Jul 232014
 

Japan with the OM-D M5 and FT-lenses

By Ingo Socha

Dear Brandon and Steve,

a carpenter in a small workshop in Kyoto, an ebullient shipyard worker, who took me for a ride, the smell of incense at Kompirasan – the reward for traveling, traveling not with the latest equipment, but with gear that allows room in the budget for the trip. A while ago your reader Etienne Schoettel wrote about „The best camera ever“ and argued that it was worthwhile to put money in travels rather than in gear — I could not agree more. As for me, I always wanted to go Japan and experience the country, Tokyo‘s buzz, Kyoto‘s temples and – the country side.

So this year I went on my dream trip: 11 days and 2.500,00 Euro is what I could shell out from the family budget and other responsibilities. Since I did not want to carry my trusty, but heavy Olympus E-3 along, I went out and bought an OM-D M5. After some consideration I decided on the Viltrox-Adapter to go with it, rather than the Olympus original (www.viltrox.com). During the entire trip I have not had any problems with the non-brand adapter. Of course the AF is not as snappy as with the original lenses, but it still works fine, at least with the lenses I used (all Four Thirds lenses rather than Micro Four Thirds):

* Olympus 14-54mm, 1:2.8-3.6
* Olympus 40-150mm, 1:3.5,-4.5 (don‘t smirk, this lens is very usable)
* Sigma 30mm, 1:1.4 (my favourite)

The Sigma I like to focus manually anyway.

I shoot RAW and process all pictures with Capture One. For black and white conversions I use DxO-Filmpack 4 mostly with Agfa APX 25 or Ilford Pan F 50 emulations. The APX is what I liked to use when I was shooting film.

Why aren‘t there any cars driving by Tokyo station? I don‘t know. While I was standing on the roof of the Kitte-Mall, I suddenly realized this was the moment — when the light turned green, traffic quickly spilled back into the place. The second b/w picture is the carpenter I already mentioned (I could not figure out what he was working on and my Japanese was just enough to ask if it was ok to take a picture). The only light source was a tiny desk lamp — with f/2.8 and 1/60 still decent results, I think. DxO throws in a little grain which camouflages sensor noise nicely.

And the girls? They dressed up to lure tourists into taking pictures and talking to them — which in my case worked fine.

www.flickr.com/photos/ingosocha

Ingo Socha, Lübeck

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flickr.com/ingosocha

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Jul 212014
 

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The Olympus OMD-EM1 goes to Spain

by Neil Buchan-Grant

I have a few pictures I thought your readers may like to see, taken over two trips to Spain and Italy this year. These were all shot with the Olympus OMD EM1 camera, lenses specified below. I am still using the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH, currently on the Sony A7, but in general I find the OMD to be the camera I reach for first.

The first visit was to the village of Vejer de la Frontera near Seville in Spain. This hilltop pueblo blanco remains quite unspoilt compared to the towns on the costas further east. I was there to shoot the Feria, a 5 day-long party with fairgrounds, displays of prize cattle, equestrian displays, flamenco dancing, live music and many hospitality tents where everyone is welcome. Vejer is a special place anyone who wants to experience the real Spain should have on their list.

My second trip was to Venice where I and the professional landscape photographer Steve Gosling, ran a workshop for 9 students who came from all over Europe to learn about landscape and people photography. Steve concentrated mostly on the landscape and architecture and I focussed on the street photography and model portraits. This was an Olympus sponsored workshop so most of the students were using OMD cameras. It was a punishing schedule as Steve was up at the crack of dawn and the day would finish quite late, often followed by communal food and drinks!

Andalusia Spain – Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f2.8 23mm) This shot was made with the aid of a polarising filter in the village of Vejer de la Frontera near Seville. Its a traditional village but this is one of their newer buildings.

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Andalusia Spain – Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f4 12mm) This is Canos de Meca beach, which is about 15 minutes from Vejer de la Frontera, also made with a polarising filter.

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Andalusia Spain – Pana-Leica DG25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) This chap was visiting the Vejer annual ‘Feria’ a post easter spring celebration which combines music and dance with horse and bull displays.

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Andalusia Spain – Pana-Leica DG25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) The Paul Newman of cats! in the back street of Vejer de la Frontera

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Venice Italy – Olympus 45mm 1.8 (at 1.8) Professional model and television presenter Chiara Sgarbossa wearing her own Venetian mask, maintains her composure as she is surrounded by hoards of tourists during our shoot in Piazza San Marco.

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Venice Italy – Olympus 75mm 1.8 (at f1.8 1/30s handheld ISO 2000) A romantic moment caught at around midnight in the dimly lit Piazza San Marco

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4, 1/8000 with 3 stop ND) This shot was made through the window of a Vaparetto water bus stop.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Model and 3rd year law student Ira Lothiriel is captured in the basement of an old venetian house with natural light spilling in from the canal.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Model Chiara Sgarbossa was laughing because the gondoliers below the bridge we were shooting on were serenading her. She handled their advances with movie star charm!

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) This charismatic lady was looking around the superb Irving Penn exhibition at Palazzo Grassi. The large windows in here were covered in white muslin making huge softboxes!

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Ira Lothiriel in one of the sun-drenched squares, lit with a reflector.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Chiara Sgarbossa lit with a reflector

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Venice Italy – Olympus 75mm 1.8 (at f1.8) A wedding shoot in Piazza San Marco and a generous model/bride

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Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f2.8 40mm) On old lady taking some shade near Piazza San Marco as others are served iced tea.

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Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (at f2.8 12mm) This man was seen in Piazza San Marco at 5.30am, an Italian you’d think, but no, he was a Londoner killing time until his flight home that day.

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) This man was very keen to help me scout for locations to shoot in. Nothing to do with the beautiful model that I was with of course!..:)

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f3.2) This Chihuahua was wary of my lens!

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Model Chiara Sgarbossa shot in a Venice alleyway, with the help of a reflector

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Venice Italy – Pana-Leica DG 25mm 1.4 (at f1.4) Ira Lothiriel posing on one of the many bridges that span the back streets of Venice

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Neil Buchan-Grant
http://buchangrant.com/
British Travel Press Photographer of the Year

Jul 142014
 

My favorite cameras for usability, ability and versatility mid 2014

By Steve Huff

Wow. It is already mid 2014. Half of this year has whizzed by faster than ever and as always we have a ton of cameras that we can choose from when it comes to photography. If we want something small that packs a punch, we have that. If we want something for low light, we have that as well. If we want something that is a joy to shoot, hold and use, well, we also have that. Do we have it all in one single camera yet? Well, not really.

There are always new camera seeing released though maybe not as many as the years past. DSLR production, as in new models, has seemed to slow down some from the constant barrage of new models that we used to see. Well, at least it seems like it. Even mirrorless offerings seem to be lasting a little longer between releases these days, and this is GOOD as we are at the point now where almost any camera will give us better results than most of us even need.

So far in 2014 we have had some cool releases and there are still fantastic cameras that were released in the past that are still perfectly usable. The question you need to ask yourself when deciding on a new camera is “What will I be shooting with it”, also “Do I value usability more than overall versatility”? “Will I be shooting mostly low light or in good light”? “Does it need to fit in my pocket”?

Once you decide what it is you want to use the camera for, be it portraits, your kids, vacations, or just an everyday shooter then you need to decide if you want simplicity in a fixed lens model or something that will allow you to choose and change lenses. The choice is yours as there is something out there to fit your needs, and I am going to talk about the cameras I like as of July 2014 with the reasons WHY I really like, if not love them.

My fave cameras made for Versatility

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Micro 4/3, Olympus E-M and E-P series

My favorite camera for ALL OUT versatility as of today is still the Olympus E-M1 or even E-P5. These cameras are beautifully made with a solid feel and gorgeous looks (in the case of the E-P5). They have some of the best lenses made for any system next to Leica from fisheye to telephoto and everything in between including some super fast primes like the Nocticron f/1.2 that is one of the best lenses I have ever used. With Micro 4/3 you have speed, you have the lenses, you have the build, you have the amazing 5-AXIS Image Stabilization and you have a smaller size. The lenses are so good, and not so astronomically priced. The color reproduction is beautiful and the B&W is not too shabby either. A camera like the E-M1 has it all and the only real weakness of this camera is that the sensor is smaller than full frame and smaller than APS-C. For this reason you lose out on some shallow depth of field and the images will be a bit more noisy at high ISO than full frame cameras.

Even so, if you shoot mostly in good light and want one hell of a system with unlimited lens choice and an all around great experience with pro image quality results, the E-M1 is still a gorgeous camera. The E-M10 and E-M5 are as well. I reviewed them all and you can read my reviews of these models HERE, HERE and HERE. Yes, you can indeed get DSLR quality and beyond with these models.

You can buy the E-M1 at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Three from Micro 4/3 – Super versatile cameras that do it all. 

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My fave camera for Point & Shoot, Vacation and SMALL SIZE!

Sony takes it here for me with the new advanced pocket rocket, the RX100 III. 

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The new Sony RX100 III is a hell of a camera in almost every way. It is small, made very well, has a pop up EVF, tilt LCD and stellar IQ for a small pocket camera. It’s a handsome camera as well and gives us an f/1.8 to f/2.8 lens from 24-70 (ff equiv). What is not to like? The color is great. the files are nice and I have seen some do amazing work with the RX100 version 1 and now Version III improves on that model in every way. This is, hands down, the best pocket camera I have ever seen or used, ever. Video is good as well. It does it all but will not give you the all out versatility or IQ of something like a Micro 4/3 or full frame model. For what it is though, it is the perfect camera for every day shooting, vacation, kids, family, events, etc. Whoever buys an RX100 III will not be disappointed. It is the real deal. I have been able to use one for a but thanks to B&H Photo but have not had serious time yet with it. Will be doing that this week. You can buy the RX100 III at B&H Photo or Amazon.

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My Fave camera for Usability

Without Question, the Leica M reigns supreme here

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The Leica M, any of them from film to the M 240 or Monochrom take this one for me in a huge way. These cameras are ones that you cherish and create an emotional bond with. For those who think that is nonsense, then you have never had that bond with a camera, and yes, it is real. The Leica M is a masterpiece of design, build, and usability. All manual focus using a rangefinder it is a very precision tool that actually can teach you a think or two about photography, framing and exposure. It is a tool one can use for a lifetime if you choose a film model, as they last forever. While the price is off-putting to many, think about it in a new way. This is a camera that will give you the most enjoyment from any camera ever..well, it has for me and not everyone is the same. From the moment you take it from its box all of your regrets of the money spent fade away.

The Leica M6, M7, MP, M8, M9, M240 and Mono will give you that Leica experience that no other camera will give you. As for IQ, others can meet or exceed the Leica in that area but nothing can beat it for usability or for creating that emotional connection. You can buy a Leica from many places these days but my faves have always been Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop and Leica Store Miami. These guys will treat you right.

Three from the Leica M 240

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My favorite camera for general every day and low light use

The Sony A7s wins this one easily. 

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You guys know how much I adore the Sony A7s and while it is not the most versatile (only due to lack of native lenses when compared to others such as Micro 4/3) camera it is indeed quite powerful. There is no low light situation that this camera can not tackle, period. When used with the 50 0.95 Mitakon I can see in the dark and when used with the native Sony lenses such as the 35 2.8 or 55 1.8 the camera will even AF in the dark. Amazing. The A7 also has better color performance than the A7 and A7r , better AWB, faster AF and better M mount lens compatibility. You can read my review here to see what it is all about but I now have one of these bad boys with a few lenses and love it to pieces. As I said in the review, the A7s is probably puns for pound, dollar for dollar my favorite camera that I have ever reviewed.

Low light shooters, this is a must try or own. The camera also is excellent in daytime shots and video. If more native lenses were around it would be unbeatable for me as of July 2014.

You can buy the A7s at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Three from the A7s, 1st one using the Voigtlander 35 1.2 wide open and a 100% OOC JPEG. 2nd one is from the Mitakon 50 0.95 and third and fourth is from the Zeiss 50 Sonnar 1.5. 

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Runner Ups

The Fuji X-T1 and Leica T are also very cool and very capable cameras. The Leica is different than other cameras in its interface and joy of use. It is a Leica and gives you the Leica style of IQ and pride of ownership. The Fuji is still a lightweight in the build but for Fuji fans, this is the best of the lot when it comes to Fuji interchangeable lens bodies.

Of course these are not the only cameras I like, but they are my faves as of July 2014. The Sony, the Leica, the Olympus..all superb in so many ways and unlikely  to leave anyone disappointed as long as you use them with good glass. The key is to get out and use them (for me it has been tough since it has been 110-112 every day and me and extreme oven like heat do not jive well for more than 5-10 minutes) and have fun using what you do own. The key is you more than anything, not the gear..though I admit..it is very fun to test and try new cameras!

Jul 102014
 

The Urban Jungle with an OMD E-M5

By Matt Stetson

Hey Steve and Brandon,

I was introduced to your site by a friend almost 3 years ago and have rarely missed a day since. My name is Matt Stetson I live just outside of Toronto Ontario Canada.

I got into photography around 6 years ago when I broke my wrist snowboarding. I wasn’t going to be able to ride for a while so I figured the next best thing would be to take photos of all my friends who could. The more I shot the more I really began to enjoy photography and the whole process. After a few years of acquiring gear and experience I started to get published in magazines.

My favorite type of skateboard and snowboard photography is when it happens in the streets. Each and every city is a concrete playground and it’s always exciting to see how athletes interpret different features. I love how street style photography is similar. Each city is its own “Urban Jungle”. It’s always interesting to see how people act and react within their environment.

I was introduced to street photography mainly through this site. The more street style images I saw the more I began to really love the genre. I love all of the textures, shapes, architecture, and people you can encounter on any given day walking through a metropolis. Also I love how that same place can be so greatly different from day-to-day depending on weather, time and season.

After many hours reading reviews on this site I decided to buy an Olympus OMD EM5 with the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 and Oly 45mm 1.8. The smaller lightweight body and lenses are just way less intimidating while walking down the street. I don’t get the crazy large files that I do with my 5D MKII but I don’t need them for this application. I also love taking it to family events and vacation/trips. The size is just not a factor, so the camera fits wherever I have space left over, instead of having to create space for my camera gear.

I would love to share a skateboard and snowboard photo, as well as a few of my favorite street images. I really appreciate all the great content and inspiration that you guys post. I hope that I can be a part of it. You can also check out my website here: www.stetzphoto.wix.com/mattstetson

Thanks
Matt Stetson

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Jul 092014
 

An Introduction to Light Painting

by Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald

As photographers, we know that our craft is all about light. We chase the golden hours of morning and evening, and the blue hour of twilight, and we spend hours in the studio with strobes and Speedlights. But there is another genre of photography you can explore where light isn’t used only to enhance the scene; rather, it BECOMES the scene.

This is what happens when light becomes the scene:

©2013 Jamie A. MacDonald

What does it take to start light painting? Nothing more than your camera, a source of light and your imagination. Here is a basic list of tools to get you started in light painting:

• A camera capable of shooting in manual mode. If you’re an extreme beginner, don’t worry – shooting in manual is easy for this!
• A tripod or some other way to stabilize your camera during the exposure.
• A cable release or remote for your camera. If you do NOT have one, don’t worry! I explain a technique below for shooting without one!
• A light source. What kind? Pretty much anything that produces light can be used! Some examples of things I’ve used are LED flashlights, an iPhone, sparklers, glow sticks and bracelets, and one of my favorites is a set of battery-powered holiday lights!

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Now that we have the gear ready, let’s go shoot!

Step 1: The first thing we need to do is find a good location, preferably away from any other light sources. The reason we prefer a location without too much ambient light is that, during our long exposure, this ambient light may overexpose our scene. If possible, I also suggest using a location that will add interest to your image.

Step 2: Let’s start by putting our camera on the tripod and setting the camera to manual mode. I will give you some settings to start with and offer some suggestions on adjustments you can make if need be. You will also need to set your camera to manual focus. This is important because autofocus in the dark just isn’t going to cut it.

Step 3: With the camera in manual mode, we can set the ISO to 100–200, aperture to f/8, and you can control your exposure time by using your camera’s bulb mode. If your camera doesn’t have a bulb mode, I suggest setting the exposure to 30 or 60 seconds and using the camera’s timer function to trigger the shutter. The length of the exposure will depend on how much time is needed to perform the painting. Some images I’ve created took 15 minutes, others only 30 seconds or so.

Step 4: Another thing we need to do is make sure we turn off any type of anti-vibration system your camera or lens may have. If left on when mounted to a tripod, it can produce some not-so-sharp results.

Step 5: Finally, the last thing we have to do is focus our camera on the location where the light painting will take place. The easiest way to do this is to have a friend stand in the location you’ll be photographing and have them shine a flashlight on themselves. When they are illuminated, you can then easily fine-tune your focus on them.

Step 6: Get the person who is going to be doing the light painting out in position with their tools and tell them to start moving on a count of three, waving around their flashlight, LED light or whatever you are using. One…Two…THREE! Now trigger your shutter and let the long exposure begin.

Step 7: When the shutter closes, the light painter can stop dancing around and come see what was created. If you are using a cable release or remote, you can end the exposure at any time. But what if you’re alone? Or what if you don’t have a remote or cable release? No problem! Trigger the shutter and run out into position to paint. I have used this technique many times myself with great, if not tiring, results.

©2013 Jamie A. MacDonald

Now if all that waving the lights around seems a little random and abstract, it is. But when you see the results of the random movements, you may find that they are exactly what you wanted. If random isn’t what you’re after and you’d prefer a more controlled use of light painting, an easy way to start is by using a flashlight to “paint” an object during your long exposure.

The best advice I can give you is to pass on that given to me by the gentleman who got me started in light painting. He told me the best thing I could do once I had the basic settings figured out was to ask myself, “What if?” Almost all of my light-painting images started out with me asking myself those very words.

So go out into the night, have fun, and, most importantly, ask yourself, “What if?”

Jamie MacDonald

Jul 042014
 

Death Valley with the EM1

By Goran Nikolic

WARNING Long intro =)

I am one of those guys that bought a good (canon 1100d) camera when he got kids too make good pictures of them while they are growing up. However, I was not aware of the d@mn possible photography addiction. They should come boxed with a clear warning, WARNING possible photography addiction (stage 1) followed by the more serious G.A.S. (stage 2) hehe :). I really liked taking pictures from the start and took the camera everywhere with me, everything was fine until I hit stage 2 of my addiction…

When I got struck with G.A.S. I told myself that I absolutely had to have a full frame camera, the main reason why my images were simply snapshots was because I did not have a fullframe camera with a 2.8 zoom and an awesome prime… So I saved up and got the Nikon D700 followed by a Nikon D800 (obviously! I mean come on… they were still snapshots I needed more Megapixels! That was the problem off course).

For some reason yet unknown to me I could not make a sharp picture with the D800 unless I used a tripod! It obviously was Nikon’s fault… so I switched to the Canon 6D because obviously Canon is far superior… I think by now you can image that I really had a bad case of G.A.S. and that my wallet was shrinking faster then that I could fill it up :). But it did not end here! Oh no… the next problem for my ‘dull’ images was obviously the big and heavy DSLR, so I got a Fuji XE-1 haha, yeah…. I know what you are thinking, dude what the…..?

So you would think thats it! He got the Fuji and this post would be full with Fuji pictures and those awesome fuji colours. Sadly no, I was used to some amazing DSLR’s and that little Fuji frustrated the hell out of me, it was a love/hate relationship because the images it chunked out were amazing! This was the first camera I was actually happy with the JPG images! If I could get the damn thing to focus… even with all the updates (why aren’t all companies like Fuji in this department?).

Luckily for me this was the end of the line and I saw that I was way to focussed on the equipment and not on the actual images that I made with them (or the experience!). I have had some great and amazing keepers from all of them but I went too far and had to stop (……. year right… by now you probably figured out that my wife got fed up with my gear obsession and told me to stop haha :). So I sold everything! I was actually quite amazed by the amount of money I was able to get back when I sold it all (except for the Fuji), the loss was actually limited to a few hundred euro’s (phew!).

I then spend almost three months to find the camera that would suit me best, and eventually ended up with the EM1, after having tried the camera a few times (even had it on loan for a few weeks) I decided to buy it with just one lens (the kit 12-40 zoom, probably should not call this a kit lens?), this report is my first experience with the camera (and next to that it is also the first time I am sharing my pictures outside of my friends and family too!).

Wow, now that was a large intro right? Well sorry for that :) but this was the path to ‘my style’ of photography. Through that process I learned that I was not a pro photographer, and it also is not my goal in life to become one. I just like to take pictures from time to time. So when a friend asked me whether I wanted to go to vegas with him (and leave our wifes at home) I obviously thought about the great pictures I could take with my new OM-D :) haha.

We took a plane from Amsterdam to LA (yes I am from the land of Heineken) and after a flight of almost 11 hours we rented a car to drive to Vegas. Not just any car….no no, a mustang convertable! Now I think that for Americans this is not really that special because they are quite common in the US, however Europeans love the idea of driving on the truly amazing roads (sorry have to exclude LA here….. that was no fun at all) in the US with either a Harley or a Mustang.

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After a rather long drive mostly due to the some brutal LA traffic jams we finally made it to Vegas and checked in at our hotel. And Vegas was …. well yeah I did not make a lot of pictures in Vegas hehe. Man what a place!

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But during the day I really had to buy a baseball cap for myself (I wear glasses and did not have my sunglasses with me) because the sun was really not what I was used to. Here in the Netherlands we are happy if we get 3 weeks of sun per year! It was a Yankees cap by the way which cause everybody to yell go Yankees at me, quite an experience :).

But what I did noticed was that the camera was actually handling itself pretty good! Both during the day was well as by night! That image stabilization is quite magical. The image of the new york new york resort was shot hand-held (1/60th @ 5000 ISO) and still looks pretty clean and sharp! I do not really use a lot of noise reduction because I also quite like the grain structure of the EM1, its pleasant, I think that maybe due to the high pixel density but I am not sure what contributes to the grain structure. Also when printed below A4 you see almost no noise at all.

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This image below I call arty farty, it was a bit of an experiment. We sat down for a moment to enjoy the awesome cars that were passing (camaro, mustang, charger, and more! Wauw!) that I just thought I would try something out, after freezing my brain with a slushy. So I stacked my ND filters (10 stop + 3 stop), set the camera to its lowest native ISO (200) and stopped down as far as I could (F22) and saw that still I only got a 5 second exposure (was hoping for 20+)… thats how bright the sun was that day! It was pretty easy to set the camera up and change all the settings without using any menus. I really love all the various dials and buttons that I can completely setup to my own preference.

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After a few days started passing by we noticed that Vegas was quite EXPENSIVE! Yes you would think that we could have expected that, and we did, but a few ice-cold beers @ twin peaks can do strange things to your brain :). So we decided to do some sight-seeing. One day we decided to go to death valley, so we packed the car with water and were off. Again the roads, it is simply stunning to drive on roads with amazing views for hours with only seeing a few cars pass by. So I could not resist to stop from time to time to take some pictures of the road! Which drove my buddy to insanity since we kept stopping so I could take another picture of the road… again and again … and again haha

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What really impressed me about the EM1 was also how it handled in the desert, and how it handled the images in the harsh sun (this is also dynamic range right?)! Wish I was as resilient as the EM1! When we first arrived in death valley and stopped for the first sight, I saw a small hill and thought ow man that looks amazing (actually that was what I said for the entire route because everything was amazing!). I decided to run up there to take some pics…. yeah people told me death valley was hot…. but damn… hot does not give it credit! I now know how a burger feels on the grill. Anyway, I made it up the hill but I felt like I was baking in an oven! I couldn’t breath and everything in front of me started turning white! So my first priority was to drink drink and get my ass back to the car and turn on the AC. My buddy was actually quite worried and told me afterwards that I really did not look so well haha but after some AC time and one of the best hot dogs I ever had @ Furnace Creek and about 6 or 7 liters of water I luckily felt much better. When we walked back to the car I saw the thermometer outside read 120 degrees! So I took it a bit easier from then on and took my time (and had even more water!) :).

We unfortunately did not have a lot of time in death valley itself, we had to get back in time, so we decided to pick a few points to go to and then drive back to Vegas. We stopped at Rhyolite (ok not really death valley but close enough) to see a real ghost town, and it was pretty cool to see how people in the area lived once. Images were made on a tripod.

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After Rhyolite we stopped @ Beatty (errr did time stop there?) for some gas (GAS! you get it? probably not the best of jokes….) and then drove back through death valley. Up until Zabriskie Point I didn’t make a lot of pictures at all. The scenery was so amazing that I was enjoying every bit of it. It is such an amazing place that I really hope I can go back to one day and spend a bit more time there to see more of it.

By the time we got to Zabriskie Point the sun started to set and I started to walk around in search of different perspectives. At first I thought damn… how can I make some landscape shots without having all those tourist in my pictures! Haha great isn’t it… a tourist that is taking pictures that is saying that about other tourist that are also trying to get the same pictures :). Anyway after a few attempts I got these shots. A small warning though! I like colors! COLORS!!! I like them but I can imagine that some might find it a bit too much :).

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But after making them I felt something was missing. I really liked the pictures even though I still think they did not do the scenery justice because that truly was AMAZING! Wow the colors and the mountains and patterns… just wow nothing more to say! Really have to go back there one day. But back to the pictures :), I felt something was missing, but then I saw a few girls sitting down near where I was taking shot nr. 4. And then I though but what if I include them in my shot? Would that be better?

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And there it was…. my favorite shot of the day :). How such a small element can make such a big difference, I like the fact that one of the girls just made a picture and is showing it to her neighbour. Now most probably not everybody will agree with me here but I really thought that including them in the shot gave a totally new feel to the image. I also tried zooming in a bit and getting a closer shot of the amazing sunset and the four girls enjoying the view but I still thought the first shot worked better for me.

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That was it! Our day in death valley with probably the biggest intro this blog has ever had! Sorry about that :), but I wanted to share my experiences and share that for me having better gear did not increase my joy in photography. I truly love making pictures, but I love doing it because it gives me the opportunity to freeze time. To hold a moment in my live that I wish to remember, to have images that can trigger my memories, that can take me back to the time when I made them and relive the moments I experienced. The gear I used to make the images with will most probably fade from my memory since they are not a real part of my experience (more of a supporting element). So what worked for me is to have a tool that is the most complete package for me. Good image quality, good build (I did not have a single speck of dust on my sensor using that 12-40 zoom lens!) but most importantly that I can operate with joy. I wanted a camera that I did not have to think much about when using it, and for me I found everything that I need in the EM1 and cured my G.A.S. to a certain amount as well. I say to a certain amount because I am looking forward to that 7-14 zoom from Olympus :).

I also do not really worry about the camera because it is built like a tank. I dropped it a few times (it has a few chips on the bottom), spilled some lemon water over it and banged it into several people while walking the streets. But I’m not really bothered with it because I know it will survive, which gives me piece of mind as well. And it was this blog that got this camera to my attention. Thank you both Steve and all of your readers for that because I found a piece of equipment that gives me a great deal of satisfaction and helped me to focus more on the images then on the gear I use to make them. I even shoot more pics with my phone now, which I never did before because of the ‘inferior’ quality of the photo’s. In the end it’s all about the moment and what that moment captured does for you, what feeling it gives you, and possibly even what memories it relives for you if it is a personal photograph. I got that now :).
I hope you will like (some of) my images, my style of editing and have enjoyed my first ever photography related article! I thought about also adding a few more details about how I processed my images but I think I will not bore you with those details :).

Now obviously while driving back to Vegas…. I still drove my buddy nuts (yes again… sorry mate!) by stopping constantly to take pictures of the road! Amazing roads!!!!

Thanks for reading!

GN.

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Jul 032014
 

From DSLR to Micro 4/3

By Paul Liu

In 2013, when my trusty (and luckily insured) Canon 7D and associated lenses were stolen in Rome, I was fairly devastated. However, taking the positive approach, I saw great opportunity to finally ditch the SLR and replace it with something more to my liking. While the 7D was always reliable and took great photos, it was a hulking, heavy beast of a camera that used hulking, heavy lenses that I simply no longer wanted to carry.

After much deliberation and a lot of help from this website, I picked up an Olympus OMD EM10. For lenses, I chose the Olympus 17mm f1.8 and 45mm f1.8 and a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye as a budget wide-angle. With these, I returned to Europe with new determination, firstly to not get robbed and secondly to learn this new camera system and get some great shots.

My trip was an overland train journey along the old Orient Express, starting in Munich and ending in Istanbul. With so many towns, train stations and exchanges along the way, travelling light was crucial to everything going smoothly and enjoyably and I was always thankful that the whole system was light and fit in a small shoulder pouch rather than taking up half a backpack.

While out shooting, the small size of the camera was a huge liberating. I found that compared to carrying the SLR around, I took far more photos. There were far less instances where I would photo with my smart phone while the big camera sat in the backpack, too large and cumbersome to take out. Instead, I could forget about the smartphone and pull out the OMD, often stashed in a jacket pocket with the compact 17mm attached, and shoot away.

But what surprised me the most was how little of the SLR experience I actually missed. A few small points of anxiety regarding speed and control that I had disappeared as soon as I came to grips with the OMD. When compared to the Canon 7D, the OMD was equally responsive, there was no real discernible difference in focus speed and the EVF was so good that I never missed the optical viewfinder. Finally, any potential pitfalls of have a smaller sensor size were safely negated by the faster lenses I used with the Olympus.

For the first time whilst travelling, my camera was a no longer hindrance that I had to endure to get the shot. Instead, it was something that I truly enjoyed carrying around and shooting with. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that having my camera stolen was the best thing to ever happen for my photography, but as a blessing in disguise, it was certainly a big one. For those still contemplating a switch, my message would be to do it as soon as possible and never look back.

Thank you for allowing me to contribute to your fantastic website. More photos from this and other trips can be found on my Tumblr and website at www.sevenyearsinadvertising.com.

Photo 1 – Parliament in Budapest

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Photo 2 – Carpathian Mountains in Romania

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Photo 3 – Small town pub in Austria

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Photo 4 – Pumakkale calcium deposits in Turkey

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Photo 5 – Fisherman in Istanbul

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Photo 6 – Dancing in the street in Istanbul

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Jun 072014
 

A new medium: the Olympus E-P3’s Grainy Film Filter

By James McGirk

A new medium: the Olympus E-P3’s Grainy Film Filter

My grandmother passed away last year and left me with a leather scrapbook containing snapshots of her first voyage abroad, into the Amazonian jungle (where my grandfather was an oil finder for Texaco). At the time, my wife and I had just moved from New York City to a small town in rural Oklahoma. I had been documenting the experience of moving in my own way—I’m a freelance journalist—but looking at those fading photos I realized how much nuance was slipping through my fingers.

So I bought a small mirrorless camera, a refurbished Olympus E-P3 with a 14–42mm kit lens, thinking it would give me a spur to help remember the way things looked. My expectations were low. I hadn’t owned a camera in ten years. My sense of composition is terrible. More than once I caught a family member discretely tearing apart a photo I’d been asked to take. We writers tend to be too literal when it comes to capturing images. There’s an extra layer of mental kruft to cut through: I tend to think about what something says before I relax and let the image speak for itself.

I expected a mindless device. A blunt instrument for recording of my surroundings; but found an entirely new medium to express myself with, one as frustrating, complex and exciting as writing has been, and all the more so because is everything is new for me and learning the basics opens up so much possibility.

The following images were culled from six months of shooting and all use the “grainy film filter”. Though it’s slightly affected, I enjoy the noirish, intimate feeling it seems to give an image. Plus, during a recent helicopter ride, I found another use: it was the only thing that could hack through the dense, pre-Monsoon haze over Kathmandu.

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If you’re interested in seeing more photographs (including scans of the aforementioned Colombian snapshots) you’re most welcome to visit my Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesmcgirk/

You are also most welcome to visit my website, which has links to other stories and articles: http://jamesmcgirk.com

Jun 052014
 

7 Months, 19 Countries, 5 Continents, 1 Camera

By David Szwarczewski

Dear Steve and Brandon,

Please consider my article for your site, having been an onlooker and admirer for quite some time I would finally like to enter my own contribution.

I am a long-term follower of your fantastic site, and I’m personally grateful for your excellent reviews as I chose my existing camera system almost solely on the basis of your review. At the time the camera was not yet available in my country and so I preordered it without ever having the opportunity of handling it.

I took an interest in photography in my early teens and have since explored a wide variety of photographic genres. As a keen traveller I would say documentary would be my favourite style of photography, perhaps compounded in the belief that this is a particularly difficult art to master. If an image isn’t captured perfectly that fleeting moment of aesthetic perfection may be lost forever.

Having recently graduated from University together with my girlfriend, I was fortunate enough to embark on a Round the World trip for 7 months last year. This was something that in one form or another I had been dreaming of for at least 10 years. Our trip was in a way quite extensive, considering the vast number of countries and areas visited in the relatively short space of time. Although in many ways we barely scratched the surface of what there is to see in each of the places we visited.

When setting out on the trip I had three things I desired to return home with: my passport, photos and health (not necessarily in order of priority). Consequently, all of my images were shot as JPEG’s. I wanted to be able to upload them to a cloud storage service (done via a smartphone connected to a card reader), the smaller file sizes allowed faster uploading when WiFi was available and I didn’t have the time or facilities to edit RAW files anyway. In fact, none of my images has been edited in any way, including cropping. This is partly because I like to think of myself as somewhat of a purist, preferring to get the image right directly through the lens; but this is also equally attributable to the slow and arthritic nature of my very aged laptop no longer being able to cope with editing software.

My weapon of choice was the OMD (EM-5) with Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 12-50mm and Panasonic 100-300mm. The relatively low pixel count was a big draw for me, as was the great IQ, good JPEG processor, small size and weather sealing. The 12-50 was chosen due to its versatility, weather sealing (useful for rainforest etc.) and macro mode. The 20 stayed on the body 99% of the time and is a great compact fast aperture prime and the 100-300 was essential for shooting wildlife. I also carried a pair of Swarovski CL Compact 10×30 binoculars (I adore them).

I hope you enjoy the images, thanks for looking.

David

 

Little India, Singapore

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Taman Negara rainforest, Malaysia

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Ko Tao, Thailand

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Venice Beach, LA

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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My very cold girlfriend in the kitchen of a local family we stayed with in Peru (below freezing in the kitchen due to the altitude, 3600m above sea level)

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The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru

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Lama with Machu Picchu in the background

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Cusco, Peru

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Colca Canyon, Peru

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Lago Verde, near to the Uyuni Salt flats in Bolivia

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Uyuni Salt flats, Bolivia

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Running down Dune 45 in Namibia (my girlfriend took the pic, I’m the one in the middle)

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Elephant sick of having to look at tourists, Zambia

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Female Leopard, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

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May 222014
 

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Olympus E-M1 for wedding photography?

By Katrin Küllenberg

As a professional wedding photographer I decided to use Olympus as my sole camera system. After one year in practice did this prove to be the right decision?

Traditionally, one had to have the biggest and most expensive camera around to be respected as a wedding photographer. There would always be some guest comparing his own equipment with yours, trying to discredit your professionalism. By switching to the Olympus OMD I refused to take part in this kind of competition and ignored all disparaging remarks about my gear. To my surprise, the longer I am using these cameras now, there is an increasing number of guests asking me about the benefits of the OMD, talking about their own intention of getting rid of their heavy DSLRs.
I also noticed that I now can blend into a crowd much easier and am able to take more candid shots than before as people hardly notice me – or just don’t take me seriously enough to freeze in awe of the camera, which serves my purpose just as well!

The biggest plus oft the OMD system is its weight. As a wedding photographer I will have to lug around two cameras all day but even after a 10-16 hours workday my back hardly registers the cameras at all.

Ergonomics
I started using the E-M5 first and added the E-M1 when it came out last December. The E-M5 is smaller and a little bit lighter, their functions are basically the same but the EM1, though bigger, is the more user-friendly model due to the greater amount of buttons, which can be programmed individually.
These shortcuts are missing with the E-M5 which you need to control by going into “menu” more often.
Both cameras are equipped with an EVF. Although it takes a short while to get used to as its view differs from a traditional view finder, the eye adjusts quickly and the positive aspects outweigh the cons. For reviewing the photo the camera shows the image just taken, giving you instant control of composition and exposure without having to refer to the monitor.
I shoot in manual mode, which is supported perfectly by the EVF. No test shots to determine ideal lighting are required. All adjustments in speed, aperture and ISO are reflected directly in the view you get by looking through the EVF. It is not a 100% perfect rendition of the image loaded down on the the computer later on but it comes approximately close.

The autofocus is very fast and accurate. To move the AF center-point one needs to press the buttons which, unfortunately, are quite close to the face ( remember: the camera is small!) but it is also possible to control the autofocus by working the dials regularly used for aperture and speed or the touch screen.

The OMD system offers high image quality with the following lenses:

Lenses
I work with several lenses for different situations.
My favourite is the 45mm 1.8.
The portraits are extremely sharp , and due to its f.1.8 I can use it everywhere all day long with beautiful bokeh.
The 12 mm is my wide angle lens. Light and combined with manual focusing + flash my favourite lens for the wedding party. Don’t use it with a higher aperture than f8.0 because of diffraction.

Sometimes I also use the 12-40mm 2.8. Not being quite as sharp as the primes it, nevertheless, gives me a broader range of possibilities but, unfortunately , its bulky size and heavy weight don’t recommend using it for very long.

The 75 mm 1.8 is great for intimate moments when the photographer does not want to interfere with the couple too much, e.g. at chuch or some moments during reception.

I hardly ever use the 60mm 2.8. I bought it for details and ring shots but besides that I yet have to discover its advantages for other situations.

Things to improve

Though being a great friend of the Olympus system, there are some aspects that I would want to see improved.

  • Sometimes the E-M1 freezes and has to be switched off and on. I don’t know if this is a common problem or just personal bad luck.
  • A general deficit of the entire OMD system it its lack of high ISO potential. It should not be pushed over 1600 ISO what gives it a disadvantage for use in badly lit places and at night. Here I need to use a bounced flash sooner than I would like to.
  • Another aspect waiting for improvement is its battery power: Shooting a wedding I need to have a serious backup of batteries as the OMD has to be recharged three or more times during the day.

Conclusion

Is the Olympus E-M1 the perfect camera for wedding reportage photography ?

It definitly depends on your shootings style and the look you want to achieve. E.g. if you prefer really shallow Depth of Field, use full frame with 85mm 1.2. This extreme effect you cannot achieve with the E-M1.

For me it is the nearly perfect camera system at the moment, which supports my style and does not get between me and the image.

All the best
Take care and take pictures
Katrin Küllenberg

www.heiter-bis-wolkig.info

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Katrin-Küllenberg-heiter-bis-wolkig/687532634605529?fref=ts

http://instagram.com/heiterbiswolkigphotography

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May 192014
 

One year with Olympus E-P5

By Baris Parildar

Hello Steve, first of all I appreciate everything you do for photographers. Your website and youtube channel have tons of great information. I check your website almost everyday and enjoy it. Thanks for letting me share my pictures with your audience. This is my first ever article about photography. I started taking pictures with a Canon T2i 3 years ago. And my life has changed so much since then. Photography and video making suddenly became our passion in life with my girlfriend. We spent almost all our weekends taking pictures, hiking, discovering new things about photography and sometimes making small videos. After using my T2i for 2 years, I came to a point that I started thinking about having a smaller camera with me all the time. T2i is not even a heavy DSLR. But I was usually carrying 2 camera bodies and 4-5 canon lenses. I had times thinking about leaving my camera and lenses in the middle of the long hikes. It is really though to carry all that stuff for hours.

So I decided to get on the mirrorless wagon. I checked out almost every camera out there and decided to go with Olympus. My first choice was the E-M5. I had the chance to play with the camera for a week. I got used to it so fast. Auto focus and sharpness was so good. I couldn’t believe my eyes when comparing it with my Canon shots. Only problem was the color reproduction. It took me a while to learn how to edit the color of OLYMPUS RAW files in Lightroom. I figured out that it was different. Not worse than Canon, just different. I needed to handle it more carefully. That week the new E-P5 came out. I found the look cooler than the E-M5. Since the sensor was the same, image quality would be the same. I bought the E-P5. And never left it at home for a year. Olympus 9-18mm is my main lens. It’s one of the best landscape lenses I’ve ever tried. I mostly shoot directly into the sun. It handles everything great. Almost as good as Canon L lenses. My everyday street photography lens is the Panasonic 20mm f1.7. This is all I need for quick shots even for some macro photography. I use it at f2 for portraits and don’t need anything more. I had the Olympus 45 f1.8 for a while but I had to sell it. That is a great lens too. Recently bought a Panasonic zoom telephoto and using it quite a bit lately.

I am so glad that I made the switch from Canon to Olympus. I don’t think I would be able to take half of the shots I took with a bigger camera body. Having a small camera lets you take it anywhere you want. And another great thing about this is, everybody thinks that you are an amateur photographer when you have a tiny camera with you. You are invisible with a mirrorless camera. I just love the look of people at me thinking I have no idea about photography. I show up next to photographers with huge full frame dslr bodies with my little E-P5 and most of the time I get the shot I want with a little effort and no back pain. I use 500px as my main portfolio website now. One of my shots with the E-P5 made it to “the most popular photo” on 500px which is a great honor for me. I get inspired so much with all those great pictures on that website everyday. I like to edit my photos. Some people may find them processed too much but I don’t think about what other people think when I edit my photos. Depending on how I feel, I might over process or sometimes don’t even touch anything on my photos. It totally depends on how I feel about the photograph and how I want to reflect my feelings.

Here are some samples from my one-year journey with the Olympus E-P5. I feel lucky to have such a great camera.

Thank you very much again for giving me this opportunity.

Baris Parildar.

 

Here are the links you can find more about my photos:

Personal website: www.barisparildar.com

500px: http://500px.com/Barisparildar

Instagram: http://instagram.com/barparildar

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/89927345@N03/

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May 172014
 

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New Orleans for Fun, Photos and Ghosts with Olympus TG-3 and E-M10

Wow, finally I am at home relaxing in my Pajamas and with cup of coffee in hand I am feeling blessed in all aspects in my life. From happiness, to love, to living a stress free happy life.  I am wondering how in the hell I managed to end up so happy in life, so at peace, so fulfilled. In any case, it feels good to be back home after traveling for the past 11 days or so. For the past three days I was in beautiful and spooky New Orleans with Olympus camera and a few other bloggers. Why were we there? Well, it was a press trip to allow certain websites to test out the new Tough TG-3 camera as well as the E-M10, the mini E-M5 which is absolutely FANTASTIC! I reviewed it a little while ago HERE but I loved it just as much as I loved the E-M5 and E-M1. For the cost, it is quite amazing in its capabilities and equals the E-M5 and E-M1 in IQ, without question. For under $800 you get the E-M10 and Lens. Great buy. 

So after visiting my Mom for a week over Mothers Day I came home for one night and flew out to New Orleans for this trip that was to be jammed packed from morning until night. Going on a late night Ghost Walk, touring the beautiful Oak Alley Plantation, taking an almost two hour long Swamp tour to staying right in the heart of the French Quarter and hitting some famous pubs, bars and restaurants we sure did get a chance to see as much as we could in those 2 1/2 days. I have always wanted to see New Orleans as it is filled with a rich and sometimes tragic history. It seems like a place we should all see at least once in life.

At the Oak Valley Plantation shot with the E-M10 and the awesome 12-40 2.8 Pro Zoom

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When I arrived to the W Hotel in the French Quarter I was boon away as it was smack dab in the middle of the quarter and with all of the rich history I was looking forward to just hanging out and shooting some images. But within 5 minutes of arriving I had to change and head down to the lobby to meet the group for dinner. As we took the walk to dinner it was a sensory overload with all of the people, the bars, the strip clubs, and all of the debauchery that the French Quarter is known for.

Shot with the E-M10 and 25 1.8 while heading to dinner on night #1

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After some amazing food was into our belly we headed to a walking Ghost Tour that net up a local haunted bar. This was to be a 90 minute walking tour of the French Quarter at night while we were told ghost stories about the history of the area. Was good fun and we made sure to get a beer or two before the walk. The tour was not scary at all but more educational. Wether the stories were real or not I do know but it was fun to walk the city at night.

The Ghost Tour was led by this woman who was full of knowledge about the legends and ghost stories of the French Quarter. E-M10, 25 1.8 using grainy B&W

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Next Up…

We ended up at a Karaoke Bar where we watched some fun to watch but horrible singers as we enjoyed a few drinks. I shot a few with the E-M10 in grainy B&W mode which adds massive grain but allows use of super high ISO without worry as you expect the noise ;) resembles grainy old film in many ways.

E-M10 at the Karaoke Club but I shot the crowd below who was really enjoying the show.

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Mr. Chris Gampat from the Phoblographer was there as well as freelancer Laura Hicks. 25 1.8 in darkness and grainy B&W mode. Not sharp due to motion blur but captures the moment.

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A club nearby had a live band and I grabbed this shot through the street window with the 25 1.8

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Two of the wonderful ladies who are with Olympus. They made sure we all had a great time while using their latest cameras. E-M10 and 25 1.8 in Grainy B&W.

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Lots of music in the French Quarter!

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With night# 1 wrapped up I was back in my room for some much-needed sleep.

Trying out the Tough TG-3 on Day 2 at the Oak Alley Plantation

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At 6AM the alarm woke me and I prepared for the day by getting ready, answering some e-mails and eating a good breakfast. This was the day of more tours and it started out with a bus ride to Oak Alley Plantation which was gorgeous of course. The weather was in the 70′s with some sun and I could not have asked for better. We learned about the history of the plantation and was able to snap some shots. This was the day I also was able to test out the new Olympus Tough TG-3.  I have never tested the TG1 or TG2 because I was never interested in an all-weather point and shoot. After using the new TG3 for two days I went to Amazon to pre-order one. At $349 it is a crazy steal of a deal and will take all kinds of abuse being shockproof, weatherproof and waterproof to 50 feet. It has high def video, slow motion high-speed video and a very cool Microscope mode that is unlike any macro I have ever tried. At $349, this guy is a must own for anyone who needs a good all around TOUGH camera to survive the elements around them. While not the last word in image quality it is very good for what it is, a small sensor P&S built into an indestructible body.

With the Ring Light, which is a must own for this camera! Snaps on and off easily and works GREAT!

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You can pre-order the TG-3 HERE at Amazon. Ships in 3 weeks or so according to Olympus. $349. They also sell a wide-angle converter, a tele converter and the coolest ring light I have ever seen for around $40 that makes the Microscope mode work unbelievable well.

Here are a few shots I snapped with the TG-3 tough while at the plantation and the swamp tour:

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You can see the reflection of the ring light in her eye while in Microscope Mode. I could have gotten closer but did not want to touch her eye!

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On the Swamp Boat Tour…behind me..

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and seeing some gators up close…

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At one point I dubbed the Tough into the swamp as an alligator came for it. A couple of us tried this and I shot some video but the camera was sideways so the video is not very good. Still, the Tough captured HD video while dunked in a nasty swamp!

Below: Microscope mode as  the camera and light were set on top of my ring…

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…and here I literally laid the camera down on my hand – yes, the lens rested on my hand and still focused – Microscope mode. Looks like I need to moisturize! Damn. 

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Overall my 1st impression of the TOUGH TG-3 was amazing. Fantastic! The $349 body is well worth it for those who want a take anywhere all-weather all activity camera. Add in the ring light for under $50 and the Wide angle lens for around $109 and you have a pretty capable little system that will withstand drops, kicks, water, snow, ice and anything you throw at it. Microscope mode takes it over the top and is easily accessible with the dial. Just turn it to the little image of the Microscope.

The Tough is one tough cookie. I even dunked it in a Lilly pond and when I took it out this was the image I snapped:

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After this I dried it off and it was performing just as it was before. No damage to the camera, lens, internals or memory card.

But back to the Plantation and Samp tour. I also shot with the E-M10 and 25 1.8 and 75 1.8 while there and came away with some great quality shots. Keep in mind, all of these shots are OOC JPEGS. No RAW. Olympus can pull of JPEG very well and the E-M10 is no exception.

Here are some shots with the E-M10 and various lenses:

The E-M10 and 12-40 Zoom at 2.8

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The E-M10 and 75 1.8 wide open, natural light. 

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Some behind the scenes antics..

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On the boat I shot the other boat with the 2nd half of our group with the 75 1.8

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The eyeball of my new friend, Mr Alex McClure, an Olympus trailblazer and amazing photographer based in Phoenix AZ. Shot with the E-M10 and Voigtlander 17.5 at 0.95!

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More fun with the E-M10 and 75 1.8…

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The final night..

After the tours we were able to get to the hotel and freshen up before dinner and another night out in the French Quarter. On the way to dinner I took along the E-M10 and my 20 1.7 II and shot a coupe of snaps along the way in Grainy B&W mode..

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I had a blast in New Orleans but the only problem is I did not have any personal time to explore. That means I must go back soon for a few days to see all that it has to offer. Just the little taste I had of the sights, sounds and food all told me it is a special place. I highly recommend the E-M10, as I did in my full review of the camera HERE. The new TG-3 is one hell of a camera as well and priced right. You can order that TG-3 HERE. The ring light is HERE.

So I thank Olympus and all of those who were there along for the ride. Was a great time of fun, friends and shooting!

Steve

May 072014
 

Using the Samyang fisheye

By Rob Scheurwater

Hi Brandon/Steve,

Half a year ago I bought a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens. I bought it from someone who didn’t like the silver version of this lens on his black Panasonic GX7 body. He also sold me his silver Panasonic 20mm II.

I think they both look great on my black Olympus OM-D EM-5 body and more important, I like the IQ of both lenses. After experimenting with Samyang for a while now, i’m quite happy with the results.

It now belongs to my standard equipment, I usually take with me, my Olympus OM-D EM-5 with three lenses, a Panasonic 14mm, Panasonic 20mm and the Samyang fisheye.

I think this lens stimulates the creative eye, it’s great for architecture but I also use it for landscape photography.

Thanks for the inspiration your site has given me.

Rob Scheurwater, The Netherlands

Paris subway

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The Rotterdam building of Rem Koolhaas. Dutch photographer Ruud Sies made a really nice photo documentary, called „Building the Rotterdam

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Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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The old library of Bologna

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May 012014
 

The NEW SLR Magic Anamorphot “add on’”Lens with SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens and Olympus OMD EM-1

by Wilson Chong

This article was originally written in Christmas last year in anticipating the launch of the new SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens. However, some delay in sending to you this belated review. All shots were taken last year before Christmas.

First of all thank you for Andrew for lending the new SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens for me to try out. Secondly, I also thank you for Steve and Brandon for posting my user experience on this lens.

So, what the hell is “Anamorphot” or “Anamorphic” lens? This was way ahead of me but according to what I can understood how from Andrew over a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, it was cinematography technique which basically squeeze everything into the 35mm format but you have to correct it to the right aspect ratio before screening it…. huh? He was getting way too technical for me and I have no idea what he was talking about but I would love to try it out this new lens.

Here is bascially what Anamorphic format means according to Wiki.

My review purely as a user with little technical background.

I first thought Andrew was going to give me some special lens but suddenly a straight clip on lens appeared in front of me, It is a kind of add-on lens which you can put it over your existing lens. This makes we wonder, will it hold? Yes, it does and very solid too!

Since, I will be shooting this with my new OMD EM-1, but using the SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens. Now, I mounted it on my proud OMD EM-1, I wonder how this thing do on photos and vidoes.

For my previous review on the 35mm Hyperprime T0.95 cine lens, please click HERE.

Now, I must admit, I am no video shooter. In fact, I probably made so many mistakes in my shooting that I will fail my class (if I am a Videography student). However, I am eager to show you what I shot is because this thing actually make me to shot films and make me do some editing (even I have not done it before). Here is one of my test film shot in Mongkok, Hong Kong:

(Note: I am not too bothered with the aspect ratio because it does give you a 60s/70s retro feel to it. However, I guess occasional use is fine)

The second time, I have edited a couple of shots I and made this short film:

However, I must give kudos to this video using SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens called RELIEF (an excellent watch!):

Back to shooting using the new Anamorphot Lens. Since the Anamorphot Lens is very much depends on what the other lens you use, hence, you have to be careful to select the right one for your own use. As many of you may know, the 35mm Hyperprime T0.95 Cine Lens is a very contrasty lens and great for black and white shots. Shooting it with new Anamorphot lens also give you this unique characteristics.

The handling of new Anamorphot Lens together with the 35 Hyperprime and the new OMD EM-1 is surprising good. Mind you, I have got the hand grip add-on so that I have the pressure point at the bottom of my hand to hold up the camera and both lenses. Of course, when mounted the lens to the OMD, it looks like having a huge lens wandering around with you. Is heavy and definitely not discreet either.

Set aside the ergonomics, the focusing on both lens is rather simple, once you have the right setting on the Anamorphot lens, you don’t need to do much. The focusing is mainly on the 35mm Hyperprime lens. Of course, one of the main advantage of having the OMD EM1 is the anti-shock capabilities. The lens performs good and well up to my expectation. Once you are used to the set up, both lenses become one and I do not feel any immediate danger of the Anamorphot Lens being fall off or loosen during my filming.

The photos are great and with the new OMD EM1, it is surely, one of the best M4/3 camera available (although I got the new Df later with no Video Mode). I am sure it will satisfy fans who like to add some cinematic feel and also the opportunity to take advantage using other lens for the other moods. In short, the possibilities are endless.

please visit my flickr page

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Anyway, I would thank you Steve and Brandon for posting my submission and wish you all the best! Looking forward to your reviews, reports and thoughts on photography!

Best regards,
Wilson Chong

 

May 012014
 

One is not enough – using both the m43 and X sensors

By Arindam Pal

Hi Brandon and Steve,

It’s been over a year I sent something to you. Those were pictures taken during a short visit to my native land in India. A lot has changed over the year, both personally and professionally. Last year, I was shooting with the OM-D E-M5 but did not much like the noise response and preferred the Fuji X Pro, in spite of it being slow.

Steve’s review on E-M1 was up by October of 2013 and I placed an order along with the 17 1.8 and 45 1.8. The E-M1 is a great addition to the family. It has improved upon the E-M5 in many ways. Love the large EVF, snappy autofocus and the rugged, all-terrain look. I was quite happy with the results, although I found low light noise to be an issue. I understand people have different preferences and opinions. Many would prefer the slight noise that the E-M1 produces at ISO 1600 and above. However, I personally find any amount of noise distasteful. Coming from a D3S, it’s a challenge to accept it.

So, I decided to get another body and ended up buying a lightly used X-E2 body along with the 23 1.4 and 14 2.8. I could not be happier. Now when I shoot in low light and want high quality noise free images, I use the Fuji and when I need a faster response, I just carry the OM-D. Both are equally fun to use. I also bought a Nikon adapter to use my existing Nikon primes. I found that the 85 1.8D Nikon lens goes very well with the Fuji.

Must say, I am tempted by the upcoming Sony A7S with its practically noise free images but hope Fuji or Oly will come up with something extraordinary very soon

Sending a few pictures chronologically. Hope you would like them enough to post them on your blog. I did not bother much about the technical details when I was shooting these – but they show the passion I have for my newly grown family! Please feel free to use any or all of them:

E-M1 and 45 1.8 @f/1.8 ISO 400 1/4000 with -1 EV to create the silhouette

The 1st one is of wife 36 weeks in pregnancy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1000 1/70

The 2nd one is our first daughter, Aarwen celebrating her 1st month on this Earth

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 E-M1 and 45 1.8 @f/1.8 ISO 400 1/200

The 3rd one – Aarwen again, holding on to her mother

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/160

The 4th one – Aarwen with her first plaything

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/25

5th – she likes to talk to Mommy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/4 ISO 200 1/170

6th one is from my recent visit to Bangalore, a street vendor selling fresh young coconut water to beat the heat

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Thanks so much,
Arindam

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