Gear

In my experience and I think also for most, if not all photographers, gear choice is a long story. If you're here to know what I use now I'll get right to it, but these are my choices for what works for me right now. If you'd like to know why I use what I use and why I don't think that it really matters, you can continue reading after the list.

Camera

OM Systems OM-1

Lenses

OM System M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II

Olympus ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

Olympus ED 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 IS

Olympus ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro

Olympus MC-14 1.4x Telekonverter

Tripod

Leofoto - Poseidon Carbon Stativ LP-324C

Leofoto - Ranger Carbon Stativ LS-284CVL

Gitzo Systematic Series 2 - GT2542LOS

On my journey, I have used cameras from Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji and now OM Systems. This journey has taught me one very important lesson, design and ergonomics are as important in my choice of gear as technical specifications are. I've come to see that if I enjoy using a device, I will use it more. As most cameras, at least at the level that I am looking at have very good image quality, the ease of use becomes all the more important.

My love of photography started during a hike along the Pembrokeshire coastal path in 2011, the landscape was fascinating, and I took a lot of pictures, but I couldn't capture them in the way I wanted with the small 'point and shoot' and mobile phone I was using. Not wanting to miss these opportunities on the next hike, I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D5100.

I was very happy with this camera and the 2 lenses that I had with it if I remember correctly they were 18-55mm and 55-200mm. I took so many images with these, but I was eventually tempted away by the new Sony A7 full-frame mirrorless system.

I thought it would be lighter, it was advertised as such, but in hindsight, it really wasn't. Yes, the body was smaller than other full-frame cameras, but the lenses were a similar size to any fill frame system. Also looking back at it now I can say that a system change to full-frame wasn't technically required, I was far from being restricted by the capabilities of the Nikon 5100, but it did trigger something in me. There was something about the Sony system that just worked for me, in hindsight it was here design and ergonomics, it fit the way I wanted to take images at the time and I believe that it helped me to advance a lot quicker than I could have with the Nikon D5100.

There was a short interlude with the Olympus OMD-EM1 MKII as I was looking for something lighter than the Sony A7. I absolutely loved the EM1, the size, the ergonomics and the adaptability of the interface and buttons. Unfortunately, there was something about the image quality that I couldn't get to work for me. , I remained with the Sony A7 system for many years, all the way to the A7 mk3 as well as using an A6000 too.

In June 2018 I was invited to an event hosted by Fuji to show the GFX50s. From the very first moment I held this camera, it fit, it felt as if it belonged in my hand and it felt as if it was an extension of me, and the image quality was amazing. Although this was the case, I was still very happy with Sony and I felt that if I were to get another camera, the pixel shift on later Sony models would equal the image quality of the GFX50s. It would also be a larger financial investment.

Two months later I started to sell my Sony gear, starting with the objects that I rarely used or used just for landscape images and bought a GFX50s with a 32-64mm lens. I kept one Sony camera and the lens that I used most for wildlife images. I loved using this system and although there are limitations which I go into in several of my blog entries, the pros heavily outweighed the cons and it eventually completely replaced the Sony system. 

Sometime later and my photography style evolved further, the GFX system started to get cumbersome. I felt that I was missing images because I had to choose and restrict my lens choice because of the weight and in particular the size of the lenses. Even after I had to change to the GFX100s, something was no longer right.

Each system that I have used has been the right one for the time and has taught me something along the way.

Weight and portability have become more important. Being able to have a selection of lenses to cover my needs, in a weight class that doesn't break my back and a size that will fit into a backpack is a priority. I like to go out without a plan and be ready for what comes my way.

It was time for another change.

I was looking for something lighter especially on the lens side, small enough so that I could fit lenses that could cover macro to wildlife into a standard-sized photography backpack, and rugged enough to take out in all weathers.

After a lot of thought, my current system of choice is now the OM Systems OM-1.

The ergonomics are still as good as they were when I had the EM-1 mkIII and more importantly, the image quality is a lot better, at least it has lost the strange noise that annoyed me. The images from the Hi-Res mode are impressively close to the images I could get out of the GFX50s.

I don't think that this will be my last stop, but it is the right choice for me right now.

I've gone through the same experience with tripods, tripod heads, camera bags, outdoor gear, filters and everything else I use.

I'm not saying that learning from what other people use is not valuable, of course, it is, there is a reason that they chose their gear, but this is a personal choice based on their needs. Thinking that using the same gear as a photographer that you admire will make your images better, is wrong, it won't—being comfortable with the gear that you use will.

Unfortunately, I think that this lesson can't be taught, it's one that has to be experienced. As you learn more about photography and find your main area of interest, your equipment needs will change. What suits your needs when starting out, will be very different further down the line.

 

After my experience, the only advice of any value that I can give is

 

  • Get what feels right to you

  • Don't go for the cheaper option because it's the cheaper option

  • Remember the costs of lenses when considering a new system