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Found 41 results

  1. It was some time in 2012 that a friend of mine suggested I should go and have a look at the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 micro four thirds camera that had been brought into stock at a local retailer. At the time I was shooting professionally with two Nikon D700 bodies and a slew of big zoom and prime lenses, some from Nikon and some from Sigma. I had expressed an interest to this friend in getting into a smaller camera system like micro four thirds because whenever I wanted to take a camera with me somewhere it involved dragging this big camera backpack along, something that made me look (and feel) very conspicuous. But the problem wasn’t so much the back pack, it was that I couldn’t always fit everything I wanted to bring with me into the backpack for fear of injuring my back due to the weight I would end up carrying. I was looking for something lighter and a bit more more manageable to take with me on outings. I didn’t want a 1-lens-does-all solution either. I wasn’t expecting to do professional work with it but I did want to get results that I’d be happy with. Prior to me checking out the Olympus E-M5 I had owned both the Olympus Pen E-P1 and E-P2 cameras, plus I had just recently picked up a Panasonic GF-1 with a couple of decent Panasonic micro four thirds lenses on a special. I loved those little m43 cameras, but the image quality, while good, just wasn’t quite in the league of a DSLR and once you’re used to a certain pay grade going down from there is seldom something you aspire to. Those early m43 cameras were good for most things, but not that good in low light or situations that required solid auto focus performance, which is where I often found myself wanting them to be good. So off I went to this shop where they had the OM-D E-M5 on display. I asked the sales assistant if I could get hands on and on touching it for the first time my immediate thought was something along the lines of “Oh, that’s a solid piece of kit”. It really was. Compared to the PEN series cameras this one wasn’t that much bigger, but something about it felt a whole lot more substantial. It felt like a serious photographic tool. Tilting touch screen? I was hooked! You can’t really tell a lot about performance from playing with a camera in a store, so I left it there and of course the first thing I did when I got home was begin searching for online reviews and more importantly sample images that could show me what the camera was capable of producing. I especially wanted to see how it fared with tricky shooting, such as low lit rooms and back lit situations. I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found. There were a LOT of people talking about the OM-D E-M5 online. From the usual reviews and bench tests to the field reviews everybody was unanimous: the camera was great and it was going to be a question poser to DSLR users, for sure. It was still a hard decision for me to make, because I had two copies of one of the best DSLR’s ever made and I was about to go off on safari to Sabi Sabi in a month’s time. I needed both D700’s for that trip. Or did I? One D700 would be used for telephoto shots taken with my Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 lens. The other would be used for… What was the other one going to be used for? Wide angles? On safari? Well, I might as well use the OM-D for that my inner logic said. I eventually bit the bullet and ordered a silver and black OM-D body only from a local dealer. A few days later it arrived and while I still had both the Nikon D700’s in my possession, only a few hours later I was quite certain that I would be able to not only use this camera in conjunction with my D700, but I would also be able to use it in many situations where the D700 simply wouldn’t perform well. I already had a buyer hanging on for one of the D700’s so all it took was a phone call and a financial transaction for me to bid one of them goodbye. The one good decision I made with this change was that I didn’t go crashing 100% into it the way I had done twice before when I moved from Nikon to Canon and then back to Nikon over a period of about 4 years. I ran both the Nikon and the Olympus systems side by side for well over a year before eventually moving over entirely to the Olympus system after the E-M1 came out. That gave me the safety net I needed in my photography career to be able to use a system I was already very familiar with (Nikon), as well as being able to experiment with a new system (Olympus) to see what I could use it for and how effective it could be in any given situation. The things I have learned along this path of change might be quite helpful to other photographers who are considering making a similar change to their setup. Initially I had intended to write an eBook about this move, but I have now decided to write a series of freely accessible articles for potential Olympus users instead. The purpose of this series of articles therefore is to help you understand a little bit more about how the Olympus system works and also how it compares to DSLR systems like Nikon and Canon in various shooting situations. By the end of this series you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the system (based on my experiences). I will also cover various shooting situations I have encountered with the camera and show you photos from paid and non-paid jobs I have done with the equipment I have. Why Olympus? The company Olympus has been around since 1919, which means right now it’s just 5 years shy of celebrating its centenary. That’s a long time to have been in business and despite the recent financial irregularity issues that saw 11 of their executives arrested and charged criminally for contravening various business laws in Japan, the company still continues to operate independently of any dominant shareholding. The largest shareholder currently is Sony Corporation who hold an 11% stake in Olympus. I was attracted to the brand for two main reasons: 1. they’re innovative (5 axis in body image stabilisation -IBIS- is such a brilliant idea, and so is the touch screen LCD). 2. their products are excellent quality, especially the optics - in fact the professional grade lenses are renowned for being amongst the very best you can get and there are many very fast lenses that you don’t get from other manufacturers. The Lens Selection Another major selling point for me wasn’t so much the brand, but more the fact that micro four thirds is an open standard, meaning that any manufacturer can produce cameras and lenses for it and this is probably why there are so many lenses available for m43 today. At the time of writing this guide there are over 45 different lenses available for m43 from a range of different manufacturers including, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica, Sigma, Voigtlander and Samyang. This large range includes everything from fisheye lenses to macro and telephoto, as well as some extremely fast prime lenses. There are three manual focus Voigtlander lenses with maximum apertures of f/0.95. Expensive at over $1000 each, but if you’re looking for speed they don’t come much faster than that! Something else that needs to be taken into consideration is that all the excellent lenses that Olympus developed for its 4/3rds DSLR system are now fully compatible with the Olympus E-M1 using an adapter (MMF1, MMF2, MMF3). If you look at the range of Super High Grade lenses on offer you’ll start to get an appreciation of just how significant this development is, especially if you’re after telephotos. Olympus makes some of the finest fast telephotos and tele-zooms you’re ever likely to encounter. They’re all weather proof and most of them have very fast apertures. An example of this would be the 150mm f/2.0, which offers the equivalent field of view of a 300mm lens on something like a Nikon FX body. Then there is the 90-250mm f/2.8 (180-500/2.8 equiv.), as well as Olympus’ own 300mm f/2.8 (600/2.8 equiv.) that offers you the equivalent field of view of lenses with double that focal length in bigger systems (who makes a 600mm f/2.8 or a 180-500mm f/2.8?). Combine this selection with the amazingly effective IBIS of the E-M1 and the options for nature photography begin to step well off the plane of what is possible using bigger systems. Smaller lenses mean less weight and IBIS means less need for expensive physical camera stabilisation such as gimbal heads and ballheads. For those interested in nature photography or birding it is a compelling system to investigate. My interests in photography and the work I actually get paid for are fairly dissimilar. I’m drawn to landscapes and cityscapes as well as action and stage work for my personal stuff, but my paid work lies in event coverage and sometimes product photography. For all those areas I probably relied on 3 different lenses for the Nikon FX system. There was the incredibly wide Sigma 12-24mm FX lens, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS. So for the Olympus system to work for me I would need to have lenses that could do the same kinds of things. Initially I was using the Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-4.5 kit lens on my E-M5 which is a great kit lens, it really is. But because it’s not so fast and a lot of the time I am shooting indoors, I wanted something that came close to the quality of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. My options at that time came down to the very capable and super fast Olympus primes, such as the 17mm f/1.8 (35mm equiv.) and the 45mm f/1.8 which are the two focal lengths I use most of all. Or the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 zooms. Unfortunately I would have to import those due to lack of brand presence here in South Africa, so I gave the primes from Olympus (who do have very good representation here in SA) some serious thought. I do like shooting primes, but I don’t like changing lenses in the field, so I decided to bite the bullet and get the Olympus PRO 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom lens for about $1000. This turned out to be a very good decision as it is a brilliant piece of glass. Prior to getting it I had always said that the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 was the best zoom I have ever used, but after seeing the results I was getting from this guy I changed my mind and the king of the zooms for me now is definitely this Olympus lens. On the wide angle zoom side there were two options for me to look at; the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 and the Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6. The Panny is a lot bigger than the Oly and it runs a constant f/4 maximum aperture throughout its range where the Oly loses a stop at the longer end. The good thing about the Oly though is that it is a collapsible lens, so when it’s not in use it is very small, which fits well with my whole philosophy and primary interest in wanting to move to this system - size and weight. I read quite a few reviews on both lenses, as well as several comparisons and the general consensus was that unless you had to have the extra stop at the long end and the much wider wide end, you’d be happier with the Oly. Image quality between the two was neither here nor there. One thing that the Oly does have in its favour is that you can use screw in filters on it whereas the Panasonic lens is pretty much like the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 - there is no filter thread. So I ended up getting the Olympus 9-18mm and I am very happy with it. It was a lens I ended up doing some satisfying landscape work with in Namibia last year, plus of course I could use the very cool LEE filters Seven5 system on it. The only thing I couldn’t replace with an Olympus lens yet was my Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. Yes, there was the very good Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8, but as mentioned it’s unavailable here where I live. Then I began reading about the Olympus 75mm f/1.8. It gives an equivalent field of view of 150mm on the Nikon FX system, which is not that far from the 200mm I would mostly be using on the Nikon system. If you’ve read my review of the 75mm Oly you’ll know how I feel about it. It’s a piece of glass to cherish. I’ve never used anything quite like it and the shots I got with it during my coverage of two major conferences last year got me high praise from my clients. The people at ICANN being one of them. With this lens I have all three of my main requirements covered and instead of being burdened with a rucksack, I can take them all in a tiny bag like the ThinkTank Retrospective 5 and still have space for other lenses. What Other Lenses? The really cool thing about m43 is that there are some fun lenses you can pick up for very little money. One of my favourites is the $300 Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye. I use this little lens everywhere I go. It’s manual focus but it has such incredible depth of field that if you set it to f/5.6 and infinity focus, you are pretty much assured of everything from around 20cm in front of the lens to the horizon being in focus. Recently I was loaned two other fun lenses that I am having a great time with - the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 30mm f/2.8. The 19mm is a super little lens and I will be writing a more in-depth review of it soon. On the macro side there are two native options: I have the Panasonic/Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit which I like a lot, but there is also an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro that has many macro users all atwitter regarding it's outstanding sharpness and overall optical performance. Some people are even saying that it is in the league of the legendary 125mm f/2.5 APO Lanthar by Voitlander. The long telephoto options are plentiful when it comes to Olympus. You can spend a boatload of cash and get the legacy 4/3rds glass for use on the E-M1, or you can wait for Olympus to bring out their new PRO lenses later this year and early next year. In the pipeline are the long awaited 35-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens and the 300mm f/4 PRO telephoto. The latter will give you an equivalent 600mm f/4 in FX terms but at a fraction of the price. If the optics of the rest of the Olympus range are anything to go by it’s going to be a very desirable lens for the person buying into the Olympus OM-D system. There are also a plethora of slower and cheaper telephotos to chose from, such as the Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7. I have this lens and while I am not particularly gushing about it, it does provide the amateur photography enthusiast with a very useful zoom range (150-600mm FX equivalent) in a relatively small and well finished package. Olympus recently also introduced a long awaited 25mm f/1.8 prime, which has been very well received and rounds out their fast prime selections really well. You now have the 12mm f/2, 17mm f/1.8, 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and of course the grand daddy 75mm f/1.8. All of them are stellar performers. So there are lots of lenses to choose from in the OM-D system and unless you have exotic needs for things like tilt and shift, the eco-system is well populated. In the next article I will be looking at the photographic gains you will make as an Olympus system user.
  2. There’s never been a better time to get into mirrorless than right now with the amazing special prices Olympus have on offer for various items in their micro four thirds range. When it came out three years ago the OM-D E-M5 caused quite a stir in the photography world. For the first time there was a micro four thirds camera that could hold its own against many of the DSLR’s of the day. In fact it won camera of the year at a couple of big name photography sites, beating out some very solid competition from all the other names in the game. The E-M5 could also go way beyond what you could do with a DSLR and I won’t linger on too much about the advantages this little camera offers because I have already written many articles on this theme here on Fotozones - just look them up. Suffice to say that if you’re looking for something small and unobtrusive with great image quality, you can’t really do a lot better than the current special deals on the E-M5 being offered around the web for $599. If those deals were available here I’d certainly consider getting another one. $599 is about half of the amount I paid for mine in 2012 sans lens. Hard to believe that we’re on the short march to 2015 already, but man, that little camera has served me incredibly well in the two and a half (or more) years I have owned it. I have used it to produce documentary work, landscape work, product work in studio, stage work and more. It has been more of a workhorse for me than the Nikon D700’s that formed the basis of my career up until the point the OM-D system came into my life. It has proven itself to be a very capable camera system for me. I couldn’t be happier. If you’re thinking about getting the E-M5, you should also look into some of the lenses that Olympus also have on special at the moment when purchased with the body. These include $200 off the amazing 12-40/2.8 PRO or 12-50 EZ general purpose zooms, as well as $200 off the 9-18mm wide angle and the utterly fabulous 75/1.8 ED. Serious bargains! Here’s a full list of the various options together with the amount you’ll save when you buy them with the E-M5 at $599: Save $200 on the Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Ver. II R Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Interchangeable Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 micro Four Thirds Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 Lens Save $200 on the Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 micro Four Thirds Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus MSC ED-M 75 to 300mm II f4.8-6.7 Zoom Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. 25mm f1.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus MSC ED M. 60mm f/2.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R Zoom Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 Lens And if you would really like to show your appreciation for the Fotozones community you can help our Christmas stocking by using this link to get to Amazon and make your purchase there. It won’t cost you anything more, but will send a little Christmas love our way, courtesy of the Amazon affiliate program. Happy shooting!
  3. There’s never been a better time to get into mirrorless than right now with the amazing special prices Olympus have on offer for various items in their micro four thirds range. When it came out three years ago the OM-D E-M5 caused quite a stir in the photography world. For the first time there was a micro four thirds camera that could hold its own against many of the DSLR’s of the day. In fact it won camera of the year at a couple of big name photography sites, beating out some very solid competition from all the other names in the game. The E-M5 could also go way beyond what you could do with a DSLR and I won’t linger on too much about the advantages this little camera offers because I have already written many articles on this theme here on Fotozones - just look them up. Suffice to say that if you’re looking for something small and unobtrusive with great image quality, you can’t really do a lot better than the current special deals on the E-M5 being offered around the web for $599. If those deals were available here I’d certainly consider getting another one. $599 is about half of the amount I paid for mine in 2012 sans lens. Hard to believe that we’re on the short march to 2015 already, but man, that little camera has served me incredibly well in the two and a half (or more) years I have owned it. I have used it to produce documentary work, landscape work, product work in studio, stage work and more. It has been more of a workhorse for me than the Nikon D700’s that formed the basis of my career up until the point the OM-D system came into my life. It has proven itself to be a very capable camera system for me. I couldn’t be happier. If you’re thinking about getting the E-M5, you should also look into some of the lenses that Olympus also have on special at the moment when purchased with the body. These include $200 off the amazing 12-40/2.8 PRO or 12-50 EZ general purpose zooms, as well as $200 off the 9-18mm wide angle and the utterly fabulous 75/1.8 ED. Serious bargains! Here’s a full list of the various options together with the amount you’ll save when you buy them with the E-M5 at $599: Save $200 on the Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Ver. II R Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Interchangeable Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 micro Four Thirds Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens Save $200 on the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 Lens Save $200 on the Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 micro Four Thirds Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus MSC ED-M 75 to 300mm II f4.8-6.7 Zoom Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. 25mm f1.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus MSC ED M. 60mm f/2.8 Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M. 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R Zoom Lens Save $100 on the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 Lens And if you would really like to show your appreciation for the Fotozones community you can help our Christmas stocking by using this link to get to Amazon and make your purchase there. It won’t cost you anything more, but will send a little Christmas love our way, courtesy of the Amazon affiliate program. Happy shooting! View full article
  4. If you’ve ever used an Olympus OM-D camera you will already be quite familiar with all the settings and customisations that are possible with it. The E-M1 is a very versatile camera that can be used in a multitude of different situations that require different settings on your camera. For instance if I am shooting product in my studio I want to be able to view the Live View on the LCD and then have it switch off automatically when I put my eye to the EVF (engages the Auto EVF sensor). I also want to be able to immediately zoom in to the reviewed image on the LCD by using the rear command dial as soon as I have taken the shot, so I have the review time set to Auto. However, I don’t want this to be the case when I am shooting action, like for example when I’m shooting surfers. In that situation I’d rather not use the LCD on the back of the camera at all and I also don’t want the camera to display the shot I just took, especially if I am shooting at the max frame rate of ten images per second. I’d rather that the EVF doesn’t try to replay the image I just took at all. I also don’t want to use Auto-ISO when I am in the studio, whereas I would use it when shooting action. While it’s great to have a camera that covers all the shooting options I need, the problem is I don’t want to have to go into the menu system and change all these little settings every time I do something different with the camera, because as you’d already know, the Olympus menu system is kind of convoluted and the English they use isn’t always the same as the English used by other camera makers to describe conventional camera settings. Enter the MySet settings. These allow you to save different settings into different memory banks within the camera. There are 4 MySet banks on both my OM-D cameras and you should find these on the PEN series too. Here’s how you use them. The first thing to be aware of is that you can’t rename these MySets in the camera, which is a great shame because it’s definitely something that would make using the OM-D’s a lot easier. You will have to remember what each MySet is set up for. It’s probably a good idea to save the options into a note on your iPhone or equivalent smartphone if you don’t change between MySets often. If you have a label maker that is capable of making really small labels you could probably stick one on the edge of your LCD lined up with the menu options to remind you which bank does what. There is actually a wider piece of unused LCD real estate on the right hand side that you could use for this should you be so inclined. I think I’ll just have to rely on my own memory to remember what each memory bank remembers! Let’s hope that somebody at Olympus will read this and give us the ability to name the MySets in a future firmware upgrade. How To Set A MySet Let’s assume that you have made some basic changes to the setup of your camera that you will use for general photography. You already have your Function buttons set, your scroll wheels go in the right direction you want them to and you know what settings they’re all changing, you have a specific AF mode and you also have face detection on. If you want to return your camera to this state at any time, you need to save the settings into the MySet banks. To do this is really simple: Press Menu Highlight the second item in Shooting Menu 1, which is Reset/MySet and press the OK button Move the highlight to the MySet number you want to use (1, 2, 3 or 4) Use the Right Arrow (important) to enter the selected item and then use the Up/Down arrows to save (Set) or clear (Reset) the bank of its settings. That’s it. Now every time you want to use those settings all you need to do is enter the same menu but here’s the tricky little bit. When you want to activate a MySet, don’t use the Right Arrow when the item is highlighted in that menu. You need to use the OK button. This produces a different screen to using the Right Arrow and on it you get an option of Yes or No to load that MySet memory bank. Using the Right Arrow will take you to the screen for storing or clearing the current camera settings, which isn’t what you want to do if you’re just there to make a choice from existing MySets. Something that can get a little confusing with the MySets is when you make a slight change to the settings and you don’t re-save it to the MySet. OK, so let’s say I am in my Studio MySet and I have the Auto-EVF sensor thing switched on (this turns off the LCD when it detects your face near the EVF). I can go into the settings and turn it off, but unless I now re-save the current state of the camera into the MySet I started with, it will not be set that way if I switch to another MySet and then revert back to the Studio MySet. Whatever changes you make that you’d like to be permanent have to be re-saved as per the steps I mentioned above. Which is the way it should be I suppose. IMPORTANT OBSERVATION: When you set a MySet it will remember all the settings that are currently set on the camera, including the shooting mode it was in when the save occurred. So if you are in Manual Mode when you store the settings, your OM-D will be in Manual mode when you activate that MySet, even if your PASM dial tells you otherwise. This can get very confusing, so if you’re an A mode shooter make sure you save A mode for each MySet, otherwise you could end up freaking yourself out when you find your PASM dial says A mode but the camera is in manual mode. Always look at what the Mode is in the EVF as this will be what the camera is shooting in. The EVF also shows you what MySet you’re using, if any. Strategising MySets A good strategy to employ if you’re going to use these MySets is to prioritise them in order of importance. I have a General mode, which is where I am using the camera for general purpose daylight photography (MySet1). That’s the mode I will use most so it gets the #1 slot. I have a Studio mode for when I shoot product where it uses a low ISO value, Manual mode, plus the EVF behaviour is different (saved as MySet2). I have a Low Light mode for theatre and stage photography where I don’t want the AF-illuminator or rear LCD to display at all and where I have higher auto-ISO values set (MySet3) and of course my Action mode where I have completely different settings for EVF/LCD and AF behaviour. It is also possible to save any of these MySets to a Function button too, which will give you instant ability to switch between them without going into the menus. I have my two HLD-7 grip B-Fn buttons set to my two most used modes, namely General and Studio. If I want to use the camera for either of the other modes I go into the menu and activate them there. It’s really that simple. If you have any other ideas for the use of MySets please mention them here.
  5. If you’ve ever used an Olympus OM-D camera you will already be quite familiar with all the settings and customisations that are possible with it. The E-M1 is a very versatile camera that can be used in a multitude of different situations that require different settings on your camera. For instance if I am shooting product in my studio I want to be able to view the Live View on the LCD and then have it switch off automatically when I put my eye to the EVF (engages the Auto EVF sensor). I also want to be able to immediately zoom in to the reviewed image on the LCD by using the rear command dial as soon as I have taken the shot, so I have the review time set to Auto. However, I don’t want this to be the case when I am shooting action, like for example when I’m shooting surfers. In that situation I’d rather not use the LCD on the back of the camera at all and I also don’t want the camera to display the shot I just took, especially if I am shooting at the max frame rate of ten images per second. I’d rather that the EVF doesn’t try to replay the image I just took at all. I also don’t want to use Auto-ISO when I am in the studio, whereas I would use it when shooting action. While it’s great to have a camera that covers all the shooting options I need, the problem is I don’t want to have to go into the menu system and change all these little settings every time I do something different with the camera, because as you’d already know, the Olympus menu system is kind of convoluted and the English they use isn’t always the same as the English used by other camera makers to describe conventional camera settings. Enter the MySet settings. These allow you to save different settings into different memory banks within the camera. There are 4 MySet banks on both my OM-D cameras and you should find these on the PEN series too. Here’s how you use them. The first thing to be aware of is that you can’t rename these MySets in the camera, which is a great shame because it’s definitely something that would make using the OM-D’s a lot easier. You will have to remember what each MySet is set up for. It’s probably a good idea to save the options into a note on your iPhone or equivalent smartphone if you don’t change between MySets often. If you have a label maker that is capable of making really small labels you could probably stick one on the edge of your LCD lined up with the menu options to remind you which bank does what. There is actually a wider piece of unused LCD real estate on the right hand side that you could use for this should you be so inclined. I think I’ll just have to rely on my own memory to remember what each memory bank remembers! Let’s hope that somebody at Olympus will read this and give us the ability to name the MySets in a future firmware upgrade. How To Set A MySet Let’s assume that you have made some basic changes to the setup of your camera that you will use for general photography. You already have your Function buttons set, your scroll wheels go in the right direction you want them to and you know what settings they’re all changing, you have a specific AF mode and you also have face detection on. If you want to return your camera to this state at any time, you need to save the settings into the MySet banks. To do this is really simple: Press Menu Highlight the second item in Shooting Menu 1, which is Reset/MySet and press the OK button Move the highlight to the MySet number you want to use (1, 2, 3 or 4) Use the Right Arrow (important) to enter the selected item and then use the Up/Down arrows to save (Set) or clear (Reset) the bank of its settings. That’s it. Now every time you want to use those settings all you need to do is enter the same menu but here’s the tricky little bit. When you want to activate a MySet, don’t use the Right Arrow when the item is highlighted in that menu. You need to use the OK button. This produces a different screen to using the Right Arrow and on it you get an option of Yes or No to load that MySet memory bank. Using the Right Arrow will take you to the screen for storing or clearing the current camera settings, which isn’t what you want to do if you’re just there to make a choice from existing MySets. Something that can get a little confusing with the MySets is when you make a slight change to the settings and you don’t re-save it to the MySet. OK, so let’s say I am in my Studio MySet and I have the Auto-EVF sensor thing switched on (this turns off the LCD when it detects your face near the EVF). I can go into the settings and turn it off, but unless I now re-save the current state of the camera into the MySet I started with, it will not be set that way if I switch to another MySet and then revert back to the Studio MySet. Whatever changes you make that you’d like to be permanent have to be re-saved as per the steps I mentioned above. Which is the way it should be I suppose. IMPORTANT OBSERVATION: When you set a MySet it will remember all the settings that are currently set on the camera, including the shooting mode it was in when the save occurred. So if you are in Manual Mode when you store the settings, your OM-D will be in Manual mode when you activate that MySet, even if your PASM dial tells you otherwise. This can get very confusing, so if you’re an A mode shooter make sure you save A mode for each MySet, otherwise you could end up freaking yourself out when you find your PASM dial says A mode but the camera is in manual mode. Always look at what the Mode is in the EVF as this will be what the camera is shooting in. The EVF also shows you what MySet you’re using, if any. Strategising MySets A good strategy to employ if you’re going to use these MySets is to prioritise them in order of importance. I have a General mode, which is where I am using the camera for general purpose daylight photography (MySet1). That’s the mode I will use most so it gets the #1 slot. I have a Studio mode for when I shoot product where it uses a low ISO value, Manual mode, plus the EVF behaviour is different (saved as MySet2). I have a Low Light mode for theatre and stage photography where I don’t want the AF-illuminator or rear LCD to display at all and where I have higher auto-ISO values set (MySet3) and of course my Action mode where I have completely different settings for EVF/LCD and AF behaviour. It is also possible to save any of these MySets to a Function button too, which will give you instant ability to switch between them without going into the menus. I have my two HLD-7 grip B-Fn buttons set to my two most used modes, namely General and Studio. If I want to use the camera for either of the other modes I go into the menu and activate them there. It’s really that simple. If you have any other ideas for the use of MySets please mention them here. View full article
  6. This is coming from my personal perspective having used Nikon DSLRs. I thought some people might find this interesting or informative. A lot of these tweaks are ones that work for me and are made from how I use the camera and what I see in the files after a few weeks of using the the EM5. This was originally from my blog, so apologies if there are any formatting issues. Having just bought into the m43 system, there is a bit of a learning curve getting used to this system. Going from Nikon to Fuji also had a curve, but not quite as large as this one. I don't mean handling, as I find that the Olympus handles quickly and surely in an almost DSLR like fashion. What I am referring to is the output. When I ran the first batch of images through the OM-D EM5, I was underwhelmed by what I saw. I couldn't quite understand why the images coming from the camera were not up to par to what I had previously seen in reviews and forums. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that I just royally screwed up and I would be returning the gear to the store. I could not get the JPG files to look like I wanted them to, and I was able to work the RAW files, but I don't always want to shoot RAW. I thought that the Olympus JPG engine was garbage. Before I completely gave up on it, I went back into research mode and wanted to know just how everyone else was getting the fabulous images I've been seeing. Thankfully, I figured it out and our second trip with the camera gave us way better results. © Olympus OM-D E-M5 GOOD OPTICS This is the backbone of any system, and the m43 is no different. While I can appreciate the flexibility of a good kit zoom lens, the allure of the 12-50/3.5-6.3 is lost on me. It doesn't really excel at anything and the slow apertures make shooting at the long end( eqiv. 100mm FOV) a pain indoors or in poor light. It is a nice walk around focal length range and the fact that it is weather sealed is a bonus. I then went to my local camera store and had a chance to use the Olympus 17/1.8 and the 45/1.8. Wow!! What a difference. In order to get this kind of sharpness on my Nikon's, I'd have to spend in the $1000-$1500 range. These Olympus prime lenses are phenomenal! The size and price are worth what Olympus is asking. Before passing judgement on the m43 system, use it for a while and use it with the prime lenses. Bottom line - get a good lens for this camera. I started with the 17/1.8 prime and picked up the 45/1.8 soon after! © Olympus 17/1.8 SETTING UP THE CAMERA PICTURE MODES Only Olympus would know why on this planet they would not ship these OMD cameras not setup for an optimal quality output. OLYMPUS PLEASE LISTEN!!! Some people go by the JPG quality they get from a camera and setting the factory default to Large/Fine is not the best way to go about it! These cameras should come from the factory as Large/SuperFine. I can only think that someone was thinking that they did not want to chew up a lot of room for saving JPG on the memory card. Let me, the end user worry about dialing it down. So, go into the Custom Menu, Gear "G" and find the little diamond looking icon on the second screen that has the word "SET" next to it. Change one of the outputs there to Large/SuperFine. I set the first one to that and that is all I ever use. I also use the "Natural" mode, bump the Contrast up to +1 and leave everything else alone. I like making my changes in post, so I setup the cameras I use to get the widest dynamic range. © Olympus 45/1.8 OTHER CAMERA SETUP OPTIONS Command and Sub Command Dials I did not like the way that these were setup from the factory. Olympus put the exposure comp on the front dial and the aperture/shutter control on the rear dial. It made more sense for me to have the most used option right next to my index finger and the shutter release. I went into the Custom Menu, Gear "B" and selected Dial Function. It prompts you which mode you want the dials changed for. I shoot aperture priority 99% of the time. Went into "A" on that menu and switched what the dials do. Function 1 (Fn1) Button I'm used to my DSLRs having the focus point reset on the OK button. I like Olympus using the "OK" button for the quick context menu, so I made a decision to use the Fn1 button as the AF point reset. I have it put the AF point back into the middle of the frame. Function 2 (Fn2) Button For normal shooting, I have come to like using auto ISO, even on my Nikon's that support that function. There are times, though that you will want to control this yourself. I assigned the ISO control to Fn2 button. Record Button I don't use the video modes on any of my cameras. Not that they are not good...I'm just not a video guy. I want to re-purpose the REC button on the top plate...just not sure what that will be yet. When I know, I will update this post with the new information. Image Stabilizer I turn this off and only turn it on when I need it. Its a habit from using DSLRs. I still am learning the Olympus in body stabilization and I don't know if it makes any difference to leave it on all the time or not. Focusing Mode I went into Custom Menu Gear "A" and setup the default to be S-AF + MF. This is setup like my Nikon's. I have AF when I half press the button and immediate manual override of the focus if I want it. Also, if you buy this camera new, it may not have the newest firmware version. Update it immediately! This will give you access to the smaller AF points. the can be set by activating the AF point selector and then pressing the INFO button. change it to the "square with the little 's' ". Power Features I set the Gear "D" menu option Auto Power Off to 1 hour. If I have not touched my camera in over an hour, then I'm probably not shooting it. It can power off! EVF/BackLCD I shoot primarily with the EVF, so I have it stay there - no auto switching. Lower the in camera noise reduction Software does it better.
  7. This is coming from my personal perspective having used Nikon DSLRs. I thought some people might find this interesting or informative. A lot of these tweaks are ones that work for me and are made from how I use the camera and what I see in the files after a few weeks of using the the EM5. This was originally from my blog, so apologies if there are any formatting issues. Having just bought into the m43 system, there is a bit of a learning curve getting used to this system. Going from Nikon to Fuji also had a curve, but not quite as large as this one. I don't mean handling, as I find that the Olympus handles quickly and surely in an almost DSLR like fashion. What I am referring to is the output. When I ran the first batch of images through the OM-D EM5, I was underwhelmed by what I saw. I couldn't quite understand why the images coming from the camera were not up to par to what I had previously seen in reviews and forums. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that I just royally screwed up and I would be returning the gear to the store. I could not get the JPG files to look like I wanted them to, and I was able to work the RAW files, but I don't always want to shoot RAW. I thought that the Olympus JPG engine was garbage. Before I completely gave up on it, I went back into research mode and wanted to know just how everyone else was getting the fabulous images I've been seeing. Thankfully, I figured it out and our second trip with the camera gave us way better results. © Olympus OM-D E-M5 GOOD OPTICS This is the backbone of any system, and the m43 is no different. While I can appreciate the flexibility of a good kit zoom lens, the allure of the 12-50/3.5-6.3 is lost on me. It doesn't really excel at anything and the slow apertures make shooting at the long end( eqiv. 100mm FOV) a pain indoors or in poor light. It is a nice walk around focal length range and the fact that it is weather sealed is a bonus. I then went to my local camera store and had a chance to use the Olympus 17/1.8 and the 45/1.8. Wow!! What a difference. In order to get this kind of sharpness on my Nikon's, I'd have to spend in the $1000-$1500 range. These Olympus prime lenses are phenomenal! The size and price are worth what Olympus is asking. Before passing judgement on the m43 system, use it for a while and use it with the prime lenses. Bottom line - get a good lens for this camera. I started with the 17/1.8 prime and picked up the 45/1.8 soon after! © Olympus 17/1.8 SETTING UP THE CAMERA PICTURE MODES Only Olympus would know why on this planet they would not ship these OMD cameras not setup for an optimal quality output. OLYMPUS PLEASE LISTEN!!! Some people go by the JPG quality they get from a camera and setting the factory default to Large/Fine is not the best way to go about it! These cameras should come from the factory as Large/SuperFine. I can only think that someone was thinking that they did not want to chew up a lot of room for saving JPG on the memory card. Let me, the end user worry about dialing it down. So, go into the Custom Menu, Gear "G" and find the little diamond looking icon on the second screen that has the word "SET" next to it. Change one of the outputs there to Large/SuperFine. I set the first one to that and that is all I ever use. I also use the "Natural" mode, bump the Contrast up to +1 and leave everything else alone. I like making my changes in post, so I setup the cameras I use to get the widest dynamic range. © Olympus 45/1.8 OTHER CAMERA SETUP OPTIONS Command and Sub Command Dials I did not like the way that these were setup from the factory. Olympus put the exposure comp on the front dial and the aperture/shutter control on the rear dial. It made more sense for me to have the most used option right next to my index finger and the shutter release. I went into the Custom Menu, Gear "B" and selected Dial Function. It prompts you which mode you want the dials changed for. I shoot aperture priority 99% of the time. Went into "A" on that menu and switched what the dials do. Function 1 (Fn1) Button I'm used to my DSLRs having the focus point reset on the OK button. I like Olympus using the "OK" button for the quick context menu, so I made a decision to use the Fn1 button as the AF point reset. I have it put the AF point back into the middle of the frame. Function 2 (Fn2) Button For normal shooting, I have come to like using auto ISO, even on my Nikon's that support that function. There are times, though that you will want to control this yourself. I assigned the ISO control to Fn2 button. Record Button I don't use the video modes on any of my cameras. Not that they are not good...I'm just not a video guy. I want to re-purpose the REC button on the top plate...just not sure what that will be yet. When I know, I will update this post with the new information. Image Stabilizer I turn this off and only turn it on when I need it. Its a habit from using DSLRs. I still am learning the Olympus in body stabilization and I don't know if it makes any difference to leave it on all the time or not. Focusing Mode I went into Custom Menu Gear "A" and setup the default to be S-AF + MF. This is setup like my Nikon's. I have AF when I half press the button and immediate manual override of the focus if I want it. Also, if you buy this camera new, it may not have the newest firmware version. Update it immediately! This will give you access to the smaller AF points. the can be set by activating the AF point selector and then pressing the INFO button. change it to the "square with the little 's' ". Power Features I set the Gear "D" menu option Auto Power Off to 1 hour. If I have not touched my camera in over an hour, then I'm probably not shooting it. It can power off! EVF/BackLCD I shoot primarily with the EVF, so I have it stay there - no auto switching. Lower the in camera noise reduction Software does it better. View full article
  8. What Will I Compromise On If I Move From A DSLR to Olympus OM-D? This is a fair question. As photographers we spend a lot of time researching lenses, camera bodies and other accessories so that we can get the best possible results. In my opinion the only way to find out the truth about how something performs is to try it out yourself. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have bought a lens or a camera based on the recommendations of others only to find that I hated it. The opposite is true too, where I have bought lenses that other reviewers have pasted but I ended up loving them. OK, so not everyone can afford to drop a few thousand Dollars on every new camera or lens that comes out in the hope that it meets expectations (especially not me), but if you’re going to use a review site to form an opinion, at least make sure you check with one that delivers actual results in the form of images you can relate to. Stuff that you're going to make yourself. I have never and I will never look at scientific charts to make a decision on whether a lens or camera is going to cut it for me. I will look at photos of real subject matter and wherever possible I will go out and make photos of subjects I like to shoot, assess them and decide for myself if the gear meets my expectation. If I need the camera/lens for action photography I will look for sites where the authors show actual action shots using the equipment, or I'll borrow the lens/camera and go and do some of my own work. If I want the camera/lens to do portraiture I will look for a site that shows actual portraits taken for real world use or go and do it myself. You get the picture? If the reviewer is not showing photos like the ones you want to take, how can they make a decision on how it performs in that situation? Conjecture? Well, personally I don't go for that. Show me the shots I will probably want to take. Don't show me charts and make inferences from them. So when I first got interested in m43 I didn’t get my information from the likes of dpreview, DXO or any of those scientific sites. I went to Flickr and some other image hosting sites where there were actual photos I could look at taken with the kit I was interested in. What I found on Flickr when looking at shots taken with the OM-D system kind of floored me. Surely it couldn’t be that good? Why aren’t more people using it? I had to know more, so I got involved and what I discovered is that the so-called disadvantages of smaller sensors that are constantly being debated online didn't affect my photography at all. In my opinion the micro four thirds image quality has advanced to the place where under normal viewing conditions you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between photos taken with the big expensive DSLRs and those taken with something like the Olympus E-M1. So what was I losing out on? These are the main compromises you'll read about online. Compromise #1: Depth Of Field Is Increased (often interpreted as "you can't get shallow depth of field from a small sensor") As the camera’s sensor gets bigger while aperture stays wide open, the depth of field decreases. According to scientific calculations the m43 system is about 2 stops different in terms of d.o.f. when compared to the same photograph taken at the same focal length and perspective of the 135 system. This is explained very nicely on this page, so I won't go into it here, but If you’ve ever had a look at the effects of this on a very fast lens you’ll see that 2 stops doesn’t make an enormous difference to the out of focus areas of your frame at all. However, something to consider very seriously is that when you are shooting a very fast lens on a large sensor at wide aperture, you have to absolutely nail the focus otherwise your image is going to look soft all over. You're going to be stopping down anyway, so why not enjoy more depth of field with wider apertures and the resulting faster shutter speed in the first place? This is just the nature of the fast lens on a bigger sensor. How often do you actually find yourself shooting them wide open and nailing the focus? In my experience the phase detection autofocus systems used in these big DSLR’s are just not always accurate enough for this and unless you spend a lot of time calibrating your autofocus you’re going to run into this problem over and over again with ultra-fast lenses shot wide open - almost everything looks soft. It takes a lot of practise and technique to get it right. So, very short depth of field is not as short on m43 but this is to a large degree dependent on the shooting situation, distance to the subject and distance from the background. I have seen some amazing images shot on m43 that have very short depth of field - just go and visit Robin Wong’s blog to see what I mean. I’m totally fine with the depth of field of my fast glass on m43 - I'd rather have more depth of field at wider apertures than less. Click on the images to enlarge them. Compromise #2: The Resolution Is Lower The resolution of the current generation of m43 cameras tops out at 16MP, which is significantly less than something like the Nikon D800 and slightly less than the 22MP Canon 5DMk3. How important is this? Some photographers have genuine needs for the extremely high image resolution, like making large, highly detailed prints, whereas many others need it mainly for having the ability to zoom into a small part of an image and marvel at whatever detail they might find there. Yes, it’s cool to be able to do that, but in reality it’s not a good reason for buying camera X or lens Y. Not in my opinion anyway. Besides, if you’re shooting something like a landscape you can quite easily obtain a high resolution file by stitching several images together. I have made a conscious decision to assess images I take as an entire thing as they would be seen by a non-photographer (ie, client) and not to nit pick about micro contrast, chromatic aberrations or or how much tonality exists at a 100% crop of any given image. The only reason I zoom into an image at 100% is to check that I have got the parts I want to be in focus nice and sharp. Other than that I make my decision on image quality by looking at the whole image. If it looks great when you’re looking at the whole thing do I really care what it looks like when I am looking at a tiny part of it? No. I don’t care at all. Not everyone agrees with this approach and I dare say that if the resolution aspect is that important to you, then perhaps the micro four thirds system is not the thing that will satisfy you right now. For me 16MP is plenty. I can make good prints out of them and I can still crop away significant parts of an image with decent results. Compromise #3: High ISO Is Not As Good As DSLR I’ve seen some photos shot on cameras like the Nikon D3S and the new Nikon D4S and Df. They’re undisputed kings of the high ISO world and you can comfortably shoot them at ridiculously high ISO values over 25600 and get perfectly acceptable image quality by any standards. However, I have to say that the Olympus E-M1 is producing very acceptable images for me at ISO 12800 too. I am actually quite often startled at just how well this particular camera deals with noise at such high ISO values. This is something we couldn’t do with the E-M5, where 3200 was about as high as I liked to go. Anything higher resulted in banding and a general loss of image aesthetic. I don’t think you can really call the E-M1 high ISO images noisy so much as you can call them grainy. And in my book grain is good. It adds atmosphere to images. The grain on the E-M1 at ISO 12800 is not anything like the kind of pain I often felt from looking at images shot on certain lesser DSLR cameras at significantly lower ISO values in the past. There’s no luminance noise that shouts at me and while the graininess becomes quite visible the higher up the scale you go, it’s not affecting the sharpness of the images as much as you’d expect it to. I run a slight noise reduction preset over my images in Lightroom, just enough to drop the grain a bit without affecting fine details and I’m very happy with what I see. Convert it to black and white and you might be forgiven for thinking you’re shooting with old Kodak Tri-X pushed a few stops. Tri-X was the staple film stock used by generations of photojournalists in the 20th century and its ISO rating is 400. Imagine the shots the journos of the day might have been able to get if they could have shot at 12800, had the fast glass and a built-in image stabiliser on their film? So is it possible to use an E-M1 at high ISO values? Oh yes, it certainly is. But you shouldn’t expect results quite as good as those found on cameras that are known to excel at high ISO, such as the likes of the Nikon D4, etc. I’d put the high ISO aesthetic performance of the E-M1 about a stop above that of the Nikon D700 (which I used for 5 years in many a low light situation), so if you’re using that camera as a benchmark you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what the E-M1 does. It’s a whole lot better than the E-M5 too. I use the word aesthetic because while the D700 might have less noise at the same ISO values, the grain of the E-M1 just looks better to my eyes. I would never shoot the D700 at 6400 on purpose, yet I am quite happy to shoot the E-M1 at 12800 - it just looks better. Your mileage may vary depending on your tastes. Compromise #4: Auto Focus Tracking is Inferior to DSLR’s The E-M1 has made huge strides in the auto focus tracking department compared to its forerunner the E-M5. This is because they added phase detection auto focus sensors on the imager. It makes a big difference because it is now possible to get decent auto focus using the older 4/3rds lenses. When I say “decent” I’m not talking blazing fast like you’d get on a top of the line pro DSLR body with lens to match, but decent in the sense that your lens isn’t going to take forever to acquire focus. Depending on the lens you’ll experience something not unlike what you would get from the older Nikon screwdriver type auto focus lenses. I have the Olympus 7-14mm f/4 and the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. The 50-200mm is the lens I’d most likely be using to track objects (sports and wildlife) and it focuses really quickly for me, even in poor light. It’s snappy, but there’s a very brief adjustment (back and forth) when it first locks on. Once it does lock on, it doesn’t let go easily. Bird in flight photographers would not like this behaviour. I don’t do a lot of bird photography, so for me it’s not a deal breaker. I think it’s good enough for me to use on the types of action photography I am more in tune with, namely surfing, motor sport and land based wildlife. There are a few things you need to be aware of when it comes to autofocus performance with the E-M1. The E-M1 makes use of a dual AF system, namely phase detection and contrast detection, but it decides on its own when to switch between them based on the type of lens mounted. It’s not a user setting that can be changed. When you’re using a micro four thirds lens it will only deploy CDAF, even when its in AF-Tracking mode. The only time it uses the PDAF mode is when there is a four thirds legacy lens mounted. You will notice when it’s in this mode because the AF point layout in the EVF changes from the wide grid to a diamond type layout typically found in a DSLR. AF-Tracking performance in the CDAF is a lot better on the E-M1 than it is in the E-M5, but the only m43 telephoto lens I have been able to try this out on is the Olympus 75-300mm, which admittedly I am not all that fond of. I did use it once or twice to do surfing shots with and it worked fine in AF-Tr. I can imagine that once the PRO telephotos for m43 arrive (the 40-150/2.8 and the 300/4.0) the tracking performance will get better. TTL Flash - Compromise or Embedded Memory Confusion? I will admit to being a little less than thrilled with the way Olympus do TTL flash. It’s complicated but once you do understand how it all works, it is certainly very capable. It offers everything the Nikon CLS offers, but just in a different way. My biggest gripe is that the interface on the FL-600R flash units is fiddly. You have to contend with buttons and a dial to adjust things and getting used to it takes some time. With the Nikon CLS it was pretty much “plug and play” whereas with the Olympus flash system it’s “plug and pray that you have the correct settings on the flash AND on the camera”. Yes, you also have settings on the camera that you need to fiddle with in order to get the exposure right. I find this very counter intuitive and its especially problematic when you want to bounce flash in TTL mode during an event. I’ve had to resort to putting the flash into manual mode and adjusting the output by compensation dialling the power. Very old school. I suppose I’ve been spoiled by the new school where thinking about flash settings isn’t hard wired into my brain and Nikon iTTL became a crutch. On the plus side once you get used to the interface there isn’t much you can’t do with the Olympus flash system. For wireless use indoors it works very much the same way that Nikon CLS does and you can also control up to three groups of flashes from your OM-D using the little clip on flash as a commander. The pop-up flash on my Nikon D700 only allowed me to control 2 groups. I bought two of the FL-600R flash units and while they are diminutive compared to the likes of a Nikon SB-910, they pack a punch. If I need to produce head shots on a white background it’s an easy setup and using manual output on both the background light and key light, I have been rewarded with pretty good results. Shot with two FL-600R units, one into an umbrella and the other bounced onto the background In Conclusion As far as I can tell, what I’ve described here are the only tangible compromises I’ve encountered where a DSLR may have an advantage over the OM-D system. For me none of them were critical enough to prevent a complete switch over to OM-D from my fairly well equipped Nikon eco-system and if I am honest with myself and my readers, there are too many advantages to OM-D that cannot be reproduced on a DSLR for me to consider a DSLR as being a better option. Not for the kind of work I do anyway.
  9. What Will I Compromise On If I Move From A DSLR to Olympus OM-D? This is a fair question. As photographers we spend a lot of time researching lenses, camera bodies and other accessories so that we can get the best possible results. In my opinion the only way to find out the truth about how something performs is to try it out yourself. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have bought a lens or a camera based on the recommendations of others only to find that I hated it. The opposite is true too, where I have bought lenses that other reviewers have pasted but I ended up loving them. OK, so not everyone can afford to drop a few thousand Dollars on every new camera or lens that comes out in the hope that it meets expectations (especially not me), but if you’re going to use a review site to form an opinion, at least make sure you check with one that delivers actual results in the form of images you can relate to. Stuff that you're going to make yourself. I have never and I will never look at scientific charts to make a decision on whether a lens or camera is going to cut it for me. I will look at photos of real subject matter and wherever possible I will go out and make photos of subjects I like to shoot, assess them and decide for myself if the gear meets my expectation. If I need the camera/lens for action photography I will look for sites where the authors show actual action shots using the equipment, or I'll borrow the lens/camera and go and do some of my own work. If I want the camera/lens to do portraiture I will look for a site that shows actual portraits taken for real world use or go and do it myself. You get the picture? If the reviewer is not showing photos like the ones you want to take, how can they make a decision on how it performs in that situation? Conjecture? Well, personally I don't go for that. Show me the shots I will probably want to take. Don't show me charts and make inferences from them. So when I first got interested in m43 I didn’t get my information from the likes of dpreview, DXO or any of those scientific sites. I went to Flickr and some other image hosting sites where there were actual photos I could look at taken with the kit I was interested in. What I found on Flickr when looking at shots taken with the OM-D system kind of floored me. Surely it couldn’t be that good? Why aren’t more people using it? I had to know more, so I got involved and what I discovered is that the so-called disadvantages of smaller sensors that are constantly being debated online didn't affect my photography at all. In my opinion the micro four thirds image quality has advanced to the place where under normal viewing conditions you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between photos taken with the big expensive DSLRs and those taken with something like the Olympus E-M1. So what was I losing out on? These are the main compromises you'll read about online. Compromise #1: Depth Of Field Is Increased (often interpreted as "you can't get shallow depth of field from a small sensor") As the camera’s sensor gets bigger while aperture stays wide open, the depth of field decreases. According to scientific calculations the m43 system is about 2 stops different in terms of d.o.f. when compared to the same photograph taken at the same focal length and perspective of the 135 system. This is explained very nicely on this page, so I won't go into it here, but If you’ve ever had a look at the effects of this on a very fast lens you’ll see that 2 stops doesn’t make an enormous difference to the out of focus areas of your frame at all. However, something to consider very seriously is that when you are shooting a very fast lens on a large sensor at wide aperture, you have to absolutely nail the focus otherwise your image is going to look soft all over. You're going to be stopping down anyway, so why not enjoy more depth of field with wider apertures and the resulting faster shutter speed in the first place? This is just the nature of the fast lens on a bigger sensor. How often do you actually find yourself shooting them wide open and nailing the focus? In my experience the phase detection autofocus systems used in these big DSLR’s are just not always accurate enough for this and unless you spend a lot of time calibrating your autofocus you’re going to run into this problem over and over again with ultra-fast lenses shot wide open - almost everything looks soft. It takes a lot of practise and technique to get it right. So, very short depth of field is not as short on m43 but this is to a large degree dependent on the shooting situation, distance to the subject and distance from the background. I have seen some amazing images shot on m43 that have very short depth of field - just go and visit Robin Wong’s blog to see what I mean. I’m totally fine with the depth of field of my fast glass on m43 - I'd rather have more depth of field at wider apertures than less. Click on the images to enlarge them. Compromise #2: The Resolution Is Lower The resolution of the current generation of m43 cameras tops out at 16MP, which is significantly less than something like the Nikon D800 and slightly less than the 22MP Canon 5DMk3. How important is this? Some photographers have genuine needs for the extremely high image resolution, like making large, highly detailed prints, whereas many others need it mainly for having the ability to zoom into a small part of an image and marvel at whatever detail they might find there. Yes, it’s cool to be able to do that, but in reality it’s not a good reason for buying camera X or lens Y. Not in my opinion anyway. Besides, if you’re shooting something like a landscape you can quite easily obtain a high resolution file by stitching several images together. I have made a conscious decision to assess images I take as an entire thing as they would be seen by a non-photographer (ie, client) and not to nit pick about micro contrast, chromatic aberrations or or how much tonality exists at a 100% crop of any given image. The only reason I zoom into an image at 100% is to check that I have got the parts I want to be in focus nice and sharp. Other than that I make my decision on image quality by looking at the whole image. If it looks great when you’re looking at the whole thing do I really care what it looks like when I am looking at a tiny part of it? No. I don’t care at all. Not everyone agrees with this approach and I dare say that if the resolution aspect is that important to you, then perhaps the micro four thirds system is not the thing that will satisfy you right now. For me 16MP is plenty. I can make good prints out of them and I can still crop away significant parts of an image with decent results. Compromise #3: High ISO Is Not As Good As DSLR I’ve seen some photos shot on cameras like the Nikon D3S and the new Nikon D4S and Df. They’re undisputed kings of the high ISO world and you can comfortably shoot them at ridiculously high ISO values over 25600 and get perfectly acceptable image quality by any standards. However, I have to say that the Olympus E-M1 is producing very acceptable images for me at ISO 12800 too. I am actually quite often startled at just how well this particular camera deals with noise at such high ISO values. This is something we couldn’t do with the E-M5, where 3200 was about as high as I liked to go. Anything higher resulted in banding and a general loss of image aesthetic. I don’t think you can really call the E-M1 high ISO images noisy so much as you can call them grainy. And in my book grain is good. It adds atmosphere to images. The grain on the E-M1 at ISO 12800 is not anything like the kind of pain I often felt from looking at images shot on certain lesser DSLR cameras at significantly lower ISO values in the past. There’s no luminance noise that shouts at me and while the graininess becomes quite visible the higher up the scale you go, it’s not affecting the sharpness of the images as much as you’d expect it to. I run a slight noise reduction preset over my images in Lightroom, just enough to drop the grain a bit without affecting fine details and I’m very happy with what I see. Convert it to black and white and you might be forgiven for thinking you’re shooting with old Kodak Tri-X pushed a few stops. Tri-X was the staple film stock used by generations of photojournalists in the 20th century and its ISO rating is 400. Imagine the shots the journos of the day might have been able to get if they could have shot at 12800, had the fast glass and a built-in image stabiliser on their film? So is it possible to use an E-M1 at high ISO values? Oh yes, it certainly is. But you shouldn’t expect results quite as good as those found on cameras that are known to excel at high ISO, such as the likes of the Nikon D4, etc. I’d put the high ISO aesthetic performance of the E-M1 about a stop above that of the Nikon D700 (which I used for 5 years in many a low light situation), so if you’re using that camera as a benchmark you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what the E-M1 does. It’s a whole lot better than the E-M5 too. I use the word aesthetic because while the D700 might have less noise at the same ISO values, the grain of the E-M1 just looks better to my eyes. I would never shoot the D700 at 6400 on purpose, yet I am quite happy to shoot the E-M1 at 12800 - it just looks better. Your mileage may vary depending on your tastes. Compromise #4: Auto Focus Tracking is Inferior to DSLR’s The E-M1 has made huge strides in the auto focus tracking department compared to its forerunner the E-M5. This is because they added phase detection auto focus sensors on the imager. It makes a big difference because it is now possible to get decent auto focus using the older 4/3rds lenses. When I say “decent” I’m not talking blazing fast like you’d get on a top of the line pro DSLR body with lens to match, but decent in the sense that your lens isn’t going to take forever to acquire focus. Depending on the lens you’ll experience something not unlike what you would get from the older Nikon screwdriver type auto focus lenses. I have the Olympus 7-14mm f/4 and the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. The 50-200mm is the lens I’d most likely be using to track objects (sports and wildlife) and it focuses really quickly for me, even in poor light. It’s snappy, but there’s a very brief adjustment (back and forth) when it first locks on. Once it does lock on, it doesn’t let go easily. Bird in flight photographers would not like this behaviour. I don’t do a lot of bird photography, so for me it’s not a deal breaker. I think it’s good enough for me to use on the types of action photography I am more in tune with, namely surfing, motor sport and land based wildlife. There are a few things you need to be aware of when it comes to autofocus performance with the E-M1. The E-M1 makes use of a dual AF system, namely phase detection and contrast detection, but it decides on its own when to switch between them based on the type of lens mounted. It’s not a user setting that can be changed. When you’re using a micro four thirds lens it will only deploy CDAF, even when its in AF-Tracking mode. The only time it uses the PDAF mode is when there is a four thirds legacy lens mounted. You will notice when it’s in this mode because the AF point layout in the EVF changes from the wide grid to a diamond type layout typically found in a DSLR. AF-Tracking performance in the CDAF is a lot better on the E-M1 than it is in the E-M5, but the only m43 telephoto lens I have been able to try this out on is the Olympus 75-300mm, which admittedly I am not all that fond of. I did use it once or twice to do surfing shots with and it worked fine in AF-Tr. I can imagine that once the PRO telephotos for m43 arrive (the 40-150/2.8 and the 300/4.0) the tracking performance will get better. TTL Flash - Compromise or Embedded Memory Confusion? I will admit to being a little less than thrilled with the way Olympus do TTL flash. It’s complicated but once you do understand how it all works, it is certainly very capable. It offers everything the Nikon CLS offers, but just in a different way. My biggest gripe is that the interface on the FL-600R flash units is fiddly. You have to contend with buttons and a dial to adjust things and getting used to it takes some time. With the Nikon CLS it was pretty much “plug and play” whereas with the Olympus flash system it’s “plug and pray that you have the correct settings on the flash AND on the camera”. Yes, you also have settings on the camera that you need to fiddle with in order to get the exposure right. I find this very counter intuitive and its especially problematic when you want to bounce flash in TTL mode during an event. I’ve had to resort to putting the flash into manual mode and adjusting the output by compensation dialling the power. Very old school. I suppose I’ve been spoiled by the new school where thinking about flash settings isn’t hard wired into my brain and Nikon iTTL became a crutch. On the plus side once you get used to the interface there isn’t much you can’t do with the Olympus flash system. For wireless use indoors it works very much the same way that Nikon CLS does and you can also control up to three groups of flashes from your OM-D using the little clip on flash as a commander. The pop-up flash on my Nikon D700 only allowed me to control 2 groups. I bought two of the FL-600R flash units and while they are diminutive compared to the likes of a Nikon SB-910, they pack a punch. If I need to produce head shots on a white background it’s an easy setup and using manual output on both the background light and key light, I have been rewarded with pretty good results. Shot with two FL-600R units, one into an umbrella and the other bounced onto the background In Conclusion As far as I can tell, what I’ve described here are the only tangible compromises I’ve encountered where a DSLR may have an advantage over the OM-D system. For me none of them were critical enough to prevent a complete switch over to OM-D from my fairly well equipped Nikon eco-system and if I am honest with myself and my readers, there are too many advantages to OM-D that cannot be reproduced on a DSLR for me to consider a DSLR as being a better option. Not for the kind of work I do anyway. View full article
  10. It was some time in 2012 that a friend of mine suggested I should go and have a look at the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 micro four thirds camera that had been brought into stock at a local retailer. At the time I was shooting professionally with two Nikon D700 bodies and a slew of big zoom and prime lenses, some from Nikon and some from Sigma. I had expressed an interest to this friend in getting into a smaller camera system like micro four thirds because whenever I wanted to take a camera with me somewhere it involved dragging this big camera backpack along, something that made me look (and feel) very conspicuous. But the problem wasn’t so much the back pack, it was that I couldn’t always fit everything I wanted to bring with me into the backpack for fear of injuring my back due to the weight I would end up carrying. I was looking for something lighter and a bit more more manageable to take with me on outings. I didn’t want a 1-lens-does-all solution either. I wasn’t expecting to do professional work with it but I did want to get results that I’d be happy with. Prior to me checking out the Olympus E-M5 I had owned both the Olympus Pen E-P1 and E-P2 cameras, plus I had just recently picked up a Panasonic GF-1 with a couple of decent Panasonic micro four thirds lenses on a special. I loved those little m43 cameras, but the image quality, while good, just wasn’t quite in the league of a DSLR and once you’re used to a certain pay grade going down from there is seldom something you aspire to. Those early m43 cameras were good for most things, but not that good in low light or situations that required solid auto focus performance, which is where I often found myself wanting them to be good. So off I went to this shop where they had the OM-D E-M5 on display. I asked the sales assistant if I could get hands on and on touching it for the first time my immediate thought was something along the lines of “Oh, that’s a solid piece of kit”. It really was. Compared to the PEN series cameras this one wasn’t that much bigger, but something about it felt a whole lot more substantial. It felt like a serious photographic tool. Tilting touch screen? I was hooked! You can’t really tell a lot about performance from playing with a camera in a store, so I left it there and of course the first thing I did when I got home was begin searching for online reviews and more importantly sample images that could show me what the camera was capable of producing. I especially wanted to see how it fared with tricky shooting, such as low lit rooms and back lit situations. I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found. There were a LOT of people talking about the OM-D E-M5 online. From the usual reviews and bench tests to the field reviews everybody was unanimous: the camera was great and it was going to be a question poser to DSLR users, for sure. It was still a hard decision for me to make, because I had two copies of one of the best DSLR’s ever made and I was about to go off on safari to Sabi Sabi in a month’s time. I needed both D700’s for that trip. Or did I? One D700 would be used for telephoto shots taken with my Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 lens. The other would be used for… What was the other one going to be used for? Wide angles? On safari? Well, I might as well use the OM-D for that my inner logic said. I eventually bit the bullet and ordered a silver and black OM-D body only from a local dealer. A few days later it arrived and while I still had both the Nikon D700’s in my possession, only a few hours later I was quite certain that I would be able to not only use this camera in conjunction with my D700, but I would also be able to use it in many situations where the D700 simply wouldn’t perform well. I already had a buyer hanging on for one of the D700’s so all it took was a phone call and a financial transaction for me to bid one of them goodbye. The one good decision I made with this change was that I didn’t go crashing 100% into it the way I had done twice before when I moved from Nikon to Canon and then back to Nikon over a period of about 4 years. I ran both the Nikon and the Olympus systems side by side for well over a year before eventually moving over entirely to the Olympus system after the E-M1 came out. That gave me the safety net I needed in my photography career to be able to use a system I was already very familiar with (Nikon), as well as being able to experiment with a new system (Olympus) to see what I could use it for and how effective it could be in any given situation. The things I have learned along this path of change might be quite helpful to other photographers who are considering making a similar change to their setup. Initially I had intended to write an eBook about this move, but I have now decided to write a series of freely accessible articles for potential Olympus users instead. The purpose of this series of articles therefore is to help you understand a little bit more about how the Olympus system works and also how it compares to DSLR systems like Nikon and Canon in various shooting situations. By the end of this series you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the system (based on my experiences). I will also cover various shooting situations I have encountered with the camera and show you photos from paid and non-paid jobs I have done with the equipment I have. Why Olympus? The company Olympus has been around since 1919, which means right now it’s just 5 years shy of celebrating its centenary. That’s a long time to have been in business and despite the recent financial irregularity issues that saw 11 of their executives arrested and charged criminally for contravening various business laws in Japan, the company still continues to operate independently of any dominant shareholding. The largest shareholder currently is Sony Corporation who hold an 11% stake in Olympus. I was attracted to the brand for two main reasons: 1. they’re innovative (5 axis in body image stabilisation -IBIS- is such a brilliant idea, and so is the touch screen LCD). 2. their products are excellent quality, especially the optics - in fact the professional grade lenses are renowned for being amongst the very best you can get and there are many very fast lenses that you don’t get from other manufacturers. The Lens Selection Another major selling point for me wasn’t so much the brand, but more the fact that micro four thirds is an open standard, meaning that any manufacturer can produce cameras and lenses for it and this is probably why there are so many lenses available for m43 today. At the time of writing this guide there are over 45 different lenses available for m43 from a range of different manufacturers including, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica, Sigma, Voigtlander and Samyang. This large range includes everything from fisheye lenses to macro and telephoto, as well as some extremely fast prime lenses. There are three manual focus Voigtlander lenses with maximum apertures of f/0.95. Expensive at over $1000 each, but if you’re looking for speed they don’t come much faster than that! Something else that needs to be taken into consideration is that all the excellent lenses that Olympus developed for its 4/3rds DSLR system are now fully compatible with the Olympus E-M1 using an adapter (MMF1, MMF2, MMF3). If you look at the range of Super High Grade lenses on offer you’ll start to get an appreciation of just how significant this development is, especially if you’re after telephotos. Olympus makes some of the finest fast telephotos and tele-zooms you’re ever likely to encounter. They’re all weather proof and most of them have very fast apertures. An example of this would be the 150mm f/2.0, which offers the equivalent field of view of a 300mm lens on something like a Nikon FX body. Then there is the 90-250mm f/2.8 (180-500/2.8 equiv.), as well as Olympus’ own 300mm f/2.8 (600/2.8 equiv.) that offers you the equivalent field of view of lenses with double that focal length in bigger systems (who makes a 600mm f/2.8 or a 180-500mm f/2.8?). Combine this selection with the amazingly effective IBIS of the E-M1 and the options for nature photography begin to step well off the plane of what is possible using bigger systems. Smaller lenses mean less weight and IBIS means less need for expensive physical camera stabilisation such as gimbal heads and ballheads. For those interested in nature photography or birding it is a compelling system to investigate. My interests in photography and the work I actually get paid for are fairly dissimilar. I’m drawn to landscapes and cityscapes as well as action and stage work for my personal stuff, but my paid work lies in event coverage and sometimes product photography. For all those areas I probably relied on 3 different lenses for the Nikon FX system. There was the incredibly wide Sigma 12-24mm FX lens, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS. So for the Olympus system to work for me I would need to have lenses that could do the same kinds of things. Initially I was using the Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-4.5 kit lens on my E-M5 which is a great kit lens, it really is. But because it’s not so fast and a lot of the time I am shooting indoors, I wanted something that came close to the quality of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. My options at that time came down to the very capable and super fast Olympus primes, such as the 17mm f/1.8 (35mm equiv.) and the 45mm f/1.8 which are the two focal lengths I use most of all. Or the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 zooms. Unfortunately I would have to import those due to lack of brand presence here in South Africa, so I gave the primes from Olympus (who do have very good representation here in SA) some serious thought. I do like shooting primes, but I don’t like changing lenses in the field, so I decided to bite the bullet and get the Olympus PRO 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom lens for about $1000. This turned out to be a very good decision as it is a brilliant piece of glass. Prior to getting it I had always said that the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 was the best zoom I have ever used, but after seeing the results I was getting from this guy I changed my mind and the king of the zooms for me now is definitely this Olympus lens. On the wide angle zoom side there were two options for me to look at; the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 and the Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6. The Panny is a lot bigger than the Oly and it runs a constant f/4 maximum aperture throughout its range where the Oly loses a stop at the longer end. The good thing about the Oly though is that it is a collapsible lens, so when it’s not in use it is very small, which fits well with my whole philosophy and primary interest in wanting to move to this system - size and weight. I read quite a few reviews on both lenses, as well as several comparisons and the general consensus was that unless you had to have the extra stop at the long end and the much wider wide end, you’d be happier with the Oly. Image quality between the two was neither here nor there. One thing that the Oly does have in its favour is that you can use screw in filters on it whereas the Panasonic lens is pretty much like the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 - there is no filter thread. So I ended up getting the Olympus 9-18mm and I am very happy with it. It was a lens I ended up doing some satisfying landscape work with in Namibia last year, plus of course I could use the very cool LEE filters Seven5 system on it. The only thing I couldn’t replace with an Olympus lens yet was my Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. Yes, there was the very good Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8, but as mentioned it’s unavailable here where I live. Then I began reading about the Olympus 75mm f/1.8. It gives an equivalent field of view of 150mm on the Nikon FX system, which is not that far from the 200mm I would mostly be using on the Nikon system. If you’ve read my review of the 75mm Oly you’ll know how I feel about it. It’s a piece of glass to cherish. I’ve never used anything quite like it and the shots I got with it during my coverage of two major conferences last year got me high praise from my clients. The people at ICANN being one of them. With this lens I have all three of my main requirements covered and instead of being burdened with a rucksack, I can take them all in a tiny bag like the ThinkTank Retrospective 5 and still have space for other lenses. What Other Lenses? The really cool thing about m43 is that there are some fun lenses you can pick up for very little money. One of my favourites is the $300 Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye. I use this little lens everywhere I go. It’s manual focus but it has such incredible depth of field that if you set it to f/5.6 and infinity focus, you are pretty much assured of everything from around 20cm in front of the lens to the horizon being in focus. Recently I was loaned two other fun lenses that I am having a great time with - the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 30mm f/2.8. The 19mm is a super little lens and I will be writing a more in-depth review of it soon. On the macro side there are two native options: I have the Panasonic/Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit which I like a lot, but there is also an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro that has many macro users all atwitter regarding it's outstanding sharpness and overall optical performance. Some people are even saying that it is in the league of the legendary 125mm f/2.5 APO Lanthar by Voitlander. The long telephoto options are plentiful when it comes to Olympus. You can spend a boatload of cash and get the legacy 4/3rds glass for use on the E-M1, or you can wait for Olympus to bring out their new PRO lenses later this year and early next year. In the pipeline are the long awaited 35-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens and the 300mm f/4 PRO telephoto. The latter will give you an equivalent 600mm f/4 in FX terms but at a fraction of the price. If the optics of the rest of the Olympus range are anything to go by it’s going to be a very desirable lens for the person buying into the Olympus OM-D system. There are also a plethora of slower and cheaper telephotos to chose from, such as the Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7. I have this lens and while I am not particularly gushing about it, it does provide the amateur photography enthusiast with a very useful zoom range (150-600mm FX equivalent) in a relatively small and well finished package. Olympus recently also introduced a long awaited 25mm f/1.8 prime, which has been very well received and rounds out their fast prime selections really well. You now have the 12mm f/2, 17mm f/1.8, 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and of course the grand daddy 75mm f/1.8. All of them are stellar performers. So there are lots of lenses to choose from in the OM-D system and unless you have exotic needs for things like tilt and shift, the eco-system is well populated. In the next article I will be looking at the photographic gains you will make as an Olympus system user. View full article
  11. If you have already invested in a well rounded camera system from any manufacturer, why would you want to look at getting an Olympus mirrorless camera and a bunch of micro four thirds lenses? It’s a fair question and I think that you need to weigh up your options quite carefully before you go splashing down all your hard earned money, or selling off your old system and then regretting it later. You need to assess the advantages you'll enjoy before you do that. This series of articles is based on my own experiences and if you are looking to do a system change perhaps my needs might intersect with yours. Size & Weight The biggest and most attractive aspect of this system is that you’re cutting down the weight and size of your equipment by a considerable margin. If you consider the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 ED lens, the closest lenses to it in terms of light transmission and field of view from the big 135 system cameras are the Canon 200mm f/2.0 and the Nikon 200mm f/2.0. The Canon lens weighs 2.54kg and is 208mm long. It costs $6,000. The Nikon weighs a little more at 2.93kg and is 203mm long. It costs $5800. Now these are both incredible high performance lenses from the big names in photo gear and I’m not suggesting for a second that the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is their optical equal (I think it’s pretty close in terms of sharpness though), but the angle of view from the Olympus lens is very close to what the other two offer. It’s the same as a 150mm lens on the bigger sensor and its aperture is faster than both those other giant lenses. The main difference you may notice between the two big lenses and the Olympus comes down to the depth of field observed. The big lenses are awesome in this regard, completely blurring out the background, but I’ll tell you what, the Olympus 75mm can hold its head up very high too. The really big material difference between these lenses? Well, the Olympus 75mm will cost you $900 (+ $75 with the hood) and it weighs a mere 305g. That is slightly more than 10% of the mass of each of the two other lenses. It is only 69mm long, which if Mens Health is to be believed, is less than half the length of the average male erection. While you’re mulling over those numbers in your head and looking at your nearest ruler, I want you to think about when you’d use a lens like a fast 200mm or equivalent. As a highly specialised short telephoto lens they’re typically used for indoor sports or stage performances. If you’re shooting live shows you’re probably going to pair this up with something like a full bodied pro DSLR like a Canon 1DX that weighs in the region of 1.5kg. You’re up to almost 5kg in your hands now with just one lens and camera body. Handholding that combo for the length of a 2 hour long live concert is going to result in arm fatigue, even if you’re fairly gym strong. If you’re not handholding you will have to bring along a monopod or tripod with a decent head. More weight. More things to look after. Those of you who have done photography at live shows will already know what a pain it is to have to try and use dedicated camera supports in the places where you have to shoot from. If you go to a show or indoor sports event with the big system your camera bag is going to be large. You’re going to need a lot of personal space around you to take things in and out of it and as somebody who has tried this before, it’s not always possible, especially if you’re in a theatre where other people who have paid to see the show are now having to put up with your enormous camera presence. Try walking into an arena concert with a DSLR and 200mm fast lens. You won’t get in, simple as that. But with an OM-D and a 75mm f/1.8 you’re looking way less conspicuous. Yes, you could use a different lens, such as a 70-200/2.8, but then you've already lost a stop and a third of light, or you could put an 85mm f/1.8 on an APS-C body, but that's probably as close as you're going to get. How good are the 85mm f/1.8 lenses out there compared to the Oly? In my experience of shooting both Nikon and Canon versions in the past... not even in the same sport, let alone ballpark. You just don't get lenses like this for DSLR's without paying huge money for them and making enormous trade-offs in convenience. The example of the 75mm f/1.8 lens is just one of many where the physical advantage of a smaller system is obvious. Travel photography is an area where the advantage is huge. Anyone who’s ever had to travel by air with a lot of camera gear knows just how stressful that can become. Over the past few years I have travelled domestically within South Africa for safaris and each time I have had to rationalise my kit just so that I could avoid being detected as a carry-on “over-loader” by the airline ground staff. The thought of having your precious camera gear checked in and falling prey to airport baggage handlers and automated sorting systems is enough to leave you sleepless. (this shot was taken in near darkness at very close range in a Himba hut in Namibia) A system like micro four thirds is physically minuscule when compared to larger DSLR systems like Canon and Nikon, and to a fair degree even the APS-C systems. You are able to pack a lot more gear into a much smaller space without giving up much photographically. I am well known for using the ThinkTank Retrospective bags and I can get 6 lenses plus one of the OM-D bodies (with a battery grip) into the Retrospective 5’s main compartment. If I really want to I can also put a second OM-D body sans lens into the front pouch, or I can slip a couple of flash units in there. If you’ve ever seen the Retro 5 bag you’ll know how small it is. Electronic View Finder (EVF) For me another plus of the system is the Electronic View Finder (EVF). It’s a big change to using optical view finders, but it is the way of the future and in my humble opinion it will make you a better photographer if you know how to use it properly. The EVF found in the Olympus E-M1 is awesome. It really is. Imagine you’re shooting something backlit. You need to increase your exposure by compensating if you want your subject to be properly exposed. Any good camera will have compensation on it, but you’ll have to chimp at your results to see the effects of it when using an optical view finder. With the EVF you’ll see the exact results before you’ve even taken the shot. The E-M1 has what they call “Adaptive Brightness Technology” built in. So what this does is it adjusts the brightness of the EVF depending on the ambient light, but it does it in a way that doesn’t trick your eyes into believing that the image in the EVF is brighter than it actually is. What you’re looking at in the EVF is fairly representative of the scene in terms of its brightness and contrast. You will also see what areas of your image are going to be blown out or blocked up detail wise by activating the highlights/shadow warnings. It works just the same way it does in Bridge or Lightroom, red marks the blown highlights and blue marks the blocked shadows. Again, you’ll see your results before you take or potentially mess up your shot. If you’d prefer to not see big blobs of red or blue, you could opt to use the live histogram instead. Another advantage of the OM-D EVF is that you can activate the level indicator in the EVF to show you when your horizon is going to be skew, or you’re introducing key stoning by tilting the lens upwards or downwards. I find this pretty handy when shooting interiors. Focus peaking is another very cool EVF feature you’ll find on the E-M1. I have set mine up to be activated with the Fn1 button, which rests just below my right thumb when holding the camera. If I am using a manual focus lens via adapter on my E-M1 I can get it into focus simply by looking for the brightly highlighted edges of my subject as I move the focus ring of the lens. It works very well. If you would prefer more precise control then you’d probably want to use the magnifier feature of the EVF. This takes a small portion of the scene and magnifies it so that you can manually focus more accurately. Another E-M1 feature I have discovered that lends itself to being helpful is the HDR modes. Wouldn’t it be great to see what your HDR is going to look like before you make the exposures? This is what happens when you select one of these modes - you’ll see an expanded HDR preview in the EVF. As soon as you hit the release the camera will make its exposures, combine them in camera and then give you a single image. Too cool. Something else that I have found to be an amazing advantage is that if I am outdoors I can look into the EVF to see my shots, zoom into them and also change the displayed information about them. If you've ever tried to see what's on the back of your LCD in daylight, you'll know how tricky that can be. In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS)This feature of the E-M1 is nothing short of remarkable. It was good on the E-M5, but now it’s ridiculously good and it is possible to hand hold exposures up to a couple of seconds and still get perfectly sharp images. For low light work where you don’t have a tripod handy it’s an advantage that can be the difference between a useful shot and something you throw away. The real beauty of the IBIS is that you get stabilisation with any lens. Yes, even that old Nikkor 105/2.5 from the 60’s I have in my collection of old lenses is stabilised and unlike optical stabilisers where the jiggling of lens elements produces weird artefacts in the out of focus areas of your image (double lines for instance), the IBIS doesn’t seem to exhibit the same behaviour since its the image sensor that does the jiggling. It’s also very effective in video mode. You can switch off the IBIS but I leave it on all the time. Why risk camera shake when you don’t have to? However, something I recently discovered is that you can also set the IBIS to only work in a certain axis if you want it to. For instance, if you are panning horizontally you can switch off the horizontal stabilisation and use only the vertical stabiliser. I wish I had thought of that when I was making panning shots of fast moving skateboarders recently. Wifi Camera Control & Sharing Several years ago when I got my very first iPod Touch I wrote a review of the OnOne app that allowed you to tether your camera to a laptop and control it from your iPod. It actually worked quite well, but the problem was that you had to have the laptop in the vicinity of the camera. It was a bit gimmicky, but seeing your camera’s live view being transmitted to your iPod was pretty darn cool. Things have evolved a bit since then and one of the features of the E-M1 is the built-in wifi capability that lets you do the exact same thing as the OnOne Camera Control app did, except you no longer need a laptop to create a wifi network for the app to connect to. The camera now creates its own network and when you connect your smart phone or tablet to it, it allows you to not only control the camera, but also send its images to the controlling device for onward transmission to another location, be it a social network, image sharing service, or even Airdrop it to another Apple device. That applies to any images you have stored on the SD card - you can import them to your iPad or iPhone. How is this useful? Well, here’s a real world example; when I am shooting tabletop product shots in my small home studio and I want my client’s opinion on whether they are happy with the way the products are arranged, I import the shot to my iPad’s Camera Roll via the Olympus Image Share app and I can email them a small version of the shot. I also prefer to see the larger Live View on my iPad than what's on the camera LCD screen. Now, with the addition of Lightroom for iPad I can even do minor edits to the shot before I send them a sample. This is a real advantage and the screenshot you see below was done in exactly this manner. In the past I would have to copy the file to the computer, add it to the Lightroom catalog , edit it there, create a small version of it and only then could I send it off via email to my client. Bit of a rigmarole. Screen grab of Lightroom for iPad - I will be writing a more in-depth assessment of this app soon The OIS app is still a bit of an infant though and in the future I hope to be able to send files to a service like DropBox or iCloud directly from the app instead of having to import them to the Camera Roll. I’m pretty sure that could be done in future upgrades. The Tilting & Touch Screen A lot of people think this is very gimmicky, but it's actually quite a useful thing, especially if you don't want to go crawling on your belly to make exposures of things at that level (think macro, etc). You can tilt the screen upwards to use it as a waist-level finder, then tap the screen like you would an iPhone to make an exposure. This is a nifty trick to use if you want to make candid shots of people who are unaware that they are about to be photographed. Street photographers will be in their element with this feature. These are just some of the big advantages I have experienced with the OM-D system. In part 3 of this series I will talk about the compromises you will have to contend with if you are considering a switch to OM-D. That will be published next week Monday.
  12. If you have already invested in a well rounded camera system from any manufacturer, why would you want to look at getting an Olympus mirrorless camera and a bunch of micro four thirds lenses? It’s a fair question and I think that you need to weigh up your options quite carefully before you go splashing down all your hard earned money, or selling off your old system and then regretting it later. You need to assess the advantages you'll enjoy before you do that. This series of articles is based on my own experiences and if you are looking to do a system change perhaps my needs might intersect with yours. Size & Weight The biggest and most attractive aspect of this system is that you’re cutting down the weight and size of your equipment by a considerable margin. If you consider the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 ED lens, the closest lenses to it in terms of light transmission and field of view from the big 135 system cameras are the Canon 200mm f/2.0 and the Nikon 200mm f/2.0. The Canon lens weighs 2.54kg and is 208mm long. It costs $6,000. The Nikon weighs a little more at 2.93kg and is 203mm long. It costs $5800. Now these are both incredible high performance lenses from the big names in photo gear and I’m not suggesting for a second that the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is their optical equal (I think it’s pretty close in terms of sharpness though), but the angle of view from the Olympus lens is very close to what the other two offer. It’s the same as a 150mm lens on the bigger sensor and its aperture is faster than both those other giant lenses. The main difference you may notice between the two big lenses and the Olympus comes down to the depth of field observed. The big lenses are awesome in this regard, completely blurring out the background, but I’ll tell you what, the Olympus 75mm can hold its head up very high too. The really big material difference between these lenses? Well, the Olympus 75mm will cost you $900 (+ $75 with the hood) and it weighs a mere 305g. That is slightly more than 10% of the mass of each of the two other lenses. It is only 69mm long, which if Mens Health is to be believed, is less than half the length of the average male erection. While you’re mulling over those numbers in your head and looking at your nearest ruler, I want you to think about when you’d use a lens like a fast 200mm or equivalent. As a highly specialised short telephoto lens they’re typically used for indoor sports or stage performances. If you’re shooting live shows you’re probably going to pair this up with something like a full bodied pro DSLR like a Canon 1DX that weighs in the region of 1.5kg. You’re up to almost 5kg in your hands now with just one lens and camera body. Handholding that combo for the length of a 2 hour long live concert is going to result in arm fatigue, even if you’re fairly gym strong. If you’re not handholding you will have to bring along a monopod or tripod with a decent head. More weight. More things to look after. Those of you who have done photography at live shows will already know what a pain it is to have to try and use dedicated camera supports in the places where you have to shoot from. If you go to a show or indoor sports event with the big system your camera bag is going to be large. You’re going to need a lot of personal space around you to take things in and out of it and as somebody who has tried this before, it’s not always possible, especially if you’re in a theatre where other people who have paid to see the show are now having to put up with your enormous camera presence. Try walking into an arena concert with a DSLR and 200mm fast lens. You won’t get in, simple as that. But with an OM-D and a 75mm f/1.8 you’re looking way less conspicuous. Yes, you could use a different lens, such as a 70-200/2.8, but then you've already lost a stop and a third of light, or you could put an 85mm f/1.8 on an APS-C body, but that's probably as close as you're going to get. How good are the 85mm f/1.8 lenses out there compared to the Oly? In my experience of shooting both Nikon and Canon versions in the past... not even in the same sport, let alone ballpark. You just don't get lenses like this for DSLR's without paying huge money for them and making enormous trade-offs in convenience. The example of the 75mm f/1.8 lens is just one of many where the physical advantage of a smaller system is obvious. Travel photography is an area where the advantage is huge. Anyone who’s ever had to travel by air with a lot of camera gear knows just how stressful that can become. Over the past few years I have travelled domestically within South Africa for safaris and each time I have had to rationalise my kit just so that I could avoid being detected as a carry-on “over-loader” by the airline ground staff. The thought of having your precious camera gear checked in and falling prey to airport baggage handlers and automated sorting systems is enough to leave you sleepless. (this shot was taken in near darkness at very close range in a Himba hut in Namibia) A system like micro four thirds is physically minuscule when compared to larger DSLR systems like Canon and Nikon, and to a fair degree even the APS-C systems. You are able to pack a lot more gear into a much smaller space without giving up much photographically. I am well known for using the ThinkTank Retrospective bags and I can get 6 lenses plus one of the OM-D bodies (with a battery grip) into the Retrospective 5’s main compartment. If I really want to I can also put a second OM-D body sans lens into the front pouch, or I can slip a couple of flash units in there. If you’ve ever seen the Retro 5 bag you’ll know how small it is. Electronic View Finder (EVF) For me another plus of the system is the Electronic View Finder (EVF). It’s a big change to using optical view finders, but it is the way of the future and in my humble opinion it will make you a better photographer if you know how to use it properly. The EVF found in the Olympus E-M1 is awesome. It really is. Imagine you’re shooting something backlit. You need to increase your exposure by compensating if you want your subject to be properly exposed. Any good camera will have compensation on it, but you’ll have to chimp at your results to see the effects of it when using an optical view finder. With the EVF you’ll see the exact results before you’ve even taken the shot. The E-M1 has what they call “Adaptive Brightness Technology” built in. So what this does is it adjusts the brightness of the EVF depending on the ambient light, but it does it in a way that doesn’t trick your eyes into believing that the image in the EVF is brighter than it actually is. What you’re looking at in the EVF is fairly representative of the scene in terms of its brightness and contrast. You will also see what areas of your image are going to be blown out or blocked up detail wise by activating the highlights/shadow warnings. It works just the same way it does in Bridge or Lightroom, red marks the blown highlights and blue marks the blocked shadows. Again, you’ll see your results before you take or potentially mess up your shot. If you’d prefer to not see big blobs of red or blue, you could opt to use the live histogram instead. Another advantage of the OM-D EVF is that you can activate the level indicator in the EVF to show you when your horizon is going to be skew, or you’re introducing key stoning by tilting the lens upwards or downwards. I find this pretty handy when shooting interiors. Focus peaking is another very cool EVF feature you’ll find on the E-M1. I have set mine up to be activated with the Fn1 button, which rests just below my right thumb when holding the camera. If I am using a manual focus lens via adapter on my E-M1 I can get it into focus simply by looking for the brightly highlighted edges of my subject as I move the focus ring of the lens. It works very well. If you would prefer more precise control then you’d probably want to use the magnifier feature of the EVF. This takes a small portion of the scene and magnifies it so that you can manually focus more accurately. Another E-M1 feature I have discovered that lends itself to being helpful is the HDR modes. Wouldn’t it be great to see what your HDR is going to look like before you make the exposures? This is what happens when you select one of these modes - you’ll see an expanded HDR preview in the EVF. As soon as you hit the release the camera will make its exposures, combine them in camera and then give you a single image. Too cool. Something else that I have found to be an amazing advantage is that if I am outdoors I can look into the EVF to see my shots, zoom into them and also change the displayed information about them. If you've ever tried to see what's on the back of your LCD in daylight, you'll know how tricky that can be. In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS)This feature of the E-M1 is nothing short of remarkable. It was good on the E-M5, but now it’s ridiculously good and it is possible to hand hold exposures up to a couple of seconds and still get perfectly sharp images. For low light work where you don’t have a tripod handy it’s an advantage that can be the difference between a useful shot and something you throw away. The real beauty of the IBIS is that you get stabilisation with any lens. Yes, even that old Nikkor 105/2.5 from the 60’s I have in my collection of old lenses is stabilised and unlike optical stabilisers where the jiggling of lens elements produces weird artefacts in the out of focus areas of your image (double lines for instance), the IBIS doesn’t seem to exhibit the same behaviour since its the image sensor that does the jiggling. It’s also very effective in video mode. You can switch off the IBIS but I leave it on all the time. Why risk camera shake when you don’t have to? However, something I recently discovered is that you can also set the IBIS to only work in a certain axis if you want it to. For instance, if you are panning horizontally you can switch off the horizontal stabilisation and use only the vertical stabiliser. I wish I had thought of that when I was making panning shots of fast moving skateboarders recently. Wifi Camera Control & Sharing Several years ago when I got my very first iPod Touch I wrote a review of the OnOne app that allowed you to tether your camera to a laptop and control it from your iPod. It actually worked quite well, but the problem was that you had to have the laptop in the vicinity of the camera. It was a bit gimmicky, but seeing your camera’s live view being transmitted to your iPod was pretty darn cool. Things have evolved a bit since then and one of the features of the E-M1 is the built-in wifi capability that lets you do the exact same thing as the OnOne Camera Control app did, except you no longer need a laptop to create a wifi network for the app to connect to. The camera now creates its own network and when you connect your smart phone or tablet to it, it allows you to not only control the camera, but also send its images to the controlling device for onward transmission to another location, be it a social network, image sharing service, or even Airdrop it to another Apple device. That applies to any images you have stored on the SD card - you can import them to your iPad or iPhone. How is this useful? Well, here’s a real world example; when I am shooting tabletop product shots in my small home studio and I want my client’s opinion on whether they are happy with the way the products are arranged, I import the shot to my iPad’s Camera Roll via the Olympus Image Share app and I can email them a small version of the shot. I also prefer to see the larger Live View on my iPad than what's on the camera LCD screen. Now, with the addition of Lightroom for iPad I can even do minor edits to the shot before I send them a sample. This is a real advantage and the screenshot you see below was done in exactly this manner. In the past I would have to copy the file to the computer, add it to the Lightroom catalog , edit it there, create a small version of it and only then could I send it off via email to my client. Bit of a rigmarole. Screen grab of Lightroom for iPad - I will be writing a more in-depth assessment of this app soon The OIS app is still a bit of an infant though and in the future I hope to be able to send files to a service like DropBox or iCloud directly from the app instead of having to import them to the Camera Roll. I’m pretty sure that could be done in future upgrades. The Tilting & Touch Screen A lot of people think this is very gimmicky, but it's actually quite a useful thing, especially if you don't want to go crawling on your belly to make exposures of things at that level (think macro, etc). You can tilt the screen upwards to use it as a waist-level finder, then tap the screen like you would an iPhone to make an exposure. This is a nifty trick to use if you want to make candid shots of people who are unaware that they are about to be photographed. Street photographers will be in their element with this feature. These are just some of the big advantages I have experienced with the OM-D system. In part 3 of this series I will talk about the compromises you will have to contend with if you are considering a switch to OM-D. That will be published next week Monday. View full article
  13. Here are 10 Cool things I love about my OM-D E-M1 #1 Neck or Wrist Strap (or both) I’ve mentioned before that I dislike camera straps quite a lot. They always seem to get in my way or restrict me from positioning the camera where I want it. I used to loop the strap around my wrist but now I have begun using proper wrist straps. Not the kind that attach to your wrist, but the kind that simply allow you to slip your hand into the loop they form between the battery grip and the top of the camera. I find this much tidier. However, there are times when I do wish I had a neck strap so that if I am using two cameras I can sling the one not in use over my shoulder and not have to worry about it. Recently I discovered that Olympus have already thought about this a bit and they have developed a grip strap (GS-5) that has a loop built into it that you can use to attach your camera strap too. So you can have the shoulder strap and the wrist strap attached to the camera at the same time. Nice little touch! #2 Locking the Mode Dial When using the E-M5 I have sometimes inadvertently moved the mode dial from A to something else without realising it. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it when it does it has caused me some confusion, especially when I think I am shifting aperture values using the command dial but in actual fact I am shifting the shutter speed. I know, one should observe all the indicators in the EVF, but hell, when I’m busy thinking about composition I don’t think about camera settings as much as I should. My bad. So it’s great that on the E-M1 you now have the ability to lock the mode dial, even though it’s new position on the opposite side of the hump means it's less likely to get shifted inadvertently. #3 Battery Priority Because of the power hungry nature of having an EVF and Live View active all the time (not to mention IBIS), the OM-D cameras tend to offer fewer shots per charge than you’d get out of a DSLR. For professional use you need to have a lot of batteries on you, or at least make sure you have the grip. If you’re using the HLD-6 or HLD-7 battery grips for them you do get to prioritise which of the batteries the camera uses first. I have set mine to always use the one in the grip first and then when its exhausted move on to the one in the body. This allows me to remove the one in the grip and then go charge it without slowing down while the other one is being charged. I think of the one in the body as my “reserve” tank. After every shoot I do swap them around so that each unit is getting regular use. #4 HDR & Bracketing Mode Making HDR photos has now become a cinch with the E-M1. By simply pushing the HDR button on the top of the camera you get to chose between two in-camera HDR methods (standard and high contrast) where the E-M1 will create a single image from a burst of three different exposures, or a variety of bracketing methods ranging from 3 to 7 frames covering 2.0 or 3.0 EV. The E-M1 automatically switches itself into high speed FPS for these modes, so you will hardly notice its taken multiple frames if your exposures times are all relatively fast. The IBIS combined with the HDR modes allows you to get some very cool HDR shots that you would ordinarily have required a tripod for. #5 Time Lapse Movie I’ve never done a time lapse movie before, but having seen many of them it’s something I really want to try. It’s made even easier now because the E-M1 does it all in camera. Simply go to the Time Lapse settings in the camera, set up the intervalometer and then use the Time Lapse Movie option to create the movie in the camera. I’m so going to do this soon! I just need to find some inspiration. #6 Remote Control Via Smartphone This is the coolest feature of the E-M1 in my opinion. You turn on the wifi settings, connect your smartphone or tablet to its wifi signal and in conjunction with the free Olympus OI.share app you have full control over the camera, including it’s live view which gets streamed to your device over the wifi connection. There are so many cool applications you could use this for, not least of which is to use it to shoot groups or selfies where you are in the shot too. However, something I am thinking of doing at my next event shoot is to put the camera on a monopod, hoist it high above a table with a wide angle lens on it and using the iPhone compose an image of the people sitting at that table. I’ve done this before without the remote, but it’s always guesswork when it comes to composing. I may have to attach the phone to the monopod too, but it’s worth a go. #7 Set the FPS rate Having a small camera that can shoot at 10 fps in the high speed mode setting is way cool. Having one that can shoot at 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or even 9 fps in the same mode depending on your needs is even cooler. The E-M1 lets you set the FPS for both its High and Low burst settings. I like having that control. #8 Live Bulb and Live Time Exposures in Live View Something I have never experienced first hand is the magic of seeing a print come to life in a darkroom. Some day I will, but for now Olympus have allowed me to use the Live setting when I am creating long Live Time or Live Bulb exposures and experience something similar. You actually get to see the image “developing” as you have the shutter open for long periods. Combine this with the wifi connection to your iPad and you’ve got a cool way of doing star trails or astrophotography. The system lets you chose how often you want the image on the screen to refresh too. Nice touch! #9 Lens Function Button On the new range of PRO lenses from Olympus there is a new L-Fn button. This lets you program an available function into the button that you haven’t already programmed into the numerous function buttons on the E-M1 (or other OM-D). I have programmed it to use the 2x teleconverter function. This will be quite neat with the 40-150/2.8 and the 300/4. Basically it doubles their field of view electronically and creates an in-camera JPG interpolation at your full 16MP resolution. #10 Remote Flash Control This isn’t something that is unique to Olympus, Nikon have had it for quite a while, but it does add another very cool feature to the OM-D that a lot of other systems don’t have. If you have Olympus FL-600R or FL-300R flash units you can control these items remotely from the camera using the little clip on flash (or another FL-600R) as a commander. You can control 3 groups of lights, set whether you want them to fire in manual, TTL or A mode, adjust their output by up to 10 stops (you won’t find many lights from any manufacturer that allows such a big EV range to be set) and also whether they should fire in FP mode or not. That is pretty cool. If you are an O-MD user what are your favourite features of your camera?
  14. Yesterday I took delivery of a few more items to round off my Olympus camera system. I got an unmissable deal on a Zuiko 7-14mm f/4.0 zoom lens, which is a Super High Grade lens that was made for the Four Thirds system. I also got another FL-600R flash and I couldn't not get the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 based on all the rave reviews it has received. When I got the 7-14mm f/4 out of the box I was amazed at the size and weight of it. It's a monster! Mounted to the E-M1 via the MMF-2 adapter it really looks the business. But, it's most certainly not something I will be taking around with me everywhere on casual shooting, because it is a DSLR lens and I'll only be using it for specific jobs where I need an extreme wide angle lens. It totally defeats the purpose of a small and lightweight system, BUT, it underlines the versatility of the now seemingly invincible system that Olympus has built up. Being able to use the 4/3rds lenses effectively on the E-M1 shows how it can be both big and menacing as well as small and discreet. My OM-D bodies came about with my desire to be evolutionary with my camera gear. There is the E-M5 which was the tipping point for me to abandon the technologically stagnant Nikon 135 DSLR system in favour of the rapidly accelerating micro four thirds system, plus now the E-M1 has further affirmed that my decision was a good one. It is the most advanced camera I have ever used, capable of producing outstanding images under application of a visual and daring mind. The cameras are letting me go much further than I ever did with my Nikon system because they have instilled in me a confidence to shoot that I never had before. It's funny, I remember thinking when I first got the revolutionary Nikon D700 that it was all the camera I ever needed, and it was for a long time, but then taking it around just became a chore that outweighed my desire to go shooting with it. The OM-D cameras beg to go out and they're such easy-going dates that denying them leaves me feeling guilty. My lens line up currently looks like this: Olympus 7-14mm f/4 - bought for professional architecture and design commissions Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 - bought for travel and where landscapes are my priority Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO - general purpose pro zoom for events and more Olympus 45mm f/1.8 - low light portraiture lens Olympus 75mm f/1.8 - low light lens for audience and stage work, as well as some portraits Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II - super zoom range for casual telephoto needs Samyang 7.5mm fisheye - the coolest vision bending tool I have! Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-4.5 - redundant, but useful to keep as a spare general purpose lens Panasonic/Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit - for macros and small product photography On the way still for evaluation is another 4/3rds lens in the form of the very highly rated Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. Hope to have that later this week. If it's as good as the reviews I've read suggest then it will become my go-to safari lens, mainly because of the relatively small size and fast aperture. Having f/3.5 at an effective 400mm field of view will prove very useful on safari. I'm also obviously waiting for the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8, but that will only arrive in the second half of this year. With all this glass there is literally nothing I can't do photographically. My aim over the rest of the month is to head out with different items each day and begin writing some in-depth-real-photographer-based reviews for those of you who are considering the m43 system. I'm hoping for some big surf to come through one of these days so I can properly put the E-M1's AF tracking to the test. Right now the Indian ocean looks a little lake-like, so that plan is on hold for the moment. As mentioned upfront I also have a second FL-600R flash which I will now begin putting to the test using the Olympus wireless flash system. I do find the Oly flash system very confusing, so I am making it my aim to set up some core shooting situations for it and to make proper notes on how to derive the best results. That will actually form the basis of my first e-book, which I will be publishing right here on Fotozones sometime this year. It's going to be a great year to discover just how far I can take this micro four thirds system, so keep checking the site for new articles and reviews. If you make use of an RSS reader there are a few feeds you can subscribe to by clicking the little orange icon on the top right of the page. If you don't know how to use RSS just pop me a line - I'll show you how I use it in MyYahoo to keep track of several photography related websites. The 7-14mm f/4 totally dwarfs the tiny little 45mm f/1.8!
  15. If you’re like me you will probably skip to the end of any product review and read the summary before delving into the parts that are important to you. I’ll save you the bother and tell you upfront that if you’re looking for a well designed, well equipped, excellent piece of photographic equipment you can stop reading right now and click this link to buy it. It’s a work of art. Just go get one. It’s everything a camera should be. There, I said it - are you back from buying it yet? You haven't bought it yet? Wanna know more about it? OK, well, I guess you ought to read on a bit then. Grab a beverage because this review is about 4000 words long and there are quite a few images to look at too. It's a slightly different approach to the way I normally write a review, but I am sure you will find the information useful if you're planning on getting one. Ergonomics Camera ergonomics is one of the most important elements of photography. If you’re not comfortable with finding your way around your kit, you’re not going to be happy and at the end of the day your images will reflect that. The E-M1 has been very well thought out in as much as button position is concerned. Buttons, Dials & Levers At the most basic level there are 3 variables involved in photography that the photographer needs to be able to adjust quickly. These are the lens aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO. Those are the fundamentals and you need to be able to get to them quickly and without impediment, which is why older cameras had aperture rings and a dial on the top to select the shutter speed. Easy. Happily I can report that the E-M1 lets the photographer change all of those variables very quickly and much easier than an old retro SLR could. On the E-M1 there are a pair of dials on the body that you can assign to shift the value of each of these variables. The main dial is directly under your right thumb when holding the camera and the sub-command dial is integrated with the shutter release, so it’s easy to get to. Olympus have allowed these dials to be customised for each mode that the camera is in. So for instance, if you are in A mode and you want the rear dial to adjust aperture and the front dial to set compensation you can do that, or you can have them reversed. If you are in S mode you can set it up to work the same way, or if you have some kind of twisted brain you can make it work differently to A mode. You can also set the direction of the dials, which is quite a handy feature if you are coming from a brand of camera that works a certain way. So as far as the two main variables (aperture & shutter speed) are concerned, adjusting them is real simple and you can compensate easily without having to press any other button on the camera. What about ISO? On the other OM-D model I have, the E-M5, getting to the ISO was a bit of a fiddle. You had to set it using the Super Control Panel. This was pretty easy to do, but if the last item you adjusted on the SCP was (say) the image quality, you’d have to navigate through the other options on the screen to adjust ISO. This involved several button pushes. On the E-M1 there is a lever integrated with the AE-L button on the rear of the camera that you can flip up or down. If you flip it down the two dials I already mentioned can be used to adjust something else on the camera, like ISO and white balance, for instance. So if I want to quickly change from auto ISO to a low value, all I do is flip down the lever with my right thumb and then use either of the dials to adjust it. How cool is that? There are 5 different modes you can set this lever to, each of them re-assigns either the dials or a couple of the custom function buttons. It’s not as complicated as it sounds and I know that some of the reviews I read before I got the camera had me scratching my head as to what they were on about with the 2x2 system. All you have to do is choose which of the modes will work best for you in the menu and then remember what you’ve decided to use the lever for. I’ve set mine to Mode 2 which lets me use the main dial for ISO adjustments and the sub-dial for White Balance adjustments. Couldn’t do that with my Nikon D700. The custom functions buttons are much easier to reach on the E-M1 compared to the E-M5 and they have a much nicer tactility than those of the E-M5. There are also quite a few of them compared to the older camera. If you have the HLD-7 grip for the camera there are 7 buttons you can assign just about any camera setting to. The trick is remembering what you’ve set, because in addition to these buttons you can also assign a function to each of the 4 navigation buttons surrounding the OK button and the AE-L button too! This is where most people get scared off from the OM-D but really, there’s nothing to be afraid of. My advice is to write down the most important functions you usually use and then assign each button as you’d like. Having come from Nikon I have tried to keep my function buttons as similar to the Nikon layout as possible. I also haven’t assigned specific functions to all the buttons I am able to. This is how I have mine set up: Fn-1 - focus peaking Fn-2 - multi-function (this adjusts the highlight and shadows of the image using a tone curve) Rec - I have left this to start the video when needed AEL/AFL - left as is, it locks the AE value but could be set to drive AF if you like to shoot that way Front top - set as DOF preview Front bottom - set AF target to Home B-Fn1 - DOF preview (it’s not easy to reach the other button when holding on the grip) B-Fn2 - focus peaking Up/Down/Left/Right - I have left these to select the AF area OK, so you can assign a crap house full of functions into the buttons, but there is also a couple of buttons on the top of the camera that let you adjust the drive (FPS and self timer), HDR, AF method and metering method when held down and shifting either of the dials. This is very similar to the way many of the top-end Nikon bodies worked, so it’s a feature I am quite happy with. Another cool feature is that you can lock the mode dial to prevent accidentally shifting from A mode to (say) P mode. I used to do this on the E-M5 quite often as it was easy to shift that dial. This one is a lot stiffer and now obviously with the locking function it’s a lot better. I have read much squealing from other reviewers about the position of the on/off lever now being on the top of the camera, with the associated misery that it now requires you to switch it on with your left hand as opposed to your right. So what? Are you Lucky Luke or Billy The Kid that you have to be able to flick the camera on in a split second and take a shot? Why not leave it on if being ready quickly is that important? I think it’s in a better position now than it is on the E-M5. So on the whole the ergonomics are great. Provided you can remember what you’ve programmed each button and dial to do you should be able to adjust camera settings very easily. I like the feel of the buttons and I especially like their positions. Much better than the E-M5. Performance There are a couple of areas that I demand performance from in my cameras. The main one is obviously image quality, which I will get to later on in the review, but close on its heels is auto focus performance. How does the camera work with the lenses I have? Auto Focus The E-M1 has both CDAF and PDAF sensors so it’s able to use the latter when using lenses for the 4/3rds system. Apparently it works very well, but as of the time of this review I don’t have any 4/3rds lenses so I can’t comment on that. What I can comment on is that when using a m43 lens there doesn’t seem to be any way of using PDAF instead of CDAF. The camera will only use CDAF with a m43 lens mounted. The CDAF is very fast on every m43 lens I have used when in AF-S mode, but it does tend to be somewhat iffy when I switch to AF-C mode. There’s a C-AF-Tracking mode that pops up an on-screen target that looks just like something you see in the movie Top Gun when the F-14 Tomcat is about to blast the hell out of those Russian Migs. It moves around your EVF in exactly the same way and looks very cool. I took a few shots of my niece giving her border collies a run on the beach (see image below) and most of them were in focus. I did battle a bit with keeping the subject on the AF target when shooting at 10fps, mainly because you lose the proper live view in machine gun mode, so with a telephoto lens it is very easy to lose your subject - this is about the only benefit of an optical view finder that miss. I must say though that the refresh rate of the E-M1 when shooting at high fps is a gazillion times better than the E-M5. I haven’t played around enough with a live moving subject to be able to form an opinion on whether this tracking feature has improved since the E-M5 or not, so I will reserve judgement for now and address this in a separate article once I have had time to test it a little more, hopefully using a 4/3rds lens too. Image Quality Superb. Do I need to say more? Really?? OK, it’s really superb. Best IQ of any camera I have ever owned. Better than the Nikon D700, definitely. The dynamic range and tonality is awesome, but what sets the E-M1 apart from other cameras is the colour it gives you. Skin tones are excellent and truly life-like. I haven’t photographed anyone with dark skin tones yet, but so far the caucasian skin tones I’ve shot under natural light and flash are spot on. I’m very happy to report that I don’t touch colour at all when I am editing the E-M1 files and I have the white balance properly set. This is a shot of my son, the chef. Only adjustment made here was to the background. A lot has been written about the JPG’s that the Olympus cameras produce. I’m not wild about shooting in JPG, but I did try it out and they seem pretty good. I have tested a few of the Art Filters, which if you have the camera set to RAW will give you a funky processed JPG and a RAW file even if you haven’t asked the camera to produce a JPG. The only one of these filters I find interesting is the grainy B&W. The rest seem quite gimmicky in an Instagram kind of way. High ISO performance is excellent. I am quite comfortable shooting this camera at 12800 ISO, which is a full two stops more than I am comfortable shooting the E-M5 at. Yes, it looks a bit grainy, but if you run a noise reduction filter over it, you get a very usable image, which is useful for when I am in reportage mode in a darkened conference room and I don’t want to fire a flash. Actually the grain is decidedly film like in character. I kind of like it at 12800 more than at 6400 for some reason. EVF There has been a lot said about the EVF improvements in the E-M1 over the E-M5. It’s a lot bigger and the rendered image is a lot better too, thanks to many more pixels being jammed in there. As I mentioned in the AF performance part of this review, the refresh rate when shooting at 10fps is significantly improved over the E-M5, but you still don’t see a live view image when you’re bursting frames at that rate, so it can be hard to keep track of something that is moving fast when you’re using a telephoto lens. I don’t see this camera being used effectively for action sports, but I do think I would like to go and try some surfing photography with it, mainly because of the huge advantage of the smaller sensor on telephoto lenses. Overall I prefer an EVF over an OVF. The advantages by far outweigh the negatives, especially as you gain so many shooting aids, like live highlight and shadow clipping, axis levelling, histogram, and not forgetting that you can see the image you just shot in the EVF without having to deal with outdoor reflections on the LCD screen. Features There are more features on this camera than I am probably ever going to use. However, there are a few that I would like to mention, simply because they are so cool and actually something that I can use. Wifi Remote Control If you carry around a smartphone you have a very handy remote control for your E-M1 that works on wifi. It is surprisingly easy to set up, even I managed it (my Lexmark wifi printer still sits plugged into my Mac some 3.5 years after I first bought it, simply because I can’t figure it out). What’s extra cool about this remote control feature is that the E-M1 transmits the live view image to your phone, so as far as making selfies goes, this is truly da bomb when used in conjunction with the self-timer. It’s also a neat party trick to confuse the hell out of your friends with. Over Christmas I got some peeps to hold my iPhone as if they were taking a shot while I held the E-M1 just behind them. It all looks fine until I point the camera at the back of their heads and they start to think I’m pulling an epic Dynamo Magician Impossible illusion on them. Much scratching of heads. The Olympus Remote Image app can also be used to do other cool things, like transfer images directly to your smartphone from the camera, which can then be shared to Facebook. It can also use the phone’s GPS feature to geo-tag your images, which is pretty neat, although to be honest I’d have much preferred it if they put a GPS feature directly in the camera. I have also used my iPad Mini to connect to the camera and do some product photography. This is a very useful feature because I can see on a larger screen exactly where I might need to make adjustments. I tried connecting to my desktop Mac using the SSID that the E-M1 creates but it doesn’t connect and simply times out. It would be nice to be able to shoot wirelessly directly to the Mac. I also hope that Adobe will start to give better support to Olympus products in Lightroom for tethered shooting because currently it doesn’t recognise the camera when it is plugged in via USB. This is a pity because I did enjoy shooting tethered to Lightroom. Live Time Exposure This is a very neat little feature that I’m sure I will put to great use the next time we are at Sabi Sabi doing night photography. When the camera is in manual mode you can set the shutter speed one notch beyond BULB to get to this feature. What it does is show you your image “developing” while the shutter is open during long time exposures. There is also a live histogram that you can use to gauge when to close the shutter. Very cool. Focus Peaking I really love this! It's so well implemented on the E-M1 and I am now quite confident to use any lens on the body with manual focus. It works so well. If you don't know what it is, basically when you have it on the camera detects the strength of edge contrast while you are manually focusing and shows up a bright white outline when that contrast is at its maximum. This allows you to get a good indication of when something is in sharp focus (provided it has discernible edges, obviously). The Feel Of It When I took it out of the box for the first time I was quite surprised by how small it still looks when compared to a DSLR. Yes, it is now slightly bigger than the E-M5, but not by all that much, especially if you have been using the HLD-6 grip with the E-M5. Having said that though, the changes Olympus have made by including the hand grip on the main body this time have made a big difference to the way the camera feels in your hands. I don’t have either huge or small hands, but it feels really good when I hold it. Solid. I do have the HLD-7 grip for it, which makes it feel even better, but then it does start to take on small DSLR proportions. I am using an old Canon wrist strap I still had from my early days and this allows me to get rid of the need for a neck strap. Olympus do make their own wrist straps for the OM-D range (Olympus GS-5) and I will most likely be ordering one as soon as they get the stock in locally. The materials used on the body are high quality alloys and plastics. The rubber coating feels good too. It’s not quite as grippy as that found on the likes of the top end Nikon bodies, but I prefer it because the Nikons tend to get very grubby looking in a short time. I like that the eyepiece now protrudes away from the rear screen more than it did with the E-M5. This has made a difference to the eye sensor sensitivity (the sensor detects when your eye is at the EVF and switches off the LCD) - it now doesn't pick up your hand movements when you are using the touch screen. Quirky Stuff AF-Illumination Beam The AF-illumination light has moved from the left side of the body to the right side and is very close to the hand grip. It doesn’t get blocked by this at all and is probably the reason why Olympus decided to move it there instead of keeping it on the left (although that area is now used by the PC-sync port). However, this is not the ideal spot for my own purposes, reason being that when I am using the E-M5 to take candid stuff of delegates at conferences, I cover the beam with my thumb so that it doesn’t give me away. You simply can’t do this effectively with the E-M1, so I have had to switch it off in the custom settings. It’s not ideal because there are times that I would like to have it work because the Olympus FL-600R doesn’t have a nice AF assist function at all (it does double duty as an LED light for video so it’s really bright and makes people squint terribly). I guess I will have to make use of the MySet presets that Olympus use and have one with it on and another with it off. AF-C Focus Confirmation Beep & Locking Another setting that you need to look into under the AF settings is that when you are in AF-C mode, you can set the AF to lock based on how much activity it detects in the focus zone. The options are High, Normal, Low and Off. Setting this to Off means that your camera will try to re-acquire focus faster for whatever the AF target is looking at. I suppose this setting is to help with slower moving subjects in case you accidentally move the AF point off the subject and the camera then adjusts AF slower. You’ll hear the focus confirmation beep in AF-C too, which is a behaviour that I don’t normally associate with AF-C focusing. Home AF Position One of the functions you can assign to any of the Fn buttons on the camera is the […] Set Home option. This is a very tricky thing to set up properly and it took me quite a while to figure out just how it works. Say you are using the small AF target and you have it set to somewhere near the edge of the frame. To get it back to the middle of the screen you could press the direction buttons on the back of the camera repeatedly, but by using […] Set Home you can get it back there with a single button (whichever one you have assigned the function to). So I set this up using one of the buttons but every time I pressed it all the AF points would illuminate and the camera would then randomly select any point based on wherever it could focus quickest. It drove me nuts. Then I saw in the AF settings menu that there is also a bit about […] Set Home position for the AF target. It shows four options, the default of which is the entire AF target grid. There are also options to set the home position for the large single AF point and the small single AF point, as well as a grouped cluster of AF points. But the twist here is that you don’t have to select the central point as the home point, it can be any of the 81 AF points! So you have to choose which of these options would work for you before setting the Fn button up to get back to wherever you want home to be. I found that very weird, but hey, even weirder is that you can calibrate the front and back focus for 37 of those AF points for every lens you have and the camera will remember them the next time the lens is attached. This is I believe for use with the PDAF system. God save the poor soul who is anal enough to want to do that. I’d rather slit my wrists. Conclusion The E-M1 is everything I need it to be for the kind of photography I do. It combines cutting edge technology with well thought out controls and it all comes in a small, lightweight package that is capable of doing everything and doing it well. There are a lot of settings that you have to look at before you can go out and start shooting with this camera. Because it is so highly customisable I would suggest spending at least an entire day (or two) familiarising yourself with the options available and then go practise shooting at least a dozen times before you use it for a serious shoot. I have tried to set mine up as close as possible to the way I had my Nikons set up and so far apart from the odd issue I have had understanding the settings (like […]Set Home for example) it has been an absolute joy to use. For the asking price of $1400 I don’t think you could ask for anything more. I don’t have any nits to pick. This is the bees knees for me. I will be adding some more shorter material related to my use of the E-M1 throughout the year and you can find those articles under the tag E-M1dD (I will apply this tag to all articles I write that are related to this camera). Go get it. You won’t be sorry. Here are a few more images (click to enlarge): Shot at a live theatre show My other son, the aspiring musician My guitar is similar to this (not my Dad in case you were wondering!) Scrat, the Meerkat! Scrat's Mom More Sample Images Here If you have any questions about the E-M1 please use the comments section below and I will be happy to answer you as best I can. Footnote: please help me to make this website work financially by purchasing your E-M1 from Amazon.com if you are in the USA using this link. It won’t cost you anything more but I will get a sales commission if you do use the link. For South African readers you can order an E-M1 directly from me as I have a dealer account with the supplier (Tudortech). Just send me an email and I will advise you of the current price.
  16. Some of you may remember last year I took my (then) 14 year old son and myself off to the Top Gear Festival held here in Durban, South Africa. We had a great time then and I took lots of shots, using two Nikon D700 bodies and a variety of new Sigma zoom lenses. This past weekend the show returned and at the last minute I decided to get a couple of basic tickets to take the young lad again. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, although I must admit I found the show somewhat boring and a lot less impressive this time around. Anyway, from a photographic point of view, the most significant thing was that this year I only took my mirrorless kit, all of which I got into the ThinkTank Retrospective 5 shoulder bag. To refresh your memories, that kit now comprises the Oly OM-D with HLD-6 grip, Lumix 14-45mm, Lumix 45-175mm, Lumix/Leica 45mm macro, Samyang 7.5mm fisheye, Olympus 9-18mm (new addition) and Olympus 75mm 1.8. I also put the Lumix GF-1 in the front pouch. We got there at around 2pm and the main show was only scheduled to start at 7pm, so we had a lot of time to take in the exhibits and other activities going on around the specially constructed street circuit. Hmmm... there were maybe about 50% of the exhibits compared to 2012, so we had a lot of time looking at essentially not much at all. Very disappointing. Carrying the Retrospective 5 was like carrying a lunchbox with perhaps a can of cool drink and a few apples in it. I hardly felt it at all, whereas last year my Lowepro Mini-Trekker became heavier and heavier as the day wore on. This morning I had a look at some of the images I took with that m43 kit and man, my DSLR kit is looking more and more like something I will only use out of necessity. The next incarnation of the OM-D due out later this year will probably replace my remaining D700 while I can still get a fair price for it on the used market. That is if I don't decide to add a Fuji X Pro-1 or X-E1 before then. For the kind of work I am doing these days, DSLR's are restricted to safaris and only because there isn't any long fast glass for m43. Yet. If they can bring out a 300/2.8 with fast AF and decent tracking, it's bye-bye big black Nikon land for me. Here's a handful of images I got on the weekend. The one thing I am finding with the OM-D is that I hardly have to do any post processing. It's almost disconcerting in a way because I often feel as if I has forgotten to do something before I make my images available to additional sets of eyes. These shots have all received what I call "minor toning" in Lightroom 4 (essentially a 50% recovery of highlights and shadows, 25% increase in blacks and whites), some noise reduction and where needed CA removal. That's it. View attachment: _DAL2593_web.jpg One day when I'm big, I will get another Mercedes. View attachment: _DAL2634_web.jpg View attachment: _DAL2690_web.jpg View attachment: _DAL2720_web.jpg This is a little series I like to call "crazy assholes on bikes". These are all shot with the Olympus 9-18mm that I got last week. View attachment: _DAL2726_web.jpg I just have to get one of these! I noticed this thing hovering dead still while shooting the crazy assholes with what appeared to be a Sony NEX camera gyrating around below it. The kids controlling this thing were capturing the live feed from the NEX on a 10" remote screen. Amazing! I asked the guy what a rig like this would cost and his answer was simply "A lot!" View attachment: _DAL2739_web.jpg I think it starts here? View attachment: _DAL2754_web.jpg After the sun had begun to set we walked around the back end of the show and came across this magnificent '58 Chev. With the exception of the Gullwing Mercedes in a different exhibit, this was probably the most beautiful car I saw the whole day. View attachment: _DAL2759_web.jpg At the beer garden we found a singer. I think this guy is Jason Hartman, who won the local SA Idols a few years ago (back when they still used to pick talent instead of the current shrieking, warbling R&B twits). View attachment: _DAL2767_web.jpg View attachment: _DAL2769_web.jpg At the "window" to the most beautiful stadium in the world (in my opinion). These are with the Olympus 9-18mm lens. What a great little wide angle lens! View attachment: _DAL2777_web.jpg The Samyang 7.5mm fisheye takes it all in (including my finger on the shutter of the HLD-6 grip!) View attachment: _DAL2808_web.jpg And then this was probably about the only thing about the main show that I found even mildly amusing. They decided to race those little 3-wheel cars around the stadium track against The Stig. Some say... this show will probably be very poorly attended next year. View attachment: _DAL2827_web.jpg Some fire?
  17. Here are 10 Cool things I love about my OM-D E-M1 #1 Neck or Wrist Strap (or both) I’ve mentioned before that I dislike camera straps quite a lot. They always seem to get in my way or restrict me from positioning the camera where I want it. I used to loop the strap around my wrist but now I have begun using proper wrist straps. Not the kind that attach to your wrist, but the kind that simply allow you to slip your hand into the loop they form between the battery grip and the top of the camera. I find this much tidier. However, there are times when I do wish I had a neck strap so that if I am using two cameras I can sling the one not in use over my shoulder and not have to worry about it. Recently I discovered that Olympus have already thought about this a bit and they have developed a grip strap (GS-5) that has a loop built into it that you can use to attach your camera strap too. So you can have the shoulder strap and the wrist strap attached to the camera at the same time. Nice little touch! #2 Locking the Mode Dial When using the E-M5 I have sometimes inadvertently moved the mode dial from A to something else without realising it. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it when it does it has caused me some confusion, especially when I think I am shifting aperture values using the command dial but in actual fact I am shifting the shutter speed. I know, one should observe all the indicators in the EVF, but hell, when I’m busy thinking about composition I don’t think about camera settings as much as I should. My bad. So it’s great that on the E-M1 you now have the ability to lock the mode dial, even though it’s new position on the opposite side of the hump means it's less likely to get shifted inadvertently. #3 Battery Priority Because of the power hungry nature of having an EVF and Live View active all the time (not to mention IBIS), the OM-D cameras tend to offer fewer shots per charge than you’d get out of a DSLR. For professional use you need to have a lot of batteries on you, or at least make sure you have the grip. If you’re using the HLD-6 or HLD-7 battery grips for them you do get to prioritise which of the batteries the camera uses first. I have set mine to always use the one in the grip first and then when its exhausted move on to the one in the body. This allows me to remove the one in the grip and then go charge it without slowing down while the other one is being charged. I think of the one in the body as my “reserve” tank. After every shoot I do swap them around so that each unit is getting regular use. #4 HDR & Bracketing Mode Making HDR photos has now become a cinch with the E-M1. By simply pushing the HDR button on the top of the camera you get to chose between two in-camera HDR methods (standard and high contrast) where the E-M1 will create a single image from a burst of three different exposures, or a variety of bracketing methods ranging from 3 to 7 frames covering 2.0 or 3.0 EV. The E-M1 automatically switches itself into high speed FPS for these modes, so you will hardly notice its taken multiple frames if your exposures times are all relatively fast. The IBIS combined with the HDR modes allows you to get some very cool HDR shots that you would ordinarily have required a tripod for. #5 Time Lapse Movie I’ve never done a time lapse movie before, but having seen many of them it’s something I really want to try. It’s made even easier now because the E-M1 does it all in camera. Simply go to the Time Lapse settings in the camera, set up the intervalometer and then use the Time Lapse Movie option to create the movie in the camera. I’m so going to do this soon! I just need to find some inspiration. #6 Remote Control Via Smartphone This is the coolest feature of the E-M1 in my opinion. You turn on the wifi settings, connect your smartphone or tablet to its wifi signal and in conjunction with the free Olympus OI.share app you have full control over the camera, including it’s live view which gets streamed to your device over the wifi connection. There are so many cool applications you could use this for, not least of which is to use it to shoot groups or selfies where you are in the shot too. However, something I am thinking of doing at my next event shoot is to put the camera on a monopod, hoist it high above a table with a wide angle lens on it and using the iPhone compose an image of the people sitting at that table. I’ve done this before without the remote, but it’s always guesswork when it comes to composing. I may have to attach the phone to the monopod too, but it’s worth a go. #7 Set the FPS rate Having a small camera that can shoot at 10 fps in the high speed mode setting is way cool. Having one that can shoot at 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or even 9 fps in the same mode depending on your needs is even cooler. The E-M1 lets you set the FPS for both its High and Low burst settings. I like having that control. #8 Live Bulb and Live Time Exposures in Live View Something I have never experienced first hand is the magic of seeing a print come to life in a darkroom. Some day I will, but for now Olympus have allowed me to use the Live setting when I am creating long Live Time or Live Bulb exposures and experience something similar. You actually get to see the image “developing” as you have the shutter open for long periods. Combine this with the wifi connection to your iPad and you’ve got a cool way of doing star trails or astrophotography. The system lets you chose how often you want the image on the screen to refresh too. Nice touch! #9 Lens Function Button On the new range of PRO lenses from Olympus there is a new L-Fn button. This lets you program an available function into the button that you haven’t already programmed into the numerous function buttons on the E-M1 (or other OM-D). I have programmed it to use the 2x teleconverter function. This will be quite neat with the 40-150/2.8 and the 300/4. Basically it doubles their field of view electronically and creates an in-camera JPG interpolation at your full 16MP resolution. #10 Remote Flash Control This isn’t something that is unique to Olympus, Nikon have had it for quite a while, but it does add another very cool feature to the OM-D that a lot of other systems don’t have. If you have Olympus FL-600R or FL-300R flash units you can control these items remotely from the camera using the little clip on flash (or another FL-600R) as a commander. You can control 3 groups of lights, set whether you want them to fire in manual, TTL or A mode, adjust their output by up to 10 stops (you won’t find many lights from any manufacturer that allows such a big EV range to be set) and also whether they should fire in FP mode or not. That is pretty cool. If you are an O-MD user what are your favourite features of your camera? View full article
  18. If you have used the Olympus OM-D E-M10 please give it a rating by voting in the poll and share your thoughts and images taken with the camera in this thread so that other members of the community can make an informed decision if they are considering buying this item.
  19. Yesterday I took delivery of a few more items to round off my Olympus camera system. I got an unmissable deal on a Zuiko 7-14mm f/4.0 zoom lens, which is a Super High Grade lens that was made for the Four Thirds system. I also got another FL-600R flash and I couldn't not get the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 based on all the rave reviews it has received. When I got the 7-14mm f/4 out of the box I was amazed at the size and weight of it. It's a monster! Mounted to the E-M1 via the MMF-2 adapter it really looks the business. But, it's most certainly not something I will be taking around with me everywhere on casual shooting, because it is a DSLR lens and I'll only be using it for specific jobs where I need an extreme wide angle lens. It totally defeats the purpose of a small and lightweight system, BUT, it underlines the versatility of the now seemingly invincible system that Olympus has built up. Being able to use the 4/3rds lenses effectively on the E-M1 shows how it can be both big and menacing as well as small and discreet. My OM-D bodies came about with my desire to be evolutionary with my camera gear. There is the E-M5 which was the tipping point for me to abandon the technologically stagnant Nikon 135 DSLR system in favour of the rapidly accelerating micro four thirds system, plus now the E-M1 has further affirmed that my decision was a good one. It is the most advanced camera I have ever used, capable of producing outstanding images under application of a visual and daring mind. The cameras are letting me go much further than I ever did with my Nikon system because they have instilled in me a confidence to shoot that I never had before. It's funny, I remember thinking when I first got the revolutionary Nikon D700 that it was all the camera I ever needed, and it was for a long time, but then taking it around just became a chore that outweighed my desire to go shooting with it. The OM-D cameras beg to go out and they're such easy-going dates that denying them leaves me feeling guilty. My lens line up currently looks like this: Olympus 7-14mm f/4 - bought for professional architecture and design commissions Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 - bought for travel and where landscapes are my priority Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO - general purpose pro zoom for events and more Olympus 45mm f/1.8 - low light portraiture lens Olympus 75mm f/1.8 - low light lens for audience and stage work, as well as some portraits Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II - super zoom range for casual telephoto needs Samyang 7.5mm fisheye - the coolest vision bending tool I have! Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-4.5 - redundant, but useful to keep as a spare general purpose lens Panasonic/Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit - for macros and small product photography On the way still for evaluation is another 4/3rds lens in the form of the very highly rated Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. Hope to have that later this week. If it's as good as the reviews I've read suggest then it will become my go-to safari lens, mainly because of the relatively small size and fast aperture. Having f/3.5 at an effective 400mm field of view will prove very useful on safari. I'm also obviously waiting for the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8, but that will only arrive in the second half of this year. With all this glass there is literally nothing I can't do photographically. My aim over the rest of the month is to head out with different items each day and begin writing some in-depth-real-photographer-based reviews for those of you who are considering the m43 system. I'm hoping for some big surf to come through one of these days so I can properly put the E-M1's AF tracking to the test. Right now the Indian ocean looks a little lake-like, so that plan is on hold for the moment. As mentioned upfront I also have a second FL-600R flash which I will now begin putting to the test using the Olympus wireless flash system. I do find the Oly flash system very confusing, so I am making it my aim to set up some core shooting situations for it and to make proper notes on how to derive the best results. That will actually form the basis of my first e-book, which I will be publishing right here on Fotozones sometime this year. It's going to be a great year to discover just how far I can take this micro four thirds system, so keep checking the site for new articles and reviews. If you make use of an RSS reader there are a few feeds you can subscribe to by clicking the little orange icon on the top right of the page. If you don't know how to use RSS just pop me a line - I'll show you how I use it in MyYahoo to keep track of several photography related websites. The 7-14mm f/4 totally dwarfs the tiny little 45mm f/1.8! View full article
  20. If you’re like me you will probably skip to the end of any product review and read the summary before delving into the parts that are important to you. I’ll save you the bother and tell you upfront that if you’re looking for a well designed, well equipped, excellent piece of photographic equipment you can stop reading right now and click this link to buy it. It’s a work of art. Just go get one. It’s everything a camera should be. There, I said it - are you back from buying it yet? You haven't bought it yet? Wanna know more about it? OK, well, I guess you ought to read on a bit then. Grab a beverage because this review is about 4000 words long and there are quite a few images to look at too. It's a slightly different approach to the way I normally write a review, but I am sure you will find the information useful if you're planning on getting one. Ergonomics Camera ergonomics is one of the most important elements of photography. If you’re not comfortable with finding your way around your kit, you’re not going to be happy and at the end of the day your images will reflect that. The E-M1 has been very well thought out in as much as button position is concerned. Buttons, Dials & Levers At the most basic level there are 3 variables involved in photography that the photographer needs to be able to adjust quickly. These are the lens aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO. Those are the fundamentals and you need to be able to get to them quickly and without impediment, which is why older cameras had aperture rings and a dial on the top to select the shutter speed. Easy. Happily I can report that the E-M1 lets the photographer change all of those variables very quickly and much easier than an old retro SLR could. On the E-M1 there are a pair of dials on the body that you can assign to shift the value of each of these variables. The main dial is directly under your right thumb when holding the camera and the sub-command dial is integrated with the shutter release, so it’s easy to get to. Olympus have allowed these dials to be customised for each mode that the camera is in. So for instance, if you are in A mode and you want the rear dial to adjust aperture and the front dial to set compensation you can do that, or you can have them reversed. If you are in S mode you can set it up to work the same way, or if you have some kind of twisted brain you can make it work differently to A mode. You can also set the direction of the dials, which is quite a handy feature if you are coming from a brand of camera that works a certain way. So as far as the two main variables (aperture & shutter speed) are concerned, adjusting them is real simple and you can compensate easily without having to press any other button on the camera. What about ISO? On the other OM-D model I have, the E-M5, getting to the ISO was a bit of a fiddle. You had to set it using the Super Control Panel. This was pretty easy to do, but if the last item you adjusted on the SCP was (say) the image quality, you’d have to navigate through the other options on the screen to adjust ISO. This involved several button pushes. On the E-M1 there is a lever integrated with the AE-L button on the rear of the camera that you can flip up or down. If you flip it down the two dials I already mentioned can be used to adjust something else on the camera, like ISO and white balance, for instance. So if I want to quickly change from auto ISO to a low value, all I do is flip down the lever with my right thumb and then use either of the dials to adjust it. How cool is that? There are 5 different modes you can set this lever to, each of them re-assigns either the dials or a couple of the custom function buttons. It’s not as complicated as it sounds and I know that some of the reviews I read before I got the camera had me scratching my head as to what they were on about with the 2x2 system. All you have to do is choose which of the modes will work best for you in the menu and then remember what you’ve decided to use the lever for. I’ve set mine to Mode 2 which lets me use the main dial for ISO adjustments and the sub-dial for White Balance adjustments. Couldn’t do that with my Nikon D700. The custom functions buttons are much easier to reach on the E-M1 compared to the E-M5 and they have a much nicer tactility than those of the E-M5. There are also quite a few of them compared to the older camera. If you have the HLD-7 grip for the camera there are 7 buttons you can assign just about any camera setting to. The trick is remembering what you’ve set, because in addition to these buttons you can also assign a function to each of the 4 navigation buttons surrounding the OK button and the AE-L button too! This is where most people get scared off from the OM-D but really, there’s nothing to be afraid of. My advice is to write down the most important functions you usually use and then assign each button as you’d like. Having come from Nikon I have tried to keep my function buttons as similar to the Nikon layout as possible. I also haven’t assigned specific functions to all the buttons I am able to. This is how I have mine set up: Fn-1 - focus peaking Fn-2 - multi-function (this adjusts the highlight and shadows of the image using a tone curve) Rec - I have left this to start the video when needed AEL/AFL - left as is, it locks the AE value but could be set to drive AF if you like to shoot that way Front top - set as DOF preview Front bottom - set AF target to Home B-Fn1 - DOF preview (it’s not easy to reach the other button when holding on the grip) B-Fn2 - focus peaking Up/Down/Left/Right - I have left these to select the AF area OK, so you can assign a crap house full of functions into the buttons, but there is also a couple of buttons on the top of the camera that let you adjust the drive (FPS and self timer), HDR, AF method and metering method when held down and shifting either of the dials. This is very similar to the way many of the top-end Nikon bodies worked, so it’s a feature I am quite happy with. Another cool feature is that you can lock the mode dial to prevent accidentally shifting from A mode to (say) P mode. I used to do this on the E-M5 quite often as it was easy to shift that dial. This one is a lot stiffer and now obviously with the locking function it’s a lot better. I have read much squealing from other reviewers about the position of the on/off lever now being on the top of the camera, with the associated misery that it now requires you to switch it on with your left hand as opposed to your right. So what? Are you Lucky Luke or Billy The Kid that you have to be able to flick the camera on in a split second and take a shot? Why not leave it on if being ready quickly is that important? I think it’s in a better position now than it is on the E-M5. So on the whole the ergonomics are great. Provided you can remember what you’ve programmed each button and dial to do you should be able to adjust camera settings very easily. I like the feel of the buttons and I especially like their positions. Much better than the E-M5. Performance There are a couple of areas that I demand performance from in my cameras. The main one is obviously image quality, which I will get to later on in the review, but close on its heels is auto focus performance. How does the camera work with the lenses I have? Auto Focus The E-M1 has both CDAF and PDAF sensors so it’s able to use the latter when using lenses for the 4/3rds system. Apparently it works very well, but as of the time of this review I don’t have any 4/3rds lenses so I can’t comment on that. What I can comment on is that when using a m43 lens there doesn’t seem to be any way of using PDAF instead of CDAF. The camera will only use CDAF with a m43 lens mounted. The CDAF is very fast on every m43 lens I have used when in AF-S mode, but it does tend to be somewhat iffy when I switch to AF-C mode. There’s a C-AF-Tracking mode that pops up an on-screen target that looks just like something you see in the movie Top Gun when the F-14 Tomcat is about to blast the hell out of those Russian Migs. It moves around your EVF in exactly the same way and looks very cool. I took a few shots of my niece giving her border collies a run on the beach (see image below) and most of them were in focus. I did battle a bit with keeping the subject on the AF target when shooting at 10fps, mainly because you lose the proper live view in machine gun mode, so with a telephoto lens it is very easy to lose your subject - this is about the only benefit of an optical view finder that miss. I must say though that the refresh rate of the E-M1 when shooting at high fps is a gazillion times better than the E-M5. I haven’t played around enough with a live moving subject to be able to form an opinion on whether this tracking feature has improved since the E-M5 or not, so I will reserve judgement for now and address this in a separate article once I have had time to test it a little more, hopefully using a 4/3rds lens too. Image Quality Superb. Do I need to say more? Really?? OK, it’s really superb. Best IQ of any camera I have ever owned. Better than the Nikon D700, definitely. The dynamic range and tonality is awesome, but what sets the E-M1 apart from other cameras is the colour it gives you. Skin tones are excellent and truly life-like. I haven’t photographed anyone with dark skin tones yet, but so far the caucasian skin tones I’ve shot under natural light and flash are spot on. I’m very happy to report that I don’t touch colour at all when I am editing the E-M1 files and I have the white balance properly set. This is a shot of my son, the chef. Only adjustment made here was to the background. A lot has been written about the JPG’s that the Olympus cameras produce. I’m not wild about shooting in JPG, but I did try it out and they seem pretty good. I have tested a few of the Art Filters, which if you have the camera set to RAW will give you a funky processed JPG and a RAW file even if you haven’t asked the camera to produce a JPG. The only one of these filters I find interesting is the grainy B&W. The rest seem quite gimmicky in an Instagram kind of way. High ISO performance is excellent. I am quite comfortable shooting this camera at 12800 ISO, which is a full two stops more than I am comfortable shooting the E-M5 at. Yes, it looks a bit grainy, but if you run a noise reduction filter over it, you get a very usable image, which is useful for when I am in reportage mode in a darkened conference room and I don’t want to fire a flash. Actually the grain is decidedly film like in character. I kind of like it at 12800 more than at 6400 for some reason. EVF There has been a lot said about the EVF improvements in the E-M1 over the E-M5. It’s a lot bigger and the rendered image is a lot better too, thanks to many more pixels being jammed in there. As I mentioned in the AF performance part of this review, the refresh rate when shooting at 10fps is significantly improved over the E-M5, but you still don’t see a live view image when you’re bursting frames at that rate, so it can be hard to keep track of something that is moving fast when you’re using a telephoto lens. I don’t see this camera being used effectively for action sports, but I do think I would like to go and try some surfing photography with it, mainly because of the huge advantage of the smaller sensor on telephoto lenses. Overall I prefer an EVF over an OVF. The advantages by far outweigh the negatives, especially as you gain so many shooting aids, like live highlight and shadow clipping, axis levelling, histogram, and not forgetting that you can see the image you just shot in the EVF without having to deal with outdoor reflections on the LCD screen. Features There are more features on this camera than I am probably ever going to use. However, there are a few that I would like to mention, simply because they are so cool and actually something that I can use. Wifi Remote Control If you carry around a smartphone you have a very handy remote control for your E-M1 that works on wifi. It is surprisingly easy to set up, even I managed it (my Lexmark wifi printer still sits plugged into my Mac some 3.5 years after I first bought it, simply because I can’t figure it out). What’s extra cool about this remote control feature is that the E-M1 transmits the live view image to your phone, so as far as making selfies goes, this is truly da bomb when used in conjunction with the self-timer. It’s also a neat party trick to confuse the hell out of your friends with. Over Christmas I got some peeps to hold my iPhone as if they were taking a shot while I held the E-M1 just behind them. It all looks fine until I point the camera at the back of their heads and they start to think I’m pulling an epic Dynamo Magician Impossible illusion on them. Much scratching of heads. The Olympus Remote Image app can also be used to do other cool things, like transfer images directly to your smartphone from the camera, which can then be shared to Facebook. It can also use the phone’s GPS feature to geo-tag your images, which is pretty neat, although to be honest I’d have much preferred it if they put a GPS feature directly in the camera. I have also used my iPad Mini to connect to the camera and do some product photography. This is a very useful feature because I can see on a larger screen exactly where I might need to make adjustments. I tried connecting to my desktop Mac using the SSID that the E-M1 creates but it doesn’t connect and simply times out. It would be nice to be able to shoot wirelessly directly to the Mac. I also hope that Adobe will start to give better support to Olympus products in Lightroom for tethered shooting because currently it doesn’t recognise the camera when it is plugged in via USB. This is a pity because I did enjoy shooting tethered to Lightroom. Live Time Exposure This is a very neat little feature that I’m sure I will put to great use the next time we are at Sabi Sabi doing night photography. When the camera is in manual mode you can set the shutter speed one notch beyond BULB to get to this feature. What it does is show you your image “developing” while the shutter is open during long time exposures. There is also a live histogram that you can use to gauge when to close the shutter. Very cool. Focus Peaking I really love this! It's so well implemented on the E-M1 and I am now quite confident to use any lens on the body with manual focus. It works so well. If you don't know what it is, basically when you have it on the camera detects the strength of edge contrast while you are manually focusing and shows up a bright white outline when that contrast is at its maximum. This allows you to get a good indication of when something is in sharp focus (provided it has discernible edges, obviously). The Feel Of It When I took it out of the box for the first time I was quite surprised by how small it still looks when compared to a DSLR. Yes, it is now slightly bigger than the E-M5, but not by all that much, especially if you have been using the HLD-6 grip with the E-M5. Having said that though, the changes Olympus have made by including the hand grip on the main body this time have made a big difference to the way the camera feels in your hands. I don’t have either huge or small hands, but it feels really good when I hold it. Solid. I do have the HLD-7 grip for it, which makes it feel even better, but then it does start to take on small DSLR proportions. I am using an old Canon wrist strap I still had from my early days and this allows me to get rid of the need for a neck strap. Olympus do make their own wrist straps for the OM-D range (Olympus GS-5) and I will most likely be ordering one as soon as they get the stock in locally. The materials used on the body are high quality alloys and plastics. The rubber coating feels good too. It’s not quite as grippy as that found on the likes of the top end Nikon bodies, but I prefer it because the Nikons tend to get very grubby looking in a short time. I like that the eyepiece now protrudes away from the rear screen more than it did with the E-M5. This has made a difference to the eye sensor sensitivity (the sensor detects when your eye is at the EVF and switches off the LCD) - it now doesn't pick up your hand movements when you are using the touch screen. Quirky Stuff AF-Illumination Beam The AF-illumination light has moved from the left side of the body to the right side and is very close to the hand grip. It doesn’t get blocked by this at all and is probably the reason why Olympus decided to move it there instead of keeping it on the left (although that area is now used by the PC-sync port). However, this is not the ideal spot for my own purposes, reason being that when I am using the E-M5 to take candid stuff of delegates at conferences, I cover the beam with my thumb so that it doesn’t give me away. You simply can’t do this effectively with the E-M1, so I have had to switch it off in the custom settings. It’s not ideal because there are times that I would like to have it work because the Olympus FL-600R doesn’t have a nice AF assist function at all (it does double duty as an LED light for video so it’s really bright and makes people squint terribly). I guess I will have to make use of the MySet presets that Olympus use and have one with it on and another with it off. AF-C Focus Confirmation Beep & Locking Another setting that you need to look into under the AF settings is that when you are in AF-C mode, you can set the AF to lock based on how much activity it detects in the focus zone. The options are High, Normal, Low and Off. Setting this to Off means that your camera will try to re-acquire focus faster for whatever the AF target is looking at. I suppose this setting is to help with slower moving subjects in case you accidentally move the AF point off the subject and the camera then adjusts AF slower. You’ll hear the focus confirmation beep in AF-C too, which is a behaviour that I don’t normally associate with AF-C focusing. Home AF Position One of the functions you can assign to any of the Fn buttons on the camera is the […] Set Home option. This is a very tricky thing to set up properly and it took me quite a while to figure out just how it works. Say you are using the small AF target and you have it set to somewhere near the edge of the frame. To get it back to the middle of the screen you could press the direction buttons on the back of the camera repeatedly, but by using […] Set Home you can get it back there with a single button (whichever one you have assigned the function to). So I set this up using one of the buttons but every time I pressed it all the AF points would illuminate and the camera would then randomly select any point based on wherever it could focus quickest. It drove me nuts. Then I saw in the AF settings menu that there is also a bit about […] Set Home position for the AF target. It shows four options, the default of which is the entire AF target grid. There are also options to set the home position for the large single AF point and the small single AF point, as well as a grouped cluster of AF points. But the twist here is that you don’t have to select the central point as the home point, it can be any of the 81 AF points! So you have to choose which of these options would work for you before setting the Fn button up to get back to wherever you want home to be. I found that very weird, but hey, even weirder is that you can calibrate the front and back focus for 37 of those AF points for every lens you have and the camera will remember them the next time the lens is attached. This is I believe for use with the PDAF system. God save the poor soul who is anal enough to want to do that. I’d rather slit my wrists. Conclusion The E-M1 is everything I need it to be for the kind of photography I do. It combines cutting edge technology with well thought out controls and it all comes in a small, lightweight package that is capable of doing everything and doing it well. There are a lot of settings that you have to look at before you can go out and start shooting with this camera. Because it is so highly customisable I would suggest spending at least an entire day (or two) familiarising yourself with the options available and then go practise shooting at least a dozen times before you use it for a serious shoot. I have tried to set mine up as close as possible to the way I had my Nikons set up and so far apart from the odd issue I have had understanding the settings (like […]Set Home for example) it has been an absolute joy to use. For the asking price of $1400 I don’t think you could ask for anything more. I don’t have any nits to pick. This is the bees knees for me. I will be adding some more shorter material related to my use of the E-M1 throughout the year and you can find those articles under the tag E-M1dD (I will apply this tag to all articles I write that are related to this camera). Go get it. You won’t be sorry. Here are a few more images (click to enlarge): Shot at a live theatre show My other son, the aspiring musician My guitar is similar to this (not my Dad in case you were wondering!) Scrat, the Meerkat! Scrat's Mom More Sample Images Here If you have any questions about the E-M1 please use the comments section below and I will be happy to answer you as best I can. Footnote: please help me to make this website work financially by purchasing your E-M1 from Amazon.com if you are in the USA using this link. It won’t cost you anything more but I will get a sales commission if you do use the link. For South African readers you can order an E-M1 directly from me as I have a dealer account with the supplier (Tudortech). Just send me an email and I will advise you of the current price. View full article
  21. Dallas

    The Nothingness

    When there's nothing to shoot, there's nothing to shoot. But sometimes nothing can make a far greater statement than anything. This desert seems to roll on without end. It's like one very long and undulating beach. Wherever you look there's only sand and more sand. It's nothing and everything all at once. A stark, barren reminder of just how harsh the earth's surface can be. At one time this place must have looked very different, perhaps it was full of vegetation once and slowly over millions of years it developed into this dry, sandy patch of the earth's skin. The geologists will have a theory on that, no doubt. But for me, in this moment, all I can see is nothing and nothing is more powerful than that. click to enlarge Taken handheld out of the window of the vehicle seen above (while it was moving). The images are of the dunes just outside Swakopmund on the Namibian coast. All taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 during an afternoon excursion to the region where we photographed chameleons, snakes and a variety of other life forms that somehow survive out there. If you'd like to join our small group (no more than 5) of photographers returning to this area in 2014 please get in touch. Click here to view the article
  22. Jyda

    Regents Park, London

    Shot with the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Panasonic 25/1.4, my preferred combination for street.
  23. If you have used the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, let us know what you thought of it in this thread. We'd like to keep this thread as relevant as possible, so off-topic posts may be split off to other parts of fotozones.com.
  24. If you have used the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera, let us know what you thought of it in this thread. We'd like to keep this thread as relevant as possible, so off-topic posts may be split off to other parts of fotozones.com.
  25. Some of you may remember last year I took my (then) 14 year old son and myself off to the Top Gear Festival held here in Durban, South Africa. We had a great time then and I took lots of shots, using two Nikon D700 bodies and a variety of new Sigma zoom lenses. This past weekend the show returned and at the last minute I decided to get a couple of basic tickets to take the young lad again. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, although I must admit I found the show somewhat boring and a lot less impressive this time around. Anyway, from a photographic point of view, the most significant thing was that this year I only took my mirrorless kit, all of which I got into the ThinkTank Retrospective 5 shoulder bag. To refresh your memories, that kit now comprises the Oly OM-D with HLD-6 grip, Lumix 14-45mm, Lumix 45-175mm, Lumix/Leica 45mm macro, Samyang 7.5mm fisheye, Olympus 9-18mm (new addition) and Olympus 75mm 1.8. I also put the Lumix GF-1 in the front pouch. We got there at around 2pm and the main show was only scheduled to start at 7pm, so we had a lot of time to take in the exhibits and other activities going on around the specially constructed street circuit. Hmmm... there were maybe about 50% of the exhibits compared to 2012, so we had a lot of time looking at essentially not much at all. Very disappointing. Carrying the Retrospective 5 was like carrying a lunchbox with perhaps a can of cool drink and a few apples in it. I hardly felt it at all, whereas last year my Lowepro Mini-Trekker became heavier and heavier as the day wore on. This morning I had a look at some of the images I took with that m43 kit and man, my DSLR kit is looking more and more like something I will only use out of necessity. The next incarnation of the OM-D due out later this year will probably replace my remaining D700 while I can still get a fair price for it on the used market. That is if I don't decide to add a Fuji X Pro-1 or X-E1 before then. For the kind of work I am doing these days, DSLR's are restricted to safaris and only because there isn't any long fast glass for m43. Yet. If they can bring out a 300/2.8 with fast AF and decent tracking, it's bye-bye big black Nikon land for me. Here's a handful of images I got on the weekend. The one thing I am finding with the OM-D is that I hardly have to do any post processing. It's almost disconcerting in a way because I often feel as if I has forgotten to do something before I make my images available to additional sets of eyes. These shots have all received what I call "minor toning" in Lightroom 4 (essentially a 50% recovery of highlights and shadows, 25% increase in blacks and whites), some noise reduction and where needed CA removal. That's it. View attachment: _DAL2593_web.jpg One day when I'm big, I will get another Mercedes. View attachment: _DAL2634_web.jpg View attachment: _DAL2690_web.jpg View attachment: _DAL2720_web.jpg This is a little series I like to call "crazy assholes on bikes". These are all shot with the Olympus 9-18mm that I got last week. View attachment: _DAL2726_web.jpg I just have to get one of these! I noticed this thing hovering dead still while shooting the crazy assholes with what appeared to be a Sony NEX camera gyrating around below it. The kids controlling this thing were capturing the live feed from the NEX on a 10" remote screen. Amazing! I asked the guy what a rig like this would cost and his answer was simply "A lot!" View attachment: _DAL2739_web.jpg I think it starts here? View attachment: _DAL2754_web.jpg After the sun had begun to set we walked around the back end of the show and came across this magnificent '58 Chev. With the exception of the Gullwing Mercedes in a different exhibit, this was probably the most beautiful car I saw the whole day. View attachment: _DAL2759_web.jpg At the beer garden we found a singer. I think this guy is Jason Hartman, who won the local SA Idols a few years ago (back when they still used to pick talent instead of the current shrieking, warbling R&B twits). View attachment: _DAL2767_web.jpg View attachment: _DAL2769_web.jpg At the "window" to the most beautiful stadium in the world (in my opinion). These are with the Olympus 9-18mm lens. What a great little wide angle lens! View attachment: _DAL2777_web.jpg The Samyang 7.5mm fisheye takes it all in (including my finger on the shutter of the HLD-6 grip!) View attachment: _DAL2808_web.jpg And then this was probably about the only thing about the main show that I found even mildly amusing. They decided to race those little 3-wheel cars around the stadium track against The Stig. Some say... this show will probably be very poorly attended next year. View attachment: _DAL2827_web.jpg Some fire? View full article
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