Broadening My Horizons…

 

… with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f2.8-4 micro four thirds lens which will be referred to hence forth as the 8-18 for brevity’s sake. For those who prefer video there is a video review at the bottom of the page.

The 8-18 was introduced as part of Panasonic’s Leica branded f2.8-4 lens range in April 2017. I was immediately interested as I wanted a wide-angle zoom in m4/3. I had discounted the existing Panasonic 7-14mm f4 and the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 because they wouldn’t accept screw in filters and the Olympus 9-18mm f4-5.6 because the collapsible design means the lens is prone to failure due to the internal ribbon cables breaking. The new 8-18 presented itself with a high quality metal construction that was splash proof and a modest 67mm filter thread. I wanted to use the lens for video work and so the ability to take a variable neutral density filter was a must. So when the lens became available here in Australia I plonked my cash down and got one.

 

My first impression on opening the box was that it is a quality bit of kit – it feels nice in the hand with a cool metallic feel and satisfying density. The bulbous front element is well recessed and combined with the excellent locking lens hood means that it is protected from stray light and from being physically damaged. The lens barrel has two ring controls – the front being for focus and the rear for zoom – and a switch for selecting auto or manual focus.The focusing ring is of the fly-by-wire type that twiddles endlessly – I wish that Panasonic would follow Olympus’s lead and have the pull back clutch type focusing rings with hard stops. The zoom ring is nicely damped and travels in a smooth 90º rotation. Another gripe is that both Panasonic and Olympus are members of the m4/3 consortium so why oh why can’t they agree on which way the zoom ring turns? Both zoom and focus are internal which is nice as it does not affect the centre of balance while using a gimbal. The lens body is finished in a smooth black satin with the engravings done in the Leica font and colours. The lens mount is metal and looks to be chrome plated brass. So full marks to Panasonic for presentation.

Vital Statistics

lens mount m4/3
focal length 8-18mm (16-36mm 35mm full frame equivalent)
angle of view 62º – 107º
maximum aperture f2.8-4
minimum aperture f22
filter size 67mm
optical stabilisation no
internal focusing yes
internal zoom yes
minimum focusing distance 23cm
maximum magnification 0.12 x
number of lens elements 15
number of lens groups 10
weight 315g
length 88mm
diameter 73.4mm

 

The lens construction is 15 elements in 10 groups with 1 aspherical extra low dispersion element, 2 extra low dispersion elements and 1 ultra high refractive index element. Combined with the nano coatings they should reduce internal flare, distortion and chromatic aberration. Control of distortion and chromatic aberration is also aided by an internal software profile that is baked into the image file. A lot of people don’t like this approach as they feel corrections should be made optically. The main criticism is that there is too much of an image quality hit in the corners with this approach. Hasselblad was the manufacturer to take this approach with their H3 camera and when that was introduced there were few complaints about image quality. The reality is that using lens profiles means lenses can be cheaper, smaller, and lighter than their optically optimised brethren.

The 8-18 has a variable aperture and unfortunately it quickly steps down as you zoom in as can be seen by the chart below.

8mm f2.8
9mm f3.1
10mm f3.2
12mm f3.4
14mm f3.6
18mm f4

Test Results

I’ve done my standard tests to look for distortion, chromatic aberration, and sharpness at 8mm, 12mm and 18mm to give an indication of how the lens does throughout its zoom range. I have just for interest sake posted images with no profile correction to give an idea of what the lens is actually doing. Click on the images to see them at full size.

 

8mm at f2.8 no lens profile applied

 

 

8mm at f2.8 with internal profile applied.

At 8mm without any inbuilt lens profile applied there is very obvious barrel distortion and vignetting at f2.8. With the profile applied there is still a very slight barrel distortion and the vignetting remains until f5.6. In terms of sharpness well at f2.8 the centre of the image is nicely sharp and contrasty and remain so until f16 when diffraction kicks in and softens the image. In the corners the story is different, at f2.8 the corners are significantly softer and less contrasty than the centre, they improve a little as you stop down reaching best performance at f5.6 and then get worse at f16 with diffraction. A small amount of chromatic aberration is present throughout the aperture range and is easily corrected in post.

 

12mm at f3.4 no lens profile applied

 

12mm at f3.4 with profile applied.

At 12mm we can see no distortion when the lens profile is applied and the vignetting is about 1/2 stop and is barely discernible. Wide open at f3.4 the centre of the image is sharp and contrasty and the best performance is at f5.6. In the corners the image is softer and has less contrast than the centre. The best performance is at f8. Diffraction starts to set in at f11.

 

18mm at f4 no lens profile

 

18mm at f4 with internal profile applied.

At 18mm there is some pincushion distortion in the profile corrected image. There is also a tiny bit of vignetting at f4 but this clears up at f5.6. Sharpness at f4 is very, very good in the centre throughout the aperture range only deteriorating at f16 due to diffraction.The corners are remarkably sharp at f4 but have slightly less contrast than the centre. Peak performance sets in at f5.6 and then again diffraction rears its ugly head at f16 and spoils the party. Chromatic aberration is very well controlled across the whole range and is very, very slight.

Like most ultra wide-angle zooms Panasonic’s 8-18mm f2.8-4 is prone to flare. The recessed front element and tulip lens hood do minimise this, but with the sun in the frame you will see veiling flare. When stopped down you can achieve nice sun stars.

Like most wide-angle zooms the 8-18 is prone to flare. In order to reduce this the engineers recessed the front lens element and then provided a decent lens hood. The Panasonic 7-14mm f4 caused purple blobs on Olympus cameras when there was a specular light source in the frame. Some people pointed the finger at the difference in UV coatings between Panasonic and Olympus cameras. Others said the thickness of the Olympus sensor stack caused the problem. Anyway the 8-18 is thankfully free of those artefacts. Shooting into the sun there is some veiling flare and ghosting.

Auto focus is done via a stepping motor and it is designed to work with Panasonic’s Depth From Defocus technology that is basically a contrast based auto focus system that is enhanced by software profiles for each Panasonic lens. Single point autofocus in single shot drive mode is incredibly fast and accurate. I decided to check the Continuous Auto Focus by continuous shooting at medium speed wide open on the Panasonic G85 with a person walking slowly towards the camera at focal lengths of 8mm and 18mm. All the shots were in focus. Then I tried to see how the lens would perform on a camera without DFD – in this case an Olympus OMD EM1 mk i. At 8mm and f2.8 all the images were in focus. At 18mm shooting a burst of 10 images the camera lost focus on the last 2 images of the burst. So this very limited test shows that the autofocus of the lens does perform better on Panasonic cameras with DFD.

Conclusions

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f2.8-4 lens with Cokin P system wide-angle lens filter holder attached.

Ok I’ve had the lens a year now and I’ve used it for stills, time lapses and video shooting on the afore-mentioned EM1 and G85 along with an EP5 and EM10 so what can I say. The in camera lens profiles make a huge difference in terms of distortion, but most people won’t see this as they’ll see the corrected images. I did expect this to have some impact on sharpness in the corners but was pleasantly surprised to find that not the case at all. Most zooms perform best at the short end and become softer at the long end. With my copy of the 8-18 this lens is very good at the long end and it is a little softer at the short end. The ability to use filters is a boon for landscape photography and video. The 67mm filter size does not make filter purchases onerous and with the wide-angle filter holder you can use the Cokin P filter system with rectangular filter with an 85mm width. It is really nice not to use filters the size of dinner plates with this lens. I’ve been caught in a couple of downpours while using the 8-18 and have had no problems. I have found the lens immensely satisfying to use and have put it to more uses than I originally thought I would. In all I feel it is a very good lens if you can live without a fixed aperture. I would definitely recommend it.

 

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Voigtländer 15mm f4.5 Super wide-Heliar

Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide-Heliar lens mounted to a Sony A7r via a Voigtlander VM Adapter II. and Voigtlander L39 to M mount adapter.

I’ve been meaning to write a review of this lens for a long time – well over a year in fact – and it has proven difficult for a number of reasons which will become apparent as we proceed. In an ideal world all lenses would be wonderful for every possible use we put them to, and to be fair with modern lens their computer aided design makes this happen for the most part. Things get sketchy when we are dealing with older designs on modern digital cameras. High resolution digital imaging has placed a great deal of strain on lenses. With film only a few people had the time, ability, resources and inclination to examine the optical performance of lenses. This was largely the province of a few magazines (remember them?) and they would accompany a review with a couple of graphs which would reference the resolving capabilities with fine grains low ISO black and white films developed in special developers designed to minimise grain and maximise acutance. Now anyone can open up an image in Photoshop and zoom into 200% and see a lenses faults. This is why Canon, Nikon and independents such as Sigma are going through their catalogue of lenses and updating them, and this need for optical improvements explains why lenses are getting bigger, heavier and more expensive. Back to the matter at hand. The video below is the short version.

 

Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide-Heliar Lens.

The Voigtländer 15mm f4.5 Aspherical Super wide-Heliar to give its full name is really the antithesis of modern lens design. It is small, light, affordable and not heavily optically corrected. But having said that this is the lens that really put Cosina’s re-launch of the Voigtländer brand on the radar of photographers. I can remember when this lens first came out a friend of mine borrowed one and ran around madly shooting roll after roll of film with a silly look on his face enthusing about it wildly. Up until then the widest lens in Leica M mount was the Zeiss 15mm f8 Hologon of which only 225 were made and currently change hands for around the $10,000 USD for one in mint condition.

The Voigtländer 15mm f4.5 is now discontinued but can be obtained as new old stock for approximately $600 USD, or second-hand on Ebay for around the $400 USD mark at the time of writing.

 

Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide-Heliar lens showing the Leica L39 screw mount.

 

Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide-Heliar lens showing the Voigtlander L39 to M mount adapter.

 

Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide-Heliar lens showing the Voigtlander VM adapter II Sony E mount adapter.

 

Specifications

Mount – Leica thread or L39
Angle of view – 110º
Lens construction – 8 elements in 6 groups with one aspherical element
Number of aperture blades – 10
Aperture range f4.5 – f22 in half click stops
Minimum focusing distance – 29.85cm or 11.75 inches
Weight – 113g or 4oz
Diameter 49.6mm or 1.94 inches
Length – 30.7mm or 1.2 inches
Filter thread – N/A
Lens hood – built in tulip style
Rangefinder coupling – no

The lens is very well made – up to Cosina’s very high standards and it has, despite its diminutive size a solid feel and satisfying heft. The aperture ring is at the front of the lens, as is usual with rangefinder lenses, and turns nicely with satisfying half stop click indents. The focusing action is very smooth and has an approximate 100º throw. I found that I tended to use hyper focal distances to zone focus the lens in use as the short focal length means that the DOF is immense. The lens has a very clearly marked scale to make this easy. An aperture of f8 means that everything from 0.5m to infinity is in focus. Conversely lovers of shallow depth of field should really be looking elsewhere.

 

Test Results

Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide-Heliar lens mounted to a Sony A7r via a Voigtlander VM Adapter II.

 

Cosina Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide-Heliar lens mounted to a Sony A7r via a Voigtlander VM Adapter II.

 

Years ago Clint Eastwood made a film called “The “Good, The Bad, The Ugly” (a movie which had the coolest theme tune ever, actually that is an exaggeration as everyone knows Shaft had the coolest, but it’s a close run thing) well this lens is all three. Good, bad and ugly. The good comes when you use the lens as intended on a film rangefinder body. The bad when you mount it on a digital m4/3s body and the ugly when you put in from of the A7r’s 36Mp sensor. This lens is one of the worst I’ve ever had on a digital camera – the worst was a $20 25 mm f/8 Holga lens in m4/3s mount which I tried using on my Olympus EP2 several years ago, but that is, as they say, another story. My friend who I mentioned earlier abused Kodak Tri-X by pushing it, developing in Rodinal and then lith printed the results. He wouldn’t have noticed what I’m about to describe. So this is how it was on the Sony A7r.Right from the get go there is obvious barrel distortion. Wide open there is considerable vignetting which has a very obvious magenta cast. No matter how far you stop down this does not go away (kind of like Mormon missionaries on your doorstep). Wide open the centre sharpness is quite good and remains so until f22 when diffraction rears its ugly head. The corners are smeared and out of focus, things improve a little by f11 but they never get to the level of sharpness of the centre of the lens. Chromatic aberration is also present throughout the aperture range. Flare for such a wide lens is remarkably well controlled and lovers of sunstars should be happy as the 10 aperture blades produce nice results.

 

With film the light-sensitive silver halide crystals don’t care at which angle light hits them.

The reasons for this are that Voigtländer 15mm was designed for use with film and the silver halide crystals in the film emulsion did not care at what angle lights hits them to provide the necessary reaction to form the latent image. But with a digital sensor it is a whole different ball game because the sensor is no longer just a gelatine substrate coated with an emulsion containing silver halide crystals it is a complex sandwich of filters, lenses and electronic componentry as the schematics  show. For best performance the light needs to enter micro lenses at 90º, when the incidence of the light is severely off perpendicular then not all of it reaches the pixel at the bottom of its well this can cause vignetting, smearing with loss of detail, and severe colour fringing. This is what stopped Leica initially developing a digital range finder. Kodak developed a special sensor with offset micro lenses for Leica to help overcome this along with in camera software correction the digital M became a reality.

For light to hit the pixel in its well it needs to travel as near to perpendicular to the sensor plane as possible.

In Use

For stills photography the 15mm f4.5 could be a consideration if you don’t have the current fixation of razor sharpness corner to corner i.e. if the hero of your shot is central to the frame and you don’t mind loss of sharpness at the edges. Working in monochrome would help get rid of the magenta cast of the edges as well. Have said that the magenta cast and vignetting are removable in post, the accompanying video shows how this can be done in Lightroom. In the gallery of example pictures below I’ve left the magenta cast in some of the photos so you can see what it looks like. If you’d like to see the photos larger they can be seen here.

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Video is another matter. Ideally this lens should be perfect for vlogging on a Sony A7 but the smearing, colour cast and vignetting make it quite unsuitable. Also it has no filter threads so it is impossible to use a variable neutral density filter which further adds to its unsuitability.

Conclusion

 

 

To be completely fair we are demonstrating uses for this lens that it was never designed for. With film and optical/chemical printing it is an amazing lens at very cheap price. When looking at it from a digital imaging point of view, whether stills or video, it really can’t be recommended unless you already own it and are prepared to put up with its short comings. If you are looking for an ultra wide the are better options available such as the Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero-D Lens.

The Black Hole Of Babakin

Plus One by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Plus One – a winter spider orchid (Caladenia drummondii) and its visitor. Sorenson’s Reserve, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Canon EF 100mm f2.8 IS L macro lens. Exposure: 1/250 sec, f11, at ISO 400.

 

Yesterday I decided to go on a little road trip to Babakin in search of the winter spider orchid. You’ve got to be mad to do a round trip of 320Km in the hope of finding one very small flower. It was a good day for it, the weather was cloudy and overcast, perfect for this type of photography, and I had nothing else scheduled. So packed my camera gear into the car, made sure the mobile was loaded with music and set off to the teeming Wheatbelt metropolis of Babakin. Now Babakin is in the local government area of Bruce Rock, which according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics covers an area of 2,727 square kilometres (1,053 sq mi) and has a population as of 2015 of 939 people. Babakin itself has a population of 25 – it is safe to assume that the local canine population out numbers the people – so there’s not a lot out there except wheat fields.

 

The drive was great, a lot of it on dirt track so plenty of red dust, and the time and distance just flew by thanks to the music. The shuffle play threw up some golden oldies – the best being Crazy On You by American group Heart. Put that one on full-bore. I wasn’t exactly head banging but lets say that the bouncing around of the car wasn’t entirely due to the road surface.  Oh that took me back to the Chichester RocSoc at the New Park Road Community Centre.

Now these days we rely an awful lot on technology, I’m no exception,  I was using my mobile phone for music and navigation. As I got close to my destination the phone just cut out – no more navigation,  no more music. No mobile network coverage could explain the first but not the later. I switch to my TomTom SatNav and that packed up – couldn’t get a signal. OOOOeeeeeerrrrrr! Luckily I was nearly there. When I got to the nature reserve I did what I normally do and that is switch on my handheld GPS and mark the position of the car. These reserves have no facilities of any kind, not even paths or tracks, so I do this so I can just wander around in the bush and then when I’ve had enough I just follow the GPS to get me back. So off I walk. After an hour and a half I eventually find a single tiny specimen and proceed to photograph it. I use off camera flash fired by radio triggers to light my pictures of orchids. I set everything up as usual took a shot and noticed the flash didn’t go off. Tried again – nothing. Checked everything was firmly in place – nothing. Changed the batteries in the transmitter and receiver – still nothing. Bugger! Had a rummage around in my camera bag and found an old TTL cable so that got me out of the fix. Eventually I packed up and started walking to the car.  I looked at the GPS screen and saw that it was blank. Bugger! I replaced the batteries – nothing. Another set of batteries and still NOTHING!!! Buggeration with bloody great knobs! A rising tide of panic starts to wash over me. Wash? No it was more like a tsunami. After a little pep talk I heard a truck go past. Now remember how I said earlier that this was a sparsely populated area? Yes? Well I can tell you I have never been so glad to hear a truck. I walked off in that direction battling through the scrub and eventually hit the road about 300 metres from the car. Phew!

The drive home was quiet – no phone, no SatNav, no music. When I got there after an hour and a half I carried everything into my office and started my usual post shoot ritual of zeroing all the camera settings, downloading the images and checking batteries prior to packing everything away. I almost jumped out of my skin when my phone beeped and started to play music. I checked the SatNav and it was picking up a signal, as was the handheld GPS. I tentatively got the flash triggers out and checked them and they were working just fine. WEIRD! Perhaps there’s just something about Babakin.

I can’t go without putting a YouTube video up for Heart’s Crazy On You. It’s a cracking track and this time I’ll put up a live recording from 1978 and from 2013 so you can see how the band has fared over time. All I can say is that Anne and Nancy Wilson can still strut their stuff in their sixties. Respect!

 

Three Lenses

This post came about as a response to post on a Google+ group I belong to. The post contained a link to an article at the website Olympus Passion by Chris Corradino (whom I don’t know) called “Full Frame vs Micro 4-3 Revisited with Pro Olympus Lens” where a canon EOS 6d with 17-40mm f4 L lens was compared with an Olympus OMD EM10 with 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens. Nothing wrong with that, it serves as a potentially useful comparison of two popular cameras and lenses. In the article he posts two pictures of the same scene taken around a year apart, one used a polarizing filter one didn’t and the Canon 17-40L is not the best lens in the line up, and comparing a wide-angle zoom to a standard zoom doesn’t really tell anything. Also Olympus uses in camera software correction of its lenses to the RAW files whereas the Canon doesn’t and one has to manually apply correction when processing in Lightroom or ACR. So I thought about it and decided to do my own test. Now before I start I’d like to say that testing zoom lenses is fraught with difficulty and the reason why is very ably demonstrated by Roger Cicala’s excellent article “Painting Zoom Lenses with a Broad Brush – Roger’s Law of Wide Zoom Relativity” which is enough to make any sane person throw up their hands in horror at the enormity of it all.

 

The file from the EM1 with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 opened in Lightroom.

 

If we look at the lens correction box it shows that a built in lens profile has been applied.

 

I’m not really the scientific type, but I know that to make any form of comparison you have to compare like with like and remove all variables. The cameras and lenses tested were as follows:

  • Olympus OMD EM1 mki with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 pro
  • Canon EOS6d with Canon EF 24-70mm f4 IS L
  • Sony A7r with Sony FE 28-70 f3.5-5.6 OSS

Why three cameras and three lenses, well mainly a case of why not, but also I wanted to see how a budget kit lens performed against the two “pro” lenses, and I was using it as a control as I had previously looked at it. Each lens was shot at the wide end and the long end, with the wide end an architectural shot to look at how the lens behaved at infinity and close-ups at the long end.

 

Holy Trinity York provided the wide-angle subject.

 

Typically standard zooms behave best at the wide end and the performance deteriorates as you zoom into the long end. All the lenses were tested at an aperture of f8 for the two shots previously mentioned and wide open to test for vignetting. For each shot the camera was mounted to a tripod, there were no filters on the lenses, any image stabilisation was turned off and the shutter was tripped via the self timer. All metering was done using a handheld incident light meter – Minolta Auto Meter V f. Because the base ISO of the EM1 is 200 all the images on all cameras were shot at value. The only DSLR in the group was used in live view mode to avoid mirror slap. The images were all shot as RAW files and then converted to 8 bit jpgs using RawTherapee (version 4.2.1) which allows you to switch off any embedded lens correction. There was no sharpening, noise reduction or correction for chromatic aberration. Ok that’s the methodology lets look at what happened. Click on the images to see them at full size.

Phillip the photographic bear provided the tele test subject

 


Olympus OMD EM1 mki with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens

The Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens was announced as Olympus’ high end standard zoom in 2013 to accompany their then flagship camera the OMD EM1.

 

Built for the micro four thirds system this lens is equivalent to a 24-80 mm lens and that’s all the talk of equivalency you’ll get out of me, if you want more see this. The lens was launched at the same time as the EM1 in 2013 and it heralded a new line of “Pro” lenses. Of the three lenses here it is the only one with a metal outer construction and it has a splash proof and dust proof design. Its vital statistics are 84mm in length, a diameter of 69.9mm, has a filter thread of 62mm and weighs in at 382g. Not that it counts for much, but it feels nice in the hand and the manual focus clutch (reminiscent of the ones found on Pentax’s 645 range of lenses, is a very nice touch. Optically there are 14 elements in 9 groups – there are 1 aspherical element, 1 dual-sided aspherical element, 2 ED glass elements, 2 HR glass elements, 1 EDA glass element, 1 HD glass element. It is the most optically complex lens of the group. For bokeh aficionados there are 7 rounded aperture blades. The minimum focusing distance is 0.2m.

 

At the wide end the centre of the image is what you’d expect from a modern zoom, it is sharp and contrasty. At the edges the image is still sharp but the contrast has fallen off a little giving the appearance of softness. The chromatic aberration (CA) is very apparent. At the long end in the centre the image is still sharp but the contrast is lower than what we found on the wide end. The edges exhibit a little softness. The CA virtually non-existent. The results from the long end caused me a little consternation as it was the first time I’d seen images without any in camera correction applied so I repeated them just be sure and got exactly the same result.

The lens resolution chart shot at 12mm wide open to show any vignetting or lens distortion.

 

Testing for vignetting and distortion I found that the lens exhibited marked vignetting and barrel distortion at the wide end at f2.8. The vignetting had disappeared on stopping down to f5.6.

 

This time at 40mm wide open.

At the long end there is only slight vignetting and very mild pincushion distortion. What is interesting is that there is significant variation in the exposure, remember these were metered using a handheld incident meter. The long end is nearly a whole stop darker than the wide end. This shouldn’t happen with a constant aperture zoom.


Canon EOS6d with Canon EF 24-70mm f4 IS L lens

The Canon EF 24-70mm f4 IS L lens was introduced in 2012 as Canon’s budget (if that term can be used at this price) L series standard zoom lens.

 

This is the most expensive lens in the group with a retail price of around $1200 AUD. It is also worth pointing out that this is the budget standard zoom in Canon’s L range. This lens was introduced in 2012 and was intended to be a kit lens for then newly announced Canon EOS6d. The body is made of some variant of ABS plastic which is somewhat disappointing considering the price, but with a weight of 600g it has a satisfying heft. The optical construction is 15 lens elements in twelve groups with 2 aspherical and 2 UD elements. The aperture diaphragm is comprised of 9 rounded blades. Unsurprising it is the biggest lens of the trio being 93mm long, 83.4mm in diameter and has a 77mm filter thread. Image stabilisation is built into the lens and is good for four stops. The minimum focus distance is 0.38m, but the lens has a rather nifty macro feature where you press a button and turn the zoom ring and that takes it down to 0.2m and a maximum magnification of 0.7x.

At 24mm the centre of image is extremely sharp and contrasty and the edges are the same. At the tele end it is a repeat. Chromatic aberration is non-existent at both extremes.

The Canon EF 24-70 f4 IS L at 24mm wide open

 

Shooting wide open at 24mm vignetting is very apparent, I would say that there’s probably 2 stops difference between the corner and the centre. The barrel distortion is not excessive but is noticeable. At 70mm a small amount of vignetting can be seen and there is some mild pincushion distortion.

 

The Canon EF 24-70mm f4 IS L at 70mm wide open.

Sony A7r with Sony FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS

 

The Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS was introduced in 2013 as the budget kit zoom to accompany the Sony A7 mirrorless camera.

 

The joker in the pack and the cheapest on test at just under $350 AUD, and boy when you pick this one up it certainly feels like it. When I originally wrote about it on 3rd July 2016 I was very skeptical of its durability, well nothing adverse has happened to mine, but, Kirk Tuck wrote today that his met a tragic end courtesy of a dog’s tail and a hard floor. Well what do get for your $350? Well unsurprisingly at this price point this is largely made of plastic – the cheap kind – and is very light coming in at 295g. There’s not a lot of glass either just 9 elements in 8 groups made up 1 extra low dispersion and 3 aspherical elements. The simpler optical design and low price makes this the only variable aperture lens in the test group. The aperture diaphragm is made up of 7 blades. Size wise it is a compact 83mm long, has a diameter of 72.5mm and has a filter thread of 55mm. The plus points are that it is dust and moisture resistant, has built in image stabilisation, has a respectable minimum focusing distance of 0.4m and comes with a lens hood. As an aside I believe that every lens should come with a hood.

 

 

At 28mm the lens is again just like any other modern lens – sharp and contrasty. At the edges there is a drop off in contrast but they remain sharp. Chromatic aberration is very well controlled and easily fixed in Lightroom. The slow variable aperture means that vignetting is not a problem and there is only slight barrel distortion. At 70mm the centre is sharp and has good levels of contrast, the edges are sharp with a slightly lower contrast. There was also some evidence of coma. Again very little vignetting and a slight trace of pin cushion distortion.

The Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS lens at 28mm wide open.

 

The Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS lens at 70mm wide open.

 


Conclusion

So is the Olympus 12-40 the Canon killer that Chris Corroding says? Well without in camera software correction it is only just a bit better than the Sony which is half the price. It is the correction that elevates this lens to very good. Having said that the Canon 24-70 f4 is probably one of their very best zoom lenses and produces very good images straight out of the camera. Apply the Lightroom lens profile and it is even better. Is that surprising? No considering its cost I would hope it be optically very good. This is the rub – for $350 AUD you get a surprisingly good lens with the Sony and most people would be very happy with it. The Olympus at $870 AUD sees some significant improvement. The Canon at $1200 AUD sees only incremental improvement over the Olympus. The law of diminishing returns is very clearly at work here.

When it comes down to sensor performance the Sony A7r rips the head off of the EM1 and EOS6d and spits down the stump. I have been amazed by how well it performs – the dynamic range is very, very good, the lack of an anti-aliasing filter means that with good lenses insane amounts of detail can be rendered, and the high ISO performance is also very good. The Canon EOS6d’s sensor is capable of very nice colour rendition, especially skin tones, but it is not the best when it comes to dynamic range. It is what I’d call workman like. For the Olympus EM1, well the dynamic range is very good, high ISO performance not so. The lack of anti-aliasing filter helps you get the best out of the lenses. I really like my m4/3 Olympus cameras and lenses, I use them more than anything else, but I really feel that the sensors are holding them back. I’ve yet to get any long-term usage out of the new 20Mp sensor that is found in the EM1 Mkii, but I do think that if they got access to the latest BSI sensors from Sony and reduced the base ISO to 100 that there would be quite a sizeable performance boost. But all this is moot as all three are capable of excellent results if I do my part.

It is important to remember that I only have access to one of each lens so I have no idea of what the sample variation is for any of them. What does this all mean in terms of real world usage? Well I’ve used my Olympus 12-40 far more than the Canon 24-70 and I am more than happy with how it performs. I hardly ever use the Sony 28-70 as I only really use the A7r with legacy lenses.

 


 

Leica Look

Leica want you and everyone around you to know that you are using one of its cameras.
Leica want you and everyone around you to know that you are using one of its cameras.

 

First off a big thanks to Saul Frank and the nice people at Camera Electronic who very kindly awarded me a Leica D-Lux Type 109 in a recent in store competition.

It's all about the lens. Forget the red dot, the Leica DC Vario-Summilux 10.9-34mm f1.7-2.8 is the star of the show.
It’s all about the lens. Forget the red dot, the Leica DC Vario-Summilux 10.9-34mm f1.7-2.8 is the star of the show.

For many years Leica aficionados have talked about the “Leica look”. They weren’t talking about the design of the camera, but the way Leica lenses render an image. Many would say that they can look at a photo and tell whether it was taken with a Leica or not. Non Leica users scoff at this and generally accuse Leica owners of being people with more money than sense and with no knowledge of photography. Roger Hicks, the noted English photographic author, once attributed the Leica look to older Leica lenses, film with no anti-halation layer, and over exposure. This allowed soft light to reflected from behind the film and cause bright edges in the image. So that brings us to modern digital Leicas and in the case of the D-Lux those that are built by Panasonic. Do they exhibit the “Leica look”? I think the answer is emphatically no! Modern lenses, even those made by Leica, are inherently more contrasty and digital sensors behave in a completely different way to film.

The Leica D-Lux compared with the Panasonic Lunix LX5. Looking from the front there is not a lot of difference in the size despite the D_Lux have a sensor much larger than the LX5.
The Leica D-Lux compared with the Panasonic Lumix LX5. Looking from the front there is not a lot of difference in the size despite the D-Lux having a sensor much larger than the LX5.

 

The Leica D-Lux compared with the Panasonic Lunix LX5. From above the size difference is more apparent.
The Leica D-Lux compared with the Panasonic Lumix LX5. From above the size difference is more apparent.

So lets talk about the D-Lux, or should I say the Panasonic Lumix LX100? It’s not the first time Leica have re-branded a Panasonic model. The Panasonic Lumix LX5, which I own and have sung the virtues of on this blog, was marketed by Leica as the D-Lux5 and there were many others before that. So what does paying the Leica tax get you over the Panasonic? Leica say they have had the firmware tweaked to their specification and that differentiates it from the LX 100.  Both cameras have a Leica DC Vario-Summilux 10.9–34 mm f/1.7–2.8 ASPH zoom lens which gives a 35mm equivalent of a 24-75mm lens. I doubt very much that the lenses are made by Leica, it is more likely that Panasonic have licensed the Leica name in the same way that Sony have with Zeiss. The only thing that really differentiates them is the design of the outer shell. The Panasonic has a grip and a faux leatherette covering while the Leica is smooth with no grip. I’d have to say I prefer the look of the Leica, it is to my eye a very sexy looking beast. The only thing that lets it down to my mind is that the shell is plastic, and although the body has a very pleasing heft it feels disappointing not to have the cool feel of a metal shell. Technically the camera is a m4/3 camera with a 16Mp 17.3 mm × 13.0 mm sensor, but the reality is that the camera uses a smaller portion. This has enabled the manufacturer to provide a fast zoom lens in a small size and the image circle created by the lens is smaller than the sensor. The upshot is that you get a multi format camera (4:3, 3;2, 1:1 and 16:9) with a good fast lens. The down side is that you only get 12Mp out of a 16Mp sensor which means even at base ISO of 200 grain is apparent. Having said that thanks to the lens the image quality is good enough for an A3+ (13″ x 19″ or 329mm x 483mm) print which is great for a compact camera. The lens has some corrections applied in camera and is distortion free and suffers from minimal chromatic aberration. I only shoot RAW so can’t comment on the jpgs.

The top plate shows the camera was designed by a photographer. aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation all handled by dials. To switch to aperture priority put the shutter speed dial on "A". To go to shutter speed priority switch the aperture to "A". Want programe mode put both the aperture and shutter speed dial on "A". Simple.
The top plate shows the camera was designed by a photographer. aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation all handled by dials. To switch to aperture priority put the shutter speed dial on “A”. To go to shutter speed priority switch the aperture to “A”. Want program mode put both the aperture and shutter speed dial on “A”. Simple.

 

Everlastings on Mount Brown in York, WA. Exposure: 1/400th sec, f8 at ISO 800. The close focusing capability made this shot a doddle as did the evaluative metering and the dynamic range of the sensor.

 

St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth, Western Australia. Exposure: 1/320th sec, f8 at ISO 200. The lens is still very good, showing minimal distortion and very little chromatic aberration. Again the metering and the dynamic range combined to handle this scene with aplomb.

 

Graffiti under the Great Southern Highway traffic bridge in York, Western Australia. Exposure: 1/640th sec, f2.8, at ISO 1600. Wide open the lens is sharp and contrasty. The sensor is noisy at high ISO, but appears very organic and film like.

 

Nature trying to reclaim the CBD. Northbridge, Western Australia. Exposure: 1/640th sec, f16 at ISO 3200. The lens is quite resistant to flare which is just as well as like other premium compacts the camera ships without a lens hood.

 

Defacing Reclaim Australia notices in Northbridge, Western Australia. Exposure: 1/2000, f2.8 at ISO 200. A combination of large sensor and fast lens means that shallow depth of field shots are possible. The lens renders subjects very well with a nice fall off in tones and sharpness.

 

Wall mural at the North Metropolitan TAFE Campus in Northbridge. Exposure: 1/1000th sec, f8 at ISO 200. Panasonic aren’t as accomplished with colour science as some other manufacturers so it is safe to say that Leica’s secret sauce has delivered some really nice colour profiles.

 

The patterns on a pruned grass tree. Balladong, Western Australia. Exposure: 1/125th sec, f8 at ISO 250. This file prints out fantastically at A3+. The edge to edge sharpness and detail are amazing

 

Watching the large screen in the Perth Cultural Precinct. Exposure: 1/250th sec, f8 at ISO 200. With its small size, great lens, and good AF performance the Leica D-Lux makes an excellent street camera.

Video quality is very very good. The camera shoots 4K video at 25p 100Mbps and HD at 50p 28Mbps, but specs aren’t everything. For example my phone can shoot 4K video but it is horrible looking and very brittle when processing. The D-Lux gives you a good file that will stand some post processing. I’ve really enjoyed shooting movies and time-lapse sequences with the camera. This is where the DNA proves Panasonic’s paternity. There are only two things that lets it down. First is sound – there is no mic input. With this small feature added the camera would really rock as discrete video cam. Second some form of built in ND filter would really make the camera perfect enabling lovely wide open shots possible in bright sunlight. The wide shots in the video below were shot with the D-Lux.

 

 

The rear of the D-Lux is very tidy and well organised.
The rear of the D-Lux is very tidy and well organised.

 

My Leica D-Lux pimped out with its accessory grip, tripod adapter and Peak Designs Anchor Link.
My Leica D-Lux pimped out with its accessory grip, tripod adapter and Peak Designs Anchor Link.

 

So to sum up. This was a prize that I won, not a purchase. To be honest if it were my money I would have bought the Panasonic LX100 which is over $500 AUD cheaper. Leica try to talk you up by saying their version thanks to its Leica firmware produces better images and they throw in a copy of Adobe Lightroom. But honestly Lightroom is less than $200 and if you shoot RAW you can get the look you want easily enough. I found the body too smooth and sprung for the accessory grip which made life a lot better. The EVF ain’t crash hot – it is a field sequential LCD which means that it is subject to tearing with moving subjects or moving your eye around the viewfinder. This doesn’t bother some people as much as others, but it may be a deal killer. There’s no floppy touch screen and no mic input. On the plus side the camera is responsive produces good stills, very good video and is compact enough that it can be taken anywhere. When I got the camera I initially thought I’d use it for a few days and then sell it on Ebay. Instead I’ve had so much fun with it I’ve decided to keep it.

UPDATE   Well I wrote this before Photokina, the big camera industry trade show in Cologne, Germany. I was hoping for a new updated model from either Leica or Panasonic to be announced with some of the changes I’ve talked about. Panasonic announced the  launch of the  LX10/LX15 (depending on which region you live in) camera. There are some worthy upgrades in the form of a tilt touch screen, an improved image stabilisation system, increase in MP to 20 and Panasonic’s very spiffy 4K photo mode which allows users to record video at 4K 30fps and extract stills from the clip. But the downsides are the loss of the viewfinder and the smaller sensor.

OM*

My new full frame Olympus with the Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f1.4 lens mounted on a Fotodiox adapter.

Well I’ve done it. I’ve gone full frame digital with Olympus. No I’ve not got access to some top-secret prototype from Olympus. Instead I’m mounting OM Zuiko lenses on a “full frame” (I hate that term, I much prefer 35mm sensor) camera digital – the Sony A7r to be precise – with a Fotodiox pro OM-NEX adapter.

“If you date your cameras, you marry your lenses.”

David Hobby

Sony A7r with Olympus 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses. The Fotodiox Pro OM to Nex lens mount adaptor allows them to be mounted to the camera.

I was left with a collection of Olympus OM lenses when Olympus in their infinite wisdom decided to abandon the OM mount – this did not occur with the advent of digital imaging, but back in the film era. I migrated to the Canon EOS system reluctantly and left my lovely jewel like Zuiko lenses sitting in a drawer. Every now and again I would get one out and fondle it. Oh the beautiful feel of the buttery smooth focusing ring with its long throw. The cool feeling of the metal body with that heft that instantly denotes high quality precision engineering. To cap it off and send me into a rapturous state is the aperture ring – firstly there is one, and then there is the feel and sound of that ring as you change aperture. Just thinking about sends me into the throes of ecstasy.

Now it is a little known fact that when Yoshihisa Maitani designed the OM system he chose to make the flange distance a mere 46mm. At the time he probably thought that this would make a very compact SLR. But the unforeseen benefit of this decision is that it makes the OM lenses very easy to adapt to other cameras. Indeed when Canon brought out the ground breaking EOS 5d I was aware that you could buy an adapter to fit Olympus lenses to the body. But the experience was to me somewhat dismal. DSLRs really aren’t made to use manual lenses. It’s like expecting to find meat in a chicken McNugget. A disappointing experience. When Panasonic and Olympus announced the birth of micro four thirds in 2008 one of key features was the jettisoning of the mirror box found in SLRs. This has a couple of benefits. Firstly it means that a much shorter flange focal distance can be used. In ordinary speak this is the distance between the sensor/film plane and the lens mount on the camera body. Micro four thirds has a distance of 19.25mm which meant it was ideally suited to adapting lenses. I talked about this in April 2013 and again in April 2016. The second benefit was the provision of focus peaking. Focus peaking had long been found on video cameras by dint of them having an electronic viewfinder, it was quickly added to the feature list of mirrorless cameras. I first used it with the EM10 and was very happy with it. But there was a fly in the ointment. My carefully considered lens collection had been altered by virtue of the crop factor, basically a 50mm lens on m4/3 gives an angle of view equivalent to a 100mm lens on a 35mm sensor. Bugger! So apart from video use I put the old lenses away again.

A little while later Sony heralded the launch of their A7 series of full framed mirrorless cameras and initially my interest was piqued but the reality of buying into another camera system (I was already running Olympus m4/3 and Canon EOS) was just not an option. So I feigned disinterest. But an interesting thing happened, Sony update their models with incredible speed and that meant the prices of second-hand A7 and A7r dropped faster than an Essex girl’s knickers. All of a sudden my beautiful OM lenses were restored to their full frame glory.

 

Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f1.4 at f8.
Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f1.4 at f8.

To test the lenses I shot a standard scene which was composed of a book shelf in my sitting room. Mounting the camera on a tripod I then framed up so that the complete height of the shelf filled the frame. The shots were taken wide open and then stopped down to f8. To see more detail in the test shots just click on the image and it will open in a new browser. This will be an evolving series of articles about using various OM lenses.

 

Olympus OM Zuiko MC 50mm f1.4

 

Olympus OM Zuiko MC 50mm f1.4

The first lens most people whack an adapter on is a fast standard. The 50mm f1.4 was one of the original lenses that was introduced when the OM system was launched at Photokina in 1972. The original silver nosed (a term referring to chromed front mount ring) had a single lens coating and was 36mm in length.The newer MC version was introduced in 1984. Along with the new improved lens multi coating the design was changed resulting in a length of 40mm with a weight of 280g. The lens construction is seven elements in six groups. Despite being a fast lens it has a modest size and has a 49mm filter thread.

50mmf14optic

 

Shooting my test subject one of the very first things I noticed is that the image displays very slight barrel distortion. This is where image magnification decreases with distance from the optical axis and makes parallel straight lines look like the edges of a wooden barrel. This phenomenon is usually associated with wide-angle prime lenses or the wide end of standard zooms. It does happen in standard primes lenses but usually only at close focussing distances so it was surprising to see it here. Wide open lateral chromatic aberration (CA) is perceptible and at f8 cannot be seen. In terms of sharpness at f1.4 the image is universally soft and lacking in contrast. Stopping down to f8 improves the image and the lens is sharp across the frame. The lens renders beautifully with a gentle fall off in tones and the bokeh is a delight being soft and smooth. The lens is quite resistant to flare and I haven’t felt any great need to put on a lens hood.

olympus-50-cpmparison-1

A street sign on Avon Terrace in York, Western Australia. Taken on a Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f14. Shot at f1.4.

 

Al fresco at Henry Saw in Grand Lane in Perth WA. Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f1.4

In conclusion – well I always thought that it was a very good lens when I shot film and now having had the opportunity to mount it on a high megapixel digital camera I am not disappointed. If adapted lenses are your thing I would definitely recommend you to acquire a copy.

 

* today’s musical reference is to the Moody Blues the pioneers of art rock and progressive rock.

To Print …

Faversham
The Faversham vintage van in Avon Terrace, York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus OM Zuiko 35-105mm f3.5-5.6 zoom. Exposure: 1/200 sec, f5.6 ISO 400.

 

… or not to print. That is the question.

I picked up the latest edition of my fave photo mag (Black And White Photography ) and it had a short snippet of news that made me sit up and pay attention. Jessops  the large UK photo chain commissioned a survey which found that 20% of British adults have NEVER had a photo printed, 8% of British adults printed a photo at least once a month, and a whopping 44% have lost a digital photo they wish that they had printed. Amazing stuff.

It maybe an age related thing, but, I have always liked prints. Even when I shot slide film I had prints made. To me prints are the ultimate expression of my photographic endeavours. I realise that for many people who came to photography post the digital revolution prints are anachronistic hang over from a bygone era, but for me printing is an essential part of the photographic process. I think many people are put off by the apparent complexity of the process – look on the internet and it all looks so hard, but actually it is relatively simple to get good prints. The first step in the process is to profile your monitor – this ensures that are no strange colour casts. I use a ColorMunki Display  which is ridiculously easy to use and is relatively inexpensive. For the second step you can either send or take your image files to a lab and have them do the next bit, or like me print your own at home. I choose to print at home because I live in a rural area where there is no local lab, I’m impatient and want to see the results immediately and the surge to print often happens at odd times. I chose a Canon Pixma Pro 100S  as it is an A3+ sized dye based printer. I prefer my prints to be on glossy paper and dye based inks look better than pigment based ones. Also dye based printers are less likely to clog. I don’t profile my printer for the paper I use I just use the canned profiles from the paper manufacturers website. The video below shows how easy the whole process is.

 

 

Shortly after reading the piece in Black and White Photography I was perusing the BBC website when I came across a piece on the science pages that was warning that the world was facing a ‘digital Dark Age” . Apparently Dr Vint Cerf  an internet pioneer and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google (and yeah I had to Google him to find out who he was) has become famous for his predictions on how technology will affect future generations. He reckons that a lot of the digital images created in the early Twenty First Century will be lost as current hardware and software become obsolete so future generations will have no records of the period. I find this ironic considering Google is really pushing Google Photos as an in the cloud archive system. Anyway Google are apparently spending shed loads of money to try to prevent this with some you beaut techno solution. Personally I think the answer is obvious. The one material we know a lot about with regards to its archival properties is paper. In fact I’ve got quite a few family photos that date from the later half of the Nineteenth Century. So if you want to make sure your precious photos survive print them. Use good quality papers and inks and a lifespan in excess of 100 years is easily attainable. The Wilhelm Institute  gives archival ratings for most ink and paper combinations and advice on how to store your prints. If you print at A4 then should your digital archive disappear into oblivion with a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth then you can scan your prints and salvage the situation.

So there you have it. Now you’re not only making art but you are protecting your precious images from a digital apocalypse.

 

Photographic Print
Photographic print on Canson Infinity Photo High Gloss Premium RC by a Canon Pixma Pro 100S printer. Shot on a Sony A7r with Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 Color-Skopar lens.

Happy Birthday

The Mobile Kit
The Canon EOS5d – the first “affordable” dSLR with a 35mm sensor.

On 22 August 2015 the Canon EOS 5d turned ten years old – my own 5d turned 10 last week. Now they reckon dog years are seven for every human year. In terms of digital photography I reckon ten years equates to over a hundred human years as technology has advanced so fast. Despite that the original 5d, or if you want to really annoy the anally retentive Canon fan bois over on the DPReview forums the 5d Classic, is still more than a capable camera, in fact I would go onto say that if you don’t shoot video and don’t print any larger than A3+ you don’t need anything else. If all you do is post shots on Flickr and Facebook then I would say you’re over gunned and look for a Canon EOS 300d! Why was it so special – well it was the first “affordable” dSLR with a 35mm sized sensor. That meant a lot back in 2005 because a lot photo enthusiasts and pros had cut their teeth shooting 35mm film and had got used to a certain look with particular focal lengths. The advent of the cropped sized sensor (APS-C for Canon and DX for Nikon) meant that we couldn’t just look at a scene and say that calls for a 85mm lens, or a 24mm lens. No we had all these funny focal lengths and the other annoying thing was the camera and lens manufacturers didn’t populate their lens line ups with high quality cropped factor lenses – a fact that is still true today. So when the 5d was announced I thought at last I can get my favourite focal lengths back. I literally ran to my then favourite retailer PRA and placed my order. Since then my 5d has been in constant use, there are some 14,000 images in my Lightroom catalogue taken with that camera and it hasn’t missed a beat. It still gets used on a regular basis because those 12.8 Mp render an image beautifully. Many of the cameras detractors said that it had an atrocious auto focus system but I never had any problems with mine.

 

2007 Boddington Rodeo, Boddington, WA.
Gotcha!!! 2007 Boddington Rodeo, Boddington, WA. The 5d in full on action mode, something a lot of people said was impossible.

 

2005 Perth H2O Gravity Games
2005 Perth H2O Gravity Games

A lot of people complain that Canon sensors are crippled when it comes to dynamic range, again it has never been something that has caused me any problems.

Photograph 2006 Avon Descent by Paul Amyes on 500px
Hot Air Balloons over the Avon River in Northam, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D, Canon  75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. Exposure 1/1000 s at f/5.6 ISO 400.

 

 An Evening Walk Down The Lane. by Paul Amyes on 500px
A walk down the lane at sunset. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS5d, Canon EF 28-135 f3.5-5.6 IS lens, Cokin 2 stop graduated neural density filter, Cokin circular polarizing filter. Exposure 20.0 s at f/22.0 ISO 100 in manual mode.

 

Long exposures such as the shot above and below didn’t cause any problems, just a little judicious use of noise reduction software in post.

 

Photograph York CBH Nocturne by Paul Amyes on 500px
York CBH Nocturne. Train been filled at the York CBH grain handling facility in York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF24mm f/2.8 lens. Exposure: manual mode 20.0 s at f/4.0 ISO 800.

 

As I said earlier I’m still happily using the camera after ten years and in that time quite a few other cameras have come and gone. I think the EOS5d deserves the appellation Classic because it helped a lot of photographers recover their preferred means of working with focal lengths, it quickly became a mainstay of a lot of working photographers, and it established the idea of the prosumer full frame sensor in camera market. Will it last another ten years? I don’t think so as a working camera. The problem is that the spares are no longer manufactured to keep the camera going. I’ll still continue to use mine until it fails but not as a mission critical camera.

 

Tessellated Pavement
Tessellated Pavement. Canon EOS5d with EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. Cokin filters – 3 stop ND filter, 2 stop grad, and circular polarizing filter. Exposure: 1.6 s at f/11.0 ISO 100.

 

 

As always clicking on an image will take you through to my online gallery.

 

Olym – Puss

Ziggy
Peter’s cat Ziggy. Olympus Pen E-P5 with OLYMPUS M.25mm F1.8 lens. Exposure: 1/25 s at f/2.0 ISO 3200

The Olympus Pen EP-5 never received a lot of love on the inter webs forums. Essentially an OMD EM-5 without the viewfinder it was plagued on release by severe shutter shock which caused photos exposed within a shutter speed range of 1/80 – 1/200th of a second were subject to blur induced by the shutter closing. A great shame as that sealed its fate and the camera didn’t sell very well. Olympus to their credit did do a firmware release that solved the problem and I’ve been using one now for a couple of months and have found it to be an extremely capable camera. What makes the EP-5 currently a very attractive camera is that here in Australia it is now being sold for $400 – 450 depending on the retailer and the kit being offered. Will it take over as my main m4/3s camera? Maybe. For video yes as it allows me to plug an external microphone into it which my EM-10 doesn’t. For stills the EM-10 wins my affections at the present because of the built in EVF and the live composite and time-lapse features. As I use it more I’ll post some of my findings.