Nov 062015
 

sonya7ii-1-1024x682

Sony Adds Uncompressed RAW and Phase Detect AF for Faster and More Precise Autofocus to α7 II Full Frame Camera
New Features to be enabled via firmware update available November 18th

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 4, 2015 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has announced plans to release a free firmware update for α7 II cameras on November 18th that will add uncompressed 14-Bit RAW image capture and activates phase detection AF for faster and more precise autofocus with lenses designed for interchangeable-lens cameras including Sony’s α mount system.

The α7 II becomes the latest Sony full-frame camera, along with α7S II, α7R II and RX1R II to offer uncompressed RAW capture, which becomes a selectable feature (uncompressed/compressed RAW) within the menu system.

Additionally, it becomes the second Sony camera, along with the flagship α7R II, to offer fully-functional phase detection AF to A-mount lenses in addition to E-mount lenses. The firmware update activates the 117-point focal plane phase detection AF sensor on the α7 II for lenses beyond just the native Sony FE lenses. This includes Sony’s extensive collection of A-mount lenses, which can be utilized along with the LA-EA3 mount adapter.

“We’re continuing to innovate, with a clear focus to ensure we are meeting the needs and demands of Sony α customers,” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President for Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. “The addition of Uncompressed 14-Bit RAW processing and the activation of phase detection AF brings a level of performance and versatility to the α7 II that is well beyond any camera in its class.”
In addition to these feature upgrades, the MOVIE button can now be assigned to a custom button.

The new firmware, version 2.0, will be available for download at no cost through Sony’s e-support site www.esupport.sony.com on the product page for model “ILCE-7M2”.

The α7 II is compatible with Sony’s growing lineup of α -mount lenses, which now totals 64 different models including 13 native ‘FE’ full frame lenses. In 2016, Sony aims to build the native FE lens lineup to over 20 different models.

A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new a7R II cameras plus other Sony α products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, Sony’s new community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of Sony α brand.

Oct 312015
 

Gorgeous Sony RX100 MK IV video

by Baris Parildar

sony_dsc_rx100_mark_4_digital_1159879

Just saw this video that a user posted to my Facebook page.. He used the Sony RX100 MKIV for this entire video and it looks gorgeous. Shows the quality that can fit in your pocket these days! My RX100 IV review is HERE if you missed it, but check out Baris’s video below!

“We recently made a road trip from LA to Portland. I just wanted to see what I could create with my Sony RX100m4 and DJI Phantom 3 Standard along the way. I was mostly concentrated on photography and doing some behind the scenes type of videography on the side.
I was checking the footage today and thought it might be a good idea to make a short clip. So here we go…
I hope you like it!”

 

Oct 292015
 

The 30.001th Last Post

By Dirk De Paepe

1914-1918: World War 1 and the Ypres Salient

One hundred years ago the whole world was in the grip of the biggest and deadliest conflict in its history. From July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918 the First World War claimed the lives of more than 16 million people. A total of approximately 70 million soldiers were deployed. More than 1.5 billion people lived in countries that were involved in the conflict. They made for more than 80% of the world population, that at that time amounted to approximately 1.8 billion. The Great War (as WW1 is often referred to) paved the way for major political changes in about all participating countries. As such, it included the end of the prewar German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.

One of the main war zones, The Western Front, was largely situated in Flanders, Belgium. From October 1914 to October 1918 the battlefield was located just a few kilometers from the center of the medieval city of Ypres. The trenches were situated from north to south in an arc around the city: the famous Ypres Salient. During the four-year war the ancient city in the heart of the Ypres Salient was literally razed to the ground, totally destroyed. From the beginning of May 1915, nobody lived anymore in Ypres. Early 1919, residents reluctantly turned back to their former grounds and little by little they started the rebuild of their city. Many buildings were even reconstructed identical to the plans of their medieval example. After the earlier destruction during the invasion of famous historical Belgian cities, such as Leuven (with the complete demolishing of the world-famous university library), the inhabitants of Ypres had collected many plans of their important medieval buildings. Thus, eg. the famous Belfry and the Cloth Halls could be restored in all their authentic glory.

Picture 1: The medieval Belfry and Cloth Halls are faithfully rebuilt to their original examples

01 Belfry+ClothHalls

In that famous Ypres Salient, no fewer than five bloody battles were fought. A few months after the enemy invasion of Belgium on August 4, 1914, the front stagnated, which resulted in the first battle of Ypres. On April 22, 1915, the Second Battle of Ypres began with the first major gas attack ever. The chlorine gas choked thousands of allied soldiers, mainly French troops and many North Africans. It was the first time in history that a weapon of mass destruction was being used. Later in the war, the Ypres Salient proved to be an experimental battlefield on several occasions: it is here that, in July 1915, flamethrowers were deployed for the first time. In July 1917 the terrifying mustard gas appeared, also appropriately called “Yprite”. And from July 31 to November 10, 1917 raged probably the most terrible battle of Ypres, in its final stage sometimes referred to as the “Battle of Passchendaele”. (Passchendaele is a village near Ypres.) It was a massacre unprecedented. The sense and nonsense of this offensive are still under discussion to this day.

In the trenches and in the no man’s land around Ypres, about half a million soldiers were killed in action between 1914 and 1918. In addition to Germans, French, British and Belgians also Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, Senegalese, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans , Chinese, Indians, Jamaicans and many other nationalities were included. But especially the troops of the British Empire yielded around Ypres a very large contribution to the resistance against the enemy invasion. As the victims were often horribly butchered, many bodies could not be identified. But also many of the survivors suffered serious irreversible injuries, with often amputations of limbs and even parts of the face as a result.

Picture 2: even 100 years later, all kinds of explosives are still found on a daily bases by farmers in Flanders Fields

02 WW1Explosives
Picture 3: some of the trenches are maintained

03 Trenches
Picture 4: inside a shelter in the trenches

04 Inside Trench Shelter
Picture 5: outside a shelter in the trenches

05 Outside Trench Shelter

Tyne Cot and Menin Gate

In Passchendaele near Ypres lies the largest military cemetery of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC): the “Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery And Memorial To The Missing” is dedicated to the First World War dead of the British Empire, which fell in the Ypres Salient of Flanders Fields at the Western Front. Here also all missing soldiers and unidentified war dead are specially remembered and honored.

The land on which the cemetery is located, was voluntarily donated forever by the Belgian people to all those who are commemorated here. The names of the missing soldiers are engraved on the walls at the edge of the cemetery on the one hand, and on the other hand also on the walls of the Menin Gate in the city of Ypres, which was built by the British as a special memorial for their missing, even before the Tyne Cot Cemetery monument. In the Menin Gate, the names were engraved of 54.896 Commonwealth soldiers who died here, but whose bodies have never been identified or recovered. When it became clear that there was not enough space on the Menin Gate to engrave the names of all the missing soldiers, the arbitrary cutoff date of August 15, 1917 was chosen and the names of 34.984 more British missing after this date were inscribed on the walls of the Tyne Cot Memorial To The Missing. In total, therefore, 89.880 names of fallen soldiers are engraved. An incredible number, especially when you consider that this relates only to those soldiers of the British Empire who fell in the Ypres Salient and whose bodies have not been identified or not recovered.

Picture 6: Group arrival at theTyne Cot Cemetery

06 Group at Tine Cot
Picture 7: Grave of an unknown Australian soldier at Tyne Cot

7asg
Picture 8: Locals at the Menin Gate

08 Locals at the Menin Gate
Picture 9: The Menin Gate Memorial monument

09 Menin Gate Memorial Monument
Picture 10: 54896 names engraved

10 54896 names engraved

Never forget

The First World War is still very present in those Flanders Fields, where still every day unexploded explosive devices are found by local farmers. One hundred years later!

The Menin Gate, Tyne Cot Cemetery, the town of Ypres and the entire surroundings are an area of remembrance – for the Flemish, but certainly for so many British, especially those who cherish the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot Cemetery as the only place where they can commemorate their missing family members of yore, relatives who never could get their own grave. Their name on a wall, among those of their fallen comrades, is the only thing left of them.

Every day, visitors arrive from all over the former British Empire, of course most coming from England, visiting the cemeteries and the Menin Gate. Often it concerns young people, along with their parents, to come looking for a name of a family member on the walls of Tyne Cot or Menin Gate and place a little wooden cross with a poppy, or who are making a school trip to learn about the importance of those commemoration symbols. Every visitor, without exception, is heavily struck by the symbolism of these historical sites.

Picture 11: Looking for a name.

11 Looking for a name
Picture 12: He’s there!

12ht
Picture 13: Body language speaks volumes

13 Body Language
Picture 14: Nobody rests untouched

14 Nobody untouched
Picture 15: Comrades in death

15 Comrades in death

The Last Post Association

The “Last Post” is a tune of the British regiments, played on clarion, that announces the end of the workday. At the Commonwealth cemeteries, the performance of the Last Post stands for a final farewell to the fallen soldiers.

Out of gratitude for the tremendous efforts of the troops of the British Empire around Ypres, residents of Ypres founded the “Last Post Association”. The Last Post Association in Ypres is therefore a volunteer organization. The association was founded in 1928 and since then it executes the Last Post ceremony every evening at 20:00h, including the performance of the Last Post tune under the Menin Gate, by at least four buglers. The association has eight buglers among its members. Every day, four of them come to play the Last Post under the Menin Gate. They do this in an endless week regime, on and off.
The Last Post Association sets itself as its target to keep this tradition forever preserved and to contribute to anything that can enhance the significance of the tribute. The association also wants to arouse reverence for everything the Menin Gate represents: the sacrifice and suffering, but also the solidarity, the sense of duty and heroism of the soldiers who took part in the battle. Only during the occupation of the city by Nazi forces during World War II, this tradition was interrupted – for obvious reasons. But the very day that the Menin Gate was liberated, the tradition was taken up again, even though at that time some parts of the city were still in Nazi hands.

The buglers of the organization traditionally wear the uniform of the volunteers of the local fire department to which they belong. But the Association itself is separate from the Ypres fire brigade.
In the decades after WW2 the significance of the ceremony was expanded. The performance of the Last Post now commemorates not merely the casualties of the British Commonwealth, but also those Belgian, French and other allies who contributed to the battles at all costs. But also at the “other side”, many soldiers lost their lives. The enemies of yore, are now amongst our best partners and friends in today’s united Europe. Thus the Last Post under the Menin Gate represents not only a look at our past, but also a signal of hope for the future.

Picture 16: Four buglers of The Last Post Association perform The Last Post tune under the Menin Gate in the city of Ypres, Flanders, Belgium

16 Four buglers
Picture 17: Those volunteers have been playing every single day at 20:00h sharp since 1928, only interrupted by the Nazi occupation of the city during WW2\

17 Volounteers
Picture 18: The traffic under the gate is put to halt to allow for this daily event

18 Traffic to halt
Picture 19: Playing towards the Belfry for the 30001th time, before a daily audience

19 Playing towards the Belfry
Picture 20: Four common guys with exceptional commitment just played the clarion

20 Four common guys

The 30001th Last Post

Every day, a little before eight o’clock in the evening, the Ypres police puts the traffic to halt at the Menin Gate. Daily life stands still to return through the Last Post ceremony to 1914-18 and to remember and honor the fallen soldiers. The Menin Gate was specifically chosen for this daily event, because it was here that all the soldiers marched towards the front, many of them never to return.

On July 9, 2015 this performance took place for the 30 thousandth time. To this occasion, a special ceremony was organized, named ”Tribute to the Tribute”, upon which representatives from the at the WW1 Western Front warring countries signed present and laid wreaths under the Menin Gate. Already for many years, I had attending to the Last Post performance under the Menin Gate on my bucket list. And when, on July 9, I heard the radio journal about the solemnity of the 30 thousandth performance, I realized that the right moment had come.

But more than an elaborate ceremony in honor of a special commemoration, I’m more impressed by the fact that this performance takes place on a daily basis since 1928 – every single day, irrespective of temperature or weather, always with (at least) four buglers. Volunteers… There have been chilly winter days in the past, when the buglers were virtually alone and performed the Last Post anyhow, in all modesty. But, with the increased tourism and especially with the larger numbers of British visitors to the Ypres area, today this daily ceremony is attended by many. After the visit of the WW1 museums and cemeteries in the area, people gather in the evening under the Menin Gate, to enjoy the performance of the Last Post with the special acoustics, provided by the building that is so fraught with symbolism. These people of the Last Post Association do an incredible job here, with exceptional commitment, fully aware of the importance to continue this tradition. The lesson we should draw from both world wars and thus the importance of resolving conflicts through respect and tolerance, negotiation and cooperation, absolutely needs to be kept alive. Since 1945, we manage this fairly well, here in Europe. In the countries situated around the battlefields of the Western Front of WW1 and where during so many centuries the population was almost constantly plagued by so many military conflicts, nowadays the peoples work together, aware of the otiosity of war, and they experience an unknown period of already 70 years of mutual peace. More and more countries have joined the European Union, attracted by the success of this project. Often the cooperation is difficult and needs lengthy negotiations to reach an understanding. Sometimes even, for some it may seem as if the cooperation is about to burst, as has been recently in respons to the Greek crisis. But the union always ends up resolving the problems, because all parties agree to continue to negotiate firmly, to continue to cooperate, because everyone realizes that this is the best, indeed the only path to peace and prosperity. We can only hope that this will inspire more and more countries around the world.

Performing The Last Post commemoration literally every day, thàt is the true uniqueness of what happens at the Menin Gate in Ypres. And so I wanted to capture this ceremony – not the one of the 30.000th performance, but the one of the next day, a typical day like the other 29.999. On July 9, I saw the ceremony on TV and I thought the time was right to go to Ypres. So I rearranged my schedule for July 10 and we left after lunch to the Flanders Fields of the former Western Front, where we arrived around 16:30h. In Zonnebeke we visited the Memorial Museum Passchendaele to see the trenches, which are still kept in tact. Tyne Cot is just a stone’s throw from there and was our next stop. At 19:00h we arrived at the Menin Gate in Ypres, where there were already a lot of people gathered, to attend the Last Post performance. The 30001th, on a day like any other.

I hope (some of) my images can tell you something about the subdued and compelling atmosphere that prevails here, at the Menin Gate, but also at Tyne Cot. None of the visitors remains untouched here. Their body language speaks volumes. The symbolism really works.

Picture 21: The British Empire was the largest world power in those days

21 British Empire
Picture 22: One of the corridors of the Menin Gate

22 One Corridor
Picture 23: In remembrance of Benjamin Walker, killed in action on September 9, 1915. 100 years ago, Benjamin had only fews days to live. His family was here.

23 In remembrance

Picture 24: Sharing family feelings

24 Family feelings

Every day, without exception, and no matter what, four buglers perform the Last Post at 20:00h sharp, in honor of all fallen soldiers of WW1 and to promote peace and cooperation amongst all peoples. Thàt’s the special thing about the Menin Gate in Ypres. Therefore, it was not the special ceremony on July 9 that I wanted to attend. But I wanted to be there on the next day. Because there they were again! Like they were on every single day, since 1928. Four volunteer buglers of the Last Post Association. Along with a lot of people who visited Ypres and its historical sites and concluded their day here under the Menin Gate, to take part in the striking daily remembrance of what took place here one hundred years ago. The photographs in this report are taken on July 10, 2015, in honor of the 30.001th Last Post under the Menin Gate in Ypres. A Last Post like any other Last Post. Like on any other day. Unique.

Picture 25: The Menin Gate, monument for those with no known grave

25 No known grave

Epiloge

If you want to know more about the events, just google “Ypres”, “Ypres Salient”, Menin Gate or “Tyne Cot”.

All pictures were shot out of hand with the Sony A7r, most of them with the Canon FD 20mm, some with both the Zeiss Loxia’s. You can find those pics in full size here on my flickr pages (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/sets/72157656745636865), where you can check the lens that was used in the tags.

Oct 292015
 

Oh my dog!

by Brigitte Hauser

Your blog is always a great Inspiration. Thought I share some of my dog photos. (Sorry, no cats!) I have taken them on my holidays in Italy (except the monochrome one). What I have noticed is, people are really proud if you take a photo of their dog. The picture I like most is the one without dog. The portrait of an old hunter. I met him on a hiking tour on the island of Elba. His hunting dog just has disappeared somewhere into the bushes… The last photo shows my own dog.

It’s a mix between terrier and hunting dog and he also likes disappearing sometimes:-). I used Leica Q, except for the monochrome picture. I sold my beloved Sony RX1 for the Q. I prefer the built-in EVF, the faster AF and the handling. And I think I prefer the look of the Q pictures, too. But perhaps it only seems so to me for justifying my change and the loss of money… What I don’t like is the lens cap of the Q. Mine has already broken, because it’s not fitting on the lens with the lens hood.

L1000569

L1000496

L1001398

L1000581

L1000783

L1010226

L1010352

L1010469

L1010556

Many thanks

Brigitte

Oct 202015
 

slleica

The New Leica SL Announced. My thoughts

UPDATE: I received an SL and ate these words as it is beautiful and in a class of its own. It really is. See my 1st look report HERE for the real scoop. 

Hmm. Is it just me or does the new Leica SL seem to be taking aim at the Sony A7 series? Yes, the A7 series that has indeed hurt Leica M sales starting 3 years ago or so.  The new SL, at least from the front,  looks spookily like a larger (and it is larger and 1/2 lb heavier with battery) A7 series body, is full frame and is a new system from Leica that has new lenses as well as fast Auto Focus (for new native lenses) and an adapter allowing you to use M lenses. Oh, $7500 body only or $12,500 k with a 24-90 f/2.80f/4 zoom. Yes. Really.

Leica-SL-et-objectifs

My #1 issue is that if you take away the Leica logo and red dot and you have what looks strikingly like an A7 series body, FROM THE FRONT anyway. It’s no secret that Leica has been hurt by Sony over the past 2-3 years. When you can get an A7RII for less than half the cost of an M, yet have better specs, features and abilities then something has to happen. I was just shooting my A7RII at ISO 80,000 the other night and it did it with ease. With yet another new Leica CEO on board it seems like Leica is really trying to survive and push ahead in this ever evolving tech market. But they may be too late  to the party with this one, and at this price.

As for specs, well, it can not match the latest Sony A7RII specs nor can it really complete with the A7RII  but Leica is charging MUCH more for the SL than Sony is the A7RII. Since this is nothing really original like an M or T or S I do not understand how Leica could release this for $7500k (without a lens) and think it will sell well as it has none of the MoJo or mystique (on paper and in looks) that I expect from Leica.

Now I love Leica as much as the next guy, and every review I release (Leica T, Leica Q, Leica M) I get accused of being a Leica fanboy. After the buzz wears off, 2-3 weeks later I get accused of being a Sony fanboy or Olympus fanboy. But at the end of the day I use what works for me, and I also appreciate a well made camera that gives you an emotional connection as well as a fantastic photo experience. I am picky, so I use what I feel is the best for ME and will only review and write about cameras that I feel are really good or special.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 10.40.28 AM

In the past, most Leica cameras have done this for me..The M8, M9, M 240, Leica Q and yes, even the T and of course the original X1 and X2 were also faves of mine. The X-Vario was a fail (IMO) as was the new larger X as it was more of a repeat of the X2, just larger. The Q was a step in the right direction I feel with the included EVF and super sensor. So what about the new SL?

Yes, so now we have the Leica SL which I assumed would have a killer Leica retro or vintage design. Instead they might have said “Let’s copy the Sony A7 body design since this is the company who is hurting our sales and selling way more cameras than us”. The body will  be more than 2X the cost of the almost perfect Sony A7RII which has better specs, and an amazing sensor as well as crazy low light abilities that almost reach the A7S ISO abilities (and now loads of lenses to choose from). The Leica SL lenses, two of which are slower variable aperture zooms and one fast prime (50 Summilux 1.4) are HUGE when compared to lenses for the M. Auto focus adds bulk and size (and cost) and these lenses have the same styling cues as the T and it may be a while before we have a wide selection of glass for this system. It took Sony 3 years to do this, and that is with Sony’s budget. How long will it take Leica? Longer, even if the SL is successful.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 10.41.45 AM

As with the Q, the SL has 24 MP.

I am a bit let down this time from Leica. Their big announcement and teases over the past month have been building this up to be some sort of beautiful new vintage retro inspired camera system. I am sure it is beautiful and feels amazing in the hand, but at the price I am not sure what is separating it from the 100% awesome Sony A7RII. I mean, I do not see the SL beating the A7RII. IQ. maybe it will or maybe not but I will bet $1000 that the SL will not even get close to the high ISO capability of the A7RII. It will also not beat the RII in features, video, IS (Sony has 5 Axis), lens availability, and not even speed. So what are we left with? The name and red dot. I see this as a $3000-$3500 camera body so I feel Leica will have a tough time finding wide appeal here at the prices of $7500-$12,500. Sure, you can adapt T, M or even S lenses to the SL (thought the T lenses are not full frame and the S lenses will be cropped) but you can adapt more lenses to the Sony cameras these days. Nikon, Canon, Leica, whatever.

**Oh, and please excuse my rambling..as I am doing just that..rambling to myself and then writing it down here**

The SL will have to have a totally unique image quality signature (like the Leica M9 did) for me to understand it. Since I have not yet shot with one yet, I have no clue as to how it performs. If it offers something very special, then I may be sold on it after all. No way to tell until I give it a go. I do know that the design, specs and info have me feeling a bit “blah” this time. It’s large, and the lenses appear to be even larger than the Sony offerings.

This one may just be for the Leica die hards but one other note…if Leica can make wide angle M lenses play perfectly well with the SL, as in NO ISSUES at all, they may have something. The Sony A7RII does amazing with Leica glass but if you are being critical, using wide angle lenses like a 15-28 will give you softer corners/edges. It is a non issue with longer lenses or fast primes and glass but if the SL can use a Leica 21 M lens with perfect corner to corner details and sharpness then they will sell more to M customers who want perfection with their M glass, to those who want a faster EVF camera than the M 240 to manually focus their M glass. Seeing that the M can not even give perfect results with some M glass, I do not have high hopes for the SL but maybe Leica has a trick up its sleeve.

So as for me, for the 2nd time in Leica history I am mixed on this. Just as with the X Vario, something about the SL doesn’t sit right with me. I think it is because it just look like a copy of the successful Sony A7 series. While it is in no way a Sony A7 body inside, they should have made the effort to make an original design. I mean, this is premium and it is “cost no object” Leica. We should get something unique for our big money we have to shell out for this.

If I can get a hold of one I will do my normal full review, but chances of Leica sending me one for review after this post is very slim. I may just rent one when the rental houses get these in. If it is something special I will then buy one for a long term review. If not, looks like I will be waiting for the next M, which I know I will love as the M series is in my blood ;) In fact, I still recommend the M 240 to anyone who asks. It’s a lovely camera and while it can’t beat the latest offerings in the full frame world for IQ, it beats them for usability, pride of ownership and that emotional connection you can achieve with an M.

Bottom line? The SL is $7500 for the body only. The 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 long zoom is $5k. Yes, $5k for a slow aperture zoom that is very large. The camera has no Image Stabilization, maxes out at ISO 50,000 (which I suspect will be very grainy at 50k), is somewhat un-Leica like being large and bulky though it has a great EVF and supposedly blazing AF. You can use T or M lenses, even S lenses (though the S lenses will be cropped) and they managed to create this out of a solid block of Aluminum much like the T. So for the SL and 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 zoom, you will be shelling out $12,500. Ouch.

What do you think of the SL from Leica? Will you buy one? Leave your comments below and tell Leica what you think of this release. DO you love it and want it or does it not float your boat? They do read the comments here when I write about their cameras and lenses so join and and talk about it!

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 10.42.01 AM

So you want to order one? Here is how.

For those of you excited by this new SL, and you want one (or even an M), I highly suggest emailing legendary Leica dealer KEN HANSEN. He has been my #1 Leica guy forever now and is as good as it gets, period. You can email him at [email protected]  You can also pick up an SL when they are in stock at PopFlash.com. Also check out LeicaStoreMiami.com  Of course, B&H Photo also has the SL up for pre order! 

Steve

SPECS:

4.4 MP EVF at 60 FPS – largest, fastest & highest resolution EVF on the market.
Burst rate of 11 FPS at full resolution 24 MP DNG
Fastest AF of any full-frame system camera
24 MP CMOS sensor
ISO ranging from 50 to 50,000
Supports Leica T and SL mount lenses and R, M, S and Cine lenses via adapter
Fastest SD standard (UHS2) with a secondary (UHS1) back up SD card slot
4k Video at 30 FPS (Super 35), 1080HD at 120 FPS (FF) (10 bit via HDMI out)
Weather sealed to protect from spray water and dust
Shutter speed from 30 min (bulb) to 1/8000s
Ultrasonic sensor cleaning
Latest generation of Leica professional user interface with hybrid touch operation
Integrated WiFi and GPS module
Remote control, viewing and sharing App for iOS & Android
Made in Germany and milled from solid blocks of aluminum
Two year warranty 

Oct 192015
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Panasonic GX8. A One Day Hands on Report.

By Steve Huff

A couple of days ago I was able to get a hold of the new Panasonic GX8, but just for 2 days. While that is not time enough for a full detailed review, it is enough to say a few words on it as I am extensively experienced with all Olympus Micro 4/3 offerings, as well as the older GX series from Panasonic. I remember shooting and reviewing the previous GX7 (You can see it here) and I really enjoyed it, mostly thanks to the EVF that swiveled up and down and allowed me to get shots while holding the camera at my body. Also, Panasonic has a unique color signature just as Olympus does, Sony does, Leica does, Fuji does, etc.

I find the Panasonic color signature to be more on the cooler side, much like the Leica days with the M9, compared to the warmer side of Olympus and Sony and the newer Leica M 240 and Q.

I’ve always loved the Panasonic line of Micro 4/3 cameras and for many they are *the* body to choose. Me, I prefer the Olympus bodies for my personal use as the 5 AXIS IS, the design and size of them are always so appealing. For image quality, you can not go wrong with a Panasonic or Olympus, as both will get the job done. The new GX8 is nice but I quickly noticed that in my hand it feels a bit thick and meaty compared to the E-M5II and E-M10II from Olympus. In fact, it’s very close to the size of my Sony A7RII which is a full frame powerhouse! It surely is bigger than the old GX7 for sure. The body is anyway.

Lenses, ahhh yes, Micro 4/3 lenses. They are so damn awesome and amazing. For this review I used mainly the Olympus 7-14 f/2.8 pro as I love this lens. It has grown on me more and more since my review (see that here with the E-M10II) and I can say 100% that it is the best ultra wide lens I have ever used in my life. On any format.

Snapshots from the Fair – 7-14 Pro f/2.8 Olympus Lens

P1010079

P1010029

So this is not a review my friends, it is basically me showing a few snaps from the fair with my one day shooting the GX8 as well as some thoughts on it after shooting every Olympus body extensively. So this is a HANDS ON REPORT. 1st off, as I said the body feels much bigger to me in my hand than an Olympus E-M5II or E-M10II, especially the E-M10II as that is a TINY body. Curiosity got to me and I had to see this camera next to others just to see how big it really is. Thanks to the cool site, camerasize.com, we can check on such things quite easily ;)

GX8..is it a tad large for what it is? It is indeed larger than the previous GX7.

1st up, size vs the E-M5 II from Olympus. The GX8 is slightly larger and beefier. Not as comfy feeling in the hand if you have small to medium hands. Large hands may feel more at home with the GX8 though as it does feel ticker and larger all the way around in use. 

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Next to the E-M10 Ii we see the GX8 is wider but the E-M10II is slightly taller. Still, when these are side by side in the hand (I have both here) the E-M10II feels much smaller. 

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Still wider than an E-M1 but not as tall. The E-M1 is the Oly tour de force pro Micro 4/3 camera, so I expect it to be the largest.

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Next to the A7RII, the full frame massive megapixel powerhouse which is in another league over the GX8 in every way including cost, but even though the sensor is MUCH larger in the Sony the GX8 is still wider and feels just as large when holding it in your hands. 

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So overall, the GX8 is not one of these mini Panasonic camera that they released year after year for a while. Nope, this is a REAL camera, a camera for the photographer or someone who really wants to really get into it. Basically, it will beat your phone in a big way but still offer you professional controls and results to grow with you. For anyone looking for a really good starter digital camera, I’d say skip the Canon rebel and go to something like a GX8 or E-M5II. These cameras are really fantastic but how did I like my shooting experience with the Panasonic vs the Olympus or even Sony? As always, just about any micro 4/3 body is a joy and pleasure to shoot.

The wide view at 7mm (14mm equivalent) is something for sure! It takes getting used to as finding interesting scenes with a ultra wide is challenging. 

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B&W conversion using VSCO filters. Another day at the fair..

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But…when using the GX8, somehow and someway it kept defaulting to “4K Photo Mode” and twice I had to reset the camera from within the menu as I had no instructions and after 15 minutes trying to find out what was happening, I could not. So I just  reset it every time this happened but I have no clue why or how this was happening over and over again. I am sure it was something simple but this is the first time ever I could not figure out an issue with a camera. Other than that, the camera gave me no problems. Auto focus was as fast or faster as any camera I have used that has good AF (beats the Sony, matches the Olympus) and the IQ was up there with the best of Micro 4/3, with a more crisp look to the files than I remember seeing with Olympus.

The pop up and out EVF is lovely, and I wish all manufacturers would use an EVF like this as it opens up more possibilities when shooting allowing interesting and different angles. It has a touch screen LCD as well, a nice big 3 inch one at that. It also has image stabilization though from my experience it doesn’t quite get close to the amazing 5 Axis in the Olympus bodies. The AF is quick though, and I noticed no hesitations or lag..here is what Panasonic says about the GX8’s new AF mode:

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Depth-From-Defocus and Starlight AF Technologies

For accelerated autofocus performance, DFD (Depth-From-Defocus) technology is employed to quickly calculate the distance to subjects and adjust the focusing position in as little as 0.07 seconds, which enables continuous shooting up to 6 fps with continuous AF. This contrast-detection type focus method benefits both still and video recording modes, as well as subject tracking applications where subject color, size, and motion vectors are used to intelligently lock-onto the moving subjects and ensure precise focus. Additionally, supporting working in low-light conditions, a Starlight AF feature enables accurate AF performance down to -4 EV.

Benefitting manual focus operation, focus peaking is available that highlights bright edges of contrast with a colored outline for quickly recognizing your focus point, as well as Touch MF Assist for touch-to-focus operation.

In plain easy to understand language..the AF is VERY fast. Now, I did not use continuous AF in my one day of testing but the standard AF was blazing fast. Faster than the E-M5 II and E-M10II I have here.

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So pretty cool on the Auto Focus front. 

As for the in body IS, I thought it was not very good. Nothing like the Olympus bodies. IQ wise, I always shoot RAW and I still slightly prefer the IQ from my Olympus bodies as I prefer warmer tones but there is a certain look to the Panasonic files, and I remember seeing this from the very early bodies and even the old G2 I reviewed HERE a long time ago.Seeing that this is $300 more than an Olympus E-M5 II, I would personally spring for the Olympus over this. It feels sleeker, has 5 Axis IS, is $897 vs $1197 and the IQ is different but not better than the GX8. All personal preference. The GX8 feels much bulkier in the hand but Panasonic has stepped up the game for sure with this model as they need to keep up with the ever innovating Olympus!

When the Olympus pro E-M1 came out I stated that Micro 4/3 can go head to head and match or beat any APS-C camera. I feel APS-C cameras should come to an end as Micro 4/3 can meet or exceed them in IQ but also offer a much smaller body, smaller lenses and fantastically sharp performance due to the lenses being able to be deigned so well for a smaller sensor. Micro 4/3 should be on anyones radar who is thinking of getting an APS-C camera. Canon rebel? Get an E-M5II or GX8 instead! Micro 4/3 has come a long way, and they are going nowhere. Even though many predicted the demise of it years ago, quite the opposite has happened. It has become more popular, more prevalent and more tech has come from Micro 43 than anywhere else. The lenses are fantastic, the bodies are as well with fast AF, gorgeous color and dynamic range and a fun factor that is hard to beat.

While these Micro 4/3 beauties can never compete with full frame, they offer not much less for a whole lot less money. The Micro 4/3 of today is so much better than the Micro 4/3 of yesterday. If you have not used the latest batch of cameras from Olympus or Panasonic, you should rent them sometime and see for yourself. Add a good prime lens and you are ready for fun, ease of use and gorgeous results.

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My Final Thoughts after only a day of use..

As for the GX8, while a little bulkier and fatter than I had hoped, it is a powerhouse and after only shooting it one day I know I want to use this one more to review it properly as well as test against my Olympus bodies. It’s 100% the best Panasonic GX I have used to date and offers up 4K photo, 4K video, super fast AF (fastest in M 4/3) and unique features such as dual IS (need a lens with OIS and then it will use the body IS and lens IS together), pop up and out EVF, swivel out LCD (like E-M5Ii) and touch screen to boot. The usual suspects are here such as time lapse, pano, and filter effects that have been around now for 5 years.

The Menu System is typical Panasonic. Easy to read and use, but I find all menus easy to use once you learn them, and this camera is no exception. Newbies to the menu will be confused, but those who used Panasonic before will be right at home. The simplest menus in the business do not come from Olympus or Panasonic or Sony, they come from Leica who has the easiest to use menus of any recent modern digital camera ever.

Battery life seems very good, in line with Olympus and the fact that it takes all of the Micro 4/3 lenses as well as 3rd party lenses with adapters means you would never run out of lenses to shoot with any Micro 4/3, and yes, Olympus lenses can be used on the GX8 and vice versa as Panasonic and Olympus both are native Micro 4/3 lenses. The GX8 appears to be a winner, and the best GX yet from Panasonic. Is it enough for them to overtake Olympus? Probably not as I have a feeling Olympus is ready to drop a big bomb on any thunder the GX8 may have taken from them. Soon. Just a hunch. :)

if I can get a hold of this for 2 weeks I will post an official review soon ;)

Where to buy?

You can see more or buy the Panasonic GX8 at B&H HERE 

You can buy or see more of the GX8 at AMAZON HERE

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HLPHH

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Oct 122015
 

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The Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Loxia Lens Review for Sony FE. In pictures.

Pre Order the Loxia 21 f/2.8 at B&H Photo HERE

I am back from my vacation, and now am sick with a fever, cough and sore throat but the good thing is I can lie in bed and write, so enjoy this write-up of the new Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens for the Sony FE system. It’s a gem indeed. All images here were shot with the Zeiss 21 f/2.8 on the Sony A7RII. Enjoy. 

About 2 weeks ago I received an email from Zeiss asking me if I wanted to review a new prototype lens for the Sony A7 system (FE). Now, of course I was not about to let this opportunity to test and review the latest Loxia lens from Zeiss slip through my hands! Yep, the new Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens is in my hands, and let me tell  you..it is awesome. It keeps up and then some with the other Loxias we have so far, the 35 and 50, both of which are stunning, especially the 50mm. The kicker is I am reviewing a PROTOTYPE lens so this is not going to be a full formal test review, as I have a prototype. Even so, this lens I have here is stunning and when this lens is released I will be buying it for my own to add to the other Loxias.

When the 21 f.2.8 arrived I loved it for its small size and quality Loxia build. Feels the same as the other two in the Loxia line and that is a good thing as these lenses are built very well, even including a rubber seal around the mount to avoid dust getting in. The Loxia line of lenses from Zeiss are just what the doctor ordered for most of us who love a manual shooting experience with small high quality lenses.

YOU MUST CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO SEE THEM HOW THEY SHOULD BE SEEN. THANK YOU.

Coming in at around the same size as the 35 and 50 Loxia, this 21 feels and performs to a high level on my Sony A7RII and A7s. 

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The Loxia 21 f/2.8 went along with me and Debby to Disneyland for 4 days and I could not stop snapping this lens on my Sony A7RII where it did incredible in any light, even dark scenes up to ISO 32,000. Yes, ISO 32,000, real world shooting with the mega monster megapixel A7RII. This A7RII blows my mind every time I use it.

This review will be a bit different from my usual lens reviews (as I have a prototype) as I will just say that I found no problems in use,  and the IQ, to these eyes, is fantastic. I will let the photos below tell the story of why this lens is a must own for your Sony A7 series camera if you like wide angle lenses and a nice manual piece of glass as well as the name ZEISS.

click the lens below to read more at B&H Photo

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In use I had no problems focusing this lens, at all. Even in near pitch black scenarios I was able to focus thanks to the EVF of the A7RII. If it had an OVF it would not have been possible.

So let’s begin with the photos. EXIF is embedded on all of them but you must click them to get the larger versions. Oh, and the lens has a 52mm filter size ;)

1st up, this is part of “Cars Land” at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. They created a HUGE desert scene and it looks so cool at night. This was shot at a high ISO, and if you check out the image again with the crop below it, you will see how impressive this is for a high ISO shot, late night and at f/2.8. 

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100% Crop of above. ISO 6400. Zero NR.

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My favorite ride at Disneyland, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This was shot at ISO 6400 and at f/2.8. All noise reduction is off, as I always have it set to 0 for JPEG or RAW. The RII handled the scene perfectly as did the Loxia. 

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A band was playing and I saw this little boy in his Halloween costume rating his fist and glove at me. I squatted QUICKLY and snapped, knowing my focus was on the band and not him. I still like it ;) 

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This was shot in my home the day I received the lens. Shows a crop as well if you click on the image to make it larger. This is at f/2.8. ISO 1600.

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My Office/Man Cave where 75% of my time is spent working, chilling out, or enjoying some amazing tunes. I also review HiFi equipment so I usually have a rotating set of high end gear coming and going ;) From my chair at f/2.8

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Disney Balloons! They sell a ton of these things and they are not cheap! 

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The Disneyland Castle all dressed up for the 60th Anniversay 

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High ISO, late night. Shot at f/2.8 I did not think I had nearly enough light but the high ISO of the A7RII keeps on surprising me. I never use noise reductions, so my high ISO images have ZERO NR.

ISO 25,600 – Zero NR – A7RII

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ISO 6400

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Inside of the Little Mermaid ride, again, the low light scenario was easy for the Loxia 21 and Sony A7RII. 

ISO 25,600, Zero NR – A7RII

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Good color, no flare, no issues that I have found, even with the Prototype. 

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Right outside of our hotel is this water ride that WILL get you soaked beyond belief. Same areas as the black and white one above which was shot at night. Here I used a filter from VSCO as I liked the colors.

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The man himself, harsh mid day sun but the DR of the Sony was not even phased. 

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ISO 32,000 and look at the color performance. Again, zero NR here and the Loxia gave me a nice usable image. Shot inside the “Haunted Mansion” ride and it was DARK which is why I needed ISO 32,000 at f/2.8, and I was in a moving ride car.

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Selfie in the mirror. Tri-X filter via Alien Skin.

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VSCO filter applied to this one…click for better

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The A7RII and 21 Loxia make for a good B&W combo as well…

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More…

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The B&W Below, ISO 5000, f/2.8 – click it to see it much better

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ISO 32,000, f/2.8

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I fell for this lens just as as I did for the previous Loxia 35 and 50. When it is released and final I will be adding this to my FE lens collection. It’s a beauty and even though I was using the prototype and it is already on its way back to Zeiss, I would have bought this one if I could.

Pre Order the Loxia 21 f/2.8 at B&H Photo HERE

a few more..

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HLPHH

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Oct 062015
 

Taking the week off for some R&R!

Me and Debby heading off to our destination ;) 

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Hello everyone! Just a note to say I am taking the week off to take my sweetie to a special place we both love for the rest of the week ;) This will be my 1st time taking off a week entirely from here, Facebook and all work in 7-8 years! When I return next week I will have a world exclusive review of something new from a major brand ;)

Also, this month I will be in New York with Sony testing out the new A7sII, so look for full coverage of that coming in the next two weeks. There will still be some QUICK SHOT and DAILY INSPIRATION posts this week but no reviews until I return.

Thank you all for your continued support! It’s now been almost EIGHT YEARS! HOLY COW!

Steve

Oct 052015
 

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The Olympus E-M10II and 7-14 Pro Lens Review

by Steve Huff

Buy the E-M10 at Amazon or B&H Photo

Buy the 7-14 Pro at Amazon or B&H Photo

Seems like it was just  yesterday when I was reviewing the Olympus E-M10 (Mark 1) and shooting the streets of Las Vegas with it…thinking all along just how far we have come with camera technology. The E-M10 Mark 1 was a tiny little guy, but not too tiny, and it was as powerful as the larger more expensive Micro 4/3 cameras. It was a popular choice for those getting into the Micro 4/3 camera world due to its much more affordable price over says an E-M1 or even E-M5 II, and it offered plenty for most to really understand what micro 4/3 can do for them.

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Now here we are today with the new E-M10 II and while not groundbreaking “new” as in, just came out today..I have been shooting with the E-M10 II and 7-14 for a couple of weeks and have grown to really enjoy this combo. Now, I am an E-M1 and E-M5 kind of guy as the size of the E-M10 is on the small side for my tastes but if you have small hands and want an easy, enjoyable and quality experience, the E-M10 II will give you just about as much as it’s larger siblings, the E-M5 II and E-M1.

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Of course with the new Pro 7-14 f/2.8 lens attached, the camera is no longer “tiny” nor will it ever fit in a pocket, but what a combo this could be, for those who really enjoy soaking in the entire environment in a photo. Yep, even with the 2X crop factor of Micro 4/3, the 7-14 still comes in at an ultra wide 14-28mm focal length, and yes, light gathering is still f/2.8 and I find this the perfect ultra wide lens, in fact, with its fantastic solid but smooth build, its amazing lens performance which is sharp across the frame and its nice size which is bigger than most Micro 4/3 lenses but still smaller than a full frame ultra wide zoom (though better made) it is the perfect ultra wide, in fact, the best I have ever shot with.

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When I factor in the size, build, speed, performance and equivalent focal length I can put it up against my Sony/Zeiss 16-35, which is a beautiful lens itself. It is smaller than the Sony/Zeiss, built better, and gives just as good if not better IQ. Color is also more “pleasing”…”warmer” with the Olympus, which many find more pleasing. So for Micro 4/3 shooters, using a lens like this you are not giving up a thing over a full frame sensor and ultra wide except maybe some overall crazy resolution (especially with a camera like the Sony A7RII or the new Canons).

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With a lens like this, the 7-14 Pro and a camera like the E-M10 II with offers true 5 Axis image stabilization we now have an incredible thing. Already, using an ultra wide lens like this we really do not need much in the way of image stabilization, but turn on video shooting on the E-M10 II and wonder at the silky smooth performance that almost mimics a hollywood steady cam style rig. You can walk, run and shoot video and your footage will be smooth due to the combo of ultra wide lens and the 5 Axis IS. VERY cool as Olympus has seemingly perfected this tech now as it works so so well.

Night Shooting with the E-M10 II and 7-14 Pro

Middle of the night, AZ desert, some light painting with the E-M10 II in Live Time mode which makes it super easy to do light painting as you preview the progress on the LCD in real-time, and just stop capturing when the camera shows you the exact image you want. Genius and Olympus has been implementing Live Time and Live Composite now for a while, and its a great feature to have as it just works so so well.

Click images for larger view

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Truth be told, while out in the desert shooting at midnight using the E-M10 II and 7-14 2.8 Pro I was very happy with the ease of use when it comes to long exposures. If you shoot at night, and want an EASY way to do long exposures look no further than Olympus. ALL of their Micro 4/3 cameras will allow you to do some very cool things at night using the previously mentioned “Live Time”, “Live Bulb” and “Live Composite”.

Late night, AZ desert. 7-14 Pro, tripod mounted, 97 seconds, f/3.5, 7mm (14 equiv). Give it a click!

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E-M10 II – revolutionary or refresh?

If you missed my original review of the older mark 1 version of the E-M10, see it HERE. I have been reviewing Olympus digital cameras since their very 1st PEN, the E-P1 and have not missed any major release to date. The original E-M10 was revolutionary IMO as it was  tiny, had 3 AXIS IS and performed to a level of the larger and more expensive Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras. The new E-M10 II is an improvement in many areas but still more of a “refresh” than anything crazy new or exciting.

They added 5 Axis vs 3 Axis, which is awesome but the 3 Axis was also quite good. There is a silent mode for 100% silence when shooting and the electronic shutter has a capability to go up to 1/16,000 of a second, perfect for bright sunny days when you want that shallow DOF from a fast prime.

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More features of the E-M10 II…with great features in bold..makes you really see how powerful this little guy is…

A high-resolution 16.1MP 4/3 Live MOS sensor pairs with the TruePic VII image processor to facilitate up to 8.5 fps shooting and full HD 1080p/60 movie recording, with a top sensitivity of ISO 25600. In-camera 5-axis image stabilization compensates for up to 4 stops of camera shake to benefit working in difficult lighting conditions and a FAST AF system employs 81 contrast-detection areas for quick, accurate performance with dedicated subject tracking modes. The retro-themed body incorporates a range of assignable function buttons and dials, as well as a 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and 3.0″ 1.04m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD for clear image monitoring and playback. Besides the handsome appeal of the E-M10 Mark II’s design, its main assets lie in its versatility of shooting functions and performance to benefit photographers and videographers alike.

7-14 Pro. around midnight in the AZ desert in an old ruin that sits there with tunnels and passageways. 

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Benefited by the range of imaging capabilities, the E-M10 Mark II also incorporates a variety of shooting modes to suit working in various situations. A Silent Mode utilizes an electronic shutter for perfectly quiet picture-taking, with shutter speeds up to 1/16,000 sec. available. Live Bulb and Live Time modes are well-suited to creative long exposure photography and a dedicated Live Composite mode lets you watch a long exposure gradually build up during the course of the shot. Built-in Wi-Fi allows you to pair the camera with your smartphone or tablet for wireless sharing and remote camera control, and an interval shooting mode can be used to produce in-camera 4K time lapse movies.

Left to right: Best friend since childhood Mike, then my wonderful Debby and me during a mid day beer/pub crawl event in Phx AZ which was LOADS of fun. 

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When reading the above text, with features in bold, I say to myself “wow, this camera is offering a TON for $649 USD. I have shot with cameras costing up to $35,000 and down to $69. More expensive does not always mean “better”. I have had experiences shooting a $15k camera that was awful. I hated it. I had an experience shooting a $300 camera once that was delightful (though it was no where near the E-M10 II for capabilities).

This little E-M10 II, while not immediately different from the original E-M10 really shows its stuff when you are out shooting with it. I notice quicker AF, better low light, better IS, and well, an improved EVERYTHING. So I take back y :refresh” comment as it is more of an “evolution” of the wildly popular E-M10. It offers just enough that if I was shooting and only owned an E-M10 I would be pretty tempted to upgrade for these new features. In use and practice they are quite nice.

One new feature I did not yet mention is FOCUS BRACKETING, which is basically just like FOCUS STACKING. According to Olympus, this feature is really for Macro shooters as it allows you to get tack sharp macro shots without worrying about missing or having a part of your subject out of focus. The camera will take several shots, focused at different points and then you can use something like Helicon Focus and BAM you have a perfect, in focus, stacked image. This is the 1st camera I know of that offers to bracket focus for you in camera.

I expect the next pro Olympus, whatever it is called (E-M1 II perhaps) will have this feature as well and I also feel it is close to being time for a new E-M1 II, my spider senses are feeling it. ;)

So Olympus is continuing to do innovative things with every camera release, with this one it is the focus stacking/bracketing. More so than ANY other camera company, Olympus seems be on top of it when it comes to creating a camera that is polished, finished and works VERY well with just about any feature you could ever want. Focus peaking is always there, 5 Axis now standard, fast AF speed all around, gorgeous lenses (some of the best in the business) and an IQ that is pure “Olympus”.

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Again, this is a quick review as my original E-M10 review cover more about what the E-M10 is all about HERE. This review is just to talk about the new lens and the new features of the camera. When I did that review I used the then new 12-40 f/2.8 pro lens. I like this 7-14 better as it seems to be sharper with better contrast and pop.

The 7-14 f/2.8 Pro

As already stated, I LOVE This lens. It is quite amazing really and the good press it has been getting is well deserved. In general terms, it is still small for an ultra wide, but this ultra wide is built to a HIGH standard while keeping it as small as possible for a super quality f/2.8 lens. It is dust, splash and freeze proof, and I tested this out in the desert at night while shooting some long exposures and self portraits. When I returned home my gear and clothes were COATED in dirt, grime and dust. I blew off the direct carefully from the lens and body, then once all dirt was off of the lens, it was cleaned gently with a lens cloth and the barrel was wiped down. Looks and performs as new.

This lens will offer you an amazing perspective and if you own a Micro 4/3 camera, it beats the old Panasonic 7-14 f/2 (that I used to own) in EVERY way from build, performance, AF speed, quality and of course Aperture speed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It seems no matter what I wanted to capture, no matter how tight the quarters were or how much of the subject there was to capture, the 7-14 always pulled it in. Truth be told, I’d probably rather have seen a 7mm f/1.8 pro ;) If I owned this lens I think 99.9% of my images would be shot at 7mm. ;0 Even so, I know many would use the full range of the glass.

I have shot with the Nikon 14-24, the Canon 16-35 and the Sony/Zeiss 16-35. This Olympus pro, for me, beats them all in all areas. It holds up to the high quality tradition that Olympus applies all of its pro lenses and then some. While not cheap at $1299, it is priced accordingly and priced right.

Conclusion

The new E-M10 II and 7-14 f/2.8 Pro lens is a stunning combo and the set would set you back around $2000, or $1500 less than a Sony A7RII body only. ;) Think about that one.

While the E-M10 II can not compete with a full frame camera at high ISO, dynamic range or depth of field (shallow) it can take on something like a Sony A7RII for sharpness, color and FEATURES that make shooting FUN, ENJOYABLE and at times, THRILLING. I always seem to have a smile on my face when shooting with Olympus as the experience is just so user friendly and rich. The cameras never hold me back, no matter what I want to shoot..which is why I always have an Olympus M 4/3 camera on hand to go along with y full frame cameras. Sometimes, the job calls for things the Olympus would excel at, other times I need the full frame for the DR, DOF or richness.

I never have focus issues with Olympus cameras or lenses. I never have problems using these cameras and at the end of the day when I sit down to do image review, I am always pleased with what comes from a camera like the E-M10 II. They just “work” and if you are someone getting into photography, I HIGHLY suggest taking a serious look at the E-M10 II body with a lens like the 25 1.8 prime which would give you a 50mm equivalent field of view. So like a fast 50. See my 25 1.8 review HERE. 

In my experience Olympus, much like Sony, is on a roll in 2015 and going into 2016. They can do no wrong, and any of their current cameras are top notch from the PEN E-P5 to the still fantastic E-M1. Olympus also always rolls out MASSIVE firmware updates for all of their OMD line giving even owners of older models all of the new features of the newer cameras. Well, most of them. A sign that Olympus cares about its current base of customers instead of just releasing new cameras to fix issues.

While I am still partial to the amazing E-M5 II, I’d shoot the E-M10 II and be thrilled to if it was all I had. It’s a gem indeed.

$649 body only. Wow.

WHERE TO BUY?

I would buy from B&H Photo HERE

or

From AMAZON HERE. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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HLPHH

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Oct 052015
 

Canon EOS M Review (Or Why I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Camera)

By Jonathan Acierto

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Hello Steve and Brandon,

The Canon EOS M got a lot of bad reviews when it first came out. It was basically dead on arrival due to all of its shortcomings and perceived lack of effort on Canon’s part to design a camera that could rival the other mature mirrorless system cameras from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji. So when it came time to choose a mirrorless camera to carry around to replace my Sony RX100 compact, I chose the Canon EOS M. Why on earth would I choose the apparently worse mirrorless offering? I’ve been using it for a little while now and, even with all its shortcomings, let me explain why I’m happy with the EOS M.

Price

When the EOS M was first released, it was originally priced for retail at about $800 for the kit with the 22mm f/2 pancake lens. Ever since the camera flopped, the price has been dramatically reduced to about $379 for the same kit on Amazon, and even less for the body only. You know what that means: really low used prices. Heading over to the fantastic KEH, I was able to get an EOS M with the 18-55mm kit lens for under $300, less than I paid for the RX100. Even compared to the entry level m43 cameras, the EOS M is a steal. Kudos to all of you who have enough disposable income to buy top of the line mirrorless cameras and glass from Leica, Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, etc. Reading headlines of people who have multiple mirrorless cameras and can buy f/-1.0 lenses for all of them makes me jealous. But for the rest of us folks who have a limited amount of disposable income, price is and always will be a major factor.

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Video

While the photographic community has shunned the EOS M, the video community has embraced it and it has become somewhat of a cult video camera. I was originally looking to get a camcorder, but entry level enthusiast camcorders with relatively larger sensors start around $1,000. I simply wasn’t interested in getting a consumer grade camcorder due to the small sensors, hence the lack of DOF control. Entry level HDDSLR’s and high end superzooms (like the Sony RX10) have become a great value for getting professional looking video, but they are still relatively bulky and the ergonomics aren’t the best for video. Action cameras are tiny and can withstand all kinds of abuse, but they are just not designed for shooting everyday videos of your kids (unless your kids are surfing or riding a dirt bike and you want to get footage from their point of view).

The EOS M has became a popular camera to use for video because it has a large sensor which enables it to get the same DOF control as HDDSLR’s, it has a mic input so you can get better audio by connecting a much higher quality mic, and it is very compact and light weight, perfect for run and gun video shooting. Years ago I had a Canon Rebel T1i and I loved using it for video, but it didn’t have autofocus or tracking focus in video mode, so I had to manually focus. After a while, manual focus became a real chore. If I was a DP or first AC, I’d probably do a better job with manual focus, but I’m just not that good. The EOS M has auto and tracking focus in video mode. It’s not perfect by any means, and other mirrorless system cameras have better auto and tracking focus in video, but the EOS M is still better in most situations compared to my crappy mannual focusing. Keeping the aperture closed down a bit to get a deeper depth of field helps too. While having a razor thin DOF in a still photo is all the rage nowadays, having a razor thin depth of field for long lengths of time in video footage is now cliche and tends to get really monotonous and hard to watch. Video is a whole different art compared to photography, all you have to do is pay attention to what you see in movies and on TV. In the video world, shallow DOF is used very sparingly.

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Operational Speed

Trying to use the EOS M like a DSLR or enthusiast camera sucks, and sometimes it can be painful (sounds like the complaints about the original Fuji X100, doesn’t it?). I’m used to just pointing the camera towards the subject, half pressing the shutter button to acquire focus, and pressing the shutter button all the way down once the camera gets focus. With the Sony RX100, I’m able to get focus and snap a photo or 2 of people on a sidewalk while I’m in a moving car. Letting the EOS M decide what to focus on is a crap shoot, it could focus on the correct subject fairly quickly, or it could take a while to hunt for focus. The slow focus is the main reason why the camera has been criticized so heavily.

Then I had a revelation: the EOS M was designed for regular consumers who are used to a smartphone touch interface. This may be obvious at first, and many reviewers mentioned this, but it’s easy to forget if you’re an enthusiast or professional who normally uses a DSLR, mirrorless system camera, or other more advanced camera. Once I started using the touchscreen to focus, the camera felt much quicker to use. Using the touch screen to focus, then pressing the shutter button to take the photo, works much like my iPhone. The EOS M also does a fairly decent job tracking the subject once you acquire focus via the touch UI. It’s also much quicker to change settings (white balance, ISO, etc.) using the touchscreen compared to using the physical buttons and wheel to dive into menus. People always complain that camera interfaces are stone age, but Canon designed a pretty good touch interface for the EOS M, and reviewers complained it’s too touch oriented for more serious photographers. Go figure.

The biggest slow down after getting over the touch UI focusing seems to be after pressing the shutter button all the way down. The camera takes almost a full second to write to the memory card. I’m not entirely sure why this process is so slow, as the camera can write 1080P video at 30fps to the card without any slowdowns. Is it annoying? It can be, especially when I’m trying to fire off 2 or 3 shots quickly as I do with the Sony RX100 or Canon 6D. Does the slow write speed stop me from shooting the moments I’m trying to capture? No. I actually think the slow write time helps slow me down and be more selective of my shots. With my Canonet QL17 GIII 35mm film rangefiner, I have to wind the film after every shot, so I’m used to not being able to take shots in quick succession. With the EOS M, I’m shooting more in the Cartier-Bresson, wait for the decisive moment style, rather than spraying and praying.

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Image Quality

It’s good, what more do you need to know? Just look at the photos. We’re at a point where any camera with a sensor 1″ or larger can take fantastic photos, the only limitation is the quality of the lenses. While the native EF-M mount lenses aren’t professional L glass quality, they’re good. I’d even say they’re better than the older, pre-STM Canon DSLR EF-S mount crop sensor lenses I’ve used. The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM (35mm full frame equivalent) is certainly as good as any of the mid level Canon EF USM prime lenses, it’s about 1/4 of the price, and it’s tiny. Putting this lens on the M makes it almost as compact at the Sony RX100. I don’t plan on using the EF-M 18-55mm IS zoom lens much for stills, but it’s more than good enough for shooting 1080p video. The image stabilization really helps to eliminate vomit-inducing camera shake.

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Closing Thoughts

For all the talk of the convergence of stills and motion in one camera, it still hasn’t quite happened yet in the enthusiast/professional space. In the consumer world, I think the iPhone and smartphones have become the only camera normal people need for stills and videos, making smartphones true convergence devices. That leaves pros and enthusiasts as the only people left who are willing to spend money on a separate camera and/or camcorder.

Mirrorless system cameras have changed the stills world and HDDSLR’s have changed the motion camera world, so it makes sense that the newest convergence cameras will be a combination of those two devices. Mirrorless system cameras are gaining better video capabilities all the time, but Canon started the HDDSLR revolution, so they are coming at the mirrorless world from the opposite direction of taking the HDDSLR video capabilities and cramming them into the EOS M. They did a good job, all they need to do now is match the stills photography performance of their entry level DSLR’s. I think they’re getting there; the reviews for the third generation EOS M3 have been very good. Canon has had plenty of time to improve the M since the original was released 3 years ago. The reviews of the M3 have been so good that Canon decided to release the M3 in the US after initially announcing they wouldn’t. A couple more iterations of the EOS M and they’ll not only catch up to the other mirrorless cameras, but they may even surpass them. In the meantime, I’ll have my EOS M in hand, capturing fantastic videos and photos and having a blast.

All the photos included with this review were shot with the 22mm f/2 EF-M STM lens. For more of my photos, please visit my Flckr page:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/samuraislice/album/

Jonathan V. Acierto

Oct 012015
 

TGBHJUY

Leica is not just for Street

by Jesus

Hey Steve , love your website. I’ve sent you a few images in the past but never submitted any so here goes…

I recently had surgery for a torn adductor muscle so I’ve had time to do a little web surfing.

Funny thing most articles I’ve read  on the old inter web insist Leica rangefinders are strictly to be used as street photography instruments.

Apparently I didn’t get the memo. I’m a machinist by trade and I think that’s what drew me to the Leica M. I’ve been fortunate enough to own a dozen M bodies and 3 R bodies and around 50 lenses.

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And I’ve never shot street photography.

I’m also amused by the comments that only dentist and doctors used Leica’s so here’s a few images that I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot with friends and live in muses

First Two Images
Betcee

Leica M9 50 MM Asph

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Amber Leica M8 75 APO

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Eva

M9 50 Lux

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And finally
Live in muse and friend
Miki

Leica M7
50 Lux
Agfa 100 APX

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Abrazos ~ Jesus

Sep 282015
 

USER REPORT: A7RII + Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE: A weekend in Connecticut

by Jesse Hsu

Hi Steve,

After falling in love with the A7s and using it extensively for the past year, I was curious about the A7RII’s low-light capabilities as well as its stabilization to see if it was worth the purchase. ​ Borrowed the A7RII for a weekend trip to Connecticut to assess its performance. I only used the Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE lens.

This shot was taken in the backseat of a car going 75mph on the highway. I wanted to test out the 5-axis stabilization and took a quick snap of the biker in the lane next to us. Not the sharpest obviously, but not bad for a handheld shot.

1 - Biker

Went out to the backyard and snapped this photo. After opening it up in Photoshop later, I was blown away by the clarity and level of detail. Leaves and tree trunks were sharp and I was able to recover some shadow with ease. Note: No additional sharpening in post.

2 - trees

Went grocery shopping at a local farm for dinner and snapped a sheep who was patiently posing for me. Again, impressed by the clarity of the blades of grass as well as the wool of the sheep when zoomed in.

3 - sheep

As night fell, my friends were getting the grill hot and ready on the porch outside. A great opportunity to test the low light capabilities. There was one light source, an overhead lamp but the sensor performed with no issues as it captured the flames in action and preserved the details of the charcoal piled high in the chimney starter.

4 - grill

I took the next shot as the branzino began to crisp. Notice the criss-cross pattern of the fish scales as well as the powdery soot all over the grill.

5 - fish

Cornish game hens slathered in miso and gochujang were next on the grill.

6 - hens

The next morning we heard some chirping and found some baby birds camped out in the backyard gazebo. The wonderful minimum focusing distance of the 35mm 1.4 allowed me to get pretty close to the subjects and shoot wide open at 1.4 for a heaping of creamy bokeh.

7 - birds

Few friends came by for a dip and the fast boot up time of the camera allowed me to quickly freeze a moment in time. Note the cascading water droplets as clear as day.

8 - swim

Water-skiing in the late afternoon meant another great opportunity to test stabilization. All of the shots were taken on a boat going pretty fast and I was happy that there wasn’t much blur. No tripod used, all handheld. I shot some 4k video but haven’t had a chance to check out the footage in Adobe Premiere.

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Conclusion: After putting the A7RII through its paces, I was happy with the results. It preserved amazing detail in low-light scenes and situations where there was considerable movement. I will be ordering the A7RII soon!

More photos (mix of A7, A7s, A7rII) here: www.instagram.com/scrumphsus

Sep 242015
 

titledickh

The Sony RX1R around the world

by Dick Hoebee

Hello Steve,

The subject of this write-up is the magnificent Sony RX1R and some of the places I’ve taken it so far. Every photo you see here was shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom.

Positive points and general comments

Going to New Zealand was something I wanted to do for a very long time, and in late 2013 I finally had the means and time to do it. My trusty Canon Eos 450D was becoming unreliable after five years of heavy use, and I took this opportunity to go out and get a new camera. The logical choice would be a new Canon, as I had accumulated two nice lenses and a great flash. Mostly thanks to the raving reviews on this site, I checked out the Sony RX1R as well, and ended up buying it, to my own surprise.

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It was either this camera, or an EOS 5D Mk. III. That’s not an easy choice to make, but I’m ultimately glad I went with the Sony. I was a little anxious about limiting myself to one lens, especially for the monumental price tag that the camera has (I bought it when it just came out, too), but that turned out to be unwarranted, as I never enjoyed a camera more than this thing.

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New Zealand was the maiden voyage of the RX1R for me, and boy was I glad I took the plunge before going. This country has many sights that are truly awe-inspiring, and I recommend anyone visiting it at least once in their lifetime. I felt very small there many times. It is a humbling, unforgettable experience.

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Besides the incredible image quality of this camera, I absolutely love this thing for its size and weight (or rather, the lack thereof). It is also built like a tank, which gives confidence to carry it all over the place. And I do. Because it’s so easy to take everywhere, I take it everywhere. I left my EOS 450D at home many times when I shouldn’t have, because I didn’t feel like lugging it around, and that’s even a small DSLR. Another advantage about its size is that it is an unintimidating camera to subjects. When you point a big, professional-looking camera with a large lens at people, they sometimes get self-conscious. The RX1R looks more like a cool-looking hobby-camera than the full-frame monster that it is. The shutter is completely silent, too. Most people have no idea what it is (including those who have nice cameras themselves), and some even think it is an analog camera. An older gentleman I met commented that it looked like his Leica M6.

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At low to medium ISO settings, photos are incredibly clean. That said, the high ISO performance of this camera is one of the reasons I fell in love with it. I can take it out at night, and take hand-held shots without having to use flash in pretty much any situation. The results are great, and photos still look alive and punchy at ISO 6400 and even 12800. Things naturally get more grainy once the ISO goes up, but it’s nice-looking grain, almost film-like. I leave luminance noise-reduction completely off in Lightroom. With a tripod and long exposure + low ISO, it really shines, too.

I use the RX1R for landscapes, portraits, and as a walk-around camera. The dynamic range is really something else, and it’s possible to achieve some amazing results. Colors are wonderful, and black & white is rich and deep. It’s easy to pull tons of detail out of shadows and highlights, and I’ve never felt the need to pull tricks like multiple exposure HDR. RAW files have an incredible amount of headroom. After having owned and used the RX1R for two years, I still get blown away every singe time I load the files in Lightroom. The image quality is absolutely staggering, still in 2015.

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Settings & usage

I shoot in Aperture Priority (the ring is nice) or Program most of the time, and I use Manual for long exposure shots and stitch-panoramas. The exposure compensation dial on top is a useful tool for quick adjustment. I assigned the little C-button on top to ISO-settings, which I usually leave on auto with a range of 100-6400. Sometimes I lock it when I want to go for a specific look. All 5 buttons are programmable, as well as the four-way buttons under the wheel on the back. I set metering to multi-metering, and it is generally accurate. The auto-focus does a great job most of the time. It sometimes has a little trouble in the dark, but it usually catches what I want after a try or two. I set it to one focus point in the middle. Focus speed isn’t super fast, but fast enough for me.

I never really use the flash (not needed) or video mode (I’m a photographer, not a video guy). The only accessories I have in my bag these days are a GorillaPod and an extra battery. It really feels like everything I need now.

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The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens is incredibly sharp at every f-stop, and it seems to be at its sharpest at f/5.6 and f/8. The photos are so sharp in fact, that Adobe Lightroom’s default sharpening-setting of 25 is too high and creates harsh edges. Usually I end up setting it around 10-15. Having a 35mm prime lens is easy to get used to, especially when it’s as great as this one. I love primes in general; they force you to get creative and walk around to find a good angle.

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Dislikes

The battery-life is not great. I immediately turn the camera off after I’ve taken a shot, and I don’t spend much time reviewing photos already taken. I have an extra battery, but since Sony doesn’t include an external charger (at this price point, I’d say that’s strange), I need to switch them around while the camera is hooked up to charge them. The camera has a standard micro-USB port for file transfer and charging, which means it is compatible with pretty much every standard phone charger out there, which is convenient.

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Manual focus is useless without a viewfinder (save for forcing infinity focus), as focus-peaking only works with a magnified view. I don’t know why this is, as the Sony A7 cameras are able to do this on the overview view. Another little quirk is that the camera always returns to infinity focus when it wakes up or turns on. This is something I’d like to be able to lock when I’m waiting to take a shot of something that moves. Both these things are fixable with a firmware update, but Sony doesn’t seem to do those with this camera for some reason.

I miss having an infrared shutter release. That seems like a more logical choice to build into this camera than an external mic-input.

The prices for accessories are ridiculous. I’d like to have the viewfinder (partially because using a circular polarizing filter is almost impossible with the LCD screen), but I’m not paying 500 bucks for that. Even their simple metal lens hood costs 200 bucks (check eBay for knock-offs for 1/10th the price). The only official Sony accessory I bought for it was the leather case. Although that hurt my wallet, I’m glad I got it. It provides good protection, and it really emphasizes the old-school cool look.

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Sum-up

I’ve never been this happy about a camera, or any electronic device I’ve ever owned. It is not perfect (no camera really is), but the positives easily outweigh the negatives. The more I use it, the more I love it. The Zeiss lens, overall image quality, build quality and size, make the RX1R nothing less than a masterpiece.

I would probably still love this thing if it gave me an electric shock with every photo I take.

It is that good.

If you liked this write-up and my photos, check out my personal portfolio and blog. I update it constantly.
http://dickhoebee.com/photography/

I also have a Facebook-page. Give me a “Like” and tell your friends, it always helps!
https://www.facebook.com/dickhoebeedotcom

Or, follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing.
https://twitter.com/DickH86

I will visit Australia in the near future and many other places after that, so keep an eye on my website and social media pages for new photos soon. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments, I’m always more than happy to talk.

Many thanks again, Steve, for allowing me to send this in. Keep the website going, I enjoy the hell out of it.

-Dick

Sep 232015
 

title35

The Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron VM (Leica Mount) Lens Review

By Steve Huff

We are living in a GREAT  time for our hobby or our profession or our obsession..no matter what you call it..it is Photography. Today we have some pretty technologically advanced marvel cameras, simple basic cameras, amazing mid level cameras and even fantastic lower end cameras. Today we have more camera tech available at our disposal than at anytime in history. Even though the worlds #1 camera today is the iPhone, if you are reading this article then that must mean you are here because you appreciate quality and the process of photography, something you lose with an iPhone as you main camera.

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Today I will be taking a look at the new Voigtlander 35 f/1.7 VM lens (Leica M Mount) but I will be shooting it on the Sony A7RII as that is now my #1 camera around here, and for me, the best full frame 35mm mirrorless camera made today. With the new backlit sensor tech, Sony has eliminated mostly all of the old issues when using wider angle Leica glass, at least the color issues ;) This lens works very well on the Sony A7RII, so every image in this review will have been shot with that camera and this lens (as well as the Zeiss ZM 35 1.4 Leica Mount for comparison).

One of my 1st shots with the lens which was indoors so not a ton of light. I opened up the lens, focused and shot. To me, the color is very good as is the OOF background rendering. Smooth rendering with a sharp subject. No issues.

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When Stephen Gandy, head dude over at Cameraquest emailed me and said “The new 35 1.7’s are in, do you want to review one”? Of course I said YES YES YES! I have been curious about this lens but I wasn’t excited about it as I “assumed” it would be average. Not sure why I thought that when the Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton hit it out of the park with bang for the buck. That little 50 1.5 came so close to the Leica 50 Summilux at 1/4 the cost it was a no brainer for those who wanted that fast 50 rangefinder lens experience without spending $4000. You can see my review of that lens HERE, well worth a read and look if you missed it as that lens is a stunner for the money. Then again, Voigtlander has always been known to be big on “bang for the buck” but what I have noticed over the past 7 years is that each time Voigtlander releases a new lens, it seems to be notch up in quality from design, build, operation and image quality. Yep, in 2015 Voigtlander lenses are kicking some serious bootie, and the new 35 1.7 VM is no exception.

My dog Olive who is a total ham. She knows when I am taking her picture, and when I aim the camera she sits and looks, as if to pose. She also watches full TV shows, interacts with animals on TV and sleeps like a human, on her back. Odd ball dog, but here she is at f/1.7 with the new 35 VM. 2nd shot wide open again!

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Over the years I have reviewed many Voigtlander lenses on these very pages. Usually on a Leica M, but these days the Sony A7 series has improved considerably since the beginning about 2 1/2 years ago. While the Leica M is a gorgeous body, camera and the ultimate in “pride of ownership”, it is expensive and many are buying the Sony’s as an alternate to the full frame M and many M owners have an A7 of some sort as a backup and extra camera to their M. Many ask me daily how these lenses do on the A7RII, so this is where I will be concentrating. Of all the Voigtlander lenses I have used, reviewed, and tested the 50 1.5 is my fave, followed by this one. While I loved many of the lenses these two recent additions are really showing what this company can do when they set their mind to it.

The Lens Arrives

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When I received the lens and opened it up I saw I had been sent the CHROME version, and it looks quite a bit like the 50 1.5 I have been speaking about here. This is good as it is a retro but cool design and it is easy to focus and change your aperture. Smooth yet solid, and the lens is a joy to use. It is also thin and small which is nice. MUCH smaller than the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4, smaller than the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and while not as small as the Sony 35 2.8, it is a much different type of lens.

When I attached it to the camera and took my 1st shots I was happy to see the color performance was gorgeous and the lens was pretty damn sharp wide open. It offered that “Voigtlander Look” but to me, it seemed sharper, crisper, better bokeh and color than normal. I liked it. Maybe it was the Sony but what was coming out of the camera with this lens wide open made me happy :)

Both shots below were shot wide open at f/1.7. 1st one I had some natural light coming in, the 2nd image was different. It was much dimmer here than the 1st image but the fast aperture let me get as much light in as I could. 

CLICK them for larger

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As I used the lens more and more over the 2 weeks I had it, I was liking it and decided that I wanted to see how it would stand up to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM that comes in at $2300. The Voigtlander comes in at under $900, so it is more than 2X less than the Zeiss. I would expect the Zeiss to come out ahead but had to see for myself what an extra $1300 would buy me ;)

Zeiss vs Voigtlander

The Voigtlander 35 1.7 next to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM

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Below are some images comparing both the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and  the Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM, both Leica M mount and mounted to my A7RII with the Voigtlander close focus M adapter.

Click the images to see larger and full 100% crops. These are right from the camera with no tweaks at all. FROM RAW.

1st one is the Voigtlander, 2nd is the Zeiss. 

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For this set the Zeiss is showing a tad more color pop and sharpness in the crop (click them for full crop)

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At the end of the day, the Zeiss is a tad better for sharpness at 1.7 but I prefer the bokeh of the Voigtlander which also seems to be giving a more shallow DOF than the Zeiss wen using the same aperture. Very odd but I have seen this before with different lens brands. I love the Zeiss, and it’s about as good as it gets in a 35mm for Leica M mount (it has been compared favorably to the Leica 35 Summilux that comes in at $5500). The Voigtlander is really only a teeny but behind in sharpness wide open. Both are fantastic but one is $1300 less expensive and smaller. Hmmmm.

The Voigtlander also focuses closer than the Zeiss. 

Ultimately it is up to the user which one is preferred, if any. In the world of 35mm for Leica we have many choices from old to modern. For Sony FE we have a load of lenses as well that can be used, so they should be chosen like an artist would choose his brush or pencil. Choose the lens for the desired “look” or “character” of what you want to see in your final image. This lens will give you a creamy look with you subject popping from a 3D background when shot wide open. Just like a good fast 35 should do. It has a decent background blur (Bokeh) rendering and I find it quite pleasing, even better than the Zeiss. It is small, well made (feels leica-ish) and gorgeous in black or chrome. Can’t go wrong.

#1, mailbox at f/1.7. #2, Hula Hoopers at The Duce. #3, Mailbox up close (and the top is OOF due to the depth of field being so shallow, not a lens issue)

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ONE MORE BIG COMPARISON – “Against all the others”

Left to right: Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon, Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2, Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM, Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM and the Sony/Zeiss 35 2.8

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Many have asked me just this morning to add a quick comparison to the Sony 35 1.4, Loxia 35, and Sony 35 2.8 in addition to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM. Well, see the image above for the size differences, and see below for the image samples with each lens! Your wish is my command! (sometimes, lol).

I am using the Sony A7s for  this one and below are full size images from camera (RAW) without any modifications. What I am looking at  here is sharpness of the subject (face of the bottle) and the Bokeh (background blur quality) as well as the color performance. What do YOU think? Leave a comment and let me know! For me, the ultimate IQ comes from the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 but it is huge. The 2nd fave of mine is now the Voigtlander, then the Loxia, then the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and then the 2.8.

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loxia

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So there ya go ;) Let me know in the comments which rendering you prefer. 

ISSUES?

No wide angle lens will be perfect on the Sony A7 series, even the RII. While the A7RII has improved considerably with M lenses, there is still one issue that seems to remain. SOFT edges with some lenses. Instead of magenta side we now will be left with soft sides on many occasions. THIS only comes into play if you are stopped down and wanting perfect corner to corner sharpness. ON the Leica M it will work well, on the Sony not so much.

If you shoot this lens wide open you will never see it. That is where the character lies in this lens anyway. Stopping it down to f/8 will give you no better quality than almost any other 35mm that will fit on the Sony. For me it is a non issue, but for many they want that stopped down corner to corner performance. If that is the case, and you shoot with a Sony A7 series camera, I highly recommend the Sony 35 1.4 which is STUNNING but HUGE. See that review HERE.

You will also see some slight vignetting with this lens when wide open on the Sony A7RII or A7s or A7II, but you will also get that with the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM on the Sony. You will also get the slight vignetting wide open when using it on the Leica M.

If you want perfection in 35mm, buy either a Leica M and a Leica 35 Summilux FLE or buy an A7RII and the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon. Both of those will offer you about the best 35mm performance you will see in full frame, no matter the type of camera. If you want a fun unique lens that also comes with a very cool and fun user experience of using an all manual lens all while getting massive character and IQ, take a look at the Voigtlander. I love it just as much as I do the 50 1.5 Nokton. I highly recommend it for Leica M or A7RII shooters!!! 

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WHERE TO BUY?

You can buy this lens at Cameraquest HERE. Best prices, and free filter and overnight shipping.  

They are the official USA distributor for Voigtlander and top notch all the way!! 

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HLPHH

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Sep 212015
 

TTTTHL1

The Olympus 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Quick Lens Review

Well well. Olympus has been successfully creating cameras and lenses for decades now. When the original E-1 camera came out in 2003 (Four Thirds mount, NOT Micro 4/3) I loved it to pieces. For me, that camera had some magic at the time. While today that’d E-1 falls way short I do know some who still shoot with that camera every now and again and still treasure it. There is just something about Olympus that always keeps me with a body and a lens or two, no matter if I move on to bigger and better things (like full frame).

Even when I am shooting my Leica heavily, or my Sony heavily I always come back to Olympus in the form of the E-M1, E-M5 II or now the new E-M10II (currently reviewing). Olympus, for me, means I will always have a fun time shooting. It also means I will always get my shots as my Olympus cameras never seem to fail me, they offer a huge lens selection and they are fast and have some of the best features on the market. While not holding up to full frame image quality, the IQ from these little wonders is nothing short of astonishing when you consider the small sensor and size of these camera bodies.

Video showing off the 8mm Fisheye

So even today with the likes of the Sony A7 series, the Leica M, the Canon and Nikon’s of the photo world and all of the other amazing cameras out there today, the Olympus Micro 4/3 is still a solution for many of us who want the small size, some of the best glass (lenses) in the business and the largest selection of lenses for any mirrorless system. Speed, IS, color, and performance is top notch. Many pros are using Micro 4/3 and loving it.

That leads me to this new lens release from Olympus. The 8mm Fisheye f/1.8 Pro. Yep, Oly is listing this as a pro lens as it is dust and splash proof, and it offers a worlds 1st for a fisheye..an f/1.8 aperture. Usually these 8mm lenses come in with an aperture of f/3.5 but this one, at f/1.8, actually will offer you more creative possibilities than any other fisheye that I am aware of.

Olympus E-M10 II with the 8mm Fisheye Pro

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I love fisheye lenses and while I only use them 3-4 times per year I find that owning at least ONE fisheye is well worth it. With so many less expensive fisheye’s out there today, most coming in between $250 and $350 with even the promo Panasonic 8mm fish coming it at round $600 how can Olympus charge $999 for this little guy?

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Well, it is a PRO lens which means it will survive the elements. Rain, snow, freezing temps, dust.. this lens should survive any of that. It also has the worlds fastest aperture for a fisheye at f/1.8, and it has Auto Focus, something the less expensive models lack (and yes, you can mis-focus a fisheye). This lens is the nicest looking, feeling and well made fisheye I have ever used. I find it bitingly sharp contrary to one report I saw that said it was not that share wide open. My copy is VERY sharp wide open.

Next two shots, E-M5II and the 8mm Fisheye

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If you have never shot with a Fisheye lens before, you are in for either a treat or disappointment. What a fisheye does is allow you to get massive surroundings into the frame. Usually offering a true 180 degree field of view, this means that it is WIDE..beyond ULTRA wide. It will also give you massive distortion, which is the character of these lenses, hence “fisheye”.

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QUICK SPECS OF THE 8MM 1.8

Micro Four Thirds System
16mm (35mm Equivalent)
Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/22
1 Aspherical, 5 ED, and 3 HR Elements
Anti-Reflection ZERO Coating
High-Speed Imager AF with MSC
Expansive 180° Angle of View
Dust, Splash, and Freezeproof Design
Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

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When used correctly (and it is very hard to do, I rarely can get a GREAT fisheye shot) the results can be spectacular. When used incorrectly, the shots are average. This is a challenging lens and if you slapped this guy on your M 4/3 camera and kept it there for one week, by the end of that week you will be much better with the lens than if you just use it sparingly.

This kind of lens can really put the viewer into the moment and scene.

1st shot E-M10 II, then E-M5II for 2 and 3

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I have owned and loved the Panasonic 8mm f/3.5 but compared to this Olympus it was slower to Auto Focus and did not offer the pro build or the f 1.8 aperture. Coming in at $400 less I feel this Olympus is priced right for what it offers above and beyond that Panasonic. (speed, pro build, aperture). While not the fastest lens in the Olympus lineup for Auto Focus, it is fast for a fisheye. Imagine what the camera would think if it had a brain…

The sensor would see a MASS amount of information due to the ultra wide view…”what to focus on”?!?!? So this will not be as speedy to AF as a 25 1.8 or 12 f/2, rather it will be a touch slower but not slow enough to call it slow or sluggish. It is quite quick, and depending on light it can go from super fast to semi fast. So no worries on AF speed or accuracy. I remember my Panasonic would often times focus incorrectly and while many think you can not mis focus a fisheye, you very well can, ESPECIALLY when you have a faster aperture like f/1.8. Luckily the AF is working very well here.

 

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While having this lens for review I started to really enjoy it..a lot. While walking through the catacomb like pathways of an old ghost town in the AZ desert I was doing some long exposures and the ultra wide view helped to show exactly where I was…THIS is when I found this lens invaluable. No other lens would have worked quite the same. I also have the 7-14 f/2.8 pro here and that lens did very well in these areas as well, but the fisheye really shows the viewer more of what I was seeing while in these spots.

E-M10II and 8MM Fisheye, long exposures. 

 

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So at the end of the day, after 1st renting this lens for a week a month or so ago, and now having a review copy here I have a solid two weeks with this lens and I now want it for my Micro 4/3 lens collection. I sold my Panasonic month ago because I knew this was on the way, and it does not disappoint. I found ZERO weakness. No flare issues, no softness issues, no missed AF issues and no build issues. I even caked my review samples with massive dust and dirt while out in the AZ desert during a windy night where dust and dirt was blowing everywhere. The lens was coated but after a clean up that took 2 minutes it was good as new.

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So now I must own this lens. Even for video it rocks – for Vlogging it does well though the distortion my bother some. I once did quite a few videos for public viewing using mostly a fisheye lens, and it works out great. In some tight situations, if shooting video, this lens would be fantastic (as would  the 7-14 without the distortion).

This lens mated to an E-M1, E-M5II, or E-M10 II or any of the other M 4/3 cameras out there will offer you a unique, different and sometimes surprising view of the world. While not an every day lens (no fisheye is) it is a lens that with selective use can expand your photo portfolio with shots that stick out. While not cheap at $999, I consider this lens to be priced JUST right for what it offers over other less expensive Fisheye lenses.

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So once again I say BRAVO to Olympus for releasing yet another amazing lens for their M 4/3 system. The new 8mm Pro offers you a “no compromise” fisheye that can be used in nearly ANY situation and I find it to be a notch above the competition in every way. AWESOME! Highly recommended for those who have been itching for a Fisheye lens!!!

You can order the lens at my preferred Olympus dealers below:

WHERE TO BUY

B&H Photo – Olympus 8mm fisheye

Amazon – 8mm Fisheye

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HLPHH

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

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