Olympus OM-D E-M5 + Orbis Ring Flash + Metz Ring Flash vs the Zombies

Written by admin on October 12th, 2014

The annual zombie shuffle was on again in Melbourne yesterday.

This is a very social event with thousands participating including many, many photographers and it always has a great fun atmosphere.

The zombies spend a LOT of time creating their personas and love being photographed.

It is outdoors and forecast for midday sun is a bit of a nightmare for getting great shots, and you generally only get 5-10 secs to compose and get your shot with each zombie before the photographer horde gets in your way.

This year I decided to take a different approach and did a bit of testing the day before so I could shoot with a main flash light inside an Orbis Ring Flash Modifier to create an off-camera beauty dish effect, supplemented with a Metz macro “ring” flash on the lens as a fill flash.

To deal with a potentially sunny background and the desire for a wide aperture, I used a polarising filter and manual flash via PC sync cables which allowed me to push the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera to 1/400th sec shutter speed – this does result in a small part of the “top” of your frame not being lit by the flash – no problem if there is no subject there!

The ambient exposure was intentionally under-exposed, and by using CTO gels on the flashes with custom WB for the CTO gelled flash, this gave a lovely deep blue background – at least when the sunlit areas was not in the background.

Most were shot at ISO 200, f/1.8, 1/400th sec. Metz flash was on 1/16th output. I used a Canon 580EX II flash in the Orbis Ring Flash (I could have used my Olympus FL50 instead with same effect), and this needed to be fired at almost full output.

All of these were taken with the nice little Olympus mZD 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens, – although tethered to the Orbis Ring Flash and thus relatively confined to being 1.5m or so from the subject was a little limiting – but I knew that would be the case. I could make the subject lighter or darker by moving the Orbis flash closer or further from the subject.

However, given the rather clunky way the Orbis needs to be held in one hand, have a light, compact OM-D in the other hand was an essential component to the success of this technique – and I did what I rarely do – use Live View on the rear screen instead of the EVF even though the screen was blurry to me (I need reading glasses for it) – I was able to compose at arms length and let the amazing eye detection AF do its job – but being mindful of te fact that some zombie’s eyes cannot be detected in which case I locked AF using the centre AF region and half-press shutter button, then recomposed.

The first shot of the day was something I had pre-planned the night before and required a different set of maths to work out, but in only 2 shots, I managed to come up with this awesome image:

Zombie coming through the time space portal attacking a zombie killer ready with her laser gun:

claw

Zombie laser gun:

zombie killer

Zombie bride:

zombie bride

Cute retro zombie:

retro zombie

Zombie guy:

zombie guy

 

As with any relatively small light source, the light from the Orbis is very directional and relatively harsh, so if shooting portraits, you should ideally avoid oily skin and ensure some face powder has been used to avoid unflattering specular reflections from the skin.

The Orbis could also be used as a true ring flash with the lens protruding through the flash to give that typical shadowless fashion look with soft shadows surrounding the subjects on the wall behind. This usage can be great for emphasising creative makeup and colours while de-emphasising skin texture but may not be flattering for all subjects, particularly those with fuller faces. Be aware that this may produce red eyes with the light being so close to the lens axis.

More details on key shifting and color shifting using flash can be found here.

 

Spring in Australia with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens

Written by admin on October 9th, 2014

I won’t bore you with how much I love the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens for Micro Four Thirds – you already know that.

Here are more images from my drives and bushwalks recently in rural Victoria:

Bushwalking through the forests in the Victorian goldfields – reminds me of the Australian impressionist painters of the late 19th century such as Tom Roberts:

Australian impressionism

Bushwalking through ancient lava canals in Mt Eccles National Park:

lava canal

Remains of a petrified forest – an amazing eerie landscape full of remnants of petrified trees in far western Victoria:

petrified forest

petrified forest

petrified vine

Lava columns pounded by the ocean – similar to the Giant’s Causeway in northern Ireland and shows how much dynamic range the sensor has – I was able to gain detail in the over-exposed ocean at top of the image very nicely indeed:

lava columns

Volcanic maars and pastural land with cows and lovely light between the rain showers, Camperdown:

pastures

Spring blossoms with my version of the Orton Effect:

blossoms

and finally, a couple with the Olympus mZD 60mm f/2.8 macro lens hand held – it is Spring after all:

A couple types of Daviesia sp. pea flowers:

Daviesia sp

Daviesia sp

A lonely rare native white orchid as close as I could get without shaking too much:

native white orchid

 

 

 

Adding a PC sync port to your Micro Four Thirds camera for manual off-camera flash or studio strobes

Written by admin on October 8th, 2014

Most Micro Four Thirds cameras (other than the Olympus OM-D E-M1) do not have a PC sync port to connect an off-camera flash in manual flash exposure mode.

Why do this?

Whilst you can use a radio flash transmitter system to achieve this without cords, there are several main downsides:

  • potential issues with the radio triggering – particularly in areas where radio waves don’t transmit well or when there are others using the same radio channels
  • transmitter and receivers cost more and are a little bulky attached to the flash units
  • cannot push shutter speed above flash x-sync well due to the radio triggering latency

Solution is cheap and easy:

There are several types of hotshoe adapters which provide a PC sync port:

  • hotshoes with full TTL pass through capability to a top mounted hotshoe
    • these are ideal if you wish to also mount your Micro Four Thirds compatible flash and use it as you normally would
    • I have bought and used the Flash IS-HC120 hot shoe adapter for Canon EOS (pin compatible with Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds flash systems), and it works very well and appears to be well made
  • hotshoes with only a single pin pass through capability to the top mounted hotshoe
    • these are ideal if you wish to mount your Micro Four Thirds flash and use it in manual mode while pushing shutter speed above x-sync
    • these are getting hard to find!
  • radio transmitter unit with PC sync port
    • also can function as a radio transmitter but usually do not have TTL pass-through compatibility for Micro Four Thirds
    • but even when not used as a radio transmitter may give latency preventing use in allowing faster shutter speeds above x-sync
    • NB. PocketWizard TTL Canon units do not seem to be able to fire mounted Olympus flash units even in “pass-through” mode, and the Mini-TTL does NOT have a PC sync port

     

 

Flash IS-HC120 adapter

More on flash units for Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds – here.

 

Canon – what where you thinking – a disastrous marketing campaign of excuses?

Written by admin on October 8th, 2014

For those who may have missed it, Canon has just disappointed its fan base big time with a mysterious ad campaign “See Impossible” which appeared to suggest that they were about to announce long awaited new technology to make the impossible possible – only for the ad campaign to count down to a reality of it being nothing but an attempt to convince the world that their technology already does this.

There has been a massive back-lash to this marketing campaign which risks driving even their staunchest fans to the fantastic new technologies of Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, Fuji and even Samsung which ARE changing how we use cameras.

Cropped sensor dSLR development:

To be fair, Canon have recently announced perhaps the best sports dSLR for enthusiasts, their long awaited Canon 7D Mark II which took 5 years to replace the initial version – 5 years is a VERY LONG TIME in the digital camera world – and as good as the 7D Mark II is for sports, it just doesn’t cut it with the mirrorless cameras for every day use, and even for sports, disappoints in not giving 4K video quality which other cameras such as the Panasonic GH-4 is able to do – heck even the new Panasonic LX-100 compact camera can do!

Further, the Canon 7D Mark II is a crop sensor dSLR, yet unlike Olympus and Panasonic, Canon still staunchly refuses to create great lenses to maximise the smaller sensor and give smaller, lighter lenses – if you want a pro level lens for this camera, you really need to buy a big, heavy, expensive, full frame lens – very disappointing indeed Canon!

Lack of full frame development:

The other main stay of Canon leadership – the full frame dSLR has failed to demonstrate leading technologies of late, and Canon appears to be being beaten by Nikon on almost every front (although Nikon too appears to have lost its way in the mirrorless camera market which is rapidly eating into the dSLR market).

Nikon produced a 36mp full frame dSLR 2 years ago, and even Sony have produced a compact 36mp full frame mirrorless camera in that time, but Canon’s full frame dSLRs max out at 22mp and are themselves 2 years old, and it would appear there is no new version on the horizon this year – now I must admit that 22mp is probably all one needs, but there will be many pro and enthusiast photographers who want more.

And again, none of their full frame dSLRs can compete with the 4K video capabilities mentioned above.

Perhaps the only note worthy dSLR development in the past few years by Canon is their unique radio wireless flash TTL technology.

Lack of sensor-based image stabilisation:

Neither Canon nor Nikon have been prepared to add sensor based image stabilisation as Olympus and Sony and now Panasonic are doing – sensor based image stabilisation is really a no brainer – it IMPROVES image quality with every lens you put on it, and when you don’t want it, you turn it off. What’s more it means photographers don’t need to be updating their lenses to get the latest IS capability, they can just update their camera, and there is no need for image degrading, heavier, more expensive optical IS elements (astrophotographers do not like OIS lenses as they degrade star images).

Olympus 1st introduced sensor based IS 7 years ago, and it has been used on all their interchangeable lens cameras since and has proven to be amazing technology, with their latest flagship, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 allowing hand held exposures with wide angle lenses down to an unprecedented 1 second!

Not only that, but the sensor based IS is indispensible when trying to manually focus a lens at high magnification – it is simply awesome technology – yet Canon and Nikon have failed big time in this arena.

If Canon were to introduce a full frame dSLR with sensor-based IS, even I would be tempted to buy it so I can better use my many full frame pro lenses given that my aging Canon 1D Mark III is no longer worth its weight carrying now that we have the Olympus OM-D’s to give similar or better image quality, accurate eye-detection AF for portaiture and far more fun without the burden of weight and size.

In the interim, you have got to ask yourself – why buy a Canon or Nikon over an Olympus OM-D?

There are still some valid reasons (fastest AF for sports via the 7D Mark II, and, shallowest DOF via full frame are the two main ones) but these are diminishing each year.

Lost in the wilderness of very capable compact and mirrorless cameras:

Canon and Nikon have totally lost their way in the last few years of rapid onslaught of amazing new compact and mirrorless cameras by Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji and Sony.

Once upon a time the Canon G series ruled the enthusiast “compact” camera world – Canon’s latest iterations, their Canon G1 X Mark II and G7 X – both released this year, just cannot compete with the likes of compact larger sensor cameras such as the Panasonic LX-100, Panasonic GM-5, Fuji FinePix x100T, or the smaller sensor super zooms such as the Panasonic FZ1000, Sony RX10 and Olympus Stylus 1.

But even more telling is their pathetic attempt at a mirrorless camera – the Canon EOS M which was introduced 2 years ago, far too late and with such pathetic capabilities including poor AF, that it was a doomed camera from the start with no chance of competing with the brilliant Olympus OM-D Micro Four Thirds cameras, or even the compact Panasonic or Sony mirrorless cameras.

And where the other manufacturers (except Nikon) have been producing fantastic new cameras every few months since then, each with even better features and technologies such as full remote control via smartphones using WiFi, 4K video, fantastic IS capability, fun jpeg rendering features, the fastest AF of all camera types for static subjects, introduction of phase detect AF for moving subjects and for use of legacy phase detect AF lenses – Canon is yet to announce a single new model.

Canon and Nikon users are sitting on a bucket load of “legacy” expensive lenses with a compromised future:

Micro Four Thirds is really showing the photography world where the future of most photography lies – mirrorless cameras with CDAF-capable lenses.

Very few Canon or Nikon lenses are optimised for CDAF – making them severely compromised in functionality with whatever mirrorless cameras these manufacturers end up bringing to the table.

Sure the new cameras are likely to offer sensor based phase detect AF as does the Olympus OM-D E-M1 – but they are just not as fast nor accurate at AF in mirrorless cameras as are lenses specifically designed for CDAF.

This must be a major concern to both Canon and Nikon – and their millions of users – no one likes to think of their prize collection of lenses becoming redundant.

Canon has started making consumer-level lenses with CDAF capability – their “STM” lenses but these are few and there does not appear to be any direction being given for existing users.

Not to mention their users must really love it when Canon or Nikon announce a new version of their $2000+ pro lens which offers better image stabilisation and immediately devalues their lens further.

I stopped buying Canon lenses years ago for just these reasons – unfortunately pro photographers won’t have this choice – they need their 24mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2, 85mm f/1.2, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lenses NOW.

Here is a list of MY BUCKET of Canon lenses – fortunately 3 are manual focus anyway:

  • Canon TSE 17mm f/4L tilt-shift
  • Canon TSE 45mm f/2.8L tilt shift
  • Canon TSE 90mm f/2.8L tilt shift
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS
  • Canon EF 135mm f/2L
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

In the meantime, Olympus and Panasonic in particular, have been rolling out new cameras, and just as importantly, fantastic new lenses so users can make the most of this system – just take a look at the great new lenses from Olympus of late – the 75mm f/1.8, 60mm f/2.8 macro, 25mm f/1.8, 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, and the absolutely awesome 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO and its matching 1.4x teleconverter – plus those from Panasonic such as their 42mm f/1.2 and yet there are more great lenses in the pipeline – the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and the 300mm f/4 PRO just to name two from Olympus.

There is enthusiasm and a bright future for those in the Micro Four Thirds camp while it seems Canon and Nikon seems stymied by their lack of progress and technological advances – much of the possibilities are actually the result of the presence of a SLR mirror which limits the use of electronic technologies which are driving the fun of using Micro Four Thirds cameras.

Khen Lim has written a very detailed treatise on the end of the dSLR – see here.

 

 

 

What would I like to see in the next version of the wonderful Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera?

Written by admin on September 30th, 2014

Olympus have recently indicated that a mark II version of the brilliant Olympus E-M5 camera is on the way following on the heels of the “pro version” E-M1 and the “budget version” E-M10.

Clearly Olympus will want to distinguish it between these models, and most reasonably should keep the size and weight, and battery holder much the same as the current version as these are important – the E-M1 is great but it can be a bit big and intimidating for many, not to mention too expensive.

The E-M5 Mark II will almost certainly adopt all the new features in the E-M10 such as:

  • improved touch screen
  • improved EVF
  • WiFi smartphone control
  • focus peaking
  • latest image processing engine
  • auto HDR mode
  • ability to assign MySets to the mode dial
  • automatic lens IS priority for when using lenses with OIS
  • 1st curtain electronic shutter
  • color creator
  • Live Composite
  • improved HD video
  • intervalometer
  • cut-down version of the ’2×2′ control system of the E-M1

And will almost certainly have the newer features of the PEN E-P5:

  • 800 AF points
  • Super Spot AF
  • 1/8000th sec shutter (but please keep the nice shutter noise of the E-M5)
  • flash sync 1/320th sec
  • timelapse movies
  • AE bracketing +/- 6EV at 9fps: 3 or 5 frames in 2.0/3.0EV steps, 7 frames in 2.0EV step
  • movie functions: magnified focus view; change Picture Mode using Fn button; 4x one-push movie zoom
  • PhotoStory

The big question is what features will make their way down from the E-M1?

It would be reasonable to expect to see the following as a minimum:

  •  +/- 5 stop exposure compensation instead of +/- 3 stops so I can do spot metering adjustments better
  • the improved IS
  • phase detect AF – after all, the Four Thirds dSLR users need a more affordable camera to migrate to than just the E-M1
  • improved movie functionality: audio level controls, etc

And some new enhancements to keep up with the latest:

  • 4K video and 120fps 1080HD video as with the Panasonic GH4
  • high ISO score must be BETTER than the E-M1 which was a little disappointing given the much better score of the cheap PEN E-PM2
  • optional artificial shutter release louder SOUND so subjects can hear you take the shot

And PLEASE introduce a radio TTL wireless flash system

  •  I am NOT a fan of the current visible light one and a radio TTL flash would be awesome indeed!
  • Perhaps it could be based on WiFi technology given that the new cameras will already have this!
 

Best cameras in 2014

Written by admin on September 25th, 2014

Its 2014, and compact, light, fun, versatile, high image quality mirrorless cameras, in particular, Micro Four Thirds cameras are perhaps the best options for most people rather than dSLRs.

There are now only a few areas where dSLRs outperform these mirrorless cameras:

  • extremely shallow depth of field or very shallow DOF with zoom lenses  - here a full frame camera – such as a mirrorless Sony or a full frame dSLR, is the way to go
  • the best AF tracking of fast moving subjects – although the GH-4 and E-M1 have made great improvements in this area
  • radio remote TTL flash – there are no systems currently compatible with Micro Four Thirds cameras and flashes as yet, but you can still do remote TTL flash or manual radio triggered flash

If the above are not a priority to you, then a Micro Four Thirds camera will be a much better choice as:

  • they and their lenses allow a much more compact and lighter kit better suited to travel and hiking, and you are more likely to take them with you
  • they are not a burden and weigh you down
  • the image quality is perfect for most situations, and most people will not be able to tell any difference from a dSLR image
  • they are fun to use with their touch screen controls, full remote control by smartphones where you can view the image on the phone, select a subject to AF on, the trigger the shutter and the image is sent back to the phone so you can upload to the internet – fantastic for holidays or for group selfies
  • AF is not only FASTER it is more accurate for portraits – they can even detect the subject’s closest eye and focus on it
  • video and live view is far easier to use
  • there are so many choices of camera and lenses to suit everyone – you can even use them with almost any lens ever made – albeit in manual focus mode

 

Sports, action or wildlife:

  • Canon 7D Mark II - perhaps the only cropped sensor dSLR worth considering in 2014
  • Nikon D4S - very expensive pro dSLR
  • Canon 1D X - very expensive pro dSLR
  • Panasonic GH4 – has the BEST video – 4K capable and has the best AF tracking of the mirrorless cameras (when used with Panasonic lenses)
  • Nikon D7100 – cropped sensor dSLR for Nikon fans
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 – great weatherproofing, the best image stabilisation, and like the GH-4, the best hand holdable telephoto reach and lightest for hiking

General purpose, high image quality, versatile camera, great for travel or hiking :

 Relatively compact interchangeable lens travel cameras with viewfinders:

  • Olympus OM-D E-M1pro features, weatherproof, freezeproof, smartphone control, fast AF, reasonably good AF tracking, fantastic image stabilisation but largest of this group
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5inexpensive, weatherproof, compact, fast AF for static subjects, great image stabilisation, but poor AF tracking and not great for AF of fast moving subjects
  • Olympus OM-D E-M10inexpensive, compact, fast AF for static subjects, good image stabilisation, smartphone control, but not weatherproof and poor AF tracking and not great for AF of fast moving subjects
  • Panasonic GH-4 – larger dSLR styling, no sensor based IS, but still Micro Four Thirds and has the best video and AF tracking
  • Fuji XT-1 - stylish, but lacks many features of the OM-D cameras such as touch screen, IS, etc and lens range is far less, but otherwise, a nice camera
  • Panasonic GM5very compact, smartphone control, good video, but minimal physical controls and poor flash x-sync speed

Relatively compact fixed lens cameras with viewfinders:

  • Panasonic LX-100large sensor, smartphone control, excellent 3x zoom lens, 4K video, fast AF
  • Fuji FinePix X100Tlarge sensor, smartphone control, excellent lens for low light but no zoom

Relatively compact cameras with viewfinder AND long zoom ranges:

  • Panasonic FZ1000 -  small 2.7x crop sensor, smartphone control, 16x zoom lens, 4K video

Pocketable cameras but no viewfinder:

  • Panasonic GM-1ultra-compact Micro Four Thirds interchangable lens camera, large sensor, compact 3x zoom lens, WiFi, touch screen
  • Sony RX110 - ultra-compact 4x zoom, fixed lens, small 2.7x crop sensor, improved version of the popular RX100 adding tilting LCD and WiFi
  • Olympus PEN E-PL7compact Micro Four Thirds interchangable lens camera, large sensor,  new “selfie” mode, great image stabilisation, WiFi, touch screen, optional EVF

 

 

Olympus “Open Platform” to allow special Micro Four Thirds remote camera modules with lenses to be controlled by smartphones

Written by admin on September 17th, 2014

Olympus have now announced they will also enter this new genre of a basic camera without viewfinders or memory cards to be controlled by smartphones which will store the images via WiFi.

It is an extension of their current Micro Four Thirds camera technology which already allows one to view a live image that their camera is seeing through their smartphone and select an AF point and remotely control the camera with the image being sent back to the smartphone.

Obviously, if this is all one is doing, one does not need a viewfinder or memory card on their camera and you just need a cheaper “camera module” with a lens – hence the “Open Platform” technology.

I suspect they will also extend this technology to the Google Glasses-like patent they have registered – so you might control the camera using your glasses and the image then gets saved to the smartphone in your pocket.

It may open up all sorts of possibilities – although these probably can be achieved already with existing cameras.

However, the “Open Platform” is aimed at allowing 3rd party developers to create their own apps to control the cameras and come up with potentially novel applications.

see http://opc.olympus-imaging.com/en/index.html

 

Formal announcement of the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 lens – will this be one of the best lenses ever made?

Written by admin on September 17th, 2014

The Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens for Micro Four Thirds has been on the lens timeline for some time but it has now been formerly announced and on paper looks like it may be the highest image quality lens Olympus has made to date – even beating their superb Four Thirds lenses.

Specs at a glance:

  • eq. to 80-300mm in full frame terms
  • constant f/2.8 aperture at all focal lengths
  • dual linear voice coil motors for fast, silent CDAF focusing
  • 72mm filter thread
  • 160mm long and lens length does not change on zooming or on focussing
  • 880g with tripod adapter (760g without)
  • collapsible lens hood
  • weather-resistant, freeze-proof
  • manual focus clutch mechanism
  • L-Fn button
  • close focus to 0.7m giving subject area of 8x6cm
  • optional dedicated MC-14 1.4x teleconverter (~$399) which makes it 56-210 f/4 (eq. to 112-420mm) and will also be compatible with the 300mm f/4 Pro lens when it comes out
  • $US1499

Compared to the Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD lens for Four Thirds:

  • less telephoto but constant f/2.8 aperture and presumably even better optical quality
  • optimised for CDAF thus can do silent C-AF during video and is compatible with face detection and eye detection AF (the Four Thirds will only AF fast on a E-M1 and then not in CDAF mode very well at all)
  • same length but does not extend on zooming
  • lighter 880g vs 1.07kg
  • 72mm filter thread vs 67mm
  • close focus to 0.7m instead of 1.2m
  • at present, only can add a 1.4x teleconverter, there is no 2x teleconverter available as with Four Thirds

Compared to a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L on full frame:

  • more telephoto (to 300mm not just 200mm)
  • 4x zoom not just 3x zoom
  • more depth of field (equates to 80-300mm f/5.6 on full frame while the 70-200mm equates to 112-320mm f/4.5 on an APS-C)
  • possibly better optical image quality but lower sensor image quality
  • optimised for CDAF (see above), whereas the Canon is not
  • much lighter 880g vs 1.57kg
  • shorter 160mm vs 197mm
  • smaller filter 72mm vs 77mm
  • closer focus to 0.7m vs 1.2m
  • much more affordable $1499 vs $2299
  • much better for long periods of hand held use
  • much better for hiking
  • at present, only can add a 1.4x teleconverter, there is no 2x teleconverter available as with Canon or Nikon

Compared to a Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS L on full frame:

  • more telephoto (to 300mm not just 200mm)
  • 4x zoom not just 3x zoom
  • more depth of field (equates to 80-300mm f/5.6 on full frame while the 70-200mm equates to 112-320mm f/6.4 on an APS-C)
  • possibly better optical image quality
  • marginally lower sensor image quality of 1 stop (need to increase full frame ISO by 1 stop for equivalence, leaving only a 1 stop advantage to full frame)
  • optimised for CDAF (see above), whereas the Canon is not
  • same weight without tripod adapter 760g
  • shorter 160mm vs 172mm
  • larger filter 72mm vs 67mm
  • closer focus to 0.7m vs 1.2m
  • similar price $1499 vs $1299
  • at present, only can add a 1.4x teleconverter, there is no 2x teleconverter available as with Canon or Nikon

Compared to the Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS:

  • similar focal length field of view and zoom range
  • weatherproof (the Canon is not an L lens and is not weathersealed)
  • optimised for CDAF (see above), whereas the Canon is not
  • marginally more depth of field at wide end, same at telephoto end
  • possibly better optical image quality with less artefacts (DO optical design causes artefacts)
  • but SIMILAR sensor image quality as need to increase ISO by 2 stops on the full frame for equivalence
  • similar weight 760g (w/o tripod adapter) vs 720g
  • longer 160mm vs 100mm but does not get longer on zooming
  • larger filter size 72mm vs 58mm
  • IS more efficient on Olympus cameras
  • closer focus 0.7m vs 1.4m
  • similar price $1499 vs $1399

It is going to be a great lens, and will compliment the 12-40mm f/2.8 nicely. It will be awesome for a whole range of uses, but particularly for the hikers who would love this range in a relatively light, compact, weatherproof kit.

Personally I would prefer a weatherproof 200mm f/2.8 prime with a 1.4x teleconverter to get me closer to the planned 300mm f/4 PRO if extra super telephoto is needed – maybe such a 200mm will come one day!

 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 gains a few new capabilities in a firmware update

Written by admin on September 17th, 2014

Firmware update v2.0 for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is said to give the following:

8 new functions:

  • Tethered Shooting for studio photography via the new Olympus Capture Software.
  • Live Composite mode for star-trail photography as with the E-M10
  • Keystone Compensation (digital shift) to correct vertical distortion
  • 2 New Art Filters: Vintage and Partial Color
  • Aperture Lock function has been added to Aperture Preview
  • Panning Shot shooting mode has been added to SCN mode
  • Old Film effect has been added to movie effect
  • New Photo Story mode features: Zoom In/Out and Layout framing options. Save (complete partway through), Temporary Save, and Resume functions

16 operability improvements:

  • EVF image display time lag reduced to 16 milliseconds (when frame rate setting is set to high speed)
  • Multiple simultaneous settings now available in Live Guide
  • Exposure compensation (±3 EV) is now available in HDR 1/HDR2 shooting
  • A function has been added to cancel Color Creator and return to the original Picture Mode by pressing the MENU button when using Color Creator function.
  • Movie Tele-converter can now be used simultaneously when Art Filter is set to Picture Mode.
  • AF function for each frame was added to Custom Self Timer. In Drive Mode’s Custom Self Timer settings, you can now press the INFO button to change settings.
  • MF Assist is now supported in magnified frame position.
  • 3x has been added to high resolution magnified Live View.
  • The Peaking display frame rate has been improved.
  • Electronic zoom speed setting function was added. An icon appears on the LCD monitor when using an Olympus electronic zoom lens.
  • When the arrow pad is set to Direct function, the Underwater/Underwater macro functions can be used with the left and down button on the arrow pad.
  • Double tap is now supported in touch operations on the Super Control Panel.
  • The level gauge and histogram can now be displayed during magnified frame display. The Touch Off icon was added to magnified frame display.
  • A function was added so that shooting information recorded in HDR1/HDR2 can be viewed in the playback screen.
  • Information on composited number of shots for images recorded with Live Composite was added (Can be checked in Olympus Viewer3).
  • When the BKT button is held down, the BKT menu now appears.

Much has been rumoured of the firmware update adding 4K video capability but this did not eventuate in this update – perhaps in a subsequent one if we are lucky!

 

2 new very compact, high image quality Panasonic cameras for travel – the GM-5 and LX-100

Written by admin on September 17th, 2014

Panasonic have just announced 2 new cameras with Micro Four Thirds sized sensors which will be very attractive to those wanting a compact travel camera yet high image quality of a larger sensor.

The LX-100:

The LX-100 is a fixed lens camera (you cannot change the lens) but with a useful 3 x zoom and good low light capabilities and a built in viewfinder, but perhaps most interesting of all, is it has incredible 4K video capability.

This would make a perfect companion for a Micro Four Thirds camera with a 75mm f/1.8 lens!

Specs at a glance:

  • 16mp multi-aspect sensor giving 12.7mp actual at 4:3 aspect ratio
  • 11 fps (6.5 fps in C-AF) with 1/16,000th sec shutter
  • 10.9-34mm (24-75mm equiv.) F1.7-2.8 ASPH Leica lens, close focus 3cm, 9 aperture blades, aperture dial and aspect ratio selector, focus mode selector, 43mm filter thread, but no OIS nor IBIS
    • much more depth of field (DOF) control than smaller sensor cameras such as the Canon G7 X, G1 X II or Sony RX100
  • DFD AF technology to give faster AF
  • XGA EVF
  • 3“ 921k dot LCD but no touch
  • 4K HD video (and 4K photo mode) at 30p, plus 1080 60p
  • electronic silent shutter mode
  • mechanical shutter is INSIDE the lens and thus allows flash sync at all mechanical shutter speeds!
  • bundled flash with support for wireless TTL flash
  • WiFi with NFC for smartphone control
  • 393g, 115 x 66 x 55mm
  • $US899

The Panasonic GM-5:

The Panasonic GM-5 is a true Micro Four Thirds camera with interchangeable lenses and replaces the GM-1, and importantly adds a built-in electronic viewfinder.

My main disappointment is the slow flash sync of only 1/50th sec but for those using this camera, they probably will not be using flash much any way.

Specs at a glance:

  • magnesium alloy body
  • 5.8fps burst
  • built-in 1,166K-dot EVF
  • hotshoe, bundled flash (GN 7m ISO 100), x-sync 1/50th sec
  • shutter to 1/16000th sec, plus Timed BULB to 60sec
  • fixed 921K dot LCD touch screen
  • 240fps AF readout, face and eye detection AF
  • WiFi smartphone control but no NFC
  • 1080 60p/24p HD video up to 24mbps
  • focus peaking
  • new “Snap Movie Mode” – can record video for short period of time (2/4/6/8 sec) as they shoot “moving photos”
  • Creative Control mode – 22 filters
  • Time Lapse Shot
  • Stop Motion Animation
  • Clear Retouch
  • silent electronic shutter mode
  • level gauge
  • Highlight/Shadow Control
  • battery life CIPA score 220
  • optional Hand Grip DMW-HGR1
  • 211 g (0.47 lb / 7.44 oz)
  • 99 x 60 x 36 mm (3.9 x 2.36 x 1.42″)
  • $US899 with G Vario 12-35mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens