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 132016
 

Photo trip to Peru

by Alec Fedorov

Hi Steve,

I am an amateur photographer who has been an avid reader of your website for three years. Thanks for the great service you provide to the community of photographers.

Recently, my wife and I returned from an REI trip to Peru where we hiked the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, and I would like to share our experiences with the readers of your site.

I brought two cameras on the trip: Fuji X100s and Sony RX100III, both of which are great for travel photography. My go-to camera was the Fuji because of excellent image quality and ease of use. The Sony was kept in my pants pocket and came in handy a few times.

We arrived in Cusco, where we spent three days acclimatizing to the altitude, since the Salkantay Pass is at 15,200 feet. Cusco has the population of about 450,000 and it was the historic capital of the Incan Empire until it was conquered by the Spanish in 1532. Nowadays, Cusco is a growing city, and it is a tourist hub for trips to Machu Picchu.

We arrived in Cusco a few days before the New Year and the city was full of tourists and holiday lights. The streets in the center of Cusco are cobblestone. Some intersections are so narrow that the cars have to back up half way through the turn in order to complete it!

One of the most noticeable aspects of Cusco are the stray dogs which are ubiquitous. Some of the dogs have owners but the majority of them live on the streets. This is often due to people purchasing the dogs as puppies and then losing interest as the dog gets older and the novelty wears off. In Peru, it is considered inhumane to neuter dogs, so the population of street dogs just grows exponentially.

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Cusco is a blend of ancient and modern. The food was excellent and some of the restaurants were very eccentric, the kind you would expect to find in Manhattan.

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One day, we hired a local driver to take us to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which encompasses the heartland of the Incan empire. The scenery was spectacular, with very few tourists. At the end of the day, we ran into many shepherds, bringing the sheep in. They live in primitive clay houses without electricity.

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After spending three days in Cusco, we hooked up with the REI group to begin the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. This trek is named among the 25 Best Treks in the World by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. It is an ancient and remote footpath located in the same region as the Inca Trail. The first few days of the 6-day hike traverses through a landscape of scenic views of the snowcapped 20,574 ft Mt. Salkantay.

We spent the first two nights at Salkantay Lodge at 12,600, and hiked to the Glacier Lake at 14,500 feet to further acclimatize.

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The hike over the Salkantay Pass began on a beautiful sunny morning. As we ascended, the green valley and blue sky was replaced by the grey lifeless rock and a dense fog. Shortly after reaching the top of the pass, a lone white horse emerged out of the fog. It was a very surreal experience.

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Over the next few days, we continued our descent into the high jungle, where we took our repose at three more lodges. The only traffic on the trek consisted of occasional packs of mules and horses carrying the luggage and the food supplies. In six days, we only ran across two other hikers. Photos below are of the local man who followed behind our group with the water and medical supplies.

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On the last day, before reaching Machu Picchu, we hiked through coffee plantations, and we visited a local family business. Many of these families rely on selling coffee to the tourists as their only source of income.

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Machu Picchu, in itself, was spectacular, and the experience of getting there by foot was unforgettable!

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Alec

Thanks,
Alec

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

Apr 112016
 

Postcard From New Zealand with a Fuji X-Pro 2

By Axel Friberg

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Hi Steve,

This Easter some friends and I went to New Zealand for the first time which was an amazing experience! Camera wise, I brought the new Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera and Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 lens. We were a group of eight students on exchange in Melbourne, Australia, who flew to Queenstown where we stayed a couple of nights before renting two campervans and went off exploring the South Island. I knew on beforehand that New Zealand’s famous for it’s Lord of the Rings landscapes, but seeing it with my own eyes was actually an overwhelming experience! I have never seen a more beautiful country! The places we visited were Queenstown, Fox Glacier, Wanaka, Te Anau and Milford sound + some scenic stops on the road between the camping sites. The Landscape and the weather are ever-changing, so as a photographer, it was definitely a dream come true to visit New Zealand!

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The majority of my pictures are JPEG with the Classic Chrome film simulation (including the B&W one which was converted in post processing) except the one of the shed (picture 5) which is a RAW-file and the picture of the group by the lake (picture 6) which is a JPEG with the (new) Velvia film simulation. All images were processed with Lightroom CC and exported to have a base length of 1500 pixels.

My thoughts about the Fujifilm X-Pro2:

As a photographer coming from the X-Pro1 which I had since 2012, the difference in AF speed is probably where I feel the biggest difference is! I love the Eye-focus capability and the Tracking AF that actually works! The Joystick and the dual sim card slots are the features that made me decide on buying the camera. Now all my RAW files go on one SD-card and all my JPEGs on the other. Very convenient!

All the buttons are moved to the right enabling one-handed operation and the front grip feels better. I love the customizability on the camera! There’s basically a button that I can assign to every command I have a need for. The interface is improved too, bringing the new ‘My menu’ to the table which also falls under the line of user customizability.

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When it comes the film simulations, I absolutely adore Classic Chrome, both for color and for converting the JPEGs to B&W in Lightroom! (I know that the film simulation has been around since 2014, but for me it’s new!) At low ISO’s I add the Weak grain effect, which looks great in my opinion! The B&W Acros film simulation with the Green filter added is pretty nice for gentle ‘Damien Lovegrove-style portraits’, but in most cases I prefer converting the color image of the Classic Chrome file to B&W. The biggest surprise for me was to learn that Fuji tweaked and improved the old Velvia film simulation, thanks to the processing power of the new X-processor. I never used it on my X-Pro1 because the files’ were often too degraded in terms of shadow/highlight detail, but now I find that Velvia works quite well in some situations!

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When it comes to ISO, the X-Pro2 might be a little bit better than the X-Pro1 in terms of noise, despite having 50% more megapixels, but the difference isn’t enormous as the X-trans sensor of the X-Pro1 was already very good in this regard. Mostly, the files that come out of the new camera look more punchy and contrasty compared to the older model. The biggest difference is in dynamic range I’d say. It might not be as big of a difference for those coming from the X-T1, but for me, it is quite noticeable that the files of the X-Pro2 retain more highlight detail of a bright sky for example.

Overall, I’m very happy with the X-Pro2! Was it the right camera to buy with today’s competition? It’s subjective. For me, the overall product having great IQ, film simulations, customizability and by a company with a Kaizen philosophy offering nice sharp lenses, the answer is yes!

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‘OK, so you like Fuji, but why not wait until the X-T2 comes out?’ you might ask. Good question! It will probably be a bit cheaper than the X-Pro2 and come with a larger EVF (maybe the same as in the Leica SL) and with a tilt-screen. I think the 85 FPS EVF in the X-Pro2 is good enough and also, I simply prefer the thumb real estate of the X-Pro series. My guess is that the X-T2 won’t get the joystick because of the limited form factor, which is the deal breaker for me. Instead, it will most likely get a touch-screen like the one on the X70 (speculation). I might be wrong, and that’s OK with me. My friends will start to get married within a few years and I could use a second camera ;)

Best regards!
Axel Friber

Apr 072016
 

New York through the Olympus 7-14 Pro Lens

by Mohamed El Barkani

Hi Steve!

I hope you are doing great and had an amazing weekend. I’m a reader of your blog since I discovered it last year and helped me moving to the Olympus OM-D system. Based on your reviews and experiences I bought the E-M10 which I really love. A few days I saw that you do offer the possibility to publish guest reports on your website. I would love to publish one article on your website and help other people.

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Some background information to my person: I’m Mohamed El Barkani, born and raised in 1988 in Nador (Morocco), but I live in Germany (Rhine-Main area). I have always loved photography, but I have started to learn about photography since I bought my first DLSR during my semester abroad at the San Diego State University in California. The type of photography that I enjoy revolves around the urban and city environment and its stunning, often unnoticed architecture. I find myself photographing a lot of skylines, stations, building interiors and spiral staircases in cities around the world. In the field of architectural, night, cityscapes and long exposure photography I feel most comfortable, but I’m always keen to learn and try new photography techniques and always look forward to exploring new architecture and cities!

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New York City, the city that never sleeps is one of the most beautiful places on Earth is the center of much activity. From arts to business and science, a lot goes on in NYC. Many photographers have tried to capture the gorgeousness of the city. The city that never sleeps has me immediately excited! Special buildings like the Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, the impressive view from the Rockefeller Center, the peace in the Central Park, the lights of Times Square, the fantastic buildings such as the Grand Central Terminal or the Public Library on 5th Avenue. You can hardly find enough time for all the photo opportunities in the Big Apple and who likes skyscrapers will love New York!

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I will send you the images in the next e-mail. Let me know if you are ok with the text, otherwise I will make some changes to fit better for your blog.

Best regards,
Mohamed

www.moelbar.com
www.facebook.com/moelbar
www.instagram.com/moelbar

Mar 312016
 

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HAND’s ON! Sony’s Nifty Fifty! A $249 50 1.8 FE Lens

Hey to all! It’s nearing the end of the week and man it has been a busy one for me! I have a load of new camera gear at the Huff household to start using and reviewing (Leica T 35 1.4 Summilux, Sony G Master lenses, Sony A6300, Olympus 300MM) and while one of those pieces of gear sitting here is NOT this new 50 1.8 from Sony, I did get to use this lens for a day this week in San Francisco and I will tell all Sony A7 owners right now:

*If you are a Sony A7 user, as in, you own and use ANY A7 series body from the 1st to the most recent and you DO NOT own the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8..or a fast 50..then YOU MUST seriously consider this lens. For $248, it is a steal*

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Canon and Nikon have their inexpensive 50 1.8’s and now Sony does as well, and while it is not as crisp or WOW as the Zeiss 55 1.8, it comes in at a MUCH lower price of $248 and comes with a nice little lens hood as well. For $248, this is a huge bang for the buck and I feel every Sony user should own one (if you do not already have the 55 1.8 or other fast 50). Even their older crop sensor 50 1.8 is more expensive! This is a full frame lens my friends!

The 50 1.8 on a Sony A7RII at f/1.8. For $248, this is stunning performance. Vignette added by me. To see the image sharper and how it should be seen, click on it. All images here must be clicked on to see them correctly as the site softens them up (as you see them here without clicking). 

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How about some color?

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When I first held  this lens I was surprised at how light it was..then again, remembering the price point and other “Nifty-Fifty’s” I came to realize that this is how low cost fast 50’s feel. Yes, it is light but the performance is VERY good. While this is not a full drug out review (as I only had access to the lens for hours) and no huge tests against other 50’s, I can say that out of the camera files with this lens will be lower contrast than say the Zeiss 55 1.8 that has had rave reviews since its release. But this lens is much less expensive, so you will not have the out of the box performance of the Zeiss. But all that is needed is a quick slide of the contrast slider in your fave editing platform and you will have something like you see above.

Another in B&W with this lens and a crop below. This was also shot wide open at 1.8. I added vignetting here for effect, but as it is, there is none from this lens when used on my A7RII.

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When using the lens I expected the images to be a tad soft, and maybe have vignetting or issues but Sony actually added an ASPH element here to minimize distortions and enhance clarity and sharpness. They also added a double-gauss optical design to reduce field curvature and give edge to edge sharpness. This is not a “Cheap” 50. It is an inexpensive ($248) 50 that performs more like a $500 lens. Here are a few more details on this lens from Sony:

  • Normal-length 50mm prime lens is designed for full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, however, can also be used with APS-C models where it will provide a 75mm equivalent focal length.
  • Fast f/1.8 maximum aperture benefits working in difficult lighting conditions and also avails greater control over focus placement for working with shallow depth of field techniques.
  • One aspherical element minimizes spherical aberrations for improved clarity and sharpness.
  • Double-gauss optical configuration helps to reduce field curvature and distortions for more consistent image quality from edge-to-edge.
  • DC actuator offers quick, quiet, and accurate autofocus performance to suit both stills and video applications.
  • Metal bayonet offers increased durability and a solid feel when mounting the lens.
  • Rounded seven-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality.

There is not much to say about a simple fast 50 but if you have never used a 50mm prime, then you are really missing out. I expect 95% of you reading this page probably have either owned or used a fast 50mm prime at some point. It’s the staple of many lens collections. I used to only use a 50mm and did for almost two years when I was shooting film on a Leica. The 50mm focal length was truly my thing, and the more I used it and stuck with it, the better my photos were getting. Soon, it got to the point to where I could just look at my surroundings and I could see ANY scene or frame in my head, in 50mm. I knew exactly how the image would look, Bokeh and all. I also found 50 to be a nice mid portrait lens. Many feel 85 or longer is best for portraits, and for headshots those people would be correct. For portraits like you see above, a 50 can also do the job, especially in tighter quarters.

Not all 50’s are created equal though. Some are SUPER 50’s like the Leica 50 Summilux, which I feel is the “Gold Standard” among 50’s for price, character and lovely Bokeh and 3D separation. That lens is $3500. This lens is $248 and while it is nothing like a Leica 50 Lux, it will deliver nice sharpness, no real distortions and can be used for so many situations. Being an f/1.8 it will allow you to get more light to your sensor when you need it making  this a great all around, every day general inexpensive lens.

I added a filter to this using VSCO – must click to see it correctly.

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Auto Focus Speed

When using the 50 1.8 lens I made a mental note  to pay attention to the focus speed and accuracy. Only having it for a short time, I wanted to make sure it had no issues focusing because if it did, then I would have had a problem with it. I am not a fan of lenses or cameras that focus slowly or give inaccurate AF readings.

I can say that the 50 1.8 focuses just fine. While not a speed demon with blazing AF like something you would see in a $2000 lens, it punches above its weight a little delivering consistent performance across the board from AF speed, accuracy, IQ and handling. This is an extremely light lens, and it makes your A7 feel extra light. This is good, just do not drop the lens ;) While the lens focuses it does extract in and out a bit, so the internals move and you will hear a slight motor noise as it goes in and out and attains focus. But its quiet and would never bother me or anyone while shooting.

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At the end of the day, I can HIGHLY recommend this lens. It is cheap in price, great in quality, delivers performance and speed of a $500 lens vs the under $250 that it does cost. The Bokeh seems smooth and pleasant and while the contrast and pop is low out of the box, a few tweaks to your image (contrast) will make them pop. It’s not up there in performance, build or 3D pop that you get with the more expensive Zeiss 55 1.8 but for the money, nothing will beat it on a Sony A7 system. This is a full frame lens unlike the old Sony 50 1.8 they made for APS-C. So this is the lens you want for your full frame Sony A series body.

You can pre-order the new Sony 50 1.8 FE at the links below. Cost is under $250 and it starts shipping next month in may. Pre-order assures you will get it first and these shops do not charge you until your lens ships. Pre orders can also be canceled anytime before the lens is shipped. If you have a serious interest in this lens I HIGHLY suggest pre ordering as I expect (as does Sony) that this lens will be HUGELY popular due to the cost and performance it provides. Also, using my links below will help keep this site going and going! Thank you!

PRE ORDER THE LENS!

PRE ORDER THE SONY 50 1.8 AT B&H PHOTO HERE

PRE ORDER THE SONY 50 1.8 AT AMAZON HERE

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

Hello to all! Since 2007 I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!!

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link (not the B&H) and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

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

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees nor do I (nor will I ever) charge for reviews, so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. If you choose to help out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Mar 302016
 

FIRSTLOOK

HANDS ON: Sony RX10 III. Some Samples & Thoughts

So yesterday myself and 20 other members of the digital imaging media world (DP Review, Imaging Resource, Popular Photography and others) met up with Sony in San Francisco for a very cool meeting where we learned of some of Sony’s future plans in the world of cameras, televisions,  and even some other innovations. We were able to check out the new Sony camera gear as well and we all had a chance to use the new camera and lenses for a few hours. Yep, the all new RX10 III and the $249 50 1.8 as well as the new 70-300 G lens. Both lenses for full frame FE mount.

I also posted a live stream video to my Facebook showing off the new gear (you can see that here) but that was before I gave the RX10 III and the new 70-300 G and 50 1.8 a try. I’ve never been a HUGE HUGE fan of the RX10 series but now that the Mark III has this new amazingly versatile Zeiss lens – yep a 24-600mm (but the kicker is you can shoot at f/4 at 600mm, and f/2.4 at the wider end) and at 600mm you can easily handhold if you have decent light due to the optical steady shot inside which offers up to 4.5 stops.

The RX10III is full of all kinds of tech. From the standard expected things like the 1″ imaging sensor from the RX100 MKIV to the swivel LCD screen to the manual controls. It’s quick and responsive and quiet as well thanks to its electronic shutter capable of 1/32,000 S. In addition to this the RX10 III has killer 4K video capabilities, in fact, Sony is saying it will put out the best 4K video of any camera as it captures in 6K and then down samples to 4 for less moire and sharper details. The RX10III has this very impressive zoom lens that is the most versatile I have ever seen. A 24-600mm equivalent, and yes, at 600mm it is sharp and looks simply amazing.

An OOC JPEG at 600mm…handheld..click it for larger

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The RX10 III opens up so many possibilities and it can do all of this wonderful stuff, like offer a 600mm equivalent lens thanks to the 1″ sensor. These days, 1″ sensors are VERY good. They have snap, pop, and the only weakness is for those who love shallow DOF, or massive Bokeh. This will never give you the DOF options of a full frame camera, but other than that, this camera ROCKS.

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CLICK ON ALL IMAGES FOR BETTER VERSIONS

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The RX10 Mark III also has some snazzy video features such as super slow motion capabilities that offer up to a 960 FPS capture. Of course, super slow motion is not available in 4K. But this slow motion is fantastic and used to only be seen in uber expensive video cameras. The RX10 MKIII has many strengths. In fact, some would say this could be the perfect all around one camera solution for serious amateurs, enthusiasts and pros.

Out of camera JPEGS from the RX1R III, click them for larger!

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While it offers a ton of great things, it’s not perfect. I found that cameras using these 1″ sensors will never have the Dynamic Range of the larger sensor cameras. Makes sense right? If shooting in harsh sun, it can be tricky to avoid blowing highlights and they are not recoverable if blown too much. This portrait below looks a tad harsh in the highlights to me…on her face and chest. I should have dialed back the EV comp to avoid this, and I could have, but I thought I was exposed correctly. So while this is not an issue, you do need to take a little caution with these 1″ sensor cameras in these kinds of bright direct lighting.

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Dynamic Range is not up to par with larger sensor cameras but still excellent for a 1″ sensor. Below is a shot with the RX10III in direct sunlight, the RX10III burned some highlights..but it could have been avoided if I dialed in some EV comp.

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In comparison, the A7RII with the new $249 50 1.8 had no DR issues, as is to be expected from a $3000+ camera.. The new 50 1.8 at $249 is a fantastic buy..and the A7RII is a DR monster.. (my full review here) No tweaks here, just the OOC rendering. 

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The power of the zoom. 

Take a look at what 24mm looks like, and then 600mm. This is the range of the f/2.4-f/4 Zeiss Zoom on the RX10 III..

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Same position at 600mm..

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With 600mm, you have a TON of reach.

So while I enjoyed the new Sony RX10III quite a bit, I also really enjoy the new 50 1.8 and 70-300 lenses. I will have a 1st look report on those later today or tomorrow morning. I can say for now though that the RX10III is the best of the RX10 series to date. No question. With the new stunning lens capabilities, the slightly refreshed body (better grip), the impressive 4K video options, the optical steady shot inside, the super slow motion, EVF and loads of other goodies in this camera it will be well with the $1500 cost to many who are itching for a superzoom of super quality. It comes in at a couple hundred more than the Mark II (which is staying in the Sony lineup) and well worth it IMO.

Even I am considering buying this one as I could use it for video (of which I do a ton of outside of this page), and all kinds of amazing things. Having a 600mm reach on hand, in this size, is pretty incredible and this would be the main reason I would consider it myself. It’s a powerful camera, no question.

Look for more on the RX10III soon. You can pre-order the RX10III at  B&H using the link below STARTING TOMORROW. It will be shipping in May, next month!

Pre Order the RX10 III at B&H HERE AT B&H PHOTO

A few more from the RX10 III. Enjoy! ALL are out of camera JPEGS

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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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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.

PEN-F, Olympus 17 1.8 Lens (review of the lens is here) – Chrome Color Mode 3 (Super Saturated Slide Film)

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…

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

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!!

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link (not the B&H) and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

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

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees nor do I (nor will I ever) charge for reviews, so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. If you choose to help out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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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 192016
 
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A trip to the top of the mountain with the Fuji XT-1

by Mohamed Hakem (NOW THESE ARE GORGEOUS FUJI IMAGES! BRAVO to Mohamed’s beautiful eye and skill – Steve)

Hi Steve! I am back again with another adventure! I decided to climb the highest mountain in Egypt with my Fuji XT-1

First please visit my website http://www.hakemphotography.com
Follow my FB page on http://facebook.com/hakemphotography
Instagram: http://instagram.com/moh_hakem

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People who go Hiking knows what it means to have a heavy backpack on a rough mountain climb. The Hike here was up to the top of Mount Moses in Saint Catherine Mountain in Sinai, Egypt. Saint Catherine Mountain is not the toughest hike in the world, it is 2422 meters up, you have to walk 8 KM ion extremely rough grounds. The place is magical and full of culture and history that dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. They first built a city in the shape of a fortress at around 1000m high it as part of the road from Egypt to Jerusalem. This area was then converted to the famous Saint Catherine Monastery which has tons of religiously important heritage for Christians, Muslims and jews. There is also a place during the climb where it is believed that this was the place God talked to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him).
To prepare for such climb, the first thing you think of is weight you hold as a burden on your back. you take minimal things, energy bars and water, you should not take anything else. but what about us photographers!? the answer is simple, it was impossible for me , a man with moderate health and stamina to lug around a DSLR body, tripod and two lenses that would be around 4-5 kilos minimum, My D800 was 945g+ (14-24)950g +70-300 (700g) + a big tripod = a break in your back!
to solve this problem I took with me the XT-1, the 10-24, 8mm fish eye and the 55-200 lens + plus the 3leggedthing punk tripod. all of these combined did not cross 2.5 kilos.

The path is rocky and extremely rough but its not dangerous. We took 3 hours to finish the main stage then 1 hour to climb what the bedouins call the stairs, vertical rock formations that forms natural stairs. Its not easy at all but its doable. Your second enemy other than the gravity is the Cold! it really was cold. We were all wearing heavy coats but the thing is during the climb your body becomes sweaty, so whenever you stop you instantly feel the cold to your bones!. reaching the top! after finally reaching the top,we had two hours till sunrise so we took the most uncomfortable nap in the world. Your sweat is freezing inside and you really can’t wear anything more. After waking up extremely tired and cold I packed my equipment and went for the sunrise. Sometimes I couldn’t feel the camera in my hands, I wanted to press the shutter button but I can’t feel my fingers! somehow after managing and warming up you begin to see the magic! a sunrise that you will never forget! Stunning sky colors, stunning rock formations, the place really touches your soul! every minute the colors change and the scenery changes magically until you see the sun and all your problems are gone! you instantly become warm and energetic.

The experience was never to be done without a mirrorless camera. I sometimes held it on my neck to capture on the go, it was never doable with a DSLR. as for the quality I will leave the judging to you.

That is me on the top of the mountain (shot by a fuji X100)

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Note the Bedouins below…click images for better versions!

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Saint Catherine Monastery

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Jan 192016
 

Nashville – Escape from Trade Conference with my A7RII

by Jim Idelson

Hello!

This image was captured during an afternoon escape from a convention I was attending in Nashville, Tennessee last week. Having never been to Nashville before, I really wanted to get a taste of the downtown area. From 2 to 4pm, I did a solo pub crawl, listening to some music, having a couple of beers and making a few new friends. As the sun was setting, I noticed it was just a bit over the horizon and in full view directly up the street. It was starting to bathe everything in gold and create some the beautiful long shadows. There were a few clouds in the sky. I had a feeling there would be something good to capture in this moment. I was also carrying a rented Zeiss Batis 85mm, and wanted to give it an opportunity, so I made sure that lens was in place.

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At first, I aimed the camera towards the sidewalk cafes, but facing away from the sun. That was an ok streetscape scene, but not very exciting . . . then I thought about shooting back into the sun. I got into a position on the sidewalk looking directly toward the sun. But, I really couldn’t see much in this direction by eye due to the brilliance of the setting sun. But, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to capture the whole scene before me . . . the busy street and sidewalk, the setting sun, those long shadows, and the eclectic mix of honky tonk signs – all somewhat compressed with the 85mm tele. So, I exposed simply by minimizing zebra to just a ring around the sun, making everything else in the frame go very dark . .. and hoped there would be enough DR to be able to bring it back in LR.

Camera and settings were A7RII, Batis 85mm, 1/2500 f2.5, ISO100. Processed in LR5. The primary edits were crushing highlights (a lot) and enhancing shadows (a lot). I also applied some vignette, a sprinkle of Clarity and Vibrance, and little NR. It was a pleasant surprise to see the yellow traffic light and the gold light shining through the windows of the clock tower in the distance on the left.

I’ve attached the before-processing version of the image, plus a google map snap to show where the image was shot, and another snap of some great musicians whose music I got to experience that afternoon. A fun break from work. I can definitely recommend a visit to Nashville.

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My Leica SL Experience

By Dan Feldman

“I’m an Australian expat living in the UAE (Abu Dhabi) and have been shooting Leica cameras for some time now. I started with a secondhand M (typ 240) and Summilux 50mm ASPH f1.4, graduating through to the Q (which my wife mainly shoots with). I bought the SL and 24-90 zoom shortly after release and an excellent demonstration / workshop put together in Dubai by Leica UAE. I also own a Summilux 35mm ASPH f1.4 and a Noctilux 50mm f0.95. Prior to shooting Leicas I owned several Sony A-Mount DSLTs, including the wonderful A99 and Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 combination.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (2 of 14)

I originally moved to Leica because I wanted to try the rangefinder experience and because I was intrigued by its history. After many months of that experience, my mind is clear: rangefinder photography is one of the most rewarding ways to make pictures that there is. There’s little like the feeling of composing a shot through framelines and capturing timing and focus manually: it’s addictive and gives you an unmatched sense of ownership over the result. Like Ashwin Rao and others, I also feel real pride in using a device with such a long and storied background from a company has been so important in the development of the art we all love today. The cost involved is a commitment, but it is best viewed as an investment in your own pleasure and engagement with the craft: you are buying into a real culture of innovation, quality, simplicity and beauty, and you feel it whenever you take the camera out with you.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (3 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (4 of 14)

After buying the M, I bought the Q as soon as it was announced, sight-unseen. Primarily I was interested in having an autofocusing M-style camera (because I have a young son who won’t sit still, and keeping track of him solely with manual focus means a few too many missed shots!) and because the 28mm focal length nicely balanced my existing lens lineup. I won’t dwell on the qualities of the Q; everyone who has used one knows what they are, and it is a magical device that, in hindsight, was the perfect proof-of-concept for what followed …

Now, to the SL:

Like many others who have contributed to Steve’s site, I was won over by the SL as soon as I picked it up. It radiates quality and modernity from its design, materials, heft and layout, and pictures do justice to none of these characteristics. There are elements which irritate me (the “LEICA” lettering at the top is, in my view, distracting and a little obnoxious) but these are minor quibbles compared to the overall sensory experience of seeing and handling the device. The near-complete control over customisation of the button layout is also really useful, because we all hold our cameras in different ways and prioritise certain functions over others.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (5 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (6 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (7 of 14)

The added value the SL gives to my M lenses was also important in my decision to buy it. I knew I was getting a Q-like sensor and, frankly, would have been happy enough to trade in my typ 240 for a newer M body containing that sensor; but the fact that the EVF makes manual focusing such a breeze and that the SL body design sacrifices no visible image quality when using M-mount lenses means I have a whole new way to use my line-up. It’s not as gratifying to use as a rangefinder, in my opinion, but you’re giving up a little fun for a more predictable result.

As for the image quality of the SL / 24-90 zoom combination, I’m going to let the pictures accompanying this report speak for themselves. These were all handheld snapshots taken in relatively low light over the course of about an hour, as I walked about the grounds and interiors of this spectacular structure as a tourist, then processed the DNGs quickly in Lightroom on the same evening. I don’t know of any other camera-lens pairing that can surpass these results for this kind of off-the-cuff photography.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (8 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (9 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (10 of 14)

My experience of using the 24-90 lens has also been excellent. Of course it is large, and I don’t really use it when just walking about with the SL (I use the 35mm and 50mm M lenses for street photography, for instance), but when you are planning to visit locations where you want the full standard focal length range and know the size of the lens won’t intimidate people (e.g. for wildlife, landscapes, architecture, family pictures), it’s a great option to have.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (11 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (12 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (13 of 14)

I’ve now had the SL for around a month and will be using it for all types of photograph over the course of 2016. I’ll report back with examples of how the camera and 24-90 zoom lens handle different challenges. But for now, I can’t speak highly enough of my experience using Leica’s latest, and am ready to commit long-term to this new system.”

Dan

Dec 162015
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Visiting Prague with my Olympus OM-D E-M1

by Trent Cooper

Hi Brandon and Steve,

Love your website. I have been enjoying it; reading your reviews as well as getting inspiration from  you and your readers. Your website was instrumental in my decision to purchase my Olympus OMD EM-1. Another factor was the retro feel and look of the camera, which was further enhanced by my  burgeoning interest in fixed focal length lenses. If the greatest photographers throughout history could  make incredible photographs using one lens, I could at least give it a try to get lucky enough to get one or two good shots.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Europe that included a visit to the incredible city of Prague.  During this trip, I challenged myself to spend time shooting only with my fixed focal length lenses, often  going out with just my camera and one lens. I have the Olympus 12mm, 17mm, 25mm, and 45mm lenses,  all of which are small, light, and of very good quality. I would estimate that I used the 17mm (35mm full  frame equivalent) about 75 percent of the time. I discovered that it just worked for me and it was  definitely my favorite focal length. (So much so, that upon returning home, I found a good deal on a used  Fuji X100S, to continue my retro, fixed focal length theme.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I purposely did very little research before arriving at our destinations. I wanted to discover the  cities for myself, and not be tempted to try to replicate the work of those that have been there before me.  I found the city to be absolutely magical, and the photo opportunities are endless. I must admit, there  were a couple of occasions where I could have used a long zoom to compress the perspective, or reach  out to an interesting subject some distance away. However, generally speaking, after the initial  adjustment, I didn’t miss having a zoom lens at all. I found shooting with fixed focal length lenses to be  rewarding, interesting, challenging, and just plain fun. I felt like an old-school photographer, following in
the footsteps of Cartier-Bresson or Kertesz.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Having spent many years shooting a DSLR with a range of zoom lenses, limiting myself to shooting  with fixed lenses was an interesting challenge. I found that it definitely forced me to look at things  differently, to slow down, and to work harder to find the best vantage point to allow me to get the shot I  wanted. It forced me to become more deliberate and thoughtful in my shooting. It required me slow  down, think, and work to get the shot. It also forced me to accept that there were shots that I just  couldn’t get, given the limitations of the equipment I had with me at the moment. I quickly learned that it  was okay, and to just move on and find the next good spot.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With zoom lenses, I have a tendency to shoot  many frames, adjusting the focal length of the lens in the hopes of getting something interesting. Most of  the time, I would just end up with a bunch of shots I wasn’t happy with. With a fixed lens, I had to work  harder to get the shot I wanted. I actually had to move my feet! Interestingly, and somewhat  contradictory, I found myself wanting to take my tripod with me when going out and about. I used my  tripod more often than I ever have while travelling. By slowing down and being more deliberate in my  shooting, the use of the tripod did not feel like the burden that it often does. The end result? A higher
percentage of shots that I was happy with.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and my photos.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/trentcphotos/

Dec 102015
 

SCOUTXMAS

New Wotancraft Scout Special Christmas Edition Bag – Get it here.

ONE OF THE BEST camera bags ever made from Wotancraft, the SCOUT has just been made up in a special edition light green Christmas Edition. Besides the Ryker from Wotancraft (see my review here ) the Scout is my 2nd favorite bag from them. Its gorgeous, functional and made to last forever. It’s tough, comfortable to carry and this Christmas edition is easily holding my Leica SL, 24-90 Zoom and a 50 Summilux ASPH, which I am finding to be a perfect SL kit ;) My Ryker does not hold this kit, but the Scout does, and it fits nicely all snug inside of its protective housing.

This bag would be perfect for a Leica M system with 3-4 lenses, and accessories. It could also work with a DSLR or any Mirrorless system out there from Sony to Olympus to Samsung to Fuji. It’s not large but it’s not small, the scout is just right. It doesn’t look like a man purse, instead it is rugged and gives off a sense of adventure. It’s a beautiful bag…

front

Once you open the top flap you will see a protective cover that keeps your gear from rain or snow. I LOVE This feature of the Wotancraft bags. Zip this open to reveal the inside..

top

which has even more protection that covers your expensive gear. Flip open the flap and you will gain access to the interior…

flapopen

Inside is my Leica SL, 24-90 and a 50 Summilux ASPH. I can also fit the charger, sd cards, cables, and my iPad mini in the back.

open

back

Everything is of high quality with all Wotnacraft products. The Scout is for those who prefer a Canvas look instead of all leather like the Ryker…

pocket

topdown

I also received a VERY nice lens pouch from them (HOBBIT LENS POUCH) along with the bag that is above and beyond most lens pouches in regards to materials used and protection. I will use this without question and it will stay with my Scout.

lens

You can order this special limited edition Wotancraft Green Scout Christmas Edition NOW right here at Wotancraft direct. Mine arrived in 3 days and it is LOVELY in every aspect. You can see my review of this bag HERE. Same bag, new special color. 

Specs:

  • Light green canvas + light colored leather
  • The Wotancraft W.A.L canvas is based on tough Cordura fabric, with underside PU-coated to prevent water seepage, and further treated to look like natural cotton canvas. W.A.L stands for
  • Water-repellant, Abrasion-resistant, and Lightweight
  • Designed for mirrorless system (you can demo with Leica SL or your latest A7 system)
  • Becomes an everyday office / messenger bag once you remove the shock-resistant insert
  • Now on till 2015/12/31, order of Wotancraft camera bag comes with one HOBBIT camera lens / travel pouch as Christmas gift

– photojournalist’s most desired WOTANCRAFT camera bag. Inconspicuous, protective, with a slight touch of WWII military equipment aesthetics

– removable shock-resistant insert that fits mirrorless camera set x2, flash x1, and additional accessories

– padded compartment for 10″ laptop or iPad

– interior flap with zippers (bronze YKK with rustproof coating) ensure dust and rain resistance in ourdoor environments, with upstanding rim to avoid gear scuffing against zipper tooth

– back pocket with leather rain cap (tucked in by default), designed specifically for photojournalists to quickly access field journals

– curved ergonomic shoulder strap pad for maximum comfort when bearing weight, with anti-slippery padding lined underneath

– vegetable tanned full grain cowhide and sheep skin leather parts, with tough rugged skin creases and pores clearly visible

– bag exterior:
31 x 12 x 23 cm
removable insert interior:
27 x 10 x 20 cm
front pockets:
14 x 2 x 16 cm
back pocket:
30 x 15 cm
interior padded compartment:
29 x 23 cm
interior hidden pocket:
18 x 15 cm
shoulder strap:
adjustable between 90-130 cm
weight:
bag 0.725 / insert 0.36 / shoulder strap 0.245 kg

– package include:
SCOUT bag x1
padded divider (no cap) x2
padded divider (with cap) x2
adjustable shoulder strap x1
dustproof bag x1
“REMOVE BEFORE ADVENTURE” military ordnance tag key chain x1

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