Olympus EM1 + Sony A7s – Still my favorite Combo! By Neil Buchan-Grant


Olympus EM1 + Sony A7s – Still my favorite Combo!

By Neil Buchan-Grant

Hi Steve

I thought I’d share some new images with your readers. I’m still loving the Olympus EM1 and Sony A7s although I have to say, since the Olympus 40-150mm zoom and the new 7-14mm zoom came out, the Oly has had more use. I also recently bought the Oly MC-14 1.4x tele converter for the big zoom and for me its performance in terms of resolution and sharpness underlines the big range now offered by the Olympus system. These 3 PRO zooms give me pretty much all I need for general travel work and the 12-40mm has all but replaced my wide primes with no loss of image quality. I still only tend to get the A7s + Leica M 35mm or 50mm f1.4 Summilux’s out when I’m out at night or I’m shooting low light work but with these lenses it still offers something a bit special.

My friend a few weeks before giving birth – EM1 – 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 25mm – available light and off camera flash



My friend and her baby girl who had just had another lifesaving operation only days after her birth – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – mixed available light


My friend holding it together by reading Winnie the Pooh to her baby girl who was still gravely ill only one week after her birth – Sony A7s – Leica M 35mm 1.4 – mixed available light


My work here is a mixture of commissions and personal shots ranging from an architecture job in Oxfordshire, corporate portraits and a trip to Wimbledon tennis championships to some intimate portraits of my friend Scarlet and her baby, Frida. The baby had a traumatic and complicated birth and had to be resuscitated several times in her first few days. Thankfully she’s doing brilliantly now and is thriving! Thanks again for the opportunity to share these with your readers and keep up the great work! If anyone is interested, I have a new, short program of workshops on my website here:

My friend and her baby Frida who was finally out of harms way and seemed to be enjoying her new world – EM1 – Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light




Frida just a few days ago, now 2 months old and currently my favorite model! – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light



The Prado Museum in Madrid during a quick break – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 15mm


A late night bar in Madrid – Sony A7s Leica M 35mm 1.4 – available light


A studio portrait of the actress Hetty Baynes Russell, who was married to Ken Russell the British film director. – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – continuous light through 4ft softbox



Another shot of Hetty – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – window light


A photograph of a rather special Barn design in Oxforshire at dusk – my friends Arthur and Kate were the architects who designed it – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm


The same building during the day – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm


A model in Prague – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light and reflector



A corporate shoot in London – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – Off camera flash



Self portrait in the studio – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 35mm – continuous light through a 4 ft softbox and reflector



Britain’s number one female tennis player Heather Watson winning her match at Wimbledon – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO with MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4


Another self portrait in my garden – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 10mm – available light and off camera flash


A tree surgeon working behind my garden – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO + MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4


The same shot as above from the same spot, the tree surgeon is just visible – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm


http://buchangrant.format.com/workshops where you can join me in Berlin, India or China/Tibet over the next 10 months!


  1. thank you for your images! it is inspiring! I just recently got my a7s and am still learning it. I have something which I think is a defect. Let me know if you have experienced it.

    On some images, especially when shooting outdoors (I only have manual lenses) i get something that looks like a gradient filter which you would use to compensate the bright sky. I initially thought it was some kind of a smart feature, but I have not heard anything like that regarding this camera. So i flipped the camera upside down and took the same image and the gradient is on the bottom of the image. So it makes me think it’s a shutter problem maybe? Has anyone seen or heard anything like that?

    • Hi
      Thanks! With regards to your comment, it could be due to using the silent mode at the wrong shutter speed. I have found that if I get this effect with certain lighting, lowering the shutter speed can eliminate the problem. Hope that works for you..;)

      • thanks,
        no, i am not using silent shutter. are you getting the effect when your silent shutter is on?
        I tried different lenses and I get that effect on most 50 and 58mm lenses i heave except Helios 44-2. Can’t figure it out.

  2. There are some great shots here, Neil. I rather like the one of Heather Watson.

    The only problem with mirrorless systems: too many to choose from! Fuji, Olympus/Panasonic, Sony (two sensor sizes) and Leica (two sensor sizes). They’re all good in their own way, and it’s difficult to be content with what you have. 🙂

  3. interesting shots, really like the self portraits. More proof that the photographer makes the shot, not the equipment. (and you are using very good equipment!)

    • Thanks Karim, Heather uses it as her twitter banner now, which I am very happy about! That shot is actually a fairly big crop, its the lower third of a portrait orientated shot. I made a nice A3 print using this crop which still looks nice and sharp…:-)

      I agree, lots of great choice out there in mirrorless options!

  4. Yay Frida and Mum!!

    Great stuff as always Neil.

    About the corporate portrait. Where was the flash? (and how high/how far etc?)

    Best regards


    p.s. cute that you also got a shot of a different Frida!

    • Hi Huss, cheers!… the flash was to the left of me and fairly high up, I don’t think its an ideally lit shot but the idea and the composition worked out okay. I only have a little 18″ beauty dish reflector so there’s only so much you can do with that size of modifier but it enabled me to hold the detail outside the building where it was so much brighter than inside the building. I’m very much still learning the whole off camera flash thing, it seems well suited to corporate photography though…:)

  5. Beautiful shots – thanks for Posting Neil. You don’t help me in choosing whether to go for the sony A7 series or the Oly when trading in my DSLR though – both produce amazing pictures in your hands!

  6. It seems you posted in low resolution, I don’t know which is wrong but yes your images look soft to me.

    • A few of these are a little soft but generally they are all good if you click on the image to view it. The default view on this site is brutal as they all look soft till you open them.

    • Hi Arai
      They are indeed in web size 1200 pixels long, and I’ll grant you, some of the crunched versions on the main post definitely do look soft, as is common with wordpress image reductions, but I maintain that the larger versions available by clicking through, are very much pin sharp where I wanted them to be so. You can see 3000 pixel versions of most of these images on my website at http://www.buchangrant.com

      • All you have to do is click the images in the post. as i have stressed for 7 years 😉 Once you do that there is no reduction in quality from what I was sent. SO YOU MUST click on the images to see the versions that were sent to me. Looking on the screen as is will always show them squashed as they are resized this way. Thanks everyone!

        • I did Steve, I usually clicked on your photos and I get used by it sharpness, probably as Neil said it’s crunched version.

      • Hi Neil, I can’t open your website through my ipad, I will definitely check your web later, not because to see whether its sharpness or soft but I’m more curious about M43 system. Thanks for posting!

  7. Excellent work, Neil. Your comments and examples of work with the Olympus PRO lenses inspires me to expand my kit to the entire line of PRO optics.

    Frida with the 25mm f/1.4 Summilux is a great example why I do not part with that lens. It’s a gem.

    Please post more in the future. Your photos always deserve a good look.

  8. Hi Bob and Chas, I think when you click on the pictures and see the larger versions, you’ll see that they are in fact sharp where they were intended to be sharp. The thin depth of field of the Summilux lenses are not to everyone’s taste but I love them and they are the only reason I maintain a full frame option.

      • I get what Bob is saying. For some reason, all the pictures appear out of focus until you click on them and they open up in their own individual window. Not sure if this this is a problem with the browser. Once you click on them they are tack sharp…

        • How all sites are and how this one has been for 7 years. I always always always have stressed “click image to see it how it is meant to be seen”. Nothing new.

          • Not all sites suffer from this Steve. A good example is Robin Wong’s site, but he says he had-sharpens his preview images for their target resolution. I think it is just that this is a WordPress site and WordPress doesn’t do any sharpening for the target resolution by default when you let it build the previews images for you. There are WordPress plugins that resolve this though. A quick google search for “wordpress sharpen images” or “wordpress sharpen thumbnails” reveals some plugins (caveat: all untried by me) http://goo.gl/ATN3Xv https://goo.gl/HVwli5 http://goo.gl/EGVQaB.

    • The small versions must be highly compressed. They look soft to me as well. If you click on them to view the large versions they improve slightly. That said, some of these have an extremely shallow depth of field, beyond that I can’t speak for focal choice or stability

      • That can’t be possible, because FF nerds are constantly criticizing m43 for not having shallow enough DOF!

  9. I can’t believe you pulled off such a great corporate shot with that much “busy stuff” all over the frame and in the background – but you did. Well done, I’ve been schooled.

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