When Olympus sent the E-M5 Mark III and the M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4.0 PRO to me, I was pleased to get this new camera and lens. But to be honest, I was rather hesitant to shoot with them. After all, I was very happy with the E-M1 Mark III and M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO combination that I'd been using for quite some time. What could this new combination offer me that I wasn't already getting from their pro-level body and my workhorse lens?
After about 3 months with it on my shelf I finally decided it was time to 'kick the tires' and see what they could deliver. It was also the start of the pandemic and I needed a creative boost since travel was out of the question and many of my local attractions were also shut down. So, on a rather grey March morning I grabbed an umbrella, a tripod, and the E-M5 Mark III and the 12-45mm PRO lens and headed down to the still-frozen bay near where I live, to see what I could create.
I set the camera up on the tripod, fairly low to the ice, engaged the time-lapse feature and began moving the umbrella around and tossing it up in the air (I'm sure that I looked like a complete fool!). This craziness lasted about 10 minutes, and after a bit of editing finally lead to this image...
This was my first creation with the E-M5 Mark III and 12-45mm PRO. I was pleased with the results, however a bit more time would pass before I was convinced that this pairing would truly meet my needs. But, more on that later. Now it's time for some introductions.
E-M5 Mark III
The OM-D series of cameras has 3 separate camera line-ups, from entry-level (the E-M10 series) to professional (the E-M1 series). The E-M5 Mark III fits right in between the two. It has a 20MP sensor with 5-axis image stabilization and weather-sealed construction. It can shoot at 10fps with its mechanical shutter and 30fps with the electronic shutter engaged.
The E-M5 Mark III has a noticeably smaller footprint that its bigger brother, the E-M1 Mark III. There are, of course, pros and cons to this. It's missing the great ergonomics of the E-M1iii, but is lighter and easier to pack.
A quick look at the mode dial shows that it can easily handle what a pro photographer might throw at it, yet with fully automatic settings and scene modes, it will appeal to those people who want the camera to take control of the shooting situation. It also has some really nice advanced features built in, like tripod high res mode and focus-bracketing and stacking.
M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4.0 PRO
When Olympus announced the release of the 12-45mm PRO, many people (myself included) questioned this decision since the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO already existed in the line-up. The 12-40mm PRO was the first PRO lens to be developed and had proven itself to be an exceptional piece of glass. The new 12-45mm PRO, having a smaller fixed aperture of F4.0, allowed it to shed a bit of its cousin's size and weight. This alone can be considered an advantage, but where this lens really shines is in its sharpness - a degree of sharpness that is usually reserved for prime lenses. Like all of the PRO lenses, the 12-45mm PRO is weather-sealed, has a Zero coating on the front element, and has a very close minimum working distance (12mm for this lens). What is missing however, is the manual focus clutch. I don't use manual focusing often, but the pull-back clutch system on the other PRO lenses is a nice, convenient way to engage it.
Putting it to the Test
After a bit of playtime with the camera and my umbrella, I put the camera and lens back on my shelf...
...and two months went by before I decided to pick it up again. Yup, two whole months! Like I said, I was quite pleased with the E-M1 Mark III. But now I was starting to feel guilty that I wasn't shooting with this new gear, so I finally decided it was time to see what this camera/lens combination could do.
It was now the middle of May, and on this particular morning a thin fog hung in the air, creating a moody atmosphere that got my trigger finger itching. Overwhelmed with guilt (okay, that might be an exaggeration!), I opted to grab the E-M5 Mark III and the 12-45mm PRO and headed out to see what I could shoot.
As a landscape photographer I know that some days are a complete bust, and on others you strike it rich. On this particular day, I hit photographic gold. The conditions were perfect!
The photos above are just two that I made that day, but they turned out to be two of my all-time favourites. Could I have achieved the same results with my E-M1 Mark III and the 12-100mm PRO? Almost certainly. But this proved to me that my hesitation to shoot with the E-M5 Mark III and the 12-45mm PRO was completely unwarranted.
Small, Light, and Powerful
I have a great love of the outdoors and for adventure. Looking for something new to do during a pandemic, when regular travel is not a wise idea, my wife and I turned to fat biking. It's a great winter activity that utilizes specially designed bikes with very 'fat' tires that allow you to ride fairly easily over snow. It's a real calorie-burner, so I'm not interested in carrying any extra weight. That said, I'm also not willing to bike these winter trails without a camera. The E-M5 Mark III and 12-45mm PRO lens were the perfect solution. Together, they are small and light enough so they don’t weigh me down, and rugged enough to handle the elements. Plus, they have all the professional features I need for my winter adventures.
Final Thoughts and Images
My initial hesitation to shoot with the E-M5 Mark III is now long gone. It, along with the 12-45mm PRO lens is almost always packed in my camera bag or joins me on an adventure. I still shoot primarily with the E-M1 Mark III, but for professional photographers, it makes for a great back-up camera. And, for enthusiast photographers, who are looking to upgrade, it is definitely a combination worth considering. All in all, I would say that, for many situations, it is a perfect pairing.
I started this article with a concept shot, so why not finish with one. I love shooting during heavy snow as it helps to isolate the elements of the scene. The E-M5 Mark III and the 12-45mm PRO can handle some tough weather conditions, but, full disclosure, there were no ravens to be found during this winter storm so it was added later, in post.
Peter has been a dedicated Olympus shooter for nearly 40 years, and has found a way to combine his passion for photography with his love of teaching to develop photography workshops with a focus on landscape, wildlife and astrophotography. Peter’s work has been published in a number of magazines including Canadian Geographic, Shutterbug and Outdoor Photographer. He maintains his own blog with an emphasis on tutorials that assist others in bringing their photography up to the next level.