Oct 272014
 

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The SLR Magic CINE 10mm t/2.1 Lens Review

by Amy & Tony Medina

Generally, I’ve really enjoyed the SLR Magic lenses, as I already own the 23mm f/1.7 Hyperprime and 35mm T/1.4 CINE, and use them on my Fuji APS-C cameras often. When Steve asked me if I wanted to review the new SLR Magic CINE 10mm T/2.1 for Micro 4/3, I jumped at the chance.

To start with, I think that overall, if you’re a fan of SLR Magic lenses, this one will not be a disappointment.

The time I spent with this lens, I shot it primarily on the Panasonic GX7. They paired well, but I think on a slightly bigger body it would be every better. My husband paired it with the GH1 for video, and he thought it balanced on the camera really well. SLR Magic lenses in general are well built, and they aren’t what I would call light. They have a nice heft to them, and they pair well with bodies like the Fuji XT1, Olympus OMD-EM5 and the Panasonic GH Series that themselves aren’t the smallest of the mirrorless cameras. It did work well on the GX7, and I’m sure it would feel good on equally small bodies… I just think they pair better with bodies that seem a touch more solid themselves.

One nice feature right off the bat that those of you with SLR Magic lenses will appreciate… no screw-on cap this time. Finally! It was your typical snap-on-type lens cap. Ya know, sometimes I like the fact those screw-on caps stay put, but most of the time I find them to be a royal pain in the butt, so I really appreciate a “normal” lens cap on this one.

Call it a pet peeve, but it really irks me that not all SLR Magic lenses are built the same. Some have the f-stop (or t-stop) control on the outside ring, furthest from the body… others have this ring closest to the mount. When I switch back and forth between their different lenses, I find this quite annoying! As a photographer, to me all f-stop dials should always be the furthest one from the body. Of course, it’s mostly just a minor annoyance, and it’s not something that would keep me from buying the lens, but I just wish they were ALL made with the f-stop control in the same place.

As for image quality, there were no surprises. I feel like I know what to expect with SLR Magic lenses, and that consistency carried through to the 10mm T/2.1 CINE.

SLR Magic lenses have that wonderful character they’ve become known for… a bit of a dreamy retro look around the edges, but nice and sharp in the middle. Typically, they shoot just a little flat.. they aren’t super contrasty lenses straight out of the camera, but they grade beautifully and just have so much charm. I find their color rendition quite neutral — not too warm or too cool — and I’m never disappointed with the images I get out of their lenses… it was no different with the 10mm T/2.1. I was very pleased with nearly every photo I took with the lens.

First one is straight out of the camera, the second is post-processed to my taste…

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In my opinion, SLR Magic lenses perform okay stopped down, but that isn’t why we buy them. Sharpness edge to edge, that’s not usually the priority of the SLR Magic user. These lenses are really meant to be used wide-open, or more on the open side of things, where they shine and show their unique personality. They provide excellent subject isolation while delivering a lovely “magic” image quality.

The front element is rather large (77mm in diameter), which isn’t a surprise on such a wide lens. Of course, that seems to make it a little prone to flare. However, I find the flare itself to be of the attractive type, and I have the kind of personality where I like to use flare to my advantage to enhance a photo. With a lens like the 10mm T/2.1, where I find the flare so pleasing, I’m often tying to introduce it rather than eliminate it.

It’s up to you whether you want to let that flare creep in or find a 77mm wide angle lens hood that will work to keep it out. The lens does not come with one.

A bit of flare…

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I can’t say 10mm is my favorite focal length on micro 4/3, but that’s a really personal thing honestly. Sometimes I did find it a bit awkward… but that’s no shocker when I tend to gravitate more towards the normal focal lengths from 35mm to 55mm (full frame equivalent), or I go for the ultra-wides, like 15mm. 20mm, to me, is just at that point a bit in-between.

Now, my husband on the other hand, when shooting some video tests, loved that it was right there in between… he told me that he liked that it didn’t give that overly distorted look that ultra wides often do, but certainly gave a wider, much more unique perspective than lenses in the mid-normal range.

What’s interesting is that we often disagreed a bit about this lens: some of the things that I would criticize are things he would really liked. An example is that he loves the clickless aperture dial, where that’s one of the things I generally don’t like about SLR Magic lenses (I think I even mentioned that in another review here on Steve’s site). But seriously, that’s not at all unexpected when it comes to a photographer’s vs. a videographer’s opinion.

It’s part of their CINE line of lenses of course, which means it’s optimized for video and has some of those built-for-videographer features, like click-less aperture and a focus ring that will mate up with follow-focus gears. The focus throw is smooth as silk, and comfortable for shooting both photography and video.

For my husband, the wide angle helped minimize shakiness when hand-holding the camera, and having a lens so wide, but also fast, can make for some really cool shots.

All of the footage below is just test footage shot by my husband, and we thought we’d share it. It has been color graded a bit… but most serious videographers will appreciate that rarely are you using footage that you don’t color correct and enhance.

This was all shot on an original GH1.

 

In conclusion, the best way to express how much we both think this is a great lens is to share that we indeed plan to buy it.
For me, even though the focal length was a little “in-between”, I think I can find use for it in my growing arsenal of wide angle lenses that I use for work. And since my husband and I will share it, and he loves it, the biggest downside will be us fighting for it when I want to use it. LOL

As I started off by saying, if you’re an SLR Magic fan already, there’s a lot you’re going to like with this lens. It delivers exactly the way you’d expect it to. It’s wide without being fisheye-distorted, and it’s fast to let in tons of light and allow that great depth of field control.

Overall, it delivers quality images with tons of personality — exactly what we’ve all come to expect from an SLR Magic lens.

 

You can purchase this lens at B&H Photo HERE.

Follow Amy!

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DangRabbitPhotography

on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DangRabbit

on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AmyDangRabbit

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Oct 222014
 

Loving my Olympus E-M1

By Richard Craze

Hi Steve.

I’ve been following your site for just over a year now. Every week I take a look and get a lot of enjoyment from it. So I thought I’d submit three of my pictures to your Inspiration section.

All the images were taken using the Olympus EM1.

I’ve been taking pictures since the age of thirteen, I’m now sixty seven! It all stared when my uncle gave me a box Browne for my thirteenth birthday, plus two rolls of film. I went though the two rolls of film on the day of my birthday, I then had to save my pocket-money up to pay for the developing. I finally got to see my pictures about six weeks later, by that time I was hooked! Over the years I’ve had quite a few different cameras, mostly 35mm, plus a few medium format. The first really good camera I got my hands was a Leica IIIf. This camera was a nightmare lode, you had to take the base off, take out the empty spool, slip the end of the new film (which had to be pre cut) into the empty spool, then you had to carefully thread the film down between the back plate and the shutter box! In the end I could lode a new film in under thirty seconds. I can’t remember which lens it was, but I think it was a f3.5 lens that collapse into the body of the camera. Mind you the images where amazing even then (1963). I got to use this camera while doing a summer job. One of my jobs was taking pictures of the kids playing on the beach. I’d take they’re picture, gave the parents a ticket telling them where they could see the picture later that day. Can you imagine doing that kind of thing today!

“The amber nectar”, this image was taken in our the hotel bar on the Greek island of Kefalonia. The wife was getting a tan while I looked around the hotel. I used the Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens at f1.8 for this shot (I love this lens!). I converted it to black & white in Silver Effects.

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“Twenty five Garbo chairs”, was taken in Swansea (South Wales) at the local harbour using the Olympus 12 to 40mm f2.8 lens at 1/40 at f/10. This to was converted in Silver Effects

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“You cant take pictures here mate”, This was taken out side a shopping centre not far from where I live (Porthcawl, South Wales, UK), when this guy came up to me and said I was not aloud to take pictures of the building! I asked him who he was, he said he was a cleaner. I informed him that in the UK you can take pictures of any building as long as you do it from a public place. I suggested that we call into the place station which was just across the road from the shopping centre to sort it out. He muttered a few expletives and left me to it!

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I was using the Sanyang 7.5mm fish eye lens at the time. I’d just paid the princely sum of thirty five pounds from e bay! With this lens you can just set the f-stop to f/5.6 or f/8 and forget all about focusing! The image quality is surprisingly good. Not the kind of lens you use every day but good to know you have it in your bag.

As you can see I don’t have a favourite subject, I just take pictures that please me, which is what photography is all about.

Hope you like my images.

More at this link: http://www.digitalrev.com/r.craze

Richard Craze

Oct 212014
 

The Shadows Are Your Friends. Micro 4/3 Creepiness.

By Vince de la Pena

Greetings from Down Under.

My name is Vince de la Pena and I’d like to share my very first personal photographic project. This was shot in the infamous (for photographers) old abandoned Larundel psychiatric hospital in Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.
I purchased an Olympus OM-D E-M5 2 years ago after finding the my Canon 30D and lenses were too heavy and bulky for me. I have recently sold my Canon 6D and 2x L-series lenses to fund more micro 4/3 lenses and a Lumix GM1 body. I have also upgraded from the Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 to the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 which I find is quite a bit sharper. The majority of the shoot was done with the Olympus 12-40mm and the bunny-eating scene was shot with the Olympus 45mm f1.8.

The Shoot.
This personal project was months in the making. It required scouting out the old hospital and looking for some cool grafitti or murals to shoot against. This is a popular place for budding photographers. The upper level had lots of holes in the roof which would allow beautiful spots of harsh light from above. You can google the images of Larundel and see what I mean. Unfortunately, with the advancement of high ISO sensors and the overuse of HDR to see into the shadows, I felt that the creepiness of the shadows has not been taken to its full potential. I believe that the shadows create the unknown. And that unknown creates fear. Embrace the shadows. The shadows are your friends.

For this particular shoot, we had to bring a lot of props like a door; a mattress with pillows and sheets; lighting, stands, a purpose-built electric chair, ladders, tripods, black blankets, lots of flashlights, etc. I even had to buy some black cherry jam for the bunny rabbit eating scene. Have you ever had generic fake blood in your mouth? It’s freakin’ disgusting. I didn’t want to risk my model Emma pulling the lemon face during the gore scenes.

Finally, I want to thank my mum for her brutally honest feedback. Every time she looks at my photos and just says “Nice”, it makes me go “Whaddayamean NICE?!?!” It makes me try harder to get a shot that has more impact. It makes me see things beyond the pixel peeping, the retouching, the bokeh, the noise and grain, etc.

Happy Halloween, folks!!!

Vince de la Pena

PS: Special thanks to model Emma Jarrett (who flew down from Queensland for the shoot) and to Mikel Magdadaro and Edwin Retuta (assistant photographers). Also special thanks to Richard Denek (also a long time subscriber of yours) for getting me into photography, supplying my first serious camera and introducing me to this inspiring website

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Sep 252014
 

LBGT London Pride festival

By dgd

Hi Brandon, Steve, Everyone

LBGT+ London pride festival is held every year-end of June. Thousands gather to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender

Begins at Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes’ :)), THEN makes its way through Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall and Trafalgar Sqaure. This was my first time.  I was near Trafalgar Square I have never experienced such a wonderful public gathering as I did in LBGT.  I felt the most free, happy, joyous amongst people like I’d never felt before. I have been to many festivals, outdoor concert, sports, Olympics. Been around people from over 100 countries. Sometimes I been to church, mosque, synagogue, Sikh Hindu Buddhist temples, Hari Krisha.  I’ve visited spiritual places.  None of these were as blissful for me when being around people as LBGT.

When I thought about it afterwards it is because only LBGT welcomes everyone with open arms. Whoever they maybe, however they may look, whatever their cultural religious social outlook.I am usually uncomfortable taking photos of strangers. This time I felt so at ease. I took over 200 photos with Olympus c5050 (2003 compact, F1.8 with swivel screen). From these 200 I chose those eleven which reflected the emotion, inclusivity, warmth of LGBT.

Best regards
dgd aka dougie digital dawg

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Sep 232014
 

The OMD EM5 in the Nation’s capital

By Jose Miguel Constantino

Dear Steve,

After reading the user reviews and watching your reviews about the EM5 and the Zuiko lenses, I decided to pull the trigger and replace my cumbersome Nikon D5100. After nearly 8 months shooting with the EM5, I am one happy camper! I love the size and versatility of the camera coupled with the 17mm F/1.8. The image quality is fantastic, and the OOC jpegs are great even up to ISO 3200. Parking in Washington DC is terrible, so I usually ride my motorcycle with a small backpack. The EM5 leaves plenty of room for my lenses and a change of clothing in my backpack. The summers in DC get extremely humid, and the heat of the engine does not help.

After a few months of eating ramen noodles for weeks to save money, I finally had enough to purchase the amazing 75mm F/1.8 lens. Wow! The images are amazing, and the bokeh is to die for! It does take quite a bit of getting used to because of the super long focal length, but I guess when I am wandering aimlessly in the city it isn’t much of an issue. The build quality is fantastic; it just feels exquisite and expensive like a piece of jewelry.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/49272116@N02/

http://streetsofdmv.tumblr.com/

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Sep 182014
 

Discover your subject

By Dirk Dom

Hi!

I wanted to see if I could take some insect shots with my Olympus PEN. I took the Kiron 105 macro with me, an extremely good lens which I almost never use, for insects I prefer the Canon 200mm macro which allows me to take shots from a far greater distance. When we arrived, the sun was out and it was around five, so the sun was nicely yellow. I went to the back of the Put, and started looking. I put as a goal to come up with one interesting shot. There were lots of dragonflies, but those weren’t interesting.

I took this shot, just for fun.

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While shooting a spider squatting down I lost my balance and rolled backwards in the nettles, and I got nettled all over my body, straight through my blouse. There was another insect photographer, and I went to say hello. He asked if I had seen a certain heidelibel, but since I’m a dilettante who just shoots and has no clue as to names, I couldn’t help him. He pointed out a bush with three small blue butterflies with their wings closed. The bush was dead and brown and he didn’t think it made for an interesting shot. I got to work at the butterflies.

First, a standard shot.

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I got up and wanted to walk away, but then I thought: “Hey! What are you doing! Discover your subject!” and I put some real effort into it.

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That was already a little better. See how it looks like a little jewel? With the tiltable viewfinder of the Olympus PEN I can shoot at angles an SLR owner can only dream of, and with the 105mm I could shoot at a very steep upwards angle, so I could include the blue sky:

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That was getting better. With this lens I can shoot an image 18mm wide, but that gets extremely difficult because depth of sharpness is very thin. But I gave it a try, and one shot came out sharp.

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I decided to do a shot at the steepest possible upwards angle, as an ant would see it:

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And finally I took a shot from straight forward, because I’ve never shot a butterfly this way. See how pettable and yet alien it looks?

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The truly amazing thing is that these butterflies stayed in one place during all of this shoot. I moved ultra slow all the time.

“Discover your subject”: It worked out!

Dirk.

 

Sep 162014
 

A closer look at the new Olympus 40-150 F/2.8 Pro Zoom (Video)

or..everything you wanted to know about the new Olympus 40-150 2.8 Pro Zoom but did not know who to ask :) Check out the video below to see all you could want to know on the new Olympus 40-150 Zoom lens. Olympus glass/fast primes are so so good, up there with Leica IMO. This lens will KILL on an OMD body.

You can pre-order it at Amazon HERE. B&H Photo has it as well HERE.  PopFlash.com also sells this lens HERE.

Sep 082014
 

Olympus E-P5 goes to Rhodes

By Eyal Gurevitch

As part of writing a review, I had the chance to take the Olympus E-P5 on a family holiday in Rhodes. We stayed at Kathara Bay in Faliraki, where the weather was hot and the sea was cold (and flat!) and so was the beer (cold, not flat). Leaving my own Panasonic GX7 at home (but taking the excellent 20mm f/1.7 with the E-P5), I had a hard time switching to its different colors, so most of the time I escaped into its B&W film grain filter and (apart from just a few times) cozily stayed there.

My first thoughts of the E-P5 were that it’s an unclear mixture of tacky toy-like options (what were they thinking with that ‘fun frame’ mode?) and high-end output. I mean, sure – most cameras have both fully automatic, semi manual and fully manual modes, with the option to either let it fly buy itself or take full control. This usually doesn’t include a half-baked menu system and non-appealing filters and effects, as customizable as they all may be.

So, as it currently stands, I wasn’t remotely persuaded by the E-P5 to part ways with my GX7, at least not for my photographic needs. It could be that I misunderstood this camera completely and that it’s actually a gem underneath its amateur demeanor – if that’s the case, please let me know.

A small but important note – all images above are straight out of the camera – no post editing whatsoever.

-eyalg

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Sep 042014
 

Burning Man 2014 with an OMD E- M1

By Steve Richards

IMG_1941 - Version 2

Hi Steve, since it’s while since I posted anything on your site I thought your readers might be interested in my latest trip – I went to Burning Man for the first time this year and after much reading and deliberation I decided to leave the M240 at home since although the latest body is weather-sealed the lenses are not and I didn’t want to risk my expensive glass. (Wuss!)

I’ve always liked the m4/3rds format since my first Lumix G1 years ago so I took an Olympus OMD E-M1 with a single lens – the Oly 25/1.8 – the challenge to see if I could capture some decent shots with a compact and simple set up.

The conditions are extreme, high daytime temperatures and dust storms that can totally envelop everything. The set up was left unprotected – some photogs put their kit in a plastic bag, I didn’t – you can see from the camera shot it got totally dusted! Although the lens is not weather-sealed it didn’t seem to get any dust inside during the week I’m sure partly because I stayed with the same lens the whole time. It’s all perfect now I’m home and it’s cleaned it up beautifully.

As for the pictures, I’m really pleased with the outcome, apart from the real night-time shots that are noisy, even post cropping the quality is ok for my purposes. The real bugbear is the crazy number of buttons on the camera body and the super complex non-intuitive menus, that combo drives me crazy and will chase me back to the simplicity of a Leica M for my next trip. Why don’t the mfs have a “simple menu” option that closes down all but the basic functions?!

My FB page link to more Burning Man shots below

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.647315935375621.1073741837.100002916611034&type=1&l=63d2c2d4ab

Keep up the good work fella, your site is one of the best around…

Best regards
Steve Richards

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Aug 072014
 

My quick interview with Olympus on the E-M1

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When I was in Ireland with Olympus they sat down with a few of us at Castle Leslie and asked us a few questions about the fabulous and game changing E-M1 camera. Below is my short but sweet interview. Of course you can see my full E-M1 review HERE and my visit to Castle Leslie in Ireland to shoot the E-M1 HERE. I feel the same about the E-M1 today as I did the 1st week it was launched. Best Micro 4/3 made today!  Thanks Olympus!

Jul 252014
 

Olympus XA series user report

By Gary Perlmutter

XA2

I first used the Olympus XA back in the early eighties and recently when looking for a cheap camera to start shooting film again, came across the range once more on eBay. The Olympus XA series first arrived in 1979 with the original XA (and the best specified model). A tiny true rangefinder 35m film camera with a very sharp 35mm f2.8 Zeiss Tessar lens. It had a built-in meter and a matching flashgun that simply screwed onto the side of the camera. Then in 1980 a more affordable addition to the line up was the XA2, this had a pre-focus slider, auto exposure and a cheaper but still very sharp f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens. Other models released were the very basic XA1, the XA3 (which was really the same as the XA2 but with DX coding so that the film speed was set automatically) and finally the XA4, which had a 28mm macro lens that could focus down to one foot. The example I purchased was the XA2 model for just 7.50GBP or about $13. The original XA’s command a higher price, but can still be found for around 50GBP or $85. Most are still sold complete with the flashgun, which as mentioned earlier simply screws onto the side of the camera body.
When you buy any film camera of this sort of age it’s important that the seals around the camera back are intact. Otherwise you could get light leaking in and fogging the film. They can be replaced but on a camera already so cheap, it’s better to move on and find an example with the seals intact. Other things to look out for are is that the lens is free from fungus or scratches and that the shutter and meter work ok. They operate with two SR44 or equivalent batteries. Using the XA2 is a joy, especially for my passion of street photography. It’s tiny and black with a very quiet shutter, so very inconspicuous. Just slide open the clamshell cover and your ready to go, on the assumption you’ve remembered to load it with film first that is! Loaded with 400 ISO film and having set the focus slider to the middle setting, (Actually it resets to this anyway on closing the cover) most subjects will be sharp from around a metre or so to about 5 metres. So perfect again for shooting in the street. So if you’re looking for a full frame rangefinder camera for less than $85, you need not look much further! I have attached a few images shot with the first roll of Ilford HP5 plus that I put through the camera. I then processed the film myself with Ilford developer and scanned using my Plustek 8100, then tweaked just a little in Lightroom.
Full spec below:
Olympus XA

Lens: 35mm f/2.8 internally focused lens. Does not retract: magic optical design makes it shorter than its own focal length! It’s ready to shoot the instant you slid it open.
Exposure: Aperture preferred automation.
ISO: 25 to 800.
Shutter: Automatic electronic analog, 1/500 – 10 seconds.
Aperture: two-bladed manual, f/2.8 – f/22.
Focus: Rangefinder.
Power: Two SR44 cells.
Colors: Black; also red, silver or blue.
Weight: 7.800 oz (221.15g) with batteries (measured).
Size: 2.567″ x 4.123″ x 1.572″ HWD (measured).

Olympus XA2
Lens: 35mm f/3.5, four element Tessar variant, front element focus.
Focus: three zone manual. Resets to mid-distance when clamshell is closed.
Metering: Center weighted, program auto.
ISO: 25 to 800.
Shutter: 1/500 – 2 seconds. Aperture integrated with the two shutter blades.
Power: 2 SR44 cells.
Size: 2.598″ x 4.102″ x 1.605″ HWD (measured).
Weight: 7.480 oz., (212.1g) with two S76 cells (measured).
Olympus XA4 (1985)
The XA4 was an XA2 with a 28mm lens that scale-focuses as close as 1 foot (0.3m). The wrist strap was this same length so you could tape-off your shots.
Closing the cover also reset the scale focus back to 10 feet (3m).
My links: http://gpstreetphotos.tumblr.com
Twitter: @gpstreetphotos

 chilling

cool

I believe

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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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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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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