What’s in our Olympus Bag?

This article answers the question, “What’s in our Olympus Bag?” For the past few months, I’ve been getting a number of emails from folks wondering about our Olympus kit. They’ve been asking what we purchased and why. So… this article provides some answers.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. We have added some images to serve as visual breaks.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm, efov 110 mm, f/5, 1/100, ISO-400, subject distance 24.1 metres

OM-D E-M1X Body
Our selection of this body was the result of a couple of months of hands-on testing with loaner equipment provided by Olympus Americas. We had narrowed our search down to two M4/3 bodies from Olympus. Specifically the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the E-M1X.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 240 mm, efov 480 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-5000, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 8.6 metres

The hands-on testing quickly confirmed the E-M1X as our preferred camera body. Readers looking for more detailed explanations can look at the review article I wrote for my blog, and a piece that I wrote for PhotoRumors.com.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, 1/60, f/5.6, ISO-6400, subject distance 1.4 metres

Some readers have asked if we considered any M4/3 Panasonic camera bodies or lenses. No, we did not. A number of years ago we had a brief experience with Panasonic mirrorless gear. At the time we had a GH-4 and a couple of Panasonic Pro f/2.8 zoom lenses. As expected, video performance was very good.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-200

However, our experience with still photography performance was far from acceptable. Within 10 days of use, all of the Panasonic gear was returned for a small restocking fee. As a result, we have no interest in Panasonic equipment.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 255 mm, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

Lenses
Our choice of lenses was driven primarily by our needs as they pertain to our industrial client safety video work. The trio of M.Zuiko f/2.8 PRO zooms is ideal for our needs. We purchased the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 zoom, the M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 zoom, and the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom. Thus far all have been excellent in terms of auto-focus speed and accuracy, colour rendition, handling and sharpness. Here are some additional thoughts on these three zoom lenses.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 5 seconds, ISO-200

M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 Zoom
We anticipate that this will be our most used lens for our industrial videos as we most often shot at a 27 mm equivalent field-of-view with our Nikon 1 kit. Optical performance is excellent. Since we shoot the vast majority of our video clips indoors the fact that this lens does not accept any typical filters is a non-issue for us. In terms of landscape photography work where streams and waterfalls are involved, the Live ND filter capability of the OM-D E-M1X helps deal with the filter issue with this lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + N.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/7.1, 1/2 second, ISO-200

The fact that all of the M.Zuiko PRO series of lenses are weatherproof is also important to us. Part of our business plan calls for more outdoor and travel related work. Much of that will involve wide angle compositions where the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 will be our workhorse lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/5.6, 1/13, ISO-3200, subject distance 340 mm

M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 Zoom
This is a superb, everyday lens that provides a very useful equivalent field-of-view of 24 mm to 80 mm. It will likely be the second most frequently used lens for our client video projects. Comparatively small and light this PRO f/2.8 zoom is really great value for the money.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-2000, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

A few readers have asked if we considered the M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 zoom. This was one of the lenses in our initial loaner gear assortment that we borrowed from Olympus Americas. We gave this lens a lot of consideration as it is quite a versatile and flexible zoom lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, 1/15, f/5.6, ISO-200

Ultimately we decided that we did not want to lose one stop of light, and chose the M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 instead. The M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 also did not make sense for us as it duplicated a large part of the focal range of the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8. The built-in IS of the M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 wasn’t that important to us as it really only gave us an additional ½ stop of IBIS performance with the E-M1X. For our business that wasn’t as important as having one extra stop of light when using f/2.8 constant aperture zooms.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko M20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/4000, ISO-1250, subject distance 41 metres

M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 Zoom and MC-20 teleconverter
This is an absolutely fantastic lens which I love using for a variety of subject matter. When equipped with the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter, the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 performs at very high standards. It delivers an equivalent field-of-view of 160 mm to 600 mm when mounted with the MC-20. Sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 194 mm, efov 388 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-6400, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 8.6 metres

Being able to shoot at f/2.8 all the way up to an equivalent field-of-view of 300 mm, makes the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm an incredibly flexible lens to use in lower light conditions.

Frame 19, Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 230 mm, efov 460 mm, f/8, 1/1600, ISO-1250, -0.7 step, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 18.4 metres

The dual capability of lower light, or longer reach with the MC-20 teleconverter, makes investing in the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and MC-20 teleconverter a very practical decision.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, f/4, 1/200, ISO-3200, subject distance 255 mm

M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 Macro and Olympus STF-8 Macro Twin Flash
This lens is another gem from Olympus. Although it looks rather bizarre when mounted on a body like the OM-D E-M1X this lens actually performs wonderfully and handles very well.

The STF-8 Macro Twin Flash is easily mounted on the front of an M.Zuiko macro lens and extends handheld macro photography

I have been extremely happy with the performance of this lens to the point that I recently purchased the Olympus STF-8 Macro Twin Flash unit. I also bought a set of Kenko extension tubes to use with this lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 with STF-8 Twin Macro Flash, f/8, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 280 mm

As regular readers will know, I always prefer to shoot handheld when possible. The M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 Macro lens allows me to do that… including having success using this lens for handheld Hi Res macro images. We plan on doing a lot more macro work in the future!

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm Kenko extension tube, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-6400, Hand-held Hi Res Mode, subject distance 190 mm

M.Zuiko PRO 45 mm f/1.2 Prime
This lens was only added to our Olympus kit in October. I’ve never been a big fan of using prime lenses for still photography, but I did use my 1 Nikkor primes extensively for my client video work. Having a mid-length fast prime does come in handy when filming in close around industrial machinery.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 80 mm, efov 160 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-1600, Pro Capture mode

This M.Zuiko PRO 45 mm f/1.2 prime will take the place of our 1 Nikkor 32 mm f/1.2 in our video productions. Since my Olympus E-M1X has up to 7 stops of IBIS, we anticipate that the M.Zuiko 45 mm f/1.2 will also be used for more still photography than was the case with any of our 1 Nikkor primes. We plan on doing a lot of creative experimentation with the M.Zuiko PRO 45 mm f/1.2 in terms of shallow depth-of-field compositions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 2X teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/25, ISO-4000, subject distance 2.4 metres

Less than 4 KG with lots of flexibility
So, that’s what in our Olympus bag. The OM-D E-M1X, a camera body that I love more and more every day that I use it. Five superb M.Zuiko lenses. The MC-20 teleconverter. A set of Kenko extension tubes. And… the Olympus STF-8 Macro Twin Flash.

Even though the OM-D E-M1X is ‘large’ by micro four thirds standards, it is fairly thin and packs nicely in a mid-sized shoulder bag along with our compliment of 5 M.Zuiko lenses.

Our Olympus kit allows us to shoot at an equivalent field-of-view of 14 mm to 600 mm… all with pro grade glass. The E-M1X, five M.Zuiko lenses, extension tubes and two extra batteries all fit into a single, mid-sized shoulder bag.  So, we can still travel comparatively small and light. All of our Olympus gear weighs less than 4 KG

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 50 mm, efov 135 mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-400

The Future of our Nikon 1 Kit
As noted in earlier articles we will be continuing to use Nikon 1 gear in the future. We initially thought that we would sell some of our Nikon 1 gear. After some additional consideration we decided to keep all of our Nikon 1 equipment… it is just so unique that we cannot bring ourselves to sell any of it.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + N.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/5.6, 1/2 second, ISO-200

Technical Note:
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, 1/10, f/5.6, ISO-200

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8 thoughts on “What’s in our Olympus Bag?”

  1. Hi Tom, thanks for the great article and comments on the 40-150+MC-20. I recently acquired the MC-20 and have been using it with that lens. I have a question. Have you noticed whether there seems to be a greater loss of light transmission through that than just the two-stop difference in max aperture? It seems to me that I’m losing more light than that. What do you think?
    Thanks, Walter

    1. Hi Walter,

      I can’t say that I have noticed anything… but I haven’t been specifically looking for that issue either. I suppose you could do some comparative exposures with and without the MC-20 to see how much light you are actually losing under controlled conditions. Over the next little while you will see another article that I’ve created on the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with the MC-20 for bird photography.

      Tom

    1. Hi William,

      No… not at this point. Right now our immediate priority is to get our corporate depreciation schedule balanced out a bit better. Once that is done we can assess our potential needs for the future.

      At this point it would be difficult for us to justify investing in another E-M1X body. Having used this body for the past number of months I have become seriously spoiled by it. If we purchased an E-M1 Mark II or an E-M5 Mark III as a second body, I’m not sure how much I would actually use it.

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom,

    Was eagerly awaiting your post on what’s in your camera bag nowadays and here it is. I’m really impressed with the Oly E-M1X, not just its feature set (the Live ND as well as the AF are much coveted though) but also the color rendition. I think I’ve mentioned this in a post comment before but I agree with you on Panasonic/Lumix. I particularly point to the Lumix underwhelming performance in the high ISO settings. Traveling light(er) is also a blessing with the new set-up, with pro-grade glasses to boot. Life goes on after Nikon 1 (it was a great ride after all). In my photographic journey, it was disruptive though also a nice, learning experience, to shift after quite a long time with Nikon. It’s great to learn new things, apply whatever I learned using a new brand of tool — in the end, it’s the user (and his/her skill) that matters more. In your case, looking at your passel of work, it’s like there was no disruption at all save for subtle nuances here and there.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Hi Oggie,

      Thanks for your comment… it jogged me into recognizing that I did not put any photos of the Olympus gear into the article. I’ve added a few photos so readers can see the relative size of the gear.

      Our Nikon 1 ride continues… we will still be using our Nikon 1 kit on a fairly regular basis. My wife doesn’t have any Olympus gear and certainly likes the Nikon 1 V3 she typically uses. I still very much enjoy the small size and capability of my Nikon 1 ‘pocket rocket’ cameras!

      Tom

  3. Tom,
    You frequently use the 2.0 TC with the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens. It is impossible for me to tell from your posted images whether the TC causes significant degradation. Please comment.
    Jack

    1. Hi Jack,

      The M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with the MC-20 teleconverter is worry free in my mind when it comes to image degradation. For comparison purposes I find the M.Zuiko combination is sharper than my 1 Nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 all the way through the zoom range. I have a photo associate who uses the MC-20 with his M.Zuiko 300 mm f/4 and tell me he is amazed with the clarity he gets with the combination. The MC-20 is outstanding. The M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is the sharpest zoom lens that I have ever owned… combined with the MC-20 it is terrific.

      I have an upcoming article that just focuses on bird images captured with the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and MC-20. You may find that upcoming posting of special interest.

      Tom

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