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Wednesday, 26 April 2017


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another good reason for "one camera, one lens."

How do you treat your camera after salt water exposure (assuming that's the ocean in the first photo)? Bucket of distilled water, or just wipe it off, or something in between? I remember the guidelines for an accidentally-dunked film SLR being to keep it wet and in fresh water until you could get it to a repair place.

(If that's not the ocean, but you have a procedure for handling salt-water exposure anyway....)

Amazing story, glad you were reunited. Even my ancient Olympus E1 is very well sealed. There are YouTube videos of it being cleaned under a shower, and someone put one buried in a tropical tank alongside another make ( sorry can't remember which brand) and the E1 worked fine, but said other camera didn't.

I an glad you have recover your Olympus in good shape and still in workable condition. You need to add a GPS location devise to help you finding your disperse equipment :-) !
Your story have just reassure me of the durability of the Olympus OM-D series and as an outdoor user myself I really appreciate to learn it.
Thanks for the post.
Daniel M

I hope your insurance policy is as good as your camera brand....only a matter of time.

When you head to Iceland, be sure to take VERY water resistant equipment. You will need it! I know as my medium format camera and back failed after 3 days.

John Lehet: the Incarnation of John Cameron Swayze for today's Olympus Camera Company!

Quite a tale!

That is a hellava a story. I have a weatherproof Pany kit (GX8 and 12-60). Been through a lot of sea spay down here in Florida, Everglades mud. Next time it snows here in South Florida, I will try out the 4 month snow thing just to keep you honest.

Wonderful story, thanks John and Mike! Now I'm trying to work out how to run a parallel test on my Panasonic gear here in the tropics. We have the rain, but lack the snow -- and even my sad old fridge would be hard put to keep it cold enough in the freezer! LOL.

I've posted a link to this on the DPReview m43 forum -- everyone is always asking about weatherproofness so you should get a few people coming for a look. :)

Cheers, Geoff

Last August my wife and I went up into Canada's Arctic (70-76°N) on a small 'expedition' ship. Daily outing were on Zodiacs with all participants bundled up in head to to waterproof clothing with some warm layers underneath. It was right around freezing, plus or minus a degree or three, and it was windy, and when on the Zodiac, wet from salt water spray.

For photography I had two Olympus bodies; an EM5mkII and an EM1mkI with mostly Olympus pro lenses plus the Panasonic 100-400. I kept a UV filter on the lenses I could (didn't work on the 7-14) and kept them at the ready since wildlife and shot opportunities don't keep appointments. The onboard 'bird and wildlife photographer' kept his Nikons in cases during most of the Zodiac trips, taking them out only when we slowed down and splashing seemed unlikely.

With the Olympus IBIS I got many good shots from the moving Zodiac with the 7-14, 12-40 and 40-150, and even with the 100-400 and its optical stabilization I managed many technically excellent shots at full tele. I just wiped the front filter or element regularly when they got splashed.

When we got back from trips and changed, I often took a shower after being cooped up in the waterproof clothing for a few hours, and to wash the salt water spray off the cameras, I took them into the shower with me (no images were made!!!!). All the equipment worked fine then and still does.

Getting rid of all the salt was very important, and knowing the Olympus' were truly water resistant made this an easy decision. Never before have I had cameras that were this water resistant. If there is a picture to be made when it's stormy and rainy, this is the camera to take!

Wonderful story by John. I can't say that I am all that surprised, though I am very happy John got his camera back. I think this environmental challenge would as likely be met by a pro Canon, Nikon or the GFX/X-T series of Fujis as well. I read of a story this earlier year of an X-T body and WR lens that were completely submerged underwater when the owner fell overboard while boarding a boat in SE Asia; both camera and lens were fine.

The one question that ran through my mind after reading John's story was, "I wonder how a Hassy X1D would have fared?"

This Olympus challenge cannot go unanswered! Mike will be defending the honor of the Panasonic GX8 by leaving his outside by the creek this summer, reporting back to us late fall.

On top of weatherproof, Olympus has a long history of durability.

I went on a waterfall shoot with some friends from Germany, in their rental car. The woman and I took our cameras out and put them on the trunk lid. Her husband had his gear in the trunk, and he was inside, opening the glove box, and… you guessed it; he popped the trunk latch.

I won't identify her camera, except to say it was one of the Big Ones with two "n"s in their name. Her zoom lens literally broke in half! The back latch opened, and a day's worth of film was spoiled. The back was bent, and would no longer close.

I picked up my unharmed Olympus OM-4T with the unharmed 24mm ƒ2 lens, took the cap off, and took a photo of her wrecked camera for the insurance company.

While I don't recommend this as a test, the modern OMD line seems equally durable!

I can attest that even modest exposure to salt water (flooded underwater housing) will kill even the EM-1. Salt is way worse than just water; for a bit of salt water exposure you should rinse with DI water then dry it out (any of a number of ways), Lenses nowadays are also quite quickly killed by slat water exposure.

I have a silly (or perhaps not-so-silly) thought - would a metal detector have helped locate the camera?

Now that's what I call an advert for Olympus. Much better than most professional ones! Thanks.

Hey, the E-M5II with 1240PRO is my main camera. Cleary I have been wasting my money for the past 2 years. Time to start drop-kicking it into duck ponds.

For a contrarian view, look up "survivorship bias", or better yet, read this: https://youarenotsosmart.com/2013/05/23/survivorship-bias/

[Hmm, no, I don't think survivor bias applies here. It's not like hundreds of E-M5 Mark II's are being left out all Winter and we only hear about the one or two that survive. This strikes me as a legitimate "torture test," even if an inadvertent one. --Mike]

That is flat out amazing! We've linked to the article for our Oly users to discover too.


That's awesome. I just got the om-d em-1 ii precisely for the same reasons. I also use zooms on that and primes on my a7rii, but absolutely love using the olympus and I'm psyched to hear that it actually does live up to the hype. And supposedly the em-5 ii isn't even as robust as the em-1 ii!

I only use Olympus cameras, but not for their weatherproofness, I take very good care of them when I'm in the wild. Maybe is time to become a bit careless :-)

Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.

toto asks: would a metal detector have helped locate the camera?

Perhaps, but I didn't happen to have access to one. The other problem was that I had walked quite a lot. I'm sure I walked a few miles. And I wasn't sure which session I lost the camera. I posted a photo of the lake. I walked around the lake, and then on the other side of it there was a pumpkin field, still full of pumpkins that were covered with snow. I dashed in and out of that field willy-nilly. It wasn't like I simply walked on a trail. So in this case, I was discouraged from even looking.

Around home I did actually kick around in the snow, but more in places were I had been working. I didn't even explore that in-between zone. The metal detector would have given me hope though. I'm not sure how far the range is for the RFID chips in the Gear Eye, but this was close enough to the house that it might have been picked up by that device. I can't wait to get it. I think that would have found it.

I can attest to the weather proofing of the Olympus system after having spent eight hours photographing in the rain with my EM5M2. However, that feat was only possible because Olympus lenses were attached. The same body suffered a wet end with a Panasonic lens attached.

Great story! And I don't have any problems believing the EM5MII can take that and more!
Mine certainly has taken a lot as I'm not very kind to gear while tracking around looking for wildlife.
And the EM5 original is still ticking and happy as a bird as a backup!
One thing regarding the switch not working: the latest firmware (2.2, if memory doesn't fail me) has a history of highlighting that problem on EM5MII cameras.
If you upgraded it recently, that could be the issue. It's a quick fix with Olympus service, though.
Great gear, without a doubt. I'm so glad I invested in it a few years ago!

The low end Olympus E510 is not as good a swimmer, as I discovered. It rolled out of the camera bag and stopped partially submerged in the river. There was enough still operating to download the card, but it never took a picture again. Fortunately I still had my film camera with me at the time. I had been planning to upgrade from my first venture into the DSLR world anyway, though maybe not quite so fast.

Mike wrote:
[Hmm, no, I don't think survivor bias applies here. It's not like hundreds of E-M5 Mark II's are being left out all Winter and we only hear about the one or two that survive. This strikes me as a legitimate "torture test," even if an inadvertent one. --Mike]

Except that's not really what survivor bias is about, is it? Really what this story is about is that all the weatherproofing that Olympus put on its cameras worked at a level beyond what was expected. What we don't know is how many times other users have had their Oly cameras fail due to bad weather. If one camera survives being buried during a harsh winter, and one hundred others break because they were left out for an hour in a light drizzle, then you have survivor bias.

Look, my primary camera is an Olympus. I really hope they are all this rugged and tough. Maybe they are. But you can't evaluate this (or anything) based on anecdotal evidence.

I have this EM5 original that has accompanied me on multi-day hikes in continuous driving downpours accompanied by winds of 30mph. This has included multiple days on the Inca Trail, multiple days along the Hadrian Wall path, and extended horse rides deep into the Colorado mountains.

I keep the body and mounted resistant lens tucked into my jacket, but don't baby it when I want to take a pic. I've shot blind when the monitor is awash or fogged up.

Very dependable, always worked. No reason to move on or "upgrade," it's proven dependable. I took a chance after having owned a couple OM4tn's and Zuiko lenses a couple decades ago and more, which I found delicate and relatively fragile compared to its competition of the day.

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