Oct 172014
 

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

By Richard Gilsig

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sep 092014
 

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

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

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

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

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Jul 142014
 

My favorite cameras for usability, ability and versatility mid 2014

By Steve Huff

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

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

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

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

My fave cameras made for Versatility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Fave camera for Usability

Without Question, the Leica M reigns supreme here

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

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

Three from the Leica M 240

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My favorite camera for general every day and low light use

The Sony A7s wins this one easily. 

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

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

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

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

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Runner Ups

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

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

Jul 032014
 

From DSLR to Micro 4/3

By Paul Liu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo 1 – Parliament in Budapest

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Photo 2 – Carpathian Mountains in Romania

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Photo 3 – Small town pub in Austria

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Photo 4 – Pumakkale calcium deposits in Turkey

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Photo 5 – Fisherman in Istanbul

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Photo 6 – Dancing in the street in Istanbul

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Jun 132014
 

Panasonic GH4 in stock now!

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

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

 

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May 072014
 

Using the Samyang fisheye

By Rob Scheurwater

Hi Brandon/Steve,

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

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

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

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

Thanks for the inspiration your site has given me.

Rob Scheurwater, The Netherlands

Paris subway

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

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Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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The old library of Bologna

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May 062014
 

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

By Michael Ma

Hi Steve &  Brandon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,

Michael Ma

May 012014
 

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

by Wilson Chong

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

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

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

Here is bascially what Anamorphic format means according to Wiki.

My review purely as a user with little technical background.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

please visit my flickr page

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

Best regards,
Wilson Chong

 

May 012014
 

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

By Arindam Pal

Hi Brandon and Steve,

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 1st one is of wife 36 weeks in pregnancy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1000 1/70

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

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 E-M1 and 45 1.8 @f/1.8 ISO 400 1/200

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

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/160

The 4th one – Aarwen with her first plaything

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/25

5th – she likes to talk to Mommy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/4 ISO 200 1/170

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

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Thanks so much,
Arindam

Feb 222014
 

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

By Igor Kolonic

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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12 Some typical Amsterdam architecture.

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

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

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15 Street musician at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time!

Igor Kolonic

Feb 192014
 

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

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

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

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

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Feb 122014
 

New Olympus 7-14 2.8 PRO and 300 f/4 PRO Announced!

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It seems that at least every week or two we hear of something new in the camera world. The funny thing is I only report on a small percent of it! I talk about those products that are interesting to me and the readers here and there is still an endless stream of products to report on.

Olympus is once again paving the way and providing those who invested in the amazing E-M1 with a couple of rewards :) TWO new pro lenses. The 7-14 Wide Angle F/2.8 Zoom and the 300mm f/4 prime (600mm equivalent). These are both PRO lenses and will be dust and weatherproof with all of the good stuff that normally comes along with these great Olympus lenses (Image quality, pristine build and feel..oh and probably a big price tag).

Olympus promised new pro glass, and they seem to be delivering. These new lenses are expected to ship in 2015 so we have a while to go but at least we know what is on the way! The new 12-40 is already out and gaining rave reviews (my review is coming soon) so with these two lenses one would have a nice pro 3 lens kit. 7-14, 12-40 and 300 offering a 14-28, 24-80 and 600mm equivalent. There is also the 40-150 2.8 PRO scheduled to be released THIS year giving an 80-300 Equivalent.

Oly knows how to make fantastic lenses. Now I wonder what they have in store for us in 2015 in regards to a new pro body? Will they have an E-M1 successor already or will they wait a while?

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From Olympus…

“The first interchangeable lens of this series, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO is already available while its successor, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm 1:2.8 PRO, is scheduled to go on sale in the second half of 2014. The final two Olympus system lenses in the M.ZUIKO PRO quartet, covering everything from super wide angle to super telephoto, are currently under development. Both new lenses are scheduled to be released from 2015 onwards. More details will be announced prior to the launch.”

Feb 052014
 

Quiet Light

By Mark Seawell

Hi Steve! My name is Mark Seawell. I live in Germany and work on Ramstein Air Force base, HQ for the U.S Air Force in Europe. Though I’m retired from the Air Force, I now work as a civilian employee for Ramstein. This area has the largest concentration of Americans outside of the United States, over 25,000. We arrived in Germany in Aug 2005 and I quickly fell in love with the land while taking long walks with my wife. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Germany but when the rain is not coming down (think Seattle) this is some of the most beautiful land in the world.

My fate was sealed when I decided to “bring a camera along” for our walks. Soon I was taking pictures and I haven’t stopped for 5 years! I’ve shot Lumix the entire time moving form the Panasonic G1 to the GH2 and in November of last year the GH3.

http://msphotoworld.com is my Zenfolio site.

I took the first picture on the 18th of January with my GH3. Something was there that moved me. I loved the quiet solitude of the tree standing alone. . This picture was taken close to Steinwenden and is typical for this area. I call it “Quiet Light”.

18 Jan 2014 Panasonic GH3 Lumix 45-200mm F/9.0 ISO 250 1/125 Adobe LR 5.3 SilverEfex Pro

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The next picture is from my village of Rehweiler, Germany. The morning was misty and I found myself alone close to the tracks. What I found inspirational about this was the mood of mystery. Where are the tracks going? What is around the bend? What is the destination? View to Eternity.

8 Jun 2013 Panasonic GH2 Lumix 45-200mm F/7.1 ISO 160 1/800 Adobe LR 5.3 SilverEfex Pro

View to Eternity

The last picture was taken on the back roads between Reuschbach and Obermohr, Germany. It had rained the entire month in Novermber 2011. It would not stop. Finally, on the last day of November there was no rain and that was enough reason to take my camera as I drove in. The mist was everywhere, covering the land. I had taken a few pictures above Reuschbach and was happy and drove the road to Obermohr where we lived for nearly 6 years but had recently moved. As I came around the bend I was struck by this site. The mist totally dominated my former village but rising majestically through it all was the church tower. I nearly ran into a ditch and the cars behind me were none to happy as I positioned myself, eager to capture this fleeting moment before it all went away. There could be only one name for this image that had inspired me so…”Heaven’s Gate”.

30 November 2011 Panasonic G1 Lumix 45-200mm ISO 100 72mm LR 3.2 SilverEfex

Gateway to Heaven

Jan 282014
 

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The OM-D E-M10 and 25 1.8 Lens! New Olympus Firecrackers!!

Sweetness! It must be new camera week as just now Olympus officially announced the much talked about and rumored “baby” E-M5, the E-M10 (right after Fuji dropped the HOT X-T1)! This is IMO a $699 firecracker that will allow anyone to get a taste of the fantastic E-M5 at a great price point. The E-M10 is an all metal body full of features and is pretty much the full IQ of the E-M5 and E-M1 in more affordable body that any enthusiast can afford. The OM-D E-M10 will NOT replace the E-M5. Instead the lineup will remain as it is for now - the starter E-M10, the middle of the road E-M5 and the rock n rolling pro, the E-M1. I feel this is a great move as it gives a more affordable option to those wanting the OM-D experience. Same IQ, same solid build, same experience! 

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If anyone has shown that the Olympus M 4/3 offerings can hang with the big boys it is this very website. Guest post after guest post has shown the power of these little Olympus bodies and IMO they can do anything an APS-C can do besides a little bit less performance at high ISO. They are faster, more accurate in the AF, have better lenses, more lenses and better build than just about any comparable mirrorless body. I am a HUGE HUGE fan of the E-M5 and E-M1 and I expect the E-M10 to be just as wonderful with a few dumbed down features such as 3-Axis IS to the 5-Axis of the more expensive brothers.

To see some wonderful examples of what these Micro 4/3 Olympus bodies can do click HERE, HERE and HERE

You can pre-order the new OM-D E-M10 body only in BLACK HERE or SILVER HERE at B&H Photo.

You can also buy them in kit form – BLACK or SILVER. 

Amazon also has the E-M10 for pre-order HERE!

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Below are the quick notes I took at last weeks briefing on the camera:

New 3 Axis IS

8 FPS shooting

Built in WiFi and Flash (first time for flash)

$699 body 0nly

$799 body and kit 14-42 II kit

New Grip – very cool design!

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The New 25 1.8 Lens

I am also VERY excited about the new Olympus 25 1.8 lens even though we already have the amazing Panasonic 25 1.4. I will tell you why: The design is small, high quality and uses the same optical formula as the super sweet 45 1.8, which is a stellar lens. It will be available in black or silver and for $399. It will focus FAST, be silent in Autofocus and I have no doubt it will be an amazing lens. I have my pre-order in! At $399 this is the biggest no brainer for any Micro 4/3 user who has not yet jumped to the Panasonic 25 1.4. I can not tell a lie..I prefer Olympus lenses to Panasonic lenses as I love the design, feel, silence and speed, oh, and the IQ. The lens below is on the silver OM-D E-M10. NICE. For $1100 you can get the E_M10 and the new 25 1.8 (50mm equivalent) so you have your camera and fast 50, all in a small but high performing package.

Of course I will be reviewing the new OM-D E-M10 as soon as I can get one!

You can pre-order the new 25 1.8 Lens at B&H Photo in Black HERE or in Silver HERE. 

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Other new Olympus Cameras and Lenses announced…

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Olympus has also announced a new super zoom, the SP-100 (A 50X $399 camera with EVF) as well as a new TOUGH camera, the TG-850 for $279 with swivel LCD and drop proof, freeze proof, water proof and crush proof all the way (I will review this one). There is a new fisheye lens cap lens and a new pancake version of the 14-42 Kit zoom (that will NOT be the included lens with the E-M10..OLD ONE IS BUNDLED). The new zoom is actually smaller than the older 17 2.8 Pancake!

The new 9mm fisheye lens cap!

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You can read all about the SP-100 HERE and the TOUGH HERE.

The new Kit Zoom is HERE.

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MORE INFO ON THE NEW E-M10!

OLYMPUS EXPANDS OM-D® CAMERA LINE-UP WITH NEW, EXTREMELY COMPACT E-M10 — THE OM-D FOR ALL

The Image Quality and Power of the E-M1 and E-M5 are now Packed into a More Affordable OM-D Body; Two New Lenses Broaden Olympus’s Micro Four Thirds® System

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 29, 2014 — Olympus adds to its award-winning OM-D family with the new E-M10, an interchangeable lens camera that combines the outstanding image quality, speed and power of the flagship Olympus® OM-D E-M1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 into an extremely compact and stylish all-metal body. Featuring the new TruePic VII image processor, the same found in the OM-D E-M1, 16 megapixel Live MOS sensor, Wi-Fi® technology, a large, high-speed electronic viewfinder, 3-axis image stabilization, ultrafast autofocus and a built-in flash, it’s the OM-D for photographers looking for an affordable, yet powerful, system camera they can use every day. The new, super-slim M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL 14-42mm f 3.5-5.6 EZ pancake zoom lens and the super-bright M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm f1.8 expands Olympus Micro Four Thirds line-up to 15 lenses.

Best-In-Class Image Quality
The Olympus OM-D E-M10’s 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor, combined with the TruePic VII image processor and M.ZUIKO lenses, delivers beautiful image quality with high resolution, superior color reproduction and high sensitivity that exceeds other cameras in its class. A maximum sensitivity of ISO 25600 is perfect for shooting dark scenes and indoor shooting locations, and ISO LOW mode (100 equivalent) expands the low-sensitivity end. The sensor’s rich dynamic range makes smooth gradations possible and beautifully depicts high-contrast highlights and shadows. Fine Detail Processing II technology configures the appropriate sharpness processing for each individual lens resulting in natural, high-quality resolution.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10’s in-body 3-axis image stabilization system is derived from the world’s first 5-axis system in the E-M5 and E-M1. The 3-axis version effectively counteracts yaw, roll and pitch with both still shots and HD movies, regardless of the lens attached to the camera yielding great results even in poor lighting conditions or when using an exposure time of 1/15 second or less.

Speed

The on-board FAST AF is Olympus’ fastest-ever AF system and uses 81 target areas that cover the whole image. Small AF Target and Super Spot AF modes make it possible to zoom in and focus accurately on minute sections of the frame. The E-M10 is also capable of capturing high-speed action with 8fps sequential shooting, the fast processor supports continuous capture of up to 20 RAW frames or an unlimited number of JPEG frames*, and the Continuous Auto Focus with Tracking mode accurately tracks and captures moving subject as fast as 3.5 fps.

Beautiful OM-D Design

The ultra-slim, compact and lightweight Olympus OM-D E-M10 body is built with precision-machined metal parts and a premium feel that inspires the user. Two easy-to-reach metal dials give excellent operability and improved control, and the grip is designed to rest comfortably in the user’s hand. Despite its size, the E-M10 is the first OM-D with a built-in flash that is optimized for 1/250 second synchronization, a benefit for daytime flash photography.

High-Speed Creative EVF

The large, 1,440,000-dot electronic high resolution viewfinder (EVF) located on the optical axis of the E-M10 features a 120-fps refresh rate, a 100 percent field of view and maximum 1.15x magnification to help accurately frame shots. An eye sensor seamlessly switches the display between the tilting, 3.0-inch touch-screen monitor and the electronic viewfinder. Camera setting information, such as shutter speed, is displayed at the bottom of the viewfinder and photographers can take full advantage of the EVF’s ability to display the effects of various exposure adjustments, Art Filter effects and Creative Controls like Color Creator, Image Aspect control, Highlight/Shadow control, Live Histogram, Display of five different grid patterns and even a Level Gauge — all without having to remove your eye from the viewfinder.

In-Camera Creativity

New features, including Live Composite Mode and Photo & Movie Capture, expand the user’s creative potential. Live Composite Mode is a tool that offers previews of long exposures in the EVF, a perfect tool for anyone looking to easily capture light trails when shooting a star-filled sky. Photo & Movie Capture lets users shoot high-quality still images without interrupting the video recording. 12 Art Filters, three HDR capture modes and Photo Story support your photographic imagination.

Built-In Wi-Fi

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 includes built-in Wi-Fi, and the setup is simple. By quickly scanning the QR code displayed on the camera’s LCD with a smart device, it syncs with the Wi-Fi network created by the camera. The free Olympus Image Share smartphone app synchronizes a user’s smartphone and E-M10 so the camera’s Live View is effectively displayed on the phone. In this way, the camera can be controlled by touching the smartphone display as if it were the camera itself, and users can send selected images directly to websites and social media.

Two New Micro Four Thirds Lenses

Olympus has also introduced two new Micro Four Thirds lenses to its line-up. The super-slim M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm* f3.5-5.6 EZ pancake zoom lens measures just .9 inches thick, making it the world’s slimmest standard zoom lens.** It has a smooth electric zoom that is suitable for shooting movies, and can also be zoomed in and out remotely using compatible smartphones through the updated Olympus Image Share app. The super-bright, lightweight, high-performance M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm* f1.8 lens has a fixed focal length and is ideal for capturing portraits or close-ups from as little as 9.8 inches away. Both new lenses are sold separately.

New Micro Four Thirds Accessories

A host of new Micro Four Thirds accessories join the Olympus Micro Four Thirds line-up, including the fixed-aperture F8.0 Fish Eye Body Cap lens with a focal length of 9mm (35mm equivalent: 18mm). It’s an ultra-slim accessory for creative wide-angle shooting through its 5-element, 4-group lens construction. The multi-use lens barrier MF lever switches from pan focus shooting to close up 8-inch shooting with a single press of the lever. The ECG-1 matching ergonomic grip is a removable grip exclusively for use with the E-M10. Designed for absolute comfort, the grip is the perfect thickness for resting the ring finger and pinky when holding the camera. A single press of the lever on the bottom of the grip easily removes it, making replacing batteries and memory cards seamless. The MCON-PO2 macro converter is compatible with six Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses and adapts them for close-up shooting. Finally, the Automatic Opening Lens Cap LC-37C is available exclusively for use with the new M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ. When the camera is turned off, this accessory protects the lens from dust and scratches, and when the camera is powered on the lens cap instantly opens for snapshots and quick shooting.

*35mm Equivalent

**As of January 29, 2014. Shortest distance between the mount and the front end of the lens, when retracted. 

Jan 202014
 

Rendering Comparison: Olympus E-P5 vs Sony A7

by Michael Van den Bergh

First of all I’d like to thank Steve for his great website. I absolutely love his reviews, and his photos are an inspiration.

In this user report I will post comparison shots of the Olympus PEN E-P5 to the Sony A7 at the classical focal lengths: 35, 50 and 85mm.

The Sony A7

Inspired by Steve’s blog, I believe that a great camera is a camera that gets out of your way: convenient to carry, quick to access the right settings, and easy to get the shot you want.

My Nikon D7000 DSLR ticked none of those boxes. That’s how I tumbled into the world of micro four thirds. I currently use a PEN E-P5 as my main camera, and I cannot stress enough how great this camera is.

However, as a micro four thirds shooter there is always that itchy feeling that a full frame camera might produce superior images. With the new Sony cameras the itch got stronger, and on top of that I stumbled upon a crazy deal that I couldn’t refuse: $1,400 for the A7.

This pushed me into selling my Nikon gear and becoming the owner of an E-P5 and A7 side by side. I’m happy I made this jump. Rather than indefinitely debating which system is better for what, I’d rather just get it over with and own BOTH.

Right off the bat, the Sony A7 is fantastic. The controls feel right, everything is easy to access, and that EVF! I actually think the Sony EVF is better than the Olympus VF-4. They are very similar when you compare them side by side: about the same size and resolution, but the deeper blacks of the Sony make me forget that it’s an EVF. For me, that’s a milestone achievement right there: when you stop realizing that it is electronic and it all feels natural. Manual focus is easy through the viewfinder. There is no need for magnification or focus peaking.

The following comparisons are shown as a quick and dirty test, and are in no way scientific. My intention is to show what one might gain by moving from micro four thirds to full frame. This test compares 35, 50 and 85mm equivalent lenses, plus some outliers that might be used in similar situations (the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and the Olympus 75mm f/1.8).

35mm Lens Comparison

I find it really interesting to see how the A7 compares to the PEN with the 20mm f/1.7 and 17mm f/1.8 lenses. It is hard to compare focal lengths because of the different aspect ratios, but both of these lenses can be considered as 35-ish.

I don’t have the FE 35mm f/2.8, so I used my Nikon 17-55m f/2.8 for this test. When set to 35mm this actually works and covers the full frame. The Nikon is not a bad lens and should give us an idea of the type of images you can expect from a 35mm f/2.8 lens on full frame.

PEN E-P5 – Olympus 17mm f/1.8 – ISO 200

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Sony A7 – Nikon 17-55mm set to 35mm f/2.8 – ISO 200

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PEN E-P5 – Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 – ISO 200

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As expected, there are no huge differences between these images. The full frame image has a tiny bit more background blur. I’m sure the Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 resolves an incredible amount of detail, but these Olympus and Panasonic lenses are already plenty sharp.

The Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is often discarded as inferior. I’ve never had any issues with sharpness, and I love the way it renders…

PEN E-P5 – Olympus 17mm f/1.8 – ISO 200

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The Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 is my favorite lens on micro four thirds. It has been my go to lens for the past year or so. On the other hand I’m happy I never sold my Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G (which I never liked on my D7000), because this lens works beautifully on the A7.

PEN E-P5 – Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 – ISO 200

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Sony A7 – Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G – ISO 100

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In this comparison there is an obvious difference in background blur. If bokeh is your thing, full frame really wins here.

I can show some real-world samples as well. I really like the colors from the A7, like the following example. It is with this type of shot that full frame really shines: a comfortable 50mm field of view and great subject separation.

 Sony A7 – Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G – ISO 200

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The Panasonic Leica is no slouch either though, and the following photo really highlights its lovely rendering.

PEN E-P5 – Pansonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 – ISO 200

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85mm Lens Comparison

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G as my favorite lens on my DSLR. It performs really well on the A7 and I will probably keep it for a while. I am comparing it to the two typical portrait lenses one might use on micro four thirds: the equivalent 45mm f/1.8 and the longer 75mm f/1.8.

For this example the background is only 4 meters away. These are the typical portraits distances where it is more difficult to blow out the background because it is quite near.

PEN E-P5 – Olympus 45mm f/1.8 – ISO 200

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Sony A7 – Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G – ISO 200

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PEN E-P5 – Olympus 75mm f/1.8 – ISO 400

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The Nikon 85mm has quite a bit more background blur than the Olympus 45mm. However, if you look closely the 45mm renders a cleaner bokeh while the Nikon suffers from cat eyes in the corners. Though a different field of view, the 75mm Olympus renders roughly the same amount of background blur as the 85mm Nikon on full frame.

Here’s one last example shot with the A7 and the 85mm. This setup makes it really easy to make spontaneous people shots. This would be much harder on micro four thirds.

Sony A7 – Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G – ISO 1250

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So is full frame really better? I think it really depends. For extremely shallow depth-of-field a full frame camera is unbeatable. The photos are creamy and sometimes the gradients seem less harsh, more natural. I assume this is a result of better dynamic range.

Either way, the differences are subtle, and micro four thirds offers an incredible selection of small lenses. It is the system you want to carry with you on your travels. Both cameras (E-P5 and A7) make photography such a pleasure.

I hope this comparison was helpful to everyone out there on the fence between these two systems, or thinking about upgrading!

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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