Micro 4/3 Important stuff I learned about the OM-D E-M5

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Troy, NY
When my Panasonic FZ200 sucked up some dust onto its sensor and had to be repaired, I picked up a refurb OM-D E-M5 with weather-resistant, internally zooming 12-50mm lens. I figured I would use it for photography under inclement conditions. Mostly I used it for sky photography because I really liked the way it rendered the sky.

Since then, my FZ200 sucked up another dust particle, and my beloved LX100 also sucked up a dust particle. Al, head honcho at the Camera Works (166 Sparrowbush Rd # 5, Latham, NY 12110 518-782-1503, thanks Rbelyell for turning me on to him), says whenever he gets a compact camera in for repair with dust inside, it’s always a Panasonic.

I sold off both Panasonics, but I sorely missed the low light capability of the LX100. My brother-in-law sagely commented: “What you need is a camera where you can get at the sensor.” Then I realized that I already had one: the OMD EM5. So then I began casting about for a fast, wide lens for the OMD. I found one for about $800, but as I was poking around the Olympus website, I found the Olympus Travel Lens Kit (M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4.5-6.6 II and M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 black lenses, plus lens hoods and cases) for the same price. This tickled my Scottish thrift genes pretty good. (If you search the Olympus website, you can purchase each lens separately, but at considerably more expense, so there is significant savings in buying the Kit.) The prime lens was a little narrower than the one I had been looking at, but it was also a bit faster.

lens travel kit.jpg


The kit arrived yesterday, and two things immediately struck me. (1) The fit and finish on Olympus lenses is really terrific. They look and feel well made. (2) They are small, almost tiny. The 14-150 is essentially the same length as the 12-50 and just a bit fatter. The 17mm I can easily hold in the palm of my hand with the fingers curled over the end. Pop it onto the OMD EM5, and you have a very small, very stealthy camera with an electronic viewfinder.

So I tried out the lenses. The 17mm was very crisp, and very fast. I experimented in low light conditions, and it will render images in unlit rooms. If it is very, very dark, it will have a hard time focusing, but man o man can it see in the dark. I can’t wait to try some nighttime sky photography with it.

Taken with the 17mm:
OMD lens experiment III 011.JPG

The 14-150 has a bucket of zoom – 28-300mm e (and 600mm e if you engage the digital zoom) – that can be accessed with a quarter turn of the zoom ring. I liked the pictures it was taking but I wasn’t getting really crisp focus on the bird feeder. Maybe that’s because the focus square overlaps the sides of the feeder, I thought. Some internet research revealed that upgrading the firmware would allow me to select really small focus squares. I did the upgrade, and it worked!

Taken with the 14-150:
OMD lens experiment III 009.JPG

With digital zoom kicked in:
OMD lens experiment III 010.JPG

The bird feeder before the firmware upgrade:
OMD lens experiment III 003.JPG

The birdfeeder after:
OMD software update experiments 001.JPG

From the experience, I draw two conclusions: first, the Olympus Travel Lens Kit is a good deal worthy of consideration. In fact, if I knew someone buying their first OMD, I would be tempted to recommend to them to buy a body alone plus the Travel Lens Kit. And second, the most important upgrade for an OMD EM5 is to make sure you have the latest version of the firmware.

Cheers, Jock
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Serious Compacts For Life
Nice shots Jock. I think that Jay on the right is looking at you saying "I think Jock got a new lens".

You have two great lenses there imo, and they are both somewhat underappreciated. The 17 was long-rumored to be soft, though I never saw it, and the mkII version of the 14-150 just gets overlooked. It is a very good and very versatile lens, but I guess everyone has flocked to the 2.8 zooms.

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