Nov 042014
 

A year with the Panasonic GH2

By Aaron Hayman

First of all, I’d like to thank Steve for hosting such a great site. I spend a lot of time looking at and learning about photography on the web and this site is definitely on a very short list of favorites. The quality of the work tends to be on a level well beyond what I see in other places. I draw a lot of inspiration for my own work from the diversity and imagination of the work shown on these pages. There’s also the fact that the gear is very much biased towards mirrorless, compact cameras. I thought a bit about getting a DSLR, but since I saw so many really great images taken with mirrorless and since I’m a great believer in having something compact and therefore being more likely to have it with you, the mirrorless tech was what I gravitated towards. There are of course other advantages as well in going mirrorless…

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About a year ago, I bought a Panasonic GH2. I’ve been interested in photography for quite a while; I studied in college where I learned all kinds of darkroom processes as well as lots about the history and theory of the art form. I switched to digital some years ago when I picked up a Canon A630 point and shoot and though I did some work with that camera that I was quite happy with (I posted some photos I took with it before on this site), I eventually got tired of “working within limitations” and yearned for a more versatile tool. I did a fair bit of research and came to the conclusion that a used GH2 represented the features that I was looking for at a cost that I could afford. I have to say that despite the fact that there are a few more recent offerings with a little bit better IQ and more contemporary features that are certainly able to stir the gear lust within me, I’ve been quite happy with the GH2. Of course with only the very old and very simple A630 to compare it to, the GH2 obviously wins in every category. Still, I think that it’s much better than that. I’m consistently impressed with the IQ, I love that I can use old legacy lenses with it (and the macro focusing definitely helps), it seems very fast to focus with low shutter lag (unlike the A630, which seemed to be expressly designed to miss the moment!), all of the controls seem to be very logically laid out, the EVF shows me just what I need to see and when I’m shooting at some odd angle, the tiltable LCD really comes in handy.

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In the year that I’ve owned the camera, I’ve used it more than I have any other camera that I’ve had in any given year; I’ve owned a few and done a lot of photography over the years. Part of it has to do with the simple fact that with digital “the film is free,” but also because the GH2 is beautifully handling camera. I’m a firm believer in the idea that it’s the brain behind the lens that’s the most important factor in making an image. Nonetheless, a well designed, high performing camera can make the act of photography much more of a joy and to that effect, the GH2 has really helped to inspire me to get out and take photos. As for the photos, I’ve shot them in several different locales and experimented with a number of different subjects and approaches… I’m always experimenting and working under the influence of different ideas. My work though really isn’t so all-over-the-map as this collection of images might suggest; most of these photos are part of a larger series, each with a consistent theme. The most recent series that I’ve been working on involves shooting little details in my neighborhood. I don’t feel like I live in the most glamorous, scenic place and my surroundings seem rather ordinary… and yet I feel that there are compelling images to be made of my less-than-spectaular surroundings. It’s more difficult to feel like I’ve gotten a really good photo in this type of situation but also a greater challenge and I like that. I’m often thinking of what one of my favorite photographers, Garry Winogrand said, “Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.” When I think more of how the subject “looks photographed” then I’m able to worry less about what the subject is and I feel like I can produce more surprise in my photography by creating something out of materials that don’t usually get a second look.

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Initially, I used just the kit zoom on my GH2, a 14-42mm thing. As a kit lens that comes with the camera, I didn’t expect to like it that much, but it seems capable of some really sharp images… I’ve been quite happy with it. Later I got around to buying adaptors for some old 35mm film lenses I had, a Canon 28mm f2.8 and a Nikon 50mm f1.8. I’m really happy with the Nikon in particular in that it’s fast and just the right length for some musical events that I’ve gotten into photographing. The fact that as with any old lens like that, it isn’t capable of auto focus isn’t a problem at all as in the low-light situations where I’m using it, the autofocus in the camera doesn’t work very reliably anyway. The Canon, though it seems to be sharp enough has gotten less use as the focal length and max aperture aren’t ideal for me. I’ve messed around with a Nikon E series 70-150mm zoom as well and gotten better results than I thought that I might with a lens like this. Folks generally don’t seem to be so hot on adapting those old manual focus zooms. The lens I’ve really come to love to use with this camera the most is the only other one that I’ve got that’s designed for it (as opposed to adapted) and that’s the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f1.4. Perhaps I’m projecting something special onto it because I spent nearly the cost of the camera with the kit lens on it, but it certainly does seem like there is something very, very nice about the quality that I’m getting with this lens. It’s very fast, which has been proven to be useful in shooting indoor musical events, which are typically not so well lit. I bought it for these low light situations, but I’ve come to love the look that it’s capable of even more than the speed that I get with that low F-stop. I’m not so great at describing this sort of thing (Steve is really brilliant at it!) but suffice to say, it gives me a look that I haven’t gotten with other lenses. I’ve been using it a lot more than I thought that I would because I usually favor a wider field of view and have felt kind of addicted to the convenience of a zoom. I think that I’m starting to lose a bit of my bias toward the wide-angle lately though and when I go out shooting I’m thinking more in terms of what works with the 25mm.

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As for processing (very important to me!), I’ve been using a free program for RAW conversion called LightZone that I’ve been really happy with. I use Photoshop as well from time to time for certain kinds of effects, but I always start with LightZone. I always shoot in the RAW format and really like to spend time adjusting the images with software. I believe that the creative choices I make with the software are nearly as important to creating the images as the parts of the process that I do in the camera…

Thanks for looking and I hope that you enjoy the images. For more of my work, please see: www.flickr.com/photos/128435329@N08/sets

 

Oct 272014
 

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The SLR Magic CINE 10mm t/2.1 Lens Review

by Amy & Tony Medina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bit of flare…

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was all shot on an original GH1.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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Oct 212014
 

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

By Vince de la Pena

Greetings from Down Under.

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

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

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

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

Happy Halloween, folks!!!

Vince de la Pena

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

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Oct 202014
 

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Portraits from the Pub with an Olympus E-M5

By René van Wijck

Hello!

After many years of making photographs I got a little bored by it and I lost my inspiration.

Two years ago I bought myself the Olympus OMD-EM5. This little machine changed my life! It was and is such a pleasure to work with that I have it all the time, wherever I am with me.

I work as a bartender downtown Rotterdam in Holland and started to make pictures of my guests. They all come alone to the pub, and most of the time leave alone.

I gave myself a few rules: no color,no flash,no drinks in the pictures. Most of them I shot with the 45 mm 1.8. I’ll hope you like the results!

You can see more of it on flickr.com/photos/renevanwijck

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Oct 172014
 

In Praise of Micro 4/3 and a Visit to Monet’s Garden

By Richard Gilsig

Hi Steve. I stumbled onto your site, about a year ago and it was your reviews that led me to choose M4/3 as my small travel system. Thank you very much. Love your Site. Please keep up the great work. About me: Photography has been an on-again, off-again hobby for about 50 years. Without doubt, going digital has been revitalizing. I’m hooked on simple post-processing with iPhoto (minor tweaks but lots of cropping).

As for my shooting experience, I love the convenience of zooms and not missing shots/fumbling with changing lenses (and I fumble a lot). Yet looking back on my photography, my favourite images are almost always from primes. And so began my search for where the smallest possible interchangeable body/lense meets the largest possible sensor. Steve’s high praise of M4/3 glass pointed me in the right direction.

I bucked up for the GM1 with kit 12-32mm and Olympus 45mm f1.8. I’m impressed with I.Q., pleased with the stealth that small size facilitates, and most of all, thrilled that my wife is more tolerant of my new tiny travel rig which does take less of my attention and energy than toting either APS or Full Frame.

I’ve always been a fan of Monet. His ability to capture how colour and reflections change with changing light is ian inspiration to many of us. This past June, I had the opportunity to visit Givernay and Monet’s Garden. These are my favourites from that sunny day late in June.

 

Path to Lily Pond, Lumix 12-32 at 16mm, f8, 1/800sec, iso 200

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1 wing frozen. Olympus 45mm, f1.8. 1/2000sec, iso 200

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Centre Crop (1/3 of original image), Olympus 45mm, f1.8, 1/10,000sec, iso 125

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Bridge, Olympus 45mm, f5, 1/320sec, iso125

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Left Crop (1/3 of original image), f5, 1/400sec, iso 125

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Rowboat, f5.6, 1/100sec, iso 1250

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Sep 092014
 

New Lens Tuesday! SLR Magic 10mm T 2.1 in the house!

Just arrived, the new SLR Magic Hyperprime 10mm T 2.1 for Micro 4/3! The lens feels much nicer than I thought it would and it came with a serious looking variable ND filter in the 77mm filter size. I will have a review up soon for this guy using an Olympus E-M10. While superb for video as shown in other videos online, I will be looking at it from a photographers standpoint. I am guessing the review will be up within 2 weeks.

You can read more about the SLR Magic 10mm T 2.1 HERE. The price of this lens is $799 and is part of the premium Hyperprime line. In the hand it feels like a $1500 lens, in use not sure yet but my review will tell the tale.

It will be available for pre-order SOON at B&H Photo. 

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Jul 142014
 

My favorite cameras for usability, ability and versatility mid 2014

By Steve Huff

Wow. It is already mid 2014. Half of this year has whizzed by faster than ever and as always we have a ton of cameras that we can choose from when it comes to photography. If we want something small that packs a punch, we have that. If we want something for low light, we have that as well. If we want something that is a joy to shoot, hold and use, well, we also have that. Do we have it all in one single camera yet? Well, not really.

There are always new camera seeing released though maybe not as many as the years past. DSLR production, as in new models, has seemed to slow down some from the constant barrage of new models that we used to see. Well, at least it seems like it. Even mirrorless offerings seem to be lasting a little longer between releases these days, and this is GOOD as we are at the point now where almost any camera will give us better results than most of us even need.

So far in 2014 we have had some cool releases and there are still fantastic cameras that were released in the past that are still perfectly usable. The question you need to ask yourself when deciding on a new camera is “What will I be shooting with it”, also “Do I value usability more than overall versatility”? “Will I be shooting mostly low light or in good light”? “Does it need to fit in my pocket”?

Once you decide what it is you want to use the camera for, be it portraits, your kids, vacations, or just an everyday shooter then you need to decide if you want simplicity in a fixed lens model or something that will allow you to choose and change lenses. The choice is yours as there is something out there to fit your needs, and I am going to talk about the cameras I like as of July 2014 with the reasons WHY I really like, if not love them.

My fave cameras made for Versatility

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Micro 4/3, Olympus E-M and E-P series

My favorite camera for ALL OUT versatility as of today is still the Olympus E-M1 or even E-P5. These cameras are beautifully made with a solid feel and gorgeous looks (in the case of the E-P5). They have some of the best lenses made for any system next to Leica from fisheye to telephoto and everything in between including some super fast primes like the Nocticron f/1.2 that is one of the best lenses I have ever used. With Micro 4/3 you have speed, you have the lenses, you have the build, you have the amazing 5-AXIS Image Stabilization and you have a smaller size. The lenses are so good, and not so astronomically priced. The color reproduction is beautiful and the B&W is not too shabby either. A camera like the E-M1 has it all and the only real weakness of this camera is that the sensor is smaller than full frame and smaller than APS-C. For this reason you lose out on some shallow depth of field and the images will be a bit more noisy at high ISO than full frame cameras.

Even so, if you shoot mostly in good light and want one hell of a system with unlimited lens choice and an all around great experience with pro image quality results, the E-M1 is still a gorgeous camera. The E-M10 and E-M5 are as well. I reviewed them all and you can read my reviews of these models HERE, HERE and HERE. Yes, you can indeed get DSLR quality and beyond with these models.

You can buy the E-M1 at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Three from Micro 4/3 – Super versatile cameras that do it all. 

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My fave camera for Point & Shoot, Vacation and SMALL SIZE!

Sony takes it here for me with the new advanced pocket rocket, the RX100 III. 

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The new Sony RX100 III is a hell of a camera in almost every way. It is small, made very well, has a pop up EVF, tilt LCD and stellar IQ for a small pocket camera. It’s a handsome camera as well and gives us an f/1.8 to f/2.8 lens from 24-70 (ff equiv). What is not to like? The color is great. the files are nice and I have seen some do amazing work with the RX100 version 1 and now Version III improves on that model in every way. This is, hands down, the best pocket camera I have ever seen or used, ever. Video is good as well. It does it all but will not give you the all out versatility or IQ of something like a Micro 4/3 or full frame model. For what it is though, it is the perfect camera for every day shooting, vacation, kids, family, events, etc. Whoever buys an RX100 III will not be disappointed. It is the real deal. I have been able to use one for a but thanks to B&H Photo but have not had serious time yet with it. Will be doing that this week. You can buy the RX100 III at B&H Photo or Amazon.

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My Fave camera for Usability

Without Question, the Leica M reigns supreme here

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The Leica M, any of them from film to the M 240 or Monochrom take this one for me in a huge way. These cameras are ones that you cherish and create an emotional bond with. For those who think that is nonsense, then you have never had that bond with a camera, and yes, it is real. The Leica M is a masterpiece of design, build, and usability. All manual focus using a rangefinder it is a very precision tool that actually can teach you a think or two about photography, framing and exposure. It is a tool one can use for a lifetime if you choose a film model, as they last forever. While the price is off-putting to many, think about it in a new way. This is a camera that will give you the most enjoyment from any camera ever..well, it has for me and not everyone is the same. From the moment you take it from its box all of your regrets of the money spent fade away.

The Leica M6, M7, MP, M8, M9, M240 and Mono will give you that Leica experience that no other camera will give you. As for IQ, others can meet or exceed the Leica in that area but nothing can beat it for usability or for creating that emotional connection. You can buy a Leica from many places these days but my faves have always been Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop and Leica Store Miami. These guys will treat you right.

Three from the Leica M 240

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My favorite camera for general every day and low light use

The Sony A7s wins this one easily. 

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You guys know how much I adore the Sony A7s and while it is not the most versatile (only due to lack of native lenses when compared to others such as Micro 4/3) camera it is indeed quite powerful. There is no low light situation that this camera can not tackle, period. When used with the 50 0.95 Mitakon I can see in the dark and when used with the native Sony lenses such as the 35 2.8 or 55 1.8 the camera will even AF in the dark. Amazing. The A7 also has better color performance than the A7 and A7r , better AWB, faster AF and better M mount lens compatibility. You can read my review here to see what it is all about but I now have one of these bad boys with a few lenses and love it to pieces. As I said in the review, the A7s is probably puns for pound, dollar for dollar my favorite camera that I have ever reviewed.

Low light shooters, this is a must try or own. The camera also is excellent in daytime shots and video. If more native lenses were around it would be unbeatable for me as of July 2014.

You can buy the A7s at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Three from the A7s, 1st one using the Voigtlander 35 1.2 wide open and a 100% OOC JPEG. 2nd one is from the Mitakon 50 0.95 and third and fourth is from the Zeiss 50 Sonnar 1.5. 

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Runner Ups

The Fuji X-T1 and Leica T are also very cool and very capable cameras. The Leica is different than other cameras in its interface and joy of use. It is a Leica and gives you the Leica style of IQ and pride of ownership. The Fuji is still a lightweight in the build but for Fuji fans, this is the best of the lot when it comes to Fuji interchangeable lens bodies.

Of course these are not the only cameras I like, but they are my faves as of July 2014. The Sony, the Leica, the Olympus..all superb in so many ways and unlikely  to leave anyone disappointed as long as you use them with good glass. The key is to get out and use them (for me it has been tough since it has been 110-112 every day and me and extreme oven like heat do not jive well for more than 5-10 minutes) and have fun using what you do own. The key is you more than anything, not the gear..though I admit..it is very fun to test and try new cameras!

Jul 032014
 

From DSLR to Micro 4/3

By Paul Liu

In 2013, when my trusty (and luckily insured) Canon 7D and associated lenses were stolen in Rome, I was fairly devastated. However, taking the positive approach, I saw great opportunity to finally ditch the SLR and replace it with something more to my liking. While the 7D was always reliable and took great photos, it was a hulking, heavy beast of a camera that used hulking, heavy lenses that I simply no longer wanted to carry.

After much deliberation and a lot of help from this website, I picked up an Olympus OMD EM10. For lenses, I chose the Olympus 17mm f1.8 and 45mm f1.8 and a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye as a budget wide-angle. With these, I returned to Europe with new determination, firstly to not get robbed and secondly to learn this new camera system and get some great shots.

My trip was an overland train journey along the old Orient Express, starting in Munich and ending in Istanbul. With so many towns, train stations and exchanges along the way, travelling light was crucial to everything going smoothly and enjoyably and I was always thankful that the whole system was light and fit in a small shoulder pouch rather than taking up half a backpack.

While out shooting, the small size of the camera was a huge liberating. I found that compared to carrying the SLR around, I took far more photos. There were far less instances where I would photo with my smart phone while the big camera sat in the backpack, too large and cumbersome to take out. Instead, I could forget about the smartphone and pull out the OMD, often stashed in a jacket pocket with the compact 17mm attached, and shoot away.

But what surprised me the most was how little of the SLR experience I actually missed. A few small points of anxiety regarding speed and control that I had disappeared as soon as I came to grips with the OMD. When compared to the Canon 7D, the OMD was equally responsive, there was no real discernible difference in focus speed and the EVF was so good that I never missed the optical viewfinder. Finally, any potential pitfalls of have a smaller sensor size were safely negated by the faster lenses I used with the Olympus.

For the first time whilst travelling, my camera was a no longer hindrance that I had to endure to get the shot. Instead, it was something that I truly enjoyed carrying around and shooting with. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that having my camera stolen was the best thing to ever happen for my photography, but as a blessing in disguise, it was certainly a big one. For those still contemplating a switch, my message would be to do it as soon as possible and never look back.

Thank you for allowing me to contribute to your fantastic website. More photos from this and other trips can be found on my Tumblr and website at www.sevenyearsinadvertising.com.

Photo 1 – Parliament in Budapest

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Photo 2 – Carpathian Mountains in Romania

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Photo 3 – Small town pub in Austria

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Photo 4 – Pumakkale calcium deposits in Turkey

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Photo 5 – Fisherman in Istanbul

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Photo 6 – Dancing in the street in Istanbul

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Jun 132014
 

Panasonic GH4 in stock now!

The latest and greatest Micro 4/3 (for video at least) is now in stock at B&H Photo at the link below. Check out the user reviews of this guy..49 five star reviews. I have not yet had a chance to test this one but will within the next few weeks. Many have been waiting for this to be in stock, so here you go..now if your chance if you are one who has been wanting a GH4. Many swear by the GH series and to some, they are hands down the best Micro 4/3 available.

You can read more about the GH4 or buy it HERE. 

 

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May 072014
 

Using the Samyang fisheye

By Rob Scheurwater

Hi Brandon/Steve,

Half a year ago I bought a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens. I bought it from someone who didn’t like the silver version of this lens on his black Panasonic GX7 body. He also sold me his silver Panasonic 20mm II.

I think they both look great on my black Olympus OM-D EM-5 body and more important, I like the IQ of both lenses. After experimenting with Samyang for a while now, i’m quite happy with the results.

It now belongs to my standard equipment, I usually take with me, my Olympus OM-D EM-5 with three lenses, a Panasonic 14mm, Panasonic 20mm and the Samyang fisheye.

I think this lens stimulates the creative eye, it’s great for architecture but I also use it for landscape photography.

Thanks for the inspiration your site has given me.

Rob Scheurwater, The Netherlands

Paris subway

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The Rotterdam building of Rem Koolhaas. Dutch photographer Ruud Sies made a really nice photo documentary, called „Building the Rotterdam

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Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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The old library of Bologna

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May 062014
 

My favorite Micro 4/3 Telephoto zoom: Panasonic 100-300mm F4-5.6

By Michael Ma

Hi Steve &  Brandon!

I’ve been following your site for a long time and have submitted photos once or twice. Congratulations on your continued success.

Your reviews on mirrorless cameras and especially on M4/3 cameras have played a big part in convincing me to try the system. Because of their small sensors, I think M4/3 cameras have a real advantage over other formats in telephoto (2x crop factor). However there are not many lenses to choose from: only the Olympus 75-300 and the Panasonic 100-300mm are native m4/3 lenses.

I chose the Panasonic because of price and weight. This lens has received mixed reviews. Some don’t like it because it doesn’t have a tripod collar; some don’t like it because it’s a little soft wide open; some don’t like it because it’s made mainly from plastic. For those reasons, this lens can be had for a bargain. I also like the fact it is bigger and heavier than the Olympus lens so I can hold it more steadily. All the shots here are handheld.

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I got the lens last weekend and immediately took it out for a spin. And I LOVED it! I used it on an EM1 demo body I borrowed and took it to the New York central park zoo. It was an overcast day and some of these shots were taken indoors in the bird sanctuary. So the light was not ideal.

 Bird 1

This Macaw was dangling on the branch and eyeballing this strange man with a long lens pointed at him. I was separated from the bird by a thick glass, from 10 feet away. The camera was able to focus very quickly on the bird’s eye, at 250mm and F6. ISO 800, 1/80s. The stabilization worked wonders and I was able to get a crisp shot. This lens rendered colors extraordinarily well. I didn’t need to crank up the contrast in post processing.

bird 2

This Red Crossbill was busy fixing its nest when I zoomed in from about 30 feet away, at 300mm zoom (600mm equivalent). ISO 800 and shutter was 1/160 (F5.6? I forgot). Still indoor lighting. This is already a 100% crop of the shot and as you can see, with just a touch of sharpening, it is sharp enough for most presentations. The lens retained very nice contrast and again accurate colors.

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Now heading outside, still at maximum zoom of 300mm, I caught this sparrow picking up some grass and flying onto a branch. Very sharp indeed. The lens was able to delineated the feather patterns very well and even at F5.6, this length gave great subject isolation and very shallow DOF.

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I was standing among about 20 people when I took this shot. A monkey was picking fleas off his buddy. He looked up and I snapped the shot. At 300mm the lens was still sharp enough to make out each individual hair on his body, and the bokeh was smooth. There was another photographer in the crowd with me with a full frame Canon 1D and a 400mm F5.6 lens on a tripod. His setup knocked people around in the crowded space and he told me he still wasn’t able to reach close enough to fill the frame without his teleconverter. I was very glad that I used the much more compact, and in this case, more capable m4/3 system.

Lastly, I had to run up the hill to get a glimpse at the snow leopard. If you’ve been to the Central Park zoo you’d know that the shelter is very dark and a thick (often dirty) glass separated the tourists from the leopard. The animal was very shy that day and hung far from the display area behind a tree. Again, at maximum zoom I was able to quickly focus on his face when he peaked up and take this shot.

Leopard

The Panasonic 100-300 quickly became one of my favorite lenses. It is a revelation to have such a handy setup being able to reach to 600mm when I need it. It is easy to carry, has fast focus, renders vivid colors in moderate to good light. The softness at the longest reach is easily corrected with a bit of sharpening. Between getting a slightly softer shot and not getting a shot at all? I’ll take getting the shot every time. In the right condition it is far more versatile than a system 5x of its cost.

Oh, by the way. Did I mention I took my six and four year old girls along with me that day? Imagine taking care of them AND carrying a 20lp full frame system and a tripod? Forget about it.

You can see full res photos of these shots at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/maxiaofei131/sets/72157644367311562/

Best,

Michael Ma

May 012014
 

The NEW SLR Magic Anamorphot “add on’”Lens with SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens and Olympus OMD EM-1

by Wilson Chong

This article was originally written in Christmas last year in anticipating the launch of the new SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens. However, some delay in sending to you this belated review. All shots were taken last year before Christmas.

First of all thank you for Andrew for lending the new SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens for me to try out. Secondly, I also thank you for Steve and Brandon for posting my user experience on this lens.

So, what the hell is “Anamorphot” or “Anamorphic” lens? This was way ahead of me but according to what I can understood how from Andrew over a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, it was cinematography technique which basically squeeze everything into the 35mm format but you have to correct it to the right aspect ratio before screening it…. huh? He was getting way too technical for me and I have no idea what he was talking about but I would love to try it out this new lens.

Here is bascially what Anamorphic format means according to Wiki.

My review purely as a user with little technical background.

I first thought Andrew was going to give me some special lens but suddenly a straight clip on lens appeared in front of me, It is a kind of add-on lens which you can put it over your existing lens. This makes we wonder, will it hold? Yes, it does and very solid too!

Since, I will be shooting this with my new OMD EM-1, but using the SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens. Now, I mounted it on my proud OMD EM-1, I wonder how this thing do on photos and vidoes.

For my previous review on the 35mm Hyperprime T0.95 cine lens, please click HERE.

Now, I must admit, I am no video shooter. In fact, I probably made so many mistakes in my shooting that I will fail my class (if I am a Videography student). However, I am eager to show you what I shot is because this thing actually make me to shot films and make me do some editing (even I have not done it before). Here is one of my test film shot in Mongkok, Hong Kong:

(Note: I am not too bothered with the aspect ratio because it does give you a 60s/70s retro feel to it. However, I guess occasional use is fine)

The second time, I have edited a couple of shots I and made this short film:

However, I must give kudos to this video using SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens called RELIEF (an excellent watch!):

Back to shooting using the new Anamorphot Lens. Since the Anamorphot Lens is very much depends on what the other lens you use, hence, you have to be careful to select the right one for your own use. As many of you may know, the 35mm Hyperprime T0.95 Cine Lens is a very contrasty lens and great for black and white shots. Shooting it with new Anamorphot lens also give you this unique characteristics.

The handling of new Anamorphot Lens together with the 35 Hyperprime and the new OMD EM-1 is surprising good. Mind you, I have got the hand grip add-on so that I have the pressure point at the bottom of my hand to hold up the camera and both lenses. Of course, when mounted the lens to the OMD, it looks like having a huge lens wandering around with you. Is heavy and definitely not discreet either.

Set aside the ergonomics, the focusing on both lens is rather simple, once you have the right setting on the Anamorphot lens, you don’t need to do much. The focusing is mainly on the 35mm Hyperprime lens. Of course, one of the main advantage of having the OMD EM1 is the anti-shock capabilities. The lens performs good and well up to my expectation. Once you are used to the set up, both lenses become one and I do not feel any immediate danger of the Anamorphot Lens being fall off or loosen during my filming.

The photos are great and with the new OMD EM1, it is surely, one of the best M4/3 camera available (although I got the new Df later with no Video Mode). I am sure it will satisfy fans who like to add some cinematic feel and also the opportunity to take advantage using other lens for the other moods. In short, the possibilities are endless.

please visit my flickr page

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Anyway, I would thank you Steve and Brandon for posting my submission and wish you all the best! Looking forward to your reviews, reports and thoughts on photography!

Best regards,
Wilson Chong

 

May 012014
 

One is not enough – using both the m43 and X sensors

By Arindam Pal

Hi Brandon and Steve,

It’s been over a year I sent something to you. Those were pictures taken during a short visit to my native land in India. A lot has changed over the year, both personally and professionally. Last year, I was shooting with the OM-D E-M5 but did not much like the noise response and preferred the Fuji X Pro, in spite of it being slow.

Steve’s review on E-M1 was up by October of 2013 and I placed an order along with the 17 1.8 and 45 1.8. The E-M1 is a great addition to the family. It has improved upon the E-M5 in many ways. Love the large EVF, snappy autofocus and the rugged, all-terrain look. I was quite happy with the results, although I found low light noise to be an issue. I understand people have different preferences and opinions. Many would prefer the slight noise that the E-M1 produces at ISO 1600 and above. However, I personally find any amount of noise distasteful. Coming from a D3S, it’s a challenge to accept it.

So, I decided to get another body and ended up buying a lightly used X-E2 body along with the 23 1.4 and 14 2.8. I could not be happier. Now when I shoot in low light and want high quality noise free images, I use the Fuji and when I need a faster response, I just carry the OM-D. Both are equally fun to use. I also bought a Nikon adapter to use my existing Nikon primes. I found that the 85 1.8D Nikon lens goes very well with the Fuji.

Must say, I am tempted by the upcoming Sony A7S with its practically noise free images but hope Fuji or Oly will come up with something extraordinary very soon

Sending a few pictures chronologically. Hope you would like them enough to post them on your blog. I did not bother much about the technical details when I was shooting these – but they show the passion I have for my newly grown family! Please feel free to use any or all of them:

E-M1 and 45 1.8 @f/1.8 ISO 400 1/4000 with -1 EV to create the silhouette

The 1st one is of wife 36 weeks in pregnancy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1000 1/70

The 2nd one is our first daughter, Aarwen celebrating her 1st month on this Earth

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 E-M1 and 45 1.8 @f/1.8 ISO 400 1/200

The 3rd one – Aarwen again, holding on to her mother

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/160

The 4th one – Aarwen with her first plaything

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/25

5th – she likes to talk to Mommy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/4 ISO 200 1/170

6th one is from my recent visit to Bangalore, a street vendor selling fresh young coconut water to beat the heat

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Thanks so much,
Arindam

Feb 222014
 

My Budget m4/3 Eurotrip 2013 with the Olympus E-PL1

By Igor Kolonic

Last summer, after years of postponing, two friends and I finally decided to go on a trip across Europe. With the amazing Interrail train ticket it was possible to see a lot of amazing places in short amount of time. We went for 10 days and started in Austria and went all the way to Frankfurt, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, Berlin and Prag.

I developed my interest in photography a few years back, and started with lomography and polaroid pictures but soon moved to the Olympus m4/3 system. I was never a fan of huge DSLRs so the PEN series was a real refreshment. Two years ago I bought an E-PL1 with the kit lens (14-42mm) and soon after that the amazing Oly 45mm1.8 lens. I wanted to travel as light as possible and give myself an additional challenge so I decided to take only the 45mm lens with me. At first it was quite strange shooting at this focal length all the time but after a couple of hours shooting with it I started being comfortable with it. Although there were a few missed shots due to the camera which is rather outdated compared to everything else on the current market, I was still really satisfied with the results from a combination which is now available for less than 300 euros ( cca. 400 USD )

The whole trip was an amazing experience and I can really recommend everyone to try it at least once. The Interrail tickets are really affordable and the trains in central Europe are extremely comfortable and fast way to travel, besides, you get to see all the beautiful landscapes when travelling by train. So here are some of my favorite shots from the trip:

 

1 & 2 Since I’m an architecture student I really enjoyed all the amazing architecture in Amsterdam and loved taking detail shots of the buildings.

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3 & 4 Amsterdam really is a city of bicycles, it’s hard to imagine how much bicycles there’s in the city until you see it yourself.

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5 One of my favorite shots from the trip, we were enjoying a break in the park when this guy decided to take a break from the everyday struggles. He sat nearby, lit up his cigarette and started reading his comic book.

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6 Vintage cars and motorcycles are also a quite common thing to see while walking around Amsterdam.

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7 Couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of these tourists.

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8 When you’re in Amsterdam don’t miss the opportunity to rent a bike and take a ride through the city!

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9 Loved how surreal the scene looked – an artificial “hill” next to the amazing “Stedelijk Museum” in front of some historical buildings.

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10&11 M. Enjoying the ride through the city.

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12 Some typical Amsterdam architecture.

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13 I was actually pleasantly surprised that E-PL1 could handle moments like this.

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14 I. sitting at the amazing Holocaust Memorial in Berlin by Peter Eisenman. 

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15 Street musician at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

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16 Visiting the New National Gallery by Mies van der Rohe was a must! At the time we were there it was hosting an sculpture exhibition.

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17 M. and I. enjoying a beer in the Kreuzberg area in Berlin 

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18 M. writing “Ich bin ein Berliner” in his sketchbook.

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19 M. waiting for the late night train to Prag in Cottbus (Germany)

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I hope you enjoyed the photos, I didn’t bother putting any technical details about them since there isn’t anything new about the camera or lens I was using. For me photography is about telling a story so the “tool” I’m using has to be simple and intuitive as possible, otherwise you could forget that you’re the part of the story you’re taking the photo of. For the next trip I really hope I’ll manage to get the Fuji x100s since I realized that I don’t really have the need to have multiple lenses and really could use a viewfinder.

Thank you for your time!

Igor Kolonic

Feb 192014
 

The Olympus 25 1.8 Lens is in hand, review in about a week!

olympus25

Hey hey hey! Just a heads up that I have been shooting the now shipping Olympus 25 1.8 lens and it is a beauty on the Olympus E-M1. Many have been wondering how it stacks up against the Panasonic 25 1.4 and all I can go from is memory right now as I do not have a Panasonic here with me now. I feel the Panasonic may be a TEENY BIT sharper when wide open but do not think most would notice. The Panasonic may be a little more contrasty out of camera. Other than that the Olympus is smaller, focuses faster, is silent and looks sweet on the camera. and is VERY sharp as it is.

Oh, and it is also cheaper than the Panasonic at $399! Amazon has it in stock HERE in black. if you own the Panasonic already I see no need to switch but if you have not picked up a fast 50mm equiv for your Micro 4/3 yet, this is the best bet. It even comes with a lens hood for a change!

The signature of the 25 1.8 is identical to the 45 1.8 from Olympus and they share the same formula. I will be shooting it this weekend at the Valley of Fire workshop so will have my full review up next week sometime. I have a feeling it will be a highly recommended lens though as I already love it. There really is nothing to dislike with this one! Below are a few snaps I shot in the past couple of days. As you can see, it retains the look of the high quality Olympus primes. Oh, and it has a nice close focus distance!

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