The results of my internal struggle between Canon and Olympus.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by JamieW, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    Back in 2009 I decided to take a break from photography. I was getting burned out, and tired of taking heavy camera gear with me everywhere I went. I sold most of my Canon gear, but my wife kept a bit of it and eventually bought herself a 5D MK II.

    In late 2013 I decided I missed shooting after going on 3 vacations over the years with nothing more than a smart phone. I did a bit of research and settled on the Canon 6D. Unfortunately it didn't take long to realize I just didn't like shooting on it, and couldn't put my finger on why. I started looking around for a different option and landed on the E-M1, my first Olympus camera.

    Since then I've been trying to decide which system to keep and which one to sell as there's no reason to keep both. There are pros and cons to each. Here are the ones that affect me personally:

    Olympus E-M1 pros, vs the Canon 6D:

    - IBIS (Thanks marcr1230 for the reminder). Not sure how I forgot this one, it was one of my top features.
    - Smaller and lighter body and lenses.
    - Less expensive lenses
    - Wonderful Face Detect auto focus. I absolutely love this for portraits which accounts for the majority of what I'm doing these days. It's so accurate. I get a lot more keepers than I do on the 6D. No need to focus and recompose.
    - Articulated LCD screen, makes working with kids much easier.
    - Thumbs down, just more fun to shoot on. Doesn't matter what kind of shooting I'm trying to do. I recently did a studio session with kids, and I had intended on using the 6D, but I started on the E-M1. About 10 minutes into I switched to the 6D, and found focusing and recomposing for every shot to be annoying beyond words. I eventually grabbed the E-M1 and never looked back.
    - Focus (reliably) anywhere in the scene. The canon 6D has a single cross type focus point in the center of the scene, and only 11 AF points total, all located near the middle of the scene.

    Canon 6D pros, vs the E-M1:

    - Tethering.
    - Battery Life
    - Higher resolution. If I'm shooting at 3:2, the 6D has about 50% more megapixels than the E-M1. If I shoot at 16:9, the E-M1 drops down to 11.9MP.
    - Better industry support (for instance, the ProFoto B1 flash system supports wireless ETTL for Canon systems).
    - Better LR / ACR camera profiles.
    - Wireless ETTL flash system uses radio frequency to trigger flashes.

    Tonight I decided, I really like the idea of the higher resolution images, especially for cropping, and I love the idea of showing up for an environmental portrait with the Canon and a couple of ProFoto B1's and doing an all wireless ETTL shoot. In and out, no metering, no fuss. I'm also a HUGE fan of tethering in the studio, so I sat down and put pen to paper and tried to see what it would cost to gear up:

    - Canon 5D MK III (for the improved autofocus system, 41 cross type AF points vs 1): $3500
    - Canon 24-70 2.8: $2300
    - Canon 70-200 2.8: $2400
    - Canon 85mm 1.2: $2300
    - ProFoto B1's: $2K Each (x2), + wireless controller ($350) and spare battery ($250 x2)

    (Yea, we're over $14K here)

    - Divorce Lawyer: $$$

    Maybe 14MP 3:2 images is plenty. In contrast, I made a different wish list for the E-M1 using my current lighting rig:

    - Panasonic 42.5 1.2: $1600
    - Olympus 40-150 2.8: $?

    It's all about perspective. The E-M1 is a lot more fun to shoot on (I realize that's subjective). I don't NEED tethering or more resolution, or ETTL support for ProFoto lights. I realize a full frame is better in some ways, but then again so is a $45K digital medium format system. Everyone has to draw the line somewhere. Mine's about $40K short of a medium format system.

    After a couple of months of waging this internal war back and forth with myself, I finally feel at peace with my decision to stick with the E-M1. After pricing out the Canon kit, it certainly puts the price of the Panasonic 42.5 into perspective.

    Here are some recent shots with the E-M1 in my studio, most of which have a fair amount of editing in post:







    • Like Like x 30
  2. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Fun to hear why from folks :)
    Some fun shots ya got going :)
    Shaving and pipe my two favs again fun ! I like that

    Tethering is something wish the oly could do to :)

    Do you have the profoto strobes ?
    Nice lights for me ttl is on camera only still prefer manual :)
    Updating my photogenic I have had 10+ years was looking at profoto Elnchrom and ended up getting the cheetah lights 360 model and loving them
    Got a kacey adapter for my Elinchrom modifiers but also changing some older modifiers going for smaller more compact kit these days loving them as I do on location work

    Last year I dumped all my L glass and multiple 5 series etc... Kinda made me cut the cord bought a d600 as my last DSLR to transition off with 85 and 35 prime and one ultra wide

    Like you been loving my E-M1 for portraits have not used face detect yet ? Have to try that but lve the tilt screen and touch focus reminds me of shooting med format a bit

    You ever look or think on the Sony A7R ? I was going to get that decided to hold off till next gen and more glass and see what Fuji does :)
    • Like Like x 1
  3. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    I love your portraits.

    I suppose this post is all about explaining to the wife how a 42.5 1.2 @ US$1600 is something of a bargain.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks for posting. For me, your struggle reflects the everlasting truths with photo gear - there's no perfect system and we all need to make the compromises that suit what we do and how we feel.

    Great shots too! I'm sure clients/friends/viewers will love your work no matter what gear you use!
    • Like Like x 2
  5. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    Fantastic shots!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. geoawelch

    geoawelch Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 18, 2011
    George Welch

    I think you have worked through the struggle of many - finding the gear that you are most comfortable shooting with.

    The fact is that many micro 4/3 and dslr's will allow you to shoot professional images - the great determinant is the person behind the viewfinder and his/her vision and skill.

    You did the due diligence and determined your needs for portraits and have made an informed decision.

    I've shot Canon for more than 30 years - the last 20 with pro equipment and the last 12 or so as a working pro. I knew the cameras inside and out, yet for me the Olympus E-M1 system did it for me as well.

    Why for me? Size, quality inexpensive lenses that I do not have to spend endless time micro adjusting across three bodies and multiple lenses, AF system that just works?

    Do I miss my Canon gear? Only when photographing birds that are either quick moving or in flight. I do not photograph sports and suppose I would miss it there as well.

    Sorry to hijack the thread but simply wanted to commend you for a well thought out decision
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Highlander

    Highlander Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 17, 2011
    USA, Northeast Coast
    Richard Correale
    I think you made the right decision. Admittedly I'm biased as I also moved to the EM-1 from a 5D MK II.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  8. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Great pictures of the kids. That usually mollifies martial photographic differences.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    Thanks everyone for the kind words.

    I am currently using Alien Bees. There's a thread here about my setup:

    I have worked with ProFotos and Speedotrons in the past (both in rental studios). I like the ProFotos, didn't care so much for the Speedotrons, but it could have been the particular pack system / model I was using. I've used ETTL only slightly, and it was with Canon Speedlites. It's nice when it works, but it doesn't work for all occasions so you have to know how to do it manually when it fails. I used to be very anal about light meters and ratios, but these days I have a much more zen-like approach. Shoot, chimp, season to taste. I have a Sekonics light meter but I rarely use it any more.

    My current portable setup is two Alien Bees B800's with a Mini-Lithium Vagabond, good for about 500+ shots outdoors at full power. A backup battery is only $89. After years of looking at various ProFoto setups, I'm seriously considering going to Einsteins as my upgrade path now since I'm dumping the Canon. I don't think you can beat them for the price, and they're higher output than the ProFoto B1's at 1/4 the price. Matched with the Vagabond, I get more battery life, and the Cybersync system appears to be quite good.

    As for the Sony A7R, I have looked at it. I am interested in it (actually the A7 more than the A7R), but I want native lenses that work (quickly) with autofocus, and they don't have anything resembling a fast portrait lens on their immediate roadmap. I'll give them a year or two and see what the next generation A7 looks like and re-evaluate the lens options then.

    She doesn't read the forum, but that would make things easier. :) She's actually a photographer herself, so she understands.

    I made the post mainly because it's tax time and a lot of people are going to be getting tax refunds and buying new gear this time of year. I find these kinds of posts informative when I'm shopping. I love hearing why people that use two systems I'm interested in chose one over the other, so I thought I'd make a similar post for anyone that might be in the same boat.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    I think the arguments are pretty well hashed out, and we are all in an M43 forum, so it's not exactly a hostile crowd.

    I'm particularly happy with my E-M1 - I'm also a D800 owner and a D300 before that.

    for 95% of my needs the M43 E-M1 is just amazing - so happy I went with it

    more Pros/Cons:

    Size/Weight - Amen, there's nothing like lugging around a D800 and 70-200 2.8 to make you appreciate the E-M1

    Lens selection - 12-40 2.8 is an awesome travel lens - I'm looking forward to the 40-150 2.8 for sports. the primes are spectacular - I think I need a second body just to enjoy all the fine primes :) 60/2.8 and 75 1.8 are in my bag - I look forward to the 42.5/1,2 (although I've seen pretty fine results from much less expensive M42 85e lenses)

    Durability - nice not to worry about being caught in the rain

    Fun - nothing comes close to the fun I've had using this camera - hard to explain why - it just works well and brings a smile to my face

    Cost - like you said - you can spend a lot more on Canon/Nikon FF

    IBIS - the Olympus implementation borders on magical - it's that good


    Sensor size - FF vs Crop factor DoF argument - hey, I like 4x5 field camera results, you do make a compromise with a smaller sensor - most of the time it's not critical, but it's worth mentioning.
    Sensor size - High ISO - let's face it, the smaller the pixels, the less light you can capture, you always have an advantage with FF

    System Standards and Third party accessories - let's concede that if you are looking for compatible accessories and variety of choice (like TTL flashes supporting Proprietary TTL standards ) the market is with the big 2 gorillas

    Focus - CDAF is always going to be slower than PDAF - the jury is still out on on-sensor PDAF - theoretically it should be more accurate than DSLR implementations (no micro adjustments per lens/body ) , practically though the big guys still have an edge , for whatever reason

    I could go on and on, but bottom line - I've started to sell of my Nikon kit
    • Like Like x 2
  11. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    I can't believe I forgot to mention IBIS. This was a HUGE factor in choosing E-M1 in the first place.

    I have some big plans for spring specifically designed around the IBIS and motorcycles, but I'm not a very exciting guy. I need to save some surprises for later. :)
  12. Photorebel

    Photorebel Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2013
    Jeff Mims
    While not a pro, I have done paid work (weddings, portraits…sports..etc) I followed a similar path, heavily invested in Canon..(5DIII, L lenses, flashes, pocket wizards…and even bought a 6D recently,) I liked the far as results, but not doing any paid work now, and it's purely a hobby for me, and I just didn't enjoy the shooting experience. I sold everything…..and I'm in the OM D E1 system, with several lenses, and and OM D5 for backup. And I'm very happy with my decision.
    I enjoy shooting more now…just like I did when I first started. Sounds like a paradox, that the more advanced, digital camera…brings back the pleasure I had shooting with manual focus, film SLRs…but it does.
    No regrets.
    Besides..I'm not locked in the OM D system forever, I can always….sell it, go back to DSLR in the future. However, I really don't see that happening.

    I really like the work you've posted. Good stuff.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    I wish Olympus and Panasonic would get their crap together and offer radio based TTL based flash systems. There is just no reason to have anything else anymore. Sony even has it in their basic DLSRs that are fairly cheap. Also HSS/FP sync on all models.

    It seems that both companies think their customers just want the cheesy on camera flash.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Sony? Really?

    As far as I know only Cann has native radio TTL flash. Then there's a couple of third party solutions for Canon and Nikon. But even Nikon doesn't have radio wireless TTL yet.

    Olys wireless TTL is remarkably similar in function to Nikons and Sonys.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    the OMD wireless from the camera is really good still prefer radio ? for me at least when I go off camera I prefer manual anyway and I use the cheetah stuff now no issues before I was using canon phottix triggers which allowed my on camera flash to pass through TTL functions no issues

    but I wish M4/3 as a whole would get more proper support form Phottix and other companies Ed at Cheetah light for us US folks is a huge M4/3 guy he loves the stuff and loves hearing stories of folks using it :)

    like that new setup from Phottix !!! wish they would do a Oly Panny version :)

    there are times when speedlights are enough power but often want more and more important recycle times
  16. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    If Olympus ever intends to add radio based control they better throw a bigger battery in there. At the moment, if you use Wifi to control your camera, you really don't have to step very far from the camera before the live view becomes very choppy and grainy. The Wifi transceiver has very limited range to prevent one from running the battery down as it is.
  17. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    Might have been a misreading on my part, its a "Generation 3: Digital ratio flash", not radio..DOH.
  18. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    That's not radio.

    Sony, like Nikon and Olympus uses an IR protocol. Works well eugh but it requires both line of sight and has limited range compared to the 2-300 feet you'll get from a radio solution.

    At this time only Canon provides a native radio based wireless TTL solution. There are third party solutions for Nikon (radio poppers etc...) and several manual systems.


  19. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    If they follow Canon the radio is runfrom a master flash, not te camera body. Impact on camera attery life would be nil. That's also how to make it backward compatible, to an extent.

  20. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    Still it would be nice to have something like the Canon radio flash TTL for M43. Even some radio triggers - like the Cactus 5 - with TTL support would be nice.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.