiko zoom lenses (7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO, 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO and 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO).

      Our primary interest is with the OM-D E-M1X. On the surface it may seem counter-intuitive to potentially use a larger camera like the Olympus OM-D E-M1X rather than a tiny body like the Nikon 1 V2, which is the Nikon 1 model we currently use for all of our client video work.

      While it is far too early in our field testing to make a final determination, the E-M1X when coupled with M.Zuiko lenses like the 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO gives us the potential to do all of our onsite client work without the need to use any camera supports such as tripods, camera stabilizers, camera sliders etc. We are very interested in the idea of using a very simple ‘run and gun’ approach for our client video work. Imagine the potential of arriving for a client location video shoot with everything we would need in one shoulder bag… rather than a car full of gear as was the case just 6 years ago. To us, that is the magic of technology and innovation!


      1. Thank you for explaining in your May 30, 2019 5:39 AM post the business reasons for looking at new gear alternatives. I can see that 4K video is becoming a ‘must have’ for business purposes, and likewise see the importance of significant depth of field in your video productions and the need for a small kit. These are all much more important than any fanboy considerations. (I still have all my N1 gear, but now also have a Z6; different needs result in different choices.)

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