THERE IS PROBABLY no such thing as a single camera that can offer the full solution to every situation a professional photographer is likely to face. Neither will there be just one lens that can do everything, so the name of the game is usually to factor in back-up, alternatives that can come into their own for certain types of job, and which are highly valued as a result.

The problem, especially in these cash-straitened days, is that back-up kit is going to require investment, and few professionals these days tend to have the necessary cash to spend on anything but the absolute essentials. However, many pros will have kit in their collection that might not be on the front line any more, and this has the potential to have a re-sale value that can then be put towards upgrading the current line-up.

The time was when it was difficult and time-consuming to realise the value of second-hand gear, but companies such as MPB have revolutionised the entire process and made it safer and simpler to clear out unwanted kit. Not only that, but it’s also easy to then trade up and to use the revenue earned to acquire good condition used cameras and lenses that might actually move your business on. For those looking to make their budget go further it can be a great option.

It also means that the door can be opened to investment in areas such as back-up, that, while not being a priority perhaps, can add hugely to the versatility of a business, and give you options when jobs come along that might call for a different approach. It’s great to be continually moving forward, and a well-planned and ongoing trading up policy can ultimately pay huge dividends.

We’re celebrating this approach by working with MPB to offer readers of Professional Photo the opportunity to borrow gear from their fully stocked warehouse that they might be looking to try out. It’s a chance to potentially trial a new format, a different system, an upgrade on your current camera model or to take a dream lens you might have always wanted to try out on a live assignment. It’s a tantalising offer, and we’ve already had a great response from readers, so do feel free to get in touch if you want to be part of it all.

Alyssa Zalabai

Cheshire-based Alyssa Zalabai has been running her Light Petal Photography portrait business for the past five years. She looks to tailor each of her sessions individually for her clients, and her informal approach ensures that shoots are centred on fun and the creation of a relaxed and lively environment.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, MPB Price £864

M Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, MPB Price £444

M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 PRO,
MPB Price £659

M Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, MPB Price £239

M Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, MPB Price £454. All in Like New Condition

A camera designed with speed, versatility, and portability in mind, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a well-rounded Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera. Featuring a 20.4MP Live MOS sensor and an updated TruePic IX image processor, the camera is characterised by its quick continuous shooting, up to 60 fps with an electronic shutter and 15 fps with a mechanical shutter, as well as DCI and UHD 4K video recording.

The sensor and processor also offer a sensitivity range up to ISO 25,600 while a sophisticated 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation system compensates for up to 7.5 stops of camera shake.

Meanwhile, Olympus’ line-up of Zuiko Digital ED lenses are renowned for their quality and sharpness and, like the cameras they accompany, they’re compact, lightweight, and bright enough to allow shooting on the dullest of days.

The Experience

Alyssa is a seasoned full frame user,  working with a Sony A7 IV and A7 R III and, being a Samyang Optics Brand Ambassador, she pairs these cameras with either a Samyang AF 135mm f/8 or a Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE II, plus a Samyang AF 24-70 f/2.8 for event jobs, such as parties and weddings.

“The problem is that this kit can get pretty heavy after a while,” she says, “and I started to think that it might make sense for me to look closer at a lighter system, such as Micro Four Thirds, to serve as a back-up for my front-line kit. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III appeared to tick all the boxes, and I was particularly keen to pair it with the M. Zuiko 45mm f/1.2, since this would be the near equivalent of the Samyang 85mm, a favourite of mine, which I use to capture candid shots and close-up portraits. I was also keen to see what the high-speed shooting capabilities of the Olympus could bring to the party.”

All of the Zuiko lenses impressed Alyssa with their diminutive size and the incredible resolution they offered, with the 45mm in particular receiving a star rating. “I was surprised by how sharp this lens was the first time I shot with it,” says Alyssa. “With an f-stop as wide as f/1.2 I imagined that the resolution might not be that great, but I was wrong. The lens turned out to be great for headshots, where detail around the eyes is so important, while, since it’s a 90mm equivalent, it allowed me to give my models space and room to move around.”

Alyssa did some comparison test shots with the Zuiko 45mm and her near-equivalent Samyang 85mm f/1.4FE, and found the only significant difference to be subject separation, with the full-frame Sony camera enabling, as would be expected with a larger sensor, a shallower depth-of-field, which was useful on occasions. She also found that she spent a little more time at the post-processing stage on colour correction and grading to achieve the look she was after, but nothing major.

“It was really refreshing to try out a different camera system,” she says, “as I’ve been using Sony FF models for over six years now. My main take away from working with the Olympus was that bokeh was understandably going to be more difficult to achieve, and if I needed this for a particular shoot then the Sony would win out.

“On the other hand, the OM-D-E-M1 Mark III was great in terms of enabling high-speed shooting for fast-paced type photo shoots, such as when I was asking children to run and play. The camera captured these moments with such precision, and offers a Pro Capture mode, where the electronic shutter can fire at up to 60fps and images will start recording the moment the shutter is half-pressed. It’s brilliant for capturing action sequences, and the Sony doesn’t offer this facility.”

The chance to have an extended trial with the Olympus system has convinced Alyssa that it really does have a role to play in her business, and her plan is to invest in the OM-1 model but to source lenses via the second-hand route, with MPB being her first port of call.

“I was really impressed with their service,” she says, “and I love the fact they’re so honest about the condition of the gear they sell, while the six-month warranty is also a catch. It will be a great way to trade up, without having to make such a big investment.”

What Kit Do You Fancy?

If there’s a particular piece of kit that you would like to try out then get in touch at, let us know what you’d like to borrow and you could be part of this exciting new series!


© 2023, Professional Photo Magazine and respective content owners.. All rights reserved.

Series Navigation