Buying a Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 makes it pretty clear that I'm back in "Two System Hell" again.

After my shoot on Tues. at Zach Theatre I couldn't get one idea out of my head; that it would be really cool to have a very sharp lens that covered all the focal lengths between the equivalents of 24 to 200mm in a lens with a fixed, fairly fast aperture. A lens that could cover all the near and far shots in a theatrical dress rehearsal without breaking a sweat. One that I could use on the GH5 to press into service when shooting video or regular photographs. Turns out that such an animal does exist and all the feedback that I've gotten here, via e-mail, and in trusted blogger reviews made the lens out to be pretty fantastic.

I've been testing my GH5 and find it to be a wonderful camera to work with but I wanted a lens that could take advantage of the autofocus capabilities of the camera but would also be optimized for manual focusing in video. Seems that the 12/100mm from Olympus checked all the boxes.

I didn't know what the supply might be like in the bold world outside the cocoon of my studio so I called the folks at Precision Camera to find that they had three in stock. I only needed one.

With the eternal, maddening construction and consequential delays on our major north/south road from my studio to the camera store I was able to "enjoy" a half hour of driving to go ten miles north and then nearly 45 minutes to make the same trip back south. But I had a new goal in mind besides just buying local, my plan was to negotiate a deal which would also get me a free, vacuum insulated, stainless steel water bottle from the store. Yes, it has a logo on it but it's still a very cool (and effective water bottle).

I've been walking around the studio, the house and the neighborhood from the minute I got back snapping images willy-nilly and everything I focus the new lens on looks very cool.

So here we are again. Two systems deep. Unwilling to fully commit to one or the other. At least it's a hell of a lot of fun.....

Looks like we've got at least one foot in that small sensor camp. What keeps you shooting m4:3?


  1. Can't wait for the review of your new water bottle!

  2. Honestly, vacations keep me in that camp. I can't fathom lugging that much stuff around when I'm supposed to be having fun. My micro 4/3 system weights a fraction of my Nikon gear. The ledge I'm standing on is selling the Nikons and buying a E-M1.2 and a GH5 for all of my work. I just can't quite mentally make that leap - yet.

  3. Hi Kirk, Given the cost of running two systems, it may be more cost effective to just replace your A7Rii with an A9.
    Cheers, William

  4. "What keeps you shooting m4/3?"

    I dunno, except it just works. I bought in for the viewing, love being able to go back and forth between the LCD and EVF while shooting, love seeing the review screen in the EVF when I need to, have really learned to love the touch screen now that I have a GX8 and my nose doesn't hit it so often. I've used Panasonic since the G1 first came out around end of 2008. My latest infidelity has been with the Sony A7r, and while the Sony is great when it hits it also reminds me how much Panasonic has gotten right about controls, menus, and general picture making functionality. And the image quality gets better with every generation.

    I've had two other flings with full frame, a Nikon D800 and Sony A99. Neither one stuck. I just keep coming back to m4/3.

    Just this afternoon I convinced myself not to buy the 12-100. You are a bad influence, Kirk Tuck. I may have to swear off your blog until you switch systems again. lol

  5. It boils down to one thing really. The results I get with the Panasonic 20mm paired with my Olympus are superb.
    I've rounded out my lens collection and there are some real gems there, but the 20mm has become essential for the work that I'm doing (a niche type of portraiture) nothing else has managed to get close to the results and unobtrusiveness of the EP5.

    You've talked a lot in the past about connecting with the subject and this combination nails my workflow for that.

    The system is also flexible enough for me to take sports shots, large group shots, whatever.

    It works great. Although I do wish that Panasonic would update the motors on that lens... And maybe weatherseal it while they're updating it...


  6. You do realise of course Kirk that if you try that 12-100 on the EM-1 mk 2 body and experience the unbelievable IS of the combined rig you will then be wanting to buy an EM1 as well. Not as good for video but amazing for stills.

  7. So you got rid of the RX10xx?

  8. I keep 2 system myself. Full frame for people portraits, while m43 system for documentary work (corporate events, group shots). Turns out recently i take more shots using olympus rather than my full frame camera :D

  9. "What keeps you shooting m4/3?"

    The Panasonic 14-140mm f3.5-5.6-II lens. Gotta be the all-time greatest "walking-around" lens. Welded on my E-M5.

  10. You seem to have arrived at the 2 best mirrorless systems, and perhaps a pause in camera acquisition. Fortunately for all of us, there is never a pause in the acquisition of lenses.

    Having Panasonic/M43 lenses for video and, I suspect, a lot of your still photography, and Sony for the times a paying job demands extra resolution or high iso video makes a lot of sense. Really enjoy your blog and appreciate the perspective of a working professional.

  11. "What keeps you shooting m4/3?"

    EVF, tiltable monitor, small bodies, cheap s/h-bodies (EMD5 Mk1 = € 220,-), lots of different lenses, even the kit-zooms are of good quality, great lenses for small money.

  12. <>

    Many things. But perhaps the most important one is that I have come to prefer the 4:3 aspect ratio. I find that being able to view, compose, and shoot in 4:3 ratio is a make or break feature in the cameras I will buy. That leaves out the very nice full frame Sonys that you have. (But includes the RX-10s.)

    I also find that the Micro 4/3 cameras are just more "digital" than other cameras. Shoot pictures shaped differently from the sensor? Why not? It's just a little bit of software. Touch screens, still, video, stuff in between like Panasonic 4K pictures, focus stacking support, panorama support, electronic shutter? It's a computer. It can do this stuff.

    Sorry, go carried away.

  13. Interesting kit. Love the business wise video and stills approach.

    I am a two systems person as well. Fuji x for lightweight /street carry around and Nikon for nature and wildlife.

  14. Many things keep me in m4/3...
    - lighter weight lenses
    - lighter weight bodies
    - a tremendous variety of truly exceptional lenses
    - all of the above costs less than FF
    - super fast lenses that give me the shallow dof when I need it
    - did I mention the lenses?
    - much more than sufficient image quality for the work I do
    - that light weight thing, well it helps when I'm on my feet all day carrying gear, which I am most every day
    - and like one of the above posters, I really like the 4:3 format
    - and I can also shoot other formats when necessary, like square for all of my personal work
    - astonishingly great video, which I need about 10% of the time, but when I need it, it kills
    - super fast and accurate AF when compared to my old Canon gear
    - EVF's, because I like seeing my exposure on the image that I'm looking at
    - EVF's for shooting in dark places are much better than optical, because I can see the image, and accurately focus my super fast lenses manually without the aid of focus peaking

    And there are more. Basically, m4/3 has made photography fun again. I can carry what I need or want all day long and not feel bogged down. It's everything I ever wanted from a camera system, and more than I could imagine too.

    I shoot professionally and it's the only system I own.


  15. ...using m4/3...
    Size and weight are factors: I shot a bunch of snaps and a totally amateurish video at a recent wedding in Denver. The "professional" was lugging two canons with gigantic zooms, sweating. Looking at results later I found my shots equal or better when viewed on ipad screens as most of them will be. Will put together a keepsake photo book for the couple for xmas and the resolution of the tiny plastic Oly kit lenses will be just fine. So the images are more than adequate. There are other factors: both my M1 and M5ii have battery grips which fit my hand well, but those grips can get jettisoned if I want to go really light. The m4/3s work great with adapted lenses, and, for me most importantly, the Olys IBIS allows me to get shots otherwise impossible. Getting older, this has become a very big deal, especially as I use a magnified view of 7-14X routinely to nail manual focus. If I used an OVF I might think I was pretty steady, but the EVF doesn't lie. I will get a FF body when the IBIS improves to the level of the Olympus EM5ii or better...the larger sensor for my legacy wide angles and larger format lenses like Mam 645s and Pentax 67s that I actually use on a m4/3 body (with very good results.lol).

  16. I use μ4:3rds because I like it. I gave up arguing merits years ago when I realized that every camera maker creates excellent equipment. Life is too short; I'd rather use my time using my camera than to argue about it.

  17. Why 4:3?
    While I have both Sony a7ii and 4:3 and use both for professional work, I keep coming back to the 4:3 system because it is such a joy to use and I haven't seen enough difference in quality to convince me just to use the full frame solution.

  18. Panasonic cameras just gets out of The way and Keys you capture The Frame you intended. I use 2 canon 5 d II's for the few things I can't do with gx80, lx 100 and fz 1000 from Panasonic. A more budget friendly setup than yours Kirk. But same dilemma. I am trying to figur out how to loose the canons. But came to same conclusion as you. The price of a canon 5d II is so low i have not found a better solution. And the new dlsr's don't offer me much more except more resolution, so the mark II works fine for me. But I have a speed booster xl in the mail connecting all my canon lenses to my panasonics. Making the panasonics 1,28 x crops instead off 2 x crops. making my 1,4f lenses 0,9f on Panasonic bodies. With both autofocus and aparture control keept. Only thing not supported is dual is. But the in house is works.

    Regards Mads

  19. Kirk
    This is my second comment on this subject because you got me thinking. I actually think my images from 4:3 camera are better than from my full frame Sony. Why? To me composition is the most important ingredient of a good shot. I don't think 4:3 with being smaller with all its features and great lens options allow me ability to be freer and concentrate on the subject matter better than a full frame.


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