Change of Direction

I’ve been pondering for a while whether my photographic path is the right one for me. I bought a DSLR thinking I’d take loads of cool pictures of cars and bikes and with a little (or a lot) of practise I’d be capturing great images like some of the pro / semi-pro togs I’ve come across in the last year or so.

I expected I’d have to upgrade my kit at some point, although I also knew a lot was down to me to practise and get my technique right in the first place, and that no-one can just buy their way to great photos. I deliberately bought a cheap entry level DSLR because I wanted to prove to myself, through actual real-world use, that I really needed “expensive feature X” before going out and buying a camera that had it.

Over the last year or so I’ve attended various events at which other photographers have been present, and almost without exception they’ve been adorned with slab-like cameras, humungous telephoto lenses, tripods and monopods to support the weight of these monsters, and backpacks you could fit a person in to carry their gear around.

I thought to myself, is this me? Is this what I want to become? Is my journey into photography one of acquiring more and more bulk, more and more weight, at more and more expense? I needed to re-evaluate what I was trying to do, what I was expecting to achieve, to set my expectations to realistic levels and to be honest with myself about what I’m doing.

I like motorsport, but I’m not at a circuit every weekend taking 1,000’s of photos to be sold, or not, on my motorsport photography website. I go to events generally to support someone who’s taking part, to document their adventures, and which often involves going back and forth between pits / paddock and track. I don’t want to cart around huge cameras and lenses. I want to go on holiday to interesting places and take good quality photos of the things I see, I don’t want the weight of a small child hanging from my neck.

See where this going? Size / weight / bulk, these things were rapidly becoming an issue, especially when I started to consider where to go next with my current kit. Nikon D3300 -> D7500 -> D500? Swap the 18-200 every day lens for quality 24-70 and / or 70-200 f2.8 zooms? I made a wish-list of quality gear that I could add to my current line-up. It all just shouted at me “this thing is huge, it weighs a ton!!”.

So I decided to go in a completely different direction. Allow me to introduce my new toy!

This is the Olympus EM-1 Mark 2 (generally referred to on photography websites as the EM1.2 for short).

On the face of it the body looks like a regular DSLR, and it actually weighs a few 100 grams more than the Nikon D3300. But it’s based on the Micro 4/3rds format (a sensor slightly smaller than the APS-C sensor in the D3300). And with smaller sensors come smaller lenses. The above picture shows the camera fitted with an Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 PRO, the equivalent to the 24-70mm f2.8 I’d been considering for the D3300, but it’s half the size, half the weight, and half the price.

I’ve also bought a 40-150mm f2.8, the nearest equivalent to the 70-200mm f2.8 lens I thought I always needed, but again at a fraction of the weight / size and cost. I have on order a 1.4x teleconverter for the 40-150mm, which will give me the equivalent reach of a 420mm full-frame lens, and all of this weighs in at a little over 2kg, and it all fits in my Lowepro shoulder bag, which I find infinitely more comfortable to carry around than a backpack.

I have yet to do anything with it, other than a test day at an Oval track event the day after I bought it, so I look forward to seeing what this baby can do!

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