For anyone that has been following this blog for a while you will know that my photography has come a long way – to be honest it was pretty terrible to start with. This was partly to do with the fact my camera phone was pretty old and the photography definitely improved when I upgraded to a newer iPhone, however to move it on to the next level I decided to buy a new camera… however I then had to decide which one to buy!
There are a multitude of great websites out there aimed at amateur and professional photographers, but trying to find information that catered more to someone upgrading from a camera phone was a little more tricky, so I had a look on Instagram and noticed lots of bloggers were using the Olympus Pen EPL-7. I later realised this was partly due to Olympus’ great social media targeting but pointed me in the direction of mirrorless four thirds cameras which seem to fill the gap between pocket cameras and SLR’s.
After a bit more research I got it down to three options, all of which were available with a kit lens – which as far as I have worked out is an adjustable lens which is good for shooting in a variety of situations and whilst it isn’t the best lens, it is the best lens to get started with. So the options were:
- The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 (also known as the DMC-GX85) which comes with a Lumix G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 lens. This seems from all the expert reviews to be one of the best mirrorless four thirds cameras out there and has lots of nifty functions like post focus and 4k video and has a digital viewfinder and flash built into the body. Style wise it doesn’t have the retro look of the Olympus Pen series but is pretty good-looking in my opinion.
- The Olympus Pen EPL-8 this is the updated (better looking) model of the aforementioned E-PL7 and is sold with a M.Zuiko ED 14‑42mm F3.5‑5.6 EZ Pancake lens. It doesn’t have a built-in view finder and the flash fits to the hot foot on the top of the camera, but lots of the articles I read said that a flas wasn’t a necessity. It is also super sexy and as it is so closely related to the E-PL7 it has a great, almost cult following.
- The Olympus Pen OM-D EM-10 Mark II, which is also sold with the M.Zuiko ED 14‑42mm F3.5‑5.6 EZ Pancake lens. It currently retails at around £550 with the lens, although John Lewis currently have it on offer for £499. Although slight closer to an SLR than the other options, with two adjustable dials to the top, a digital viewfinder and flash it is also quite closely related to the E-PL7 and E-PL8 so has a relatively easy operating system, with touch screen focus and easily accessible menus.
After waying up all the pros and cons, I was veering towards the Panasonic Lumix GX-80 and my friend Helen of Pages by Helen offered to lend me hers to try out. As anyone who is familiar with Helen’s blog will know her photography is absolutely gorgeous, so the thought of getting anything close to that was a big draw.
However after having a good play with the camera, I decided that the Panasonic just wasn’t for me. It seems like a great camera and would be a good option for anyone that has a bit more experience of using an SLR. But as a complete amateur I found it a little complicated and a bit on the heavy side (although don’t let that put you off – I am quite weak; bottles of water often beat me). I also found the digital viewfinder a bit off-putting – it only comes on when placed up to your eye and this simultaneously switches the screen off. Granted you can turn this off, so the screen or viewfinder are on all the time, but it seemed a bit silly to pay the extra money for something I was going to switch off… I also realised I pull a ridiculous face when using a viewfinder, so perhaps I didn’t need one!
My experience with the Panasonic left me re-considering my options, so I did a bit more research on the Olympus Pen range and that was when I came across a couple of really helpful blog posts. The first was from Leah at Devoted to Pink on the Olympus Pen E-PL8 which was written in conjunction with Will Ablett from Park Cameras and talked about how easy the camera was to use and explained a little more about some technical aspects which had baffled me. The second was from Stylonylon and featured her 15 tips and tricks for setting up the E-PL7 or E-PL8. This second article was what sealed the deal for me – being such an amateur I felt having those tips as a starting point would be the best way to get the most out of the camera. So, at 11pm a couple of weeks ago I went ahead an ordered the Olympus E-PL8!
It arrived at the end of last week and whilst I am still getting to grips with it, Stylonylon‘s tips have proved invaluable – setting it up as per her guidance was literally the first thing I did… I now can’t wait to give her tips on shooting food in low light and shooting with a vintage lens a go… Watch this space…