The Greatness of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Using lenses with adapters by Stefan Schmidt

The Greatness of the Olympus OM-D – Using lenses with adapters

By Stefan Schmidt

I recently bought an OM-D as a second camera to my Canon 5DMkII and I have now used it for almost two weeks and even if I had high expectations of it from reading about it in your test, I really was blown away when I started using it. First I couldn´t develop the pictures as I wanted to but as luck would have it Capture One released their update the week after I got the camera, nice timing! Here in Sweden it is quite easy to get a camera, unless you want the silver one…

Anyway, since I only have the “kit-lens” I decided to buy an adapter for my Canon lenses and as I had to go and work on my summer cabin last weekend I decided to have a little fun and not just work. My cabin is in the region called “Småland”, it is built around 1850 in a small ravine that trails down from a small lake to a larger one called Vattern. The last winters have crumbled the  stone foundation that the cabin was built upon so I had my work cut out for me. In one of the pictures you can see the small dirt track that passes by my house.

The fun begun in the afternoon after a day of working. I strapped on the adapter to my Canon 100 mm F2,8 macro and took a picture of our dog that was drowsing in the sun. I was surprised how well the OM-D exposed ! I found that I really had to use the manual focus tool to enlarge a portion of the picture because otherwise my focus would be off. I then found a crab-spider that was waiting patiently for a fly to arrive. Again the combo of the macro 100 and the Olympus surprised me! The sharpness and color were great and the bokeh is really to my liking. The only thing I had a problem with was the mechanical aperture on the adapter. It´s a little tricky to set it correctly.

Also, when going in as close as possible, the area with sharpness is really tight. (See the closeup picture of the spider…)

The second lens I brought was my cherished 70-300 4-5,6 L that really is fabulous on the 5DMkII and I was eager to try it on the OM-D. I strapped it on and attached the battery grip on the OM-D to get at least some balance to things.

I sat down ten meters away from the corner of the cabin and watched the birds nesting there, the house does not have regular drainpipes for rainwater but rather a “gutter” made from a tree that is split in two halves, worked into trenches, and tarred. For some reason the birds always make a stop there before entering their bird house that´s mounted high on the house wall. I took these pictures on the 300 mm setting and since I wanted to try the stabilisation I didn’t bring a tripod. Worked great! Although I found that the 70-300 is really tricky to focus manually since the focus ring is so extremely sensitive.

My son wanted to go fishing and naturally I brought the camera with the 70-300 along. I shot some pictures of him and focused without using the manual focus tool to enlarge the picture and although I thought it looked good in the camera I was disappointed to se the pictures on my computer and find that I was off by half a meter. Since this lens “releases” the focus pretty quick even that short a distance from the focused area in the picture it really makes a difference if focus is not “tack on”.

I also shot a distance shot across the lake from where we stood on the opposite beach and the yellow fields and the forest there as well as an evening shot when the sun descended and we walked home. I am so pleased with the warm color tone the OM-D even though I have set the tone to neutral and I only shoot raw. I wanted to drop you a line and thank you for the review, it played a large part in my decision to buy the camera.

All my attached pictures are from this weekend using only my two canon lenses. I hope you enjoy them even though they are pretty far from  street photos.

I wish some shop i Gothenburg would stock the Voigtlander 17 F0,95. I am so curious to try it out after you wrote that the manual focus on it work brilliantly with the OM-D. Still it´s an expensive piece of glass, perhaps it´s for the best. I suspect I would buy it.

With My best regards

Stefan Schmidt



  1. Hi Steve. Those are really great pictures from the mixture of modern digital camera with classic slr lens. the results were astonishing and will take you back in time in film photography. i really like the texture and clarity of the photos, more like from the film than pure af kit lens. im heavily into manual slr lens and OMD combo too. enjoy.

  2. I am impressed, like others I really like the photo of your lovely dog, it’s just gripping in his white coat, if you had shown me that 10 years ago I would’ve said ‘medium format, no way 35mm’, and to think this is such a teeny sensor! Go m4/3! I’m too old for unnecessarily heavy cameras.

  3. I am doing my online research on Canon OM D these days. I am confused between an equivalent SLR and this camera. Your article was indeed pretty helpful, thanks a ton.

  4. It’s been a while since I took a camera to Småland (Jönköping and Nässjö to be precise) – but those photos capture it beautifully. Love the one of house and the trail.

  5. I think the photograph of your son will be cherished. Whether it is technically superior or not is of no interest to me. And the dog is also wonderful. I think far too many of us dismiss a shot because they only look at its specs. It’s like art: you like what you like no matter the reputation, selling price or notoriety of the artist. In the end, those are the shots you’ll go back to look at time and time again. And for me, that is priceless.

    • Thank you for commenting!

      I choose these pictures becuse I liked them and was surprised about how well the camera exposes with the “A”-setting and a manual lens and no apperture-control. It´s like shooting with my old Contax 167 again…

  6. Stefan, I’m in the same situation like you: I managed to find an OM-D here in Johannesburg as a replacement for my Canon 5DII (way too heavy for my likings these days). I do have a nice set of lenses (100-400L, 70-200 2.8L, 50 1.2L, 85 1.2L, 16-35 2.8L…) but I’m giving all of these together with the camera to my son. For now I only have the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 and I’m more than happy with the results. I’m surprised myself that a M4/3 sensor could please me this much compared to the full frame of my Canon. The camera is small and extremely sturdy. It fits in my jacket’s pocket and finally I’m finding myself carrying a camera at all times and taking the shots that I always wanted to take but never did because the 5D was at home…
    I read the comments that said that there’s nothing special about your pictures? So what? I need to read the first comment that says that the quality is so much worse than full frame. Colors are beautiful, sharpness is perfect… the rest is to the photographers taste and art and the OM-D is a very worthy tool indeed!

    • Hi!

      I really agree about the size and weight of the Canon-gear. In april/may this year I went on a trip to Scottlans westcoast with a friend to explore and shoot a ton of pictures, just for fun. (And to stop by a destillery or two..) My backpack had, among other things, over TEN kilos of cameragear and I carried it from dusk to dawn when not driving. I would have loved to have had the corresponding gear in m43-size!

  7. I’m not sure why some people feel every photograph has to prove something? As a testament to having fun and discovering stuff with a new piece of kit they are a nice set. But then I didn’t read them as saying ‘my camera is better than yours’.

    • Hahahaha… Right-on! It cracks me up whenever someone demonstrates the quality and or versitility of the OM-D. It always brings out the haters. I think the photos look great and I really like the look of the pooch photo… has a cool aire to it.

  8. nice pics here 🙂 especially the dog shot. the expression is priceless. Yes, please let us know what adapter you are using to adapt EF to MFT? Can you control the electronic aperture?

    I found myself in a similar situation to you whereby I have a Canon 5D and a good set of Canon L glass, but wanted a second smaller body that was mirrorless. For me MFT would crop the EF lens to 2.0x which in my opinion would waste alot of my EF glass, so for my second camera I went for a Sony Nex 5n with EVF addon. The EVF on top is similarly placed to the built in EVF on the OM-D, and simulated an SLR like feel, for positioning. The APS-C sized sensor means I get 1.5x crop, which although is not full frame, it will use more of the lens, and also have increased bokeh. This camera too has the ability to instant magnify for fine focusing, but has an extra feature known as focus peaking which makes manual focusing without magnification a breeze. The adapter I use to adapt my EF to NEX, allows me to electronically control the Canon EF aperture from inside the camera, which works identically to a native Sony Nex lens so if needed I can use shutter priority with Legacy Canon lens. It also allows for full image stabilization should the EF lens have that feature. The only thing really missing is autofocus lol. The adapter I use is a Metabones Conurus EF to NEX adapter.


    • Hi Maz!

      I use a Roxsen adapter with built in manual apperture. There is a scale on the apperture ranging from 1 to 6 and you have no control whatsoever of the builtin apperture in the canonlens. 1 is fully open, 6 is almost closed, it´s about 1,5 mm across and vignettes like crazy. I´m talking fisheye-like. It´s like having a black paper with a round hole punched out in the middle for the picture, there will be no details from the motive in the corners at all. I rarely go below apperture 3 on the adapter. The dog was shot on apperture 4 and you can se the corners vignetting in that picture.

    • Well, I guess it’s pretty much the same question for you, ‘mazor’ as that I submitted above to Stefan: What adapter(s) might do the same (for EITHER m4/3 or NEX) with Nikon G lenses as you have realized with Canon EF?

  9. To tell the truth, I don’t see anything special, nothing related with the camera, nor with the pics. It was brave to send them, brave to accept them, moreover.

      • Hi!

        I love the camera, both the picturequality and the solid finish of it. Being new to m43 as I normally use a 5D MkII, I must tell you it exceed my expectations of it. The last picture of my cabin in the ravine is shot during the afternoon and the light was rather unforgiving. It surprised me to find so much detail in both highlight and shadows. This is the reason I posted it. I am aware that things like that does not mean anything for many people, they simply could not care less. I however, am the kind of person (sad to say) that eagerly follows Steves articles and tests like this and I really was impressed with his articles about regaining detail in highlights/shadows in shots taken with the camera.I did not think the camera had it in it…

    • I think its great to see the results of experimenting with two different systems. I mean, we’re seeing here very nice pictures taken with FF lenses on a micro 4/3 system camera. Having that possibility only, is a lot of fun, and will only increase your creativity IMHO.
      And it brings me to ideas: putting my Nikon Glass on my OMD 🙂

      So Stefan, could you please tell us what kind of adapter you used?

      Many thanks!

      And have a lot of fun shooting !


    • Hi!

      Right now I´m figuring that out 🙂
      I have been shooting a lot of pictures of food, in and out of studios, as well as landscape, travelling and familyshots. I guess I need to come to terms with the new way my lenses work with the OM-D and that has been so much fun that I haven’t touched my 5D since I got the OM-D.
      I am actually right now digging out my old Contax 167 and the lenses for that camera to try with a newly bought novoflex-adapter so I have my sparetime catered for this summer. What I am asking myself is wether or not to keep the 5D at all…


    • Hi!

      Thank you! I wanted to show that the combo really works. Suddenly I have a camera with surprisningly good colors and tonefidelity with a lot of lenses. I am very pleased with my 5D MkII but with the OM-D I suddenly have access to a 600 mm lens… I used these pictures to illustrate the phenomenal exposure of the Olympus camera. The dog, the spider and my son fishing, as well as the bird, are all well exposed right out of the camera. On the birdpicture used -1 EV in the camera. Especially the spiderpicture surprised me because of the contrasts in the picture…


  10. Very nice, Stefan! ..Satisfying, isn’t it, when older kit – which you already own – works well with new equipment like the OM-D. (You must have a specialised, powered adaptor to control the Canon apertures. I have only a plain tube with a Canon socket at one end and a micro4/3 plug at the other so – at present – I can only shoot Canon lenses wide open.)

    The OM-D also works well with original Olympus OM lenses (with an adapter) ..with no difficulty setting the aperture, as manual aperture adjustment is built into every OM lens.

    • Hi David!

      Do you know of any old OM-gems to look out for on ebay? And you are right, it IS satifying to be able to use old gear anew.

      • I was going up in a balloon – well, an airship – over Munich the day after I bought my OM-D, so I wanted a telephoto of course. I popped round to the corner shop and bought a nice old OM 135mm f3.5 (I had my OM-to-m4/3 adaptor with me)’s a simple but spectacular lens. I popped into another second-hand dealer and also bought an old OM 65mm-200mm f4 ‘close-focus’ zoom. (More complex construction, so potentially less flare-resistant, and perhaps not so sharp).

        The 135mm results were great. The zoom not so great – till I realised that its focus twisted slightly beyond the infinity stop (I couldn’t just twist to the end-stop and shoot). It needed more precise focusing. But once focused EXACTLY right in the viewfinder, it, too, gave great results.

        These two, on m4/3, gave the equivalent of twice their focal length, so they behaved as an extremely compact 270mm f3.5, and a nicely variable 130mm-400mm f4. (Panasonic’s m4/3 100mm-300mm would have been much better, but I’d left that lens at home.)

        I’m sure these are easily available on eBay, but – of course – you can’t “try-before-you-buy” on eBay; only AFTER you’ve bought ..though if problematic, you can usually send back an eBay-bought lens.

        I’d suggest – from my own experience – that the following OM lenses are great on an m4/3 (..depending, of course, on what you want to shoot!..)

        24mm shift lens = 48mm on m4/3
        50mm f1.4 = 100mm f1.4
        80mm 1:1 f4 macro = 160mm f4 macro
        100mm f2.8 = 200mm f2.8
        135mm f3.5 = 270mm f3.5

        – David.

        • Wow!

          Thanks a lot David! I will start browsing ebay… I actually planned on buying panasonics 100-300 but the OM-D with the kitlens and batterygrip took quite a bite out of my wallet…

          With regards


        • The 100mm-300mm is great: very light for what it is, weighs almost nothing. But, of course, it’s for big close-ups of mainly distant things (equivalent to 200mm-600mm, of course) ..although it does focus as close as 5 feet (1.5 metres) even at its 300/600mm end!

          (I haven’t tried the Oly 75mm-300mm lens, so I can’t give you a comparison between the two.)

          Even with the built-in stabilisation of the OM-D (turn OFF the stabilisation inside the LENS itself) it still needs at least 1/200th shutter speed (preferably 1/250th) to be absolutely clear and unshaken at 300/600mm. It’s not the very sharpest of telephotos, and doesn’t get sharper as you stop down from f5.6, so there’s no point to go down to f11 to try to get sharper images.

          But if the money for the 100mm-300mm has already been spent, I’m sure you’ll find something else, on eBay, at a good price, to take its place!

  11. Thanks Stefan for your post. I like the first pic. Could you tell us wich adapter you used? and for what price?

    • Hi!

      I use a Roxsen adapter I bought on ebay for £39 (Canon EOS EF lens to Micro 4/3 M43 Adapter w/ Aperture) It looks near identical to the Kipon-adapter but is way cheeper at a third of the price. The adapter has a much better fit on the OM-D. I tried a Kiponadapter bought here in sweden but it was not good. Maybe I had bad fortune with it since it was loose on the camera. When I set the apperture on the Kipon adapter the whole adapter twisted. Perhaps someone has a good tip on how to make it tight?

      I choose these pictures to show what could be expected from using an adapter with these canonlenses. The dog for example was shot with the macro 100 mm. The apperture on the adapter was set to 4 on a scale from 1 to 6. As you can see, going for a F-number higher than 3 on the adpter makes for a lot of vignetting. That´s because the apperture is located too far back from the focalpoint inside the lens (where the lenses own focalpoint is located).


      • Hi!

        Thanks for the infos. Good to know it is possible to use one Canon EF USM on the OM as i was told it was not possible…

        • Hi!

          Yeah, I know, I got that info as well. I searched this site for an article about using Canonlenses with m43 and didn´t find any. That´s when I descided to post one…

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