Big Eye Olympus and Tough New Olympus

on January 05, 2016

Two new Olympus bits, as you'll see from some of our other electronic posts: A telephoto lens and a new underwater camera.

Here's the editorial take on them as gleaned from the press announcements:

a. The 300mm f4 ED IS PRO lens looks to be the flagship long optic of the Micro 4/3 system and logically will be so for a long time. Olympus themselves realise that this is a sports and wildlife lens a and have conducted their own surveys to find out the most popular subject. it turns out to be birds - the feathered variety.

At 600mm equivalent it's about all you could hope to hold - and even here you'll have to use all the magic bean power that Olympus put in their image stabilising system. They state it as 6-stops of stabilisation when used on an OM-D E-M1 or OM-D E-M5 Mkii body. The makers provide a tripod foot and also a sleek ring to replace it if you are going to hand hold the lens. Frankly, unless you are shaking it like a set of maracas the six stops should be more than enough steadiness for most people.

It's going to be pretty good lightweight solution for the bird botherers as compared to the larger DSLR systems.

b. Olympus have also continued their remarkable series of Tough underwater and rugged-duty cameras with the Tough TG 870. This has the sealed capabilities of it's older siblings but adds increased GPS , a 180º tilting selfie screen and a great many electronic additions. The ones I noted particularly set it up as a slightly bigger rival for the ubiquitous action camera. There is also a additive-shot mode called Live Composite Mode that means you can add the bright bits of night-time multiple exposures to get exciting shots. It is something that this camera shares with some of the bigger and fancier Olympus system cameras.

I was particularly taken with the press announcement from Olympus that mentioned the 300mm lens as also perfect for theatre shooting. A lot of people forget that when you are doing this class of work you are frequently bundled down the back of the venue or over to one side as you cannot be in the best viewing position for fear of blocking the paying customer's view. Long tele work in dim light needs some serious glass and also a serious high-ISO response from the camera body. This is the sort of shooting where the tripod and a good mount are a blessing.