One Camera/One Lens

January 6, 2016

Sometimes less is more. Although I normally adhere to the Boy Scout motto (Be prepared), sometimes I try to minimize the equipment I carry with me. The Olympus Micro Four Thirds system makes that  easy. On New Year’s Eve, I took my Olympus OM-D E-M5 with me to our local celebration. I had the Panasonic/Leica Summilux 15mm/f1.7 lens mounted. This is a great lens for a variety of applications, and the E-M5/15mm combo fits in your coat pocket. Giulio Sciorio has advocated this ‘one camera/one lens’ approach in the past, and I like to try it occasionally.

Although I used one camera and one lens for this occasion, I confess I had a backpack full of other equipment, just in case the need arose (my inner Boy Scout). Several factors conspired to keep all the other equipment in the bag. First, the town square was too crowded to break out my small travel tripod. Second, the crowd also made it difficult to even dig around in the backpack. Next, the 1.7 aperture of the 30mm lens was really a benefit compared to the 2.8 max aperture of my 7-14 and 12-35 lenses. Finally, an occasional soft drizzle made swapping lenses hazardous in the wet weather.

I love the snappy autofocus performance of the E-M5 and the 15mm lens. The lens is sharp and the 30mm (FF) field of view is a great choice — not too wide, not too narrow. Most of the shots in the slideshow above are at ISO 6400. With a little noise reduction, they are great for general use. If I had used the f2.8 zooms the noise from the higher ISO that would have been necessary for a useable shutter speed would have crept into the objectionable zone.

I understand the appeal of fixed lens/fixed focus cameras like the Sony RX1/Leica Q series, but for me, this is a much more versatile (and economical) solution. You get most of the benefits (small size/big aperture), without the limits of only one lens. I’m tempted to call this combo the “poor man’s RX1 or Leica Q,” but I know that the term “poor” is relative. Certainly I feel blessed to even be able to have a camera like this. Nevertheless, a $1200 combination is much more affordable than the $3000+ for the Sony or Leica options which don’t even allow for changing lenses. I know there are image quality advantages to the full frame options, but the trade-offs in size, cost, flexibility, and image quality make the E-M5 option with the Pana/Leica 15mm the choice for me.

I think the results above speak for themselves. It’s an interesting exercise to force yourself to one camera and one lens (preferably a prime lens) for a short time. I recommend giving it a try.

Happy shooting and happy new year!

Equipment Used

Olympus OM-D E-M5

Panasonic Leica Summilux 15mm/f1.7

#SLNYE #GetOlympus #Panasonic #PanaLeica

3 thoughts on “One Camera/One Lens

  1. Luca

    I’ve got the same couple camera + lens (E-M5 + PL 15mm 1.7). I’ve found a bit of noise in excess already at 3200 ISO, compared with other less performant lenses (kit or others) and I was wondering what setting parameters you used to get lower level of noise as in the pictures of the article.
    Thanks a lot,

    1. Michael Weeks Post author

      Hi Luca,

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t use any special camera settings to reduce the noise. I process the files in Photoshop using the Topaz DeNoise plugin. You can read about it here: The other trick is to make sure that the images are not underexposed. “Exposing to the right” on the histogram makes a big difference.

      I hope this helps.



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