Apr 182014
 

The Olympus E-M5 using Dramatic Tone

by Tamer Erdem

Though the basic principles of photography are still valid, digital photography changed the rules of the game when it comes to post/in camera-processing. Post-processing or in camera-processing facilities and potential are almost endless and much more effortless in digital era. Art filters were introduced by Olympus a couple of years ago. After Nikon D300, when I purchased my first Olympus, E-P1, I really fell in love with pinhole effect and grainy black and white art filters.

Then I got E-P2 and like new diorama filter that miniaturize the scene. But the ultimate filter that I can desire was offered by OM-D, E-M5; dramatic tone filter for landscape photography. If you do not have enough time for post-processing and like some punchy, strong and slightly surreal landscape images, go for it without any hesitation. This art filter makes the image, kind of HDR (pseudo-HDR) image by increasing the details in shadow regions and decreasing light exposure in the highlighted regions of image. Also it boosts the color saturation and rendition.
I’d like to show some of my dramatic tone photographs that were taken at Kuşadası seaside in the autumn and Ayder plateau, a unique natural beauty in Turkey. You can also visit Zirkale castle, bridges of Byzantine and Ottoman origin and Fırtına Vadisi ( Storm Valley).

Panasonic Lumix 14mm 2.5, 20mm 1.7 and Leica 45mm 2.8 macro lenses were used.

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Apr 162014
 

The Sony RX1r meets the Olympus E-M1 in Iceland

By Chris Bakker

My website - http://www.chrisbakkerphoto.com

Hi Steve and readers of SteveHuffPhoto.com!

My name is Chris Bakker, a free time photographer from the Netherlands. I began to do photography around Christmas of 2012. I started off with a Sony RX100 by taking photos from all kinds of subjects what surrounded me and It didn’t took me long to really get caught by the beauty of photography . Right from the start I tried to read as many (e)books on photography as I could, follow on a daily basis the online forums and practice the acquired knowledge in the field. I am also a frequent reader of this site and let me tell you this site has giving me so much that I thought it would be time to give a little bit of my contribution in return.

Because I was so into photography I decided in the summer of 2013 to trade in my trusty RX100 for his bigger brother the RX1r. This indeed is a magical powerhouse and capable of delivering some stunning photo’s. This camera has got me even more into photography. Later that year, in November the Olympus OMD E-M1 came out and because I wanted to do different things in photography which needed faster auto focus and different focal length than 35mm, I decided to buy the E-M1 alongside my beloved RX1r and step into the world of micro 4/3.  I can say I have no regrets at all. This camera is so well designed and thought out, it works so well, it just makes you want to go out and shoot.

I often attend workshops and like to learn from the pros. So when the opportunity came by to go to Iceland for 11 days with a pro landscape photographer from the Netherlands, to learn in the field, I decided to go. So on February the 22 I went off to Iceland to return 11 days later home with an overwhelming experience by the beauty of Iceland. Not only did I came home with a lot of photos but also with a lot of acquired knowledge and practical experience.

So l’ll stop the twaddle, let’s get to the photo’s!

E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Kirkjufellsfoss – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Going to Iceland in the winter takes some planning in advance. Although the temperature is about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t too cold the wind can be really extreme. And the combination of those two makes it cold. Proper clothing, like multi layers, warm hand cloves and a fur cap is not a luxury. A good windbreaker can be a rain suit. Because of the hard wind, I can advise to take a big and sturdy tripod with you. I have come to situations where I definitely had to hold on to my MEFOTO Globetrotter tripod preventing it from falling over. A tripod can allow you to shoot at times of day when the light is unlike any other. If you want to shoot at sunrise or sunset, and you want to keep the ISO down, you need that long exposure. when you want to work with HDR you need a tripod for sure. Light is everything, don’t miss some of the best light of the day because you didn’t want to carry a tripod. What also comes in handy is to wear knee-pads. The ground is often stony and wet.

Snaefellsjoekull – RX1r

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E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Brúarfoss – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Shining stones in river – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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While I was out making photos in the field I did quite often use my filters. There are many people that think in digital photography you don’t need filters anymore. Many think that this is also possible in post processing. When you need a slower shutter speed to blur motion, like with waterfalls, or polarizing light to reduce glare, do it with filters. Filters still enable an aesthetic that’s not possible through simple post-production, and in some cases not possible at all, even in Photoshop. Everybody has his own way of working but we people often work in sequence. We start off with 1 go to 2 than react to 3 to get to 4 or so. While this is a quite similar process as in post-production, like Lightroom, it is also a good process at point of capture. When experimenting with filters in the field you see the result immediately and that gives you the change to react to it. So it can definitely be a good thing for creativity. I used mostly a 3 stop ND filter from Singh-Ray and a Big stopper from Hoya the NX400. In a few occasions I used graduated and reverse grad filters, mostly at sunrise or sunset. For Polarizer’s, Singh-Ray Color Combo and the Gold ‘n Blue.

Skógafoss – RX1r

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Northern Lights near Vik – RX1r

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Vik Beach – E-M1 pana 35-100f2.8

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Skaftafell Icecave Vatnajökull – RX1r

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Skaftafell Icecave Vatnajökull – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Sunset JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Sunrise JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – RX1r

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What really fascinates me is that you can learn infinitely, it’s an ongoing process. Photography has become an essential part of my life. It’s so much fun, it’s a way of living. I hope you enjoy watching these photos as much as I did making them.

Chris Bakker

A few more…

Sunrise JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – RX1r

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Jökulsárlón Lake – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Jökulsárlón Lake – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Vik Beach – RX1r

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Old Turf Farm House – RX1r

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Icelandic Horse – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Apr 112014
 

Another Film Friday

By Mark Ewanchuk

Hi Brandon,

I realize that “people used to do this all the time” But thought it was presently kind of novel and exciting, and wanted to share (Sorry for the larger selection…feel free to pick and choose as you see fit!) We recently had the pleasure of a brief vacation to sunny Santa Monica, and I decided to try to leave the digital camera at home…Just old skool “pack the film and develop the pictures when you get back”. Armed with a Olympus OMG (loaded with Tri-X 400…) and a Zeiss Ikon with Nokton 35 f/1.2 (Using both Ektar 100 and Portra 160) I did the best I could to try to capture the memory of our getaway. I must say, I had quite a blast! These are all self-developed (using Tmax Developer for the B&W, or the Tetanal Kit for the Color) and scanned on the Pakon F135.

A much larger selection is available on my website at http://iftimestoodstill.net/the-analog-vacation/

Thanks in advance for looking!

All the best,

Mark

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Apr 032014
 

Streetshooting the Olympus OM-D E-M1

By Robin Schimko

The last couple of years I was shooting DSLR full frame bodies only and I didn’t care much about mirrorless cameras. After a while I realized that taking candid pictures out on the streets is a lot of fun. The only problem was the bulkiness of my camera that seemed a little intimidating when people noticed me taking their picture. It would have been an easy solution just to step back a little and take a longer lens, but that’s not me since I like to get close. So I got myself a Fuji X100s but even though I really loved it, the AF frustrated me from time to time and I sold it.

Then I started researching about mFT cameras and that’s when I stumbled upon stevehuffphoto.com and I was blown away by his work. That’s why decided to jump into the Olympus system and I bought the E-P5. I was shocked about the super-fast AF system and the pretty good image quality. The only thing I was really missing was a proper grip and suddenly Olympus came out with their new flagship, the E-M1. A couple of weeks later my local camera store had the E-M1 in stock and I went there to try it out. I couldn’t resist and bought one. Usually I am not that guy who is changing his gear so rapidly but the mirrorless world was new to me and I had to find out what would work best for me.

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So, how does the E-M1 perform out on the streets? Well to date it’s the best camera I have ever used for street shooting and there are several reasons to back this up:

Ease of use:

It has a proper grip and looks like an old SLR camera but it’s still lightweight and very comfortable to hold, even though it’s really small compared to a DSLR. The buttons and controls are very well designed and they are all very accessible. The only thing I don’t like is the power switch on the left side, because it’s much tougher to use the camera with one hand only, but it’s definitely no deal breaker. And then there are the custom profiles you can link to the mode dial on top. That’s pretty handy and allows you to change the set-up of the camera in the blink of an eye. Did I mention the viewfinder yet? It’s amazing how good the EVF is even though I don’t use it that often. Coming from a DSLR I was used to use an OVF but with a mirrorless camera I discovered how convenient it is to compose by using the display.

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Reliability

The E-M1 is considered to be a professional camera and after using it for a while now I am absolutely sure it really is a proper tool. There was not a single second where the camera failed on me. I’ve never dropped it but I read stories about people who did and the camera had not one single scratch afterwards. I can’t imagine a place where I wouldn’t take the E-M1.

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Precision

Out on the streets it’s sometimes essential to be really quick to capture a certain moment and here is where the E-M1 really shines. It’s absolutely amazing how fast and responsive the AF works. Sometimes I even use face detection and it can be really useful especially when there is no time to manually change the focus points.

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Quality

Of course, when it comes to image quality, it’s no D800, but it’s not as far away as the numbers might suggest. I am very comfortable with cranking the ISO up to 6400. Yeah, there will be grain visible, but at least to me it looks really pleasing. What surprises me the most was the dynamic range of this fairly small sensor. In post it is very easy to push the shadows like hell, wow that’s something my old D700 wouldn’t have done better.

I think at the moment the E-M1 is a damn good choice for all you street photographers out there. It’s lightweight, powerful and can deliver very decent image quality. At the moment I am testing the Fuji X-T1 with the 23/1.4 and it seems to be a nice combo, but even though both bodies have nearly the same size, the E-M1 with the 17/1.8 is a lot smaller and the focus is noticeably quicker.

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Oh, did I mention that I dumped my D800? I am going mirrorless only and I am happy with that decision.

If you want to check out my websites:

http://www.fotodesign-rs.de/

http://www.hochzeitsfotograf-rs.de/

or follow me on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/RobinSchimkoPicture

Thank you all for reading,

Robin

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Apr 012014
 

The new Olympus SH-1 compact delivers style and performance for under $400

16MP, TRU PIC VII, 11.5 FPS, FAST AF, ISO 6400, 1080P 60FPS, 25-600 ZOOM, TOUCH SCREEN AND 5-AXIS IS! 

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Available for Pre-Order in SILVER from B&H Photo

Available for Pre-Order in BLACK from B&H Photo

MAN, OLYMPUS IS ON A ROLL! This new SH-1 looks phenomenal and PRICED RIGHT. Look at all of the features packed into this compact beauty:

INFO:

The silver Olympus Stylus SH-1 Digital Camera is a sleek, PEN-styled point-and-shoot featuring a 16MP BSI CMOS sensor and TruePic VII image processor to produce high-resolution imagery with notable low-light sensitivity and quality. The combination of these two technologies form Olympus’ iHS technology, which serves to realize fast performance throughout the camera system, including a full-resolution continuous shooting rate of 11.5 fps and the FAST AF system, while also maintaining low image noise with a native sensitivity of ISO 6400. The sensor and processor also support recording full HD 1080p movies at 60 fps as well as HD 720p movies at up to 120 fps.

Benefitting the imaging capabilities of the SH-1 is an expansive 24x zoom lens, which provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 25-600mm. Counterbalancing this lens’ long reach, as well as aiding this camera’s use in low lighting, is an advanced 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization system that corrects for angular, rotational, and translational types of camera blur.

For image monitoring and review, a 3.0″ 460k-dot touchscreen LCD is incorporated into the camera’s design. Its touchscreen capabilities avail an intuitive means for navigating the menu system and for utilizing a host of camera features, including touch AF control, a built-in intervalometer, and adjustment of Live Guide settings, as well as for accessing the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for seamless sharing of imagery to, and remote control from, a linked mobile device.

16MP BSI CMOS Sensor and TruePic VII Image Processor

A 16 megapixel 1/2.3″ backside-illuminated CMOS sensor and TruePic VII image processor work together to enable iHS (Intelligent High Speed) Technology, which benefits both the overall image quality and performance throughout the SH-1. The BSI design of the image sensor realizes notable sensitivity to ISO 6400 along with reduced noise levels to enhance image quality, especially in regard to working in difficult lighting conditions. Complementing the sensor’s duties is an apt image processor, which benefits both the look and feel of imagery as well as enables a top full-resolution continuous shooting rate of 11.5 fps for working with fast-moving subjects. Furthermore, iHS technology also supports the use of the Intelligent Auto shooting mode, with accelerated scene recognition, as well as an enhanced FAST AF system.

24x Optical Zoom Lens and 5-Axis Image Stabilization

Incorporated into the compact body design is far-reaching 24x optical zoom lens, which provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 25-600mm, covering wide-angle to telephoto perspectives. 2x Super Resolution Zoom and 4x digital zoom can also be utilized to effectively increase the zoom magnification for working with even more distant subjects.

Benefitting this lens’ expansive zoom range is 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization, which minimizes the appearance of yaw, pitch, roll, up and down, and left to right types of camera movement, to realize sharper imagery with slower shutter speeds, longer focal lengths, and during macro shooting. In addition to the 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization, a hybrid 5-axis electronic stabilization system can also be applied for further refinement.

Full HD Movie Recording

Full HD 1920 x 1080p video recording is supported at 60 fps, as well as high-speed 120 fps or 240 fps recording, for slow-motion playback, in the HD 1280 x 720 format or 432 x 324 format, respectively. Beyond straight movie capture, full-resolution photographs can be simultaneously recorded during filming and a dedicated Time-Lapse Movie mode automatically compresses up to 5 hours of interval shooting into a 20 second movie.

Body Design

The SH-1′s PEN-inspired body design incorporates a large 3.0″ 460k-dot touchscreen LCD monitor to allow clear, bright live view monitoring, image playback, and intuitive menu navigation. The touchscreen functionality enables the ability to touch to focus and release the shutter as well as a simple means for navigating controls and settings.

Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity

Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity enables seamless sharing of photos and movies from the camera to a linked mobile device for instant sharing online. Utilizing the Olympus Image Share app, you can also remotely control the camera from the smartphone or tablet, including the ability to zoom in or out, adjust exposure and focus, and release the shutter. Additionally, utilizing the location data from a mobile device, you can geotag your imagery for plotting to an interactive map.

Other Camera Features

A built-in electronic level gauge helps to ensure level horizons and plumb verticals when shooting.

Interval shooting allows you to choose between 1-99 frames, with 10 second to 1 hour intervals and up to a 60 minute timer, to create time lapse imagery of slowly moving subjects.

The manual exposure mode permits control over the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings, with the ability to check the results on the LCD prior to shooting.

The intuitive Live Guide settings allow direct adjustment over brightness, color saturation, and color tone settings using an intuitive slider system facilitated by the touchscreen monitor.

Face Detection AF, AF Tracking, Selective AF area (using the touchscreen interface), and AF Lock focus modes are available to suit working with a wide variety of subject types.

Photo Story is a creative mode allowing you to create a multi-perspective narrative within a single image, with multiple templates available to choose from.

Backlight HDR automatically combines multiple exposures within a single frame to realize an extended range of tones with greater shadow and highlight detail than a single exposure can record.

Hand-Held Starlight mode helps to create sharp, blur-free images of nighttime scenes without the use of a tripod.

A built-in Panorama mode allows you to create in-camera panoramic imagery, up to 360° across, by simply panning the camera about the scene.

11 different Art Filters can be applied to creatively enhance imagery: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Dramatic Tone, Fish Eye, Sparkle, Reflection, and Fragmented.

Three different Picture Modes can be applied to alter the overall quality of imagery: Vivid, Neutral, and Muted.

In-addition to the standard 2 second and 12 second self-timer delays, a custom self-timer can be set to record 1-10 pictures in a 1-3 second interval with a 1-30 second start timer.

In-camera image editing: Resize, Crop, Audio Clip (record 4 sec. audio clip for an image file), Red Eye Fix, Shadow Adjustment, Rotate Image, and e-Portrait (smoothes skin tone for viewing on an HDTV).

In-camera movie editing: In-Movie Image Capture (captures pictures from a movie file) and Movie Trimming (erase unwanted portions from a movie file).

Language support: English, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, German, Italian, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Greek, Slovak, Turkish, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Korean, Simple Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, Persian, Indonesian, Hebrew, Malay, Vietnamese, and Japanese.

Available for Pre-Order in SILVER from B&H Photo

Available for Pre-Order in BLACK from B&H Photo

Mar 242014
 

The new Panasonic 15mm 1.7 available for Pre-Order!

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Panasonic is kicking some serious behind in lenses lately. I have been shooting with the new Panasonic/Leica 42.5 f/1.2 Nocticron and it is one of the best lenses I have ever shot with, on any format. Sharp wide open, creamy Bokeh and a sort of Noctilux style rendering, but on M 4/3. It also resembles the $11k Noctilux in design though not nearly as hefty as the Leica counterpart. The Nocticron is a special lens for Micro 4/3 users and even has a manual aperture ring (but this is not usable on Olympus bodies which control aperture with the dial).

In fact, the Nocticron is so good that I am 90% sure I am going to purchase one even though the price is sky-high.

Add to that the new Panasonic/Leica 15mm f1.7 which also has a manual aperture ring and uses a 46mm filter size. This is a duo that will give you a 30mm and 85mm focal length equivalent for your Micro 4/3 body while giving you pro quality color, contrast, detail and bokeh.

The new 15 1.7 comes in at $599 and is available for pre-order NOW in Black or Silver at B&H Photo. It is also available HERE at Amazon. 

The Nocticron is available NOW for $1598 – EXPENSIVE YES but $9500 cheaper than a Leica Noctilux and 85% as good :)  Amazon also sells the Nocticron and it is IN STOCK. 

I am reviewing and using the Nocticron now on an E-M1 and will post my review soon (but it is a light sucker and rocks at night just like the real Noctilux). The 15 will be shipped to me at release for review so will get on that one as soon as I get it! I am telling you..Micro 4/3 just keeps getting better and better for those who are in the system. Pretty exciting stuff IMO as it is the lenses that make the system and no one beats M 4/3 for lenses in the mirror less world.

With these new Leica partnered lenses…makes me wonder if the new and rumored “Leica T” will be a Micro 4/3 body. I HOPE SO. I would much prefer it to be M 4.3  than a new lens mount APS-C. Using a Nocticron and 15 1.7 on a new Leica mirrorless…could be interesting.

Mar 182014
 

Having Fun with a GX7 in Bangalore, India

By Keith Lewis

My name is Keith Lewis. I am an expat Brit engineer living in Bangalore, India, for almost two years and I prior to that for almost three years in KL, Malaysia. About 3 months ago I came across your great website whilst looking for a review of the Lumix GX7. I really liked the style and content of the site, particularly the Daily Inspiration contributions, and the site is now a highly anticipated part of my daily reading. I am pretty much a novice photographer who has spent much of his life taking a combination of family, travel and sports “snap-shots”. It is only in the last few weeks that I have started taking my photography more seriously, and much of this interest has been inspired by the contributions of many on the website. The site has also motivated me to share some real user experience with the Lumix GX7 and to give the readers some insight into the contrasts of life in my immediate Bangalore neighbourhood. All the photos in this review are JPEG straight from the camera with no PP.

Before I jump into my GX7 review, a little about my camera history and expectations which steered me to the Lumix system. I love travel, outdoor activities and sports. Camera size matters to me because many airlines now have a cabin bag limit of 7kg; therefore, I want to travel with as little gear as possible. Back in college days (more than 35 years ago) I travelled with a little Rollei 35 which I loved. The only SLR I have ever owned was a Pentax ME Super with several lenses; my son loves film photography and is still using these lenses with a fully manual Pentax K camera; he prefers this kit over his Nikon DSLR. I was a very early adopter of digital media and acquired the first commercial Olympus digital pocket camera (1.3 MP) in about 1998. Over the next few years I progressively upgraded through a series of mid-range and rugged pocket digital cameras from Sony, Olympus and even Casio, all of which served my wife and I well on many ski trips, fishing adventures, hikes and camps plus the usual birthdays and family get togethers. I shied away from the DSLRs because of size, not price. I finally upgraded to a “real camera”, the Lumix GF2, on a whim whilst killing time in Singapore airport. With the GF2 purchase I acquired the Panasonic 14mm 2.8 pancake lens, 14-42 mm zoom and I added a 45-200mm zoom to give me the opportunity to do some sports and wildlife photography. Overall the GF2 has met my needs and expectations, particularly to stay compact but with good quality. I have many memorable pictures with this set-up that has travelled with me around SE Asia, Europe and the USA. My major issue with the GF2 is poor low light performance, lousy flash synchronisation and no view-finder. I tried the add on EVF but was very disappointed with the quality, and it seemed poor value.

Whilst in Malaysia last Christmas I was shopping for the Panasonic 20mm F.17 lens to use with the Lumix GF2. I was struggling to find the lens in the many KL Photo and Camera stores when an enterprising salesman introduced me to the “new” GX7 with the 20mm lens as a kit. Frankly I wasn’t really looking for a camera upgrade and I was not even aware of the GX7 because I was relatively happy with the convenience and performance of the GF2. I didn’t jump straight in, being from Yorkshire (notoriously tight with their money) and a very methodical type, I went searching on the internet for a GX7 review and that’s how I first found the Steve Huff site. I really enjoyed the style and enthusiasm of his reviews (especially the GX7 crazy comparison) and this convinced me to go back and take another look at the GX7. After a bit more KL shopping I found a great deal on the silver and black GX7 with the silver 20mm lens. Hot-tip: Malaysia is a very competitive and service orientated location to get photo equipment up to the highest specifications with no sales taxes to pay. I got a much better deal in the high-end KLCC mall (below the famous twin towers) than I could get at any of the “Discount” locations! Unfortunately there was a problem with the EVF on the first camera; I returned it to the store next day (which was Christmas Day) and they immediately replaced it and issued a new warranty card.

Now for the review proper: I really like the GX7 and it has ignited an ambition to become a better photographer and to take much more time and care with composition but at the same time I like to take very quick and spontaneous street shots. The feel and the balance of the GX7 is great. For me it has just the right combination of high quality mechanical controls for mode, MF/AF, aperture, shutter speed and exposure combined with the highly responsive and intuitive touch screen menu options. Having the manual controls has made me want to experiment much more with the camera than my experience with the GF2. The EVF is very bright and the amount of information available is amazing and easy to see. I like using the combination of the EVF and the touch screen i.e., you can set the touch screen to show the camera settings whilst framing the photo with the EVF. This combination allows you to easily access the menu to adjust settings. My one gripe with the EVF, which has been noted by Steve and others, is the white balance is a bit off; however, I have learned to ignore this and generally trust the camera settings for colour. My one IQ gripe with the camera is that in the very bright and intense afternoon sun we often experience in Bangalore the 20mm lens at F1.7 tends to over-expose. I now find myself making exposure corrections and/or stopping the lens down manually when shooting in sunlight. The ISO range of the GX7 is incredible, combined with the in-body stabilisation, means that indoor shots and low light shots are now a breeze. The resulting pictures are impressive, sharp with little noticeable noise/grain until I blow them up full screen on my 27″ iMac screen.

Most of the street photos in this article were taken from the hip (touch screen trigger) with the iA+ (intelligent auto-plus) settings which seems to give very consistent results. I have experimented with most of the other settings and my personal favourites include the in-camera BW options which can produce excellent results with having to do PP conversions. iA+ on the GX7 is much better than the iA setting on the GF2. I find the auto-focus and metering to be very accurate. My favourite lens is the 20mm F1.7 which is quite the brightest and sharpest lens I have ever used.

I have tried many of the features on the GX7, all seem to work as expected, including the WiFi connection and control via iPad – this is a very useful feature if you are using a tripod and want a remote trigger. It is also a great way to quickly review your photos whilst they are still in the camera. However, the WiFi eats battery life very quickly. I have yet to make a reliable WiFi connection to the iMac either direct or via the network. The menu doesn’t seem to be able to manage the fact that I have multiple users with different file directories – I have pretty much give-up on this.

Now for some photo examples. My local neighbourhood is such a contrast of absolute poverty to very high-end expat and Indian living. I often walk the neighbourhood at different times of the day looking for a different perspective and photo opportunities. It has been difficult to choose just a few photos to show this contrast:

 Hoodi Village Street with 5 Leg Cow: 20 mm, F 5.0, 1/1000, ISO 200

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 Local fishmonger: 20 mm, F 1.7, 1/125, ISO 200

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Tea Lady works this stall 12 hours/day: 20 mm, F 1.7, 1/60, ISO 400 (flash fill)

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Water is delivered many times a day: 20mm, F 1.7, 1/60, ISO 250

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Cows Lake Grazing: 20 mm, F 5.0, 1/1000, ISO 200

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Typical Construction Workers Camp: 20 mm, F 4.5, 1/800, ISO 200

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Community Pool: 45 mm (zoom), F 4.0, 1/500, ISO 200

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 Cricket is everything to these kids: 20 mm, F 3.5, 1/500, ISO 200

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Summary

GX7 Likes:

Look, feel and balance.

Overall IQ (especially with the 20 mm lens), and range of conditions including high ISO/low light performance

Great practical mix between manual controls and the touch screen menus (I am already very used to the Lumix touch screen controls and menu)

EVF – white balance is a bit frustrating BUT EVF articulation is a great and very practical

Excellent touch screen – can be tilted 90 degrees for very discrete street shots with a touch of the screen to trigger

Manual focus – once I got used to focus peaking

Wireless connectivity to ipad – I have used this feature for night shots using a tripod

B&W settings – they give really great results!

iA+ auto setting gives very reliable results, no fuss and my wife is happy to use it!

GX7 Niggles:

EVF white balance

Protruding eye piece catches your side when carrying (You can articulate up to avoid this but is looks a bit strange)

Cover to access connections requires the screen to be moved out to open it – quite frustrating

WiFi rapidly east battery life

GX7 Wishes:

I would like it smaller with same performance!

Weather proofing – not sure I would risk it on a fishing or ski trip

 GX7 Still to Try:

Need to do more with the video. With an upcoming wedding I plan to do a lot more of this

I plan to purchase the 45 mm Pana/Leica, or equivalent Olympus lens, and relegate the kit zoom to the GF2 body

Very little experience with the flash since the indoor performance is so good

Thanks again for a great site.

Regards, Keith Lewis

Mar 172014
 

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The Olympus E-M10 and 12-40 f/2.8 Pro Zoom Mini Review

With Olympus continually being on top of their own mirrorless camera game I admit…I was a bit hesitant when the E-M10 was announced. I mean, was Olympus going the way of Panasonic who in the past  released cheap, dumbed down tiny bodies just to make a quick sale and find a market for their camera bodies? Let’s face it, the OM-D E-M5 is stellar. The OM-D E-M1 is stellar. The PEN E-P5 is fantastic and beautiful and one of my faves of all time in Micro 4/3. These are three Micro 4/3 mirrorless models that are truly state of the art and can easily provide anyone with gorgeous quality photos while offering speed, build and features that would make any shutter bug happy and many other mirror less camera companies a little nervous.

So why an “E-M10″ that is smaller? 

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Well, that was the question I had when it was announced. I glossed over it and while it looked cool I had doubts about why anyone would want it over an E-m5. Then I saw the cost of only $699 and thought..“well, if it is as great as the E-M5 in use, it will be a BARGAIN of epic proportions”! Then I realized that it had even better performance than the E-M5 and equaled the E-M1 for IQ and Af Speed. That was all I needed to hear. Done deal.

The E-M10 and 12-40 2.8 – This combo is lightning fast, sharp, amazing prime IQ and the very 1st zoom I have ever really wanted to buy in the mirror less world. The IQ is stellar. The color reproduction is rich. The contrast is striking. This lens is truly a pro zoom with a constant f/2.8 aperture across the range.

ALL images in this review are JPEGS shot with the E-M10 and 12-40 2.8 Lens!

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So one day I received a UPS box from the wonderful B&H Photo who sent me the little black Olympus E-M10 to check out and review. When I opened it up I was impressed with the look, the style and the design..which is basically just like the OM-D E-M5, just in a mini format. It felt solid, booted up quickly and had that blazing Olympus AF speed I have come to love and trust. It surprised me really as I was expecting it to be a little “laggy” seeing that it is a “mini”model that is cheaper.

I ended up deciding to just shoot this camera over a weekend with the Olympus 12-40 Pro Zoom. WHY? Well, I have not yet reviewed this lens and figured it would be a nice test of the camera and lens. AN ALL IN ONE. No need to worry or stress over lenses to use or take with. Easy Squeezy.

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So me, the E-M10 and the 12-40 2.8. That is all. That was the plan.

So how did it do? Read on to find out. Please note! This is not a normal tech “review” but it will be more of my thoughts using this camera over a weekend along with the photos I was able to casually snap. I always prefer real world use of a camera and have been doing these types of reviews and write ups for almost 6 years now. It is IMO, the only way to test a camera for what it is meant to be used for. TAKING PHOTOS and ENJOYING IT!

So one morning Debby and I took a 4 hour drive to Las Vegas and decided to just walk around and shoot the scenery. I did end up bringing along my Leica M 240 and 50 1.5 Nokton but only fired off 6 shots. The Olympus was so much fun, so fast and so GOOD that I did not want to stop using it! Seriously. It did have some faults but only in the handling. Basically, when using the 12-40 and the E-M10 I would highly recommend the accessory grip as the body is a little small for the Zoom as is.

“Orgasim Clinic” – what happens in vegas stays in vegas…

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Olympus and Micro 4/3

I have been a fan of Olympus forever. From the OM film cameras to the 1st real flagship E-1 digital back in the day. The PEN series..yes, I have shot with them all (The E-P5 is the best of PEN’s) and of course the OM-D series all the way to the  top of the Micro 4/3 heap with the Professional E-M1. ALL of these cameras have been wonderful to use and to shoot but especially these new camera bodies Olympus have been releasing over the past couple of years. The E-M5, E-P5, E-M1 are stellar, and I mean that 100%. I have said it a million times about these Olympus bodies but they have something about them that are special.

I have finally figured it out though..as to just what that special thing is. It is a combo of things actually that no other camera manufacturer has been able to accomplish as of yet besides Olympus.

In my opinion, the reason these latest Olympus bodies have been so special is because they offer it all and do it all very well without any real compromise:

1. Build quality - This E-M10 is built just like the current and more expensive E-M5 which is built very good. Solid, smooth dials, precision. It feels “right”. The Pro E-M1 is even better. All are built VERY well with the E-M1 being as good as it gets in the build for a mirrorless camera. 

2. Speed – The E-M10 and other OM-D bodies have blazing fast and accurate AF. It is pretty much instant. No hunting, no slowdown, no misses. I had no AF misses with the E-M10 and 12-40 2.8 lens. Focus was instant and so fast that I was just having fun testing it to try to make it miss or slow down! In super low indoor light at night it did slow down but still locked on and fired and nailed the shot. The Olympus bodies all have stellar AF speed and accuracy. They lose out a bit on CONTINUOUS tracking AF but for shot to shot, they are hard to beat. No other mirrorless body I have tried has the AF speed of the E-M1, E-M5 and E-M10.

3. EVF – The EVF in the E-M10 is NOT the best EVF around. The E-M1 and Fuji X-T1 share that honor but the EVF in the E-M10 is good, just a but on the small side. But this is not a “flagship” body. It is an affordable entry into the OM-D series. The fact that it has an EVF is great, as these days I avoid cameras without them. But overall, the E-M1 has one of the top EVF’s on the market. Huge, clear and VERY easy to use and frame with.

4. Image Stabilization – Olympus has the best IS in the business, no contest. I have never used anything like it. The E-M10 has “3 Axis” IS instead of the higher end bodies “5-Axis” but it works almost just as well. It is so cool to have this feature in a small, more affordable OM-D.  If you have not yet experienced the 5-Axis IS or even 3 Axis IS you are in for a treat.

5. LENSES – Again, Olympus and Panasonic are at the top of the mirrorless heap (next to Leica of course) when it comes to lenses for the Micro 4/3 system. I have shot with all Fuji lenses. All Sony lenses. All Panasonic lenses and mostly all Leica lenses. IMO, these little Olympus primes and now the 12-40 Pro Zoom are some of the best I have shot with next to Leica glass. The size, weight, feel, silence, speed and IQ are stellar on almost ALL of them. I a NOT a zoom guy but this $999 12-40 Pro Zoom equals or surpasses what I have seen from the Canon 24-70 and equals the Nikon 24-70 as well while being smaller and much less expensive. This is an amazing zoom lens. Fast, silent, small (in comparison to full frame and APS-C) and beautiful rich color and contrast/sharpness. Olympus lenses as well as Panasonic make some of the best mirrorless glass. Compared to Fuji lenses, these are faster to AF, all silent in operation, smaller and just as good with IQ. 

6. Image Quality – IQ from the Olympus bodies, including the E-M10 is as good as 98% of us will need. Pro’s use them for high paying jobs. They are that good. What it comes down to is preference of “look” when you decide on a camera body or sensor size. You can print large with Micro 4/3, no issues. You can print large with APS-C and full frame. All will give you a different look and feel but Micro 4/3 is no longer lacking in IQ in any way. The JPEGS are also fantastic out of camera and no special processing software is needed for the RAW files :)

I saw this guy getting ready to give a high-five. I turned around, aide and fired and hit the moment. No hesitation on the camera or lens. THIS is what makes a camera enjoyable.

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Sure, many cameras have these 6 features but Olympus is at the top of the entire mirror less game when it comes to mostly all of them. Micro 4/3 has established itself as a serious format and those who have predicted its demise over the past 3-4 years have been wrong as it is still going and growing in popularity because nothing offers a mixture of getting everything so close to being right that Olympus in the mirror less body world. Others are getting close, but for me, Olympus still rules the mirrorless roost. They do so much right and so little wrong. That is what it is all about because if a camera is frustrating to use, it will fall by the wayside and be forgotten.

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So how is the E-M10 and 12-40 in real use?

For some, the E-M10 will be much too small but as I said, the slick grip for this camera will add the size most need.. IMO, the E-M10 is one hell of a camera and paired with the 12-40 is one of the, if not the, most fun and reliably good camera and lens combos I have shot with. The good thing about the small size is that it makes it LIGHT. The lens is large on the body though so maybe a pancake lens with E-M10 would make a perfect coat pocket companion. Imagine a 17 1.8 or 20 1.7 on the camera. You could slide it in a coat pocket and have it with you at anytime. That kind of quality in your pocket beats any iPhone :)

With the 12-40 being a wide-angle and medium telephoto all in one I was able to walk around and gran shots in different ways. As I walked around Las Vegas I was doing some street sniping as well as normal photos with the stop and frame. With the fast AF and response the E-M10 was able to catch what I wanted without a problem. Something I could not do with any Fuji or Sony I have shot with to date (for example, the high-five guy above would have been missed with the Fuji or Sony). As much as I love the Sony RX1 and A7, they are nowhere near as fast and responsive as the Olympus bodies (though the IQ is GORGEOUS from the full frame sensor – much richer, a different league really). As much as I liked the Fuji X-T1, it is no match for the speed and response of any recent Olympus body.

IQ wise, I like them all but the Olympus colors and IQ always do it for me and I never am left wanting or regretting taking one out. For  my tastes, I prefer the Sony RX1 and Leica M 240 IQ the best overall but the Olympus Micro 4/3 next, ahead of ANY APS-C camera. The fact that these Olympus bodies work better (the 6 things listed above) than any APS-C I have shot with also helps seal the deal.

Olympus JPEGS are always bright, crisp and colorful. 

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The Sensor:

Here is what Olympus has to say about the sensor in the E-M10 along with the processor:

Unprecedented Image Quality That Exceeds Others in its Class

“The lens technology, sensor and image processor are the core of any digital camera. The OM-D E-M10’s partner in photographic excellence is the acclaimed Olympus M.ZUIKO lens system, a family of professional-grade glass that delivers unsurpassed resolution and overall image quality. The E-M10 ups the ante by pairing a 16MP Live MOS sensor with our most powerful TruePic VII image processor for extraordinary resolution and accurate color rendition. Add 3-axis in-body image stabilization that compensates for horizontal and vertical angular shifts (yaw/pitch) as well as camera shake along the optical axis (roll), and you have a camera that captures incredibly sharp images and video, yet is compact enough to bring just about anywhere.”

Walking around the crowds and grabbing shots was not an issue for the E-M10 and 12-40. Speed was fantastic.

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IQ that equals the E-M1. For $699. 

The more I used the E-M10 the more I enjoyed it but I also was starting to realize just how good the lens is. The 12-40 lens is giving us a 28-80 full frame field of view equivalent but in a much smaller package than those huge and unruly and expensive 24-70 full frame zooms. I reviewed the previous Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 zoom HERE but I enjoyed the Olympus a little bit more. It just seems like a more polished lens and when using it on a Olympus body it is one of those lenses that just “works”. This lens has been a huge seller for Olympus and for good reason as I was finding out. The IQ that comes from this E-M10 and 12-40 is just as good as what I have been seeing from my E-M1 and E-M5, no question about it.

Both of these are JPEGS from the E-M10 and 12-40 Zoom. EXIF is embedded. Click them for larger/better. The 1st one is a full size camera JPEG. NOT from RAW.

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The E-M10 or the E-M5? That is the question.

Many are wondering..E-M5 or E-M10? Well, after using the E-M10 more and more I came to realize that for me, it beats the E-M5 in almost every way (except it is just a smaller body which I do not prefer..so the grip would be mandatory). It has better Auto Focus implementation. It has a better LCD. It has E-M1 IQ. All for $699. Amazing. Add a nice prime lens and you have a powerhouse capable of pro quality photos and speed. It also has video on par with the other Olympus bodies (which I enjoy and have used for personal projects on many occasions). Today, if I were buying and had to choose between the E-M5 and E-M10, it would have to be the E-M10 and grip.

BUT! There are areas where the E-M5 excel. One, the E-M10 is not weather sealed so if you shoot in rain, dust or rough environments the E-M5 or E-M1 will be the best bet. Also, the 3 Axis is not as good as the revolutionary 5 Axis IS of the E-M5 and E-M1. It is still superb, just loses out a little to the bigger and more expensive brothers.

If you want the ultimate OM-D, go for the E-M1 as it is the best in all areas but this E-M10 is about HALF the price of the $1400 E-M1 while giving the same IQ, speed and performance. Hmmmm.

This one has a vintage Alien Skin filter applied which is giving it the soft look..but I like it. 

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12-40 Zoom or Primes?

I am a HUGE believer in PRIME lenses. Especially FAST prime lenses. I love the 12 f/2, the 20 1.8, 45 1.8, 75 1.8, 17 1.8, etc. They are small, well made, silent and provide the best IQ with the Olympus and Micro 4.3 system. You can achieve shallow DOF and crisp images without an issue. I have avoided Zooms in the past for two reasons. The first reason is that usually, unless you buy a “pro” zoom there is always a compromise in image quality. Cheap zoom are horrible IMO. Kit Zooms are usually horrible as well (though the Fuji 18-55 is nice). Zooms like the Canon and Nikon and Sony 24-70 offerings are nice but they are full frame, horribly large and insanely expensive.

One reason I haven’t used this Olympus 12-40 yet is because I did not think it could offer the IQ of the primes as well as the fact that it is an f/2.8 design. No f/1.8, etc. I like f/1.4, 1.8 lenses!

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Well…after using it I realized that it will be sorely missed when I send it back and I may have to just add it to my Olympus collection when I can fund it. It is so well worth the $999, in fact, if it were $1400 it would be worth it. This lens is versatility and IQ and speed all in one package that comes in at half the size and less than half the cost of those full frame 24-70 counterparts while giving up nothing in performance. Of course full frame sensors offer better everything but in the Micro 4/3 world, THIS 12-40 f/2.8 PRO ZOOM is a must own if you want ONE lens to take out that will deliver prime lens image quality.

It is one hell of a lens and while larger than the primes, it offers much more with a field of view from 24-80mm. This means if you go inside you can shoot at 12mm(24mm)..go outside and zoom out to catch a face at 40mm (80mm)..whatever you need without swapping lenses.

The 12-40 also has a fantastic close focus feature that allows you to focus close when wide. You also have the Olympus Manual Focus clutch for instant switching between AF and MF. The lens is freeze, shock, dust and weather proof. It is silent for movie recording so no rattles, noise or irritating audibles. Olympus designed this one just right and it is an impressive zoom.

With a constant semi-fast f/2.8 aperture, it is the real deal in the Micro 4/3 Zoom world.

I will always love my primes but this is a lens I can see taking out on those days when I just need one lens to cover all I need. Yes…it WILL be mine one day!

All of the images below are JPEG’s ranging from base ISO to ISO 1600. EXIF is embedded.

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Dynamic Range! 

When I wrote my Fuji X-T1 review HERE I mentioned that I had some issues with blown highlights and the Fuji X-Trans sensor. Where I live here in Phx AZ the sun can get quite harsh..in fact, some of the harshest light I have ever come across. It is usually a torture test for most cameras and I have had issues with previous Fuji bodies in this light with flat files, blown highlights and dull looking photos. I have always said that if you give a Fuji some great light it will reward you with amazing image quality. Give it tough light and it can be a tricky situation. Low light can make the Fuji files muddy and ruddy.

One thing that I also have loved about Olympus is that I have never had issues with blown highlights. One reason is that the sensor with these latest OM-D cameras have a very good Dynamic Range and if you do blow the highlights they are easily recovered with the RAW file and a slider or two, even under extreme blow outs. Many think that the DR of the Olympus Micro 4/3 bodies suffer because the sensor is smaller than APS-C or full frame. Usually this would be true but these Olympus sensors always test high on the DR scale and in my real world experience, I have found this to be true.

An OOC JPEG in mid day Las Vegas sun with the white water fountain going full steam. 

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My conclusion on the Olympus E-M10 and 12-40 Pro Zoom.

I will make this easy. If you are leaning towards a Micro 4/3 system but do not want to break the bank with an E-M1, go for the E-M10. It is a WONDERFUL camera that can do just about anything anyone would need. If you want simplicity and versatility as well, buy the 12-40 f/2.8 Zoom and have an all in one kit. This would be a perfect street kit, portrait kit, family kit, vacation and walk around kit. Basically, a jack of all trades and master of most. With the E-M10 and zoom you will only lose out on those shallow DOF effects but if you desire that from time to time add in a 45 1.8 at $399.

In my opinion, Olympus has done it again and are on a constant winning streak with these new cameras and technology. The 3 Axis IS is so good, almost as good as the 5 Axis. The whole speed and user experience of the camera is so pleasurable you just want to keep shooting.

I love the E-M10. It is another camera in the OM-D line that is just a WIN and does not make any real compromises to offer us a more affordable entry unto the Olympus system. Bravo!

Steve

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WHERE TO BUY?

My review sample came from B&H Photo, and they sell the E-M10 at their web site HERE. I highly recommend B&H Photo!

You can also buy the 12-40 f/2.8 Pro Zoom at B&H HERE as well as the accessory Grip HERE.

Amazon sells the E-M10 HERE, the Grip HERE and the 12-40 2.8 Zoom HERE.

PopFlash also sells the Olympus line HERE.

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

Hello to all! For the past 5 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 web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

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

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

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

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK - Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

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

Mar 032014
 

11 cities minus one in 15 days in Europe with OMD-EM5

By Ramon M Flores

Warm greetings from LA!

I’m an avid fan of the site. It’s one of my sources to better my photography. I’ve learned a lot from all his postings and enjoyed viewing all the images shared.

I thought I might as well share some of my images though reluctantly because I still find my photography way below par as I want it to be. I’m a ‘point & shoot’ shooter who happens to have a Nikon D700, a Fuji x100 and an EM5. This reluctancy delayed my decision to share. I have been thinking of emailing Steve as early as September last year. Then I thought, this set of photos (though quite ordinary) might be something different because of the story behind it. So here it goes.

July-August last year, there was an opportunity for me and my wife to accompany our daughter to her school band’s Europe trip. She plays the trumpet and their band performed in 4 cities during that trip. I was so excited that I brought with me almost all of my camera gears. It’s a 15-day Europe trip to 11 cities and we jump-started in Paris where we spent 3 days & 2 nights. Took a lot of pictures including some snapshots of the last leg of the Tour de France. My mind was all set and already fixed to a photo trip adventure while still in Paris.

…on the 3rd day, we left Paris. And this is the sad part – I lost my Nikon D700 & Fuji X100 cameras to a thief in Brussels, including my Nikkor 50mm 14.G & 14-24mm 2.8G lenses, and Fuji X100 WCL, hence I lost all my photos taken in Paris during the first 3 days of my trip. I therefore have no photo documentation of our stay in Paris.

Anyway, lesson learned.

All of these photos were taken using my Olympus OMD EM5 with the 12-50mm lens kit which survived the remaining 12 days of the trip. This camera is hanging my neck almost the entire trip. I had then the opportunity to play around quite a number of its feature. What a fantastic camera. It compensated or at least eased my sadness in losing most of my gears. My realization is that, with this camera, I don’t need my other gears in the first place. You may call it ‘justification’. This is my second attempt to share some of my pictures with Steve. I did not get lucky the first time I guess. Hope this time around, my photos would merit his attention. It’s an inspiration to move on with my hobby on photography with the likes of your dad around unselfishly sharing his love for photography.

Presently, I’m still shooting with my OMD and haven’t thought of adding gears though I’ve acquired a 45mm & 75mm lens for my OMD.

The photos below is a sampling for each cities we’ve visited (minus Paris of course). All photos shot at base ISO 200 and aperture priority unless indicated.

Thank you and my warm regards.

Ramon M Flores

http://www.pbase.com/monflores

Brussels ‘bikes for rent’

14mm, 1/200s, f/6.3

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Brugge ‘color block’

12mm, 1/6000s, f/5.6

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Amsterdam ‘the red is on’

12mm, 1/100, f/5

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Heidelberg ‘hand held night shot’

12mm, 1/3s, f/3.5

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Hague ‘experimenting on presets’

dramatic tone preset

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Goar-Bingen ‘river cruise’

Pop art preset

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Bavaria ‘from the castle’

36mm, 1/80s, f/5.7

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Cortina ‘open door’

12mm, 1/80s, f/3.5

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Innsbruck ‘my daughter’s trumpet’

37mm, 1/125s, f/5.7

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Venice ‘open canal’

12mm, 1/320s, f/8

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Feb 252014
 

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The Olympus 25 1.8 Lens Review on the E-M1

By Steve Huff

Hello once again to all of you camera crazy readers! Today I am going to talk about the new-ish Olympus 25 1.8 lens as it has recently shipped and is really the only Auto Focus competition to the now legendary Panasonic 25 1.4 lens, which has been known as one of the finest lenses for  the Micro 4/3 system. That lens, on SOME cameras, has been known to have slower focus and a “rattlesnake” sound when just attached to the lens with the camera being powered on. (On the E-M1 I do not hear this effect though). The new Olympus is smaller, sleeker, focuses faster, much shorter with hood attached and comes in at $129 less than the Panasonic counterpart.

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But how does it stack up to the Panasonic? Well, I will tell you right off the bat that while it is not as sharp as the Panasonic, it gets about 99.5% there. It does not have the Micro Contrast of the Panasonic, but gets us about 90% of the way there. It vignettes slightly when wide open where the Panasonic does not but it does focus slightly faster and like I said, it is quite a bit smaller as you will see below in the size comparison.

On the Las Vegas strip at f/2.5 with the Olympus 25 1.8. If you click this image you can see a larger size that is much sharper. In fact, it will show you just how sharp the lens is. I converted this one to B&W. 

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Over the years I have grown fond of certain lenses for the Micro 4/3 system. The Panasonic 25 1.4 is one of them while others like the Olympus 45 1.8, 75 1.8 and even 17 1.8 are up there as well with me. The 60 Macro is astonishing and the 12mm f/2 is one I really enjoy. The new 12-40 Zoom seems pretty versatile and incredible as well. I’d say my #1 most used lens on my E-M1 is the 17 1.8. For me, it has the sharpness, the detail, the color, and the “feel”. I love it but I also have been enjoying the 35mm (equiv) focal length more lately.

Shot at f/1.8 this is close focused and right out of camera. Bold bright color and sharp with a pleasant Bokeh. Click it for larger/sharper!

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The Micro 4/3 Version of a 50mm explained

I go in phases between the 35mm and 50mm being my #1 fave to shoot with and these days it is 35 all the way, so when out shooting with this 25 (50mm equiv) I was once again having to get used to shooting this focal length. After a solid few days of shooting with it daily I remember what it is that makes it my #2 favorite focal length! It has the perfect mix of sharpness and shallow DOF possibilities. While this is indeed a true 25mm lens, and we will get 25mm DOF from the lens, the focal length appears as a 50mm. So imagine the Olympus 25mm as a 50mm with 25mm Depth of Field and “Bokeh”. Due to the shorter focal length we will not get subject isolation as we will get on a real 50mm. It will give us 25mm DOF and isolation and yes, f 1.8 is a true f/1.8. Just on a 25mm lens.

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At the end of the day though, a 25mm acts like a 50mm for focal length/magnification so this is what you are going to see when looking through your viewfinder. It will not be like when you put a 24mm on your full frame camera, but like when you put a 50mm on your full frame camera except for the Depth of Field control. Basically, on Micro 4/3 we are magnifying that 25mm to give us a 50mm field of view.

Other 25mm lenses include the Panasonic 25 1.4, which is one of the highest rated 25mm lenses for Micro 4/3. We also have the amazingly good, and one of my all time manual focus faves, the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 which allows you to focus close, get almost full frame quality Depth of Field and Bokeh, and is built like the Voigtlander lenses for the Leica system.

One of our workshop attendees taking a break in the middle of the desert with his Starbucks and Leica M :)

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As always, speed costs and in Micro 4/3 is no exception. The Olympus 25 1.8 costs $399, the Panasonic is $529 and the Voigtlander will run you a cool grand.

You can see my Panasonic review HERE and some Voigtlander shots are HERE.

At the Valley of Fire with Todd Hatakeyama (Master Organizer – foreground) and Pro Photographer Extraordinaire Jay Bartlett (Background)

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Just as with my other Micro 4/3 lens reviews, there is not much to say about the lens. I mean, when a lens is sharp, focuses fast and is small, light and beautiful in design what can you say? It really has no faults so all I can do is write about what I feel when it is compared to the Panasonic 25 1.4, the lens who reigns supreme in this focal length for this format. I already did ONE quick comparison while out on the road (which is why it was quick) so let me go into more detail about this lens VS the mighty Panasonic.

This is an OOC JPEG from the E-m1 and 25 1.8 shot at 2.5

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The Olympus 25 1.8 vs the Panasonic 25 1.4

  • Cost. The Panasonic can be bought HERE for $529. The Olympus can be bought here for $399. So, the Olympus is $129 less expensive than the Panasonic. Makes sense because the Olympus is an f/1.8 lens vs an f/1.4 of the Panasonic. So for cost, and bang for the buck, the Olympus wins.
  • SIZE. The Panasonic is quite a bit larger than the Olympus when the hoods are attached (see below) but the Panasonic is still a very small lens. Only when viewed next to the Olympus does it look large. The Olympus is super small and light where the Panasonic is wider, taller and has more bulk. The Olympus almost appears to be half the size when looking at the image below. So if small size if your thing, the Olympus wins. 

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  • Sharpness. BOTH of these lenses can render a super sharp image. BOTH have slightly different color and contrast signatures though. I would say that the Olympus is just as sharp as the Panasonic..well, 99.5% as sharp when both lenses are shot at 1.8. I’d say the Panasonic has a little bit better Micro Contrast though as when looking at some real world street shooting files on my 27″ display I see it. This is a sign of a very good lens, and is one area where Leica excels with their uber expensive lenses. For example, the Leica 50 Summicron f/2 has amazing micro contrast and one of my all time favorite Leica lenses for the M system (or Sony A7). The Panasonic 25 1.4 is a Leica/Panasonic collaboration so it shares some of that Leica magic. I used to think it did not but it does indeed though not to the level of true Leica glass. The difference is not huge between the Panasonic and Olympus  by any means but you can see it when pixel peeping. So because of this, For overall performance and sharpness, the Panasonic wins.

See the full size files below from each lens at apertures from 1.4 to 1.8 to 5.6..the Panasonic does not appear to be any sharper than the Olympus here:

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Now the Panasonic wide open at 1.4, which the Olympus can not do..

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and both stopped down to f/5.6

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  • AF Speed. When out on the street shooting these lenses I though for sure that the Olympus would smoke the Panasonic with Auto Focus, and that was not the case! Both lenses focused fast on my E-M1, and to be 100% honest, I saw no difference in speed when out in the street at night using both. The Olympus may have a slight edge overall, but it is not a night and day, and for some will not even be noticeable. Remember  though, this is on the E-M1 which may be helping the lenses to focus fast. So I give this one a Tie with a SLIGHT edge going to the Olympus.
  • Bokeh. Well, if Bokeh is what you are after (and many Micro 4/3 shooters are indeed after this) then you will want the Panasonic as it is an f/1.4 lens. While not much of a difference at all, there is indeed a mental difference going on in that head of yours and if speed is what you need then you will not be happy with the f/1.8 of the Olympus. Nope, go for the Panasonic! If speed is not of great concern and you realize that f/1.4 is not a huge step up from f/1.8 then the Olympus may be just the ticket. In reality, when the Panasonic is shot at f/1.4 you will not see much more background blur than the 1.8 of the Olympus. It exists but will you see it? Maybe, maybe not. Both lenses rock this.  Panasonic wins here as it has the ability to create MORE shallow DOF and Bokeh. 

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  • Distortion and CA. The Panasonic has more CA (Purple Fringing) than the Olympus, which is clear and evident. So for this the Olympus wins. See the crop below from each lens. 

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So at the end of the day BOTH of these lenses will deliver the goods. Me, I prefer the Olympus as I am not losing much at all over the Panasonic but I am gaining the small size, the nice price and the overall look that matches my other Olympus primes AS WELL as almost no CA issues. I could live with EITHER lens long-term. It comes down to if you want small size, slightly faster AF, and f 1.8 or if you want larger, faster aperture at 1.4 and slightly slower AF while paying $129 more.

If you own the Panasonic, keep it. If you do not own either, you can save money and be 100% happy with the Olympus. If you want the Olympus you can sell your Panasonic for as much as it costs to buy the new Olympus. In other words, there is no wrong choice here. Both lenses are fantastic. Those who are putting down the Olympus (and I have already seen it on forums and right here on the comments of this website) are just those who own the Panasonic, never tried the Olympus and are sticking up for their brand. BOTH lenses are wonderful and both will give you the tool you need to express your photographic vision. I have to hand it to Olympus for constantly releasing new amazing lenses. This is another one they can add to the premium list of primes that help make the Micro 4/3 system so enjoyable! Keep ‘em coming Olympus AND Panasonic! PLEASE!

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WHERE TO BUY?

You can order the Olympus 25 1.8 at Amazon HERE or at B&H Photo HERE.

PopFlash also sells the lens here.

This lens has a 46mm filter thread so using my favorite ND filter is possible with this one!

A few more shots with the Olympus 25 1.8 Lens 

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

Hello to all! For the past 5 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 web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

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

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

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

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Feb 252014
 

Fun on Fremont Street in Las Vegas!

There is nothing quite like getting out a couple of times a year to go to place with amazing people watching opportunities. Over the weekend during the Valley of Fire meet a few of us took the 3 mile drive from our house to Fremont Street in Las Vegas to do some people watching and snap a few photos. We went out one night and stayed for a short time and while we mainly walked around and experienced the lights, the sound, the energy and the people we also snapped a few shots here and there over the course of an hour or so.

As I walked around I told myself I wanted to take only TWELVE images during the hour, so I walked and tried my best to stick to that plan but the problem was I was so busy laughing at the antics of the party goers in the street that many times I forgot that I was there to take some photos!

I shot with the Olympus E-M1 and 25 1.8 along with the Panasonic 25 1.4. One walk down Fremont street with the Olympus lens and the walk back with the Panasonic. At the end of the day, both lenses did just fine and I would be 100% happy with either though the Panasonic does indeed have more micro contrast and a slightly sharper image. In other words, it is still the overall best 25mm lens for the Micro 4/3 system by a slight margin. 

After the hour walk I ended up with 16 shots, four more than the limit I tried to set but that was because I just was not finding my groove due to way too much visual overload! Some of the other guys had the same problem. I ended up liking 12 of shots and threw away 4 of them. Nothing special but it sure was a very VISUAL hour :) I decided to convert them all with VSCO to B&W so the grain you see is from the filters.

If anyone here ever finds themselves in Las Vegas then I urge you to take a little adventure off of the strip to Fremont Street..but be prepared for some wild times, especially on weekends!

Click on the images for larger versions!

On Fremont Street people are partying everywhere..drinking, dancing, street performers and a huge mix of people from all over the world. 

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Below is Michael from our group and I asked him to stand with the nuns for this shot. On Fremont street you can forget about morality :) 

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A street performer who was amazingly good. I squatted down to his level and shot between some guys legs for this shot taken with the Olympus 25. When shooting someone down below you, it is usually best to get down to their level for the image.

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More street performers. On Fremont if you see anyone dressed up that means you can get a photo with them but they WILL want a few bucks for this, so be prepared to pay!

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There are always loads of cameras and photos being taken so this is one destination where you do not have to be afraid to take the shot..

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There are even photo opps OFF of Frenont. This was a burger truck called “FUKU” with the slogan of “Get Lucky”. After taking a shot of the full truck I decided to get close and get the attention of the girl working the truck. When she looked, I snapped. 

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Even with all of the booze, the half naked women and men, the strip clubs and the craziness there are people of ALL ages who come to see the spectacle. From young to old..

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This guy who dresses as cupid yells out sexual comments to anyone walking buy and he has been on Fremont for a long time now..get your picture with this scary looking cupid and you will get to put a couple of dollars in his diaper.

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The last shot I took that night  - the crowd and a dancer in the background who dances on a bar to attract people to buy some alcohol

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Feb 242014
 

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Quick Comparison: Olympus 25 1.8 vs Panasonic 25 1.4

So here is the much asked for comparison of the $399 Olympus 25 1.8 vs the $129 more expensive 25 1.4 for Micro 4/3. Besides the slight speed increase of 1.4 vs 1.8, what does the Panasonic offer you for the extra $129..or should I say what DOESNT it offer?

I have shot with them side by side for a few days and found that they are VERY close in regards to image quality/sharpness. So close in fact that if I were buying new today I would buy the Olympus if I was using an Olympus Micro 4/3 camera. It seems to be just as good, it focuses fast, is smaller, and has no issues on the Olympus bodies. Below are a few quick comparison shots so you can judge for yourself.

The test images below.. you can right-click and open them in a new tab or window to see the full size file.

1st, Olympus 25 1.8 with the E-M1 at 1.8, wide open

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Now the Panasonic 25 1.4 at 1.8 on the E-M1

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and the crops..

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The Panasonic is slightly sharper here but not by much at all. To me, the benefits of the Olympus ($129 less, smaller, faster AF, silent focus, more neutral color) beat out that small miniscule sharpness difference.

and speaking of sharpness, here is a full size shot from the E-M1 and 25 1.8 – right-click and open in a new window to see the full size image (from RAW). This was shot at f/2.5.

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Feb 222014
 

My Budget m4/3 Eurotrip 2013 with the Olympus E-PL1

By Igor Kolonic

Last summer, after years of postponing, two friends and I finally decided to go on a trip across Europe. With the amazing Interrail train ticket it was possible to see a lot of amazing places in short amount of time. We went for 10 days and started in Austria and went all the way to Frankfurt, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, Berlin and Prag.

I developed my interest in photography a few years back, and started with lomography and polaroid pictures but soon moved to the Olympus m4/3 system. I was never a fan of huge DSLRs so the PEN series was a real refreshment. Two years ago I bought an E-PL1 with the kit lens (14-42mm) and soon after that the amazing Oly 45mm1.8 lens. I wanted to travel as light as possible and give myself an additional challenge so I decided to take only the 45mm lens with me. At first it was quite strange shooting at this focal length all the time but after a couple of hours shooting with it I started being comfortable with it. Although there were a few missed shots due to the camera which is rather outdated compared to everything else on the current market, I was still really satisfied with the results from a combination which is now available for less than 300 euros ( cca. 400 USD )

The whole trip was an amazing experience and I can really recommend everyone to try it at least once. The Interrail tickets are really affordable and the trains in central Europe are extremely comfortable and fast way to travel, besides, you get to see all the beautiful landscapes when travelling by train. So here are some of my favorite shots from the trip:

 

1 & 2 Since I’m an architecture student I really enjoyed all the amazing architecture in Amsterdam and loved taking detail shots of the buildings.

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3 & 4 Amsterdam really is a city of bicycles, it’s hard to imagine how much bicycles there’s in the city until you see it yourself.

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5 One of my favorite shots from the trip, we were enjoying a break in the park when this guy decided to take a break from the everyday struggles. He sat nearby, lit up his cigarette and started reading his comic book.

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6 Vintage cars and motorcycles are also a quite common thing to see while walking around Amsterdam.

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7 Couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of these tourists.

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8 When you’re in Amsterdam don’t miss the opportunity to rent a bike and take a ride through the city!

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9 Loved how surreal the scene looked – an artificial “hill” next to the amazing “Stedelijk Museum” in front of some historical buildings.

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10&11 M. Enjoying the ride through the city.

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12 Some typical Amsterdam architecture.

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13 I was actually pleasantly surprised that E-PL1 could handle moments like this.

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14 I. sitting at the amazing Holocaust Memorial in Berlin by Peter Eisenman. 

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15 Street musician at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

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16 Visiting the New National Gallery by Mies van der Rohe was a must! At the time we were there it was hosting an sculpture exhibition.

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17 M. and I. enjoying a beer in the Kreuzberg area in Berlin 

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18 M. writing “Ich bin ein Berliner” in his sketchbook.

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19 M. waiting for the late night train to Prag in Cottbus (Germany)

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I hope you enjoyed the photos, I didn’t bother putting any technical details about them since there isn’t anything new about the camera or lens I was using. For me photography is about telling a story so the “tool” I’m using has to be simple and intuitive as possible, otherwise you could forget that you’re the part of the story you’re taking the photo of. For the next trip I really hope I’ll manage to get the Fuji x100s since I realized that I don’t really have the need to have multiple lenses and really could use a viewfinder.

Thank you for your time!

Igor Kolonic

Feb 192014
 

The Olympus 25 1.8 Lens is in hand, review in about a week!

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Hey hey hey! Just a heads up that I have been shooting the now shipping Olympus 25 1.8 lens and it is a beauty on the Olympus E-M1. Many have been wondering how it stacks up against the Panasonic 25 1.4 and all I can go from is memory right now as I do not have a Panasonic here with me now. I feel the Panasonic may be a TEENY BIT sharper when wide open but do not think most would notice. The Panasonic may be a little more contrasty out of camera. Other than that the Olympus is smaller, focuses faster, is silent and looks sweet on the camera. and is VERY sharp as it is.

Oh, and it is also cheaper than the Panasonic at $399! Amazon has it in stock HERE in black. if you own the Panasonic already I see no need to switch but if you have not picked up a fast 50mm equiv for your Micro 4/3 yet, this is the best bet. It even comes with a lens hood for a change!

The signature of the 25 1.8 is identical to the 45 1.8 from Olympus and they share the same formula. I will be shooting it this weekend at the Valley of Fire workshop so will have my full review up next week sometime. I have a feeling it will be a highly recommended lens though as I already love it. There really is nothing to dislike with this one! Below are a few snaps I shot in the past couple of days. As you can see, it retains the look of the high quality Olympus primes. Oh, and it has a nice close focus distance!

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Feb 122014
 

New Olympus 7-14 2.8 PRO and 300 f/4 PRO Announced!

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It seems that at least every week or two we hear of something new in the camera world. The funny thing is I only report on a small percent of it! I talk about those products that are interesting to me and the readers here and there is still an endless stream of products to report on.

Olympus is once again paving the way and providing those who invested in the amazing E-M1 with a couple of rewards :) TWO new pro lenses. The 7-14 Wide Angle F/2.8 Zoom and the 300mm f/4 prime (600mm equivalent). These are both PRO lenses and will be dust and weatherproof with all of the good stuff that normally comes along with these great Olympus lenses (Image quality, pristine build and feel..oh and probably a big price tag).

Olympus promised new pro glass, and they seem to be delivering. These new lenses are expected to ship in 2015 so we have a while to go but at least we know what is on the way! The new 12-40 is already out and gaining rave reviews (my review is coming soon) so with these two lenses one would have a nice pro 3 lens kit. 7-14, 12-40 and 300 offering a 14-28, 24-80 and 600mm equivalent. There is also the 40-150 2.8 PRO scheduled to be released THIS year giving an 80-300 Equivalent.

Oly knows how to make fantastic lenses. Now I wonder what they have in store for us in 2015 in regards to a new pro body? Will they have an E-M1 successor already or will they wait a while?

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From Olympus…

“The first interchangeable lens of this series, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO is already available while its successor, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm 1:2.8 PRO, is scheduled to go on sale in the second half of 2014. The final two Olympus system lenses in the M.ZUIKO PRO quartet, covering everything from super wide angle to super telephoto, are currently under development. Both new lenses are scheduled to be released from 2015 onwards. More details will be announced prior to the launch.”

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