Ski hiking with E-M1 II and 12-400

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Lasse Eisele
Lasse Eisele Senior Member • Posts: 1,890
Ski hiking with E-M1 II and 12-400

Hi there,

I'm back from my annual 8 day ski hike in Swedish Lapland. Last year, I used E-M1 mk I plus 12-40/2.8 and the old 4/3 40-150/4-5.6. This time I took my brand new E-M1 II plus 12-100/4 and the tiny 17/1.8 (that I never used).

Here's a brief summary of my experiences.

The good:

• Battery life. I was a bit concerned because I had only one spare battery and no access to electricity until the second to last day. It turned out that my worries were unfounded. I never even needed the spare. When we arrived at our final destination there was still 40 percent charge left in the original battery! OK, I didn't take more than around 500 images, but that was in temperatures well below the freezing point. Surprisingly good performance, I must say.

• The viewfinder. Last year, I struggled with the E-M1 viewfinder. It's otherwise very good, but in a totally snow covered landscape, it was difficult to see anything at all. Not so with the E-M1 II. It was quite usable even in extremely bright light. My only issue with it was that it was difficult to adjust the polarizer. I couldn't see much difference when I turned the ring. The E-M1 II is certainly not worse than other mirrorless cameras in this respect, but it's much worse than DSLRs with optical viewfinders.

• Image quality is slightly better compared to mk I and 20 MP does leave a bit more cropping room.

The bad:

• AWB. Auto white balance doesn't work well in a snowy landscape. Almost all images came out much too cold. All cameras I have used behave this way, more or less, but I found the E-M1 II to be one of the worst in this respect. I shoot raw, so no shots were ruined, but I would appreciate if the camera could get it reasonably right from the start.

• AF. I had some unexpected AF issues with several shots in a row completely out of focus. Don't quite understand why. It wasn't the usual mirrorless issue with the camera focusing on something more contrasty in the backgrund. And I don't think I had touched the focus clutch on the lens. A mystery, it seems. I used C-AF with back button focusing, single focus point. I also had severe focusing issues when I took some night shots outside. The camera refused to lock on anything at all. However, I later discovered that I had forgotten to remove the polarizer. That might explain it, at least to some extent.

• Size and weight. I switched to MFT to save weight and bulk, but E-M1 II with 12-100 is almost as big and heavy as my D800E with 24-85G. It worked, but I would certainly want something smaller, preferably without sacrificing image quality and usability. GX9 + 12-60 might be a more suitable combo for hiking, but I'm concerned about the viewfinder. Maybe I'll just take a smaller lens next time.

• The photographer. I didn't feel well for a couple of days, due to some sort of stomach disorder. Nothing serious and it didn't prevent me from skiing but it was difficult to concentrate on shooting.

Anyway, here are some of my images.

The sun is shining, but big fat clouds are gathering.

A few hours later. Tough wind and heavy snow fall straight in our faces.

Not too pleasant, to be honest.

But we only had a few km to the hut, so nothing to worry about (heavy crop).

The sun was shining again the next day, quite enjoyable. Snow is highly reflective and doesn't always need to be white, but this shot is possibly a bit too cool (the original with AWB was much bluer though – I corrected the temperature from 5,500 to 6,900 in ACR).

View from the hut in Vistasvagge.

My friends struggling on a steep hillside, I cheated with skins and could easily get up in advance.

The mountain Nallu makes a nice backdrop.

Interior from a hut. This is one of the smallest huts and it was overcrowded when we were there. Several people had to sleep on the floor and the logistics for cooking etc were rather complicated, but it worked. You can't book the hut in advance  but you'll never be left out in the cold.

Two dog sled teams are camping below the mountain. A thick cloud cover causes very low contrast light. Snow and sky melt together into a uniform white. Skiing is difficult in this kind of light, because you can't see if the terrain in front of you is flat or leaning up or down.
I can easily see why most people don't like this image (my friends didn't seem overwelmed), but it's actually my personal favourite from the trip.

Sunny again.

Majestic panorama in rather boring mid day light. You sometimes have to take what you get.

Evening sunlight on the mountains.

And the very last sun rays on a mountain top.

Late night at Sälka. The camera struggled hard with the focusing on this one. Most of my images turned out to be out of focus.


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