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

Wednesday, 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
  • 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

At long last, the Metabones Canon EF to Micro Four Thirds Speed Booster adapter is here

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Be warned, this Metabones Speed Booster adapter is a very expensive, special niche item which will only suit some people with Micro Four Thirds cameras (there is a special “S” version or BM2 version for Olympus OM-D cameras – see below).

For someone like me who also has some great Canon pro lenses such as the 17mm tilt shift and the 135mm f/2.0, it becomes a very interesting proposition despite its price of $US599.

It will be of particular use to videographers who do not care much for autofocus anyway – see EOSHD first impressions


What can this adapter do?

  • it allows use of any Canon EF lens on your Micro Four Thirds camera with full aperture control, optical image stabilisation (if on the lens) and provides data for EXIF data store on the image
  • allows electronic manual focus – ie. turn focus ring and if camera and lens are set to do so, it will automatically activate magnified view mode
  • optional external 5V power supply
  • potential to also use other legacy lenses via adapters to Canon EF – but no aperture control, EXIF, OIS, and some lenses are NOT compatible due to rear projections potentially hitting the glass elements (eg. OM 50mm f/1.8 lens)
  • it does this with high optical quality 0.71x focal length reducing elements which:
    • reduces the 2x crop factor of Micro Four Thirds sensors to 1.4x crop factor – half way between APS-C (1.6x crop factor) and APS-H (the Canon 1D III/IV dSLRs which are 1.3x crops)
    • effectively allows 1 stop MORE light in, so your f/2.8 lens effectively becomes f/2
    • IMPROVES image quality, particularly for these full frame lenses which were mainly designed for film cameras – improved telecentricity, improved contrast, improved resolution

What can’t this adapter do?

  • does not fit on Olympus OM-D cameras as hits the protruding EVF
  • does not support Canon EF-S lenses
  • does not support autofocus
  • does not support dSLR focus confirmation – this is not supported on mirrorless cameras (eg. Dandelion chips on adapters for legacy manual focus lenses)
  • not compatible with some legacy lenses due to projecting rear mechanisms which may damage the glass elements
  • does not support in-camera lens corrections such as peripheral shading, CA and distortion


  • Canon EF 135mm f/2 L becomes 96mm f/1.4 = 200mm f/2.8 in 35mm fov and dof terms
  • Canon TS-E 17mm f/4 tilt-shift becomes 12mm f/2.8 = 24mm f/5.6 tilt shift in 35mm fov and dof terms
  • Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 becomes 60mm f/1.0 = 120mm f/2 in 35mm fov and dof terms
  • Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 becomes 64mm f/2 = 128mm f/4 tilt shift in 35mm fov and dof terms
  • Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8 becomes 71mm f/2 = 140mm f/4 ⇒ no advantage over the mZD 75mm f/1.8 and I am not sure if it can be used without modifications

A final question though:

  • for Olympus camera users – does the adapter send the 0.71x adjusted focal length to the camera or the actual focal length – this may be very important as the in-camera image stabilisation system (IBIS) relies on the effective focal length data, and given the adapter is electronic, users will not be able to manual over-ride the focal length as they can do with legacy non-electronic adapters
  • thus will the Olympus IBIS be accurate when used with this adapter – or does Metabones need to do a firmware update to ensure this accuracy?
  • I have emailed Metabones and will post the answer as soon as I get it.

Metabones have introduced a “S” version for compatibility with the protruding EVF of the Olympus OM-D cameras

The original version does NOT mount on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 or E-M5 due to the overhanging EVF getting in the way and only barely mounts on the E-M10. Their web page now states these models are NOT supported for this adapter!

In Oct 2014, a “S” version MB_SPEF-m43-BM2 was announced with compatibility for the OM-D’s but loses the jog dial which allows aperture control when using an external power source – can still control a Canon lens aperture using the OM-D or GH cameras power.

see Metabones S adapter.

Still have not heard from Metabones regarding the IBIS potential issue above either.

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

Friday, 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. 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.


Image courtesy of

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 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’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.

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

Tuesday, 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.


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

Monday, 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 website using Micro Four Thirds, enjoy:

The beautiful queen

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


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


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.


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

Tuesday, 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)


  • 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.


Final 3 chapters of Khen Lim’s treatise on the history of the Micro FourThirds system now online

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

I have now uploaded a wiki version of the last 3 chapters of Khen’s very interesting treatise on the history of Micro FourThirds.

Chapter 7 – all the Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses outlined

Chapter 8 – summary timeline of production of the Panasonic and Olympus cameras and lenses for Micro FourThirds.

Chapter 9 – detailed list and discussions on the other vendors joining the Micro Four Thirds system


Radio remote TTL flash for Micro Four Thirds?

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

As much as I love Micro Four Thirds, there is one area which I would really love Olympus and Panasonic to address – the lack of radio remote TTL flash capability.

Nikon and Canon users have access to this technology thanks to 3rd party products such as Pocket Wizard – unfortunately they have not come up with a Micro Four Thirds solution – although this could be potentially possible using their Canon modules given the TTL pin system is at least physically compatible.

Canon have recently added radio wireless TTL flash to their latest dSLRs and flashes in addition to infrared TTL flash.

Nikon still only have infrared TTL flash.

Olympus uses a visible light remote TTL flash system which I personally find intrusive on the subject compared to either infrared or radio, and like infrared, it requires line of sight and relatively short working distances, which are further impacted by bright sunlit conditions.

Olympus and Panasonic have added ad hoc WiFi connectivity to their latest cameras for rapid and easy connection to smartphones which allows a device such as an Apple iPad or iPhone to remotely control the camera – even displaying the live view and allowing AF selection and shutter release.

It would seem to me that if this is possible then it should also be possible to make flash units which could be connected via ad hoc WiFi network to the camera and to other such flash units, and then Olympus and Panasonic can easily add radio wireless remote TTL flash to their system.

Well here’s hoping that this is possible and soon, because this would be fantastic for strobists everywhere who would love the Micro Four Thirds system for its portability – they just need radio TTL flash, and the option of a powerful compatible off-camera flash to allow them to push their creativity.

This would open a new market for Olympus and Panasonic.

Furthermore, using WiFi means each photographer has their own unique radio network for their flashes – no more worrying about which radio channel to use and accidentally triggering or being triggered by other photographer’s setups – particularly an issue in workshops or major events.

So what about it Olympus?

Wifi based remote TTL flash please.


ps. I have been told about a hack around radio TTL system that will probably work if you don’t mind taping up your flashes – see which uses a similar technique as does RadioPopper.


Seems like I am not the only one wanting this, users have started up a Facebook petition for radio TTL flash and see also blog post on


Micro Four Thirds for portraiture – a tribute to Sean Archer’s works

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

To continue a theme, you don’t need a dSLR any more for most photography, and you will enjoy using and carrying a smaller, lighter Micro Four Thirds camera and lenses at much more affordable prices and still create great images – here is a little tribute to one of my favourite online portraiture photographers who uses the older Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the Panasonic G3  with an Olympus mZD 45mm f/1.8 lens and ambient lighting – so anyone could achieve this without having to resort to big, heavy, expensive gear. Note his portfolio is NSFW but has many more delightful portraits.

on artyfaces

on artyfaces

on artyfaces

See also an interview with him here.

Quote: “”Everything I know now came from taking thousands of images, hours of processing and fooling around with every setting on the camera.” Stanislav pointed out numerous times that everything he learned came from his own experiences and mistakes.”

His technique is simple window light in his attic, no flashes, reflectors, minimal skin Photoshopping, but does add background textures to his blank wall, and applies some tonal modifications.

Note. it seems someone convinced him to buy a Canon 6D full frame dSLR with 50mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/2.0L lenses, but looks like he has then reverted back to Micro Four Thirds and purchased an Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 75mm f/1.8 lens.

Panasonic announces their GX7 Micro Four Thirds camera – my thoughts

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

As an owner of the wonderful Olympus OM-D E-M5, the Panasonic GF-1 and a previous owner of a Panasonic GH-1, and I am actually quite excited with this new Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic.

GX7 rear

It is the most Olympus-like of all the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras to date which pleases me as I am mainly a photographer not a videographer.

For the 1st time in a Panasonic camera, the Panasonic GX7 boasts in-camera image stabilisation plus a fast flash sync speed of 1/320th sec, and to top it off, a top shutter speed of 1/8000th sec – all designed to make it more versatile for shooting wide aperture lenses either in bright sunlight or in low light conditions (the AF is even meant to work down to -4 EV).

The body is compact and is said to feel well built with its magnesium alloy body, and at last we have a compact Micro Four Thirds body with a built-in EVF although annoyingly it does protrude from the rear which makes it that much less pocketable. In addition to a hotshoe, it even finds room for a popup flash as well as a 3″ tiltable touch screen.

The built-in EVF is a tiltable 2.3M dot field sequential LCD EVF with 0.7x magnification but rather short 17.5mm eyepoint which may be an issue for those wearing glasses. It should give excellent colour rendition but being a field sequential type EVF, it will have some tearing although it should be better than previous Panasnic EVFs.

It has a raft of lovely features for the enthusiast and beginner alike.

Fast AF for stationary subjects at least, a AF/MF switch lever, good manual focus assist options with 3 level focus peaking and PIP magnified view mode – I presume image stabilisation can be activated in this mode but no mention has been made of this as yet.

A silent electronic shutter mode which means it will be great for classical music concerts, speeches, weddings, etc where camera noise can be very intrusive.

Fast burst rate comparable to the Olympus E-M5 giving 4.2fps with AF and 9fps with single AF.

The HD video capabilities are excellent allowing 1080 HD video in either MP4 or AVCHD formats at 60p/50p/24p with the latter at a very reasonable  28Mbps video quality. There is no external mic input which may annoy the odd user most will be happy with the inbuilt stereo mic or use an external sound recorder for the best sound quality.

It has NFC and WiFi capabilities for control by smartphones which will open up new possibilities and when combined with in-camera image editing and creative filters should make a lovely travel camera indeed.

Size comes in at 402g 122.6 wide x 70.7 high x 43.3mm deep.

Perhaps the main drawback for many will be the price - at £819/$A1249 body only, it is more expensive than the Olympus E-M5.

I am expecting Olympus to be announcing a similar styled camera with built-in EVF – hopefully one that does not protrude as much, and one that will have phase contrast AF capability for faster AF with moving subjects and with the Four Thirds lenses.

In the meantime, the Panasonic GX-7 looks like it will be very attractive indeed!