OMG!!! Looks like Olympus will be bringing out a full frame OM-D OM-G camera with OM mount and 6-axis IS

Written by admin on April 2nd, 2014

DPreview.com has just announced mock up images and some sketchy specs for an interchangeable lens full frame camera by Olympus, apparently to mark the 30th anniversary of their OM-G 35mm film SLR camera.

Mock up OM-G courtesy of dpreview.com

Image courtesy of dpreview.com.

This news is bound to excite Olympus fans in particular who have always loved the styling, and light, compact design of the OM SLRs.

A fascinating development is the proposed upgrade of their current 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation system to a 6-axis system which adds ability to move the sensor closer or further from the lens – this in theory would allow automatic focus bracketing -a feature that would be extremely useful for any shallow depth of field lens, but particularly so when using manual focus lenses such as the legacy OM lenses which appear to be able to be used without any adapters!!!

Furthermore this could potentially also enable “micro-AF” for all lenses – that is when you set the manual focus position of the lens, the sensor could adjust its position to give super accurate auto-focus as long as the subject is within the focus range of the sensor movements. This could be expected to provide very fast AF indeed given it is all happening at the sensor with no need to move heavy lens elements. Of course, your manual focus would have to be fairly close to where you need it.

The proposed sensor is a 36mp full frame BSI-CMOS sensor, but what I am not able to understand at present is the suggested “optional drop-in cartridges” to give different ISO from 25-800 – this doesn’t make sense to me.

They are also suggesting the viewfinder will be hybrid optical/electronic – presumably similar to that used in Fuji and Sony cameras.

There has been a big ground swell of support for Olympus to enter the full frame camera arena, particularly given their partnership with Sony who last year stunned the camera world with their full frame mirrorless cameras – the Sony A7 and A7R – although unfortunately these do not have built-in image stabilisation which is so critical for the success of these cameras.

Automatic focus bracketing and micro-AF plus IS will bring new life to the legacy OM lenses and allow Olympus time to develop new CDAF compatible digital lenses for full frame – and presumably share their technology with Sony who are in desperate need for full frame mirrorless lenses.

It is also a very clever move given digital AF lenses will take time to develop and produce, users in the interim will have access to very functional OM lenses which will become pseudo-AF thanks to the sensor.

The addition of full frame will then allow Micro Four Thirds users a rather seemless access to full frame cameras for shallower depth of field, with similar functionality, menu systems and, importantly accessory system such as system flash units which one would expect would be fully compatible between the systems.

Win-Win all around. Very Exciting indeed!!!

A big question will be how long will the sensor to lens mount be?

I am sure it would not be the same as the legacy OM 35mm SLR film distance as this would be very restrictive of what lenses could be mounted and would probably prevent adapters for Micro Four Thirds lenses (these could theoretically be used on this camera to provide a 9mp 2x crop image) as well as for other system lenses such as Canon EOS, Leica M, etc.

I would really love a camera like this to use my Canon tilt-shift lenses on – easy live view manual focus + IS + micro-AF – now that would be something!!

 

Killing time in the botanic gardens with the Olympus mZD 60mm f/2.8 macro lens

Written by admin on March 30th, 2014

What do you do when you have an hour or so to kill and you are in the CBD of a city such as Sydney?

Head for the botanic gardens for a relaxing walk and see what you can find.

As long as it is not windy, you can use the time to search for subjects for your macro lens – be warned, even the slightest movement of a plant will make your subject blurred unless you use a flash.

It was a very overcast day in low light so I was thankful I had the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with its 5-axis image stabiliser to help out with this hand held shot without flash in very low light using the lovely, light and very sharp Olympus mZD 60mm f/2.8 macro lens:

Australian native long legged fly

This dainty little metallic blue and green Australian fly is the long legged fly (Austrosciapus connexus) – which is mainly found along the east coast of Australia, Adelaide and Perth but not in southern Victoria or Tasmania.

And here are a few cacti that caught my attention:

cactus flower

cacti

cacti

And a water lily using the awesome Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens at f/1.8:

water lily

This macro lens is fantastic, not only because it is incredibly sharp, and it has focus range limiters for faster AF which, by the way is very fast, and it is image stabilised in 5 axes by the E-M5, but it is so light and small you don’t even notice you are carrying it in your bag, and your hands don’t start shaking from its weight as you try to hold it steady for the shots.

 

The new Nikon 1 v3 camera – who is it for?

Written by admin on March 16th, 2014

The Nikon 1 v3 is the latest “high end” of Nikon’s mirrorless point and shoot compact range.

Like all Nikon 1 cameras it has a small 1″ sensor with a 2.7x crop factor and this allows it to have small lenses, particularly at the telephoto range.

 V3 and system

The camera body size though is almost identical to Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the Olympus PEN EPL5, and is almost twice as heavy as the new Panasonic GM-1 while being bigger with optional EVF added than the very versatile Olympus E-M10.

The Nikon 1 V3 has a just a few advantages over current Micro Four Thirds cameras which may be important to some people:

  • fast burst rate of 20fps with much better continuous AF – could be great for parents shooting their kids at sports events – assuming they are allowed to!
  • 60p HD video with 120 fps slo-mo at 720p – should give nice video but presumably not as well image stabilised as the Olympus E-M1 and no where near as good a quality as on the Panasonic GH4
  • electronic 1/16000th sec shutter – most new cameras will be getting this – the Panasonic GM1 already has it

But that’s about where the advantages over current Micro Four Thirds ends and one can expect these features to be added to Micro Four Thirds soon.

In short, if you just want to take snap shots or fast action shots then the V3 may well be the best for your needs, BUT if you want to LEARN to be a photographer, you are much better off getting a camera with larger sensor so you have more options of control over depth of field, and a camera with a much greater range of wide aperture lenses at affordable prices – and that is what you get with Micro Four Thirds without much increase in weight, size or price.

What you get with Micro Four Thirds which is not available with Nikon 1 is:

  • better ability to control depth of field
  • better image quality at higher ISO
  • better ability to utilise full frame lenses
  • an  extended range of camera sizes, features and prices from the tiny GM-1, to the E-M10, to the weatherproof pro level cameras, the Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic GH-4 with 4K HD video.
  • an extensive range of lenses – nearly all with filter threads so you can attach polarising filters and gradient filters
  • an affordable portrait lens – the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 is ~$900 compared to the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 which will give similar imagery at only ~$400 and you get in-camera image stabilisation as well
  • shallower DOF standard lens – the 1 Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8 gives DOF of a 50mm f/4.9 lens whereas the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 gives DOF of a 50mm f/3.6 lens (you can also resort to f/0.95 lenses), and again you also get in-camera image stabilisation as well
  • a wide aperture super compact lens for walking the street at night or indoor part shots – the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7
  • an urban night wide angle lens for hand held work with shutter speeds down to 2secs (with the E-M1) – the Olympus 12mm f/2.0
  • a beautiful wide aperture telephoto lens – the Olympus 75mm f/1.8
  • pro quality lenses such as the f/2.8 pro zoom lenses
  • a high quality macro lens – the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro
  • a range of fisheye lenses – the Nikon 1 system is yet to have a dedicated fisheye lens
  • in-camera image stabilisation for any lens you attach, even legacy manual focus ones (Olympus cameras)
  • very nice BULB long exposure modes such as Live BULB, Timed BULB and the new Live Composite Mode which does automatic Time Stacking
  • in-built viewfinder – this is essential if you need reading glasses – and also to provide better image stability for sharper photos
  • ability to automatically auto-focus on the subject’s closest eye
  • a full external flash system including ring flashes, plus remote TTL flash (my understanding is that the 1 Nikon flashes are not compatible with Nikon’s i-TTL flash technology)

 

See also my blog when the Nikon 1 system was announced.

 

 

Some awesome photos I have seen posted on 500px in Feb 2014

Written by admin on March 2nd, 2014

Another of my regular posts highlighting fantastic photography which photographers post on 500px.com

Click on the images to go to their source on 500px.com.

Enjoy!

The Magic of Bled Island by Dan Briski

Incredible Campo, CO Tornado by Brandon Goforth

My way to the Milky Way in Saudi Arabia by Ghazi Al-Saif

Untitled by Tatiana Mercalova

Uno City, Vienna by Stoleac Cosmin

the sculptor of women by Marcos Medina

Life by Mete Özbek

by Ivan Balabanov

Green tea field by Jaewoon U

Sabina by Zachar Rise

Dark Skies by Peter From

Timeless Towers of Faith, Greece by George Papapostolou

see more of my favorite images I have seen on the web HERE

 

5 awesome cameras for 2014 – E-M1, E-M10, GM-1, GH-4 and Fuji X-T1

Written by admin on February 7th, 2014

Following on from the footsteps of the brilliant camera of 2012 – the Olympus E-M5, we now have a range of amazing cameras to build on it’s success to address nearly every need.

Firstly the Panasonic GM-1.

I am not a fan of cameras without viewfinders but the GM-1 has changed the face of the shirt pocket camera genre – previously ruled by the excellent Sony RX 100 II.

The GM-1 is a Micro Four Thirds camera and thus not only does it have interchangeable lenses unlike the fixed lens on the Sony, but it’s sensor is MUCH larger meaning higher quality images and more shallow depth of field is possible for when you want to blur the background.

It came with a new very compact 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MegaOIS kit lens and a silent electronic shutter and certainly has the compact size to suit most people who just want a camera for their purse or pocket to take anywhere.

EOSHD.com placed it 2nd to the Canon 5D Mark III for HD video in its league 3 category of cameras for HD video work!

Like any tiny camera it has its compromises, in particular, no viewfinder, poor flash capabilities and ergonomic issues due to small size – but they are the price you pay for tiny size.

Then came the photographic product of the year for 2013 – the superb Olympus E-M1.

E-m1

Image courtesy of dpreview.com.

This built upon the E-M5 and improved almost every aspect including the EVF and the world’s best image stabiliser, and added phase detect AF to provide much improved AF tracking of moving subjects and much needed fast AF support for the superb range of Four Thirds lenses.

Not only that but it became one of the 1st cameras of its type to have WiFi with NFC and allow smartphones to not only have images transferred easily but remotely control the camera, view the live image on the phone and even select an AF subject. Very handy indeed.

The image stabiliser is so good that eoshd.com voted it as the BEST camera for hand held video without resorting to a large image stabilisation rig.

Olympus then followed this up with the “entry level” Olympus E-M10.

It may be entry level in price but what a great camera – even better than the E-M5 with loads of new features including many on the E-M1 but also a built-in flash which will please many. The missing features will not be of great importance to the buyers of this camera – lack of weathersealing, only 3 axis IS instead of 5 axis IS, and a few other features.

Not to be outdone, Fuji stepped up to the plate with their well received Fuji X-T1.

The Fuji X-T1 is in many ways similar to the Olympus E-M1. It does have a larger sensor so can give marginally better image quality and potentially 1 stop shallower depth of field, plus you get to see the main camera settings by looking at the dials. But critically it lacks the great image stabiliser, the range of lenses and flash sync, shutter speed range, BULB modes are not as good while the lenses are much bigger and heavier.

Today, we have the announcement of the Panasonic GH-4.

This is an incredible camera in that it has the most amazing video features for a camera in the price range, plus it has high end still photography features although unfortunately there is no sensor-based image stabiliser.

At an expected price of under $2000, you get 4K HD video, uncompressed video out, up to 96fps 1080p slo-mo variable rate  video with very high image quality (200Mbps) and an optional accessory port add on which takes it to another level altogether.

As a stills camera, it is weathersealed, has awesome EVF, shutter to 1/8000th sec, Bulb to 60 minutes,  12fps burst (7fps with AF tracking), silent shutter mode, flash sync to 1/250th sec even for external flashes, eye detect AF as with Olympus cameras, smartphone WiFi remote control, and more!

GH-4 with YAGHE video accessory

Sony has started something big too.

Sony is threatening to change the photographic world with their full frame mirrorless cameras which they introduced in 2013.

Unfortunately, the 36mp model, the Sony A7R has not lived up to expectations as it is plagued with shutter issues and one really needs to use it on a tripod to make the most of it.

The 24mp Sony A7 on the other hand seems to be a much more useful camera, although both lack built-in image stabiliser which would make use of legacy lenses much more attractive while dedicated new AF lenses are rolled out.

I would really like to see Olympus bring out a full frame mirrorless with their 5-axis image stabiliser and given their collaborations with Sony it may eventuate.

But what has happened to Canon and Nikon?

Both Canon and Nikon were conspicuously absent in dpreview.com’s readers’ votes for cameras of the year for 2013 – even Pentax K-3 won the dSLR section which Canon and Nikon practically own!

Canon and Nikon must be planning something big because they have not been producing any exciting cameras for a while.

Their dSLRs are just conservative evolutions of their usual dSLRs not able to take advantage of the technologic advantages and functions available with mirrorless systems.

Nikon tried to go retro to piggyback on the retro success of the Olympus OMD cameras but came up with an expensive, dysfunctional camera – the Nikon Df dSLR.

Canon’s top of the range APS-C dSLR is still their ageing Canon 7D, although they did introduce a 70D with dual AF for live view.

Both Canon and Nikon are sitting on their 2012 technology full frame dSLRs – the Nikon D800/D600/D4 and Canon 5D Mark III / 1D X (other than the Nikon D610 which is just a fix of the problematic D600).

Canon’s mirrorless system, the EOS-M does not appear to be going anywhere – given the autofocus of the EOS-M was so terrible. Why haven’t they brought out a more capable camera? The answer may well be that they don’t care because Americans love BIG cameras so they are just going to sell cheap dinosaur dSLR products to Americans and bide their time until they come up with a killer product.

Meanwhile the rest of us have realised we can get practically the same results with more fun, better image stabilisation, better hand held video, less backache, and more space in our travel bags by buying Micro Four Thirds.

 

Olympus expects their camera unit to return to profitability next year

Written by admin on January 25th, 2014

Bloomberg reports that Olympus at long last is expecting their camera unit to return to profitability next year.

Olympus is no 1 in the global medical endoscope business and this business leverages off the technologic advances of the camera division, and thus the camera business is important to Olympus.

Olympus camera division has struggled, and despite the global financial crisis, the well-documented internal issues, the rise of smartphones adversely impacting the compact digital point and shoot camera market, Olympus has persisted and come up with big winners with their Olympus OM-D Micro Four Thirds cameras and the lovely lenses they have created for them.

I have long believed that mirrorless cameras will be the way of the future for the far majority of uses, and the camera of the year for 2013, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 has further cemented this belief.

Olympus has said it expects to sell 660,000 units of mirrorless cameras in the year ending March 2014.

Olympus shares almost doubled in value in 2013 as presumably investors could now see a light at the end of the tunnel, and again Olympus has produced world leading cameras which are challenging competitors such as Fuji, Sony,  Canon and Nikon to lift their game and be innovative as well.

 

In search for the holy grail of 85mm wide aperture portrait lenses – 2 new premium lenses announced this week – Panasonic and Fuji

Written by admin on January 7th, 2014

For many 35mm full frame photographers, a wide aperture 85mm lens is the preferred tool for portraiture as the focal length allows a natural perspective without distorting facial features whilst still allowing the photographer to be close enough to interact well with the subject. Furthermore, the wider the aperture of the portrait lens means there are more options for creating shallow depth of field to ensure the subject is emphasized whilst the background is thrown into a nice blur – hopefully with nice bokeh qualities.

When it comes to shallow depth of field capabilities, Canon dSLR users reign supreme as they have access to the very expensive and heavy Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II lens – the only f/1.2 85mm lens currently manufactured.

However, all is not what it seems.

As superb as this lens is, there is one huge draw back – the autofocus is very slow and combined with the extremely shallow depth of field, this lens can be very challenging to use well wide open.

Canon users then are at a quandary, as their only other Canon autofocus 85mm lens is the excellent consumer grade Canon EF 85mm f/1.8, but this lens suffers from significant purple fringing wide open.

Nikon users don’t have access to a 85mm f/1.2 lens but they do have a good Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G lens (the 1995 D version lens was designed for film cameras and was not great on digital cameras), so perhaps they have a better compromise than Canon users.

Sony full frame dSLR users are in a similar situation to Nikon users as they have the Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens but AF can be slow and at $1700 it is not cheap.

All dSLR lenses using phase detect AF need microcalibration of AF and this is particularly important with shallow depth of field images.

In addition, the above users have access to 3rd party lenses such as the excellent Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lens although AF speed and accuracy can be an issue. For those on a budget, the Samyang/Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 manual focus lens may fit their needs.

Cropped sensor dSLR users can resort to their 50mm prime lenses although they will have less ability to gain shallow depth of field.

What do we really need?

Extreme shallow depth of field is not usually the prime requirement, and most portraits can be shot at 85mm f/2.4-2.8 on a full frame camera and get potentially even better results wide open as most portraits are best if at least the area from the subject’s ear to tip of nose is in focus.

Indeed, if one is shooting low light portraits, or using fill in flash with a slowish shutter speed without a tripod, then image stabilisation becomes very important and none of the Canon or Nikon options offer image stabilisation.

Furthermore, the most critical technical part of taking the shot is often ensuring that the closest eye of the subject is the sharpest part of the image. This can be very difficult to achieve with dSLRs using shallow depth of field.

This is where mirrorless cameras can be the BEST tool for portraiture as they can offer:

  • sufficiently shallow depth of field
  • sufficiently out of focus backgrounds with lovely bokeh quality of the blurring
  • more depth of field wide open so you can use a faster shutter speed or lower ISO in low light if needed
  • image stabilisation to ensure excellent sharpness (Olympus cameras)
  • face detection autofocus with closest eye detection (Olympus cameras)
  • small camera and lenses to reduce the subject being intimidated and allow them to be more relaxed
  • high optical quality portrait lenses which are sharp edge to edge even wide open (full frame lenses generally lack sharpness just where you want the subject’s eyes)
  • consistently accurate autofocus (no need for microcalibrations)

This week, Panasonic and Fuji have officially announced 2 new premium portrait lenses for their mirrorless cameras.

The Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens:

Designed for the 1.5x crop Fuji X mirrorless system and gives an equivalent to a 85mm f/1.8 lens in field of view and depth of field terms on a full frame camera.

This lens is well built, relatively affordable at $US999, and it should be a very popular option for Fuji users.

However, there is no image stabilisation, AF of Fuji cameras still lags behind Micro Four Thirds cameras, and closest focus is 0.7m which may be limiting for some uses.

The Panasonic Leica DG 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron lens:

A very expensive lens designed for Micro Four Thirds (which are 2x crop cameras) and thus gives an equivalent to a 85mm f/2.4 lens in field of view and depth of field terms on a full frame camera.

It has “Power OIS” optical stabilisation built-in, and Olympus users also have the option of using sensor-based image stabilisation.

Close focus is 0.5m.

Surprisingly it is a touch bigger, and heavier than the Fujinon lens, but perhaps it will have less vignetting.

This lens should be available from march 2014 at £1,399.

Summary:

Given the advantages of image stabilisation, edge-to-edge sharpness, closest eye detection AF and generally quieter, smaller, less intrusive gear, my personal preference is for an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 or E-M5 combined with either the 42.5mm f/1.2 lens if you can afford it, or the much smaller, less expensive Olympus mZD 45mm f/1.8 lens. Having said that, I do most of my portraits with the superb Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens but this may be too long a focal length for many people.

For group shots at parties, you can’t go past a Micro Four Thirds camera with Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens and a bounce flash – see my recent post.

If you don’t believe me that great portraiture is possible on these cameras, check out Sean Archer’s work with Micro Four Thirds cameras – see this post, and Edmondo Senatore’s work – see this post.

 

Showcase: Edmondo Senatore and his wonderful imagery using Micro Four Thirds

Written by admin on January 6th, 2014

Edmondo Senatore is an Italian photographer who has been photographing since he attended a school of graphic design as a teenager back in the days of the film SLR.

He has used Olympus Four Thirds dSLRs, then Nikon and Canon dSLRs, and now has migrated to Micro Four Thirds and is using the wonderful Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera.

Here are some of his wonderful images you can see on his 500px.com website using Micro Four Thirds, enjoy:

The beautiful queen

Taken with Olympus PEN E-PL5 Micro Four Thirds camera.

Homeless

Taken with Olympus E-M5 with Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens.

Edmondo

Taken with Olympus PEN E-PL5 Micro Four Thirds camera and Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lens at 8mm f/7.1.

Walking through my city

Taken with Olympus PEN E-PL5 Micro Four Thirds camera and Pansonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens at 12mm f/5.6.

Edmondo

 

KitVision Lens Pack – iPhone lomography – telephoto and fisheye lens attachments for the iPhone – a review

Written by admin on January 5th, 2014

I was asked if I would do a review of the Kitvision iPhone 5 / 5S lens pack.

Now I a must admit I am not a big fan of iPhone photography as the image quality and capabilities are no where near what my Micro Four Thirds gear can achieve, and I take my Olympus E-M5 with me nearly everywhere including to parties, so I do not have great need of using my iPhone 5 as a camera.

Nevertheless, not everyone is as lucky as I am to own a Micro Four Thirds camera and a few of their lovely little lenses, so I decided to agree to testing these 2 iPhone lens attachments out, just to see what they could do.

The KitVision lens pack comes with:

iPhone 5/5S case with a screw on part for the lenses to attach to

  • a telephoto “12x” lens
  • a fisheye lens
  • a mini-tripod
  • a iPhone tripod adapter

Essentially this is what you get:

the lens kit

Assembling it is very straight forward, and this is how the telephoto lens looks with iPhone mounted on the tripod:

telephoto lens

and the tiny little fisheye lens:

fisheye lens

The “12x telephoto lens”:

This seems to be a well built lens made of metal, comes with lens caps but no lens hood.
The field of view provided is approximately the same as a 300mm lens of a 35mm full frame camera or a 150mm lens on a Micro Four Thirds camera.
The lens can be rapidly attached or unattached to the iPhone, and when not in use, it is small enough for your pocket.
There is no optical zoom built-in but it does have a manual focus ring which requires two hands to turn – one to hold the lens so it doesn’t unscrew from the iPhone and the other to gain approximate manual focus. Fortunately, the iPhone autofocus will attempt to gain exact focus as long as you have manually focussed to within the capability of the AF range.
Unlike an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera, there is no built-in image stabilisation so to get reasonable results, particularly in lower light conditions, you really need to shoot with it on a tripod. Nevertheless, with bit of practice on a sunny day you can get reasonable hand held shots.

Now the all important question – what is the image quality like?

In short, you need to regard this as a lomography lens – it is inexpensive, and used on a tiny iPhone sensor without image stabilisation and it is full of every optical defect you can think of.
It is reasonably sharp in the centre (although no where near as sharp as a kit lens on a Micro Four Thirds camera) but the plane of focus appears to be very curved so areas away from the sharpest focus will rapidly become blurred.
Furthermore, there is a LOT of chromatic aberration resulting in lateral color fringing, and a LOT of lens flare although the latter can be improved by creating a lens hood for it to shield the front element from incidental light.

The following shots are essentially straight from iPhone just resized in Lightroom for the web:

Handheld shot of a street busker in the shade – not super sharp but passable :

busker lens

another handheld shot:

Melbourne's train station

Nevertheless, for many this will be a fun lens and you may be able to gain some nice creative imagery.

The fisheye lens:

This is a tiny metal lens which appears to be very well built and easily fits in a coin pocket of your trousers.

It has a convex front glass element which will need protection with the supplied lens cap when not in use.

As with the telephoto lens, this fisheye should be regarded as a creative lomography lens but you don’t need the tripod, so that makes it a fun lens to use.

There is no optical zoom and no manual focus – the iPhone’s AF should be able to address your focus needs although this can be tricky given the severe curvature of the plane of focus – you do need to ensure the iPhone AF on the part of the image you want in focus.

The field of view is said to be 160deg and it certainly appears to be around that level of ultra-wide angle fisheye.

Optically, it is no where near as sharp across the frame as a $200 or so Samyang fisheye for Micro Four Thirds, and it has a lot more chromatic aberrations but then it is a lot less expensive and much smaller.

By default, the image is that of a traditional circular fisheye lens as shown:

Fed Square

A larger than life size action figure:

a larger than life action figure

But you can zoom in on the iPhone to give a more rectangular image although the lens did not appear centred so the circle is a little more to the left in the frame.

Art centre

Now if you look at the above image you will notice weird blurring occurring near the edges, so I thought I would have a look and see if it was just poor sharpness or out of focus issues.

Here is an art installation on a FLAT wall:

art1

and using the iPhone to zoom in, you can see only the centre is sharp and this is due to severe curvature of the plane of focus:

art II

Here is another example to prove this, another art installation on a flat wall taken from only 2-3m away:

art III

and using the iPhone to AF on a different part of the installation to the right of centre, you see the centre is now blurred while the area of AF is kind of sharp:

art IV

And here are a couple more art works to show what this lens can do:

art V

art VI

All in all, I really enjoyed using the fisheye – if the blurred lomography edges appeals then you may well find it a useful addition to your iPhone gear.

The lens kit appears to be good value, particularly for those who can’t afford a Micro Four Thirds camera, or who want something even smaller to take with them.

You can buy the KitVision Lens Pack for iPhone 5/5S from MobileZap for under $AUS60

 

Post-Xmas sales coming up – the BEST camera kit for enthusiasts in 2014

Written by admin on December 24th, 2013

I am going to concentrate on the Micro Four Thirds system because this system gives you the BEST compromises on size, weight, image quality and versatility that larger sensor cameras just can’t match.

This does not mean there is no place for larger sensor cameras – of course there is, particularly if you want a little more image quality at high ISO, more megapixels for landscapes,  even shallower depth of field, or you really need remote radio TTL flash (which has not made it to Micro Four Thirds – yet!).

First the camera:

Personally I would buy a 2nd hand Olympus OMD E-M5 – they are generally selling at significant discount and are a great value buy and offer lots of versatility and high image quality. It does NOT have phase detect AF capability so it won’t track moving subjects well and it won’t AF on moving subjects well, plus AF is very slow if you are using Four Thirds lenses, but if you can get by with these limitations, then it is a great camera, even better with half of the battery holder grip attached, and unlike the E-M1 this can be removed for even more jacket pocketability.

If you need phase detect AF for sports, Four Thirds lenses, etc, then your only current option is the 2013 camera of the year – the awesome Olympus OMD E-M1 – but it does come at a price.

Other worthwhile camera options to consider are the Panasonic GX7, Olympus E-P5, Olympus E-PL5 and the new very compact Panasonic GM-1, while videographers wil be eagerly looking forward to Panasonic’s new 4K capable camera in 2014 – the Panasonic GH4.

The cheapest new generation Micro Four Thirds camera is the Olympus E-PL5 (note the cheapest current Micro Four Thirds camera, the Olympus E-PM2 is older sensor technology but may still be a great start for beginners moving up from point and shoot cameras)

Unfortunately, for beginners, there is no camera-kit lens kit for under $400 new in Micro Four Thirds, so many end up buying a cheap entry level, often dysfunctional dSLR, which then sends them down the dSLR lens acquisition pathway until they realise that mirrorless cameras are the way of the future – not dSLRs.

Note too that not all mirrorless cameras are great system cameras like the new Micro Four Thirds cameras – I would NOT recommend the Canon EOS-M as it has a limited dedicated lens system and AF is ridiculously inadequate. The older Micro Four Thirds cameras may be worth buying but be aware they have older sensors and image quality and other capabilities are not up there with the latest cameras. The Sony NEX are nice compact cameras but their lenses are far too big and defeat the purpose of a compact system. The Samsung NX system does not seem to be going anywhere fast and is not recommended. The Fuji system is nice but expensive and has limited range of lenses.

Now the all important lenses:

Lenses are a very personal preference and much depends upon how you use the camera and your preferred subjects.

Nevertheless, most people would do well to aim for 3 “essential” lenses:

  • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens
    • this has been an all time favorite of many photographers because it is very sharp, very compact, allows your camera to fit into a jacket pocket, is perfect for indoor party shots or walking the street at night for hand held night shots.
    • the unique benefits outweigh the disadvantages of slowish AF, some CA and rather busy bokeh
    • try and pick one up on Ebay 2nd hand if you can
    • note there is a new version (version II) with similar optics but has a metal barrel instead of plastic and thus a touch heavier – for most it will not matter which version you get.
    • if you want faster, more silent AF and don’t mind a bigger lens, then the Olympus mZD 17mm f/1.8 lens is another option.
  • Olympus micro ZD 75mm f/1.8 lens
    • this is one of the best lenses ever made in terms of optical qualities
    • it is a short telephoto equivalent to a 150mm f/3.6 in full frame terms and is fantastic for creating shallow depth of field images with beautiful blurred backgrounds thanks to its lovely smooth bokeh
    • this is fantastic for portraits or fashion shots as well as for creating aesthetically beautiful still life images in nature and close up shots
    • this lens gives me almost identical imagery as my Canon EF 135mm f/2L lens does on my Canon 1D Mark III dSLR but in a much more compact size, weight and price, and without the troublesome flare the Canon lens is renown for.
    • unfortunately it is not weatherproof
    • if you can’t afford this, the manual focus Samyang/Rokinon 84mm f/1.4 lens will provide similar shallow DOF with lovely bokeh
  • a zoom lens for day time all purpose use
    • my preference here would be the Olympus mZD 12-40mm f/2.8 lens given that it is almost waterproof, has constant f/2.8 aperture so is great for indoor shots and night shots as well as daytime use, has high optical quality and covers 24-80mm in full frame terms – however, as it is a new lens there is a short supply so availability over the next few weeks may be tight, and, like the 75mm lens, it is a bit pricey.
    • a worthwhile alternative is the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens, which is also very pricey and not “waterproof”
    • for most people though, any of the other kit zoom lenses will be adequate and far cheaper – just remember they are really only good for daylight hours and not for low light conditions.

Some special lenses that some may need:

  • Olympus micro ZD 60mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens
    • this lens is one of the best macro lenses you can get and is very light, compact with fast AF which all mean it is much more enjoyable to use in the field without a tripod than most other macro systems
  • Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens
    • this is included as it is cheap and has great image quality but remember it is only manual focus, but is a very handy lens to have in the bag.
  • Olympus micro ZD 12mm f/2.0 lens
    • if you don’t have a 12-35 or 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, then this f/2.0 lens provides a great wide angle lens for walking around cities at night time without a tripod or for building interiors without a tripod
    • it is also very handy for landscapes and waterfalls

New lenses coming in 2014-2015 which you need to save up for:

  • Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2 lens:
    • this lens at f/1.2 will make a fantastic portrait lens and low light lens but will be expensive
  • Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens
    • this is going to be an awesome almost waterproof  lens covering 80-300mm telephoto in 35mm full frame terms, yet compact f/2.8
    • will be great on the E-M1 for sports, even indoor sports
  • a 200mm f/2.8 or 300mm f/4 lens
    • it is uncertain which of these will come out if any, but both will be highly sought after lenses given their relatively small form factor.

A flash:

  • a flash with bounce capabilities is important for taking aesthetic portraits indoors such as at parties or weddings
  • the Olympus FL-600R flash
    • this is my favorite flash as it is not too big (easily stored in the inside pocket of a suit jacket), is easy to use and the 4 AA batteries give it a fast recycle time so you don’t miss shots, and of course it can be used as a master or a slave for remote TTL flash set ups.
    • as a bonus, it does have a LED light for video work although I have never used mine for this.
  • if you can’t afford this, then the Olympus FL36R is a good alternative although only having 2 AA batteries means recycle time is much slower and you will be waiting on the flash to get ready for next shot.
  • as and adjunct for macro work or as a shadowless fill-in flash, take a look at the Metz mecablitz 15 MS-1 digital Slave Ring flash which will work in remote TTL mode with most camera systems (needs the firmware upgrade to work with Micro Four Thirds)

Filters:

  • a polarising filter for each of the lenses is very useful, it allows wider apertures in bright daylight, gives much more colorful images in forest scenes by reducing reflections from leaves, is very handy for water or window shots, and of course can make your sky deeper blue.
  • if you do landscapes, then a square or rectangular gradient neutral density filter 0.6ND is very handy to bring out details in the sky instead of having it washed out.