In Part 3 I discussed the focusing capabilities of the MkII and covered the AF Limiter. Since writing that, I’ve found the AF Limiter somewhat problematic with my 4/3 lenses. Sometimes it works and at other times it doesn’t, the behaviour can be quite erratic. I also encountered an issue with my 90-250mm lens when set to the wide end, it wouldn’t focus on distant subjects with the MkII, but I have no problems with the MkI. So I tried using the AF Limiter with my other lenses and they too exhibited erratic focusing behaviour when the AF Limiter was engaged. I suspect that there is some incompatibility issues with the the MkII and the 4/3 lenses when using the AF Limiter. Though I’m still perplexed why the 90-250mm is displaying focus issues at the wide end when the focus limiter is not engaged, as I don’t have this issue with the other lenses.
One ever present issue when it comes to any m4/3 camera is the perception that the sensor is simply not good enough for genuine photography, especially professional use. It doesn’t matter how much evidence is shown to the contrary, there is always one or other that tries to perpetuate this myth. The reality is that for the vast majority of photography enthusiasts and even professionals, the sensor size is rarely the limiting factor when it comes to results, you can get top quality results with pretty much any camera nowadays. The limiting factor always has and always will be the photographer. There is no doubt that the camera can at times make things easier, and digital camera technology has been advancing in major leaps and bounds, but the best camera in the world won’t produce anything worthwhile without considered intervention by the user.
Before I get into how the MkII performs, I’d like to note some differences between the E-M1 MkI and MkII, and what were immediately noticeable. On unboxing the camera, the first thing that was obvious was that the MkII was slightly larger than the MkI and that was mainly in the height, making it more comfortable in the hand than the MkI, which required a camera plate to make it comfortable for me to hold. The other thing that is significantly larger is the battery, to provide much greater longevity, an issue that has plagued many mirrorless cameras, though I never really had a problem with the MkI batteries (I’ve been able to take 1400+ photographs on one battery). The MkII no longer sports an accessory port on the electronic viewfinder (EVF) hump, making that part slightly trimmer but, in other respects, the overall differences are mainly cosmetic with all the dials, buttons and levers pretty much as they are on the MkI. The MkII does differ in one other physical aspect, in that it has a fold out LCD screen rather than one that just lifts up and down, a source of constant angst and debate on forums.
I don’t generally discuss my cameras, as I don’t believe that the camera one uses is that big a deal, but anyone that has read my posts and is interested in photography would have realised that my system is Olympus digital. I started using Olympus digital SLRs in 2004 after attending an expo where I watched a salesman at a camera stall put the very first Olympus digital SLR, an E-1, repeatedly under a indoor waterfall, wipe it off with a towel and take shots. I was intrigued by this waterproof marvel and ended up buying one. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite Olympus cameras often lagging the major brands in some aspects of technology, I just loved how the cameras performed, especially the wonderful colours, and have stayed with Olympus through all of its trials and tribulations. I still have that very first E-1, and it still works as well as the day that I bought it, even though it’s pretty much gone through the wars and looks rather tatty on the outside.
“Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius
I think this is a very apt saying, especially in today’s world where technology keeps advancing in tremendous leaps and bounds. However, it sometimes feels as if the lessons and experiences of the past are forgotten, and simplicity and practicality are foregone in the race for technical supremacy. We see this every day in the products we buy, many of which no longer have simple on/off switches and dials for settings, but require complex button presses on a digital menu to set the device to do what is ostensibly a simple task. A great example of ignoring your history is Microsoft with Windows 8 where not only were existing customers ignored (despite so-called studies), everything was turned on its head, satisfying no one, and subsequently resulting in dismal failure.
No matter how much better life, in general, tends to get when it comes to technology advances, it never seems to be enough for many people. As soon as the latest product is announced, not even released, the internet is abuzz with what the ‘next’ iteration may provide, or people will immediately commence to tear apart the newly announced product, identifying all the flaws and omissions and complaining that it’s not good enough for them. Internet photographers (or just insert your favourite forum) seem to be the worst of the lot for never being happy with what they have. It’s not even a matter of the grass being greener on the other side, people complain about the paddocks they can’t even see.
I was just reading a photography article on the web and in the comments section someone said: ‘I love the way my lens draws…’. I’ve also read similar with words like: ‘I love the way my lens renders…’. Both of these terms are used quite frequently by some photographers and appear to be interchangeable when describing the supposed special quality of the owner’s lens/lenses. It never ceases to amuse me when I hear these descriptions of lenses, as if some lenses have a miraculous additional feature that defies general optics.
Earlier on, I mentioned that small size is not everything, or always the best thing, when it comes to m4/3 cameras and lenses, especially lenses. A few months ago, I did a favour for a friend that at the same time enabled me to do some aerial photography from a helicopter (Jayrow Helicopters), which I hadn’t done for some time. The job involved specialist equipment being lowered onto the rims of the Yallourn Power Station cooling towers by helicopter, so that maintenance work could be undertaken on the tower surfaces.
The interwebs are once again aflame (sarcasm alert) with a recent post on Digital Photography Review concerning digital camera ‘equivalence’ (no, I’m not going to provide a link, find it yourself). Ever since digital cameras were introduced, professional-amateur photographers (an oxymoron if ever there was one), have spent half their lives debating why one format is superior or inferior to another. Most of the mass debating is done by those who have the most extensive portfolio of duck photographs one can imagine.
Since my news photography days, I’ve tended to always carry one camera and appropriate lens wherever I go and I used to take just about my entire setup with me everywhere in the car, just in case something interesting happened. Then I became a bit more sensible and left just the E-P1 in the car as a permanent camera, but just about every time that I wanted to use it, the battery was dead.