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Andrew L (gryphon1911)

Comparison: Fuji X100s, Fuji X-T1, Olympus OM-D

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You may have read that we sold off all our Fuji X cameras and got the Nikon Df. We are happy to report that we are still very much pleased with the Nikon Df and use it whenever we can.

The Df is my daily carry camera – it is with me 95% of the time. So what about the other 5%. Those are usually those times when having the Df is not practical. I’ve been wanting/lusting after what the Fuji X100s has to offer. I’ve only passingly handled the X100 and thought with all the improvements the X100s had to offer, it would be that much better.

Walking into my favorite camera store this recently, I had every intention of leaving with the X100s. However, my friends there gave me the opportunity to use and handle the following cameras:

Fuji X100s, Fuji X-T1, Olympus OM-D-EM-5 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about all these cameras and I could not pass up the opportunity to work with them all head to head.

I do not have sample images from all of the cameras, as this report is not as much about image quality as it is handling and performance speed. If we are honest, I think we know that the Fuji will have the IQ edge, especially in the realm of the hi ISO. We will concede to that right now.

One of my main issues with the Fuji system has always been the speed at which the camera performs. This includes powering up, waking from sleep, accessing menu items and AF speed and acquisition.

Let us have a quick rundown of the positives.

X100s_pic_additional_01.jpg

Image © Fujifilm

Fuji X100s

Feels great in the hand.

Solid build.

OVF is nice, clear and bright. EVF is a great alternative to have.

Upgraded MF(compared to the X100) is much better to use.

Great 23mm f/2 lens

fuji+x-t1_img_main01.jpg

Image © Fujifilm

Fuji X-T1

Solid build.

Fit my hands like it was custom made for me.

EVF was comprehensive and responded quickly to orientation changes.

The top dials were solid and had a nice click to them. I did not think that I would accidentally knock any of them out of their position by accident.

It seems to be the fastest responsive Fuji X camera to date(accessing menus, powering up, waking from sleep).

Very quick AF in comparison to the other X cameras.

Great prime and zoom lenses.

em5_hero_black.png

Image © Olympus

Olympus OM-D EM5 and EM1

Very quick AF.

Solid build quality.

Good EVF.

Nice feel in the hand.

Great prime lenses.

Now let’s talk about what everyone wants to know – which is, when compared to each other, what do I think?

We need to level set/full disclosure and let you know what the shooting conditions were.

When using an ILC, the kit zooms were used(The ones that claim “world’s fastest AF” in the ads…lol). For the Fuji, it was the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS…the Olympus used the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3.

Images were taken/AF performance tested inside the camera shop, which had fluorescent lights. It was dim, but probably a little brighter than your average indoor environment.

Also, this is not a scientific test. It is my learned observation and experiences that I am reporting on.

We are going to start with the Fuji cameras since the X100s was what I thought I wanted the most and the X-T1 is what everyone is currently talking about. The AF speed on the X100s was still about the same as the X100, maybe a little faster. It did seem a little more sure, but it did have quite a bit of front to back shuffle before locking into focus. Once it got focus, it was almost always 100% accurate. Unfortunately, the X-T1 suffered from the same front/back shuffle before locking focus. Yes, it is very fast – probably the fastest AF I’ve seen in any X camera to date….but Fuji still seems to have a way to go on getting the AF to something great and not just adequate. I was disappointed in this behavior…which is sad because I so much wanted Fuji to be better than what it was. On the plus side, it is nice that the X-T1 can track focus in a continuous shooting mode.

One of my biggest handling issues with the Fuji X cameras are AF point selection. I’ve gotten so used to my DSLRs and the 4 way pad being dedicated to picking the AF point – it was one of the reasons I had for deciding to drop my X-E1. This still is an issue here for both the X100s and the X-T1.

Both the X100s and X-T1 felt good in the hand, albeit they have different ways of gripping them. The X-T1 is beefier and felt very natural to hold, especially coming from using a DSLR.

Moving on to the Olympus offerings of the OM-D EM-5 and the OM-D EM1. I want to begin by saying that I was never a fan of m43 in the past. I always had a preconceived bias against it because of the smaller sensor size. That has all changed now that I was able to handle one and see what it is all about.

Yes, we cannot get around physics and there are just some things that a smaller sensor just cannot do. I’ve noticed that there does not seem to be as large a dynamic range as the Nikon or Fuji cameras I’ve shot in the past. I will say that I was impressed at just how useable the files were from the Olympus cameras up to ISO 2000. It starts getting a little rougher around ISO 3200/6400…but if you nail exposure and don’t have a lot of pitch black areas….you can still have a good JPG to work with.

Now… getting to what really impressed me on the EM5/EM1. The AF performance was almost instantaneous. I mean…I could not believe what I was seeing here. Same lighting conditions and with a slower (aperture wise) kit zoom lens, the Olympus nailed focus immediately and without any back/front dance as was seen in the Fuji offerings. I bounced all over the place grabbing focus at different distances and at different focal lengths. It did not seem like I could trip up the Olympus AF. Even with the contrast detect only AF of the Olympus OM-D EM-5 it was direct, to the point and accurate. I was surprised here…but in a very good way. I heard people before praising the AF performance, but I did not think it to be this good.

The speed also moves over into the menu usage and boot up times as well. The menu systems run very quick and smooth. They are a bit deep, lots of options and they are not in any way similar to what I’m used to with my Nikon or Fuji menus. Startup from power off to on was very quick. Not DSLR instant, but way better than the Fuji cameras – not including the X-T1. Fuji listened and boosted the start up time for the X-T1. Good job on that.

At the end of the day, what does all this mean?? It means that I walked out of the camera store with anOlympus OM-D EM-5 and 12-50mm kit.

omd_front_lens_flash-down.jpg

Image © Olympus

Do I still want a Fuji X100s? Well, yeah...maybe in the future. However, by the time I am ready for that - Fuji may very well have a full frame X200 to replace the X100s....at least I'm hoping that is the inevitable direction.

03-09-2014_EM5_COSI_P3090041-Edit.jpg

E-M5 12-50/3.5-6.3

1/30, f/5.3, ISO 2000

Want more information? OK…lets talk about it.

When comparing the above systems, the Olympus was the most DSLR like in looks and control. The only thing that the Fuji X offerings had a resounding lead on over the Olympus was in sensor size and hi ISO image quality. The Olympus was better in almost every respect beyond that. And at base ISO - the Olympus m43 sensor is doing just fine. The image examples on this page should let you see that.

03-09-2014_EM5_COSI_P3090028-Edit.jpg

E-M5, 12-50/3.5-6.3

1/20, f/6.3, ISO 2000

Add to this, the fast prime lenses for the Olympus system are way smaller, and can be found cheaper never hurts. I even preferred the EVF of the Olympus over that of the Fuji X-T1. Yes, the Fuji has more unique features, but I thought the smearing of the Olympus was not as pronounced in the low light shooting conditions as the Fuji. Honestly, I still prefer an OVF…but those seems to be looking more and more like a feature we will see less of as we progress into the future.

In my mind, and for my way of shooting, if I need extreme low light, super high ISO performance, I’ve got my Nikon Df/D700 to choose from. The Olympus gives me a very responsive performance machine in a smaller package.

03-15-2014_EM5_olytest_P3150008-Edit.jpg

E-M5, 17/1.8

1/640, f/2.8, ISO 100

I was honestly surprised I walked out of there with an m43 camera. I’ve shot with it for only a few days, but I am so happy with this cameras performance at this point. I did have a slight moment of regret at first, when I ran through an initial set of images. For some reason, I was not getting that "pop" or "wow factor" that I expected from the images. I thought that I was perhaps missing something as this is a new camera system to me. After a few days of research, I did realize 2 things:

1 - optics on the OM-D matter. The kit 12-50/3.5-6.3, while convenient and weather sealed is not the sharpest or most contrasty lens. I noticed an immediate increase in IQ when I put on the 17/1.8 or the 45/1.8 prime lenses.

2 - for some unknown reason, Olympus gives you the OM-D cameras setup as base as possible. I mean, they have a higher jpg compression on by default and the default noise reduction is a bit much as well.

03-09-2014_EM5_COSI_P3090047-Edit.jpg

E-M5, 12-50/3.5-6.3

1/80, f/5.6, ISO 1600

Keep an eye out for a future post where I discuss how I setup the OMD EM5 to be optimized for the way I shoot. There are quite a few steps, but once its done, you never have to do it again.

03-15-2014_EM5_olytest_P3150050-Edit.jpg EM5, 17/1.8

1/60, f/4, ISO 640

And to end this all out - here is a random thought from me about mirrorless and the US market. This is just my theory and is in no way scientific.

When I look at the mirrorless camera offerings, the majority of them looked a lot like the point and shoot style cameras we have been seeing for years. I think this hurts their perception because for years "professionals" used DSLRs and they have a certain look to them.

Now that entry level DSLRs are sometimes less expensive than some point and shoots, no one wants to have their "pro" camera mistaken for a point and shoot...thus the mirrorless cameras don't get the marketing credibility that the DSLR still has here.

03-15-2014_EM5_olytest_P3150057-Edit.jpg

EM5, 17/1.8

1/1250, f/4, ISO 100

I think Olympus saw this and when they went from the PEN design to the OM-D design, they will get a lot more of the casual users accepting it a "pro" level body because of the design. I think Fuji has understood this too and thus the look of the X-T1 will make it a more attractive option.

Once the everyday folk understand that the mirrorless camera can come in many shapes and sizes, they will be more widely adopted. Again...just a theory, and a fraction of the reason that mirrorless is having a rough go of it here in the states.

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Great post, Andrew! Lots of good points.

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Andrew, I have not used an E-M5 for any length of time but have used the E-M1 extensively for 2-months (borrowed from my brother).  I will likely  get an E-M1 when the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 is released.  What made you choose the E-M5 over the E-M1?

 

On the matter of the dSLR's advantage in the ease with which AF point is designated or selected, I agree on this.  The E-M1 rear control buttons functions equally well as the D700.  Does the rear control buttons of the E-M5 allow you to do this as easily as you could with the D700?  How was it with the XT-1?

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Andrew,

 

Thank you for taking the initiative to post your impressions of these cameras. I was intrigued at how your response to a particular camera actually deflected you from what you had previously (emotionally?) selected. That is always good information and a good reminder that in a technical space that is not all that well differentiated the feel and response to something is worth a lot in a field that is about confidence in the tools and artistic expression.

 

Was there any particular reason why you picked the EM5 over the EM1?

 

Regards,

Roger

Edited by streetsntravel

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Andrew, I have not used an E-M5 for any length of time but have used the E-M1 extensively for 2-months (borrowed from my brother).  I will likely  get an E-M1 when the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 is released.  What made you choose the E-M5 over the E-M1?

 

On the matter of the dSLR's advantage in the ease with which AF point is designated or selected, I agree on this.  The E-M1 rear control buttons functions equally well as the D700.  Does the rear control buttons of the E-M5 allow you to do this as easily as you could with the D700?  How was it with the XT-1?

 

I chose the EM5 over the EM1 for several reasons.  First, I liked where the controls on the camera body were placed better on the EM5.  Second, I liked the smaller, sleeker body design.  I plan on using this camera as a ultra light weight option.  Most of the time, I'm going to be using my Nikon Df, but for times when I need to go ultra light - this with the 17 or 45/1.8 will be the one that I choose.  I can put it in a coat pocket or I also have a small belt pouch that I can put the EM5 in.

 

I like that fact that I can also add on the additional grip and/or battery separate to give me the larger bulk if I want it.  The EM1 has the shutter release further forward and the built in grip.  I couldn't slim it down if I wanted to.  If I were to get rid of all my DSLRs and go m43 - the EM1 would be the primary shooter.

Last point is the price.  I did not want to spend the extra money on the EM1 body, when I would rather spend it on more lenses.  So far, this 17/1.8 is one of the best prime lenses I've ever used.  Unbelievable sharpness at f/1.7 and for the price!!  If I want that from my Nikon primes, I'm paying $1000 o $1500 for them.  I was considering a PEN style body and the EP5 ticked all the right boxes except one - no built in EVF.  For me an EVF/OVF is a must have.

 

Regarding the controI pad on the back, I think that my thumb rests more naturally to the position on the Nikon D700 and Df.  That being said, it doesn't take me long to get used to where the control pad is located on the EM5.  The buttons are a bit mushy from the weather sealing and they are a bit small.   I've gotten used to them quickly though.  In comparison to the X-T1, they feel the same size wise.  What I liked about the Olympus is that once I press one of the direction pads, it accepts that as input to move the AF point.  The other thing I like is that the control wheel can also be setup to control the AF point.  I personally would not use it this way, but a nice option to have.

 

I think Fuji botched up the AF point selection on their mirror less when they require you to press either a AF activation button or press up on the control pad on the rear, then move your AF point.

 

Bottom line for me though is that Fuji is still missing the mark on speed of control and AF acquisition speed.  

So far, Olympus has been the only mirror less camera maker that I could honestly say has given us as close to DSLR performance as we have seen yet.  The new Nikon V3 might be getting there...but Nikon has FUBARed that poor thing.

 

Hope I covered everything you asked about.

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Thanks Andrew.  I now better understand your choosing the EM-5 over the E-M1.  I have not spent much time with the E-M5 and am wondering whether there might be something there that I missed.  

 

What surprised me is how the XT-1 AF-point designation is still a 2-button press process.  This is how I understand it from my reading the blogs and you have now also confirmed it.  The X-T1 is intended as a faster dSLR mirrorless substitute and this 2-button press to designate the AF-point considerably slows down the shooting process and is thus puzzling to me.  Thank you again Andrew.

Edited by Larry

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Thanks Andrew.  I now better understand your choosing the EM-5 over the E-M1.  I have not spent much time with the E-M5 and am wondering whether there might be something there that I missed.  

 

What surprised me is how the XT-1 AF-point designation is still a 2-button press process.  This is how I understand it from my reading the blogs and you have now also confirmed it.  The X-T1 is intended as a faster dSLR mirrorless substitute and this 2-button press to designate the AF-point considerably slows down the shooting process and is thus puzzling to me.  Thank you again Andrew.

 

Glad I could clarify your questions.

 

I too am unsure of why Fuji would not allow for AF point selection to be a primary function.  If you are a "set and recompose" type of shooter, I guess it doesn't bother you.  However, I've tried that in the past, and especially when I was using wide open apertures, I noticed I was not getting the critical sharpness I was wanting because the focal plane shift was just enough to miss the mark.

 

Fuji is getting there.  I just have some trepidation with them at the moment as the latest rumor to come out is that there will be another X series body released in a few months.  Dallas pointed this out before and I think it is a good point.  The Fuji OEM lens lineup needs more TLC than adding new bodies.  They still don't have a full range of optics

 

I mean...right now these are the current X cameras on the market:

 

XF1

XQ1

X-E1/X-E2

X-Pro1

X-T1

X-M1

X-A1

X10/X20

X100/X100s

 

Now there is going to be another??  I hope it is an update to the X-Pro1 because if they add another new body design into the mix....it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense as there is a ton of overlap that doesn't need to be and I think has the potential to confuse consumers.

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I would put my money on an update to the X-Pro1, likely using the same 24mp sensor that Sony used in the A6000 but with the same color filter array that Fuji used with the X-trans.  Given what Fuji was able to do with the XT-1 AF even while making do with the same sensor used in the XE-2, this new model would be even better in AF performance than the XT-1.  I expect this no earlier than late 3Q or even 4Q this year.

 

Given the very good market response to the XT-1 as a dSLR substitute, Fuji hopefully will hopefully make the necessary firmware changes to allow the photographer to directly choose AF points using the rear panel button to make it as fast as a dSLR instead of the current 2-steps process.

 

Edit: I forgot to extend to you my compliments for the very nice sample photos you posted at the start of this thread.  These are very nice photos.  These were taken using the B&W setting of the E-M5 or converted in PP?  

Edited by Larry

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A Q3 or Q4 launch of an X-Pro2 would point to a Photokina announcement by Fuji.

 

The opportunity to directly change AF focus point on the Olympus is indeed excellent and it shows up a grid while you do it, so it's easy to orientate oneself what one is doing as well.

 

The "OK"-button has a sensible use in that it brings up many controls in the viewfinder. Same for the 2x2 control system.

 

Andrew, thanks for posting some great images. I think you capture situations and human interactions very well.

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I would put my money on an update to the X-Pro1, likely using the same 24mp sensor that Sony used in the A6000 but with the same color filter array that Fuji used with the X-trans.  Given what Fuji was able to do with the XT-1 AF even while making do with the same sensor used in the XE-2, this new model would be even better in AF performance than the XT-1.  I expect this no earlier than late 3Q or even 4Q this year.

 

Given the very good market response to the XT-1 as a dSLR substitute, Fuji hopefully will hopefully make the necessary firmware changes to allow the photographer to directly choose AF points using the rear panel button to make it as fast as a dSLR instead of the current 2-steps process.

 

Edit: I forgot to extend to you my compliments for the very nice sample photos you posted at the start of this thread.  These are very nice photos.  These were taken using the B&W setting of the E-M5 or converted in PP?  

 

 

Thank you.  I shoot in color and then use Lightroom and onOne Perfect B&W 8 for my post processing.

 

I sometimes shoot in B&W in camera, but rarely.  I'm still experimenting with the monochrome mode in the Olympus to see if I can get a B&W look that I like.

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A Q3 or Q4 launch of an X-Pro2 would point to a Photokina announcement by Fuji.

 

The opportunity to directly change AF focus point on the Olympus is indeed excellent and it shows up a grid while you do it, so it's easy to orientate oneself what one is doing as well.

 

The "OK"-button has a sensible use in that it brings up many controls in the viewfinder. Same for the 2x2 control system.

 

Andrew, thanks for posting some great images. I think you capture situations and human interactions very well.

 

Thank you!

 

I'm not sure why I'm drawn to street photography, but I really enjoy it as a personal/side project to the event and portrait work I do professionally.

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Quite interesting, thanks. I have an X-T1 arriving hopefully today or tomorrow. The quick test of AF I've done before ordering was satisfying for me so I hope and expect that it will replace my D700 for my usage.

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Quite interesting, thanks. I have an X-T1 arriving hopefully today or tomorrow. The quick test of AF I've done before ordering was satisfying for me so I hope and expect that it will replace my D700 for my usage.

 

The X-T1 is a great camera.  I'm sure you'll love it.  

 

Depending on how you shoot and what requirements you have, the AF speed may very well be exactly what you are looking for and need.

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Hmmm. I seem to be a member here now.

 

I am thinking of the X-T1, from a slightly different perspective: when I had an X Pro-1, I used adapters to enjoy some Nikon manual focus lenses. Results were good not great.

 

I no longer have that camera, nor those lenses, but I do have the adapters, and some pretty good Zeiss lenses. And some Voigtlander, which are quite good, and small. So my thoughts are to get the X-T1 and uses the mf lenses on it. The new viewfinder on this camera should make manual focusing much easier...

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The m43 adapters are not that expensive, so I would not really factor that into the decision, but that is just me.  Either the Fuji or m43 cameras are good tools.  The trick is finding the one that fits your style of shooting the best and responds in an acceptable fashion to you.

Edited by gryphon1911

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I use m43 and a couple of 43 lenses with my OM-D E-M1, so that's my AF system. For adapting manual focus F-mount lenses, which are Nikon, Zeiss and Voigtländer glass, I use a Sony A7, since the viewfinder of the A7 is the best option for manual focus glass. After I got the Sony A7, I sold off all my Nikon DSLRs. This means that I use full frame Nikon, Zeiss and Voigtländer lenses on a full frame Sony A7, and I thus use all my lenses on their native format. Leica SLR lenses can just as easily be used on a Sony A7 as any F-mount lens.

 

Manual focus Nikon super tele lenses can with advantage be used on either a Sony A7 or a Sony Nex-7 with electronic first curtain (EFC) on the shutter, since you then get rid of almost all vibration issues when shooting from a tripod. EFC is the most important important feature to be added to the live view function on cameras like the D800/E.

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Thanks Andrew.  I now better understand your choosing the EM-5 over the E-M1.  I have not spent much time with the E-M5 and am wondering whether there might be something there that I missed.  

 

What surprised me is how the XT-1 AF-point designation is still a 2-button press process.  This is how I understand it from my reading the blogs and you have now also confirmed it.  The X-T1 is intended as a faster dSLR mirrorless substitute and this 2-button press to designate the AF-point considerably slows down the shooting process and is thus puzzling to me.  Thank you again Andrew.

 

 

Assigning each of the four-way toggles to AF in the menu means that it becomes as near as makes no difference an instant selector. Just start pressing the direction you want to go and after the first push which turns on the points selector overlay the point starts to move. Sure you lose the different functionalities that the other three come with as default, but I guess that's the whole idea of customisable menus - you make the switches do what you want... :) (So: in Set-Up menu 2, assign the "Focus Area" to Fn3, 4, 5 & 6, and each of the 4-ways becomes dedicated to shifting the focus point - simple.)

 

Using my camera with the Fn thus allocated to the four-way switches is every bit as quick as was selecting the points on my D3s or D600 - except that the selectable points extend right to the edge of frame, not clustered together in a paranoid huddle in the centre of frame. One of the advantages, I guess, of having a sensor that is both CDAF & PADAF enabled.

 

Of course "losing" the three extra function switches by doing this is really a moot point - I'd imagine that not many cameras come (or came) with six programmable Fn switches each with 17 programmable choice options.

 

To centre the point when focus brackets are displayed, hit the "Disp Back" button just below the 4-way rather than the centre button of the 4-way as it is with the Nikon.

 

Like anything, it just takes getting used to the camera, and sometimes thinking just a bit outside the square (something that is often not intrinsic to the "reviews" and blogs out there).

 

(Edit: to expand on what I originally commented - it was late when I wrote that :) ).

Edited by Alan7140

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Of course I was looking at the Sony A7r, but scared off due to the shutter vibration issue. Reluctant on the A7 because of the smaller sensor and more plastic in construction.

 

What Nikon to Sony adapter would you recommend?

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Of course I was looking at the Sony A7r, but scared off due to the shutter vibration issue. Reluctant on the A7 because of the smaller sensor and more plastic in construction.

What Nikon to Sony adapter would you recommend?

The Sony A7 sensor is not smaller than the one in the A7R, but it is 24 megapixel compared to 36 megapixels in the A7R. Both sensors are "full frame". The Nex-7 is an APS-C on the other hand. Both the A7 and the Nex-7 ofer electronic first curtain (EFC), making them much more well suited for using tele lenses on tripods with shutter speeds from 1 sec - 1/125 sec compared to traditional focal plane shutters.

The build quality of the A7 is good and hasn't caused me any trouble so far. I do however think that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is a better implemented camera than either of the A7 or the Nex-7, particularly with respect to controls and menu layout, even though Olympus menu system must be regarded as "comprehensive".

The Voigtländer Nikon F to Nex adapter works fine for me, but works only with lenses that have an aperture ring.

Edited by bjornthun

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Andrew:

 

Just reread your original post. Your photographs are terrific, I must say. I do, however, have a question:

 

It seems that your preference for the Olympus is seriously impacted by the AF, particularly, the ability to readily move AF points. Yet the sample photos do not seem to be those which require that feature.

 

For myself, I never move the AF point, shoot single shot on my D800, and take my time about it. (Though nothing I do approaches your efforts.) I also shoot mostly in full manual, with MF.

 

Therefore I am leaning to a Fuji XT-1 or a Sony A7 as a mirrorless addition to my kit, using my current lenses, where possible, with adapters. It just seems to me, your pictures not withstanding, that going to a m4/3 sensor is backing down on technology...

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I use AF-S almost exclusively on the EM5, but I am not a center point focus lock and recompose kind of shooter.  I have not shot that way since I stopped using my Nikon N90s years ago(it only has one AF point).  I frame the subject the way I want it and then move the AF point to the subject.

 

I started doing this, especially when shooting fast glass wide open and I had found that sometimes, even a small shift in the sensor plane at a wide open aperture can make a huge difference in sharpness and where the AF rests.

 

For example,

Image of the masks, was composed as you see it, and I moved the AF point to the mask on the left.

The meat counter image was focused on the customer to frame left.

The last image with the stairs and guy carrying the box was a good example of the benefit of having the AF point immediately available.  I hard originally intended to just take a picture of the stairs and had the middle AF point selected.  When I saw the guy carrying the box, I immediately selected the bottom middle AF point and got this shot.

 

Regarding, your "backing down on technology" comment...I guess I do not fully understand what you mean by that.

 

I have no problems carrying my Nikon gear with me when I know I am going to go out and shoot.  Generally, that is now with the Nikon Df.  I also wanted another kit that I can keep with me all the time for those unexpected moments.  I tried using the Fuji gear, and they provide great image quality - no question....but the speed of function and AF was an issue for me.  I need something that doesn't get in my way.  The Olympus OMD seems to have fit that bill for me better than the Fuji.  The OMD functions fast and with the 17mm/45mm primes, AF is almost instant.  The 17 and EM5 can be placed in a coat or cargo pant pocket if I need to go ultra light.

 

I'm still wanting a Fuji X100....someday....but that will most likely be a side acquisition - something I get used, kind of thing.

 

I guess I am a very "in the moment" type shooter, and feel most comfortable when I put myself into the chaos and find then cull the shots I want from the chaos.  I've camped street scenes before and have had some success there, too....its just not my favorite thing to do.

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    • 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
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      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
       

    • By Greg Drawbaugh
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