TEST & WOW - MERCHANT CITY CAMERA IN GLASGOW
Early last year the jogwheel on my Pentax DSLR started to malfunction and I couldn’t select shutter speeds properly anymore. I was devastated. After five years of use and abuse in various countries, my first DSLR had finally given up the ghost. I needed to find a replacement that was a perfect fit in my little hands, but to my dismay the available upgrades to my camera had increased in size as well as functionality, and they just weren’t right for me anymore. To the Internet!
One can spend many, many hours researching to find just the right camera, I sat in my computer chair drooling over pictures of the Olympus OM-D series, but my goodness, it was a big commitment in expenditure. My first-ever DSLR was an Olympus OM-10, so nostalgia took over and I found myself so very, very in love with the about-to-be-released silver E-M5 Mark II. There’s really no substitute for getting a camera in your hands and trying it out, yet standing in the camera store taking pictures isn’t much of an indicator of how the camera is going to handle in the pouring rain, late at night or buffeted by the salty wind of the seaside. I agonised. I dithered. It was such a lot of money to commit to an unknown, especially Micro Four Thirds – a system I had no experience with and had read mixed reviews of.
And that was where Test & Wow came in. I found out about the service while looking up camera spec on the Olympus website, and while they didn’t have the E-M5 Mark II at the time – it was too soon, I wanted to know what Micro Four Thirds was like, what having an electronic instead of optical viewfinder was like, and how useable the manual focus assist options were for someone like me with lots of beautiful ZUIKO glass to use from my sadly deceased OM-10. I was so excited to find out that I could borrow an E-M1 and kit lens for a whole weekend at absolutely zero cost. The E-M1 shares some features including EVF resolution and manual focus modes with the E-M5 Mark II, so it seemed like a great way to get to grips with this new system.
Going online, it was so easy. I filled in the form and I was able to borrow the camera the very next day. I left them my debit card details and I needed to bring my driving licence with me to collect it. The guys in the shop went through the kit with me and there was a CD with the manual on it too. I asked them how to activate focus peaking and MF assist and they showed me how to do it, as well as how the 2×2 switch mode worked for changing ISO and white-balance. I didn’t need the manual otherwise. You get a full 24 hours with the kit, but because of Merchant City Camera’s opening hours I was able to borrow the camera on Friday and return it on Monday. I actually mainly used the camera on the Saturday so 24 hours would have normally been sufficient.
I was a bit nervous. It might be free to try, but if you break anything, you do have to pay a fee. My camera usually comes with me on all sorts of rugged terrain. The shop assistant gave me the whole kit: E-M1, battery grip and 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO kit lens, in a little, leather PEN bag with padded sections for each component. It seemed durable enough, so off I went to the little island of Hilbre off the coast of West Kirby. You walk in wellington boots across the estuary at low tide to reach it, stepping in little pools of leftover seawater, slipping on seaweed covered rocks and keeping to everyone else’s tracks to avoid the quicksand. To get up onto the island itself it’s fun to climb the sandstone rocks, and so I did with my little E-M1 bag at my back.
It was a beautiful day and I’ll let the photos speak for themselves – I used the E-M1 in manual mode and manual focus for the whole day. The EVF was so easy to use, and the manual focus options were great. Being able to do all my shooting, including rough checking of exposure quality, through the viewfinder was fantastic. All the scare stories I’d read about Micro Four Thirds as a system were just tosh. It was a bright sunny day, but I was also able to put the E-M1 through its paces in the shade back at home too, taking photos in a bluebell-littered stand of trees that you wouldn’t think was just a stone’s throw from a busy motorway.
I returned the E-M1 unscathed, happy knowing that all I needed to do was wait for the E-M5 Mark II to come out. I’m now the proud owner of one, along with 12mm lens, and I’m so pleased with my decision, and now I see the E-M5 Mark II is available on the scheme too! Thank you to Olympus for offering such a great service to nervous camera buyers. It got me off DPreview. com and out taking photos, which is what I should have been doing! In the near future I plan to use Test & Wow to try out the M.ZUIKO 60mm macro lens, so watch this space.
Like what you hear about Olympus’ Test & Wow and want to get testing the kit yourself? Now you can…
Simply click here take a look at the available Olympus products in our ‘Test Kit Overview’ section and then, under ‘Test Now’, select a convenient dealer to pick the test kit up from. After inputting your details you’ll then receive a confirmation email and be all set to be ‘wowed’ yourself!