Feb 092016
 

Pro’s moving to Mirrorless? Yes they are!

By Craig Roberts

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Are pro’s moving to mirrorless cameras as well as amateurs and enthusiasts? Yes, they are. Is the quality good enough? Yes, it is. Can you still sell the images easily? Yes, you can. Are the images accepted by photo libraries? Yes, they are.

I made the move to mirrorless cameras a couple of years ago and use them for travel and landscape photography. I had intended to invest in the Fuji system with the XE-1, but trying both this and the Olympus E-M5 MK1 at a trade show, in my hands there was no question which felt best and I bought an E-M5 the next day.

The E-M5 has since made way for the E-M1, whilst a faulty E-PL5 was replaced with an E-P5. It’s a great combination of cameras and I have a great set of primes and zooms in the OMD system to cover all eventualities. I don’t like talking gear that much. To me it’s all about the image. The camera is just a tool and whether you choose Olympus, Fuji, Sony or Canon or Nikon for that matter, makes no difference to the end result. It’s the picture that’s important in the end, not what was used to create it.

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That said, mirrorless cameras have some great advantages over their digital SLR cousins and whilst they aren’t perfect, each of the Fuji, Sony and Olympus models have their plus and minus points.
The OMD system works for me as a landscape photographer. It suits me, the cameras feel good in my hands and the system matches my way of shooting and produces fantastic results. If I had chosen the Fuji or Sony instead, I’m sure I would have written the same sentence about them for this feature.

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I started off buying the selection of primes for the cameras, because I felt the small and compact size of the lenses, especially the Olympus ones, suited the smaller and more compact camera bodies. I love working with prime lenses and I like the discipline they force upon you. They make you consider your viewpoints more. They force you to see the world through their focal length and encourage you to put more thought into whether you should stick with that focal length or swop to another, much more than there would be with a zoom lens. Of course, they are smaller, generally faster and sharper than zoom lenses and everyone should have at least one fixed prime lens in their arsenal to appreciate the limited vision that they offer, which is a bonus, rather than a hindrance.

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I do have some zooms and they are useful for certain situations and subjects. There are times when changing lenses all the time is not convenient and so this is where zooms come into their own. Having spent the last 20 years shooting landscapes, I now, like many others, pass on my knowledge though workshops etc. In this changing world of photography, it has often become the way for landscape photographers to earn money from their profession. There’s not many photographers shooting and selling landscape images without using teaching as a way to top up their income.

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I use many was of teaching. Through location-based workshops, online courses, text-based articles and more recently through video. This last medium is an exciting one and a way of teaching that the others can’t match. I have a YouTube channel and I also a subscription service run from my website called e6, which offers even more videos and content. I teach about landscape photography and to a certain extent, the advantages of shooting with mirrorless cameras. I will rave about the Olympus system, but appreciate the choices others have made too. They all have their place and as I said at the beginning, the camera is merely a tool for an artist to use (we photographers are artists aren’t we?!)

I love photography and I love shooting with mirrorless cameras, just as I did with my Canon SLR and my Mamiya medium format camera before that come to think of it. I need a camera that suits my needs as a professional photographer. The Olympus does that in bucket loads and I’m happy to use these new breed of cameras as a workhorse for my work.

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So, the images in this feature were all captured with Olympus cameras. They make fantastic landscape cameras, yet are equally perfect for street photography too. I’m capturing images that I probably never would have with my Canon SLR and they have made me a more creative photographer. They are part of my evolution as a photographer. Why? Because of their size, their design and their flexibility. Yes, they are just a tool, but if you have great tools to work with, your progress isn’t hindered.

My YouTube Channel:
www.youtube.com/channel/UCqRkV8eRVvxwVStV5May0rQ

My website:
www.craigrobertsphotography.co.uk

Jan 302016
 

Olympus PEN-F Pre-Order Links! SHIPS MARCH!

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THE PEN-F FROM OLYMPUS IS SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES!  MY REVIEW IS HERE.

Links below to pre-order at Amazon and B&H Photo, my two fave dealers for Olympus. 

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Using these links above will help me keep the site moving forward and help deliver reviews for years to come. You will not pay extra, but I will get pennies on the dollar which is what helps make this site continue to be 100% FREE and full of valuable info, THOUSANDS of articles, posts, reviews and more. ALL FREE. The actual real cost to keep this site going smooth month after month costs big money, and since I refuse to charge money for these reviews I rely on the readers to use my links to help out. It’s easy, and free to you. So if you are thinking of buying a PEN-F, using the links above will help me greatly!

The PEN-F will ship starting March 2016. Also, pre-orders are not charged until shipped, so pre-ordering will always ensure your place in line but can be canceled anytime. I always pre-order new gear immediately because I know if I change my mind, I can cancel it, no harm. If I decide to keep the order, I will be one of the first to get it! It’s a win all the way around.

SO THANK YOU IF YOU USE MY LINKS ON THIS SITE! YOU ARE APPRECIATED!

Jan 262016
 
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The NEW Olympus PEN-F Camera Review. Just. Wow.

NOTE: Be sure to click the images here to see them larger and how they were meant to be seen.  ALL images here are Out Of Camera JPEGS, 100% (No real RAW support yet) and I mainly tested the new dedicated Monochrome Mode in mode 2 which simulates something like TRI-X so this is the look that mode gives and the Chrome/Slide Color mode as these are new modes for Olympus. Enjoy my look at this new exceptional camera from Olympus but be prepared for a slew of Monochrome images! Next update I will show images from RAW which will be the more standard color and B&W profiles. 

My 1st look VIDEO on the new PEN-F

 

It’s been an amazing last few days. I am here in Austin TX and have had the opportunity to shoot with the brand spanking new Olympus PEN-F every day which is by far, the best Olympus digital PEN EVER. Hands down, no contest. No Hype, No B.S., No Lie. This review will be one of the very 1st full REVIEWS in the world of the PEN-F. Enjoy!

The PEN-F with the 12 f/2 – Using the new Monochrome Mode 2 (Tri-X Style Simulation but with all grain OFF)  – Click it to see it correctly!

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With its gorgeous retro style. swivel screen, 5 Axis IS, 50MP High Res Shot mode, Live Time, Focus Bracketing, new color modes, new Monochrome mode, 10FPS or 20FPS with its electronic shutter, silent mode, 1/8000th s standard shutter, 1/16,000 electronic shutter, large and clear EVF, shortest lag of any other camera in this class, touch screen, and loads of other cool features Olympus have hit it out of the PARK with the PEN-F.

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Yes my friends, this is quite the camera and while not up to Full Frame sensor cameras it can stand up to any APS-C sensor camera made today IMO (been saying this since the pro E-M1) and if given a choice between the new PEN-F and ANY APS-C Mirrorless or DSLR, the PEN-F wins in a huge way, for ME. Maybe not for you, but for me, 100%. I LOVE the PEN cameras and always have, so this one really struck a chord with me.

This may end up being the most loved Olympus Digital yet by the camera buying public as well as enthusiasts because it has cool factor, speed, great construction and feel, some of the best lenses made today available for it and superb image quality. I see it as a “Super Enthusiast” camera with great design and control, just what an Enthusiast wants and just what camera companies need to be doing..making special cameras that people will WANT to use and shoot over their smart phones.

Yes yes yes, this is one of those cameras that can do it and put a big grin on your face while doing it.

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THE BEST PEN EVER

Long time readers will know, I have had them all from the EP1, E-P2, E-P3 and the EP5 and some of the in between (EPL Series) models and this new PEN-F has more than ANYONE would ever want in a  mirrorless camera, and for me, (and others I have spoken to who are using it with me) it beats ANY DSLR made for usability, fun factor, features, size and style, again, my opinion. Oh, and the performance is the best yet from Olympus as well and while it does not have the weather sealing of the Pro level E-M1, in many ways, I’d rather have this than the aging E-M1. In fact, if given a choice I know the PEN would have my heart instantly.

With an all new 20MP sensor is inside, upping the Ante over the usual 16MP in Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras, we finally get a new higher MP Micro 4/3 sensor, and it does not disappoint. In fact, I am seeing some of the sharpest most detailed M 4/3 images yet, and I have only seen JPEG’s so far. I am sure the RAW files will be spectacular.

The new 20 megapixel sensor is indeed an improvement over the old 16MP sensor.

They are even releasing some gorgeous leather accessories for it as well as a half case and the grip. The Leather accessories look pretty sharp to me…

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MONOCHROME & MORE!

I will state right now, the PEN-F is BEAUTIFUL and the new MONOCHROME mode is great to have and quite stunning.

I am thrilled to see a camera company concentrating and working on Monochrome imaging…with a camera under $1200 instead of $7000 like the Leica Monochrom. Of course this is NOT a dedicated Mono sensor but take a look at the B&W images direct out of the PEN-F camera below. Nothing at all to complain about. The way the new sensor handles light is quite stunning. This is a $1200 camera, and believe me, well worth this cost when some cameras these days cost much more and in some cases, give less.

MUST click it for better version! This one with the 17.5 Voigtlander 0.95 at 0.95 – OOC JPEG MONO MODE 2

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When this new PEN-F was handed to me I was super excited as soon as I saw the design and held it in my hands. The Chrome model is GORGEOUS, SEXY and SLEEK but the black is much more stealthy and just as handsome. I am not 100% sure which I prefer. I love the looks of both though the Silver has more definition to the dials as they pop out more giving more of a retro vibe.

I still have an E-P5 on my shelf at home along with my OM-D camera but this one WILL be replacing my E-P5 and may become my main shooter for a while due to the fact that it can do whatever I need it to do except for very super low or no light shooting, which I reserve for my Sony full frame A7 series cameras. But take this and some nice fast primes like the 12mm f/2, 17 f/1.8,  Panasonic Nocticron or even the AMAZING DROOL WORTHY Olympus 300mm f/4 and you will have a camera capable almost anything you need.

Voigtlander 17 0.95 on the PEN-F – MONO MODE 2 (Tri-X Style)

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Now with the awesome Olympus 8mm f/1.8 Pro Lens

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But right here, right now, the big buzz among those shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin along with me? It’s all about the MONOCHROME MODE. Not sure if its a mental thing, a nostalgia thing or a combo of both but we all seem to love it and have had a hard time shooting in other modes. Olympus did a great job with this, and it is NOT a new Art Filter. It’s a new MODE. Very cool. 

As for the Monochrome mode, to me, it is FANTASTIC.  Take a look at these OOC JPEGS while in Mono mode #2. No PP here at all.

CLICK THEM for much better version! These are all MONOCHROME MODE 2 (Tri-X style, so the “look” you see is emulating this film. Deep black, high contrast. 

Next 11 images were shot with the Olympus 45 1.8. A true no brainer lens at $299. Bargain of the decade. 

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The Olympus 17 1.8

Tri X simulation Mode 2 with heavy grain (you can choose OFF, LOW, MED, HIGH)

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The $299 25 1.8

Mode 2 with medium grain

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WITH A FLICK OF THE SWITCH!

With the flick of your finger you can swap modes easily while your eye is up to the EVF. Go from standard to monochrome to chrome/slide and EACH mode has three presets with unlimited customization of each and every preset! It’s quite amazing and may take a day or two for you to learn how it all works but once you do, it is as easy as 1-2-3.

In Mono mode you can choose color filters just as you did with B&W film. For example, using the RED filter will darken and enhance the sky and lighten skin tones. You can also choose the grain and have it off, low, medium or high. The grain is also film like as Olympus made sure to make it as much like film grain as possible. This is NOT the old grainy B&W mode, it is all new.

The nice dial right on the from of the PEN-F allows you to easily select which mode you want, if any

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Myself and others here see the new PEN-F as competition to the new X-Pro 2 or even a Sony A6000..but with the new film modes that look VERY good, along with the gorgeous design and high quality parts and construction, this would most likely be my choice over any APS-C counterpart due to size, speed, lenses available, features, IQ and the gorgeous design and control and customization.

For me it is always MUCH more than just output as a camera needs to have MANY things going for it for me to LOVE it. The PEN-F is blazing fast, has one of the best selection of high quality lenses of ANY brand (I put them 2nd only to Leica for high quality and small size) and has the highest fun factor of ANY camera I have used beating Sony, Leica, Fuji. etc.

THIS PEN IS NOT A TOY ;) 

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But do not confuse FUN FACTOR with it being a Toy as the PEN-F is no toy. It could be used for anything from family snaps to pro work (I know many pros who use Micro 4/3 with gorges results) like weddings or events. When choosing a camera as an enthusiast or amateur or someone who just loves taking photos, never worry about wether a camera is labeled as “PRO” but look at a cameras capabilities, features and how versatile it is. I said it many times in the past but Olympus makes some of the most versatile cameras EVER. I see so many online who stick by their brands and like to call other brands “toys”  – which I feel is ridiculous. NO camera that is made for enthusiasts use is a toy. That is just ridiculous. ALL cameras at this level are very good to great, and it is hard to make a choice on IQ alone, which is why you must look at everything the camera offers you, how easy it is to operate and what it can do FOR YOU and your photography.

The PEN-F motivates and really makes you want to shoot it.

The new PEN-F even has a cool mode where you can be framing your image with the EVF while using your thumb on the back LCD to move your focus point. AMAZING! These are the things that set Olympus apart from other cameras made today. They are truly the leaders of Innovation with digital imaging and I have said this for years. There is a silent mode as well with a 100% silent shutter. I mean SILENT. This one may have all YOU need.

OOC JPEGS with no PP at all. These were shot in the COLOR WHEEL mode 3, which is simulating the super saturated slide and chrome films of the past. If you want a bold color pop that still looks good (it really does look much like some old slide film) use mode 3 when you have your wheel on COLOR. You choose mode 3 in the super control panel which makes camera settings a BREEZE. 

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AN EVF ON THE PEN, FINALLY! 

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The PEN-F is the first Olympus PEN digital to include an EVF. Something I have wished for since the E-P1. The PEN-F uses the same EVF as the one in the latest E-M10 Mark II. It’s VERY good and I would say in the top 3-4 EVF’s made today with the Leica SL being the best I have ever seen or used. Even so, this one is fantastic and it is so cool to have. My fave way of shooting the PEN-F was to close the LCD (which also has the nice leatherette covering) and just shoot with the EVF, while NOT reviewing the images. Was like shooting film ;) So THANK YOU Olympus for making this one with an EVF!

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SHUTTER  – MECHANICAL OR ELECTRONIC

The new PEN-F has the traditional shutter which can go up to 1/8000S or you can activate the Electronic Shutter and enjoy up to 1/16,000S. When using the E-Shutter the camera is 100% SILENT. Super stealth here. This means that if you want to shoot an f/0.95 lens in the sunlight wide open, it will not be a problem.

This camera has just about every tech feature you can imagine.

PEN-F VS LEICA MONOCHROM? WHAT?!?!?!

When I look back at my Leica MM shots I do not see a major WOW difference between those and what I can get with the PEN-F and a nice fast prime when it comes to B&W tonality. I do see more pop with Leica due to the full frame sensor and $3500 Zeiss lens I used but as for tonality, I slightly prefer the Olympus. Crazy. But I like that Tri-X style and I like to get there easy. ;)

THIS tells me that the new PEN-F is special, and quite the accomplishment from Olympus. I SO can not wait to slap on the Nocticron to this. My guess is that it will be a match made in heaven for Monochrome portrait work.

Being Micro 4/3, it still has that super high ISO/Low Light weakness next to full frame but as long as you do not need ISO 50,000 then the PEN-F just may be all you need. If you need the best high ISO low light performance I would look to a Sony A7S or A7SII.

In black with the new Olympus Grip which is much like an RSS style grip. ITS A MUST if you want more grip ;) 

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Yes, the PEN-F is retro and it is beautiful. It is modeled after the original PEN-F film camera which was a half frame camera to cut down on size but quite cute and attractive in its own right.

The Original Half Frame Film PEN

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The new digital PEN-F uses a new 20MP sensor and it is much more than a pretty face, I can assure you of this. As with all Olympus mirrorless cameras these days, the cameras are mature and the lenses are some of the best out there for ANY system. Sure the sensors are smaller, but these cameras are all about FUN, SMALL SIZE, and FANTASTIC QUALITY in build, feel, control and IQ.

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

Remember, click images for better versions!

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Below are the key things I think make the PEN-F one hell of a camera, and things I have really enjoyed about it in my 2-3 days of non stop shooting…

  • MONOCHROME MODE! On the front of the PEN-F is a chunky metal dial that will switch to different color modes. The new MONOCHROME selection is beautiful and provides quite nice out of camera B&W images. Mode 2 recreates slide film and ALL OF IT is 100% customizable to your tastes. Just a switch of the dial with your finger as you look through the new built in EVF is all it takes to go to go to MONOCHROME, SLIDE/CHROME COLOR, ART FILTERS or STANDARD. 
  • The Exposure Compensation Dial! This is new for Olympus and it is much welcomed. Now you can adjust EV comp on the fly. 
  • Tilt OUT LCD – Just like the E-M5 II, this is great for all kinds of things. Video, Selfies, Vlogging, etc. 
  • Speed – As with all of the current Olympus models, this one is blazing fast to AF with most lenses. 

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  • The new BUILT IN EVF! For the 1st time EVER in a Digital PEN we have a nice big EVF. It is the same EVF as the one in the E-M10II, and it is quite nice. I have been asking for an EVF in a PEN for YEARS, now we have it!
  • DESIGN is gorgeous. Not one visible screw. Classic/Retro design that looks like a classic PEN-F. Olympus did this one justice.
  • IT’S FUN AND JUST WORKS! Olympus PEN cameras have always had something special about them to me. They are fun are fast, and just work. They are small, light and powerful with gorgeous color and overall performance. The new PEN-F is no exception and is probably the funnest PEN yet. 
  • CUSTOMIZATION. The new Monochrome or Chrome settings have three presets each but can be 100% customized to your liking. It’s quite intense at first but once you get the hang of it, then it is quite nice. 
  • Best 5 Axis IS inside and Olympus has THE BEST Image Stabilization on the market 

NEXT THREE IMAGES – THE NEW CHROME/SLIDE COLOR MODE (COLOR MODE 3, Super Saturated Slide) – Olympus 17 1.8

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When in mode 3 using the new Color modes, you are getting CHROME/SLIDE with super enhanced color, just like some old slide film that has HUGE color pop. You can turn that back a tad by going to mode 2 while the front control knob is on COLOR…

Color MODE 2

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I have been shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin with 15 or so other journalists and we all seem to be enjoying it IMMENSELY. After speaking with most of these guys the one thing they all agree on is that the Monochrome mode rocks and the camera is amazingly fun and easy to use, and the results and IQ can be BEAUTIFUL with the right lenses. I can not wait to get my full review unit and put it through paces with lenses like the Nocticron and other fast primes.

Slide Film Mode 3

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The PEN-F construction is special as well. Not ONE screw is visible anywhere on the camera. It is made VERY well with a magnesium alloy base and solid feeling knobs and dials. Nothing on the camera feels cheap and while not built like a Leica M, the build of the PEN series has always been very nice. The PEN-F is even better. lovely.

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JPEG DETAIL 

Again, every image you see here is an out of camera JPEG as there is no RAW support for this camera yet. When RAW support is available I will do an updated post with RAW files and tests. For now, take a look at some detail coming just from the JPEGS!

YOU MUST CLICK IMAGES TO SEE TRUE 100% CROP AND CORRECT SHARPNESS!

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ISO TESTS

With the new 20MP sensor, how does the camera do with high ISO while in low light? Let us see…

1st the whole image..

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Now the 100% crops (no need to click these as they are already 100%)

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Monochrome Modes Explained

The PEN-F has three Monochromatic modes. Mode 1, 2, and 3.

Mode 1 is more of a neutral B&W (click them for much better version)

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MODE 2 has several options with grain and offers a more contrasty Tri-X style of rendering. Below is a samples of Mode 2 with grain off, low, medium and high.

*Must click them for best view*

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Below is Mode 3 which is sort of like an Infrared simulation which is why the images below look like IR with grain and the blowout look. Many love this look, many hate it . ALL OOC JPEGS as with every image in this review. 

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So while the Pen-F offers normal color modes (That I did NOT use here but will add some over the next two days)  it also gives us the Chrome Film simulations and the Monochrome simulations, and I feel these are the best film simulations on any digital camera to date. Easy squeezie to get these results with OOC JPEGS.

Pros and Cons of the Olympus PEN-F

PROS

  1. It’s small, light, but VERY well made
  2. It is GORGEOUS in design and controls
  3. Super customizable
  4. MONOCHROME MODE
  5. SLIDE FILM MODE
  6. Swivel out to the left LCD get for video or Vlogging
  7. New 20MP sensor is fantastic
  8. Some of the best lenses out there are available for this system
  9. Under $1200
  10. NOW A PEN WITH AN EVF!
  11. Control dial on front adds a cool look and is very functional
  12. 5 Axis IS best so far
  13. Touch LCD screen can even change focus point with thumb while viewing through the EVF
  14. Wonderful Image Quality
  15. Decent low light high ISO capabilities though better can be had with some APS-C and Full Frame
  16. Super fast AF, very accurate AF, Fastest I have seen in M 4/3 so far
  17. This is a street shooters DREAM camera, well if not yours, it should be
  18. Exposure Compensation Dial!!! A 1st for Olympus
  19. SO many cool modes – Live Time, Focus Bracketing, Color Controls, Art Filters are still here, so so many things that are so functional that no other cameras have.
  20. Nice quality Leatherette covering, even on the back of the LCD if you want to close it and shoot without it.
  21. SILENT shutter option, and I mean SILENT!
  22. 1/8000 mechanical shutter or 1/16,000 electronic shutter. No problem for fast glass in the daylight.

CONS

  1.  No weather sealing but then again, at this price point and for what it offers I would not expect it to be there.
  2. I would probably prefer large buttons on the back as they are small, and seem hard to push. For example. the focus assist magnify button is very small and she I tried using a manual lens and using magnify I constantly had to take my eye from the EVF to find the button. I am sure after a couple weeks of use it would be second nature though it could have been bigger.
  3. Some of the MONO modes some may consider harsh but it is supposed to be emulating a Tri X style of film. So this is how it is supposed to look. If you wang normal smooth Monochrome, use Mode 1 which will offer less contrast and lighter blacks.
  4. NO MONO MODE IN RAW, only JPEG. But as I said, it is NOT a Monochrome camera, it simulates one very well.

THAT’S IT! It is one of the most “likable” cameras I have ever reviewed.

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My Final Conclusion

This camera is one of those that I love because it has everything I like and really nothing I do not. It’s an inspiration and if you are not a crazed pixel peeping maniac who only views 40-100 MP files at 100% you may not like Micro 4/3. But at the end of the day, Micro 4/3 offers shooters a real alternative to the bulk and size of many Full Frame offerings, even the smaller ones like the Sony A7 series but it does not offer full frame performance in ISO or IQ or DR. It does however keep up with APS-C, and I have proven this in the past with the E-M1. This has a better sensor. What you see here is all OOC JPEGS. My next update will be with RAW (when support is available) but my old E-M1 always did amazing with RAW and this one should be a tad better.

The PEN-F has been a long time coming and I am so thrilled that Olympus created this. There are many PEN fans out there and I feel they will FLIP over this one. I am replacing my old E-P5 with it so yep, I am ordering it even though I have an E-M5 around. I much prefer this to the E-M5 II and what sealed the deal for me was the COLOR DIAL allowing me to go from slide film like color to gorgeous Monochrome or even neutral if I so desired. The new EVF is nice (same one that is in the E-M10 II) and I just really LOVE LOVE LOVE the design here. Olympus outdid themselves and the PEN-F is 100% bonafide winner.

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With that said, for many hardcore enthusiasts and pros it will not replace a full frame camera (it’s not mean to) but for 90% of the camera loving public, it offers much more than most at this price point of around $1200 and if you want a HUGE step up from a smartphone or aging camera (even APS-C), THIS would be the camera I recommend to any and all from now on. Truth be told, if this camera was released in December, it would have been my Camera of the Year 2015 due to everything I just said about it, and the price which is excellent for what you get here. Its small, thin, and so easy to use and shoot. It JUST WORKS!

With its Electronic Shutter which is SILENT and allows up to 1/16,000S shooting or even the normal shutter at 1/8000s you are covered shooting fast glass in sunlight. With its fast AF, 10-20 FPS depending on the shutter mode and even the fantastic video capabilities (that I have not yet tested) along with the best 5 Axis IS in the business, this is a serious camera with a serious fun factor. The best part is that it delivers on all fronts from build to speed to usability to IQ.

The PEN-F will start shipping in March 2016 and will come in at $1199.00. 

Leave a comment below and let me know what YOU think of the new PEN-F!

WHERE TO BUY THE PEN-F & ACCESSORIES?

You can pre-order the PEN-F at B&H Photo & Amazon Below:

Order the PEN-F in Black at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F in Silver at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F In Silver at Amazon HERE

Order the PEN-F in Black at Amazon HERE

Accessories…

You can order the premium Leather bag at B&H Photo HERE

The grip is available HERE at B&H Photo

The half case is available HERE

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More Samples from the PEN-F!

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Below, with the new 300mm f/4 – THIS IS A DROP DEAD GORGEOUS LENS giving a 600mm FOV and easily hand holdable. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

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

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FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS

OLYMPUS’ ICONIC MASTERPIECE: THE NEW PEN-F® COMBINES TIMELESS DESIGN WITH SOPHISTICATED COLOR PROFILE CONTROL FOR THE ULTIMATE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY TOOL

20 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor, 5-Axis VCM Image Stabilization, Fully-Customizable Monochrome and Color Profile Control, and Interactive OLED Electronic Viewfinder in a Classic Rangefinder Design

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 27, 2016 — Olympus is pleased to announce the PEN-F, a compact system camera created by fusing cutting-edge digital technology with craftsmanship handed down from 80 years of Olympus camera manufacturing. As the digital update of the original PEN-F, the world’s first half-frame SLR, the new PEN-F is packed with incredible performance advancements for photographers seeking superior image quality and creative control. The 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is combined with Olympus’ 5-Axis Image Stabilization, a built-in 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and a new Creative Dial on the front of the camera that accesses a host of controls to deliver a captivating shooting experience, all included in a design that exudes timeless beauty.

Elegant, Meticulous Design
The PEN-F’s classic body lines and silhouette are inherited from its predecessor, which debuted in 1963. The top and front covers of the body are crafted from magnesium, and the precision metal dials (along with the bottom of the body) are crafted from aluminum. Olympus engineers devoted extraordinary resources to ensure superior quality and craftsmanship, so much so that even screws are undetectable on the camera’s exterior. Simple, stylish touches — like the included camera strap and the leather-grained exterior of the camera body and the back of the articulating LCD monitor — provide a unified look and feel. Customizable buttons and dials are positioned for easy operation while the user looks through the viewfinder, and the new Exposure Compensation dial and four custom modes on the Mode Dial offer instant access to registered settings for simple, direct control.

Ultimate Image Quality in Every Situation
The newly-developed 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is paired with the latest TruePic™ VII Image Processor to bring out the amazing image quality of Olympus’ M.ZUIKO® lenses. The sensor’s low-pass filterless construction delivers high resolution and a low sensitivity ISO LOW mode equivalent to ISO 80. In addition, the powerful 5-axis VCM (Voice Coil Motor) image stabilization compensates up to 5.0 steps* of shutter speed for one of the world’s highest levels of compensation performance. This technology allows users to capture clear images of night scenes and other low light situations with minimal noise, without raising the ISO. Focal length may be set manually, so that even legacy manual-focus lenses can be image-stabilized. The PEN-F’s High Res Shot Mode captures 50 megapixel equivalent images that reproduce incredible subject detail in ultra-high resolution, perfect for architecture and still life work. Plus, Olympus Viewer 3 Ver. 2.0 image editing software has been updated to process High Res Shot RAW images.

Complete Freedom of Expression
The PEN-F’s new Monochrome and Color Profile Control functions allow photographers the ability to emulate their favorite films of years past. These functions differ from using photo editing software after shooting, as they allow users to apply and check effects in Live View while shooting to create their own original images. Both functions include quick-select presets designed to give images the look of classic film. Or, settings can be completely customized to achieve specific looks. The camera’s front-mounted Creative Dial accesses Monochrome Profile Control, Color Profile Control, Art Filters, and Color Creator, all with a simple twist.

Monochrome Profile Control combines five photographic effects — Color Filter effect, Shading effect, Film Grain effect, Monochrome Color, and Highlight and Shadow Control — for a variety of monochromatic expressions. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Classic Film Monochrome (Preset 2) for a monochrome film effect with high contrast, and Classic Film Infrared (Preset 3) for an effect that mimics infrared film. In Color Profile Control, users are able to adjust the color saturation of 12 individual colors in 11 steps. This is combined with Highlight and Shadow Control for limitless color expression. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Chrome Film Rich Color (Preset 2), which provides deeper tones in images, and Chrome Film Vivid Saturation (Preset 3), which creates high levels of color saturation. The PEN-F’s rear lever lets users easily toggle through the various effect controls, including Highlight and Shadow Control, a feature that also allows for the adjustment of midtones within plus or minus seven steps for advanced customization.

High-Visibility Interactive Viewfinder
The PEN-F is equipped with a built-in 2.36 million-dot high resolution OLED Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a 100-percent field of view and a magnification rate of 1.23x (35mm equivalent: approx. 0.62x) for a clear view without aberrations, even at the edges. Simulated OVF (S-OVF) Mode expands the dynamic range and provides an image similar to what would be seen with the naked eye. The magnified display function and Focus Peaking (which offers three levels and four colors) allow for extremely precise lens focusing. In addition, the PEN-F’s vari-angle, touch-enabled LCD monitor lets users compose Live View shots from a variety of angles, high or low.

Super-Fast Response for Comfortable Shooting
The PEN-F features blazing-fast speed with the shortest shutter-release time lag of any compact system camera** at 0.044 seconds. The 1/8000-second, high-speed mechanical shutter provides superior performance for capturing fast action, and shutter functions can be customized according to the scene. Silent Mode is useful for shooting in situations that require complete silence, and Anti-Shock Mode allows users to prevent shutter shake. The AF Targeting Pad enhances control by allowing users to set focus points by touching the rear monitor with their thumb while composing their shot in the viewfinder. Face Priority AF and Eye Priority AF detect and continuously adjust the focus on faces or eyes for easier portrait shooting. Enhancing the detail of every shot is AF Target Spot Metering, which links the AF Target and the metering area, while Super Spot AF and Small Target AF make it possible to focus on small subjects.

The PEN-F offers additional compatibility with users’ legacy lenses by enabling them to register the information of lenses without electronic contacts for inclusion in images’ EXIF data. The lens information may be recalled with the press of a button. Up to 10 lenses can be registered, including the lens name, focal length and aperture value.

Even More Creative Control
Other creative features include Live Composite Mode, which allows users to extract and composite the brightest areas from multiple, sequentially shot images to capture incredible cityscapes and star trails. With the PEN-F’s built-in Wi-Fi®, users can utilize the Olympus Image Share app for Android® and Apple® to adjust settings and monitor the progress of the image as it develops in real time on a smartphone or tablet. In 4K Time Lapse Movie, the camera captures up to 999 images automatically at intervals ranging from one image every second to one image every 24 hours, and combines them into a stunning high-resolution 4K video, all in-camera, without the need for additional software.

For those who enjoy macro photography, Focus Bracketing captures multiple shots at the touch of a button, all with slightly different focus depths. The new Live View Boost 2 makes it possible to easily focus and compose shots while checking visible stars in Live View. The PEN-F’s high-speed sequential shooting capabilities let users capture all the action at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, 5 fps with C-AF, and an extraordinary 20 fps with Silent Mode.
Premium Leather Accessories
Optional accessories include the External Metal Grip (ECG-4) that lets users replace the battery without removing the grip, featuring a Quick Shoe Compatible Rail on the bottom for direct connection to a compatible tripod head. Premium-quality leather accessories are also available in limited quantities. The Premium Leather Shoulder Strap (CSS-S120L PR) features high-quality leather with a two-tone design and a thickness that helps reduce shoulder strain. A Premium Leather Wrapping Cloth (CS-48 PR) made of finely textured genuine leather is perfect for wrapping the entire camera with a large lens attached. The Premium Leather Camera Bag (CBG-11 PR) is a compact, genuine leather camera bag produced under the direction of AJIOKA Co., Ltd., a Japanese leather manufacturer, with thorough attention to details including pockets, a shoulder pad, and shoulder strap. The Genuine Leather Body Jacket (CS-47B) is designed to protect the bottom of the Olympus PEN-F from bumps and scratches.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The PEN-F is available now for an estimated street price of $1,199.99 (U.S.) and $1,499.99 (Canada).

Dec 152015
 

AC/DC: Back in Black (and White) with an E-M5

by Vince de la Pena

On Sunday 6 December 2015, I went to see AC/DC performing on their Rock Or Bust Tour 2015 at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne with a few photographer/musician friends of mine. I brought my trusty silver Olympus E-M5 with my favourite night concert lens, the mighty sharp Olympus M Zuiko 75mm f1.8.

We had general admission tickets on the floor in front of the stage so we had to get in there early to hold a good standing position for 3 hours before the main act came out. Smart phones were the weapon of choice for the masses and they fared pretty well during the 2 opening acts while there was still enough Australian summer sun to keep the shutter speeds up, but as AC/DC’s sound check was in progress, the sun had just gone down and only the serious cameras had any chance at capturing any decent shots in the darkness.

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We were standing about 20 feet from the stage and about 20 feet left of center. My friend Mikel had a Fuji XE1 with an 18mm lens with him, so I thought I’d stick with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 and get the long shots he could not. I think we worked very well together. Maybe he can submit his images here in Daily Inspirations too.

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The E-M5’s 9 frames-per-second burst rate came in extremely handy when trying to capture cannon fire (below) during the rock anthem For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). The tilt screen was also helpful for the overhead shots. I did not have any luck with the touch screen’s focusing or the touchscreen’s focus-and-shoot as there seemed to be quite a bit of lag. Also, I normally have the EVF on only, but as I was shooting a lot from the back LCD screen, I set the EVF/rear-screen to auto switching.

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Exposure was becoming an issue. My metering was way off and had to change from center-weighted to spot metering. When the shot is way over-exposed, there is no chance of detail recovery from the overexposed images. This is where you will notice the E-M5’s dynamic range is relatively weak compared to today’s full-frame cameras. My ISO was at 2000, but I could have shot the whole night at 400 or 800.

I was actually surprised at how fast my shutter-speeds had to be to keep Angus Young (the lead guitarist in the schoolboy outfit) free from blur considering the amount of running around he does. It was great to see a 60-year-old guitarist still rockin’ out. Young by name and still young at heart.

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Unfortunately, this may be AC/DC’s last tour. Angus’s brother and rhythm guitarist Malcolm is suffering dementia and has his nephew Stevie Young filling in for rhythm guitar duties. Steve even played Malcolm’s famous Gretsch Jet guitars with the neck and middle position pickups removed. Unfortunately, Steve stayed in the background and rarely came forward. I was hoping to see if Malcolm’s dirty sock is still stuffed into the guitar body’s cavity to prevent unwanted feedback.
We all miss Malcolm and wish him all the best in his retirement.

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I dedicate these photos to my brother, Victor de la Pena, who got me into AC/DC (with the Back In Black album) when I was about my own son’s age. He also got me into guitars and drums and (after a failed attempt at being a rockstar) photography. Victor is also a fine photographer in his own right and is a big influence on my own style.

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If you wish to see these pics (and others) in finer detail, they can be seen on my Flickr page:

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

Dec 022015
 

Steve’s Picks: Unique Products of the Year from Cameras to Gadgets to Audio

It’s no secret that I love tech, gadgets and gear. I love photography and great camera gear. I love Hi Fi audio and all things Paranormal. Basically, I live my life as happy as I can be, and always try to do the things I love and try things that bring pleasure to my life. I test and try so many gadgets every year I am toying with the idea of branching off to a 2nd review website for Gadgets, tech and Hi Fi. Maybe one day. Until then, below is a list of cool items I tried this year, some with reviews you may have ever realized I wrote ;)

CAMERA:

Leica SL – My camera of the year for 2015! (full review here)

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The Leica SL is a masterpiece in the world of Mirrorless Cameras. Why? Well, read my review if you missed it (here) and bask in the beauty of the SL. Leica got it so right here and for so many reasons. First, it’s built to a level like I have never seen in any camera. Weather sealed, solid metal construction without being overly heavy and a solid and pro feeling to all the buttons and controls. The shutter is so smooth, the response nice and fast, the EVF is class leading…best in the world at this time. The ISO capability is beyond anything Leica has ever done and the IQ, color and DR is all at the top of the heap. The only real competitor to the SL in the Mirrorless world is the Sony A7RII (review here) and while close, it just can not compete with the SL in build, feel, speed, control, AWB/color, EVF and inspiration/joy of use. With that said, The Sony A7RII is my #2 camera of the year for me and would have taken it if not for the SL being delivered mid November. 

The Sony A7RII – Camera of the year Runner Up – Buy it HERE

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In 2nd place for the cam of the year, for me, is the Sony A7RII. For the money, $3200, you get very close to the Leica SL in performance and with its full frame 42 MP sensor, you get class leading resolution (but use good lenses to get the most from it). With its nice EVF, tilt LCD and growing collection of lenses there really is nothing quite like the A7RII in the Mirrorless world for the price and what it offers. See my full review HERE.

Honorable Mention – Leica Q and Sony RX1RII and Olympus E-M5II

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HiFi Audio

Focal Sopra #2  – My Speaker of the Year 2015 – Review is HERE

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For anyone into HI end HiFi Audio, the Focal Sopra #2 is a groundbreaking speaker. if you thought Leica cameras were pricey then do not get into high end Home Audio! The Sopra speakers while not cheap are very cheap when you consider what they offer, which is sound that normally is reserved for $35-50,000 loudspeakers. Coming in at $13,000, these are the most amazing speakers I have heard up to $50,000. For 15-20 years I have been into high end audio, and today in 2015, due to these speakers my system is 100% amazing and complete leaving me wanting for nothing more. The Sopras are backordered by 6-9 months right now, for good reason. Best bang for the buck in high end audio today.

McIntosh MA8000 – Integrated Amp of the Year – Review is HERE

With its amazing 110lbs of serious American Muscle the McIntosh MA8000 is built right here in the good old USA and it is built to last a lifetime. Much like Leica, the McIntosh brand has a reputation for being one of the “best” by many and for some the brand is not authentic HIFI as in the past McIntosh offered a sound that was warm, thick and direct. Today the sound coming from the MA8000 is absolutely amazing. 3D, holographic and plenty of weight while never being warm, mushy or old school. I have had amps in my room from Audio Research, Devialet, Line Magnetic, Cary, Leben and so many high end brands and products. For me, the MA8000 is the best integrated I have ever heard or owned. In 2nd comes the Devialet I used to own.

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The McIntosh is a serious piece of Audio gear offering a great built-in DAC, a fantastic phono stage for MC or MM carts and of course those huge blue meters. You can see the full review HERE for details on this 300WPC powerhouse, but this is an all new McIntosh sound that is absolutely gorgeous. Also a perfect match for the Sopra #2 above.

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GADGETS and GIZMOS

DJI Phantom 3 drone. Amazon has them HERE

This is an amazing piece of tech my friends. Sure, I know about the DJI Phantom 1 and 2 as well as the Inspire. I know about every drone made available under $4000 and have tried many. The Phantom 3 Professional is the best bang for the buck in the drone world, period. With its familiar form factor and design, the 3 is so simple to use and fly it almost flies itself. Not sure how anyone could crash a Phantom 3 Pro as it truly is phenomenal, and with its included 4K camera the video you can capture is out of this world. Smooth, cinematic and crazy good quality.

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With a range of 1.2 miles, the Phantom 3 pro can be flown far away all while you view the real-time video feed coming back to you so you can pilot by line of sight or on your display. The Phantom is rock solid stable in the air due to GPS and if you let go of controls it will just hover wherever it is. You can do a one button press to return to home and land and even if you get out of range or your controller runs out of battery the copter will return home  to where it took off from and land.

For me it is about the footage one can capture with the Phantom 3 pro and I already started to implement it into video’s I do/shoot/create and my 1st tests have been wonderful. Well worth the $1200. I had mine out on maybe 12 flights so far and never an issue. One time it did get out of range and lost up in the clouds. I thought it was gone so I turned off my transmitter and within minutes it was back and landing at my feet. Incredible technology from DJI.

You can order a Phantom 3 at B&H Photo or Amazon and they are a BLAST. Below is one of my Paranormal videos I did while testing the DJI and you can spot the drone footage in the beginning.

Yes, I also run and own Huff Paranormal and have also had software developed for what I do. In fact, I have 2X the following in the para world than I do here! You can check me out on YouTube HERE or at my Para Facebook with over 135k followers HERE. I have been featured and interviewed on the nationwide COAST TO COAST AM and several radio shows across the country. I have been featured on TV and been offered TV shows from many cable networks, all of which I refused for ethical reasons (they require staging and faking which I will never do). My software is used by thousands of individuals, teams, and paranormal researchers around the world who are always looking for answers. I just completed a documentary in Key West FL with another team that will be released in 2016. You can see my software that I designed and had developed for me HERE and HERE. Of course, only those with a paranormal fascination will get it :)

This DJI Phantom will be used in future productions and I am happy to have it. For someone looking for a much cheaper drone for around the house, I recommend THIS ONE at $32. Yea, it’s a toy but it works decent and records ok video.

Video Stabilizer

DJI Osmo camera and stabilized Gimbal – See it at Amazon HERE

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The DJI Osmo is a handheld 4K camera and gimbal that allows you to get smooth and fluid video much like you see in films and Television. It’s quite incredible on the video front but the OSMO has a huge weakness in the audio because the built-in mic is the worst I have ever heard, ever. It was not until I purchased this RODE Video Micro mic that I fell in love with the OSMO.  The video is incredible though… and as I do more and more work with it I will be reviewing it here at stevehuffphoto.com. NOt cheap at $650 but it offers a stunning 4k camera, a beautiful gimbal that keeps your video rock steady and gorgeous and a comfy handle as well as an app that allows you to use your iPhone or smart phone as a real-time monitor of what you are shooting. You WILL need a mic, and after trying 6 mics, the best I found was the above mentioned RODE MICRO.

You can find the OSMO at B&H Photo or Amazon. I will be shooting my family Christmas with the OSMO and my footage will look so so cool and so so good. While flawed in the audio area, once a mic is added the OSMO is quite fantastic.

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New Acoustic Guitar Amp Tech

The Fender Acoustic SFX Acoustic Guitar Amp – More about it HERE

Wow, this guy is not only beautiful and well made, it is getting attention from many as the best Acoustic guitar amp ever created. With its 3D sound, 4 speakers that surround the amp, left, right, center and back you get a crystal clear sound that is sweet and rich with stereo effects like delays, chorus and vibrato. This looks furniture grade quality and sounds so good, better than any Acoustic amp I have ever heard, I had to buy one for my acoustic/electric. If you play acoustic/electric and am looking for an amp, look no further. This is the best I have ever heard or used. I now own one. You can order or see more about the Fender Acoustic SFX HERE.

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Headphones

HiFiMan HE-1000 – See them at Amazon HERE

In 2015 what I feel to be the best Headphone ever created was released. The HiFiMan HE-1000 was released and not only was the design crazy cool, the sound, with the right amp was UNREAL! If you are into HeadFi and want the best try the HE1000 and an ALO Audio Studio 6 Amp. Delicious. At $3000 they better be amazing, and they are. Amazon sells them via prime ;) My review is HERE but one needs “Golden Ears” to appreciate these and an amp is mandatory.

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Bose QC25 NC Headphones – See them at Amazon

Also, for travelers and those needed noise cancelling headphones I found the latest version of the Bose Noise Canceling tech to be the best yet. The newer QC25 are my #1 choice for air, subway, train or any travel where you need to cut the noise as they block out the noise better than any NC headphone I have used, and now we can use them without battery or using the noise reduction. Comfy, long battery life and looks that work when traveling :) If bose can do one thing very well, it is noise canceling headphones.

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There are so many more gizmos I have tried out in 2016 but the above are my faves and the ones that stick out in my mind. These days I get so many things sent to me to review and test, and it’s always loads of fun.

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
 
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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!

Nov 112015
 
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The Olympus E-M10. People of Mumbai

By Raviraj Kande

Hello Steve and all worldwide audience of stevehuffphoto.com!

I am Raviraj Kande an actor and stand up comedian by profession born and brought up in Mumbai -India.

After reading most of the real world reviews I went for the Olympus OMD em-10 . I was going back and forth between Sony a6000 and OMD em10. The lens variety available finally made me go for Olympus OMD em10 and it was more stylish looking in the two.

I wanted something smaller yet powerful . Since I travel too for my live shows thought the little OMD will be great enough to document interesting stuff while travelling .

Also read all your reviews of OMD series which were extremely helpful since they were real world based with amazing pics which truly show the potential of micro four thirds system and the Olympus OMD offerings.

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The current lenses I have are sigma 60mm and the 14-42ez kit lens. The 25mm from Olympus is on its way . I had my friend from Australia Rahul Dutta a passionate photographer himself , send me the lenses and camera brand new, since its not readily available in India, and very expensive too.

It might sound weird but for me the camera body must look stylish , because if I love the way it looks I will use it more often . The Olympus em10 is very sexy looking camera with right blend of modern features and retro design .

It has been an absolute joy using the OMD em10 in variety of situations like concert , clicking pics of delicious food in restaurants , street portraits, landscapes ,fashion . It does everything with ease and style.

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I’m here attaching pics taken with the 60mm from sigma, a insanely sharp lens . This pics have been clicked while walking around on the streets of Mumbai . 2 pics are of my wife which were clicked again on street while walking around. The rest are street portraits of common people who work on daily wages basis in Mumbai. Some pics of food and flower too .

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All pics are shot as jpegs and edited on my phone in snapseed and at times vsco cam. But mostly in snapseed. Also all pics are shot in natural available light.

Thanks very much for your passionate in-depth non over technical real life usage reviews which help any body interested in photography make decision on factually basis. Also a big thanks to the community here who share their experiences with variety of cameras and lenses .

Sincerely- Raviraj .

My Facebook id is – Raviraj Kande

And my Flickr page is
https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/130913962@N04/

 

Nov 082015
 

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Checked out PopFlash.com Lately? Deals everywhere…

I visit PopFlash.com every single day. Why? Well, sometimes I see some GREAT deals there and you never know when you will see something you have been waiting for a good price on. PopFlash.com has been around for A LONG time and Tony, the owner, is another long time Leica dealer that everyone and anyone in the Leica world knows well. If you want Leica, Fuji, Olympus or almost anything..be sure to check them out as their prices are very fair and they often have specials with great discounts.

My 1st order with PopFlash was many many years ago when the Leica Digilux 2 was new & hot. Remember that one? I believe I bought one, then bought a 2nd one a while later as I enjoyed it so much.

PopFlash currently has some cool deals, so go check them out! With the Holidays coming up you just might find that perfect gift for someone special :)

Oct 222015
 

HOT NEW Mirrorless Cameras coming BEFORE Christmas!

Hey Hey!  Here is a list of what I feel are the hottest, most talked about and anticipated releases still to come before the end of the year, and some that are already here. Keep this one bookmarked as I will update it in a month with new info! As always, my three fave camera companies, Leica, Sony and Olympus are on a roll with new products in the last quarter of 2015. Take a look…

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  • Sony RX1R Mark II – This is one I am waiting for. The original RX1 and RX1R were , IMO, masterpieces of image quality. While the AF suffered with a slowness we are just not used to today in 2015, for the time it still did well (and does for many today) and the IQ is and was stunning. The RX1R, the original, gave me some of the best Sony IQ ever, even when compared today to the new A7RII. The new RX1RII, three years after the original comes in with an all new sensor, much faster AF and the body size is still VERY small. Many do not realize how small the RX1 series really is. I hear the new one is SLIGHTLY larger..SLIGHTLY. So new sensor, new built in EVF and the same amazing Zeiss lens that outperformed even the Leica 35 Summicron in scientific tests. With a variable low pass filter that you can dial in to your preference and the new EVF and the 42MP sensor along with much faster AF, WiFi, NFC, ISO up to 102,400 and new processing with Bionz X the RX1R II will be an IQ monster as well as a camera that can be taken ANYWHERE due to its small size. This one will pack a punch. I will review it SOON. This one ships starting November 5th. Just a couple of weeks away! PRE-ORDER IT HERE AT B&H. 

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  • NEW OLYMPUS PRO? – Rumors are abound that a new Olympus will be heading our way before year’s end. I am not sure, and have no clue if this is true but if a new E-M1 Mark II is on the horizon it can only mean good things as Olympus has been on a crazy roll. So this is something that I feel MAY BE coming before year’s end. Not fact or verified. My crystal ball is saying YES ;) If so, this will be one hell of a mirrorless camera for those not ready to jump into the full frame $$$ arena. If anything happens with this, and a new Olympus pro is released before the end of the year you can bet full coverage will be right here!

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  • NEW SONY A7S MARK II – I have this one on hand and am reviewing it now. It’s not far off from the original A7s but it is so much better for a few reasons. The new body style is now with the A7SII, and for me, its much nicer. Also, with the new 5 Axis IS, better video features, ISO past 400,000 and Sonys best Auto Focus in an A7 series body the new A7SII continues the low light king tradition. This camera can shoot anywhere, anytime and give you tremendous results. My 1st tests seem to show me better color performance yet again, though not sure if its just me as it does use the same 12MP sensor as the original. The files from the SII look more “medium format” than even the A7RII. odd. THE A7SII IS NOW SHIPPING AND AVAILABLE AT B&H Photo or Amazon. 

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An OOC JPEG from the A7S Mark II in strange light. It nailed it. Click it for larger and much nicer looking version. This was at night and just a snap to txt AWB, which it aced. 

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  • THE LEICA Q: This one was a surprise. I expected it to be ho hum but it was and is fantastic. The IQ is gorgeous and gets close to the old M9 look. The camera is a nice size, has a good EVF, and is an all in one single lens camera that anyone could be proud of. Surpassing the original Sony RX1 and RX1R the Leica Q is faster, sleeker and more simple. Not sure how it stacks up against the new RX1 Mark II but the Q has character, and is probably the most exciting single lens fixed digital they have ever released. For me it beats the X-Vario, X1, X2, X and all other fixed lens Leica’s. The only problem is..finding one. Leica has not been sending the Q and M 246 to dealer lately here in the USA and it has created some frustrations among Leica fans. If you can get one, you will not be disappointed. My review can be seen HERE. Again, I recommend Ken Hansen, PopFlash or B&H for your Leica needs.

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Other than these cameras, nothing is exciting me in the mirrorless digital world that is on the way or coming soon. There are loads of cameras already out that are amazing (each one is linked to my review for that camera). Leica M, Sony A7RII, Olympus E-M5 II, E-M1 and E-M10II as well as still going strong Fuji X-T1 and Sony A6000 for APS-C. We also can not forget about the Ricoh GR or Sony RX100 IV, both stunning pocket cameras. The Fuji X100T as well, awesome.

The holidays are almost here and Christmas morning will be here before you know it. To all of you photo enthusiasts, pros and hobbyists looking for something new and exciting, what do you have your mind set on, if anything? Let me know in the comments below!

Steve

Oct 052015
 

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The Olympus E-M10II and 7-14 Pro Lens Review

by Steve Huff

Buy the E-M10 at Amazon or B&H Photo

Buy the 7-14 Pro at Amazon or B&H Photo

Seems like it was just  yesterday when I was reviewing the Olympus E-M10 (Mark 1) and shooting the streets of Las Vegas with it…thinking all along just how far we have come with camera technology. The E-M10 Mark 1 was a tiny little guy, but not too tiny, and it was as powerful as the larger more expensive Micro 4/3 cameras. It was a popular choice for those getting into the Micro 4/3 camera world due to its much more affordable price over says an E-M1 or even E-M5 II, and it offered plenty for most to really understand what micro 4/3 can do for them.

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Now here we are today with the new E-M10 II and while not groundbreaking “new” as in, just came out today..I have been shooting with the E-M10 II and 7-14 for a couple of weeks and have grown to really enjoy this combo. Now, I am an E-M1 and E-M5 kind of guy as the size of the E-M10 is on the small side for my tastes but if you have small hands and want an easy, enjoyable and quality experience, the E-M10 II will give you just about as much as it’s larger siblings, the E-M5 II and E-M1.

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Of course with the new Pro 7-14 f/2.8 lens attached, the camera is no longer “tiny” nor will it ever fit in a pocket, but what a combo this could be, for those who really enjoy soaking in the entire environment in a photo. Yep, even with the 2X crop factor of Micro 4/3, the 7-14 still comes in at an ultra wide 14-28mm focal length, and yes, light gathering is still f/2.8 and I find this the perfect ultra wide lens, in fact, with its fantastic solid but smooth build, its amazing lens performance which is sharp across the frame and its nice size which is bigger than most Micro 4/3 lenses but still smaller than a full frame ultra wide zoom (though better made) it is the perfect ultra wide, in fact, the best I have ever shot with.

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When I factor in the size, build, speed, performance and equivalent focal length I can put it up against my Sony/Zeiss 16-35, which is a beautiful lens itself. It is smaller than the Sony/Zeiss, built better, and gives just as good if not better IQ. Color is also more “pleasing”…”warmer” with the Olympus, which many find more pleasing. So for Micro 4/3 shooters, using a lens like this you are not giving up a thing over a full frame sensor and ultra wide except maybe some overall crazy resolution (especially with a camera like the Sony A7RII or the new Canons).

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With a lens like this, the 7-14 Pro and a camera like the E-M10 II with offers true 5 Axis image stabilization we now have an incredible thing. Already, using an ultra wide lens like this we really do not need much in the way of image stabilization, but turn on video shooting on the E-M10 II and wonder at the silky smooth performance that almost mimics a hollywood steady cam style rig. You can walk, run and shoot video and your footage will be smooth due to the combo of ultra wide lens and the 5 Axis IS. VERY cool as Olympus has seemingly perfected this tech now as it works so so well.

Night Shooting with the E-M10 II and 7-14 Pro

Middle of the night, AZ desert, some light painting with the E-M10 II in Live Time mode which makes it super easy to do light painting as you preview the progress on the LCD in real-time, and just stop capturing when the camera shows you the exact image you want. Genius and Olympus has been implementing Live Time and Live Composite now for a while, and its a great feature to have as it just works so so well.

Click images for larger view

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Truth be told, while out in the desert shooting at midnight using the E-M10 II and 7-14 2.8 Pro I was very happy with the ease of use when it comes to long exposures. If you shoot at night, and want an EASY way to do long exposures look no further than Olympus. ALL of their Micro 4/3 cameras will allow you to do some very cool things at night using the previously mentioned “Live Time”, “Live Bulb” and “Live Composite”.

Late night, AZ desert. 7-14 Pro, tripod mounted, 97 seconds, f/3.5, 7mm (14 equiv). Give it a click!

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E-M10 II – revolutionary or refresh?

If you missed my original review of the older mark 1 version of the E-M10, see it HERE. I have been reviewing Olympus digital cameras since their very 1st PEN, the E-P1 and have not missed any major release to date. The original E-M10 was revolutionary IMO as it was  tiny, had 3 AXIS IS and performed to a level of the larger and more expensive Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras. The new E-M10 II is an improvement in many areas but still more of a “refresh” than anything crazy new or exciting.

They added 5 Axis vs 3 Axis, which is awesome but the 3 Axis was also quite good. There is a silent mode for 100% silence when shooting and the electronic shutter has a capability to go up to 1/16,000 of a second, perfect for bright sunny days when you want that shallow DOF from a fast prime.

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More features of the E-M10 II…with great features in bold..makes you really see how powerful this little guy is…

A high-resolution 16.1MP 4/3 Live MOS sensor pairs with the TruePic VII image processor to facilitate up to 8.5 fps shooting and full HD 1080p/60 movie recording, with a top sensitivity of ISO 25600. In-camera 5-axis image stabilization compensates for up to 4 stops of camera shake to benefit working in difficult lighting conditions and a FAST AF system employs 81 contrast-detection areas for quick, accurate performance with dedicated subject tracking modes. The retro-themed body incorporates a range of assignable function buttons and dials, as well as a 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and 3.0″ 1.04m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD for clear image monitoring and playback. Besides the handsome appeal of the E-M10 Mark II’s design, its main assets lie in its versatility of shooting functions and performance to benefit photographers and videographers alike.

7-14 Pro. around midnight in the AZ desert in an old ruin that sits there with tunnels and passageways. 

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Benefited by the range of imaging capabilities, the E-M10 Mark II also incorporates a variety of shooting modes to suit working in various situations. A Silent Mode utilizes an electronic shutter for perfectly quiet picture-taking, with shutter speeds up to 1/16,000 sec. available. Live Bulb and Live Time modes are well-suited to creative long exposure photography and a dedicated Live Composite mode lets you watch a long exposure gradually build up during the course of the shot. Built-in Wi-Fi allows you to pair the camera with your smartphone or tablet for wireless sharing and remote camera control, and an interval shooting mode can be used to produce in-camera 4K time lapse movies.

Left to right: Best friend since childhood Mike, then my wonderful Debby and me during a mid day beer/pub crawl event in Phx AZ which was LOADS of fun. 

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When reading the above text, with features in bold, I say to myself “wow, this camera is offering a TON for $649 USD. I have shot with cameras costing up to $35,000 and down to $69. More expensive does not always mean “better”. I have had experiences shooting a $15k camera that was awful. I hated it. I had an experience shooting a $300 camera once that was delightful (though it was no where near the E-M10 II for capabilities).

This little E-M10 II, while not immediately different from the original E-M10 really shows its stuff when you are out shooting with it. I notice quicker AF, better low light, better IS, and well, an improved EVERYTHING. So I take back y :refresh” comment as it is more of an “evolution” of the wildly popular E-M10. It offers just enough that if I was shooting and only owned an E-M10 I would be pretty tempted to upgrade for these new features. In use and practice they are quite nice.

One new feature I did not yet mention is FOCUS BRACKETING, which is basically just like FOCUS STACKING. According to Olympus, this feature is really for Macro shooters as it allows you to get tack sharp macro shots without worrying about missing or having a part of your subject out of focus. The camera will take several shots, focused at different points and then you can use something like Helicon Focus and BAM you have a perfect, in focus, stacked image. This is the 1st camera I know of that offers to bracket focus for you in camera.

I expect the next pro Olympus, whatever it is called (E-M1 II perhaps) will have this feature as well and I also feel it is close to being time for a new E-M1 II, my spider senses are feeling it. ;)

So Olympus is continuing to do innovative things with every camera release, with this one it is the focus stacking/bracketing. More so than ANY other camera company, Olympus seems be on top of it when it comes to creating a camera that is polished, finished and works VERY well with just about any feature you could ever want. Focus peaking is always there, 5 Axis now standard, fast AF speed all around, gorgeous lenses (some of the best in the business) and an IQ that is pure “Olympus”.

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Again, this is a quick review as my original E-M10 review cover more about what the E-M10 is all about HERE. This review is just to talk about the new lens and the new features of the camera. When I did that review I used the then new 12-40 f/2.8 pro lens. I like this 7-14 better as it seems to be sharper with better contrast and pop.

The 7-14 f/2.8 Pro

As already stated, I LOVE This lens. It is quite amazing really and the good press it has been getting is well deserved. In general terms, it is still small for an ultra wide, but this ultra wide is built to a HIGH standard while keeping it as small as possible for a super quality f/2.8 lens. It is dust, splash and freeze proof, and I tested this out in the desert at night while shooting some long exposures and self portraits. When I returned home my gear and clothes were COATED in dirt, grime and dust. I blew off the direct carefully from the lens and body, then once all dirt was off of the lens, it was cleaned gently with a lens cloth and the barrel was wiped down. Looks and performs as new.

This lens will offer you an amazing perspective and if you own a Micro 4/3 camera, it beats the old Panasonic 7-14 f/2 (that I used to own) in EVERY way from build, performance, AF speed, quality and of course Aperture speed.

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It seems no matter what I wanted to capture, no matter how tight the quarters were or how much of the subject there was to capture, the 7-14 always pulled it in. Truth be told, I’d probably rather have seen a 7mm f/1.8 pro ;) If I owned this lens I think 99.9% of my images would be shot at 7mm. ;0 Even so, I know many would use the full range of the glass.

I have shot with the Nikon 14-24, the Canon 16-35 and the Sony/Zeiss 16-35. This Olympus pro, for me, beats them all in all areas. It holds up to the high quality tradition that Olympus applies all of its pro lenses and then some. While not cheap at $1299, it is priced accordingly and priced right.

Conclusion

The new E-M10 II and 7-14 f/2.8 Pro lens is a stunning combo and the set would set you back around $2000, or $1500 less than a Sony A7RII body only. ;) Think about that one.

While the E-M10 II can not compete with a full frame camera at high ISO, dynamic range or depth of field (shallow) it can take on something like a Sony A7RII for sharpness, color and FEATURES that make shooting FUN, ENJOYABLE and at times, THRILLING. I always seem to have a smile on my face when shooting with Olympus as the experience is just so user friendly and rich. The cameras never hold me back, no matter what I want to shoot..which is why I always have an Olympus M 4/3 camera on hand to go along with y full frame cameras. Sometimes, the job calls for things the Olympus would excel at, other times I need the full frame for the DR, DOF or richness.

I never have focus issues with Olympus cameras or lenses. I never have problems using these cameras and at the end of the day when I sit down to do image review, I am always pleased with what comes from a camera like the E-M10 II. They just “work” and if you are someone getting into photography, I HIGHLY suggest taking a serious look at the E-M10 II body with a lens like the 25 1.8 prime which would give you a 50mm equivalent field of view. So like a fast 50. See my 25 1.8 review HERE. 

In my experience Olympus, much like Sony, is on a roll in 2015 and going into 2016. They can do no wrong, and any of their current cameras are top notch from the PEN E-P5 to the still fantastic E-M1. Olympus also always rolls out MASSIVE firmware updates for all of their OMD line giving even owners of older models all of the new features of the newer cameras. Well, most of them. A sign that Olympus cares about its current base of customers instead of just releasing new cameras to fix issues.

While I am still partial to the amazing E-M5 II, I’d shoot the E-M10 II and be thrilled to if it was all I had. It’s a gem indeed.

$649 body only. Wow.

WHERE TO BUY?

I would buy from B&H Photo HERE

or

From 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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Sep 162015
 

Ireland with the Olympus E-M1. A Photographic Journey

by Tom Ohle

My name is Tom and I’m from Ireland. A few years back while visiting my beautiful fiance in Canada I kicked my love for photography into over drive!

Your site is fantastic and largely responsible for fuelling my love for photography. For me it’s the equivalent of a great cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

These next two images are from my favourite place of all. The west coast of Ireland in Co. Kerry just off of the Dingle peninsula at a little place called ‘Inch Strand’. It’s a spectacular part of the world with huge wide beaches as far as the eye can see.

EM1 + Nocticron
“The Kite”

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“Misty Beach”

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The west coast of Ireland (particularly Co. Kerry) is known around the world for its spectacular cliffs. If you ever make it to this part of the world check out Sleigh Head.
This next one was shot overlooking the peninsula. I set out not knowing what to expect and stumbled across this huge hill that overlooked the main peninsula providing a stunning view. I improvised a quick fashion shoot – lighting was very overcast – perfect natural soft box!

EM1 + Nocticron
“He left me in Ireland”

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For the most part I like street photography and travel portraiture but I try not to pidgeon-hole myself into a particular genre. I’ve taken my camera and lenses around Ireland and the great white North in Canada. From portraits of random people on the street to portraits of wolves and wolf dogs I generally always have a camera in my hand.

EM1 + Oly 45 1.8
“We need to talk”

Neringa

I find that the images that I am most drawn to from your other writers tend to have people in them. Either obvious images of people directly or may not so obvious images of landscapes that show the mark of peoples involvement. In more recent times having read some of Neil Buchanan Grants posts here I’ve been inspired to approach my subjects and subject matter from the perspective of a travel photographer. Even in my home town I try to ask ‘ what would be really cool and interesting about this place that I could show somebody in a completely different part of the world ‘.

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“Who are you lookin at?”

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Em1 + PanaLeica 25 1.4
“Violinist on the street”

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Busking and street performing are very popular and a large part of Irish city culture. A walk down Dublin’s Grafton street on a Saturday afternoon is an explosion for the senses. Stilt walkers, dancers, acrobats doing back flips, fire breathers – it’s got it all. The shot of the busker was taken in Co. Cork – many of these performers are very street photo friendly and do not mind you taking their photo once you acknowledge them. No better way than by throwing them a few euro :)

“Rebel without a cause”

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Dublin has a bunch of really cool locally owned coffee shops. Unfortunately we are seeing more and more big chain coffee shops pop up about the place but thankfully the locals still support the local businesses. Many of these coffee shops make a cool studio for european style impromptu photoshoots!

Sunset in (not on) the Liffey!

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For me, a photo has not completed it’s journey until it has been developed and printed. The printing aspect is a recent discovery and I have very much fallen in love with this aspect of the creative process. I now shoot for the print.

Fine art giclee prints on fiber paper are gorgeous. I spend hours trying to get the balance between the choice of edit, the type of paper, texture, color calibration etc… holding a finished product in my hand is immensely satisfying.

I’m very much a learner with a lot yet to learn but I’d hope to have my first article published and open to constructive criticism and feedback from the community. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to look at my photos and I hope that you enjoyed them.

My flickr is : https://www.flickr.com/photos/24434110@N05/

Thanks,

Tom.

Sep 152015
 

DOWNLOAD YOUR NEXT CAMERA: OLYMPUS UNVEILS TWO POWERFUL FIRMWARE UPDATES
WITH ADVANCED MACRO SHOOTING AND VIDEO CAPABILITIES FOR THE OM-D®

New Performance Updates for the OM-D E-M1, E-M5 Mark II and Lenses Demonstrate Olympus’ Ongoing Commitment to Enhance the Existing Lineup

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CENTER VALLEY, Pa., September 15, 2015 — Today, Olympus announces a series of firmware upgrades that significantly enhance the performance of the OM-D line for professional and amateur shooters alike, including Version 4.0 for Olympus OM-D E-M1®, Version 2.0 for OM-D E-M5 Mark II updates to M.ZUIKO® PRO and PREMIUM lenses as well as Advanced Olympus Capture Version 1.1 and OI.Share® Version 2.6. The updates, which will be available in late November 2015, are highlighted by new macro shooting modes, advanced video performance and other capabilities found on the recently announced OM-D E-M10 Mark II.

Version 4.0 for OM-D E-M1: Breathtaking Macro Images

Focus Stacking Mode, exclusive to Version 4.0 for OM-D E-M1, expands the expressive power of macro photography and brings out the true performance of M.ZUIKO PRO lenses. In Focus Stacking Mode, a single press of the shutter captures eight RAW or JPEG shots with varying focal positions and automatically composites them into a single JPEG file for a macro shot with incredible depth of field.

Users can also take their macro photography a step further with Focus Bracketing Mode, which captures up to 999 shots with varying focal positions. Third-party photo-editing software can be used to merge the files into one breathtaking image that reveals the details of any subject, from the small, like a bloom of a rose or an exotic insect, to a large depth of field in a telephoto landscape.

Enhanced Customization and Control

The firmware upgrade also give users more support and ease of use when capturing professional-quality images. The new simulated optical viewfinder (S-OVF) delivers a view similar to that of the naked eye, just like an optical viewfinder. Exposure compensation and white balance are purposely not shown so users who are more familiar with the optical viewfinder in their traditional DSLR cameras can use the OM-D in the exact same way until they become more comfortable with the benefits of an electronic viewfinder.

Advanced Focus Peaking adjusts settings and turns Focus Peaking on or off at a moment’s notice while shooting in Live View. And, just like the Advanced Focus Peaking already on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, OM-D E-M1 users can now select the desired intensity level (low, standard or high) and color (black, white, red or yellow) for consistently sharp images during shooting.

Menu Cursor Position Memory further enhances customization by automatically returning to the last menu setting used , meaning less time navigating menus and more time is spent capturing moments. Anti-Shock Mode is now easier than ever and automatically switches to the mechanical shutter at speeds 1/320 and faster. And when users are shooting in quiet situations, Silent Mode eliminates all camera sounds for completely silent shooting, perfect for a piano recital or wedding ceremony with shutter speeds up to an amazing 1/16000th sec.

Innovative Movie Functions

Advanced movie capabilities include the ability to easily synchronize PCM audio and video recording when using the Olympus® LS-100. A Slate Tone can now be added to make it simple to perfectly synchronize audio and video during the editing process. Users can further optimize their 1080p Full HD Video with additional features, including Movie Image Stabilization with five-axis optical IS and digital IS, 24p/25p frame rate, movie record start with a release cable, support for time code setting and, finally, a movie info display that shows histogram, level gauge, audio level and time code.

Version 2.0 for E-M5 Mark II: Enhanced Video Power

In addition to many of the updates in Version 4.0 for E-M1, including Focus Bracketing and S-OVF, Version 2.0 firmware upgrade for E-M5 Mark II further enhances the camera’s ability to capture crisp, clear video with no need for additional editing software. Movie-Exclusive Picture Mode Flat provides for post-production color grading by lowering the contrast to minimize blown-out highlights and loss of detail in shadows. Additionally, new 4K Time Lapse Movie captures up to 999 images automatically and combines them in-camera into a stunning 4K file.

Tethered Shooting Gets Easier

Advanced Olympus Capture Version 1.1 makes tethered shooting in-studio even easier for both still images and video by allowing the user to customize the camera’s display and layout for quick and easy access to the most frequently used functions. Direct PC makes image transfer four times faster by saving images directly to a computer without having to record to an SD card. Features like Keystone Compensation can be utilized from a computer as well by simply connecting the computer and camera body.

More Advancements for the OM-D System

The latest firmware for the M.ZUIKO PRO and PREMIUM lenses will also be released and will include aperture drive, which has been improved for smooth exposure control even when shooting movies with sudden changes in brightness. The update also gives the shooter the convenience of disabling the MF Clutch and Snapshot Focus even at the MF Clutch position.

Finally, the new Version 2.6 update for the OI.Share app for Android® and Apple® is available now and enables Live Comp to be viewed in real time. Now users can make adjustments to their settings and monitor the progress of the image as it develops right on their smartphone or tablet.

Bottom line: New upgrades on the Olympus E-M1:

• Focus Stacking
• Focus Bracketing
• Silent Mode
• 4K Time Lapse movie
• Live Composite on OI.Share
• Advanced Focus Peaking (with 4 colors)
• S-OVF (Simulated OVF)
• MF Clutch Disable
• 24 & 25p Movie Frame Rate’s
• 5-axis IS for Movie
• Movie Time Code Setting
• Movie Slate Tone
• Movie info Display
• Advanced Olympus Capture

U.S. Availability

The Olympus Version 4.0 for Olympus OM-D E-M1, Version 2.0 for OM-D E-M5 Mark II and Olympus Capture Version 1.1 will be available in late November 2015.

To find out more about the firmware updates, visit the Olympus website at www.getolympus.com/upgrade.

ABOUT OLYMPUS AMERICA INC.

Olympus America Inc. is a leading provider of digital imaging and audio technology solutions noted for its precision optics and groundbreaking technologies.

For more than 90 years, Olympus has innovated and developed best-in-class products that expand the boundaries of product design and functionality, empowering consumers and professionals alike to capture their stories. These include:

Digital Compact Cameras
Professional and Consumer Mirrorless Cameras
Related Underwater Products and Accessories
Digital Audio Recorders
Binoculars
Accessories

For more information about Olympus and our award-winning products, please visit getolympus.com or connect with us and other fans like you through our social and photographic communities: @getolympus on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr.

Sep 142015
 

Cuba with an Olympus PEN E-P5, a VF-4 and Three Primes

By Richard Nugent

About two and a half years ago, you posted my user report detailing my experience with my Olympus OMD E-M5 and a Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 on a trip down the Mekong River. There was some worthwhile discussion generated in the comments section, so I thought I would share my recent experience using the E-P5 and primes as a travel camera.

Owner: Olympus / Region: World Usage: all media

I flew to Cuba from Miami early this year on a people-to-people tour with National Geographic Expeditions. At the time, travel to Cuba from the US was restricted to this type of cultural exchange arrangement. I was eager to visit the island before the recent US-Cuba détente took effect and things changed. I certainly was not disappointed with the trip. Cuba is a marvelous place and its people are welcoming and friendly. Havana is an extraordinarily target-rich environment for photographers. The few areas outside of Havana that we visited also provided opportunities to test ones skill.

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I purchased the E-P5 in order to have a smaller camera and a back-up body to my E-M1. I also bought the VF-4 electronic viewfinder because, after forty-odd years of shooting with SLRs and then DSLRs, I am most comfortable framing at eye-level. Last year, I tried the Sony R100 Mark III as my take-anywhere camera, but I found its controls difficult to work and the viewfinder too small and inconvenient. So I decided to try the E-P5, even though it is not really “small” nor does it have a built-in viewfinder.

The trip to Cuba was my first travel opportunity since acquiring the camera. So I opted to take only the E-P5, the VF-4 and my three primes, even though I usually shoot with zooms when I travel. The prime lenses were: the Olympus 45mm f1.8 (90mm equivalent), the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (40mm eq.) and 14mm f2.5 (28mm eq.).

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The short version of my experience is that the E-P5 captured some excellent images and was enjoyable to use. Its controls are very similar to the E-M5 and, to a lesser degree, to my E-M1, so operationally things were easy for me. However, the rear LCD was difficult to use because of the bright tropical sun (although indoors it was fine). So I wound up shooting with the VF-4 for most of the time. The detail and refresh-rate of the EVF are excellent; about on a par with my E-M1. Its 90-degree flip-up option was useful as well.

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Changing lenses took me back to my early SLR days before zooms were perfected. But I found that I can still juggle two lenses at a time and I also remember how to “zoom with my feet”. I did miss a few shots though. Also, a 12mm (24mm equivalent) lens would have been useful for interiors and shots on the narrow city streets. And maybe something longer than 45mm (90mm equivalent) might have been useful for street shooting at a distance.
There were abundant opportunities to photograph Havana’s people, architecture and, of course, old cars. Also, as the trip had a cultural-exchange focus, we attended several singing, instrumental or dance performances by both school children and adults (all of whom were very talented and obviously well trained). The Cubans have been doing amazing things with very few resources.

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The performance venues allowed ample opportunity to test the camera’s low-light shooting capability. There were occasional instances of problems locking focus in dimly lighted recital rooms, but with well-lit stages the camera generally focused quickly. High ISO performance (to 1600) was good with a little clean-up necessary in Light Room. Image stabilization worked fine for hand-held shots (I did not use my monopod or tripod).
I have attached some sample images below. More examples can be found on my Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rsnugent/albums/72157650702299470. There are photos from some of my other travels in there as well.

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To summarize: The E-P5 is a fine camera that has a full array of direct controls and it handles much like the E-M5 (or E-M1). With the small MFT primes, it takes high quality images both indoors and outside. However, operating it in sunny conditions, while relying solely on the rear LCD, can be problematic. In such situations, the VF-4 offers an excellent, though expensive, alternative. But, it also should be noted that the E-P5 with the EVF attached is not really a compact package. I have to admit that I underestimated this aspect of the combination. I had anticipated that I would be able to rely on the rear LCD for most shooting and need to attach the EVF only occasionally. This turned out to not be the case.

In the end, as much as I loved how the camera handled and the images it produced, I sold the E-P5 and VF-4 because, for me, the combination was a bit cumbersome as a travel kit. Now I am evaluating the E-M10 as my “small-camera” option. We shall see how that works out. I will update you all later.

Thank you.

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