When it comes to going small and light, there are lots of excellent choices for Micro Four-Thirds shooters
If you enjoy traveling with your camera, you probably want a kit that offers a fairly wide range of focal lengths, but also something that is fairly lightweight and compact. Recently, I’ve been discussing with a colleague about the dreaded “what to pack” question. He’s going to be in Paris next month, and wants a flexible kit to use with his OM-1 body. The problem isn’t a lack of options; it’s literally quite the opposite. There are so many lenses available for Micro 4/3rds users that sometimes it can feel overwhelming when trying to decide what to pack for a trip!
The Micro 4/3rds system offers photographers a tremendous range of lens choices for travel, as most of the lenses for this system are fairly small and light to begin with. Options range from single all-purpose zoom lenses, two-lens zoom kits, a trio of tiny primes, or a mix of zooms and primes. Most of these lenses are quite good and make few optical compromises, and none of them will make you feel weighed down. In the end, the lenses you choose really depend on how much you’re willing to carry, and the type of subjects that interest you most.
This week, we took our annual overnight trip to Mt. Evans (made possible by our sponsors) and photographed wildlife and landscapes in the alpine tundra above 13,000′ elevation. Joining us this week on the show is Dr. Shalah Parker, who recently got back into photography and is using the OM Digital Solutions OM-5 micro four-thirds format camera, and was with us on the shoot. You can find some of Shalah’s work at her Facebook page, Side Quest Photography.
These small prime lenses for Micro 4/3rds format open up a wide range of creative possibilities
Earlier this year, I purchased an OM Systems (formerly known as Olympus) OM-1 flagship mirrorless camera, along with a set of zoom lenses that are perfect for the majority of my photographic needs. One thing I hadn’t considered at the time was the prime lenses for Micro 4/3 format from Olympus and Panasonic.
Prime, or fixed focal length, lenses generally serve to either extend the range of your kit (ie, adding wide or telephoto prime to a zoom kit), or to provide a way of getting a different look to your images, usually because they are designed with a fast maximum aperture. You can also use primes for dedicated purposes; most portrait photographers will have at least one fast portrait lens (like an 85mm f/1.8 or faster) to deliver nice subject isolation.
A few years ago, before I switched to using a mirrorless system, I frequently put a 50mm f/1.8, a.k.a the “Nifty Fifty.” In my bag when traveling. But when I got my Nikon Z kit, I stopped using a 50mm prime, even though I’d purchased the outstanding Nikon 50mm f/1.8S Nikkor Z. Why? Because it was just too darned big to bring along as an extra lens, and using the F-mount version required a lens mount adapter, adding weight and bulk to my kit.
Rethinking the trade-offs in sensor size with modern digital cameras
If you follow my YouTube channel or The Image Doctors Podcast, you probably saw that I recently purchased a OM Digital Solutions (formerly Olympus) OM-1 body and an assortment of lenses. This is something I’d been contemplating for quite some time, given that the majority of my photography involves travel and wildlife. The OM-1 is not a perfect camera, but it has some features that make it extremely compelling for photographers who want professional quality in a vastly smaller package. It’s also far less expensive ($2199 USD) than a comparable 35mm format body (think Sony Alpha A1, Nikon Z8/Z9, Canon R5).
Each of these cameras is outstanding. They offer subject-detection based AF systems (including bird and vehicle detection), excellent in-body stabilization (IBIS), and high speed shooting of 20fps or greater for raw images using an electronic shutter and stacked sensor technology. The biggest difference then? Size. The OM-1 is a fairly small (1.3 lb) camera, but the lenses it uses are in some cases downright tiny. That one factor alone is what made me consider the OM System gear for my work.