Keep the Canon 5D Mark III After the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Arrives?

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 that I pre-ordered the day they announced it. From the specifications and the reviews, this is the camera I want. It seems to address 99% of the problems I have with my OM-D E-M5.

While I wait, I'm wondering how much sense it makes to keep my Canon 5D Mark III and all my heavy Canon lenses after the E-M1 arrives. Let me explain with some history.

A few months ago, in a moment of temporary insanity, I bought a refurbished Nikon D800e, despite owning no Nikon lenses. I figured I try it out and sell it for good money if I don't like it. I was immediately blown away by the resolution and the dynamic range. I loved that Nikon every time I opened a file on my computer to 100%. Wow!

Problem was I had been a Canon digital shooter for more than six years and was still using my 'classic' 5D. I liked that camera, but could get frustrated with its slow focus and the fact that it's low-light capabilities where not up to speed anymore against the new crop of cameras.

So, before I made the switch to Nikon, I figured I needed to try the Canon 5D Mark III. I rented one. The moment I took the 5DIII in my hands and shot with it, I was in love. This was the camera I wanted for the last few years. This camera addressed all the issues I had with its older sibling. So, in another moment of insanity, I bought one.

Basketball Hoop - Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 17mm f1/8 Lens

Around the same time, I read good things about the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and its lenses. I rented one of these as well. Guess what, I loved that one too. It actually went beyond that. Unlike the larger Nikon and Canon, the small Olympus made me want to go out and take pictures. It rekindled my enthusiasm for photography. So, I bought that one too with an assortment of lenses.

I'm not rich and most of this was bought with 0% credit card offers for 18 months. I knew I could not keep it all. The big think started: which system to sell.

Bhudda - Canon 5D Mark III with135m f/2.0 Lens

I did some comparison shooting between the Canon and Nikon and blew up the same kinds of images to 24 by 36 inches. On the prints, there was no discernible difference. Granted, these were not detailed landscape shots.

The big think resulted in me selling the Nikon and its lenses. I was heavily invested in Canon. Not so much in Nikon. I didn't really need 36 megapixels. That was a few months ago.

In the meantime, I have often used my Olympus and a recently acquired Fuji X100S. The Canon, on the other hand, spent a lot of time in my closet. Those awesome L lenses? In the closet.

Still, the Canon is way more camera than the OM-D E-M5 and the Fuji. If I wanted to shoot action, I'd take the Canon. If I had a model shoot, I'd take the Canon. If I wanted to shoot landscapes with a tripod, I'd take the Canon. If I wanted to shoot in really low light, I'd take the Canon. If I want to use the low depth of field of the awesome 135mm L lens, the Canon it is.

With the arrival of the EM-1, I fear some of the reasons to use the Canon are going to disappear. The Olympus will probably do fine with action, fine with model shoots and in low light. The full-frame 24 megapixels on the Canon will beat the Olympus for landscapes. That 135mm? The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 comes really close to that one.

So, I'm thinking about three things: - should I keep the Canon? - should I have kept the Nikon? - should I keep any full-frame DSLR?

You see, the Nikon offers full-frame AND 20 megapixels more than the Olympus. The Canon only offers eight megapixels more. So, if I go through the hassle of carrying a heavy DSLR and lenses for a particular purpose, the Nikon rewards me with higher resolution files. Granted, in my test prints the difference didn't really show, but there will be occassions when the extra resolution comes in handy.

Mystery Token of Love - Nikon D800e with Zeiss Distagon 25mm f/2.0

It would be a pain to switch from Canon to Nikon and Canon is bound to one day catch up with Nikon in terms of resolution, but we don't know when and we don't know if Canon will put that better sensor in a medium-priced or a high-priced model first.

The final question is whether it's even worth keeping a full-frame DSLR at all. The Olympus prime lenses are very good and allow low depth of field, which for me at least is one of the main advantages of full frame cameras. Or was?

My Paris experience has shown me that I will take smaller cameras over a DSLR on most future trips. A trip to the American West would call for a DSLR, but for any city trip or family travel I would pack mirrorless cameras.

I figure that I'll wait until the E-M1 arrives in a few weeks. Then I'll see how I like using it and how it compares speed-wise with the Canon. After that, I'll start comparison shooting between the Canon and the Olympus and revisit places where I shot with the Nikon. And then I have another big think. Might be costly one (switch to Nikon) or a cheap one (ditch all DSLR gear).

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, what would you do?

By John van Rosendaal