Olympus OM-D E-M1 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH

I took advantage of an borrowlenses.com Independence Day deal to rent an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH zoom lens (Equivalent to 24-70mm). Starting July 1st, over 6 days, I used the camera and lens in various situations. I loved the kit and didn't want to send it back. It took photos that looked excellent on a computer screen, but still, something felt lacking.

I had intended to use the kit to shoot some fireworks photos but, in a rush, didn't read the manual. In my defence, I received the package from FedEx that same night. However, I didn't get the OM-D E-M1 to pair with my iPhone via Wi-Fi and opted to shoot fireworks on my Nikon.

I did get a few late evening photos of the open fields and my family, which was a good test of the low-light ability of the Olympus OM-D E-M1. As you can see, the camera performed admirably.

Tuesday 1 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 110 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F10

Since I had the camera the week, I got to experiment with the various features and menus. The E-M1 has an overwhelming number of menu options. It seemed daunting at first, but the different on-camera prompts helped me find my way through them. Unlike the Fujifilm X-T1, which has a lot of manual control knobs, the E-M1 is more like my Nikon. Changing camera settings required me to stare at the read LCD while turning a camera dial. I don't think it's a failing of the E-M1. This is how many DSLR cameras work. But I like the knobs and dials of the Fujifilm X-T1 more.

Tuesday 1 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1800 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F2.8

I had a chance to shoot flowers, food, and people during the six days. The 12-35 mm µ 43 lens present the same field of view as a 24-70mm lens on a 35mm FF camera. The 12mm focal length is wide enough for capturing landscapes, cityscapes and groups photos, with the 35mm focal size sufficient for portrait shots.

The lens and the camera took excellent shots, but I was not too fond of the background blur quality (bokeh). Something didn't look right.

I experimented with the focus peaking mode. The results were mixed, but I think the failure was in my skill, not the camera. If I had more time with the camera, I think I could get better at it.

Sunday 6 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 160 sec | ISO 500 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F4

Most of the reviews about mirrorless cameras complain that auto-focus isn't quite up to par with a DSLR. While there is some truth to that, I think most of the criticism is hogwash. I used the continuous autofocus mode with object tracking and was able to nail action shots just fine. I didn't test the camera in high-speed sports situations. Still, in my experience, for most consumers, the camera will perform well.

These are action shots of my kids having fun at the Community Park Pool in Princeton.

Sunday 6 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1200 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F2.8

As I mentioned, the bokeh was not attractive.

As with the Fujifilm X-T1, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 has built-in Wi-Fi and iOS software. Using the Olympus Image Share app, I connected the E-M1 to my iPhone. I was able to control the E-M1, snap some photos, and download images to my iPhone (or iPad). I don't recall the details, but I feel the Fujifilm app was easier to set up and use, especially when it came to geotagging.

I think all new DSLRs must include a Wi-Fi option. I loved taking photos, downloading to my iPhone, making slight adjustments in Photogene, and sharing them on social media. With my Nikon D5100, I use an Eye-Fi Mobi card to do the same trick but having it built-in to the camera means I can use any SD card brand and use cards with a higher capacity.

In my opinion, the OM-D E-M1 is a capable camera. Still, the entire kit gets quite expensive with the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH zoom lens. More expensive than the X-T1 with a similar lens. The X-T1 body is slightly smaller and lighter (without a lens) and, in my opinion, produces better results. However, the E-M1 would be on my primary camera if I owned micro 43 lenses.

Saturday 5 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1100 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F2.8
Saturday 5 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1160 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F8
Saturday 5 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1/2000 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F2.8
Saturday 5 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1250 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F8
Saturday 5 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1400 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F3.2
Sunday 6 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1200 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F9
Sunday 6 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 180 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F10
Sunday 6 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 1320 sec | ISO 200 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F5
Sunday 6 July, 2014 | Olympus E-M1 | 160 sec | ISO 320 | Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH | F2.8

Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS

A few weeks ago, I drove up the Rock Brook at the other end of town to try my hand at long exposure photography. I enjoyed the experience, and I got good results with my ND filter. With the recent rains over the weekend, I thought it would be great to go back.

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.Elliott Erwitt

I’ve read a lot about the “mirror-less” cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and Fujifilm. Over the last few years, I’ve rented the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and OM-D EM-5 Camera, the Fujifilm X-E1 and borrowed the Olympus PEN EP-3 Camera from a friend.

But recently Fujifilm introduced the Fujifilm X-T1. The accolades keep pouring in. I’ve seen minimal negative things written about the Fujifilm X-T1 and the camera and the X system in general, have been well received by amateurs and professionals alike.

Rock Brook, Water, Woods
Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS @ 10mm, 6s at ƒ/16, ISO 200 — Credit—Khürt L. Williams

Many reviews have been written about the Fujifilm X-T1 by Frank Doorhof, Ken Rockwell, Photo Shelter and others so this won’t be a review. Those other reviewers will do a better job than I could. However, I want to document my experiences using the camera and one of the Fujifilm X lenses.

Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS @ 10mm, 18s at ƒ/16, ISO 200 — Credit—Khürt L. Williams

Almost all of my camera rentals are from lensrentals.com. The prices are reasonable — they even include an Amazon Prime typing shipping option — and they are flexible. Since my wife and I both work, I find it more convenient to have packages held at the FedEx Office Print & Ship Center near my office. I never miss a packed delivery, and I can stop by on my home in the afternoon and pick up my rental. When the equipment is ready to be returned, I can easily drop it off at the same facility on my way to work in the morning.

Because I prefer outdoor photography, I chose to rent the Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS wide-angle lens which has a field-of-view equivalent to a 15-36mm f/6 full-frame lens. I planned on going back to the Rock Brook for some long exposure photography. I added the Tiffen 72mm Variable ND Filter to my rental. The rental included a camera bag, the battery and charger, and the Fujifilm EF-X8 Shoe-Mount Flash. I did not use the Fujifilm EF-X8 Shoe-Mount Flash.

Rock Brook, Rocks, Forest, Trees
Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS @ 10mm, 15s at ƒ/16, ISO 200 — Credit—Khürt L. Williams

I had read that the X-T1 is well constructed and the reviews were correct. The X-T1 felt solid in my hands; like the Pentax P3 film camera, I bought in college. The camera body and dials and knobs are made of metal. My eyes were drawn to the control knobs on the top of the camera. The camera and lens controls were easy to find. I did not have to hunt around in on-screen menus as I do with my Nikon. I found myself quickly changing aperture, ISO, and shutter speed while composing my shot.

I found the focus ring on the X-T1 to be smooth. I usually don’t trust myself to focus on my subjects manually. I’ve had two eye surgeries, and sometimes I feel my vision isn’t “just right”. But the ease of using the manual focus ring and the Focus Peak mode boosted my confidence. I used auto-focus only a few times during my shoot. The Digital Split Image focus mode reminds me of the split image focused on my Pentax P3 film camera, but I preferred the focus peaking mode.

While I didn’t use the auto-focus mode enough to form a strong opinion, I didn’t experience any of the expected delays bringing subjects into sharp focus. The auto-focus mode on the X-T1 feels improved over my experience with the X-E1.

Rock Brook, Trees, Rocks, Forest
Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS @ 10mm, 15s at ƒ/16, ISO 200 — Credit—Khürt L. Williams

Besides outdoor photography, I am also a fan of HDR photography. The X-T1 has several auto-bracketing functions, but for HDR I use only Auto Exposure bracketing. My Nikon D5100 has AE bracketing as well, but I am annoyed that I have to trigger the shutter for each shot. Not with the X-T1. One press of the shutter captures three shots of the same scene at different exposures.

Rock Brook, Forest, Trees, Water, Rocks
Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS @ 10mm, 14s at ƒ/16, ISO 200 — Credit—Khürt L. Williams

But where the Fujifilm X-T1 blew me away was with the Camera Remote. Last year, I started using an Eye-Fi mobi card to capture and send JPG images from my Nikon D5100 to my iPad or iPhone. I could then do some slight processing before sharing the pictures to my blog or Facebook. It’s a form of instant photography. However, I’ve often wished I could use my iPad or iPhone to control my Nikon. The Fujifilm Camera Remote does that.

The X-T1 has a built-in wireless access point. I was able with to connect my iPhone1 to the X-T1 and control every aspect of the camera. I adjust the focus, aperture, the ISO, the shutter speed, the shooting mode etc. I used the Camera Remote to set The X-T1 up for long exposure and HDR photography. With this setup, the camera shake is nearly eliminated. Minimising camera shake is important for long exposure and HDR photography. Even a breeze can ruin an image.

I have a bird feeder set up in my backyard, but my 85mm f/1.8 can’t get me close enough to the birds. I would have loved to setup up the Fujifilm X-T1 on a tripod with the Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS and patiently sit in my living room monitoring for some interest bird action shots. Of course, if I had known the X-T1 could do this, I would have rented two lenses. The wide-angle isn't ideal for this scenario.

One of the cool things about the Camera Remote is that it also did wireless transfers of the photos to my iPhone or iPad. I set the X-T1 to transfer photos to my iPad, so I could check that I had captured what I wanted. Some of the images were uploaded to Facebook right from the middle of the Rock Brook. How cool is that!

Rock Brook, Rocks, Water, Trees, Forest
Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS @ 10mm, 18s at ƒ/16, ISO 200 — Credit—Khürt L. Williams

Another possibility is that I could attend the independence day fireworks events, capturing photos, sending them to my iPhone and sharing them quickly on Facebook or uploading to Flickr etc. Or I can shoot and download selected images to my iPad for post-processing and later share.

It wasn’t until I came home and downloaded the images to Adobe Lightroom that I realised that the Camera Remote app used the GPS on my iPhone to embed geolocation data into each photograph. WTF! This is awesome. For me, this is a manual process in Lightroom; assuming I remember to do so.

For me, the Fujifilm X-T1 is the near-perfect digital camera. I love the look and feel of the camera. The all-metal body and knobs remind me of the built-to-last cameras of my youth. The focus peaking manual focus and smooth focus ring of the lenses make me feel confident that my photos will be in focus. The Camera Remote feature duplicates and surpasses the features of the Eye-Fi Mobi card and opens up new photographic possibilities for me.


  1. I often listen to music on my bluetooth headset when I'm out shooting. ?

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm F:3.5-6.3 EZ

I'm looking for a new camera system, something for family vacations or road trips. I want something smaller and lighter than my Nikon D5100, but also interchangeable lenses. To me, that means one of the compact system interchangeable lens (ILC aka mirror-less) cameras such as the Sony NEX system, the Fujifilm X system, or the micro-four-thirds system. I tend to hang on to my tech longer than most of my friends. I bought a Nikon D40 in 2006 and didn't upgrade until 2013 when I purchased a used D5100 on eBay. I want a compact system that will suffice for just as long. I could buy a point-n-shoot, but I would miss choosing lenses, control aperture and shutter speed, etc. I think in the back of my mind, I'm not committed to the DSLR format. In five years, I've bought only three lenses, and none are so expensive that I couldn't dump the system and start over.

Saturday 19 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1160 sec | ISO 200 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F8

Over the summer I rented the Fujifilm X-E1 and last week I borrowed my friend's Olympus PEN EP-3.

I like both cameras, but each had faults. The Fujifilm X-E1 had a slow (electronic viewfinder) and auto-focus (AF), and the Olympus PEN EP-3 had no EVF. The Fujifilm X-E1, however, convinced me that the CSC format could produce excellent results. I also loved the retro film camera look and feel of some of the cameras.

Saturday 19 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1125 sec | ISO 500 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F8

Before my friend offered to loan me his EP-3 I had ordered a rental, the Olympus OM-D EM-5, from Lensrentals along with the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. I had the weekend to try what is considered the high-end Olympus line. Of course, Olympus announced an update to the EM-5, the Olympus OM-D EM-1, so I was testing out the deprecated technology.

Friday 12 November, 2021 | Olympus E-M5 | 1125 sec | ISO 1600 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F8

This article isn't a review1. It's more my thought and impressions on the Olympus OM-D EM-5. The camera is about the same size as the EP-3. The EVF worked better than I expected. The EVF in the Fujifilm X-E1 felt quite slow and couldn't keep up with the fast movement of the camera for tracking running kids, flying birds etc. The Olympus OM-D EM-5 tracked well. I didn't notice any lag. Setting the camera up was quite easy. It's quite light. Battery life isn't quite up to the level I expected. It's a lot worse than the Nikon. After just one day of shooting about 100 images, the battery was exhausted. I can easily get three to four full days of shooting out of my Nikon D5100's battery. Perhaps the EM-1 is better.

The images below give you a decent idea of what to expect from the EM-5. Since the D5100 has an APS-C sensor with a 1.5 crop factor and the EM-5 has a micro four-thirds sensor with a crop factor of 2.0, I used my AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G lens. To create a near similar comparison, I set the 12-50 mm lens to 26mm. This means that both cameras were shooting at the 35mm equivalent of 52mm. Both cameras were set to ISO 200 and f/8 in aperture priority mode. I couldn't see much of a difference between these two images (other than the slightly different crop). The Olympus OM-D EM-5 pictures seem to have more contrast, and the colours are more vivid, but these may be some settings that I overlooked or the slightly different aperture. The EM-5 felt tiny in my hand. I missed having a grip to hold the camera one-handed.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 | Saturday 19 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1100 sec | ISO 200 | M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm F:3.5-6.3 EZ | F5.6

The Nikon with the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/6.3.

20 October 2013 – Nikon D5100 + AF-S Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 G @ f/6.3, ISO 200

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 is a macro lens. I shot the spider at f/10 to provide enough DOF to capture the spider in focus. Once turned on, the lens locks in at 43mm. It's straightforward to use, and I love the results.

Given that Sony, Fuji and Olympus announced new cameras and lenses this month, I have many choices. PhotoPlus Expo is coming up, and I may have an opportunity to try out the new Sony A7, the Olympus OM-D EM-1 and the Fuji X-E2. I am very excited about the X-E2. Early reports are that Fuji has fixed the problems exhibited by the X-E1. If so, then my decision will be even harder. The results from these CSC cameras makes me wonder if I can replace my DSLR altogether.

Friday 18 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1125 sec | ISO 1600 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F6.3

  1. Robin Wong has written about the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3. ?