Feb 222016
 

A look at the 4V Design Lusso Slim Camera Strap

A few days ago I received a package from 4V design with a couple of straps inside the box. I had no idea what to expect but can state that I get shipped TONS of straps as it seems everyone in the photo world want their straps reviewed. I end up reviewing probably 25% of them as most are just copies of other straps. Sometimes a strap comes along that is beautiful in looks, comfortable when worn and made of high quality leather with important things like ADJUSTABILITY.

The straps from 4V that were in the box were their LUSSO SLIM strap as well as a Wrist Strap. BOTH have super soft high quality leather, unique color and can be adjusted very easily. If you go  to the 4V website (here) you will see that they are made in Italy, and that they seem to take their strap design and quality very seriously.

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When I unboxed the straps I did a quick video look on them which you can watch below if you so desire:

The strap is very comfy, since it has a memory foam padding with a very grippy surface where it hits your shoulder, so even heavy cameras will be soft and cozy on your shoulder and back. The leather quality is among the best I have seen in a strap, up there with exotic $300 straps. The details are fantastic and the black and cyan color combo is stunning. It just pops.

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Over the years I have used/tested and checked out hundreds of straps. I have a drawer full of them and change them out from time to time. With the Lusso slim, I may have found the strap that will stay on my beloved Sony A7RII for quite some time as its comfort is up there with the best and I love everything about it. Not much one can say in a strap review, but if you want to read more about these straps or the other straps in the 4V line, check out their website HERE.  Highly recommended.

If you want to order one, you can do so at B&H Photo HERE. They have all colors in stock!

 

Feb 182016
 
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The Pursuit of Perfection featuring the Leica M

by Joey Zheng

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Before I start, I wanted to give Steve my deepest thanks for allowing me to write this article for his website and community. I also wanted to let you, the reader, know that this isn’t really too much of a “gear review” as it is a summary of the experiences I had when I first forayed into photography as a child years ago.

It was December 23, otherwise known as Christmas Eve eve. My feet slap against the rain-soaked steps as I slowly follow a throng of people trying to get home after a hard day’s work. A huge raindrop somehow dodges my glasses and hits me square in the eyeball. As I climb out of the packed subway station, the sounds of thousands of tons of echoing, grinding steel gives way to the clamorous battle between the roar of vehicles and the staccato of raindrops hitting the hard, weathered concrete. I pull my hood over my head as I push through on my way home. It’s a miserable day and the fact that water began soaking through my supposedly weather-proof jacket wasn’t helping; yet I couldn’t help but feel happy. And when I finally reached the steps that led to my home, I broke into a massive smile. There, sitting in front of my front door, was a medium-sized brown box (to my slight chagrin, it was slightly wet. Curses, UPS). I took it upstairs, set it on the table, and stared at it for what seemed like an hour before gingerly revealing the contents within.

Okay, that didn’t actually happen. Or rather, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic. I briskly walked home through light drizzle, bolted up the stairs haphazardly after grabbing the box and tore into it with as much energy as someone who’d been on a six-week juice cleanse giving into their desires.

Finally; after almost seven long years of dreaming, I held a pristine Leica M-P typ240 in my hands. Before you could say “Noctilux” I slapped on a lens, threw in the battery, and flicked the switch. The battery had almost no charge and the camera shut itself off to protect it. Rats.

So, after unpacking the rest of the sublime Leica packaging, I began the excruciating wait for the charger to juice up my battery so I can experience my first very own Leica system. While I waited, I spent quite a while thinking about the past seven years and all the experiences and adventures I photographed.

Leica MP typ240, Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 FLE

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Leica MP typ240, Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 FLE

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I can still remember the days in my childhood when I took the family camera (an Olympus C740 Ultra Zoom) out to my backyard and spent hours shooting pictures of flowers in all its 3 megapixel glory (my phone has a higher resolution than that!). Of course, since I was only 10, I didn’t think about resolution, MTF charts, chromatic aberration, or anything like that. All I cared about was if the picture looked cool on that tiny 1.5” screen.

As I grew up and got accepted to take part of my high school’s yearbook team (using that old Olympus, somehow), I decided to graduate to my first dSLR, a Canon Rebel XSi with a kit lens. It was like entering a whole new world of photographic potential; I didn’t have to rely on slow, imprecise, and loud zoom and focus motors, had more resolution (or so I thought at first) to play with, and the lightning-fast operation that dSLRs are known for. I was indeed excited, as my first photo proves:

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Ouch. I didn’t know what an AF switch was. I had a long ways to go (still do).

As the honeymoon period started to wane, I began to…ahem…pixel peep. Through yearbook, I was exposed to quite a wide variety of equipment; particularly lenses. There was one lens in particular that I was particularly obsessed about (as well as all the other yearbook photographers on the team), and thus began my gear lust. I started devouring every article across the world wide web about the best lenses, camera bodies, and equipment available. I became inundated with MTF charts, resolution graphs, and all this technical jargon. I couldn’t afford 99% of the gear I saw, but yet I dreamed. Oh yes I dreamed. Don’t even get me started about how shocked I was when I first discovered Leica and the uber-expensive Leica M9 at the time. Oh how naïve I must have been.

Images from Abu Dhabi – Canon AE-1 Program, Canon 50mm f/1.4, Ilford HP5

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Canon AE-1 Program, Canon 50mm f/1.4, Ilford HP5

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Canon AE-1 Program, Canon 50mm f/1.4, Ilford HP5

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Canon AE-1 Program, Canon 50mm f/1.4, Ilford HP5

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The next few years I kept trading around my kit, at least when my financial situation allowed me to do so. I always kept searching for the perfect system and became disheartened when my expectations weren’t met when things were blown to 100%. I spent hours watching DigitalRev and their wacky (and sometimes informative) adventures throughout Hong Kong with a variety of gear I dreamed about. But the problem was I was never really satisfied with what I was getting. And the thing is, no matter how I shuffled around my gear, my photography didn’t really improve all that much.

Fashion Week – Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 85mm f/1.4

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But it wasn’t just self-criticism that I faced during those early stages of my photographic history. Other people weren’t exactly the most supportive either. As I became even more interested in photography, I started taking official classes in school and looked at going to New York to study photography as a major in college. I asked around for advice and comments from my teachers and peers about my work. Let’s just say the two remarks vying for most comment feedback received were “Ew. I look gross. Please delete.” And “Why?”. When I showed my teacher my portfolio for my application to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, the only comment she could muster was “These aren’t strong enough. You have to work harder.” Basically, I was on my own.

Images from China – Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 85mm f/1.4

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Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 85mm f/1.4

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Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 85mm f/1.4

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Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 85mm f/1.4

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Fast forward a few years and I find myself living it up in the Big Apple. Yes, despite all the negative feedback about my work, I somehow got accepted in the Photography and Imaging department at Tisch. I still consider it 85% luck that I got in, or because I’m Asian and they wanted diversity, or something. Either way, I found myself with a plethora of interesting subjects to photograph. I was finally out of the sleepy, vanilla suburb I grew up in and thrown headfirst into the chaos that is New York. But I didn’t photograph much. I lost my passion for it, and my camera sat on my shelf, gathering dust.
I glance at the charger. Still halfway to go.

I thought about why I stopped taking photos. Quite simply, I realized that I hated ‘studying’ photography. I wasn’t particularly inspired by my classes, or fit in with my peers too much. I didn’t like being sent on assignments with a particular goal in mind. My classes simply weren’t fulfilling my creative side; in fact, it only served to dull the spark.

I was obviously at a crossroads; my choice of becoming a professional photographer for a ‘career’ became my only hurdle. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life creating images for other people. I wanted to take photographs for myself. I wanted to experience photography. I wanted take photos of whatever I thought was fascinating. And if people liked my work, great. If they didn’t; great. The point is, it didn’t matter to me anymore.

Nagasaki, Japan – Fuji X100T

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Two kids playing just meters from the nuclear bomb epicenter, Nagasaki, Japan – Fuji X-E2, Fuji 35mm f/1.4R

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Osaka, japan – Fuji X-E2, Fuji 35mm f/1.4R

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On the train in NYC — Fuji X-E2, Fuji 35mm f/1.4R

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Long story short (even though I’m probably already boring you with my blathering; kudos and cookies for those who have made it this far), I dropped out of school, found film, and I’ve somehow been sustaining myself for the past few years. And the best part is, I’ve rediscovered my passion for photography; except this time, I feel it’s purer. I’m no longer plagued by thoughts of “Oh, this isn’t sharp enough. Trash bin.” Or “If I had this lens, my photographs would be so much better.”
Though the gear lust is still kicking around my noggin somewhere (Noctilux or APO Summicron anyone?), I barely think about it. You can say that yes; I have a Leica…I spent mucho dinero for quality. And in a sense, you are right. But the Leica didn’t become the object of my desires because of its prestige or technical quality. After all, there are cameras out there that have even sharper sensors and a bevy of incredible technologies. I chose Leica because of its simplicity. It’s the most ideal camera for me. I don’t seek to capture the moment perfectly; I simply seek to capture the perfect moment. Like many others have said, the Leica experience is just…so pure. Nothing gets between me and my subject, save for my own skills.

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Leica MP typ-240, Voigtlander 50mm Nokton f/1.5

Express permission from Joey Wang required to use.

But that could be said about any camera, really. The old adage of “it’s not the camera but the person behind it” stands true. Before the Leica, I’ve shot with a variety of digital and film cameras, and some of my favorite images come from cameras that can be purchased from eBay for less than a few hundred dollars. All that matters is the image; just like the time I spent in my backyard fiddling around with the flowers.

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Although it has been less than a couple of weeks with my Leica, I am no less impressed with this machine. Shooting is an absolute joy, although I don’t have the chance to really put the camera through its paces, at least just yet. Almost all the photos from the Leica you see in this post are pictures that I took to and from work that have been zone focused with manual everything. In the future, who knows. All I know right now is that I want to continue to learn and grow as an (amateur) photographer. It’s an endless pursuit, but I plan to enjoy every moment of it, and I hope that everyone reading this does as well; no matter what camera you have, just go out and shoot. Photography is a beautiful thing.

The rest of the images.. all shot with Leica and Voigtlander 50mm

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Once again, I thank you so much for this opportunity.

Best,
Joey

Feb 152016
 
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GoPro Gimbal Shootout – Feiyu Tech G4s vs EVO GP-PRO

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Something different! Lately I have been searching for a Gimbal solution for either a camera like my Sony A7RII or Olympus E-M5II for vlogging and side projects I work on daily with video. I do much more in life these days than just this website, and have been working with video more and more. Not pro level crazy stuff, but just casual use for vlogging. After my long search I have not found anything that beats a simple, small powered gimbal using a GoPro 4 silver or black. I narrowed them down to two after tests and after that, I now narrowed it down to one with my fave gimbal for portability, effectiveness, build, performance, battery life and functionality. That is the EVO-GP-PRO. The motors are SO powerful and rock solid on this gimbal, night and day next to the Feiyu Tech G4s. If you are not sure what a gimbal does, it helps create super smooth silky video, in this case, for a GoPro camera.

The video above explains it all and IMO the EVO wins. I have both right here with me as I write this, no contest. If you need or want a solid gimbal that will work well, have a great US warranty and deliver the steadiest results, check out the EVO GP-PRO.

Enjoy!

Jan 302016
 

Using the Leica Q for street photography

by Stephen Swain

Dear Steve,

I submitted some images to you almost exactly a year ago (back stage with the x-pro 1), which you kindly placed on your site. Since then you have had some really valuable reviews of various new camera models, and the one that tempted me most was the Leica Q, so much in fact that I put my name down on the pre-order list!

I must say it has not disappointed…it is an ideal tool for the type of street pictures I like to take.

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As you see from the images here I like to work very close to the subject, but at the same time to keep “invisible”. I am not a very patient person, so I try to squeeze interesting images out of the mundane, and I thrive on very busy streets where it is easy to blend in and not ne noticed.

The 28mm lens on the Leica is ideal for me as it creates a feeling that you are “in and amongst” whatever you are shooting, which you do not achieve if you are zooming in (I think this gives a more voyeuristic feel…which is fine if it is what you are after). The very quiet shutter is perfect and nobody has heard me yet…which used to happen sometimes with the Fuji, and I also have the option of the silent electronic shutter. The EVF is perfect and shutter lag is virtually non-existent.

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Focus wise it is a game changer. I use three different settings for focusing depending on the situation, zone focusing and face detection auto when I am shooting blind, and manual focusing when I am shooting using the viewfinder. The face detection mode is very fast and has allowed me to get shots I would not have been able to catch manually (the girl wearing a blue hat is a prime example of this) Granted sometimes it focuses on the “wrong” face, but this is a price worth paying for when it works as you wish. It also allows you to shoot blind with a wide aperture and throw the background out of focus…even with the 28mm lens.

Thanks again for all of the great work you put into your site. Do let me know if you would like any more information.

Best wishes,

Stephen Swain

www.capturethemoment.co.uk

Jan 292016
 

Olympus PEN-F. More Sample Images

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I am now back home from Austin and the Olympus media event to showcase the new Olympsu PEN-F. If you missed my PEN-F review you can see it here. I plan on doing a follow-up as soon as I get a review unit to showcase the RAW performance of the camera. But below are a few more JPEGs I found on my SD card after arriving home. All shot in various JPEG modes. Some in the new Monochrome mode, some with the new Chrome mode and some in plain old standard mode. All are OOC JPEGS, and you must click them as always for the best version. On my 27″ iMac these look fantastic.

I should get a review unit in about 2 weeks from Olympus and then I will dig deeper into the camera and take a look at the menu system, the new features, how to use them and RAW as well as the new updated 50MP High Res Shot mode. The PEN-F is hanging in my memory, was such a joy to shoot.

You can pre-order the PEN-F in black or silver at the links below from my recommended dealers.

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CHROME MODE 3

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Reflection in a dirty window, not sure if this was CHROME 2 or STANDARD

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CHROME 3

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STANDARD COLOR MODE (NO COLOR DIAL SETTING)

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STANDARD COLOR (NO COLOR DIAL SETTINGS) – 75 1.8

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STANDARD MODE – CLICK TO SEE THE STUNNING SHARPNESS OF THE 75 1.8 – THIS IS AT 1.8

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CHROME 3 – 8MM FISHEYE PRO

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STANDARD COLOR

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MONOCHROME MODE 2 BUT WITH GRAIN OFF

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TESTING THE VIGNETTE SLIDER IN MONO MODE 2 (GRAIN OFF)

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45 1.8 MONOCHROME MODE 2

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MONO MODE 1

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MONO MODE 1

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Jan 262016
 
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The NEW Olympus PEN-F Camera Review. Just. Wow.

NOTE: Be sure to click the images here to see them larger and how they were meant to be seen.  ALL images here are Out Of Camera JPEGS, 100% (No real RAW support yet) and I mainly tested the new dedicated Monochrome Mode in mode 2 which simulates something like TRI-X so this is the look that mode gives and the Chrome/Slide Color mode as these are new modes for Olympus. Enjoy my look at this new exceptional camera from Olympus but be prepared for a slew of Monochrome images! Next update I will show images from RAW which will be the more standard color and B&W profiles. 

My 1st look VIDEO on the new PEN-F

 

It’s been an amazing last few days. I am here in Austin TX and have had the opportunity to shoot with the brand spanking new Olympus PEN-F every day which is by far, the best Olympus digital PEN EVER. Hands down, no contest. No Hype, No B.S., No Lie. This review will be one of the very 1st full REVIEWS in the world of the PEN-F. Enjoy!

The PEN-F with the 12 f/2 – Using the new Monochrome Mode 2 (Tri-X Style Simulation but with all grain OFF)  – Click it to see it correctly!

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With its gorgeous retro style. swivel screen, 5 Axis IS, 50MP High Res Shot mode, Live Time, Focus Bracketing, new color modes, new Monochrome mode, 10FPS or 20FPS with its electronic shutter, silent mode, 1/8000th s standard shutter, 1/16,000 electronic shutter, large and clear EVF, shortest lag of any other camera in this class, touch screen, and loads of other cool features Olympus have hit it out of the PARK with the PEN-F.

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Yes my friends, this is quite the camera and while not up to Full Frame sensor cameras it can stand up to any APS-C sensor camera made today IMO (been saying this since the pro E-M1) and if given a choice between the new PEN-F and ANY APS-C Mirrorless or DSLR, the PEN-F wins in a huge way, for ME. Maybe not for you, but for me, 100%. I LOVE the PEN cameras and always have, so this one really struck a chord with me.

This may end up being the most loved Olympus Digital yet by the camera buying public as well as enthusiasts because it has cool factor, speed, great construction and feel, some of the best lenses made today available for it and superb image quality. I see it as a “Super Enthusiast” camera with great design and control, just what an Enthusiast wants and just what camera companies need to be doing..making special cameras that people will WANT to use and shoot over their smart phones.

Yes yes yes, this is one of those cameras that can do it and put a big grin on your face while doing it.

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THE BEST PEN EVER

Long time readers will know, I have had them all from the EP1, E-P2, E-P3 and the EP5 and some of the in between (EPL Series) models and this new PEN-F has more than ANYONE would ever want in a  mirrorless camera, and for me, (and others I have spoken to who are using it with me) it beats ANY DSLR made for usability, fun factor, features, size and style, again, my opinion. Oh, and the performance is the best yet from Olympus as well and while it does not have the weather sealing of the Pro level E-M1, in many ways, I’d rather have this than the aging E-M1. In fact, if given a choice I know the PEN would have my heart instantly.

With an all new 20MP sensor is inside, upping the Ante over the usual 16MP in Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras, we finally get a new higher MP Micro 4/3 sensor, and it does not disappoint. In fact, I am seeing some of the sharpest most detailed M 4/3 images yet, and I have only seen JPEG’s so far. I am sure the RAW files will be spectacular.

The new 20 megapixel sensor is indeed an improvement over the old 16MP sensor.

They are even releasing some gorgeous leather accessories for it as well as a half case and the grip. The Leather accessories look pretty sharp to me…

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MONOCHROME & MORE!

I will state right now, the PEN-F is BEAUTIFUL and the new MONOCHROME mode is great to have and quite stunning.

I am thrilled to see a camera company concentrating and working on Monochrome imaging…with a camera under $1200 instead of $7000 like the Leica Monochrom. Of course this is NOT a dedicated Mono sensor but take a look at the B&W images direct out of the PEN-F camera below. Nothing at all to complain about. The way the new sensor handles light is quite stunning. This is a $1200 camera, and believe me, well worth this cost when some cameras these days cost much more and in some cases, give less.

MUST click it for better version! This one with the 17.5 Voigtlander 0.95 at 0.95 – OOC JPEG MONO MODE 2

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When this new PEN-F was handed to me I was super excited as soon as I saw the design and held it in my hands. The Chrome model is GORGEOUS, SEXY and SLEEK but the black is much more stealthy and just as handsome. I am not 100% sure which I prefer. I love the looks of both though the Silver has more definition to the dials as they pop out more giving more of a retro vibe.

I still have an E-P5 on my shelf at home along with my OM-D camera but this one WILL be replacing my E-P5 and may become my main shooter for a while due to the fact that it can do whatever I need it to do except for very super low or no light shooting, which I reserve for my Sony full frame A7 series cameras. But take this and some nice fast primes like the 12mm f/2, 17 f/1.8,  Panasonic Nocticron or even the AMAZING DROOL WORTHY Olympus 300mm f/4 and you will have a camera capable almost anything you need.

Voigtlander 17 0.95 on the PEN-F – MONO MODE 2 (Tri-X Style)

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Now with the awesome Olympus 8mm f/1.8 Pro Lens

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But right here, right now, the big buzz among those shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin along with me? It’s all about the MONOCHROME MODE. Not sure if its a mental thing, a nostalgia thing or a combo of both but we all seem to love it and have had a hard time shooting in other modes. Olympus did a great job with this, and it is NOT a new Art Filter. It’s a new MODE. Very cool. 

As for the Monochrome mode, to me, it is FANTASTIC.  Take a look at these OOC JPEGS while in Mono mode #2. No PP here at all.

CLICK THEM for much better version! These are all MONOCHROME MODE 2 (Tri-X style, so the “look” you see is emulating this film. Deep black, high contrast. 

Next 11 images were shot with the Olympus 45 1.8. A true no brainer lens at $299. Bargain of the decade. 

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The Olympus 17 1.8

Tri X simulation Mode 2 with heavy grain (you can choose OFF, LOW, MED, HIGH)

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The $299 25 1.8

Mode 2 with medium grain

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WITH A FLICK OF THE SWITCH!

With the flick of your finger you can swap modes easily while your eye is up to the EVF. Go from standard to monochrome to chrome/slide and EACH mode has three presets with unlimited customization of each and every preset! It’s quite amazing and may take a day or two for you to learn how it all works but once you do, it is as easy as 1-2-3.

In Mono mode you can choose color filters just as you did with B&W film. For example, using the RED filter will darken and enhance the sky and lighten skin tones. You can also choose the grain and have it off, low, medium or high. The grain is also film like as Olympus made sure to make it as much like film grain as possible. This is NOT the old grainy B&W mode, it is all new.

The nice dial right on the from of the PEN-F allows you to easily select which mode you want, if any

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Myself and others here see the new PEN-F as competition to the new X-Pro 2 or even a Sony A6000..but with the new film modes that look VERY good, along with the gorgeous design and high quality parts and construction, this would most likely be my choice over any APS-C counterpart due to size, speed, lenses available, features, IQ and the gorgeous design and control and customization.

For me it is always MUCH more than just output as a camera needs to have MANY things going for it for me to LOVE it. The PEN-F is blazing fast, has one of the best selection of high quality lenses of ANY brand (I put them 2nd only to Leica for high quality and small size) and has the highest fun factor of ANY camera I have used beating Sony, Leica, Fuji. etc.

THIS PEN IS NOT A TOY ;) 

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But do not confuse FUN FACTOR with it being a Toy as the PEN-F is no toy. It could be used for anything from family snaps to pro work (I know many pros who use Micro 4/3 with gorges results) like weddings or events. When choosing a camera as an enthusiast or amateur or someone who just loves taking photos, never worry about wether a camera is labeled as “PRO” but look at a cameras capabilities, features and how versatile it is. I said it many times in the past but Olympus makes some of the most versatile cameras EVER. I see so many online who stick by their brands and like to call other brands “toys”  – which I feel is ridiculous. NO camera that is made for enthusiasts use is a toy. That is just ridiculous. ALL cameras at this level are very good to great, and it is hard to make a choice on IQ alone, which is why you must look at everything the camera offers you, how easy it is to operate and what it can do FOR YOU and your photography.

The PEN-F motivates and really makes you want to shoot it.

The new PEN-F even has a cool mode where you can be framing your image with the EVF while using your thumb on the back LCD to move your focus point. AMAZING! These are the things that set Olympus apart from other cameras made today. They are truly the leaders of Innovation with digital imaging and I have said this for years. There is a silent mode as well with a 100% silent shutter. I mean SILENT. This one may have all YOU need.

OOC JPEGS with no PP at all. These were shot in the COLOR WHEEL mode 3, which is simulating the super saturated slide and chrome films of the past. If you want a bold color pop that still looks good (it really does look much like some old slide film) use mode 3 when you have your wheel on COLOR. You choose mode 3 in the super control panel which makes camera settings a BREEZE. 

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AN EVF ON THE PEN, FINALLY! 

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The PEN-F is the first Olympus PEN digital to include an EVF. Something I have wished for since the E-P1. The PEN-F uses the same EVF as the one in the latest E-M10 Mark II. It’s VERY good and I would say in the top 3-4 EVF’s made today with the Leica SL being the best I have ever seen or used. Even so, this one is fantastic and it is so cool to have. My fave way of shooting the PEN-F was to close the LCD (which also has the nice leatherette covering) and just shoot with the EVF, while NOT reviewing the images. Was like shooting film ;) So THANK YOU Olympus for making this one with an EVF!

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SHUTTER  – MECHANICAL OR ELECTRONIC

The new PEN-F has the traditional shutter which can go up to 1/8000S or you can activate the Electronic Shutter and enjoy up to 1/16,000S. When using the E-Shutter the camera is 100% SILENT. Super stealth here. This means that if you want to shoot an f/0.95 lens in the sunlight wide open, it will not be a problem.

This camera has just about every tech feature you can imagine.

PEN-F VS LEICA MONOCHROM? WHAT?!?!?!

When I look back at my Leica MM shots I do not see a major WOW difference between those and what I can get with the PEN-F and a nice fast prime when it comes to B&W tonality. I do see more pop with Leica due to the full frame sensor and $3500 Zeiss lens I used but as for tonality, I slightly prefer the Olympus. Crazy. But I like that Tri-X style and I like to get there easy. ;)

THIS tells me that the new PEN-F is special, and quite the accomplishment from Olympus. I SO can not wait to slap on the Nocticron to this. My guess is that it will be a match made in heaven for Monochrome portrait work.

Being Micro 4/3, it still has that super high ISO/Low Light weakness next to full frame but as long as you do not need ISO 50,000 then the PEN-F just may be all you need. If you need the best high ISO low light performance I would look to a Sony A7S or A7SII.

In black with the new Olympus Grip which is much like an RSS style grip. ITS A MUST if you want more grip ;) 

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Yes, the PEN-F is retro and it is beautiful. It is modeled after the original PEN-F film camera which was a half frame camera to cut down on size but quite cute and attractive in its own right.

The Original Half Frame Film PEN

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The new digital PEN-F uses a new 20MP sensor and it is much more than a pretty face, I can assure you of this. As with all Olympus mirrorless cameras these days, the cameras are mature and the lenses are some of the best out there for ANY system. Sure the sensors are smaller, but these cameras are all about FUN, SMALL SIZE, and FANTASTIC QUALITY in build, feel, control and IQ.

PEN-F, Olympus 17 1.8 Lens (review of the lens is here) – Chrome Color Mode 3 (Super Saturated Slide Film)

Remember, click images for better versions!

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Below are the key things I think make the PEN-F one hell of a camera, and things I have really enjoyed about it in my 2-3 days of non stop shooting…

  • MONOCHROME MODE! On the front of the PEN-F is a chunky metal dial that will switch to different color modes. The new MONOCHROME selection is beautiful and provides quite nice out of camera B&W images. Mode 2 recreates slide film and ALL OF IT is 100% customizable to your tastes. Just a switch of the dial with your finger as you look through the new built in EVF is all it takes to go to go to MONOCHROME, SLIDE/CHROME COLOR, ART FILTERS or STANDARD. 
  • The Exposure Compensation Dial! This is new for Olympus and it is much welcomed. Now you can adjust EV comp on the fly. 
  • Tilt OUT LCD – Just like the E-M5 II, this is great for all kinds of things. Video, Selfies, Vlogging, etc. 
  • Speed – As with all of the current Olympus models, this one is blazing fast to AF with most lenses. 

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  • The new BUILT IN EVF! For the 1st time EVER in a Digital PEN we have a nice big EVF. It is the same EVF as the one in the E-M10II, and it is quite nice. I have been asking for an EVF in a PEN for YEARS, now we have it!
  • DESIGN is gorgeous. Not one visible screw. Classic/Retro design that looks like a classic PEN-F. Olympus did this one justice.
  • IT’S FUN AND JUST WORKS! Olympus PEN cameras have always had something special about them to me. They are fun are fast, and just work. They are small, light and powerful with gorgeous color and overall performance. The new PEN-F is no exception and is probably the funnest PEN yet. 
  • CUSTOMIZATION. The new Monochrome or Chrome settings have three presets each but can be 100% customized to your liking. It’s quite intense at first but once you get the hang of it, then it is quite nice. 
  • Best 5 Axis IS inside and Olympus has THE BEST Image Stabilization on the market 

NEXT THREE IMAGES – THE NEW CHROME/SLIDE COLOR MODE (COLOR MODE 3, Super Saturated Slide) – Olympus 17 1.8

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When in mode 3 using the new Color modes, you are getting CHROME/SLIDE with super enhanced color, just like some old slide film that has HUGE color pop. You can turn that back a tad by going to mode 2 while the front control knob is on COLOR…

Color MODE 2

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I have been shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin with 15 or so other journalists and we all seem to be enjoying it IMMENSELY. After speaking with most of these guys the one thing they all agree on is that the Monochrome mode rocks and the camera is amazingly fun and easy to use, and the results and IQ can be BEAUTIFUL with the right lenses. I can not wait to get my full review unit and put it through paces with lenses like the Nocticron and other fast primes.

Slide Film Mode 3

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The PEN-F construction is special as well. Not ONE screw is visible anywhere on the camera. It is made VERY well with a magnesium alloy base and solid feeling knobs and dials. Nothing on the camera feels cheap and while not built like a Leica M, the build of the PEN series has always been very nice. The PEN-F is even better. lovely.

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JPEG DETAIL 

Again, every image you see here is an out of camera JPEG as there is no RAW support for this camera yet. When RAW support is available I will do an updated post with RAW files and tests. For now, take a look at some detail coming just from the JPEGS!

YOU MUST CLICK IMAGES TO SEE TRUE 100% CROP AND CORRECT SHARPNESS!

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ISO TESTS

With the new 20MP sensor, how does the camera do with high ISO while in low light? Let us see…

1st the whole image..

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Now the 100% crops (no need to click these as they are already 100%)

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Monochrome Modes Explained

The PEN-F has three Monochromatic modes. Mode 1, 2, and 3.

Mode 1 is more of a neutral B&W (click them for much better version)

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MODE 2 has several options with grain and offers a more contrasty Tri-X style of rendering. Below is a samples of Mode 2 with grain off, low, medium and high.

*Must click them for best view*

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Below is Mode 3 which is sort of like an Infrared simulation which is why the images below look like IR with grain and the blowout look. Many love this look, many hate it . ALL OOC JPEGS as with every image in this review. 

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So while the Pen-F offers normal color modes (That I did NOT use here but will add some over the next two days)  it also gives us the Chrome Film simulations and the Monochrome simulations, and I feel these are the best film simulations on any digital camera to date. Easy squeezie to get these results with OOC JPEGS.

Pros and Cons of the Olympus PEN-F

PROS

  1. It’s small, light, but VERY well made
  2. It is GORGEOUS in design and controls
  3. Super customizable
  4. MONOCHROME MODE
  5. SLIDE FILM MODE
  6. Swivel out to the left LCD get for video or Vlogging
  7. New 20MP sensor is fantastic
  8. Some of the best lenses out there are available for this system
  9. Under $1200
  10. NOW A PEN WITH AN EVF!
  11. Control dial on front adds a cool look and is very functional
  12. 5 Axis IS best so far
  13. Touch LCD screen can even change focus point with thumb while viewing through the EVF
  14. Wonderful Image Quality
  15. Decent low light high ISO capabilities though better can be had with some APS-C and Full Frame
  16. Super fast AF, very accurate AF, Fastest I have seen in M 4/3 so far
  17. This is a street shooters DREAM camera, well if not yours, it should be
  18. Exposure Compensation Dial!!! A 1st for Olympus
  19. SO many cool modes – Live Time, Focus Bracketing, Color Controls, Art Filters are still here, so so many things that are so functional that no other cameras have.
  20. Nice quality Leatherette covering, even on the back of the LCD if you want to close it and shoot without it.
  21. SILENT shutter option, and I mean SILENT!
  22. 1/8000 mechanical shutter or 1/16,000 electronic shutter. No problem for fast glass in the daylight.

CONS

  1.  No weather sealing but then again, at this price point and for what it offers I would not expect it to be there.
  2. I would probably prefer large buttons on the back as they are small, and seem hard to push. For example. the focus assist magnify button is very small and she I tried using a manual lens and using magnify I constantly had to take my eye from the EVF to find the button. I am sure after a couple weeks of use it would be second nature though it could have been bigger.
  3. Some of the MONO modes some may consider harsh but it is supposed to be emulating a Tri X style of film. So this is how it is supposed to look. If you wang normal smooth Monochrome, use Mode 1 which will offer less contrast and lighter blacks.
  4. NO MONO MODE IN RAW, only JPEG. But as I said, it is NOT a Monochrome camera, it simulates one very well.

THAT’S IT! It is one of the most “likable” cameras I have ever reviewed.

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My Final Conclusion

This camera is one of those that I love because it has everything I like and really nothing I do not. It’s an inspiration and if you are not a crazed pixel peeping maniac who only views 40-100 MP files at 100% you may not like Micro 4/3. But at the end of the day, Micro 4/3 offers shooters a real alternative to the bulk and size of many Full Frame offerings, even the smaller ones like the Sony A7 series but it does not offer full frame performance in ISO or IQ or DR. It does however keep up with APS-C, and I have proven this in the past with the E-M1. This has a better sensor. What you see here is all OOC JPEGS. My next update will be with RAW (when support is available) but my old E-M1 always did amazing with RAW and this one should be a tad better.

The PEN-F has been a long time coming and I am so thrilled that Olympus created this. There are many PEN fans out there and I feel they will FLIP over this one. I am replacing my old E-P5 with it so yep, I am ordering it even though I have an E-M5 around. I much prefer this to the E-M5 II and what sealed the deal for me was the COLOR DIAL allowing me to go from slide film like color to gorgeous Monochrome or even neutral if I so desired. The new EVF is nice (same one that is in the E-M10 II) and I just really LOVE LOVE LOVE the design here. Olympus outdid themselves and the PEN-F is 100% bonafide winner.

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With that said, for many hardcore enthusiasts and pros it will not replace a full frame camera (it’s not mean to) but for 90% of the camera loving public, it offers much more than most at this price point of around $1200 and if you want a HUGE step up from a smartphone or aging camera (even APS-C), THIS would be the camera I recommend to any and all from now on. Truth be told, if this camera was released in December, it would have been my Camera of the Year 2015 due to everything I just said about it, and the price which is excellent for what you get here. Its small, thin, and so easy to use and shoot. It JUST WORKS!

With its Electronic Shutter which is SILENT and allows up to 1/16,000S shooting or even the normal shutter at 1/8000s you are covered shooting fast glass in sunlight. With its fast AF, 10-20 FPS depending on the shutter mode and even the fantastic video capabilities (that I have not yet tested) along with the best 5 Axis IS in the business, this is a serious camera with a serious fun factor. The best part is that it delivers on all fronts from build to speed to usability to IQ.

The PEN-F will start shipping in March 2016 and will come in at $1199.00. 

Leave a comment below and let me know what YOU think of the new PEN-F!

WHERE TO BUY THE PEN-F & ACCESSORIES?

You can pre-order the PEN-F at B&H Photo & Amazon Below:

Order the PEN-F in Black at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F in Silver at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F In Silver at Amazon HERE

Order the PEN-F in Black at Amazon HERE

Accessories…

You can order the premium Leather bag at B&H Photo HERE

The grip is available HERE at B&H Photo

The half case is available HERE

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More Samples from the PEN-F!

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Below, with the new 300mm f/4 – THIS IS A DROP DEAD GORGEOUS LENS giving a 600mm FOV and easily hand holdable. 

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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 receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

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FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS

OLYMPUS’ ICONIC MASTERPIECE: THE NEW PEN-F® COMBINES TIMELESS DESIGN WITH SOPHISTICATED COLOR PROFILE CONTROL FOR THE ULTIMATE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY TOOL

20 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor, 5-Axis VCM Image Stabilization, Fully-Customizable Monochrome and Color Profile Control, and Interactive OLED Electronic Viewfinder in a Classic Rangefinder Design

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 27, 2016 — Olympus is pleased to announce the PEN-F, a compact system camera created by fusing cutting-edge digital technology with craftsmanship handed down from 80 years of Olympus camera manufacturing. As the digital update of the original PEN-F, the world’s first half-frame SLR, the new PEN-F is packed with incredible performance advancements for photographers seeking superior image quality and creative control. The 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is combined with Olympus’ 5-Axis Image Stabilization, a built-in 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and a new Creative Dial on the front of the camera that accesses a host of controls to deliver a captivating shooting experience, all included in a design that exudes timeless beauty.

Elegant, Meticulous Design
The PEN-F’s classic body lines and silhouette are inherited from its predecessor, which debuted in 1963. The top and front covers of the body are crafted from magnesium, and the precision metal dials (along with the bottom of the body) are crafted from aluminum. Olympus engineers devoted extraordinary resources to ensure superior quality and craftsmanship, so much so that even screws are undetectable on the camera’s exterior. Simple, stylish touches — like the included camera strap and the leather-grained exterior of the camera body and the back of the articulating LCD monitor — provide a unified look and feel. Customizable buttons and dials are positioned for easy operation while the user looks through the viewfinder, and the new Exposure Compensation dial and four custom modes on the Mode Dial offer instant access to registered settings for simple, direct control.

Ultimate Image Quality in Every Situation
The newly-developed 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is paired with the latest TruePic™ VII Image Processor to bring out the amazing image quality of Olympus’ M.ZUIKO® lenses. The sensor’s low-pass filterless construction delivers high resolution and a low sensitivity ISO LOW mode equivalent to ISO 80. In addition, the powerful 5-axis VCM (Voice Coil Motor) image stabilization compensates up to 5.0 steps* of shutter speed for one of the world’s highest levels of compensation performance. This technology allows users to capture clear images of night scenes and other low light situations with minimal noise, without raising the ISO. Focal length may be set manually, so that even legacy manual-focus lenses can be image-stabilized. The PEN-F’s High Res Shot Mode captures 50 megapixel equivalent images that reproduce incredible subject detail in ultra-high resolution, perfect for architecture and still life work. Plus, Olympus Viewer 3 Ver. 2.0 image editing software has been updated to process High Res Shot RAW images.

Complete Freedom of Expression
The PEN-F’s new Monochrome and Color Profile Control functions allow photographers the ability to emulate their favorite films of years past. These functions differ from using photo editing software after shooting, as they allow users to apply and check effects in Live View while shooting to create their own original images. Both functions include quick-select presets designed to give images the look of classic film. Or, settings can be completely customized to achieve specific looks. The camera’s front-mounted Creative Dial accesses Monochrome Profile Control, Color Profile Control, Art Filters, and Color Creator, all with a simple twist.

Monochrome Profile Control combines five photographic effects — Color Filter effect, Shading effect, Film Grain effect, Monochrome Color, and Highlight and Shadow Control — for a variety of monochromatic expressions. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Classic Film Monochrome (Preset 2) for a monochrome film effect with high contrast, and Classic Film Infrared (Preset 3) for an effect that mimics infrared film. In Color Profile Control, users are able to adjust the color saturation of 12 individual colors in 11 steps. This is combined with Highlight and Shadow Control for limitless color expression. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Chrome Film Rich Color (Preset 2), which provides deeper tones in images, and Chrome Film Vivid Saturation (Preset 3), which creates high levels of color saturation. The PEN-F’s rear lever lets users easily toggle through the various effect controls, including Highlight and Shadow Control, a feature that also allows for the adjustment of midtones within plus or minus seven steps for advanced customization.

High-Visibility Interactive Viewfinder
The PEN-F is equipped with a built-in 2.36 million-dot high resolution OLED Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a 100-percent field of view and a magnification rate of 1.23x (35mm equivalent: approx. 0.62x) for a clear view without aberrations, even at the edges. Simulated OVF (S-OVF) Mode expands the dynamic range and provides an image similar to what would be seen with the naked eye. The magnified display function and Focus Peaking (which offers three levels and four colors) allow for extremely precise lens focusing. In addition, the PEN-F’s vari-angle, touch-enabled LCD monitor lets users compose Live View shots from a variety of angles, high or low.

Super-Fast Response for Comfortable Shooting
The PEN-F features blazing-fast speed with the shortest shutter-release time lag of any compact system camera** at 0.044 seconds. The 1/8000-second, high-speed mechanical shutter provides superior performance for capturing fast action, and shutter functions can be customized according to the scene. Silent Mode is useful for shooting in situations that require complete silence, and Anti-Shock Mode allows users to prevent shutter shake. The AF Targeting Pad enhances control by allowing users to set focus points by touching the rear monitor with their thumb while composing their shot in the viewfinder. Face Priority AF and Eye Priority AF detect and continuously adjust the focus on faces or eyes for easier portrait shooting. Enhancing the detail of every shot is AF Target Spot Metering, which links the AF Target and the metering area, while Super Spot AF and Small Target AF make it possible to focus on small subjects.

The PEN-F offers additional compatibility with users’ legacy lenses by enabling them to register the information of lenses without electronic contacts for inclusion in images’ EXIF data. The lens information may be recalled with the press of a button. Up to 10 lenses can be registered, including the lens name, focal length and aperture value.

Even More Creative Control
Other creative features include Live Composite Mode, which allows users to extract and composite the brightest areas from multiple, sequentially shot images to capture incredible cityscapes and star trails. With the PEN-F’s built-in Wi-Fi®, users can utilize the Olympus Image Share app for Android® and Apple® to adjust settings and monitor the progress of the image as it develops in real time on a smartphone or tablet. In 4K Time Lapse Movie, the camera captures up to 999 images automatically at intervals ranging from one image every second to one image every 24 hours, and combines them into a stunning high-resolution 4K video, all in-camera, without the need for additional software.

For those who enjoy macro photography, Focus Bracketing captures multiple shots at the touch of a button, all with slightly different focus depths. The new Live View Boost 2 makes it possible to easily focus and compose shots while checking visible stars in Live View. The PEN-F’s high-speed sequential shooting capabilities let users capture all the action at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, 5 fps with C-AF, and an extraordinary 20 fps with Silent Mode.
Premium Leather Accessories
Optional accessories include the External Metal Grip (ECG-4) that lets users replace the battery without removing the grip, featuring a Quick Shoe Compatible Rail on the bottom for direct connection to a compatible tripod head. Premium-quality leather accessories are also available in limited quantities. The Premium Leather Shoulder Strap (CSS-S120L PR) features high-quality leather with a two-tone design and a thickness that helps reduce shoulder strain. A Premium Leather Wrapping Cloth (CS-48 PR) made of finely textured genuine leather is perfect for wrapping the entire camera with a large lens attached. The Premium Leather Camera Bag (CBG-11 PR) is a compact, genuine leather camera bag produced under the direction of AJIOKA Co., Ltd., a Japanese leather manufacturer, with thorough attention to details including pockets, a shoulder pad, and shoulder strap. The Genuine Leather Body Jacket (CS-47B) is designed to protect the bottom of the Olympus PEN-F from bumps and scratches.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The PEN-F is available now for an estimated street price of $1,199.99 (U.S.) and $1,499.99 (Canada).

Jan 222016
 

It’s Friday! WooHoo! Enjoy your weekend and be sure to come back NEXT WEEK!

Hello to all here! It’s Friday and I just wanted to wrap up this week by saying ENJOY IT! If you are in the path of the Monster SnowStorm heading throughout some states in the USA, STAY SAFE, STAY WARM and get some images if you can! I will be here NEXT WEEK with some testing of new exciting gear, reporting from Austin TX and then New York City! So start checking back Monday for some cool news and info.

This past week I have been using my RX1RII more and more and have been really getting into it. My RX1RII has no issues  – at all. It is stealthy, quiet, quick, and provides rich stunning IQ. I bought THIS hood for mine and it’s nicer than the Sony version that costs so much more. All metal too.

Debby as an Evil Clown. RX1RII and PP 

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I have also been testing the Leica 50 Summilux Limited Edition (GORGEOUS VERSION OF THIS LENS!) on my Sony A7RII and it is just as lovely using the Sony as it is on the Leica SL for most shooting. It’s got some crazy pop, color and sharpness that is somehow beating my last couple of 50 Summilux lenses. Not sure if they lucked out and had a superior glass chunk for this addition or if they were assembled with more precision or if the housing of the 1959 version helps it. Maybe my last two standard Lux’s were not 100%. Who knows. I just know the last time I had a 50 Lux designed like this, it was also PHENOMINAL (The LHSA Edition many years ago). See more of what I wrote about it HERE. 

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I did nothing to the OOC shot below yet look how amazingly sharp it is where I focused. A7RII, 50 Lux. Click for 100% crop at the right size. Keeps the 50 Lux Character as well.

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ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND!!! STAY SAFE, STAY WARM!

Steve

Jan 212016
 

Old and new :Leica M vs Leica R Lens comparison on the SL

by Jean-Marc Bottazzi

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Hi Steve, love your site.

Here what I was thinking with the SL being more SLR like in the leica world I got interested to look a bit at R glass on the SL and do some not so serious comparisons. Those lenses also are a popular choices for duclos cinemod. That is way cheaper than the new leica cine offering (which I am sure is better but well…). Anyway I bought the novoflex R adapter since I cannot find the leica one yet and bought a few old R lenses and decided to compare a bit with the 50 apo and the new vario elmar I own. I shot the same scene from the same spot with all lenses with the intention to compare crops.

I bought:

-the 80mm summilux R f1.4
-the apo macro emarit 100mm f2.8
-the old vario elmarit 35-70mm f3.5

The scene is the following:

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I used a lightbox making sure the speed is always at least 1/250s. I focused on the same flower in the shaded rectangle and here are the crops of that flower.

First two pictures are the 50 apo at f2 and f4 respectively… great as expected.

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Next come 3 pictures with the 80mm summilux R @f1.4 2.8 and 4 respectively. A bit soft by comparison … if you step down to f4 the summilux gets sharper but there is room for more sharpness. At f1.4 you can get as much isolation of subject as the 50 APO at f2 but you pay with less sharpness on your subject. If you step down you lose isolation as more of the picture gets sharp and busy. The 80 summilux R overall is no match for the 50 APO.

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The next two pictures are taken with the elmarit apo macro 100mm at f2.8 and f4 respectively. Now that is sharp! Especially at f4, but so should it be, it is a macro lens after all and a good one at that. But note that the 50mm apo is keeping up quite even when scaling up. In spite of the different focal length the APO manages to isolate its subject with micro contrast highest sharply around focus plane only — in other words the picture is less busy more on its subject — for the macro and the 50 apo more than the other lenses in this batch we have this nice combination of incredible sharpness in focus combined with strong isolation ability.

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Next something very interesting : the new vario elmar 24-90 @50/f4 80/f4 and 90/f4 respectively now that is sharp as well at all focal lengths. Zoom will have more depth of field than the primes previously introduced but the new zoom looks extremely sharp.

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New Vario Elmar 70mm f4 L1000331

New Vario Elmar 90 f4 L1000332

Finally the last two picts are the old vario elmar R at 50mm/f4 and 70/mm f4. Not too bad especially given that the old vario elmar is much more compact than the new one. It makes it an interesting lens for travel in my opinion even without autofocus it almost keeps up with the new vario elmar in terms of sharpness. Now at same aperture it looks to me that the new vario elmar is better at being sharp only around the focal plane only (while the old vario elmar is more zero to infinity sharpness). This shows when you compare the 2 shots 70mm f4 between old and new vario elmar. Of course prime are more isolating that the zooms but the new vario elmar is showing an interesting behavior especially compared with its ancestor.

Old vario Elmar 50 f4 L1000333

Old Vario Elmar 70 f4 L1000334

Again this is not meant to be serious but it helps me having a bit of intuition on how to compare those lenses.

 

Jan 182016
 

The start of my Photographic Journey. First year. Portraits.

By Roxanne Lai

(From Steve: I always love seeing posts from fresh, young, passionate individuals getting into photography. I feel Roxanne is on the right path and off to a great start and at only 15 years old, she has MANY years of photo adventures awaiting her. Awesome work Roxanne. See more of her work HERE)

Hello Brandon and Steve,

My name is Roxanne and I am a 15-year-old high school student living in the USA. I am an artist in a few different respects; I have been drawing and painting since I was a child, as well as singing and playing the flute. My father is a camera geek (he loves your website), and has taken many photos of me and my sister growing up. Ever since 7th grade I have been very conscious of aesthetics and the beauty of a wonderfully composed photograph. Last year I was really interested in taking a digital photography class, but my schedule would not allow it. This year however, I made sure that I could take it as a minor class.

My dad got me a camera over the summer, and I have had a lot of fun experimenting with photography. I love fashion and photography. I usually use my sister as a model, but I wanted some gender diversity so I asked one of my male friends if he would collaborate with me on some photos. In my photos I focus on human features such as eyes and lips, as well as hair. I also love the curves and sharp angles of the human body, and the shapes that our bodies can make and create. I like to play with light in my photos, and I use it to highlight certain aspects of the human body. I interact closely with my models on posing to create a joint effort and product, but I also like to take control of the photo or be spontaneous with shapes and light.

In the future I would like have more than one model in my photos and take photos professionally, but I am proud of the more portrait-like photos that I have taken after only a year on my journey as a photographer. I am excited to learn more about photography and myself in the process of artistic discovery.

First Photo: “Let’s Get Lost” – click it for full res

This was one of the first photos I ever took. I remember that I wanted to make a photo of my sister like you might see in a fashion magazine, so I put blonde extensions in her hair to cover her brown hair and give her an alien-like look. I did her makeup and picked out a dress. We debated about where to take the photo, but we eventually agreed on the couch in our living room. I turned on a standing lamp and BAM! There was this beautiful light illuminating her face. With the light coming from what seemed like nowhere, my sister took on this ethereal but strong look. The framing of the hair, the half shadow on her face, and the lines of the blinds added to the composition.

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Second Photo: “I Wear You”

This picture was for one of my photography assignments for my class. With this assignment depth of field was our main source of inspiration. I, however, took inspiration from my model. He and I went to middle school together and recently reconnected to collaborate on a set of photos. I wanted to highlight his beautiful facial structure, fine hair, and stunning blue eyes. Overall, it was a pleasure to work and reconnect with him through photography, as well as exploring male fashion and portraiture.

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Third Photo: “Far Alone”

I’m very proud of this photo; I had sketched out many different poses I wanted to try; as well as different paint strokes, but this combination and composition was my favorite. I asked my friend (the same one from the second photo) if he was comfortable with posing shirtless and if I could paint him. After he said yes, we started to get to work. I used the same extension from the first picture, and we secured them under his beanie. I used a black paint and a thick brush to create the stroke on his back. The line and curve of his spine and the shape of his shoulders captured my focus. His hands are very striking, so I wanted to use them in the photo. To me, this photo conveys loneliness and inward focus. He is folding into himself and shutting the rest of the world out simultaneously, as well as conveying fragility and weakness. The shadows around him convey the world closing around him. 

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Fourth Photo: “These Things Happen”

I love the Shadows and his expression in this photo. This photo was actually taken by accident, and he just happened to turn around and give me this expression. I had actually planned on taking a profile, but after I saw this shot I knew I didn’t need to take the profile. Originally he reminded me of a young James Dean in this photo because of the pose and his jacket, but the combination of the look in his eye and his hair really added something extra to the photo. I love the extreme contrast between the blur of the trees in the background and the intense sharpness of even the microscopic hair on his face and his expressive eyes.

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Thank you for reading, and letting me share my artistic journey with you. ☺

~Roxy

PS: I have an album with more of my pictures on Picasa here.

Jan 152016
 

Fuji X-Pro 2 Unveiled. Finally. Here is the lowdown.

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Pre-Order the X-Pro 2 at my fave and most trusted dealers: B&H Photo or PopFlash.com. Amazon is clearing out the X-Pro 1 at $499

FINALLY! The all new long awaited Fuji X-Pro 2 has now been announced with full specs, images and details. What has Fuji delivered this time as an upgrade to their 1st huge mirrorless, the X-Pro 1? Well, I will predict that this will be the coolest, hippest and most desirable APS-C camera available today. With its sleek rangefinder-esque appearance to the hybrid viewfinder giving a unique experience, to the much much faster AF and low light capabilities, the new X-Pro 2 will be huge for Fuji as Fuji fans have been waiting for this one. I was a fan of the X-T1 more so than any other Fuji camera but the X-Pro 2 looks  to be even better with the new sensor and speed and capabilities. I look forward to reviewing it with some of the latest Fuji lenses. Now, let’s take a look…

Well, here is what it looks like. To me, it looks like a more refined X-Pro 1. It keeps the same design but the new 2 has a more polished look about it. 

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The Specs:

24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
X-Processor Pro Engine
Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder
3.0″ 1.62m-Dot LCD Monitor
Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
Built-In Wi-Fi, SHARE Printer Compatible
273-Point AF with 77 Phase-Detect Points
Up to 8 fps Shooting and ISO 51200
Weather-Sealed Design, 2x SD Card Slots
Film Simulation and Grain Effect Modes

My Thoughts?

I am happy to see a new Fuji, and I have been waiting for the Pro 2 to see how far Fuji would go. Would they make it full frame? I already knew this was a NO but what they did do was up the Megapixels to 24 with an all new X-Trans III sensor, up from the 16 of the X-Pro 1. They have improved everything from the 1 and the new 2 has everything any Fuji fan would want. The AF will be blazing compared to the X-Pro 1, which is good as I remember my review of that one and having some focus issues…not only speed but accuracy. Fuji has really stepped up their AF capabilities over the years since the original X100 and Pro 1. So AF will be great here. I expect Fuji fans to jump on this body as it will be the best Fuji digital yet. I will be reviewing the X-Pro 2 as I enjoyed the X-T1 quite a bit and while I have moved on to Full Frame with Sony and Leica for my personal use, there are THOUSANDS out there who love their Fuji’s, so stay tuned for a full review soon!

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MORE DETAILS ON THE NEW FUJI X-PRO 2

The long-awaited successor to Fujifilm’s first X-series mirrorless digital camera, the X-Pro2 sports a high-resolution X-Trans CMOS III sensor and redeveloped X-Processor Pro, along with the tested rangefinder-inspired design now synonymous with the X-Pro system. Now weighing in at 24.3MP, the APS-C CMOS sensor incorporates the proprietary X-Trans technology and its randomized pixel array to afford a high degree of sharpness and accurate color reproduction, along with high expanded sensitivity to ISO 51200. When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the camera is capable of recording stills at up to 8 fps and Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, along with quick focusing and overall performance speeds. Unique among camera designs, the X-Pro2 is also heavily characterized by its Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder that blends both optical and electronic viewing methods into a single, switchable finder, giving you the best of both worlds in regard to clear viewing and the ability to preview exposure settings prior to shooting. Cementing its place as a professional tool, the X-Pro2 also features a robust, weather-sealed body design accented by a range of physical controls for intuitive handling in any condition.

Besides image quality, the sensor and processor combination also avails a highly precise, versatile autofocus system that is comprised of 273 points and uses both phase- and contrast-detection methods.

The phase-detection system covers nearly 40% of the entire image frame with 77 points, which is beneficial to subject tracking and fast overall AF performance, while the majority of the frame is then covered by contrast-detection areas for accurate focusing from edge-to-edge. The imaging attributes also contribute to creative control over the look and feel of photos, such as through the use of Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes that replicate the look of specific film types, as well as a Grain Effect mode to mimic the textured appearance of film photos. Rounding out the feature-set of the X-Pro2, its design also incorporates a range of customizable function buttons along with a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD for image playback, live view shooting, and menu navigation, and built-in Wi-Fi lets you wirelessly share images to mobile devices, remotely control the camera from a smartphone or tablet, or wirelessly send images to the optional instax SHARE Smartphone Printer for on-the-go printing.

24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor

Utilizing Fujifilm’s unique, randomized pixel array, the 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor affords a high degree of image quality and sharpness due to the omission of an optical low-pass filter. Versus conventional pixel patterns, the X-Trans design more closely mimics the organic nature of film in order to produce nuanced colors and smooth tonal transitions, while also reducing moiré and aliasing.

When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the sensor is also capable of producing clean image quality with reduced noise values, along with a native sensitivity range up to ISO 12800 that can be expanded to ISO 51200.

X-Processor Pro

Aside from benefitting the low-light performance, the X-Processor Pro also contributes to fast performance throughout the camera system, including a start-up time of 0.4 seconds, shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, shooting interval time of 0.25 seconds, and AF speeds of up to 0.06 seconds. Coupled with the on-sensor phase-detection AF, up to 8 fps continuous shooting is also possible with full-time motion predictive AF for tracking fast-moving subjects while shooting. The ability to record compressed raw files also helps to expedite file transferring for longer continuous burst shooting, and both a fast top focal plane shutter speed of 1/8000 sec. and a flash sync speed of 1/250 sec. further contribute to shooting versatility.

Beyond stills shooting, the X-Pro2 also supports recording Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps with a 36 Mbps bit rate, along with the ability to work with 50, 30, 25, and 24 fps frame rates for greater recording flexibility.

Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder

Both optical and electronic viewfinder types are incorporated into the unique Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, which lets you select from the simplicity and familiarity of an OVF as well as the versatility of an EVF. Changing between viewing types is quickly performed via the dedicated finder switching lever on the front of the camera body.

The optical viewfinder provides a clear, lifelike view of the scene for easier composition and subject tracking. Its enhanced design incorporates an Electronic Rangefinder function, which mimics the functionality of a mechanical rangefinder, and simultaneously overlays information from the electronic viewfinder on top of the optical viewfinder for comparative manual focus control. The OVF is also benefitted by a Multi-Magnification function that automatically switches the viewfinder magnification according to the mounted lens’ focal length and a Bright Frame Simulation function, which simulates the varying angles of view from different lenses to confirm which focal length is needed, prior to switching lenses, for the composition in mind.

In regard to the electronic viewfinder, this sports a high 2.36m-dot resolution along with a fast 85 fps playback speed to reduce lag for smoother panning and tracking movements. The EVF lets you preview exposure settings prior to shooting and has a customizable display, for configuring the amount and type of information shown in the viewfinder.

Intelligent Hybrid 273-Point Autofocus System

Blending both phase- and contrast-detection focusing methods, the X-Pro2 is capable of acquiring focus both quickly and accurately. The entire system is comprised of 273 points, of which 77 are phase-detection points for faster performance that is beneficial to photographing moving subjects. Approximately 40% of the imaging area is covered by phase-detection points, too, to offer greater compositional freedom without sacrificing fast autofocus performance. The majority of the frame is then also covered by an apt contrast-detection focusing system that has been quickened by the camera’s refined processing power for more versatile control. For refined manual focusing control, a Digital Split Image function is available, that simulates traditional rangefinder focusing, as well as Focus Peaking to highlight lines of contrast in the scene to more objectively determine sharp focus.

Body and Interface Design

In addition to the Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, the X-Pro2 also features a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD screen for clear live view shooting, menu navigation, and image playback.
Supporting its use in harsh climates, the durable weather-resistant body design is constructed from four pieces of magnesium alloy and sealed in more than 61 places to protect against dust, moisture, and cold temperatures down to 14°F.
Dual SD card slots allow for a more flexible and reliable means of storing imagery, and the first card slot is compatible with UHS-II standards for fast transfer speeds.

The top plate incorporates a series of milled aluminum alloy dials and levers for fast, intuitive adjustment over exposure settings, including a shutter speed dial that offers a mechanical shutter speed range from 1 to 1/8000 sec., as well as bulb and time settings. An ISO dial is also incorporated into the shutter speed dial, for confirming the sensitivity setting without having to turn the camera on. The exposure compensation dial lets you choose +/- 3 EV in 1/3 steps, and a command dial position expands the range to +/- 5 EV for further control.

Front and rear command dials integrate a push function for easier use and settings selection and six different function buttons can be assigned to control a range of settings.
A dedicated Focus Lever provides faster, more intuitive control over selecting specific focus points while shooting.
An updated graphical user interface features a My Menu section, where you can register up to 16 items to quickly access. This pairs with the Q Menu, which also provides shortcuts to 16 oft-used settings, bringing the total up to 32 distinct functions, settings, or other controls than can be accessed in a quick manner without having to delve into a more intricate menu system.

Film Simulation and Grain Effect Modes

Taking advantage of Fujifilm’s vast history in traditional film-based photography, the XPro2 integrates several Film Simulation modes to mimic the look and feel of some Fujifilm’s classic film types. For monochrome shooting, the Acros mode offers smooth tones, deep blacks, and fine detail reminiscent of the Neopan 100 Acros film type. A refined Classic Chrome mode is designed to deliver muted tones and a deep color reproduction, similar to that of a dated slide film. Pulling from their more contemporary line of transparency films, Provia offers natural-looking tones for everyday shooting, Velvia produces a more dramatic and rich tonality with deeper color saturation, and Astia gives less contrast for a softer depiction of skin tones. Mimicking their negative films, Pro Neg. Std. gives smooth image tones that are suitable for accurate color renditions, while Pro Neg. Hi produces a more dramatic feel with the ability to draw color out of a variety of lighting conditions.

In addition to simulating specific film types, a Grain Effect mode is also available to replicate the look of old film photos with an organic textured appearance, which is especially noticeable when printing.

Other Camera Features

An electronic shutter function permits using shutter speeds up to 1/32,000 sec. for working with wide aperture settings in bright lighting conditions.
Built-in Wi-Fi enables wireless transferring of imagery to linked mobile devices as well as remote control over camera settings and the shutter via the free Fujifilm Camera Remote app. Additionally, this connectivity enables the use of the optional instax SHARE Smartphone Printer for wireless instant printing via the instax Share app.

An interval timer permits recording time-lapse sequences and can be configured to record up to 999 frames in time spans ranging from one second to 24 hours.

Multiple exposure mode gives you the ability to overlay imagery in-camera. When working in this mode, subsequent exposures can be paired and the final appearance can be previewed on the LCD or in the EVF before making the final exposure.
Additional Advanced Filters can also be used to creatively enhance the look of imagery in-camera, and include Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High Key, Low Key, Dynamic Tone, Soft Focus, and Partial Color (Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue/Purple).

Jan 112016
 

A Look at The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Black Chrome Special Edition. Beautiful!

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Ahhhh, gorgeous! Recently I was able to get a hold of a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Special Edition. This is the beautiful matte black edition of this legendary lens with a different design (from 1959) and even smaller filter size (43mm vs 46). The last time I had a 50 Summilux ASPH that looked like this was during the M8 days when I bought the LHSA Special Limited Edition version, which was exactly the same as this one, just in black paint (also came in Chrome) instead of matte black chrome. That lens..I paid $3600 for back then and sold it for $8000 later on as it appreciated like mad. Even today that version of this lens sells for $7500+ USED. It came in Black paint of Chrome. Take a LOOK HERE at a used LHSA 50 Lux on B&H. $7500. It is exactly the same as this new limited edition inside and out! Design, hood, everything. SO why would one pay $7500 for a used version of this lens when you can get it new for $3900 or so? Well, if you are a hardcore collector and want the LHSA edition for the LHS name (on the box) then maybe you would. If you want to use the lens, this new Limited Edition is the way to go over all versions of this lens, IMO.

My video showing you this lens and why I think it is the best 50 Lux you can buy today..

To date I have tried around 8 50mm lenses on the Leica SL and Sony A7RII so far and my faves have been the 50 APO cron and now this 50 Lux SE (others are the Zeiss 50 Planar, Zeiss 50 Sonnar, Voigtlander 50 1.5). But for me, this Lux Limited Edition makes much more sense to be my main 50 for my SL and my Sony as only 500 were made, and it is a lens that will go up in value instead of down like all other lenses today. Just like the limited number LHSA edition that even today sells for $7500 used ($4k more than it sold for new), this version should creep up over the years, not down.

50 1.4 Lux ASPH LE at 1.4 – click it for better version – All images here shot on the Leica SL

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This one was sent to me by Ken Hansen to try out and what a beauty it is. The lens has a heft to it that makes it feel UBER solid. Much more solid feeling than the standard 50 Lux. The focusing is also smoother, and no focus tab which is a plus for me. The scalloped focusing ring is easy to twist and dial in. This and the LHSA edition are the most beautiful 50 Lux ASPH’s I have seen, and I also have one more reason I prefer it to the normal Lux. Overall Quality.

For some  reason when I used to own the LHSA LE edition of the Lux ASPH it was sharper and performed better than the standard Lux ASPH I had at the time. Same here, this Limited Edition is PERFECT and seems snappier and crisper at the focus point than the standard Lux I have here. I feel that these limited runs may be made to a higher standard as I have now experienced this TWICE. I feel these LE’s may be assembled with a little more perfection as they are a limited run. No other way to explain it.

Must click images to see them correctly – always best on large screens!

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Sof or the obvious reasons of beauty, construction, perfection and the fact that this lens will not go down in value (as it is a limited edition) means this will be my main go to 50mm on the SL or A7RII for me, and after testing all the 50’s I had interest in for my SL, this is the winner even though the 50 APO is technically perfect (this one is a better deal IMO at half the cost) It just feels so good, looks gorgeous and is much easier to focus without the tab (some may prefer the tab though). It has a serious little heft to it but as you know, it’s small. This lens also comes with a very nice and solid brass hood and cap (black chrome) and it sticks to the old 1959 version in all ways having to do with looks and design, but with modern internals. This means no slide out hood, instead you must attach it on and off manually.

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Here is what Leica has to say about this Special Edition:

Resembling its predecessor from 1959, the black-chrome edition Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. Lens features a unique matte black finish along with a classic exterior design akin to the first production run of this renowned lens. While recalling its past on the outside, this edition is also characterized by its contemporary optical design that incorporates one aspherical element and one floating element, as well as elements made from anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glasses.

This sophisticated construction helps to reduce chromatic aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing and aperture ranges, which contribute to high overall sharpness and clarity. Further benefitting the lens’ overall versatility, the fast f/1.4 maximum aperture also aids in working in difficult lighting conditions as well as offers greater control over focus for shallow depth of field techniques. Pairing a classic outer design with innovative optical components, this black-chrome edition is the epitome of Leica’s penchant for mixing both form and function.

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As part of a limited edition of 500 pieces, this black-chrome finish Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens features a matte black exterior as well as an outer design that resembles the first edition of this lens from 1959. Other distinct design elements include a scalloped focusing ring, red-colored focusing distance scale in feet, and a finely-knurled aperture ring. In addition to the unique appearance of the lens, this edition also includes a metal front lens cap as well as a metal round lens hood.

One aspherical element and one floating element are incorporated within the optical design, along with anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glass elements, to control aberrations and distortions at all aperture and focus positions.
Fast f/1.4 maximum aperture benefits working with selective focus and shallow depth of field techniques, as well as working in difficult lighting conditions.

Manual focus design provides a minimum focusing distance of 2.3′ (0.7 Meters) with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:11.3.

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WHERE TO BUY…NOW..for a NORMAL PRICE!

If you want this lens do not pay $5,6 or 7k on E-Bay where sellers are trying to take advantage of the limited edition name tag on this lens (it is limited to 500) Ken Hansen has a few IN STOCK NOW. You can e-mail him at [email protected] if you want one! Tell him I sent you! He has only a limited few left!

PopFlash had one. It seems to now be gone.

B&H has them IN STOCK as well.  Normal retail price of $3950

Jan 062016
 

The New Olympus 300mm f/4 Pro Lens! Holy Telephoto!

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Olympus has announced a new lens for the Micro 4/3 system in the form of a 300mm PRO f/4 Prime lens, and believe me..this lens will be quite special. Think about it. This lens will deliver a 600mm equivalent on your micro 4/3 body giving massive reach. Between Olympus and Panasonic we have some of the best lenses in the digital photo world available to us. The new 300mm PRO lens is available NOW for $2499 in the USA and $3299 in Canada. I think this lens will make many Micro 4/3 shooters VERY happy as this will offer a level of performance at the top of the heap. Olympus knows how to make amazing glass.

YOU CAN ORDER THE NEW 300 F/4 PRO LENS AT B&H PHOTO – HERE. 

You can buy it at AMAZON HERE

I look forward to reviewing this beautiful piece of glass. SOON ;)

 

PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS:

A NEW WORLD OF HANDHELD NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY:  THE OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL™ ED 300MM F4.0 IS PRO ARRIVES

Super Telephoto Lens with Powerful 5-Axis Sync Image Stabilization and Olympus’s Highest Resolution Ever in a Compact, Dustproof and Splashproof Body

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 5, 2016 — Olympus is pleased to announce the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO, a compact super telephoto lens that expands the capability of the M.ZUIKO PRO series of professional, splashproof and dustproof lenses that deliver outstanding image quality under any circumstance. The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO is the first Olympus interchangeable lens with a built-in image stabilization mechanism, and when paired with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (firmware version 4.0) or E-M5 Mark II (firmware version 2.0), in-body and in-lens image stabilization work in perfect harmony, resulting in the new 5-Axis Sync IS technology to produce the world’s most powerful image stabilization performance of up to six shutter speed steps of compensation*.* The lens can also be used effectively with other camera bodies, as the in-lens stabilization mechanism alone provides four shutter speed steps of compensation.

With a length of 8.9 inches (227mm) and weight of a mere 2.8 pounds (1,270g), at one-third of the size and weight of most DSLR 600mm equivalents, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO is designed to slip into an airplane carry-on bag or backpack and go anywhere to help users easily capture handheld images in once-challenging photo destinations. Despite its compact size, the lens is hermetically sealed in 17 places and features freezeproof performance down to 14⁰F (-10°C). Together with the same splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof performance as the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II, this ensures you can capture high-quality images in the harshest environments.

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO debuts Olympus’s highest-ever resolution by combining three Super ED lenses, one Extra-High Refractive index lens and three High Refractive index lenses to reduce the color bleeding and chromatic aberrations that tend to occur on typical super telephoto lenses. In addition to Olympus’s renowned ZERO Coating (ZUIKO Extra-low Reflective Optical Coating), a brand-new lens coating technology called ZERO Coating Nano suppresses reflected light to minimize ghosts and flares for extremely sharp details of images, including car headlights. A layer of nanosized particles and a layer of air from the center to the surface of the lens achieves a refractive index similar to air and significantly reduces surface reflection.

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The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO also gets up close to explore the beautiful, minute world of telemacro photography with maximum image magnification of 0.48x (35mm equivalent), with a minimum focusing distance of 46 inches (1.15m) from the end of the lens. When combined with the M.ZUIKO Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14, the user can capture all of nature’s beauty in high resolution at 840mm (35mm equivalent) and an increased image magnification of 0.67x (35mm equivalent) in a handheld compact body while maintaining the same minimum focus distance.

The OM-D’s silent mode combines with the lens’ Movie & Still Compatible mechanism for silent AF and shooting, giving the user the ability to blend into the background of any situation, whether that be the refinement of a symphony performance or the dusty plains of a lion’s hunting grounds.

The lens also features a Manual Focus Clutch mechanism that makes switching to manual focus possible by pulling the focusing ring toward you. The side of the lens barrel features a Focus Limit switch (4m to infinity, all range, 1.4 to 4m), an IS switch (On/Off), and an L-Fn button, which can all be operated without ever taking your eye off the viewfinder. The built-in sliding lens hood can be locked into place when extended, and the tripod base plate with a quick shoe compatible rail is removable.

U.S. Pricing and Availability

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO lens is available now for an estimated street price of $2,499.99 (U.S.) and $3,299.99 (Canada).

*As of December 2015. CIPA guideline compliant, when correction is carried out on two axes (yaw and pitch) and when halfway release image stabilization is off.

ABOUT OLYMPUS AMERICA INC.

Olympus America Inc. is a leading provider of digital imaging and audio technology solutions, noted for its precision optics and groundbreaking technologies.

For more than 90 years, Olympus has innovated and developed best-in-class products that expand the boundaries of product design and functionality, empowering consumers and professionals alike to capture their stories. These include:

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For more information about Olympus and our award-winning products, please visit getolympus.com or connect with us and other fans like you through our social and photographic communities: @getolympus on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr.

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Copyright © 2016 Olympus America Inc.
# # #

Dec 312015
 

Happy New Year to all! I appreciate all who come here, so thank you!

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Hello to all! Here we are, New Years Eve 2015. Another great year has flown by and another amazing year is on the way. It’s funny but in 2015 I took some time off of this site to work on other projects in my life and this site did better than ever in 2015. Crazy! Without all of you here every day I would not be here, so it is YOU, ALL OF YOU who make this site a success and a joy for me to work on each and every day.

It seems many new shooters found my site this year, so welcome! Also, in 2015 this site brought in some new site sponsors such as JB DESIGNS, TENBA BAGS, 4 SHINY BUTTONS, WOTANCRAFT and HOLD FAST GEAR. Long time sponsors are still here as well…Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, CameraQuest.com and LensRentals.com.  So thank you to all sponsors as well! Without them, I would not be able to pay for  this site every month to keep it live.

I also want to give a HUGE personal thank you to those here who have used my links to B&H Photo or Amazon this year. By using my B&H Link HERE or my Amazon link HERE when you buy something, ANYTHING (even paper towels) I get a few cents on each dollar that also helps to maintain this site.

In case some of you were unaware, this site has been my full-time career for 7 years now. It is what I do. All I do to earn a living. When you see me using new cameras every month or two or three it is because I review them ;) If at anytime you are curious as to what I use for my personal gear at this time, check out the MY GEAR page HERE. This is what I use for my personal photography day in and day out. Right now it is the Leica SL (used to be an M 240) and Sony A7RII as my main go to cameras. I also use my Olympus E-M5 II with the 8mm fisheye and 7-14 pro quite often. Lovely cameras, all of them.

But today there really are no wrong choices when it comes to what camera YOU will buy. Any enthusiast or pro model will be amazing. Most cameras sold today are superb regardless of price but the upper end gets you more resolution, better IQ, better build, features, etc. All one needs to do is look at what is available and go with what speaks to them in their price range. If you love the camera you shoot, it does not matter what anyone else thinks of it. ;) Remember that.

I get asked all the time if constantly shooting new cameras for review kills my passion for the craft..well, sometimes it does but it never lasts longer than a week. I get in slumps as we all do but always break out of it and get re-motivated to shoot. This weekend I will be out shooting with my good friend Ashwin Rao, who many of you know from his own work, website and this site as he has been writing for me for years and years. Kurt Kamka who many of you may know will also be with us. My passion is alive and well, and I look forward to any shooting time I can get in.

Lately I have been stuck in my house every day due to some remodeling and construction I have to oversee but with all of that now completed, which is why the last couple of posts have shows comparison images of my dogs, yard, etc. I will be heading on full forge in January with new posts, new reviews and some new surprises. So expect this site to grow even more in 2016. Funny as this site started as a hobby using an Apple iWeb site. Shows what can happen when you have a passion and stick to it, regardless if you make a dollar or not, and believe me, I made practically nothing for 4-5 years! But it was all worth it as this site is still my baby, my pride and joy and it is nice to know that even when I am dead and gone I will make sure all of my reviews, posts and articles will always remain online. Yes, this site will never die, even when I do ;) I look forward to being 80 years old and writing my thoughts on whatever image making device we have available, even if by then I have an audience of 10 or 1 million. SO yes, this is my passion and will always remain just as it has my entire life.

Site Stats: Over 120 MILLION views and 123,879 comments since the 1st post on this version II site which started in 2009, a year after the original site which is now gone. 

I HAVE YOU TO THANK FOR THIS SO THANK YOU ALL!!! I promise to do my best in 2016 to deliver honest, exciting and thorough real world reviews and reports! Around 20 million visitors per year, or an average of 1.6 million per month since November of 2009. Wonder what my 1st post ever on this site was? See it HERE or check out the INDEX of EVERY POST ever HERE. 

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Coming in January 2016: A fresh look at the Jupiter 8 and 9 lenses, as used on the Leica SL and Sony A7 series. Without the RF focus issues of these Jupiter lenses, they perform amazingly well on newer EVF cameras such as the SL and A7RII or A7SII. Take a look below at a shot from the cheap Jupiter 9, which is an 85mm lens that I bought for $50-$70 or so if I remember correctly. Sure, its from my yard again but as stated, I have been stuck in all week!

The Jupiter 9 on the SL CAN BE quite nice. It has a rounded rendering but also has some bite to it with the SL sensor. I paid around $70 for this lens. It has a stiff sticky focus ring, is beat to hell and looks like crap but it works ;) 

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Debby with the Jupiter 9 at f/2 on the SL – click it for more details

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The Jupiter 8 which is the 50 f/2 model (that costs me $30) also does very nice on the SL  – click it for sharper version, same as above. 

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The Jupiter 8 on the SL

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Also coming in January, a new look at the Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar ZM lens on the SL and A7RII. I will also look at the Voigtlander 35 1.2 M lens, a classic on both cameras as well. Always nice to see some old fave lenses on new bodies to see how they hold up as each camera will render images differently, even with the same lenses! Going  to be fun. I will also be reviewing the ICE LIGHT 2 (overpriced) and a super cool Wotancraft Watch band for the Apple Watch. I love it.

Wotancraft not only makes amazing bags, they make amazing leather watch bands. Here is one they made me for my Apple Watch. You can browse their watch band collection HERE. If you want an Apple Watch band, you can email them a request for any band they make. (Apple Watch bands are not yet up on their website).

See wotancraft.com here

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In addition there will always be amazing guest posts, news tidbits and the daily inspiration series (which is never really daily but spread out to 3-4 per week). I want to once again thank all visitors, all guest contributors, all sponsors and all who have shared links, posts and all of that good stuff. I even thank the trolls here as you provided some ridiculous entertainment through the year for me. I may ban you and delete the troll comments but they are so silly I always get a laugh out of them. My fave from this year? “I guess Sony missed this month’s payoff to you, now you like the Leica“.. That made me laugh as NO CAMERA COMPANY pays me to write reviews or say good things. In fact, most of them tell me”BE HONEST” which is in their best interest. It is also why some cameras are not reviewed here as if I do not like them, I would rather not waste my time or week reviewing them. I like to review what I love, and I hate negativity in life, in any form, so if you do not see a mirrorless camera reviewed here it is simply because I did not like it when I tried it, and I try them all. Easy :)

ANYWAY….

I hope ALL of you had a great 2015 and I am spreading good vibes for all of you to have an even better 2016. I do not know why but I think 2016 is going to be the best ever for STEVEHUFFPHOTO.COM!

Be safe tonight if you head out for New Years Eve festivities! I will be spending it with family and friends in my home and will most likely be taking tomorrow and the weekend off, so see ya next week! BE SAFE!!!!

Steve

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Dec 302015
 

Quick Shot: Leica M240 W/ 35 Summilux

By Patrick 

Always smile and say hi to strangers! They might end up posing in a photo for you!

Last week I was flying home from Chicago and found myself in a tunnel connecting to my terminal. I stopped to see what interesting silhouettes I could capture when I saw two women shooting the same scene. They were also Leica shooters. After nerding out on cameras for a bit I asked the one woman if she’d be interested in posing. We shot about 10-15 frames before we exchanged Instagram info and then went on our separate ways. Later that day we connected and decided to exchange prints of our work with each other!

This was shot on a Leica M 240 with a 35 Summilux FLE at f4

Feel free to follow and check out more of my work here:
https://www.instagram.com/patrick_conaty/

Thanks,

Patrick

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