Birder's Guide

NOV 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/1052444

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he first time Olympus offered to let me try their latest micro 4/3 mirrorless system cameras and lenses, I declined. I really could not imagine shooting with anything but my profession- al, full-frame digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) gear, even for a short time. Then life happened: a health scare that caused some temporary limitations on how much weight I could carry. Suddenly the thought of carrying smaller, lighter-weight equipment was better than having no cameras at all! I contacted Olympus and set up a meeting to go over what I had to do to replace my pro gear for several photo-based tours. The folks at Olympus came through with a nearly perfect kit that included exactly what I had requested from their lineup. Then it was time to put it to the test. When I arrived at the Olympus headquarters, they handed me a backpack full of cameras and lenses that weighed a few ounces over 20 pounds. Revealed within was a kit that should be the envy of any nature photographer. Two OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera bodies (one with an HLD-9 Power Battery Grip), a 300mm f4.0 IS PRO telephoto lens, a 40-150mm f2.8 PRO zoom lens, a 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO zoom lens, and an ultra-wide-angle 7-14mm f2.8 PRO zoom lens. They also included an FL-900R electronic flash, an MC-14 1.4x teleconverter, and four camera batteries with chargers. Yes, all of this weighed just over 20 pounds, including the backpack—one third the weight of the camera bags I currently take on a workshop! At this point, I must note that, because of the sensor size of the micro 4/3 mirrorless system, the effective focal length of each lens is double the numeric length when compared to a full-frame system. In oth- er words, the apparent magnification of that 300mm f4.0 IS PRO lens is equivalent to my full-frame 600mm f4.0 lens that weighs just over eight pounds all by itself. Add my full- frame pro body to that, and we now have, for comparison, 13 pounds of gear with just one body and one lens! The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II body with the 300mm f4.0 IS PRO lens weighs about five pounds, a little more than one third of the full-frame equivalent. Yup… much easier to carry around. As I played with the new toys, I was quite impressed with the sol- id feel of all the equipment. Everything seemed rugged; according to Olympus, this is also the most water-resistant of current cameras. (Yes, I put that to the test, too, just don't tell Olympus!) The camera body felt very good in my hands. The grip, even with my larger hands, was comfortable. The controls were a bit small, but all were usable and well placed. The extent of control impressed me, too. Being able to change the operation or setting for each dial and button allows great customiza- tion. I chose to leave the controls at their default settings, as that is what most folks end up doing anyway. I broke my "practice before travel" rule when I picked up this gear. I was leaving in just two days for a series of tours, and had no time to learn the controls beforehand. It would have been ideal to have time to go over some controls and settings I would like as a bird photographer, but mostly I had to play and learn on the fly. Digital Camera Review Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro 4/3 20 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor ■ Advanced 5-Axis Image Stabilization ■ Lightweight, Weatherproof Body ■ 15fps Seq. Shooting (Mechanical) ■ 60fps Seq. Shooting (Electronic) ■ 1/8000s High-Speed Mechanical Shutter ■ Cinema 4K Video ■ 121-Point Dual FAST AF ■ Fully-Articulating 3.0" Touch Monitor ■ 50 Megapixel High-Res Shot Mode ■ Focus Bracketing and Stacking ■ Built-In Wi-Fi ■ 22 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2018 T

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