Technology is able to create photos in a way that was never possible before, and at exceptional quality. Cameras and lenses are getting smaller and lighter, making them much more convenient to handle in the field and to travel with.
Being a bird photographer, I’ve been dreaming of the day when you can continuously record frames while you aim your lens at a lilac-breasted roller sitting on a perch, for example, waiting for it to show its stunning colours when it takes flight. Then, to have the ability to choose any of those recorded frames afterwards as the one to keep. You still have to apply all the necessary skills of photography like light, angle, and the creative vision for your composition, but you can limit the frustration of missing the shot when you click too late.
E-M1 Mark II + LEICA DG 100-400-F4.0-6.3 lens | 1-3200 sec at f 5.2, ISO 800 | Manual, -7-10 EV
E-M1 Mark II + LEICA DG 100-400-F4.0-6.3 lens | 1-3200 sec at f 6.3, ISO 6400 | Manual, 0 EV
The day I’ve dreamt of has been here for a while now, actually, with the Pro Capture feature on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it for a while. You simply aim at a bird and while you hold the shutter button in half-way, it records into a revolving buffer, at up to 60 frames per second, of 20 megapixel RAW files. When the bird flies, you press down all the way, and it saves a sequence of frames before and after you pressed the shutter. So, you’ll never miss that take-off shot again!
E-M1 Mark II + LEICA DG 100-400-F4.0-6.3 lens | 1-4000 sec at f 6.1, ISO 1250 | Manual, -3-10 EV
The red-billed oxpecker hardly gives any notice when it’s about to leave and takes off like a rocket. Without the Pro Capture feature, where 15 pre-recorded frames are saved when you press the shutter, it is almost impossible to capture any of the above photos.
I’ve been using my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II mostly with a 100-400 mm lens, which is an equivalent of 200-800 mm on a 35 mm system. So, for bird and wildlife photography it’s a perfectly convenient one-lens-wonder system. Apart from the Pro Capture feature, the small and lightweight convenience of the camera and lens is the biggest drawcard for this mirrorless micro four-thirds system.
E-M1 Mark II + LEICA DG 100-400-F4.0-6.3 lens | 1-4000 sec at f 5.6, ISO 1250 | Manual, -3-10 EV
I recently had the opportunity to try out a repertoire of Olympus wide angle lenses on safari:
- Olympus M.12-40 mmf/2.8
- Olympus M.8 mmf/1.8 fisheye
- Olympus M.7-14 mmf/2.8
I own the equivalent of these lenses in a full-frame DSLR system, so I know what good image quality is on wide-angle lenses. I was very impressed with the quality of the Olympus RAW files with the wide-angle lenses. The colour, contrast and sharpness – with little to no vignetting around the corners of the frame – is remarkable.
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8 mm F1.8 lens | 1-100 sec at f - 2,8, ISO 400 | Manual, -1 7-10 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.12-40 mm F2.8 lens | 1-400 sec at f 8.0, ISO 250 | Manual, 0 EV
What I enjoyed the most about these lenses, as is expected with a mirrorless micro four-thirds system, was the size and weight. It is not only very convenient to handle such small and light lenses in the field, but I could not believe how little space they took in my camera bag. Holding the camera and lenses for long periods of time was no effort at all.
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8 mm F1.8 lens | 1-200 sec at f 2.8, ISO 160 | Manual, -1 EV
A small and light lens is one thing, but when used with the innovations of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, I found the camera was a real pleasure and lots of fun. The camera itself is solid and robust. The swivel screen of the camera meant I could hold it at strange angles while seeing exactly what I was photographing. The impressive image stabilisation allowed me to shoot at high quality with slow shutter speeds while creating perfectly sharp results. It was also easy to switch to HDR bracketed shots. I was very impressed with the battery life. Even though I did take an extra battery, the original one lasted the entire five-day safari.
Olympus M.12-40 mm f/2.8
This lens is very similar in focal length to a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens on a full frame system. In wildlife and landscape photography it is a fantastic all-round wide angle lens. It’s wide enough for landscapes and long enough to show an animal in its environment, with the animal still large enough in the frame. This was my go-to lens for the duration of my recent safari.
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.12-40 mm F2.8 lens | 1-100 sec at f 11, ISO 125 | Manual, 0 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.12-40 mm F2.8 lens | 1-200 sec at f 8.0, ISO 400 | Manual, 0 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.12-40 mm F2.8 lens | 1-400 sec at f - 8,0, ISO 200 | Manual, -1 EV
E-M1MarkII + OLYMPUS M.12-40 mm F2.8 lens | 1-400 sec at f 8.0, ISO 200 | Manual, 0 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.12-40 mm F2.8 lens | 1-400 sec at f - 8,0, ISO 250 | Manual, 0 EV
Olympus M.8 mm f/1.8 fisheye
A fisheye lens has very creative application. On a safari it’s a fantastic lens from a story-telling perspective, like the inside of a plane or the safari vehicle, because you can include so much of the foreground in your frame. It distorts the horizon if you don’t keep it level, so for conventional wildlife and landscapes it has limited application. In my case it was handy to include a wide forest scene in one frame, even though you have to crop the image into a panoramic composition afterwards. I had some fun on the boat with this lens where I deliberately distorted the horizon.
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8 mm F1.8 lens | 1-50 sec at f 2.8, ISO 500 | Manual, -1 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8 mm F1.8 lens | 1-50 sec at f 2.8, ISO 3200 | Manual, 0 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8 mm F1.8 lens | 1-100 sec at f 2.8, ISO 320 | Manual, -1 7-10 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8 mm F1.8 lens | 1-100 sec at f 2.8, ISO 1250 | Manual, -1 EV
E-M1 MarkII + OLYMPUS M.8 mm F1.8 lens | 1-400 sec at f 8.0, ISO 200 | Manual, -1 7-10 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8mm F1.8 lens | 1-400 sec at f 8.0, ISO 250 | Manual, -1 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.8mm F1.8 lens | 1-400 sec at f 8.0, ISO 500 | Manual, -7-10 EV
Olympus M.7-14 mm f/2.8
This the biggest lens of the three, which is an indication of the complex optics and quality of such a wide angle zoom lens. I was very impressed with how little-to-no image distortion it rendered. This lens, just as the 14-24 mm f/2.8 equivalent lens on the full frame system, is the ultimate go-to lens for two specific type of photos I enjoy. The first is a close-up low-angle view of large animals. The kind you’ll get of elephants from the sunken hide at King’s Pool in the Okavango Delta. The other is starscape and startrail photos, which are landscape photos at night to showcase the stars and Milky Way. My attempt at the latter during my safari was interrupted by a leopard, so unfortunately after all the effort I made to setup my composition for a beautiful scene inside the ana tree forest, I quickly had to pick up my gear in favour of the safety of the safari vehicle when our guide spotted the leopard.
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.7-14 mm F2.8 lens | 1-200 sec at f 16, ISO 64 | Manual, -4 EV
E-M1 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.7-14 mm F2.8 lens | 1-200 sec at f 16, ISO 1000 | Manual, 0 EV
E-M1 MarkII + OLYMPUS M.7-14 mm F2.8 lens | 25,0 sec at f 2.8, ISO 3200 | Manual, 0 EV
I really enjoyed the wide-angle lenses on this system. The quality of the photos and the convenience of the small and lightweight gear makes it a highly recommend system to use when travelling, for both safari and other holidays
Let’s plan your next journey
When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.