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Mar 202017
 

Olympus Micro 4/3 Buyers Guide: My Faves in the Standard (Non Pro) Line

By Steve Huff

Last week I posted an article featuring my personal fave products in the Olympus PRO line of cameras and lenses. The pro line has some gorgeous quality lenses and of course the  EM1 MKII that is just fabulous but that does not mean there are no gems in the standard line. In fact, there are some lenses for much less that do almost as good of a job. That’s one of the beauties of the Zuiko lenses, they are all pretty damn good. It’s tough to find a bad one from Olympus or Panasonic. This post will focus more on the Olympus gear as it is what I own, and know well. Also, so many email me every month asking “what Micro 4/3 lens should I get” so this should help you get started.

I’ve loved M 4/3 since its inception. From its smaller size to interesting styling of some of the cameras, like the PEN, I have fallen for the brand over and over. In fact, if you have read my full PEN-F review from a while back you would see my raves about it. I still have that camera sitting to my left in my camera cabinet and it’s as beautiful as ever. To me, each format has its pros and cons, and none are a perfect all in one for someone who likes bits of each system. For me M 4/3 is attractive due to its smaller size, gorgeous lenses in the pro and non pro line, speed and the fact that they always deliver. Many pros use EM1’s for wedding work today and the results are just as good as full frame offerings I have seen.

Check out my friend Tracey Jean, she uses an EM1 MKII for her Wedding Work and she does beautiful work. So this format is powerful enough for pro, studio, or everyday stuff.

With that out of the way, what about the standard cheaper line of cameras and lenses? First off, if you want to get into M 4/3 you have a choice. Panasonic or Olympus. Me, I prefer Olympus for the body styles and features. I prefer the 5 Axis from Olympus (they invented it after all), the retro designs that go further than Panasonic’s do and I enjoy the lenses they make for looks and build and performance. I also enjoy Panasonic offerings and will touch on a couple here because I feel they are amazing lenses.

But if you want to get into OLYMPUS and do not want to spend a ton for the EM1 MKII or you do not want to buy a used EM1 MKI, I highly recommend the PEN-F, without hesitation.

THE PEN-F

SEE MY REVIEW HERE

Buy at Amazon or B&H Photo

It offers fun, convenience, size, retro looks, fast speed (not for continuous action though) and lovely color with some cool customizations to the colors using the new color wheel. Film simulations are here as well. To me, the EM1 MKII image quality is more refined but the PEN-F is almost there for almost half the price. If you do not need pro features the PEN-F may be all you ever need.

Lenses, there are a few from Olympus that I love:

The 17 1.8

My Review HERE

Order it at Amazon or B&H Photo

This little lens is one that many miss out on due to some reports that called it soft. Me, I love this lens on any M 4/3 body and the manual focus clutch is a plus as well. While not CHEAP at $499, this lens is well worth the cost if you like the 35mm format. This lens is a 17.5 but will give you a 35mm FOV on Micro 4/3.

Two from the 17 1.8


The 25 1.8

My Review is HERE

Order it at Amazon or B&H Photo

At $399 for a fast 50mm equiv for your M 4/3 camera, this one is a no brainer if you are on a budget. While not full of magic dust like the new 25 1.2 PRO, this guy is almost $1000 less and delivers beautiful images. Some say this one is a little sterile but the character here is more about perfect over character. Nothing bad to say about this lens, and the price is right.


The 45 1.8

My review is HERE

Order it at Amazon or B&H Photo

Bringing you a 90mm Equivilant field of view, this 45 1.8 Olympus lens is a rock star for the price of $265 (current Amazon price). This may be the biggest no brainer in all of Micro 4/3. At this price, it would be a crime to NOT own this one. Fast in aperture and focus this offers a nice portrait length FOV with wonderful results.


The 75 1.8

My Review is HERE

Order it at B&H Photo or Amazon

I have a love and hate relationship with this lens. I love it for its image quality and build and price for what it offers. This could be a pro line easily if it were in a pro built housing (weather sealed, etc) as the IQ is that good. But this 75mm lens is really going to give you the magnification of a 150mm lens, which is quite long. I can do 75-85mm and get a lot of use from a lens but 150mm is not my ideal focal length. IF IT ONE OF YOURS though, you can not go wrong with this lens. It’s gorgeous in every way.


The Olympus 60 Macro

See my Review HERE

Order it at Amazon or B&H Photo Here

This is another NO BRAINER must own. At $399 I can think of no better Macro lens for your M 4/3 system. Crystal clear and sharp with GORGEOUS color output the lens is tiny and gives huge performance. See my review at the link above.


Panasonic Nocticron

See my Review HERE

Order at Amazon or B&H Photo Here


Panasonic 20 1.7 II

See my review HERE

Order it at B&H Photo or Amazon Here

This is another one in the MUST OWN category. At $265 or so, this one should be in everyone’s bag if you shoot M 4/3. Exquisite contrasty and gorgeous IQ. Almost cinematic in how it renders an image.

So for me, these are the best lenses in the Olympus NON pro line (with a couple Panasonic’s that I love thrown in). For the pro stuff, see my article from last week HERE.  Olympus (and Panasonic) offer some great tools today as an alternative to APS-C and FULL frame and they deliver just as beautiful IQ with, as I said, pros and cons compared to larger formats. The lenses above (and the PEN-F) are. my faves from Olympus. I enjoyed these lenses and the camera and still do. I own most of what I wrote about here, they are that good ;)

Steve

Mar 062017
 

The Fuji X100F Review. The Fourth Generation of the Fuji is “The One”

By Steve Huff

Order the Fuji X100F at B&H Photo or Amazon.

The X100 series from Fuji has long been dear to my heart. In fact, it is one of the cameras that has taken the ride with me on this journey of life for the last six years or so (see this post from a week or so ago), on and off. It has given me memories of these last six years of my life with some great personal moments (most never published) that quite frankly, no other camera has. As I sat and browsed my thousands of photos taken with the X100, X100S, X100T and now even the X100F I kept saying to myself “wow, I have more personal photos that I love taken with this camera than even my Leica M cameras”. Well, maybe not really but it sure seemed that way as my head got lost in a time machine of memories. Seeing my son younger, and remembering the times we used to have taking all day adventures or even seeing memories from other areas of my life that were important to me. Those moments where I seemed to have a X100 body over anything else.

X100F OOC JPEG using the “CHROME” color preset – Click it for larger

and this one, 10 seconds later – from RAW

I even did this comparison back in the day, an X100 vs Leica M9 and the X100 did very well, if not portraying the images in a somewhat “flatter” way..but at 1/7th the cost, we have to give a little somewhere, right?

Then I sat there and wondered why that was, why I had an X100 body over a Leica or Sony or whatever I was using at the time, but then it hit me. The X100 was easy to carry, always easy to bring with me, always easy to USE. Sure, the 1st one, that original, had some slow focus issues, and some response issues. It was the 1st, and the 1st of anything is usually never perfect. Hell, even the new F is not perfect but it’s still an X100 through and through and for that I am pleased as punch because the X100 to me represents the ultimate take anywhere camera when you just want to capture your life, and with great quality and color to boot. But I took that X100 with me as it was a joy to use and the output of that 1st version (without the Trans sensor) was beautiful.

X100F with the perfect strap I have found for it. The Tie her Up “Snake”  I use the 125mm version as I prefer the strap across my chest. 

Now, of course there are other cameras that do this very well. A Leica M is fantastic for this, and has usually always been my “Go To” for these things. Small, slim, tiny lenses and a joy that comes from manual focus and nailing those shots. For me, lately, my eyesight has been degrading (comes with the territory when you hit mid to late 40’s and I am 47 now) so manual focusing a RF has been tricky lately. When I fell in love HARD for the new M10 I realized it was harder for me to shoot as I never wear my glasses when shooting (though I should). I would now need diopters for using an M reliably. Then I remembered that I never missed a shot with the Leica SL due to its huge picture window EVF. Then I realized…”HEY, I never missed focus with the last two X100’s using the AUTO FOCUS”…lol, even better.

X100F, f/2 – Must click to see larger better version

So with my 47 year old eyes fading and me not liking the whole “shooting with glasses” experience just yet I decided to delve into the new X100F with a thought that this time I may keep this camera instead of selling it. I bought it from Amazon when up for order and had one on the day of release. Sometimes I buy a camera for review, then sell it if I do not feel I want it. To be clear, I have a stable of cameras here and being a camera and lens reviewer allows that. I always keep my faves on hand for comparison sake. Today, in March 2017, I keep the Sony A7rII, An Olympus EM1 MKII and PEN-F, A Leica SL, A Sony A6300 and various lenses. These are the bodies that I enjoy and get the most use from right now, and I doubted if there was a place for the X100F but then I realized there most certainly was. I do not own a Fuji right now, and I need one. The Fuji colors, the newer Acros B&W mode that delivers (IMO) beautiful B&W images out of the camera and the small size mixed with the retro design that always made this series beautiful. I have nothing like that in my stable right now besides the PEN-F and while these two have some similarities, they are quite different. So yea, I will add the X100f to my shelf of favorites, and if that was a spoiler, I apologize :)

I went with the classic Silver and Black model because to me it just give the X100F that vintage look and style, and I already have the normal black SLR style body filled with my other cameras ;)

IF YOU MISSED IT, MY FIRST LOOK VIDEO OF THE X100F


FIRST THINGS FIRST

So first things first. What does this X100F offer than the X100, X100s and X100T did not? Well, as with all of these Fuji releases most improvements have been incremental and each new model brought forth improvements in auto focus speed and capabilities, response time and in the case of the X100F, the new things or improvements over the last model are listed below:

24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor and X-Processor Pro

“Utilizing Fujifilm’s unique, randomized pixel array, the 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor affords a high degree of image quality and sharpness due to the omission of an optical low-pass filter. Versus conventional pixel patterns, the X-Trans design more closely mimics the organic nature of film in order to produce nuanced colors and smooth tonal transitions, while also reducing moiré and aliasing. Additionally, the sensor is paired with the X-Processor Pro image processor to yield smooth, low-noise results, an extended sensitivity range of ISO 100-51200, and quick performance speeds throughout the camera system, including an 8 fps continuous shooting rate, Full HD 1080p video recording at up to 60 fps, an AF speed of 0.08 seconds, 0.2 second shooting interval, 0.5 second startup time, and a 0.01 second shutter release lag.”

My Brussels Griffon, Olive. X100F, Acros Mode in full sun in my yard. 

Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder

“Both optical and electronic viewing means are incorporated into the unique Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder, which provides both the simplicity of an OVF with the technological advancements of an EVF. Switching between both viewing methods is done with the dedicated OVF/EVF switching lever, enabling quick transitioning between both modes. The OVF has its benefits in providing a clear, unadulterated view of the scene you’re photographing and reduces the shutter lag time to a minimum. For fine-tuning of focus, exposure, white balance, and other camera settings, the EVF gives you the ability to monitor all of the applied settings prior to making the exposure.

An enhanced optical viewfinder now incorporates an electronic rangefinder mode, harking to traditional mechanical rangefinder cameras of which this camera gains its appearance from, and permits refined and comparative manual focusing methods. The magnification of the electronic rangefinder can be adjusted to 2.5x or 6x for improved precision, and real-time parallax correction also enables more accurate framing and focusing in manual focus mode.

In contrast, the high-resolution 2.36m-dot EVF provides you with 100% frame coverage along with the ability to utilize electronic focusing aids for precise manual focus control. By using the phase-detection pixels located on the imaging sensor, Digital Split Image is able to assist in acquiring precise focus by showing comparative in and out of focus areas of the image. Also contributing to manual focus accuracy, focus peaking has been integrated and enables a more objective system of focusing by way of highlighting sharp edges and lines of contrast in a clear manner.

When working with the EVF, you can also utilize Shooting Effect Reflection settings in order to preview and utilize selected camera effects, such as Film Simulation modes. When this setting is turned off, the image will revert to a natural view, void of any exposure or camera settings applied, to better suit working in darker conditions and to greatly reduce any display lag.”

May have been Velvia mode, JPEG – X100F

Body Design

*Rear 3.0″ 1.04m-dot LCD monitor for image playback and review, menu navigation, and for live view shooting.
*A physical ISO dial has been incorporated within the shutter speed dial to allow for intuitive, direct switching of sensitivity settings – This is something cool, and in use I like it. I normally keep my ISO on Auto but here I can easily switch ISO (much like the new Leica M10) and it is very easy to lift up and adjust from Auto, to an actual number or a low or high setting. 
*Focus lever has been added to lens to improve manual focus adjustment – A nice touch here. 
*Rear focus lever is available for intuitive selecting and switching of AF points – A welcome addition. I love the joysticks on cameras, and use it all the time on my Leica SL. Here it is now on the Fuji X100F. 
*The physical exposure compensation dial now features a C position to permit an expanded +/- 5 EV range when working with the control dials – This is also new and nice to have. 
*The majority of the camera’s control buttons and dials have been placed on the right-hand side of the body to enable easier one-handed use – In use this works out very well. A nice clean layout and all on the right side. Perfect. 

91-Point Autofocus System

“Utilizing both contrast- and phase-detection methods, the hybrid autofocus system employs 91 total points, which can be divided into 325 total areas for a high degree of focusing accuracy in a variety of lighting conditions. Approximately 40% of the frame is covered by 49 phase-detection points in order to provide fast AF performance to suit working with moving subjects.”

Film Simulation Modes

Now with the new B&W simulation “Acros” which delivers stunning out of camera B&W images.

Two with the Acros B&W film simulation. I love this mode and will use it for all of my B&W images. Click them for larger. 

More Features of the X100F

*Built-in Wi-Fi lets you wirelessly transfer images or remotely control the camera from a linked mobile device.
*Integrated three-stop neutral density filter benefits working in bright light conditions with wider aperture settings or slower shutter speeds.
*An electronic shutter function affords high shutter speeds up to 1/32,000 sec.
*Auto Macro focusing mode lets you focus on subjects as close a 3.9″ away.
*Digital Teleconverter settings let you simulate the look of a 50mm or 70mm lens.
*Advanced Filters: Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High Key, Low Key, Dynamic Tone, Soft Focus, and Partial Color (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple).

CLICK FOR LARGER

Shooting with the new X100F vs the old versions…

When the X100F arrived I was excited to use and shoot with the latest version. I was curious as to what Fuji could do to improve upon it from the T or even S. To be honest, I was not a huge fan of the T as I felt it was very similar to the S. Small changes made that really did not affect me at all with it. But this new F, for me is the one that finally surpasses the original for IQ and everything else. To me, this new F is “The One” when it comes to the X100 series. ]

It now uses the same battery as the X-Pro  system so we get better battery life, and the body still stays slim and trim. The body to me feels a tad more beefier in weight though, which is a good thing as I always find Fuji camera too feel hollow and almost too light when compared to other cameras makers. Sony, Olympus or Leica. But this X100F feels great, just as it should. Not too light and not too heavy. It’s fantastic in feel and form.

I basically just took mine out with me wherever I went even though these last two weeks have been filled with personal things I had to get done for life in general, as well as some sickness issues and even losing my passport before a huge out of the country trip and stressing to find it (so far without luck). So while I have been stressed and hectic with life, I managed to evaluate the X100F anyway ;) Truth be told I try not to let myself get stressed out too much, ever, and shooting the X100F seemed to help me forget some of the stress I have been getting thrown at me this week.

Shooting it has been a smooth experience. No lag, no missed Auto Focus shots, no problems with over exposure as I used to get with the older models. Now I seem to be getting a tad but of underexposure which is strange for a Fuji but I usually shoot with a little exposure comp set in to avoid highlights blowing out. Something I became used to with the original Leica monochrome. With the X100F I do not need to do that as it seems to expose the scene perfectly for my worries and the dynamic range is there, as it is with all cameras made today (the good ones).

The EVF is still nice, and how I remember it. Fuji has improved it yet again but in reality, in real use, it is pretty much the same as I remember from the last three. You can shoot full on EVF or use the optical VF that mimics a rangefinder (though not really). So if you like optical, it is here. Like EVF? It’s here as well. I always seem to be drawn to the EVF as I am able to see just what I am getting out of it. If I shoot in Acros mode I can see what the image will look like, and even be exposed like. With the OVF you do not get these luxuries. The EVF is good, but not a “WOW” EVF. For the cost of the camera though ($1299) Fuji has packed in loads of useful features and given us all kinds of goodies. EVF/OVF, the fantastic Fuji Film sim modes, the enhanced AF speed, Better Video (though I still would not use this as a video camera), silent shutter with 1/32,000 speed, they kept the built in ND filter for sunny days when using the mechanical shutter, and an overall package that is just such a joy to use and attractive.

This is a beautiful camera in every way and to be honest, I have fallen for it as it made me remember more than any before it, the good times and memories I made with the original X100 and to some extent the ones that came after it. I have decided that to me, this camera is perfect for making life memories. Even more so than a Leica. It’s cheaper, it’s fast, it’s easy to use yet advanced enough for the geek in us or even a backup for some pros, it has a wonderful sensor as well. Many know I have not been thrilled with the last two Fuji X Trans sensors but this one, I like it. A lot.

No more smudges when using Adobe software, and some of that “flatness” has gone away as well. While not as “deep” as a Leica SL file, what we get for our money here is IMO unmatched in a camera of this type.

X100F, all at f/2 and Acros mode (LOVE this Film Simulation)

The Competition for the X100F?

This camera is a fixed lens 23mm lens camera. This 23mm lens is an f/2 lens and gives us the illusion of being a 35mm lens due to the magnification of the APS-C sensor. This is not a full frame sensor camera and will not give us the huge shallow depth of field we can get from a Sony RX1R system, or even the Leica Q. But those full frame single lens cameras? They run from $3800 to $4300 where this Fuji is $1299.  So with the Fuji we get a similar vibe body for $2500 less money and the X100F actually has more features and things going for it in general over the other two BUT, and this is a huge BUT, the RX1R and Q systems will indeed offer better, richer IQ. The Fuji will offer a tad flatter image, and I still do see some of that “flatness” in this latest X Trans sensor but overall, it is closer than ever.

The Sony will be slower in AF than the Fuji, and the Q is fastest of all. The Sony will offer the best IQ of all three IMO, then the Q, then the X100f. All three are FANTASTIC cameras with the Sony being the smallest form factor in some ways, though not as thin as the Fuji due to the HQ 35mm f/2 Zeiss lens attached. The Q is the largest.

To see my reviews of those cameras, check them out here. Sony RX1RMKII, Leica Q and the older Sony RX1R

To be honest I love all three of those but the Q is priced out of my rage for what I would pay for a camera of this kind. The Sony, I love and adore..but it is not the speed demon that the Q is. That leaves me with the X100f. It’s the cheapest, it’s one of the smallest and it offers quite a bit like the unique OVF/EVF experience and the Fuji color and Fuji cilm simulations that can, in the right hands be delicious ; ) I have not exploited this camera for all it can do just yet. But again, this camera can not compete with the Sony for IQ so if IQ is your all out be all end all, I’d say go with an older Sony RX1R (not the MKII) and you can get one for much less than the MKII and it’s output is gorgeous.

The original Sony RX1R…IMO gives a more smoother cinematic vibe due to the full frame sensor. 

Other cameras, like IC cameras are not really competition for this camera. If one is pondering an X100F, I doubt they are pondering something like a Leica M or Sony A7 or Olympus PEN because all of those are so different from each other. This camera, you can not ever change the lens. So when you buy one, get ready to set into the 35mm state of mind as 35mm is the equiv focal length you will shoot at with this guy. All the time! No 50, no 75, and now 21. Just 35. So if this is scary to you, you should be looking at an interchangeable lens camera.

The Olympus PEN-F on the left with the AMAZING 25 f/1.2 lens. The X100f on the right. 

The closest IC camera to this one is the Olympus PEN-F. It’s look are similar, and the feel is similar and even the PEN-F has a cool Tri X B&W film simulation mode ;) IN fact, since I have both here, let me compare them a bit, B&W mode to B&W mode ;) I will use the 25 1.2 lens on the Olympus (closest I have to the 23mm lens on the Fuji). With the APS-C of the Fuji this brings us a 35mm magnification. With the Olympus and the M 4/3 sensor that doubles and gives us a 50mm effective FOV. I do not have one of the 17mm M 4/3 lenses on hand to do a 35vs 35 thing but either way, the Fuji is a 23mm lens, pure and simple. The Only is a 25mm lens. So they are close and this will be a WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET comparison…

SHOT 1, Fuji X100F vs Olympus PEN-F – Acros vs Tri-X

These are OOC JPEGS from each camera using their own B&W film simulations. The Only does Tri-X (though I turned off grain for sake of comparison) and the Fuji does Acros…let’s see if they differ and how..

Immediately I see the Fuji delivers a softer less contrasty look to the conversion. The Only looks a little more “WOW” but that is due to the higher contrast of Tri-X  so it is going for that look. Also, the lens on the Old delivers a tad more pop due to the f/1.2 aperture. The Fuji was shot at f/2 and the Only at f/1.2. both wide open to show what you get with each camera and respective lens (23mm on the Fuji and 25mm on the Olympus). The Only has a 2X crop so that 25 will look like a 50 where the Fuji is APS-C. The Fuji’s 23 will appear as a 35mm in regards to FOV. CLICK THE IMAGES for larger.

FUJI

OLYMPUS

In the 2nd image I see more DR with Fuji out of the box for these JPEG’s as well as a more even tonality to the B&W look. Again, Acros vs TriX but I see that more grey look much like the original Leica Monochrom. This gives us a more unique B&W look IMO, at least for my eyes. I prefer the Fuji here. While the Only is doing the shallow DOF thing better it appears to look a tad more digital. THOUGH I have to say, I like both and would use both. If I wanted a more harder look like TriX can give, I’d choose the Oly. If I wanted softer beautiful portraits I would choose the Fuji. Of course, each can be edited to taste as well. These are right out of the box. 

FUJI

OLYMPUS

How about color? The Olympus has a Slide film emulation and the Fuji has Velvia..let’s see how they look

The Fuji has more glowing color and here the Old is a but more subdued. Again, both wide open and since they are around the same focal length we get more shallow DOF from the f/1.2 of the Olympus over the f/2 of the Fuji. THIS IS NOT A sharpness or detail comparison, just color and to show what we can expect from each combo wide open. 

FUJI

OLYMPUS

and one more…

FUJI

OLYMPUS

So to me, I slightly prefer the Fuji renderings for the B&W and for the color, I prefer the Olympus color tones (Velvia vs Slide) in these modes but also look at the OOC DR of the Fuji vs Olympus. Interesting. Of course if these were shot in RAW I could have adjusted the Olympus to be just fine but the SLIDE FILM emulation would have left, so these are all what you see is what you get out of camera JPEGS.

HOW ABOUT VS A FULL FRAME? 

Just for fun I pulled out the Leica SL and a 35 Zm f/1.4 Lens to shoot a test image of Debby with each. How would the X100F compare against the big SL which is a $10k combo? Yep, a just for fun $1300 vs $10k combo comparison…heeheehee.

Here the 1st one is from the Leica SL and the 35 f/1.4 Zeiss ZM Lens. A $10k combo, or just under. ($7500 for the SL, $2300 for the lens) – Click for larger to see them correctly!

X100F with Standard color

Now while I feel the SL blows the Fuji away here in all areas, I have to say..this Fuji, especially at 1st glance gives us the impression that it is not far behind the SL with Zeiss lens. Yep, the aging 23mm f.2 on the Fuji vs a true 35mm f/1.4 on the Leica yet the Fuji is  holding its own. While the SL is in another league in build and feel and control, the X100F has the IQ, and for some that is all that matters. I will say the color is closer from the SL than the Fuji (to reality) but both are lovely. This makes a good argument when spending our hard earned money…do we go for what we WANT or what we NEED?

Now, the SL is a pro camera and can be used in all pro situations. It beats the X100f in all areas and you can use any lens you desire on it, almost. Even Canon and Nikon. It’s a versatile beast and it also has amazing video quality. The X100f is a cheaper made smaller take anywhere camera that can slide in any bag, or be grabbed running out the door. No muss, no fuss. Pick your poison and cost : )

MY BOTTOM LINE CONCLUSION ON THE FUJI X100F

Fuji has delivered yet another X100 camera, the fourth one since 2011. That is a new X100 every year and a half on average. This version is absolutely the best of the X100 models and the reason why is because it is fully matured, it feels better than ever, has a good battery system for its size, has a wonderful EVF/OVF hybrid and has beautiful color from the standard presets or the custom film emulations. It has wide dynamic range and the lens, while aging, offers a bit of classic and modern thrown in. Not bitingly sharp but pleasing and beautiful in its character.

Many wanted Fuji to release this with an f/1.4 lens but that would have made it larger, and most likely slower. It has taken Fuji 6 years to get this lens to be pretty quick in AF as it is, adding a new bigger lens with a wider aperture would probably have been clunky and slow, and for me the X100 series is about having a beautiful take anywhere capable camera with one 35mm equivalent lens on it to you anywhere you need to go, while learning how to “see” as well. A 35mm lens (or equivalent as we have here) will teach you more than using a zoom for a year and when using a camera like this, day in and out, you will learn how to get the most from the focal length and this can result in better images through time and getting comfy with the system.

ISO 6400 at night, one small table lamp to my right. ACROS mode. NR was at -3

The X100F is a camera you can bond with and while never perfect, and not for everyone, for the money there is nothing that beats it. That is important to know..FOR THE MONEY. If you want a fixed lens camera this and the two full frame beasts, the Leica Q and Sony RX1R series are the only game in town. This one is much cheaper and if you can deal with less shallow DOF and an escape from the richness of a full frame sensor then you will be ecstatic to save $2500 or so on the Fuji X100F over the other two. For those who want all out IQ and pop and wow, the Sony and Leica would be your best bet but it will cost you. For me, I am very happy with the X100F and have decided to keep this one on my shelf to add with my other cameras that have stood the test of time in my house. A good way to have a take anywhere no muss or fuss camera companion and a great way to have Fuji color when I want it without having to invest in lenses for another system.

A WIN/WIN. 

This is the best Fuji X100 to date, and you can take that to the bank. I recommend setting your noise reduction to -4 though as these cameras (Fuji’s in general) have a tendency to really be aggressive with NR if cranked up.

WHERE TO BUY?

My top recommended dealers are below. You will never get screwed over by them and I have used these shops forever. Class A all the way:

B&H Photo Fuji X100F Info and Order Page

Amazon Fuji X100F info and order page

PopFlash.com Info and Order page

CameraQuest Fuji X100F Page


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Nov 262016
 

Just for Fun: Olympus PEN-F with 25 1.2 vs Leica SL with 50 1.4 Summilux ASPH

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Happy Saturday everyone! I slept in and woke up so energized I decided to do something a few have asked me to do for a couple of weeks now. Pit the new fantastic Olympus 25 f/1.2 against the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. Now, as always, I am not doing the nonsense like changing the aperture to match DOF, etc.

Since light gathering is just about the same (a little more with the Oly due to f/1.2 aperture  vs f/1.4) I let the camera choose exposure, and ISO and as expected, they both are exposed the same with slightly higher ISO with the SL due to being f/1.4 vs f/1.2. Exposure is slight different as well (1/80 vs 1/100) due to the slightly different aperture.

I basically wanted to see and show how each lens would render, and each system in regards to DOF and Bokeh quality. We all know that DOF on M4/3 is not the same as full frame. So f/1.2 on an Olympus is around f/2.4 on full frame for DOF. But here, I want to show just what you get with each wide open. Truth be told, they are pretty close with the Leica edging it out for me due to the way the Lux renders. The Olympus is more of a modern perfection lens, the Lux a little more dreamy.

The differences between thee two cameras in real life use is HUGE though.

The Leica SL is pure pro and I am not aware of any digital camera that feels this overbuilt. It’s sleek, smooth, weather sealed, has dual SD slots, and the whole nine years. It also feels like a solid hunk of camera. SOLID. The EVF is amazing, the shutter is beautiful, the menu system is simple, and the controls intuitive once you use it for more than 10 minutes. I could never ever understand anyone who thought using an SL was difficult. To me, it’s the easiest of all digitals to use next to an M. It’s beautiful, and expensive but if you have the cash, it’s damn nice. I love the rich color it puts out above any other camera I own.

Leica SL – 50 1.4 at 1.4

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The PEN is fun, snappy, quick and well, FUN. It’s lightweight, and not a pro camera but it’s pretty damn nice as it is. These two cameras here, along with my Sony A7RII are my fave cameras. The Sony has been since it’s release for all that it can do..VERSATILE. The SL is more exotic of course and the PEN is just lovely. This PEN-F is my fave PEN ever, and that includes the old film classic PEN. It’s an IQ machine as well, with features that are all Olympus.

PEN-F with the 25 1.2

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When it comes to IQ, the differences are not huge here though. You see the DOF difference for sure. But what do you think of the images below?

AGAIN, to those who did not read the above text, this is not a test to match DOF or whatever. It’s a test to show what each system and lens does wide open, when letting the camera meter the scene and choose ISO (Auto). 

CLICK EM!

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I feel that today, cameras and especially LENSES are getting so incredible. Look at what Sony is doing with its G Master line, what Olympus is doing with its PRO line and the upcoming primes Leica has set for the SL (Summilux and Summicron) have new technology that they have been hyping like mad. I expect those new SL lenses to set a benchmark. But how much better can they get? I thought we peaked years ago but these lenses keep getting better and better, but also larger and more expensive. Either way, today, as I have said many times, we have so many choices, and 95% of those choices are excellent. Comes down to personal preference today and how much you want to invest into your camera hobby, addiction or business.

Have a great weekend guys!

MORE…

See my PEN-F Review HERE

See my Leica SL Review HERE, Gallery HERE

Leica 50 Summilux Limited Edition Review HERE

Olympus 25 f/1.2 Lens Review

 

Nov 112016
 

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The No Comprise Olympus 25 f/1.2 Lens. My Review of Olympus’s best fast prime.

By Steve Huff

NOTE: Click images in this review to see them how they were meant to be seen! The small versions you see below have the quality reduced so to see larger, click them!

ORDER: Order this lens at B&H Photo HERE. Or you can Also go with Amazon HERE. 

Wow, it’s been an Olympus whirlwind these past two weeks. From the new E-M1 MKII review to the testing of the new 12-100 f/4 in Iceland  to this lens, the 25 f/1.2, we have been flooded with not only Olympus gear, but some of the best gear they have ever made in my opinion. When I heard the rumors long ago of the new f/1.2 Pro line of lenses (I think there will be one more to come) I was skeptical. How big would an f/1.2 lens have to be, especially when it is a 25mm which are hard to keep small while retaining super quality that is reserved for “Pro” lenses?

I’ve seen no color fringe, RAW or JPEG. I have seen amazing detail when wide open at f/1.2 and this lens features 19 lens elements in 14 groups for maximum quality. 

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Olympus just did not want to release any old normal 25 f/1.2, and make it OK wide open, and usable by f/2…they wanted to make the best fast prime they know how to make. They already have the bargain of the century 25 f/1.8 lens which will also give a 50mm equiv field of view, but that lens, as good as it is for the money, is not going to deliver the goods, IQ, color, and Bokeh like this new f/1.2 can. This new 25 f/1.2 is a masterpiece, and I compare it to the big guns from Leica and Sony more so than any cheap “Nifty Fifty”, which in no way can compete with this lens.

Understand, this is a statement lens from Olympus, to showcase the best they can do. It is not going to be small, it is not going to be cheap, but it is going to deliver some of the best IQ you will ever see with Micro 4/3. Wether you shoot with a Panasonic or Olympus, this is a lens you MUST try or rent or buy if you have been craving this look with Micro 4/3.

Closer in, wide open at f/1.2 and some Vignette added to really pull out the dogs face ;) Click it to see it the right way!

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The last time I was this excited about a fast prime for M 4/3, it was for the Nocticron by Panasonic/Leica. That lens offered an 85mm FOV with a fast f/1.2 light gathering aperture. That lens, and this lens now offer Micro 4/3 users the most shallow DOF they can get at this kind of detail level, period. No other lenses for this format delivers this speed of aperture with this performance. For the M 4/3 haters, you would never understand. But for Micro 4/3 lovers, this is a BIG DEAL. Also, the Nocticron IMO is not as good as this Olympus for all out Image Quality. WHAT?!?! Well, both are stupendously good but the Nocticron offers up a more “digital” feel while the Olympus, still digital of course, offers up a more organic style of rendering that reminds me more of something out of a Leica SL and 50 APO. Well, not quite but you get the point, lol.

This lens is indeed special for Micro 4/3 owners. Anyone who says this lens is not worth the cost either never used it or does not shoot Micro 4/3. Maybe they are the type to shoot  a lens like this at f/8, which defeats the purpose of the beautiful rendering and performance when wide open. I feel that this lens is made to be shot at any aperture though I would stick from f/1.2 to f/8 to avoid diffraction. In other words, for Micro 4/3 it is recommended to not shoot f/11, f/16, etc. But one would never need those apertures on Micro 4/3. This lens is razor sharp at f/1.2 or f/8.

My little dog Olive. A Brussels Griffon with gobs of attitude. f/1.2

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When I pre ordered this lens from Amazon when it was announced I kept wavering back and forth. $1200 is a lot of cash, and for a Micro 4/3 lens? With that money I could almost buy the amazing Sony 50 1.4, which is one of the best 50mm fast primes available today (review here). I could have purchased a new OMD EM1 MKI body. I could have purchased quite a few things instead of “another 50mm equivalent lens” for a system with a small sensor, and a system that is not known to offer tons of “Bokeh” or “Shallow Depth of Field” . But I preordered with the knowledge of knowing that if it sucked, or if it underperformed or if it was just another average 50mm (equiv) lens, I could send it back for a full refund. Amazon is amazing for this. Buy something that is broken, is awful or sucks, or doesn’t live up to the hype? I can have a refund processed the same day I send it back. So I knew I had insurance. I would not be stuck with a lemon if it were to be one. But no way this lens is going back.

This 25 “captures all available light and renders your image in a way that is organic, rich in color and has just the right amount of contrast. Sharpness is off the charts or seems to be visually. When you have a sharp fast lens like this it truly makes your subject be the center of attention. 

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When the lens arrived about 2 days after I returned home from my Iceland trip where I evaluated the new EM1 II, I was surprised. I was not expecting it until 1st week of November but it made it by end of October. The box is larger, which when opened revealed a manual, a lens hood, lens pouch and the beauty itself, the lens..the 25 f/1.2!

I agree..this lens is a Bokeh KING

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While large for M 4/3, and especially when compared to cheap 50’s from Canon, Nikon or Sony or the cheap 25 f/1.8 by Olympus, it is still not large as most DSLR lenses. Shooting a 24 1.4 on Nikon will bring you a MUCH larger and heavier lens. Yep, I said a Nikon and a 24. This Olympus is physically and technically a 25mm lens. It is not a 50mm, so let’s compare size to another 24-25 mm lenses for kicks, with AF, and with a fast aperture if we want to be fair about size. Since no other 25 f/1.2 exists, we can look at the Nikon 24 1.4 which is much larger, and more costly. We can look at the Canon 24 f/1.4 and again, larger, and more expensive. The point is, for what it is, the lens is still small, as it is a 25mm f/1.2 lens

Debby with the 25 f/1.2 at f/1.2, and with some PP. I altered the color here which is why there is a green-ish hue. 

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For size comparison only…

An APS-C Nikon D500 and Nikon 24 1./4 is quite a bit larger than the Olympus PEN-F and 25 f/1.2 I have here, and I would wager that the Olympus 25 is just as good if not better than the Nikon lens in detail wide open, and Bokeh quality. While we lose some DOF (though not much as the Nikon is APS-C)  this lens is stunning when used on the M 4/3 system. The Nikon will give you more of a 36mm FOV, the Oly a 50mm FOV but the lenses are both 24mm lenses (25 for the Oly) in construction.

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In regards to size… If you can sacrifice some contrast, micro contrast, bokeh quality, more shallow DOF, outright detail and overall vibe of the f/1.2, then the f/1.8 can be had for $850 less. So we have choice. Want cheap and small? Go for the f/1.8. Want the ultimate quality that Olympus can put out and the fastest aperture you can get with AF for this system, then this is the lens you want.

If you want to see what it looks like compared to a Canon 5DIV and 50 1.2, here you go. The body of the Oly is much smaller (and quicker to boot) and sharper at f/1.2. You will get less of that crazy shallow DOF of course when wide open, and your ultra low light/high ISO will be hindered with M 4/3 compared to the Canon but in this scenario, the body size is MUCH smaller yet the lens size is longer, and this is due to what I said above..the Olympus is a 25mm lens as advertised, not a 50. Wider angles are always larger, especially ultra high quality like what we have here with the 25 f/1.2. The Oly option below is also about half the cost as the Canon.

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All comes down to needs and likes of the purchaser ;) The Oly on the right is like a sleek sports car, fast, reliable, and fantastic performance. The Canon is more like a luxury sedan. Will be slower, larger… yet deliver the IQ goods like a luxury high end camera can. The Canon option is also 2X the cost as the Olympus option.

Here the lens was coated with water, fog and mist. Yet the shot still came out OK. ;) It’s a little foggy because the front lens element was also a little foggy!

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To those who bash the size and price of this lens when never trying it, well, they are not doing their homework, and I guess they really never appreciated a really really fine lens as there are more expensive equivalent lenses out there that cost more and probably do not perform to this level or at this level. I love to give credit when it is due, and Olympus deserves HUGE praise for this one.

Debby saying “Another picture..OK, only one more” – Lol. Truth be told she is awesome and always puts up with my picture taking without complaint ;) 

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So you know I love this lens, but what about it makes it worth the $1200 price tag? I mean, one has to be really deep into Micro 4/3 to spend $1200 on a lens when the same focal length can be had, by the same manufacturer for $399 in a slightly slower aperture prime lens. So how is $800 worth going from f/1.2 to f/1.8? How is it worth going from a tiny small lens in the f/1.8 to the larger f/1.2?

The 25 f/1.2 is large for Micro 4/3. See the PEN-F with 25 f/1.2 next to a Sony A7RII and 55 1.8 Zeiss. The 55 1.8 Zeiss is a pretty small fast 50 though. If the new Sony 50 1.4 masterpiece was put in this lineup, these two would be dwarfed. 

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For me, and anyone who has been shooting with fast primes most of their life, this new lens is a welcome addition to the ever growing Olympus Zuiko lens lineup. If you own and shoot M 4/3 and have always had a love for the look a fast prime can bring you, then you will be thrilled with this lens. If you value micro contrast of pro lenses, color performance of pro lenses, speed of pro lenses and a Bokeh that may be the most beautiful I have seen yet then you owe it to your self to give this lens a go. It is not overly heavy, and while larger than the usual Micro 4/3 fare, it is because of what is packed inside.

Weatherproof, Quick AF, Whisper Quiet AF for Movies, and a Z Coating Nano to eliminate ghosting and flare. Wow. This is why this lens cost what it does.

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This lens even has the Olympus pro weather sealing, and it can focus close to about 10-11 inches. That’s awesome. Paired with the new EM1 II, this lens can withstand any weather situation. Rain, snow, sleet or hail ;)

So the answer to why it would be worth the $800 investment over the 25 1.8 to some shooters who shoot with this system, ask yourself the following:

  1. Do you value overall IQ over everything else?
  2. Do you want or need weather sealing?
  3. Do you want the ability to shoot full frame style shots in regards to Subject isolation and Bokeh?
  4. Do you want the best in regards to detail and sharpness, even when at f/1.2?
  5. Do you want a lens that will be the best for low light with your Micro 4/3 gear?
  6. Do you want a lens that will focus fast and accurately?
  7. Do you want to own the best overall fast Prime Olympus makes? (well, that is my opinion)
  8. Do you want minimal CA and distortion?

If you answered YES to those questions I have no doubt you will LOVE this lens. I have been shooting it for two weeks now and truly have found no weakness. I can not even complain about the size or cost as the size, for me, is just fine. It is smaller than the 7-14 Pro I use all the time, and it is comfy to shoot even with the PEN-F and my JB Designs Grip. 

I have seen such minimal (if none at all) purple fringing, even when shooting RAW, which tells me this lens is well corrected and a pleasure to see since most fast lenses today suffer from some pretty bad CA in our digital world. Distortion? No barrel distortion here and I see a lack of wide angle distortions as well. Reminds me of good Leica wide angle lenses that have minimal distortions.

This lens renders quite a bit like the expensive exotic lenses I have tested in the past. 

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Monochrome mode #3 on the PEN-F (Tri-X Simulation)

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Wide open…

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Let’s see some details

So let’s take a look at the details and sharpness of this lens. What I have found is this lens behaves much like a good Leica lens. Sharp wide open, almost MEANT to be shot at f/1.2, this lens will deliver detail and sharpness to your images no matter the aperture. This lens is making a serious case for Micro 4/3, and not because this lens does things other lenses do not do, but more of what the bodies do. Small, fast, fun to use, and in the case of the EM1 and EM1 MKII, you get so much for your dollars in regards to speed, response, weather sealing, pro features, etc. These cameras are just a joy to shoot as they do not hunt for AF, they do not lag..they are quick and with the line of lenses we have today, they perform in all aspects of IQ. I said when the original EM1 was launched that (at that time) I would have taken that camera over any APS-C model. I feel the same today. I just do not see much improvement TODAY in APS-C that I am seeing in Micro 4/3 (in regards to body design and speed and features). For example I’d be happier and more comfy shooting a PEN-F and this lens over a D500 and Nikon lens simply due to size, and what the PEN-F offers me and my style of shooting.

The fact is this lens with a good M 4/3 body will deliver on all aspects of what makes photography so enjoyable. Great Color, Smooth Bokeh, Nice Subject Separation, Sharp Details, Speed, and Reliability in any weather.

A few detail crop shots…click them to see the 100% crop and larger image! I see no faults with this lens. 

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That fingerprint on a beer glass is amazing. When I shot the image I did not see the fingerprint. I was taking it as a Bokeh example at f/1.2, When I looked at the image I was impressed to see that detail when wide open! The fact is that this lens is a masterpiece from the way it renders an image to the detail capabilities it has on tap.

The MF Clutch, the Function button, and an 8 inch close focus distance. Use that 5 Axis with an Oly body and you have a lens you can hand hold for close to one second, at f/1.2 allowing you to keep ISO lower.

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Just a few of the old reviews from previous Micro 4/3 lenses below:

Olympus 17 1.8 Review

Olympus 25 1.8 Review

Olympus 75 1.8

Olympus 8mm fisheye

Olympus 60 Macro Review

Olympus 300 MM Pro

Olympus 45 1.8

Panasonic Noctocron 42.5 f/1.2

Bokeh at f/1.2

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The subject separation is fantastic with the detail at your subject, making it pop but in a nice gentle way. 

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Low Light with this lens and an Olympus PEN-F?

While this lens and body combo will not deliver high ISO performance like a Canon 5D MK whatever or a Sony A7S series camera, you can get by up to ISO 10K if you shoot black and white ;) This was a low light night time shot, inside my house. No light here, it was low light. I cranked the PEN-F to ISO 10,000, set the lens to f/1.2, set the camera to Mono mode 2, turned off the artificial noise that is added to that mode and fired the shot. This is the out of camera JPEG:

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Low low light in my kitchen. Night time. 

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So this lens does open up some more low light opportunities. With the 25 f/1.8 I would have had to be higher than ISO 10,000 on the shot of my dog above. It also renders in such a gorgeous way.

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My Bottom Line on the Olympus 25 f/1.2 lens

So I have used them all, and know them all when it comes to Micro 4/3 lenses. This one is up there with the best Olympus makes, and is without question to me, the best fast prime lens Olympus makes. It has the AF speed that we will be happy with (though in the dark it will hunt a tad with a PEN-F body), it has a wide aperture allowing maximum light gathering, it offers the creamiest Bokeh I have seen in a long while, and it offers detail, even when wide open that helps to create the lovely rendering and 3D subject seperation that it does. If you are a fast lens junkie but maybe NOT a fan of busy, overly done Bokeh then this one may be up your alley. If you are not thrilled with fast lenses being hard to focus due to the shallow DOF, this one offers just enough but not quite enough to allow your images to be in focus. If you shoot Micro 4/3, then you owe it to yourself to give this lens a try. It has the manual focus clutch for an instant switch to manaul or auto focus, and it has a programmable function button as well, so you can assign it to focus peaking for example when you go manual.

Three using the 25 on the EM1 MKII, all OOC JPEG for these

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BTW, I NOW CALL THIS THE BOKEH KING LENS OF 2016 ;) It has the most pleasing Bokeh I have seen with anything in Micro 4/3 to date. Up there with the best Bokeh lenses ever for QUALITY and smoothness of Bokeh. It is never offensive or busy!

I usually get many wanting me to do comparisons with lens A, B, C or X but this lens is not really one we can compare to most cheap 50’s. I did a side by side with my Sony full frame and 55 Zeiss HERE, and will do a couple more in the future. But Sony lenses do not work on an Olympus M 4/3 camera and vice versa, so the only lens this one should be compared to is the Olympus 25 1.8 and the Panasonic 25 1.4 when it comes to image quality.

I have owned and used both of those lenses extensively and will do a new post in 2-3 weeks comparing them all but for now, by memory and past images I have taken, this lens offers up better IQ, better contrast and color, micro contrast,  better build, weather sealing and fastest AF of all. It also gives us that f/1.2 aperture and the best Bokeh of the lot by far.

It’s costly at $1200, it is larger than most M 4/3 lenses, and it is not going to make you a “no light shooter” with Micro 4/3 but it delivers on IQ. It’s a true pro weather sealed lens as well. It does not get much better than this in the world of Micro 4/3. Put this lens in the hand of a wedding pro and I expect great things to happen. Actually, I think this is a HUGE welcome for Wedding Pros who shoot Micro 4/3 (and yes I know a few who do, and they are wonderful). It will give M 4/3 shooters an edge that they never quite had before when it comes to all out IQ.

A Snap of my Dog Baby, who truly is a big Baby. 

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Debby this time with a smile ;) 

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WHERE TO BUY?

If you want to buy this lens, the links are below from my top recommended Olympus dealers online. 

BUY THE OLYMPUS 25 F/1.2 AT B&H PHOTO

BUY THE OLYMPUS 25 f/1.2 AT AMAZON

 

Bold color from the PEN-F Chrome Mode

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Nice Color and Tone

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Bokeh that is smooth as silk

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f/1.2

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Bicycle

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I will be using this lens for product shots as well due to the detail, color and close focus of this lens. What is this device? See it here. And yes, it is real. 

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Wide open, 1.2  – focus on straw

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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 8 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.

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Nov 092016
 

Crazy Comparison! Sony A7RII and 55 1.8 vs Olympus PEN-F and 25 f/1.2

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Man, I have been doing these crazy comparisons for years and years now, and every time I do there are many comments and many who like to be outspoken about this or that..but remember, these are all in fun and while they are real world side by side tests that show real world differences, they are not meant to be scientific tests, as that is not what this site has ever been about. It’s about WYSIWYG from each camera and what you can expect out of a specific combo of body and lens. This time, we have a full frame vs a micro 4/3 body and are looking at Depth of Field  and light gathering.

This morning as I sit at my desk I was looking at my Sony A7RII and 55 1.8 Zeiss sitting next to my silver Olympus PEN-F with Olympus 25 f1.2 attached. I remember someone asking me to do this comparison, and figured it could be fun. I immediately thought “well, the Olympus will lose on ISO noise, will lose at shallow DOF and will lose on detail”. But hey, I love my PEN-F and 25 1.2. So I wanted to see how it would go.

Now, it is true that using the 25 f/1.2 on the PEN-F would give me a Depth of Field like that of a 50mm lens at f/2.4 on full frame. Light gathering is the same, so ISO was set to 1000 for two of these shots, and wide open on the Olympus at f/1.2 vs f/2.4 on the Sony, as these are equivalent apertures.

You must click each image to see the larger image. ISO 1000 for both.

Top one is from the PEN-F and 25 f/1.2 at 1.2. You will see more noise in the Micro 4/3 shot at ISO 1000. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…and below is the Sony A7RII with 55 1.8 at f/2.5 to match the DOF of the Olympus. ISO 1000, less noise than the Micro 4/3 shot as we expect. 

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In the image above I prefer the Olympus rendering but I do because it is warmer (a trait of the Olympus color signature), it seems more inviting due to this warmth. The Sony renders cooler out of camera and always has and will, but it could have been warmed up in post to match the Olympus, so technically, the Sony will give you better IQ due to more MP, more DR, and the ability to go even more shallow with the DOF. But what about detail? This is a spot where Micro 4/3 can indeed do well in some cases…

The Olympus PEN-F with the 25 f/1.2 at 1.2. This lens is stunning wide open, and delivers sharpness and pop that rivals most high end f/2 50mm lenses. 

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Wide open with the Sony A7RII and 55 1.8, this time wide open at f/1.8 which allows us to see the depth of field difference. The Olympus is at an f/1.2 aperure but it is technically a 25mm lens, not a 55mm. So we will get the DOF or Bokeh from a 25mm lens (less) compared to the 55 (more) as the longer in focal length you go, the more shallow DOF that is possible. 

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To me, both shots above from the Olympus win me over in regards to the color signature. Some will prefer the Sony here as some prefer cooler and some will not care as we know each photo could be made to look the same with some color tweaks. What this test tells me though is that Micro 4/3 owners have a lens here that IMO is a must own if you like fast aperture and a 50mm equiv. focal length! It truly is a joy to use and the PEN-F focused about 2X as fast as the Sony for these two shots. It was instant with the 25 f/1.2. The Sony hunted for a second or two for these shots in the same light. The Olympus PEN-f is for sure the faster and most fun camera to shoot of the two but in the end, when shooting RAW the Sony will eek out more power and more depth to the iQ.

With full frame, we use real 50mm lenses to get 50mm. With a crop sensor like on M 4/3 we are using wider angle glass in the 25mm, so this is going to always produce a wider DOF. Light gathering though, is another story. The Olympus f/1.2 is an f/1.2 in light gathering terms.

Do not believe me? TAKE A LOOK BELOW:

Both cameras, one full frame, one micro 4/3. Same ISO, same aperture, and same exposure. They look the same in exposure as both were shot at f/2, same ISO of 200, and same shutter speed of 1.6s. This proves that both lenses, on these different systems, full frame and micro 4/3 give us the same light gathering capabilities. The weakness in Micro 4/3 due to the smaller sensor is that it will have higher noise levels once we crank the ISO up.

Click to see larger. The Olympus with 25 f/1.2 at f/2 ISO 200, 1/6s, tripod

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now the Sony and 55 at f/2, ISO 200 and 1/6 second, tripod. The Sony will give us a more shallow DOF which is why the crop is blurred. The camera focused on the copper wire and therefore, due to the razor thin DOF, what is behind the copper is slightly out of focus. Some call this a weakness of larger sensors and fast glass. 

But as for exposure? Just about the same. The Sony added in +3 exposure comp even though I was in all manual. Therefore it is a shade lighter. 

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Me, I love both systems. I use them both and have a ton of shots and time on my Sony A7RII. The PEN-F is getting much more time lately though, with the 25 1.2 and my 7-14 pro. My full review of the 25 f/1.2 should be up by the end of the week. Then after that, I will do my review of the Fuji X-T2 ;)

Have a great day everyone!

Nov 082016
 

It’s Election day, so get out and VOTE! Plus the Olympus 25 f/1.2 Review..coming soon..

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Here in the USA it is Election Day!!! After a year and a half of being flooded with both sides and their campaigns on TV, radio and everywhere it is finally just about OVER!! But as Americans, we MUST exercise our right to vote, using our voice and our power so please get out and VOTE if you are capable! No matter who you vote for, no matter if you are democrat, republican or independent or green, voting is the power of the people, it is our power. This one may be a nail biter or it may be a landslide, and can truly go either way. So have a great Election day here in the USA!

I will be out and about shooting my Olympus PEN-F and new 25 f/1.2, which I am seriously in love with. ;) My review of the lens will be up by end of the week! Until then…

One quick detail shot with the 25 f/1.2 at 1.2 on the PEN-F. Look at the detail wide open, the bokeh, the color… This lens is GORGEOUS and seriously makes M 4/3 that much more desirable to me. You must click the image to see it larger! THIS IS AT f/1.2!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oct 202016
 

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The Olympus 7-14 Pro Zoom. (DON’T) FIGHT THE ADDICTION.

By Craig Litten

You can order the Olympus 7-14 Pro Zoom at B&H photo HERE. 

The Acceptable Double Standard

I remember back in photo school, way back in the early 90’s, long before anyone thought about digital photography or dared even imagine that one day film would become obsolete and nearly extinct, I remember overhearing the story of one of my photo professor’s speaking about a particular student’s work. Perhaps he said it during a critique, or perhaps, and most likely, he mentioned it to the other professors in private, but the story got out. I still remember the story to this day because I found it so humorous. Apparently this particular student overused wide angle lenses for his work, so what this professor said about him was: “He thought he had a style until he put away his wide angle lens.” This is pretty funny, and perhaps, as a student who’s still learning, the professor may have been correct. Wide angle lenses are fun, they have the ability of producing surreal images at times, and they are very useful, but too much of a good thing, especially at the learning stage, can sometimes be a bad thing. The same could be said for photographers who shoot their wide aperture lenses wide open all of the time … “You thought you had a style until…” But the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro just might be the exception to the rule, the acceptable double standard, the one that you can glue to your camera and keep in your bag—just maybe. What is it about super-wide lenses that keep us coming back, and perhaps even get us addicted to them? I think it’s just because they make every photo look so cool!

Olympus PEN-F with 7-14 Pro Zoom

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

The Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro is a special lens. It’s effectively a 14-28mm (35mm equivalent) lens (let’s not get started, just accept it and move on—you know who you are). I remember when Nikon released their 14-24mm f2.8 zoom—it was a pretty big deal back then, but we take such exotic lenses more for granted today. Olympus, on their full 4/3 system, also had a 7-14mm, and it was highly regarded, but it was only an f4. Pentax has a similar f2,8 lens, but it isn’t quite as wide at 15mm, but does zoom a tad bit closer to 30mm. I think It’s better to have the extra “reach” on the wide end though because you can’t always back up—see the photo of the fresnel lens atop of the lighthouse for instance. I was shooting at the widest focal length of 7mm (14mm equivalent), and had no room to move or back up. Of course were comparing apples to oranges in one sense as the Nikon and Pentax lenses are full frame lenses, but the effective focal length (or what you can get into the frame) is similar. The Olympus is by far the smallest, it zooms wider than the Pentax and closer than the Nikon, it’s the least expensive of the three and it’s fully weather sealed. It also has full manual focus override with the push/pull clutch mechanism, and a dedicated function button. And it’s built to last.

SIZE, Next to the Zeiss 25mm Batis for Sony E Mount

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

This Lens Oozes Quality

I’ll never forget the first time I held a real Leica M lens in my hands. I was surprised, almost shocked, at how heavy it was—not just heavy but dense. If at that moment someone would have blindfolded me beforehand and placed the lens in my hand, I would have guessed that it was a piece of lead. It’s hard to compare the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 to a Leica lens by feel and weight alone, because even though this lens is not considered a large lens, it is very dense and solid with a good heft to it. This lens oozes quality from the all-metal mount to the bulbous front element. It really is a thing of beauty and feels incredible in the hand. The zoom is stiff and smooth with a nice weightiness to it, and the focus ring, when clicked into manual focus mode, is also smooth and has hard stops on either end like all the Olympus lenses with clutch mechanisms in them. I wouldn’t call either buttery smooth, but smooth with a quality feel. It makes my excellent Sony Zeiss lenses (ZA FE 35mm f2.8 and ZA FE 55mm f1.8) feel like toys—almost. The Olympus Pro line alone is enough to make you switch to m43.

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

After all, a system is only as good its lenses right? For years people on Internet forums were bragging about how great the depth and breadth m43 lenses were. At the time, I silently disagreed because I saw mostly cheap-looking, slow zooms. Much has changed though, as the m43 line is nearly fully mature. The Olympus’ Pro line and all the great glass recently released by Panasonic has changed the game in my opinion. And with the second installment of the OM-D E-M1 (mark II) coming soon, as well as the GH5 promised for next year, this format is a force to be reckoned with. Besides that, Olympus is now upping the game for video too, which many have waited and longed for. These new lenses are of true pro quality, and even though there are those who scoff at the small sensors of m43, nobody who physically holds and uses these lenses can argue that they are not pro quality. Another advantage of this lens is that, unlike the 300mm f4 Pro I recently reviewed, the smaller sensor of the m43 gives a depth-of-field advantage, it’s wide and deep—exactly what you want in a super-wide.

The E-M1 and 7-14 next to the Pentax K1 and Nikon D5

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If you’ve owned or used any of the other Olympus Pro-series zooms, you’ll be instantly familiar with how this lens feels as there are no surprises here—it’s excellent. It’s all metal, except the built-in lens hood which is high quality hard plastic. I image this is so that it will protect without bending should you ever drop your lens. The lens is also weather sealed as expected. The zoom ring is nice and wide, about twice that of the focus ring, and both are made of grippy, knurled metal. There is also a knurled metal ring near the lens mount, giving it a better grip to aid in mounting and unmounting the lens. The lens also features an L-Fn, or function button, that can be used as a focus hold button, or assigned the usual myriad of features at your disposal. When you click the focus ring into manual focus mode, it includes painted focus marks that appear to be both in feet and meters, but the text is quite sparse and, in my opinion, not all that helpful for zone focusing. But with a lens this wide you can probably guess zone focus and be right nine times out of ten.

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Finally, the front element is quite impressive, but protrudes (because it’s fisheye shaped or convex) past the lens hood on either side, but not on the top and bottom. Because of this, it’s prone to flair if you’re not careful when zoomed between 7mm to 9mm. I don’t think it’s a big deal really, but wanted you to be aware of it. Personally I like lens flair, but not everyone does. Also, because of this I always take care to zoom out to a longer focal length (so that the lens retracts for protection) when walking around to help prevent any possible accidentally bumping of the front element.

The lens doesn’t accept filters either, so there is no way to protect the front element with a UV or skylight filter, but only by installing the lens cap. If I owned this lens I would forgo my usual practice of immediately placing the lens cap in the box upon opening it (and storing it until I decided to sell the lens), as I always install a B+W UV filter to protect my newly purchased lenses. The lens cap is outstanding and pops in place nicely. I don’t foresee anyone complaining about this one.

How’s She Handle?

The lens handles outstandingly, is well balanced and feels great. It zooms smoothly, focuses fast, and is just the right size. Again, like with the Olympus 300mm f4 Pro, I was using it on Steve’s little Olympus Pen F (with a grip) and it wasn’t too bad. The grip really helped. I think that it play best on the Olympus flagship OM-D E-M1 series, and the E-M5 and E-M10—especially with the grips. I so wish Olympus would get rid of the Evolt name (which is the E in the naming of their cameras), it’s so difficult to remember and write. If I owned this lens, I would be hard-pressed to remove it from my camera as it’s a blast to shoot and experiment with.

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

When I first started shooting digitally 16 years ago (August 2000), I was given a brand new Canon D2000 (Google this relic) by the newspaper I was working for. It was basically a Canon EOS1n film body with a Kodak sensor, and it was huge (but that’s beside the point). It had what is known today as an APS-C sensor in it (there was no such thing as full frame back then), so it had a 1.6x crop factor. Because of this my 16-35mm f2.8 lens became basically a 26-56mm lens for practical use. This wasn’t wide enough for many different assignments and when I needed something wider, I had to revert back to shooting film. Eventually though, the newspaper got rid of all the film machines and darkroom equipment, and all the film camera bodies sat on the shelf. Because we needed wider lenses, the only solution was for the newspaper to purchased a Canon 14mm lens. But this 14mm was only about a 22-23mm equivalent lens—not exactly a super-wide. It cost over $2,000 back then, and the budget just didn’t allow for us to buy more than one copy because the paper just got done shelling out over $15,000 each for the Canon D2000’s. The Canon 14mm became a pool piece of equipment, and all of the photographers had to share it. So in theory, I’d be able to have a wide lens for the assignments that called for it—if I could figure out which photographer was hoarding it in the trunk of his car. Practically though this never worked out too well, and I rarely got to shoot with it. So even today, for me, and I would guess most photographers who started shooting in the digital era, shooting a 14mm ( equivalent focal length), will be a real treat that could be come a total addiction.

IQ

In one word: outstanding! I’m simply amazed by how distortion-free this lens is. It basically has zero distortion. I shot RAW+jpeg, and when importing the images into Lightroom nothing changed. Those of you who own and shoot Olympus already understand this, but it was a surprise to me. Perhaps Olympus corrects distortion in camera (even in RAW)? Or perhaps the 7-14m is just that good. To me it doesn’t matter. What matters is the final result, and it is par excellence.

I’ve included tons of samples at different distances and focal lengths to give you a better idea of its performance. There is one particular image shot on top of a parking garage showing lines and shadows with plenty of blue sky which really shows just how well corrected this lens is.

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And another macro shot of a tree frog only inches from my lens.

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

One example that really shows how super wide lenses can distort though, is the photo of the yellow sculpture taken up close. In the photo the sculpture looks like an oval, when in reality it’s a perfect circle. But this is an extreme case as most of the time when shooting with a lens this wide you will make adjustments to your angle and distance to the subject, if possible, to make you subject look as good as possible.

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Finally, on the other hand, the grainy B&W shot (this is a camera preset) of men fishing on a pier with a bike in the foreground displays the amazing distortion control this lens has. Look at how perfectly round the rear bike tire is. The tire was very close to my lens and in the extreme portion of the frame among the far edge. I find this astonishing. My old Canon 16-35 would have made the bike wheel look like an egg.

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Most of the images I posted with this review were shot at a middle aperture, but I did however, shoot at almost every aperture. I only shot at f22 once and found that it to be fairly soft—most likely because of diffraction. If you’re an m43 shooter you probably already know this and avoid the really small apertures. I also found the lens to be extremely sharp, punchy and contrasty and handle flair very well except from the extreme sides. But considering it has such a convex from element, it does very well. The lens is exceptionally sharp at closer, near macro distances too. An example of this is again the shot of the tree frog, which is exceptionally sharp.

Another is the shot of the espresso cups on a table. You can easily see the texture in the napkin and the fine grains of sugar.

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Corner sharpness is very good to excellent for my type of shooting, but if you’re a landscape photographer or architectural photographer, you will most likely be more critical than I am. For everyday use, travel and most photographic applications I’d say corner sharpness is excellent. For those who demand the most from their lenses, I’d recommend studying as many full size photos as possible, or possibly renting the lens for a few days before buying it. Again, for most uses it’s not a factor in my opinion, but I don’t want to recommend it without knowing what your higher standards demand in these fields of photography. I’ve included plenty of full size photos for you do download and study. The shot inside of the lighthouse fresnel lens is a great example of just how good the lens performs at it’s widest setting (7mm).

Fun Factor

This is where this lens really shines. It’s a blast to see what things look like with such a wide perspective. You’ll find yourself photographing stuff you normally wouldn’t just to see what it looks like when photographed. And the macro ability of the lens is so good that it actually doubles the fun. You’ll find yourself shooting stuff like your car’s steering wheel, garbage on the street, a leaf, whatever. Like I said before, shooting with this lens is borderline addicting. Probably the biggest challenge I found using this lens is zooming out. I had to force myself to “test” every focal length and not just shoot at 7mm (14mm). If you’re on the fence about buying it and have the funds to do so, let me push you over the fence and encourage you to get it. You won’t regret it, and it will open up a whole new world of photographic potential.

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

It was actually good for me to test this lens because most of the time I shoot with a 35mm or a 50mm lens. I only employ telephoto lenses when an assignment calls for it, or if I’m shooting sports or action. As Elliott Erwitt once said: “Anything over 50mm is cheating.” And for me, anything wider than 28mm is usually too wide. My preferences fall between 24mm and 85mm, so using this lens stretched my preferences. Part of not wanting to shoot wider than 24mm in the past, for me, was the distortion. The Olympus 7-14mm solves this. Again, it blows away the original Canon 16-35mm f2.8 that I used to shoot with for years. Photography is about creativity, and this lens provides opportunity for creativity in spades.

Shots at 7mm and 14mm

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

The Perfect Combo & the Bottom Line

If I shot Olympus, and was a photojournalist, editorial, documentary or travel photographer, I’d forgo the Olympus Pro 12-40mm (24-80mm equivalent) altogether, and get the three lenses listed below:

• Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro
• Olympus 25mm f1.2 Pro
• Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro

This would give you the perfect combo, in my opinion, to cover basically anything. You would have the equivalent of:

• 14-28mm
• 50mm
• 80-300mm

Even though this lens is classified as a super-wide zoom, it does zoom into the realm of a normal wide (28mm), and the distortion is controlled so well (basically nonexistent) that I see it as an everyday lens (in spite of what my photo professor says). Adding the 25mm f1.2 Pro will give you the normal coverage you need along with a super fast aperture to cover extremely low light situations. And the fact that it’s a prime lens, it’s smaller and lighter and will lighten your gear load. I just know that if I owned both the 7-14mm and the 12-40mm, it would be a constant struggle as to which lens I’d want to have on my camera. If you’re a portrait photographer, I think swapping out the 7-14mm for the 12-40mm would be the way to go.

Nevertheless, as you’ve probably already guessed, I can’t recommend this lens enough. I would rate it as “Highly Recommended” for just about anyone who owns this system and can afford it. It has everything you crave in a lens. It’s relatively small, weather sealed, exceptionally well built, balanced, sharp and practically distortion free.

Those of you who follow Steve regularly know that he only reviews gear that he likes. Other review sites review just about everything that comes across the table. Even though he has passed this review to me, it wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t like the lens. When you review gear that you already like, the reviews are going to be of a positive nature. This same principle applies to me. I wouldn’t review gear that I didn’t already like, and I’m very open-minded when it comes to quality gear, so this is why all of my reviews are mostly positive in nature. Please keep this in mind before bing too critical with your comments. Thanks for reading!

WHERE TO BUY?

BUY THE OLYMPUS 7-14 AT B&H PHOTO

BUY THE OLYMPUS 7-14 AT AMAZON


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 8 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. 

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Few more shots…

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

 

Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Review Image for Steve Huff Photo. (Photo by Craig Litten).

Aug 192016
 

FIRST LOOK REVIEW: The Panasonic Leica 12mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH Lens

By Steve Huff

Hey hey hey! It’s Friday and what better day to post a new 1st look in hands review of a hot new lens? I have been waiting for this lens since it was announced as I have a nice appreciation for the already fantastic Olympus 12mm f/2 lens that I have used and adored on many occasions. While I no longer own the Olympus 12mm f/2 (due to owning that focal length in the 7-14 pro) I do remember enjoying it for its tiny size, jewel like appearance and wonderful performance and color. Many have stated the Olympus 12mm f/2 is slightly soft wide open, and I will agree on that point though I do not say “soft”…I say it is more “subdued” at f/2 and not bitingly sharp as some lenses are, like this new Leica/Pana 12mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH. Even so, the Olympus 12mm comes in at only $599 these days (used to be $799) vs $1200 of this new Pana/Leica f/1.4 12mm.

SO THIS LENS IS DOUBLE THE COST OF THE OLYMPUS 12MM F/2! Is it worth it? 

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Well, that I can not answer just yet if this lens is worth $600 over the Oly 12mm as I am only getting started using this lens. What I will tell you is all about my 1st 24 hours with this new 12mm f/1.4 and what I think of its speed, handling, and performance so far with my Olympus PEN-F. 

Without question it is built better and feels better than the 12mm Olympus, this is a fact. It has that “inspires confidence” feeling and as cool as the manual aperture dial is, it is a shame it is not functional on Olympus bodies. Yep, we must use the thumb dial when using a Olympus Micro 4/3 body to change the aperture. If you shoot with a Panasonic body then the manual aperture dial can be used on the lens just like we can with the incredible 42.5 f/1.2 Nocticron and 15 1.7 Pana/Leica lenses. In fact, these Pana/Leica lenses are some of my new faves in the Micro 4/3 world. My #1 fave lens in M 4/3 is the Nocticron. I love the 15 1.7 for its dramatic contrast and color rendering and I also am digging this new 12 right out of the gate as it seems to have the same style as the other Pana Leica lenses. The 12 will give you a 24mm equivalent and the 15 will be a 30mm equiv. So just a tad wider with the 12 over the 15 here in Micro 4/3 land.

Crisp, sharp, deep contrast and colors..all signatures of these Pana/Leica lenses for M 4/3. I like it. 

CLICK IT FOR LARGER!

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Peek a Boo…

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Wide enough for tight quarters…

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Since this is a first look review it means I have only spent 24 hours with the lens so far. Not enough time for me to wax poetic about the lens as I am not 100% sure I would spend DOUBLE the cost on it over the Olympus 12mm f/2, or even spend $100 over the incredible Olympus 7-14 Pro 2.8. Then again, I just might, and I also am considering going for all Pana/Leica glass for my M 4/3 cameras. This 12mm, the 25 1.4, the Nocticron which would give me a very nice set of 24, 50 and 85mm (equivalent) lenses. But even so, I love my 7-14 Pro, I do not see myself getting rid of that beauty.

So far in these 1st 24 hours, I have used it as much as I would any lens in 24 hours. I recently shot and reviewed the Leica M-D with the 28 Summilux f/1.4. A super basic simplified powerhouse and a $12,000 combo. This M 4/3 combo gives me 24mm equivalent (in full frame) and with my Pen-F the total cost would be around $2400 or so, or close to $10,000 less than the Leica setup. Which one was more fun to shoot? Well, fun factor always goes to the PEN. If you ask me which one was more liberating and enjoyable I would say the Leica M-D without hesitation.

Even so, this lens does what no Leica lens can ever do..focus close. This guy will focus close up to 0.2 meters. It has a metal lens hood that fits snug and tight and does not make the lens look HUGE. It has an AF/MF dial on the side to change from manual focus to auto. The Auto focus is blazing fast in decent light, slowing a tad in low light but overall VERY quick, and accurate. That is one benefit of smaller sensors as the smaller the sensor, the quicker the Auto Focus for most. Micro 4/3 hits that sweet spot again with AF speed over full frame offerings.

This lens is a beautiful M 4/3 lens, no way around it.

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So it is always nice to keep things in perspective. Here I am with a kit that many feel is way expensive at $2400 for body and lens yet I feel it is not so expensive when I just reviewed a $12k setup offering a similar focal length and size. So when I shoot the Pen-F and this Pana/Leica 12mm I feel it is such a deal for what we get as I have to compare it in my mind to other similar cameras and lenses I have shot. So for me, $2400 for the PEN-F (or even a GX8) plus this 12mm f/1.4 is a decent buy for what we get while the Leica M setup is overpriced for what we get (but oh so enjoyable).

For those that do not want to take a loan out for a camera, Micro 4/3 is serious enough for some pros, yet fun and easy enough for amateurs. It’s a great starting point for someone who wants to get serious about their photography. These Pana/Leica lenses are also a great starting point for the VERY serious ;) They will deliver the goods without question.

Color is great as usual with these Pana/Leica lenses… f/1.4

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Grey skies on the way…12mm f/1.4

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Never once while shooting this Pen-F and 12mm f/1.4 did I ever say to myself “this sucks” or “this is so lacking” or “I wish I had my full frame setup”. Nope, it just worked time after time. Nailing focus very quickly, providing fantastic color and details and also giving that same Pana/Leica look the other lenses in the line give. Some will say it has a touch of Leica and while Leica does NOT make this lens, they do provide input on the lens design to Panasonic, which is why their name is on the lens. But to be clear, this is NOT a Leica lens, it is a Panasonic lens with input from Leica on the design.

Even so, that input seems to have done something for the lenses in the Pana/Leica line. They all have a “crisp beauty” that is never harsh or hard yet always crisp, colorful and beautiful.

Click it to see the crispness of this lens. 

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After so many years of reviewing cameras, lenses and accessories one gets “jaded” at times. I get to use so many great lenses, the best in the world. It is easy for me to be spoiled by the good stuff which is why I only review gear that I adore and love and would buy myself. If a piece of gear leaves me bored or un inspired I skip the review, which is not a smart business move for this website (as I could get more traffic, more click through to shops, which in turn would help bring in more $$ to support this site) but I am odd like that. I only want to review what I would buy and what I would have passion writing about.

Using a VSCO Filter on this one…

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This is one of those lenses that I would buy, and one I would and am loving writing about. While I do not have an Olympus 12mm f/2 on hand, I can indeed spot the differences from memory which include this lens having a more biting contrast… Deeper blacks. It is more crisp looking and offers a faster aperture of f/1.4. It is larger, has a manual aperture ring and feels like a solid, well made lens. It is heavier than the Olympus as well and it has some Leica DNA in it in the form of design and glass used. SO….I do feel already that it is a better lens than the aging Olympus 12mm, but even so, the little Oly is the little lens that could, it is fantastic, and $600 less expensive. This one though, it just takes it up a notch in all areas, as it should for double the price.

Right out of camera color. Even at f/1.4 this guy has plenty of detail. 

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I hope to get an Olympus 12mm f/2 in to do a great side by side with and test all apertures but I can already tell this lens takes it up a notch and is worthy of the “Leica” badge on its face. The 12mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH for Micro 4/3 is beautiful in every way…so far..in the 1st 24 hours. I can only see myself falling for it even more as time goes on and I will then have to decide if I want to buy this review unit or send it back. Like I said, I own the already beautiful Olympus 7-14 f/2.8 Pro but it can not do f/1.4, it does not have the same color/contrast signature and it does not put out images quite like this lens does. I also own the Sony/Zeiss 16-35 f/4 for my A7RII but again, this lens is more detailed, crisp, has better color and is more fun to shoot due to smaller size.

Seems like a win/win all the way around for Micro 4/3 shooters. This is a lens you may want to rent or take a serious look at if you shoot with a Panasonic or Olympus  Micro 4/3 body.

WHERE TO BUY?

This lens came from B&H Photo, and they have the 12mm f/1.4 Summilux IN STOCK NOW. Check it out here. 

MORE SAMPLES BELOW, CLICK THEM FOR LARGER and to see the 100% Crop in the 1st image. 

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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 received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

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

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

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

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

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

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

Aug 172016
 

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First Look Video & Images: Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Summilux Lens for Micro 4/3

UPS guy just dropped off a lens I have been excited about trying out. The new Panasonic Leica 12mm f/1.4 Summilux for Micro 4/3 has landed! Literally, just about 2 hours ago.

Since I have yet to seriously shoot it or use it, I just made a first look and thoughts video, and have 2-3 images I snapped for fun to see the character…and I like it so far. The build is solid, the style reminds me of a baby Noctilux or Nocticron and the focus is very fast. As fast as I would ever need. I would guess that this beats the Olympus 12mm f/2 for pop and pizazz even though I’ve always loved the Olympus. This guy is a new beast. Larger, feels great on the camera, has a manual aperture dial (for use on Panasonic cameras) and the contrast and color appears to be fantastic in my initial tests.

The price is a shocker though…$1297! WOW! That’s more pricey than the Olympus 7-14 Pro 2.8! BUT IT IS MUCH LESS than the Leica 21 Summilux for the M mount ;) hehehe.

So enjoy the video below, and look for my full review of this lens soon! Also have a full review of the Olympus 300mm pro coming and a Sony 70-200 G master review!

a couple backyard shots minutes after I unboxed it…right out of camera…click for larger. All at f.14
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Half Frame love with the REAL Olympus PEN-F

by Ibraar Hussain

 

It’s been great seeing Olympus up it’s game and taking it’s new Olympus EP range up a notch with the new Olympus ‘Pen F’. I think the camera looks good and the results of course are fantastic – but, I can’t help feeling that this is a missed opportunity, or rather a missed opportunity by Olympus which they had to reinvent Matani’s design classic – The Olympus Pen F.

Look at the new Olympus Pen F and compare it to the original; there’s no comparison! The original is beautiful – original simple lines, with that distinctive slant and that long ridged metal confidence inspiring shutter and with superb solid build, that stylised and distinctive golden gothic F.

Man with Dogs, Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, England.

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Boys taking Selfies, Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, England.

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The new, well, it’s a great camera, but it isn’t a Pen F.

The other distinctive and special thing about the Original is the half frame Portrait format and the vertical portrait View Finder. I think this upright aspect ratio is lacking in the new Pen F. This portrait aspect ratio gives the Olympus Pen images their distinctive look and feel – whereas there is no distinctive look and feel in the new Pen F – so the new Olympus Pen F isn’t a Pen F, it’s just a Retro designed Micro 4/3 Camera with no distinctive features in use or results.

Well there was only one Yoshihisa Matani, and the original Pen F is His camera.

Anyway, the half frame format yields double the amount of frames in a 35mm roll of film – which in my case meant I was able to shoot with it over a period where I went to a few day trips – Glastonbury in Somerset, Canterbury and on the Kentish coast.

Silver Pond, Glastonbury, Somerset, England.

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Silver Pond, Glastonbury, Somerset, England.

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Pier at Herne Bay, Kent, England.

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Mystical Clouds over Glastonbury, Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, England.

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Monarchs and Arches, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, England.

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Ghostly flare, Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, England.

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Walkers, Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, England.

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Me deep in thought, taken by my Missus. Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, England.

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The snaps I would describe as my own distinctive ‘street reportage Travel’ style – which are really Travel snaps some with people in them and the closest I could get to street photography.

I have only one lens – the superb G. Zuiko 40mm f1.4 and I shot with a roll of Rollei Retro 400s – this is a slightly red sensitive 400 ISO Film which has very nice contrast and grain; on a normal full Frame camera the grain is fine, whereas on the Half Frame Pen F – it’s accentuated but detailed which I love!

I always shoot with a Yellow Filter attached and this time I got my roll developed by Forest Photographic in London – they’ve been going since the 70ies and develop everything from E6 to B&W in 126, 127, 110, 35mm, 120, 220 and 4×5 etc, and have impeccable service for those wishing there was a trustworthy Lab in London and the South East of England which doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg for developing (as other so called ‘Pro’ labs do)

http://www.forestphotographic.co.uk

 

May 062016
 

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Crazy Comparison! Voigtlander 15 E Mount, Sony 16-35, Olympus 7-14!

Hey guys! Happy Friday! This has been a hectic week for me, so there have been fewer posts this week but have no fear, a CRAZY COMPARISON is here to kick off your weekend! Hehe. Since I have a serious combo of wide angle lenses here I figured I’s step out in my backyard this morning (while still in my Pajamas) and take a few side by side shots with these lenses.

The new Voigtlander 15 f/4.5 for E mount is here, the Sony/Zeiss 16-35 has been with me since it was launched (I use this lens often for video) and the Olympus PEN-F and 7-14 happened to be in front of me as well. So why not take them out in the back and see how they stack up with some real world silly snapshots? This is not a scientific hardcore test, it is for fun.

All images are from RAW, none have any post processing and yes, I am barefoot because it’s already hot here in Phoenix, with temps already hitting triple digits earlier in the week..so no socks for me ;)

When going out my thought was that the Olympus would provide the sharpest of the images due  to the Micro 4/3 sensor which is small compared to a full frame like we have in the Sony, and we all know that ultra wides and full frame cameras are still nowhere near perfect at the edges. After this test it just solidifies my belief that Olympus and Panasonic have a great thing going with Micro 4/3. The only weaknesses it has over the mighty Sony is low light, where the Sony just kills the Olympus (or Panasonic) and for SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD, which is MUCH easier to obtain on a full frame camera. Other than that, the little PEN-F is still impressing me.

So let’s get to these silly shots..

1st Up, around 8:50 AM in the corner of my backyard. Wanted to look at the edges a bit as I was seeing the Voigtlander, upon close inspection had some soft edges. You can click on the images below to see them larger with full 100% crops. I noticed the Voigtlander underexposes a bit when using the A7RII meter (as we all do). It’s also softer in the edges than the Sony/Zeiss 16-35. The Olympus, here, IMO is the best in the corners and the overall image/color/vibrance but less res of course than the full frame Sony beast. 

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Yep, my bare feet..it’s HOT in Phoenix AZ this time of year. View at your own risk but if you want to take that dare, click the images for larger versions. Again, the Olympus, to me, did the best but also, less resolution. That Olympus 7-14 is a stunner and the best built of the three as well. 

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Let’s look at some prices of these kits:

The Sony A7RII is $3198 at Amazon.  For me, it has been well worth it as it is my #1 goto. I have a few Sony cameras, a couple of Olympus, a couple Leica and today my lens collection is quite large. I used to sell off lenses as I stopped using them, then I realized I usually regretted selling them. But the Sony A7RII is my most used camera for all of my shooting. Olympus comes next with the PEN-F and then the Leica SL. That’s my gear list as of now.

The Sony/Zeiss 16-35 F/4 comes in at $1248 at Amazon.  So add this to the A7RII and we are looking at $4450. That’s a ton of cash for a camera and one F/4 wide angle lens, but again, this combo has given me LOADS of use for video work where I needed Auto Focus.

The Voigtlander 15 f/4.5 for E mount is $799 at CameraQuest.com – It’s much smaller than the Sony, and lighter. It is manual focus but it zooms in as soon as you turn the focus dial, making manual focus a breeze. This lens and an A7RII comes in at around $4000. Quite pricey still.

The Olympus PEN-F comes in at $1199 at Amazon.  For $2,000 less than an A7RII you will have a smaller, sleeker and just as capable camera in most light. Sure, it’s not full frame and you will suffer in low light or when you want massive bokeh blow out, but other than that these Micro 4/3 cameras are quiet stunning.

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The Olympus 7-14 is an f/2.8 lens, and in their PRO line. It is STUNNING. It comes in at $1199, same as the PEN-F.  Cost of this lens and the PEN-F? $2400, almost half of the Sony/Zeiss setup. STILL expensive when you consider most use a cel phone and a wide angle lens adapter for these types of things these days :)

I love them all and feel lucky to have tools to choose from these days and I feel lucky to be a camera nerd. :) Today we have the best digital solutions we have ever had.

Let’s do one more comparison…

Looking at this we can see what we know, that smaller sensors can do wide angle with less issues..click them for larger. I prefer the Olympus here for tonality, and the way the image is presented. THOUGH the Olympus was the only one to flare here. 

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At the end of the day, in this world of cel phone cameras and less and less of the world interested in megabuck cameras, I feel the entire higher end digital market is going the way of the true enthusiast. There are many of us that would NEVER use our phone as our main camera just as there are many who would never buy a $4000 setup to take some snaps of their dogs or kids. Sure, I use my iPhone on occasion, when I do not have my real camera. But never have I taken an iPhone shot and said “WOW, this looks like my Leica and Noctilux”! Hehehe. I see cameras and lenses such as the ones discussed here for the ENTHUSIAST, like me. We love well made gear, we love a camera that fits our hand like a glove and we love a REAL camera that does what we want it to. So these cameras and lenses are still going strong even though I get emails daily asking me to review cel phones, yes I do.

I love them all, and they all have their strengths, like the bodies and lenses above. I still prefer my Sony 16-35 over the new Voigtlander for E mount though. The Voigtlander is underexposing on occasion, does have some slightly soft corners (as does the Zeiss) and is not as vibrant as what I get from the Sony/Zeiss 16-35 (My review of that lens is HERE). With that said, the Voigtlander is a joy to use, is smaller and lighter and less expensive. I could be happy with either for wide angle use. Then we have the little PEN and the 7-14 which I feel is giving me the best IQ for my tastes (with ultra wide – but the least resolution due to the smaller sensor)! I am going to have to start using it more ;)

What do you guys use as your wide angle solution in the 15mm range?

REFERENCE: Sony 16-35 Review, Sony A7RII Review, Olympus PEN-F Review, Olympus 7-14 Review, 1st look Voigtlander.

Apr 272016
 

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FIRST LOOK: My 1st day with the new Olympus 300mm F/4 Pro Lens. It’s a Beauty!

By Steve Huff

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The Olympus 300mm F/4 Pro. Every now and again you get a product in your hands and say WOW, this IS QUALITY. I mean, I have never been a long telephoto guy, ever. I usually maxed out at 150mm though back many years ago I did own a Canon 70-300 DO and a 100-400 that I had loads of fun with. Either way, I am a standard 24, 35, 50, 75, 90 kind of guy, just what I am used to. When Olympus decided to ship me their new 300mm f/4 Pro which is a full pro lens weather sealed, built like a tank, and has on board IS as well as giving us a 600mm equivalent field of view. Yes, 600mm. You can even add the teleconverter on to make it even more insane.

Just two days ago this lens appeared on my doorstep, as if by magic a man in a brown shirt and shorts dropped it off! Was incredible, lol.

I have used this lens before, though VERY briefly. While in Austin with Olympus a while ago we were all able to use the 300mm for a few moments and then I knew it was quite special though using a 600mm equivalent lens, you need to be in some wide spaces or else forget it! Being in your kitchen with 600mm is not something that is useful. But shooting wildlife or sports or race cars or whatever you need 600mm worth of reach for, this will do the trick.

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My 1st thoughts after a day at the zoo with it is that it is incredibly sharp, easy to handhold and again, built to pro specs, very impressive. Of course, it should be used on a pro body like an E-M1 but I was using it on the newest PEN-F, which I just adore. This camera is so gorgeous, so slim, so nicely made and designed and the color and IQ are also top notch.

I will have a full review down the road of this incredible optic but I have never used a 300mm (or 600mm) quite this nice. It is well worth the cost of $2499 for someone who loves long telephoto primes of uncompromising quality. I mean, a Canon 600mm f/4 is over $11,000.  $2499 for the same equivilant FOV in an equally as well made lens, is quite, well, incredible. Olympus, to me, makes the best lenses next to Leica when it comes to size, color, quality and design and while this is a huge long lens and for a certain type of photography, Olympus knows how to make fantastic lenses and their Micro 4/3 system is still an amazing IQ machine here in 2016, with their bodies better than ever.

See my PEN-F review here if you missed that and take a look at the 1st samples below I shot yesterday at the zoo. FULL review with more samples will be coming soon BUT I just wanted to share my enthusiasm for this lens, it is so so beautiful!!! A 300MM DOES NOT SEEM TO GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS. In fact, for some, this lens may be a reason to shoot Olympus. It’s that good. 

You can order the Olympus 300mm F/4 Pro at B&H Photo or Amazon

CLICK ALL images for larger view. None have been edited. Most from RAW. All handheld with a PEN-F.

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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.

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. 

AMAZON (PRIME) – SILVERBLACK

B&H PHOTO – SILVERBLACK

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 292016
 

Olympus PEN-F. More Sample Images

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I am now back home from Austin and the Olympus media event to showcase the new Olympsu PEN-F. If you missed my PEN-F review you can see it here. I plan on doing a follow-up as soon as I get a review unit to showcase the RAW performance of the camera. But below are a few more JPEGs I found on my SD card after arriving home. All shot in various JPEG modes. Some in the new Monochrome mode, some with the new Chrome mode and some in plain old standard mode. All are OOC JPEGS, and you must click them as always for the best version. On my 27″ iMac these look fantastic.

I should get a review unit in about 2 weeks from Olympus and then I will dig deeper into the camera and take a look at the menu system, the new features, how to use them and RAW as well as the new updated 50MP High Res Shot mode. The PEN-F is hanging in my memory, was such a joy to shoot.

You can pre-order the PEN-F in black or silver at the links below from my recommended dealers.

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CHROME MODE 3

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Reflection in a dirty window, not sure if this was CHROME 2 or STANDARD

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CHROME 3

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STANDARD COLOR MODE (NO COLOR DIAL SETTING)

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STANDARD COLOR (NO COLOR DIAL SETTINGS) – 75 1.8

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STANDARD MODE – CLICK TO SEE THE STUNNING SHARPNESS OF THE 75 1.8 – THIS IS AT 1.8

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CHROME 3 – 8MM FISHEYE PRO

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STANDARD COLOR

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MONOCHROME MODE 2 BUT WITH GRAIN OFF

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TESTING THE VIGNETTE SLIDER IN MONO MODE 2 (GRAIN OFF)

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45 1.8 MONOCHROME MODE 2

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MONO MODE 1

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MONO MODE 1

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Jan 262016
 

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

Order at Amazon or B&H Photo

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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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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penf

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).

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