For nearly three decades I have been privileged to travel to some of the most remote places on our planet, photographing wildlife and environmental issues but primarily birds. I have camped on Antarctic sea ice next to an emperor penguin colony, trekked through the forests of Papua New Guinea in search of birds of paradise, shivered in a remote cabin in the Russian far east while photographing brown bears and sweated deep in the Amazonian rainforest in search of macaws. But the one constant, wherever my work has taken me, has always been to try and travel as light as possible.
So when last year a photographer friend of mine switched to Olympus, my interest was piqued. Yet I remained a bit of a cynic, not believing such a small digital camera body would be able to produce the quality of image I need for my commercial clients. As a professional I rely on reproduction fees from the web, publishers, advertisers, and calendar companies. I shoot pictures for commercial catalogues and for packaging, and these same pictures are then often used on point of display materials and posters. I also sell my pictures as fine art prints up to and sometimes beyond A2 in size. Could the Olympus system really replace my full frame DSLRs?
Within a day of using the OM-D E-M1 Mark ll and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 PRO lens I knew I would not be picking up my DSLRs again. The image quality was impressive, but it was the many attributes hidden away inside the E-M1 Mark ll body that impressed me the most. The blazing-fast frame rate of 18fps was like jumping from a sedan car into a Ferrari. I discovered the in-body stabilization was so good I could take handheld shots at 1/15 seconds. No need to carry a heavy tripod in future.
For wildlife photography there was one other feature that enabled me to get shots others were finding hard or impossible to take. During a shoot in the Scottish Highlands photographing leaping red squirrels at a specially built set in the forest, the squirrels would sit at one end of a log, before leaping through the air towards the camera to grab a nut, placed to entice them to jump. With my camera set to Pro Capture I nailed every single squirrel leap that morning. Missing many opportunities when the squirrel was in mid-leap, my companions using DSLRs were left frustrated.
Closer to home, I love to walk out on the North Norfolk marshes looking for birds to photograph. The lightweight nature of the Olympus kit means I can walk all day and not feel weighed down by camera gear. I cover more ground and when I do find a subject that requires a quiet, careful approach I can shoot silently, so no longer will I have to look on as a hunting Barn Owl veers away at the sound of a noisy camera shutter.
Author & Photographer : David Tipling