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mandag 11. august 2014

Quick WIsh List - mFT

Here is an impromptu wish list for something all Olympus

EM1 ergonomics and features
zoom f2.8 over range 12-40 and 25-150 - save me doing so many lens swaps in the mid range 30-60
an f2 or better portrait short zoom 30-80mm
a macro convertor ring which maybe crops the frame for best results
Depth of Field / Focus auto bracketing for macro
Focus Lock / Focus range lock combined with focus peaking
Blue tooth speaking settings
Auto file back up and "keeper" double back up. Auto delete all non keepers from earlier shoots when docked. USB memory stick dump possible.

In reality though today, what is there as a system for me? 

Firstly there really is no fall back short of the 16mpx sony chip ,and then with viewfinder built in. Hence OMD.

I see very little point now in the em1 because the swd lenses are expensive second hand, so expensive in europe that hand baggage imports of new lenses from the states or far east are cheaper.  People think they can hold their value and now there is a new body to take them-  if not excell with them screwed on- the prices for the two swd zooms which do it all are way too high. The 12-60 used on ebay and amazon and our local finn.no are around 800 euros, which is more than the new mFT 12-40. When a new oly fast zoom comes out in the range say 40 to even 120, then the golden ed pro zooms of old will be foot notes in the book of Olympus's digital adventure.

A better bet is now loosing value and being sold on some nice E3s and E30s, the venerable 14-54 mrk II. The mark one is also being punted on E1's and hundred series cameras. These packages are around 400 to 600 euros, and you could pretty much dump the body in the bin as far as i am concerned. If you are getting the mark II plus some other lenses of note such as the wide zoom or 75-300, then that is a bargain. People are a bit prone to want to sell their whole system if it is pre E5 E620. For latter day cameras with quality lenses the lenses are usually quoted seperately after a bait price on the body with the kit lenses.

Even the mark I seems to work on some mft bodies, but it is thed mark II 14-54 which was contrast detect optimised and has a second to none manual focus.  This works across all the ep compacts from 3 vintage,  and the omd range of course. It is a more compact lens than the 12-60 and is actually faster in the mid to longer range on f stops. 

But then it lacks that nice eq 24mm for lakeland shores with mountain panoramas, city scapes and weird candids. Well on mft there are good wide primes and you now get amazing iso performance compared to four thirds E series cameras so you dont need a soft wide open 22-28mm range. Also people are far more consumerist about the fashion of system compacts, and dump kit cheap to make the down payment on their next bling thing. Often that means an earlier PEN body with one kit lens or two, but with one quality wide prime or the 45mm prime in the package or highly negotiable.

That is the good thing about PEN, panny g series and now OMD: lots of consumer fashion idiots buy them, learn they need a good prime, and then realise they are using their iPhone /Galaxy for actually taking piccies, thus selling off as above.

Kodak by name only,  have amazingly enough gone 16mpx mft and have their own interesting zoom lens which is not super fast but nor is it a slow dog kit lens. Also they are using IBIS , so the lens can be cheaper than a panny and you can retro on anything. The "kit" zoom has a good range and if i remember it was f three and a half to the arbitary five point six, not that shabby if ISO is up to the job and ibis works as well as oly. Also they launch with an at first comical Hubble competiting 400mm (=800 in old money!) Which could be to mft was the "Bigma" was to FT. If under 300€ it could have the last laugh not just for those awful twitching "birders" who clutter many a photoforum with this week's brown bird sitting in a tree , or eagle half hidden by pine tops, or vulture silohoute against blue sky. Bravo "kodak". Eastman may guffaw from above.

Samsung- Dark Horse ? Olympus still Shine

Samsung maybe just doesn't sound authentic enough for 'real photographers' in their NX mount range of compact and 'bridge' EVF cameras. True, they have no legacy. Disappointingly you don't get them as a bargain either.

And there is the rub for me: pre sony 16mpx mFT sensor I could see that the NX with the APS-C sensor was a way of getting an ergonomic camera with better colour and light dynamics than the best mFT at the time. Now however, I just don't see the point in NX unless you are already an owner, or you are Korean.

Samsung could have done a flyer in the market by having a best value for money body and a small range of fast zooms, and also some degree of convertability to legacy MF lenses. Instead they have a hotch-potch range og lenses in terms of aperture and focal length.

My ideal street and general use camera needs only two lenses: a fast 24-90 / mm carry and portrait lens and a longer lens without the need for very fast , just 4.0 to 5.6 up to 300/400 mm eq from FF.  A macro would be nice, but a macro convertor onto the former of the two may suffice for my rare excursions into food and flowers. Here a legacy lens may do the job with focus peaking and bracketed shots.

Now I could do this handsomely in fact with an E520 with just two lenses : the 12-60 and the 50-200 , which would be a second hand purchase likely to also have the excellent macro 50mm f2. However the 520 is quite dated in terms of the poor dynamic range on the chip and also availability of them. Price for this set up is about the same often on Ebay as for the cheaper OMD's with the 12-40 plus say the 45mm prime, so that is an alternative or the 60mm macro ontop of the kit 14-42/40-150 combo. Olympus really have got a sorted out lens range!

EM1 back compatibility is not shining and people want their cash out of the 12-60 or are willing to persevere so far onto the new body with an adapter as very few are available used. I suspect the 12-40 would remain resolutely stuck on any of the OMD houses that I chose.

All in all it is a bit of an investment, best done where VAT is lowest in the world and I guess I am in for $1400 - $2200 dollars so I had better find someone looking to buy some photos!

onsdag 6. august 2014

Olympus Blues ....Are the Greens and the Shakes

After a bit of a break from taking photography seriously - a bit unfocused if not diffuse - I have been using the E450 for more or less snapshots and I have been with the family all the time this summer so the "better " more thought out shots have been actually compromised into being ever so slighty better but often lacking.

So this summer for the first in four years of E450 joy, I produced no signature portaits of the kids and no perfect landscapes.  In fact: Quite a lot of mediocre results due to various factors, mainy of course concentration, but also some limitations of the camera: My main bug bears are then:

1) camera shake / movement blur
2) using too wide an angle
3) composition needing cropped which could have been in camera zoom or "shanks pony" zoom/ shifting my backside
3)b) titled images needing rotating and cropping out good composition
4) Olympus Greens

On the latter, the green,  green grass of home is ever so slightly too green. I guess this is because olympus have chosen to optimise their system into producing stunning sky and sea blues and flattering skin tones (in contrast to panasonics crappy jpeg engine). I shoot only jpeg Large Fine now because without a full photoshop investment and a lot of time on my hands, olympus have hard coded the best jpeg conversion chip in the business and i cannot do better.......except for those garish lawns and hillsides.

I was a bit taken a-back by olympus having a vivid setting as factory default but more disappointed that "natural" still produced garish greens and rather flattering skin tones are more apparent. Reds and blues become more realistic thought.

The fix for images with a lot of green, such as lawns or grassy summer mountains is to set the camera to "muted" which suddenly makes the greens very natural and even adds depth and texture to grass details.

Just remember muted will give rather dowdy blues, yellows and reds while also losing some flattery in skin tone.

On the green issue i coud advise someone who is clued up and who has lightroom, corel 64bit or photoshop to then shoot raw and adjust per "keeper" shot first, then running a batch conversion on the series from the shoot. I would rather be behind the camera on location than in Post personally.

On being behind the camera, this brings me to point 3.

The main draw back with the earlier olympuw E series cameras through to the latter day last of the 10mpx my dear old 450 , pre E3 /30 ,was the small view finder. The OVF gives less than full view of the actual chip frame size and is small and difficult to use with glasses. I often find I am trying to catch my kids in full flight and at the right moment, head out of camera ,and i more or less end up shooting with a "blind" eye to the actual composition TTL.

This leads to most often shots which are too wide, shots which are tilted badly off plumb or zoom shots which are cropping off limbs.

For kids-in-action shots there is just going to have to be more praqctice in setting up and knowing what focal length will work best. CAF focusing in ljive view is too slow, but can be useful for candid shots of people at ease. Also a better eyecup is probably available for spectacle wearing clots like me. This then covers two.

I think i need to go back to looking at some posed, stock library family shots etc and get a feel for composition and then fire off lots of frames when i feel the golden moment is in there.

So no quick fix there, only a back to the basics, experiment and experience. At least i stand inspired as i have hardly lifted my olympus to eye this year!

Finallly the real bug bear for E450/420 and I suspect many other non image-stabilised E series cameras: low shutter speed .

Programme/ Auto mode in Olympus favouritises aperture wide for faster shutter for the same exposure. This is okay if you own the faster, over price f2.8 glass wear, but for the vast majority of we "hundred" series owners we dont own, and we cannot just go over to standard shutter priority and dial in because we have poor non base ISO. We shoot ISO200. Or can we?

Well we have had the sun here and i have bet on 1/320th on S mode as often as i remember to set the camera up. I then shoot even -0.3 a lot of the time to get nice saturation and further more I have been using a polarising filter all summer, whipping it twixt the two kit zooms it fits. The thing with the E series is that you can pull detail and colour out of the three quarter tones into the shadows, but the quarter tones are often poor and the highlights clip in.

So here I have dozens of S images and a good few high light range images which can be lifted, but you know what? ? I like underexposed landscapes and people shots and town or boat shots because it kills off blocky highlights and adds depth with heavy shadows which have good gradation into them.

My investment then for the end of the summer with no work contract for August yet, was a half price monopod which is a full 1669 mm extended ,almost eye height, which i will experiment with to see how much this improves my camera shake issue to free me up for A priority and low light shots.

I am inspired to do a blog based on the very theme post shooting. Watch this space.