Wildlife Photography vs Hunting
11th July 2020
A long time ago in a cinema far, far away…
20th July 2020
Wildlife Photography vs Hunting
11th July 2020
A long time ago in a cinema far, far away…
20th July 2020

Do you accumulate cameras? I do. I have just passed some on to others for their enjoyment, this included a couple of 1930s Twin Lens Reflex cameras. One old Voigtlander TLR still sits in my cupboard. I’ve just remembered it’s loaded with film, so I must get out and shoot the rest of that. I’ve also still got film inside my Olympus OM-2 Spot Program that needs finishing.

I’ve owned several Olympus cameras over the years. My first was an OM2n SLR and I also had a Mju II and an Olympus bridge camera and four OM-Ds. Although I’ve tried other brands, I invariably come back to “Olys”. For me they always seem just right.

Sick on the beach
Driftwood on a windswept beach, shot with an Olympus SP570UZ bridge camera in 2010.

A recently passed Olympus

One of my old cameras died recently. The 2007 Olympus E-510 was a smashing camera for carrying around. It fitted in my jacket pocket. Furthermore, for day-to-day shooting the image quality was great. Typical of its contemporary competitors, it couldn’t cope with low light as well as my new mirrorless Olympus cameras. But with a good lens attached it held its own in daylight. Its engineering was great too; it lasted for over 200,000 shutter actuations, more than double the life of some of its rivals.

My wife walking on the beach, shot with my old Olympus E-510 in 2011
My wife, Johanna, walking on the beach, shot with my old Olympus E-510 in 2011

Blogging for Olympus

Olympus invited me to guest-write a blog post for them; I was happy to do that. I like Olympus kit and the imaging section of the business is great. It’s delivering fantastic free live online tutorials and workshops throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Just as my blog post was published, Olympus announced it was selling off its camera division to an investment company. Therefore, instead of discussions about the topic of my blog post, people were replying about the business sale. Consequently, my blog post got lost amongst the furore.

Man with Flags, shot with an Olympus E-5
Man with Flags, shot with an Olympus E-5, my main professional-use camera for several years.

Of course, there were a host of doom-sayers who were shouting it was the end of the brand, ignoring the fact that it was being bought by JIP, an investment company that has a good track record of turning businesses around. JIP streamlines businesses, then invests in them to build them up. Further down the line, they sell them on again as viable going concerns.

Consequently, I have high hopes for the future of Olympus cameras.

Other brands are struggling

Every brand in the entire camera market is suffering. Sales of interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs) plummeted by nearly 90% over the last ten years. This is usually blamed on the rise of smartphone cameras. However, I think that a lot of people were swept up by the DSLR-buying boom and then discovered their cameras didn’t automatically produce outstanding images. It requires work learning how to use the camera and how to compose a good shot. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of DSLRs sit in cupboards unused.

Also, cameras became so good, there was little need to upgrade so people stopped replacing them. After all, who needs 50 million pixels?

Christmas 'tree' made from a sisal flower, in Amboseli National park, with Kilimanjaro behind. Shot with an Olympus Mju II 35mm compact
Christmas ‘tree’ made from a sisal flower, in Amboseli National Park in Kenya 1999, with Kilimanjaro behind. Shot with an Olympus Mju II 35mm compact. Scanned print.

On top of all that, there is a change in society. People are moving away from buying stuff and looking for experiences instead.

Camera market shares have shifted too. Nikon used to share a third of the market. They now hold around 19% and Sony roughly 17%, and both falling. Canon’s share has grown to over 40%. The proportion of the market held by Olympus is around 3% which is growing. However, the camera market is worth nearly $20 billion USD, so 3% of that is not to be sneezed at. Furthermore, the Micro Four Thirds format, used by Olympus and Panasonic, is the most widely used of all the different camera mounts.

Buying a camera?

I always tell my clients that all the major manufactures make good cameras. So, with all that choice, which should you buy?

I’ve lugged heavy DSLRs about and hurt my neck. I’ve also tried others that felt uncomfortable in my hands and found my long fingers could not reach the buttons. Yet, counterintuitively, the smaller size of the Olympus OM-D cameras fit perfectly in my large hands.

The diminuative Olympus E-M5s, strangely, fit perfectly in my hands and my pocket
The diminutive Olympus OM-D E-M5s, strangely, fit perfectly in my big hands as well as my jacket pocket

If you are looking for a camera then never ask photographers’ advise about what model you should buy; they always recommend what they own. Indeed, any camera with the right eye looking through the viewfinder takes great photos. So that means the camera’s ergonomics are the most important factor.

So get into a good camera shop and try the different models in your hands. Then make sure that it is comfortable to hold and that your fingers can reach the buttons. Next, think about the weight and the physical size. Can you carry this camera all day without hurting yourself?

Surfing kid, shot with my E-M1 Mark II
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 series of cameras are fast to focus for capturing action. This was shot with an E-M1 Mark II, 200mm at f/3.5. 1/2000th second, by far the most versatile camera I have owned so far.

Additionally, consider whether you can borrow a camera to see if it suits you. For example, Olympus allow you to use their cameras and exceptional Zuiko lenses for week’s trial using their “Test and Wow” scheme. So think of giving that a go.

… And Finally

For a bit of fun, watch this video about the dangers of buying a big, heavy DSLR.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. None of the links on this page are sponsored. Furthermore, I don’t work for Olympus.

Please click the blue heart at the top to let me know you’ve read this post. Also, please do comment and join in the conversation below or on social media. It would be greatly appreciated if you share it with your friends too.

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