Goodbye Sony! It wasn’t you, it was Olympus. Why I Switched, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series. I will add links for new additions here when they become available.

Part 1 – an Introduction


It is official – on July 9, 2019 I broke-up with Sony after 5 years and went back to my first love from way back in the 1980’s, Olympus. It wasn’t you Sony, but it was definitely me, and it was definitely Olympus.

Goodbye Sony full-frame, hello (again) Olympus!

Woah – What Brought This About – How Did All of This Start?

My History with Olympus, and My Long History with Digital Cameras

The very first camera I ever bought with my own money – not the very first camera I used, but first one I purchased – was a 35mm film camera from Olympus – the OM-G (also known as the OM-20 overseas).

I was a teenager and it was the mid 1980’s. I remember photographing with this camera at a local zoo, thinking I was going to become a wildlife photographer (hey – I really am one now 🙂 ) My first ever published photo was taken with this camera – a photo of a chickadee on a bird feeder in my parents yard. I had a lot of fun with that camera back then!

Interesting fact: the second Olympus camera I bought was the Olympus Stylus point-and-shoot. Not only that, but I still have it and it still has a roll of partially exposed film in it!!! I can only wonder what’s on it…

When I started working for newspapers as a photojournalist in the early 90’s I sold my Olympus and moved to Nikon. The move to Nikon didn’t last long, as I found myself moving to Canon in the mid 90’s for their auto focus, which at the time was the best out there.

I purchased my very first professional digital camera in 1998 or 1999. It was the 1.3MP Canon EOS DCS 3 and was built using a Canon EOS-1N film camera with a modified Kodak NC2000e digital camera back attached. When new in 1995 it sold for $20,000, and I bought it used for $5,000. I was the first staff photographer at the Connecticut Post to use a digital camera on assignment and I also helped them implement more digital cameras for the rest of the photo staff.

Canon EOS DCS 3

I moved to Cape Cod in the early 2000’s and as a “full-time” freelancer at the Cape Cod Times, I helped their photo staff transition to digital. They were using Nikon which I got a chance to become very familiar with, while I stayed with Canon.

In September of 2002 Canon released the world’s 2nd ever full-frame (FF) digital camera called the Canon EOS-1Ds (Contax actually had the first FF camera, a 6MP that was released earlier in 2002 and removed from market 1 year later). It was 11.1MP, cost $8,000, and I had one of the first ones available.

This was a photograph I shot back in 2005 with the 11MP Canon EOS-1Ds for use in a magazine.

And since 2002, I have shot pretty much exclusively with full-frame cameras. My 17 year photojournalism career ended when I moved West in 2006 and my business has since been based around fine-art print sales & stock licensing of primarily landscape & wildlife photography, and also photo education. I stayed with Canon’s full-frame lineup until February of 2014 when I switched to Sony’s mirrorless full-frame cameras.

After All That, I Should Know Better Than to Leave Full-Frame for Micro Four-Thirds, Right?

So I’ve been shooting with full-frame cameras for 17 years now and here we are in 2019, when full-frame cameras are taking over the popularity contest and Sony in particular has been killing it in well earned reviews, why would I even consider switching to micro four-thirds – a sensor size that is tiny compared to a full-frame sensor? Why would I leave the Sony a7R3 with it’s 42MP (and just announced Sony a7R4 60MP camera) and switch to the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and it’s tiny 20MP sensor?

I’m not supposed to do that, right? I’m a pro photographer, have been for 30 years now. For the last 17 years I’ve been shooting with full-frame digital. More so than most photographers, I certainly should know the weaknesses of m43 compared to full-frame: smaller m43 sensor means less megapixels which means smaller prints and less detail, smaller sensor means more noise, smaller m43 sensor means less dynamic range, m43 sensor has too much depth of field so no more blurred backgrounds, and shooting with a m43 sensor these days just means you are not professional and can’t be taken seriously anymore.

I specialize in large-scale fine art prints. Prints that I sell that are over 10 feet in length. Print sizes that I would never be able to offer again if I move to the micro four-thirds format of Olympus, correct?

Here I am installing a 6′ x 6′ aluminum print of mine in a collector’s home in 2018

Olympus – who shoots with Olympus? If you are not shooting with Canon, Nikon or Sony, then you really can’t be too concerned with awesome looking photos, right again?

If any of this relates to you, I can understand. That was me prior to April of this year. I was all into full-frame hook, line and sinker and I was totally caught up in the megapixel race. Truth be told I’ve been caught up in that megapixel race ever since that first 1.3MP digital camera I had. The more megapixels the better, and I chased them all the way to the 42MP Sony a7R3.

And now I’m leaving all that behind, for a format I’m not supposed to be choosing according to the full-frame world. Goodbye 42MP and very large prints, hello 20MP and tiny prints (or so I thought before I discovered the 50MP and 80MP high res mode on the Olympus – oops, I’m getting ahead of myself).


Why Am I Doing This? I Must Be Getting Paid By Olympus!

Nope – Olympus isn’t paying me anything, and I am not getting any free gear here either. Olympus did send me a free loaner of a bunch of equipment (which does happen quite often for the media, reviewers, and professionals in the field) for three months but it was sent to me under no obligation to write or talk about it, and no obligation for me to purchase any gear.


I have chosen to write about Olympus and to post about my experience with the loaner gear which I did online on Facebook and Instagram and my blog. And I decided on my own to switch to Olympus. So I put up a ton of gear for sale with all my Canon lenses and Sony cameras & lenses and started placing orders at getolympus on July 9th, 2019.

And it was through that experience with that loaner they sent me that made it clear to me just how suited the Olympus system is for me and my photography, and how it just might be the perfect system for you too.



Reasons for Switching to Olympus

There are a bunch of reasons why I have decided to move to Olympus full-time. And I will be going into much more detail as to why in future installments of this blog series, so be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to know when new updates are posted here!

Photographed using the new OM-D E-M1X body and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens. It was shot hand-held in High Resolution mode that produces a 50MP file! It was shot at 1/8s at f6.3 at 12mm at ISO 400.

But let me just highlight a few of them here in no particular order:

  • Fantastic ergonomics of the E-M1X body
  • Amazing image quality even at 20MP, enough IQ to enlarge up to 5 feet or more on most photos
  • Ability for in-the-field 50MP and 80MP High Res files
  • Live Comp – amazing feature for star trails, fireworks, clouds, lightning, and much more
  • Best weather sealing in the industry
  • I am loving the smaller lenses – amazing sharpness too
  • Less weight, less cost, no compromises on quality or features
  • I can blend-in more with my surroundings compared to when I was carrying heavier & bulkier gear
  • In-camera focus stacking
  • Live ND filter
  • Pro Capture – ability to record frames before the action starts
  • Up to 60 frames per second
  • Great AF now that I’m getting used to it
  • Photography is FUN again!!

This is in no way a complete list, and as I mentioned I’ll be going into depth on these points in future installments on this series as to why I left full-frame for Olympus, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, did you switch to Olympus? Tell me and others your story in the comments below! And let me also know if you have any questions.

 

 


Disclosure about product links and affiliations: Some of the links I provide are affiliate links which means I get a small commission, with no additional cost to you, if you click it and end up buying something. It helps me provide free educational resources and articles. So if you use them, thank you! My affiliations however never influence my opinions on any products/services and I am only affiliated with companies whose products/services I personally use.

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