Sep 112015


VIDEO: New Gear in the House! Hold Fast, Olympus and Voigtlander!

New gear in the house and I decided to make a video giving you guys a quick look at it all!


NEW OLYMPUS E-M10II and 7-14 Pro f/2.8 Lens!


Take a look below!

BTW, The Holdfast Gear can be seen at, the Olympus E-M10II can be ordered HERE and the Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron can be purchased HERE. 

Jul 172015


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

By Steve Huff

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The Olympus Pro Fisheye 8mm:

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

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

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

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

click them for larger and sharper versions ;) 




The Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95

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

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

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

Click images for larger, sharper and better versions!



Jul 162015

VIDEO: QUICK REVIEW! A look at 12 Sony FE Lenses!

By Steve Huff


Just did a fun video showing 12 lenses I have on hand for the Sony FE system! With the incredible Sony A7RII coming VERY soon, many will want a quick overview of these lenses, so here you go! Mostly all of these have had  reviews done by me on this very site (see links below), but this is just a quick look at all of them at once! I will be doing more YouTube video work this year and next year, getting some new equipment in to up the quality level SOON, so stay tuned.

For now, take a look at the 12 lenses in about 8 minutes ;)

Posted Reviews:

Loxia 35
Loxia 50
Batis 25 & 85
Sony 90 Macro
Mitakon 85 1.2
Sony Zeiss 16-35
Sony Zeiss 35 1.4
Sony 28 f/2
Voigtlander 15 III (Yes, this is an M lens I use on the A7II)

Feb 042015


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II! Hands On 1st look & Video!

Man, doing camera reviews is a TOUGH job. Here I am in beautiful Bermuda with other colleagues testing out the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. The follow up to the HUGELY successful E-M5 (My review of the original E-M5 is HERE). For the past couple of years I wondered how Olympus could top themselves after the E-M1. I mean, what else can they do? The E-M5 and E-M1 (E-M1 review is HERE) are superb cameras for the Micro 4/3 format, and IMO, the best there is for this system. When I was asked to come do a test of the camera for two solid days in Bermuda, I could not pass it up. ;)

I also learned about the new PRO 8MM F/1.8 Fisheye they are coming out with this year as well as the “Olympus Air” and the new 14-150 “kit” zoom that is now weather sealed. Also, Firmware 3.0 for the E-M1 which should be out in the next 2-3 weeks. Good stuff!

All images in this 1st look report are OOC JPEGs with either the 12-40 Pro or 40-150 Pro Zoom Lenses. Click them for larger. 



“CENTER VALLEY, Pa., February 5, 2015 — Olympus introduces an exceptional high-resolution still and advanced motion picture hybrid with the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II®. This advanced interchangeable-lens camera features a compact dustproof, splashproof body, with a familiar, premium design. Packed with 5-axis image stabilization, a 40-megapixel high-resolution shot mode, sophisticated, stunning HD video, integrated Wi-Fi® and a variable-angle 3-inch touchscreen, the OM-D E-M5 Mark II makes it easy to get the shot you need, every time. The easy-to-use 2.36 million dot, super-large, high-definition electronic viewfinder has a field of view of 100%, and a viewfinder magnification of 1.48x. The camera is equipped with Adaptive Brightness Technology, which automatically adjusts the backlight brightness in accordance with environmental lighting. The new LV Boost II*1 is convenient for shooting stars, and Creative Control provides complete freedom of control over color, tone, focus, and aspect ratio.”

Today was day one with the camera. That is it. ONE day. I had  the 12-40 f/2.8 Pro Zoom and the 40-150 Pro Zoom to shoot with it and of course I only shot JPEG as there is no software to process RAW files as of yet. So remember, all images here are 1st look images, all JPEG and out of camera.

My 1st Look Video on the Olympus E-M5 II with my thoughts and some quick video samples (nothing fancy here)

With that said, here is the real lowdown, the real scoop..the real deal after only one day with the E-M5.



Well, IT IS GORGEOUS and an AMAZING update to the old E-M5, and here is why:

40 MP High Res Shot

Olympus said  that with this mode you will meet or exceed full frame detail. Yes, you can get a 40MP file from the 16MP sensor using this new exclusive mode on the E-M5 II. You will need a tripod and a good lens to take advantage of it but from what I understand the detail is stunning in this mode and I have sen samples. I will be testing this mode TOMORROW but once again it is Olympus pushing tech and INNOVATING as they have done for years. Remember, they were 1st with 5 Axis..they were 1st with a Swivel LCD (E-330 back in the day) and they were 1st with a mirror less weather proof, freeze proof, shock proof body in the E-M1. They are also the ONLY camera today with the exclusive LIVE TIME and LIVE COMPOSITE MODES, which are FANTASTIC.




Here is what Olympus says about 40 MP High Res Shot:

“The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II takes high-resolution imaging to a whole new level. In addition to the exceptional 16-megapixel stills you’ve come to expect from OM-D, the E-M5 Mark II captures 40-megapixel images*2 using an innovative pixel-shift technique that is facilitated by the voice-coil motor IS unit. The 40-Megapixel High-Res Shot mode captures eight sequential images, moving the sensor by 0.5-pixel steps between each shot. Then, the E-M5 Mark II compiles those images to produce a super-high resolution shot that rivals those captured with a 40-megapixel full-frame camera.

A tripod and a high-resolution M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL PRO or M.ZUIKO Premium lens are recommended to use the 40-Megapixel High-Res Shot mode, which captures eight shots over a period of one second. Another two seconds are required to compile the final image. Images can be captured at up to f/8 with a shutter speed of up to eight seconds and a sensitivity of up to ISO 1600. When shooting in RAW+JPEG mode, the camera will save a 40M JPEG file, a 64M RAW (ORF) file and a 16M RAW (ORI) file. 64M RAW images may be processed using Photoshop CS4 and later with a required plug-in.”




The new improved 5-Axis IS. 

This is new and upgraded and works SO AMAZINGLY WELL. It beats the 5 Axis in the Sony A7II, E-P5, E-M5 Mark I and the E-M1. Olympus briefed us and told us it is their best Image Stabilization system to date. This new improved 5 Axis is so amazing with video and photos. One guy here took a handheld shot at 1.2 seconds and it looked damn good on his LCD! Crazy. Olympus claims 5 Stops of performance. I was seeing unreal performance with this E-M5II 5 Axis..can not wait to test it more.

1st image was using “Live Time” where you can see your exposure happening in real-time, perfect for night exposures. The image below was shot at ISO 1600 at night, and I let LiveTime go until the exposure was right where I wanted it. 


…and “Live Composite” which is quite special and unique to Olympus. Basically the camera takes TWO shots. The 1st one determines the exposure for the shot..the 2nd shot just leaves the shutter open for up to SIX HOURS looking for NEW light. When it sees the new light it adds it to the images, without affecting your original exposure. This would be amazing for night-time shooting but you do need a tripod of course.


Here is the Lowdown from Olympus on the 5 Axis in the E-M5 II:

“The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II’s in-body 5-axis VCM image stabilization system offers unprecedented performance. The camera’s 16-megapixel sensor shifts horizontally, vertically and on the X (pitch), Y (yaw) and Z (roll) axes in order to provide 5.0 EV steps of compensation performance. The OM-D E-M5 Mark II can capture sharp images at shutter speeds as low as 1/4-second without the use of a tripod. Sensor shift on the X and Y axes can also assist when photographing close-up subjects. Image stabilization extends to the 3-inch, 1.04M-dot rear vari-angle touchscreen and the 2.36M-dot electronic viewfinder (1.48x magnification), providing a full image stabilization preview when the shutter button is pressed halfway.”

Electronic Silent Shutter capable of 1/16,000 S

The new silent shutter is superb and capable of 1/16,000 of a second shutter speeds and 11 FPS continuous shooting. If you prefer to use the physical shutter you are limited to 1/8000s and 10 FPS shooting, which exceeds the E-M1 and past E-M5 regardless. The silent shutter is just that..silent.




OM-D Movie – They now are getting much better with video

“The OM-D E-M5 Mark II’s advanced video features enable photographers to capture cinema-quality movies from the palm of their hand. The camera’s 5-axis image stabilization compensates for even the slightest movement, allowing the camera to capture stable footage without the use of a sophisticated and expensive stabilization rig, or even a tripod, letting users shoot in environments where adding heavy equipment may not be practical. The mechanical IS unit can also work in concert with Electronic Stabilization if desired.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II captures 1080p video at up to a 60p frame rate with up to 77 Mbps high bit-rate recording possible at the 30p setting. Additionally, the OM-D E-M5 Mark II supports 50p, 30p (29.97p), 25p and 24p (23.98p) frame rates, making it easy to blend footage captured using other camera systems. An integrated microphone jack supports external audio input, while a headphone jack positioned in the HLD-8G External Grip enables real-time audio monitoring. Focus Peaking with four color choices (red, yellow, black and white) as well as three selectable intensities for optimal manual focus results. Settings can be adjusted while recording using the 3-inch touchscreen, including AF-point selection, exposure, electronic zoom and Movie Tele-converter, microphone sensitivity, headphone volume and art effects. Additionally, OM-D Movie supports time code settings and connection to an external HDMI® monitor during recording. You can also add an Olympus PCM recorder for high-quality audio capture.

Photographers can take advantage of the OM-D’s popular Art Filters while in Movie Capture mode. Users can select from Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale and Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Dramatic Tone, Key Line and Watercolor while capturing video. A Movie Tele-converter lets users touch an area on the screen to enlarge it without losing image quality, while the Clips tool enables short clip capture, allowing users to combine footage and effects directly on the camera for instant sharing.”



I am only one day in with this new camera and I am really enjoying it. From the quick and fast AF (faster than the E-M5 and E-M1 from what I can tell) , the new side swivel LCD which is FANTASTIC in use and the improved 5 Axis IS and Video. I will be testing the new 40MP High Res Shot tomorrow but I can see the possibilities with it for sure. The E-M % Mark II will not ship with a lens as it will be body only for $1099. It will come with a very cool new flash that not only rotates side to side but up and down as well. I was able to handle this little dynamo and it was very cool, not your typical bundled flash (though it is small).

I love Olympus..always have ever since the good old film days, and then again with the original 4/3 E-1. They always have something special and unique about their cameras and they ALWAYS innovate and bring us new features, including superb firmware updates for the E-M1.

So far so good and I have only been shooting OOC JPEG in NEUTRAL color mode…for ONE day.


This camera easily outclasses the older E-M1 Mark I and IMO even outshines the E-M1 for less money. Next to the E-M1 the E-M5 II is smaller but feels just as good, is a bit faster, can shoot faster FPS, has better 5 Axis IS and video, and so on.

My full review will be up by the end of Feb 2015, so be sure to check back as I am sure I will be posting updates over the next few days and weeks, including a test of the new 40MP High Res Mode. We have a full day of shooting tomorrow as well so I am excited to see what I can squeeze out of the camera.



So far, so good! GO GO GO Olympus!


You can PRE ORDER the E-M5 Mark II at B&H Photo using the link below. The camera will be shipping by the end of this month, Feb 2015.






More from Olympus on the new and exciting E-M5 Mark II

Exceptional Performance
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II pairs a redesigned16-megapixel Live-MOS Micro Four Thirds® sensor with the Olympus TruePic™ VII processor, enabling brilliant image quality in bright and low-light conditions alike. The 1/8000 mechanical shutter allows photographers to shoot using a large aperture for maximum bokeh, even in bright, daylight conditions. Users can capture RAW images at up to 10 fps with S-AF, or 5 fps with C-AF tracking enabled. An Anti-shock mode utilizes electronic first-curtain shutter to reduce shutter shock during sequential shooting, and a new Silent mode enables a full-time 1/16000 second electronic shutter, eliminating the mechanical shutter noise entirely for absolutely silent shooting. The 81-point Fast AF provides an expanded focus area, with unparalleled speed, while Small Target AF allows users to focus on small areas across the entire frame.

Ultimate Connectivity
The OM-D E-M5 Mark II includes integrated Wi-Fi, enabling remote shooting, geotagging and easy image sharing using the Olympus Image Share app on an Android® or iOS® smartphone or tablet. Photographers can use the Olympus Image Share app to apply Art Filters. Users can also start and stop movie recording using a wirelessly connected smartphone, or with the RM-UC1 Remote Cable Release. Studio photographers can take advantage of Olympus Capture support, enabling complete control of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II from a connected Mac® or PC.

Portability and Build
The OM-D E-M5 Mark II features a dustproof, splashproof body, that, when properly sealed and paired with select M.ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses, can even be used in the rain. Olympus’ renowned Supersonic Wave Filter technology uses super high speed frequency movement to “shake” any dust or debris off the sensor, eliminating dust marks that irreparably spoil images. Two body colors are available: a luxurious black with texture casting, and a bright, gorgeous silver. The camera includes machined metal dials, an extended grip and a lowered center of gravity that makes the OM-D E-M5 Mark II comfortable to hold in a variety of positions. The camera (body only) weighs just 417 grams, or 14.7 ounces, making it one of the lightest models in its class.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II includes a dustproof and splashproof bundled flash, the FL-LM3, with Guide Number 9 (at ISO 100) and tilt and swivel positioning, enabling users to light subjects directly or by bouncing the flash off of a ceiling or wall.

The HLD-8 is a dustproof and splashproof power battery holder for exclusive use with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, which enhances both the camera grip and power supply. The HLD-8G Non-powered Grip pairs a substantial camera grip with a headphone jack for monitoring audio during video capture, and an HLD-6P Power Grip, which can attach directly to the camera or to the HLD-8G, provides additional battery power for extended shoots. Because the grip (HLD-8G) and battery holder (HLD-6P) can be separated, the grip can be used alone when necessary. The HLD-6P battery holder is the same as the HLD-6 which was previously designed for the OM-D E-M5. The ECG-2 Metal External Grip can be attached to and removed from a tripod easily, and includes a battery pass-through for changing batteries without removing the grip.

An EE-1 External Dot Sight, which is compatible with any camera with a hot shoe, makes it easier to frame subjects during super-telephoto shooting An EP-16 Large Eyecup is also available, which blocks sunlight, making the electronic viewfinder easier to use. A redesigned version of the OM-D E-M5’s popular full-cover case, which includes a body cover and removable front cover, is also available as the CS-46 FBC Leather Cover and Body Jacket. The PT-EP13 Dedicated Underwater Case can be used at depths of up to 45 meters, and is designed specifically for the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. The case is equipped with a pick-up viewfinder and can be used with the cameras bundled FL-LM3 flash, along with a variety of lenses.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II will be available in February 2015.
Estimated Street Price
$1,099.99 Body only in Black or Silver

Jan 292015

How to use a Leica M Camera


Check out this video from the wonderful Craig Semetko on using a Leica M Rangefinder Camera. He makes some great points and shares WHY it is a special thing, shooting with a rangefinder camera. I love my Sony A7II and S but the M is a totally different way of shooting. The video is less than 4 minutes and is well worth the watch, especially if you are not so sure how an RF works.

Craig Semetko: How to use a Leica M Camera from Leica Camera on Vimeo.

Dec 092014

Sony A7II vs Sony A7s Shutter Sound (Video)


So many have asked me about the Sony A7II shutter sound and if it is still loud. Well, since the A7s I have been fine with the shutter sound as it is much quieter than the A7r, which is unruly loud. The A7II is a bit more damped than the A7s so it is now the quietest shutter in the A7 lineup. It’s not much quieter but its noticeable to me in use. Check out the video below for the sound examples!

Pre-Order the A7II at Amazon or B&H Photo (Ships THIS Thursday)!

Nov 062014

Street Photography to Me

by Steve Huff 


Many have asked me about doing a video on my thoughts about Street Photography. Why I am FAR from an expert on shooting Street, I do in fact enjoy it and I enjoy the interaction with the subjects as well. Not everyone shoots the same way, and me, I prefer to go about it in a couple of different ways. Sp enjoy the video below as everything is explained there :)

Sep 262014


A quick 1st look video on the Leica X Typ 113!

Yesterday the new Leica X arrived to me direct from Leica for a 2 week review period. When it arrived I took it out of the box and sapped maybe 7-10 shots in my yard to see if the output is similar to the X1, X2 and X-Vario or if it was changed. I am happy to say it retains the same image quality as the previous X2 and X Vario. By that I mean it has the same color signature, the same crisp snap to the images and the same overall rendering. This time though we get a more “Leica Like” rendering with the new Summilux f/1.7 lens.

The X is GORGEOUS in the flesh (or metal) and it will indeed inspire and provide true pride of ownership. The camera focuses about as fast as the X-Vario and behaves just like an X. It starts up quicker and has a nice metal lens cap included in the box as well. While not a speed demon when comparing to the super  fast cameras, it gets the job down from what I have seen. BUT this is a first look only, my full review will be up within 2 weeks or so where I will know MUCH more about how the X Typ 113 operates.

Check out the 1st look below BUT LEICA, C’MON…GIVE US A BUILT IN EVF ALREADY! If you did this it would sell in much larger numbers.

You can pre-order the X from Ken Hansen ([email protected]),, Pro Shop, B&H Photo, and Leica Store Miami 


Aug 252014

Sony A7s – A Game Changer for Film Making

By Peter Georges


Hello Steve Huff Photo readers! I’m Peter Georges: a Sydney Wedding and Portrait Photographer. I entered the wonderful world of filming after picking up a Canon 7D and got serious about it with the 5D Mark III. Initially all was well, I thought the image quality coming from the thing was absolutely fantastic…

Absolution filmed on the 5d Mark III

But dammit we can do better than that!

I’ve gone through quite a few cameras including the Canon C100 and Blackmagic Cinema Camera but never quite found exactly what I needed. It was either image quality that didn’t quite gel with me or a severe lack of usability. I went all the way and kitted out a full rig for the Blackmagic. It worked but I was left with a set up whereby anything I filmed had to be a huge production. I got great image quality but it killed my ability to be creative.

All I wanted to do was go out and film!! *cough* …while maintaining great image quality.

Accessible Creativity.

Reading about this amazing new A7s camera from many reviewers including Steve, I jumped right in and purchased the camera alongside a battery grip and the Zeiss 55mm FE 1.8 lens. The next night I was out filming my friend Rob and I having some ribs. He was tackling the Rib Challenge: 1kg (!!) steak, a full rack of ribs and chips. Crazy guy!

The best movie ever made about ribs filmed on the Sony A7S

By now you all know: the A7s lights up the night. In my opinion having a bright camera doesn’t mean you shouldn’t light your scene. It does mean that come night-time you can use cost-effective, battery-powered and portable lights to do the job. I used an Ice Light in the car and it worked wonders. Coming home I just couldn’t believe how little noise there was in the images even when I hit 80,000 ISO – I didn’t push it any further because the night just was not dark enough. Low light capability means low light budget ;).

The EVF is a killer feature. I can handhold the 55mm non-OSS lens and get video that to me is quite stable. Three points of contact without needing to buy loupes or any other stabilisation device! I’d say 55mm is the absolute limit for handholding. Sony/Zeiss if you’re reading this: release a 24mm or 28mm f1.8 lens next!

Lastly and most importantly: no one was clued in on what I was doing. I simply asked the waitress if she wouldn’t mind being in our little film and she was fine with it. I probably just looked like a tourist creating a home video with an entry level DSLR. This was the selling point to me. All that amazing image quality with the ability to film ANYWHERE is a powerful combination.

This is why I consider the A7s a game changer. It allows me to be creative. It allows me to be much more ambitious with my films while still getting the visual results I want. Now if only this camera had come out three years ago it would’ve saved me a lot of trouble…

Peter Georges

Jun 162014

New Western Digital, Blacksmith Labs, Cecilia Straps and more!

Hey guys! Just wanted to share a new video I put up on my YouTube channel today (video is above). I had a few things that were sent to me to check out and I wanted to show off some of my faves.



Western Digital My Passport Pro 4TB Travel RAID Drive

First of all is the Western Digital My Passport Pro 4TB hard drive, which is a portable drive I will use for my travel needs. This is a double 4TB RAID drive capable of 233 MBPS. It is a Thunderbolt drive and comes in at around $429. It is available at Amazon and I highly recommend it. You can see it in the video above.


Blacksmith Labs iPhone Case

I have had one of the Blacksmith Labs iPhone cases here for a month or two and find that it is a very well made case. Soft supple leather and a great design with easy phone access, it is a nice attractive case. I am not one for belt clip phone cases but if you are, you will want to take a look as the quality is very high. I go over it in the video above so take a look! You can visit Blacksmith Labs HERE.


Cecilia Camera Straps

Cecilia Gallery camera straps look like those old school wide strap camera straps and they are pretty much the same but with a couple of exceptions. They are made of full leather and 100% Alpaca Wool. So these are basically a sort of Luxury strap and they have many designs and colors to try out/check out. I have had one for about a month and found the strap to be comfortable and stylish, and different. They range from $90 to $100 and offer beauty, super construction and something unique. You can see more of it in the video above and you can check out the designs and straps direct at Cecilia by clicking HERE.


Feb 212014

Myanmar Traditional Boxing

By Nikko Karki  – – –


Fighting once a month with nothing but wraps covering their hands, young Burmese men continue their country’s traditional sport, perhaps one of the most brutal in the world. In the olden days, there were no rounds, no points, the only way to win was by a total knockout or concession by the opponent. The men I met had no sort of ego or bravado. Their quiet disposition and positive outlook on training, fighting and life, is unlike a traditional mindset.

Training with broken hands or other seemingly debilitating injuries is not dismissed with any sense of martyrdom, but sincere dedication and selflessness. It was a privilege to witness their humble approach to life, living happily and compassionately as they dedicate themselves to their training.

 Canon 5D mk III – Carl Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon – Carl Zeiss ZE 100mm f/2.0 Makro planar

Photographer’s note:

I made this film in a day and a half, after spending about a week training and getting to know the fighters. It was truly an honor and privilege to get to know them and I greatly look forward to returning to learn more about Lethwei, Myanmar traditional boxing.

First, a couple of pics of me training with the guys:




Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 1

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 2

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 3

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 4

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 5

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 6

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 7

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 8

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 10

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 11

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 12

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 13

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 14

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 15

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 16

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 17

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 18

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 19

Nikko Karki © 2013 Lethwei 20

Aug 012013

 A great video production done with a Leica M 240 by Edmond Terakopian

See, a Leica M 240 can create good-looking video :) It may not be the best solution but if you own an M 240 and some of the beautiful Leica glass you can create some damn nice looking video with them as we can see below. This one, “Electric Coffee Company” was created by Edmond Terakopian with the 28 cron, 35 lux and 50 Noctilux. The Leica M 240 seems to still be on forever backorder. Many have received their cameras and are enjoying what it offers and others are still waiting and waiting and waiting. :) I am expecting and hoping that this situation will open up soon, by October or November. Maybe in September after the new Sony announcement :) Enjoy the video and thanks to Edward for sending it in! You can see more of his work at the links below:

Edmond Terakopian BLOG VIDEO


Jul 172013


1st Look at the Olympus PEN E-P5 Video

Hello to all, and happy Wednesday! I have had the new Olympus PEN E-P5 in hand for only one week and am just now starting  to use it in my daily routine. I expect a full review soon but for now I have a video showing the new features such as focus peaking and focus assist. I have been getting asked “Which one should I buy between the E-M5 and E-P5” – Well, I answer that question in the video with what I would do if buying new and if I owned the E-M5! But damn, this is a sexy little beast.


Take a look at the video for the E-P5 below!

Many of you know I have a soft spot for the Olympus PEN series and this guy is SOLID and seems to offer almost everything we crave in a mirror less camera.

  • Great Sensor? CHECK
  • Fast AF? CHECK
  • Image Stabilization? CHECK!
  • Superb Lenses? CHECK!
  • Great style and design/Usability? CHECK!
  • Built in EVF? NO! But a great External upgrade!
  • Touch Screen, WiFi, 1/8000th Shutter? CHECK!
  • Tiltable HUGE and CLEAR LCD? CHECK!

Shot with the Olympus E-P5 and 17 1.8 at 1.8


The E-P5 uses the same exact 16MP sensor as the OM-D and it is a fantastic sensor. The IQ will be about the same, especially if shooting in RAW. What is different is the look, feel and heft. The E-P5 has a very solid heft to it, more so than any previous PEN camera. The LCD is beautiful, the AF is blazing and  the image stabilization is INCREDIBLE just as with the E-M5.

The new VF-4 is HUGE but a pleasure to use, the best Olympus EVF to date which makes the old VF-2 look dated. NOTE: This EVF will NOT work on the Leica M 240, only the VF-2 or the Leica EVF-2 will work. 

The shutter sound is NICE and crisp and feels great. I like the shutter sound better than the OM-D E-M5 and this is also shown in the video below. The E-P5 has a shutter capable of 1/8000th second for those that like to shoot their fast lenses wide open in the daytime. The OM-D has a 1/4000th second shutter.

Shot at f/2


The new E-P5 also has WiFi capability but loses the weather sealing.

Overall, the best PEN yet without question but is it worth the cost today with so much competition in APS-C land? Find out in my full review which is coming soon! One thing is for sure though and that is the fact that the OM-D E-M5 was able to hang with the APS-C crowd and was and is highly capable. So many get hung up on sensor size and yes, full frame is GORGEOUS and can do things no smaller sensor can but the sensor in the E-P5 and E-M5 is superb and can provide gorgeous results, especially with the fantastic lenses available for this system from fisheye to extreme tele.

17mm at f/3.5


The best bang for the buck when buying this new E-P5 is to go for the full kit that consists of the fabulous 17 1.8 lens and the VF-4 EVF at $1449. Hard to find in stock but you can find this set at the dealers below:

B&H Photo HERE

Amazon HERE

PopFlash has the silver IN STOCK now!


To see my OM-D E-M5 review, click HERE 


Jul 152013

User Report: The Nikon V1 as a run-and-gun video camera

By Ivan Lietaert

I’m an amateur documentary/film maker. I run a passion project about the World War One cemeteries here in Flanders (Belgium) in the Ypres region, where I live. (Vimeo channel). I am also part of a small group of local videographers and we create non-profit videos for and about the local community life. It’s called Gtv, ‘Geluwe TV’ and here is one of my movies, just one of many I created this one with my trusty (and now almost rusty) DSLR (a Canon Eos 550D/T2i). I have been using this DSLR for many years and I am not a ‘fanboy’. The camera that really introduced me into photography and movie making was the Panasonic Lumix LX3. I still have it and use it regularly. A year later, the 550D came out, with, at the time, unseen video possibilities at a budget price. This camera allowed me to further develop my skills, both in still photography and video making. I have a small collection of lenses, my favorites being manual, 30 year old Auto Chinon glass, cheap as dirt.


Quite recently, I have become very intrigued by the Nikon 1 V1, so after the huge price drop, in 2013 I jumped the wagon and bought a white V1 with a set of lenses, the 10mm f2.8 and the 30-110mm telezoom. I also ordered the 18mm f1.8, but it hadn’t been yet delivered yet when I did this project and wrote this user review.

So after a week of getting to know the camera, I took the V1 out for its first real run-and-gun project; a commissioned job actually, issued by the local town council, cultural department. Mind you, this is my very first video project with the V1, so I was doomed to make some mistakes. Don’t expect any 4K raw experiments here, just the basic run-and-gun work, lots of walking, a trip on a bus, shooting under various light conditions, and with specific attention for in-camera classical music recording as well.

For those interested, here is the story: Wervik (B) and Wervicq-Sud (Fr) are border towns separated by the river Lys. The cultural department makes huge efforts in bringing the inhabitants, which share historical roots, together. This day, the focus was on literature and music. The invited authors are renowned, both in Flanders (Belgium) and France, and internationally.

So there it was: instead of taking my trusty 550D, I only took the V1 with me for the assignment. Was this madness and unwise? Does the smallish, one inch CX sensor stand up against a asp-c dslr? Here is my report.


Size does matter!

A friend of mine is the creator of the videos for the official fan website of a Belgian premier league soccer club. When he started, he was using a small camcorder with a decent image quality. Soon, he found out nobody took him seriously. Not the players, not the fans, and certainly not the professional cameramen from national and commercial television. So he quickly invested in a bigger, bulkier but professional looking camera which he put on an even bigger tripod. Though the image quality wasn’t any better, now he was taken seriously, and he has been using that bulky camera for many years, very successfully.

While this is a cautionary tail in favour of bigger cameras, I myself have always put priority on image quality and portability. That’s why I opted for a DSLR. Still, when preparing for my first V1 field trip, I was quite nervous… did I, perhaps, overlook something? Never before had I traveled so lightly! This was the contents of my small Samsonite Trekking shoulder bag: a white Nikon 1 V1, the Nikon 1 10mm f2.8 pancake, the Nikon 1 VR 30-110mm telezoom. A mono mike with cable for interviews. A Zoom H1 (+ case and windcat), a cloth, a 16GB Transend memory card (in the camera). The biggest weight I was carrying, was in fact my Manfrotto XProb 055 tripod with the 501HDV video head. The bag itself was feather light. Nope, all ‘s here. Nothing forgotten! Wow. Size does matter indeed, but here in quite the opposite sense!



The V1 can film in 1080i 60fps and that is what I chose. I figured that at times there would be lots of movement and 60fps is an advantage then. 1080p at 30fps would have been the alternative.


I chose for manual. Aperture and exposure can be changed with the wheel and a nob on the back of the camera.

Exposure is 1/100 or faster. I would have preferred it started at 1/30. Outdoors, in the bright sunlight, exposure would be much shorter, of course, and I would also tweak aperture in order to get avoid blow outs. Outdoors, I set iso at 100 or 200; inside the church, iso was set at 1600. There is no iso button, so one must access the menu in order to change it, which is not good.



Of course, the V1’s autofocus is very fast, and it works really well. Full manual focus would have been too hard, I thought, so I used AF-S(ingle) most of the time, and also AF-F(ull). First I had ‘face recognition priority’ on. I turned it off, because it interferes with the focussing: in AF-F focus will jump from one face to the other all the time, while in AF-S, the same will happen. It is not only distraction, but can ruin a shot. So my modus operandi was to use AF-S mode with the center focus point only; target the subject, achieve focus, and then reframe. Afterthought: if I had turned off ‘face recogniton priority’ from the start, I might have used AF-F more.

As the Nikkor 1 lenses I own have no focus ring, focus pulling was impossible. In fact, hitting the shutter release button in AF-S will instantly pull focus, but much too fast (!) and I haven’t found a way of slowing it down in order to create a beautiful focus-pull shot. I miss that a lot.

During a whole afternoon of filming, there were two occasions where the lens was hunting just a little bit.

Screen and viewfinder

I used the lcd sreen 99 per cent of the time. It was a sunny day, but the screen is sufficiently bright. In fact, I only used the V1’s viewfinder once, when I was unsure if the focus was right, and I must say that the viewfinders was of great help here (it has higher resolution than the sreen). My camera was on the tripod all the time. If I were to handhold the camera, I think I would use the electronic viewfinder a lot more, for the added stability of a tree point contact. After all, when I do still image photography with the V1, I have noticed that I use the viewfinder exclusively.



Both lenses I used are pretty responsive and sharp. The 10mm f2.8 is wide enough to be ‘wide’ and the lack of VR is not an issue. The VR 30-110mm is pretty amazing, both outdoors and indoors, and has a very useful reach (80-300mm is the 35mm equivalent). It also allows to isolate a subject against a blurred background when the zoom is maxed out. Focus pulling is not possible with these lenses. Image quality is really good, but I wonder if one of my vintage Auto Chinon lenses would make an even sharper image – but then, focussing would be a lot harder.)

The Nikon 1 lenses are great value for money, and a no-brainer. It’s as simple as that. Yes, the motorized Nikkor 10-100mm lens, would have been ideal. But for me, using the V1 both for vidoe and photography, a prime lens is always preferable.


Image quality

I did no color correction or grading at all in post. I did tweak the in-camera neutral picture control a bit (by turning down the contrast).

I’m really impressed by the lvel of grain and noise at iso 1600. In my opinion, the V1 easily beats my 550D/T2i. If there is any noise, it has a very grainy look to it, making the footage more film-like. There is no moiré but there is aliasing when there are fine lines in the shot. Banding and flickering may occur. Inside the church, where they use these modern TL-lights nowadays, I noticed some banding and weird flickering at 1/100, so I quickly changed the exporsure a little bit, in order to avoid the banding. Strangely, while filming the cello player, the banding suddenly disappeared, even at 1/100. I have no explanation for this.

Audio quality

I only used the built-in stereo microphone on this shoot. Though I did bring a cabled mic and a Zoom H1 external audio recorder with me (in the event of a possible interview), I did not put them to use that day. Mind you, the V1 has audio in.

I hesitated a bit about the audio settings, but decided to choose for ‘auto’ instead of one of the three sensitivity levels. Outdoors, there was the occasional popping sound due to the wind, which I hate, but the indoor recording of the cello player I find really impressive. Of course, I turned off all the beeps in order not to disturb the concert (when recording, the camera is completely silent automatically, it is in between shots that the beeping occurs). When pushing the buttons while recording, for instance when focusing or tweaking exposure, the camera doesn’t record the clicks and sounds.

Battery life and memory card

The V1 comes with a bulky battery which also is used in the D7000 dslr. I had 7 per cent of battery power left after a whole afternoon of filming (14 pm until 18 pm). While filming there is an awkward indication of how much memore space is left on the card: 1.2K, I guess it meams I could still take 1,200 jpegs with what is left. I used a Sandisk 16GB 45Mbp/s Class 10 I memory card.

Editing and post-processing

Like I said, I did no color correction or color grading in post.

As for the editing, there was a problem. Lighroom and Windows Movie Maker Live can easily play/edit the V1’s files on my low end, Intel 2.4 Quad Core Windows 8 Pro (64bit) 3 GB ram sysem, but my trusty NLE, Sony Vegas Movie Studio 12 had a very tough time with it and it had only 5fps in playback, which makes it useless to work with. Vegas handles the 550D mov files just fine, but it has huge issues with Nikon’s movs. How can this be? Here is the thing: ‘mov’ is a ‘container’ for a compressed video file. The way it is compressed (and later decompressed) is determined by the codec. This codec is typical of the brand. Canon, Nikon and many other brands record mov files, but what is inside this container is not the same! As Canon dslrs have become very popular as a video camera, most NLEs have invested in implementing Canon’s mov files. Not so with the Nikon mov files, unfortunately…

Of course, one could argue that this is an issue for Vegas, and not for the V1, but at the end of the day, it is a huge pain! So I decided to avoid Vegas in my workflow altogether and rather than transcoding/converting or wasting time online finding (non-existent) solutions. I relied on Movie Maker to edit. Many years ago, I taught myself editing with Movie Maker, so it felt a bit like coming home again! Movie Maker, of course, has substantial limitations compared to Vegas. With only one video track and one audio track, it’s really hard to edit a more complex project. The major issue in Movie Maker was editing the audio, especially adding background music and turning down the levels of recorded audio.. In the end, my plan was to render a 24Mbt bitrate file with Movie Maker, and then import this file into Vegas, and do the final audio work there. Unfortunately, it failed: for a reason beyond my knowledge, I could not keyframe the audio volume, it simple did not work this time (while it usually does…) So in the finalised video, the audio is still a mess.

I ended up rendering the file to a more modest 14 Mbps bitrate. This also brought down the size of the file to more ‘uploadable’ dimensions: my 15 minutes report is about 1.2Gb in size.

Of course, if this were a commercial project, I would have transcoded the original mov files to a Vegas-editable file format and I would have had to re-edit the whole bunch. But in this case, I simply didn’t bother: the reason of exisitence for this video is, let’s be honest, anecdotal (for this user review) and archival, for the sake of history. I can live with that. Can you?



I can honestly conclude that the V1 is a worthy replacement for my 550D/T2i when it comes to handling and image quality. The small 10 megapixel CX sensor is amazingly capable and the controls are snappy and very intuitive thanks to the dual core processor in the V1. This is a very compact, portable kit! Of course, the V1 plus pancake is rediculously small on a 501HDV video head/tripod. If you can live with that, the V1 is a winner!

Kind regards,

Ivan Lietaert,

Belgium, July 2013.

See Steve’s Review of the V1 Here. 


Apr 292013


My new 2013 iMac 27″  – WOW, what an improvement

Man, I have had a load of expenses this past month (The only reason I had to let go of the!) but hey, don’t we all? One of them was paying taxes, which is never fun but always mandatory. The other was paying to send my son to Japan this summer for three-week group trip, and that does not come cheap as you can imagine, but it has been a dream of his for a couple of years and if I can help him achieve that dream then why not? Even splitting that cost with his put a dent in my bank account. Then I came to my senses and made myself buy a new computer. My old 27″ iMac (very 1st gen of 27″) was showing extreme signs of aging with slow laggy performance while editing photos and video..and I mean LAGGY, I knew after 4-5 years it was time for a new computer as even upgrading the old one would not bring it to the performance level of the new model I had in mind.

I figured this time I would invest in something that would last me a looong time and give me enjoyment while using it as well, so I went all out and I am glad that I did. WOW, never knew I would be enjoying this kind of performance upgrade and I never thought I would feel GOOD about spending this much money.

I went head and bought a new iMac 27″ from B&H Photo, the exact model I bought is HERE and while expensive, man is it well worth it for what I use it for. The basic specs are below but I can tell you that this machine SCREAMS when using Lightroom, Photoshop or Video editing with Final Cut or iMovie. Video import is 4-5X faster than my old machine. Opening Leica M files on it is quite amazing. Editing and applying filters is blazing. My work may be cut down by 1-2 hours a day just due to speed, and I am not kidding.

My 2013 “SuperMac”


2013 27″ iMac

3.4 GHZ i7 Processor


3 Terabyte Fusion Drive

2 GB Video Card – Nvidia

The cool thing is I ordered from B&H Photo, in the exact configuration I wanted and it was not only cheaper than buying direct from apple but there was also NO TAX. So I saved a few hundred dollars and B&H Shipped the same day I ordered it. It arrived extremely well packed and double boxed in a custom-made shipping box. But I did not stop there. Since I only do this every 5 years or so I decided to go all out and hope to make this one last 7 years if I can. I decided to upgrade my ENTIRE desktop setup from audio to a Thunderbolt external drive. Also, I am not interested in getting into any MAc vs Windows wars. I have used Macs since 1994 and it is what I use and prefer, hands down. Sure I can get a windows PC for much less but they do not interest me nor does windows as an OS. I prefer a trouble-free, virus free, issue free computer system and have no problem paying for it. In almost 20 years of mac use, I have never had an issue or breakdown or crash or virus…nothing. To me, that says alot. BTW, I know I could have bought this model with less RAM and upgraded on my own, but just went with it all ready to go out of the box from B&H since I saved tax and money off the top (as compared to buying from Apple) already.

So my choice is and always will be Mac.

So besides the new screamer iMac, what else did I add? I figured that since I was at my desk most of the day, 6 days a week, then I needed to create my space so that I would enjoy it. In addition to the iMac I went ahead with a 4TB External Thunderbolt G-Drive, an Apple USB SuperDrive as well as an audio system for my music listening, video editing and youtube watching enjoyment. I originally had a Lacie Thunderbolt 3TB but it was sketchy, noisy and slower than expected so I exchanged for the G-Drive and all is perfect. I also picked up this wicked cool and very nice Card Reader for easier reach (new iMac card reader is on the back).


I went with the following after auditioning a few different setups:

Audioengine A5+ Bamboo Self Powered Speakers – (also in black)

NuForce ICON HDP DAC/Headphone Amp/PreAmp

and I still use my Grado PS-500 Headphones which I adore.

My workspace is now transformed in speed and enjoyment. I loved working before but now I enjoy it even more. I may even add a cheap vintage turntable to the setup to play some of my old records as the ICON HDP has an analog input as well! Fun fun fun :) I used to be an Audiophile (and that is not a hobby you should get into if you want to save money) and this desktop setup is quite amazing for the cost and beat out several other candidates for me including other desktop monitors and speakers like the $500 B&W MM-1 (which underwhelmed me). With the ICON HDP I can play soft of extremely room filling loud with superb bass performance. I am amazed at what $400 will get you these days in a powered speaker. No complaints.


The new 2013 iMacs ROCK!

So I can 100% whole heartedly recommend the new 2013 iMacs. They are slim, fast and gorgeous to look at and use. All wireless keyboard and mouse and a joy to work with. I recommend B&H Photo as you will save a few bucks, not have to pay TAX (unless you are in a state they tax) and they have them IN STOCK. I bought my Macbook Air from them as well about a year ago. If I can save some cash, then I will and B&H allows me to do that when buying my Apple products. They have all kinds of configurations as well and you can see what they have by clicking HERE.


Oh, and do I miss my Leica M 240?


Many of you have been asking me WHY I sold the Leica M 240 if I liked it so much. Well, the reasons are explained in this article. MONEY. I had some serious expenses last month. Taxes, New computer (that was mandatory) and my sons Japan trip .Sure, I could have sold the MM but I have been enjoying the hell out of that camera as well. It is unique and different. The M 240 will be mine again as yes, I do indeed miss it already, eve after just 2 days of being without it. When I can afford it, I will buy it once again and it was not sold for any other reason than financial. It is still my favorite Leica M digital (color) to date. Period. If I were rich, or even “well off”, I would own it with the MM and call it a day for the next 3-4 years :) So for clarification, I did not sell it because I was not happy with it, because I was thrilled with it.




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