Came home from a trip to Philly to find a package on the front stoop. It was my long awaited Olympus OM-D E-M5. Rushing it inside the first thing I did after unpacking it was to plug in the battery. After that I started to look over my new acquisition and start assembling the various components (camera, lens, power grip, accessory flash). While I couldn’t play with my new toy yet, I could at least start photographing it for the user guide I’m writing.
I’m a bit surprised at just how small this camera is even with the full battery grip attached. My second glance reminded me of just how much it looked like an OM system Olympus camera. As small as this camera is though, it feels good in my hands. I’m not sure I’d be as happy with it if I didn’t have the battery grip, but with it, I still feel like I’m shooting with a real camera. It’s definitely solid and reassuringly heavy.
Once the battery finally finished charging, I was able to play with the camera a little. It has a nice feel, autofocus seems crisp and accurate and the automatic switch from OLED screen to EVF is reliable, if not always quick. These are my first impressions. I’ll try to add to this as I go along.
When you have as much equipment as I do, planning what to take on a vacation can be a real challenge. After 30 plus years as a pro photographer and photography writer, I’ve accumulated a lot of gear (heck, I even helped write a book on photo gear and accumulated even more stuff in the process).
The Old Battle Axe and I are getting ready for a trip to Key West. While we’ve never been there before, there’s obviously a lot to photograph and we only have about three days there. One highlight for us will be getting a chance to do some snorkeling. We tried snorkeling for the first time a few years ago during a visit to Grand Cayman during a Caribbean cruise. At the time, we purchased a small Olympus underwater digital camera and were quite pleased with the results.
Over the years we’ve experimented with other inexpensive underwater options. Our best results so far have come from a little Canon point and shoot and hard case underwater housing. We’ve used this snorkeling in Cozumel, Mexico and underwater nudes in a swimming pool back home with excellent results.
This time around I’m trying out an Ewa Marine soft underwater housing I bought off ebay last year. I plan on using my Olympus E-5 in this housing rather than my Canon 40D for two reasons. One, I’m currently writing a user guide to the E-5 and two, the E-5 has better sealing against the elements so if there’s a small leak in the Ewa Marine, I’ll have a better chance to save the camera.
I’m also bringing my Olympus E-P2 and a backup Ewa Marine soft housing I bought a few years ago (it’s a much older model designed for a small SLR film camera). The two can share the E-5’s lenses (with an adapter) and use the same flash units. I can also use my Lensbaby kit with the E-P2, but not the E-5.
The next question becomes which lenses to bring? The 9-18 is probably the best choice for underwater; the 12-60 SWD is a great all around lens and the 55-200 SWD is a quality optic with some serious reach. I also have the Olympus 70-300 which is smaller, lighter and has even greater reach, but isn’t a fast when it comes to light gathering or auto focus as the 50-200. I’ll probably leave the 70-300 at home because of that.
For the E-P2 I’m also going to bring my Panasonic 14-140, which I normally use with my GF1. This has turned into my favorite micro four thirds lens because of its ruggedness, AF speed and versatility. It will work just fine with the E-P2.