Legacy Lenses
13th May 2020
The ups and downs of being in business during the covid-19 crisis
23rd May 2020
Coquet Island just before dawn

I very nearly changed systems completely a year or so ago, but now am so glad I didn’t. Fortunately, I listened to my own advice and didn’t give in to the temptations of ‘going full frame.’ Gladly, I stuck with my Olympus OM-D cameras.

For a couple of years I used the diminutive and excellent Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II as my main camera. My E-5 DSLR was the back-up. There was nothing wrong at all with the E-5, it was a fantastic camera. But the newer mirrorless E-M5ii produced superior images. There was better dynamic range, better noise control and the images were even more detailed than the older DSLR, which itself was renowned for its sharpness.

Coquet Island in Black and White shot with my old Olympus E-5
Shot with my old Olympus E-5 DSLR in April 2018

Using Olympus OM-D cameras professionally

Shooting professionally, the E-M5 Mark II took some customers by surprise. They would comment on its size. There were no complaints about the image quality though when I gave them their photographs. But, a voice in my head nagged me to change to a 35 mm sensor. What dissuaded me was a trip to Jessops in the Metro Centre. I picked up the then current Canon 5D Mark III. It was huge and heavy. Furthermore, it had no articulated live view screen, something I use a lot.

Subsequently, three of my clients, all with earlier versions of 5D have decided to abandon them for smaller, lighter, more practical, Micro Four Thirds cameras.

I absolutely understand the desire for a 35mm sensor if you are running a commercial studio. But with most genres of photography, that larger format and any advantages it brings are outweighed by their cumbersomeness, expense and lack of features that my much smaller system cameras bring.

My first test shot using the OM-D E-M1 with the Zuiko 12-60 mm lens.
Test shot with my newly acquired Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I Micro Four Thirds camera.

OM-D E-M1 Mark II

One of the disadvantages for me of the E-M5 Mark II was that the excellent professional-level Four Thirds lenses I own were not really compatible with it. Although fast to focus using Micro Four Thirds lenses, which were designed for contrast detect autofocussing, the E-M5 Mark II was solely equipped with contrast detect focussing. Four Thirds lenses are designed for Phase Detect.

If you use a DSLR and tried focussing with Live View, you will have noticed that it is much slower to obtain a lock, this is because in Live View you are using the slower but more accurate contrast detect autofocus. Looking through the viewfinder you are using Phase Detect autofocus, so everything is faster.

The lenses were also too big for the diminutive camera.

I didn’t want to sell these pin-sharp and fast lenses as they would not have recouped a fraction of the investment cost. So, instead I sold my E-5. With the proceeds, I bought an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. This camera has a hybrid contrast detect and phase detect autofocus. With an adaptor, it was able to handle these lenses.

I have just swapped my OM-D E-M5 Mark II

I have a good friend who has an E-M1 Mark I. It was just a bit too big for her hands. My E-M5 Mark II suited her much better, so we swapped.

Disaster Struck

My all-purpose lens for landscapes and portraits was my Zuiko 12-60 mm f/2.8-4 zoom. It’s fast to focus, beautifully sharp with no sign of chromatic aberrations. So, early in the morning after receiving the E-M1 Mark I, I fitted it to my new camera, got up at 4 am and walked a mile down the road to capture the sunrise adjacent to Coquet Island. At this time of year the sun has swung much further to the north at sunrise.

Setting the camera on the tripod, I took some test shots. Then, removing the lens hood to attach an ND1000 filter, the filter ring at the front of the lens snapped off, coming away with the hood.

Test shot of the OM-D E-M1 Mark I of Coquet Island at dawn.
Another test shot with the OM-D E-M1 Mark I just before I broke the filter ring off the lens.

Luckily, I had my E-M1 II with me with the old OM mount 50 mm f/1.4 lens that I wanted to test. That was fitted to the camera using a Gobe adaptor. I shot a couple of panoramas, then walked home feeling a bit miffed. I did get a couple of reasonable shots, and it goes to show that older, legacy lenses can give great results.

2 images merged. Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II with 50mm f/1.4 OM manual focus lens. ISO 200, 1/500th f/11 Coquet Island sunrise
Panoramic, 2 images merged. Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II with 50mm f/1.4 OM manual focus lens. ISO 200, 1/500th f/11
4 images merged. Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II with 50mm f/1.4 OM manual focus lens. ISO 200, 1/500th f/11 Coquet Island sunrise
Panoramic, 5 images merged. Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II with 50mm f/1.4 OM manual focus lens. ISO 200, 1/500th f/11

Lens off for repair

My lens is off for repair, not for the first time. Those that follow my blog may remember that I once scratched the front element and had to get that changed. The cost to get it fixed is a bit over £150. On the bright side, that is a lot less than buying another lens.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please do comment below and please also share it with your friends of social media.


  1. Graham Thorpe says:

    Hi Ivor ,

    Thanks for this . I hope all is well with you , your family and friends in these difficult times.

    I broke my Panasonic GX8 I’m 2018 when I fell down . I replaced it with a Fuji XT3 .

    Thanks didn’t listen to myself 😩. Weight !

    The XT3 is a very good camera especially that it is ‘old school’ ..turn a top dial for shutter speed, another for ISO and the ring around the lens for aperture .

    However …lenses ! heavier and less versatile.

    I keep on thinking of going back to 4/3 …for …weight.

    All the best

    • Ivor says:

      Thanks Graham, Yes we are all fine. Hope everything is going well for you and yours too.

      Fuji cameras are great too, in fact all the big brands make great cameras and the ergonomics of each suit different people. I take it the GX8 wasn’t repairable.

      • Graham Thorpe says:

        Thanks Ivor …the sensor was cracked 😥. It happened at Blast Beach Seaham. Near the ‘cliffs’ the mud like stuff at the rear of like stuff is lethal …slippery than ice . The body of the camera was ok but somehow or other the impact caused the sensor to crack .

        • Ivor says:

          Ouch, I guess it was too expensive to repair. A lot of camera manufacturers have a fixed fee for everything, but I am not sure about Panasonic. On the bright side, you got a new and super camera.

  2. David Tanner says:

    Hi Ivor
    Interesting that you have the 50mm f/ 1.4. I’ve been using it on my Fuji XT2 and have found it to be a fabulous lens. So much so that I bought the 135mm f/3.5 (£40!) another great lens.

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