Olympus OMD EM-5 Camera System

The Olympus OMD EM-5 Camera   (15.3 ounces)

I’ve been using an Olympus PEN E-P2 camera for several years now.  It’s a micro 4/3 system camera that accepts interchangeable lenses.  The sensor is half the size of a full frame sensor, so the “crop factor” provides the field of view equivalent to that of a lens twice length.  (For example, a 12mm lens on a micro 4/3 camera gives the same field of view as a 24mm lens on a full frame dSLR or traditional 35mm film camera.)

The micro 4/3 system provides a great combination of excellent image quality, flexibility of interchangeable lenses, and compact size.

(Left to Right, Front Row) 20mm; 12mm; 45mm; 14-42mm; 9-18mm; 7-14mm; 12-50mm; 25mm. (Back Row:) OMD EM-5; 85mm; 135mm; 50-200mm; 85-300mm

Although I’ve been very happy with the Olympus PEN E-P2 camera I’ve been using, (see  my PEN E-P2 thoughts HERE) I was so impressed with the specifications and early buzz about the new OMD E-5 that I pre-ordered it as soon as it became available.  After months of waiting, B&H Photo finally delivered it to me.

I’ve had an Olympus OMD-E-5 camera for a few weeks now.  I’ve been shooting with it just about every day.  So far, I love almost everything about this camera.

Build quality is excellent.  The magnesium body has appropriate heft, without being too heavy (15.3 ounces.)  Fit and finish are  terrific, and the weather sealed body has the feel of a precision instrument.  It’s a good looking camera too, with a design very similar to that of the classic OM-4T film camera that I have always admired.

Ergonomics are likewise excellent, and the camera has a well-placed thumb rest that helps in holding the camera.  Knobs and buttons are well placed and for the most part are easy to manipulate.   I really like the tilting screen on the back.  I can take pictures at odd angles and tilt the screen so that I can compose the shot without having to be directly behind the camera.  The buttons and options are configurable, so I can program the buttons and controls to fit my shooting style.  You really get the feeling that the engineers that designed this camera were also serious photography enthusiasts.  Everything about it seems designed to allow you to just take pictures instead of fiddling with the camera.
Some people have complained about the placement of the on/off switch (on the back of the camera in the bottom right corner.  I think the placement is great.  It’s out of the way where it is. I like having only shooting controls on the top plate. Some other folks have complained about the “mushy” feel of the buttons.  The button feel doesn’t bug me either. I can tell by touch when I’ve depressed a button, even when wearing thin gloves. That’s really all I care about.

Although the camera’s features are very configurable, the instruction manual that comes with the camera isn’t that great, and a lot of the camera’s features are hidden deep in the rather complex menu system.  I would highly recommend any user of the OMD EM-5 read this article that explains some of the features of the OMD that are not readily apparent by reading the instruction manual.  There is another excellent blog HERE that addresses set up of your OMD EM-5 and many other issues.

The back LCD screen is bright and easy to see, and with the touch-screen functionality, you can manipulate camera settings from the screen.  You can also set the camera to take pictures when you touch the screen, with the auto-focus targeted on the area that you touch.  This can be a very useful feature when you have a “target rich” environment and you want to make sure the camera focuses on the right subject.

Speaking of auto-focus, it’s really fast and accurate, even in low light conditions.  I haven’t used any pro-level dSLR cameras, but the auto-focus on the OMD is very fast and acquires targets faster than any other camera I’ve ever used.  It’s going to be great for taking action shots of skiing next winter.

The built-in viewfinder is one of the major features that sets this camera apart from the PEN E-P2 camera that I’ve been using.  The PEN has an accessory view finder that mounts on the hot shoe, but the OMD’s finder is integrated into the camera.  This is great because I prefer to compose my photos using a viewfinder, and having a viewfinder is especially useful in high-glare environments such as snowfields, where the glare tends to render the rear LCD screen hard to use.   I’ve found the viewfinder to be very high quality.  It’s bright, with good detail.  One very nice feature is that the viewfinder can be set up to show areas that are going to be beyond the dynamic range of the sensor.  With this option turned on, any areas that are too bright or too dark are highlighted in red or blue in the display.  This gives you a great tool for keeping your exposure within the boundaries you want.

One of the truly outstanding features of the camera is the image stabilization capability.  It has a new image stabilization technology that is extremely effective at limiting camera shake.   I’ve hand-held shots at one tenth of a second with no discernible fuzziness from camera shake.

Image quality is excellent.  I was pretty happy with the image quality coming out of my E-P2, and the OMD has raised the bar significantly from the level of the E-P2.  Colors are rendered very well, and I’ve seen minimal noise or other distractions even in less than perfect lighting.

One of the things that surprised me about this camera is how small it is.  I thought it would be bigger than the PEN E-P2 I’ve been using.  In fact, it’s virtually the same size.  Slightly taller because of the viewfinder hump, but otherwise the same form factor.   This means I can use the same small camera cases and other carrying options that I’ve come to rely on for the E-P2.  As with the E-P2, my cases of choice for the OMD are from the Optech Digital D series.  I use the Optech Digital D Compact, the Digital D Shortie, or the Digital D M-4/3 depending on which lens I have mounted on the camera.  The Compact works well for most of the smaller primes, the M-4/3 works well with the larger zooms, and the Shortie works well for the middle sized lenses.

OMD on top, E-P2 on bottom

OMD on left, E-P2 on right

For carrying the camera body and three prime lenses (12mm, 20mm, and 45mm) the entire kit fits nicely into the Moutainsmith small zoom case, with room for a few extra accessories.  I can easily attach this camera case to the shoulder strap of my back pack using lightweight carabiners.  It stays out of the way when not in use, and is quickly accessible when I want to shoot.

Mountainsmith Small Zoom case clipped to pack strap

Excellent way to carry micro 4/3 camera and 3 lenses without interfering with your activities

I’ve got a bunch of other cases as well, but when I’m  trying to keep the weight and volume down, I try to keep my gear limited to what will fit in this Mountainsmith small zoom case.  For carrying more stuff, there are a lot of options, including the Mountainsmith medium zoom case which allows you to carry the larger zoom lenses in much the same manner as the small zoom case (albeit with a bit more bulk and weight.)   For my purposes, I find that the OMD body with the three primes (12mm, 20mm, and 45mm) pretty much covers all the bases I need when I’m in the backcountry.  Occasionally, I will take a 9-18 zoom and the 45mm prime as a change of pace, but the three prime combination in the Mountainsmith small zoom case is my go-to backcountry kit.  There is a short Youtube video clip of the Mountainsmith case and the three lenses I usually take with me HERE where you can get a better feel for the size of the case and how it works.   The Clik Elite Infinity Case is similar to the Mountainsmith small zoom case.  It provides a bit more room than the Mountainsmith, and allows a bit more flexibility about which lenses you bring.   It’s slowly replacing my Mountainsmith as my backcountry case of choice, particularly if I want to bring a zoom lens instead of one of the primes.


Over the years, I’ve accumulated a number of lenses that I use with my E-P2 (and now OMD) cameras.    Here are the lenses I use with this system along with my thoughts on using them.

Native Micro 4/3 lenses:
7-14mm f: 4.  Panasonic   (11.1 ounces)
12mm f: 2   Olympus  (5.4 ounces)
12-50mm f: 3.5-6.3 Olympus (macro)   (8.5 ounces)
9-18mm f: 4-5.6 Olympus   (6.4 ounces)
20mm f: 1.7 Panasonic  (4.3 ounces)
25mm f: 0.95 Voightlander (manual focus)   (16.3 ounces)
14-42mm f: 3.5-5.6  Olympus  (4.3 ounces)
45mm f: 1.8 Olympus  (4.7 ounces)


Non Micro 4/3 lenses used with adaptor (all weights include the weight of the adapter:)
85mm f: 1.2L Canon FD (27.7 ounces)
135mm f: 2.8 Canon FD (17 ounces)
50-200 f: 2.8-3.5 Olympus 4/3 (47.7 ounces) (2 pounds, 17.7 ounces)
80-200 f: 4L Canon FD (28.7 ounces) (1 pound, 12.7 ounces)
85-300 f: 4.5 Canon FD (68.7 ounces) (4 pounds, 4.7 ounces.)
Canon FD are used with a Novoflex adapter and are manual focus, the Olympus 4/3 lens uses an Olympus adapter and keeps automatic aperture and auto focus capability. (although auto-focus doesn’t work very well.)

The Panasonic 7-14mm f:4  is a big lens.  It’s heavy and is pretty long and bulky compared with the primes or the compact Olympus 9-18.  However, I really like the extra angle of view and perspective of the ultra wide lens when it’s at 7mm. This isn’t really a good backcountry lens for going light and fast, but when weight and space don’t matter, this is my wide of choice.

Panasonic 7-14 at 7mm

The other two wide angle lenses in my arsenal, the Olympus 12mm f: 2  and the Olympus  9-18mm f: 4-5.6  zoom are much much smaller than the Panasonic 7-14. The 12 is a good lens, and is very sharp and very compact. For some reason, however, at the wide end, I find myself wanting zoom capability quite regularly, so I often will opt for a wide zoom instead of the 12mm prime.  The Olympus 9-18 zoom is very compact, and it’s what I take if I want a wide zoom and need to save weight/space.  When I compare the size of the Olympus 9-18 with the size of the Panasonic 7-14, I have to marvel at the design and engineering that allowed Olympus to make a wide zoom in such a tiny package.   All three of these lenses are high quality, and I have been pleased with sharpness and other characteristics of all of them.   If I had to pick just one of them, I’d probably go with the Olympus 9-18.  I like the versatility of the zoom, and the lens manages to be compact and still produce reasonably sharp images.

Olympus 9-18mm

The Olympus 12mm is pretty sharp edge to edge

The lenses I tend to use the most are the Panasonic 20mm f: 1.7 and the Olympus 45mm f: 1.8  These lenses are compact, sharp, and give me great results.  Most of the time, when I go out, I’ve got one or the other of these lenses on my camera.  The Panasonic 20mm is a truly tiny “pancake” lens that takes great pictures.  I pretty much always take it with me even when I’m planning on using other lenses because it’s so small that I can tuck it away into a very small space.  I’ve found that when I’m packing my kit, there’s always room for the 20mm.    The 20mm length is a great “standard” length, equivalent to a 40mm lens on full frame.  I really like this length, as I’ve always thought that the “standard” 50mm lens on a full frame was just a tad long.  The decently fast 1.7 f-stop allows for pretty good low-light performance, especially when coupled with the excellent image stabilzation of the Olympus OMD.    If I could only own a single lens for my entire micro 4/3 system, the Panasonic 20mm would be my choice.

Panasonic 20mm

Even though the 20mm is probably the most useful, the Olympus 45mm is probably my favorite lens that I own.  For some reason, it seems that my favorite photos are often taken with this lens.  That may be because this lens is truly tack sharp.  Detail and sharpness are truly excellent, especially in such a compact little package.

The 45mm is a super sharp lens

Although I generally associate wide angle lenses with landscape photography, the effective length of 90mm of this lens has proven to be good for landscape shots, particularly when I want to tie together objects in the foreground with dramatic scenery in the background.  The 45mm has become one of my “must bring” lenses whenever I’m deciding what to pack.

45mm as a landscape lens

Multi-Purpose “kit” zooms

Olympus makes two multi-purpose kit zooms for their micro 4/3 system cameras.  The entry level option is the 14-42mm f: 3.5-5.6 zoom.  The higher end option is the 12-50mm f: 3.5-6.3 zoom.   The 14-42 is a decent lens and is pretty inexpensive.  Although kit lenses are generally looked upon with disdain, this lens is actually not a bad option for a single lens kit.  It’s reasonably sharp, compact, and takes pretty good pictures.  In spite of the fact that I have so many other (more expensive) lenses for my system, I still find myself using this lens when I just want to mount one lens on the camera and not have to worry about switching lenses.  For me, it makes a good “tourist” lens for times when I just want photography to be as simple as possible.

14-42 makes a good “tourist” lens

The Olympus 12-50mm has received generally luke-warm or negative reviews, but I haven’t found it to be all that bad.  My biggest complaint about this lens is its size.  Its pretty big and unwieldy, especially compared with the 14-42 which covers very close to the same zoom range.  In terms of performance, the 12-50 is not as sharp as some of the other options, but it’s generally been adequate for my needs.  A couple of the things I really like about this lens (besides the very broad zoom range) is the fact that the lens is weather sealed.  This makes it a good combination with the weather sealed OMD body for shooting in foul conditions.  The other thing I like about this lens is its macro capability.  For a kit lens, it has a decent macro function.

Olympus 12-50mm in Macro Mode


12-50mm Lens

 Manual Focus Lenses

There are three manual focus lenses that I use regularly with my micro 4/3 system:  The Voightlander 25mm f: 0.95, the Canon FD 85mm f: 1.2L, and the Canon FD 135mm f: 2.8

Manual focus with the Olympus OMD is not too hard.  There’s no rangefinder prism or “focus peaking” feature on the OMD, but the viewfinder is clear enough to focus pretty accurately.  Additionally, a touch of a button allows for viewfinder magnification to help in fine-tuning the focus.   Although the magnification will go to 10x, I’ve found that 5x magnification is the best setting for me.  Some folks complain about the difficulties of using manual focus with the OMD, but I  used manual focus exclusively on my film cameras for 30 years, so I’m pretty used to it and can generally capture my subject, even when it’s in motion.

The Voightlander 25mm f: 0.95 lens is somewhat specialized.  Although it’s a new lens, specifically designed for the micro 4/3 format, it’s manual focus only and has no communication with the camera’s electronics.  It’s made completely of metal and glass, and is pretty big and heavy as a result.  However, it has a solid, quality feel, with a silky-smooth focusing action, and f-stop adjustments that click into place with a satisfying tactile feel that speaks of old-school quality.  This lens’ unique feature is its incredibly wide 0.95 maximum aperture.  This allows it to be used in very low light situations, particularly when paired with the OMD’s exceptional image stabilization.  Wide open, it’s a little soft, but pleasing.  With such a wide aperture, the lens can have a shallow depth of field, even though it has a fairly short 25mm focal length.  Overall, I tend to use it mostly for portraits.  I’ve never used it for backpacking or climbing.  I suppose it would be good for evenings around the campfire and the like.  Perhaps I will take it out into the backcountry a bit more in the future, at least on trips where weight doesn’t matter as much.

Even in the light of a single, weak light bulb, at f: 0.95, the Voightlander allows you to keep shooting.

Back in my film camera days when I was shooting with the Canon F1 body, the legendary Canon FD 85mm f:1.2L was one of my favorite lenses.  It has excellent sharpness even wide open, and the wide 1.2 aperture gives it impressive low-light capability.  I was really happy when I figured out that I could mount an adapter on this lens and use it with my digital micro 4/3 camera bodies.  On the micro 4/3 sensor, this lens has an effective length of 170mm, so it’s a medium/long telephoto.  It’s a bit big and heavy for a general purpose backcountry lens, but what I use it for mostly is indoor event photography.  It’s particularly useful for taking pictures at various plays and musical performances, where I have to make use of available light and I’m sitting back a ways from the stage.

Canon 85mm f: 1.2L makes a good event lens

The Canon 135mm is a great street photography lens for the kind of street shooting I do. I tend to keep my distance from my subjects, and the 135mm acts like a 270mm telephoto when paired with the Micro 4/3 sensor.  This gives me plenty of reach for taking “people pictures” without getting too close.  As a bonus, this lens is pretty compact and has decent brightness (f: 2.8.)  I’ve found it to be sharp as well.  It’s also very inexpensive to buy one used.  (I’ve seen them in excellent condition selling for less than $80.)  This is my go-to telephoto lens for street photography.

135mm allows for up-close pictures from far away

Big Zoom Lenses

The Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD is part of the Olympus 4/3 line developed for use with their 4/3 format dSLR cameras.  It’s a pro-grade lens, and has weatherproof construction.  The Olympus MMF-3 adapter is used to adapt the lens to the OMD body, and has weather sealing to preserve the weatherproof nature of the lens, which combined with the OMD makes a completely weatherproof system.

The 50-200 is a large lens, and pretty much dwarfs the diminutive OMD body.  However, considering the relatively large maximum aperture and the effective maximum focal length of 400mm on a micro 4/3 sensor, it’s not outrageously huge.  (Although when the lens zooms out in use, it gets a lot bigger than when “at rest.”)  For wildlife and bird photography, sports, or any time when you need to “reach out and touch someone,” this lens is a good super-telephoto option.   However, I have one serious complaint about this lens.  Autofocus sucks.  I don’t know how it functions on an SLR body, but on my OMD EM-5, the autofocus is close to useless, even in decent light.  It takes forever to get a lock, and hunts back and forth for a long time.  It often can’t get a lock at all.   Because of this, I typically just use manual focus.   I’ve found that my success rate when focusing manually is many times higher than my success rate when relying on the lens’ autofocus mechanism.

Olympus 50-200mm lens

Canon FD 80-200mm f:4L and Olympus 50-200 f:2.8-3.5

The Canon FD 80-200 f:4L is a legacy, manual focus zoom lens that is part of Canon’s well respected “L” range.  It has excellent optical qualities, and is wonderfully sharp across  its focal range.  It is substantially lighter and less bulky than the Olympus 50-200mm, and therefore is a lot easier to pack and carry.  I take this lens along when I need a longer telephoto zoom, but I need to carry other lenses too, so the bulk and weight of the Olympus 50-200 is prohibitive.  The Olympus has a larger aperture than the Canon, but the constant f:4 aperture is fine for most daylight situations, and the lens is sharp even wide open.  One negative when using this lens (or any legacy zoom lens) with the OMD is that the image stabilization doesn’t work well and needs to be turned off.  This is because the image stabilization needs to factor in focal length of the lens in order to work correctly. However, with a legacy zoom, the camera body can’t communicate with the lens to ascertain the focal length, and (because it changes as you zoom in and out) you can’t manually set the focal length as you can with a fixed focal length lens.  I haven’t found this to be much of an issue, and I tend to get good results without image stabilization.

Taken with Canon 80-200mm f:4L

For times when 200mm just isn’t enough, I’ve got the (monstrously big and heavy) Canon FD 85-300mm f: 4.5 lens.  On the OMD, this lens has an effective length of 600mm, making it just about as long as I think I will ever need.  It’s so long, big, and heavy, that I seldom use it.  It’s probably my least utilized lens, but when you really need a super long lens, it definitely gets the job done.

I hauled the 85-300 lens to the top of the Tour Ronde to get this photo of the Kuffner Ridge on neighboring Mont Maudit (Canon F1, 35mm Kodachrome)  I think this was the last time I ever took this 4+ pound lens climbing.


Sometimes, the little things can make a big difference in how easy it is to use a camera.  One of these little things is the lens cap.  I don’t like using the standard lens caps because I tend to drop and/or lose them.  Particularly when wearing gloves, I hate having to figure out a safe place to put the lens cap when I’m shooting.   So, I tend to replace my stock lens caps with caps that have keepers on them.  I attach the keeper cord to the camera by means of a double sided clip, and I’m good.  With the keeper attached, I can just take the lens cap off, and let it dangle, not having to worry about dropping or losing it.  The best aftermarket lens caps I’ve found are from Fotodiox.

Fotodiox lens keeper and keychain clip

The best lens cases I’ve found have been relatively inexpensive neoprene cases.  They don’t add much bulk, but they protect the lens from banging around.  There are tons of them on eBay.  Here’s a picture of the ones I like the best:

Simple neoprene lens cases



31 thoughts on “Olympus OMD EM-5 Camera System

  1. An interesting article, thanks!
    I’ve been using Olympus DSLR’s for some years but recently I added a Pana GX1 to my collection. I’m doing alot of wildlife- and landscape photography and my main lense is the 50-200. I’m also using the 12-60 for landscapes. Now looking for a real sharp wide angle for the GX1 I can’t decide if I should choose the 7-14, the 12 or maybe the 9-18… It would need to be at least as good as the 12-60 at 12mm but I have no problem with stopping down some steps to achieve this. Do you think that the 9-18 would be good enough?

  2. I think that the 9-18 would be good enough. To me, it’s a pretty sharp lens. It does have some degradation as you move towards the edges, but not enough to bother me, particularly because I’m mostly using it for landscapes, and you’re not seeing a ton of super high-definition features simply because of the distance I am from the subject. The 12mm prime is definitely sharper, but I don’t really notice this difference in 95% of the photos I take. If you’re constantly taking photos where sharpness at the edges of the frame is really important, then the 12mm might be a better choice, as it performs a bit better on the edges.

    However, “sharp enough” means different things to different people. To help you make a decision, I went through my photos that I’ve taken with the 9-18 and selected photos that were taken at the wider edge of the spectrum that have enough detail across the frame that you can take a look at the centers and edges for yourself. I have uploaded the photos here:


    The files are pretty big, so they may take a while to load. Numbers 1-21 were taken with the 9-18. Number 22 was taken with the Olympus 12mm prime lens.

    This photo: http://larsonweb.com/918/21.jpg is actually a test shot I took a while back with the 9-18 lens at 12mm, specifically to check sharpness and compare it to the 12mm prime. To me, this photo confirms that the lens can be pretty sharp at 12mm, but again, everyone has differing ideas about what “sharp” really means.

    To compare, I’ve uploaded a similar test photo taken with the 12mm. It’s called 22.jpg It’s slightly sharper, particularly at the edges, but the real life difference between the 9-18 at 12mm and the 12mm prime is so small that I doubt you could tell the difference most of the time in real life conditions.

    Hope this helps.

      • Hi Kai,
        I just read a review of the EM5 stating that “To get the most out of this camera you should shoot raw”. Does this mean that jpeg’s are not that good?


        • The JPEGS are good. I like how the Olympus jpeg engine renders the jpegs out of the camera. However, with any camera, shooting RAW gives you more to work with if you plan on messing with the image in Lightroom or Photoshop. There’s more information in the highlights. There’s more information in the shadows. There’s just a lot more flexibility to tweak things in post processing if you’re shooting in RAW. I typically shoot at a setting that captures both the RAW image and the JPEG. Often, I’m perfectly happy with the out of camera JPEG. However, if I want to mess with the image in Lightroom a bit, then I typically use the RAW file to do this. I think you could be perfectly happy to shoot with JPEGs most of the time. The camera’s JPEG software is actually pretty good. I’d say that it is better than that on the Fuji X-100, particularly when it comes to accurately rendering white balance and color temps.

  3. Kai,

    Thanks so much for your outline of “accessories” here.

    I found the lens pouches you use on eBay – very useful to not have to negotiate with draw strings.

    I have spent an enormous amount of time researching bags for my new silver OM-D. Like you, I bought the Oly 45 and 12, and Pana 20.

    I picked up a blue Artisan & Artist 3000 today. I am almost embarrassed at how much time I have spent looking at bags. I hate the look of the Billinghams and Domkes. But of course “out there” in the elements I have different needs, ie small, light and technical. So I *really* appreciate your recommendation as to the “Mountainsmith small zoom case”. This is such a time saver. Done. Ordered it.

    How I found your blog was that I was just placing an order with B&H and I wanted to check if anyone was also using the “Optech Digital D Compact” with an OM-D and, again, your advice in relation to the other two is really helpful. I’ll buy all three.

    One more thing. The “set up” articles you refer to are also appreciated. I had an OM2 and two OM3s, back in the day, and this is my first foray into digital, needless to say that the software is pretty exhausting to get on top of.

    Thanks for an interesting piece.


  4. PS. The reason I never upgraded to the OM4, was that it was full of electronics. Whereas the OM2 you could through it in the river and it would still work. Altitude, cold, dampness, no problem. OM-D? Scary.

    • I know how you feel regarding electronics. I’d rather not rely on electronics either, but it’s a necessary evil that comes with the digital territory I suppose. That said, I’ve been surprised by the robust nature of many of the digitals I’ve used. I’m pretty hard on my equipment, and other than the Ricoh GR1D, I haven’t had any of my digital cameras actually break on me in normal use. However, I have had lots of batteries fail at inopportune moments. That’s one area where the old film cameras were clearly superior. Those old cameras used so little energy that their batteries lasted forever, and provided you had the right camera, you could keep shooting even without a battery.

      I shoot mostly digital now, but I still use my F1 occasionally, particularly for shooting black and white.

    • Back in the day ( OM4 era) electronics were still not reliable, today it’s a different story. My OMD’s have been fine even when sprayed with water and dropped in snow. No failures. Modern electronics are extremely reliable. You shouldn’t attach old skool thinking to modern products unless you have reason to do so from experience in the field.
      And OMD’s are pretty water resistant. I’m regularly in the rain or at the beach with sea spray and waves. Like I said no problems yet on location. Olympus made a great travel camera.

  5. What a nice collection you have, I’m very impressed!!!

    I have the 9-18mm for panoramas but everytime I go for a walk I found myself wanting to shoot macros too… so I was thinking to buy the 12-50mm: it still gives me a nice wide angle (most of the landscapes I shoot are between 10-14mm) and the oportunity to go into macro mode without having to change the lens on the field.

    My concern is about how real are those 12mm from the 12-50mm as I have read some reviews saying the distortion at that length is big so after the correction there is the chance the 12 cropped becomes a 13 or even 14.

    I have no way to check that myself as I dont know anybody to test the 12.50mm but after reading your post I thought that maybe you can help me with an example of the 12-50mm at its widest vs the 12mm coverage.

    Thanks and congratulations for your reviews!!!

  6. Hi Kai

    Just come across your great article. I have lost several Olympus lens caps recently and it’s relatively expensive and inconvenient to keep replacing them. Please could you tell me where you buy the double sided clips from, as I’ve been looking for some without any success so far.

    Many thanks

  7. Nice article. The Panasonic 20mm has a 46mm thread and the smallest Fotodiox cap is 49mm. Where did you get that cap with the cap keeper in that size?

  8. Kai, I really enjoyed your article and appreciate all the info! I’m interested in the OMD EM- 5 and have been reading everything I can find for several months. The only thing that deters me is I keep reading how difficult and counter intuitive the setup and menu is and also how useless the manual is. I shot film for most of my life and the switch to digital has not been easy for me. I shoot with a Leica Digilux 2 and 3 because of how film like they are in their controls, but really need a lighter and more portable system. I was so happy when I saw your two links, but discovered that this one doesn’t work – “There is another excellent article HERE that addresses set up of your OMD EM-5.” Do you know of any other helpful links for people that aren’t quite so digital savvy? Thanks so much!

    • I fixed the broken link.

      I’ve got my OMD set up exactly like I want it. You can customize the interface just about any way you like. The manual is bad. However, there’s enough information on the web to make up for that.

      The OMD is a truly terrific camera. I’ve used if for everything from backcountry photos to shooting weddings. It really does everything really well.

  9. Hi Kai, thanks for your article and appreciate all the information as well. I just have one question in relation to the lenses. I have an OMD em5 and somewhat naively just bought a Olympus 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 lens however have found I need an adapter, is the mmf-3 adapter as mentioned in your article the correct one to purchase?
    thanks so much

    • That is the correct adapter. However, auto-focus with non micro4/3 lenses tends to be slow, so you will likely see slower autofocus performance than you would on a native micro4/3 lens. If you can, I would consider returning the lens you have and replace it with the native micro4/3 lens equivalent.

  10. Hi Kai, I have some magnificent original Zuiko lenses for the good old OM, among them the 400mm/F6.3, the 300mm/F4.5, and 1.4x teleconverter (very very good, but also very expensive). I’m thinking of replacing my old OM4 bodies for an OM-D, but want to keep the above mentioned telelenses (for wildlife photography). I have read and heard that the OM-D has a magnification in the viewfinder, but what about darkness? Suppose I mount my 400mm together with the 1.4x converter (together a 550mm/F8) on an OM-D, won’t the viewfinder be too dark too focus anyway, including manual focus?

    Here are some pictures I shot with the OM-4 and the 400mm F6.3:


    Kind regards,


    • The OMD does have magnification. It works quite well. I have one of my buttons set up to magnify when pressed. Press to magnify, press again to zoom back out.

      Your concern about the viewfinder being to dark with a small aperture is not really an issue. If the scene is bright enough for you to take a decent picture, then it will be plenty bright enough to focus in the viewfinder. If there is not enough available light to focus, it’s probably so dark that you’re going to have difficulty taking a decent photo anyway. This is really no different than your film OM camera. With a lens/converter combo with a max aperture at F8, the viewfinder is going to be somewhat dark in low light conditions. But, if you’re able to use the F8 lens on the OM film camera, then you will be able to use it on the OMD.

      I take photos with legacy lenses at smaller apertures on a regular basis. Have never had any issues focusing provided there was enough light to see my subject easily.

  11. Hi Kai, many thanks for your reply. With my old OM4 I used a special focusing screen, full matte (which is recommended for long telelenses), ‘Normal’ focusing screens tend to turn black in the center with long telelenses. This does not happen with the focusing screen in an OM-D? Or does it have interchangeable focusing screens like the OM-4?

    Your answer thus far sounds encouraging though! Would love to be able to replace the OM-4 with this OM-D.

    Kind regards,


    • I have not seen this center darkening with the OMD, even with my 300mm zoom. (Probably because it doesn’t use prisms to indicate focus like the typical film camera focusing screen.)

      The OMD does not use interchangeable focusing screens.

  12. Hi Kai,
    Wonderful article. I’m still in the honeymoon phase with the EM5 and so still reading about it for enjoyment.
    For people who are a bit overwhelmed by the menu system on the camera, it really is quite intuitive, once you realise it’s just a matter of navigating up, down and across and selecting. Some of the options have to be turned on first, but a good look via google will give plenty of tips. Another option is to buy the camera used, when someone else will have set up some of the hidden functions.
    Thank you also for the info on the 9-18mm Oly zoom. I’ve just bought this from eBay and am waiting for it to arrive. Seeing your sharp, detailed images from it has confirmed that it’s a good choice.
    Yours is one of the best and most informative articles I’ve read about the camera – thank you!

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