Pro photographer and YouTube photo educator, Joe Edelman switches from Nikon to Olympus

Written by Gary on December 3rd, 2017

Joe Edelman is one of my favorite YouTube photography tutorial bloggers.

He is a professional photographer who has used Nikon gear for some 40 years, but now has just announced he has switched systems to Olympus gear – primarily, The Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II and the pro lenses.

See his video for his explanation of why he changed systems and don’t forget to follow his YouTube channel for lots of great photography tutorials. A large part of his decision is the fun element that the smaller Olympus system brings without substantial loss of image quality – an important reason why I also prefer to use Olympus instead of my Canon or Sony full frame pro gear.

For my point of view, a critical aspect of creating photographs is you the photographer – if you are not in the mood, stressed, or overburdened by the weight or cost of your system, then no matter how good your camera gear is, your photography will suffer and lack an optimum level of inspirational creativity. We live in a modern age where modern sensors are perfectly adequate for most photographic chores and small, light, mobile, more affordable gear is often the best choice.

 

More Great Ocean Road imagery with the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Written by Gary on December 3rd, 2017

Another trip to Victoria’s beautiful Great Ocean Road and the Twelve Apostle region, this time I left my Sony full frame gear at home as it didn’t really add that much image quality over my Micro Four Thirds gear and just added weight and complexity – both of which gets in the way of my photography – and after all, the whole point of the week away was to relax and enjoy the remote rugged beauty of this coastline before summer hits.

So here are a few images taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark I camera and the holy trinity of f/2.8 Olympus zoom lenses.

sunset

Rainbow at sunset, hand held, Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/25th sec, f/5.6, no optical filters.

blue hour

Blue hour, tripod, Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 at f/8, ISO 100, 25sec.

blue hour

Blue hour, tripod, Olympus mZD 12-40mm f/2.8 at f/8, ISO 200, 50sec.

selfie

Loch Ard Gorge and the selfie – this guy jumped the fences, disregarded the warnings of the cliff might suddenly give way under the weight of a human, and walked along a narrow “path” for about an hour’s worth of shots – some like this, some with raincoat on, some with his girlfriend standing there in a rain coat.

Earlier in the day I saw other tourists (male and female) doing a similar thing at the Twelve Apostles, but totally oblivious to the fact that the top of the rock stack upon which they had managed to climb to was totally undermined by a tunnel at the peak, meaning they were only standing on about a foot thickness of rock – one day soon a tourist will fall to their death from that rock stack – it is inevitable.

Loch Ard

The awesome Loch Ard Gorge, site of a shipwreck in the 19th century where all drowned apart from a young lady passenger and a young seaman who managed to get to this beach and then the seaman managed to climb the gorge and get help. Today, it is a beautiful place for tourists to explore and relax paddling in the relatively calm waters.

Razorback

The Razorback at sunset. Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/20th sec, f/5.6, no optical filters. Cropped to 1:1.

 

 

Cactus releases firmware to allow Micro Four Thirds cameras to have radio remote TTL/HSS/remote power control and remote zoom control of Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sigma flashes

Written by Gary on December 2nd, 2017

Cactus Imaging have just announced release of new firmware for their Cactus V6II radio transceivers which will allow Micro Four Thirds users the ability to use Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sigma or Olympus flashes (or a Cactus RF60X flash) in remote TTL mode with Super FP/High Speed Sync capability as well as remote manual flash power output control or zoom control.

This means you just need to buy two Cactus V6II radio transceivers, install the Olympus X-TTL firmware on EACH radio transceiver, attach one to the hotshoe of your Micro Four Thirds camera, and the other to the remote flash hotshoe and hopefully most of it will self-configure by detecting which brand flash you are using.

No more annoying optical signalling between your camera and flash units!

If you are like me and have a couple of Canon 580EXII flashes lying around, these can now be used with your Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, either mounted on camera (on top of a transceiver) or remotely on a second transceiver and used with full TTL or manual control up to 100m away! I have tested it in my lounge room and it seems to function well.

Of course, you can buy a few transceivers to operate a number of remote flashes and control them all from the camera – very nice indeed!

The bad news is that for photographers with more than one brand camera, they will need to have a different firmware in the transceiver for each camera brand and the remote flash transceiver needs to have the same firmware as the camera (NOT the flash) – the exception here is if you have a Sony camera, you need the special dedicated Cactus V6IIS Sony transceiver for the camera, and a Cactus V6II for a Canon, Nikon or Olympus flash but in this case the flash transceiver must be loaded with Fuji or Sigma firmware for TTL compatibility with these flashes. Fortunately, you can install different firmware as your needs change – you are not stuck with one camera brand firmware for a Cactus V6II, but it seems that the memory inside the Cactus V6II is not sufficient to allow Cactus to create a multi-brand camera TTL firmware to avoid this issue – guess we may have to wait for the Cactus V6III for that to be possible. However, given that the Fuji and Sigma firmware works with the Sony firmware and that Cactus have indicated they had to create a substantial change to the firmware design with the recently released Pentax firmware which presumably the carried over to the Olympus firmware, once the Sony, Fuji and Sigma firmware are updated to this new change, they might be able to be made compatible with the Pentax and Olympus firmware so that a Sony with a Cactus V6IIS might be able to control a Cactus V6II with Olympus firmware attached to a Canon flash. Confusing yes, but in the end it should just work and be more simple than the current incompatibility.

 

 

Black Friday discount sales: which Micro Four Thirds lens to buy?

Written by Gary on November 24th, 2017

Following on from my last post, the Black Friday sales discounts might be enticing you to splurge out on a new Micro Four Thirds lens – but which one should you buy?

Don’t worry, unlike most other websites these days, clicking on the links below will not take you to an online retailer so I can make a few extra cents, but to my photo wiki where there is a lot more information and links to reviews, etc.

The best lens to buy depends upon a lot of things such as:

  • your budget
  • which camera system you are using?
    • Panasonic lenses work best on Panasonic cameras and Olympus lenses work best on Olympus cameras – although they are interchangeable however, you may lose some functionality, in particular, optical image stabilisation and AF speed, and perhaps some special functions such as continuous AF capability, ProCapture mode, Focus Stacking, etc.
  • what do you already own?
  • what do you like to shoot?
  • what would you like to shoot if you had the gear?

A wide aperture prime lens to really maximise your low light and DOF options:

  • Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 is one of my favorite lenses for shallow depth of field work, portraits, creative photos, etc and is incredibly sharp, but the heaviest of those in this category. I expect Olympus may bring out a Pro weathersealed version with wider aperture in the next 1-2 yrs.
  • Olympus mZD 45mm f/1.8 is a lovely little portrait lens, but if you want even shallower depth of field at this field of view, you may wish to hold off until you can afford the bigger, much more expensive, weathersealed Olympus mZD 45mm f/1.2 lens.
  • Olympus mZD 25mm f/1.8 is another lovely little lens, which is great for environmental portraits and street photography, but as with the 45mm f/1.8, you may wish to hold off until you can afford the bigger, much more expensive, weathersealed Olympus mZD 25mm f/1.2 lens. If you are a Panasonic user, consider the Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 lens instead.
  • Olympus mZD 17mm f/1.8 is a nice little lens for street photographers who want a little more field of view than a 25mm, but if you want even shallower depth of field at this field of view, you may wish to hold off until you can afford the bigger, much more expensive, weathersealed Olympus mZD 17mm f/1.2 lens. If you are a Panasonic user, consider the Panasonic 15mm f/1.7 lens instead.
  • Olympus mZD 12mm f/2 is a lovely little wide angle lens, great to add into a hiking bag, or as an option if you are not wanting to take a 12-40mm zoom lens along . This is the most expensive of the non-weathersealed lenses outlined here, and probably not one that I would recommend purchasing unless you really need that field of view in such a compact size – if you are happy to have a bigger, heavier lens, then consider either a 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom lens instead which will be much more versatile, and weathersealed, or consider an even more specialist, and more expensive a lens which is even better for low light and astro work, while being weathersealed, the Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 lens.

Upgrade to a better zoom lens:

Professional photographers generally have the “holy trinity” of f/2.8 zooms – ultra wide angle, standard and telephoto – you can get this for Micro Four Thirds too and it is much smaller, light, less expensive, and with smaller filters to carry, but you do lose the shallow DOF options that a full frame holy trinity will get you – if shallow DOF is important, then consider a prime lens as above.

The most used lens  – the standard zoom:

  • the  Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom lens is a very handy lens and a significant upgrade to a budget kit lens which often comes with the camera as it adds better low light AF and shooting capabilities thanks to the f/2.8 aperture, and excellent optical quality and weathersealing.
  • Panasonic users may prefer the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens
  • BUT WAIT, there is another option which may mean you only have to take one lens on your travels, and this could be a big factor, particularly if you travel to areas with dust or inclement weather where changing a lens is problematic – enter the new and very popular Olympus mZD 12-100mm f/4 lens – yes there is a compromise as it is bigger and is not as good at low light as a f/2.8 lens, but it has better image stabilisation when used on compatible Olympus cameras which allow Dual IS.

The next most popular zoom – the telephoto zoom:

  • what can I say, I just love my Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 lens with its extendable lens hood which makes it fantastic in the rain, and once you get past 120mm or so, you can get lovely shallow DOF portraits with it – and it is beautifully sharp! This is the lens I generally leave on my camera as I hike on day hikes (its a bit too big for overnight hikes carrying tents, etc – although I have done this but I am getting too old to carry 18kg of camping and photo gear with food and water) hoping to catch sight of some wildlife, while often still being wide enough to get a great landscape shot. You can buy this in a kit with a 1.4x teleconverter, but I generally shoot without the teleconverter on.
  • if you are really into wildlife, and particularly birds, you may want something with more reach, such as the Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 – yes it is not a f/2.8 holy trinity lens but it covers a fantastic zoom range for wildlife. If you cannot afford this, then consider the Panasonic 100-300mm mark II although it is not good in low light and does have more purple fringing.
  • if the above lenses are too big and heavy for you, you also have the choice of the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens, although if I was using this lens, I would personally prefer the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 for more DOF control at the expense of zoom control.

The third of the holy trinity – the ultra-wide zoom:

Some people may rarely use such a lens, others use it very frequently – it all depends upon your style and needs.

  • for low light or creative photography, the Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 is a great weathersealed lens, BUT any lens covering such a wide field of view as 14mm in full frame terms as this lens does, means it cannot be used with standard filters – you have to buy large third party filter adapters if you wish to use filters
  • if you are into landscape work and mainly shooting at f/5.6-f/8, or street photography, then a more useful alternative may be the Panasonic 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 lens.

Now a few specialist lenses:

A pancake lens for social events:

  • I love my Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens for this, when combined with an E-M5II or E-M10, it will fit in a large coat pocket discretely and its wide aperture allows available light work, or bounce flash work as well as allowing some night urban photography

A weathersealed macro lens:

  • the Olympus mZD 60mm f/2.8 macro lens is a lovely, light, high quality, dedicated macro lens well suited to nature macro work outdoors but more expensive than the next two budget options
  • there is also the Olympus 30mm f/3.5 macro lens which can give greater magnification and is cheaper but you need to get much closer to the subject so not as good for skittish insects which will fly away – best suited for studio macros, or where you wish to create a more environmental macro with the wider field of view showing more background.
  • on a budget, the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 kit lens is weathersealed and offers 0.36x macro which is adequate for many people and thus is a reasonable option for overnight hikers who need a light, versatile lens that can do most things (just not low light work), and is not as sharp as the Pro lenses.

A fisheye lens:

The super telephoto lens:

  • there are a lot of lenses around which give 300mm focal length (600mm reach in full frame terms), but none offer the low light capabilities and optical excellence of the superb Olympus mZD 300mm f/4 lens with its 6.5EV image stabilisation.
  • If you own a Panasonic camera and have lots of money, the newly announced Panasonic 200mm f/2.8 lens with teleconverter looks to be a big competitor to the Olympus 300mm in image quality, and has the advantage of being shorter but with less reach – perfect for sports events where a 200mm lens is the general maximum length allowed in the stadium!

Manual focus lenses:

There are a multitude of these around, often much cheaper than AF equivalents, and most can be used on these cameras either directly or via an adapter – you can see Zhongyi Mitakon’s online store for their lenses as an example – yes, sorry for linking to an online store, but this one was the most efficient link for you, alternatively most MF lenses in MFT mount are listed on my wiki page here.

I hope this has given you a good overview!

Have fun and explore – there is a list of lenses for Micro Four Thirds on my wiki here.

 

Black Friday discounts – should you upgrade to an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II? What will you gain?

Written by Gary on November 23rd, 2017

It’s Black Friday and that means many stores are having significant discounts on camera gear – even here in Australia!

That means you can get hundreds of dollars off the usual price of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and this is a very enticing prospect for many who have earlier models of OM-D cameras such as the E-M1 mark I, E-M5 Mark II, or even the one that started the amazing popularity of the OM-D’s – the E-M5 original version or indeed the budget E-M10’s – but what will you gain in upgrading?

Advantages over the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:

  • a built-in grip making it much more ergonomic to use for larger lenses without having to add in an optional grip
  • further improved image quality – 1 stop better at high ISO, more dynamic range, 20mp
  • far better sports and moving subject capabilities:
    • ability to autofocus on moving subjects AND has excellent subject tracking in burst mode thanks to the PDAF technology on the sensor
    • substantially improved AF tweaks such as ability to set a focus range AF limiter in-camera so that foreground and background subjects are ignored by the AF algorithms
    • improved high ISO performance
    • new “Pro-Capture” mode captures up to the last 14 images prior to you pressing the shutter fully
    • 18fps full size RAW with C-AF using electronic shutter (C-AF not really possible on E-M5’s)
    • 60fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using electronic shutter instead of 11fps
    • 10fps full size RAW with C-AF using mechanical shutter (C-AF not really possible on E-M5’s but dodgy CDAF tracking at 5fps)
    • 15fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using mechanical shutter
  • further improved image stabiliser
  • better viewfinder
  • larger, longer life battery
  • better access to MySet settings (now on the dial) and can save and load to PC
  • two SD card slots, one with UHS-II  SD support for faster cards and much better burst rate and 4K video performance, the 2nd card slot is critical for pros who need a backup of the shots in case one card gets corrupted before they have backed it up!
  • improved autoISO function – new Lowest Shutter Speed Setting and can use in manual exposure mode with exposure compensation
  • improved HiRes mode
  • 4K 30p video instead of just 1080p with lovely image stabilisation which is great for run and gun videos

Advantages over the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I:

  • further improved image quality – 1 stop better at high ISO, more dynamic range, 20mp
  • substantially improved sports and moving subject capabilities:
    • improved ability to autofocus on moving subjects AND has excellent subject tracking in burst mode thanks to the substantially increased number of PDAF points on the sensor and better algorithms
    • substantially improved AF tweaks such as ability to set a focus range AF limiter in-camera so that foreground and background subjects are ignored by the AF algorithms
    • improved high ISO performance
    • new “Pro-Capture” mode captures up to the last 14 images prior to you pressing the shutter fully
    • 18fps full size RAW with C-AF using electronic shutter
    • 60fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using electronic shutter instead of 11fps
    • 10fps full size RAW with C-AF using mechanical shutter
    • 15fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using mechanical shutter
  • further improved image stabiliser
  • better viewfinder
  • larger, longer life battery
  • better access to MySet settings (now on the dial) and can save and load to PC
  • two SD card slots, one with UHS-II  SD support for faster cards and much better burst rate and 4K video performance, , the 2nd card slot is critical for pros who need a backup of the shots in case one card gets corrupted before they have backed it up!
  • improved autoISO function – new Lowest Shutter Speed Setting and can use in manual exposure mode with exposure compensation
  • HiRes mode
  • 4K 30p video instead of just 1080p with lovely image stabilisation which is great for run and gun videos

Advantages over the Olympus OM-D E-M5 original version:

  • as for the improvements over the E-M5 mark II outlined above, plus the features of the E-M5 Mark II:
    • WiFi remote control by smartphones
    • Live Boost II mode
    • swivel, articulating LCD screen
    • mechanical shutter to 1/8000th sec instead of 1/4000th sec
    • freezeproof to minus 11deg C
    • anti-shock mode using electronic first-curtain shutter to reduce shutter shock during sequential shooting
    • 2×2 switch
    • auto HDR
    • in camera keystone correction option
    • improved intervalometer
    • improved focus peaking
    • PC sync port
    • Live Composite mode
    • additional ART filters
    • colour creator picture mode control
    • HiRes mode

Is the upgrade worth it to you?

That all depends upon how often you will use the new or improved features and whether these will change your photography and give you new avenues to explore.

As a general rule, one should not spend too much on a camera as it devalues rapidly over a 5yr period, but if you are using it frequently then even $AU2000 may be a great opportunity to lash out and change your options and abilities.

It is a very versatile camera, and it has major advantages over larger more expensive dSLRs, but at the end of the day – only you can decide if the upgrade is worth it to you.

Check out my blog post on how good the AF tracking is using the superb 300mm lens at a water ski event – post is here.

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Panasonic announces new pro-level mirrorless camera to rival the E-M1 Mark II – the Panasonic G9

Written by Gary on November 8th, 2017

Panasonic has its flagship camera, the Panasonic GH-5 primarily aimed at videographers, with this new Panasonic G9 Micro Four Thirds camera, it has taken most of these features and added extra stills photography features and bundled it all into an impressive smaller, lighter camera which is also, importantly, less expensive than both the GH-5 or the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

Specs compared to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II:

Both cameras offer a 20mp sensor with in-camera 5 axis image stabilisation, 6.5EV Dual IS and weathersealing with sports features of fast burst rates with continuous autofocus in either mechanical shutter or electronic shutter.

The newly announced Panasonic 200mm f/2.8 OIS lens may well make a compelling reason for many to look at purchasing the G9 (I for one would love a 200mm f/2.8 OIS lens with 6.5EV IS but alas, at $US2999 that is not likely to be an option for me) – although I presume Olympus are working on a similar lens – it is just extremely frustrating for Micro Four Thirds users than Olympus and Panasonic refuse to allow cross-compatibility of their optical image stabilisation functionality, aperture ring functionality and DFD AF functionality. I can understand the commercial reasons but, seriously guys, you promised a Micro Four Thirds system – please make it completely cross-compatible!

Panasonic G9 Olympus OM-D E-M1 II
price $US1699 $US1999
electronic shutter burst rates 20mp RAW: 20fps CAF, 60fps SAF; 18mp 30fps, 8mp 60fps 20mp RAW: 18fps CAF; 60fps SAF;
mechanical shutter burst rates 9fps CAF; 12fps SAF; 10fps CAF; 15fps SAF;
EVF 3.68mDot; 120fps; 0.86x mag. 120fps, 2.36M-dot EVF; 0.74x mag
AF points 225 CDAF only; DFD CAF 121 DUAL crosstype PDAF and CDAF;
Pre-capture mode images prior to shutter release: 0.4sec of RAW files up to last 14 RAW files
4K video 30p/60p 24/30p 237Mbps
HiRes mode: 8 image 80mp 8 image 50mp
Dual card slots both are UHS-II SD card slots only one is UHS-II SD card slot
weight: 579g 574g
other features: top LCD status screen; USB charging; Dual IS and DFD CAF only with Panasonic lenses; in-camera Preset MF focus range settings; Live Composite; LiveTimed; 3 MySets on top dial; Dual IS only with Olympus OIS lenses
 

Why salt water and cameras don’t mix! A dead Sony a7Sii tear down by LensRentals

Written by Gary on November 8th, 2017

We all love the beach and getting down close to the waves for those epic long exposure seascapes with our ND filters on, and even I, with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I suffered the indignity of having an unexpected wave land on top of the camera whilst taking a shot several years ago, and a year later whilst crossing a stream, slipped on the rocks and even submerged it for a split second – fortunately, of all the camera manufacturers, the Olympus OM-D weathersealing is well known for how good it is compared with its peers.

Luckily, perhaps, I have not had any issues with this camera despite these events as well as many times when it was absolutely soaked in heavy rain conditions in the Korean mountains.

Nevertheless, despite its awesome weathersealing, I would not recommend stress testing it with salt water (even salt spray), nor submerging it, and even in wet conditions, you need to follow the advice from Olympus – ensure all covers are in place including the hotshoe cover.

No matter how weathersealed the camera, there is also the other big beach enemy – grains of sand finding their way under the focus ring and zoom ring – not even the superb Olympus weathersealed lenses are immune to this!

LensRentals has just posted a blog of what can happen inside a camera exposed to salt water – in this case the very expensive, supposedly weathersealed Sony a7SII which was returned to them dead, and the tear down of the camera shows how severe the salt damage was despite minimal signs on the outside, and why camera repairers will never repair them.

It seems the culprits may have been incomplete weathersealing around the battery door and the entire bottom of the camera, and, in addition, the camera strap lugs, dials, viewfinder and hotshoe are not fully weathersealed.

If failure does not happen immediately due to the volume of water leak, it is likely to happen over the next 6 weeks as corrosion ensues.

Check out their blog post here.

If you want tips of now to look after your camera – see my wiki page here.

If you really love your seascapes, perhaps take a cheaper or older camera instead, just in case the worst happens!

 

Melbourne Zombie Walk 2017 with the Olympus mZD 25mm f/1.2

Written by Gary on November 4th, 2017

Although the crowds seemed smaller at this evolving event promoted by the City of Melbourne and the Brain Foundation, today’s Melbourne Zombie Walk 2017 was a fun family day out for all, although somehow I did get a bit sunburnt in the chilly breeze!

Here is a selection of available light portraits achieved through careful placement of my subjects with respect to the best light and background compositions, and then it was up to the zombies to do their bit and they were awesome as usual – far more colourful than Melbourne’s Derby Day – although I am sure I would have been even more sunburnt there!

These were all taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus micro ZD 25mm f/1.2 PRO lens, mostly at f/1.2, no flash used, post-processed in Lightroom only.

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

zombies

Until next year!

 

Dynamic range comparison Olympus vs Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony a7II vs Sony a7RIII vs Nikon D850 full frame cameras

Written by Gary on October 28th, 2017

There is a logical belief that full frame cameras provide substantially wider dynamic range than cropped sensor cameras such as the Micro Four Thirds cameras.

I stumbled upon this testing chart today and was blown away by the lack of difference at ISO levels above 200 when comparing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera with these full frame cameras.

Way back in 2007, there was a dramatic difference – the Olympus Four Thirds dSLRs were handicapped with poorly performing Panasonic sensors which had substantially worse dynamic range than the 1.3x crop APS-H sensor in the pro dSLR, the Canon 1D Mark III which I had bought at the time to supplement the deficiencies of my Four Thirds system.

BUT, times have changed, and the dynamic range performance of the current models in the chart below are much improved over the Canon 1D Mark III, and surprisingly similar at ISO values over 200.

At ISO 50-100, the current full frame cameras do perform substantially better, but this difference is largely gone by ISO 250 – this is quite a revelation to me, particularly as I shoot 90% of my Olympus images at ISO 200-400, and generally shoot my Sony a7II at higher than that when shooting hand held in available light, but it would seem I am not gaining any substantial dynamic range in doing so!

Here is the link to the charts from Photons To Photos if you wish to play with them yourself.

ADDENDUM: adjustment for Olympus ISO variance issue.

As the stated ISO on Olympus cameras measures around 0.7EV LESS than those on Canon, Nikon and Sony full frame cameras (as per the Photons to Photos measurement and DxOMark measurements, and my real life testing), I have made a new chart which adjusts the Olympus E-M1 Mark II results to allow for this which pushes the line to the left a little and creates a little more difference in the dynamic range at a given ISO equivalence:

The dynamic range at ISO 400 or over on ANY of these full frame cameras is LESS than the dynamic range of the Olympus E-M1 Mark II when this is shot at its in-camera stated ISO levels of 100-200.

If you want substantially wider dynamic range on the full frame cameras you need to be shooting at ISO 100 – and this will probably mean tripod territory for many full frame situations given the aperture is likely to be smaller to gain the desired depth of field with slower shutter speeds, and their systems will not have the same image stabilisation capabilities as the Olympus camera.

The Olympus E-M1 Mark II with Olympus 17mm f/1.2 lens at ISO 200 can be hand held at much lower light levels than a Nikon D850 with a 35mm f/1.4 lens at f/2.4 and ISO 100!!

 

 

Should you buy the new Olympus m.Zuiko 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens?

Written by Gary on October 27th, 2017

Whilst I am a big fan of buying the new Olympus m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 lens, I must say I am a bit ambivalent about the new Olympus m.Zuiko 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens at that price.

That is not to say this lens is not worth buying, and that it is not an amazing lens which will produce fantastic imagery with its lovely bokeh (if you are focusing closer enough to demonstrate it that is), and for some photographers it will be a great buy even at the asking price because it addresses their needs very nicely indeed.

There are two main issues as I see it.

  1. if you really need shallow depth of field at this field of view, then a full frame camera with a high quality 35mm f/1.4 lens might be a better bet, because this lens is only going to give you depth of field equivalent to f/2.4 on a full frame 35mm lens, and unlike the case with the 25mm or 45mm lenses, this means your subject does have to be quite close – your wedding group shot probably won’t cut it for you with this lens if you want to isolate them from the background – but it will be fantastic for an environmental portrait or for street photography.
  2. if you don’t need the shallow depth of field, then perhaps the Olympus mZD 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens will suffice for your needs.

 

But, that said, it does have some very useful utility:

  1. low light work – night or indoors available light work, or stitched panorama Milky Way astroscapes
    • the combination of reasonable depth of field at f/1.2 and the awesome image stabiliser in the Olympus cameras means you will be able to take some low light imagery better than a Canon or Nikon full frame dSLR with a big heavy 35mm f/1.4 lens.
  2. street photography or environmental portraits where you want to have some subject isolation
  3. other relatively close subjects where you wish to blur the background
  4. and, of course, it will work very nicely as a travel lens, if you don’t need the zoom.

 

Let’s compare it with options for full frame 35mm f/1.4 lenses:

Olympus 17mm f/1.2 (with Olympus E-M1 II) Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II Sony 35mm f/1.4 ZA
lens price $US1199 $US899 $US1799 $US1600
weathersealing excellent no v.good v.good
lens weight 390g 665g 760g 630g
filter 62mm 67mm 72mm 72mm
close focus 0.2m 0.3m 0.28m 0.3m
length 87mm 94mm + adapter 106mm 112mm
comments nice bokeh, MF clutch, 5.5EV IS, Eye AF, ProCapture BUT 1.5EV less DOF control some onion ring bokeh, moderate lat CA, 1.8EV vignetting, Eye AF, 5.5EV IS on Sony only no IS, not optimised for CDAF Eye AF, 5.5EV IS, 1.7EV vignetting, AF issues stopped down

Summary:

For the price of 1.5EV less depth of field control compared to the full frame options, there are a LOT of benefits – smaller, lighter, less burden, closer focus and the best image stabilisation system out there as well as pretty cool closest eye AF technology, not to mention the very handy Pro-Capture mode if you are into creative wide angle sports photography and the ability to shoot at 18fps or even 60fps.

The Sony a7RIII with a Sony 35mm f/1.4 lens does give some advantages such as the shallower DOF, higher resolution images and the even better Eye AF technology, but it is much more expensive, heavier, less fun, and there are concerns of its AF system when the aperture is stopped down.