BY CARSTEN KRIEGER
Ireland-based professional photographer and author Carsten Krieger has had his work published in magazines and calendars and he exhibits on a regular basis. Read on to find out how the Olympus OM-D system has played a part in his own personal photography journey.
My relationship with the Olympus OM-D system began with the original OM-D EM-1 with the intention of using it as a lightweight alternative for my DSLR system, mainly for festivals and other events as well as outdoor sports photography. Back then, I was mainly working in the tourism sector for various regional and national organisations. One of the main requirements for these assignments were cameras that could produce high-resolution files for billboard campaigns, something that back then was not in the domain of the 16MP Olympus camera. After the files were generally being turned down by both my clients and my stock agency I regretfully traded my Olympus outfit for something with considerably more pixels.
This was frustrating as you and I know that resolution is not the issue with billboards especially and it is partly a lack of knowledge at agencies as fellow Olympus user R. Cleveland Aaron had a building size poster in Hong Kong from the 5MP E-1! Billboards are printed at such low resolution but there is a lack of knowledge in some areas even though I think this is changing finally. It is part of the overall misconception about size vs quality.
Over the following years I kept an eye on Olympus and the Micro Four Thirds system and early last year I decided to again invest in an OM-D camera and a few lenses. After over a decade of running from one assignment to the next, I have had enough of photographing colourful tourist towns, outdoor activities and events and always smiling, happy holidaymakers. I felt that it’s time to go back to my roots in nature and landscape photography and the OM-D system looked like the perfect equipment to do it with.
One of my main requirements for a camera system is its built quality and weather sealing. I live and work on Ireland’s west coast, a place notorious for its weather. The Olympus OM-D series was always praised for its weather resistance and after almost a year of field use, I can say that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is one of very cameras I feel safe using in rain and salt spray without any additional protection. Camera and lenses have lived through some adverse weather and still work perfectly.
Another factor that brought me back to Olympus is the size, weight and portability of the system. I am reaching an age where the thought of lugging a full-size DSLR outfit through the countryside sends shivers down my spine. But it’s not only my age and general laziness that made Olympus appealing to me. The smaller size and reduced weight of the OM-D system also makes it easier to set up in confined spaces and react to and follow the often fast-paced wildlife action. In addition, it is easy to carry two or even three camera bodies with attached lenses and so be able to switch focal length in an instant. I am an opportunist and even when I am out to photograph wildflowers I like to be ready to capture any other wildlife that crosses my path. So far this approach has paid off – I got some of my best bird images when I was out for some macro photography.
This brings me to the third reason I like to work with Olympus cameras and lenses. Many Olympus lenses have an unusually short close focusing distance which makes these lenses incredibly versatile. The M.Zuiko 300mm F4 PRO, for example, has become my favourite lens to photograph wildflowers. Shot wide open this long focal length can create a wonderfully calm background while still allowing you to get close enough for your subject to fill the frame. This combination of long focal length and close focusing distance is also helpful when photographing jittery insects like butterflies and moths.
On top of all this the OM-D cameras come with a number of helpful bells and whistles. The one that captured my interest the most was the Pro Capture. The first should be very helpful to photograph dolphins and other marine mammals for an upcoming book project on the “Shannon Dolphins”, a group of resident bottlenose dolphins at the Shannon Estuary in the west of Ireland. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to put it to the test properly due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic but I hope to be able to get on a boat soon. Keystone correction, double exposure, focus stacking, a High-Resolution mode and the fully articulating screen are also features that come in incredibly handy and make the photographer’s life much easier.
While there are little bits and pieces I would like to see changed in the future, the most important thing for me is a camera I feel comfortable with and on which I can rely on even in the worst circumstances and my OM-Ds give me that.