In the beginning
I love my trusty old 7D. It’s a simple, solidly built, no frills camera. However, I didn’t care much for my old Tamron 17-50 2.8. It’s a great lens at F4, but falls apart at 2.8. The AF becomes very unreliable. I’ve lost several triple A images to unbearable backfocus. But it is reasonably sharp at 2.8, except for the left half which is soft due to centering issues. Of course these issues were on my particular copy of the lens, but every review on webs seem to complain about AF.
So I sold my 7D and my few lenses to get a micro four thirds system. Everyone and their uncles are talking about mirrorless and I was inspired by Jason Laniers style to shoot from the back of the camera, rather than trough the VF. So I picked the Olympus EP5, it was on sale and lack of VF felt like the true mirrorless future. To compensate for the smaller sensor, I ordered the 25mm and 45mm F1.8 primes and a bit later added a Samyang 12mm F2.
Its a great system. In single focus mode it nails the focus every time and the focus is fast, even on the lower end lenses. It produces excellent images. 5- axis image stabilization is like magic and the files are more flexible in editing. Even if the EP5 was no longer the flagship of the PEN line, it sure was a more modern and better camera than my trusty old 7D. On paper that is. I felt uncomfortable and couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.
Beginning of the end
I guess the PEN awesomeness began to break down on a portrait shoot I did with it. The display on the back of the camera sure is small, even when held fairly close to my face. It’s no smaller than most displays on other cameras but compared to a VF it’s small. So shooting from the back of the camera suddenly didn’t seem as convenient. I had trouble reading peoples expressions on their faces and taking reaction shots. I don’t know if it was shutter lag or display lag, but I felt a tad late on most candid reaction shots. And after that initial shot I loose track of whats going on, possibly due to a combination of black out and display size. I tried to look past the camera to see the action but then my composition slips. Swapping out the lenses was also tedious. I was shuffling with three lenses and often going for one lens, when the situation suddenly called for another. The couple had an hour and there were kids present as well, so it was a fairly challenging for my kit which favored well planned and controlled situations. Battery life was always a concern, but it’s made worse by a completely consumer grade design decision to only popup the battery indicator when the battery is nearing empty. There’s even a menu option to adjust when the battery indicator shows up, but no real way of telling what the charge is or how long it will last. Olympus needs to take a look at Fuji’s XPRO, and bump up the PEN flagship.
And back I went
I was looking at the optional VF for the EP5, but it’s kind of pricey. I could have also swap the EP5 for something in the EM range, but spending more money on a system I had lost confidence with didn’t feel right. I would have needed a zoom lens also, as I found the range of prime lenses clumsy for some of my work. Suddenly I’m looking at trading most of the setup to a more old school direction. So I packed up my MFT gear and ordered another 7D, not mark II, mind you. I spent the rebate value on a EF-S 17-55/2.8 IS USM. Lenses are forever, bodies get replaced all the time. And I wasn’t going to get another Tamron.