Love to hear from newer digital users who purchased an Olympus OM-D camera - learning experience/curve

Annie

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Hi,

I was out today and thinking I'd appreciate the additional crop factor of M-4-3 so perhaps I can get into some birding and animal photography (mostly I do landscape and travel).
So I am now thinking the OM-D M5 III with 12-100 F/4 IS lens to open up that possibility.

That weighs much less than a Fuji zoom lens of about the equivalent range (the other camera I am considering is the Fuji X-T3/30, which until today I thought I was leaning towards) -- I tend to go back and forth with these two cameras.

With Olympus, there appears to be many former full frame users who make the switch to M-4-3, so I infer they know their stuff. And from the posts i read here, that is confirmed.

I don't, I confess. I am enthusiastic about learning, but also impatient if the learning curve is too long. In other words, I would like to take my camera out and get good photographs - even photos that can published - without years of learning M-4-3.

I like to set my own shutter and aperture, and use flash for effect, and anticipate working with HDR and focus stacking but I don't want to come home and see only a small percentage of images working because I still need to learn something.

I am also a pixel peeper, not to extremes (I wouldn't compare the images from M-4-3 to say my Canon SL1 or other) and image quality means alot -- it is why I want to upgrade from the SL1, not only for better quality but also for more functionality in the camera (where i feel the Oly excels).

Having said all that, I'd love to hear from folks "like me" who switched to M-4-3 without having had a lot of digital experience prior to that:

- Were you more satisfied than frustrated in the first few months to 6 months of using the camera?

- Did you find it easy to advance your skills with the camera, using manuals, this forum, etc.?

- Would you do it again (purchase the same camera and lens)?
Or lessons learned: what would you have done if you could do it again?

Thank you for your time and feedback!
Annie
 

pdk42

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All good questions Annie. In the end though, you need to give it a try and come to your own conclusions :).

FWIW, here's my take (as an ex Canon FF user):

- M43 IQ is pretty good at base ISO. DR is a little lacking, but with care you can deal with it.
- ISO 1600 is probably the limit for most users for "serious" work. Lower if you're more demanding at the pixel level.
- Lenses are superb - better than most other systems I'd say.
- Size, weight etc are a big plus.
- Camera features are second to none.
- AF is now (EM5.3, EM1.2, EM1x, and EM1.3) close to the best (but not quite).
- Image stabilisation is second to none.

I'd say try it. If you want to dip your toe in the water, pick up a used EM1.2 and the 12-40. If that doesn't work out for you then you can sell on without losing much, if anything.
 
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PakkyT

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A couple thoughts.

One is you might check out local camera and lens rental locations and see if they carry Olympus and Panasonic gear. It might be worth doing an initial 5-7 day test with a higher end camera and lens to get some real life samples you took to see what you think. You may be able to do the same with Fuji. There are national rental chains but generally if you have a local place you will save a few tens of dollars avoiding the whole shipping thing.

Second, Olympus has a Test & Wow program where you can borrow, FOR FREE, for a few days equipment from local vendors. Olympus TEST & WOW
Mike's Camera in Denver apparently takes part in this even though there is no "Colorado" in the pull down for the Oly Test & Wow site. You might call them and ask if they are anywhere near you.
 

RAH

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I was out today and thinking I'd appreciate the additional crop factor of M-4-3 so perhaps I can get into some birding and animal photography (mostly I do landscape and travel).
So I am now thinking the OM-D M5 III with 12-100 F/4 IS lens to open up that possibility.
The 12-100 is not a lens I would recommend for "birding and animal photography" - it doesn't have nearly enough reach, IMHO, even with the extra crop factor. I'd advise a 300mm lens minimum (75-300 or Pro 300), and/or, if you can wait awhile, the upcoming 100-400 (or pro 150-400). I have the 75-300 and find it to be excellent for a consumer-grade lens, and am almost definitely going to to get the 100-400 when it's available.
Here is a picture I took with the 75-300 (it is uncropped, but downsized by the forum)
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Carbonman

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Annie, I used to shoot both professionally and as an amateur with Canon FD mount cameras plus medium format and on occasion, large format. Sold it all and progressed through a couple of Nikon and Canon P&S digital cameras that frustrated me with their cumbersome menus and slow shutter release. When I decided to get back into interchangeable lens cameras, I knew I didn't want to haul the big, heavy gear like I'd used before. Perusing cameras (viewfinder required), I was shown an Olympus E-M10. It had only hit the market a couple of months before and the WYSIWYG EVF was a big selling point. The salesman showed me a large wildlife picture shot by the in-house Oly user and it blew me away.
The menus drove me crazy for a few months but I think it's just the way my brain works as I slowly wrap around what features actually do and what I want for a setup. I was not conversant with digital imaging at all when I started using the camera. I'm now on my 3rd O-MD camera and can navigate the menus and Super Control Panel just fine. I've never had any reason to want FF, a Fuji-style control layout or anything different from what I have now. Olympus lenses are very sharp, flare resistant and focus quickly. The 40-150 Pro is a favorite of a lot of mu-43 users and is very sharp and contrasty with either of the TCs. The 300mm f4 Pro is probably the best longer telephoto lens designed for the system and easily compares to 12-power FF lenses at 2-3 times the price - and you can shoot it hand held. I'll put most of what I consider my really good photos up against anyone's images in other formats. At this stage of photographic technology, the photographer is the limiting factor.
Sorry for being so verbose!
 

Paulb123

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I went from a bridge camera to Olympus OMD 10 mark II about 1.5 years ago and so here is my assessment:
  • I am from an IT background and so actually enjoyed getting to know the camera
  • I found the key is the Super Control Panel (SCP) which when it is set - makes all the standard changes very easy and avoid the menus
  • I dip into the menu for the following:
    • Set HDR - which is straight forward
    • Set up MySet - which is also straight forward
    • Set up maximum ISO (on auto)
    • Set up Super Fine - this is far tricky than it should be but you only need to do it once
    • Set up OVF to show blown out highights - again this should only need to be done once
I found Rob Treks You Tube beginners guide / tutorials really useful. Rob's various guides will take you through all the key settings. He is a very good teacher. Also Robin Wong and Peter Forsgarth do some you tube tutorials for specific subjects - all very good.

I would definitely re-iterate the use of "Try before you Buy" to find out how you get on with the camera (I would say that for anyone buying a new camera).
 

Hendrik

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I've been shooting digital for nearly two decades now and OM-D since 2013, so take this with as many grains of salt as you wish.

I can recall dipping into digital, first with an Oly C3030Z (3MP) and then a Nikon Coolpix 5700 (5MP). I remember feeling helpless for a while with each change of menu system while trying to replicate the experience of comfort I had while shooting film. It didn't make much difference which menu system I was confronted with - they were equally opaque as long as I was learning to use digital cameras. Once I had the issues sorted out, though, changing cameras wasn't particularly painful. Moving up to the D70 was a rush. I knew what functions must be there and thus it was simply a matter of finding them and then, much more difficult, remembering them for later. That's later as in months down the line... I don't think it makes much difference whose cameras you start to use - there will be differences with what you already know and that's that. Once the new camera is set up, there's not much you will need to do. That's not to say there won't be tweaking you might like to do –– later.

In terms of learning m43, when I took up m43 with a used E-M5, I used it intensively during the vendor's return window and found that, apart from relearning nomenclature and menus, the experience I had amassed while shooting (at that time) the Nikons D90 and D600 transferred naturally. I don't recall thinking I knew any more or less than I needed to in order to make the switch. EVF lag was a negative but it was outweighed by the positives of the WYSIWYG experience and the ability to focus really critically.

You mentioned birding. The major difference I encountered had to do partially with the E-M5 itself and partially to do with the diminished real estate on the camera, specifically buttons. Not only buttons, but buttons and gloves, gloves especially. For a couple of years I shot m43 from April to Halloween and Nikons during the winter. Olympus button placement has improved. So has my fluency with finding and using them with light gloves on. The 4-way switch pad remains too small to be used reliably by me with even light gloves (giving the OK button a clean press is hit-or-miss). Still, one adapts. For the past four winters I have gone shooting twice daily with only m43 gear, using light gloves, pockets and hand warmers.
 

Rgone

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I would second what Paulb123 and others have said, above. A previous commenter mentioned the Olympus Test & WOW program. I don't know where you live in CO (I live in Fort Collins) but Mike's Camera has five locations on the front range and they might be in the program. I used Nikon film, then digital cameras, then I switched over to Olympus and have been very happy with the system. I've used the EPL series, then the OMD5, and the PenF and they have all been great. The perennial complaint about Olympus is that there is a steep learning curve, the menus are complicated, and the documentation provided is not helpful. I would agree with all that, but the basic reason that the cameras are difficult to navigate is because they are totally customizable. There are probably a hundred parameters and sub-parameters that can be programmed. I consider that a strength, not a liability, but it does take a geek to enjoy it. Conversely, if you don't want to get into all that, you can set it to Auto and use it like a point-and-shoot and get great results. But if that's all you're going to do with it you're wasting your money. Paulb123 mentioned Rob Trek's UTube tutorials and I agree that they are simple, understandable, easy to follow, and cover all the basics without dragging you too far into the weeds. Follow his setup instructions and you are ready to go and can ignore the rest until you want to dig deeper. Most of the defaults work well and don't need changing. I think Rob even has a tutorial on photographing birds, which would give you an idea of what you need to have.

Here is another suggestion. I have two first generation OMD EM5's. I am selling them to finance an upgrade to an EM5ii to back up my PenF. They are in excellent condition and you can have one for $100 and I'll throw in a very good guidebook. Find a used lens on eBay or one of several used camera dealers (I can recommend some that I have used) and you are in business. The advantage is that for very little money you are into the Olympus system and you can see how you like it. The EM5 will do what you want it to do and if you decide to upgrade you can keep it as a backup. The only negatives to this plan that I can see are that the EM5 is a 16 MP camera and the EM5iii is 20 MP (you can research the debate about how much difference that actually makes); and if you decide to move up to the EM5iii I think (but am not sure) that the menu system has changed a bit. However, once you get used to the logic of the menus I shouldn't think that it would be too difficult adjusting. If you decide to go this route, ask forum members for more recommendations for which lens to use for birding. I have used the 75-300, but not much, and I have no opinion about it. Also ask other forum members if they think my suggestion about the EM5 is a good one. I already have a used camera dealer who wants to buy that equipment, so I'm not really searching for a buyer.
 

c12402

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I’m using Olympus since first EM5, some 6 years ago, and now have EM1X with PRO lenses (plus 60mm for macro) mostly for wildlife and birding, also some landscapes.

The Olympus system is very good for that, lightweight and with very good image quality, you will not suffer from that, despite the urban legends promoted by people that have little or no use of it.

However, it’s true that learning curve is a bit harder than other systems. It is fundamental to start with a good setting for BIF, also good lenses, however if you have budget constraints, don’t hesitate to start with the 75-300mm for BIF, it’s quite a decent lens for the price and you can get one in the second hand market for a ridiculous price.

I would recommend also Topaz denoise AI, it removes noise up to 5000 ISO and gives you much more freedom. You have one month free for testing.

I would recommend also the Petr Bambousek course, very useful for wildlife, just take care with the buttons assignments he recommends, I found that it’s something very personal and his recommendation in this particular subject may not be the best for everyone.
 
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mnhoj

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The EM5iii and 12-100 is a great kit to transition to.
Like anything new there will be a curve. And steep at first but I think that's due to the vastness of customization available.
The youtube library of how tos is incredible. Take it day by day and soon enough you will have something that is tailored to you.

An SL1 to an EM5iii?
Holy cow you're going to have fun!
 

stevedo

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Hi Annie, please take this in the constructive manner in which it is meant, I mean no offence.

It feels to me as if you are suffering from a degree of analysis paralysis. It's about five weeks since you first started asking for, and receiving, advice about a move from your current Canon SL1. From memory, in that time, you've considered all manner of lenses from standard zooms, wide zooms, primes, started a thread asking about the 30mm Oly macro, stated you're considering the 60mm macro, superzooms, long zoom lenses and a host of camera bodies from E-M5.2 to E-M1.2 and now X-T3/30.

From the outset you have stated that great image stabilisation, focus stacking and live composite are important features to you. You mention more than once that Live Composite is a required feature. You state that you want to take photos in "all weather conditions" and be able to achieve good low light quality. I can't remember who referenced his low light shots inside churches but I do remember you being impressed. At one point you also stated that you have a budget of $1400 although that may have changed.

You've stated a few times that you mostly need a solution for travel and landscape.

I respectfully suggest that you try and prioritise your requirements. To me, from what you've posted, it seems that travel, landscape, live composite, all weather capability, stabilisation and an implied ability to grow into other areas such as macro and wildlife is what you want. How do the X-T3/30, for example, deliver Live Composite features, stabilisation and weather sealing?

I fully understand your predicament. I moved wholly to micro 4/3 about 6 years ago from a Canon system and that had me pondering all the potential solutions for a while. Today there are even more options to choose from. Make a list of what you NEED first of all and what you might WANT further down the line. Just high level things like Live Composite etc. Once you've done that, if you haven't already, select a SYSTEM in which to invest. From what you've said I strongly suspect that a micro 4/3 system will fit you very well. It then comes down to which body/lenses. If you need Live Composite then it'll be an Olympus body for sure.

The advice given earlier in this thread to either try and borrow equipment or buy used and then sell at a no/small financial loss if it doesn't suit sounds good to me if you don't want to fully commit. I've used my Olympus/Panasonic kit for the last 6 years on my ride around the world on my motorcycle. It's everything I want and need it to be. It's a pleasure to use and there's hardly ever a scenario where it's been the wrong tool for the job.

I sincerely wish you the best in your decision and once again hope I've not caused any offence.
 

Annie

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Here is a picture I took with the 75-300 (it is uncropped, but downsized by the forum)
I love your photo and happen to love rabbits too :)
If that is out of camera, non-edited I am impressed -- sometimes what I really love about Oly seems to be image sharpness and detail that is captured, as in yours.
Thank you, again!
 

Annie

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Hi Annie, please take this in the constructive manner in which it is meant, I mean no offence.
....
I respectfully suggest that you try and prioritise your requirements.
Hi Steve,
None taken!
You know what makes it difficult -- I was not even considering animals as a priority, but I was outside yesterday and saw a bird that was closer to me (unusual!) I had my point and shot with me and actually captured a decent photo of it. Then Olympus came up, thinking with the 2x crop factor I could actually capture birds and animals.

With Oly, what makes the decision difficult is I know I am stepping into so much new functionality, some of which you mentioned, so I have new opportunities available with that I did not have previously (especially when my only lens the past 4 years has been a 24 prime!) So I am thinking, based on some of what is stated above, to continue with my 12-40 and also add on the $99 40-150. So priority is "more general" at this point. That way, I have lens that can handle many things, maybe not perfectly, but well enough... later if I decide to specialize (and I won't know that until I see what i enjoy most with the camera), then I can get a lens more geared for that. So I am really hoping to try new things in many areas, the star trails, animals, more close up. And of course I will always love landscape and travel photography. That won't change :)

So that is what I have been thinking; I reached out to Mike's Camera as some suggested and hoping they will do the "Test and WOW!" or a demo option at the least :)

Thank you, again, for sharing and all the best!
Annie
 
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Annie I concur with Stevedo above and see your comment after re birds animals etc.
That's inevitable to start and then get attracted to other interests in photography.
For ages I refused to buy the 75-300 then weakened.
I took it home but couldn't get excited despite wanting to photograph our beautiful native birds.
Then it clicked and my focus changed.
I can honestly say I then never regretted the 75-300. Yes it has its foibles but getting to know it is key to success.
I've moved onto the Panasonic 100-400 and love it despite it too having its moments.
If you get an opportunity and really feel you would like to go after birds etc then if a 75-300 comes your way grab it.
Get a ver 2 though.
Trust you can embrace these Olympus and enjoy them.
All the best
 
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Annie

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Annie I concur with Stevedo above and see your comment after re birds animals etc.
...
...I can honestly say I then never regretted the 75-300. ...really feel you would like to go after birds etc then if a 75-300 comes your way grab it.
Get a ver 2 though.
Thank you! Oly has so many good lens. I think when I get to the store, I will put them on the camera and see how they feel... (or perhaps, I can demo with one).
All the best,
Annie
 

RAH

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I love your photo and happen to love rabbits too :)
If that is out of camera, non-edited I am impressed -- sometimes what I really love about Oly seems to be image sharpness and detail that is captured, as in yours.
Thank you, again!
Glad you liked my rabbit! That version was edited from the raw file. I OFTEN just use the jpg file, but his ear was blown-out some by the sun, so I tried to tame that down some using the raw file. Here is the original jpg. I tried to match it exposure-wise and sharpness-wise when I edited the raw (since the jpg is fine in those respects, i think), just trying to restore the blown-out ear.
Original jpg (uncropped, unedited):
P4290259.JPG
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RAH

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So I am thinking, based on some of what is stated above, to continue with my 12-40 and also add on the $99 40-150.
I agree that the very inexpensive 40-150 is a no-brainer. Might as well get it new, considering how inexpensive it is. I always take it with me on trips for those times I need some extra reach.

Otherwise, I think used lenses is the way to go. I got my 75-300 for $340 in "like new minus" condition at KEH (http://www.keh.com - good place to buy or sell used). Used cameras? I'm a little more leery about that; Olympus refurbished is good for that: http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/outlet
 

wyk

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Get an EM5 you can afford. Mebbe a pen. Get a non pro wide angle set up for landscape and maybe a 25mm F1.7 to start. None of that will break the bank. Then take photos, lots and lots of photos.

Stop pixel peeping. It will destroy your soul and your art. Let me show you why:

When you see this image, do you think 'Dear Lord that's a terrible low res 8mp jpeg photo.' or do you think, 'Dear Lord save whomever breaks down there'?

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When you see this image do you think, 'Wow, what a low res soft-cornered grainy jpeg from a 4mp 17yr old camera'? Or 'Wow, what a lovely place Ireland is'?

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These next two images were made from the absolute worst lens Sony make, the 16-50mm kit lens. At the time, the NEX-6 and that lens were the only thing I felt could fit in my jacket pocket to have with me at all times as I worked. Without either of those, these images would not exist. The camera and lens cost me $180 at the time.

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This is an image I took in 1999 on freaking film. Do you look at it and think 'Wow, that's some grain and film damage and vignetting' or 'Wow, what a cool old building'?

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Get 'good enough' equipment. Focus on your subject.
 

wyk

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This! When it comes to FOMO, it's the images one should fear missing out on, not the gear. You can sell gear on. Images represent time you will never get back.
I mostly take my photos for posterity, but I get creative when I can. That Alamo photo is a great example of posterity, though. This is just one of the references to it on line I have come across quoted below. Occasionally, people will contact me asking about my image since that place doesn't look quite like that any more. Remember, you are capturing a moment in time forever. I don't know about anyone else, but my memory is terrible. I often look back on my photos and think, 'Did that actually ever happen? Wow.' Only I sound like Owen Wilson in my mind.

https://downtowntx.org/granger-texas/304-e-davilla-st-granger-tx-76530 - quotes their photo is from 2013. Mine is from 1999.
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