A brave new world, and time for gear change!

I can’t believe it is already 2017. It even sounds strange saying “Two Thousand Seventeen”…

After going through quite a bit of intensive testing and comparison, I have decided to go with the Olympus OM-D system to replace all my Canon gear. I may have given up some of the ultra low light capability with the 1Dx, but I have also given up more than half the weight as well. I’m finding that the M. Zuiko lenses love being shot wide open, which winds up giving me those extra two stops of light I was looking for at the higher ISO’s.

But enough of the techie-talk, I’m absolutely loving taking the Olympus gear out to shoot with! It’s like going from driving a three-quarter ton, nine passenger van to a Miata. The handling and responsiveness of the new OM-D E-M1 Mark II is off the charts. It is light enough to carry all day long without fatigue and yet is one of the easiest cameras to use well.

I’m also able to do something that I’ve never been able to do before; walk around and hand hold (without a tripod) at an effective 840mm! I was shooting early morning and was able to keep up with a little Kingfisher that was out in search of breakfast. The more amazing part of this is that I was shooting at a slow shutter speed and the focus was spot on in a backlit situation. I am not a wildlife photographer by any means, and yes I do photograph motorsports, sporting events and action, which are all much more predictable than my little feathered friend!

I’m also finding that I don’t need my high-powered studio lights as much any more. In fact, I am finding ways to cut the light and replacing some of them with lower powered options for portraits! I also like the fact of how quiet and unobtrusive the Olympus system is. Where as before when I would be shooting with the old gear, just the shear size of it called attention, and once I pressed the shutter button and the loud “Ka-Thunk” echoed out, there would be no going unnoticed. Now I feel more like a photo-ninja!

All this to say that I’m feeling like my 16 year-old self, wanting to get out and create more memorable photographs, and having more fun doing it too! I’m looking forward to this next step in my photographic journey, traveling smaller, lighter and smarter. If you all have any questions about the gear, please let me know!

Until the next time, be well!

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As time goes by…

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It has been over a year since I have last blogged. I feel like I should be at confession. “Forgive me father, for I have sinned!” I would say. “What have you done this time, my son” would be the response from Father Martin. “Well, for one, I haven’t posted to my blog in over a year! And I’ve been remiss in updating my website…”

I can see Father Martin, his wizened, white haired visage, pondering momentarily and then pronouncing my penance in his delightful Irish tenor. “Okay then, write three blog posts, make two Instagram postings, a Facebook update and sin no more.”

Where has this year gone? I feel like I’ve walked into the other room and seven more months just went by! Since last posting, Charleston elected its first new mayor in 40 years, which was quite fun since I was the photographer for the campaign of Mr. John Teckenburg (the new mayor of Charleston).

Time to get caught up!

New gear?

With time flying by, new gear and software comes around at an almost blinding pace. I just finished paying off the last round of gear acquisitions and now it’s time to look at new stuff. A few years ago, I started taking a serious look at going smaller with my photography equipment, hoping to find a workable solution that would reduce size & weight without durability and image quality.

Seeing all the amazing offerings from companies like Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic, I started to check them out in earnest. The Fuji cameras are beautiful to look at, especially their rangefinder-styled X100T and X Pro-2. Try as I might, they just didn’t fit with my style of shooting. A buddy of mine loaned me a Sony A7r to test, which produced beautiful files but I hated the way they felt and handled for production work, and was off balance when using the large full-frame lenses.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Olympus cameras since my first OM-1n. Always smaller than the others, the OM-1n was built like a tank, and their glass was smaller and sharper than most. They served me well for years until I found myself using mostly medium and large format film cameras. Fast forward to 2003. My friend Jay Dickman, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, introduced me to the new Olympus E-1. Engineered from the ground up as a complete digital system, there were no carry-overs from the film days. All of the lenses were designed specifically for the new FourThirds sensor, which made for incredibly sharp images in a compact package.

From 2003 until 2010, I used the E-1 and E-3’s professionally. In taking over a million images, I never had to dust spot any, thanks to Olympus’s patented Ultrasonic Wave Filter. Life was grand… until the professional support, OGPS, went away. Reluctantly, I switched to Canon, as things seemed to be stagnating at Olympus.

There are days that I really get tired of hauling around the fifty or so pounds of Canon gear, especially when shooting events. Don’t get me wrong; the Canon system is brilliant, with depth to their glass, the best wireless speedlite system on the market, and wonderful support from CPS. I haven’t found any gear that I have felt could match the success I’m having with the 1Dx and 5d Mark III, until possibly now.

For the past week, I’ve added the OM-D EM-1 and M Zuiko 12-40 2.8 Pro to the mix, in anticipation of the EM-1 Mark II showing up for evaluation. A few years ago, I checked out the pro-grade EM-1, and felt like it just wasn’t quite up to snuff. The pro lens line was only partially complete, and there still wasn’t any pro service. Since then, Olympus has issued several firmware updates to their pro body, which has transformed it beautifully! They have also fleshed out the pro lens lineup and added a brand new “Pro Advantage” service. Check, check and check!

Over the next month, I’ll be comparing the Canon and Olympus systems to see which direction I will be going with. So far, it is a tight race, and I’m finding myself wanting to shoot with the Oly about twice as much. Things could get interesting!