I originally wrote this in December 2012, but I’ve felt the urge to update this article after some recent experiences. There are plenty of articles on this blog discussing the road to becoming a professional photographer, and still further articles thrashing out all the things which need to be in place in order for your […]

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  • Stephen Scharf - December 16, 2012 - 8:58 am

    Great post once again, Lindsay. One that details the requirements, the mindset, and the temperament that it takes to become a successful professional photographer. As one who’s worked around many professional photographers for several years, one of the things that I’ve learned is that it’s an extremely competitive industry, and it takes a special understanding and ability to differentiate one’s business and one’s work in order to be able to become successful. The other key requirement, as you pointed out is to really think of it as running a business, and not a hobby. One of the best books that I found for professional photographers is “Focus on Profit” by Tim Zimberoff.


  • Lindsay - December 16, 2012 - 10:38 am

    Hi Stephen, lovely to hear from you and thank you for the book recommendation. Indeed mental determination is a huge part of running any business. In terms of photography, the vast majority of professional photographers are sole traders – there’s nobody else to do the accounts, sort out IT issues, do the marketing/filing/presenting/processing etc. This all adds up to dozens of tasks that are unrelated to actually taking pictures, and which leaves many of us at our desks into the small hours each night! Thus the ‘glamour’ aspect needs to be taken out of the equation. Building efficient workflows and processes is key.

  • Mag D - July 29, 2013 - 11:27 am

    Brilliant write-up Lindsay, so very true, as well as obvious things ‘for and against’ the proffession, you gave an insight into detail, hard work, endless time spent on each project, and to always think possitive. The ordinary person has absolutely no idea as to exactly what is involved in photography. Thank you, I certainly view things differently now.

Last week I mentioned that the final rounds of The Societies (SWPP and BPPA) professional imaging competition had been marked and in the last few days the photographers nominated for the title of Photographer of the Year have been announced. I am still reeling from getting a nomination for the second year running, but I […]

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  • John Branes - December 12, 2012 - 11:27 am

    Lindsay, very many congratulations on this latest “set” of awards. Wonderful images as ever. As a great admirer of your work I am really pleased to hear that you have been nominated for Photographer of the year again this year…..hugely deserved. Well done ! All the best, John.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 11:39 am

    Thank you John, I do hope I’ll see you at the awards dinner.

  • Mag D - December 12, 2012 - 12:07 pm

    Lindsay, absolutely delighted to hear your news. Then I looked at your winning photos….. brilliant as always…. a true deserver of such high awards, well done.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 12:10 pm

    Thank you Mag, it’s great to be nominated. I will also have the chance to admire the work of some truly inspirational photographers on the big night.

  • Stephen Scharf - December 16, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    Congratulations, Lindsay, on your photos being elevated to Gold Medal status! Well deserved!


  • Lindsay - December 16, 2012 - 8:57 pm

    Thank you Stephen, it’s been quite a good year in terms of awards but next year I must step back a little from the competitions and concentrate more on all the different kinds of work I’d like to offer my clients, the problem is there is so much to do and so few hours in the day!

As many of you will know there is currently a huge amount of interest when it comes to both of these exciting compact system cameras. On the basis of the many questions we’ve been asked I thought I’d summarise my current findings in a Fujifilm XE1 vs Olympus OMD EM-5 question and answer session. I’ll […]

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  • Nat - December 11, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    Thank you Lindsay, for another well balanced and informative report on two exceptional cameras. As you say they are very different and will appeal to different people. You raise some vital points as well which users often fail to consider. I can see that you prefer the feel of the XE1 but when the situation demands it you will use the OMD for speed. Great that you can own both cameras! (-: but I am still having problems deciding which one will suit me. I don’t photograph children or animals so your statement that the Fuji might be the better buy is probably correct.

  • Lindsay - December 11, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    Hi Nat, yes there are some things that I prefer on the Fuji and other things that I like on the OND. This really boils down to features, and whether or not those features may be applicable to you. For example the tilting screen on the OMD is not something I would have listed as being important to me, but I do enjoy using it particularly for street photography. Alternatively, I love the feel of the XE1, particularly the buttons – also the white balance on any Fuji X camera is outstanding. It’s a question of deciding which features and benefits are most relevant to how you shoot and what you shoot. I suspect that, given your budget, the XE1 and zoom might be all that you need. If you purchase the OMD and the equivalent fast zoom you will be spending a huge amount.

  • Neil Kristiansen - December 11, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    I’ve just come upon your site thanks to a link by Fujirumours. A very interesting read on the pros and cons of the Fuji and Olympus cameras. I have subscribed to your Blog :-).
    I recently ordered the Fuji X-E1 but having not being able to handle it in any local camera store I was unsure whether it would be right for me. Unfortunately having handled it for a couple of days the slow focus and viewfinder lag just drove me crazy. It has therefore gone back. I’m in a difficult position of having no local dealer who has the latest CSC cameras in to try! I recently sold all my DSLR gear due to long term illness and being unable to carry the weight around any longer.
    I’d be interested to know if you looked at/considered the Sony CSC’s such as the NEX 7 and new NEX 6 and if so what were your thoughts. I know there isn’t a great lens range for these at the moment, although with focus peaking and adaptors there’s a whole world of manual lenses. Having sent back the Fuji I am now considering either the Olympus or the NEX 6, but I am going to have to find a dealer who has them in stock and do some travelling.
    Out of interest I notice you’re in West Sussex. My sister lives in Fareham, Hampshire and I was wondering if you know of any dealers who has these cameras in stock down there as I will be down that way over Christmas.
    Sorry for the long ramble, and once again I am glad I’ve now found your site and will follow your work/blog with interest. Thanks for any help you can give,
    Neil Kristiansen

  • Lindsay - December 11, 2012 - 4:20 pm

    Hi Neil, you have highlighted an extremely important point and that is handling and ergonomics, which can be a real dealbreaker irrespective of the other features and benefits of any given system. I can understand the slow performance frustrating you, it frustrates me a lot of the time and so I tend to reserve my XE1 for static work. I wonder if this could be improved in a firmware update, but only time will tell. In terms of a dealership with a comprehensive range (and good staff) the only place I can think of is Park Cameras at Burgess Hill, West Sussex. That’s a bit of a journey for you, but if you find yourself over that way it is well worth the visit (you may want to phone them ahead of time to check they have all of the systems available, but they normally do). I’m afraid I don’t know of any other large camera stores so you may need to do an Internet search in your sister’s locality. I greatly sympathise with anyone who has health issues, that is one of the reasons I am switching to compact systems. I haven’t considered any of the Sony Nex cameras mostly because the lens lineup does not cover my needs (and I don’t want to use legacy glass which will complicate the work I do) however I think the Nex 6 in particular sounds like a lovely piece of kit and well worth looking into. So far the best all-round performer I have come across is indeed my Olympus OMD, but depending which lenses you buy it can be quite an expensive option. It’s very hard for me to find fault with the EM-5 other than to point out that the buttons are very small and I would always advise having a play with one before making a purchase. It is also a little bigger and heavier than the Nex.

  • Luis Passarella - December 12, 2012 - 5:17 pm

    Hi Lindsay, my name’s Luis and I live in Brazil. I found your blog and I think that was a very interesting way to approach the two cameras. I have a question and hope you can answer. What size magnification pictures that we can do to a photo exhibition without losing quality and keeping the ISO under control? I used a D700 and knew where I could get but I sold it and think about buying one of the two because the “cost x benefit.” Thanks for your help.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 5:42 pm

    Hi Luis. large prints from either camera are a few weeks away so I can’t comment fully I’m afraid. Print size does of course depend not only on ISO but on the tonality of the image – a shadow-rich image will benefit from a lower ISO value, and an urban landscape or monochrome will often tolerate higher ISO values. For my own work I don’t print exhibition work above ISO 800 from my non full frame cameras if the print is over 16″, but that is mostly because I specialize in portraiture. From the 5D MkIII I will print 30 inches and above from ISO 1600 images, but ultimately it boils down to the kind of image you have, the extent to which you can eradicate noise whilst maintaining detail, and your own personal aesthetics. The only answer unfortunately is to do some test prints from a crop of the enlarged file and see what you think.

  • Robert Yanal - December 13, 2012 - 7:04 pm

    Very helpful article, as I’m probably getting a new camera for an upcoming trip to China.

    It seems to me, though, that the shadow areas in the Olympus shots lack detail, which may be a function of the time of day the shots were taken or perhaps of your personal taste.

  • Lindsay - December 13, 2012 - 7:33 pm

    Hi Robert, I hadn’t noticed any loss of detail in the OMD shadows, but since you raise it I will scrutinise that a little more next time. The thing with the OMD is that it has very highly customisable, and the out-of-the-box settings are rarely ideal, whereas the Fuji JPEG engine is fantastic from the word go. I think this was the second time I’d used the Oly so I hadn’t finished setting it up, since then I have tweaked things further. However I do stress to people that they should buy the camera they like best given the performance attributes which are most important to them – pixel peeping should always be quite low on the list in my view given that most of the leading CSCs are all great in that department. I do envy your trip to China, that will be wonderful!

  • martin o halloran - December 17, 2012 - 12:14 am

    I am considering buying an xe1 for a forthcoming wedding. Thanks for your comments. Do you think an xe1 suitable for weddings? I have a canon 500d with kit lenses, and i think the xe1 will be a big improvment.
    Whats your opinion? I value it. thanks once again
    Martin o Halloran

  • Geoff - December 17, 2012 - 3:19 am

    Thanks Lindsay for your very informative review. I have both the OMD and the X-E1. Trying to decide which to keep. The thing is, there are things I like and dislike about both. I wish the OMD had a built in flash. I wish the X-E1 had a video button. Overall though, I love the AF speed of the OMD. I do own and love my Fuji X10, so that I’ll keep. I may do as you did and just keep them both.

    Thanks again for such a fine review.

  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 9:57 am

    Hi Martin, I try not to make specific equipment recommendations beyond setting out my own personal view of any given camera, but as you can see from my report (and others) the autofocus on the XE1 is not particularly fast, particularly in low light. I would recommend that you ask a wedding photographer who is currently using X system cameras for weddings. However wedding venues vary greatly and the specific environment you are going to will dictate your equipment. If you are attending the wedding as a guest with no expectations placed upon you then I would simply take whichever camera suits you best. If you aim to undertake a paid wedding then testing all your kit thoroughly beforehand in typical wedding conditions is of course essential.

  • Lindsay - December 17, 2012 - 9:58 am

    Hi Geoff, many people end up owning both the OMD and the XE1 – they are very different machines but they compliment each other well.

  • Boris - December 28, 2012 - 4:18 am

    Hi Lindsay. Thank you for your time in setting out your experience with both of these camera.

    I noticed you mentioned that one can alter the white balance warmer or cooler using both cameras (I ask about the XE-1). Does this mean that in auto-WB a bias can be made for all pictures, or are you referring to the different WB options (sunset, incandescent, etc)? As far as I was aware, this is only possible with different film emulations, but all are quite washed blue. I particularly like the lenses of the Fuji, but I prefer the warm tones of the Olympus and I would like to emulate these (apparently I see the world through rose-tinted glasses!). I seem to see other people asking for the opposite often though (Fuji colours in Olympus).

  • Lindsay - December 28, 2012 - 10:04 am

    Hi Boris, you’ve raised a very important point and you are not the only person who prefers the Olympus colours. Personal preference should always come into play and it would be a very boring world is every camera produced output which looked the same. Yes, you can create a warmer or cooler bias in either camera (without resorting to manually setting specific white balance). It’s a case of playing around until you find settings which appeal to you.

  • Luc de Schepper - December 28, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    Hello Lindsay, so much useful info on your blog. Thanks a lot for sharing all this. Your X-E1 vs OM-D posting is packed with practical info with emphasis on the things that matter in real photography. Great stuff! I own a Nikon D700 with a set of fine prime lenses and a X100. However the weight of the Nikon set is becoming a problem for me, especially on holidays and city trips. So I’m considering the X-E1 or the OM-D. Or perhaps wait for a future X-Pro2 as I do like the Fuji X-series image quality. I’ve handled the X-E1 and OM-D. The X-E1 is nice but rather small and I don’t like that you have to press the AF button before being able to move the focus point. And there’s the slow autofocus of course. The OM-D is really small, it feels like an electronic toy, with very small buttons. Still, we are spoilt with these luxury choices these days. Thanks again and I’m looking forward to reading your future posts.

  • Lindsay - December 28, 2012 - 9:43 pm

    Hi Luc, it is a difficult choice but ultimately I think it may come down to ergonomics, and whether you need good autofocus ability and of course RAW – both of which are currently limitations of the XE1.

  • Iain Sword - December 30, 2012 - 10:24 pm

    Hi Lindsay. Thanks for sharing this really interesting article. I currently shoot with a crop-sensor DSLR but am thinking about switching to a CSC kit, so it’s great to hear your thoughts about these two exciting cameras.

    Just one small point to make – under the section about the OMD’s increased depth of field, you mention that 4 factors govern an image’s DOF: aperture, subject distance, focal length, and sensor size. However sensor size has absolutely nothing to do with DOF – the necessity of wider focal lengths on smaller sensors is what really increases the DOF. I don’t mean to sound pedantic, but thought this statement might confuse some of your readers.

    Keep up the great work. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

  • Lindsay - December 30, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    Hi Iain, IQ wise you won’t be giving up anything by switching to a modern CSC and your back/neck/shoulders will thank you for it. With respect to DOF perhaps I should have said that sensor size affects ‘apparent’ DOF. You are not being pedantic at all, but I normally leave the more scientific explanations from my articles since many readers are novices. Good luck with your purchase and do report back on how you find the system once you have it.

  • Daniel - January 2, 2013 - 5:00 am

    Hi Lindsay, I was wondering which camera you would be happy with if you knew you wouldn’t be able to upgrade for the next 2 or 3 years. I can see that the Fuji has better high ISO performance and a good future lens roadmap. But the Olympus already has many wonderful lenses in production. Do you think you would yearn for a better camera body with better high ISO performance if you picked the Olympus and knew you couldn’t upgrade for the next 3 years?

  • Lindsay - January 2, 2013 - 8:51 am

    Daniel, IQ and ISO ability of both cameras is great, and very close, so that would never be the determiner in my decision (as a professional I’m interested in real world performance so pixel peeping between the two is of no value). As a professional, for the work I do (your subject matter may differ) there are performance failings in the Fuji which limits its usefulness and therefore its cost/benefit ratio (not necessarily something which would trouble most amateurs or hobbyists). The OMD meets almost all of my performance criteria therefore that is the system I would choose to keep the longest and it is also the system I happen to prefer. The lens roadmap of the Fuji is only ‘good’ if those lenses meet one’s needs and they do not align well with my own needs, however the u4/3 lenses cover all my requirements and more.

  • paul miles - January 2, 2013 - 7:40 pm

    Hi Lindsay’
    Stumbled across your review by accident…but good it certainly is.
    I’ve had for the last 2 years a Nikon d7000 with various lenses including a nikon 50mm 1.4, nikon 18=200 and a Tamron 90mm1:1 2.8 macro which is my choice of lens for macro photography which is my favoured following.
    I’ve had some really good photo’s from the Tamron and I’m ready to give it all up in favour of a Fuji xe1….but will the image quality suffer as a result of me going to this kind of set up??
    I can accept that technology moves as fast in cameras as it does in computers but will I be making a big mistake moving across to this type of camera???

  • Lindsay - January 2, 2013 - 8:12 pm

    Hi Paul, I’m afraid I don’t really know anything about Nikon systems, but your decision will probably need to hinge on your subject matter (presuming you photograph more than just macro). The XE1 cannot be compared to a DSLR since it is completely different in pretty much every way. For example, currently there is no viable mainstream RAW support for X Trans and the autofocus will be much slower than your DSLR. In addition the X lens lineup may be limiting. Of course these limitations may change, perhaps even soon, but I think the best thing to do is to try and get to a camera store where you can have a play with the Fuji and see how you feel about it. On the other hand the OMD is rather like a miniaturised DSLR and so it may be a better choice.

  • Timothy Bell - January 5, 2013 - 11:19 pm

    Have you ever listed the settings you apply to the OM-D in regards to changes from the default. I am also a portrait photographer who has recently acquired an OM-D(in addition to my DSLR) and I have agreed with your comments and would appreciate this baseline info to set up my camera.

  • Lindsay - January 6, 2013 - 3:38 pm

    Hi Tim, as mentioned in my article(s) I turn sharpness and NR down, warming to off, and WB bias a notch towards blue. That’s it pretty much, I like a flatish neutral starting point but everybody is different and much depends on final workflow. But with portraits the colour and lowering of sharpness is the most crucial, in my view.

  • Sunil - January 21, 2013 - 4:15 am

    What OMD lenses do you recommend? What would say about the quality of the OMD kit 12-50 mm? Thanks.

  • Lindsay - January 21, 2013 - 2:56 pm

    Sunil, lens choices are very personal and are of course dependent on your subject matter. As a portrait photographer I use the PL25 f1.4, the 45 f1.8 and the 35-100 f2.8. I’m afraid I can’t comment on the quality of the 12-50 as I don’t use kit lenses as a rule (too slow for the work I do) but one of the key features of this lens is the macro capability.

  • Joel - January 21, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    Hello Lindsay, an absolute gem of a review. The approach and contents are perfect. Very useful. Thank you. When I first came across the X100 I fell in love with it. My only hesitation was its fixed lens. Then Fuji annouced the XE-1 with interchangeable lenses; huge smile on my face. I wanted to wait for well informed reviews before taking the plunge. Your review is it. I note that you still have and presumeable use your X100 and have now sold the XE-1. What made you sell the XE-1 rather than the X-100 (Perhaps you have written a comparative review of these two elsewhere) If so I would be grateful for the link. I love the retro look of the XE-1 and may well go for it. But if its advantages do not far outweigh those of the X100, then I have a dilema.

    Many thanks.


  • Lindsay - January 22, 2013 - 9:07 am

    Hi Joel, many thanks indeed for the kind comment. We try to keep things as balanced and objective as possible, I have no brand allegiance but instead weigh up any purchases according to the intended purpose. On this occasion both cameras under discussion were brought into the business as professional work tools. It turned out that the XE1 was not suited to the kind of portrait work I undertake and therefore it was uneconomic to keep it. On the other hand, my X100 was purchased very much as a camera for personal enjoyment therefore the performance criteria applied to that decision was far less stringent. Why did I not keep the XE1 as my personal use camera? That came down to size, the fact I prefer the OVF on the X100 and also my preference for the files produced by the X100 (I am not keen on X Trans). Without a doubt a fixed lens can be limiting at times however the quality of the glass on the X100 is spectacular and I also have the X10 for personal use on the occasions when I think zoom will be needed. So ultimately it all comes down to what you will be shooting and how you like to shoot. But I agree it is a difficult decision!

  • Sunil - January 22, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    Thank you for your response, Lindsay. Is the fact that the sensor is exposed when changing lenses no longer an issue with mirror less cameras. I have not seen that come up lately. My main interest is travel photography and I was leaning towards zoom lens.

  • harold - January 22, 2013 - 7:36 pm

    Sorry; I lost interest when he mentioned no difference in dof.
    Clearly regurgitated 4/3s fanboy talk and somebody whos knows little about photography

  • Lindsay - January 22, 2013 - 7:47 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean Harold, nowhere have I stated there is no difference in depth the field – in fact in my articles I often refer to the fact that the DOF differences (less than a stop if comparing to APS-C) could be either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the situation. DOF is controlled by a number of factors of which sensor format is but one. I am brand/format agnostic and shoot with a range of equipment from different manufacturers, including Fuji, Olympus and Canon. For the record I am a “she” and am reasonably well known in my field.

  • Ryan - February 2, 2013 - 3:53 pm

    Hey Lindsay, loving your blog posts and pictures!

    I currently own an X100 and although I love the image quality, the lens and the hybrid viewfinder, the EVF lags quite a bit until you half press the shutter button and the AF/having to press macro for anything <70cm or so is extremely frustrating.

    I mostly shoot candid scenes and street but a lot of the time I'll be taking casual pictures of family and friends, especially in houses/restaurants where AF is crucial.

    I'm currently looking at the Fuji X series and the OM-D series and was wondering what you would recommend. I would personally love something that's hassle free (quick AF and something that just works) but I also love the physical dials of an aperture ring and exposure compensation. What do you think of the two dials on the OM-D? are they easy to turn and do they give a positive feedback so you can feel confident about changing exposure compensation? also do you find the OMD's high iso comparable to the X100?

    Thank you,


  • Lindsay - February 2, 2013 - 7:56 pm

    Hi Ryan, many thanks indeed for the kind words. I also have an X-100 and I agree that the image quality is sensational. It does of course have its quirks, like most Fuji cameras, and I also agree that the EVF can be quite frustrating (I tend not to use it very often). Where autofocus is concerned the OMD is very good indeed, vastly better than the Fuji X cameras (in fact the autofocus is one of the reasons why I recently parted company with my XE1). I found the aperture ring on the lens quite annoying, the slightest knock or movement and it would shift, slowing the photographic process down still further. With respect to the buttons and dials on the OMD, they are smaller than other cameras and I would say that if you have large hands they may prove fiddly. I would suggest trying to get to a camera store to see if the buttons would be a problem for you. I haven’t done any kind of precise comparison between the OMD and the X-100 on ISO, since these days most modern cameras are very good in low light. I advise people not to get too hung up on small differences between one machine and the next. But the OMD is very good at high ISO, I’d say it’s very close to the X-100.

  • Ryan - February 2, 2013 - 9:09 pm

    Thank you for the reply Lindsay,

    Seems like the OM-D might be the camera for me, unless the X series AF is drastically changes when they implement the phase detection pixels alas the X100s. So is the aperture ring a lot looser on the XF lenses compared to the X100? Since I have hardly many problems with the X100 aperture ring.

  • Lindsay - February 2, 2013 - 9:51 pm

    Hi Ryan, the X100 aperture ring is nice and firm, but the one on the 18-55 zoom (and the other X lenses I’ve used) is much too loose in my opinion, annoyingly so at times.

  • Steve - February 3, 2013 - 5:54 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    Thanks for a great review, I am still torn between OM-D and X-e1. I am off to Mustang in Nepal in April/Maya nd want to take pictures for a book I am writing, (landscapes, buildings, people with some flash and low-light stuff). In your view which camera has the best image quality/sharpness of the two and is the AF on the X-e1 vastly inferior?

    Thanks again


  • Lindsay - February 3, 2013 - 6:26 pm

    Hi Steve, as mentioned in the article image quality between the two is a non-issue (in fact image quality/sharpness is largely down to optics) and the lowlight capability of the OMD is very good, certainly good enough for the many professional wedding photographers who have now adopted this camera. Ultimately the quality of your images are of course down to your abilities as a photographer and has nothing to do with pixel peeping, however if you need to photograph moving subjects or if you need to work quickly in lowlight situations then the OMD is far more capable. They are very different machines, the OMD is a fantastic performer across the board (rather like a small DSLR) however the Fuji X cameras are better suited to slower more considered shooting. It all comes down to your personal style, preferences, and handling (so the best advice I can give is that you try to get both cameras into your hands before buying). If you’re travelling do bear in mind that the OMD and many of the Micro 4/3 lenses are weather sealed, and the X cameras are not. There are also vastly more lenses available for Micro 4/3 systems, from fast primes to fast zooms and beyond. I no longer have the XE1 as I found it to be unsuited to the work I do.

  • Steve Kemp-king - February 5, 2013 - 10:30 am

    Thanks for this, looks like it’s going to be the OMD as the dust on the Tibetan plateau can be a menace. There are hardly any camera shops left in London, and Curry’s/pc world don’t have either where i live. can you recommend a good dealer anywhere?

    Finally is the OMD kit lens 12-50 good? I’ve read mixed reviews.

    thanks again


  • Lindsay - February 5, 2013 - 10:58 am

    Hi Steve, Park Cameras in Burgess Hill, Sussex, are excellent and usually have a full inventory. If you’re in the area they are well worth a visit (you may want to phone them ahead of time just to doublecheck they have what you want in stock).

  • Steve Kemp-King - February 7, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    I now have an olympus OM-D so that, at least, is settled. Thank you for your kind advice! now to get it out of the box. Hmmm……….

  • Lindsay - February 7, 2013 - 4:07 pm

    Hi Steve, many congratulations on your OMD! The hard part is ploughing through the manual, it’s quite a complex camera in many ways as I’m sure you know – it’s worth taking the time initially to set things up to suit your own way of working.

    The online manual can be found here: http://olympusamerica.com/files/oima_cckb/E-M5_Instruction_Manual_EN.pdf
    And a good quick start guide can be seen here: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/9115179666/user-guide-getting-the-most-out-of-the-olympus-e-m5

  • Eric - February 19, 2013 - 4:38 pm

    Lindsay, thank you for your real world review of the two cameras. May I ask what in particular you found most problematic regarding the XE-1 in its application as a tool for portrait photography? From my limited use of the camera it seemed like it would excel in these types of scenarios where blazing fast AF isn’t a necessity. The reason I ask is that I’m quite disenchanted with my 5DII for portrait work, despite the wonderful IQ it provides and was considering either an X-PRO 1 or XE-1 to replace it. I am, however, not a professional (although I do shoot the occasional headshot session) so I realise your requirements may be different than my own.

  • Lindsay - February 19, 2013 - 6:44 pm

    Hi Eric, the key thing to remember is that photographers are all very different and as you rightly point out professional requirements will be very different to those of an amateur or hobbyist. When shooting professionally there is not much room for error, we cannot miss our shots nor will a client tolerate even a relatively small proportion of mis-focused images. Portrait photographers vary wildly, particularly location photographers such as myself. My shoots tend to be quite fast paced where we work from one concept to the next, providing a wide spectrum of images for the client. This will involve different locations and very different kinds of light. Both the speed and the accuracy of the XE1 meant that it was not a tenable work tool for me. However on personal outings this is rarely a problem since I’m not repeatedly asking the camera to accurately focus on a human face, but I already have two Fuji X cameras for recreational use. I will add to that the lack of mainstream RAW support which is not yet good enough for many professional applications.The OMD on the other hand is proving to be an immensely capable professional camera and of course the lens selection for Micro 4/3 is fantastic. For me it comes down to using “the best tool for the job”.

  • Simon - February 26, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    Thanks for the review.

    I have a OMD EM5 and quite like it but find the buttons a bit small and irritating. The focus although it is fast sometimes missfires as I find the focus area on the EM5 too big; I therefore have to rewly on the eye focusing feature which is a bit hit and miss. I have only found a way to reduce the focus area size in live view; any thoughts?

    I also have problems with the kit zoom but the Olympus 9-18 mm I have is quite a nice lens; as is the 45 mm F1.8. The 17mm F2.8 is OKish.

    BUT I really need a good standard zoom for travel snaps as I don’t have time to change lenses with the family in tow.

    I have recently tried the XE1 and standard zoom in Calument and liked it. The focusing seemed fine to me, even in the shop light; the AF sensor was a little finer grained so it seemed that I could be more specific with the focusing. Not much point having fast AF if the camera hits the wrong spot. Am I the only one who would prefer slower but accurate focus to quicker inaccurate focus?

    I am going to Focus next week and if there is a deal I may come back with an XE1 and standard zoom. My tests seem to indicate it is a pretty sharp lens and I can get the whole camera and zoom for the price of the Panasonic 12-35 mm F2.8 zoom, which itself doesn’t get reviews good enough to warrant £900 expenditure.

    However I won’t sell my OMD EM5 until I am sure over the XE1, but as I don’t want to spend the dosh on the Olympus fast primes, it seems like the better camera for me at the current time. However before I buy the XE1 I want to find out how much the new 10-24mm Fuji is!

    Else I will end up using the EM5 with my 9-18 and the XE1 with the standard zoom! It seems life is never simple!

  • Lindsay - February 26, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    Hi Simon, I agree that the OMD buttons are small and can be a bit fiddly at times. However I have not yet had a single mis-focused image in any of the situations I have shot the OMD in. The focus area is a little deceptive, in that you need to ensure the centre of it aligns with the point where you need critical focus.

    If you are referring to the 12-50 kit zoom, it is of course very slow and not particularly good at resolving fine detail. If you’re seeking a high quality standard zoom then I would recommend the 12-35 f2.8 if budget allows. The PL25 f1.4 is a nice walkabout lens if that FOV suits you.

    When applied to professional situations the inadequacies of the XE1 focus became glaringly obvious, those flaws are rarely evident during my personal work (and there is no reason why it would not be perfectly fine for general travel photography) but were problematic when it came to environmental portraiture When accurate focusing on a face is crucial. These may not be considerations for many users but as a professional it is a dealbreaker, however there were also other reasons why I decided not to keep the XE1. In terms of autofocus the latest firmware is said to improve the accuracy somewhat. If the camera is simply for your own personal enjoyment then it becomes far easier to just buy whatever you prefer. But it is still a difficult decision and quite often the only way to determine what is best is to own it and see how you get along with it.

  • Randy - March 12, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    Dittos on the “Wonderful Article”
    I’m very glad to have fallen upon your blog.
    I sold my two Canon 2.8 zooms after a major financial hit and attempted to be happy with the 70×200 F4. I wasn’t! I sold the 30D and lens.
    After stumbling from one camera to the next I’d pretty much set my mind on the OM-D…. I’ve been looking for a quality camera that performs well in all areas and exceeds in others. I can’t go down the $2K per lense road again… Therefore 4/3 seems like a no brainer. However I’m 6’05 and have larger hands- longer fingers. I live on an island, so a trip to the camera store is out of the question. I’m starting to get the idea that I may need to go the route of a GH3 or back to dslr since the small/large size really isn’t an issue for me. With that said, I’m a bit disheartened… the OM-D seems like such a quality piece with endless options and within reason- quality glass at affordable dollar points- all good things, but if may be just too small and frustrating for larger hands so it seems. SO, if I have to jump to a bigger that can give me the OM-D level of quality and speed, where would you be looking? Or am I being too wrong to worry since I’m a hobbyist- so not something I’ll be using for work. Thanks Again :o)

  • Lindsay - March 12, 2013 - 6:17 pm

    Hi Randy, one of the things which makes the OMD so attractive is the combination of performance, image quality, all in a very small package. But as you rightly point out small cameras don’t suit everyone. Your island location will as you say make the choice more complicated, unless you can find a seller who will accept a return. I think you are correct in that the GH3 would be the next best thing size-wise, but it is more expensive than the OMD unfortunately. If size isn’t an issue then a DSLR such as a 7D or 60D might be worth considering, but then you may be forced to consider expensive lenses. Not an easy choice in the absence of a camera store.

  • offtheback - March 20, 2013 - 3:38 pm

    Lindsay-thank you for your unique perspective/review of the Oly/Fuji set.I’ve had an EM-5 for 6 months now as my first above point n shoot after several years with film SLR’s.While it took me a couple of months to figure out the menu systems and features(no thanks to the horrid documentation)it is an excellent overall system and the portability is a huge plus.I encountered a strange problem the other day while shooting in a light rain.The auto switching between viewfinder/LCD stopped working and was stuck on the EVF.The problem was a drop or 2 of rain that landed in the switching detector area and simulated my face being at the EVF.Another beguiling moment with the OMD-5.Kinda like a love affair.Thanks again for you wonderful blog+photos.

  • Lindsay - March 20, 2013 - 4:12 pm

    Hi offtheback – yes, it’s fantastic that really good portable systems are now a reality, it’s made a huge difference to my comfort level (I no longer dread packing my camera bag). Interesting you should mention your OMD playing up, good that you could spot the problem – my shutter button locked momentarily in the rain last week, I had to switch the camera off than on again, after which it was fine. I never believe that electronic devices are as water resistant as they say!

Portrait Photographer West Sussex Every year I make a point of entering the amazing professional imaging competition run by The Societies (SWPP and BPPA). This can be a daunting process at first, but it’s also a fantastic way to push yourself forward. The quest for self-improvement should be part of every professional photographer’s mindset and […]

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  • Stephen Scharf - December 5, 2012 - 3:43 am

    Congratulatons on your Gold Medals and Highly Commended, Lindsay.

    Certainly well, well deserved.


    PS I must look into joining some of the societies….

  • Lindsay - December 5, 2012 - 9:08 am

    Thank you Stephen. As for the various societies, as you can imagine all are different with a very different flavour and ethos. Some better represent certain forms of photography than others.

  • John Barnes - December 5, 2012 - 1:55 pm

    Lindsay, Well done. Many congratulations on this latest set of awards. The images are fantastic. The recognition is hugely deserved. All the best, John.

  • Lindsay - December 5, 2012 - 2:09 pm

    Thank you for the kind words John – and may I say I have watched your own work come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years!

I have a friend who manages a camera store and the question he is most often asked is “which camera takes the best pictures?”  The only viable answer to this is “any” simply because the picture will generally look fairly similar irrespective of the camera, given the good standards of most modern equipment. A big […]

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  • Simon peckham - December 3, 2012 - 8:18 pm

    Great piece on an important subject. I agree its a syndrome that will become more and more prominent. I am about to trading in my Nikon D300s and a whole bunch of lens for a Fuji Xe1. Why …. Because I have owned a Fuji X 100 for the last year and its been a revelation. The image quality is what I have been searching for for me personal tastes. The X pro 1 is now out of date and I almost never use the optical viewing on the X100. So I am daring to take the plunge and convince my existing and new customers. All is well look at the quality and remember the old days of huge DSLRs in years gone by. Wish me luck :-)

  • Lindsay - December 3, 2012 - 8:27 pm

    Hi Simon, lovely to hear from you and thank you for commenting. The lack of weight is wonderful and being able to comfortably shoot for as long as I want to has transformed how I feel at the end of a long working day. I too have an X100, which I love. I’m not sure that you will immediately notice a difference in image quality if you move up to the XE1, but I would say that in terms of ISO you will have about an extra stop when shooting JPEG. Just be aware that the autofocus speed has not really been improved, despite what was promised, and even with the new zoom lens the XE1 is really quite slow and this could be a frustration at times. It is not really a step up from the XP1. I am a big fan of the optical viewfinder on the X100 and I would gladly have paid more for this feature to have been included on the XE1 (I didn’t invest in an XP1 since it is a little too large). I will be holding back a couple of our DSLRs because there are situations when they will be the best tools. But yes, remind your customers that they are hiring you for your professionalism and your quality imagery, not the size of your cameras!

  • Samuel - December 6, 2012 - 3:33 pm

    Spare a thought for the poor old amateurs — I’ll have to take my big, heavy Slik tripod with me now if I want to look like a pro!

    I was recently comparing my X-E1 with my old Minolta XD7 and there isn’t much difference in size. Yet, in its day, Lindsay, it was commonly used among professionals. We’re so used now to seeing pros brandishing a couple of big black cameras and huge lenses. Times they are a-changing…

    I enjoyed reading your post.

  • Lindsay - December 6, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    Hi Samuel, indeed it is interesting how things are changing, but old attitudes die hard. I was at a local event a few months ago and there was an overwhelming number of snappers who were strung with DSLRs (or sometimes two) – how their backs held up I’ll never know. Anyway, I had a Fuji X camera with me. One of the big-camera gents came over and told me that if I wanted any tips on how to take pictures he would make himself available. Whilst we chatted, I noticed his cameras were set to Auto, and he didn’t seem to take many photographs throughout the morning. I always think of him whenever I have a nice small kitbag with me! I too started out on ‘small’ film cameras (I will not admit when) and it feels good to have a similar form factor in my hands again.

  • Kevin - December 25, 2012 - 7:00 pm

    Good stuff Lindsay. I’m a designer/photographer of too many years(!) and I’ve decided to ease myself into a smaller system with the XE-1, running side-by-side with my DSLR, until I’m confident that the compact can handle paid work, all on it’s own.

    For instance, I’m not prepared to risk an entire wedding on the XE-1… yet. Having said that, I’m a two primes (35/85) and two bodies man, so I don’t think the transition will prove too difficult. It might take the 24-70 / 70-200 ‘brigade’ a little longer to make this sort of change.

    From a client perspective – and I’ve commissioned and art directed dozens of photographers – they don’t care about your gear. Period.

    It’s only photographers with little self-confidence (and perhaps too little ability) that fret about such things.

  • Lindsay - December 25, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    Hi Kevin, lovely to hear from you and great to get your perspective on an area which many pros are currently grappling with. I think you’re very wise to keep a DSLR in the bag, I do that too since some situations are best served by a faster focussing body. I feel we also need RAW support for X Trans before larger numbers of wedding photographers will feel confident enough to jump ship (though I find there is tremendous latitude on the Fuji X series JPEGs).

  • Jason - December 27, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    That’s a nice leather case for the OMD!!!
    May I know what case is that?

  • Lindsay - December 27, 2012 - 4:11 pm

    Jason, it’s the Ciesta case – they’re on e-bay, there are now quite a lot of leather case options for the OMD, including Kenji, Gariz etc.

  • Dave - January 10, 2013 - 5:59 am

    I just picked up the OMD, with the idea of getting rid of my Canon 5D MKII because of all the weight associated with it, especially for travel! I’m having a hard time getting used to the EVF and split second where I don’t see my subject after taking a photo. I think I’ll get used to it though…

  • Eric - April 10, 2013 - 1:26 am

    Thanks for the post Lindsay. I’m in the same boat. I’m going from a 2 FF body setup to a m4/3 setup. I started selling my equipment (one of my 5D + a couple of lenses) but I’m still holding on my 5DII and some lenses (14 f/2.8, 35 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4 and 70-200 f/2.8) for this year wedding season. I’m not ready to ditch all this at the beginning of the season but I will try to go 2nd or 3rd shoot a wedding with only the OM-D, E-PM2 and the nice m4/3 primes I have to see how it goes. If all is well, next year, I’ll probably work with only micro 4/3. I now have shot some commercial gigs and some portraits/newborns with the OM-D and the clients never mentioned anything about the size of the camera. They know what I’m capable of since they hired me for the job so I guess they simply don’t care about the tools I’m using.
    It’s really nice to see other pros going the “light” way too. If you want to check my first 4 months with the OM-D, here’s a link to it: http://blog.ericcote.net/2013/01/quatre-mois-avec-lolympus-om-d/ . Feel free to remove it if you want though, I don’t want to promote myself on your blog.

  • Lindsay - April 10, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    Hi Eric, it’s great to hear from a fellow professional who has successfully adopted the OMD system. I enjoyed your article – your photography is beautiful. I feel that the OMD has helped me to become more creative, mostly because I can take it on trips where my DSLR system would be far too heavy and cumbersome, and of course I no longer get tired now that I have a lightweight camera. I find the Micro 4/3 lenses inspiring too, I’m blown away by the quality (I’m loving the 35-100 for portraiture). Do stay in touch and I’ll look forward to following your work.

  • Stephen Burke - August 5, 2013 - 11:48 am

    Hi Lindsay

    I’ve enjoyed reading your pieces on the Olympus OMD EM-5, and the Fujifilm XE-1, they have steered me towards buying the former. I have one question of a very non-technical nature, silver or black, which do you think looks best?

  • Lindsay - August 5, 2013 - 1:21 pm

    I’m terrible at making choices Stephen. I like the retro look so I went for the silver, and I told myself that when I’d saved up for a second OMD I’d get a black one. The camera looks great in either colour, it looks a bit more old fashioned in the silver and a bit sharper and more modern in the black. I’m probably not being much help!

I’ve been telling myself for the last couple of years that I really need to start taking a few hours out each month just to wind down and immerse myself in something relaxing. That’s all very well, but if you happen to be a photographer it can be virtually impossible to go somewhere interesting and […]

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  • John Barnes - December 4, 2012 - 4:54 pm

    Lindsay, another great set of pictures. Thanks for sharing these. I haven’t been to the Natural History Museum since I was a child but remember being fascinated by all the things in the glass cabinets (must go back at some point !). All the best, John.

  • Lindsay - December 4, 2012 - 5:01 pm

    Yes, you must go back John, but you will probably need more than a day to see it all!

  • mick - December 11, 2012 - 10:17 am

    I have had an XE1 for a couple of weeks now, and I think your comments are spot on. For me, it is a most enjoyable camera to use and the image quality is very good. It isn’t the best camera for every situation and I’ll continue to use my Nikon DSLR for macro, long telephoto, off-camera flash etc. But, for general landscape, street, reportage and informal portraits it is the best camera I’ve ever used. The 35mm f1.4 is the best lens I’ve ever used too, beating the best from Nikon, Zeiss and Leica. The 18mm lens is good, well made, good to use, but nothing extraordinary.

  • Lindsay - December 11, 2012 - 10:23 am

    Hi Mick, I agree that the XE1 isn’t always a good choice as an only camera since it does have performance limitations in some areas, notably speed and lack of current mainstream RAW support. Indeed, Fujinon glass is up there with the best and I hope Fuji will add further to its current lens lineup. A long fast zoom would be fantastic.

  • Jeff Rovner - January 8, 2013 - 6:28 pm

    Lindsay, I just bought the X-E1 with Fuji’s 35mm f/1.4 lens. I’m happy with it in general, with one exception: when I shoot manually, choosing the aperture and shutter speed myself, the EVF doesn’t reflect my exposure settings. Most important, the histogram in the EVF has nothing to do with the image I’m about to capture. As a result, I can’t figure out a way to use the histogram to avoid blown highlights in my images. When I use aperture priority mode, the camera often picks an exposure that results in blown highlights. I can use exposure compensation to try to reduce them, but often the two stop exposure comp range isn’t enough. Since your images are beautiful and don’t seem to have any highlight problems, I’d value your advice on how to shoot with the X-E1. Thanks!

  • Lindsay - January 8, 2013 - 7:42 pm

    Hi Jeff, it seems very strange that in Av mode you’re getting blown highlights and the exposure compensation you describe seems very extreme. It’s worth first determining if the issue is blown highlights or a general overexposure since the two can suggest different problems and different remedies. I’ve never seen any blown highlights from my own output so all I can suggest is that you check a few things, obvious as some of this will sound: firstly I would look at your metering mode, if you’re using spot metering inappropriately that would certainly give you exposure problems (I almost always stick to evaluative/multi area metering). Assuming you’re shooting JPEG (we don’t have much choice on the XE1 unfortunately, at least at the present) then your in camera JPEG parameters could be set too high, crucially the highlight tone which I lower to soften any bright areas. You can protect the highlights further but I tend to leave things at DR100. Shooting in Velvia or any high contrast film mode can exacerbate contrast – I stick to Provia. If you’re metering and controlling the camera correctly, and if you’re in control of your post processing that it is possible the sensor could be at fault and repair is needed. Unfortunately it’s very hard to comment further without seeing how you set up your shots, but hopefully you will find the source of the problems soon. Overall I find Fuji’s metering to be very consistent and the dynamic range is better than most.

Having very recently purchased both cameras today I took the Fujifilm XE-1 and Olympus OMD EM-5 on an outing to Hampton Court Palace just south of London. This is only the second time I’ve tried both of these cameras, having been somewhat delayed by the appalling weather we’re having here in the UK. Yesterday’s storm died […]

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  • Sam - November 26, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    Balanced comments again and quality shots. You got a lovely day for that. I think you have an advantage here by being able to compare results from these two cameras. Just today I read a glowing report about the X-E1 as a traveller’s camera, for street work and so on, but I feel comparisons in the same context on the same day are a better gauge. They are for me anyway. An interesting read.

    By the way, I was doing a bit of amateur writing recently about the X-E1 and kept getting the letters the wrong way round and the hyphen in the wrong place! It’s age with me…

    You’re worth reading as usual, and all being well you shouldn’t get murdered for it!


  • Lindsay - November 26, 2012 - 2:58 pm

    Hi Sam, great to hear from you and I must say I also enjoy reading your articles at theimageplane. As you say, balance is key and I do have the luxury of being able to compare both cameras. And that is precisely why the Fuji is lagging behind in several areas, had I not experienced the exceptional performance of the OMD then perhaps I would not be quite so critical at times. As for the Fuji being a useful street camera, that will be interesting, I will be putting it to the test within the next week or two and I will of course report back. Part of the problem is the EVF (which is not as responsive as that on the OMD) whereas the OVF on my X100 is a delight for street work (I was never tempted by the XP1 due to it’s size and feel). I’ve probably been getting the letters the wrong way around quite often as well, I’m terrible for that kind of thing. I can also blame my age!

  • Frans van Zomeren - December 3, 2012 - 5:20 pm

    Lindsay, A very nice, real use based review, with nice, very “clean”, uncluttered pictures. I would like to start thanking you for that. I am an enthousiast phtographer and I am contemplating to buy either the OM-D or the X-E1 as single interchangeable systems next to my X100 as replacement of my recently sold Oly E5 with bag of FT lenses. (I am reaching 60 and I really want a lighter system.) I might ask to much of this single system because I want to use it both for Landscapes, street and as a stealthy, non-intimidating camera to photog people outside and inside with available light. I also use my X100 as I make pictures at chamber music events.
    The questions I would like to ask are:
    1) how would you rate the AF performance of the X-E1 with the X100?
    2) how would you rate the EVF of the X-E1 with that of the OM-D?
    Thank you very much for your time,


  • Lindsay - December 3, 2012 - 5:52 pm

    Hi Frans, the OMD and XE1 are very different and if you’re familiar with the X100 then the XE1 will feel quite similar in many ways. The image quality of both cameras is excellent, though slightly different and subject to personal preference. For the activities you describe the extra depth of field (just under a stop) on the Olympus may be an advantage. I would say the autofocus of the X100 and XE1 is similar but remember this is very dependent upon lens choice, the new Fujinon zoom lens is faster to focus than the primes. If focus speed and accuracy is one of your main concerns then the Olympus is better, particularly in low light. But if you are managing OK with your X100 then you should be fairly happy with the XE1. As far as the EVF is concerned, both are good, but again there will be an element of personal preference. I happen to prefer the EVF of the Olympus because it’s very like looking into a DSLR, and it gains up very quickly in bright light (whereas the Fuji is dimmer and does exhibit a bit of lag). When considering any new camera I always advise that you try to get to a camera store where you can compare them – handling is very important and you may pick up a camera and realise immediately that it doesn’t feel right. For example the OMD has very small buttons and if you have large hands it may feel a bit fiddly. Good luck with your decision.

  • Matt - December 6, 2012 - 9:42 pm

    Lindsay, your objective reviews and insight have been a tremendous help. I purchased a slightly used OMD and love it. I do love the Fuji colors though but had a hard time justifying the cost and “niggles”. To that end, concerning JPG settings on the OMD to somewhat mimic the Fuji colors, what exactly are the settings you are using? This is what I have learned so far so please add or delete anything you feel would help: turn off warming, turn off noise reduction, turn off noise filter, decrease white balance one notch towards blue and shoot in “natural” setting. Also, any other suggestions regarding the OMD that you found helpful would be appreciated.

  • Lindsay - December 6, 2012 - 10:13 pm

    Hi Matt, yes those are the JPEG settings I tend to stick to, this generates a fairly neutral file which can be tweaked easily in Lightroom. I would also recommend reducing sharpness a notch. Tastes vary hugely so it’s a case of playing with the settings until you find something which suits you. I think Oly colours are fantastic (providing you turn the warming off) and really pop. I think it’ll take another couple of months to really get to know my OMD but I’ll keep updating my blog as I go along. Lens-wise I’m loving the PL25 f1.4 and the 45 f1.8. The Oly 40-150 zoom is a corker too, very close to my pro glass for a fraction of the price (but slower, obviously, so I keep it for daytime outings).

  • Michael - May 18, 2013 - 6:04 pm

    Lindsay, I am a happy OM-D owner, and your suggestions to turn off the warming, and reduce sharpening have improved my jpegs substantially! I agree that turning the sharpening down makes the images appear more film-like. Thank you very much for that!
    I just bought a HLD-6 battery grip, and would recommend it to any OM-D owner. It dramatically improves the ergonomics, and makes the camera easier to use heavier lenses, such as the 75mm f/1.8. It can be used with the grip only, or with the battery extender attached to the bottom, which doubles the size of your battery life.
    best wishes,

  • Lindsay - May 19, 2013 - 9:11 am

    Hi Micheal, one of the things I like about the OMD is the ability to fine tune almost all of its functions – as a professional that helps to make my life much easier at times. I like shooting JPEG in my personal work and the OMD does produce very good files, packed with detail. A few people have recommended the grip – I really must get one!

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