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Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II Review and Thoughts


Andrew L (gryphon1911)
  • https://www.fotozones.com/live/uploads/

I was recently the proud recipient of a brand spanking new silver Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II.

Got the green light to get it as a birthday present to upgrade my original EM5 to the new Mk II

As always, I shoot to the real world usage and to what I prefer and not to charts, or spec tests. None of that means anything to me if the overall experience of the camera doesn't work for what I want.

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Olympus 25/1.8 1/60, f/1.8, ISO 400

Handling

First thing I noticed - build quality. As with the other OMD bodies, it is top notch. Feels very solid and has a good weight to it without feeling heavy. The grip on the right hand side is a bit more prominent than the previous EM5. The texture of the outer casing feels more grippy as well.

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Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO 1/80, f/5, ISO 800 @ 40mm

The extra buttons and placement of said buttons on the body are pleasing for me as well. The jury is still out on the fully articulating screen - some people like them some don't. I'm kind of liking the ability to spin it completely around and protect it - it just takes time to get used to in comparison to the tilt only of the previous OMD cameras.

If you just need to tilt it, it can get a bit fiddly, but having the ability to articulate the screen is better than not having any articulation at all.

Overall, I find the handling changes an improvement.

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Olympus 40-150/4-5.6R 1/200, f/5.2, ISO 800 @ 111mm

The front and rear dials are thicker, which makes turning them easier. The shutter release feels more solid to me than the original EM5. It is remeniscent of my old film Yashica Electro rangefinder camera.

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Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO 1/200, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 40mm

Image Quality

The sensor has not really changed from the other iterations of the OMD, so if you liked what you saw from the previous OMD cameras, you'll be getting that again. IBIS works great and is very smooth in operation.

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Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/5.7, ISO 250 @156mm

I've modified my JPG engine settings with a -1 sharpness and noise reduction on low. I found even the basic sharpness settings can be too aggressive for me, which could cause higher base ISO noise and artifacts. Adding a little extra sharpening and noise reduction in post works wonders on the files.

AF Speed

Olympus has kept the same contrast detect only AF for the Mk II, which works fast and sure in most situations shooting with S-AF. Still not the best option for C-AF, but I have not had a lot of use shooting continuous, except the surfer shots below. There are many more keepers than what I was getting with the Mk I. If you want good C-AF performance and stay within the m43 family, you'll want to look at the EM1/GH4 with phase detect AF or a DSLR.

With that being said, action is possible even with use of S-AF mode and a little planning, as seen below.

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Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500 @ 300mm

Hi Res Mode

You will need to use this mode on a tripod and with a scene that has no movement in it to prevent artifacts from showing themselves in the final stacked image. You get the options to pull a 64MP RAW or 40MP jpg file. This provides you with enhanced resolution and truer color rendering. There are plenty of other places that have done extensive head to head images of a standard 16MP capture versus the hi res mode equivalent. There are even reviews that stacked the D800 series against the EM5 Mk II, showing some benefits of the EM5 Mk II method over the larger MP/sensor of the Nikon.

As with anything, there are specific use cases for this kind of feature, and used accordingly can be beneficial.

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Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 124mm

I can see this being of use to product and still life photographers as well as urban exploration or cityscape captures.

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Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO Hi-Res Mode 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 40mm

Video Recording

Not being a heavy video user, I am actually just now exploring it's use in my business use. There are better options out there for video, however, right now, the options are adequate for me to use as a learning tool.

Other Misc. Items Of Note

The EM5 Mk I had a top shutter speed of 1/4000. Mark II gives you 1/8000 mechanical shutter and electronic (silent) shutter mode up to 1/16000 shutter speed. You not only gain an increase in top shutter speed, but you also get the benefits of silent operation. Limitations of electronic shutter can be rolling shutter effects present themselves in fast moving subjects as well as issues with fluorescent lights or monitor refresh rates. You also lose the ability to use flash with the electronic shutter.

Shutter shock mode, electronic shutter and hi res mode are available as options in the drive mode, so no menu diving to activate it. Even continuous silent modes are available.

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Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 1/1000, f/7.1, ISO 800 @ 300mm

The mechanical shutter is noticeably more quiet than the EM1/EM5. Those shutters were by no means loud, but the Mark II is a definite improvement. Put in context, not loud is in comparison to the cameras like Nikon D300/D700, which sound like pistol fire in comparison(exaggeration for proving a point).

The EVF is the same as what you'll find on the EM1, so definitely some visual goodness. Also present is the built in Wifi that can be used with the OI Share app.

Again, like in the EM1/EM5, you get the weather sealing and touch screen operations.

The new, detachable flash unit is another surprise upgrade. Differing from the flashes that came with the original EM5 and EM1, this flash has a fully articulating head, allowing it to be more easily deployed as a bounce flash. It has a low guide number of 9, but if you need/want that little pop for fill, this gives you more creative options and not just the pop of a in line with the lens built in flash.

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Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/5.7, ISO 250 @ 156mm

Is it worth the upgrade?

The Mark II brings a bunch of upgrades to the table, and I'm still experimenting with the viability of the hi res mode. I appreciate all the improvements that the new body offers and having as much fun shooting it as I did the original EM5 - maybe more so. It just feels more refined and polished to me.

I'd say if you are pressed for cash or on the fence, get or stick with the original EM5. Otherwise, take the plunge and pick up a Mark II - it is a great functioning camera.

Another thing that this camera reminds me - the feeling I get when I shoot with the Nikon Df. The feel, the look, the responsiveness - especially when shooting with prime lenses just makes me want to keep shooting with it. While the Df still is the supreme stills shooter for me, the EM5 Mk II has solidified itself to the #2 spot.

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Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/6.5, ISO 400 @ 258mm

The EM1, while a fantastic camera, feels more like a professional tool I would and do use for paying jobs. It is in the same line of thought I have using the Nikon D300/D700. They are tools with a purpose for making money or doing work. The Df and EM5 Mk II feel like tools I use to create art and express myself, have some fun with. It may not make a lot of sense on an analytical front, but from an emotional level, it makes all the sense in the world to me.

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Thanks Andrew. I have the E-M5/2 on loan for a couple of weeks again and this time I need to get out and use it some more. 

 

I agree with you that the build quality is really good and I really like the new front and rear command dials. Button placement is also better, but one of my Olympus shooting buddies has complained that there is no easy way of using a rear AF-on button like there is on the E-M1. I don't focus that way so it's not an issue for me. 

 

However... that flip out screen is a deal breaker for me. Can't stand it. That said, the LCD quality seems to be a step up on the E-M1. Photos viewed on it look amazing. 

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Andrew, good to know you like the camera.  Actually EM5 MkII is the first Olympus m4/3 camera I have ever looked at seriously.

 

One suggestion for correction: Panasonic GH4 doesn't have PDAF sensor.  In fact, no Panasonic m4/3 camera has PDAF sensor.  All Panasonic m4/3 cameras are CDAF only.

 

One thing I always wonder is that Olympus doesn't disclose the lowest light value at which the AF (of any type) works.  All the current Panasonic cameras are rated to be able to AF down to -4EV.

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Andrew, good to know you like the camera.  Actually EM5 MkII is the first Olympus m4/3 camera I have ever looked at seriously.

 

One suggestion for correction: Panasonic GH4 doesn't have PDAF sensor.  In fact, no Panasonic m4/3 camera has PDAF sensor.  All Panasonic m4/3 cameras are CDAF only.

 

One thing I always wonder is that Olympus doesn't disclose the lowest light value at which the AF (of any type) works.  All the current Panasonic cameras are rated to be able to AF down to -4EV.

 

You are absolutely correct.  I do not know why I had it in my head that it did.  It uses the DFD technology.

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Andrew,

 

I just found this review. I like what you have to say about this camera. I have a Df that is my main camera but I've been looking for another camera that's a smaller camera and doesn't cost me too much in functionality. I would use it when I want a more portable solution for family/street/events/travel. I've got a substantial kit sitting in a cart using the XT1. However I just can't get past the X-trans sensor and the fact that Fuji is lens size doesn't represent that much size/bulk savings over a FX camera. So I've started looking at m43 again. I use a X100 and Ricoh GR a great deal but I do need the flexibility of a zoom on many occasions.

 

If you start off for a shoot with this camera, are there times you feel you need more camera to get the results you want? At what point do you think you really need the Df to get what you need.\?

 

Thanks,

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Options, options.  A smaller DX Nikon body with a few well chosen DX lenses should also be considered as a lighter weight option.

 

I have a D40X, but then are there again I also have an E-M1 with a 12-40mm lens as my main walkabout camera.

 

Andrew,

 

I just found this review. I like what you have to say about this camera. I have a Df that is my main camera but I've been looking for another camera that's a smaller camera and doesn't cost me too much in functionality. I would use it when I want a more portable solution for family/street/events/travel. I've got a substantial kit sitting in a cart using the XT1. However I just can't get past the X-trans sensor and the fact that Fuji is lens size doesn't represent that much size/bulk savings over a FX camera. So I've started looking at m43 again. I use a X100 and Ricoh GR a great deal but I do need the flexibility of a zoom on many occasions.

 

If you start off for a shoot with this camera, are there times you feel you need more camera to get the results you want? At what point do you think you really need the Df to get what you need.\?

 

Thanks,

 

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Options, options.  A smaller DX Nikon body with a few well chosen DX lenses should also be considered as a lighter weight option.

 

 

Hugh, certainly options, options. I've used Nikon DX and it's come a long way from my D2Hs :-). That camera was used with the 17-55mm f/2.8 DX and not quite a lightweight option - I know apples and APPLES/oranges. I was on a tour a couple of years ago when the D7000 was new and one of my tourmates used it with the 18-200. It was a nice kit and at the time I was using a X100. I love that camera and still have it, but I miss the functionality of a zoom in those situations. I'll keep a D7200 in mind, maybe with a 16-85mm f/2.8-4. 

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Andrew,

 

I just found this review. I like what you have to say about this camera. I have a Df that is my main camera but I've been looking for another camera that's a smaller camera and doesn't cost me too much in functionality. I would use it when I want a more portable solution for family/street/events/travel. I've got a substantial kit sitting in a cart using the XT1. However I just can't get past the X-trans sensor and the fact that Fuji is lens size doesn't represent that much size/bulk savings over a FX camera. So I've started looking at m43 again. I use a X100 and Ricoh GR a great deal but I do need the flexibility of a zoom on many occasions.

 

If you start off for a shoot with this camera, are there times you feel you need more camera to get the results you want? At what point do you think you really need the Df to get what you need.\?

 

Thanks,

 

Need is absolutely a subjective thing here, just to set that.

 

For me, I find that the Nikon Df is as near a perfect general shooting camera.  There are times when I need to shoot a lot in really low light without the aid of supplemental lighting.  In those instances, I tend to favor the Nikon FX cameras in my kit.  I also tend to favor the Nikon cameras where shooting sports with erratic movement is involved.

 

I've been working with the m43 gear to the point that I can get just about anything that I want from it that I can get from my Nikon gear.  I've yet to run into too many situations where I wished I had brought another kit.

 

A few big benefits of the m43 kit are that I can bring all my lenses in relatively the same space, size and weight as a Nikon FX camera and 2-3 lenses.

I also get excellent image quality from comparable lenses in a fraction of the cost.  I also get a lot more reach.   I have the Olympus 75-300mm lens that gets me out to a 600mm field of view.  You could take that lens, which cost me $475 new and get a used EM5 for under $500.  for that money I cannot even tough the lens cost of a Nikon 600mm.

 

Even comparing a Nikon 24-70/2.8 versus the Oly 12-40/2.8 - having similar fields of view, the Oly is only going to run you $1000 new without any deals.  I have a friend who just picked up the 12-40 for $800.  Then you look at the size and weight of the 2 and you still get more of a benefit with the Oly kit where that is concerned.

 

Right now, bang for the buck, getting an EM5 is probably one of the best deals out there in an MILC.

 

As far as fixed lens cameras go, I really like my X100T.

 

Depending on your needs, you might like the original X100 - since XTrans is not something you are looking forward to using.  The X100 can be found used.  It is a bit slow on the AF and in overall operation, but talk about gorgeous files and a Bayer sensor to boot.  You also have the Nikon Coolpix A, which on a good day can be found pn sale for $300 new.  The Ricoh GR is considered by many a very underrated performer and a favorite by many street shooters.  I've not really had a chance to really dig into one, so I only have other peoples information to go on.

 

After all that,  I would seriously consider looking at Olympus or even Panasonic in m43 mount.

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...................... fact that Fuji is lens size doesn't represent that much size/bulk savings over a FX camera.

 

This is yet another fallacious Internet beat-up that appears to have begun with people reading specs and making assumptions without directly comparing actual hardware.

 

Here is a photo of my old bag (at left) in which I carried a D3s, A D2x, 80-200/2.8 AF-D, 35-75/2.8 AF-D, 105/2.8 AF-S VR Micro, 16/2.8 AF-D fish, 50/1.8 AF-D, 17-35 AF-S and SB-800, plus spare batteries and ancillaries. This bag was big, heavy and pretty much full with that load. The camera bodies took up the full height of the two end compartments.

 

In front of it is my current bag, with X-T1 & 10-24/4, 8/2.8 fish, 18-55/2.8-4, Zeiss 50/2.8 Makro, 56/1.2, 90/2, 50-140/2.8 plus a Sigma DP1 Merrill and a DP3 Merrill, plus batteries x3 for each camera. Losing one of the Merrills means space for carrying an EF42 flash. Losing the other Merrill means space for my Fuji X-Pro1.

 

This bag is full, but nowhere near the weight the the Nikon bag was, nor is it anywhere near the size and awkwardness of carrying, and I have even more optical versatility. So it's entirely fair to say that I can carry a similar functionality in a bag almost half the internal size that I did with my Nikon outfit. There is another factor here - the Fuji bag is completely carry-on compliant. The old Tamrac Pro12 bag for the Nikon would be borderline at best these days, and probably be too heavy anyway for many airlines.

Feg08vJ.jpg

 

My point is that it is beyond plain to see that the claim that Fuji lenses save little over the 135 DSLR lenses just nowhere near correct. They are substantially smaller and lighter, even the 50-140/2.8 zoom is only marginally longer but narrower than the Nikon 24-70/2.8 (I've physically held the two side by side to ascertain this) and a similar weight, but it is most definitely smaller and much lighter than its "equivalent" in the Nikon line, the 70-200/2.8 (even on paper this is evident, 82mmx175mm, 995gm, compared to 87mmx215mm, 1,470gm).

 

The reduction in size and weight comparing Fuji to M4/3 is not proportionally as much as is the Fuji is from the Nikon, either. In fact the X-T1 is about the same size as an OM-D EM1. It's the mirror and associated DSLR design factors that make the size difference, not so much the sensor size. In fact the Oly 35-100 f/2.0 is bigger, and heavier, than the Nikkor 70-200/2.8, while the Panasonic 30-100/2.8 is far lighter - but then the Pana isn't much different to the Fuji 55-200/3.5-4.8, so choices are there. Point is that both the Fuji and the Oly/Pana M4/3 are substantially more compact and lighter than are their DSLR 135 counterparts, and the Fuji gear is much closer to M4/3 than it is to DSLR..

 

The only way to confirm these truths is to compare side-by-side, but my photo should be a reasonably accurate starting point - rest assured I would not have willingly chosen a bag the size of the Tamrac Pro12 to lug around full of Nikon equipment at events and weddings if I could have got away with something smaller, and equally I got the little KATA shoulder bag for the Fuji/Sigma gear because it was plain silly hauling that massive Tamrac around with more empty space than gear inside it after I switched over to mirrorless. These days it is just a convenient storage for lenses and gear that I'm not actually using at the time.

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The only way to confirm these truths is to compare side-by-side, but my photo should be a reasonably accurate starting point - rest assured I would not have willingly chosen a bag the size of the Tamrac Pro12 to lug around full of Nikon equipment at events and weddings if I could have got away with something smaller...

 

That is the issue, though - most people don't have access to the systems to compare, which is why posts like yours are very helpful.

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OK, I'm guilty of stating perceptions over fact.

 

Trying not to be defensive here :-). We don't use the same lenses. My Df kit usually contains a 24mm f/2.8 AIS, 50mm f/1.8 AFS and 105mm f/2.5 AIS and more often only a 35mm f/1.4 AIS.  A couple of weeks ago, I set that Df kit alongside a XT1 kit with 16mm, 35mm and 56mm. My reaction was one of disappointment. For me to go to that Fuji kit, there were a few things that colored my judgement: price of abandoning a good kit for what I didn't perceive to be the size differential I was anticipating for a mirrorless body; disappointed at Fuji for IMO wasting an engineering opportunity to scale down lenses to meet my desire for smaller lenses (e.g. where are those f/2 WR lenses); and my having to deal with a non LR workflow.

 

The X100 is the reason I'm looking at Fuji, it set a lot of expectations and I love that size, flexibility and maneuverability. But I suffered through SAB (so call it my D600 experience). The shutter went out about midway through a 14 day trip of Italy. I continued to use it when I could at f/2 (including stretching that with internal ND) and fortunately had an X10 that my wife was carrying for the rest. Not the quality I was wanting. The final firmware updates a year after release finally brought the camera up to where it should have been at release. The hassle of getting SAB fixed was way beyond any reasonable consumer experience, especially after having been accused of mishandling the camera, getting it wet, subjecting it to airline vibration and "did I read the operating manual?". After two months of hassle and two trips to the repair station it was finally repaired properly. So I have an edgy background with Fuji and it embitters me (not even somewhat). However, I respect their optics, the fact that they have photographers in their design group and keep pushing forward on product and industry pressure. I'm just not fully in their mainstream. So I'll try to do better in my commentary in the future.

 

While I use other zooms, primarily the f/4 Nikkors and 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS, that's not what my comment was about. It was really about my most compact kit, the one that I choose to tote. The wonderful Fuji lenses in my comparable focal lengths are often f/1.2 lenses and I would rather they be f/2 for my use. 

 

Thanks for bringing the other side into this. I still use my X100 (and Ricoh GR) because I don't think you can get smaller and still have that quality - I'm willing to listen to other suggestions.

 

I have done the side by side with the X-T1 but there are no stores that I frequent that handle Olympus. Camerasize.com does help somewhat.

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Need is absolutely a subjective thing here, just to set that.

.......

 

I've been working with the m43 gear to the point that I can get just about anything that I want from it that I can get from my Nikon gear.  I've yet to run into too many situations where I wished I had brought another kit.

 

............

 

After all that,  I would seriously consider looking at Olympus or even Panasonic in m43 mount.

 

Andrew,

 

Thank you for your views. They add a lot of weight to my decision. You, Alan and many others on this group can get just about anything out a camera and know very much why it works.

 

I'm going to have to make a change for the smaller, it will be about travel and the people I'm traveling with. It's not all about photography, some of it is about my not letting my photography and/or equipment dominate the social situation of the travel. 

 

It's encouraging that you like your X100T. Perhaps I should just refresh my X100 (which is starting to have some intermittent problems) and use that as an intro to the Xtrans. I could be making too much of that situation. I do know that a family outing with all the grandchildren can generate several hundred to thousand images and the LR process of getting them to a manageable number seems to me to be quite reasonable. Perhaps only a few need an alternative RAW converter, but I just don't have any feeling for what's really needed to make that a permanent or integral part of my photography.

 

I reviewed and enjoyed your website - I'm especially drawn the the B&W images.

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LR is not great at processing the X-Trans, so if you intend to use LR I would not recommend X-Trans.  Photo Ninja does a great job.

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Given that there were zero Fuji FX lenses five years ago, and given the quality (mostly) of the lenses that have been produced since, it is fair to say that Fuji have been reasonably good at filling general needs. They obviously had a sales-driven growth model by producing lenses that most people would be interested in at a price that most people would be interested in paying with specifications that would match most of the competitive lenses on the market. Hence the original 35/1.4, 60/2.4 "macro", and 18/2 "pancake" wide (and which to be honest, I had zero need for any of).

 

In fact it wasn't until the 14/2.8 that I actually bought a lens I really could use (after the Samyang 8/2.8 fish, of course), and really it wasn't until the recent run of lenses starting with the Zeiss 50/2.8M and the 56/1.2 that lenses appeared that I actually wanted. It is now four and a half years after I bought my x-Pro1 - but the wait was worth it.

Fuji as a company is at least one that listens to its customers and the clamour for small, slower lenses is one I doubt is being ignored. I can certainly see that others have no need for lenses I prefer and a very definite need for lenses I have no need for, as does Fuji, most probably. It's simply a matter of designing and building as income from past successes provides the bean counters with the figures above the red line to provide the OK to do so.

Keep an eye out for the next lens road map - one is probably due out shortly as the predicted lenses on the last one are nearly all a reality now. My guess is that the lenses you (and thousands of others) have asked for will be on it.

 

I'm waiting on only one thing now, the 1.4x TC to take my tank-buster 50-140 into "proper" tele regions to enable me to sell off the excellent and small but fragile 55-200/3.5-4.8. The difference in build quality and feel is palpable in the WR Pro lenses, along with the confidence in longevity their ruggedness brings.

 

Whether or not I actually need the 100-400 to follow that and which is slated for early next year is open to conjecture - I never had anything longer than 300mm for my FX Nikons (short of the totally inadequate Samyang 500/6.3 mirror lens), so to be frank and following a similar path I might just be as well off in the long term to settle for the FX-fit but probably totally inadequate Samyang 350/6.3 instead. This lens is tiny and weighs next to nothing, and will probably be worth the $400-odd it'll cost me for the total amount of use it will get. I have also converted the 500/6.3 to FX mount using a trashed cheap converter, and while it is even worse than inadequate the once-a-year use it gets certainly brings things up close and personal with the X-T1. PP can kill a lot of the flaws, and with my new resolution to return to B&W it might even become passably usable in that role.
 

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Andrew,

 

Thank you for your views. They add a lot of weight to my decision. You, Alan and many others on this group can get just about anything out a camera and know very much why it works.

 

I'm going to have to make a change for the smaller, it will be about travel and the people I'm traveling with. It's not all about photography, some of it is about my not letting my photography and/or equipment dominate the social situation of the travel. 

 

It's encouraging that you like your X100T. Perhaps I should just refresh my X100 (which is starting to have some intermittent problems) and use that as an intro to the Xtrans. I could be making too much of that situation. I do know that a family outing with all the grandchildren can generate several hundred to thousand images and the LR process of getting them to a manageable number seems to me to be quite reasonable. Perhaps only a few need an alternative RAW converter, but I just don't have any feeling for what's really needed to make that a permanent or integral part of my photography.

 

I reviewed and enjoyed your website - I'm especially drawn the the B&W images.

 

I find that even shooting JPG from the Fuji cameras give you a lot to work with.  So, using Lightroom in that respect is really not a whole lot different than anything else.  When you do find the need to shoot RAW, you can just use an alternate process for those special use cases.

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I always hammer on about raw and processing because my final use depends on it. If you're not going to print your files large as an intended end use, then there's little point in sweating beyond a jpeg, whether OOC or modified afterwards. In that case, as Andrew points out, there is no impediment to sticking with LR if that's what works for you.

 

If you're going to shoot for B&W, however, then an 8-bit jpeg will definitely sell you short. 256 shades of grey is absolutely marginal in recording smooth tonal transitions, and if edited afterwards there is a very definite chance of smooth mid-tones like blue skies being visibly affected by posterisation, even on an 8-bit monitor. On a wide-gamut monitor the images so affected will look downright horrible.

 

I tend to set my processing bar high by default because I'm never sure of just how big or how detailed I might have to print something in the future. Granted that a lot of the effort so expended is wasted, but there's the assurance that even a decade or more down the track there's a good chance the file will print well even on the newest tech printers as a result.

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My advice to anyone wanting to find out how m43 performs is to get one in your hands by either renting one for a couple of days, or try and find an Olympus dealer who offers demo days (I do this in my home country and I know they do them in the UK too). 

 

Honestly, the only areas where larger systems might have a slight advantage over m43 are in extreme high ISO (anything over ISO 6400 is extreme in my book) and tracking of some subjects, as Andrew mentioned. Everything else considered it's a brilliant system with brilliant lens choices. I'm using the 40-150/2.8 PRO on this safari and so far I have been quite impressed with near field subject image quality. It's such a pity the 300mm f/4 has been delayed because that lens on this birding safari we have just done in the Chobe would have been awesome to have on one of those photography boat gimbals. 

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      This Volvo XC40 in retro Amazon Blue is a 190hp Auto, a car that gets you in no-time in Zen-mode. Very comfortable and relaxing but not the drivers car our previous one (a Mazda CX3) was. I loved to rev the smooth and spirited Mazda's  2-litre non-turbo engine, the Volvo has so much turbo-assisted torque it mostly runs below 2.500rpm. And still the Volvo uses a lot more fuel than the Mazda. All that comfort and safety comes at a price, a lot of weight. 
       

    • By Dallas
      My favourite telephoto lens for the MFT system is this one. I find that the optics are better than the newer 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens (not that that lens is bad, it just isn't as good bokeh wise as this one). 
       
      The tripod mount is removable and when you take this off as well as the somewhat large hood, it fits into a moderately sized camera bag without much fuss, which gives you a very versatile wedding lens that has a smaller form factor than the typical 70-200mm f/2.8 for 35mm systems. If you also can find the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter for this you will get an extra 40% magnification and as far as I am concerned there is no noticeable loss in image quality. 
       
      Not the most heroic looker when fully zoomed (the barrel extends), but when IQ is more important to you than what a lens looks like, this one will make you very happy as an MFT shooter (using a dual AF system camera body like the E-M1). 
    • By Dallas
      Over December and January I had the opportunity to use a demo sample of the new addition to the M.Zuiko PRO family of lenses, namely the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO.
       
      This is less of a review and more of a collection of my impressions and opinions of this lens, where I am basing my observations purely on some recreational photography I managed to do over the holiday period. Ideally I would have liked to do some proper work with the lens, unfortunately much of the country is in deep slumber over this period of time, so work didn’t really happen for me while I had the lens with me. Anyway, I did get out with it a few times so this is what I found out about it.
       
      Design & Handling
       
      We all know that this lens is the newest addition to the micro four thirds stable of ultra-wide zoom lenses, (the same angles of view as a Nikon 14-24mm lens on an FX body) but unlike the previous 7-14mm options from both Panasonic and Olympus (the latter in 4/3rds mount), this one has a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. It’s also quite large as a result of this increase in the aperture and while it’s much smaller than the older 4/3rds 7-14mm f/4, it is still bigger and heavier than the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. It totally dwarfs the diminutive Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6, which is currently my go-to wide angle lens for the m43 system.
       
      The build quality of the 7-14 is fantastic and follows the same conventions as the rest of the PRO range. Sleek, fully metal everywhere and truly indicative of manufacturing excellence. The only design issue I have with it is that it also uses the MF/AF clutch system, which has caught out many an Olympus photographer when its accidentally switched to MF. Fortunately the new firmware on most OM-D models lets you turn that off. Panasonic body users will not be so lucky, so they will need to proceed with caution.
       
      I suppose another design issue to talk about is that you won’t be able to use screw-in filters with this lens, but this is something that we see on all ultra-wide zoom lenses these days - none of them have this. I do recall seeing somewhere recently that either LEE or Cokin have developed a filter holder that you can put on the Nikon 14-24/2.8, so maybe they might look into doing something for this lens. To be honest though, I am not so sure that you will get good results with such a system and resin filters, especially at the extreme wide end of the zoom. There’s bound to be some serious optical diffraction unless they make the filters really thin.
       
      In The Field
       
      Like all the modern Olympus glass this one is sharp like a razor blade even at the maximum aperture. I shot with it stopped down a bit and also at the widest 2.8 aperture and honestly, there’s not a lot of difference to talk about. If you’re coming from consumer grade glass for your system you’ll see the difference immediately. That’s what you’re paying for with a lens like this.
       
      That said, sharpness isn’t everything. We need to look at some of the other characteristics of the lens optics and decide whether or not this is the right lens for us. Obviously each photographer who is thinking about this guy might have different needs for it, so what I am going to do is share how I used it during the time I had it and point out what I think are the good and bad points. I had hoped to use it indoors for some architectural work, but as mentioned that part of my business wasn’t active at all during the time I had it.
       
      Let’s take a look at some photos:
       

       
      One of the first things I did with this lens is climb up onto the roof of my garage and see how wide it looks at 7mm because we have a fairly impressive view from our house. This is what the lens saw at 7mm.
       
      Something I noticed on many of the earlier 7-14mm reviews posted when the lens first came out was that the wide angles looked weird to me, almost like they weren’t quite wide and had been squashed somehow. After puzzling this out in my mind I came to the conclusion that it is the 4:3 aspect ratio that was messing with my head. Because I use my OM-D’s permanently in 3:2 mode the images I got didn’t seem to have that sense of “compressed expansion” I saw on other reviews. They looked proper wide.
       
      So apart from the width of the viewing angle the next thing you will notice about the shot above is that there are three very strong flare dots dead in the middle of the frame. You will also notice that the sun is pretty high in the sky and not in the frame. In the next shot shown below, taken from the same position, but turned roughly 90˚to the left and tilting the camera to portrait orientation, you will see seven flare ghosts running into the frame at an angle. Also take note of the shadow lengths on my driveway. It was almost high noon.
       
      This is a bit of a problem for this lens. It flares very easily, even when the sun isn’t in the frame but where strong light hits the front element directly. I picked this up in many of the shots I took, indoors and outdoors. I am by no means an optical engineer, but there is something else I am seeing happening with this lens in that situation that makes me think that maybe Olympus have tried to correct more for the side effects of the flare than worry too much about the typical element ghosting we see in flare situations. Normally with lens flare the first thing that happens is you lose contrast. No so with this lens. The images retain a terrific amount of punch and colour doesn’t seem to be degraded at all.
       

       

       

       
      A few days later I took the 7-14mm down to the beach for a short stroll to see what I could find. If you look at the two shots above you will get to see the difference in the angle of view between 7mm and 14mm. Also notice that the perspective you get changes dramatically from one end to the other and this can make for some interesting creative effects given the right foreground / background subject relationships. I would love to have used this lens in a live concert where I could get right behind the singer and show the crowd in the background.
       

       

       
      In these two shots I have tried to illustrate the exaggerated perspective of the 7mm end, as well as show how the flare issue is more apparent in the first shot, but not in the second.
       

       
      Towards the end of December one of my cousins’ son was Christened at a local church and in-between shooting the actual event I managed to grab a few shots to illustrate how useful an extreme wide angle can be to show the inside of an expansive space. You can really get some interesting looks with this view. however, take note that the window light has once again caused the lens to flare, even indoors.
       

       
      The actual Christening (this is an Anglican Church) took place in a small vestibule near the entrance and using the wide part of the lens again I got some shots showing pretty much the entire room while I stood in the doorway. As far as distortion goes I didn’t find anything too objectionable in the bricks, but the head of the lady in the bottom right has been stretched ET style. That’s something you can’t get away from with rectilinear wide angle lenses like this. You’ll get it on every ultra-wide angle lens. Avoid putting people near the edges and the problem goes away.
       

       
      This next shot I took on 2 January at a gorge not too far from where I live (about 30-40kms by road). You can’t really appreciate the width of the shot but my intention was to try and show as much of the surroundings as possible without plunging headlong down the 70m or so to the bottom!
       

       
      This is one of the last images I took with the lens and it was just after an actual job I did a couple of weeks ago involving the Natal Sharks rugby team who were doing a signing session at a shopping mall. This shot gives you a good indication of how things get stretched with this lens design. You can fit a lot into the frame but don’t expect it to look “normal”.
       

       
      Here is the world famous Moses Mabhida football stadium. It’s probably one of the finest sports stadia in the world and has been host to many international matches, including the FIFA 2010 World Cup Semi Final. This isn’t my finest shot ever, but again you can see where a lens like this can come in useful. Also note that again we have flare spots appearing in the frame.
       

       
      The last shot I have to show you here is taken shooting directly into the morning sun and here you see a different sort of flare problem in the top right of the frame. A talented Photoshop user will easily get rid of these annoying ghosts, but I thought I would show you what happens when you shoot into the sun with the 7-14mm, seeing as I already showed you what happens when you don’t shoot into the sun. I don’t think it’s that bad.
       
      Overal Impression
       
      So that’s a look at the performance of the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO in the field. It’s certainly capable of producing fine results, but you will need to be constantly aware of the flare, even when shooting indoors with a bright light source in your frame. This might be an issue that precludes it from being used as an architectural lens, particularly for interiors where dealing with bright lights from windows is a constant. I think that a less extreme lens like the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 would be a better option. I do sometimes use the Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 for that type of work and I have not had any issues with flare. It would be nice to get wider than 9mm for interiors, but it’s not essential.
       
      In another thread on Fotozones we were discussing this very thing and I personally would have no problems with Olympus developing a slower, wider fixed focal length lens that I could use for this kind of work. Something like an 8mm f/4.0 rectilinear lens would be a lot smaller than this enormous 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and might actually work better for architectural photography since most of it is done on a tripod anyway. Also, consider that when shooting architecture you’re seldom going to need f/2.8.
       
      So for me the 7-14mm is not likely to find its way into my working kit any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one, but everything I buy these days has to have a practical and measurably positive impact on my business as a photographer and unfortunately a lens this expensive falls squarely into the “nice-to-have” category. I don’t need it as much as I want it.
    • By Dallas
      Over December and January I had the opportunity to use a demo sample of the new addition to the M.Zuiko PRO family of lenses, namely the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO.
       
      This is less of a review and more of a collection of my impressions and opinions of this lens, where I am basing my observations purely on some recreational photography I managed to do over the holiday period. Ideally I would have liked to do some proper work with the lens, unfortunately much of the country is in deep slumber over this period of time, so work didn’t really happen for me while I had the lens with me. Anyway, I did get out with it a few times so this is what I found out about it.
       
      Design & Handling
       
      We all know that this lens is the newest addition to the micro four thirds stable of ultra-wide zoom lenses, (the same angles of view as a Nikon 14-24mm lens on an FX body) but unlike the previous 7-14mm options from both Panasonic and Olympus (the latter in 4/3rds mount), this one has a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. It’s also quite large as a result of this increase in the aperture and while it’s much smaller than the older 4/3rds 7-14mm f/4, it is still bigger and heavier than the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. It totally dwarfs the diminutive Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6, which is currently my go-to wide angle lens for the m43 system.
       
      The build quality of the 7-14 is fantastic and follows the same conventions as the rest of the PRO range. Sleek, fully metal everywhere and truly indicative of manufacturing excellence. The only design issue I have with it is that it also uses the MF/AF clutch system, which has caught out many an Olympus photographer when its accidentally switched to MF. Fortunately the new firmware on most OM-D models lets you turn that off. Panasonic body users will not be so lucky, so they will need to proceed with caution.
       
      I suppose another design issue to talk about is that you won’t be able to use screw-in filters with this lens, but this is something that we see on all ultra-wide zoom lenses these days - none of them have this. I do recall seeing somewhere recently that either LEE or Cokin have developed a filter holder that you can put on the Nikon 14-24/2.8, so maybe they might look into doing something for this lens. To be honest though, I am not so sure that you will get good results with such a system and resin filters, especially at the extreme wide end of the zoom. There’s bound to be some serious optical diffraction unless they make the filters really thin.
       
      In The Field
       
      Like all the modern Olympus glass this one is sharp like a razor blade even at the maximum aperture. I shot with it stopped down a bit and also at the widest 2.8 aperture and honestly, there’s not a lot of difference to talk about. If you’re coming from consumer grade glass for your system you’ll see the difference immediately. That’s what you’re paying for with a lens like this.
       
      That said, sharpness isn’t everything. We need to look at some of the other characteristics of the lens optics and decide whether or not this is the right lens for us. Obviously each photographer who is thinking about this guy might have different needs for it, so what I am going to do is share how I used it during the time I had it and point out what I think are the good and bad points. I had hoped to use it indoors for some architectural work, but as mentioned that part of my business wasn’t active at all during the time I had it.
       
      Let’s take a look at some photos:
       

       
      One of the first things I did with this lens is climb up onto the roof of my garage and see how wide it looks at 7mm because we have a fairly impressive view from our house. This is what the lens saw at 7mm.
       
      Something I noticed on many of the earlier 7-14mm reviews posted when the lens first came out was that the wide angles looked weird to me, almost like they weren’t quite wide and had been squashed somehow. After puzzling this out in my mind I came to the conclusion that it is the 4:3 aspect ratio that was messing with my head. Because I use my OM-D’s permanently in 3:2 mode the images I got didn’t seem to have that sense of “compressed expansion” I saw on other reviews. They looked proper wide.
       
      So apart from the width of the viewing angle the next thing you will notice about the shot above is that there are three very strong flare dots dead in the middle of the frame. You will also notice that the sun is pretty high in the sky and not in the frame. In the next shot shown below, taken from the same position, but turned roughly 90˚to the left and tilting the camera to portrait orientation, you will see seven flare ghosts running into the frame at an angle. Also take note of the shadow lengths on my driveway. It was almost high noon.
       
      This is a bit of a problem for this lens. It flares very easily, even when the sun isn’t in the frame but where strong light hits the front element directly. I picked this up in many of the shots I took, indoors and outdoors. I am by no means an optical engineer, but there is something else I am seeing happening with this lens in that situation that makes me think that maybe Olympus have tried to correct more for the side effects of the flare than worry too much about the typical element ghosting we see in flare situations. Normally with lens flare the first thing that happens is you lose contrast. No so with this lens. The images retain a terrific amount of punch and colour doesn’t seem to be degraded at all.
       

       

       

       
      A few days later I took the 7-14mm down to the beach for a short stroll to see what I could find. If you look at the two shots above you will get to see the difference in the angle of view between 7mm and 14mm. Also notice that the perspective you get changes dramatically from one end to the other and this can make for some interesting creative effects given the right foreground / background subject relationships. I would love to have used this lens in a live concert where I could get right behind the singer and show the crowd in the background.
       

       

       
      In these two shots I have tried to illustrate the exaggerated perspective of the 7mm end, as well as show how the flare issue is more apparent in the first shot, but not in the second.
       

       
      Towards the end of December one of my cousins’ son was Christened at a local church and in-between shooting the actual event I managed to grab a few shots to illustrate how useful an extreme wide angle can be to show the inside of an expansive space. You can really get some interesting looks with this view. however, take note that the window light has once again caused the lens to flare, even indoors.
       

       
      The actual Christening (this is an Anglican Church) took place in a small vestibule near the entrance and using the wide part of the lens again I got some shots showing pretty much the entire room while I stood in the doorway. As far as distortion goes I didn’t find anything too objectionable in the bricks, but the head of the lady in the bottom right has been stretched ET style. That’s something you can’t get away from with rectilinear wide angle lenses like this. You’ll get it on every ultra-wide angle lens. Avoid putting people near the edges and the problem goes away.
       

       
      This next shot I took on 2 January at a gorge not too far from where I live (about 30-40kms by road). You can’t really appreciate the width of the shot but my intention was to try and show as much of the surroundings as possible without plunging headlong down the 70m or so to the bottom!
       

       
      This is one of the last images I took with the lens and it was just after an actual job I did a couple of weeks ago involving the Natal Sharks rugby team who were doing a signing session at a shopping mall. This shot gives you a good indication of how things get stretched with this lens design. You can fit a lot into the frame but don’t expect it to look “normal”.
       

       
      Here is the world famous Moses Mabhida football stadium. It’s probably one of the finest sports stadia in the world and has been host to many international matches, including the FIFA 2010 World Cup Semi Final. This isn’t my finest shot ever, but again you can see where a lens like this can come in useful. Also note that again we have flare spots appearing in the frame.
       

       
      The last shot I have to show you here is taken shooting directly into the morning sun and here you see a different sort of flare problem in the top right of the frame. A talented Photoshop user will easily get rid of these annoying ghosts, but I thought I would show you what happens when you shoot into the sun with the 7-14mm, seeing as I already showed you what happens when you don’t shoot into the sun. I don’t think it’s that bad.
       
      Overal Impression
       
      So that’s a look at the performance of the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO in the field. It’s certainly capable of producing fine results, but you will need to be constantly aware of the flare, even when shooting indoors with a bright light source in your frame. This might be an issue that precludes it from being used as an architectural lens, particularly for interiors where dealing with bright lights from windows is a constant. I think that a less extreme lens like the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 would be a better option. I do sometimes use the Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 for that type of work and I have not had any issues with flare. It would be nice to get wider than 9mm for interiors, but it’s not essential.
       
      In another thread on Fotozones we were discussing this very thing and I personally would have no problems with Olympus developing a slower, wider fixed focal length lens that I could use for this kind of work. Something like an 8mm f/4.0 rectilinear lens would be a lot smaller than this enormous 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and might actually work better for architectural photography since most of it is done on a tripod anyway. Also, consider that when shooting architecture you’re seldom going to need f/2.8.
       
      So for me the 7-14mm is not likely to find its way into my working kit any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one, but everything I buy these days has to have a practical and measurably positive impact on my business as a photographer and unfortunately a lens this expensive falls squarely into the “nice-to-have” category. I don’t need it as much as I want it.

      View full article
    • By Greg Drawbaugh
      A few weeks ago "AirVenture 2018" better known as Oshkosh took place in where else, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  2018 marks my 11th consecutive year in a row to visit and photograph this monumental event.  The scale and scope of this event is hard to imagine unless you have visited it in person.  For the over week-long event, over 600,000 visitors, 5,000 volunteers, 10,000 aircraft arrivals, almost 20,000 aircraft operations, almost 3,000 show planes and over 40,000 campers in 12,000 sites on the airport.  For me, it is one of the few airshows I attend and photograph, so it always takes a few days to re-learn my airshow photography techniques.  I tend to want shots a bit different than some of the other airshow photographers seek out, and I also like to push the envelope in my post-processing for some different looks.  I am pleased to present a sample of the 5500 photos I took during my week in Oshkosh.  My eleventh trip to the event also marked my very first air-to-air photography experience.  Please take a look and see what you think, constructive comments are always welcome.  I will continue to add photos as I continue to process photos.
       
      Saturday morning marked a monumental event in my modest photography life.  I was able to take a flight in a 1940s Vultee BT-13 trainer along with another Vultee BT-13.  I occupied the rear seat (including strapping on a parachute) in the BT-13 named "Lucky 13" piloted by Hunter Reiley.  All I asked was "please do not humble me" as I just want to take photos and not lose my camera (and a very light breakfast!).  Hunter was very smooth and gentle with me, and I think we captured some great photos of his friend Kelly's BT-13.  E-M1 mkII and Olympus 12-100 Pro
       

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