At the end of last year I pre-ordered and then purchased a new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and among the benefits of pre-ordering the camera was that you could attend a free workshop, there were a number of locations available. Each workshop was centred on a theme linked to the location and as well as Olympus (along with a large number of Olympus lenses to try out) being there a professional photographer would be present too. The photographer would naturally be one of the Olympus UK ambassadors.
The workshop that I picked was the one at Marwell Zoo where Tesni Ward (a professional wildlife photographer) would be present to offer advice, tips and techniques. This event did “sell out” quickly as I like a lot of photographers enjoy wildlife (if you can call animals in a zoo wildlife) photography.
The event was scheduled for Saturday 4TH March and as the zoo is situated on the outskirts of Winchester (about 4 hours away by car) I would have to travel down before the event and go home afterwards; I don’t fancy getting up mega early, driving for 4 hours and then driving back for 4 hours getting bac god knows when. So I travelled down on the Friday and went back on the following Monday. As I used to live in Winchester I do have a few friends in the area so I spent Sunday with Gary who is also a keen Olympus Photographer, he drive us to Portland Bill (more about this in another post).
To help keep costs down I booked a Premier Inn in Eastleigh (a stone’s throw from the M3) and this I only 20 minutes away from the Zoo. However, that said this “free” workshop did cost me quite a bit what with a hire car, hotel stay for 3 nights, food and petrol. I don’t mind a penny of it as I had a good time over the long weekend, apart from my 4 hour drive back taking 6 hours instead 😦
So on Saturday morning after having a nice breakfast I popped into my hire car (Nissin X-Trail – thankyou to Hertz) I travelled the 20 minutes or so to the Zoo. After arriving and parking the car I noticed a large group of photographers some of which had the Olympus cameras on show. I walked up to them and after confirming that we were all here for the same reason we started chatting. I always liked conversing with other photographers as you always learn something new.
We were also joined by a celebrity: Victoria Bampton who is better known as the LightRoom Queen (https://www.lightroomqueen.com/) I had no idea that she was based in the UK and also an OM-D E-M1 Mark II user. Victoria is a very nice lady did get an awful lot of Adobe LightRoom questions over the course of the day. She was very helpful with answers to common questions although we had a few non comments when new features were being discussed (obviously under NDA); although we did get told that full support for the E-M1 Mark II would be coming soon. Since attending the workshop and writing this blog post we have had a LightRoom/Camera Raw update that now contains full support for the E-M1 Mark II.
After a short while we were met by Jez Sugars (from Olympus) who some of the Olympus users knew who took us into the Park to the main hall where Olympus were based for the day. As we ventured into the building we were met by Claire Voyle (who I have met before at an Olympus Wedding workshop with Rob Pugh). Inside I found Dave Smith who I have also met before once at the Doddington Hall shoot in Lincoln and once in the Nottingham LCE store. Dave like all of the Olympus crew is a very nice guy, is always willing to help and offer advice. There were a few other Olympus people there too but I unfortunately cannot remember their names sorry.
On the way in we were given coffee or Tea and a small room had chairs set out in front of a screen, just to the left of the screen was a table full of Olympus lenses including four 300mm F4 Pro lenses 🙂
After a short introduction from Olympus about a few things, itinerary, the PRO service they handed over to Tesni who explained here journey as a full-time Wildlife Photographer and her migration from the heavy bulky Canon full-frame gear to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and now the E-M1 Mark-II. The original E-M1 unfortunately had a number of shortcomings that meant that it was not possible to completely migrate, however the Mark II overcame most of these meaning it was now the main camera. Although Tesni still has her Canon gear it is rarely used* At the event the impression was given that it was no longer used although at an interview with Tesni a couple of weeks before she did say that if low light quality was a priority and/or a focal length of 800mm was needed then the Canon gear would/could be used -**** CHECK FACTS CHRIS***
After the introductions we were split into 3 groups, I was in group “3” and this was led by Dave. Tesni walked around and mingled between the groups offering advice about Wildlife Photography whist Dave was on hand for anything Olympus related. One of the first things he changed for me was to disable the quick AF point selection via the 4 way controller; the change meant that you had to click the AF selection button first before changing your the AF point. I was also forcing myself to use back-button focusing which was more successful than I thought it would be although there were a few miss-focused shots.
Although for the first half of the day I started using my own 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens, I quickly added the 1.4x converter to give me a bit more reach (56-210mm f4 equivalent), the following pictures are taken with this combo:
M.zuiko 300mm f4 PRO Lens:
After Lunch I was lucky enough to be lent a 300mm F4 Pro lens, all of these following shots are with that lens, sometimes I had too much focal length though:
At the end of the day we had to give all of the lenses we borrowed back – no free 300mm lenses 😦 and and after a quick Q & A session we were all given Olympus goody bags. Amongst other promotional material the bags had an E-M1 Mark II menu guide, Olympus branded LED torch and pencil. The bag also had a flyer about courses that Tesni offers (some of which are in association with Olympus).