Nov 202015
 
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My Photo tour of India with a Olympus E-M1

by Neil Buchan-Grant – http://buchangrant.com

I’ve just returned from running a 12 day Photo Tour of India for the luxury tour operator KUONI. It was a the first in a series we’re planning of at least one per year. The photo tour was a new concept in the crowded landscape of photographic workshops that proved to be a real hit with all the clients who came from the UK and the US. As opposed to a full on, hard core, seminar laden workshop, our photo tours are run by myself and the expert KUONI guides, combining the must see sites with special treats of photographic interest, researched and added by myself. This tailored approach attracted not only photography enthusiasts, but also their non-photographing partners.

In India every part of our itinerary was designed to offer the best photographic potential and we were even given a guided tour of the Delhi Photo Festival by members of the RANG documentary photographic collective. Each of our many destinations across the country featured the often hidden places photographers travelling solo would never find along with the big sites everyone wants to shoot. Tuition was given on a one to one basis in the field and I think its fair to say, everyone got some amazing photographs and learned new skills during the trip. The clients used many makes of cameras including Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus. We have an equally exciting multi-centre tour planned for May 2016 to China and Tibet which your readers can see more about here http://buchangrant.format.com/Blog/65252-ca

Here are a few of the first pictures I made on the tour, all shot with the Olympus OMD EM1 in various places including Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi and a small village out in the sticks. On this occasion I decided to leave behind my Sony A7s and Leica M 50mm Summilux and take my Leica M 35mm Summilux bolted to an EM1 giving me a stabilised 70mm f1.4 option. It proved to be a valuable combo for portraits which I augmented with the Olympus 12-40mm and 40-150mm PRO zooms for travel shots. I hope you enjoy these and hope to see some of you in China next year!

 

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Kind Regards
Neil Buchan-Grant
http://buchangrant.com

British Travel Press Photographer of the Year

Nov 182015
 
rx1rii

What camera (if any) is on YOUR Wish List? Tell me!

With all of these hot new cameras out in 2015, for many it has been tough deciding on what to get or go with. I receive e-mails daily asking “what should I get”? and I can never really answer those!

Unfortunately only YOU can answer that as a camera is a very personal thing. I always say “go with what feels right for you”….”the one that speaks to you the most”. This is a great way to pick because usually there is one camera that pulls you in more than another when trying to decide. So do you go with your heart or brain? Go with the technically best specs or the body and lenses that really pull at your heart-strings?

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I always say GO WITH YOUR HEART. These days, all cameras that are released for our market, the enthusiast, hobbyist and even pro, are all fantastic. They vary in size, shape, speed and performance but all are GREAT. The reason Leica stays in business is because most Leica users buy with their HEART and pay more money for the name, the history and the prestige of Leica. It also doesn’t hurt that their cameras they are releasing now are some of their best ever in their digital history. The Leica Q, the Leica SL, the M… all wonderful and while more expensive than other cameras, they are all built and made to a higher level than their competitors (especially the SL and M).

So buying with your HEART instead of worrying about tech specs will make for a more enjoyable shooting experience. It is important to truly love the cameras you shoot with because if you do not, it will never leave the house. So it is always good to go with a camera body that you truly love.

Leica speaks to many passionate photographers.

Then we have Sony who is breaking new ground and paving the way for new tech and performance hikes  – leading the way actually with the largest market share in the mirrorless market. Say what you will about Sony but they are innovating and releasing top-notch cameras like the A7II, A7sII and the masterpiece A7RII. While their bodies can not compete with the Leica SL or real “Pro” level bodies, I am sure something will come from Sony in the form of a true pro body…eventually. The rumored A9 maybe ;) Who knows, I do not so it is just a guess but bettering the A7 or RX1 series is going to be tough for any camera manufacturer entering the mirrorless world. They do so much and do it so well.

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Then we have Fuji with their X-T1 and X-T10 but I see them losing some ground as they do not offer anything but APS-C cameras, no full frame. Those who wanted to upgrade and move up, well, many went to Sony for the full frame sensors with superior DR, ISO and Resolution. Fuji is cool and still doing well, and MANY love them and the IQ from the X-Trans sensor. I am looking forward to what the X Pro 2 brings.

This brings us to Olympus and Panasonic who both offer high end Micro 4/3 bodies. The Olympus E-M1 is their pro body followed by the E-M5 II and E-M10 II. Then Panasonic has the G series and the new GX8 which is their best M 4/3 photo camera ever IMO. The lenses available for M 4/3 are beautiful and small and they pack a huge WOW for much less cash than others. The Micro 4/3 bodies have a smaller sensor but are usually faster and more responsive than the large full framers. They also suffer at high ISO because of the smaller sensor size (when compared to full frame).

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Then we have Nikon and Canon and Sigma and Samsung who also are creating mirrorless cameras (though nothing to get uber excited about just yet).

The Holiday season is among us and many buy cameras for Christmas, either for themselves or for their loved ones. In fact, every year I get emails from wives asking me about a camera purchase for their Husband for Christmas.

A few snaps from the latest hot mirrorless cameras..must click them for better view and to see them correctly!

1st two, The Leica SL

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Two From the new RX1R Mark II

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One from the A7RII and 35 1.4 Sony/Zeiss Distagon

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The Leica Q

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Sony A7s – 12,800

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So what cameras is on YOUR radar or wish list this year? ANYTHING? if you could have any camera made today, what is the one that tugs at YOUR heart and soul? Remember that all mirrorless reviews here are listed at “MIRRORLESS CENTRAL” here. Easy to find in case you want to refresh :)

Leave a comment below and let us all know what camera YOU want (IF ANY). Thanks!

Oct 272015
 

Hi Steve,

I shoot available light. Always have, always will.I have owned and used a “Dream Lens” (Canon 0.95- but you know that) for years. It was modified for use on my M6 and M3  (by the way I had to modify the M3 to use it).

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When I switched to m4/3 because that format would let me use my “legacy” Leica Glass, the Canon Lens had an efl of 100 mm and weighed almost as much as my DSLRs. That weight defeated my purpose. Using the Canon lens on Lumix digicams, the lens results on m4/3 were excellent. Lugging it around was quite another story. Imagine my delight, therefore, when I learned of the Mitakon 25mm 095 (efl 50mm). The lens was supposed to be released to consumers in late October- well, it’s late October and my supplier had no idea when he would be receiving the lens. Frankly, I couldn’t wait so I picked one up at PhotoPlusExpo for $399 the day before yesterday.I had to pay cash as they had no credit card  machines at the “China Pavillion”.

I used the Mitakon at the show but only at 0.95. Some of the results are attached. The lens is very tiny (comparatively speaking). It is even smaller than my Leica 25mm Summilux. The results are quite good. I also shot at the show with the Canon 0.95. I have provided one image for comparison.The images are limited in scope but you might find them interesting.

All images below are from the Mitakon except the last one, which is from the Canon 50 0.95. Digicams were 2 Lumix GX1s and a Lumix G3. The images were produced with my usual post processing.

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The Canon Dream Lens…

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Oct 192015
 

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The Panasonic GX8. A One Day Hands on Report.

By Steve Huff

A couple of days ago I was able to get a hold of the new Panasonic GX8, but just for 2 days. While that is not time enough for a full detailed review, it is enough to say a few words on it as I am extensively experienced with all Olympus Micro 4/3 offerings, as well as the older GX series from Panasonic. I remember shooting and reviewing the previous GX7 (You can see it here) and I really enjoyed it, mostly thanks to the EVF that swiveled up and down and allowed me to get shots while holding the camera at my body. Also, Panasonic has a unique color signature just as Olympus does, Sony does, Leica does, Fuji does, etc.

I find the Panasonic color signature to be more on the cooler side, much like the Leica days with the M9, compared to the warmer side of Olympus and Sony and the newer Leica M 240 and Q.

I’ve always loved the Panasonic line of Micro 4/3 cameras and for many they are *the* body to choose. Me, I prefer the Olympus bodies for my personal use as the 5 AXIS IS, the design and size of them are always so appealing. For image quality, you can not go wrong with a Panasonic or Olympus, as both will get the job done. The new GX8 is nice but I quickly noticed that in my hand it feels a bit thick and meaty compared to the E-M5II and E-M10II from Olympus. In fact, it’s very close to the size of my Sony A7RII which is a full frame powerhouse! It surely is bigger than the old GX7 for sure. The body is anyway.

Lenses, ahhh yes, Micro 4/3 lenses. They are so damn awesome and amazing. For this review I used mainly the Olympus 7-14 f/2.8 pro as I love this lens. It has grown on me more and more since my review (see that here with the E-M10II) and I can say 100% that it is the best ultra wide lens I have ever used in my life. On any format.

Snapshots from the Fair – 7-14 Pro f/2.8 Olympus Lens

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So this is not a review my friends, it is basically me showing a few snaps from the fair with my one day shooting the GX8 as well as some thoughts on it after shooting every Olympus body extensively. So this is a HANDS ON REPORT. 1st off, as I said the body feels much bigger to me in my hand than an Olympus E-M5II or E-M10II, especially the E-M10II as that is a TINY body. Curiosity got to me and I had to see this camera next to others just to see how big it really is. Thanks to the cool site, camerasize.com, we can check on such things quite easily ;)

GX8..is it a tad large for what it is? It is indeed larger than the previous GX7.

1st up, size vs the E-M5 II from Olympus. The GX8 is slightly larger and beefier. Not as comfy feeling in the hand if you have small to medium hands. Large hands may feel more at home with the GX8 though as it does feel ticker and larger all the way around in use. 

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Next to the E-M10 Ii we see the GX8 is wider but the E-M10II is slightly taller. Still, when these are side by side in the hand (I have both here) the E-M10II feels much smaller. 

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Still wider than an E-M1 but not as tall. The E-M1 is the Oly tour de force pro Micro 4/3 camera, so I expect it to be the largest.

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Next to the A7RII, the full frame massive megapixel powerhouse which is in another league over the GX8 in every way including cost, but even though the sensor is MUCH larger in the Sony the GX8 is still wider and feels just as large when holding it in your hands. 

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So overall, the GX8 is not one of these mini Panasonic camera that they released year after year for a while. Nope, this is a REAL camera, a camera for the photographer or someone who really wants to really get into it. Basically, it will beat your phone in a big way but still offer you professional controls and results to grow with you. For anyone looking for a really good starter digital camera, I’d say skip the Canon rebel and go to something like a GX8 or E-M5II. These cameras are really fantastic but how did I like my shooting experience with the Panasonic vs the Olympus or even Sony? As always, just about any micro 4/3 body is a joy and pleasure to shoot.

The wide view at 7mm (14mm equivalent) is something for sure! It takes getting used to as finding interesting scenes with a ultra wide is challenging. 

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B&W conversion using VSCO filters. Another day at the fair..

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But…when using the GX8, somehow and someway it kept defaulting to “4K Photo Mode” and twice I had to reset the camera from within the menu as I had no instructions and after 15 minutes trying to find out what was happening, I could not. So I just  reset it every time this happened but I have no clue why or how this was happening over and over again. I am sure it was something simple but this is the first time ever I could not figure out an issue with a camera. Other than that, the camera gave me no problems. Auto focus was as fast or faster as any camera I have used that has good AF (beats the Sony, matches the Olympus) and the IQ was up there with the best of Micro 4/3, with a more crisp look to the files than I remember seeing with Olympus.

The pop up and out EVF is lovely, and I wish all manufacturers would use an EVF like this as it opens up more possibilities when shooting allowing interesting and different angles. It has a touch screen LCD as well, a nice big 3 inch one at that. It also has image stabilization though from my experience it doesn’t quite get close to the amazing 5 Axis in the Olympus bodies. The AF is quick though, and I noticed no hesitations or lag..here is what Panasonic says about the GX8’s new AF mode:

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Depth-From-Defocus and Starlight AF Technologies

For accelerated autofocus performance, DFD (Depth-From-Defocus) technology is employed to quickly calculate the distance to subjects and adjust the focusing position in as little as 0.07 seconds, which enables continuous shooting up to 6 fps with continuous AF. This contrast-detection type focus method benefits both still and video recording modes, as well as subject tracking applications where subject color, size, and motion vectors are used to intelligently lock-onto the moving subjects and ensure precise focus. Additionally, supporting working in low-light conditions, a Starlight AF feature enables accurate AF performance down to -4 EV.

Benefitting manual focus operation, focus peaking is available that highlights bright edges of contrast with a colored outline for quickly recognizing your focus point, as well as Touch MF Assist for touch-to-focus operation.

In plain easy to understand language..the AF is VERY fast. Now, I did not use continuous AF in my one day of testing but the standard AF was blazing fast. Faster than the E-M5 II and E-M10II I have here.

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So pretty cool on the Auto Focus front. 

As for the in body IS, I thought it was not very good. Nothing like the Olympus bodies. IQ wise, I always shoot RAW and I still slightly prefer the IQ from my Olympus bodies as I prefer warmer tones but there is a certain look to the Panasonic files, and I remember seeing this from the very early bodies and even the old G2 I reviewed HERE a long time ago.Seeing that this is $300 more than an Olympus E-M5 II, I would personally spring for the Olympus over this. It feels sleeker, has 5 Axis IS, is $897 vs $1197 and the IQ is different but not better than the GX8. All personal preference. The GX8 feels much bulkier in the hand but Panasonic has stepped up the game for sure with this model as they need to keep up with the ever innovating Olympus!

When the Olympus pro E-M1 came out I stated that Micro 4/3 can go head to head and match or beat any APS-C camera. I feel APS-C cameras should come to an end as Micro 4/3 can meet or exceed them in IQ but also offer a much smaller body, smaller lenses and fantastically sharp performance due to the lenses being able to be deigned so well for a smaller sensor. Micro 4/3 should be on anyones radar who is thinking of getting an APS-C camera. Canon rebel? Get an E-M5II or GX8 instead! Micro 4/3 has come a long way, and they are going nowhere. Even though many predicted the demise of it years ago, quite the opposite has happened. It has become more popular, more prevalent and more tech has come from Micro 43 than anywhere else. The lenses are fantastic, the bodies are as well with fast AF, gorgeous color and dynamic range and a fun factor that is hard to beat.

While these Micro 4/3 beauties can never compete with full frame, they offer not much less for a whole lot less money. The Micro 4/3 of today is so much better than the Micro 4/3 of yesterday. If you have not used the latest batch of cameras from Olympus or Panasonic, you should rent them sometime and see for yourself. Add a good prime lens and you are ready for fun, ease of use and gorgeous results.

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My Final Thoughts after only a day of use..

As for the GX8, while a little bulkier and fatter than I had hoped, it is a powerhouse and after only shooting it one day I know I want to use this one more to review it properly as well as test against my Olympus bodies. It’s 100% the best Panasonic GX I have used to date and offers up 4K photo, 4K video, super fast AF (fastest in M 4/3) and unique features such as dual IS (need a lens with OIS and then it will use the body IS and lens IS together), pop up and out EVF, swivel out LCD (like E-M5Ii) and touch screen to boot. The usual suspects are here such as time lapse, pano, and filter effects that have been around now for 5 years.

The Menu System is typical Panasonic. Easy to read and use, but I find all menus easy to use once you learn them, and this camera is no exception. Newbies to the menu will be confused, but those who used Panasonic before will be right at home. The simplest menus in the business do not come from Olympus or Panasonic or Sony, they come from Leica who has the easiest to use menus of any recent modern digital camera ever.

Battery life seems very good, in line with Olympus and the fact that it takes all of the Micro 4/3 lenses as well as 3rd party lenses with adapters means you would never run out of lenses to shoot with any Micro 4/3, and yes, Olympus lenses can be used on the GX8 and vice versa as Panasonic and Olympus both are native Micro 4/3 lenses. The GX8 appears to be a winner, and the best GX yet from Panasonic. Is it enough for them to overtake Olympus? Probably not as I have a feeling Olympus is ready to drop a big bomb on any thunder the GX8 may have taken from them. Soon. Just a hunch. :)

if I can get a hold of this for 2 weeks I will post an official review soon ;)

Where to buy?

You can see more or buy the Panasonic GX8 at B&H HERE 

You can buy or see more of the GX8 at AMAZON HERE

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HLPHH

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

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

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

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Sep 212015
 

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The Olympus 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Quick Lens Review

Well well. Olympus has been successfully creating cameras and lenses for decades now. When the original E-1 camera came out in 2003 (Four Thirds mount, NOT Micro 4/3) I loved it to pieces. For me, that camera had some magic at the time. While today that’d E-1 falls way short I do know some who still shoot with that camera every now and again and still treasure it. There is just something about Olympus that always keeps me with a body and a lens or two, no matter if I move on to bigger and better things (like full frame).

Even when I am shooting my Leica heavily, or my Sony heavily I always come back to Olympus in the form of the E-M1, E-M5 II or now the new E-M10II (currently reviewing). Olympus, for me, means I will always have a fun time shooting. It also means I will always get my shots as my Olympus cameras never seem to fail me, they offer a huge lens selection and they are fast and have some of the best features on the market. While not holding up to full frame image quality, the IQ from these little wonders is nothing short of astonishing when you consider the small sensor and size of these camera bodies.

Video showing off the 8mm Fisheye

So even today with the likes of the Sony A7 series, the Leica M, the Canon and Nikon’s of the photo world and all of the other amazing cameras out there today, the Olympus Micro 4/3 is still a solution for many of us who want the small size, some of the best glass (lenses) in the business and the largest selection of lenses for any mirrorless system. Speed, IS, color, and performance is top notch. Many pros are using Micro 4/3 and loving it.

That leads me to this new lens release from Olympus. The 8mm Fisheye f/1.8 Pro. Yep, Oly is listing this as a pro lens as it is dust and splash proof, and it offers a worlds 1st for a fisheye..an f/1.8 aperture. Usually these 8mm lenses come in with an aperture of f/3.5 but this one, at f/1.8, actually will offer you more creative possibilities than any other fisheye that I am aware of.

Olympus E-M10 II with the 8mm Fisheye Pro

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I love fisheye lenses and while I only use them 3-4 times per year I find that owning at least ONE fisheye is well worth it. With so many less expensive fisheye’s out there today, most coming in between $250 and $350 with even the promo Panasonic 8mm fish coming it at round $600 how can Olympus charge $999 for this little guy?

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Well, it is a PRO lens which means it will survive the elements. Rain, snow, freezing temps, dust.. this lens should survive any of that. It also has the worlds fastest aperture for a fisheye at f/1.8, and it has Auto Focus, something the less expensive models lack (and yes, you can mis-focus a fisheye). This lens is the nicest looking, feeling and well made fisheye I have ever used. I find it bitingly sharp contrary to one report I saw that said it was not that share wide open. My copy is VERY sharp wide open.

Next two shots, E-M5II and the 8mm Fisheye

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If you have never shot with a Fisheye lens before, you are in for either a treat or disappointment. What a fisheye does is allow you to get massive surroundings into the frame. Usually offering a true 180 degree field of view, this means that it is WIDE..beyond ULTRA wide. It will also give you massive distortion, which is the character of these lenses, hence “fisheye”.

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QUICK SPECS OF THE 8MM 1.8

Micro Four Thirds System
16mm (35mm Equivalent)
Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/22
1 Aspherical, 5 ED, and 3 HR Elements
Anti-Reflection ZERO Coating
High-Speed Imager AF with MSC
Expansive 180° Angle of View
Dust, Splash, and Freezeproof Design
Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

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When used correctly (and it is very hard to do, I rarely can get a GREAT fisheye shot) the results can be spectacular. When used incorrectly, the shots are average. This is a challenging lens and if you slapped this guy on your M 4/3 camera and kept it there for one week, by the end of that week you will be much better with the lens than if you just use it sparingly.

This kind of lens can really put the viewer into the moment and scene.

1st shot E-M10 II, then E-M5II for 2 and 3

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I have owned and loved the Panasonic 8mm f/3.5 but compared to this Olympus it was slower to Auto Focus and did not offer the pro build or the f 1.8 aperture. Coming in at $400 less I feel this Olympus is priced right for what it offers above and beyond that Panasonic. (speed, pro build, aperture). While not the fastest lens in the Olympus lineup for Auto Focus, it is fast for a fisheye. Imagine what the camera would think if it had a brain…

The sensor would see a MASS amount of information due to the ultra wide view…”what to focus on”?!?!? So this will not be as speedy to AF as a 25 1.8 or 12 f/2, rather it will be a touch slower but not slow enough to call it slow or sluggish. It is quite quick, and depending on light it can go from super fast to semi fast. So no worries on AF speed or accuracy. I remember my Panasonic would often times focus incorrectly and while many think you can not mis focus a fisheye, you very well can, ESPECIALLY when you have a faster aperture like f/1.8. Luckily the AF is working very well here.

 

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While having this lens for review I started to really enjoy it..a lot. While walking through the catacomb like pathways of an old ghost town in the AZ desert I was doing some long exposures and the ultra wide view helped to show exactly where I was…THIS is when I found this lens invaluable. No other lens would have worked quite the same. I also have the 7-14 f/2.8 pro here and that lens did very well in these areas as well, but the fisheye really shows the viewer more of what I was seeing while in these spots.

E-M10II and 8MM Fisheye, long exposures. 

 

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So at the end of the day, after 1st renting this lens for a week a month or so ago, and now having a review copy here I have a solid two weeks with this lens and I now want it for my Micro 4/3 lens collection. I sold my Panasonic month ago because I knew this was on the way, and it does not disappoint. I found ZERO weakness. No flare issues, no softness issues, no missed AF issues and no build issues. I even caked my review samples with massive dust and dirt while out in the AZ desert during a windy night where dust and dirt was blowing everywhere. The lens was coated but after a clean up that took 2 minutes it was good as new.

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So now I must own this lens. Even for video it rocks – for Vlogging it does well though the distortion my bother some. I once did quite a few videos for public viewing using mostly a fisheye lens, and it works out great. In some tight situations, if shooting video, this lens would be fantastic (as would  the 7-14 without the distortion).

This lens mated to an E-M1, E-M5II, or E-M10 II or any of the other M 4/3 cameras out there will offer you a unique, different and sometimes surprising view of the world. While not an every day lens (no fisheye is) it is a lens that with selective use can expand your photo portfolio with shots that stick out. While not cheap at $999, I consider this lens to be priced JUST right for what it offers over other less expensive Fisheye lenses.

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So once again I say BRAVO to Olympus for releasing yet another amazing lens for their M 4/3 system. The new 8mm Pro offers you a “no compromise” fisheye that can be used in nearly ANY situation and I find it to be a notch above the competition in every way. AWESOME! Highly recommended for those who have been itching for a Fisheye lens!!!

You can order the lens at my preferred Olympus dealers below:

WHERE TO BUY

B&H Photo – Olympus 8mm fisheye

Amazon – 8mm Fisheye

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HLPHH

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

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

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

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Aug 172015
 
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The SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 T 0.95 for Micro 4/3

By Steve Huff

Order this lens at B&H Photo HERE

I remember back in the early part of 2012 when I was putting on a Los Angeles workshop with Todd Hatakeyama and we had 32 attendees or so, which meant we all had a blast shooting on the streets of LA.

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What was ultra cool about that workshop was that we had a couple of special guests and a very awesome lens debut at that event. The 1st special guest was none other than actor and comedian Jeff Garlin who came by to give us some stand up and talk about a movie he was working on called “Finding Vivian Maier” which is EXCELLENT BTW and a MUST SEE! Jeff was awesome and he was part of that memorable event and helped make it a success.

Me and Jeff in 2012 at my Los Angeles workshop

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The other special guest at the workshop was Andrew Chan from SLR Magic and he was there to let all of us try the a lens that he was very very proud of. That lens was the amazing 50 T 0.95 Leica Mount and yep, it went right after the Leica Noctilux f/0.95, and man…not only did it go after it, it proved that a Leica Noct killer could be made for MUCH less than the $11,000 Leica charged for their lens.

Me shooting the 50 Leica Mount Hyperprime back in 2012 on my Leica M9. Photo shot by Judd Weiss.

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Not only was the lens $6-7K cheaper than the Leica at the time, it was a tad better in the sharpness department and even Bokeh department. It has less CA and focused closer. It was a bit larger and heavier but wow, that lens was a masterpiece.

After it was getting some crazy buzz online it seemed some politics came into play as all of a sudden SLR Magic was being attacked with nonsense accusations in an attempt to stop them from selling that lens, or at least derail them here in the US. Seems it was a huge threat to someone somewhere as the mud-slinging and stories that were told were just ridiculous. The lens was Leica M mount and worked with the RF meaning it was RF coupled. Six friends of mine bought one and loved it, and a few still have the lens to this day for their Leica or Sony FE cameras. In any case, SLR Magic seemed to withdraw the lens for a while but it did return and is still available for purchase in the NON RF coupled version in Leica mount but in reality for Sony FE mount (using an adapter) for $2999.  The lens indeed has some magic. See my review HERE.

But wait! Now there is the New 50 T 0.95 Hyperprime for Micro 4/3

Well, today I am happy to announce that SLR Magic have brought out that same lens formula for Micro 4/3, in a NEW 50mm T 0.95 Lens. This is a premium lens in build, feel and performance for Micro 4/3 and the fast T 0.95 aperture (T stops are used in video and are slightly faster than the F counterpart making this lens an F/0.91 or so. While it will not give the same look and feel as the full frame version, it will offer a flavor of that look for a fraction of the cost and will be one hell of a manual lens for your Olympus or Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras. It will also be a fraction of the LM version, coming in at $999.

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Now, all Micro 4/3 shooters realize (or at least I hope they do) that the sensor in our cameras will double the effective focal length of any lens attached, which is why Olympus sells the 25 f/1.8, to mimic a fast 50mm. So naturally this 50mm T .95 will now give us an effective focal length of 100mm, which is quite long for my tastes. I am a tried and true 50mm guy, sometimes 35mm and sometimes even 28mm. But 100mm? Not so much. This was a concern of mine when Andrew Chan sent over the new 50mm T 0.95 for me to test..that 100mm reach means not so good for indoor work.

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About a day or two after I received the lens my worry subsided as I remembered that no matter what lens you have on your camera, you can always find shots to fit it and make it work if you truly open your eyes and look for shots. You know, the old saying “zoom with your feet”, well that rings true here.

I took the camera with me along with friends and family to Las Vegas and enjoyed testing it out in various lighting situations. What I soon found out is that when wide open at T 0.95 there is a very SLIGHT softness. VERY slight. But stop this lens down to T 1.1 or 1.4 and you have an amazingly sharp and crisp lens that has some serious POP to it, and I mean amazing sharpness to the level of some glass that will set you back much more than this.

I believe SLR Magic designed this lens as a video tool primarily but it is equally as nice as a photo tool. With its smooth click-less aperture and medium focus throw it feels delightful on my E-M5II Titanium Edition. It looks awesome as well. The slide out hood is reminiscent of the Leica 5o Summilux ASPH, quality all the way around in regards to fit finish and feel.

This shot was taken at T 1.1 to give a tad more crispness to the subject. This could have worked at T 0.95 but I found that I preferred using this lens from T 1.1  to T 1.4 most of the time. 

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This one is at T 0.95 and I focused on the upper most piercing. It is also up close at its minimum focus distance, which is also why we see a tad bit of softness and glow.

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So what do I think of the lens after using it non stop for a while? I do really enjoy it, but at the same time it is a specialty lens. I would use it if I wanted a nice portrait with shallow DOF. I would stop down to f/2 for max pop and detail as well as making it easier to nail the focus (when wide open it is very tough to 100% nail focus as T 0.95 has paper-thin depth of field). I would use this lens in low light or night-time situations when I needed the maximum light sucking capabilities. I would use this lens whenever I was in a manual focus kind of mood when using my Micro 4/3 camera or if I wanted an artsy look. I would use this lens for video interviews as well or even some street work. So yes…

It is versatile.

You must click images for better view. 

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What about detail? How sharp is this lens?

As I hinted at already, this lens sharpens up DRAMATICALLY when stopping down just slightly to T 1.1 or T 1.4. Wide open at T 0.95 it is a tad dreamy and slowly and unsharp. Take a look at the crops:

YOU MUST click on the images to see them larger and with full 100% crops! 

1st image is shot wide open at T 0.95…click it to see the crop..

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The next image was stopped down to T 1.4, look how much sharper it gets..like it “snaps” into place and becomes another lens..

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Below is a full size image from RAW, click it to see to full size. Shot at f/4

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The lens is not perfect though, and as I mentioned in my video overview above, it does have some CA (Purple Fringing) in high contrast situations. The thing here is though is that all fast primes like this have CA, all of them (when used on digital). Some cameras now remove this in camera before you see the image. Leica, Canon, Nikon..all have CA in their fast primes. So if you shoot this lens wide open, and take a picture of a high contrast scene with metal or glass, look out for some CA. As you stop down this will go away and I did not have any issues once I stopped down to just T 1.1. Below is an example of the CA you can expect when shooting wide open and in a high contrast situation..

Click images below to see them larger…examples of CA in high contrast areas when shooting wide open..

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So all in all, the new SLR Magic 50 T 0.95 Hyperprime lens for Micro 4/3 is a winner in my book. When SLR Magic wants to put out quality, they do and can. This lens is a solution for anyone wanting a shallow DOF option for their little M 4/3 camera or for those who shoot lots of video or for those who need a lens for ultra low light to keep the ISO down or even for those who want to shoot some nice creamy portraits.

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What this lens is NOT

What this lens is NOT is perfect. DO not expect to shoot a scene and get an image that looked like it came from a Leica M and 50 APO cron. This is what I call a “character lens” when shot wide open, and this is good as character is unique from lens to lens and it’s always nice to have these options in your toolbox. So if you shoot at T 0.95 do not expect across the frame sharpness, instead expect a nice almost dreamy kind of look. In fact this is probably the look that is attracting you to this lens!

Click any image for larger and better versions! I love the deep blue and shadows in this 1st shot. The 2nd blue man is a ball of blur when shooting at T 0.95.

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If you click the image below you can see how sharp this gets by T 1.1..I focused on his face/eyes..

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My final word on the new SLR Magic 50 T 0.95 Micro 4/3 Lens…

With so many lenses out today for Micro 4/3, and 98% of them being fantastic, how do you know which lenses to invest in and which ones to skip? Well, you don’t! All you can do is read reviews, look at samples and decide what works for YOU. If you enjoy the images here, the Bokeh, the color, the way this lens renders on an Olympus E-M5II AND you do not mind manual focus, and you want a solid well made lens that will last you a lifetime..then this just may be what you have been looking for.

What separates this lens from a lens like the Panasonic Nocticron that offers a 42.5 f/1.2 design with auto focus and gorgeous color and IQ is about $400 and with the Nocticron you get a much larger lens as well. You can see that review HERE to compare the images. The Nocticron is beauty and will give you an 85mm equivalent instead of 100mm. It will give you f/1.2 instead of T 0.95 (more like F 0.91) and at T 1.2 I’d put the SLR Magic up against the Nocticron any day and while it will not replicate the look of the Nocticron it will offer you its own look and character. You do lose Auto Focus but some prefer this as it slows us down, makes us think about the shot. So all up to YOU, the user.

Then we have lenses like the Olympus 75 1.8 which gives us 150mm, for me, too long for every day and indoor use though it is also a beauty. At the end of the day I enjoyed the SLR Magic lens. The 50MM T 0.95 Hyperprime is a premium lens, with much of the character from their legendary M mount version at 1/4 the price, which is nice and I have no complaints. ;)

To have yet another option for those of us who shoot Micro 4/3 is a good thing, selection and choice is wonderful :)

Where to Order?

If you want to order the SLR Magic 50 T 0.95 for Micro 4/3 you can do so HERE at B&H Photo who is an authorized SLR Magic Dealer. The price is $999.

A few more snaps below using the SLR Magic T 0.95 from wide open to T 1.4…

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HLPHH

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

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

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

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Aug 112015
 

The Olympus E-M5II goes to Israel

by Rob Willliams

I wanted to give back to the site because this is the #1 place I respect for reviews of new & innovative cameras and lenses. Your site helped me narrow down my camera search to the A7II and EM5II at the start of 2015. There are other great cameras out there, but I became hooked by in-body stabilization. After renting both and giving them a good run, I finally settled on the Olympus because of the ergonomics and controls. I felt like I could operate and switch my settings easier in the heat of the moment. Plus, I really appreciated the lens availability and compact size.

Photo 1: Tel Aviv Beach. 1/200 at f/10, ISO 200, EM5II with 12-40mm @ 40mm

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Coast

I would recommend anyone trying to choose a new camera go out and rent a few – there’s no substitute for having it in your hands in real situations. I have to admit I really wanted full frame, but at the end of the day I chose the camera that I knew I would carry around with me. I’m happy to say I always have it with me, and I’ve been able to capture some nice moments because of that.

Many day trips and two long foreign trips into the new camera, and I can say I love it. I don’t find it limiting in any scenario. If it’s dark, I feel fine pushing to 3200 or even 5000 ISO and can hand-hold down to 1/4 second — and if that’s not enough, I have my 25mm/1.8 in the bag. If it’s super bright outside, the 1/16000 electronic shutter helps. If I’m in a sensitive area, that same electronic shutter can shoot silently. If I want shallow DOF, shooting up close with a telephoto gives me all I need. If there’s some cool moving visuals, I can capture some 60 fps 1080p video – not really my thing, but I like that I can.

Photo 2: Tel Aviv Residence. 1/1250 at f/4.0, ISO 200, EM5II with 12-40mm @ 32mm

Tel Aviv Residence

Photo 3: Cows in Megiddo. 1/640 at f/5.6, ISO 200, EM5II with 40-150mm @ 150mm

Megiddo Cows

Photo 4: Sea of Galilee. 1/1000 at f/4.5, ISO 1600, EM5II with 12-40mm @ 40mm

All around the Sea of Galilee is where Jesus spent 95% of his life.

I originally gravitated toward the excellent primes, but after trying the Olympus 12-40mm pro zoom, I can’t put it down. It has the exact range I want in almost every situation, and is sharp through the range when shot wide open at f/2.8. The weight is pretty hefty, but the camera body is light so it makes up for it. The combo is light enough where I don’t even have aches after 8+ hour days of shooting, when using the Black Rapid Metro strap system.

My kit is the Olympus EM5II, primary lens being the 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom. For longer reach, I carry the lightweight and ridiculously cheap Olympus 40-150 f/4.0-5.6 – it’s like $99 so an unbelievable deal. At night, after a long day, I usually switch over to the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 prime because it’s lightweight and has spectacular low light performance.

Photo 5: Jericho. 1/640 at f/8.0, ISO 200, EM5ii with 12-40mm @ 40mm

Jericho View from Roof of Restaurant

Photo 6: Masada Fortress by the Dead Sea. 1/1600 at f/5.6, ISO 200, EM5ii with 12-40mm @ 24mm

Masada Landscape

Today I wanted to share a few photos I captured in Israel last month. This is a great destination for travel or street photographers, and I highly recommend it. The Old City of Jerusalem alone is worth the plane ticket — never have I seen so many interesting sights within 1 square km. Everywhere is very photo friendly, and if you are concerned about safety, don’t be. I felt comfortable the entire trip, even in the “bad” areas. Tel Aviv is a modern metropolis with a lot of great places to eat, and in addition to the holy sites there is a surprising amount of history to see, like some of the largest remaining Roman bath houses and theaters. This wasn’t primarily a photo trip for me, but I was able to get a few decent shots. I hope you enjoy the photos below!

Photo 7: Old City Jerusalem Jewish Quarter. 1/640 at f/5.6, ISO 200, EM5ii with 12-40mm @ 40mm

Old City Jerusalem Jewish Quarter

Photo 8: Man at museum. 1/15 at f/2.8, ISO 200, EM5ii with 12-40mm @ 32mm.

Israel Museum

I’m just an amateur photography who does this for fun, but some day I may try to dip my toes into food and restaurant photography. You can check out some of my other recent work on my Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rwilliz/albums.

Thanks, and any feedback is welcome,

Rob Williams

Jul 202015
 

New Panasonic GX8 is coming! Pre-Orders Up!

Pre-Order the GX8 at B&H Photo or Amazon HERE!

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The new Panasonic GX8, which appears to have taken some ideas from the Olympus E-M5 Mark II (swivel screen being one of them) and some unique and one of a kind features from Panasonic (swivel up EVF) and turned it into what appears to be the best Panasonic Mirrorless to date for those who love the GX style as opposed to the GH style of body. 4K video, tillable EVF, swivel out LCD, and more are all packed inside this new GX8. The previous GX7 was a fantastic little camera, and I reviewed it HERE.

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I have the Olympus E-M5 II Titanium Edition here and think it is a stunner. Would I like the GX8 better? No idea as I have not touched one yet but I hope to soon but would be tough for me to part with the amazing 5 Axis IS in the Olympus as I use it mainly for video, and it’s amazing. Just as with the Olympus, the GX8 allows you to swivel out the LCD to the left and close it up to where we do not even see the LCD, which I like and shoot often with the E-M5 II.

I like the dial based AF selection here as well as the simplistic layout. Could be a great street or every day camera. At $1200 for the body only, it is a bit steep but I shall soon see if it is worth the cost. Keep an eye out for a review SOON!

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The GX8 Specs (from B&H Photo HERE)

Pairing 4K recording and an updated Micro Four Thirds sensor, the black Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 is a sleek, compact mirrorless camera enabling versatile, multimedia recording. Utilizing a high resolution 20.3 MP Digital Live MOS sensor, along with a Venus Engine image processor, the GX8 is able to record 4K UHD movies at 30 or 24 fps; record full-resolution stills at 10 fps with AF-S or 8 MP stills at 30 fps; and work in difficult lighting situations with a top sensitivity of ISO 25600. Complementing the imaging capabilities is a unique Dual I.S. system that offers the use of both in-camera and in-lens image stabilization systems to effectively minimize the appearance of camera shake. The body design is also characterized by a durable, magnesium alloy construction that incorporates a tilting 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and a free angle 3.0″ 1.04m-dot rear OLED touchscreen to suit working from a variety of angles. Offering an enhanced set of imaging features with a comfortable form factor, the GX8 is an everyday camera designed with advanced multimedia capture in mind.

Among other features, the GX8 also features built-in Wi-Fi with NFC to enable seamless wireless image transfer and remote camera control from linked smartphones or tablets. Benefitting both stills and movies, Panasonic’s DFD (Depth-From-Defocus) AF system helps to quicken focusing speeds while a Starlight AF feature maintains focusing accuracy in low-light down to -4 EV and manual focus is accented by focus peaking and Touch AF controls.

20.3 MP Digital Live MOS Sensor and Venus Engine
An updated 20.3 MP Digital Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor pairs with the Venus Engine image processor to deliver fast overall performance, a wider dynamic range, with notable image quality to suit working in a wide variety of conditions. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 200 to 25600, with the ability to extend down to ISO 100 for working in bright conditions or with longer shutter speeds. Versatile burst shooting modes also allow you to pair high continuous shooting rates with single-shot or continuous autofocus. Using the mechanical focal plane shutter, you can shoot up to 8 fps with AF-S, 6 fps with AF-C, and 5.5 fps during live view with AF-S. For even faster performance, up to 10 fps shooting is possible with the electronic shutter function or 30 fps at 8 MP using the 4K Photo Modes.
4K UHD Video Recording
In addition to the versatile still shooting modes, the GX8 also supports recording 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video with either 30p or 24p frames rates at 100 Mbps in the MP4 format. Full HD 1080p/60 is also supported, in both MP4 and AVCHD formats, as well as HD and SD resolutions.

A built-in stereo microphone can be used during recordings, and features an integrated wind-cut filter, or an optional external microphone can be utilized via the 2.5mm jack for even clearer sound.

4K Photo Modes
Utilizing the 4K video recording capabilities, a trio of still shooting modes are available for recording continuous 8 MP stills at a 30 fps shooting rate:

4K Burst: Just as with video recording, this mode will allow you to continuously record 8 MP images at 30 fps for up to 29 min. 59 sec., making it ideal for instances where you need a fast frame rate in order to capture the best moment.

4K Pre-Burst: This mode is ideal for times when you’re unsure of the critical moment to press the shutter button and will record 8 MP images at 30 fps one second prior to and one second after pressing the shutter button in order to give you 60 frames to choose from.

4K Burst (S/S): This mode most closely follows the 4K video recording process, and allows you to playback your video, pause at the chosen moment, and use the shutter button to mark a chosen frame from the video and save it as a single 8 MP frame.

Dual Image Stabilization

Helping to achieve the utmost sharpness when photographing handheld, Dual I.S. combines the GX8’s sensor-shift image stabilization technology with lens-based image stabilization to compensate for a broader range of movement types to render sharper, clearer imagery. Dual I.S. requires the use of compatible Lumix lenses featuring O.I.S.
Body Design and Built-In Wi-Fi

A large OLED Live View Finder features a unique tilting design to benefit working from low angles and also has an impressive 2.36m-dot resolution, 0.77x magnification, and 10,000:1 contrast ratio.
A larger means for image composition and playback, the 3.0″ 1.04m-dot rear OLED monitor has a free angle, tilt and swivel design to support viewing from a variety of angles. It is also a touchscreen, which permits intuitive menu navigation and settings control.

Constructed from magnesium alloy with die-cast front and rear frames, the GX8 features a durable design that also incorporates extensive sealing at each joint, dial, and button to render it both splash- and dust-proof.

The sleek flat-body profile incorporates both front and rear dials for intuitive control over aperture and shutter speed settings. Eight assignable function buttons are also available, as well as a dedicated exposure compensation dial.

Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC allows for wireless image sharing and remote camera control from linked smartphones and tablets.

Depth-From-Defocus and Starlight AF Technologies

For accelerated autofocus performance, DFD (Depth-From-Defocus) technology is employed to quickly calculate the distance to subjects and adjust the focusing position in as little as 0.07 seconds, which enables continuous shooting up to 6 fps with continuous AF. This contrast-detection type focus method benefits both still and video recording modes, as well as subject tracking applications where subject color, size, and motion vectors are used to intelligently lock-onto the moving subjects and ensure precise focus. Additionally, supporting working in low-light conditions, a Starlight AF feature enables accurate AF performance down to -4 EV.

Benefitting manual focus operation, focus peaking is available that highlights bright edges of contrast with a colored outline for quickly recognizing your focus point, as well as Touch MF Assist for touch-to-focus operation.

Other Camera Features

A mechanical focal plane shutter enables a fast maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec., as well as a top flash sync speed of 1/250 sec. An electronic shutter function also avails a top shutter speed of 1/16,000 sec. to better enable working in bright conditions and with wider aperture settings.
More than 100 consecutive full-resolution JPG files can be captured in a burst, or approximately 30 consecutive raw files in a single burst.
Raw image files can be processed in-camera for a more streamlined post-production workflow.
Depending on the lens in use, the included DMW-BLC12 battery provides approximately 330 shots per charge when using the rear monitor, or 310 with the electronic viewfinder.
Photo Style modes: Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery, Portrait, Custom, Cinelike D, and Cinelike V.
Creative Control modes: Expressive, Retro, Old Days, High Key, Low Key, Sepia, Monochrome, Dynamic Monochrome, Rough Monochrome, Silky Monochrome, Impressive Art, High Dynamic, Cross Process, Toy Effect, Toy Pop, Bleach Bypass, Miniature Effect, Soft Focus, Fantasy, Star Filter, One Point Color, and Sunshine.

Jul 172015
 
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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 rentals.com (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 CameraQuest.com, 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.

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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 ;) 

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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 CameraQuest.com 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!

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Jul 062015
 

From full frame to Micro 4/3

By Joshua Young

Hi Steve!

After spending a few years taking pictures with a full frame, it is a strange new world finding myself in the Micro 4/3 camp. I bought the A7R the first day it was available, wow what a camera. At the time my wife and I just had a baby, and I loved watching him grow, capturing timeless moments with that amazing 36mp sensor. Every milestone he hit, I was there with my FE 55 1.8, and every place we went, the 35 2.8 was right there with me. We took him to a few countries, and got some amazing captures in front of some of the most beautiful landscapes.

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I am not a professional by any means, I just have a love for photography. As we vacation, I try to plan itineraries that will get me close to beautiful photo spots, and try to make the most of it with as little time as possible. Whatever camera I choose to carry has to have the best of all world: 1. Good for travel photography, and 2. Good for family photos.  As my son got older, he started to move faster and faster. I found the A7R AF could no longer keep up with the bottle of pure energy that is a toddler. Time and time again I found myself missing moments due to AF issues (toddlers never repeat what they were doing when asked). To try to improve AF speed, I ended up buying the A7II last February. As nice as a camera as it was, it did not feel right in my hands. It had amazing IQ, but I never enjoyed shooting with it. In May we took a trip to Miami/Disney, and I found myself leaving it in the hotel.

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Then came the Olympus E-M1. This camera single-handedly restored my love for travel photography. Simply put, this camera is FUN to use. With blazing fast AF, high quality lenses, and loads of features, I fell in love right away. Yes there was a tradeoff in noise, and DR, however IQ is not less than that of the A7II, I would use the word “different”. I have found there are pros and cons to both systems, it all comes down to the look you are happy with. I am learning more and more about the m43 sensor, and I like what I see.

Olympus E-M1 in Chicago

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See more of my work at https://www.flickr.com/photos/111565956@N05/

Josh

Jun 182015
 

Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95 Micro 4/3 lens is now shipping!

The new Voigtlander 10.5MM Micro 4/3 Lens is now in stock in VERY limited quantities at Cameraquest. So limited, I could not get one for review just yet! But Stephen Gandy is now shipping, and his shop is superb. This will be like having an uber fast 21mm for your Micro 4/3 camera. It is up there with the 17 0.95, 25 0.95, and 42.5 0.95. In other words, it will be pretty special, they all are.

You can order the lens HERE at CameraQuest. Free next day USA ship, and free B+W filter!

Close focus .17m, weight 586 grams, clicked or clickless aperture, 72mm filter size. Equivalent field of view of a 21mm lens on full frame 35m. Detachable Lens Hood. Length 82.4mm, maximum diameter 77mm.

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May 182015
 

NEWS OF THE DAY, Part 1: New Panasonic G7 Announced!

Happy Monday to all! I love Mondays, and yes, I am aware that most people HATE Mondays! But me? No, I love them. I rest up all weekend and then I am ready to rock and roll by Monday. I get anxious, I get energized and I tell myself every day just how lucky I am to do what I love each and every day. Over 7 years now I have been running this blog/website and each year that goes on I become more and more proud of what this site has accomplished. Over 12 million views per year, hundreds of thousands of comments, thousands of articles, reviews and posts…all housed here forever. So thank YOU all for coming here, making this one of your daily or weekly stops. I know there are thousands of web sites out there, and I know I do not post every little bit of news like many do but I just like to post on things that I think are AWESOME and that I feel my readers would really enjoy.

In any case, this week we have some new releases from Fuji and Panasonic that look interesting, more on the new Fuji later today.

Panasonic seems to be taking aim at Olympus as their new Silver G7 looks very “Olympus Like” in design and style. For those who love Panasonic Mirrorless cameras, the G7 looks like it will be the best G yet but then again, I feel the Olympus offerings give more bang for the buck, especially the new E-M5II, as that is one gorgeous and capable little camera. Even so, many prefer Panasonic as there are differences in color, rendering, and usability. The cool thing is that Micro 4/3 is so mature these days there are a myriad of AMAZING lenses available for your Micro 4/3 camera bodies.

THE NEW G7 – Looks sweet huh? Looks sort of E-M1-ish. You can pre-order it at B&H Photo HERE or Amazon HERE

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G7 Specs:

16 MP Live MOS Sensor and Venus Engine 9

A 16 MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor pairs with an updated Venus Engine 9 to deliver fast overall performance with matched image quality to suit working in a wide variety of lighting conditions with consistent results. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 200 to 25600, with the ability to extend down to ISO 100 for working in bright conditions or with longer shutter speeds. Versatile burst shooting modes also allow you to pair high continuous shooting rates with AF; including shooting up to 8 fps with AF-S, 6 fps with AF-C in one area, and 6 fps during live view. For even faster performance, up to 40 fps shooting is possible with the electronic shutter function or 30 fps at 8 MP using the 4K Photo Modes.

The sensor and processor combination also helps to ensure notable image quality through the use of accurate white balance settings, Live TTL direct exposure metering, and intelligent NR (Noise Reduction) control for clean, natural imagery. Additionally, the Venus Engine 9 aids in reducing image blur caused by diffraction using electronic adjustment to automatically sharpen edges for clearer results when photographing with smaller aperture sizes.

4K UHD Video Recording

In addition to the versatile still shooting modes, the G7 also supports recording 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video with either 30p or 24p frames rates at 100Mbps in the MP4 format. Full HD 1080p/60 is also supported, in both MP4 and AVCHD formats, as well as HD and SD resolutions.

A built-in stereo microphone can be used during recordings, and features an integrated wind-cut filter, or an optional external microphone can be utilized via the 3.5mm jack for even clearer sound.

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4K Photo Modes

Utilizing the 4K video recording capabilities, a trio of still shooting modes are available for recording continuous 8 MP stills at a 30 fps shooting rate:
4K Burst: Just as with video recording, this mode will allow you to continuously record 8 MP images at 30 fps for up to 29 min. 59 sec., making it ideal for instances where you need a fast frame rate in order to capture the best moment.

4K Pre-Burst: This mode is ideal for times when you’re unsure of the critical moment to press the shutter button and will record 8 MP images at 30 fps one second prior to and one second after pressing the shutter button in order to give you 60 frames to choose from.

4K Burst (S/S): This mode most closely follows the 4K video recording process, and allows you to playback your video, pause at the chosen moment, and use the shutter button to mark a chosen frame from the video and save it as a single 8 MP frame.

When using any of the 4K Photo modes, you are afforded complete exposure control using the PSAM dial in order to base metering results and exposure configurations on your own shooting needs.

Depth-From-Defocus AF Technology

For accelerated autofocus performance, which performs in low-light conditions down to -4 EV, DFD (Depth-From-Defocus) technology is employed to quickly calculate the distance to subjects and adjust the focusing position in as little as 0.07 seconds. This contrast-detection type focus method benefits both still and video recording modes, as well as subject tracking applications where subject color, size, and motion vectors are used to intelligently lock-onto the moving subjects and ensure precise focus.

Benefitting manual focus operation, focus peaking is available that highlights bright edges of contrast with a colored outline for quickly recognizing your focus point, as well as depth of field distances.

Body Design and Wi-Fi

Featuring a sleek design that is characteristic to Micro Four Thirds cameras, the G7 pairs retro aspects with modern functionality for intuitive use and classic appeal. Front and rear dials avail direct aperture and shutter speed control, as well as quick changing of ISO and white balance settings. Six function buttons can be assigned to control a range of custom features and the main drive wheel offers fast switching between shooting modes, including the 4K Photo modes.

For greater versatility when shooting, both a high-resolution electronic viewfinder and rear LCD monitor are available. The 2.36m-dot OLED Live View Finder features a 10,000:1 contrast ratio for bright, accurate viewing of scenes, even in difficult lighting. The 3.0″ 1.04m-dot LCD features a static touchscreen design for intuitive navigation and control, as well as a vari-angle design for easier working from high and low angles.

Rounding out the handling capabilities, the G7 also features built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for wirelessly sharing images and remotely controlling the camera from a linked mobile device using the Panasonic Image App. Connection is simplified using a QR code system to pair the smartphone or tablet with the camera.

Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Lens

A versatile standard zoom, the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. is a 28-84mm equivalent wide-to-short tele featuring an Optical Image Stabilizer to minimize the appearance of camera shake for sharper handheld shooting. Two aspherical elements are incorporated within the lens design to reduce the overall size and weight as well as benefit image sharpness and clarity. Complementing the optical design is an internal focusing system that pairs with the camera’s contrast-detection AF for quick, accurate focusing performance.

The G7 with 14-42 Kit lens is coming it at under $800, so price wise it seems spot on. No 5 Axis, No Live time, but appears to be a solid Micro 4/3 offering and as always with Panasonic, I am sure the video will be spectacular. 

You can also pick up the G7 with the 14-140 Lens at $1097 is you prefer the better “kit” lens. 

 

May 122015
 

Shooting Weddings with a CCTV Lens

by Tom Le Vine

Hi Brandon & Steve

I have submitted a few posts before and figured it was about time for another. As ever, I love the site and it’s still a ‘daily read’ as well as my go to site for getting a feel for a camera/lens and not just the technical. Thanks!

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A while back on the site there was an article about using a super cheap CCTV lens. The results to me looked something like a voigtlander 0.95 but for a tiny fraction of the cost. I picked one up off ebay for something like $20 a year or so ago.

It’s as cheaply made as you’d expect (although with a metal barrel) and it comes apart easily. The focusing is tricky and everything feels a bit like a ‘toy’ lens. It vignettes like crazy. There are tons of chromatic aberration. The sweet spot of focus is very small. Any enlarging of a photo shows how poor the glass is in terms of sharpness. Lots of bad points.

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And yet, it also produces some of my favourite photos. It has a character and look unlike anything else I have used. And with a bit of post processing in LR you can really take the edge off a lot of the image quality negatives. All in all I love the lens and love the results. So what’s not to love?

As for shooting a wedding with it, you’d have to be pretty reckless. But, when a friend asks as a favour for you to tag along and shoot the wedding as a second shooter (and knows how little experience you have), you don’t have a lot to lose. So pop on a $20 CCTV lens and see what the photos come out like. (I should also mention he knows I am very much an amateur, this was definitely a freebie, we only had a short time to take photos, it was very overcast grey weather and he wasn’t relying on my shots…so if you want to try this yourself…on your own head be it!)

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As for the photos…they were pp’d in LR (just a minute or so on each one…some colour adjustments, a few BW conversions, purple fringing removal and some straightening). The ones with the heavy vignetting and swirly bokeh are with the CCTV lens, the others are with my 20mm 1.7 Panny Lumix (I).

Hope you enjoy.

Tom Le Vine

Feb 182015
 

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The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Review. Olympus continues to innovate.

By Steve Huff

Below is my 1st look video on the E-M5 II, take a look!

February 18th 2015. I have reviewed almost all major Olympus mirrorless releases here since the original E-P1 that started it all. Ever since there have been cameras like the E-P2, E-P3, E-P5, E-Pl1, E-PL2 and so on. Then came the OM-D series and the E-M5 and then the “Pro” OM-D, the fantastic E-M1 (which I still own and use). I have loved all of the Olympus mirrorless cameras I have reviewed but WOW have they come a LONG way since the original E-P1 PEN! That camera was revolutionary for its time but looking back it was slow as molasses, had horrible high ISO performance and lacked in so many ways in comparison to todays Olympus cameras. Again, for the time it was great..for today, those old 1st PEN cameras are nothing like what we have today from Olympus, and what we do have today is quite amazing when you really dig into the cameras like the new E-M5II.

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Olympus has continued to innovate and create new technology in cameras while keeping the cameras small, fast, great looking, AS WELL as keeping them performing in Image Quality to the level of an APS-C sensor camera. Yes, there is nothing at all lacking when it comes to image quality, color, or pop when using good lenses. It also does not hurt to have the most amazing lens selection available as well as exclusive features such as Live Time, Live Composite, Advanced 5 Axis IS, and more. I have always said, the LENSES are the heart of ANY system, and for this system there is NO shortage of amazing glass.

The E-M5 II is fast, discreet, quiet, and provides fantastic IQ. The image below is an out of camera JPEG shot with the Panasonic Nocticron (my fave M 4/3 lens ever) under mixed indoor lighting. Sharp, creamy, and perfect color and AWB.

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I have written hundreds of reviews for cameras, lenses, bags, straps, accessories and all things photographic. For the life of this website, now going on seven years (Geez, where has the time gone), I have talked a ton about Olympus, Leica, Sony, Ricoh, Zeiss, Voigtlander and many others. I sometimes look back at reviews and remember which cameras were special to me, and which ones I had the best experiences with. Cameras like the Leica M 240, the Sony A7s and A7II, the Olympus E-M1 and E-P5, the Fuji X100..so many great cameras over the years and each year I ask myself…“How can it get better”? Seriously people, today we have so many cameras capable of jaw dropping quality. If we went back in time to 1984 with an E-M5 II or E-M1, photographers back then would FREAK OUT at what can be done.

With image quality peaking, camera companies are starting to look into other improvements such as improved high ISO quality, better video, better image stabilization, and a better usability experience. No other company leads this INNOVATION better than Olympus, and right behind them are Sony.

But remember! Olympus has created some of the best tech in cameras ever. EVER!

Olympus were the 1st ones ever with DUST SHAKING tech to clean sensors of dust automatically. They were 1st with 5 Axis IS and have just improved it to an incredible level in the new E-M5II. They were the 1st with LIVE VIEW in the Evolt E-330 back in the day! Yes, the 1st with LIVE VIEW and they were 1st and are still the only ones with “Live Composite”, an amazing feature that takes all guesswork out of astrophotography and long exposure work. Olympus keeps pushing new technology and for this reason they may be my overall favorite camera company. They are like the “Apple” of cameras.

Some would think that Sony or Leica is my favorite camera company but they are just behind Olympus. Anytime I shoot with a new Olympus camera I am wowed again and again. I mean, the lenses are stellar, 2nd only to Leica M glass IMO. Small, built well, and performance that exceeds the price point, Olympus has it going in in the Micro 4/3 lens world with so many fast primes that focus fast, look great and feel great. They are also small (with the exception of the new 40-150 2.8 pro, which is larger). Hand held low light shooting is a breeze with the latest Olympus cameras due to the amazing Image Stabilization inside. There really is NOTHING like it, not even in pro DSLR land.

The 12-40 f/2.8 Pro Zoom in the Crystal Caves – click image for larger.

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The SUPERB Olympus 17 1.8, at 1.8. I prefer this lens to the Panasonic/Leica 15 1.7 for color, pop and overall rendering. Click image for larger!

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In the early days of Micro 4/3 there were so many naysayers..“the sensor size is too small” – “you can not get shallow depth of field” – “noise levels are too high” – “can’t compete with APS-C” – yada yada yada. All of these statements had some truth to them in the very early days..E-P1, E-P2..yea, they were slow, had awful low light ability and were crippled when compared to something like a Nikon D300 of the day, but today it is an entirely different story, big time. 

Today, just as I said with the E-M1 launch, the E-M1 and now E-M5II, for me, beat ANY APS-C camera made today for usability, build, speed, features, lenses, color and IQ. There is not one APS-C camera made today that I would take over an E-M1 or E-M5II. None. No Fuji, no Sony, no Leica. When I shoot with the E-M1 I have nothing but joy and happiness as it just works. It does the job and it always delivers the results I love. In many ways, it beats some full frame cameras as well because it is consistent and reliable with almost ANY of the lenses you mount.

Now with super lenses like the Panasonic Nocticron, the Olympus 40-150 2.8 and the Olympus 75 1.8 this is a SERIOUS system capable of beautiful results.

So how has the new E-M5II upped the game over the original E-M5? In MANY ways, but the real question is…“Is it now better than the flagship E-M1”? I own both and have used both extensively so I will tell you my opinion in this review about that! Keep reading!

The E-M5 II with the 40-150 Pro Zoom at 2.8 – this lens is a masterpiece. JPEG. The colors, the bokeh and the detail this lens provides is just incredible. 

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The Panasonic Nocticron at f/1.2 – This is a GORGEOUS lens and has no faults. 

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The new E-M5 II vs the old E-M5..what’s the story?

I loved the original E-M5 and owned it until the E-M1 arrived. I have owned the E-M1 ever since launch and even bought the silver model when it was released and let go of my black one. It’s a gorgeous camera I love and adore for the reasons I already explained. Extremely tough and well made, extremely fast, extremely capable with the 5 Axis and beautiful lens selections…so much to like. But what about those who have the original E-M5..and still love it? Should they upgrade to the new Mark II version?

The new Mark II E-M5 has a more advanced top panel with metal dials instead of plastic. 

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Well, all I can do is tell you my opinion, and my opinion is that YES, the Mark II is a very worthy upgrade in almost all areas!

Here are the top 11 improvements off the top of my head, the ones that I really noticed from the Mark I…

1. Better build and feel. Grip is nicer and controls are more solid. Metal dials and a very nice and somewhat retro look. (Not to the level of the E-M1)

2. Still weather sealed. (though not to the level of the E-M1)

3. New side out swivel LCD makes shooting much more enjoyable IMO. (I prefer this to the E-M1)

4. The new 5 Axis IS is SPECTACULAR! Not sure how they did it, but they did it. It really excels with video. (Beats the E-M1 5 Axis)

5. New video options including 24, 30, 60 FPS. The video looks so good. (Better video than the E-M1)

6. The EVF is now the same large size as the E-M1. (which means an E-M1 MKII should be even larger when that one comes out)

7. Auto Focus is faster and FPS is faster as well. Overall, a much quicker camera. (Faster than the E-M1 in all but continuous AF)

8. Low light ability is now equal to the E-M1 which was slightly better than the E-M5I..high ISO up to 25,600.

9. It has Live composite and Live time that the E-M1 and E-M10 have. These are amazing features. 

10. Silent shutter option for total silence with 1/16,000 shutter speed. (E-M1 does not and will not have the Silent Shutter)

11. New High Res 40 Megapixel shot mode (Tripod is needed with NOTHING moving in the frame, E-M1 will not have this nor does it)

So for $1099, this camera will come as a body only and will NOT come with a Kit Lens. I think Olympus realizes that Kit Lenses are lackluster and do not really show what the cameras are capable of. When you throw a nice prime or pro zoom on these cameras they SHINE and give you APS-C or greater quality. Just browse through the images in this review or my E-M1 review or my E-M5 Mark I review and you will see that just because these cameras uses a smaller sensor than the APS-C and Full Frame cameras, the rendering of the images is spectacular from color to sharpness to pop (due to the sharpness).

ALL images here? OOC JPEGS. NO Raws yet as I am waiting for Adobe to release the update with this camera.The JPEGS from the E-M5II are fantastic. 

Panasonic 15 1.7 on the E-M5II – click any image for larger and better view

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Olympus 17 1.8 on the E-M5II

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Panasonic Nocticron 45.2 f/1.2 at 1.2

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So with all of that out-of-the-way, it is obvious when using the new Mark II that the camera has matured since the Mark I, which is now three years old. My review of the original Mark I is HERE and as you can see, I loved it then..but I love it even more now in Mark II form, and I have been used to the E-M1 flagship for 1 1/2 years now. Many have been e-mailing me “what camera should I get? The E-M1 or the E-M5II”? That is a tough one, and I will tell you why…

The E-M5 II and the 40-150 f/2.8 – tweaked this JPEG by lowering the brightness to make the color pop

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The E-M5 II or the Pro E-M1?

This is a tough question but when I was in Bermuda with Olympus I was using the new Mark II and thinking “why would anyone want the E-M1 with the E-M5 II having newer tech and features”? The more I used the 5 Mark II I was asking this question. Here, in a small well-built package I had amazing performance and speed, a great image stabilization system..best in the world, the larger EVF of the E-M1, a swivel out to the left LCD, better video capabilities and even a silent shutter and new 40MP High Res shot mode. When I came back home and pulled out my E-M1 I shot both side by side and then I realized why I still slightly prefer my E-M1.

The E-M1 is built better, feels better and I prefer the control layout. 

The E-M1 has a sturdier pro level shutter, will last longer.

The E-M1 is freeze proof and shock proof, better weather sealing than the EM5 Mark II. 

The E-M1 is slightly larger, fitting into my hand perfectly without adding a grip.

The E-M1, for me, provides slightly better IQ with sharper and richer files. Not sure why, but this is the case. It’s slight but there.

A video showing the E-M1 and E-M5Ii side by side…

For me, I just enjoyed using the E-M1 a bit more, but I have a feeling a new E-M1 Mark II will be out within a year and I will bet you that it will not only have the new features of the 5 Mark II, but newer features exclusive to the new model. Just a guess but Olympus will HAVE To do this as the new E-M5 II will start eating into the E-M1 sales because of what it offers for less money. For most, the E-M5 Mark II, at $300 less cost than the E-M1 while offering more, will be the favorite choice. Truth be told, if buying from scratch I would choose the E-M5 II over the E-M1. Having the E-M1, I would not sell to go to the 5II. For me, owning both is the answer. ;) The 5II makes a perfect complement to the E-M1 as a 2nd body as you get the best of both worlds.

An E-M1 shot with the 12mm f/2 Olympus prime

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At the end of the day, for those who are just now jumping to Micro 4/3 I will 100% recommend the E-M5 II as the camera to go for over any other Olympus or Panasonic. It’s a no brainer really. For those asking me if they should sell their E-M1 for the E-M5II, no, I would wait for the E-M1 Mark II. For those wanting to sell the E-M5 Mark I for the II, I would say GO FOR IT. It’s a definite upgrade. You can quote me on that ;)

LIVE COMPOSITE and LIVE TIME = GENIUS!

The Olympus E-M1, E-M10, E-M5 II and the E-P5 Pen have features called “Live Time”, “Live Bulb” and “Live Composite” and I feel many owners of these cameras NEVER use these features or even know they exist. If you have one of these cameras and have not yet used these features, I urge you to give it a try as amazing things can be shot using them, and, the best part…it is a blast to use and shoot using these modes.

Last week a buddy of mine, Alex McClure who is also an Olympus trailblazer, took me out to the AZ Desert to shoot some long exposures and do some light painting with the new E-M5 II and my E-M1. He went over his preferred setting and gave me a tutorial on how to shoot star trails..and it was a blast.

STAR TRAILS, LONG EXPOSURES..LIVE COMPOSITE

For long exposures, Live Composite is phenomenal. We set up our cameras to shoot on a tripod and I plopped on my Panasonic 8mm Fisheye to the E-M5II and set the camera for Live Composite (set it to Manual mode by choosing M on the control dial and turn to the left until you see LIVE COMPOSITE). I set the camera to ISO 1000 and we set it for 20 second exposures. When you take the 1st shot, it will expose for your subject and nail the exposure. The camera will then tell you it is ready to take the composite shot. Press the shutter again and in our case, it started taking 20 second exposures and stacking them automatically IN the camera until we stopped, which was around 40 minutes later. The camera shows you the progress in real-time on the LCD, so no more guessing when you need to stop the exposure! This is HUGE for astro shooters!

Because the 1st shot exposed the scene and our cactus, the 2nd press of the shutter allowed the camera to ONLY LOOK for NEW LIGHT, which in this case were the stars in the black sky. So even with 40 minutes of exposure, the cactus never overexposed and the camera only saw the star trails, and recorded that to the final image.

E-M5 II, 40 minutes of 20 second exposures stacked in camera to create this 100% out of camera JPEG. Amazing, foolproof and the best part? The camera shows you the updates in real time on the camera LCD so you know when you want to shut it off..when you shot is exactly how you want it. No more guessing games. Panasonic 8mm fisheye was used (review here)

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LIVE TIME – Real time exposure allows you TOTAL control over your long exposures

Live Time is similar to Live Composite except that it does not take an initial image with perfect exposure. Live  Time allows you to do long exposures or light painting while viewing in real time what your images is turning out to be. Sort of like when you used to develop actually film prints in the darkroom..you see it exposing in real time. Set it up on a tripod, press the shutter and start the exposure..when it looks perfect, press the shutter again to close down the shutter.

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The image above was taken with the E-M1 as my E-M5 II was on the tripod for 40 minutes taking the Cactus shot above. Still works the same way on both cameras. I stood there and Alex McClure pressed the shutter, ran over to me with some lights and “drew” the light behind me. He ran back to the camera and shut off the exposure. Was VERY cool. This is an OOC JPEG. How amazing is this? No other camera can do what the Olympus does in this regard. It is built into the camera and is basically a one button press and done. What you see is what you get.

Below: Spinning Steel Wool with Live Time – E-M1

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E-M5 II Live Time on the Beach in Bermuda

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Sony has an app or two that can do similar things, but A: It’s an app that must be added to the camera and B: It is a bit clunky in use and C: It is not as easily implemented nor does it work quite the same way. Other than that, no one else does this. With Olympus it is as EASY as pressing the button and watching the exposure come to life right before your eyes.

Many buy the E-M1, E-M10 or E-M5II just for this feature alone as it works so well and is very easy to use.

The Speed of the E-M5 II

The new E-M5II is faster than the old Mark I for sure, and is up there with the E-M1 when it comes to AF speed. In fact, I was told the only area where the E-M1 excels with AF speed is in continuous AF, which the E-M1 has the edge with. Still, I had no issues with the C-Af of the E-M5 II as you can see in this Dolphin shot..click it for larger.

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Overall, in my 2-3 weeks of shooting with the camera I have not had ANY Af issues, whatsoever. In low light it focused and was accurate and in good light it was instant. Olympus also claims to  have the least shutter lag of any mirrorless camera made today in the new E-M5 II.

It’s fast, it is smooth and it is quiet. The physical shutter is damped and smooth but it also has the ability to shoot in SILENT mode when you want 100% stealth. I still prefer the physical shutter but many will enjoy the total silence which also allows you to bump the shutter to 1/16,000 s.

The 40-150 Pro Zoom..

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The Panasonic Nocticron at f/1.2

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The Panasonic Nocticron at f/1.2

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Five Axis Improved yet AGAIN! 

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The new E-M5II has a new improved 5 Axis Image Stabilization that must be used and seen to be appreciated. It beats the 5 Axis in the original MK I E-M5, it beats the even better 5 Axis in the E-M1 and beats the 5 Axis in the Sony A7II handily. I have never seen anything like it. I have tested the limits and found it is easy to take 1 second handheld shots if you wanted to. I pushed it to 2 seconds and while the shot was not usable, it was not nearly as bad as you would think. It was taken in the DARK, and is a TWO SECOND hand held exposure..take a look! TWO SECONDS!

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My favorite way to appreciate the new 5 Axis though is for VIDEO. Attach any lens to the E-M5 II and your video will look silky smooth and professional, like it was shot on a massive rig with stabilization. Hand Held video will never be the same. In fact, I will be using the E-M5 II for video production in 2015 due to the superb video quality I can get out of it. It’s quite special.

40 Megapixel High Res Shot Mode

Another new feature of the E-M5 II is the new High Res Shot mode. It is VERY limited though and when I first heard about it I was excited, but as I used it I was less excited because before you can use this mode and get good results with it, you need to have the camera mounted on a secure tripod, you need your subject to be 100% motion free as ANY movement, even from wind, will mess up the photo..and YOU NEED A PRO lens. I shot some side by side with the 12mm f/2 prime at f/4 and was disappointed. I then used the 40-150 Pro 2.8 Zoom and saw the difference better, but again, where and when you can use this mode will be VERY limited.

At the end of the day though, it works and will indeed give you a 104 Megabyte RAW file and a 40 MP image from the 16 MP sensor. The E-M5II does this all in camera without any work needed in post. There is even a RAW converter plug in for lightrroom and photoshop that will process the massive RAW files (which is what I used for the test shots).

Below are two examples. Click the image below  to see a larger size and true 100% crops from each file. 1st on the left, the standard 16MP out of camera shot from the E-M5II. On the right, the high res shot from the E-M5 II. You will see differences if you click on the image and look closer. Lens used? The Olympus 12mm f/2.

Right click the images and “open in a new tab or window” to see larger size and 100% crops. 

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If you opened up the above image and looked at the 100% crops you will indeed see more detail in the 40MP high res mode. This shot was taken with a brand new Olympus 12mm f/2 lens, stopped down to f/4. This was shot with a tripod and is one scene in which you can take advantage of this new feature. The E-M1 will NOT be getting this feature but I expect it will make it to the E-M2 or E-M1 Mark II, whenever they camera comes out (I expect a year).

Here is one more where I used the sharpest Olympus lens I know of, the 40-150 f/2.8 zoom. It is on another level in sharpness and color from the 12mm f/2, and is probably the best lens of this type I have ever used in my life. Smaller than the Nikon and Canon 70-200 2.8 lenses, but sharper, crisper, more pop, better bokeh and better made. If I were a telephoto guy THIS WOULD be mine.

So using a great Olympus lens… let us see if there is a larger difference between standard and high res mode…

Click image for larger view and 100% crops. 

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How about one with a shot with the E-M5II in standard 16mp mode, one in 40Mp High Res and one from the E-M1 in Standard mode with the same lens? The high res shot is the only one from RAW. 

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To me, the most detail is coming from the E-M1 in standard mode! I have been finding the IQ from my E-M1 to be slightly more detailed and sharper than what is coming from the E-M5II. One reason why the E-M1 is still the “Pro Flagship”.

For me, this mode is something I would rarely use. If I were a daytime landscape guy I can see this being used but for most of what I shoot, this would not be needed. The cool thing is that it is here if you want it and it will end up being on the next version of the E-M1..of course.

All of the other stuff. High ISO, Art Filters, Etc

Because the E-M5 II is not a brand new model line, and is a continuation of the OMD itself, much of what I have written in the past about the previous models would be repeated here if I wrote about them again. So just to be clear, this E-M5 II has all of the art filter effects and extra features that the previous models have. It also has the same high ISO performance as the E-M1, so look to that review for my ISO tests.  This E-M5II does NOT have an AA filter so it is like the E-M1 in this regard (The Mark I had an AA filter).

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The Pros and Cons of the E-M5 II

Pros:

  1. Small size, solid build. Improves on the build of the E-M5 Mark I
  2. Faster AF than the Mark I
  3. Better 5 Axis than the Mark I and E-M1! Best in the world.
  4. New metal control dials feel better in use
  5. Slight redesign feels better in the hand
  6. New swivel to the left LCD is great in use
  7. New video modes make this the best OM-D for video yet.
  8. High Res 40MP Mode will be useful for some
  9. EVF now E-M1 sized!
  10. Literally no lag
  11. All of the art modes are still here and better than ever!
  12. Live Time and Live Composite modes are incredibly good.
  13. Lens selection is the best in the mirrorless world.
  14. Improved high ISO from the Mark I, now equals the E-M1
  15. Overall, best mirrorless camera around for versatility and usability and features.
  16. Meets or exceeds APS-C cameras.
  17. Buttons are assignable to however you want them
  18. Price is only $1099 and you get A LOT for your money here!
  19. Has a mic input for video use.
  20. Silent shutter with 1/16,000 second capability.
  21. In camera KEYSTONE correction (works so good, and easy to use – like tilt shift, but in camera controllable)

Cons:

  1. I am getting slightly better IQ (sharpness) from my E-M1 using the same lenses
  2. Camera seems small, may be too small for some hands
  3. High ISO still can’t compete with full frame and some APS-C
  4. Menu may be getting too packed with features, making it confusing for some new users.
  5. As always, Micro 4/3 will not offer you the shallow DOF control of a full frame sensor.

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My conclusion on the Olympus E-M5 II

First of all, if you have not seen my E-M5 Mark I review or the Olympus E-M1 review, I urge you to take a a look. Those reviews go over more of the older features of the camera and I did not want to rehash things such as art filters, etc.

The new E-M5II is the latest camera in the Olympus Micro 4/3 lineup and it is quite a powerhouse. Olympus has “done it again” and not sure how they keep innovating but they do. No other camera company thinks of new ideas quite like Olympus. From the Live Time features to the 5 Axis IS to the speed and build, the E-M5II is revolutionary in many ways. For me, no DSLR could take the place of the E-M5 II or my E-M1. None. With todays technology these little cameras offer MORE for LESS and in the case of the E-M5 II and E-M1, also offer superb build and feel and speed.

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Olympus has been committed to their system for years and they show no signs of slowing down. The new 40-150 f/2.8 Pro lens is a masterpiece in design, build and quality. The 12-40 f/2.8 zoom is the best of its kind and all of the fast primes are jewels in the world of lenses. Today, Micro 4/3 lacks in nothing besides ultimate low light high ISO work and super shallow DOF. If you want full frame .95 DOF you will not get it in a Micro 4/3 camera but at the same time, you will get detail and pop all day long and with lenses like the 40-150 and Nocticron, there is plenty of creamy Bokeh to go around.

The next two shots were with the 40-150 f/2.8 wide open…

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I have owned the E-M5 and E-M1 and still own the E-M1. It is one of my favorite cameras of all time, and still performs just as well today as it did when it was released. Did the E-M5 II overtake my E-M1? Well, no. I still love my E-M1 a bit more due to the body design, feel, and extra pro build. I also seem to get a bit more snap from my E-M1 images. Other than that the E-M5 II is a powerhouse of features and function. Video, 5 Axis, High Res mode, the new Swivel out LCD, the larger EVF (same as E-M1), Live Exposure modes, the colors and fast AF make it one heck of a bargain in the mirrorless world. Today no one can say Micro 4/3 lacks when compared to other mirrorless cameras because they do not. Anyone who says they do, well, they never gave an E-M1 or E-M5II a serious shot with some great lenses. Once you really use one of these, learn it and shoot with some of the glass that is already legendary, you will fall in love. They are not only powerful, intuitive and beautiful but they put out pro level image quality.

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Most of you here know I love Olympus and Micro 4/3. They just feel “right”, especially the Olympus creations. For me, my fave cameras these days are from Sony and Olympus and I see no signs of that changing anytime soon. I have used so many cameras and lenses over the years you can say that I am jaded. I use the favorites that I have tested over the years and one thing has remained constant for me..there has always been an Olympus Micro 4/3 camera on hand at my house. Started with the original 4/3 E-1, then E-3, the the Micro 4/3 E-P1, then E-P2, then E-P3, E-P5, E-M5, E-M1 and now the E-M5II.

With each release they get better and better and while the sensor performance has sort of peaked (for now), they are now doing things that make using the cameras so much more fun and BETTER. Features no one else has. Shoot a video on the new E-M5II and you will be amazed at the new 5 Axis. Shoot a night long exposure with Live Composite and be blown away. Shoot exotic lenses like the Nocticron or 75 1.8 or 40-150 2.8 and look at the detail, color and richness. When I look at images in this review I see amazing color, fantastic details and an organic quality to the files that tell me YES, this is a fantastic camera that should please ANYONE. When I go back to my Fuji X-T1 review the images look..well..like they lack “life”. When I go back to my recent A7II review I see rich files and gorgeous IQ, but in a different way from the E-M5Ii images. That is the difference between full frame and Micro 4/3, a certain creamy richness with plenty of shallow DOF.

What the E-M5II offers is some serious snap, crackle and pop. By that I mean crisp files (snap), bold gorgeous color (crackle) and great edge definition of your subject (pop). Just as beautiful as full frame but in its own way. Two different styles which is why I own a full frame and Micro 4/3 system.

1st two shots below, Nocticron at 1.2. Third shot was with the Olympus 17 1.8 at 1.8

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So once again I will say BRAVO to Olympus for pushing the envelope yet again. Offering us a fantastic and highly capable camera at a good price.

I HIGHLY recommend the new E-M5 II without hesitation and if you want to see what lenses I like, read THIS article which I just updated. 

Two shots below were with the Olympus 17 1.8

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WHERE TO BUY?

You can order the new Olympus E-M5 II from the highly recommended and trusted vendors below. They get my best ratings! Use my links below and you will AUTOMATICALLY help this website move on and grow AND you will get the best deal! 

1. B&H Photo – Olympus E-M5 Mark II Pages (Black or Silver)

2. Amazon – Olympus E-M5 Mark II Page (Black or Silver)

3. PopFlash.com – Olympus E-M5 Mark II page.

Buy the new 40-150 f/2.8 Pro Zoom Lens – Amazon, B&H, PopFlash

Two more with the Olympus 17 1.8 (my review of that lens is HERE)

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

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

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

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