The Change

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I’ve always leaned toward impulsivity.
I’d be the first to tell you that, but there are a few exceptions to this tendency.
One being, my camera gear.
I mean, I make my living with my camera gear and my keyboard. Knowing this, you can easily see how important these two things are to me and how serious I take these things.
The right gear can mean the difference between getting a shot and not.
The right gear can be the difference between a good shot and a bad shot.
It can mean the difference between a potential client being impressed or one moving on to the next photographer.
So, when I made a decision last week to switch gear, you can be darn sure I put a lot of thought, research and time into this change.
I’m a documentary photographer, for the most part, and this means quick autofocus, great image quality and understated aesthetics are all high on the list of must-haves.
Now, for the past year or so I have been using Fuji gear — and I loved it. The IQ is fabulous. The looks are amazing, and I was hard-pressed to find a reason not to continue to love this system.
Then, however, I had an outdoor wedding a few Fridays ago. It was a brilliantly sunny day (which the metering and camera held up great for) and an outdoor reception that spilled into the evening hours and beyond.
The lighting was poor at best, and combine that with the multi-colored DJ lights and to say it was tough would be an understatement. I brought my flash (EF-X20) and set out to capture the moments of the reception. It was a constant battle between myself and the gear. Poor autofocus performance in low and changing light and a frustrating flash drove me crazy.
I knew the system wasn’t perfect, but I had never encountered such consistent issues before that night.
I did the best I could, and it all turned out fine. However, it was more difficult that it needed to be. So, I sold my Fuji gear and set out to reinvent my camera bag.
I researched for a few weeks.
I watched videos. I read reviews, and I poured over camera specs.
I borrowed several camera bodies from friends and paraded around shooting all kinds of things in all kinds of situations. I knew I wanted to stay small and light. I knew I didn’t want to spend $10,000…. and after all the work, I found a system that, to me, was a perfect fit.
Olympus.
I know there are those of you who poo-poo the micro 4/3 thing. You argue about depth of field, low-light performance and such. And there is a difference, for sure, but who cares.
Seriously, the image quality is amazing with these Olympus cameras and lenses.
The autofocus is super-fast.
The low-light performance is good.
The results at higher ISOs is on par with other cropped sensor cameras, and they’re very durable as well.
And they’re the best value in photography.
I bought a used EM-1 body, the Olympus-brand grip, four batteries (Wasabi) and a used 25mm 1.8 and 75mm 1.8 lens, and I did this for less than $900.
It’s not the complete setup, there’s still a few more blanks to fill in (like the 12mm f2 and the 40-150 f2.8Pro), but it’s a good solid start.
More than that, the community of mirrorless shooters are amazing. I’ve reached out to many Olympus Trailblazer photogs, including two that live nearby, and got prompt responses and hopefully this is the beginning of new friendships and a shared passion for photography and Olympus cameras. I have to be honest, I’ve made this a professional goal of mine to be among this group of Trailblazer photographers.
I decided to share this mirrorless journey on this blog Mirrorless Bliss, and intend on sharing photos, how-tos, helpful tips and links as well as reviews.
For starters, I can’t recommend any higher the Mirrorless Minutes show hosted by Olympus Trailblazers photogs Jamie MacDonald and Mike Boening. These guys are great photographers and even better people. Be sure to check it out by clicking here.
So, with my new setup arriving less than 24-hours ago, I’m now pouring over the owners manual and shooting random photos of trees and my dogs in the backyard. I’ve got a wedding Friday evening and am already looking forward to that using my new gear.
Happy Shooting,
John
P.S. Be sure to check me out on Flickr by clicking here, on Instagram (@dogsandacamera) Twitter (@dogsandacamera) and on Facebook at John McTaggart Photography.

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