Mirrorless on Safari

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Dallas Dahms
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Mirrorless on Safari
5 months ago

I get asked by guests and prospective Safarians a lot about what gear they should bring on safari to Africa. In the past I have been all about the big DSLRs and the fast telephotos. This year I'm doing things differently. I'm going mirrorless all the way.

Towards the end of last year I did the unthinkable and dumped all of my DSLR's and Nikon/Sigma lenses (I had some choice stuff) and parked myself firmly in the m43 mirrorless world with an Olympus E-M1. As the owner and founder of Nikongear.com you can imagine the stir that caused!

I already had an Olympus E-M5 and it was the results I got with that camera while on a Namibian safari with an all Nikongear crowd that got the whole switch started for me. Getting to Cape Town with my Nikon stuff was a frikkin' nightmare. With 20kgs of hand luggage in a thinkTank roller I kept expecting some burly security guard to put his hand on my shoulder and lead me back to the check-in counter to send the roller into the depths of the baggage sorting world, probably never to be seen again. The stuff nightmares are made of.

When I got back from Namibia I noticed some strange things in Lightroom while editing my shots. I had hardly used the Nikon D700 and Sigma 120-300/2.8, or the other big lenses I had taken. 90% of my shots were made with the E-M5 and a variety of m43 glass. All housed in a ThinkTank Retro 5 shoulder bag. And the image quality was awesome in my eyes, even better than what I could get with the Nikon D700. I didn't really have to do much to the E-M5's RAW files to get what I wanted, but I always had to work hard on the D700's shots to get the same satisfaction.

Then I decided to have a look at something else in Lightroom and it proved to be the one thing that helped me make the final decision to switch. Since getting the D700 in 2009 I had made a total of around 28500 exposures, including all the pro assignments I undertook in that time (there were a few). I had had the E-M5 for about 18 months by the end of 2013 and since getting it I had made over 18000 shots with it. What a lop-sided change! The thing is I was taking this camera out with me everywhere and enjoying it thoroughly. No wonder I was making more exposures!

The one thing that had been holding me back was the lack of AF tracking. The E-M1 changed all of that. Now I have one of them and I also have a couple of four thirds lenses I can use with the adapter while we wait for the arrival of the m43 PRO telephotos. Things are changing and this coming September I will find myself in Botswana with a small camera bag and some Olympus glass. It's exciting and I can't wait to get there and field test all this stuff. If you want to read more about what I'm taking go check out my blog post here.

Who else has made the switch to mirrorless for nature photography?

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Talk to me about safaris in Southern Africa.

 Dallas Dahms's gear list:Dallas Dahms's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 +14 more
Nikon D700 Olympus E-M1
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