6 weeks in SA with the OM-D and others

So recently I spent 6 weeks traveling around South Africa, I took with me every piece of camera gear I own and thought it would be helpful to share my experiences with everyone. Some do's, some dont's and just general opinions about traveling with an OM-D kit. This post will more be about reviewing the gear as a kit and what I found worked and didn't, than lens reviews.

First thing I have to say is, holy crap! South Africa is truly beautiful. There is nothing better you can spend your money on than traveling, oh and cameras of course!

So the kit I took for my travels consisted of:
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5
  • HLD-6 battery grip
  • Lumix 45-200mm
  • Olympus 12-50mm (kit lens)
  • Olympus 45mm f1.8
  • Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4
  • Olympus 17mm f1.8
  • Lumix 14mm f2.5
  • Olympus 35rc (35mm film camera)
  • GoPro Hero
  • GoPro Hero 2
On top of this I took a range of filters, endless amount of go pro mounts, spare batteries, memory cards, cables, Lens hoods and everything else camera kits come along with.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 25mm f1.4 @ f5

So where to start.. There are a few things that worked amazingly well with this kit, so I guess it would best to start with the positives! First of all is size. The OM-D body is a nice, small, compact form factor that is easy to carry around all day, however its not the body size that is the most important things to me. Usually I carry my camera in my hand 98% of the time, so its size isn't too important. For me its the size of the lenses that makes all of the difference. Every day I was touring around I had a standard size back pack that had a minimum of 4 lenses and some general camera items as well as enough room for all your other daily needs. This situation right here is my biggest love of the m43 system:

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 17mm f1.8 @ f5

The other amazing thing apart from the usuals being image quality and size, is the share versatility of this system, especially the OM-D. I bought the HLD-6 grip mere weeks before I flew out and what a difference it made, by far some of the most and best money I have spent on an accessory. The grip completely trasforms the camera, allowing me to have the ability to go from a point and shoot with no grip and the 14mm, to a full grip on safari and the 45-200mm, all in about 1 min it takes to transform the camera. 

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 45mm f1.8 @f2.8

As Nick talked about in an earlier post having the 3 lens kit, I spent the majority of my time using the 17,25,45 set (35,50,90 in 35mm terms) and it all worked out well. just before heading to South Africa I also purchased the new 17mm f1.8, so I ended up using this lens alot, just because it was new, however  I do prefer the 25mm slightly more.

My most used lens on this trip was the 45mm f1.8. The 45mm is an incredible small piece of plastic and glass and anyone with a m43 system should definitely own one, cheap fast and tak sharp! my least used lens was the 12-50mm. It got so little use that I sold it about a week after returning to NZ, I never found the lens very good and it just took up space in my kit. Also if you hadn't realised, Nick and I are very much prime lens shooters!

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 45-200mm @ 200m, f5.6

One lens that I used alot, only on safari though, was the Panasonic Lumix 45-200mm telephoto. I borrowed this lens from my sister, though it was not my first choice. It was all I could get my hands on before I left. Its a nice and cheap lens and it can produce some stunning images, however it is often very hit and miss. I am currently on the hunt to upgrade this telephoto with the 75-300 and the 100-300 being the two that I am looking into.

Olympus 35rc + Kodak BW cn400

Olympus 35rc + Kodak Gold 200

Olympus 35rc + Kodak Gold 200

Another good decision I made was to take a nifty little point and shoot film camera. The Olympus 35rc is the smallest rangefinder ever made and an absolute joy to use. Shooting film while also having an OM-D kit is where I find the best balance, being able too have fun taking film shots while always knowing the digital gear is up to the job when things get un predictable. And with film being $3 a roll to develop in South Africa, it was a no brainer.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 45-200mm @ 120mm, f6.3

So the negative points I can make about the kit I took to South Africa are a short list however some that may help some of you for your future travels with an OM-D or M43s kit. First of all, when shooting with primes dont get so stressed about changing lenses all the time! I spent way to much time panicing and changing lenses and missed a few really nice photos because of this. Shoot with what you've got, its all about creating memories, thats why we do this hobby anyway. Sometimes the worst photo you'll take could be one of you favourites just because the memory is held in it.

Dont take too many lenses, if in doubt take them all but leave some in the hotel. I often would go out each day with only the 17mm and 45mm. I absolutely love my other lenses but changing up focal lengths just keeps photography interesting. If its not fun to take photos just stop doing it. When traveling it shouldn't seem like a chore. Sit back and watch the boats go by.

Also leave your 12-50mm at home, if its all you have buy a sigma 19mm and use that! primes are better, fact.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 14mm f2.5 @ f2.5

I will do a post soon talking about shooting with the 45-200 on safari. But right now im going out to photograph the lovely city of San Francisco!

Go out and take some photos, check back here for more tips on the M43 system!

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