After two big event jobs and a bunch of smaller advertising projects I spent some time pondering what I could add to the equipment mix to make life either easier or photography more interesting...


As you might have read I've taken a step or two back into the smaller format systems of Panasonic and Olympus. Some things have changed since I last worked with the smaller format. I'm not really designating either the m4:3 cameras or the Leicas as a "primary" system but am choosing them based on what a project might call for instead. And to that end I'm finishing out the smaller system with "needed" lenses. This allows me maximum capriciousness. 

Before my early April job with the big software company I bought an Olympus 12-45mm f4.0 Pro lens. More out of curiosity than need. I thought it would be cool to have something very flexible, very sharp and very small --- if that's the way it turned out. I was happy with its performance and found that it was at least as good, optically, as the Panasonic 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens. It's actually a more or less perfect walking around in good light lens. One thing I learned on the software retreat was that 60mm isn't long enough, even in small ballroom, to get effective speaker shots. 

When I went to Santa Fe last week for the gigantic banking association meeting I over-compensated by bringing along the Panasonic S5 and the Leica SL2 with big lenses. But I also doggedly brought along the m4:3 stuff as well. Most of the photos in Santa Fe were done with big, full frame lenses and full frame bodies but I did toss in a fair number of GH6 shots, mostly done with the 12-60mm, just for fun. They were more than adequate for quality it was just the reach that was lacking...

While shooting and working in Santa Fe I was invited to do a similar job in late June, in Nashville. This opened up a new line of thought for me. There's no way I'm going to drive to Nashville. In fact, I may never drive much further than San Antonio ever again! But I started thinking about packing gear for airplane travel and remembered the 26 round trips I did on airplanes in Fall of 2018 for a national infrastructure company. On those trips, on and off smaller regional jets and even smaller private aircraft, space and weight was a big consideration. Most of our locations were relatively remote and many times required a mile or so of walking in. On difficult terrain. And the side of mountains.

On those trips I packed a couple of G9 camera bodies and a small assortment of really good lenses. They worked very, very well. The images were well received and the small photo backpack I chose fit under any conceivable airplane seat. It seems I had found the sweet spot and the prevailing rationale for the smaller format systems. 

Once again, on a later trip to Iceland, I also packed the G9s and some of the same lenses. Looking back at images from that trip I thought the output from my selection of lenses was equally good and equally effective. 

So now I'm looking at packing up a backpack that will, again, fit under the seat of any airplane and also provide me with enough capability to provide extensive coverage of the next banker conference. The biggest gap in the system last week was longer lenses. The kinds of lenses needed for discreet podium photos of keynote speakers, entertainers and expert presenters. My first big zoom for the smaller system, back in the "old days" was the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens. Perfect imaging but a very hefty package to work with for long periods of time, handheld. 

The second lens I used with the "Pixie" systems was the Panasonic/Leica 50-200mm f2.8-4.0 lens. It's a really nice one but it's pricey and I don't really think it has the same "bite" as the Olympus mentioned just above. I'd been trying to track down a copy of one of the new Olympus 40-150mm f4.0 Pro zooms from Precision Camera but they kept coming up empty. My rationale was multi-fold. This lens is very small, very light and supposedly very sharp. While it's slower than the other two (aperture-wise) the f4.0 isn't bad and it's constant. If the lens is sharp wide open then it's not an issue. It will work for my purposes.

In my dreams I imagined a backpack that had only the two Panasonic bodies (GH6 and GH5ii) along with the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm and the new Olympus 40-150mm f4.0 Pro lens, augmented with one fast prime. The rest of the small, "Airport Advantage" backpack would be filled with dedicated flashes, extra batteries, chargers and cables. It would weigh about half the poundage of my last packed case and provide everything I would need for a corporate event. The bonus being "enhanced mobility."

So, I fired up the potent and glorious Subaru Forester and headed to the camera store. We looked for the Olympus lens but came up empty. I found a used Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 ii on the used shelf for the kindly sum of $579 but it really wasn't what I wanted. I found the Olympus lens on their website and it showed that it was currently in stock so my sales associate redoubled his efforts. Eureka!!! We found the lens I really wanted. I even got a nice discount on the purchase....

No lens gets in the backpack for a job until it's taken out into the harsh, "real world" and shot for a while. I've got about a month and a half to put it through its paces so I thought this afternoon would be a good starting point. Above and below are images shot with the Olympus 40-150mm f4.0 Pro lens; mostly at f4.0 or, at most, f5.0. 

The lens is small and light; as advertised. It was cost effective at $849. It fits right into the cutout I had prepared for it in my Think Tank case. It communicates and works seamlessly with the Panasonic GH5ii. I think it's going to work out well. See for yourself.

detail from the photograph at the top of the article. 

Sharp at the long end. 

I might give this one a try as the new studio work vehicle. 
It's pretty cute....

Highway photos. The new thing.

 58 miles to Santa Fe, NM. 

Camera: Panasonic GH5ii

Lens: Olympus 12-45mm f4.0 Pro