Why this photographer switched to Olympus after shooting Nikon for 42 years

Dec 6, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Why this photographer switched to Olympus after shooting Nikon for 42 years

Dec 6, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Not too long ago, switching brands seemed a silly expense. Bouncing back and forth between Nikon and Canon was just far more cost and hassle than it was worth. Some photographers simply bought into both brands (it worked out cheaper than swapping every couple of years). Others stuck with their brand through thick and thin.

Joe Edelman is one such photographer and stuck with Nikon for 42 years. But as technology developed and more manufacturers came back into the fray, Joe’s needs changed. So, he started playing the field to see what the others had to offer. Now, he’s finally made the switch to Olympus, and in this video, he explains why.

YouTube video

To be clear, Joe stresses that he’s not suggesting everybody or even anybody should just blindly switch to Olympus or any other brand. He’s just explaining the reasons for his own switch, as he’s been asked quite a lot.

Joe picked up his first Nikon in 1975. He went with a Nikon F and then switched to digital in 1999 with a 2.7MP Nikon D1. Then he went to a 5.6MP D1x, a 12MP D2X, 10MP D200, 12MP D300, 12MP D700, 36MP D800, D810, and finally the 20MP D500. Quite the evolution over the years, and similar to the one I’ve followed myself.

Joe says he stuck with them so long because they were familiar and comfortable. He liked the ergonomics. But since going full steam ahead on his YouTube channel, he picked up a Panasonic GH5. While the GH5 is primarily Joe’s video shooting camera, he has shot some stills with it. Let’s face it, though, who wouldn’t? Even if just to satisfy simple curiosity.

He says he was blown away by the results, and started looking at Micro Four Thirds more seriously. He likes the whole idea of mirrorless, loves electronic viewfinders and being able to see the finished shot before it’s even been made. He’s sick of waiting for Nikon to get caught up in mirrorless tech, and after chatting with Olympus ambassador Gavin Hoey at PhotoPlus Expo recently, he decided to rent some kit and try it out.

Why keep waiting for a company that I’ve been loyal to for decades to get their act together, when every other month there’s a press release that they’re losing money, or laying off people, or closing factories?

So, Joe picked up a pair of Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II bodies and an array of prime & zoom lenses. Now he says he couldn’t be happier. His kit’s lighter, easily keeps up with his needs, and offers more of the features he needs. Features that Nikon are failing to deliver.

With the constant sharing of the belief that “full frame > all”, it’s interesting to see so many jumping onto Micro Four Thirds, as well as other systems using sensors smaller than full frame 35mm.

Joe’s shot several commercial clients since making the switch. He said none of them gave a second glance to the equipment he was using, and were thrilled with the images. So, you don’t need the biggest camera possible in order to impress clients. You just need to be able to deliver the results they want.

Again, Joe’s not suggesting that anybody else should make the switch to Olympus or any other brand. But hopefully understanding his reasons will make you think about your own reasons for why you shoot the brand & kit that you do.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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31 responses to “Why this photographer switched to Olympus after shooting Nikon for 42 years”

  1. Henry Rodgers Avatar
    Henry Rodgers

    Nikon doesn’t have a mirrorless camera he likes. Bait gone.

  2. Tj Ó Seamállaigh Avatar
    Tj Ó Seamállaigh

    Yeah, wish the morons I’m surrounded with just realize these facts.

  3. Adam Santino Avatar
    Adam Santino

    If you’re looking for a company that has “its act together”, Olympus doesn’t seem to fit that bill. It’s also a curious time to make that jump since Nikon just announced that they’re re-examining their approach to mirrorless. Granted, the finished product may not be that competitive.

  4. Randy Kasal Avatar
    Randy Kasal

    D850 isn’t getting their act together?

    1. Thewhoopimen Avatar
      Thewhoopimen

      it’s overkill for 99% of photographers out there, especially in-studio. I think Joel’s choice of mirrorless points out to the fact that he doesn’t need a D850 when shooting in an indoor with lights and modifiers. He wanted lighter gear, and a competent camera that Nikon never delivered on. There’s very little difference between Full frame and mirrorless when you can model your lights in a controlled environment.

    2. Tamashii Avatar
      Tamashii

      Not really…. That thing is a Beast. Nikon/Cannon/ Sony image size is out of control.
      I can’t see selling my trusty Nikon Df and old lenses. But nothing “better”/new has caught my eye.
      To each his own ✌

    3. Larry Haydn Avatar
      Larry Haydn

      His point is about weight and price. And innovation.

    4. Randy Kasal Avatar
      Randy Kasal

      D850 is better.

  5. Adam Favre Avatar
    Adam Favre

    Watch the video. Good explanation. One if his points was to also broaden his audience by using gear that non-pros can actually afford to get their hands on. He has made that push with the light kit it looks like and now with the gear, all being quality items in a friendlier price range for the consumer, hobbyist, and prosumer.

    Seemed like the video was extensive and shared his reasons well. It is also conceded that it isn’t the tool for every job, but it fits HIS needs.

    Thought he did a nice job not burning a bridge and trying not to alienate any brandcentric fans. That issue is tough thoug, as many get tunnel vision with their gear.

    My bet is he is STILL the same guy everyone knew and loved. Be careful though, as he may now be doing some amazing things with such low-quality gear! ;-)

  6. Linda Harper-Hocknull Avatar
    Linda Harper-Hocknull

    I’ll be more than happy to receive his Nikon that he’s not using now…. ?

  7. M Rick Richards Avatar
    M Rick Richards

    6 months later, guy trades in his Olympus for his old Nikon gear…

    1. Thewhoopimen Avatar
      Thewhoopimen

      I went Canon -> Olympus 5 years ago. Haven’t looked back.

  8. Adam McCombs Avatar
    Adam McCombs

    Me: Canon -> Fuji. Clickbait or not, the big boys need to get their act together.

    1. Michael Ciurleo Avatar
      Michael Ciurleo

      I’ve been debating the same. Nikon -> Fuji. I had fun when I borrowed one recently.

      1. Uncle Bro Avatar
        Uncle Bro

        I bought the super old Fuji XE-1 and adapted my nikon 50mm and 85mm afd lenses to it and have not picked up myd700 since. i reeeeally enjoy this little camera.. I’m saving for an X-pro 2 and eventually plan to go full fuji.

  9. Erie Patsellis Avatar
    Erie Patsellis

    I have all but abandoned Nikon after shooting primarily Nikon since ‘76 as a teenager. Another return to my first love, large format is planned for next year.

  10. Richard Maxwell Avatar
    Richard Maxwell

    Selling any cheap lenses now that you’ve changed? Just asking even if it all sounds a bit cheeky ?

  11. Tronn Hansen Avatar
    Tronn Hansen

    His point is utterly ridiculous. A full frame mirrorless with proper glass is not any smaller or lighter than a full frame dslr. This is a myth.

    Sure, if you want one of those crappy crop cameras, because you value portability over image quality, just buy a damn phone. No one will notice the difference.

    You want proper image quality, buy a proper camera.

    1. Dianne Sorrell Avatar
      Dianne Sorrell

      I just sold a $450 landscape photo I made with my “crappy crop camera,” not to mention getting invited to have a gallery show, juried into a national art show and invited into a local gallery. The weight and bulk of my equipment matters, since I’m 5’5″, female and just past 60. I chose m4/3 for the lenses, and spent all my spare time working at it. Nothing wrong with full frame, but it doesn’t suit everyone’s needs.

    2. Bankslay Avatar
      Bankslay

      I have a Sony A7 even to untrained non-photographers they prefer the vast majority of shots taken with Olympus. I do notice a difference between Olympus and full frame and prefer the Olympus shots 70% of the time and the 3rd of the time I like the full frame better is because of bokeh/DOF and nothing to do with IQ. I see this when reviewing Olympus pictures thumbnails with the exposures even and colors looking right, I see this when I view the pictures full size and 100% or more pixel peeping shot after shot with perfect focus compared with dslrs shots almost never in perfect focus, I see this with Olympus, great edge to edge sharpness I don’t need to stop down for. I see this with Olympus, handheld low light shots without a tripod that have a high keeper rate. It’s not our issue you have too much time and money invested in threatened system you have to make weak half-truth arguments for, you can sell off you’re Nikon or Canon full frame gear just as easily as we did. If Canon makes a short focal length full frame mirrorless at least as good as Sony then I will switch to Canon for full frame. I probably will not switch from Sony to Nikon because I don’t care for Nikon bokeh. I do wish Olympus would make full frame or at least aps-h 1.3 crop since it’s time consuming and expensive to have both Sony and Olympus I still have a Canon 5D I borrowed it to a friend to learn photography until she graduates to Olympus and gets real camera, she liked the Nikon D200 feel and quality but hated the ugly bokeh and colors look of the Nikon, she likes the Sony A7 pictures I take but the viewfinder for us is hard to use compared to Olympus especially the great E-M1.

  12. Michael Palmer Avatar
    Michael Palmer

    Canon > Olympus > Fuji for me…

    1. Bankslay Avatar
      Bankslay

      Interesting I like the Canon lens look but really none of their bodies I do have a Canon 5D, 20D and compact, but I strongly prefer Olympus especially for manual focus. I have rebuilt 3 EF 50 1.4s and getting a little tired of it. I do wish Canon would make a short focal length full frame mirror-less since I strongly dislike the Sony A7. I do like the Canon feel and grew up a film photographer but Mirror-less has so many advantages I don’t think I would use optical viewfinder for anything but birds or whales sitting a long time looking in the viewfinder with the camera off. I hope Canon does not screw up and build a stupid long focal length mirrorless like the stupid Pentax K-01 as much as I love Pentax and wish it was number one along with Olympus the K-01 without viewfinder was a really stupid move.

  13. Erik Saari Avatar
    Erik Saari

    Whatever. Good for him. These type articles are a waste of time.

  14. Dario Toledo Avatar
    Dario Toledo

    With the constant sharing of the belief that “full frame > all”, it’s
    interesting to see so many jumping onto Micro Four Thirds, as well as
    other systems using sensors smaller than full frame 35mm.

    It’s also true the opposite, many people switched from full frame to medium format, that’s how cameras such as the 645Z and the GFX 50s have found their market share.

  15. Jurgen Lobert Avatar
    Jurgen Lobert

    I’m wondering how much Olympus paid him to make this video! As for fun, picking up a Nikon D850 is super-fun and perhaps 10x more fun than picking up a camera that is made for a child’s hand! Talking about usability and having the buttons and dials where they need to be. As for quality, it is an amateur’s statement to claim that Micro-4/3 is equally good as full frame. Let’s have a shoot-out at night, taking photos of Milky Way, aurora or the zodiacal light or even bright city lights, and compare dynamic range and noise…. :)

    1. Eric Avatar
      Eric

      It entirely depends on what one needs of a camera though. If shooting primarily in studio, what earth-shattering advantage does FF have over m43? You’re right about shooting at night…but how many people shoot that? It’s all about matching your needs to your gear. Nobody is suggesting m43 is on par with or even superior than full frame.

      …and for what it’s worth, the GH5 feels SO much better in my hand than my old Canon FF gear. Hell…even my GX8 feels natural in my hands. I’m also a 6’3″ guy, and my hands are pretty damn big. Never had a problem with buttons and dials being placed improperly, so I’m not sure what straws you’re grasping at there.

      Seems like you’ve got a wee bit of that full frame tunnel vision yourself there, friend…. :)

      1. Chuck Diesel Avatar
        Chuck Diesel

        I made the same point about sensor size meaning nothing, so long as you are shooting in a studio. I shoot a lot of portraits outdoors and I own an OMD EM1ii, but I have since bought a Sony A7ii because M4/3 is not doing the job outside.

    2. Bankslay Avatar
      Bankslay

      I have a Sony A7, Canon 5D, had a Sony A850 and have 3 Olympus OMD’s and do still have a Nikon D200. I shoot the OMD’s at least 70% of the time and have had zero issues with them even 4lb 1000mm lenses that would snap my Sony A7 in half like a toothpick. The E-M1 is the only camera I have been able to comfortably use with larger lenses without a grip and I find the controls and focus aids excellent and the super image stabilization makes low light and active shooting easy. Sure you have theoretical noise advantage with full frame but you need to use a tripod except with Sony A7II and A9 and limited Canon and Nikon lenses. With the Oly with any large aperture lens you can get stars as points of light handheld and can get night shots handheld, lighting fast focus that is dead accurate. When I looked back at my old A850 and and 5d close focus shots NONE of them were in perfect focus and of course with an optical viewfinder with no focus aides that’s just plain tough luck. For the vast majority of use Olympus is just plain vastly superior and far more portable, and extremely rugged a reliable at low cost. If you have to have optimal IQ at any cost then why not just go Phase One? The OLY E-M5 high resolution shots are clearly superior to Canon 5Ds series for stills on tripod so a pro landscape photographer would be better served by and Olympus they could take in any weather. For now pro level sports is better served by full frame but only due to maturity of lens selections. The reason many people ditched Nikon and Canon for Olympus yes even pro birders is because they actually used them instead of making up crazy non-sense like you. Last week I would have been glad to give you the 200lbs of Bogen/Manfrotto tripods that are now sitting in storage as useless relics of the past due to Olympus image stabilization.I do love the old D200 buttons and switches but the E-M1 is light years superior for manual focus which I mainly use and I prefer the handling, buttons and switches. How much did Nikon pay you to spread non-sense or are you just brainwashed? Don’t get me wrong I love Nikon and would definitely buy and use the D850 with grip if there was SOME special purpose I needed it for, otherwise I’ll stick with my E-M1 I can use with the largest lenses with no grip and all the image stabilized manual focus lenses I can easily focus with millimeter precision with my larger than your D850 viewfinder with image magnification, zebras and focus peaking.

  16. CAugustin Avatar
    CAugustin

    Interesting that some people still think that the E-M1 MkII is small and low quality – shows that they never had it in hand and shot with it (I have, using the Olympus Test & Wow program available here in Germany). Especially with the additional grip it has the size of a full-fledged crop or even full-frame DSLR camera (not the weight, though), and image quality is better than most people associate with M3/4. But lenses are much smaller and lighter (even compared to APS-C lenses, and even the metal ones – glass is the heavy part here). And you can get decent lenses for decent prices from many manufacturers (so Joe opted for those lenses with a higher price tag ;)).

    Joe’s arguments are spot-on. And it seems to be necessary to communicate them, as there are lots of misconceptions around about M3/4. Joe’s video mirrors my own (non-pro) experience – while my Pen F can’t compete with my Sony A7 when pixel-peeping, and is actually not much different in body size, it is much more fun to use, and a much smaller, lighter (and cheaper) package when it comes to modern AF lenses.

    Those who want to stick with their brand of choice should do so, but those who have an unprejudiced view might find alternatives that suit their needs better.

  17. Uncle Bro Avatar
    Uncle Bro

    The d200 was and still is a bauss of a camera. I switched to Fuji for most of the same reasons Joe switched to Olympus. I wanted photography to be fun again.

  18. LT Avatar
    LT

    Made a switch from Canon to Panasonic, my only regret was not to switch sooner. Pros and cons with M43, but more pros for my personal need