When I first ventured into photography, I started out with a Nikon D5100. From there I upgraded to a D800 (thanks to winning a Photofocus contest on Twitter) and later a D750. Last year I made the tough decision to go mirrorless, ultimately purchasing a Panasonic Lumix GH5 and eventually, a G9.
Now I’ve made another switch. And it’s not because I was dissatisfied with my Lumix gear — quite the contrary, in fact. My Lumix system was awesome, and one of the best decisions I’ve made to switch to them.
But after a week of tough thinking, I’ve decided to switch camera systems yet again. And it’s all because of what’s fitting my personal needs best at this moment and for the foreseeable future.
Why I Went Mirrorless
I initially switched to the mirrorless micro four-thirds format that Panasonic provided for a multitude of reasons. The main one being I wanted to venture into video production. Over the past year, I used the GH5 and my G9 primarily for stills, only working on a handful of videos during that time.
As stills cameras, they were great. I can’t emphasize that enough. I was blown away by what I was able to get with the image quality and the fast autofocus. My initial worries about not being able to capture fast-moving theatre performances or sports were put at ease within days of picking up the GH5.
For me, I didn’t need a large, full-frame format for what I photographed for my clients. So switching to Panasonic’s Lumix system made total sense.
Why I’m Switching Again
To put it simply, this isn’t a decision I foresaw coming. I was very happy with my GH5 and G9 combo. But at WPPI, something interesting happened, and it made me re-evaluate where I was with the system.
I won an OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera.
Now, I know what you’re thinking — why not just sell off that camera and stick with my Panasonic Lumix system?
Well, as a curious photographer, I knew I needed to at least try out my winnings. It wasn’t just a camera after all — there was a lens included too. I knew at a minimum, I could keep the 12-40mm f/2.8 lens and use it.
But as I evaluated my new camera, there were a few things I realized. One, it created just as good, if not better images out of the box. The RAW files had something special about them, allowing me to better boost or tone down the shadows and highlights. Secondly, the white balance and color vibrancy were some of the best I’d seen of any camera I’ve used (including my old Nikons).
That’s not to say the Lumix output was bad — it was great! But for me, it came back to my initial decision a year ago, when I switched to mirrorless.
Time to Re-evaluate
One of the main reasons I went to the Lumix system was its amazing video capabilities. When I used it — whether it be handheld, on a tripod or a gimbal — I was super impressed. But I realized that I wasn’t taking anywhere near the full advantage to it, and I didn’t see myself doing so in the near future.
I had to go back to my roots and ultimately make my decision based off of one thing — still image quality and performance. I liked the micro four-thirds format, so I wasn’t even thinking about going back to full-frame. So when push came to shove, and I compared both my G9 and E-M1 Mark II, I found that for how I photograph, the Olympus fit me better.
Why am I telling you all of this? Simple — it’s not about what your camera’s capabilities are. It’s not whether you can get 60fps shooting instead of 40fps, or super high ISO levels. It’s not about in-body stabilization being the best in the industry.
Instead, it’s about what you do with your camera. How you use it, and how you utilize those features. Ultimately, I made my decision based off of what worked best for me.
I’ll forever be thankful for my time spent with Panasonic. While brief, it introduced me to the world of mirrorless and micro four-thirds. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I produced some amazing photographs with that system.
You can read article after article about how one camera system is better than another until you’re blue in the face. But it comes down to what you need and how you want to evolve as an artist. And for me, I believe that going with Olympus can help me achieve my goals.