Why we chose OM SYSTEM Olympus Cameras

Tom and I are often why we chose Olympus/OM SYSTEM mirrorless cameras. Now we both believe that the best camera is the one that you have with you, and that the 12 inches behind the camera is the most important, but for us Olympus/OM SYSTEM just allows us to have more FUN and to be more productive and it is the best fit for us. 

Please note that we have people attend our workshops with cameras of ALL makes and models (film cameras, dSLRs, mirrorless, medium format, iPhones, smartphones, Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, etc.)!

Tom and I have been using 100% Olympus (now OM SYSTEM) since 2017. It was specifically the computational technologies that the Olympus system offered that enticed us to switch (and we have never looked back!)

Features such as these all make this camera system stand out to us. :

  • Their great line of awesome lenses
  • Live Composite
  • LiveTime
  • LiveND
  • Pro-capture
  • in-camera focus stacking (I am soooo addicted to in-camera focus stacking!)
  • time lapse
  • Lightweight and easy to travel with 
  • amazing image stabilization (I can handhold slow shutter speeds, even 1-2 seconds)
  • ultrasonic sensor cleaning (none of those pesky Sony dust spots)
  • a whopping 50-120 frames per second 
  • The "ghosting" during multiple exposure which allows you to line up your multiples (and voerlays)
  • the articulating LCD screen allows for easier and more creative compositions 
Tom and I  tried Fuji (Tom) and Sony (Lisa) before going Olympus (there were no good Canon or Nikon mirrorless cameras in 2016-18 when we were making the switch), but they never lured us away from our Canon cameras, it took Olympus to do that. As other mirrorless cameras came onto the market, none offered the computational technologies that OM SYSTEM has (I could not live without Live Composite in my camera)

I should add that Tom and I did not just “go mirrorless, we went Olympus mirrorless due to the amazing features of the EM1 Mark II!! 

It was actually the Live Composite technology that first caught my eye. The ability to do light painting and to know exactly what I was getting was amazing -- to stop the exposure (versus the trial and error of light painting with a dSLR). Doing star trails in camera without noise (since the camera stacks the lights similar to stacking layers for star trails in post-processing) and being able to SEE the exposure while it was exposing was a game-changer (think of a glass oven door and you get to watch the brownies cook and take them out when “chewy” or crunchy” to taste. 

On our 2008 trip to the Palouse, I had one Olympus EM1 Mark II camera capturing Live Composite star trails (doing some light painting at the start of the images) and then I had my second Olympus camera doing Milky Way and shorter exposure Live Time and Live Bulb exposures. I also love using Live Time during the day when using my BreakThrough and Nisi ND filters. 

The mirrorless cameras are all lighter in weight than dSLRs and that certainly is an attraction to the mirrorless cameras in general. Smaller and lighter allows photographers to be more creative since we can go all day with our gear since it weighs less. Now combine the smaller, lighter camera with an articulating screen and an amazing and I mean amazing Olympus/OM SYSTEM image stabilization and now you are talking about creativity. With my dSLR system I lugged a heavy tripod everywhere as I knew my handheld shutter speed limitations, which typically meant making sure that my shutter speed was faster than 1/60 second. Tom is calmer than I am and could get consistently sharp dSLR images at 1/30 second, but I am more kinetic and needed 1/100. With my Olympus EM1 Mark II I can consistently shoot shutter speeds of 1/8 second and they are tack sharp. I can sometimes even use a slower shutter hand-held, like ½ second (and even 2 seconds) and come away with a decent proportion of keepers. This means that I can set one camera up on a tripod and use live time with a ND filter or create a time lapse image and have the other camera (always available on my spider belt) for creating handheld images. The Olympus IBIS and lens IS gives it advantages over dSLRs and also over other mirrorless cameras. 

In Decmeber 2017 Tom and I went to Cuba photographybylisaandtom.com/Locations/Cuba-BW and photographybylisaandtom.com/Locations/Cuba-Color 

and we both brought only our mirrorless Olympus cameras (we each have two EM1 Mark IIs) -- and we never once lamented about not having my dSLR, and I even commented that I would have been exhausted had I been using my dSLR system given the miles every day we walked. When we returned from Cuba we took a trip to Florida where we took both the dSLR (both Tom and I owned a 500mm f4 lens) and our Olympus systems with us. The dSLRs never made it out of the hotel room and it was the last time that they were even taken out of the closet, so we sold all of our Canon equipment when we returned. 

Our birding was great with the Olympus 300mm with a 1.4X (840mm) and my 40-150mm (aka 300mm) perfect for flight shots. We now have a 150-400mm lens with the built in tlee-converter, one of the best lenses ever made! The frames per second and focusing are great -- and Pro-Capture was very useful for those patiently stalking green herons. In the dSLR world I did not participate in the Nikon/Canon “which is better” debate since it was like six of one and a half dozen of the other, but I am always singing the praises of my Olympus and OM system cameras because the features are out of this world! 

  • Live Composite, this was the BIG reason why we went Olympus – the computational technologies just ROCK! The other mirrorless systems all have live image assessment and that is such an advantage, but they have vyery little computational technologies and none have Live Composite, this is only in Olympus/OM SYSTEM cameras.
  • Live Composite is a unique long exposure mode that allows you to gradually build up an exposure over time without overexposing key elements within the frame. This mode works to only record newly detected light sources over time, and allows you to watch as an image develops, making it ideally suited for photographing star trails or other moving light sources.
  • Live Composite mode is a little more complex as it enables you to shoot a long exposure that’s made up of a series of shorter exposures, each of the same duration.
  • These images are shot automatically until you press the shutter release to stop the exposure. The camera overlays the images and applies the equivalent of a Lighten blend mode in Photoshop so that after the first exposure, only the brighter areas of subsequent images show up. It’s perfect for shooting subjects like fireworks, traffic trails or painting with light because areas like the sky don’t burn out while you wait for the light trails to develop.

  • The Olympus is weatherproof, it is so nice taking it out in rain or snow and not having to worry or bring along cumbersome weather jackets (the reps say that humans will always be bothered by weather before the Olympus will)

o   Durable, Weather-Sealed Build. The lightweight, durable magnesium alloy body design is dust- and splash-resistant with an IP53 rating for ensured use in trying weather conditions. Tough design is also freezeproof-tested for reliable use in temperatures down to 14°F.

The pro-capture technology rocks

o    "Helping to ensure you don't miss the shot, Pro Capture Mode is a unique setting that starts recording and buffering images prior to fully depressing the shutter. As soon as you press the shutter button halfway, frames will begin to be recorded, and once you fully press the shutter, the image will be saved -- in addition to the previous 14 frames. Additionally, you can hold the shutter button in this mode to keep shooting continuously using the silent electronic shutter function."

o   "LAG-FREE PHOTOGRAPHY. Capturing the best moments can be difficult, especially when your subject is in motion. Pro Capture Mode ensures you’ll catch the exact moment you want without any lag. Pro Capture uses the silent electronic shutter to start buffering a running series of full resolution JPEG / RAW images when you press the shutter release button halfway. Then, fully press the shutter release to capture an image plus the 35 previous frames all at once. You can keep the shutter release fully depressed to continue sequential shooting. With its time machine-like capability, Pro Capture always has the perfect shot stored and ready to save."

o   As of 2023 other cameras are starting to add a feature similar to this, but currently they do not capture RAW photos and the JPGs are only 11mp at full frames per second. 

The other systems do not have Live Bulb, Live Time, Time Lapse -- amazing features!

Interval shooting is supported for up to 999 frames with 1 second to 24-hour exposure intervals.

With Live Time and Live Composite you actually watch the image build up live on the monitor! And for night photography and ND filters this is amazing.

Depending on your settings the Olympus is 25, 50, or 120 frames per second with 121 (EM1 mark II, EM1 mark III, EM1X) or 1053 (OM-1) focus points.

Experience sequential shooting speeds that far surpass those of DSLR cameras. Using its advanced silent electronic shutter, the E-M1 Mark II captures 20 MP RAW image files at up to an astonishing 60 fps in S-AF Mode and 18 fps in C-AF Tracking Mode.

o   The OM1 continuous shooting is up to 50 fps (SH2 full Raw size) or up to 120 fps (electronic shutter using pro-capture full Raw size)

High Res Shot—Benefitted by the stacked sensor design, processing power, and image stabilization system, this mode composites a series of 12 shots into a single higher resolution frame in just 5 seconds. Tripod High Res Shots mode produces an 80MP raw file and Handheld High Res Shot mode produces a 50MP raw file, and both modes offer up to 2 stops of reduced noise and improved color information.

Live ND—Now supporting up to ND64 (6-stop), this unique function digitally simulates the effects of an optical neutral density filter for produce long exposure/slow shutter speed effects.

Up until just recently (2022) other cameras did not have in-camera focus stacking and not all of the ones introducing this feature can do it handheld. 

In-Camera Focus Stacking will automatically record 3-15 images of a subject while shifting the plane of focus slightly, then composite these exposures into a single frame to exhibit an extended depth of field.

Focus Bracketing allows you to record between 3-999 frames with adjustable focus steps in a 1-10 range for manual compositing during post-production.

Olympus Glass (lenses) are awesome!

The Olympus 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization is amazing!

Capture blur-free shots at longer shutter speeds of up even 2 seconds, no tripod required! Some people have even captured 5-10 seconds handheld.

"In-body, sensor-shift image stabilization helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to 5.5 stops with any lens in use and compensates for camera movements that become especially noticeable when working with telephoto shots, macro imagery, and long exposures. Furthermore, this unique image stabilization system works across five axes to compensate for vertical angle rotation, horizontal angle rotation, horizontal shift, vertical shift, and rolling camera shake movement. This range of detected movements serves to benefit traditional still image shooting as well as movie recording and working with moving subjects more effectively. Additionally, image stabilization can also be used when framing shots, for more accurate compositions, by half-pressing the shutter button."

We also love the articulating screen (versus the tile screen, which doesn't allow for the same creativity in capture)

Since 2019 Tom and I have been OM SYSTEM (formerly Olympus) Ambassadors. 

Email us for camera/lens suggestions. https://learnandsupport.getolympus.com/om-system-ambassadors/lisa-tom-cuchara

We appreciate you using our affiliate link for OM camera/lens/accessory purchases https://tinyurl.com/lisatom-OMD.


What Olympus cameras are in our bag?

-- OM-1 is our main camera https://tinyurl.com/lisatom-om-1

The EM1 mark II and EM1 mark III are still fine cameras, as is the EM1X which has an advantage of bird AI AF for bird photography.

-- OM5 for casual travel

-- IR converted full spectrum Weathersealed EM1 mark ii camera body with a 14-150mm f4-f5.6

o   Infrared camera converted by LifePixel https://tinyurl.com/Lifepixel-IR

What Olympus lenses are in our bag?

The best lens depends upon the subject you like to photograph!

·       OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO Lens

o   “Designed for ultra-high magnification shooting and built for adventures, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO, from OM SYSTEM, is the ideal field macro lens for Micro Four Thirds shooters. This telephoto prime mixes a 180mm-equivalent focal length with a 2:1 maximum magnification for close-up shooting at a greater-than-life-size scale. Coupled with an intuitive manual focus clutch mechanism, quick AF performance, and optical image stabilization, this is a versatile lens for handheld shooting and IP53 weather sealing makes it suitable for use in harsh weather conditions.” https://tinyurl.com/lisatom-OM90mm  

·       Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

o   A wonderful lens!1X Magnification, Macro Minimum focus distance 7.5 inches, Weathersealed

·       8-25mm lens

o   Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm f/4 PRO Lens, Weathersealed

·       12-40mm f2.8 II

o   our go-to lens for night photography! Wonderful for landscapes, street, etc., Weathersealed

·       12-100mm f4  

o   Heavier/slower than the f2.8 but it has a focal great range for closeups, Weathersealed 

·       40-150mm f2.8 

o   The 1.4X teleconverter works very well with this lens, Weathersealed

·       300mm f4

o   Amazing lens, fast and sharp! Great for birds and wildlife, Weathersealed

o   The 1.4X teleconverter works very well with this for 840mm focal length

·       150-400mm f4.5

o   Built-in 1.25X teleconverter for 1000mm focal length

o   An external 1.4X teleconverter works very well with this for 1400mm focal length

o   Closest Focusing Distance 4.2 feet = 51 inches = 1.3m (across the entire zoom range when built-in teleconverter is used or not)

o   Dust & Drip Proof (IEC Standard publication 60529 IPX1 (applies when the lens is used with Olympus splashproof Body)/Dustproof construction)

o   12.4 inches = 314mm

o   1875g = 4.1 lb

Other fun lenses

-- 1.4X teleconverter, Weathersealed 

-- 12-45mm f4 (This lens is on my OM5 camera body),  Weathersealed

-- 7-14mm f2.8 -- Great for night, architecture, landscape, etc. , Weathersealed

            -- 8mm -- Great for night, architecture, landscape, etc. , Weathersealed

            -- 30mm macro f3.5 -- Minimum Working Distance 0.55 inches 14mm, 1.25x Image                                                               Magnification, NOT Dust & Drip Proof

            -- 100-400mm Weathersealed

·       200-800mm Focal Length (35mm equivalent)

·       focus-stacking compatible (unlike the Panasonic 100-400)

·       pro-capture compatible (unlike the Panasonic 100-400)

·       0.57x Max Image Magnification

·       Weight 2.47 lb = 1,120g (w/o Lens Cap, Lens Rear Cap, Lens Hood)

-- 17mm f1.2 -- This is a nice fast lens for night photography, Weathersealed

§  25mm f1.2 -- fast portrait lens, Weathersealed

§  45mm f1.2 -- §  fast portrait lens, Weathersealed

§  45mm f1.8 -- Affordable portrait lens, NOT Dust & Drip Proof, 

§  75mm f1.8 -- fast portrait lens, NOT Dust & Drip Proof

We appreciate you using our affiliate link for OM camera/lens/accessory purchases https://tinyurl.com/lisatom-OMD.