Monday, 27 February 2017

Alas poor Olympus, I knew it well...

I've gone nuts. Stark raving mad. Seriously. How mad you ask? So crazy, that I'm swapping my Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII for a Nikon D7100! I'm leaving micro four thirds and going back to a DSLR! Something that I have said many times on this blog that I would never do. In fact, I've also been one of 'those' guys who has smugly claimed that the SLR is dead. See, I told you I was crazy. But as always, there is some method to my madness.

My OM-D E-M5 MkII all boxed up to send away!
Right away I want to state, for the record, one more time, that I LOVE my OM-D E-M5 MkII. It is, has been, and always will be, a fantastically capable camera that is a joy to use (mostly), and a glowing testament to why mirrorless is the future of photography. I do still believe that to be true. So why am I going 'backwards' (some might say) to a DLSR?

Actually, it all has to do with shooting film. Yep, that's right - actual 35mm film. Bear with me while I explain...

I have another blog; where I post about just that - shooting film again. And this year (2017), I've been doing a lot of exactly that. And enjoying it immensely. So much so, that I have dubbed 2017 'The Year of Film". I'll be shooting a lot more of it over the course of this year, and hopefully on into the future. This doesn't mean that I will stop shooting digital though - far from it. I plan to continue enjoying both mediums. And therein lies the crux of my decision to change from Olympus gear to Nikon.

My 'new' Nikon gear
I'm not a professional photographer (although I have been in the past), so my 'budget' for photography is extremely limited. I've written about this often on the blog. Whenever I start accumulating gear, it gets to a point of critical mass, where I have to step back and really think seriously about how I can maximize my kit. Fortunately, I have also been blessed in 2017 with some amazing gifts. I have literally been given a Pentax SV, Bronica ETRS medium format 6x45, and Nikon F4s. I have also recently acquired a Canon EOS 1 film camera for a song - all of which has helped to rekindle my passion and interest in film photography again.

That's a lot of different systems all at once - Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Bronica - and, of course, my Olympus digital gear. Probably too many different systems if I'm honest. Which, of course, got me thinking. I intend to use the EOS 1 and Nikon F4 as much as possible - they are just such amazing cameras and I actually feel somewhat honored to own them. I am 50 this year (don't tell anyone), and when the EOS 1 and F4 were first released (around 1989) I was 22. As an aspiring professional photographer, in my early 20s, the F4 and EOS 1 were cameras that I could only dream of owning. And now I do. It may be almost 30 years later, but the thrill of owning the best pro film cameras of that era hasn't waned. And they are every bit as thrilling to use as I thought they would be.

Two film legends - the Nikon F4 and Canon EOS 1.
I have a very good friend who owns some serious Canon 'L' glass, that I can borrow whenever I want (as long as she's not using it), so the need to outfit the Canon isn't pressing. But the Nikon is a different story. Luckily the F4 came with a Nikkor 24mm f2.8 and a Nikkor 70-210mm f4/5.6, but that's it. And as I discovered recently at a Rodeo, the 70-210mm isn't quite 'fast' enough if I'm shooting low ISO film. So I'd like some faster glass for the F4 to bring it up to speed with the Canon - especially if I can't actually borrow my friends lenses for whatever reason.

If I want some more lenses for the F4, wouldn't it be good ( I mused), if those lenses could also be used on a digital body - thereby doing double-duty? Problem is, my digital gear is Olympus micro-four-thirds. You can see where I'm going with this now, right?

As much as I love my Olympus OM-D, I have also always loved Nikon's DLSR's. Have done since I bought my first digital camera, the Nikon D70. The D300 is still one of the best cameras I've ever owned, and I only sold it to stay with Canon because I chose full frame (with the Canon 5D) over APS-C (with the D300). I'm definitely sad to see the OM-D E-M5 Mk2 go, but I'm also very excited about getting my new acquisition, the Nikon D7100.

On the very day that I was contemplating the possibility of letting go of the Olympus for a Nikon, a guy on a New Zealand Photography Facebook page posted his Nikon D7100, with grip, 50mm f1.8G Nikkor and Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro. He was looking to move to a mirrorless system, and would consider a straight swap. I replied and said I was interested - told him what I had - and it snowballed from there.

Since changing to mirrorless, I have to say that I haven't really kept up with the latest DLSR models. But when I checked out the D7100 brochure, I got rather excited! And really, what's not to like? A 24MP sensor, with no low-pass filter, excellent low-light performance, a x1.3 crop mode that gives 15MP files at 7fps (about 5.5fps otherwise), dual SD card slots, decent video and an outstanding 51 point autofocus system rounds out an impressive list of features. The Nikkor 50mm f1.8G will be a great lens, while the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 has somewhat mixed reviews. It's said to have very good image quality, even at f2.8 (bonus), but a somewhat slow and noisy autofocus system?

Tamron 70-200mm f2.8
Ironically, I've made the decision to move back to a Nikon DLSR at a very interesting time for the Japanese camera manufacturer. About a week ago they made an announcement of 'Extraordinary losses' (their words), which, they said, would lead to 'fundamental company-wide restructuring' (again, their words). 1000 workers were let go, their new digital compact line was scrapped, and many saw this as the beginning of the end for the camera company. However, just today (as I write this), Nikon have released some details about what the fundamental restructure might look like. And it actually bodes well for photographers. They are apparently going to concentrate on mid to high-end DLSR's, lenses and mirrorless, with fewer models in the future. Sounds good to me.  

I love photography as a hobby. I love creating images. But I am also a camera enthusiast. I love using, and owning, different cameras. As much as I've said things like 'never again', or 'finally this is it', I've actually come to understand that I just can't help myself. I like the fact that I've owned and used a tonne of different cameras, from every major manufacturer. I love that I've owned (and therefore used) a Canon 1D Mk2, a 5D, a 30D, 40D and 50D, as well as a Nikon D2x, D70, D200, D300 and now D7100. And I also love that I owned an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2. It is an amazing camera, and I shall remember it well... 


  1. I feel your pain, I am going through the same thought process myself, do i stay with Olympus, Pentax, Bronica, Nikon, Canon and Minolta, or ditch most of the systems and stay with 1 or 2

  2. Hi Hayden. Yeah, I know. I love them all - but something's got to give :-(
    The pain has been mitigated somewhat by the arrival of the D7100. I think I'm going to enjoy owning and using it - for however long that turns out to be ;-)


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