Apr 252016
 

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Never Ending Love with Ricoh GR

by Lorenzo Moscia

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When I first purchase the Ricoh GR I never thought a camara of that size will catch me for so long time. It is almost two years now since I start to bring the Ricoh basically everywhere on my assignment trip. At first it was Cuba where I brought a Canon as well wich it was staying most of the time at home, just because that was more than a family trip than a real assignment. But right there I discover the beauty of walking all day around a city without look like a photographer and my back and knees were so happy by the end of the day.

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To begin with I was a little scared of sending Ricoh files to my agency. Would some editor buy and publish files made with a pocket camera? When I got on assignment I normally use two canon bodies (5d MkIII with a 16-352.8II and 6D with 50 1.2) sometimes I bring the little 28mm II and the 35f2.

If I m on assignment for a travel Magazine in Europe I will carry the Ricoh in a Hama pocket on my belt and I could barely take it out. But if I m doing something else like in Easter Ukraine,Thailand, Sri Lanka or Africa with ONG well I find out just using more and more the Ricoh, especially when I have some free hours in wich I m left to walk around a place with no fixer or driver. Canon stays home and I m free as a bird with Ricoh in my pocket.
After the Cuba experience I order one more battery and a wall charger.

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When I m editing even magnifying the image I cannot spot if is the Ricoh or a Canon with the 28. Colors are so great and dynamic range is even better than Canon!. Ricoh is just a bit more noisy.Of course I wont get the bokeh of the 50.1.2 or the 135 f2! When I was in Brazil for the World Cup back in 2014 my assignment was to follow the Colombian supporters for the Colombian football FEderation. My gear at that time it was two Canon bodies with 28 and 50 in a little Domke F5 XC. I was supposed to be all time on the road, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiabá and Rio. But when I get int o Rio and went back in to a Favela I regret so much to not have brought the Ricoh with me. Even if that Canon was a very light, effective combo I missed so many shots especially in some complicated streets were I dind have the balls to bring out any Canon at all.

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Bangkok, Thailand, feb 2014. Scenes durign the Chinese Lunar New Year.The political crisis in Thailand is afecting tourims as well.Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports Somsak Phurisisak recently predicted that february arrivals would fall by half to 1 million, with some hotels in the capital, Pattaya and elsewhere experiencing occupancy rates of just 30 percent. Much of that decline is thought to have come from the Chinese market after the nation warned its citizens to avoid protest sites and reconsider nonessential travel to Thailand over the popular Lunar New Year travel period.

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Kieve, Ukraine, March,11,2015. Vita diaria por las calles de Kiev.

It was the new GR, same sensor, same face,but the body-material more Anti Scratch and few improvements all around.I was happy man again. In Ukraine on the fire line of course I would use the Canon but as I walk around Mariupol with the Ricoh I felt like invisible and could catch so many shot without people even notice me. No sound it also very important. In Sri Lanka, Colombo during a assignment for a Canadian ONG I brought tow Canon, 28, 35.1.4 and 50 1.8 (the 70 dollars lens) and the Ricoh.

Ukraine, march 2015.

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Ukraine, march 2015. Escenas de vida diaria en la ciudad de Mariupol que s eencuentra a pocos km de la linea de combate entre ejercito ukranio y separatistas pro rusos.

Ukraine, march 2015. Escenas de vida diaria en la ciudad de Mariupol que s eencuentra a pocos km de la linea de combate entre ejercito ukranio y separatistas pro rusos.

Ukraine, march 2015. Escenas de vida diaria en la ciudad de Mariupol que s eencuentra a pocos km de la linea de combate entre ejercito ukranio y separatistas pro rusos.

My task there was to photographs students in school and in their homes. 35 1.4 I bought used in Rome it was performing just great and the combination with the canon 6d body was just going to be my best assignment lens. But too good to be true after a couple of days I notice that at 1.4 lots of shots were out of focus. they look all right when I took them but once open the file in lightroom I just find out that the focus was some cm over the front. It didn’t happen once with the 50 1.2 so what was that??! 35 was back int the hotel room. And once I was in Rome send it back to canon service but the problem didn’t go away. End of love with the canon 35. But back in Sri Lanka when I was not working for the ONG I just left the Canon at the hotel and went around with the Ricoh, inside a Hama belt case and two batteries. That was haven! So my bottom line here is that I would love to find another little body with a 50 2.0 or less, something like Ricoh that could give me a bit of bokeh. And going out there and shoot some assignment with just that combination!

Take care everyone!

Lorenzo Moscia

Apr 162016
 

Friday Film on a Saturday – Leica M5 and Tri-X

by Matt Forsbacka

Hello,

You run a fun web site – your enthusiasm for photography is infectious. I recently visited Tokyo and Yokohama with my M5 and vintage 35mm Summilux during the iconic sakura season. All of the attached pix are Tri-X pushed to 1600 (developed and scanned by the folks at The Darkroom – thedarkroom.com). I really enjoyed shooting film as an added dimension to my digital picture taking.

All post processing was done in Apple Photos, and I found the scanned files to be pretty forgiving for my amateur photographer purposes. Film or digital? I say both.

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All the best,

Matt

Apr 112016
 
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Travel photography in India with a Nikon Df and Zeiss Otus 55

by Sebastien Bey-Haut

Dear Steve,

It’s always a great pleasure to be featured on your site so I’d like to share my experience on shooting a pretty unusual combo: a Nikon Df and a Zeiss Otus 55.

Why unusual? Simply because both camera and lens seem to follow really opposite paths:

– The Df is one of the smallest (if not smallest) and lightest Full Frame DSLR with a modest 16Mp resolution
– The Otus is the most gigantic and heavy 55mm ever produced for a DSLR and could certainly out-resolve a >50Mp sensor

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So, is it as a stupid pairing as it looks? I actually don’t think so, let’s look a bit further than Mp and weight metrics… Beside its fancy retro design the Df has a strong argument in how its sensor renders colors (brilliantly if you ask me J). And what is the best way to get 100% out of a sensor? Simply put it behind the best possible lens! The Otus is not only about sharpness, it’s also excellent with contrast and colors!

Let’s now forget the technicalities and focus on the user experience: I just came back from a 10 days trip to Varanasi (India) and shot from 6am to 8pm almost non-stop using the Df / Otus combo 90% of the time.

First thing I have to admit is yes, walking >12h a day with an Otus around your neck is painful, really painful. I even had a blister on the finger I use to support the weight of the camera while shooting… That said, travelling more than 12h in economy class from Zurich to Varanasi is also painful, so the Otus weight is just a small additional element of discomfort…

The only thing I really don’t like is the lack of weather sealing… Maybe we’re not so many to use them outside of a studio but still, that would be appreciated Mr Zeiss…

So yes, it’s not a trouble-free experience, but what you get in return is still worth the hassle: the haptic of both the Df and Otus are just pure pleasure and contribute a lot to the fun of shooting. The manual focus is butter smooth and the finishing of the lens is just perfect…. Even if I’m not a big fan of the rubber band on the focusing ring: it’s nice looking and very comfortable but does not go well with strong anti-mosquito sprays (the formula attacks rubber). I managed not to damage the lens but had to be extra careful.

Then of course having the best possible optical performance is also very enjoyable: aperture becomes irrelevant in terms of sharpness (f1.4 is as good as f16), you just chose it according to the depth of field you’re looking for. Manual focusing requires a bit of practice but after getting used to the camera / lens combo I easily achieved 70-80% spot on shots. Moving subjects are a bit more challenging but it’s more a question of shooting style: instead of running behind the subject trying to nail the focus you just chose a good spot, prepare your focus, and wait for something / somebody interesting to enter the frame for 100% success. I occasionally used a tripod but could probably have done without.

Actually beside gear the most important thing simply remains the “access”: I was very lucky to be with a local friend who knows everything (and almost everybody) in Varanasi so it made finding the right spots a lot easier… He’s occasionally offering his services as a guide so feel free to reach out to me via my facebook page if you want his contact.

Enough talks for now, here is the set titled “Varanasi dream” because as a friend said these images show Varanasi as you could see it in a dream.

CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO SEE THEM MUCH CRISPER, MORE COLORFUL and FOR AN OVERALL BETTER VERSION!

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You can find more of my work here: https://www.facebook.com/lumiere.exterieure

Thanks for reading,

Sebastien Bey-Haut

Mar 152016
 

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The “White City” with my Leica

by Tomer Vaknin

Hello Steve,

I was wandering in Tel Aviv, not in the touristic and well-known areas that you can find on postcards or travel guides but rather in the south of the city.

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This part reflects not only geographical location but also has deep socio-economic meanings.This part of Tel Aviv also called “the white city” derived from the white european style buildings, built-in the thirties of the previous century, is now populated mostly my African refugees and Asian foreign workers. I took my Leica M-P with my 50mm Noctilux and wandered around those streets tried to capture special moments of these simple hard-working people living away from the richness and glamor that Tel Aviv has to offer. Between rickety houses and the strong smell of sewage I found strong, unified and beautify community.

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There is no need to try to beautify the life of these people. They have many difficulties trying to provide to their families in Israel or back in their homeland better life. The pictures I took among these wonderful people show the contradiction between the neglected part of their neighbourhood and their strong will to preserve their customs in difficult reality.

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For more please visit me at my Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/tomer.vaknin.5

 

Feb 292016
 

Adventures in Morocco with the Lumix G7

By Jannik Pietzsch
(www.instagram.com/ savethejourney)

As a Christmas present to myself, I got the new Lumix G7 after much, much deliberation. I wanted a good quality mirrorless camera, but didn’t want to spend Sony A7x or Fuji money. And since Sony has such a bad lens selection for their APS-C cameras, I was left with Olympus and Lumix.

I first got the EM10, although it turned out to be way too small for my liking and had a defective lens mount, which resulted in lenses not being recognized. The pins seemingly didn’t match up properly. Lumix then just released the G7 and had some great Christmas deals and the rest is history. Besides the kit lens, I purchased the new Lumix 25mm 1.7 and the, by now classic, Olympus 45mm 1.8.

So first I shot some street and landscape shots in my current home town, Cork in Ireland. All the photos have been edited in a basic manner, just doing slight adjustments in Lightroom of 5-10 min per photo. I got into photography through the film industry, this explains why I chose to shoot a lot of my photos in a wide-screen format. Oh, how I wish there were was modern panorama camera.

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So I snapped a few images and was readily convinced that I had made the right decision, a very relieving moment, as I had gotten rid of my G1 and GF1 for good reasons. The G7 is just not comparable to those cameras, thankfully. Even over the G6, the image quality might not have improved that much, but just through small changes, like removing the zoom stalk and removing the iA button, it has made this camera so much more serious. If I could change a few things about it though, I would wish for the build quality and feel of the EM1, dual SD card slots and buttons which aren’t quite as flush to the body. Otherwise I really like this camera, it also has a much better EVF to the X-E1, a much better menu system than the Olympus or even Nikon, and so many customizable buttons. This is also my first camera with touch screen and wifi. I always assumed the touch screen capability to be a gimmick but I have to admit, it is actually really practical. As cool as wifi is, I feel like it isn’t quite worked out yet. Maybe NFC with its quick connection is a better alternative, but I found myself rather opting to do a batch transfer to my phone at the end of the day instead of doing a few quick transfers throughout the day. But it is clearly one of the greatest additions to modern cameras.

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But off to Morocco!

The camera held up very well with the bright sunlight and all the fine dust. And nailing the perfect exposure is so easy nowadays with the EVF. Couldn’t be easier. Although with hind sight, a ND filer would have been great to shoot at other apertures than f8 or f11. I wonder why only the X100 series has a built in ND filter. Surely it can’t take up that much space?

The 25mm 1.7 really impressed me as well. The focus is so quick and accurate, in comparison the Olympus 45mm felt like a bit of a slouch. I always had a hood on so I had no problem with flare, which this lens is really prone to. But otherwise this lens is such a no brainer if you don’t want to spend the extra money on the 25mm 1.4. I really couldn’t recommend this lens more for Lumix bodies. With my experience and what I have heard though, the focus is much slower and very inaccurate at medium-close distances on Olympus bodies. Another cool feature I really enjoyed is that one can protect the screen by folding it against the body, then just chuck it into your backpack and you’re good to go.

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It’s difficult to write about this camera properly without sounding like a salesman, because I did recognize the limitations of the camera before I bought it and did take this into consideration. If I take a step back and just have a look at the system as a whole, I would have to say that I would love to have better low light performance. Not at an A7s level but having a clean result at 3200 and 6400 iso would be awesome.
Another annoying aspect is that infinity is reached by 3m on most lenses. Now, I am so absolutely not at all into shallow depth of field, not even a little bit. But I do wish sometimes to be able to blur the background a little bit when photographing a subject at 5 or 6m away.

I also knew the camera’s image quality wouldn’t be as brilliant as my old X-E1 or as a new A7x but what I wanted was a camera with quick and accurate auto focus, which wasn’t too bad in filming and wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Added features such as an EVF and wifi were also really welcome. I ended up getting everything I wanted, there’s a very solid lens set up and there’s now even the possibility of getting solid but cheap-er prime lenses. I think next on my list is the Samyang 12mm 2.0 but I am open to any suggestions

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This camera allowed me to have a lot of fun. I ended up photographing way more than usual on my trips because everything just worked. Only 1% of my photos had missed focus and most of the time that was my fault, all were perfectly exposed and I never had any issue because the menu is just so easy to use. This is how it should be. And I think the image quality isn’t actually that bad, especially with a few tweaks. It’s actually really decent.

The camera has clearly matured a lot, and a lot of people claim that Lumix needs to up its game because it is still stuck at 16mp. Now personally, I do not need more than 16mp, but I would much rather prefer some more low light performance and maybe the in body stabilization of the GX8 / EM1?

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Feb 012016
 

The Vulnerability Of Self

by Greg Turner – His website is HERE

Over dinner with some friends recently I was introduced to someone who, while having a successful business career, also described herself as ‘an artist’. The deliberate use of that moniker was interesting and I asked at what point in her creative journey she had finally felt comfortable using that title. She acknowledged the validity of the question and explained that it had taken her completion of an under graduate degree in Fine Art before she finally felt justified in calling herself an artist. Ironically for me as an observer, all it took was a look at her work (she’s a sculptor and an incredibly talented one) to see the artist and not just the person.

Self-doubt has long been a feature of the creative process and of artists in general. For sure I don’t consider myself an artist and until recently the word ‘just’ was quite deliberately used before the self-description of ‘amateur photographer’ on the front page of my website. When asked why by a friend, I explained it was deliberately self-deprecating; I didn’t consider myself good enough to call myself an amateur photographer just yet. That term, to my reading at least, connotes some degree of proficiency and talent I wasn’t sure I possessed. We agreed I would remove after her reassurance that I was more than talented enough. As a graphic designer, she routinely works with and appraises various photographers work so she should know, and yet the doubts still linger…..

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‘Tina’

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I started this project as a way of examining the concept of the person and the three manifestations of any individual. The more photographs I take though, the more I realise that I am exploring that concept from the perspective of self as much as anything else and that process is similarly tinged with self-doubt and vulnerability. I guess I’m exercising my own demons such as they are; the little boy at Catholic primary school who while not subject to physical abuse, was exposed to prolonged and painful emotional abuse. It has an effect that is carried through to adulthood and at various stages in life is processed through different lenses, if you will excuse the pun. The current lens I am using is both metaphorical and literal.

There is a certain irony with using the camera lens to explore that vulnerability and self-doubt. Traditionally, it is the subject that is more nervous of the lens because it’s their vulnerability or self-doubt that is being observed if not exposed. For me, the fear and doubt is as equal behind the lens as in front of it, it’s that mirror phase again with the subject looking back at me, being me.

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‘The Film Producer’

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The three portraits on this blog say a lot on this subject. In the first, ‘Tina’,  it was her tattoos that immediately caught my eye and why I asked if I could take her picture. Her immediate response was to ask for posed quite freely but her pose is at once both vulnerable and defiant. The way she holds her head shows strength, you can see the muscular structure of her neck suggesting that physical strength, the look in her eyes and of course, the obvious hand gesture, which I confess I did not see at the moment I took the picture and initially cropped out. And yet she is intensely vulnerable, after all she has just asked for money because of her situation.

The next picture is the polar opposite. ‘The Film Producer’ shows a man consummately at ease with himself. He knows who he is, he knows what he likes and he is very comfortable with that. There is not the slightest hint of vulnerability here or at least, any vulnerability or self-doubt that may have once been has long since been forgotten.

The last image, ‘The Bike Messenger’, the pose is relaxed but the cigarette and the off camera look show tension; he’s relaxed but not completely. The tension is probably the reflection that he’s just agreed to have his picture taken by some random stranger in Soho. I imagine he’s having second thoughts but isn’t sure how to get out of it. This is self-doubt brought about by the sudden vulnerability of the situation.

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Of course, all this could just be complete nonsense. The pictures could well be no better than something you’d have developed at Happy Snaps and my reflecting on them over intellectualized nonsense (actually that part probably is true; I hope the pictures are a little better than snaps though).

Greg

Jan 302016
 

Using the Leica Q for street photography

by Stephen Swain

Dear Steve,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,

Stephen Swain

www.capturethemoment.co.uk

Jan 292016
 

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STREET SHOOT: Hollywood Blvd.

By Darwin Nercesian

If you are looking for a target rich environment for a little street photography, there are almost always those local spots where we all know we can go to strike gold. Is this cheating? No, not really, but it certainly helps get the creative juices flowing. For me, well, I have the distinct pleasure of being both close enough and far enough from the famed Hollywood Blvd, home of Mann’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and of course, millions upon millions of locals and tourists that flood the street daily to get a glimpse, or perhaps just feel like they are in the thick of it. So when I got the call to accompany a few photographer friends into this jungle for a day street photography, it was simply an offer I could not refuse.

As always, I hit the street with my companions of choice, my trusty Leica M-P 240 an M246 Monochrom, and my 3 go to lenses, the 35mm Summilux FLE, 50mm Summilux ASPH, and 50mm Summicron APO. Ultimately, however, it was the M246 and the 50mm APO that saw the most action.

While Hollywood Blvd is thought of as more of an adult’s playground, apparently it can be fun for children of all ages.

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This kid was having a blast, the the Globetrotter could not be more entertaining to the little guy. This went on for some time andwas a joy to watch. Lets just hope he doesn’t grow up and take advice from this guy.

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And speaking of less than stellar advice, here is one I wouldn’t recommend, but then again, I take sides with Indiana Jones when it comes to the slithery in nature. Too bad this isn’t sin city because the symbolism really struck me here.

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But giant reptiles were not all that was lurking on this day, and something march larger, and perhaps much more sinister was afoot. It is always great to be aware of your surroundings, lest you be caught off guard…

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But no matter where evil lurks, there is always a watchful eye keeping the people safe. One need not look too far on this stretch of the boulevard to find a hero, and in this case, the calm fell over me when I noticed that we were under the protection of none other than…

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And so it was that people celebrated the day, paying tribute to the arts, each in their own way.

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While people from all walks of life shared common distractions…

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Because who doesn’t like a slice of pie?

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But in the end, after a long day amongst the stars (the ones embedded in the sidewalk), we found our true calling. In the midst of the glitz and glamour (not really), we learned that the lesson to take with us was, “Defend Democracy in Poland”.

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My name is Darwin Nercesian. I am an architectural, street, and travel photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. You can see more of my work at: www.dna-image.com

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

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

My 1st look VIDEO on the new PEN-F

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE BEST PEN EVER

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

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

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

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

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MONOCHROME & MORE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Olympus 17 1.8

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

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The $299 25 1.8

Mode 2 with medium grain

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WITH A FLICK OF THE SWITCH!

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

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

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

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

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

THIS PEN IS NOT A TOY ;) 

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

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

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

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

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AN EVF ON THE PEN, FINALLY! 

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

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SHUTTER  – MECHANICAL OR ELECTRONIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Original Half Frame Film PEN

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

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Remember, click images for better versions!

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

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

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

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

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

Color MODE 2

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

Slide Film Mode 3

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

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JPEG DETAIL 

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

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

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ISO TESTS

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

1st the whole image..

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

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Monochrome Modes Explained

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

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

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

*Must click them for best view*

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

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

Pros and Cons of the Olympus PEN-F

PROS

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

CONS

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

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

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My Final Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHERE TO BUY THE PEN-F & ACCESSORIES?

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

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

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

Order the PEN-F In Silver at Amazon HERE

Order the PEN-F in Black at Amazon HERE

Accessories…

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

The grip is available HERE at B&H Photo

The half case is available HERE

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More Samples from the PEN-F!

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

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FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 132016
 

The Power of Imagery

by Sebastian Szyszka

Hi Steve and Brandon,

Been enjoying your site for a while, especially the positivity it exudes. It’s a nice change of pace.

I started shooting sometime between the ages of 7 and 10 while I lived in Germany with my parents. We were Polish refugees waiting to come to America. One of my birthday presents during that time was a plastic 110 camera that I absolutely loved, which was quickly upgraded to a Polaroid. It was the Polaroid, decades before I ever read the words “decisive moment,” that taught me the power of photography. I didn’t gravitate towards posed stuff, I reveled in the moment. Real, unscripted, often ambushed. Those images were ones I was not used to seeing because most shots around me were “say cheese” kind of shots. Looking back at it, I still remember the first image that struck that chord with me. Can’t share it though, my poor mother would kill me…

The power of imagery has always stuck with me. Nowadays photography is a quick, immediate balance against the daily routine of being an advertising artist. The two go hand in hand, and both strengthen and compliment each other.

I’m including three images, one that I took of a friend of mine, and two of my street stuff that keeps me sane on my Chicago commutes.

The first shot is of my friend and coworker Jeff on his custom 1967 Shovelhead. What makes the image special to me is the fact that it was taken in his father’s gas station, which was built-in the 1920’s. A lot of heritage and vintage in one frame. My only regret was not getting Jeff’s father in the shot. Alas, he was not there that day. Taken with a Sony a6000 and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. Lit with some wirelessly triggered strobes layered on top of available light. Post work in LR.

Click it for larger and better version!

Jeff and his custom 1967 Shovelhead

The second shot is of a “poet for hire” near Bourbon St. in New Orleans. For a small fee and 30 minutes of waiting, they write a bespoke poem for you. Taken with a Sony a6000 and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. Post work in LR.

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The third shot of a man exiting a train is from one of my old commutes on the “L” Train in Chicago. Shot with a Sony NEX-5 and 16mm f/2.8 with fisheye attachment. Post work in Aperture with some Nik SilverEfex 2.

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(I know, a lot of Sony, but my favorite camera by far is my X100T. I use both for their unique strengths.)

Thanks and keep doing what you’re doing,

Sincerely,

Sebastian Szyszka

www.sebastianszyszka.com
500px.com/sebastiand
www.flickr.com/photos/sebastiand/

Dec 042015
 

Hong Kong With Nokton 35mm 1.2

By Fahad A

Hi Brandon,

Thanks for posting my previous submissions, this is my 4th submission and hopefully the 5th will be on the way soon.

Last summer I decided to go to Hong Kong to spend my vacation and of course to explore the streets along with my camera. I only took the Leica (typ240) along with the Voigtlander nokton 35mm 1.2, thinking that i might buy a 50mm from HK if I felt limited with the 35mm (given that I broke the 50mm summicron and for some reason didn’t remember to send it for a repair until the day I traveled)

Luckily, I managed without having to buy a new lens, the images had the usual nokton softness, which I don’t mind at all.
Hong kong is very dense, and streets are tight and narrow that i couldn’t imagine using a 50mm over there, the 35mm focal length served me very well.

Most of the images I am sharing here are not uploaded to my photostream yet, as you can see they are all in B&W, which is the total opposite of my current flickr photostream, however i might upload them soon.

I never thought I would convert any of these photographs to B&W when i was capturing them, it only happened when i messed around with one of the images and felt that nokton softness along with B&W treatment appeals to my taste.

For now, hope you all enjoy the images as much as i enjoyed capturing them.
Fahad A

Hong Kong album on Flickr:
Hong Kong

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Dec 042015
 

The Importance of candid shooting

by Dirk De Paepe

Social Media (Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/13, 1/500, ISO400)

01. Social media

Street shooting is without any doubt one of our most compelling disciplines, because it represents the pinnacle of photography’s greatest forte: catching and copying moment’s out of real life and freezing them into lasting images. Only photography can perform this and it does it in a way that our first impression automatically is, that we’re looking at a faithful scene out of reality (although we all know about so many possible tricks – which BTW are not performed in the pictures that go with this article). Every experienced street photographer knows that there are moments and viewpoints where so many things fall into place, that they become special and/or typical. That’s why timing is a crucial factor in this creative process.

(Of course, as always, I express my personal vision in this article, but I believe that it’s only in the exchange of different visions that we can further develop. So you are very welcome to comment from a different point of view.)

Sharing (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/320s, ISO1600)

02. Sharing

The most important subject in street shooting is people. And thus the comparison with portraiture, both posed and unposed, is obvious. I believe a posed portrait mainly must show a person in the way that he/she wants to be shown. The acting skills of the portrayed person play a big role herein, as well as the communicating skills of the photographer. The key idea is: “this is the image of myself that I want to show”. Because such a picture is all about this one person’s specific personality (or the personality that one wants to show), he/she should be in control of the impression he/she makes on the spectator, or the photographer needs to put him/her that much at easy that he/she acts natural. (Of course this domain is bigger, but this is the essence of it. Working with a professional model for instance won’t necessarily have the model’s personality as the subject of the picture.) I’d like to make a comparison with colors now. One could say that this kind of portraiture (posed portraiture, that is) represents one color of the spectrum, say green. Of course there’s an infinite amount of nuances in green and green is a very interesting color indeed, but still, they are all green and there are still so many other colors! That’s why I believe that unposed shooting of people can show so many more aspects of humanity, of typical human behavior, and therefore I believe it to be much more interesting than posed portraiture.

City traffic (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/200sec, ISO 1600)

03. City traffic

The importance of unposed shooting, which can only be done candid, doesn’t lie in showing the true being and the true character of one specific person, as many still believe. Because the candid photographer (generally) doesn’t know his target person, there’s no question of portraying this specific person’s identity. Instead he’s rather holding up a mirror and makes us, as spectators, reflect about how we all, as people in general, can act/react in different circumstances. With his candid shots, he’s creating a pallet, as diverse as possible, of the different aspects of humanity. The portrayed persons merely act as representatives of mankind, not as particular individuals. This is the more so, because we only picture one moment out of their whole life, without any added context. The weakness of photography is, that it’s very difficult to tell the whole story in one picture. Therefore documentary photography requires a series of pictures to do the job. But in street shooting, registering those isolated moment also involves a great forte: it stimulates our imagination, having us create our own story around the picture, giving birth to so many interpretations of the same scene. It makes the picture to transcend from this one person and represent mankind.

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04. Lonely

We start to realize (subconsciously) that everybody, ourselves included!, could show that same kind of behavior as the pictured person, in specific circumstances. The more we recognize this behavior within ourselves, the more we realize that all humans are pretty much alike. When we realize that everybody can pass through typical or strange or weak or even embarrassing moments, we will more easily accept our own weaknesses and failures and as such also accept other’s imperfections. It can help in being less embarressed about certain defaults we think we have, realizing that everybody has his own defaults. As such this can work liberating, since we’ll be more in peace with ourselves. Once we realize this true purpose of candid shooting – portraying mankind – we will be able to see that it’s not at all about intruding into one specific person’s identity. This is impossible anyway, because the photographer doesn’t know the “model” and both the photographer and spectator don’t know the circumstances that lead to this registered momentarily situation. So the picture can’t possibly show this one person’s true nature. A good street photographer realizes that. He doesn’t want to intrude in one’s soul. Instead his photography is all about revealing the true nature of humanity in general, as said, by exposing how we all can act, given the right circumstances. As such, street photography is a means to increase tolerance amongst people. Candid street shooting is not at all about violating once privacy. Think about it. We take those pictures in plain public, which means that every image has been fully exposed anyhow to all bystanders. No photographer is expected to think that anybody is showing behavior in plain public that he doesn’t want to be shown. Also think about the thousands of safety camera’s that film us and register our behavior on a constant basis – sometimes to be used for much less honorable purposes.

Because of all of this, I believe candid pictures to be the most interesting, when people don’t look into the lens and are not aware that they are being photographed. Looking towards the camera/photographer almost always results in an image, in which the person seams to think: “I’m being photographed!”. I believe that from that moment on, the picture looses his real candid character, almost always withdrawing the portrayed person from his natural behavior, resulting in cramped and uninteresting images. In exceptional cases, it càn deliver beautiful shots though. A minority of people immediately reacts to the camera in an open, welcoming way. Those pictures can really show something valuable of this person’s true nature. They can result in very beautiful “personality portraits”. One could call those shots “Unposed, yet aware portraits”.

Beautiful people (Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/13, 1/800, ISO400)

06. Beautiful people

But no matter how beautiful they can be, it’s still like they all are different shades of blue. Blue is a very beautiful color, with many nuances, and I absolutely wanna use all those blues, but still I prefer to see the whole color spectrum! The situation, and therefore the expression of face and body, is (in average) much more interesting, much more representing the whole of mankind, when there’s no photographer disturbing it. Candid shots show so much clearer all different aspects of human life and behavior. The majority of people only look natural, when the shot was taken fully candid. That’s why the great street photographers often preferred a Leica M camera over a big SLR, so they could shoot in a more discrete way. Today we see a lot of Sony A7x bodies go along the Leica’s, together with a range of Micro 4/3’s and APSC’s. I like to pair my A7r with the Zeiss Loxia lenses, that I find simply perfect for street shooting, regarding size, performance and IQ. From time to time, I will add the Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 or Jupiter 9 (85mm as well) to the lot. (I’m really looking forward to the Loxia 85 or 90mm to come, for that matter.)

Severe facades (Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/11, 1/250sec, ISO400)

07. Severe facades

All pictures posted here, were shot in Antwerp, my favorite city, in a span of a few hours time. I chose to post only shots from that particular shoot, just show that there is a lot to notice in a short time. Although most street photographers shoot or publish in B&W, I decided to keep all shots in color. It’s how I think at this moment. I agree, B&W emphasizes on the essence of the act, still I believe that the colors can really contribute to the street feeling and to the atmosphere of a country, a region, a city. Where I live, in Belgium, real life colors are more grey and murky than for instance in Spain, let alone in Africa. They are less brilliant and saturated. So in the color balance I pursued grays to be really gray and not to overdo the colors, although with the modern cameras and post production software, it’s so very easy and tempting to do so. Still, I’m not proclaiming to produce perfectly faithful colors. Instead I tried to make them contribute to the general feeling that I got from the place, as such contributing to feeling that I got when observing the pictured people.

Pedestrian zone (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/800sec, ISO1600)

08. Pedestrian zone

But more than the color treatment, it’s the people themselves that play the central role in those pics. Some absolutely didn’t know that I was shooting and act absolutely natural. Some noticed me but didn’t change their expression a single bit. Some reacted enthusiastic and opened up. A single one showed a bit of an annoyance. But after all, I experienced no real reluctance with any of them. And in all of them I noticed enough typical human behavior to show those pictures to you.

Hasty (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/800sec, ISO1600)

09. Hasty

Finally, aside the catching of the moment, I also try to take care of the composition. That means that I try to integrate the surroundings in a meaningful way. I have my personal insights on arranging the subjects and objects in a picture, but this would take me too far to elaborate about this in this article. But I can say that, while shooting, this is done with a sense of balance and a “load of rules” that have become more or less natural to me. The fine tuning is done in post of course. Often I think in square images when shooting, which shows. Integrating the surroundings in the composition requires a larger depth of field, which I achieve by zone focusing. The Loxia’s are fantastic lenses for that kind of work. Like I wrote in my reviews about them, published on this site, they can produce tremendous detail on all plans, even when hyperfocusing. And zone focusing is a fantastic technique for street shooting, since there is zero focusing time required, thus offering the fastest way to react to any situation, faster than any AF system. Finally, using a hi-res sensor together with those state-of-the-art lenses, gives you quite some cropping power, which sometimes can be interesting when you caught an interesting moment’s event at some distance.

Wretched (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/400sec, ISO1600)

10. Wretched

Please, as always, click on the pictures to see them in bigger format with better IQ, and go to my flickr page to see them in full size, with the Exif data included. You’ll find them, and more, in a dedicated album, named “In the streets of Antwerp” .

I hope you enjoyed the images. Thanks for reading and watching and, as always, special thanks to Steve and Brandon for keeping on publishing this great site.

Dec 032015
 

Street Portraits from Dubai to Hong Kong with a Leica Q

by Caesar Lima

5 countries, 11 cities, 21 days, one camera and only one lens, that was my challenge. I had a Leica Q and 2 batteries 24/7 everywhere all the time. From the streets of modern Dubai and Singapore to the charismatic and overwhelming India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

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I met genuine people who allowed me to photograph them and most of the time with a smile. I tried to portray what they do and how they live, their contradictions and their similarities

The Leica Q exceded in every way, shooting on busy streets, hundreds of people. Everywhere the camera was always on since photo opportunities don’t last long and require instant reaction.

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I love the Q because I can shoot using only one hand if needed +/- button is accessible next to my thumb and the loop grip keeps the camera very secure in my hand. The camera is very responsive, quick focus and has a super reliable performance. The images are amazing… I’m very impressed.

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more images @ www.puffybrain.com

The Q is available at Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]), PopFlash.com or B&H Photo

Dec 032015
 
L1007460

Camels, turbans and the people of Rajasthan with the new Voigtlander Ultron 35/1.7

by fiftyasa

You might remember my previous post about traveling in the sate of Rajasthan in India with some film cameras (here). This year I came back to Rajasthan with a Leica M9 and would like to share some images with you and the readers of your excellent blog.

A few weeks before leaving for this trip I acquired the new version of the Voigtlaender Ultron 35/1.7. I was in search of an affordable, small, sharp and fast 35 mm lens as main travel-photography lens, and gave the Ultron a try. I wrote a user review of the lens on my website here, mainly talking about sharpness and the use of the Ultron on the Leica M9 vs the Sony A7, but the first real use of the lens was going to be in this trip to Rajasthan.

The images below, unless otherwise stated, are shot with the new Utron 35/1.7 and Leica M9.

Bathing and preying in the sacred waters of the Pushkar lake:

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Although I was carrying around also a Planar 50/2 and a Biogon 25/2.8, the Ultron stayed on my camera 90% of the time. 35mm seems to be the perfect focal lens for me for travel photography: not too wide and not too short, excellent for environmental portraits and easy to manage when composing the scene.

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Pushkar also hosts a very popular camel trade fair which offers amazing opportunities for portraits and rural life scenes:

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I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but I have to say that I am very satisfied with the Ultron. Sharpness, bokeh, pop, micro-contrast are top. My only complaint is that my version seems not correctly calibrated. It back focuses. Before the trip I just glued a piece of black tape on the rangefinder cam and that solved the problem. Unfortunately achieving precise focus on a digital M system is in general a pretty difficult task, no matter how many times you send your M body to Wetzlar for calibration…

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In a temple in the countryside of Pushkar, Aloo Baba grows his potatoes (aloo) and kindly poses for a portrait:

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In Ajmer I visited some projects of a local non governmental organization (NGO) called RSKS (http://www.rsksajmer.org/about-us.php). RSKS is active in developing the rural areas around Ajmer with various programs, such as educational programs and income generation activities. I visited one of their schools in a poor rural village, a sewing training center for young women and a micro-finance program in a remote village.

The following picture portraits a student of the school (this time shot with Zeiss Planar 50/2):

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Here a woman who took part of a micro-finance program:

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After visiting Pushkar and its surroundings, I moved to Bundi, a small city in the South of Rajasthan. It looks like the blue city of Jodhpur but on a smaller scale. Its people are extraordinary friendly:

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For those interested in seeing more images of this trip, please visit: https://fiftyasa.wordpress.com/portfolio/rajasthan-again/

 

Sep 222015
 

The Ricoh GR: London & Scotland

by Justin Press

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Hello Steve & Brandon,

Further travels with the trusted Ricoh GR (Mark I). Nothing to add to the words and feelings given regarding this little machine. I nearly gave in to the x100T and maybe one day I will but for now still trying to be the best I can with the GR.

London, Scotland and the railway grandeur b/t Victoria and Dundee.

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Yes, yes my terrible watermarks are a distraction and my frames are not the best but hey I’m trying to shoot not decorate. Any advise on a watermark would be lovely.

Best,

Justin

 

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