New OMD and lenses for Safari + future

Started Aug 17, 2014 | Discussions thread
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TwoCoasts New Member • Posts: 2
New OMD and lenses for Safari + future


An upcoming safari with lots of wildlife viewing has prompted me to buy a camera/lens system. I'm more or less a newbie (into 35mm long ago but haven't touched one in nearly 25 years; since then have just taken occasional snapshots with whatever point-and-shoot is at hand). I'm looking for something that will not only be suitable for this trip but also offer enough quality, flexibility, and control to let me get back into photography as a hobby. I'm not very price sensitive--but of course, there's no point in wasting money on features that won't matter for my intended use. I'm leaning toward the Olympus OMD EM10 (for reasons I'll describe below, after my questions, in case anyone finds that information relevant).

My questions are mainly about lenses, and I'd be grateful for input. All the advice I've seen about photographing wildlife on safari says bring the longest possible lens, but also don't change lenses while in the field, due to dust. I'm considering two possibilities as my field lens.

1) Could anyone who has tried the M.Zuiko 75-300 on the OM10 tell me if it's manageable with such a light camera body? Or does it end up so nose-heavy it's hard to use for long periods? If so, does the accessory handgrip solve the problem?

2) I'm also considering the 14-150. That would give me FF-equivalent 300mm of optical zoom, which I gather is a bit short for photographing animals you can't get too close to. But the camera's "digital teleconverter" function could give a field of view equivalent to a 600mm FF lens (with, of course, loss in resolution due to cropping). The advantages are that at the short end I could still do landscape photography, and the whole rig would be that much smaller/lighter. On the other hand, with the 75-300 I could go up to 600 FF-equiv (1200 effective with cropping), but I really couldn't take advantage of opportunities for landscape photography. Anyone in similar situations have advice about this tradeoff?

And for anyone who wants to know my logic for leaning toward the Olympus OMD EM10, feel free to keep reading:

1) Micro four thirds instead of superzoom bridge cameras or larger sensor DSL/mirrorless, because size and weight matter a lot to me and m4/3 seems to offer the best balance of potential image quality and future growth vs easy portability.

2) OMD EM1 or EM10 because reviews suggest they have the fastest autofocus of m4/3 cameras (at least with native m4/3 lenses), which matters for wildlife.

3) EM10 because:

a) With some lenses it's so small that I can easily carry it as part of my daily routine--stick it in a coat pocket when hiking, etc--which increases the chance I'll use it more and therefore learn faster. I think the EM1 might be a bit too big for that. The consensus is that the ergonomics of the EM1's chunky grip are better, but I have small hands, and can always get the accessory grip for the EM10 if needed.

b) The factor that limits image quality is likely to be my skills, so any IQ difference between the EM1 and EM10 won't matter for quite a while.

c) The EM1's weather sealing is attractive for dusty safari conditions and future hiking, snowshoeing etc. But the long zoom lenses I'm likely to use on safari don't appear to be weather sealed (although there's a sealed 14-40 I might eventually buy as a daily hiking/snowshoeing/walking-around lens). The weather sealing on the body has no protective value if the zoom lens can suck dust in, right? So the only possible weather-sealing advantage to the EM1 only applies when I'm not using the long zooms. Is that worth an extra $700?

d) Those who've evaluated the EM10's 3-axis image stabilization vs the EM1's 5-axis version seem to find that there's some difference, but it's not large. However, most of the discussion I've seen hasn't considered the effect with long zooms. And I have unsteady hands. So, this might matter, but again, it's not clear enough whether it does to give up the added $700 and especially portability vs the EM10.

Of course, all this could change if Olympus releases an updated replacement for the EM5 between now and late October (when I plan to purchase). I wonder if the EM5 price reduction on the Olympus website indicates a new version is coming soon.

Thanks for any thoughts more experienced users can offer.

Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M10
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