What better to get the photographic juices flowing than a new bit of kit.
My E-5 is a 6-year old camera now, and I still love it! I think the look of Olympus images is different from the other brands. I like that difference.
Since Olympus stopped making its Four Thirds DSLRs in favour of its Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless CSC, some excellent, used kit has been appearing on the market for a fraction of what it would have cost a couple of years back. The £960 Zuiko 12-60mm ED SWD lens used to not lose much of its value at all in the second-hand market. I’ve just bought one in as-new condition for about a quarter of its original price. It’s really fast to focus and the image quality, when mounted on my E-5, is superb.
There are plenty of newer cameras that have double the pixel count, or more. But, my camera is well beyond more than adequate for printing images far larger than A3, and I never need more than that; Mostly, I am printing A4 or 5 x 7. Most of my images end up only online. Besides, I don’t want photo files that are 25 MB each. (If I did need to print larger, I have software that allows me to enlarge images.)
My camera is so fast to focus (especially with the new lens). The high ISO noise control is good even at high ISOs. Some of the most modern camera’s can produce usable images at ISO 32000 or higher, but how often would I need that? With many of my shots I am trying to reduce the light reaching the sensor not increase the sensitivity!
The camera still fits my hands perfectly. It is a solid build with a magnesium alloy body, it’s splash-proof and I know my way around it in the dark.
But, I do need a new second camera. As more and more commercial shoots flood in, I need something to fall back on that is at least as good as the E-5. (My other camera doesn’t quite make the grade.)That has left me with a predicament and it is something I have been pondering over for months.
I could buy a second-hand E-5. But, there are so few on the market that they sell for a premium. Would I be better off spending that money on a new camera? If I do, it means changing to a different system; the Four Thirds DSLR system is discontinued. If so, do I swap to a newer micro Four Thirds mirrorless compact system camera, such as the amazing Olympus OMD-EM1 mk ii; my dream camera. Or, perhaps I should consider the excellent and more affordable OMD-EM5 mk ii. Both of these have tremendous low-light performance; useful for weddings and parties. The EM5 good enough for the likes of Gavin Hoey, so it should be good enough for me. An adaptor would allow my lenses to work with all their high-speed functionality on these bodies.
Or, do I go full frame? That’s something I have resisted. Lots of professionals are now migrating away from these huge beasts and opting for something more portable and practical, better suited to documentary-style photography. But, there are artistic benefits of having a larger sensor. There are excellent full frame cameras on the market for less than the OMD-EM1 mk ii. But, that would mean me having to invest in a new set of lenses.
What do you think I should buy? If you seek advice about what camera you should buy, a photographer will always recommend the make they have. They will never admit to having made a bad choice and will enthuse over their chosen brand. (There is one brand that I will avoid just because of the number of incidents I have come across of them going faulty, but I won’t say what it is. I don’t want to upset you if it is the make you chose!)
When people ask me about buying a first camera, and they regularly do, I sit down with them and search Flickr. There are fantastic photos taken with any brand and any model. Variations in quality are down to the photographer and not the camera. All cameras from any of the big makes are excellent and will perform as highly as the photographer’s skills will allow. (There’s an old saying that the best component in a photographic system is the one looking through the viewfinder.)
The next thing I always recommend going into a shop and trying different models to see what fits their hands the best. Ergonomics are so important.
I also say to check out the second hand market. There are hundreds or even thousands of great second-hand cameras available and some great deals to be found. Older models still take excellent pictures, as they did when they were new, and can be picked up for a few tens of Pounds. It’s also more environmentally friendly buying a used camera.
A word of caution. Although you should be okay buying a used camera from a reputable camera retailer, do take care when you buy elsewhere. Cameras regularly get stolen and are fenced on online auction and marketplace sites.
Ask to see a photograph of the serial number before you buy from a private seller. (Don’t just ask what the serial number is, crooks don’t tell the truth!) Serial numbers of stolen cameras are often listed online. Then, ask to see some historic photos posted on sites like Flickr from that camera. It’s relatively easy to compare the seller and check with the person who uploaded the images that the sale is genuine.
If the vendor is unwilling to do any of this, don’t buy it.
Here are some shots with my new lens.
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