Apr 232014
 

The Nikon Df in Ghana

by Steven Jermaine

Hello to all readers!

I had the opportunity to go to Ghana this March with my college, the University of the District of Columbia, for an educational and vacation opportunity. I purchased the Nikon Df about four days before the trip with the 50mm 1.8 AFD. Maybe not the smartest move but it’s the photographer and not the tool right? I was there for ten days and while we were there we stayed in Accra, Kumasi, and the Cape Coast.

The people were amazing and the experiences were a mix of emotions from fun to sad yet life affirming and renewing. I felt very much at home and welcomed by the Ghanaian people. I will always remember my time there and would love to return. Everything from the Slave Castles to the Last Bath to donating books and shoes to a small school there, affected me and still affects me to this day. As a Jamaican and American resident, I left feeling like I returned to my homeland and came back to America anew.

Anyways, the camera did a great job. I had reservations about the camera but Steve’s review put me over the top. The controls are accessible and easy to use for me. Others might have trouble but for me it feels great. The grip is small and I have big hands but it was not uncomfortable and as a camera I carry with me everyday I don’t have the same problem. The sensor doesn’t need to be talked about, it’s a proven sensor and it did a great job. For others who are looking at potentially buying the Df I would say try it out and I bet it will reach 80-90 percent of your expectations. It’s a great tool, light weight, takes great lenses, the auto focus worked great and still works great for me.

Anyways here are the images image sized per instruction. I included more than three but if that’s a problem choose the first three. Thanks Brandon and Steve!

My new website: www.kwesijones.com
Instagram: @messagesfromme

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Apr 172014
 

Bags, Bags and a Strap! New from ONA Bags

ONA bags, the company that brings us the very cool ONA Bowery and brought Leica users the Limited Edition “Berlin” that sold out within a day now brings us a few new bags to choose from in our constant quest for the perfect travel and protection companion. These were announced this week and while I have not seen them up close and in person, I have received the press release so take a look at the new offerings from ONA and to read all about them click on over to ONABAGS.COM to see pricing, colors, and all of the other good stuff they have available. ONA is a top quality manufacturer of camera bags and they make some of my all time favorites. Below are a couple of new bags, even one that may fancy the ladies ;)

The Astoria:

Astoria Sell Sheet

The Astoria camera and laptop messenger bag is designed to accommodate a 13″ laptop, 1-2 full-frame DSLR cameras, 3-5 lenses and small personal items. Handcrafted with water-resistant waxed canvas and detailed with full-grain leather, the Astoria features four exterior pockets and a front zippered compartment for memory cards, batteries and everyday essentials. A discreet luggage sleeve on the back of the Astoria can be opened to slip through the handle of a rolling suitcase or closed to act as a slim pocket for a magazine or tablet. The completely customizable interior is padded with closed-cell foam.

 

Click HERE To see more at ONABAGS

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The Capri Tote

Astoria Sell Sheet

The Capri is a chic, understated camera tote bag designed to protect a camera,
up to three lenses and small personal items. Handcrafted with dark tan waxed canvas and
trimmed with luxe leather, the Capri has a personal items compartment that can fit an iPad or 11-inch MacBook Air, two interior pockets for personal items, and a zipped back pocket. The soft leather handles allow you to wear the bag comfortably over your shoulder and a zip closure keeps items safe and secure.

 

See more at ONABAGS

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The Leather Presidio Strap

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The Presidio camera strap is handcrafted with an Italian-tanned leather neckline that is
padded with soft neoprene. Two sets of chrome buckles allow for adjusting the length, while custom rivets provide an extra style point. The Presidio camera strap is most comfortably worn crossbody and is designed for use with camera kits weighing up to 6 pounds.

Drop Length: Adjustable from 19.5” to 23.5”
Total Length: 63”

 

See more at ONABAGS!

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Apr 162014
 

Photography, Education, Exams

by Tim Hogendoorn

Documentary photography; one of those magical things in live I love.

My name is Tim Hogendoorn, 23 years old and living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
From the year 2010 I have been studying photography in Rotterdam and this year in May, is my graduation.

From the beginning of my study I saw students following the same routine of photography as there has been for years on my school, and many other photography academies: studio portraits.
It is not in a way I felt the urge to be different, but I found myself not being able to express my feelings in that way.

I started experimenting with street photography but quickly wanted to tell stories with my photographs, searching for people who had extraordinarily jobs and telling their stories.

That is also what I did for my exam of my current photography education.
I stayed at a circus family for about a week. Taking photos of the shows, but especially when they were not working or preparing for work.

After being in this study for four years now, and photographing three of those years solely on film, this was my first digital series.
I gave digital a try a couple of times before, but not really feeling it untill now: I bought a really nice second hand 5d mark ii and am using my analog Nikon lenses on that body with just an adapter ring.
The look of the old Nikon Nikkor 35mm 2.0 AI on the 5d sensor is lovely…

The full series can be seen on my website. (like me on facebook and keep up to date with my work: http://tiny.cc/ng9eex )

I wanted to share my experience with the readers of stevehuffphoto because I am a daily reader myself, keep it up Brandon and Steve!
(recently I went on a photography trip to Chicago (my first time in the US: WOAW!), and I would love to be sharing that new series in the near future as well!)

All the best,

Tim Hogendoorn
www.timhogendoorn.nl

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Apr 162014
 

The Sony RX1r meets the Olympus E-M1 in Iceland

By Chris Bakker

My website - http://www.chrisbakkerphoto.com

Hi Steve and readers of SteveHuffPhoto.com!

My name is Chris Bakker, a free time photographer from the Netherlands. I began to do photography around Christmas of 2012. I started off with a Sony RX100 by taking photos from all kinds of subjects what surrounded me and It didn’t took me long to really get caught by the beauty of photography . Right from the start I tried to read as many (e)books on photography as I could, follow on a daily basis the online forums and practice the acquired knowledge in the field. I am also a frequent reader of this site and let me tell you this site has giving me so much that I thought it would be time to give a little bit of my contribution in return.

Because I was so into photography I decided in the summer of 2013 to trade in my trusty RX100 for his bigger brother the RX1r. This indeed is a magical powerhouse and capable of delivering some stunning photo’s. This camera has got me even more into photography. Later that year, in November the Olympus OMD E-M1 came out and because I wanted to do different things in photography which needed faster auto focus and different focal length than 35mm, I decided to buy the E-M1 alongside my beloved RX1r and step into the world of micro 4/3.  I can say I have no regrets at all. This camera is so well designed and thought out, it works so well, it just makes you want to go out and shoot.

I often attend workshops and like to learn from the pros. So when the opportunity came by to go to Iceland for 11 days with a pro landscape photographer from the Netherlands, to learn in the field, I decided to go. So on February the 22 I went off to Iceland to return 11 days later home with an overwhelming experience by the beauty of Iceland. Not only did I came home with a lot of photos but also with a lot of acquired knowledge and practical experience.

So l’ll stop the twaddle, let’s get to the photo’s!

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E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Kirkjufellsfoss – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Going to Iceland in the winter takes some planning in advance. Although the temperature is about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t too cold the wind can be really extreme. And the combination of those two makes it cold. Proper clothing, like multi layers, warm hand cloves and a fur cap is not a luxury. A good windbreaker can be a rain suit. Because of the hard wind, I can advise to take a big and sturdy tripod with you. I have come to situations where I definitely had to hold on to my MEFOTO Globetrotter tripod preventing it from falling over. A tripod can allow you to shoot at times of day when the light is unlike any other. If you want to shoot at sunrise or sunset, and you want to keep the ISO down, you need that long exposure. when you want to work with HDR you need a tripod for sure. Light is everything, don’t miss some of the best light of the day because you didn’t want to carry a tripod. What also comes in handy is to wear knee-pads. The ground is often stony and wet.

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Brúarfoss – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Shining stones in river – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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While I was out making photos in the field I did quite often use my filters. There are many people that think in digital photography you don’t need filters anymore. Many think that this is also possible in post processing. When you need a slower shutter speed to blur motion, like with waterfalls, or polarizing light to reduce glare, do it with filters. Filters still enable an aesthetic that’s not possible through simple post-production, and in some cases not possible at all, even in Photoshop. Everybody has his own way of working but we people often work in sequence. We start off with 1 go to 2 than react to 3 to get to 4 or so. While this is a quite similar process as in post-production, like Lightroom, it is also a good process at point of capture. When experimenting with filters in the field you see the result immediately and that gives you the change to react to it. So it can definitely be a good thing for creativity. I used mostly a 3 stop ND filter from Singh-Ray and a Big stopper from Hoya the NX400. In a few occasions I used graduated and reverse grad filters, mostly at sunrise or sunset. For Polarizer’s, Singh-Ray Color Combo and the Gold ‘n Blue.

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Vik Beach – E-M1 pana 35-100f2.8

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Skaftafell Icecave Vatnajökull – RX1r

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Sunset JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Sunrise JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – RX1r

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What really fascinates me is that you can learn infinitely, it’s an ongoing process. Photography has become an essential part of my life. It’s so much fun, it’s a way of living. I hope you enjoy watching these photos as much as I did making them.

Chris Bakker

A few more…

Sunrise JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – RX1r

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Jökulsárlón Lake – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Jökulsárlón Lake – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Old Turf Farm House – RX1r

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Icelandic Horse – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Apr 112014
 

Another Film Friday

By Mark Ewanchuk

Hi Brandon,

I realize that “people used to do this all the time” But thought it was presently kind of novel and exciting, and wanted to share (Sorry for the larger selection…feel free to pick and choose as you see fit!) We recently had the pleasure of a brief vacation to sunny Santa Monica, and I decided to try to leave the digital camera at home…Just old skool “pack the film and develop the pictures when you get back”. Armed with a Olympus OMG (loaded with Tri-X 400…) and a Zeiss Ikon with Nokton 35 f/1.2 (Using both Ektar 100 and Portra 160) I did the best I could to try to capture the memory of our getaway. I must say, I had quite a blast! These are all self-developed (using Tmax Developer for the B&W, or the Tetanal Kit for the Color) and scanned on the Pakon F135.

A much larger selection is available on my website at http://iftimestoodstill.net/the-analog-vacation/

Thanks in advance for looking!

All the best,

Mark

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Apr 102014
 

On safari with the Sony A7+LAEA4+SAL70-300G

By Wim Arys

Hi Steve and Brandon,

My name is Wim Arys, I’m a music producer from Belgium. I’ve been an avid reader of your excellent site for some time now, and enjoy reading your hands on tests of new cameras and equipment. I was very interested in photography as a teenager, but strayed towards music production after high school. My teenage passion was rekindled some years ago when I bought an Iphone 3S, and started taking pictures again.

After a while I became dissatisfied with the image quality and bought myself an EPL5, then an EP-5, a Fuji X100S, a Sony RX1 and earlier this year an Sony A7. My girlfriend and I have a non-profit travel blog www.freeasbirds.com, so we travel as much as possible, exploring the world whilst sharing our mutual passion for photography. For our latest trip to Kenya, I wanted to try out the A7 with a zoom lens on safari. Since there was no E-mount full frame zoom available, I decided to go for the Sony SAL 70300G f4.5-5.6 SSM A-mount with the Sony LA-EA4 converter. Not the fastest zoom, but designed to a high standard, as the G mark indicates and available at a reasonable price point.

I’ve read comments about a zoom lens on an A7, saying that this defeats the purpose of a small(er) mirror-less full frame camera, but this combo is very light and surprisingly easy to handle. I had no problems carrying it around all day and it balances well in hand. Photography on safari has many challenges: the savannah is very dusty, the roads are bumpy and the drivers hardly give you time to frame and focus your shots.

Everything in Africa is supposed to go Polé Polé (take it easy) but these drivers race around the parks like madmen. The SAL70300G with LAEA4 adapter luckily has contrast AF and phase AF on the A7 and our driver John quickly became used the sound of cameras snapping away. The AF is very fast, the only quibble I have is that all the focus points are in the centre of the frame. So if I wanted to focus off-centre, I had to set focus and reframe, which was almost impossible in these conditions. Another problem is the lack of image stabilisation on all A-mount lenses (because the Alpha range of cameras have in camera IS). All my pictures came out a bit bland too (perhaps due to all the dust in the air), but I always shoot in RAW, so with the nice A7 full frame sensor, it was no problem boosting the colours/shadows in post. I normally use Capture One for this, but it seems not to be a good match with the A7. Lightroom did the trick.

I always carry my trusted Olympus E-P5 too, preferably with the fantastic 75mm f1.8 or Panasonic/Leica 25mm. This is still my favourite street camera, although the A7 with 35mm allowed me to take different kinds of pictures when we visited a Masai tribe. After going through my 4000+ pictures at home, I started missing the image quality of my RX1. The sensor and lens combo on this little gem are amazing. It is off course a fixed lens combo, so I never could have gotten these shots with that camera.

The SAL70300G, although a descent lens in good to average lighting, does have its limitations, especially at 300mm. I like the ergonomics and styling of the Sony A7, the ‘loud’ shutter sound does not bother me at all. I think the idea of a stealth camera has become obsolete nowadays, you are fooling yourself if you think people don’t know what you are doing. The autofocus could be faster, compared to the E-P5 but I would not consider it slow. Perhaps just a bit faster than the Fuji X100s. This camera is not a DSLR killer either, I’m guessing in will take a few more versions until Sony (or another brand) gets there.

What the A7 delivers is top image quality in a compact size, though I might return this one and go for the A7r for the added resolution.

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If you would like to submit your own guest article, review, or just talk about your experience with anything photographic, send your idea to Steve HERE. You can also read how to do it HERE. 

Mar 252014
 

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The versatile Nikon V2 does South Africa!

By Aspen Z

Hey guys, greetings from Singapore. I’d first like to thank Steve for this opportunity and for having one of the most interesting and useful photography website around. Qualitative websites displaying such passion and enthusiasm (albeit too much at times, haha) for photography are difficult to come about and it’s really quite something.

When I first had serious interest in photography, I decided then to pick up a mirrorless camera in hope that it’d ease me into the bulky DSLRs someday as I acquired and honed my technique. Fast forward a year and a half and I’ve 5 native CX lenses and 2 DX/FX lenses, with no intention to ‘upgrade’ to a bulky DSLR. In fact, the latter two were bought solely for use on the V2 (previously V1) since I don’t own any other camera system. The V2 has shown time and again that it’s the only camera I need and its being mirrorless has no bearing on the type of photos since it handles any situation thrown at it well!

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Naturally, you can imagine my disappointment as I waited, fingers crossed, only to see no mention of a V3 in the pipeline as Photoplus and CP+ wrapped up. Swarmed by doom and gloom threads alongside bleak prophecies gleaned through the careful choice of words from Nikon executives, I still took comfort in a fact- the V2 produces decent photos for my use and until it runs its course in shutter actuations, there’s no need to panic sell or even decide on further action, be it a change of systems (Sony Ax000, perhaps? Waits to be seen.) or getting another Nikon 1 camera. (UPDATE: The V3 has been announced)

To date, the V2 has covered more scenarios imaginable within the scope of a single camera, from landscapes to indoor performances, birds in flight (minimally, since I can’t seem to find an adequate birding location in Singapore!) to the F1 night race and more recently, the entirety of my South Africa trip.

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I admit to being a bit paranoid, fearing that I’d miss out on shots unless I’ve all my lenses (minus the 10-30mm kit lens) with me. Fortunately for me the Nikon 1 lenses are small and lightweight; the 18.5, 32, 6.7-13mm and 30-110mm combined weigh a mere 20 grams more than just the 595 grams 85f/1.4! Every little bit helps, since all 6 lenses plus accessories become a noticeable 2.5kg that I’ve to lug around from my shoulder all day. If you don’t know what it’s like to walk about in an oppressively muggy climate all year round, let me assure you that any amount of mental preparation and fortitude can be worn thin by a grating load on your shoulder. It’s only so lucky that I don’t have to bring out the DX/FX lenses all the time. Granted, the South African summer was pleasantly warm and dry, with nary a cloud to be seen for most days, and that became less of an issue.

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What did become an issue was the unrelenting UV, making photo composition from the LCD screen downright impossible. At times, I found myself instinctively lowering my eyes to the viewfinder, only to realize there wasn’t one since I was helping my friend take a family photo with the dreaded EOS-M. To those saying autofocus speed doesn’t matter, imagine a situation where a group of people are (im)patiently waiting in eye-watering sunlight for the shutter to go off and heaven forbid someone blinks or moves and I’ve to go through the arduous process again. Really makes me miss the V2- eye to EVF, compose, snap and there you have it, with the only limiting factor being me. Oh, and, because our families decided on joining a group tour, time actually is limited. The insanely speedy autofocus in both AF-S and AF-C makes the V2 a joy to use and you’d likely never experience the sinking feeling of uncertainty (will I miss the moment?) when a difficult situation presents itself. At times, it certainly feels like you can’t do any better with DSLRs apart from professional models.

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Detractors of the Nikon 1 cameras are always quick to point out how limiting a small sensor can be but sometimes those claims are downright specious. Pointing out the supposedly atrocious dynamic range is a favourite, but in practice I’ve found it more than capable of handling a midday sun landscape scenario. The 6.7-13mm captured the Union buildings in Pretoria just right, showcasing the blend of colours from the ochre steps in shadow to the puffy cumulus clouds. Table mountain posed an even greater challenge as the featureless skies did nothing for the immense amount of sunlight. As most of the best views featured the glaring sun in them, I was forced to crop out huge swaths of details ruined by flare and burnt highlights. Even the ocean was affected and it wasn’t a pleasant sight despite recovering quite a fair bit of details in post-processing. Nevertheless, areas of the photos unexposed to the sun directly in them had a lot of headroom in terms of post-processing, and I was quite pleased with that. Dynamic range isn’t what you can get with the likes of D800 but it is in no way bad. Better yet, I’ve seen people with so much to say only to offset the difference by pumping contrast or saturation sky high. Surely that’s wastage of dynamic range?

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The 1/16000 shutter also came in very useful, since it negated the need for ND filters while shooting wide open with the 18f/1.8 and 32f/1.2. Which brings me to the point of DOF equivalency. People lament that you can’t get enough subject separation but really, is it always that the ultra-shallow centimetres deep DOF turns out desirable? Most primes for bigger sensor cameras need to be stopped down to be sharper anyway, and in comparison, the 18.5f/1.8 and 32f/1.2 are tack-sharp even wide open, especially the latter. If you do portrait/model shots often, you’d realize the benefits of a full-frame camera but in general cases background distances and focal lengths have bigger bearing on DOF.

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The V2 is simply great in terms of handling. It feels small yet provides a firm grip with its design and doesn’t look half as ugly in real life as photos would have you believe. Unlike the EOS-M which has a slippery feel and almost feels like a handphone camera in use, you’re unlikely to drop the V2. Hell, I’ve even mastered the art of changing lenses albeit precariously (something I make sure to do often) while walking and talking, with a mere two fingers like a vice grip on the small lens when detaching and swapping over the back lens cap, all made possible by the generous grip on the V2. The menu system is uncluttered and straightforward and with the function button able to make changes to stuff like white balance and iso, you’d be done with most changes in a few short seconds. Also important is the ‘secured-ness’ of the camera. Having handled an EM-1 and the Sony A7, I found the excessively responsive shutter button difficult to half-press without accidentally triggering a shot too early and the battery compartment flap flimsy, respectively. Don’t even get me started on the many confusing dials on the EM-1, if you like that type of stuff you’d love that camera.

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Desiring a do-it-all system, I picked up the 85f/1.4 as a means of fast telephoto for the V2. At about 230mm on full frame, I decided it’d do the job right for safari (then again I had two other longer telephotos ever ready). Chromatic aberrations are visible and it’s not quite as sharp as I’m used to wide open but it does the job perfectly. Focus is fast (not quite like native lenses though) and I found the bokeh pleasing, especially so for me around the foreground of the staring zebra. With a stroke of luck, a giraffe fleetingly crossed into the ‘frame’ of an arresting backdrop and I quickly snapped off shots as the impatient jeep driver decided we had one too many sightings of yet another giraffe and started accelerating. At 15fps with swift autofocus, I probably had the highest chance of nailing the shot among all those in the jeep. The generous buffer of the V2 also means there’s no need to hesitate and you can deflate the shutter button confidently at length (not that I do that often). By the way, I heavily recommend a 95mb/s sd card for V2 users for optimal performance because it is noticeable if you want the job done quick. If it seems like overkill, remember it’s a small price to pay to get the best out of the V2.

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It’s not that I can’t find issues with the V2 though. I wish it has better high iso performance, because as of right now, iso 1600 and beyond requires careful post-processing to yield desirable images (for me). It’d be great to have it improved a stop or so with the next generation. At lower iso, I’ve some photos with, ironically, more noise in the final output since I cannot be bothered to reduce it after sharpening to taste. Be warned that the V2 has noise in certain lighting even at the base iso of 160 and if you’re after smooth creamy files you’re most definitely not going to get that. What you will get is a sensor that punches above its weight in details especially with ‘just’ 14mp. More importantly though, the V2 tracks well even under challenging lighting, like when I had the chance to see a performance at the Lesedi cultural village the V2 simply kept focus without fail despite erratic movements. And surely, the first half of the battle is nailing focus even before iso woes. Another thing that annoys me about the V2 is the lack of a customizable autofocus box size; I found myself sometimes focusing on backgrounds and other elements when dealing with smaller subjects due to imprecision. Finally, much can be done about the lack of bracketing and other features like focus peaking since the issue here lies with Nikon’s ineptitude.

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The V2 is most definitely not a perfect camera. It has its share of problems, some of which downright avoidable, but it’s the only camera that fits the bill for my needs short of going to a cumbersome DSLR, and for that, I’d tolerate the expressed grievances without a second thought.

For more photos like these, take a look here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aspenz/

Mar 112014
 

Sulawesi, Indonesia with the M9

by Andre

Hi Steve,

It seems almost obligatory to begin with a big thank you for all the work you put into your site and I too would like to this. I am convinced that your site is a source of inspiration to many of us and it sure is for me. In fact, you are to ‘blame’ for me buying a Leica M9 a few years back. A decision I have never regretted. I’m not sure my I’m worth such an expensive camera as I am merely an amateur photographer, but the one thing I am sure of is that I enjoy the hell out of it. I check your site daily –if not multiple times every day- and although we have never met (until today I have never submitted anything to your site), strangely it feels as though I know you well.

My setup is simple: M9 with a 35 cron and 50 cron. High ISO performance of the M9? Lousy. Are there faster lenses out there? For sure. Do I need them? Absolutely not. Would I like them? Nope. Does that mean I don’t suffer from GAS? Eeeh, no.

Anyway, to the stuff that matters: photography.

This is a photo essay of our trip to Sulawesi, one of the larger islands of Indonesia. We cycled around the southern part of the island as well as through a part called Toraja land. A bicycle is a superb way of visiting places. Slow enough to see the sights and smell the smells yet fast enough to cover quite some ground. But then again, I am Dutch so I might be biased towards cycling.

We started of in the capital city Makassar. A bicycle tour through the city led us to the port of Makassar. A lot of transport through the archipelago is done by these wooden ships.

Ships in Makassar - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/250 – ISO 160

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Along the way, we met many shopkeepers, children and what have you not. Many Indonesians love to have their picture taken so for all you portrait lovers out there, it is heaven!

Some examples.

The woman in this photo had a little shop along the side of the road. She was preparing some delicious samosa-like snacks.

Nice to meet you - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/25 – ISO 400

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In Sengkang, inside a coffee place tucked away in what looks like a garage box, this local barista made a very nice cuppa, by default served with condensed milk.

Barista - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/60 – ISO 640

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A guy at the market in Rantepao.

At the market - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.8 – 1/90 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued in Tana Toraja which warrants a little bit more text.

The area of Tana Toraja is like no place on earth. It is secluded from the rest of Sulawesi, tucked away in the mountains of South Sulawesi. The lush green rice paddies cascade down the mountain sides. The Toraja are an ethnic group with a fascinating culture. One of its most prominent rituals center around elaborate burial ceremonies. In the Toraja culture, a person is not ‘dead’ until he is buried. Before the ceremony, a person is simply ‘ill’ and lies in a coffin in the house of the family. The burial ceremony is a massive gathering of family and friends and lasts for three days. Because it is such an expensive event, it happens that people lie balmed in their coffin for several years!

At the funeral ceremony -which lasts for three days!- the guests are welcomed by a number of people wearing the traditional clothing of the Toraja. More often than not by the younger members of the family or by youngster from the neighbourhood

Toraja girl - M9 – 50 summicron – 4.0 – 1/45 – ISO 160

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What this photo tells me that sharpness isn’t all important. The focus on this picture is slightly off yet somehow it doesn’t bother me and to me it even adds to the mood of the picture.

An important part of the ceremony is the giving of gifts. It is carefully noted what a person gives and when at some point a member of that family dies, one is obliged to return the gift. Gifts usually consist of pigs or waterbuffalos. The most coveted are albino buffalo that may cost as much as well over $10.000.

At the ceremony, many pigs and buffalo are slaughtered and prepared for the guests. Here’s one piggy going to meet its maker…

This is the end - M9 – 50 summicron – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Once the ceremony is concluded, the deceased is then buried. Traditionally, this means that his or her body is placed in a grave high up in a cliff so that the belongings could not be robbed.

What you see in this picture is a device in which the deceased is carried to the cliff side. It is also the shape of the architecture of the houses in Torajaland. On the background some graves are visible. The puppets you see are called Tau Tau. They represent the person in the grave.

Tau Tau - M9 – 50 summicron – 2.0 – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued to the north of Sulawesi. Before sailing over to the island of Bunaken for some spectacular diving, we visited Tangkoko national park. Beautifull jungle and black beaches, something I had never seen before.

Beach at Tangkoko - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/3000 – ISO 160

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To top off our trip, we did some diving on the island of Bunaken. Ranked as one of the top places in the world but as I haven’t found the possibility to take my M9 under water, I can’t show you any pictures…

On the island we came across this boy. It was still a good two months before Christmas but by the looks of it, he was already in the proper spirit!

 Christmas spirit - M9 – 35 summicron – 1/15 – ISO 160

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So, that was it. The moral of the story? Photography is fun and if you have the chance to visit Sulawesi, it is well worth it!

Thank you Steve for posting this photo essay and thank you readers for reading it. It is bloody difficult to choose some photo’s to accompany this story but hey, that’s part of the task.

If you would like to see some more, visit my flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wahapx100/

Kind regards,

Andre

Mar 072014
 

Faces of Malaysia

By Wijnand Schouten

I went with my family to Malaysia.

My wife is half Malaysian so I met a lot of relatives whom made it possible to stay far away from the tourism roads..Which is a good thing at my opinion. I love faces of people and met a lot of them. Trying to get them out of a pose and get the moment of them they are in at that time. Nothing can be taken…all is there to be received. With all the beautiful colours in Malaysia i still prefer black/white processing though.:).

All shots were made with my Fuji X100s and worked on it in Lightroom.

Greetings from Wijnand Schouten

www.wijnandschouten.com

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wijnandschouten

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Mar 042014
 

Tokyo Trip with the SONY A99

By Chris Yap

Dear Steve,

I’ve been following your site back when I was using the Fuji X100 and researching more about it. I chance upon the compilations of beautiful images from various users around the world. I had to reluctantly sell the Fuji X100 to fund for the 24mm F2 Carl Zeiss for my one and current camera the Sony A99. Now, this is an under rated camera often flak for not being a true SLR due to the Electronic view finder .

The camera draws many attention, often by fellow photographers and public asking why did I choose Sony over Nikons and Canons, I had owned previous models from Nikon / Canon DLSRs and even though I love them for all the reason that made them the top, I was often drawn to brands who dare to be different and had introduce new features. I was initially more geared towards the NIKON D800 comparing it with the Canon 5D MK 3. A chance encounter walking past the sony shop with the A99 brought us together as it was love at first sight and the rest was history.

The A99 is a capable camera, I love it for its HIGH ISO capability, its beautiful fast responding Electronic View finder, and the Dynamic range captured in the RAW file. I was initially a skeptic of the EVF technology and I personally felt that it would caused a new generations of shooter to not fully understand the art of light metering, however I fully embraced it once I’ve tried it. I had the chance to put it to the test while I was on holiday last year at Japan-Tokyo ,walking around this beautiful city trying to capture the feel / tone . While I had the 24mm with me the whole trip, The Sigma 50mm was my main lens on the A99 for around 80% during that trip and till today it has become my main lens in all my pictures.

Below are some images and I hope you love them.

All pictures capture using the Sony A99. Sigma 50mm F1.4 and Carl Zeiss 24mm F2 SSM , edited in Lightroom 4.4

Location- Japan – Tokyo 

BLOG

http://chrisyapphoto.com/blog?category=TOKYO%20FORGOTTEN

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/ChrisYapPhotography

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Thank you and best regards

Chris Yap

Mar 042014
 

Grand Canyon Focal Reducers

By Riaz Missaghi

I love checking your blog everyday for updates on gear and the inspiration posts. Last year I sold my Canon 5d mkII and Zeiss lenses and bought a Fuji X-E1, a cheap Pentax to Fuji mount focal reducer called LensTurbo and almost every Pentax prime lens in PK mount. They were awesome lenses, great image quality, outstanding build quality, and smaller than a Leica lens. The setup was sweet, I loved the pictures it was making but I missed my sharpness of Zeiss glass and the flare control of modern coatings, I also heard that Sony was coming out with a FF mirrorless so I got ready for Sony by selling the Fuji and all the Pentax lenses on Ebay and picked up a Sony Nex-6, another Lens Turbo and just 2 lenses the Zeiss 21mm 2.8 and the 100mm f2 macro, both in nikon mount so that they had an aperture ring, I now wish that I got the canon mount so that the metabones speedbooster could have controlled the aperture.

When the A7r arrived I really liked the pictures since they made full use of the Zeiss glass but I missed that extra stop of light from the Lens Turbo and the performance of the Nex-6 compared to the slow and loud A7r. I now shoot with the Nex-7, the Metabones Speedbooster , the Zeiss 21 and 100, I’ve also picked up the Sigma ART 1.4, it’s sharp but the rendering is not as lovely as the Zeiss, so I’m on the fence about the Sigma. Here are some pictures with the nex-6 and the Zeiss 21mm 2.8 from a recent trip to the Grand Canyon and the Phoenix Botanical Garden. You can see a comparison of the focal reducers on my blog riazmissaghi.com

All shot on the Sony NEX-6 with the Lensturbo.

Thanks Steve!

Best,

Riaz

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Mar 032014
 

11 cities minus one in 15 days in Europe with OMD-EM5

By Ramon M Flores

Warm greetings from LA!

I’m an avid fan of the site. It’s one of my sources to better my photography. I’ve learned a lot from all his postings and enjoyed viewing all the images shared.

I thought I might as well share some of my images though reluctantly because I still find my photography way below par as I want it to be. I’m a ‘point & shoot’ shooter who happens to have a Nikon D700, a Fuji x100 and an EM5. This reluctancy delayed my decision to share. I have been thinking of emailing Steve as early as September last year. Then I thought, this set of photos (though quite ordinary) might be something different because of the story behind it. So here it goes.

July-August last year, there was an opportunity for me and my wife to accompany our daughter to her school band’s Europe trip. She plays the trumpet and their band performed in 4 cities during that trip. I was so excited that I brought with me almost all of my camera gears. It’s a 15-day Europe trip to 11 cities and we jump-started in Paris where we spent 3 days & 2 nights. Took a lot of pictures including some snapshots of the last leg of the Tour de France. My mind was all set and already fixed to a photo trip adventure while still in Paris.

…on the 3rd day, we left Paris. And this is the sad part – I lost my Nikon D700 & Fuji X100 cameras to a thief in Brussels, including my Nikkor 50mm 14.G & 14-24mm 2.8G lenses, and Fuji X100 WCL, hence I lost all my photos taken in Paris during the first 3 days of my trip. I therefore have no photo documentation of our stay in Paris.

Anyway, lesson learned.

All of these photos were taken using my Olympus OMD EM5 with the 12-50mm lens kit which survived the remaining 12 days of the trip. This camera is hanging my neck almost the entire trip. I had then the opportunity to play around quite a number of its feature. What a fantastic camera. It compensated or at least eased my sadness in losing most of my gears. My realization is that, with this camera, I don’t need my other gears in the first place. You may call it ‘justification’. This is my second attempt to share some of my pictures with Steve. I did not get lucky the first time I guess. Hope this time around, my photos would merit his attention. It’s an inspiration to move on with my hobby on photography with the likes of your dad around unselfishly sharing his love for photography.

Presently, I’m still shooting with my OMD and haven’t thought of adding gears though I’ve acquired a 45mm & 75mm lens for my OMD.

The photos below is a sampling for each cities we’ve visited (minus Paris of course). All photos shot at base ISO 200 and aperture priority unless indicated.

Thank you and my warm regards.

Ramon M Flores

http://www.pbase.com/monflores

Brussels ‘bikes for rent’

14mm, 1/200s, f/6.3

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Brugge ‘color block’

12mm, 1/6000s, f/5.6

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Amsterdam ‘the red is on’

12mm, 1/100, f/5

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Heidelberg ‘hand held night shot’

12mm, 1/3s, f/3.5

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Hague ‘experimenting on presets’

dramatic tone preset

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Goar-Bingen ‘river cruise’

Pop art preset

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Bavaria ‘from the castle’

36mm, 1/80s, f/5.7

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Cortina ‘open door’

12mm, 1/80s, f/3.5

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Innsbruck ‘my daughter’s trumpet’

37mm, 1/125s, f/5.7

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Venice ‘open canal’

12mm, 1/320s, f/8

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Feb 282014
 

The top of the world highway

by Daniel Zvereff

Photographs taken on a journey through Denali, Alaska, the Top of the World Highway, and Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon, Canada.

A heavy wind knocks me over and pins me to the ground, bringing me eye to eye with a small, striped chipmunk who scurries by uninterested. When the wind decides to briefly let up, I quickly scramble over a ridge, and there, below me, Denali stretches out into the distance. On a far-away road, I can make out lazy elks being stalked by hordes of photographers with telescopic lenses that resemble rifles. The clouds can’t decide if they want to hide the sun or not, which results in a valley polka-dotted with shadow and sun. The knowledge that I will never be able to convey how breathtaking everything around me is simplifies the moment, and I just enjoy it as it is.

From Fairbanks, it is a 14-hour journey along the Top of the World Highway towards carefully curated and manicured Dawson City, Canada. The weather blesses me with a dry day to explore Tombstone Territorial Park, where sharp rocks and scores of small lakes line the horizon. Trees of fiery orange and red fall colors grow increasingly sparse, and then, at an almost invisible line, the flora transforms into an arctic tundra. The air is cold, but the wind is warm, quiet and pure. Tonight, the Aurora gently dances, moving faster than I imagined it to, like the underside of a jellyfish bouncing around, molding into shapes and then growing tired and stretching across the night sky like a string. It is my first time seeing it.

www.zvereff.com

facebook.com/zvereff

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Feb 252014
 

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The Olympus 25 1.8 Lens Review on the E-M1

By Steve Huff

Hello once again to all of you camera crazy readers! Today I am going to talk about the new-ish Olympus 25 1.8 lens as it has recently shipped and is really the only Auto Focus competition to the now legendary Panasonic 25 1.4 lens, which has been known as one of the finest lenses for  the Micro 4/3 system. That lens, on SOME cameras, has been known to have slower focus and a “rattlesnake” sound when just attached to the lens with the camera being powered on. (On the E-M1 I do not hear this effect though). The new Olympus is smaller, sleeker, focuses faster, much shorter with hood attached and comes in at $129 less than the Panasonic counterpart.

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But how does it stack up to the Panasonic? Well, I will tell you right off the bat that while it is not as sharp as the Panasonic, it gets about 99.5% there. It does not have the Micro Contrast of the Panasonic, but gets us about 90% of the way there. It vignettes slightly when wide open where the Panasonic does not but it does focus slightly faster and like I said, it is quite a bit smaller as you will see below in the size comparison.

On the Las Vegas strip at f/2.5 with the Olympus 25 1.8. If you click this image you can see a larger size that is much sharper. In fact, it will show you just how sharp the lens is. I converted this one to B&W. 

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Over the years I have grown fond of certain lenses for the Micro 4/3 system. The Panasonic 25 1.4 is one of them while others like the Olympus 45 1.8, 75 1.8 and even 17 1.8 are up there as well with me. The 60 Macro is astonishing and the 12mm f/2 is one I really enjoy. The new 12-40 Zoom seems pretty versatile and incredible as well. I’d say my #1 most used lens on my E-M1 is the 17 1.8. For me, it has the sharpness, the detail, the color, and the “feel”. I love it but I also have been enjoying the 35mm (equiv) focal length more lately.

Shot at f/1.8 this is close focused and right out of camera. Bold bright color and sharp with a pleasant Bokeh. Click it for larger/sharper!

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The Micro 4/3 Version of a 50mm explained

I go in phases between the 35mm and 50mm being my #1 fave to shoot with and these days it is 35 all the way, so when out shooting with this 25 (50mm equiv) I was once again having to get used to shooting this focal length. After a solid few days of shooting with it daily I remember what it is that makes it my #2 favorite focal length! It has the perfect mix of sharpness and shallow DOF possibilities. While this is indeed a true 25mm lens, and we will get 25mm DOF from the lens, the focal length appears as a 50mm. So imagine the Olympus 25mm as a 50mm with 25mm Depth of Field and “Bokeh”. Due to the shorter focal length we will not get subject isolation as we will get on a real 50mm. It will give us 25mm DOF and isolation and yes, f 1.8 is a true f/1.8. Just on a 25mm lens.

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At the end of the day though, a 25mm acts like a 50mm for focal length/magnification so this is what you are going to see when looking through your viewfinder. It will not be like when you put a 24mm on your full frame camera, but like when you put a 50mm on your full frame camera except for the Depth of Field control. Basically, on Micro 4/3 we are magnifying that 25mm to give us a 50mm field of view.

Other 25mm lenses include the Panasonic 25 1.4, which is one of the highest rated 25mm lenses for Micro 4/3. We also have the amazingly good, and one of my all time manual focus faves, the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 which allows you to focus close, get almost full frame quality Depth of Field and Bokeh, and is built like the Voigtlander lenses for the Leica system.

One of our workshop attendees taking a break in the middle of the desert with his Starbucks and Leica M :)

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As always, speed costs and in Micro 4/3 is no exception. The Olympus 25 1.8 costs $399, the Panasonic is $529 and the Voigtlander will run you a cool grand.

You can see my Panasonic review HERE and some Voigtlander shots are HERE.

At the Valley of Fire with Todd Hatakeyama (Master Organizer – foreground) and Pro Photographer Extraordinaire Jay Bartlett (Background)

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Just as with my other Micro 4/3 lens reviews, there is not much to say about the lens. I mean, when a lens is sharp, focuses fast and is small, light and beautiful in design what can you say? It really has no faults so all I can do is write about what I feel when it is compared to the Panasonic 25 1.4, the lens who reigns supreme in this focal length for this format. I already did ONE quick comparison while out on the road (which is why it was quick) so let me go into more detail about this lens VS the mighty Panasonic.

This is an OOC JPEG from the E-m1 and 25 1.8 shot at 2.5

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The Olympus 25 1.8 vs the Panasonic 25 1.4

  • Cost. The Panasonic can be bought HERE for $529. The Olympus can be bought here for $399. So, the Olympus is $129 less expensive than the Panasonic. Makes sense because the Olympus is an f/1.8 lens vs an f/1.4 of the Panasonic. So for cost, and bang for the buck, the Olympus wins.
  • SIZE. The Panasonic is quite a bit larger than the Olympus when the hoods are attached (see below) but the Panasonic is still a very small lens. Only when viewed next to the Olympus does it look large. The Olympus is super small and light where the Panasonic is wider, taller and has more bulk. The Olympus almost appears to be half the size when looking at the image below. So if small size if your thing, the Olympus wins. 

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  • Sharpness. BOTH of these lenses can render a super sharp image. BOTH have slightly different color and contrast signatures though. I would say that the Olympus is just as sharp as the Panasonic..well, 99.5% as sharp when both lenses are shot at 1.8. I’d say the Panasonic has a little bit better Micro Contrast though as when looking at some real world street shooting files on my 27″ display I see it. This is a sign of a very good lens, and is one area where Leica excels with their uber expensive lenses. For example, the Leica 50 Summicron f/2 has amazing micro contrast and one of my all time favorite Leica lenses for the M system (or Sony A7). The Panasonic 25 1.4 is a Leica/Panasonic collaboration so it shares some of that Leica magic. I used to think it did not but it does indeed though not to the level of true Leica glass. The difference is not huge between the Panasonic and Olympus  by any means but you can see it when pixel peeping. So because of this, For overall performance and sharpness, the Panasonic wins.

See the full size files below from each lens at apertures from 1.4 to 1.8 to 5.6..the Panasonic does not appear to be any sharper than the Olympus here:

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Now the Panasonic wide open at 1.4, which the Olympus can not do..

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and both stopped down to f/5.6

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  • AF Speed. When out on the street shooting these lenses I though for sure that the Olympus would smoke the Panasonic with Auto Focus, and that was not the case! Both lenses focused fast on my E-M1, and to be 100% honest, I saw no difference in speed when out in the street at night using both. The Olympus may have a slight edge overall, but it is not a night and day, and for some will not even be noticeable. Remember  though, this is on the E-M1 which may be helping the lenses to focus fast. So I give this one a Tie with a SLIGHT edge going to the Olympus.
  • Bokeh. Well, if Bokeh is what you are after (and many Micro 4/3 shooters are indeed after this) then you will want the Panasonic as it is an f/1.4 lens. While not much of a difference at all, there is indeed a mental difference going on in that head of yours and if speed is what you need then you will not be happy with the f/1.8 of the Olympus. Nope, go for the Panasonic! If speed is not of great concern and you realize that f/1.4 is not a huge step up from f/1.8 then the Olympus may be just the ticket. In reality, when the Panasonic is shot at f/1.4 you will not see much more background blur than the 1.8 of the Olympus. It exists but will you see it? Maybe, maybe not. Both lenses rock this.  Panasonic wins here as it has the ability to create MORE shallow DOF and Bokeh. 

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  • Distortion and CA. The Panasonic has more CA (Purple Fringing) than the Olympus, which is clear and evident. So for this the Olympus wins. See the crop below from each lens. 

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So at the end of the day BOTH of these lenses will deliver the goods. Me, I prefer the Olympus as I am not losing much at all over the Panasonic but I am gaining the small size, the nice price and the overall look that matches my other Olympus primes AS WELL as almost no CA issues. I could live with EITHER lens long-term. It comes down to if you want small size, slightly faster AF, and f 1.8 or if you want larger, faster aperture at 1.4 and slightly slower AF while paying $129 more.

If you own the Panasonic, keep it. If you do not own either, you can save money and be 100% happy with the Olympus. If you want the Olympus you can sell your Panasonic for as much as it costs to buy the new Olympus. In other words, there is no wrong choice here. Both lenses are fantastic. Those who are putting down the Olympus (and I have already seen it on forums and right here on the comments of this website) are just those who own the Panasonic, never tried the Olympus and are sticking up for their brand. BOTH lenses are wonderful and both will give you the tool you need to express your photographic vision. I have to hand it to Olympus for constantly releasing new amazing lenses. This is another one they can add to the premium list of primes that help make the Micro 4/3 system so enjoyable! Keep ‘em coming Olympus AND Panasonic! PLEASE!

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WHERE TO BUY?

You can order the Olympus 25 1.8 at Amazon HERE or at B&H Photo HERE.

PopFlash also sells the lens here.

This lens has a 46mm filter thread so using my favorite ND filter is possible with this one!

A few more shots with the Olympus 25 1.8 Lens 

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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 5 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 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. 

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. 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 - Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

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

Feb 202014
 

Greetings from West Africa

By Devesh Uba

Dear Brandon and Steve,

Let me begin by congratulating you guys for the wonderful website and the always inspiring resources/articles you have there. My favourite sections are ‘daily inspiration’ and off course the reviews. Keep up the great work!

I am Devesh Uba, an Indian national currently living and working in Lagos (Nigeria), from past eight months or so. I have been doing photography over a decade now and I love people and street photography. I happen to do more colour than Black and White, but I do enjoy Black and White a lot and there are phases when I only do Black and White.

Here in Nigeria I am fascinated with the colours, smiles and the culture of this country. I am trying to capture it and share it with the world through my blog and Flickr, and I will be really happy if they are selected in the ‘daily inspiration’ section of your website. I use a basic DSLR Canon 550 D with a Canon 35mm F2 (prime) mostly for streets. Here in Nigeria it isn’t safe to walk on streets with your camera (especially for an expat), so sometimes I take pictures from my car when in hostile areas.

Links to my work are:

Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/deveshuba

Nigerian Photoblog : snapitoga.tumblr.com

Thank you.

Regards from West Africa,

Devesh Uba

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