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Mirrorless Madness Professional Cameras

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Back in April during our Maui photography workshop I did something a photographer should never do, I turned my back to the ocean while I adjusted my portable Hensel flash system for one of our photographers. Within seconds, the Pacific Ocean decided it would devour my Canon 5D Mark II digital camera with my Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens still attached.

It was a heartbreaking moment as that camera was given to me after I did five PowerPoint presentations in one weekend to help raise money for the ARC Foundation of Austin, a charity that helps children with special needs. The lens I had paid for is not cheap at f/1.2, and now it too was destroyed.

I looked over at my model muse and love, Heather Carden, shrugged my shoulders and said, "Things happen for a reason." She knows my driving force is my God and faith, so $5,000 of equipment down the drain wasn't going to bring me down. Now I think I've found the reason why planet Earth took my tools away from me, so I could think outside of the normal professional photographer's box.

And I mean this literally; I've shifted my thoughts from the bigger, bulkier, boxy and heavier DSLR's to the compact, lightweight, and just as professional mirrorless cameras. This weekend when my friend from Olympus, Steve Ball, sent me the Olympus OM-D, E-M1 mirrorless camera to try out for a few weeks along with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens, which in full-frame DSLR terms is actually a 150mm lens, Heather and I set out to do a "Fall Fashion" photo series.

I just started trying out this system, and I still have three other lenses to try out including the 75mm – 300mm zoom lens that has an equivalent of a 150-600mm DSLR full-frame lens. During my shoot, I actually was able to put that lens in my jeans front pocket, now try that with a DSLR 600mm lens.

So look for a future review article on this new Olympus system here. I want to test this camera and the lenses very thoroughly before I give my final verdict, but I will give you a bit of a spoiler alert, so far it's not only impressed me, but my muse too.

In fact, the few photos you see here were from about 50 photos Heather and I created in about an hour this weekend and when we downloaded the images in Adobe Lightroom, she starred (she's read my number one viewed article, "Editing Photos vs. Photo Editing, Know the Difference," on LensDiaries.com.) almost every image and stated, "With your Canon system, I usually star just a few and with this camera, I like almost every photo, unbelievable."

I don't like making rushed decisions, so I'm still doing research, not just physically testing this Olympus digital camera system. One thing I've noticed is a paradigm shift throughout the Internet of professional photographers moving from bulky-mirrored camera systems to the new mirrorless digital cameras. If you search Google, you'll find DSLR vs. mirrorless cameras debates all day long, but the shift is real.

As an example, after posting a few of these new photos on my personal Facebook account, two photographers, Michael Dean from Pennsylvania and Darwin Young from Georgia, both revealed they dumped their Canon photography gear then took the money of their used equipment sales and did a complete switch to the Olympus system with money left to spare. Darwin actually took his money and purchased a Corvette Z06, then invested a small amount into the Olympus system. These were unsolicited testimonials.

According to the photo industry, DSLR's currently outsell CSC's, one of the acronyms given to these compact mirrorless cameras. The photo industry points at many factors including how Canon and Nikon, the two big dogs in the DSLR market, have been slow to adopt and expand this system, unlike Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic and Sony. The industry noted that consumers purchase DSLR's because they are labeled "Pro" more than CSC's, which is merely a perception issue and has nothing to do with the quality of the products or the results they produce.

Well I'm here to tell you, the Olympus system does everything you can imagine, from auto-ISO to face recognition with focus tracking—it's a professional system and with their new M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens just being introduced, what part of "Pro" can you miss?

Ironically, at the same Maui photography workshop where I lost my Canon system, Todd Mizomi, professional photographer, photographed our models about 95% of the time with his Sony mirrorless system. I really don't remember which Sony camera he had, but I do remember it had a fixed 24-200mm F/2.8 lens and sync'd with flash at up to 1/1000th shutter speed.

For outdoor shooting where you have to fight the Sunny 16 rule, especially if you want to overpower the sun with flash and use a low aperture, I was impressed that Todd's little camera could outshoot my Canon 5D Mark II in that type of situation. The Olympus system I'm using, with their flash, will sync up to 1/8000th, though I don't have that flash to try it out yet, I'm sure I will eventually have the opportunity and can't wait.

Even more ironic, when the Pacific Ocean swallowed my Canon system, Todd broke out his other equipment case that contained a Canon 5D Mark II and a 5D Mark III plus practically every lens Canon manufactures, even the 85mm f/1.2, and he offered me to use his systems until the workshop ended because he really wasn't using them.

While I felt a bit like a charity case, Todd's hospitality impressed me in another way. Here's a top Maui photographer with a massive professional Canon system, and he instead chooses a mirrorless (CSC) system for his shoots. That spoke volumes.

I have some upcoming photography workshops and I might just have that Olympus digital camera system in my hands, so if you decide to attend, I'll let you see it and try it with your own eyes and hands. With that I close and as always I ask you to not forget the men and women who serve in our armed forces to protect our freedoms, God Bless them, their family and friends, Rolando.

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—The JPG team

8 responses

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (18 Oct 2014):

    Spectacular shots........and narration.......... vote

  • Rafa's Photo Art

    Rafa's Photo Art said (18 Oct 2014):

    Excellent my friend ! as always !!!!!


  • Tom Piorkowski

    Tom Piorkowski (Deleted) said (18 Oct 2014):

    Nice write-up, I too went from a Nikon DSLR to a Fuji XT-1, never looking back,

  • JPG

    JPG gave props (19 Oct 2014):

    Congrats on having the Story of the Week!

  • Rolando Gomez

    Rolando Gomez   said (19 Oct 2014):

    Thank you and thanks everyone! I hope everyone enjoys this article, comes from my heart!

  • A Lan

    A Lan said (20 Oct 2014):

    You forgot to mention the excellent 25(50)mm 1.4 and 42.5(85)mm 1.2 Leica lenses from Lumix. Use them along with an Olympus 12(24)mm lens on an OM-D, E-M5 and all my gear plus strobe and LED light fits in the smallest Loewe Pro sling bag.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (24 Oct 2014):

    Congrats on making Story of the Week!

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