E-5 (and friends) goes to Antarctica

Started Feb 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
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davidrm
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E-5 (and friends) goes to Antarctica
Feb 11, 2013

I hope nobody objects to a little blatant Olympus fanboyism... otherwise, please skip

Last month I was lucky enough to join a two week cruise around the Antarctic Peninsula, venturing south of the Antarctic circle. Obviously I took a few (thousand) photos. Although I had seriously considered a change for this probably one-off trip, I decided to stick with the tried and tested E-System. Anyway, I didn’t have any money left to buy a real camera with. So I went completely overloaded with gear: E-5, E-3 as backup, 12-60 and 50-200 zooms, 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, and the new-to-me 150/f2. The 7-14 got tossed out of the backpack at the last minute (this happens to it frequently) and the 50/2 didn’t even get considered.

Of course, on the ship, which had 90 passengers, there were plenty of brand new Canikons, including all the new models, and no other Olympus. But I did see a couple of Pentaxes.

The weather was largely foul, and cameras were dropping like flies. The E-5, of course, just kept on truckin’, as did the E-3 when it got a day out for old times’ sake. Although I kept wondering about “upgrading” to Nikon, especially after looking through a D800 viewfinder, I was also getting some surprised looks from fellow photographers both at the not-so-dreadful quality I was getting, but also at the sheer range I could get from the 12-60 / 50-200 combination. I remain convinced that there still is nothing to touch that pair anywhere.

The 150mm was another matter. It’s big and heavy, and requires quite some practice to get used to. Although the results are stunning, and it works perfectly with both teleconverters, I really tended only to use it when I had specifically decided I should. Generally the 50-200 was the workhorse. Also, f/2 really gives extremely short DoF at 150mm, so I tended to close down to around f/5.6, and the difference between the optical quality of the 150 and 50/200 at 150mm at that aperture is negligeable. The bokeh is nicer on the 150 though.

But not for the first time I put an E-x through hell and it just kept going. Just after the end of the trip I did have an incident with the 12-60, when twisting the ever stiffening lens hood pulled the hood/filter mount right off the lens, all three screws sheared. That really is a serious design flaw.

I’ve wondered about a Nikon system. I love the look of the Fuji X1. I could just have taken my micro43 stuff (but for good weather only). Indeed I could have bought an E-M5 (with no weather proof telephoto - or much else). But whatever the bean-counting reviewers and forum fan boys say, every system has its compromises. With the E-System the downside is limited high ISO range, restrictions on dynamic range, and relatively limited resolution (although well-exposed and focused, I can print up to A2 uncropped which is fine for me). The upside is a fantastically usable, totally reliable, bomb-proof DSLR, world-class lenses, with the 12-60 / 50-200 combination in particular, best Live View on the market (I think - but maybe Sony is good too. D800 is horrible).

So, with the interesting noises coming out of Tokyo, I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy the photos my E-cameras helped me to make, and see exactly what it is Olympus has in mind for the future. I might sell the 7-14 and 150, as I’m not sure I really need them. But there’s no hurry.

Here's a few photos from a VERY preliminary edit:

Weddell Seal - ZD50-200

Adelie penguin - ZD50-200

ice - ZD50-200

Leopard seal - ZD50-200

Hut detail, Deception Island - ZD12-60

Chinstrap penguin - ZD150

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Blogs and galleries at http://www.snowhenge.net E-System photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/snowhenge/

Leica X1 Nikon D800 Olympus E-3 Olympus E-5
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