Jul 242015
 
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Olympus EM1 + Sony A7s – Still my favorite Combo!

By Neil Buchan-Grant

Hi Steve

I thought I’d share some new images with your readers. I’m still loving the Olympus EM1 and Sony A7s although I have to say, since the Olympus 40-150mm zoom and the new 7-14mm zoom came out, the Oly has had more use. I also recently bought the Oly MC-14 1.4x tele converter for the big zoom and for me its performance in terms of resolution and sharpness underlines the big range now offered by the Olympus system. These 3 PRO zooms give me pretty much all I need for general travel work and the 12-40mm has all but replaced my wide primes with no loss of image quality. I still only tend to get the A7s + Leica M 35mm or 50mm f1.4 Summilux’s out when I’m out at night or I’m shooting low light work but with these lenses it still offers something a bit special.

My friend a few weeks before giving birth – EM1 – 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 25mm – available light and off camera flash

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My friend and her baby girl who had just had another lifesaving operation only days after her birth – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – mixed available light

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My friend holding it together by reading Winnie the Pooh to her baby girl who was still gravely ill only one week after her birth – Sony A7s – Leica M 35mm 1.4 – mixed available light

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My work here is a mixture of commissions and personal shots ranging from an architecture job in Oxfordshire, corporate portraits and a trip to Wimbledon tennis championships to some intimate portraits of my friend Scarlet and her baby, Frida. The baby had a traumatic and complicated birth and had to be resuscitated several times in her first few days. Thankfully she’s doing brilliantly now and is thriving! Thanks again for the opportunity to share these with your readers and keep up the great work! If anyone is interested, I have a new, short program of workshops on my website here:

My friend and her baby Frida who was finally out of harms way and seemed to be enjoying her new world – EM1 – Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light

 

 

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Frida just a few days ago, now 2 months old and currently my favorite model! – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light

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The Prado Museum in Madrid during a quick break – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 15mm

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A late night bar in Madrid – Sony A7s Leica M 35mm 1.4 – available light

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A studio portrait of the actress Hetty Baynes Russell, who was married to Ken Russell the British film director. – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – continuous light through 4ft softbox

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Another shot of Hetty – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – window light

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A photograph of a rather special Barn design in Oxforshire at dusk – my friends Arthur and Kate were the architects who designed it – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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The same building during the day – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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A model in Prague – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light and reflector

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A corporate shoot in London – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – Off camera flash

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Self portrait in the studio – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 35mm – continuous light through a 4 ft softbox and reflector

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Britain’s number one female tennis player Heather Watson winning her match at Wimbledon – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO with MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4

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Another self portrait in my garden – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 10mm – available light and off camera flash

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A tree surgeon working behind my garden – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO + MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4

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The same shot as above from the same spot, the tree surgeon is just visible – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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http://buchangrant.format.com/workshops where you can join me in Berlin, India or China/Tibet over the next 10 months!

Jul 232015
 

QUICK SHOT: Nocticron and Olympus E-M1

By Dave MacAaron

(From Steve: This “Quick Shot” will be a new series much like the daily inspiration but with ONE SHOT only. If you have ONE SHOT that you absolutely love, send it to me with a description of the shot, what you used to take the image and why you like it. I may post it as a “Quick Shot”! Send to me at [email protected])

Hi Steve!

Longtime fan here. Love all the reviews and articles and shares on your site. I was walking home with my daughter one night last winter in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC and it was twilight. I was snapping away at a few things here and there and then we came upon this tree with Christmas lights still up. The lighting was beautiful so I snapped the kid. It’s one of my fave moments and shots.

Taken with the Olympus EM1 and the Panny Leica 42.5 mm f1.4 Nocticron.

Thanks for all the great work! Peace!

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Dave MacAaron

www.franbro.com

Jul 172015
 
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VIDEO: The Olympus E-M5II, 8mm Fisheye Pro and Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95!

By Steve Huff

Hey guys! It’s FRIDAY! That means the weekend is here, and what a better way to spend it than with a new camera, and two new lenses for me to test out. WooHoo!

No, I never ever tire of getting these new jewels in the mail. In the case of the 8mm fisheye, I rented it as Olympus has a wait list for reviewers so I wanted to check to out NOW, so I went to lens rentals.com (site sponsor) and rented it for a week. The Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95 was sent to me for review by Stephen Gandy at CameraQuest.com, who happens to be the USA distributor for Voigtlander, so his site is the place to go for new Voigtlander lenses.

With that out of the way, the new Titanium E-M5II is stunning in appearance. Very Classy. Best color option IMO. To those wondering, “is it really titanium”? NO, it’s titanium in color, not material ;) Even so, it is beautiful and gives the camera and extra bit of pizazz and as I said, class. No cheap looking paint jobs here, in fact, this should be a standard color for all future Olympus bodies. Reminds me somewhat of the old “Steel Grey” of the Leica M9 days. You can order it at B&H Photo HERE, it is IN STOCK NOW!

My video on the E-M5II Titanium, the 8Mm Fisheye Pro and Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95

After owning and using the crap out of the E-M1, I am finding the E-M5II to give me things I never realized I missed. The swivel out LCD, I use it ALL the time. The new 5 Axis is amazing, especially for video. Eliminates the need for big stabilization rigs. Really. The small size and gorgeous lenses. Even though this is not a full frame camera, and I have been shooting my full frame Sony A LOT, I still adore the Olympus and use it often for personal shooting. The size, speed, response and lenses all put it up in my “top two” status these days.

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With the limited edition Titanium set, of which there are 7000 made, we get a leather wallet with limited edition numbered card telling us what number we have, we get a custom made leather strap that matches the camera and we get the limited edition color, Titanium. This camera comes in at $300 more over the black or silver versions, and all we are getting are those three things. For me, it is worth it just to have this color. The strap and wallet are nice, but the color is what I love about it and when I was in a meeting with Olympus month ago they told me about this edition, and I said :I WANT ONE”. I knew it then and when I saw B&H Photo had them IN STOCK I ordered my own to replace my E-M1, of which I have been shooting since it was launched.

If you missed my big E-M5 II review you can see it HERE. This is the same camera, just with a new paint job so it will not be reviewed, just showing it here in the video so all of you can see what it looks like.

I will have full reviews of the 10.5 f/0.95 and 8mm Pro Fisheye SOON. But for now, here is a blurb and image or two or three from each:

The Olympus Pro Fisheye 8mm:

I have always loved fisheye lenses. In the past you may have seen my write ups on the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye for Micro 4/3. Believe it or not, that was one of my fave lenses for the system. I love ultra wide fisheyes as I can do so much with it. Unique images, cool video, and they are just fun. At $550 the Panasonic was pricey, especially with options from Rokinon and the like at a fraction of the cost. With the new Olympus they have taken it a step further and produced the worlds 1st f/1.8 8mm fisheye. Usually these lenses are f/3.5-f/4. This Olympus is f/1.8!

I find this to be amazing as while we do not need a fast aperture with a fisheye, IT HELPS for low light, especially with Micro 4/3 who lacks at high ISO compared to full frame offerings many of us are used to.

This lens focuses to 1″, yes ONE INCH, and when you do this you can actually get some BOKEH, crazy but true. With it’s pro build, weather sealing, fast aperture and auto focus it is the premier Fisheye lens for ANY system, and it beats my old Panasonic in sharpness, color and pop. So far so good.

You can buy the 8MM fisheye NOW as B&H Has them in stock. $999 is not cheap, but IMO its the best fisheye in the world. 

click them for larger and sharper versions ;) 

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The Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95

Another lens that just hit the streets is the Voigtlander 10.5mm f/0.95 for Micro 4/3. This lens goes with the line of f/0.95 lenses that Voigtlander developed for Micro 4/3. ALL of them are beasts. Heavy, large and FAST aperture. All are manual focus only. This lens is something. It is built to a high standard, and if you have tried the other lenses in this line, the 17.5, 25 and 42.5 then you know what I am talking about.

With this lens on the E-M5 II (see it in the video above) you have a pretty cool setup allowing you a 21mm equivalent focal length while giving you close focus performance. While not crazy sharp wide open, it does produce  the same flavor and character as the others in the line.  It’s a gorgeous lens, and so far the only negative I have found is the purple fringing that is prevalent on all of these lenses when shot at 0.95 (to be fair, fast Leica glass does the same).

Look for my full review soon, but for now, you can buy this lens at CameraQuest.com HERE. He has a few left. Limited quantities. I’s a gorgeous lens. Kind of like shooting the Voigtlander 21 1.8 on a full frame M.

Click images for larger, sharper and better versions!

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Jul 062015
 

From full frame to Micro 4/3

By Joshua Young

Hi Steve!

After spending a few years taking pictures with a full frame, it is a strange new world finding myself in the Micro 4/3 camp. I bought the A7R the first day it was available, wow what a camera. At the time my wife and I just had a baby, and I loved watching him grow, capturing timeless moments with that amazing 36mp sensor. Every milestone he hit, I was there with my FE 55 1.8, and every place we went, the 35 2.8 was right there with me. We took him to a few countries, and got some amazing captures in front of some of the most beautiful landscapes.

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I am not a professional by any means, I just have a love for photography. As we vacation, I try to plan itineraries that will get me close to beautiful photo spots, and try to make the most of it with as little time as possible. Whatever camera I choose to carry has to have the best of all world: 1. Good for travel photography, and 2. Good for family photos.  As my son got older, he started to move faster and faster. I found the A7R AF could no longer keep up with the bottle of pure energy that is a toddler. Time and time again I found myself missing moments due to AF issues (toddlers never repeat what they were doing when asked). To try to improve AF speed, I ended up buying the A7II last February. As nice as a camera as it was, it did not feel right in my hands. It had amazing IQ, but I never enjoyed shooting with it. In May we took a trip to Miami/Disney, and I found myself leaving it in the hotel.

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Then came the Olympus E-M1. This camera single-handedly restored my love for travel photography. Simply put, this camera is FUN to use. With blazing fast AF, high quality lenses, and loads of features, I fell in love right away. Yes there was a tradeoff in noise, and DR, however IQ is not less than that of the A7II, I would use the word “different”. I have found there are pros and cons to both systems, it all comes down to the look you are happy with. I am learning more and more about the m43 sensor, and I like what I see.

Olympus E-M1 in Chicago

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See more of my work at https://www.flickr.com/photos/111565956@N05/

Josh

Jun 252015
 

Crazy Olympus E-M10 Deal – $349!

Looking for a killer Micro 4/3 setup? Want to get an incredible LITTLE camera at a CRAZY good price? Now is your chance! Olympus is selling reconditioned E-M10’s (see my review of the E-M10 Here)  for a crazy low price of $359. That’s almost half off of new retail price. If you want one, click the link below as this is $150 cheaper than Amazon or B&H Pricing. Of course you get a reconditioned body but Olympus still warranties them so no worries.

Click HERE or the image below to check out the deal!

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May 272015
 

The Olympus 40-150mmf/2.8 Lens User Report

By Imanol

Hi Steve and Brandon,

There has been a lot of Sony and Leica action on the site recently and so I thought perhaps readers might be interested in a user report of one of the newer Olympus lenses.

I came across your site last year when researching micro four thirds cameras and have been a regular visitor since. I’ve only taken up photography in the last eighteen months, and primarily so I could take better shots of my family. I guess like some other folks here, I started with buying a couple of decent lenses for the ubiquitous family DSLR that we already had and used as a posh point and shoot. I then found that I wanted something a little smaller for when out and about and bought an OMD- EM10 and Olympus 25mm f1.8 and pretty much stopped using the DSLR except for taking shots of my sons soccer matches and daughters basketball.

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Last December I decided upgrade to the OMD-EM1, and invest in some lenses (my niece got the OMD-EM10 as at 13 she already has a level of creativity I can only aspire to and was shooting with her mums old point and shoot). One of the lenses was the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 as I hoped with the improved tracking of the OMD-EM1 over the OMD-EM10 I’d be able to shoot sports and get rid of the remaining DSLR kit.

This lens has turned out to be incredibly versatile and I’ve used it far more than I anticipated when buying it. Below are several shots taken over the past few months in varying situations from snaps in the back yard and on walks, to family vacations and soccer matches. These are all hand-held snapshots and taken in whatever light was available so ISO was pushed in some of them to get the shot.

So, what are my thoughts on this lens? There are enough pros & cons lists out there from more serious and technically proficient photographers than me, so rather than replicate existing reviews I’ll share my thoughts as a distinctly amateur shooter wanting to capture better photos of my family and friends.

Firstly, I love its portability. I have a smaller messenger style camera bag and can comfortably fit the OMD-EM1, Olympus 12-40mm, 40-150mm, 17mm and Panasonic 25mm and carry this round all day without discomfort. The build quality is fantastic and I never feel nervous re damaging the lens, it gets used in all situations and weather conditions. The retractable lens hood is so well designed and just seems to reduce any messing around when switching lenses and getting set up.

In terms of versatility I find that I use the lens far more than I thought I would, due in part to how small and portable it is compared to my Sigma 70-200mm, (the OMD-EM1 with 40-150mm lens is pretty much the same size as my DSLR with 17-70mm Sigma) but also as it lets me get candid shots of my kids playing without having to encroach in any way, especially with the 1.4x extender. Image quality is as good as I need and the fixed 2.8 aperture is great in lower light environments like sports halls.

One of the main reasons for getting this lens was for shooting sports and this is where I’ve had the most mixed results. However, this is more due to the OMD-EM1 than the lens. As much as love my OMD it can’t compare even to my mid-range DSLR for shooting team sports and this has necessitated a change in approach when shooting. Firstly let me say that I’ve found the OMD tracking function pretty useless for shooting fast team sports, and multiple attempts to master its use have not resulted in improved outcomes – however that may just be a lack of skill on my part! Autofocus can also be a bit hit and miss when multiple bodies are moving around in the frame and if using high-speed burst mode this can lead to long editing times due to lots and lots of badly focused shots to review and ultimately delete in post. Low speed burst has been more successful with a greater percentage of keepers and I also get good results (probably my best results) in single shot mode though this means sometimes missing out on nice sequences. An upside of moving away from solely relying on burst mode has been focusing more reading the game to anticipate situations that will result in a good image. All that said, I come back to the fact that I’m a dad taking shots of his kids and not a pro, and having now climbed the learning curve I’m around 50/50 in terms of keepers, and that is good enough for me not to need to hang on to the DSLR just to shoot the odd soccer or basketball game.

All in all I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this lens for anyone with an OMD body looking for a high quality zoom lens. It’s pretty small and light for what it is which means I usually have it in the bag and I find it incredibly versatile, especially with the tele extender. Image quality is excellent and, having recently signed up for a course in portrait photography, I’m really looking forward to exploring using this lens for more formal portraiture.

A final thought on using this lens for action/sports; I anticipate that as Olympus continue to refine the autofocus technology in the OMD bodies that this lens will actually become even more useful to me, as at present it is the camera body that is the weaker element in the pairing.

All the best

Imanol

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May 212015
 
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The Olympus Pen F – from Large Format to Half Frame thanks to W. Eugene Smith

By Ibraar Hussain

Steve, Brandon and every viewer of this site!

it’s been a fascinating year so far, and stevehuffphoto.com is as good as ever! Exciting camera news and excellent photography.
I really enjoy the daily inspirations and inspire they do!

After the recent Punjab trip I sold my Panasonic Lumix GX7 and was looking to go up into the world of Large Format, View cameras and 5×4 photography. My winning bid for an MPP Micro Technical camera with quick load Film holders, a Schneider lens and all the accessories had to be cancelled as the seller updated me with some information about the lens having some fungus inside.

I was disappointed as my advancement into the realm of LF had been put on hold, so until I find another one that has to wait. I was browsing the Web and came across a superb vintage Olympus advertisement showcasing their Olympus Pen F camera. It featured one of The Greatest Photographers and War Correspondents of all Time: W. Eugene Smith, composer of possibly, in my opinion,  The Most Beautiful and Magical photograph of all time: A Walk To The Paradise Garden. A photograph whose composition and making of is a story unto itself and worth looking up, and a photograph which does nothing but inspire. It inspired me to clean up my neglected darkroom and dust off everything, to gather my cameras again and shoot, to invest in an Epson SC-600 13”+ Printer and some Epson Exhibition Fiber paper and make some prints.

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Anyway, I digress.

Smith, with his ultra cool look had with him an Olympus Pen FT. I don’t know whether he used it much, and I am not really bothered about that, but I used to have an Olympus Pen F which I regret ever selling, as it’s a wonderful camera. It’s built as well as anything, solid metal housing and beautifully crafted, small and compact with tiny lenses and a wonderful portrait format finder.

I love everything about this camera, and it is a shame Olympus were unable to copy it instead releasing the Digital pen series which are nothing like this work of art, designed by the genius of Yoshihisa Maitinai himself.

The camera is unique, in so many ways. It is not a rangefinder like the Leica M series, but a true SLR. It lacks a Pentaprism and is thus oblong in shape with no un sightly prisms, humps and angles, instead it is sleek, with a low profile and an almost RF look about it – yet so very different as it is an SLR and not anything else. The Pen F was produced from 1963 to 1966 and was in turn followed by the Pen FT and FV models.

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I prefer this over any other model for a few important reasons.
Firstly, it’s the Original design and features the glorious and striking gold gothic F logo which is reason to buy it in itself.
It has a very bright large finder, which isn’t dark and cluttered like that in the FT (which has a meter and readout in the finder making it cramped). It has the double stroke wind lever which I prefer and lacks a light meter which makes it simpler and more spartan- but this is the beauty of it.

The construction is up there with the Germans, it is a solid hunk of crafter metal, a solid and satisfying shutter button, the shutter mechanism is a Ti Rotary Focal Plane Shutter and along with the Half Frame (APS sized) negative is very much like that on a Cine camera.
The Portrait format finder is like this as it is a Half Frame camera, with a 18x24mm negative which when exposed resembles that of negative stock shot with a 35mm motion picture 35 camera.

It has a nice set of compact lenses, with the 38mm f1.8 being the usual standard lens. 38mm on half frame is equal to 55mm in Full Frame Format.

I managed to get an almost Mint example from a seller in Japan with the fast 40mm f1.4 lens (pristine condition) and the Gothic F lens cap!
I also procured a classy leather strap and a 43mm Tiffen Yellow Filter to go with it.

Needless to say I absolutely adore this. It has so much character, it attracts so much attention and is so different and unique. It features nothing but the shutter button, the Shutter speed dial at the front, the wind lever and Film crank and that’s about it! it’s all i need! This is a keeper, especially the mint version I have.

Shooting with this is a different style altogether.

The portrait format with the half frames gives another dimension to the photography, and I am forced to think out side the box, to compose and shoot differently within the constraints of the narrow 60mm focal length of my 40mm f1.4 G Zuiko and the upright view finder I explore different compositions and subjects, with the added creative benefit of having a go at Penography – of shooting three consecutive pictures as a sort of three frame panorama, and using the unique format to create pairs of frames, telling a story or portraying something in chronological order, such as a triptych or montage. The possibilities are endless and with the fine grained sharp Film available Grain or resolution isn’t an issue. And I forgot to mention, one roll of a 36 exposure Film goes on seemingly forever! You get double the amount of frames courtesy of the Half Frame format!

The lens is a beautiful piece of work, solid in construction with an aperture ring and a depth of field preview button, and it has some interesting bokeh and gives delightful shallow depth of field effects. It is sharp at f4 and above and a very nice lens to own and use.

Using and owning the Olympus Pen F is a pleasure and will open many opportunities in creativity and satisfying and interesting results. It won’t make you into W. Eugene Smith, and you won’t look as cool as him, and nor will you be as great as him, but it sure as hell puts a smile on my face and has kindled the love of photography in my heart again.

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I took it for a trial run to some of my favourite walks in Epping Forest near my home (Strawberry Hill Ponds and Great Monk Wood and Wanstead Park for those interested). I used my trusty Minolta Autometer III and took the reading from the shadow areas this time!
The rest I left to experience and managed to gauge the light levels and loaded with Rollei Retro 400s (fast becoming my favourite 400 speed Film) I played with light and shadow of the sun beams amongst the trees.

I then took it to the woods in and around Burnham Beeches in Berkshire with the Missus, the Film eventually finished and I loaded it up with some Agfa Ultra 100 colour Film for some fun and games with the magic of the Bluebells and ancient Oak and Beech around here – but that is for another story!

The results were vey pleasing, and the double frames an interesting way of portraying photographs. I have used it as a gimmick though and haven’t really used the two frames or any triptych as they should be used here, though I did take a triptych of my Missus which is superb (but she’ll kill me if I upload any of her photos). I’m going to have a go at ‘Street’ photography with this delightful and beautiful camera soon, as I usually shoot Nature, travel portraiture and architecture I am pretty useless at reportage and street – but i think this camera will be ideal!

So in searching for a 5×5” Large Format Micro technical camera I’ve bought a Half Frame instead thanks to W. Eugene Smith and his über cool look. Anyway, for those bored of nature and trees, look away now. These snaps are a first roll trial.

All snaps:

Olympus Pen F
G. Zuiko Auto S 40mm f1.4
Rollei Retro 400s
Developed in R09 Rodinal
Scanned with Plustek 8100
Digital darkroom using Photoshop CS4 and Apple Aperture 3.6

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May 192015
 
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Camera? Doesn’t matter, shoot what you love!

By Thomas Rhee

I’ve been a visitor of your site for a number of years now and while it’s not the most polished looking site, the content is what speaks to me. It’s honest and down to earth.

Anyways, I’ve been into photography since my high school days starting with film, on and off again thru the years until around 10 years when I started taking it more seriously. Like you (Steve), I’m also very much into high-end audio, currently mostly Naim gear along with a Mac Mini and a Mytek 192 DSD DAC that acts as my music server.

Recently, my GF knowing how much I love photography, gave me a Fuji X100T along with the WCL-X100 wide conversion lens as a gift for my birthday. Also, my birthday gift to myself this year was the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk.II,. My other cameras include the Olympus OM-D E-M1, Fuji X100, Ricoh GR Digital III and a Canon 5D Mk.II. Of course, I’ve been shooting non-stop with my two new cameras so my submissions will be from those two, all of which were taken within the last two weeks.

The first photo is a street photo taken with my E-M5 Mk.II after having dinner at a restaurant located deep inside of a few alleyways here in Seoul, Korea. The image is of a waitress getting hot coals for a table-side Korean BBQ restaurant. The alley was pretty dark but fortunately there was a light in front of her that acted as a spotlight as well as the two open doors (two different restaurants) that brought in some light. Nonetheless, the ISO had to brought up to 3200 to bring up a reasonable shutter speed with the lens wide open.

“Waitress”

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The second image was taken on Buddha’s Birthday here in Seoul, Korea. Like most other Asian countries, Buddhism is prevalent and Buddha’s Birthday is a big event where thousands come out to celebrate. This image was taken at one of the Buddhist temples here, nearby where the parade was happening. There was a homeless man surrounded by families, children on a field trip as well as devout Buddhists who came out to pray that day. The homeless man kind of stuck out from the crowd and I captured this while he was eating a popsicle although I have no idea where he obtained it from. The tree in the middle signifies to me a the disparity of how others see him as well as how he sees himself.

“Disparity”

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 MK.II, 45MM, F6.3, 1/60, ISO 3200

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The third and last image was taken this past Sunday where my GF and I decided to go to a botanical garden just to have a leisurely Sunday and get away from the hustle and bustle of living here in Seoul. The place was amazingly beautiful and when I came across this scene, with a Juniper tree, decided to take a snap.

“Juniper & The Garden Of Morning Calm”

FUJIFILM X100T, 19MM (28MM EQUIVALENT), F8, 1/1100, ISO 400 (FUJIFILM WCL-X100 WIDE CONVERSION LENS)

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Anyways, thanks for reading and looking,

Thomas Y. Rhee

https://www.eyeem.com/u/tyrphoto

May 122015
 

Shooting Weddings with a CCTV Lens

by Tom Le Vine

Hi Brandon & Steve

I have submitted a few posts before and figured it was about time for another. As ever, I love the site and it’s still a ‘daily read’ as well as my go to site for getting a feel for a camera/lens and not just the technical. Thanks!

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A while back on the site there was an article about using a super cheap CCTV lens. The results to me looked something like a voigtlander 0.95 but for a tiny fraction of the cost. I picked one up off ebay for something like $20 a year or so ago.

It’s as cheaply made as you’d expect (although with a metal barrel) and it comes apart easily. The focusing is tricky and everything feels a bit like a ‘toy’ lens. It vignettes like crazy. There are tons of chromatic aberration. The sweet spot of focus is very small. Any enlarging of a photo shows how poor the glass is in terms of sharpness. Lots of bad points.

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And yet, it also produces some of my favourite photos. It has a character and look unlike anything else I have used. And with a bit of post processing in LR you can really take the edge off a lot of the image quality negatives. All in all I love the lens and love the results. So what’s not to love?

As for shooting a wedding with it, you’d have to be pretty reckless. But, when a friend asks as a favour for you to tag along and shoot the wedding as a second shooter (and knows how little experience you have), you don’t have a lot to lose. So pop on a $20 CCTV lens and see what the photos come out like. (I should also mention he knows I am very much an amateur, this was definitely a freebie, we only had a short time to take photos, it was very overcast grey weather and he wasn’t relying on my shots…so if you want to try this yourself…on your own head be it!)

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As for the photos…they were pp’d in LR (just a minute or so on each one…some colour adjustments, a few BW conversions, purple fringing removal and some straightening). The ones with the heavy vignetting and swirly bokeh are with the CCTV lens, the others are with my 20mm 1.7 Panny Lumix (I).

Hope you enjoy.

Tom Le Vine

May 122015
 

olympusnew

New Olympus 7-14 Pro lens, 8mm f/1.8 Pro lens, and Special Edition E-M5 II!

PRE-ORDER THE 7-14 Pro f/2.8 HERE

PRE-ORDER THE 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye HERE

PRE-ORDER THE E-M5II Titanium SE HERE

Last night Olympus announced some new goodies, two of which I have been waiting for patiently as I am ALL IN on these two (and possibly in on the 3rd as well). We all know that Olympus pro lenses are fantastic, and the new 7-14 is finally here along with the 8mm 1.8 fisheye! Olympus is continuing to lead the way with lenses and we now have a pro level ultra wide for our Micro 4/3 system. YES, there has always been the Panasonic 7-14 f/4 from many years ago, one of the first M 4/3 lenses, but now we have a new Olympus PRO 7-14 that will give us a 14-28mm equivalent and a faster f/2.8 aperture. Below see the 7-14 on the E-M5II (see my E-M5II Review). It’s a chunky beast of a lens but I am confident it will be flat-out AMAZING in performance as all Olympus glass is these days. You can pre-order the 7-14 at B&H Photo, PopFlash.com or Amazon. Amazon says it will not ship until August 1st, B&H is saying end of June. I say June as that is what Olympus says,  but either way, you are not charged until it ships so pre-ordering is always a good idea if you REALLY want an item as you can cancel anytime before it ships with no penalty or charge but pre-ordering secure’s your place in line, and this lens will be popular as all get out. Watch and see. At $1299 it is not cheap, but this is a pro lens, weather sealed and up to the Olympus pro standards, which is about as good as it gets.

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I am also looking forward to the new 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye as I love a good Fisheye lens. The previous premium fish for the Micro 4/3 system is/was the Panasonic 8mm fisheye (my review of that lens here) but this Olympus will be even better with a fast 1.8 aperture vs the f/3.5 of the Panasonic. That speed is not really needed for a fisheye lens but still way cool to have in ANY lens..SPEED is KING. It also has a minimum focus distance of just 2.5cm. See the 8mm below on the E-M5II… The cost of the PRO Fisheye, which will be weather sealed and up to PRO standards will be $999. It will also be called “mine”. Get it HERE at B&H Photo, or at Amazon, or at PopFlash.com. Ships end of June 2015.

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Below, The 7-14 Pro f/2.8 Ultra Wide

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Olympus has also announced a limited run edition of the new E-M5 II in a new and unique “Titanium” E-M5 II, limited to 7,000 units worldwide. This is not real Titanium of course but just the color to be reminiscent of the old Olympus OM-3 Ti from 1994. It will come with a special leather strap, a leather card case, and a numbered owners card showing your cameras #. The price? $1,199. Me like. Very much! Looks much more classy than the standard silver or black IMO. This sounds like a Leica special edition with the strap, card case, and numbered card ;) You can order the SE E-M5II at Amazon HERE and it will be released August 1st. My pre-order is in for this and the two lenses above! Ships end of June 2015.

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OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS:

OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL ED 7-14MM F2.8 AND 8MM F1.8 FISHEYE PRO LENSES FOR COMPACT EXPLORING

Excellent Optical Performance, Ultra-Wide, Compact and Lightweight for Ultimate Mobility, Dustproof and Splashproof Construction, Underwater Accessory Compatibility

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., May 12, 2015 — Today, Olympus is pleased to announce the availability of two new premium M.ZUIKO DIGITAL PRO lenses. The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO is an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 14-28mm, while the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm Fisheye PRO, the world’s first with an f/1.8 aperture, features a minimum working distance of just 2.5cm and offers excellent bokeh with wide-angle macro shots. Both lenses are equipped with Olympus’ legendary weather sealing, providing peace-of-mind while shooting in extreme weather conditions with an OM-D® camera.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO is the ideal lens for wide-angle shooting needs in any condition. This premium lens includes weather sealing in 11 locations, enabling use in rain and snow, or even on the beach, where other lenses may not be able to withstand ocean spray or dust penetration. At 534 grams, or just under 19 ounces, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO is about 45 percent lighter than similar competitor products, eliminating heavy equipment that may slow the user down.

The lens also includes premium close-up shooting capabilities, thanks to the minimum working distance of just 7.5cm, offering extremely sharp capture capability, even at the very edges of an image. Three Super ED lenses, one ED lens and two EDA lenses help to minimize peripheral chromatic aberration, while the ZERO (Zuiko Extra-Low Reflective Optical) Coating aids in minimizing ghosting. The lens also boasts an L-Fn button with 27 assignable functions and a Manual Focus Clutch with built-in Focus Distance Meter. The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens comes with a fixed lens hood and pinch-style lens cap LC-79 for added protection.

Hobbyists, photo enthusiasts and professionals alike will be captivated by the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye lens’ 180-degree diagonal angle of view. Like the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO, this lens includes dustproof and splashproof construction, for unlimited wide-angle adventure. The lens is also compatible with a custom dome port for use with an Olympus underwater housing.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye lens is constructed of 17 elements in 15 groups and can capture high resolution at the very edges of an image, even at the maximum aperture of f1.8. ZERO Coating minimizes optical flares and ghosting. The lens also comes with a fixed lens hood and a pinch-style lens cap LC-62.

Both of the lenses’ compact size, brightness and weight reflect Olympus’ mastery of precision engineering. When used in conjunction with core OM-D technologies, like 5-axis image stabilization, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye open the user up to new possibilities for long exposure hand-held shooting.

Underwater Lens Port, PPO-EP02

The PPO-EP02 glass dome lens port is a great accessory to the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye lens, enabling the user to capture the widest shot possible underwater with the OM-D E-M5 or OM-D E-M1 underwater housings. The PPO-EP02 is 15 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than Olympus’ previous lens port model, the PPO-E04, allowing for more compact and lightweight underwater shooting. Also, the hood section can be removed to reduce waves for over-under shots. (Rear Cover (PRPC-EP02) and Front Cover (PBC-EP02) are bundled).
U.S. Pricing and Availability

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens will be available in June 2015 (black) for an estimated street price of $1,299.99 (US) and $1,599.99 (Canada).

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO lens will be available in June 2015 (black) for an estimated street price of $999.99 (US) and $1,249.99 (Canada).

To find out more about the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO lenses, and for a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website at
http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/lenses/pen-omd.html.

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Apr 202015
 

Shooting Streets with the Olympus OM-1

By Justin Halim

With so many people buying the ever-more popular Olympus OM mirrorless cameras, I thought I would pay homage to the original OM – the OM-1 35mm SLR – with which the mirrorless system derives its name and styling.

The OM-1 is an incredible camera, period.  Based on the Leica M camera (it was even called the M-1 before Leica complained about it), the OM-1 maintains the same philosophy of its German inspiration – simplicity.  This has led many to call the OM-1 the Leica SLR – they have identical dimensions, similar dial placements, and similar shooting methods.  And like the Leica M, the OM is the perfect street photographer’s camera.  I actually got very lucky with my system – after Hurricane Sandy a couple years ago, I was cleaning my house and found a bag with four OM Zuiko lenses – a 28mm f2.8, a 35mm f2.8 SHIFT, a 135mm f2.8, and a 50mm f1.8, along with a beaten up Olympus OM-G (the consumer OM model).  I can’t even describe how excited I was by this – I immediately went on eBay and bought myself a nice OM-1 to mount the lenses.

Coming from a Leica M6, I found the OM-1 very intuitive and natural to use.  It is very small (it fits perfectly in a Leica M case), built incredibly well, and very elegant – it doesn’t have the “industrialness” of a Nikon F3, but more of a jewelry-like quality, like a fine Swiss watch.  The viewfinder is the biggest and brightest viewfinder I have ever looked through, the shutter makes just a soft whispery click, and the Zuiko lenses are simply amazing – they have a certain character that makes pictures pop out at you.  I actually often find myself preferring my OM-1 to my Leica M6.  And to top it all off, they are dirt-cheap – I got my OM-1 with a 50mm 1.8 for just $70!  For anyone looking to get into 35mm film, I highly recommend this camera.

From a shooter’s perspective, the OM-1 is like a breath of fresh air to shoot.  It is so easy and so simplistic – it is that rare camera that makes shooting just pure fun.  Everything about it allows for quick and efficient shooting.  With its portable and unobtrusive design, quick focusing system and versatile lenses, it is an outstanding street photography camera.  In fact, I only ever really use it for the occasions I shoot street photography, which is kind of a shame – it deserves to be used more. My parents both work NYC, so on the days they bring me, I spend hours just walking around with my OM-1 taking pictures of whatever, just because it is so much fun to use.   Using this camera is what makes me look forward to my visits to the city.

Thank you everyone for reading and thank you Steve for publishing this article!  I hope you all enjoy the pictures!  I believe all photos were taken with the 135mm f2.8 Zuiko and 50mm f1.8 Zuiko, on Kodak Ektar, Iflord PanF, and Kodak TMax.

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/112710288@N03/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/justinhalim/

Washington Square Fountain 

1 

This man noticed I was taking pictures, and approached me asking if I wanted a rap in exchange for a portrait and a couple of bucks.  I don’t regret saying yes.

2

In NYC parks, chess is a very popular game.  Chess tables are built into the ground, and many players will sit and call out to passerby’s asking if they want to play.

 3

There are hundreds of street musicians in NYC, but this musician is my favorite.  He plays in a duo called the Outlaw Ritual with whom I believe is his wife (I may be wrong), and they can always get a crowd going.

4

One of the many “Pigeon Men” of Washington Square.  They attract pigeons and let the birds perch on them.  Sometimes they hand pigeons over to tourists for fun.

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I had never actually seen one of the people who hang the posters that line NYC’s streets, so I found this strangely interesting.

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In the summer, the city boasts some surprisingly colorful gardens.

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Even among all the concrete, there are plenty of grassy spots to sit and relax (or study, as many NYU students do in the park).

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The other half of Outlaw Ritual.

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One of the many ways people get their voices heard in the city – chalking messages on the sidewalk.

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Apr 202015
 

Shooting combat sports: pushing the limits of the Olympus OMD EM-5

By Vlad Georgescu

I was recently shooting a combat sports event in London and I tried a little experiment, knowing from the very beginning that I was going to fail. However I like pushing cameras to their limits and I wanted to see how bad the results were going to be. Basically I shot one of the boxing matches with an Olympus OMD EM-5 and the standard 12-50mm kit lens. With a 3.5-6.3 variable aperture, this lens is too slow for this type of photography. However its 24-100mm 35mm focal length equivalent makes it perfect for the job.

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Shooting combat sports generally pushes any camera to its limits. The light is decent, but not very good – it is also mixed and needs careful white balance checks before the event starts. You need to freeze action with shutter speeds of at least 1/320s. Generally 1/500s or 1/640 are better in order to capture that fist smashing the opponent’s face. Flash is not permitted, to allow the fighters to maintain concentration and to keep the TV coverage clean. Focusing is demanding and requires good tracking of fast movement. When shooting mixed martial arts, following the action step by step is even more difficult as you need to shoot through the cage.

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Ringside, most photographers will use a full frame body or an APS-C with competent ISO capabilities. A fast 2.8 short zoom is mandatory in order to keep the ISO at manageable levels, but a 35mm 1.4 lens would also work to cover the ring.

Obviously a few eyebrows were raised when I pulled the little Olympus, but nevertheless I kept using it throughout the entire duration of a fight. A few shots are attached here, but  here are some pros and cons.

Pros:

The 9 frame per second shooting capability comes very handy here. For combat sports, it is mandatory to shoot rapid fire in order to capture that unique moment of the blow’s impact or the blood/sweat mix exploding from one of the fighters’ faces.

The auto-focus with tracking worked unexpectedly well. The EM5 does not have the more complex auto-focus of the EM1, combining phase and contrast technologies. However I was amazed to discover that very few shots were out of focus – the number of properly focused shots was basically on par with what I would get with a DSLR.

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For a micro 4/3, the sensor behaves reasonably well at high ISO. Most shots are done at 3200 ISO and you can easily detect the noise degradation on closer inspection. However the files keep an impressive amount of detail in the faces and the body vascularity of the athletes remains visible. The sensor’s performance is miles away from what micro 4/3 was delivering a few years back, but surely still far from what you get at 3200 ISO with a modern full frame camera.

Size was also a major plus for the EM5. Shooting for a few hours in a row can be very taxing, and a lighter camera definitely helps. You are also able to be much nimble, move around and shoot from tighter corners. This is important as, at some fights, photographers are literally on top of each other trying to get a good shot because the space by the ring or cage is restricted.

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The electronic viewfinder coped really well; the image in the viewfinder was fluid despite the fact that the ring movements are fast and the light is not great.

Controls on the camera are nicely laid out and the two top dials are enough to control the body of the camera without taking your eyes off the viewfinder.

Ah, and one other thing! The weather sealing comes in handy if you get splashed with a bit of blood or sweat. This is fairly normal at combat events.

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Cons:

Battery life, at 200-300 hundred shots max, is terrible for covering hour of sports, where you could easily need to shoot almost 1,500 frames throughout 9-10 consecutive fights. Extra batteries or the battery grip will be needed. Disabling the live view helps a lot and will extend the battery life significantly.

Sensor size and noise remain significant issues. The file size also means that not much cropping is possible without dramatically alter the quality. The reality is that the larger size you get with a full frame sensor allows decent crops, which are many times required because there is simply no way to react quickly enough to the speed of the action in the ring.

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Despite all this, I feel it was worth playing (and failing) with the Olympus OMD EM-5, in a challenging environment, with a lens not suitable for covering this type of action. As I was returning to the normal kit for the next fight, I felt I enjoyed the experience and would be willing to give it another go with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO lens, which should give me much more room to maneuver in terms of settings.

Some more sport shots, taken with other cameras, can be seen for comparison here: http://vladgeorgescu.500px.com/sport

Thanks,

Vlad Georgescu

Mar 262015
 

Micro 4/3 at the pub

By Shaul Naschitz

Hi Brandon and Steve,

I live in a tiny rural community in northern Israel about three miles from the Syrian border. Our local pub is situated in a bomb shelter 20 feet underground. One of its benefits is the absence of cellular reception; when you’re down there you communicate directly.

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I used an E-M1 with a Voiglander 25 for the first two shots and an E-M5 with a 75/1.8 for the third. Lighting conditions down the pub are atrocious, which makes any attempt to convey the atmosphere a challenge. Still, I hope you enjoy them.

I wish the Syrian people peace and quiet. We are greatly concerned about their situation here, across the border. Wish we could do more to help.

Kind regards,
Shaul Naschitz

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