NEW! Photography related videos can be found
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Mark D. Young's Photography Blog
This is where I shall be posting (on an irregular basis and as time permits)
field reports from assignments, comments on kit (old and new) and general
musings related to photography as I experience it.
Olympus leading again by selling their imaging
division? Why this is a watershed moment for all
dedicated camera manufacturers.
OM-D E-M5 Mark III menu booklet and differences to
the E-M1 Mark II
Gear-itis: Is there a cure?
Photokina 2016 - Hybrids signal a sea-change in photography
Olympus E-M1 review
Time for sensor and lens sense
The Death of The Shift
When your camera eye-cup fails
OM-D Focus Tracking is great
OM-D E-M1: Taking the plunge
Why Olympus Weatherproof equipment?
15 July 2020
Canon (and Sony) prove how advanced Olympus equipment is.
announced their copies of the OM-D E-M1 camera. Two
They got it almost right.
Totally overpriced -
in both cases.
However, unlike with
the mania about Olympus equipment, nobody - even
those with bouffant hair styles and shouty voices -
is saying anything about the pricing.
Nor is anyone
saying they are both useless pieces of equipment if
you live in my country.
Simple. Due to the
craze for legacy 35mm sized sensors - which the R6
and R5 (and Sony mirrorless cameras) have - the heat generated by the cameras when
used in 4K video mode, even when in standby and you
are not yet recording, severely limits the available
In one of the modes on
the R5, to less than three minutes.
With the caveat that
you are working in 23 Deg C ambient temperature
according to Canon literature.
temperatures this time is even shorter.
Don't panic they
say in a media release - as they battle to quash
their growing Galaxy Note moment - once the camera
cools you can go again. If you wait at least 15
minutes in one scenario.
Or take the camera
into the shade and run a fan over it.
it does have a great feature that tells you how long
you need to wait before you can record again.
Imagine the look on the face of the bride as the
timer ticks down.
No stress, you can
impress her with the fact that it is a full
frame sensor and the latest mirrorless camera
from Canon as she fumes.
I am sure every bride
or interview subject (or news editor) will
daytime temperature in my region is between 23 and
29 degrees in winter.
In summer it is
So, let me see....
If I spend three
times the cost of an E-M1 mark ii with a 12-40 2.8
lens buying an R5 and similar lens (equivalent
weather sealing and body construction), I may, on a
good day, with a box of dry ice, portable fan and
generator, get 180 seconds of video recording at a
rural wedding location every half an hour or so.
I used Sony legacy sized sensor equipment I would
need to remove the battery doors, change batteries
every ten minutes and keep the screens flipped out
far from the body to try and get the stuff to work
for more than 10 minutes at a time.
And all of this is if I
use the APS-C crop region of the huge sensors I paid
so much money for and which are apparently, so much
better because they are, according to couch potato
wisdom, larger than my pokey 43 sensor.
Way to go guys.
My E-M1.1 and M1.2
cameras have never missed a beat in our heat and
dust. They will run to the 29 minute 59 second limit
imposed on cameras by outdated EU law and then run
the whole time range again within seconds in all the
conditions I have experienced.
All day long.
The entire package
of camera and lens is smaller than the equivalent R
mount lens alone and, on top of it all, the battery
life on the M1.2 appears to be double the capacity
testers are getting on the R5.
And I get 120
frame per second, progressive scan viewfinder use
all day long. On the new knock-offs you only get
optimum battery life if you lower the refresh rate
to 60 frames per second and enjoy using a streaky
And, of course, I can
get an impressive still photo frame rate of 12
frames per second (shutter) or 20 frames per second
(electronic shutter) on these copy-cats as opposed
to the allegedly backward Olympus' rates of 15 and
Having a fool-frame
EOS is, apparently such a must that I should happily
forego the Pro-Capture and other tools on the OM-D
kit as well as it seems Canon have not twigged to
everything that makes an OM-D so useful yet...
I am so impressed,
I recently decided to order new cameras.
A E-M1 mark II is
on the way and I will seek out one of the half price
E-M1 X examples on E-Bay in due course.
I am loving the
me-media mania driven silly sell-off happening at
the moment - you can choose your muse at great
I will do this so
as to have items that actually work at 4K and to
have spares to use while the rest of the industry
If it can.
25 June 2020
Olympus sells-up the imaging division. Why this may
be its last innovation in the camera business.
As an Olympus veteran, I have to tackle the
latest news buzzing on the internet.
This is a wholly
unofficial and self-appointed title, but by now,
after so many purchases and years of professional
use in the face of much amusement and constant
ragging from colleagues out here, one I reckon I
My ownership and use
of Olympus products spans 50 years.
I have been making
money with Olympus cameras my entire professional
career - more than 40 years.
I have seen three
Olympus camera families come and go.
I survived every
time. And so did the cameras. Every one of these
camera family members I still own still operates.
And none of the oldies are still sold or officially
supported by their maker.
So? Given that the last 48 hours have been filled
with hyperbole like "Olympus is Dead!", "The end of
Olympus", "Olympus is gone" and more, how do I feel
about it all?
Well, when I woke up
this morning, I carefully checked my equipment
locker and....no tombstones had sprouted overnight
on any of the cameras.
In fact, when in the
studio doing some scientific food work earlier
today, all the OM-D cameras involved switched on.
They all worked.
So did the 1984
vintage Bowens Mono Silver studio flashes I used for
the assignment. Ah Bowens - yet another product that
should, if it were available on the modern
internet - be "dead".
Anyhow, client was
happy with the results and did not ask what brand of
camera they were shot on or how they were lit. They
only wanted the results briefed.
And herein lies the rub for the entire specialised
camera industry. Any modern camera with 16
megapixels or more with a sensor from four-thirds
and upwards is way more than good enough. There is
nothing more we can usefully put into cameras that
really matters. We have reached a technological
This fact is a
problem for all manufacturers, not just the folk at
the Shinjuku monolith. It is definitely true for
medical scope work. No more hardware development is
needed. The future is in adding smart AI tech to the
existing hardware. You do not need an imaging
division full of camera engineers for that.
Several of my
colleagues and blog readers worldwide have sought my thoughts
on all the click-bait excitement and crowing about
who was right and who was wrong between myself (and others) who have
posted about this so-called passing of Olympus in
the past year or so.
Overall, I think
it is too early to get concerned about any aspect of
the Olympus move as, on full reflection, I think it
presages an even larger truth we must all face in
Olympus will still,
on their version,
be making cameras and selling them as usual until
the eventual deal discussed in the press release
materialises and is confirmed. My existing equipment
will still work for several years. Certainly long
enough for me to perhaps buy a camper van and go
Of note to me, is
that the company has not simply stopped making
cameras and lenses like some others who have
withdrawn from the interchangeable lens camera
- and as we shall soon discuss - other markets
in the past decade or two.
They are making
plans, they say, to set up the imaging business as a new
entity, with new owners.
So, no, they are not,
on the strength of this,
They are not going
to go "Poof!" and vanish.
Many comments have
been made to the effect that the potential new
owners - let us remember this is still at the MOU
stage - will simply strip out the valuable parts
such as the market leading patents,
make the dismissals Olympus want to avoid doing, and
then shut it all down anyway.
The published track
record of the entity involved would suggest
otherwise and time alone will tell if this
negativity is warranted.
However, there is a
way we can get an idea of how things will eventually
pan out by looking at another of the odd equipment
choices in my life - Jaguar cars.
I will contrast
Jaguar's experiences with another auto maker, MG
Jaguar Cars have
changed ownership several times. The last sale of
the company and all its trademarks, R&D, design and
marketing divisions was in 2008 when,
notwithstanding similar internet hysteria about the
death of the brand, it was placed in a new entity by
its new owners.
Since then, the
company has re-invented its product family and now
has a presence in more market sectors than ever.
This very morning I read about them launching a new
2021 version of their all electric iPace. They are
not "gone" or "dead" by any margin.
Granted, like most
companies in the recent past, it has recently had
some balance sheet problems but, in the immediate
aftermath - lets say the first five years - after
changing hands, it launched more new products than
it had in the previous 40.
And speaking of
years, none of the Jaguars of the past blew up and
died when the change of ownership took place. Spares
support for the classics is now better than I have
The MG-Rover saga,
on the other hand, gives us an idea of how things
may go the other way.
For some years
before the sale, the huge BMW entity did not put any
effort into marketing and did not release a single
new product at all.
After being sold by
BMW to a venture capital firm, the new owners did
not release a single brand new model.
new models galore but, in reality, they were the
same models as before but some had turbo chargers,
trick suspension and go faster stripes added. They
were exactly the same under the skin as before the
Now, to Olympus.
They have not, in the past few years, not released
anything at all.
They have released
warmed over versions of existing models. Much like
MG in their final years. However, they have also
released new lenses and a really innovative and
industry leading concept camera. We will still see,
I think, through future imaging industry
developments with computer aided vision, that
this camera was visionary in many respects.
is at least one more new lens I know of on the way
shortly. It is a white one and samples are floating
around. That is a fact.
There is, according
to my sources, at least one new
camera on the way. Also a fact.
There are also some
firmware updates due next month for existing
cameras as well.
More I cannot say
lest I get my several inside sources in different
places into some bother.
Another thing I
do know from carefully looking at the financials
(shareholders get to see these in detail on request)
is that the corporate accounting structure of
Olympus placed a disproportionate yoke of expenses
from the medical division on the much smaller camera
In addition, as with
most large companies in its home country, the time
honoured traditional system of consultation all the
way up and down the command chain of all the company
divisions has a knock on impact on product design
and other changes that are needed to react to market
demands. All companies on the Island have this same
So, to the
prospects, as I see them, for "Newco",
given that Olympus does, as they say, work to keep
the imaging divison going "with" the new entity?
Firstly, it should be free of the unequal weight of the costs the
imaging division appears to have on its books within
the greater company. I hope this will translate into
a better marketing budget as any new tech will need
something of a push to get it to the new buyers.
Next, there will
be fewer layers for ideas and changes to navigate
and so it should, in theory, be more agile and able
to adapt to market requirements. And, as the market
for interchangeable lens cameras has changed and all
camera manufacturers will need to adapt to this by
developing a new kind of hybrid device family,
having a leaner, more agile company will be a good
In addition to the
previous two points, taken on the amount of comments
all over the internet, there is a large group of
loyal customers. This bodes well as - most of these-
on the comments, appear to be happy to have anything
new to which they can fit their 43 and m43 lenses.
How much of these folk are actually real buyers
rather than just bored forum potatoes, time will
So, to get back to my analogy with the motoring
world, I think we will see how this is going to pan
out (as I think, with respect, that it is too early
to say one way or another at the moment no matter
how many YoutTube subscribers you may have) by observing the
product development (or lack thereof) in the first
year or so.
If, like Jaguar, new
models and a new range of innovative items
appear through regular announcements and actual
launches, the future looks rosy.
If, like MG Rover
all we get are go faster stripes, trick suspension
but the same kit under the panels, not so much.
In the final
analysis though, the whole camera industry needs to
change or it will simply fade into history.
has always led the market in many areas and,
perhaps, it is doing so again in adapting ahead of
the pack to a new
era in image making equipment and production requirements?
In my view all
manufacturers will have to face the same issue in
the fullness of time.
The needs of
professionals have changed as the market demands
have changed. The equipment we need now has to be
hybrid and darn good at stills, video, audio and
for us to stay in business.
imaging practitioners we should all have realised around
five years ago that Life, as we knew it (as I said
in a blog after visiting my last Photokina show) had
It will continue to
For 98% of imaging
needs nowadays mobile phones do the job as well as
the majority of users wish them to do. The official
Olympus statement yesterday said as much by alluding
to the impact mobile phones have had on the
And there are now
(and will soon be more) phone cameras with 10x or
stronger optical zoom lenses. Add the AI image
processing to give stitched wide angle views or
blurred portrait backgrounds and the last major
reasons for buying an interchangeable lens camera
for the average consumer has, to a great degree,
gone up in smoke.
All of this new
phone tech slips into your pocket, All for a small
monthly payment and upgraded every two years. All
connected and - like a swiss army knife - having
many uses and solutions. Such as wedding
photography, Kids birthday parties. Special
occasions. Newborn photography. Portraits of the CEO
for the company's (increasingly) electronic
newsletter. And it can provide video and stills for
each of these usage scenarios too.
It also does your
shopping, controls your home, reminds you about your
mom in law's birthday and keeps tabs on your taxable
The market for
large, single use technical equipment is gone -
especially in regards to the majority of imaging and
A feature film has
already been shot on a mobile phone so who needs
more megapixels and even larger sensors now?
In my view, the
hiving off of the Olympus Imaging business into a
Newco is a watershed moment for the industry at
I do not think this
is a question any more of "who will be next?"
I think all
camera manufacturers stand at this same watershed.
For too long the industry stood aloof thinking it
was something special and irreplaceable. Too big to
It failed to realise it was competing for the
electronic leisure spend of consumers.
It failed to
address the challenges posed by short product cycles
and the financing of new equipment which the
computer and mobile phone industries had solved with
24 month contract agreements and "upgrade" cycles.
It failed, to a
large degree, to see and meet the need for its
equipment to be multi-faceted and to solve the needs
of several different user demands in one.
sake, it did not, save for Panasonic and Olympus -
and later Sony - see that the flappy mirror dinosaur
camera was a developmental and cost dead-end a decade ago.
The entire industry
failed to see that it needed to blend technologies
together to make a camera more than a one trick
Perhaps Newco will
realise this and astonish us all?
happens, things are going to be different for all
camera owners sooner or later.
after the current worldwide recession abates in a few
years, innovation, agility and the willingness to
rapidly respond to market demands will be vital.
As vital will be
innovative sales and financing methods.
If Newco can
bring out an Olympus OM-D with a SIM, gigabit
ethernet or wireless connectivity, personal
assistant, m43 mount, all the current still
photography bells and whistles with computational AI
firmware plus a fully featured
4K video facility, a proper XLR linked sound suite and offer it all in a
reasonably compact body on a 24 month contract, I would sign up
So too, I suspect,
would everyone else who loves imaging and content
As I said, time will
In the interim, I am still using my Olympus cameras
and making some money with them. They are not about
to die and will, in all likelihood serve me well for
the rest of my working photographic career.
Enjoy the cameras you
have while you are still able to do so.
Use them more than you talk about them, criticise
them or post comments about them.
That's been the secret of happiness in my career
that made it so enjoyable that I hardly noticed the
years rolling by until I realised I had quietly
became an Olympus veteran.
27 March 2020
COVID19 - How our world has changed and what we can
do about it
photographers in South Africa, it is my view that we
need to face up to the reality that the world and
marketplace we knew before 16 March 2020, has
In fact, to be
totally frank, I think that market as we knew it has
gone. And it is not going to be coming back soon -
if at all.
of us who relied on social photography to survive
will be the first - and most permanently - impacted.
birthday parties and anniversary functions are being
postponed or cancelled left, right and centre.
Corporate functions have stopped. Schools have
closed and will, in all likelihood, not be that
interested in squeezing the annual photo sessions
into a restricted and hectic schedule when they
re-open in three months or so. More so given that
most parents will be battling to put food on the
table, let alone pay for a package of photos they
could, in their minds, take anyway.
Did I say three
months? Yes. If you look at edicts issued in the UK,
many European countries and elsewhere, it must be
fairly obvious that the authorities worldwide are
looking at that time-line as the period in which
they will be suspending freedoms. (Just one
When things gradually
start easing up, there will be few mums willing to
let a stranger pop in to photograph their
youngsters. Birthday parties will take ages to
become the norm again.
For those of us
with commercial clients, things are not that much
better. A large portion of firms have sent workers
home to work from home (where possible) "for
the duration". It is my view that this home
working genie - now that it is out of the
bottle - is going to be very hard to put back inside
and that the dynamics of many South African
companies have changed forever.
The real estate
market is sitting with a huge (and growing)
over-supply of stock. The lack of turnover and the
long sales periods are impacting on revenue and the
first cuts have been in the area of hiring
professionals to photograph the properties. In
addition, there are more and more firms popping up
that are hoping to offer an all in one stills+video
solution to the estate market.
This is going to
lead to a change in the marketplace and how things
are done. In a drive to conserve cash due to the
loss of turnover, most commercial campaigns are
being cut back or put on the shelf altogether.
depending on social photography, the cancellation of
worldwide trade shows may have disguised the fact
that several new smartphones with incredible cameras
have been released onto the market in the past 4
weeks. One of these announced last Thursday has an
ultra-wide, rectilinear lens and hyper stabilised
video mode. It stitches images seamlessly and edits
two minute videos and adds music on the fly. When
this reaches the estate agents there will be no need
for any of us (And yes, these things sort the
exposure perfectly well for the intended use so you
can't even argue that.)
Thus the need for
us to do "professional photos" (i.e. with blurry
backgrounds as far as the public sees it...) for
non-commercial clients is going to be eroded even
more by the newer algorithms in these models. Add in
the fear of catching something from a stranger in
your home or at your party and you have a natural
reduction in demand for our work if a mobile device
can do an acceptable (to the client) job -
especially given that 80% or more of imaging is
consumed on mobile devices these days.
I doubt that these
dynamics buffeting our previous ways of working will
go back to normal. That we are now at the start of a
long and uncertain period of global recession
cannot, I would posit, be argued.
So. The big
questions is, what can we do about it?
Firstly, did you
know that there is a professional photographer's
representative trade body in South Africa recognised
worldwide? It is called the South African
Professional Photographers (SAPP).
As just part of what
we do behind the scenes we engaged with government
on behalf of self-employed photographers this week
in an attempt to ensure our plight appears on the
planning radar during this emergency. Hopefully we
will learn about what relief (if any) the already
strained national finances will extend to us later
today. I will update my blog with relevant news in
this regard (if any) later.
Consider joining us.
Professionalism is not just that you charge for your
work. A whole range of things make you a
professional and affect our ability to work. Legal,
legislative and more. As an example I was part of a
delegation to government in 1997 that reduced
punitive duties on photo equipment to 5%.
Individuals cannot hope to have that sort of
consideration alone. United we can make an impact
and ensure that whatever future there may be for us,
the importance of our profession is recognised and
that we set universal standards to the benefit of
clients and the industry alike.
In my view, if we want
to have a future, our industry needs a strong
representative (and internationally recognised)
association. Get in touch with me if you wish to
Next, I believe that
we could all make use of this enforced period of
calm to look critically at our businesses and
revenue streams. We need to think long and hard
about where our revenue was sourced and think about
ways in which we can diversify our offerings if we
intend to remain in the photographic industry.
If you do intend
to remain as a photographer, is your offering a
self-restrictive one? As but one example, if you
advertise as a wedding photographer but only do
western style white weddings, are you not limiting
yourself to a quarter or less of the market? Use
this time to research and investigate other
traditions - for example did you know that a Hindi
or African traditional wedding provides three
different days, and many different streams, of
OK. So you need to
be prepared to go to three different locations - and
for tribal weddings to rural villages - but the
opportunities are there and the market is
under-serviced in terms of upper-end professional
photography. The customers are discerning and will
engage you if your offering is of top quality and
you follow and respect the customs involved. Use
this time to learn about these.
Next, look at your
electronic footprint. Use the time to re-evaluate
your website and social media pages. Can they be
tweaked? Can they be made more inviting for
immediate engagement? And speaking of this, why not
look at how to do the upkeep of your website
yourself? YouTube has tons of material on this. Why
should it only be our former customers learning on
that platform during this period?
If you are a
commercial photographer, you may already have
discovered the fact that many corporates are now
looking critically at the spend and return on
imaging. Where possible, if they are able to engage
one provider for still-imaging and video production,
they are doing so. So, if you are still only doing
photography, you are losing out on up to 75% of the
revenue budget for imaging of most corporates.
Learning from my
own recent past, a single still-imaging client has
spent more than four times what they used to spend
per annum on still-imaging, on video shorts,
corporate videos and in-house training materials.
Naturally, production sound, editing and other
aspects need to be top-notch but these are things
you can learn. Luckily, I had a grounding in film in
the 80s so the curve was not as steep for me.
However, once again, YouTube is your friend.
And we all now
have the time to sit, watch and learn.
Further to this, a
unique opportunity has been opened up by our peers
at the Professional Photographers of America who
have opened up all their education resources for the
next two weeks. You register for an account on this
link and then you can access all their tutorials and
reference material at no cost for the next 14 days:
Spend the free
time you may be forced to have learning all the menu
options and facilities on your equipment. Learn new
techniques in editing software. Is it perhaps time
to refresh your sample images and presentation
and especially relevant in our multi-lingual
country, is to try and learn at least some
conversational skills in another one of our 11
official languages. This will have benefits to your
business in ways that you will need to experience in
understand its importance.
Another aspect to
look at is the deeper health of your business - is
your insurance correct? Is it possible to get a
rebate on any payments due in the next 60 to 90 days
as the risks are less? Look at your retirement plan
(you do have one do you not?) Ask the
underwriters concerned if they are playing their
part in assisting us all by letting you defer at
least 90 days of payments without losing the policy
All of these
suggested steps will serve to let you pass the time
with less stress and to position your business for
the re-emergence of the economy on the other side of
whatever we are still to face in the next 90 days or
decide to do in the next three months or so, my wish
is that you remain healthy and that we all manage to
emerge from this in the best shape possible and
ready to engage with a market that has changed and
will never be the same again.
If we remain the
same, or expect the same market on the other side of
this period, we will be swept away by the change.
01 March 2020
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III menu settings booklet
rumours stating that stock availability was not all
it seemed, two new OM-D E-M1 Mark III bodies
(to take over from the aged M1.1 bodies) are now on
our asset register.
Now, as usual,
induction and training material on the camera has
been prepared for staff and I am sharing the menu
settings booklet for you here.
There is little that
is radically new or fantastic about the camera that
would make it a must buy for you if you already own
an E-M1 Mark II. If you still run an original E-M1
or E-M5 Mark II however, then it is a massive and worthy upgrade -
with one caveat.
The caveat is this: If
you own and use the Olympus LS100 PCM recorder, then
this is not a body you may want.
Support for the sync
recording and slate tone link available on the M1.1,
M1.2, M1X and the recently launched M5 Mark III, has been dropped from the M1.3.
Given that the
LS100 would have set you back about $800, that is a
serious hoof to the jaw and I would suggest getting
the M1.2 instead if you have an LS-100 and need a
second body or have to replace older bodies.
Maybe a mythical
firmware fix will solve this...?
Download my OM-D E-M1 Mark III menu settings
(If you do download it,
please consider a donation to support this work.
reasons you may want an OM-D E-M1 MarkIII rather
than the E-M1 MarkII
You are upgrading from an E-M1 original or an E-M5
* You run a single
E-M1X and need a second, more compact body.
* You need hand held
high resolution mode (Not on the M1.2)
* You absolutely must
have an extra stop of IS compensation.
* You need the live ND
function. (Not on the M1.2)
* You need the direct
USB power option and you do not use an HLD 9 all the
time (as attaching that disables the USB power/charging facility)
* You absolutely must
have 120fps FHD video. (M1.2 goes to 60fps FHD)
* You reckon you
absolutely MUST have the very (very, very) slight
improvement in noise performance of the TruePic IX
cpu as you constantly shoot at night, in coal mines,
without any light.
* You must have the
custom focus target creation feature. (It's in video
mode as well...)
* You must have
slightly better face and eye detection from miles
* You need to be able
to keep the shutter open for an hour on bulb. (M1.2 is 30
* You spend your life
photographing nightscapes with stars and battle to
focus on stars.
* You have to have
direct access to the B settings.
* You simply must be
able to shoot and upload images on your studio/home
WiFi network. (Cable only on the M1.2)
* You will shoot waaay
more than 200K images on the mechanical shutter
(M1.3 tested to 400K vs 200K on the M1.2)
* You truly believe
the AF is better than the M1.2 and can actually see
it. (Have tested the M1.2 and M1.3 side by side at a
show jumping event and if there is a difference, I
can't detect it. The next Touch tournament I cover
will provide a definitive answer.)
* You just want the
latest version of anything - no matter what.
you may not want an E-M1 Mark III
You already have an E-M1 Mark II, are happy with it
and do not need any of the new features.
* You own and use the
Olympus LS-100 PCM recorder, use the sync recording
and own XLR microphones...because you cannot use
sync recording on the E-M1 Mark III and the LS 4 PCM
option being punted for use with the Mark III does
not accept XLR inputs.
* You like the FL-LM3
flash (which is very handy) which you get in the
Mark II but not with the Mark III (Even though the
handbook says it is in the box but their product
site says not...)
All the above reasons
for and against are my views based on an initial
ownership period and the mix of equipment I have
used extensively up to now.
Your mileage may vary.
To download my other
OM-D menu booklets, use the following links:
OM-D E-M5 Mark III
OM-D E-M1 Mark II (Revised for firmware ver: 3.2)
30 December 2019
We don't know what makes the best camera or
As time passed and
- logically - technology improved, one would expect
clear trends in what really matters to the public in
regard to photography to have emerged.
photography has been around in one form or another
for roughly 2 centuries so we should, using
so-called common sense, have a pretty good idea of
what the photo buying public wants in a good
Such knowledge of
what the public - who are, after all, professional
photographer's clients - want in images, is you'd
expect, vital to be able to provide the services
required by paying customers.
Now, if you read the
fora on leading photographic websites you
will find strident (and increasingly personal and
nasty) comments and arguments professing certainty
of this knowledge of what really counts in terms of
the equipment to use, how to take the image and what
the final image requires to be "professional".
On most internet
fora it would seem obvious, after just a few
minutes of browsing, that current common wisdom
holds anyone not using the arbitrarily defined and
much promoted holy grail image sensor size
- equivalent to the legacy 35mm film format of
24x36mm (and in every case so very misleadingly
called "full frame" because it was, itself called
miniature format on its introduction to
halide imaging) - cannot possibly compete as a
professional or serious photographer.
This is so, according
to the forum potatoes and self-proclaimed
Youtographer experts, as you allegedly cannot get shallow
depth of field, dynamic range, fine texture or other
mythical "absolutely essential" requirements on
smaller sensors such as those used in the APS-C and
4/3 format equipment.
While such arguments
are equally as misleading as the use of the term
full frame, there is now some empirical
evidence which we can look at to see that all of
these arguments about what is needed in the
so-called real world, are - it would seem - a load of nonsense and
totally irrelevant as there are apparently only two criteria
that appear to count to the public when judging your
A blind camera test
using sixteen devices was carried out and the images
posted on social media platforms Twitter and
Instagram. This played directly to the fact that
nearly 70% of images are, in the present day,
consumed on mobile devices and social media (taken
from my own and other available web statistics).
More than six million
votes later it was clear to see that, when nearly
identical images of the same subject were adjudged
by the participants in the voting (the public),
images that were brighter than the opponent and had
more depth of field, were adjudged the better
Cameras that gave
better dynamic range, used larger sensors (and thus
gave easily noticed shallower depth of field) or
were technically more correct in colour and
white-balance, often lost out to images that had
more depth of field (leading to them being judged by
the public respondents as giving a sharper result)
or were lighter (better exposed according to those
Now, while you may
bleat that they were cameras on mobile devices and
not real cameras (possibly because they were not
using a legacy 35mm still picture format sensor?),
the test is valid in my view.
Firstly, it was a
blind test with the winning device names only
revealed at the end of the process.
Secondly, it asked
millions of people using the most common viewing
platform of the current era (a mobile device or
to do the adjudication.
Thirdly, it showed
a consistency in the result trends from a similar
test last year and with comments often passed by
social photography clients when requesting edits to
images after a studio shoot or selecting images from
event photography assignments.
The images here were shot (not in any
particular order) on medium format, 4/3 and mobile
phone sensors with lighting modifiers. At this scale
and on a computer or mobile phone screen, who cares?
So, whatever we
think we may know about what camera manufacturers
ought to do or what makes a good camera from an
inferior one, all I think we can say from all of
this is that we who think we know something, don't
appear to know anything about what the public really wants.
It certainly does not
seem to be wide dynamic range, buttery Bokeh,
perfect exposure or most of the other stuff so many
spend weeks of their lives pontificating about on
discussion and comment fora.
So, it seems we can all
chill and stop making puff-pieces about what
manufacturers "ought to/must do" or what camera
formats are sure to die out soon or posting comments
about how long any given manufacturer might survive
based on the presence or lack of attributes in their
We need to take note
of what the public wants and thinks makes an image
better than another. That's all that counts now and
will still count in the next decade - even as
technology morphs and changes the way we make images
- as it surely is going to do.
Don't believe me?
Switch off your outrage, go watch the video:
and think about the implications of the results for
what you might think is your superior imaging
Now, of course the
forum potato experts and Youtographers will all say
it is impossible to do paying work with these things
and the results are not in any manner important to
real photographers (apparently only those
using 24 x 36mm sensors and capturing images sans
processing.). Of course, those exact words were
uttered to anyone using 35mm SLR cameras by the
real photographers using large, clunky 60 x 60
mm format cameras in the 1960s and 70s. And by those
using 4 x 5 inch view cameras a few decades before
when 60 x 60mm format started becoming popular.
feature movies and commercials have already been shot using
There are several
pros trending (and charging silly money) as they
shoot weddings on phones.
So, excuse me, I'm
off to the mobile phone shops for my next
Err, hang-on, I
already have an example of the winner of the poll in
For a moment there
I thought I had to get some new gear.
I think I'll just
rather get a safe, relaxed and prosperous new Julian
And my wish to you
who read my blog posts is that you get the same.
Be safe and enjoy your
22 October 2019
Olympus OM-D E-M5 mark iii - Differences to E-M1
mark ii and my initial menu settings booklet
Last week Olympus
officially announced the latest version of the OM-D
E-M5 family, the mark iii variant.
After playing with a
pre-production version I was struck by the fact that
it was a shrunken - and half price (given launch
pricing of each model) - OM-D E-M1 mark ii.
Of course there are
differences, and below I list the main ones I found
on the firmware 1.0 version I had in my hands, but,
essentially, you can now buy a new E-M1 mark ii in a
lighter, smaller form factor. You will need to
decide if the differences are a deal breaker for
you. In my view, based on practical experience and
use of the cameras, I would wager that none are.
Of course, giving us
an E-M1 mark ii at a lower price in a smaller body
probably means a newer E-M1 is around the corner but
the existing model is still incredible value (there
are special offers all over the place at the
moment...) if you need the tough, metallic, large
grip and all-day battery power plus extender grip
options of the E-M1 mark ii. And, of course, it has
proven to be as tough as nails.
If you simply wish get
my suggested menu settings booklet, click here:
Mark D Young's Olympus OM-D E-M5 mark iii suggested
initial menu settings booklet
If you are wondering
what the differences are between the models, here is
what I found on the pre-launch firmware. Production
models may differ so this is only intended as a
guide on what I found. For simplicity I shall call
the cameras the M5.3 and M1.2 below.
Differences noted on firmware version
throttled on the M5.3
The M5.3 does a max of
30 fps with AF locked versus the 60 fps of the M1.2
with the electronic shutter.
The fastest mechanical
shutter frame rate is 10 on the M5.3 versus 15 fps
on the M1.2. This also leads to minor differences in
the Pro Capture frame settings to reflect the
M5.3 does not
currently have a battery grip option
Currently there is no
battery grip option for the M5.3 which the M1.2 does
M5.3 cannot do
tethered shooting/RAW file processing with USB
The 5.3 does not
(based on the example I had) seem to offer tethered
shooting or use of the TruePic VIII CPU for RAW
processing when connected via USB. I doubt this will
change as the USB 3.0 data rate of the M1.2 plays a
huge role in this camera RAW processing via USB
trick. But tethered shooting was there on the M1.1
which used USB 2.0...
USB charging when switched off but M1.2 is USB 3.0
The 5.3 allows USB
charging when switched off from a power bank which
the M1.2 does not. However the M1.2 uses USB 3.0
instead of USB 2.0 so data transfer rate is far
faster when using the USB port to copy files from
the camera.(If you must do it that way...)
M5.3 does not
offer sync recording with PCM recorder
This may only affect
you if you use the Olympus audio recorder and an
E-M1.2 to do video sound. I do so I noticed. You do,
however, have the option to allocate a camera button
to generate a slate tone on the M5.3 so all is not
M5.3 has only
one SD card slot
If you are a
hobbyist/amateur or have used an M1.1
professionally, you will be used to this. Not a
train smash unless you are a working professional. A
nice to have but not a reason to dismiss the M5.3
out of hand in my view.
M5.3 has an
IBIS rating of 6.5 stops vs 5.5 for the M1.2
Well, the IBIS unit is
newer. We can't stop progress.
On sample M5.3
longest shutter speed was 30 sec vs 60 sec on M1.2
M1.2 offers a
headphone connector while the M5.3 does not
Not the game changer
most imply. If you do proper sound you are using an
external recorder and those have headphone
M5.3 has a 120
fps slow motion Full HD video mode
If you like to follow
fads and inject slow-mo sequences into your videos,
this will excite you. A nice to have if you do
video. All other aspects are the same except the
No OMLog400 on
This is a decider if
you do professional video work. Makes the M1.2 the
choice if you need this.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity while M1.2 only has
In an ever
increasingly inter-connected world of devices
talking to devices, no surprise. Not a deal breaker
for me and one more thing to drain power if you
forget it on. Obviously this adds a step or two to
the menu but that is balanced by the lack of card
slot menu options.
battery display in video mode is only in % without
option of time remaining as on M1.2
Well, also not a train
smash as the time left estimate has a bit of a
penchant for fables anyway.
The M5.3 does
not have the low ISO detail priority processing
option of the M1.2 activated
This must be in the
system. They both have CPU aided ISO64 settings.
However, it was not in the FW V1.0 menu.
refresh rate setting not in M5.3 FW V1.0 menu
M5.3 only has
one button on front of camera
On the M1.2 the second
button could be set to be an instant one-touch white
balance setting. If you do not fiddle with your WB
all the time like a pro then this is no problem. You
can allocate one-touch WB to a button in the B menu.
M5.3 has only
one dial position for custom memory vs 3 on the M1.2
All the memory
registers are there, however. You just need to get
to C2 and C3 via the menu on the M5.3.
M5.3 has a
dial position to get to low light settings rapidly.
On the M1.2 you do
this via M on the dial and turning the control
wheels...and turning...and turning... An improvement
in handling. Watch for it on the M1.3...
settings moved from menu E3 on M1.2 to E1 on M5.3
Just in case you get
an M5.3 and wonder where it is...
re-labelled top right, rear button to ISO by
This used to be a Fn
button in the past M5 models. I use this to call up
focus targets so will re-allocate it in the B menu.
Your needs may differ and the double-tap to
activate/de-activate touch screen targeting
system may be better for you. It is possible to have
both options running anyway.
body only is 160 grammes lighter (with a battery)
As I said, all the
above was based on examination of a sample running
FW version 1.0. The first customer cameras may have
a few differences.
If you are serious
about your photography, have m43 gear already, or
are considering the system, (but you are not a pro),
then the M5.3 is, in my view, perhaps the best
Olympus body for you.
If you are a working
professional using the M1.2 and think you need a
fresher model, stick around and keep your wallet at
I have a feeling Q1
2020 will be our time.
17 October 2019
So you want to be
(This summary will
require at least three mobile phone/tablet screen
swipes to read. The actual log referenced might
easily be seven page flicks...Now that you know, you can
decide what to do next.:-)
This blog post
follows numerous requests during the past year or so
from readers and correspondents.
I have been asked
several times to either do a behind-the-scenes video
while working on a shoot or to show a shoot in a
Now, in all cases,
my clients would be a bit miffed to have their work
interrupted by me pausing at several points to
capture images or footage to use for such an
exercise. Likewise, they would not be pleased to see
me plaster their images all over my website or
This, I think,
marks a true working professional from would-be
pretenders. The more client images you are shown on
a visit to a photographers website, the more
sceptical I think one should be as most client work
agreements, in my experience, expressly control use
and open publication of the work created on those
they would feel a bit cheated on their rate if they
had anything less than 100% of my attention and time
and if I broke conditions of the work contracts
regarding use and ownership of the images I create
on their time.
Additionally, I have
done the hard yards to learn how to best fulfil the
briefs of my clients. Who needs a few hundred
comments on how it could all be better if only I
used a "real" professional camera, technique, set of
post-processing actions or other "must-do to be
professional" things from countless forum-potatoes
who - in all likelihood judging on the time-stamps
between most comments I have seen - spend most of
the day on fora rather than actually going out to
However, these past
few weeks have offered an opportunity to consider
the request in a different light as I have had a
cluster of assignments. One of the assignments
arrived unexpectedly as a result of
another...err...professional...not delivering on the
client brief and I had to re-shoot the work to
satisfy the client. Furthermore I interacted with
two other - and I will use the term loosely -
photographers and their dedication (or lack thereof
in one case) was illuminating. I also encountered
another...erm...professional during the week.
So, if you think being
a full-time working professional is a glamorous
jolly with wining and dining overlooking amazing
scenery, take the time to read the reality. While
most weeks are not as crammed for most of us, the
mundane slog and long days I detail here are
And no, I will not do
a quick summary. Read for once dammit! There are some
useful tips and insights hidden among the logs. You
folk said you wanted to learn how I do things...
What I will
summarise, however, is what I was not
able to do while actually working as a professional
During the week
logged on the link I could not:
* Post this blog
article in the week to which it relates. I only
finished this blog post two weeks after the week I
* I was not able to
finish any more Youtube videos for my channel.
* I could not post two
other videos each week - not on Tuesdays nor on
* I could not have my
hair done in a lovely round bouffant.
* I could not get
around to sitting on comfy couches discussing
whether 43 is dead or not.
* I could not do any
more work on three books I have in various states of
* I could not even
think of a vacation.
There were a lot
of other things I could not do either as work has to
be an actual priority.
And what some may see
as an obvious answer - hire someone to do the
editing work - is not that obvious. Firstly, I am
then selling their work, not mine.
Would you put your
reputation, "look" and other competitive advantages
in the hands of someone who could hold you to ransom
for the use thereof at some stage?
Secondly, labour laws
in my country are communistic and highly
restrictive. Even if I could find anyone under 40
who would actually pitch up on time each day, nobody
would work the hours needed to meet client briefs.
Union rules forbid these sorts of hours and so I
will not bother trying to hire anyone again. Isn't a
socialist utopia wonderful?
It seems that only
real photographers who command hundreds of thousands
of subscribers on their Youtube channels find time
for the things I could not get to in between all the
actual pro work they apparently do.
They must have
some great secret that escapes me.
To read the full
log and get an idea of how a typical work week can
run to more than 100 hours, which also includes
several tips on how I approach matters, click here:
Log of a week in the life of an actual working
22 June 2019
My OM-D E-M1 Mark II menu booklet updated to reflect
changes of firmware revision 3.0
As they did with the
original E-M1, Olympus are adding features to the
OM-D E-M1 mark ii in a new firmware update (Version
I have thus updated my
E-M1 mark II menu settings booklet to reflect the
changes. You can download it here:
Here are the updates:
Much better AF Performance
This upgrade utilizes the OM-D E-M1X algorithm
which improves AF with fast movement in sports,
etc., C-AF Center Priority delivers high-precision
tracking of moving subjects and sudden subject
movement. AF precision for still subjects when using
S-AF is improved for various subjects compared to
OM-D E-M1 Mark II firmware Version 2.3. Active use
of information from the On-chip Phase Detection AF
sensor also improves AF performance while shooting
New AutoFocus Features
Group 25-point has been added to AF Target, and
is effective for photographing birds and other small
subjects. C-AF Center Priority is now available, and
repeatedly autofocuses with priority on the center
point in Group 5-point, Group 9-point, and Group
25-point. If AF is not possible in the center point,
the peripheral points in the group area assists,
which is effective for subjects that move around
quickly. In addition, C-AF+MF is included which
allows users to instantly switch to MF by turning
the focus ring while in C-AF for fine tuning the
Low Light Limit Update
The AF low light limit when an f/1.2 lens is
attached is -6.0 EV (ISO 100 equivalent for S-AF),
enabling high precision focusing in both dark scenes
and for low-contrast subjects.
Improved Image Quality
Low ISO Processing (Detail Priority) has been
added for higher resolution when shooting at low ISO
sensitivity, making it possible to reduce noise
while shooting with low ISO settings. Compared with
OM-D E-M1 Mark II firmware Version 2.3, noise that
occurs when shooting at high ISO sensitivity is
improved approximately 1/3 of a step.
Some new features were also added (which
re-arranged some menu items and added other menu
- Anti-flicker shooting added to prevent
unstable exposure, particularly when sequential
- OM-Log400 movie-exclusive picture mode
added, allowing the user to shoot movies without
loss of details in shadows or highlight
blowouts, delivery greater freedom over video
creativity through color grading.
- Frame Rate Priority added to Live View
Boost/On2 display, displaying images at a
comfortable brightness, even in especially dark
locations, such as under a starlit sky without
lowering the frame rate.
- From 3 to 15 shots can be selected in Focus
Stacking and guide lines have been added to the
- Quick image selection added
- Setting changes and playback display while
writing to card now possible (Yay!), speeding
- Instant Film added to Art Filter
- ISO L100 (ISO 100 equivalent) added
New option in mobile connection-Export RAW
You can now also export RAW files via the mobile
connection - best upgrade your phone storage card
Super charge your PC/laptop preformance with
USB RAW processing
If you update your software to the latest Olympus
Workspace version, and you own an OM-D E-M1 mark ii
or OM-D E-M1X, you can now use the camera processor
to convert RAW files via USB instead of the computer
CPU. Fire up Olympus Workspace, plug in USB cable,
select USB RAW option on camera menu and the
software will send RAW images to the TruePic VIII
processor for processing. It halved the time on my
powerful up-to-date desktop system and an old
Celeron Laptop we have knocking about in the studio
can now process RAW files in less than a second
using this method. Brilliant lateral thinking from
the engineers at Oly!
I did testing of the new OM Log function on one
camera before I had upgraded the other and found a
noticeable reduction in the pre-amp hiss level using
a shoe-mounted microphone I had grabbed for the test. Certainly, some work has
also been done on audio processing parts of the
camera in this firmware as the mic pre-amps
now seem a lot quieter.
While this will not bother those of us using external recorders, it is a
bit of good news for the home or hobbyist
Isn't it great to get new features added to the
camera long after you purchased it? I think so.
Domo Origato Olympus!
06 June 2019
In praise of Programme - The thinking photographer's
I have had it!
Youtographers posting videos telling folk to
only use manual mode. Some do tout what they see as
the merits "for beginners" of sometimes using
S/Tv or A/Av mode. Very few, however.
Almost universally, P
is dismissed as irrelevant.
In my experience and
daily practice, this is a huge mistake akin to
trying to fly a modern airliner with all the
automation assistance switched off.
Possible, but not
smart. And also a huge waste of money. Why buy a
machine with all the electronics and the fruits of
many, many PhD graduate's learning in the first
place if you are not going to use all that R&D?
Certainly tiring and
just asking for a lapse in concentration to lead to
Does it not make more
sense to use the automation to do the drudgery it is
designed to do and free your mind to focus on the
things that matter? And when you are a beginner -
and especially a serious professional - that will be
composition and timing.
Wouldn't it be great
to leave the exposure to something like an
electronic gear box with paddle shift over-ride?
It is easier to focus
on setting a fast lap-time if you can leave the
clutch and shift stick to the computer instead of
forcing yourself to be a technician by trying to
manually set all the controls.
I view Programme mode
in the same way and use it more than 80% of the time
when not in the studio, shooting sport or doing
Now, I can understand
that leaving your comfort zone, going against
collective wisdom or stepping into new ways of
working can be scary.
Don't panic, I am here
to hold your hand. Take a deep breath and let's
learn something together...
Why I think P is
a great all-purpose working photographer's mode when
not in the studio
If you are working
fluid, changing social action or an event and you
are using a mirrorless camera, using P is like
having a super-efficient - and much faster to use -
fail-safe manual mode.
Let me explain a few
First: P does not "...just
set an average setting of aperture and shutter
speed...." - on
The setting chosen
is not like Auto where a 45 degree line is
used to plot brightness between 0 & 255 and,
depending on the level measured, an aperture and
shutter speed are arbitrarily read off by the
algorithm. For simplicity, in Auto, if the level
read is below 127, then you are prompted to use the
flash or, if set to auto activate, it pops up.
combination of aperture and shutter speed set in P
is biased on the one over the lens rule.
So, if you are using an extreme wide angle and the
lens is set to - for example - 9mm, the camera will
allow the speed chosen to be from a region of speeds
where the average person can hand-hold the camera
without inducing camera shake/blur.
If you now zoom to
200mm the camera will not initially set a speed
below 1/400 sec (1/200 for the focal length x 2 for
the 4/3 crop factor). Now, hand on heart, tell me
take the focal length setting you have just zoomed
to into account on every shot when setting
Every single time?
Your OM-D will
forget to take it into account when picking
combinations on P.
There are only
ever (at best) 8 full-step aperture/shutter
combinations for any given EV value you can use on
These 7 or
8 speed and aperture combinations will provide
correct exposure in any given spot. In a different
spot there will be a different set but
still limited to a 7 or 8 full step range.
That is how light meters help you (if you still
insist on using external meters.) They let you match
needles that result in the rotation of two scales
relative to one another. You then read off what you
want from the seven or eight combinations shown.
In fact a form of P
mode was on Hasselblad manual lenses! You set an EV
value and the lens mechanism locked the available
aperture and shutter speed combinations for that
lighting level relative to one another.
1) Early P mode bodge on Hasselblad started
by locking in the EV ring to the
metered EV value.
2) Which then locked the available
aperture/speed combinations and you could shift
between them. In this case, only 6 possible
You rotated the
aperture/shutter ring to set what you needed and if
you changed to another aperture the correct speed
was always "automatically" set to the correct value
Think of that system as an early form of Programme
mode with shift...
Now, on P, your OM-D (and all other modern cameras)
will do the EV calculation for you and pick a
combination to set from the seven or eight that will
give correct exposure in the specific lighting in
any particular instant with regard to the focal
length in use and any exposure bias you may have
However, all the
other viable combinations for that EV scenario are
also kept in the camera memory.
Now, if you want to use, for example, a specific
shutter speed, simply look at the shutter speed
readout and turn either the front dial or rear dial
(you can set which one activates the shift in the
OM-D custom menu) to shift the set combination to
any of the aperture/shutter combinations that will
work in that lighting until you see the speed you
Camera gave this setting as its first pick
in this scenario. I wanted 1/25sec to blur fast
flowing water so I simply twirled the dial I have
customised to operate the Programme Shift option in
the custom settings menu and...
The camera obeyed and moved along the
options until I had 1/25sec and f=8.0 as the
exposure setting. It shows an "s" next to P to alert
you that you have shifted the combination from the
median chosen by the camera.
As you can see in
the above image as you are shifting
the combinations among the available workable
combinations for that scene, the camera will display
a small s next to the P mode indicator (Ps),
whenever you have shifted from the median chosen by
If the speed (or
aperture) you want to use for your shot is available
to use in that lighting, the camera will let you
shift to it. If it is not available it will go as
close as it can but will not let you go beyond
the safe exposure.
Now, here is the
key thing - even if you switched to
in that same lighting you would not be
able to get any setting balanced beyond the limits
of the correct EV value combinations determined by
the P mode for the given EV, ISO and ambient
Wait! There's more.
If you make a
selection by shifting the combination and then take
the camera into a totally different lighting
situation, the camera will instantly calculate the
new set of available combinations and set
the nearest viable combination to the one you have
shifted to from
within the new set of seven/eight combinations to
prevent over or under exposure.
This is always
happening instantly. Without a thought on your part,
the shot will be saved. That does not
happen on M! Even with A(Av) and S(Tv) mode the
camera can only change the shutter speed or aperture
to the limit of the available range and if the
exposure is still going to be wrong, tough luck! P
has authority over both options so it can instantly
correct to the correct exposure. It can be an
assignment saver! Especially if you only shoot in
And even if you, as a
real pro, only shoot in RAW, if the
exposure is badly wrong you will also be up the
creek with no paddle.
you consider the following series of possible
combinations for a photograph, and assume the camera
has chosen the middle one (green block) by turning
the shift dial one way or another, you can select
(Shift the setting to) combination 1, 2 or 3 or if
you turned it the other way, you could select (Shift
the setting to) combination 4, 5 or 6.
to explain how liberating this mode can be
I am at a wedding.
I am working on
M/manual (like a real professional
The bridal party is
standing in a line outside the chapel. I am at an
angle to them and need a good depth of field to get
the nearest and furthest of the subjects acceptably
So I use one dial to
set a suitable aperture value - let's say it is
f=16.0 and see the exposure system is showing I am
more than 3 stops under exposed. Now I need to twirl
the other dial to get the little bars to disappear
at the 0 mark so that I have "correct" exposure.
Once there I need to check if I need added exposure
bias so I can adjust that.
While I am doing all
this the bridal party have turned away to chat to
other guests and the moment is gone.
I may not have the
shot but who cares? I can boast to you that, at
least, I am a real professional and use manual!
Now, there is the
little flower girl, peeping out from behind her
mum's skirt. A great shot but there is stuff behind
her I want blurred. Easy enough...look through the
camera and set the widest aperture. Now zoom in to
get her head and shoulders and adjust the other dial
to get the darn bars below the exposure meter to
move from past 5 stops over exposed to 0.
The problem is that
while I was doing all this the little girl has now
hidden behind her mum's skirt.
Don't have that shot
either (and nothing for the album yet) but darn-it,
that does not matter as I am using manual mode!
Like a real
Now, the couple sneak
back into the chapel for a quick kiss and I see them
going there. As I am running to get the shot I know
that I have been outside so need a slower speed and
try and take a guess but, as I get to the door the
action is already breaking and, by the time I have
glanced at the light meter it is over.
No stress. It's OK
because I am working on manual. I am a real
photographer because of this...
Let us now re-visit
these three situations with P engaged.
Firstly, with the
bridal party shot, I can simply turn the programme
shift dial (on my camera it is the rear one) until I
see f=16.0, check my flag colours and histogramme
(adjust the +/- with the other dial if needed to
correct exposure to my taste) and hit the shutter
button. All before anyone can move away.
Then I see the little
girl. Without looking through the camera, using the
SCP (Super Control Panel) I can turn the shift dial
until I see that the combination with the widest
aperture available is engaged. I then frame the shot
and hit the shutter button. Got it.
Now the couple are
running inside. I can follow and frame the shot. As
Programme shift remembers the setting you shifted to
until the camera is switched off or a lens is
changed, it will use the widest aperture which I
have already shifted to for the flower girl shot
outside, but instantly correct the exposure setting
to give me the appropriate shutter speed for the
interior lighting (obviously different to what it
could use outside...). Hit the button and I have the
kiss secure in the knowledge that the exposure will
be correct or close enough to get a good image.
milliseconds. Without stress.
And I am still in
complete creative control as I can instantly set any
shutter speed or aperture I want and it will keep
that setting until I switch off the camera, change a
lens or shift it to another combination of values.
All the while it is
also looking at the focal length in use and, as I
discussed and suspect, taking camera movement into
account and keeping you within the parameters of
So, if you are a
beginner, think about using P mode while you learn
the effects of aperture and shutter speed settings.
You will at least get well exposed shots which is
far less depressing and demoralising than battling
through hundreds of badly exposed shots as you
wrestle with manual adjustments.
If you are a seasoned
pro, however, why not investigate the power of
Programme with Shift on your OM-D kit? And with an
EVF and flag colour warnings the old argument that
the "camera could suddenly be influenced and change
the exposure to an incorrect setting..." no longer
holds. You will see if that happens.
It is like having full
control with an electronic safety net for those
moments (and we all have them) when the action leads
you quickly from one great shot to another.
It does the
donkey-work for you but instantly gives you full
manual control over creative aperture and shutter
effects (plus all the other things we like to
control like white balance, focus mode and position
etc.) with the spin of a dial.
You need to fully
understand exposure to use it to its full effect,
however. It's why I call it the thinking
photographer's manual mode.
Obviously, if I am
shooting an entire day of show jumping it will be a
pain in the shift-dial finger to keep on re-shifting
to the fastest shutter speed so then I would set the
camera to S (Tv) mode and set the speed I know I
need and leave the rest up to the camera (still
using the flag colours and exposure bias when
Conversely, if I was
doing a whole set of items where depth of field is
vital I would set A (Av) and choose the appropriate
aperture and know I can leave it there all day if
needs be and the camera will sort the shutter speed
for me - once again checking the flag colours and
the compensation adjuster when needed.
And in a studio or
when doing time exposures, light paintings or other
specialist effects with strobe lights or other
non-dedicated kit, then I do use M mode.
But otherwise, it's
the thinking photographer's go-to catch-all,
stress-free mode for me.
Why not give it a go?
I promise I will not
tell on you to the other real professionals...
27 May 2019
audio miracle worker
The Olympus product
ecosystem is an integrated whole. You will miss much
of it if you just focus narrowly on the cameras
carrying its brand.
As but one example of
how the product line is more than just cameras but
which integrates as a whole, lets look at a product
that costs just $27.
If (as you should be
doing by now if you wish to survive in commercial
imaging) you shoot video as well as stills, you will
come up with the need for dedicated recorders and
microphone solutions to capture professional quality
On camera mic
solutions just do not cut it. They might be
acceptable for family stuff but not for clients.
The built in pre-amps
on other camera brands are noticeable for adding
hiss and other unwanted noise (heard Canon's
helicopter sound effect yet?) but the micro-recorder
division of Olympus has lent the camera boys their
lovely little pre-amps so that is less of an issue
on OM-D kit.
That's not to say
there is no hiss or other unwanted sound from the
on-camera pre-amps, but it is better than most.
Anyway, these are cameras, not sound recorders. If
you want good sound, you need to get a digital field
recorder. Or two. Or six...
Specialist tools for
sound are vital in order to have cleaner audio than an on-camera mic
system can ever deliver.
The options are
legend. From Tascam, Sony, Marantz, Philips, Zoom,
Sennheiser, Rode and a plethora of other emerging
brands, you should, according to the Youtography
pack, budget for at least $100 for a "consumer
grade" recorder (if a cheapskate) and upwards if you
want seriously good sound.
When it comes to
Lavalier microphone solutions, things get really
pricey as - so the wisdom goes - good lavalier
microphones cost at least $300 and a recorder to
attach to them is $200. The favourites for
wedding work to mic the groom, bride and officiant
are increasingly either the Tascam DR10L or the Zoom
As usual, Olympus
has a surprise in store to upset the apple cart if
you are really on a budget - and even if your
budget is more realistic. Now, I am not really on
a budget but I look for the simplest and most robust
solution to any problem.
I will happily spend
what is needed for any bit of kit where vital.
However, when looking at solutions for kit which
needs to remain unattended and out of sight while I
work - such as a recorder attached to the venue
audio mixing desk to capture clean microphone sound
- then the lowest cost solution that delivers the
required results is vital in our country where light
fingers are the norm rather than the exception. In
addition, the less expensive something looks, the
less likely it is to catch the eye of the
recorder is one such problem solver.
What? Am I nuts?
$27 for a recorder that does not show levels, does
not offer mutli-tracks or flashing lights? And, to
top it all you cannot set the bit rate. Madness!
Olympus VN 541 PC micro recorder kit for
line-out from mixing desk or bride/groom lavalier
mic use for less than $40. Save more by getting
reconditioned recorder for about $15-20 if you
really need to watch the pennies.
This links to
a short clip with the scratch track
(go read that up - I am not here to educate you on
all the production technicalities...) from the
camera plugged in to an on-camera Rode mic and then
a segment from the
VN541PC attached to the mixing desk headphone
monitor output where I manually adjusted the line level into the VN541PC.
I can connect it,
set the levels and hit record and leave it there all
day hidden among the cables that usually infest any
sound station. It will capture 259 hours (yes two
hundred and fifty nine hours) of audio for you on
its internal memory - although a set of alkaline batteries
lasts around two and a half full days so you would
need to have spares on hand to do the full 259
The VN 541 PC
automatically divides the files into manageable
chunks on the fly if you do just hit record. If needed, you can also add
markers to the files to peg different sections for
easy location in post production.
What is more you
can plug a headphone into the unit to monitor sound
level in real time as well so who cares if your OM-D
does not have a headphone jack? Use the on-board
camera mic as a scratch track and use one of these
with a lav or other mic plus a set of phones and you
A final trick (or two)
up its sleeve is that it automatically adapts the
input to either line or to power a mic such as the
Rode Video Mic Go and it can take a powered mic like
a shotgun mic that uses its own on-board power.
OK. So it only records
at 33 khz on the Music mode (which is the only mode
to use...forget the rest of them) but really, can
you tell a difference? In most function venues there
is so much background noise that the 10 khz
difference in sampling rate will only be noticed if,
like the forum potatoes that pixel-peep, you look at
the wave form in a sound editing programme at 400%.
You will not hear it
on headphones unless they cost $300 or more and your
PC sound card is audiophile level (another $700 or
so) and, given that 90% of output is consumed on
mobile devices these days, it will never ever be
heard on those.
So, for around
half the cost of one Tascam DR10L (of which I have
several) you can kit yourself with 3x VN541PC
recorders and three $10 lavalier microphones from
any number of online outlets.
The recorder does
not have auto gain on the music mode so no annoying
increases in background noise during pauses and the
level set is well within the standard industry rate
One final point. To
record you need to push a switch up and physically
pull it down again. So no accidental button presses
can stop it recording. So, hide the lav mic in his
tie and pop the VN541PC into the groom's pocket with
a small case after sliding the record switch up and
setting the hold mode (de-activates all the buttons)
and get the whole day's chatter from the groom plus
good audio of the exchange of vows - it makes for
great material for voice-overs on the final wedding
I can also attach one
to the bride and the officiant as I have done to
compare to the DR10L and really, the difference is
negligible and needs to be wave-peeped.
OK, so you do not have
a safety track like on the DR10L but, if you are
really, really on a tight budget and must have a
line in solution or a lav mic recorder, then the
VN541PC and a few dollars worth of line cable plugs
and a lav mic will get you going.
If you want to
get upper end 96khz sample rates or XLR inputs with
multi-track recording then Olympus make some of the
best handling, quality finish PCM recorders I have
found. You can consider the LS-P2 or 4 (for really
compct solutions) or the boss LS-100.
The 100 in particular
gives the Tascam DR60 and the Zoom H4 a
serious run for their money and syncs with the
E-M1/5 cameras with automatic pulse tone generation
at the start of each take. It is also built like a
tank with a metal casing versus plastics on most of
the others. OK, so it is not $27 but it is perhaps
the best $250 you could spend at this level of kit.
OK, this Oly recorder is not $27
but it is the boss! Metal casing, auto sync features
with OM-D cameras and remote control facilities make
it the E-M1X of PCM field recorders in my view. And
the self-noise floor is lower than most others I
tested before taking the plunge.
So, if you are
already a renegade like me and use Olympus cameras
professionally (in spite of the web wisdom that says
that is not possible) then why not go the whole hog
and use the Oly sound kit as well?
At least you will know
how to navigate the menus...
16 April 2019
reliability - my experience
Regular readers of
my blog are aware that I am an Olympus "lifer".
Yes, I have dabbled
with other brands at various stages but have owned
and used Olympus cameras professionally on a
constant basis for the past 41 years.
I have had several
e-mails recently asking about the
reliability of the equipment - most especially the
longevity of my digital 43 and m43 equipment. These have increased
in number since the launch of the E-M1X.
Here I will list my
experiences with the various digital cameras from
Olympus I have owned and used since 2005.
As to the film era
cameras, that is easy and can be dealt with, more or
less, in a single paragraph.
My OM1s, 2s, 2S, 4s,
4Ti, 10, 20, 30 and 40 have never had an assignment
stopping fault or failure. My OM2s worked the
hardest of all the bodies followed by my original
brace of OM4 bodies.
The Om2s had three
visits to the workshops for preventative maintenance
but I never had anything go in for a failure. In
latter years some of the wide-aperture Zuiko film
lenses have had the expected slowing of the aperture
blades due to the thinner in the oils evaporating -
as it does. But, other than that, each body, lens,
flash unit and motor drive still functions.
Now, to the
I will list the
cameras and accessories I have owned and used with
their issues (if any). The year in brackets is the
Four Thirds equipment
E-1 x 2.
(2004) Nothing to report. Retained example has close
to 94 000 shutter cycles and still humming away when
taken out on nostalgic evening walks.
(2005). 53000 cycles and still fine. The CF card pin
array needed some attention at about 30 000 cycles
due to a ham-fisted assistant pressing the card in
askew but that is not the camera's fault.
(2007). 62 000 cycles. Control dial needed to be
cleaned and sorted at around 30 000 cycles. Since
then nothing to report.
E-3 x 2
(2007). Remaining example has 107 000 cycles. It had
to have the grip rubbers glued back on both the body
and the HLD4. The same happened to the grip rubber
of it's sibling which has since moved to Australia,
(See my blog article about grip rubbers
This remaining camera
also had a football hit it at full speed in a
premiership game at about 48 000 cycles and the
viewfinder LCD got a little scrambled but this is
not the camera's fault. Everything else worked
The rear screen frame
cracked at about 85000 cycles but was fixed with
faults except for the main grip rubber detaching at
about 46 000 cycles. Now on a little more than 55000
cycles and retired to our studio display with all
the other cameras above.
Four Thirds Lenses
Zuiko 14-42mm kit
lens sold with the E400. Failure of aperture array.
Zuiko 70-300 mm
lens (Sigma manufactured version?). Failure of
All the rest
(50-200 SWD, 14-54 original and mark ii, 12-60 SWD,
9-18, 7-14, 150, 35 Macro have been well behaved to
date and working away on the OM-D kit via MMF3
FL-50 R x2. Both
have failed in a manner where they emit full power
at irregular intervals. This occurs when using TTL
or manual mode. Thereafter they would not fire at
all on many shots.
Both were repaired
but one failed again in the same manner.
FL36R x2. One just
stopped working. The other has been a gem and a
life-saver when the FL50s went postal.
Micro Four Thirds cameras
OM-D E-M5 x2
(2012) . No problems. 58000 cycles on
remaining example retired to collection. After the
issue with the E-M1 strap lug I checked this body
and found the right lug was also loose.
Eyecup split and tried to go walkabout. Fixed as
OM-D E-M1 x2 (2015). No operational
issues. Those darn grip rubbers and the rear
thumb-grip rubbers came off at around 45000 cycles.
Olympus Europa sent new rubbers and tape but they
came off again at around 74000 cycles. So reverted
to cyanoacrylate and they have behaved since and
both bodies are now well over the 120K cycle mark.
Had one of the SD card slots on one camera damaged
by an old SD card that detached a sliver of plastic
and bent a contact resulting in a "No Card" error.
Yet again, not the camera's fault. Repaired as
The left strap lug of one body detached. The other
body had its left lug coming loose. Both repaired by
Olympus at a charge. I know that this was accepted
as a design issue by some Asian offices of the
company and repaired at no charge. Mmmmm....not
something I had ever encountered before with any
OM-D E-M1 mark ii x 2. (2017) No
technical problems but that *&)(&)($&$ rubber grip
issue appeared earlier at around 25000 cycles. Went
straight for the super glue.
OM-D E-M1X. (2019). Too new to tell. I
will be keeping a beady eye on the strap lugs and grip
rubbers. Time will tell.
PEN E-P2. Rear control dial went
beserk due to dirt ingress on contacts. Switch
cleaner used. Problem solved. Then about a year
later the image stabiliser failed. Still in use as a
B-Roll cut-away backup HD video camera on a tripod
as repair of stabiliser will exceed any possible
value fo the camera.
HLD 6 Grip for E-M5. Rubbers came off
both the grip handle and the battery holder. Twice.
After the stress of getting Olympus to replace the
first set, I simply used the standard grip rubber
solution for Olympus the second time. (See article
HLD 7 Grip for E-M1. Lower rubber strip on base
and the front grip rubber slid off....applied now
studio standard OM-D rubber re-attachment procedure.
kit lenses from the E-P2 and a replacement ordered to fill in
for the original (the R version) have both failed
due to the inner flex cables cracking. This resulted
in one lens not activating the aperture and the
other refusing to focus/operate at all and simply
making a grinding noise.
For my money, these telescoping designs are not
worth the effort. Rather spend the extra and get the
12-50mm kit lens of which the studio now has 2
examples. It is weather sealed and does not have
bits that flex and fold and seems in my experience,
and that of many forum members on the web, to be the
reliable choice as a standard kit lens. It is
surprisingly sharp and has a handy macro mode into the bargain.
All other m43 lenses - 45mm 1.8, 75mm 1.8, 12mm 2.0
12-40 2.8, 40-150 (4.5 and 2.8) and 25mm 1.8 have
been well behaved to date.
So, in summary, no serious work-stopping issues have
arisen with the daily working cameras. Faults and
failures have been in areas that are the least
expected with trim and clip-on extras.
However, that said, other pros with other brands
working really hard in my country under the same
climatic conditions (high temperatures and humidity)
have also had grip rubbers peel away. So it does not
seem to be a uniquely Olympus issue. Anyway, the fix
As for the lug mountings, however, that is -
in my view - inexcusable and I really hope this has
been attended to.
However, forewarned is fore-armed and I will be
very careful with the way I handle the X with heavy
lenses on it.
Finally, if you own and use any OM-D equipment I
have detailed above and use it lightly or
occasionally - not every single day as I do - I
would think that you
will find the camera will outlast your interest in
photography - or until the next bout of
14 April 2019
Olympus camera rubber grip repair
As I will detail in my
next blog article on my experience of Olympus camera
reliability, several of my Olympus digital era
cameras have had the rubber grip material slide-off.
I therefore decided to
post this short how-to for you to follow when the
grips on your camera come off. If you work in
similar weather conditions to myself, it is an
odds-on bet they will do so at some stage.
These rubber grip pads
are attached with a double-sided adhesive tape which
is die-cut to fit exactly to the bodywork
It appears that in
very hot climates the adhesive goes soft and lets
the rubber slide off. Well, that's the only thing
that makes sense as I have had rubber grips detach
from all the hard-working camera bodies I have owned
in the digital era: Both E-3s, the E-5, the OM-D
E-M5 and its HLD6 grip, the E-M1s front and rear
(thumb pad), the HLD 7 grip, the E-M1 mark iis and
the HLD 9 grip.
In all cases you
cannot get the adhesive to re-attach to the rubber.
When this first
happened I got hold of Olympus Europa who kindly
sent a new set of rubber grip mouldings as well as
the die-cut tape out by courier.
I initially thought
this odd as I had the original grips but when trying
to use the older rubbers I found that they seemed to
have grown a bit all around in the process of
becoming detached. It was possible to get them back
on to the camera or battery-grip but there was
clearly a larger surface area of grip material than
the underlying bodywork.
re-attached the new grips with the officially
supplied tape and thought nothing more of it.
Until the grips came
This time I decided to
re-attach the grips using glue given that in round
one of this dance I had tried to use several other
types of thin double-sided tape.
So, glue seemed
logical enough but the rubber itself seems to have a
peculiar waxy type of surface on the smooth
undersides and this appears to preclude the use of
all known glues - such as would be used by logical
folk - to secure it to the camera.
thought of a contact adhesive as this would allow
the grips to be peeled away if the items ever needed
repairs. That did not work. At all.
I then tried epoxy
adhesive which also failed to attach itself to the
smooth underside of the rubber material.
Finally, as a last
gambit prior to having to bother Olympus Europa
again, I tried that good old modern wonder adhesive
that sticks anything to anything (even skin to
things you do not want it stuck to which is why it
was the last resort...), cyanoacrylate, commonly
called super or crazy glue.
This works a treat on
Olympus camera rubber grips!
Below are some images
showing the before and after of replacing the rubber
on an HLD-7 and HLD-6 grip.
First, remove the grip
and set to one side. In all my cases there has then
been the adhesive tape left on the camera. I have
yet to have any stay stuck to the grip material.
Nevertheless, remove all the old adhesive from the
camera or grip. I found this easiest to do by
pushing my thumb up against the material from an
un-glued area which made it all roll up into a neat
ball of gunk which was easy to remove.
I then cleaned the
surfaces and the grip material with surgical
spirit to ensure they were clean.
Next, I placed
adhesive in the areas higlighted in the photographs so as to prevent any
screws getting permanently glued in place if ever
the item needed to be dismantled in a workshop. I
also worked from one edge to the other and made sure
to glue the sides in first as well as the entire
long-edge from which I started the process. Your
mileage and decisions on glue placement may vary.
Please note: The usual
caveats apply here - especially when working with
superglue. Use rubber gloves or similar to prevent
your fingers getting stuck to your OM-D camera gear.
Work slowly from one side at a time and make sure
you get the little ridges in the grips pressed into
the slots on the item itself otherwise you will find
you have bubbles under the grip material.
I used a bowl of
ice water in which to contract the grips before
gluing into place. In this way I overcame the fact
that the grips seem to be larger than the area over
which they fit. Just pat the grip material dry with
a towel and then stick into place before it warms to
room temperature again and expands.
So far, none of the
glued grips have come off again and the oldest of
these repairs has now been in the field for more
than two years.
A grip rubber flapping about or detached?.
Clean all the double-sided adhesive off the item
surface and from the rubber itself.
HLD-7. Red lines and dots is where I put
glue. I carefully avoid putting it anywhere near or
The HLD-6 front grip rubber. You can see the
carefully cut double-sided tape originally used
quite clearly. The red dots show where I placed
super-glue when re-attaching the rubber - I removed
the double-sided sticky origami first though.
HLD-7 again. Put crazy glue along the edges and on enough
of the item surface to keep it flat. Insert rubber
from one edge to the other to keep it flat. Ensure
that ridges in rear rubber face of front
grips/handles mate with cut-outs in the grip or
Finished repair. That rubber is not going
walkabout in a hurry now!
25 Februray 2019
Why not complain about FujiFilm's new
mini-micro-four-thirds sensor format?
As if dealing with
all the factors involved in earning an income from
photography were not enough, latter days have added
another factor to juggle.
Dealing with folk
who, apparently experts in all things photographic,
like to walk right in front of your camera while you
are shooting to see "...what kit you are using..."
Ask anyone wearing
an official photographer's shooting bib at virtually
any event where the public can get nearby and you
will find this is an occupational hazard.
sort of interest in your job has been around for
decades but recent times have made the experience
not only onerous, but tedious as, invariably,
whenever someone sees the Olympus name on my
cameras, they feel they have to try and make me see
the apparent error of my ways.
Now, as I am
generally being paid to capture images or footage of
the event I seldom have the time (and as time passes
a decreasing amount of patience) to engage with
these self-proclaimed experts.
I know how the
discussion will go anyway.
Generally it will
involve the twin fallacies of the alleged (but
incorrect) "equivalent aperture and lens length"
argument and the apparently "noisier sensor"
because "physics is just physics" quote from
an increasingly - in my view, infamous - website
that is apparently regarded as the world's leading
authority on digital photography.
fallacies have taken on a life of their own and
there is little point in trying to explain the
several inter-connected issues involved in exposure,
the native ISO sensitivity of silicon substrates,
the variables introduced due to shot noise effects
resulting from shutter speed selection relative to
the ambient lighting conditions and the inverse
square law of light which even the most suave of the
'Merican Youtographers and his lady have
simply glossed-over in their quest for clicks and
Anyhow, on a
positive note there is, these days, a newer breed of
know-it-all who has at least seen the light
regarding mirrorless cameras.
This group will
acknowledge the merits of such designs but will then
crow that if you are going to do this then you
should at least get a Fujifilm body as the APS-C
sized sensor - having a larger size - will give
lower noise and more detail while still delivering
the small form factor of my "dinky sensor size"
(thanks shouty 'Merican Youtographer
Except, of course,
that when they crow about the fact that their
beloved Fujifilm XT-3 can do 30 frames per second,
they do not appear to know that this is only with a
1.5x crop on the image area.
To put it in
simple terms the 4/3 sensor has 243 sq/mm surface
area from its 18x13.5mm sensor while the XT-3 has a
smidgen less at 237.5 sq/mm from the 19x12.5mm
cropped sensor area. So it is, in effect, a
mini-micro-four-thirds format ;-)
So, on what has become
the accepted "physics is physics" argument of
those who claim to know about these things, the XT-3
should give a less satisfactory performance as
regards noise than the 4/3 system when shooting at
similar frame rates on the electronic shutter?
What a relief. I
am no longer using the - taking the "accepted"
wisdom of the net - worst sensor format on the
My only issue now
is how to quickly show these anoraks - using the
same argument used against 4/3 - that their beloved
system has an equivalent aperture which is worse
than the 4/3 system when compared to a legacy 35mm
sensor...you know, that sub-minature format
invented by an asthmatic hiker who squeezed movie
film into a small camera body way back when to have
something smaller to carry around back when real
photographers used 20x25 cm (8x10 inch) FULL
I am thus leaning
towards a rather gruff response to the next
know-it-all proselytist akin to that proffered to
the waiter in Monty Python's Meaning of Life
restaurant scene when the server offered him a
wafer-thin mint he really had no need of.
I think it might
just be the most fitting answer to all this idiocy.
Oh what the
heck.... my clients only care about the results
being what they require. And my Olympus kit delivers
what they need.
And unlike forum
potatoes I don't zoom in to 500% in search of the
minutest, imagined, flaw simply to have something to
post on a forum or to have a titbit of faux-knowledge
with which to bait a working photographer.
Life really is too
short for that.
End of rant.
31 January 2019
My OM-D camera menu settings (Including proposed
Following my last blog entry I have been sent
several mail messages from folk on various
continents indicating they enjoyed the
forthrightness of my approach.
Many ended by asking what my menu settings are on
my existing cameras and what I would set on the
Well, as we have just finished a
briefing/training session with all my assistants on
the new camera we will soon be getting, I can let
you know what we have decided to do as an initial
default set up.
As we have used both the original E-M1 and the
Mark ii for some time now, I am also posting a link
to a booklet detailing our settings for those
For even older cameras like E-3 and E-5, I used
similar settings for both models and these are
detailed in my E-3 power-user's guide available as a
free download here:
http://flightlevel42.co.za/E3pug.pdf (Where you
will also learn that uniquely shaped, easily
identified buttons are not a fancy new idea on
Olympus cameras - they've been at that for ages...)
You will see that, rather than post a list of
sterile options such as those found elsewhere, I do
try and provide some insight into my choices and how
and why you might wish to modify my default options.
ORIGINAL OM-D E-M1
Download the E-M1 (original) menu settings PDF
Mark D Young's Olympus OM-D E-M1 (mark 1) menu
settings. (19 pages 288KB)
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1
MARK ii MENU SETTINGS
My default settings with
explanations for using them for the Olympus OM-D E-M1
Mark ii (Updated to firmware 3.0) can be downloaded here:
Mark D. Young's Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark ii default
menu settings. (25 Pages 395KB)
PROPOSED MENU SETTINGS
Download my proposed settings for the new E-M1X
Mark D Young's Olympus OM-D E-M1X proposed initial
menu settings (31 pages 350KB)
25 January 2019
Youtographers and Blowtographers - Oh dear, here we
Yesterday Olympus Corporation
announced a specific, niche market camera aimed at
No, not at owners of E-M10s or E-M5s
or even, in fact, E-M1s.
Updates to those cameras are due
shortly in the form of new models and firmware (in
the case of the E-M1 mark ii).
different cameras aimed at two different markets -
just don't read the manuals before judging them, OK?
(Image: Olympus media release)
The E-M1x is aimed at folk who use a
camera all day, every day in harsh environments.
Like Africa. Like news assignments where when
running away from a frenzied mob your safety is your
prime concern. Or when doing long days next to a
dusty show-jumping arena. Or a set of four rugby
fields. Or when hiking up mountainsides in the rain
to photograph civil engineering infrastructure
By and large, as is to be expected
these days, a lot has been published on the internet
about the camera and most of it within minutes of
the official announcement.
What one should not expect, however,
is the rash of utter bovine excrement which has now
been flooding the internet, Youtube and several
Almost every "reviewer", "first
impressionista" and other user has mentioned that
they had the camera, at most, for a week and, in the
majority of cases, less than that. Two of the most
widely viewed Youtographers clearly mentioned two
I would like to know if ANY of these
folk first sat down with the camera and read the 681
I would venture not.
Especially the one who displayed a
total lack of understanding of the idea and process
behind pro-capture mode. "I guess it just fills up
the card or discards the images...I dunno..." he
That same reviewer then praises the
in-body stabiliser system (apparently claiming never
to have seen it before...??) but then, when using it
for video, complains about it being a bit wobbly. In
the video settings menu of the camera there is a
specific IBIS setting to prevent this sort of effect
when shooting on video. However, that little bit of
information is in the manual and not easily absorbed
from the atmosphere via osmosis - no matter how much
you yell when speaking or how many followers you
have on Youtube.
And we will not even discuss the
very, very odd results he showed from - allegedly -
Elsewhere on this blog I show images from
the E-M1 (original model) shot at ISO3200 and
ISO5000 and they have nowhere near the amount of
alleged noise claimed for this latest model.
Likewise the E-M1 mark ii regularly yields sharp,
well-detailed images of soccer, rugby and cricket in
floodlit conditions at ISO6400. Add this to the fact
that he states elesewhere that the camera he used
did not have production firmware (and I doubt his
famous raw converter had the correct profile for the
camera either) and his definitive condemnation of
the camera and system is directly at odds with his
stated aim to be fair and honest.
He was pretty obviously - in my view
- only aiming to be controversial and hip - not
accurate or logical.
And so it goes on all over the web.
Anyhow, if any of these cult heros
had read the manual, would that have
changed their (in one or two notable cases - such as
the one just mentioned...) obvious
If you have spent time with the
camera you will have been able to work your way
through the 681 pages and you would have found that
the level of customisation available on the camera
means that you need to tune it to your needs. To
expect it to be all things to all people right out
of the box (and in several cases with pre-production
firmware to boot) is not only naive, but idiotic.
The E-M1 mark ii has an amazing
ability to lock on to moving subjects and track
them, giving more "keepers" than ever in my sports
photography. However, I had to learn a few new
tricks versus my E-M1 experience and tweak the
settings to suit my style of shooting.
The E-M1x has additional focus
tuning features not found on the E-M1 mark ii and
so, to simply expect the machine to magically know
what you want from it is a bit off.
As but one example not mentioned in
many of the "reviews", it is possible to not only
tell the camera what delay to use when re-setting
focus on C-AF, but you can also tell it where to
start looking when it re-focuses - either in the
middle target,or any one of the number of targets
you have selected to use. This number and pattern of
targets is also totally customisable.
So, you need to do a bit of work and
it will reward you, I am willing to wager, with an AF C performance
the equal (at least) of any camera on the market. My
E-M1 mark ii certainly does - And yes I regularly
use the so-called market leading flappy mirror
dinosaurs as well as the legacy 35mm sized sensor
mirrorless model from another electronics firm that
bought the now defunct Minolta company.
While virtually every "reviewer" and
commentator I have watched or read is universal in
their condemnation of the fact that the camera has a
specific tracking feature to recognise moving
vehicles with "only" a setting for trains,
motorsport, few have twigged to the fact that this
feature marks the first step in something that will
soon become ubiquitious in cameras - computational
photography where the feature set is improved not by
hardware but firmware.
One apparently reputable site's
reviewer, to his credit, went so far as to point out
the positive aspect of this feature but then
lamented that there was but one way to set this: "...you must enter the menus to
enable or disable the deep learning autofocus..."
which is a little short of the truth..
This function can be changed via the
super control panel or simply recorded in one of the
MY Menu or C (Custom) dial positions. And finally,
if he insists on sticking to wanting to use the menu
for this, he can make his life infinitely easier by
using the fastest method of all. That would be to make use of
the "soft" custom function each OM-D has and that is
that the last setting you adjusted will be called up
next time you press a button. So, in this case, set
menu items to "remember cursor position" and set the
deep learning you want. Next time you press the MENU
button voila! The deep learning setting will appear
in front of your eyes.
What is so
hard about that. Oh wait...need to read the
Nevertheless, while Olympus quietly carry on
working on new algorithms to add via firmware
updates, you can go RTFM and use
the target cluster settings and the associated
customisation to get it sticking like glue to any subject
not yet in the available deep learning settings.
The viewfinder is also, it seems,
simply dismissed based on the pure number of pixels
it boasts. Nobody has seen the difference outside of
a very select group of lucky testers.
A major difference in the Olympus
viewfinders versus other, apparently higher
resolution ones, is the fact that the others use
interlaced display methods while the Olympus one is
a progressive scan unit. Try following fast moving
action with the others then try an E-M1 mark ii or
the E-M1 x and we can talk again about whether its
the numbers or the technology that counts in this
The processing and the optics in
front of the display make for an amazing viewfinder.
Try it yourself if you are interested in the cameras
before simply judging usefulness only on the spec
More than one reviewer even lamented
tha fact that the "highlight and shadow tone curve
feature appeared to be missing" from the E-M1x.
No. It is not. Press the +/- button
and then INFO and presto! An "apparently missing"
feature suddenly appears.
Finally (for now) unsurprisingly
most "reviewers" also re-hashed the old mythical
chestnut about the Olympus menu system being
illogical and "complicated". This has taken on a
life of its own and become an internet "fact". It is
also bovine excrement.
Yet again, as someone who teaches at
a photo school it is no more complicated or full of
items than any modern Canon, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic
or Nikon menu.
All brands have a number of camera
function setting pages, a playback settings page, a
custom settings page, a system settings page and a
"My menu" page.
With tears in my peepers...have they
actually had a look at the latest menu options
in the settings pages of upper-end Nikon
and Canon models?
A similar number of (at first) bewildering menu options exist in all modern
They are all laid out in groupings
according to the areas they set. With a bit of
patience (and their manuals) all becomes logical and
easier to understand.
However, no other manufacturer has
fully implemented the fantastically simple and easy to use
Super Control Panel (SCP) on every Olympus camera which
puts every vital setting one button press away. (See
Canon has, however, come the closest with the Q
button but still leaves some options found on the
SCP to a menu dive.
In fact, any modern Olympus is so
easy to set I am happy to take on any other camera
owner in a menu setting challenge if they are
willing to meet me at my local coffee shop.
Of course, this ease of use and the
logic of the menu system is detailed in the
Oh wait. Silly me!
It appears that old-school patience,
research and understanding is a secondary
consideration when there are views and hits to
be counted for being first - or contentious - rather
As was famously said one day by a
very close family member, "One day you will learn
that common sense is not."
Click here to download my free
23 January 2019
Some insight into paying for professional equipment
camera is to be announced on 24
The new Olympus camera
announced on 24 January 2019. It's
arrival has not gone
There are many fora on
the internet where the new camera, aimed at a
specific niche market for working professionals, is
being condemned as a silly move by the company.
The two chief issues
being raised appear to be its alleged high cost and
the fact that it is too big.
Firstly, the cost is
not - in my view
- so much of an issue when viewed against the
cost of an HLD9 grip plus a spare battery to the
original list price of the E-M1 mark ii. This put
you nearly in the mid $2k range anyway so, in that
light, I do not feel the price of the x is that far
out of line given its added abilities and
There is no doubt in
my mind that this latest tool from Shijuku-Ku will
find a spot in the equipment lockers of most people
who actually make a living with their Olympus
This is so as - if you
really run a legitimate full-time business - in most
jurisdictions you have two common options of making
equipment pay for itself.
The first is by way of a lease or financed purchase.
In this case the repayments are regarded as a
business expense by most revenue authorities and are
thus fully deductible from the company income for
The second way of
owning the equipment is to simply buy it outright.
Either with finance or savings.
Allied to this aspect,
remember that in many countries one can write-down
the value of electronic equipment and other tools
against annual earnings over a period of several
years. In my locality, three.
So, in effect, the
equipment will pay for itself at the rate of around
$165 a month for two OM-D E-M1x bodies when
depreciated across this period.
In my case, I
allocate a portion of the costing for each
assignment to "equipment
cost" and when the
assignment is paid, this percentage goes into a
savings facility. The portion is calculated using
the historical average number of assignments in any
three year period so that the projected replacement
cost of equipment will be available when needed.
In this way there
is always sufficient funding to upgrade or renew
equipment. This includes
computer workstations, software licences and studio
equipment if necessary. So, in
effect, cash flow
serves to fund equipment without the need for a
monthly cash amount flowing to a third party via an
interest-bearing lease and I own the equipment and
can realise a value for it if sold on when it gets
As to the size of
the camera, this is not an issue for me either as I
have always purchased cameras with battery grips
anyway. The size of the E-M1x is not that much
larger than the E-M1ii with the HLD9. Certainly the
E-M1x is far smaller and less bulky than the older
E-5 body with the HLD4!
And, if I really
need to get a camera as small as possible to be as
unobtrusive as can be when going into dodgy areas
for news assignments, the E-M1ii HLD9 can be taken
off and I can carry the camera with a 45mm 1.8 in a
small, lightweight package.
using the longer lenses all day at a sports event
then the added "heft"
of the camera with its built-in grip, plus the added
battery capacity, will make the E-M1x a great,
balanced tool when hand-holding the Pro and Top-Pro
in another three years of firmware R&D which most
likely will provide better IQ all-round (especially, of
course, at that all important setting above
ISO6400 for those every evening shoots of
black cats in coal mines which simply everyone does
all the time... ;-) plus simpler in-studio and
on-location connectivity and the camera gets its
place in our equipment line-up
E-M1x, like the other models in the range,
designed to be the right tool for specific users. No
single camera is aimed to be all things to all
I am certain that
if you do not see yourself finding a use for the
E-M1x, you will find a use for the other cameras
that are certain to be announced this year.
And they will be.
In the interim,
as our original E-M1s are fully
depreciated already and knocking on 120K shutter
cycles or thereabouts, our
studio order is already prepared for a brace of the
x models to partner the mark iis
with their HLD9 grips.
just hope that this time they have screwed the strap
lugs on properly.
26 September 2018
Why I'm certain Olympus camera equipment is here to
A professional camera
is one that helps a working photographer make money.
I took this image and hundreds of others in the same
mould, with my OM30 (OMF) camera regarded as
"inferior" by the camera cognoscenti of the day.
However, like the OM-D range now, it had unique
features not found in other equipment and so it
earned its place in my camera bag for specific
assignments. Read more about the "killer app" of the
OM30 in the blog article. (Reproduced from an
archived 35mm transparency)
So, at the final bi-annual
inevitable change to mirrorless by all camera
manufacturers of any consequence
has come to pass.
It only took a decade.
Ten years in which the
last dollars were squeezed out of more and more
warmed-over legacy flappy mirror DSLR designs by the
giants of the camera manufacturing universe while
they claimed to be offering the latest and greatest
While those teams
spoke about innovation, Olympus, Sony and Panasonic
actually got on with it and changed the camera
And, yet, instead of
giving due credit, almost predictably
- yet again - the forum potatoes and opinionistas
of the camera world are predicting the demise of
Olympus and mFT from the market
as it does not appear to be offering a legacy 35mm
sized sensor model
The Olympus camera
division has vast experience of this type of
dooms-day prophecy. As a
40 year veteran of professional Olympus camera use I
have lived through most of it before.
Right from the start
of the OM SLR system the know-it-alls have giggled
at innovations from Olympus. Way back in 1972 they
smiled when the seemingly dainty M1, later - after
bleating from Leica - the OM1, was announced.
small for serious photographers..." said many as
they huffed and puffed while carrying the holy quad
of lenses (and back then it was a 28mm, a 50mm, a
135mm and if you did sports a 200 or 300mm) plus two
Then in 1975 the
OM2 arrived with off the film metering and TTL flash
and the ability to link up to 9 flash units together
in an array (yes, way back then!).
professionals calculate the guide number and
aperture manually..." sneered those who claimed to
know it all. In less than half a decade all systems
offered TTL flash units and creative light-painters
have never looked back.
While this was going
on the folk who actually take
cameras out into the world and really use them in
order to earn a living every day
pontificating about doing that while the equipment
actually lives inside the cupboard)
set about using
the OM system in the far reaches of the planet.
In the early 80s
ESP metering was put into the OM40 at about the same
point that Nikon launched matrix metering with the
FA. "A gimmick!"
and "Real pros use handheld meters!" cried the nay-sayers. Try and find
any camera or mobile phone that does not offer
matrix (evaluative) metering now.
Next, the OM4Ti
launched full-syncro (FP) flash which added the
cherry on top of the awesome light metering system
it already had. You guessed it -
"It's just a fad. Not really
something most serious
photographers will ever use..."
chaps down the camera clubs. Take the FP/H flash
feature or spot metering off any wedding
photographer or avian photographer's camera today
and watch them bleat.
Then, of course
came the auto-focus revolution.
In case you were
not around in 1985 that was when Minolta (the soul
of which lives on in Sony kit today) launched the
Dynax 7000 (Maxxum 7000 in Zee speaking
countries...). Canon then hoofed all their previous
supporters in the teeth in 1987 and switched to the
EOS lens mount from the FD mount that had brought
them to that point citing the fact that they could
not make AF work with the old mechanical system. And
this was without any adaptor! Thank goodness DP
Review, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were not
around then...they would not have survived the
Olympus offered an
AF solution (using the OM mount) for those who
wanted algorithms to do the job for them but, for
the most part, by using the OM kit daily I had
sorted out techniques for sports and other
fast-action photography. In some
cases I even used (gasp!) the "non-professional" yet un-loved
OM30 and the awesome in-focus trigger system
to pay the rent.
What on earth...? Did
I just say I used this camera professionally? You
better believe it - that red circle shows the port
for the in-focus trigger system. Plug cable from
here to motor drive release. pre-focus on any given
spot (with ANY OM mount lens) and Presto! As soon as
your subject moved into exact focus the camera
activated the shutter and drive system (up to 5 fps
on this model). It was a "killer app" for getting
grand-prix cars and motorcycles tack-sharp in mid
corner. Obviously too far ahead of its time as no
similar feature is readily available today. However,
the point is, if you fully understand the equipment
and it's features, any camera can earn money for
As the 1990s ran
into the Two Thousands the OM system passed
gracefully into history. That was not too much of an
issue as the lenses and other kit could take
advantage of the improving film emulsions that came
For those who had
a majority load of sports shooting in their
schedules there was a bit of a conundrum. In those
cases, it made sense to get an AF capable camera. By
the mid 1990s the AF systems had matured and made
sense. I personally opted to go the Nikon F5 route.
While more compact than previous F series models it
was still a bit of a size culture-shock
in regard to lenses on a like for like basis. I only
used it for fast moving action and for the rest I
carried my OM gear about. Mmm...two systems for
different needs? Fancy that!
Now, while folk
were predicting the demise of Olympus as digital
fever took hold, they appeared to have forgotten
had been busy innovating in that space with the
Camedia digital compact series,
the E10 and E20 as well as digital
endoscopes for some time. So, when they announced
their entry into the DSLR market with the E-1 in
2003 it had some pretty interesting innovations.
Prime among these
was the dust reduction system and
a lens mount and system designed specifically for
Nowadays there is not, as far as I am aware, a
camera without this dust
reduction feature. If there is, I would
not wish to use it. And, of
course, we are currently seeing a rash of new
"designed for digital" lens mounts...
Then came live
solution looking for a
problem..." said one very
famous review site. Enough said on that one.
Then they added
the Super Control Panel for one touch access to most
menu functions which is now also an ubiquitous
feature (On Canon the Q menu and on Nikon the
With the E-510 they brought in body stabilisation
from their older 35mm film-era fixed-lens iS series
to interchangeable lens cameras. This is now
considered a must-have feature for most
manufacturers wishing to compete in the marketplace.
It certainly avoids one having to buy a stabiliser
mechanism over and over again everytime you purchase
a new lens.
Then, of course, came
the EP line in 2008 followed by the OM-D series in
2012 when flappy mirrors and prisms were consigned
to the technological graveyard
and a 5 axis in body stabiliser became the new
normal for shake reduction.
admit to being one of those
who was concerned at the loss of the mirror. Then I
used an EVF and a stabilised OM-D
for a few months.
The rest, as we now
see, is history.
Now, why am I not
concerned about Olympus camera division's survival
in spite of their lack of an earth shatering
announcement at Photokina?
They said all they needed to say. "Next year is our
100th anniversary year..." I reckon it is going to
be an exciting one.
think they will continue to be around for the future as, unlike the so-called "big boys", the
Olympus camera division is not so
large as to get mired in the inertial mud of its own
size, Its parent is not wholly dependent on its camera
market share to justify its existence and it is
still compact enough to be responsive, innovative
permit it to develop technology which benefits not
only photographers, but the other imaging
professionals to which the company caters and which
many do not even think about -
scientific imaging professionals who account for
more than 3/4 of the wider company's revenue.
As mentioned in the
short address given by the head of the camera
division at Photokina on 25 September 2018, the
Olympus camera division remains focused on
developing technology and products that not only
benefit creative photography but also the rest of
the company's product range.
there you have it. The camera division will remain
around, notwithstanding what the opposition are
doing as it has a mission beyond pleasing the
to professionals choosing to use Olympus mFT
equipment for the benefits it brings, I
can confirm what the manager of Olympus Europa said.
I spend a good deal of time walking
around carrying equipment up mountains, radio and
water towers, hanging out of aircraft doors and
running with crowds of protesters in addition to
doing corporate portraiture, event photography plus
covering sports events and weddings in rural areas
of our country in all kinds of environmental
my needs the size and volume of a full set of
working kit in the OM-D system is perfect.
The small lenses and compact
work together to deliver a competitive advantage in
my work over larger lenses and camera bodies with
more sensor real estate from other brands. I am sure
I am not alone in being able to exploit this.
If, like me, you
needed to regularly hike up mountainsides like these
to get documentary images for infrastructure
providers in the back of beyond, you would soon
understand the benefit of the mFT system and why it
has a place in the pantheon of professional
What counts is the
result. And the MFT system consistently delivers
outstanding image quality in a huge range of
conditions (including negligible
noise in very low light conditions - mFT sensor
silicon is NOT any noisier than any other sensor
silicon - you just need to understand exposure on a
sensor!) and its unique, compact nature permits me
to get the camera to the place where the client
wants the shot taken,
And, when in the
studio doing commercial work, the high-res mode of
the E-M1 II gives all the super fine quality the
agencies think they need for printing at 150 dpi in
need" as most images
are now almost exclusively viewed on 72 (or perhaps,
in high-end repro studios 180?) dot per inch
screens, with a data link somewhere in between.
In most parts of the world beyond Europe, North
America and the Far East, that data link is not
blessed with speed, reliability or great bandwidth.
In the small
number of cases where images are intended for
printed output, they are almost invariably
reproduced in offset-printed CMYK processes for
magazine use or output to large inkjet printers.
In all such cases the dynamic range
of the image file is squished into the
restrictions of the CMYK color-gamut anyway. So all
the arguments about having the ultimate dynamic
range and highest resolution
"which only a legacy sized 35mm format sensor can
provide" is increasingly moot
save for impressing the odd pixel peeping graphic
In general, I have
found that the highest quality image with the
smallest possible file size for
the task at hand is what drives the
industry today and it is, in my experience, what
will increasingly drive it going forward.
In that world I am
confident that the 43 sensor in the mFT system
offers - as did the OM system at the start of my
career - the ideal balance between portability,
responsiveness and quality.
to those who say 4/3 is the "wrong size" sensor
which has been "pushed as far as it can go". two
things: Firstly, none of my clients ask about,
or even notice, what the sensor format is.
Secondly, there is still room on the 4/3 sensor
format for up to 31 megapixels at a pitch of 2.8
microns- which is a pixel-pitch others were already
using on their "Pro" DSLR sensors which were smaller
than the 4/3 sensor way back in 2005! So the format has not
nearly been "pushed as far as it can go" as alleged
by so many forum potatoes.
A 24-27 MP 4/3 sensor is,
in my view, an inevitability in the not too distant
future. It would make sense for this to appear in
the equivalent of the current E-M1 in the range when
it arrives and, coupled to the high-res mode, users
will get up to 70-80MP resolution when needed in an
improved, faster high res algorithm making
landscapes a cinch. The E-M5 equivalent can then
get the curent E-M1 sensor resolution along with the high-res
mode tweaks (if they appear as I expect.)
As 2019 is the 100th
anniversary of the company, I am certain that
glimpses of the
next decade of innovation in photography will be
revealed by Olympus before the next Photokina in
in addition to my postulated new, higher res sensor, tweaked high-res mode
and a sharper, high-resolution EVF, what else could be "next"?
Listening to the head of Olympus Europa mention
making the cameras "...more intuitive to
operate..." I have a feeling that part of the innovation
we are yet to see will involve removing the need for
decades of book and theoretical learning in order to
get the settings adjusted for
that great shot you have in mind.
AI is, in all
probability, on its way in some
form or another at some point in the not too distant
increasingly make arguments about
the size of the sensor irrelevant as
intelligent algorithms can already remove noise and
sort bokeh on demand in-camera or on the
studio workstation. This trend will continue
as will, I feel, the ease of interconnectivity
between the cameras and all other devices forming
the professional workflow.
think it is pretty self eviden too that improved
integration and ease of use of professional quality
video will be incorporated in all future top-line
camera models. Convergence of the two media (stills
and video) is a reality for any working profesional
to speculation about Olympus needing to make a
larger format camera, it is technically possible
with the existing m43 mount as the image circle is
double what it needs to be for the 4/3 format.
However, given Sony's investment in Olympus I cannot
see that Olympus would see any honour in going head
to head with Sony by trying to enter a very crowded
legacy 35mm format sensor market.
Additionally with the Sony and Zeiss partnership I
think Olympus joining the L-mount alliance might
cause too much loss of face among the shareholders
( and introduce a cost for licence fees to Leica
whereas the mFT mount does not attract a licence
fee) so I feel that is a remote possibility. However,
there are all those Olympus legacy size sensor
lens patents floating about out there but I suspect they
will see the light of day with Sony logos.
I am confident that Olympus will bring new
developments to m4/3, especially as Olympus is still designing new lenses for
the format. Speaking of which, with the Tokyo Olympics
taking place in 2020 would anyone bet against a very
fast 200mm prime (400mm legacy 35mm format
equivalent) making a debut in the Olympus PRO line?
Those of us who use camera equipment to survive need
to select the most suitable tools needed to be
competitive and efficient in the market sectors in
which we have strengths and seek
to compete. Olympus has always done the same and I do
not expect them to suddenly change tack from
offering a powerful combination of portability with
the best quality. It's been their philosophy since
Maitani-San led the OM design team. It is
Olympus' "killer app" and it offers a rich market
niche to exploit as it is not a crowded sector.
A vital aspect of the
Olympus system for me is that it does not intimidate
people or look like costly equipment. In far away
informal and semi-formal settlements this is an
advantage. It also permits you to capture candid
images easily as the camera is seldom
noticed...except by the eagle eyes of the very
However, I would not panic about the creep of AI and
other tech in the professional equipment market if
you are a true professional.
Taking the photograph
is, perhaps, 20% of the effort involved in any
professional assignment. Professionalism involves
meeting the needs of the client and offering the
most cost-effective solutions on time, every time.
People and management skills are key.
soft-skills are not, in any way, dependent on the
size of the sensor in your camera bag and they
cannot be replaced by AI.
So relax and use
your camera equipment, whatever it may be, to the
best of its potential and leave others to do the
am sure Olympus are
developing the next generation of tools to keep
clients like me employed doing things with light and images we
cannot imagine at present. And
those tools will, for the foreseeable future, use
mFT lenses and be compact and easy to get to where
they are needed.
So, here's to the
next 100 years of
23 August 2018
Nikon does the logical thing - illogically
One of the two
mirrorless cameras announced by Nikon today. Mmmm.
(Image courtesy of a Nikon media release)
So, after months of
rumour and a not very subtle media build-up, Nikon
launched their entry into the modern camera world
In addition to two new
camera models revealed in a boring, copy-cat iPhone
style launch (and all modern product launches seem
to be the same ho-hum format with ages of waffle
before showing everyone what they came to see...)
the firm also introduced a new lens mount design,
which they are calling the Zed mount. And no, I
refuse to be dictated to by their language police in
regard to the way this is pronounced.
The last bit of
protest is due to the fact that Nikon is so full of
their own importance they have issued an edict that
the cameras and mount be referred to
- on a worldwide basis - in the American way
of pronouncing the last letter of the alphabet,
which of course many UK-English speakers know is
Zed and not Zee.
Perhaps they have done
this as they need to draw attention away from the
elephant in the room which is why
they have re-designed the mount as they have.
One of the
justifications for the redesign was alluded to in
their launch material -
the older Nikon F mount (which
they will still milk for all it is worth, however)
was, as were all but one of the legacy 35mm
camera mounts - simply not
wide enough to permit a large image circle. This, as
Nikon explained, limited their lens range to a
maximum aperture of f=1.4.
There are two other
reasons, of course, which they will not say much
The first is that in
order to make a legacy 35mm sized sensor mirrorless
design deliver the full benefits of lower mass and
volume, they needed to do away with the added
complication of the anti-vignetting processor and
circuitry which all legacy 35mm sized sensor cameras
have had to pack inside in order to pre-process the
image to remove the ever-present darkened corner
pixels which have plagued every attempt to offer a
legacy 35mm sized sensor camera.
Yes, they all have had
to put them in - this
technical problem was caused by the made for purpose
image circle of legacy 35mm film lens designs and it
was, in the first instance, why initial DSLR cameras
had what is now called a cropped sensor.
The sensor was simply
reduced in size to the point where all light rays
were hitting the pixels at 90 degrees instead of at
the angle of 60 degrees or more in the outer corners
of a legacy 35mm frame area.
Olympus, one of the
two pioneers of mirrorless camera designs a decade
ago (Yes, it was them and Panasonic and not Sony as
most reports in the media today seem to believe)
avoided all the issues with vignetting by making
their digital lens mount large enough to ensure a 90
degree path to the sensor throughout the frame even
up to a f=1:1.2 aperture,
way back in 2004 when they and several other firms
set the 43 standard. This why their camera system
boasts several f=1.2 lenses today.
Oh, and of course,
while we are at it, lets remember who brought
quick access menu control, live
view, 5 axis image stabilisation, sensor dust
reduction and weather sealing (the latter way back
in 1984) to the industry....
Anyway...a larger lens
throat finally makes it possible to get (I will
assume) a pure, non anti-vignetting, pre-processed
image off the arbitrarily decreed holy grail of
image sensor size, the
legacy sized 35mm sensor. It is
interesting to note, however, that, in theory - the
original 43 lens mount has the ability to more than
adequately cover a legacy 35mm frame. Not
that that will change the orbit of our planet...yet.
However, the next
reason is likely to remain hidden.
It is that Nikon
needed to have a design that would help them
shore-up the company by generating added revenue.
And the Z lens mount
is 55% larger than the F-mount., This means any lens
they now make for this new system will, of course,
have an equivalent increase in the lens glass
diameter. This means more Nikon optical glass out
the door and, of course, more revenue.
If you think this is
fanciful, simply compare the launch cost of the 50mm
f=1.8 S Zed system lens to the existing 50mm
AF Nikkor. There is a ZAR2000 gap between the two!
So, any pretence that
Nikon may have made about "Mirrorless
not harming our market..."
is just so much guff.
They launched a
mirrorless series which is clearly aimed at the two
firms hurting them most and with the largest market
share at the two price points. The Z7
appears to be aimed at Sony's similarly
priced unit in the upper market and the Z6
matches the Olympus OM-D
E-M1 mark II price point.
Further credence for
this thought comes from the fact that the Z6, in
body price and size of the camera with its kit lens
is nearly identical in almost every measurement to
the E-M1 Mark II with the 12-40 Zuiko lens.
However, in all the
hoopla being generated by the launch of the system,
and notwithstanding that (in my
view) irritating, over-rated,
self-important and smug anything
smaller than a legacy 35mm or APS-C sized sensor is
not worth it American and his
lady on YouTube predicting the demise of micro 43
- and by extension Olympus (Is
that "again", or
or simply wishful thinking?) - a
legacy 35mm sized mirrorless camera body may be
small and compact but the body and lens (especially
when the lens is now 55% larger than ever before)
still makes the Z system larger, bulkier and more
cumbersome to carry about on a like for like focal
length/performance ratio than the M43 system
And thinking of
like-for-like lens comparisons, that is hard as are
the new Zed system S lenses not very thin on the
ground, even looking at the "lens
At the presentation it looked
like there would only be a total of 10 S-family
lenses or so - even through to 2022. Looking at that
it seems they are going to be leaving the majority of the lens
lifting to the existing, cumbersome, F-mount
designs. If so, then, really, what was the point?
Are they really serious?
then, looking at the pricing and the format, another
question crops-up. The feature set is, essentially,
3 years out of date. It may have been better to
launch the DX format bodies first. There are far
more buyers at those price points.
pander to the limited market which follows the narrow thinking that a legacy 35mm sized
sensor is the be-all and end-all of sensors, is to
forget that there
is absolutely no reason why a 43 or APS-C format
cannot continue to provide portability and speed for
general photography with those needing larger
sensors (they think) being left to lug larger glass
It's interesting to remind ourselves that 35mm was
considered a minature format among "serious" film
photographers barely 30 years ago and you were only
a "professional" if you had at least a 645 format
camera or larger. Having these same, silly arguments
raging again (and calling a 24x36mm format "full
frame") is a bit of a giggle and wastes time for actually taking
Nevertheless, the fact that both formats can
co-exist by using a single, far-sighted lens mount
design - without one making the other redundant -
will be proven in early 2019, if not earlier.
that, welcome to modernity Nikon.
I hope, however, that
this is not a case of too little, too large, too
late for I fear that the obvious downside of the
added cost and bulk of the larger glass needed to
make the Z system work - and the
limited lens line we have so far seen or heard about
- may be its downfall.
After all, you
will not be making added profit from folk after they
buy the FTZ adaptor to use all that legacy F-series
glass will you?
my estimate is that is exactly what most buyers will
be doing, if they even buy the new models after
comparing them with other options that are smaller,
less costly and part of a larger, more established
system that boasts eye-focus abilities and fast
buffer clearance. And twin card slots.
4 March 2018
E-M1 "No card" error -
Today I had a shoot for a
theatrical ensemble needing visa photos for
attendance at a festival in the US.
All was well as we shot the
first to arrive at rehearsal and I popped the card
out of one of the old faithful E-M1 bodies to
download the images and print the visa photos,
When I tried to put the card
back in the camera, there was a very slight
resistance - more than usual but not such that it
prevented the card from seating.
However, when seated, the rear
display said "No card".
Not too alarmed, I reached for
the spare card case as I have had the odd card go on
the fritz before.
However, when trying to
replace the card, it did not pop up and away from
the slot as usual. It was very reluctant to slide
out. I removed it eventually after gently wiggling
Once out I saw that a sliver
of plastic that normally divides the contact areas
had come away and was bent sideways over the contact
So, feeling certain a new card
would fix things, I popped another into the camera.
No resistance. Good. Normal seating. Great.
However, still the same "No
I used the other OM-D body to
finish the shoot and when back on home turf, set
about investigating the issue.
I could find nothing in my
searches of the web or of YouTube about this issue
on Olympus E-M1s. That is
either a good sign or the professional, daily user
demographic is too small on a global scale to have
resulted in the error being documented.
Now, being at the southern tip
of my continent, any repairs to Olympus equipment
involve a minimum 8 week trip to and from Europe and
tons of export/re-import paperwork.
So, given that I was looking
at a long period of being reduced to one body (which
is not the way a proper professional likes to attend
assignments - for the very reasons displayed on
today's shoot) - I thought it was worth a look into
Firstly, I looked at the
addressing of the various pins on the SD card
reader. Without any of the grounds, particularly on
pin/contact 1, 3 and 6, the equipment is unable to confirm
the presence of a card nor its read/write state..
Mmm...the plastic divider that
had been bent was between contacts 6 and 7.
I placed the camera on a
tripod and looked into the slot with a magnifier.
The contact for pin 6 was laying flat while alll the
other contacts were, when compared to the other
E-M1, up at their usual height.
Now many videos on YouTube do
show the repair of the SD card reader on other
brands of equipment where the cameras have been
dismantled to gain access to the pins so that they
can be bent back into place.
I was not going to take the
camera to bits If I did not have to - and, thinking
a trip to the repair workshop of Olympus Europa may
be needed anyway, I was not of the mind to make
their job more of a challenge by shipping them a box
So, I thought to try and find
a way of pulling contact 6 up without dismantling
After some trial and error, I
succeeded. I then checked all my SD cards to see if
any had any flappy connector dividers and tossed
those that did. There were at least 4! So check your
Check your SD cards in case these dividers are
flappy. On this card the divider between contact 6
and 7 came adrift and flattened the contact arm in
the SD card slot of the camera. If any are loose,
toss the card!
The process I followed to
repair the contact arm causing the fault is shown in
the photos/decription below.
It needs only a paper clip or
strong narrow-guage steel wire bent as illustrated,
the camera mounted on a tripod (with battery
removed) good diffused lighting reaching into the
card slot and a helmet magnifier or loupe.
Mount camera on a tripod and get some light into
the SD card slot. I used an LED video light.
The end result was that pin 6
was put back up to a serviceable position and the
camera is working away happily again.
When I have a cheap, third
E-M1 body on hand (and are they not just brilliant
value on E-Bay now?), I will send this one in as it
has one more really maddening fault that cropped up
a month or so ago.
The strap lug on the left hand
side came away from the camera - leaving its two
securing screws inside the body casing. That is
unforgiveable in my opinion but it seems to be a
known issue on the E-M1 and E-M5 series - to such a
degree I see that one or two eastern markets repair
this fault at no charge.
This should NOT happen on a professional pice of
equipment! And if it does, it should - in my view -
be repaired at no charge.
Sorry Olympus, but on a
professional grade camera, the body really must be
up to professional use and the strap lug is NOT an
item I need to be worrying about when I have one of
your top-pro lenses mounted on the camera and I am
using a second body while carrying the other on a
strap during a shoot. I have never had to worry
about it on my OM cameras nor on my Nikon F5 or D200
I will report back in due
course as to whether Olympus' agents in South Africa
- or indeed Olympus Europa - will do the honourable
thing and repair the lug at no cost or not.
One thing I have discovered,
however, is that there is little to no chance of my getting a
loan unit from the local agents during the weeks
they will take getting my equipment shipped to and
And that is what is making me
hesitate about getting a second E-M1 Mark II instead
of saving a whack of money and simply getting another,
fairly young (in shutter cycles) mark I off
If they want me to carry on
committing to them through purchasing their
equioment, it would be nice to have some reciprocal
commitment to my business in return.
I do not think it is a right
of any professional user, but it is a good courtesy.
Steps to fix the "No
Card" error on my E-M1
1. Mount camera on a tripod at
a convenient height. (Unless you are an octopus with
2. Open card door and place a
diffused light source so that it penetrates into the
3. Locate and identify any
contacts that are not raised up. Refer to the
diagramme to see what the contacts look like on the
E-M1, E-M5 or E-M10. In the case of a "No Card"
error, you will most likely find that contact number
1, 3 or 6 is not at the correct height. On my camera
it was contact 6. (Contact arms are numbered from
right to left when looking into the card slot with
camera body facing up.)
Contact arm number 6 was pushed down as the
plastic card contact divider came off inside my E-M1
SD card slot.
4 Bend a paper clip or thin,
strong wire to the dimensions shown.
5. Carefully lower the tool
into the slot and place the tip under the contact
arm. Gently pull it to the rear end (closest to the
card door) and tug gently to raise the arm. Do this
on either side of the arm so that you do not twist
the contact arm. With some paper clip wire there may
be insufficient space to get between pairs of arms
so it is better to use a very narrow guage of strong
Contact arm 6 raised up again so that it can be
depressed as the card slides into the SD slot - thus
completing the ground circuit which tells the camera
a card is inserted.
above procedure worked on my camera equipment to
restore functionality. I do not suggest this process
as a recommended course of action if you have rapid
repair turnaround times in your market. If you do
decide to sort this type of fault on your own, note
that your mileage may vary. If you cannot get the
contacts re-set after several attempts then rather
send the camera in for repairs by a professional.
23 March 2018
the wedding photography ban
Imagine a wedding without
Yes, that's right. Your sister or
brother - daughter or son - finds the love of their
life and they do the bit where they decide they love
each other so much they want the government involved
in the relationship.
Now, as one of the partners - your
child - is getting out of the car at the venue after
having spent hours scrubbing up to a presentable
state, it would be the most natural thing in the
modern, connected world in which we find ourselves,
for mum to grab her mobile and ask for a selfie or
to take a shot to post on her social media page to
share with all her friends.
What would be more natural if doting
Uncle Majosi, while the register is being signed,
were to take out his new Super-digi-flex to grab a
shot of the couple and witnesses?
What memory of the day will linger
if the photographer hired for the event were to
angrily stomp up to mum, grab her mobile and insist
on deleting the photograph which had been taken? I
have also heard of events where the paid shooter has
deliberately stepped in front of the lens of Uncle
Majosi each time he tried to take a shot.
Aside from all the legal issues this
raises over copyright and the wilful destruction of
intellectual property - in the former case - to
which the photographer has absolutely no rights
given that they would not have actually taken the
image (nor can they be the copyright holder for
images of the event in question anyway) the foul
taste this would leave in memories of the invited
guests who witness such behaviour will linger for
In the case of the latter behaviour
- that of deliberately obstructing public witnesses
from witnessing the ceremony - anyone doing that is.
arguably, acting illegally and merely being a male
This type of arrogance is, to my
mind, taking aim at both feet of any marketing
efforts you may have made to that point and letting
loose with both barrels. Your chances of getting
commissions from anyone who saw such an incident or
heard about it will likely be nil.
Yet, this type of behaviour is,
based on increasing numbers of reports I am hearing
recently, exactly what is taking hold of the ranks
of so-called professional photographers throughout
In many cases I have heard of
assistants being delegated to stand at the door of
the church or ceremony venue and collect mobile
phones and digital cameras from guests!
Aside from the fact that you have no
legal right to do this at a public venue (and
remember that a wedding is a public event and that,
by law, anyone may attend to witness or document it)
the security risk in a country like South Africa is
a huge one.
Would you want to accept the legal
liability of the loss of just one of the devices
your assistant has in custody on your instructions?
Anyone doing this is totally nuts - or so rich they
do not mind the legal ICBM they will - inevitably -
have to face one day when a mobile with years of
memories or vital business files goes missing or
And, in any event, if you think I am
going to hand over my camera to some young millenial
to keep "safe" you have obviously never asked anyone
if you can feel-up their partner!
Some people advertising as
professionals have obviously thought about this
aspect and try and avoid it altogether by including
a clause in their...err..."contracts" that clearly
state that guests must be told not to bring cameras
to, or use them, during the wedding - or the
egotistically named creative shoot.
I would appeal to anyone claiming to
be a professional photographer and who seeks to
dictate behaviour of guests and families in this way
to stop embarrassing themselves and the real
professional photographers who have, through years
of considerate client service, built the industry
you are stomping upon with your over-inflated sense
As we have learned through the
decades, you cannot stop progress.
If you think you can, try and find
anyone who still has a job carrying a red flag in
front of a motor car on public roads.
Seeking to stop people taking
photographs at a public event simply on your say so
is arrogant and insulting to the clients, their
guests andf family. I also think it is nuts - and
Next, as some have tried to argue -
you are NOT the owner of the copyright to images and
poses used when photographing the couple or guests.
South African law holds that the owner of the
copyright to any images shot for payment belongs to
the party paying for the work.
Yes, that's right, all your claim to
be the only one permitted to hold on to or release
the images is duff. You cannot restrict the
publication or use of the images you shoot for
payment. The full rights to the images are those of
the client - or the owner of the mobile phone or
digital camera that takes the shot. End of.
Others have lamely tried to justify
this insane idea by saying that they do not want
other photographers to see their ideas and copy
Most photographers have Facebook
pages where they display their shots. Also, once the
couple get their photos they put them up on social
media. Stroll around any wedding expo and find the
row of tables where photographers skulk with their
albums or laptops showing their work and you will
understand that this argument is baseless. Anyone
can see your photos as you put them out for perusal
In any event, there are only so many
poses the human body can be placed in. In addition,
our star has the same light for anyone. How you see
that light and respond to it is where your
creativity lies - not in poses or properties used to
cheese-up the photographs. I would wager - if you
are of the type that restricts other cameras on
"your" weddings - you also probably take 3 or more
hours to get the creative shoot on the card.
However, that unbelieveably rude and pathetic
behaviour is another rant entirely...
So, on a number of levels - aside
from the obvious one of being a total cardboard box
(Translate into Afrikaans and you will get the idea)
by seeking to restrict people from taking photos at
the wedding at which you are - in reality - also an
invited guest, this type of attitude should be, in
my book, an immediate red flag to any prospective
Anyone looking to dictate terms such
as these - and to seek to unilaterally modify the
law to suit themselves - is not, in my mind, a
professional photographer but rather an egotistical
dictator with no understanding of the laws nor
etiquette and social niceties - or of professional
If you really think that being a
total idiot is going to keep you shooting weddings
for longer as you will be able to keep your ideas,
poses and "creative work" a secret by preventing the
social aspect of a wedding from taking place
spontaneously, then - with such a huge load of
insecurity - you actually need to find something
else to do. Try used car sales.
Let weddings be the memorable,
unpredictable and fun events they are meant to be.
Leave the recording of the emotion
of the day to real professionals who understand that
this business is about the needs and desires of the
client first and our egos last.
Weddings should be all about the
couple - not your insecurities.
Run along now.
25 November 2017
40-150 PRO vs
If you already
own the 50-200 SWD and an E-M1 or E-M1 Mark II
should you get the 40-150 PRO?
Find out what I
think after 6 days of use of both lenses.
40-150 PRO or 50-200
23 March 2017
New Gear-itis: Is there a cure?
One of the greatest gifts to camera manufacturers' bottom lines
is a peculiar drive among photographers to get the latest and greatest
I have termed the malady "New Gear-itis".
It manifests as an incessant trawling of new equipment reviews,
peering at specification lists and - more commonly these days - looking at E-Bay
and other places to see how much you can get for your existing equipment and, in
the digital age, the answer to that is usually "woefully too
The virus then beds down for an extended period of incubation
until, all too often, the newest version of the camera family or that
wonderfully professional looking, just launched lens is ordered in spite of one's
financial management senses screaming as loudly as possible.
All too often, especially considering the many questions I field
in this regard, those suffering from the malady expect the new equipment to
instantly and magically lift their results into a different league altogether.
The reality, however, is that newer generations of equipment
provide incrementally smaller improvements in quality and functionality - if
there are any real differences at all. So huge, noticeable differences are not
present. Any small improvements which may be made, are often very hard to notice
in day to day usage.
Often, I have found, prior to the new equipment being purchased,
the user already has highly capable equipment in the bag which is not being used
to anywhere near the limits of its abilities.
I shall refer to a recent assignment to illustrate this.
As a preface, however, we must place the launch of the Olympus
OM-D E-M1 Mark II at center stage.
This camera, so the reviews go, offers vastly improved
auto-focus tracking over its predecessor. It boasts a near 50% increase in frame
rate. Most crucially for users of legacy Olympus 43 glass like myself, it adds
phase-detect sensors over a wider area of the sensor than the original E-M1.
Crucially, all of them are cross-type detectors.
The last point is, devoid of any other aspects, sufficient to
pique my interest. The use of cross type sensors over the full area of the
sensor would, on its own, boost the camera's auto focus performance.
I have had the honour of testing one of these new cameras. My
impressions will soon be available in a short video. Yes, it is a great piece of
kit but there are some awful blind spots of the design which really jar -
especially if you already are very familiar with the E-M1.
Temptation to get infected with NewGear-Itis comes in
many forms - in the most recent strain, with the new E-M1 Mark II (left) and the
12-40 PRO lens versus my current E-M1 and the ZD 14-54 with MMF-3 adapter. Are
all the new goodies and slightly more compact lens combo able to radically
elevate my results?
However, the time spent with the camera was, to be honest,
insufficient to fully evaluate all areas of its alleged improved specification
to the point that New Gear-itis could sink its claws into my meagre wallet.
So, due to this problem and the aforementioned niggly issues, I was prevented from
succumbing to New Gear-itis on the turn.
I was recently honoured to be requested to act as official
photographer to a national Touch tournament.
I had my trusty original E-M1s available to tackle what is arguably one of the
most fast-paced, hard to photograph of ball sports.
Given that the tournament ran over three days, I had plenty of
time to fine-tune old and tested methods of using the camera system.
Internet searches prior to the assignment appeared to reveal
that the majority wisdom among those using E-M1s for sports and birds in flight
suggested forgetting focus tracking altogether and that the following settings are
to be used:
Release mode: Continuous Low at 6.5 fps (As, allegedly, the
AF is incapable of re-adjusting at a faster rate)
Auto Focus: AF-C.
Focus target: Central single target.
C-AF Lock: Normal or high (This is a deep-menu item on the
"gears" menu, tab A)
After getting a mixed bag of results in the preliminary matches
- in which teams were not moving at the peak of their speed in order to save
themselves for the finals - I ran a few experiments.
The first, and most interesting observation I made was that the
focus adjustment performance (and therefore the ability of the camera to
re-focus as the subject moved forwards or backwards) was not affected by
changing the setting of either AF-C or AF-C+TR nor the camera frame release
rate. Neither was it affected by the size of the target selected.
What I had known previously from countless soccer matches was that a small target was just not big enough to keep a player
zig-zagging about between other players sufficiently covered. A larger target
was, therefore, a better choice.
The only other setting that affects AF performance is the C-AF
lock setting. I found that the magic charm for that was to set that to Low. This
made the lens fluidly adjust focus without any delay and keep whatever subject
the camera happened to be pointed at in focus. The focus acquisition speed was
also almost instantaneous.
There were several occasions where, positioned at the nexus of
four different fields of play, I needed to swing from one game to another to
catch developing action. With the C-AF lock set to low, the camera would zap
right to the focus point covered by the player and I was able to "point and
shoot" with a very high keeper rate.
So, from this, I deduce that the meaning of the C-AF lock
settings are as follows:
C-AF Lock Low: The camera has a low latency time before
commanding the lens to re-acquire focus. This means it will re-adjust focus as
fast as it can as you move the target area around.
C-AF Lock: Normal: The camera will allow a period of time to
elapse before commanding a re-adjustment to the focus in the selected target
area. This might be good for following items that get blocked by other subjects
such as birds flying behind trees etc.
C-AF Lock High: The camera allows a much longer period to elapse
before commanding re-adjustment.
In my experience, the latter two settings have use if you are
photographing subjects which are moving laterally and are likely to be obscured
by foreground objects for a split second.
If, however, you have subjects moving erratically and tracking
towards the camera such as athletes in a flat race, Touch players jinking
between defenders, motor sport machinery, models or birds moving towards you,
then C-AF Lock should be on "Low".
It is so fast I can use the Continuous High release rate with a
better than 95% keeper rate.
A snap and grab shot - the camera was swung around from
another angle and aimed and fired. The AF system reacted instantly and this is
the second frame of 4. The others are shown below for reference. Focal length
120mm, 50-200 SWD
That said, what about the C-AF+TR?
I have previously found that this works very well if the camera
is relatively static and
a subject is moving around within the frame. As soon as you move the camera
around a lot, the AF target gets confused and wanders-off, usually to the
One final aspect which I found affects the keeper rate slightly
is that with the IS system set to IS1, a significant number of images taken
while panning the camera will be fuzzy. With the
setting to IS2 (or IS auto which I have long since set as my default for rapidly
variable action or birds in flight) the camera does
not try and fight your lateral movement and the number of sharp images when
shooting action increases.
So, after all that, my suggested settings for the Olympus E-M1
when shooting fast action/high speed sports or birds in flight are:
Release mode: To requirements. Cont. Low provides more time
for AF confirmation but I have found little difference in AF performance between
High and Low continuous release rates, the speed of focus acquisition being far
more affected by the C-AF lock setting.
NOTE: If using Cont. H you may find
the viefinder appears to stutter a bit. You can change the viewfinder frame rate to Normal
to mitigate this but, after
some practice, you can follow things quite well at the high refresh rate. It's
less of a challenge at normal, however so perhaps better for learning the
camera. That said, the newer E-m1 Mk II is almost stutter-free so better in this
Auto Focus: AF-C.
Focus target: Central, large single target. If doing birds
in flight against the sky, use a central group.
C-AF Lock: Low (This is a deep-menu item on Menu A)
IS: IS Auto or IS2.
Viewfinder refresh rate: High
Release mode: Cont. H or Cont. L
So, after all that, I can bag tack-sharp action images at rates
of up to 9 frames per second on the mechanical shutter or 11 frames per second
on the silent shutter option. I am also able to track erratic subjects with high
levels of confidence and a great hit rate on my exisitng equipment.
So, by fully fine-tuning the existing E-M1, I have a tool that
is capable of a performance 50% below the newer Mark II - in frame rate only. I
will concede that the cross-type sensors and target coverage to the edges of the
frame will boost the focus lock speed and be
far better in low light or with low contrast subjects. However, for well-lit
subjects, the differences - in practice - are not that great.
Using my 4/3 50-200 SWD lens on the MMF3 adapter, the higher
frame rate is the
only improvement the E-M1 Mark II is likely to provide as the Pro-Capture mode
does not work on older 4/3 lenses anyway.
And speaking of the "older lenses" , I compared the
new 12-40 pro to my existing ZD 43 14-54 lens and found, much to my surprise,
that I actually preferred the results from my current lens! I have a full set of
test images at various apertures and focal length settings and the differences,
if any, are negligible and the sharpness has nothing in it.
An apparently impossible shot to get on the original
E-M1. Really? (mZuiko 40-150 MSC lens)
Furthermore, looking at the latest PRO 40-150 2.8 lens which is
lauded as being compact and fast, I found that my current 50-200 SWD is as fast
as I need it to be and - when stowed - virtually the same size. Set to 50mm it is the same size as the newer lens at just
16cm in length so I will not gain any packaging advantage save for the lack of
the MMF-3 adaptor.
Zoomed-in, however, the older lens is much longer and looks bulkier than the newer option while the actual
difference in outside grip diameter is barely 6mm in favour of the newer item.
The other hook, however, is the newer lens' constant 2.8
aperture. However, at the equivalent maximum focal length (150mm), the 50-200 is at
f=3.4 which is one click of the adjustment wheel to raise the ISO to compensate
and get the same shutter speed. However, two clicks and full zoom gives me 30%
more focal length and an effective 400mm f=2.8 super telephoto equivalent on a
legacy 24x36mm sized sensor system but at a fraction of the mass and bulk.
A counter to the nagging of New Gear-itis is the answer to the
question: Do I want to spend $1000 to get 30% less reach in a lens the same size
and only fractionally lighter and marginally faster?
OK. If I did spend $3000 on the new lens AND a new E-M1 Mark II
I would get 7 more frames per second and the ability to do Pro-Capture sequences
- as well as fill up my hard drive with more images per assignment and
extend my selection and editing time.
However, after more than 3 decades doing sport, in real terms,
it is not, practically, really much more
than I can do with the existing E-M1 and the 50-200 SWD set correctly. Granted,
relying on experience to correctly judge the critical moment at a wedding or
other shoot, rather than simply blasting away at high frame rates hoping that
does the job might be old-fashioned and seem boring but it saves a lot of
post-production time and card space.
So, in my case, I have concluded that it is not
- at the
current prices - worth giving in to New Gear-itis. And perhaps therein lies the
lesson. Extend your understanding of your existing gear and you can vaccinate yourself against New Gear-itis.
However, you will not kill the virus totally as I still have
this nagging little devil making me trawl E-Bay for the first crop of E-M1 Mark
II bodies that get moved-on by those heavily infected with New Gear-itis. There
is generally a post-honeymoon period when they grow tired of
the toys and go for the next of the latest and greatest releases.
At bargain rates, I can convince myself the benefits are worth
And of course, should Olympus decide, after having been a pro
user of their equipment since 1978 that I am worth being given the kit as a
brand amabassador, I would not say no.
However, back in the real world, we can treat the symptoms of New Gear-itis, but never the
The virus will always be there.
Whatever it might be, however, just learn to properly use and enjoy your camera gear.
That can, at least, provide a temporary antidote.
And your clients (and wallet) will thank you.
Top of page
20 September 2016
2016 - Hybrids signal a sea-change in photography
Cologne is a city that has
witnessed many changes.
Koln Dom on a misty morning (Olympus E-M1
ART filter - Grainy Film)
From the devastation of the second
world war, to the centre-piece of the post-war German "economic
miracle" in the Rhineland, the city itself has metamorphed and managed to
remain current while still retaining it's charms of a bygone era.
For decades, however, the
Koeln-Messe (Cologne Exhibition center) over the bridge behind the Koln Dom has
seen the latest and greatest innovations from industries as diverse as
motorcycing to scaffolding and photography shown to the world.
Photokina is, notwithstanding
flashier and younger Johnny-come-lately competitors such as CES and others, the
pre-eminent photographic and imaging trade fair on the planet.
It is the trade fair where serious
kit is launched. Direction given for the next two or more years...
Koelnmesse - which, every two years,
becomes the world's biggest photo toyshop.*
2016's fair has, for me, one
central theme running through all the product launches so far - "the
decisive moment", photographers like myself who have built a career
and business on being masters of picking the moment to freeze and bulky,
expensive legacy 35mm sized sensor prism-based DSLRs are all on
It has been looming for some time -
ever since Nikon first put video capture into the D90 SLR. Perhaps, when you
think of it, it has been heralded since the first compacts permitted video clips
- it was just a matter of time until the quality was good enough (with a sensor
of reasonable size) to take it seriously as a hybrid tool.
The demise of prism-based cameras
has been signalled since Panasonic and Olympus launched m43 six years ago.
Well, that era of fundamental
change in equipment and technique is now. Olympus,
Panasonic, Sony and Fuji all have mirrorless, 4K capable cameras that also shoot stills.
Canon has dedicated 4K video equipment. It is creeping into their SLRs too and
they have just launched the EOS M5 mirrorless camera.
On the Olympus E-M1 Mark II,
the camera captures the 14 frames ahead of the shot you actually take so, if you
have missed the decisive moment, you can go back a few 60ths of a second to find
Using the mechanical shutter, the
camera can give you 18 frames per second at full resolution or, without focus
tracking, 60 frames per second!
No more need for complicated
trigger beams and other equipment to get the splash made by the olive in the
glass - hit the button for a second as it drops and you will have it.
At equestrian events, timing, borne
of hundreds of hours of practice ensured you got the perfect moment - where the
horse and rider were at the correct positionover the jump, the rear hooves were
off the ground and the forelegs neatly tucked under the animal's chest. Now, anyone with the 4K or 6K
capture equipment will nail the shot - every single time.
Shots like this, previously the preserve
of many hours of practice and anticipation, will soon be commonplace with 4, 6
and 8K capture.
In a way this is simply a logical
progression from the tools made by the two most famous camera brands that
permitted folk to sit on the sidelines of sports events and capture data-streams
at 12 frames per second which picture editors sifted-through in order to find a
shot for publication.
However, the complication of ever more finely designed
mirror and focus mechanisms that make these cameras cost well over US$6000 is
really not needed anymore. I firmly believe we have seen the peak of those
product lines - a last splutter of fame and appeal before they are swept from
I state this as, with the advent of 4K
photography, images can be picked at will from 60 frames per second sequences at
18 megapixels - more than adequate for any newspaper or magazine illustration.
Panasonic is already working on an 8K tool, this will give you 33 megapixel
In an age where 90% or more of the
images captured are consumed on screens, this is more than adequate. Possibly
Even for the die-hards who insist
on large prints - these are increasingly been made on inkjet equipment as
coated paper and chemical processing hangs-on by its fingernails - 33 megapixels
will be good enough for building-sized shots.
So, stills from image streams is
the reality of imaging now and for the future.
Any photographer who has spent a
career capturing single frames had better pay attention. Your skills have been
superceded by technology, fast buffers and technology creep.
So? What do you do then?
Get yourself up to speed on video,
4K and 8K and save-up for a fast computer because your competitors from the
video industry are moving into your patch. If you are not able to adapt to,
embrace and creatively apply the new tech, you should rather start finding a
comfy beach upon which to retire.
Similarly, any manufacturer that
has not seen this light on the horizon (and in fact it's already at the station
under the banner of Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, Canon and Fuji), is going to join
the ranks of those manufacturers who thought they would always be in the photo
Remember Polaroid, Voigtlander,
Minolta, Yashica, Kodak and others?
Don't let your name be added to
* Image of Koelnmesse Entrance
North (c) Koelnmesse GmbH
10 June 2016
Olympus E-M1 review
After more than a year using
Olympus' top-of-the-line professional digital camera, I have penned a
I have done so in the absence of
any useful review being found on YouTube or camera sites. All I have found are
first-impressions or material based on early firmware versions which do not come
close to imparting what the camera is capable of nor do they provide alerts to
some of its pitfalls for the unwary.
Those wishing to view it may do so
02 May 2016
for sensor and lens sense
Yet again, almost predictably, a camera website
has linked to a video from someone who "was using 4/3 but is now selling
this lens..." as the 'reviewer' claims some mythical depth of field
restriction is not permitting him to isolate subjects in his theatre
The reviewer then states that he has to go back
to legacy 35mm film sized sensor equipment to achieve the shallow depth of field
he needs as the 12-40mm zoom he was using cannot deliver the results he wants.
This sort of ill-informed opinion-broadcasting
is not only continuing to fuel the myth that legacy 35mm size sensors are the
only solution to digital imaging, but it is also proving to me - on a large
scale - that many people using cameras professionally nowadays are either not
appraised of the mathematics of lenses and depth of field, or they simply
swallow the poorly referenced propaganda put out about 4/3 or APS-C vs 35mm
sensors and lenses by the manufacturers of so-called "full frame"
sensor cameras who are scrambling to guard an ever-diminishing market share for
their clunky prism and mirror equipment.
Firstly, shallow depth of field - or subject
isolation from the background - is not a function of the receiver/sensor size.
The focal length, camera to subject distance and then, of course, the aperture
to focal length ratio (aperture setting), are all integral factors to consider
when envisioning a particular depth of field effect.
Let us look more closely at this alleged
'failing' of the 4/3 system (And it's also often claimed for APS-C sized sensor
equipment as well).
In this particular instance, the reviewer was
lamenting the fact that he could not isolate the subject on a 40mm f2.8 when
shooting a rock concert.
Now, if I imagine placing a 40mm 2.8 lens on any
camera, the last thing I would expect would be to isolate the subject from the
background if I am shooting someone on stage from either the wings or the foot
of the performance area.
Unless the performer bent down and was within
3-5 feet from the lens and it was set at f=2.8, everything from 5 feet onwards
would be equally sharp anyway. This is due to the fact that any 40mm lens will
be at or near its hyperfocal point from that distance onward.
What is hyperfocal distance? Well, a commonly
accepted definition is thus: The hyperfocal distance is the closest distance
at which a lens can be focused while keeping objects at infinity acceptably
sharp. When the lens is focused at this distance, all objects at distances
from half of the hyperfocal distance out to infinity will be acceptably
Now, acceptable sharpness depends entirely on
the size of the circle of confusion which is acceptable to the viewer or
photographer. Discussion of the circle of confusion is meat for many text-books
and not applicable here.
For those who are interested, the formula for
hyperfocal distance goes as follows: H = f2 /Nc + f . With H being
hyperfocal distance, f being focal length of the lens, N being the aperture
number setting and c the circle of confusion limit for acceptable sharpness.
Nowhere in the formula (or any other depth of
field or focus formula) is there an input for the size of the image receiver -
or the sensor or film size.
Fine. If we must get technical, the focal length
will effectively make any given aperture value on a longer lens (say a 50mm at
f=4.0) a physically larger opening than a 25mm set to f=4.0 (12.5 vs 6.25 mm
apparent sizes given entrance pupil diameters of 50 and 25mm),
but you will do your head-in thinking about all these measurements.
In practice, your lens focal length and
the lens to subject distance plays a far more critical role in what sort of focus
effect you will get than any mythically "perfect" format or lens focal
length. You need to use whatever the tool is, within its own merits and plan
your shots (and equipment choice) beforehand. Understanding what gives shallow
depth of field is vital - and it's not any magical lens or image sensor size. It's where you are
and where your subject is that, in practice, plays a far more crucial
Simply put, the closer you are with the lens to your
subject, the more you can blur the background with a wide-open aperture - provided
you are beyond your normal focal length for the receiver in use.
If you cannot get physically close, then a
longer lens will achieve the same sort of optical effect as being physically
So? Why one earth expect any 40mm lens to
give you shallow depth of field at distances beyond its hyperfocal point? And
the sensor has nothing to do with this - it's an optical phenomenon.
At one point the 'reviewer' states that the lens
is actually an equivalent 80mm f=5.6 for purposes of comparison with a legacy
35mm sensor and lens combination. There is even an
extensively quoted post on none other than DP Review where there is a discussion
about "equivalence". From this many have deduced that, for example, any exposure
of 1/250 sec at ISO100 and f=1:2.8 on a smaller sensor would be the eqivalent to
ISO400 at f=1:5.6 on a sensor of twice the size. This flawed understanfing of
the article has gained a credibility all its own and the article is often
mis-quoted by many to justify why "full frame" (by which I assume they simply mean a
legacy 35mm sized sensor) is far better.
light meter in the world ever had a dial setting for
the size of the film upon which you were to expose
the image. If the surface area involved made a
practical, visible difference (as opposed to a pure
theoretical "down the local in the corner with the
anoraks" difference), then everyone needs to
immediately rush out and buy the largest possible
sensor camera available and marvel at the magical
"gain" in light on their exposures. The
relationships between these things is not linear and
other issues (such as the neutralising effect of the
ISO of the reciever media) must enter into any (in practice -
totally pointless) debate about sensor or pixel size and
surface area. I digress, however.
Even taking this (flawed) 80mm
argument at face value - for rock concerts, that is also not a focal length I
would use to shoot images (Using a legacy 35mm sized
sensor camera) where minimal depth of field is a requirement. One
needs at least a 100 - to 135mm lens and you need to wait until the subject is
in the first third of the lens' focusing range to ensure you can isolate the
subject from the background at a wide-open aperture setting otherwise that
sneaky hyperfocal formula will catch you out again and make everything behind
the subject sharp anyway.
Even then, there are other factors to consider.
You will only isolate your subject if it is itself isolated from objects in the
background - at least 3-4 feet from anything else if you are under 10-15 feet
away. And that distance between your subject and the background will need to
increase as your camera to subject distance increases. Put another way, the
amount of isolation you can achieve is directly proportional to the increasing
distance between the subject and background objects as well as your camera to subject distance.
Yes, legacy 35mm film sized sensor cameras may
appear as if they can more readily achieve shallow depth of fields in concert
situations, but, once this reviewer has bought the heavier equipment, and
purchased the longer focal length lenses needed to get in tight on his subjects,
he will find he is in the 100mm plus focal length range I mention anyway.
Even then, he will still need to remember that
he cannot get subject isolation when the performer is a dozen feet or more away
from the front of the lens and fellow performers are standing within 3-4 feet of
And, at the end of the concert, when his arms
are aching and he needs far more fluid replacement than he would have had he
kept his E-M1, he can calm down and remember that Olympus make a 40-150mm f=2.8
The lens is lighter than any competitor's 70-210
lens (while giving the reach of a 300mm compared to legacy 35mm sized sensors),
it is faster and it will provide him the shallow depth of field he so laments as
being impossible with 4/3 sensors when using a 12-40mm lens for a task better
suited to a longer focal length lens anyway.
Oh, and it's less costly than the closest
equivalent 300mm lens from legacy 35mm sensor size camera manufacturers into the
24 April 2016
Full Circle - An old friend is
My OM1n, OM2n and OM4T cameras were trusty companions.
They traveled the planet with me. Through their viewfinders I witnessed the
best - and the worst - of the human condition. Most often, it was through
the elements of my Zuiko 85mm F2.0 lens.
That lens was the last word - in my opinion - in sharpness, the perfect
candid focal length and ruggedness.
It permitted me to work in the null-zone between a human's personal space and
the area just inside the 7-10m range which we habitually scan for threats.
Between these areas we tend to ignore things.
I love hunting in that space. It lets me, to all intents and purposes,
disappear into the myriad of objects that were not an obvious threat and which
have not yet invaded the subject's personal defence zone.
In riots, at news scenes, in informal settlements, on trains, at airports or
in schools the 85mm permitted great reportage and documentary work to be
In structured environments, such as a portrait studio or at weddings, the
85mm gave a lovely perspective with fine control of depth of field.
I used that lens so much that the chrome mount had worn through to a brassy
colour on the mount flange. The textured rubber of the focus ring had been
replaced 8 times prior to its "liberation" during a home invasion in
South Africa in 2011.
Recently I have re-discovered the joy of that perspective and control with
the arrival of the M-Zuiko 45mm f=1.8 m43 lens in my kit-bag.
It is the spiritual - and practical - successor to my much-loved and missed 85mm
There is the near-identical field of view as the 45mm lens on m43 gives a
90mm legacy 35mm film format field of view.
It is a featherweight into the bargain so it blends into the overall camera
shape and feel of any camera to which it is attached. At f=1.8 the control of
focus and depth of field is the same and it has the same colour mood of the
original. For all practical purposes, therefore, it has brought me full-circle
back to the joy of my analogue outfits.
In certain situations this could, in reality, lead to more detail than you
may wish to capture.
As an example, here is a portrait grabbed on the turn in an unguarded moment.
If I had a shorter lens I would have been inside the personal space of my
subject and, perhaps, she would have been more self-aware.
A 100% crop of the eye and a portion of the veil shows the relentless detail
delivered by this lens. To make the image more flattering to certain tastes,
there may be a little work needed in post-production.
Another shot, taken while the artist was working intently, let me play with
the dramatic tone filter to achieve a new look for an oft-photographed activity
without disturbing my subject.
If you already have your 14-42 and 40-150 kit lenses for your m43 camera - or
you have the pro equivalent in the 14-54 or 12-40 and are thinking of buying
another lens - I doubt that you will be disappointed with the money you spend on
the m-Zuiko 45mm 1.8.
Personally, I think it is a bargain.
Top of page
27 January 2016
THE DEATH OF THE SHIFT LENS?
In the 1970s and beyond, you could recognise a
serious architectural photographer by peeping into his gadget bag. If he had a
shift lens - technically a 'Perspective control' lens - in there, he was the
business. If not, he was a pretender.
The serious architectural photography club
(outside of those using view cameras to do the work) was exclusive. The simple
reason was that entry costs were enormous. In the days when I purchased my first
Olympus OM1n MD, the camera and 50mm lens cost about $400. A shift lens for the
system cost about $1 000!
Even today a 17mm shift lens from Canon will
whack $2000 from your wallet!
A Zuiko analogue era 24mm shift lens - at maximum shift
- on an OM1.
Why a shift lens? It permits you to control the
appearance of vertical lines (mostly) in images and correct for convergence of
these lines in the final image.
Yes, the poor folk like me had workarounds. When
making prints in the darkroom you could use tracing paper with vertical lines
placed over the enlarging easel. Tilting the easel this way or that permitted
you to effectively adjust for lines that were converging or diverging along
walls or tapering to the top of buildings. You then whipped away the paper and
slotted in a sheet of printing paper to expose the print.
This was tedious. It was very Heath-Robinson and the results were seldom
repeatable to exactly the same standards - unless, like one retentive
colleague - you made an adjustment platform to carry the easel that had a vernier rig with annotated screw adjustments which you could lock in place or
note down. You still had an issue with focus though as this shifting had very
little leeway before blurring of the detail.
So? How did a shift-lens help you?
Well, a shift lens would permit you to mimic the
movement of the rise/fall adjustments of a view camera. The lens was,
effectively, split in two and connected by a sliding rail mechanism as well as
- on the really top-flight ones - having a pivot to permit swinging the lens.
You could move the lens along the rail to the left/right (or if you had the
camera oriented the right way up/down) and peer through the viewfinder to see
how much correction of vertical or other problematic lines you had achieved.
Of course, you were locked-in to whatever focal
length the designers of the shift lenses for your system had decided. So, if it
was a 24mm, that was the only focal length at which you had correction possible.
Well, the shift lens can now be discarded into
the dustbin of history as digital technology has made it, in my view and
practical experience, an expensive and redundant item.
I say this not because of the well-known and
probably well used process of perspective correction available in manipulation
software. This option has been around for ages and solves the issue to some
degree (if you know what you are doing) but it does not mitigate for the loss of
detail in areas of the image that were further away from the focal plane in the camera than others.
No, I say this as you can now do it in the field
with any focal length of lens as if you had $2K plus of lens attached to your
Enter the Olympus E-M1 or E-M5II mirrorless
On the second camera menu there is a setting
which many of my professional colleagues - let alone amateur users
glossed-over. It is called keystone correction.
OM-D E-M1 or E-M5II: Second camera menu - Third option
down saves you at least $2000!
When activated, you can adjust the image in the
viewfinder or monitor for swing or tilt to correct perspective for converging or
diverging lines in both the vertical and horizontal plane.
The adjustment planes are shown in the viewfinder -
Front dial sorts swing and back dial tilt. The keystone alert (window) icon is at top-middle.
Once you have made a
swing or tilt adjustment this icon, and the one on the rear of the camera, turns
green to warn you keystone adjustment is set and active.
You see what you get before you shoot and the
camera processes the image to save a perfectly corrected image to the card.
Another aspect of the process is that the image
produced is also punchier than the standard JPEG you will yield of the same
scene. Something in the processing just whips-up a sharper, punchier result and
that is a superb bonus. I have tried processing the RAW files to the same
standard but I will admit defeat - it is not worth the time and effort to try
and match those amazing chaps in the design and
software department with Phds. Their camera does it instantly and to a better standard than us
mere mortals are able to achieve.
Standard jpeg shot the lazy way. No adjustment of camera
and tripod has been attempted to ensure focal plane is perpendicular to
surfaces. Lines converge towards the bottom of the frame.
Identical scene with in-camera keystone adjustment. Much
punchier and sharper than standard and lines now straight.
Aperture control is also automatic which is not
the case on all shift lenses on the market today and was certainly hardly the
case in film days.
Speaking of aperture control, with shift lenses
and analogue imaging you needed to carefully select your aperture to minimise
vignetting and/or to provide depth of field to correct for the different
distances to the subject - such as the top of a tall building. With the OM-D
Keystone adjustment, you select all as normal and then activate the Keystone
tool. The processing algorithm seems to take up most of the tricky calculations
so you can shoot wide open if needs be for reasons I am about to explain.
keystone option available on data projectors has probably put people off using
the setting on their cameras as, on projectors, the amount of pixels is
reduced to affect the change in apparent perspective. However, images shot on the E-M1
are still to exactly the same dimensions and pixel number as without it.
This is impressive and tells me two things.
Firstly, the image circle of the lenses achieved through the telecentric
design philosophy on which Olympus founded the entire 4/3 concept is large
enough to permit a lot of manipulation (and growth...?) and that the effect is
actually being achieved by using the 5 axis stabiliser drive to physically swing
or tilt the sensor.
This approach would explain the impressive edge
to edge sharpness achieved with the technique as it effectively replicates the
swing or tilt of the view camera's film plate and normalises the focus over the
I have used this feature extensively on several
recent architectural assignments and it has saved huge wads of time both on-site
post-production. It is yet another feather in the cap of the E-M1 that makes it,
in my experience, a brilliant photographic tool without peer on the market.
Caveats and tricks:
You cannot apply exposure or other
corrections to the image if the keystone feature has been enabled as the
front and back dials are used to adjust for vertical or horizontal shift.
Set up your shot, set your exposure settings etc. and then activate the
keystone correction option.
If you apply swing, then tilt is not an
option and vice-versa. Well, you would hardly need both if you set up your
shooting position correctly anyway... (Update Jan 2017:
The E-M1 Mark II allows both swing and tilt together)
The option does not automatically re-set so
ensure you switch it off (there is a warning on the rear panel and in the
viewfinder with a window-like symbol when it is active) otherwise you will
not be able to do any adjustments to exposure etc until you do re-set it.
You can allocate the function to the Fn2 or
front camera button of the E-M1. I am certain you could do that on an E-M5II
as well but as I have not used one I cannot say for certain. However, this
makes it a handy option to activate or de-activate the setting without
needing to go to the second camera menu page - although that is no longer
a hardship after the latest firmware update which memorises the last menu
I normally shoot on Aperture priority when
using the Keystone tool and use an aperture of between f=8.0 and f=11.0.
This, coupled to the swing/tilt of the actual sensor ensures control over
all regions as regards sharpness and yields tack-sharp results all over the
frame without vignetting effects. (The removal of which are probably part of
the processing algorithm anyway?)
Best of all, if you have older film era lenses
and you are using them on your E-M1, you get the same tool to use
- so now all
your lenses are shift lenses.
How cool is that?
* iMAGE OF ZUIKO 24MM SHIFT LENS CREDIT:
24mmPCleft by Jeff Dean (Jeff dean at en.wikipedia) - Transferred from
en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under Attribution via Commons -
Top of page
26 October 2015
WHEN YOUR CAMERA EYECUP FAILS...(OH AND IT WILL!)
The planet's landscape is, by the
volume of internet acocunts, littered with EP-10 eyecups that have jumped-off
the viewfinders of countless Olympus E-M5 cameras.
There seems to be a universal
consensus that the EP-10 eyecup is a cunning ploy on the part of the manufacturer
to make added profit through the sale of thousands of replacement eyecups.
Well, while the issue of departing
eyecups is familiar to any Olympus digital camera user (My E-3 power user-guide
mentions how to prevent that camera's eyecup from going on lone sight-seeing
expeditions), it seems it is the modern norm.
Discussion fora on countless photo
web sites have similar tales from owners of cameras as diverse as the Nikon F750
to Canon models. Thus some of the following may have merit no matter which
camera you own.
All the eyecups are now made by
third-party suppliers and not by the camera manufacturers. In days past, there
were metal frames that securely attached the eye-cups to sturdy viewfinder
frames. Nowadays the eye-cups are all made from plastic and rely on the
"give" in the material to affect their clamping operation around the
The rubber surrounds are slotted
and grooved but only held in place via little stalks of rubber pulled-through
Tearing these little stalks of
rubber is very, very easy. The end result is the detachment of the rubber.
Furthermore, the manner in which the EP-10 (or whatever else it may be called in
the eye-cup supplier's catalogue) unit is designed, is simply asking for it to
break in one particular spot if anything like a small effort is applied to the
frame sufficient so as to make it bend. And it does always break in that one
Once that has happened - often from
no other action than simply carrying the camera around normally, the rubber
surround will tear off fairly quickly thereafter.
So, here is Shutterbug's
non-patented guide to repairing and securely attaching the EP-10 eyecup to your
1: The break-point. If your is not
yet snapped here, give it time - often it snaps here after the camera has
rubbed-up against your body - then the eye-cup departs into the scenerey so you
are not aware it has snapped here!)
2. How the rubber is attached. You
can see the nodules of rubber that were attached to the plastic frame still left
behind in the frame. No great effort is required to break these small locating
lugs of rubber - a sneeze could do it - so don't feel bad if your rubber
surround has detached.
3. NB! PLEASE READ INSTRUCTIONS AND
HANDLING PRECAUTIONS FOR SUPER-GLUE! TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO PREVENT PERSONAL
INJURY OR UNFORTUNATE CONSEQUENCES. WEAR GLOVES - USE TOOTH PICKS TO APPLY GLUE
- NEVER TOUCH THE GLUE WITH NAKED FINGERS/SKIN. IF YOU STICK BITS TO YOURSELF
OR CAN'T SEPERATE YOUR FINGERS AFTER TRYING THIS REPAIR THAT IS YOUR
PROBLEM AND NO CORRESPONDENCE WILL BE ENTERED-INTO - YOU UNDERTAKE THE FOLLOWING
STEPS ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK AND, FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT, IF YOU HAVE
NEVER USED SUPERGLUE PROPERLY BEFORE THEN I ADVISE THAT YOU DO NOT ATTEMPT THE
REPAIR DESCRIBED HEREUNDER.
Still want to go ahead? Proceeding
entirely at your own risk, superglue the cracked area using the end of a
toothpick to apply glue to the area between the cracked parts (one side only).
Press the parts together for approx. 10 seconds.
3a: Now take a small sliver
of plastic from a memory card package (or similar plastic packaging item) and
cut a strip the full width of the top of the eye-cup frame and slightly narrower
than the frame (Approx 17 x 2.5mm). This is shown resting on top of the frame in
the shot above. Glue the plastic re-inforcing strip to the top of the frame
using cyano-acrolate glue (Superglue).
This image shows you where you
will have applied superglue after the repair is complete. Please see text for
how and when to apply which drop.
4. Place little drops of superglue
on the rubber nodules on the back of the frame (LEFT SIDE FIRST) plus a drop
into the hollow-recess between the rubber nodules and then slip the rubber
surround over the edge of the frame and press home. Hold for about 10 seconds
until glue dries (Superglue works in the absence of air so as soon as you press
the parts together and exclude air, it sets.)
5. Glue the right hand side now by
repeating the process - two drops of superglue in the nodule recesses and in the
middle dimple. Slip the rubber into place over the frame and hold in place for
6 Now lift the extended little flap
of rubber on the lower left up and pop some superglue under it with the end of a
tooth-pick. press it back into place and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for the
other side lower rubber (this is not as long and flappy as the left side).
7. To secure frame to camera, you
have two options. The first, and simplest, is to place two small drops of
superglue under the top part of the frame and then clip the eye-piece back on
the camera then hold it down for a few seconds. The EP10 will now form part of
the camera. Permanently.
8. If you want to have the option
of removing the eye-cup or exchanging it for a different type, then use the old
E-3 eye-cup securing strategy and resort to gaffer-tape (black). Pull the cover
away from the accessory port on the camera and then cut a small strip of tape
measuring 8 x 24mm and shaped like the yellow area above to go over the top of
the eye-cup frame and up to the edge of the lip below the accessory port. Push
it firmly into place then replace the accessory port cover. This stops the
eye-cup from coming off from small bumps/abrading against the body when carrying
the camera and normally provides warning of the eye-cup being loose. You will
need to replace the tape every 6 months or so to keep it looking neat although
your mileage may vary...
Once you have this all done, and
have saved yourself making another contribution to Olympus' corporate
face-regaining fund, perhaps you can hope that they will, one-day, decide to fix
this idiotic design and make eye-cups that stay where they should be - on the
21 July 2015
IF YOU WILL NOT RTFM THEN DO
NOT REVIEW CAMERAS!
I seldom use the disparaging
epithet "idiot" to describe fellow humans.
However, in the past few weeks I
have been doing some trawling on YouTube to see if there is any additional
information which might prove useful on setting, using and owning the E-M1 or
other Olympus M43 kit and the temptation to drop this self-imposed linguistic
standard is rather strong.
What led to this? Well, in short,
there is not much good information on the E-M1 and the 43 system out
Whilst there are hundreds of videos on the
subject, very few have gravitas or display a proper understanding of
the subject matter.
In the freely accessible internet
domains, one must expect views from all and sundry. When it comes to Olympus
equipment, there are a lot of them.
Mostly though they are nothing less
than bovine excrement.
In any review worth its salt, there
should be facts. An understanding of the subject matter is a minimum. Sadly, even in cases where a
full-time review site is involved like DigitalRevTV - where one should reasonably
expect a certain quality of preparation from the reporter - this is patently
During my tenures as editor at
three different photographic publications we insisted on at least a two week
evaluation period for any review item. Step one was to sit with the handbook and
camera and go through it to the last detail. Then we would use the camera on
assignments for the period we had it for review. In this way you get to know its
quirks and how it behaves in regular, daily use. Some things that seemed strange
at first often mellowed into logical design points as days passed. At the end, we would meet and discuss
the various aspects we felt needed to be highlighted in the review.
It is patently
obvious that nowadays - with most "reviewers" - not even a perfunctory glance is taken at the
instructions. Too much effort folks?
This is not unique to Olympus equipment as
all the reviews have the same "ooh look at this!" cheesy enthusiasm
and superficial understanding of the equipment. Perhaps the suppliers do not
include the instructions? Just a thought.
If the manuals are supplied, then
it seems that the reviewers certainly do not appear to bother with reading the
handbook before parading cockily in front of the camera with a beaming face as
they tell you what they have in the latest goodie bag. Even if the manuals are
not supplied with the toys, then a serious reporter should download and study
one anyway - in the internet age its easy (unless you own Canon kit of
My sense of humour (and my
tolerance of shoddiness in reporting) was reached as the reviewer from
DigitalRevTV took the E-M5 out of the bag and then looked through the camera.
After he put it up to his face he mumbled something about settings and then
squinted at the screen like a bemused Doormouse while shouting "Aargh! I hate
This told me two things and
convinced me of a third.
Firstly, he had not bothered to
read the manual.
Secondly, he has absolutely no idea
how to use an Olympus camera.
Thirdly, unless he is committed to
reading the manual before talking about any item in a review, he must stop it
now as his opinions cannot possibly carry any weight. As they stand they are obviously
just the mis-informed ramblings of a lazy reporter who appears to wish to be important
and influential while
getting to play with the latest gadgetry.
Frame grab from
DigitalRevTV review on Olympus E-M5II. You never read the manual did you?
Part of the problem is, of course, that
most photographers (and I use the term loosely) seem not to understand
that you can make a photographic tool powerful and useful without festooning the
exterior with hundreds of buttons.
In a world where people regularly
spend thousands on the latest camera body, then switch off all the computing
power they paid for and use manual mode, I suppose this is not surprising.
So, end of rant. Let me tell you
something useful about the Olympus Digital camera family.
To use the cameras, or to set
things, forget about looking for specific buttons for ISO, Drive mode, Colour or
Focus. These are not bits of equipment from Canon and Nikon intended to impress
you with the number of buttons they have. They do not need them.
If using an Olympus digital camera,
just remember to: Press, direct, twirl
Allow me to elucidate.
On the rear of every Olympus
digital camera since the first E-Series models, has been a display called the
Super Control Panel or SCP for short. Here are images of a few incarnations.
If the SCP is not displayed, simply press INFO to make it appear. On the original EM-5
you need to activate it - where? Well, it is a control you want displayed so
look in Menu>Display>Control. (Gee Whizz! That's too logical is it not?)
The SCP displays all the most
commonly used camera settings in clearly labeled, easily read boxes. The layout
has remained the same since the first E-series cameras which is a great idea -
no need to re-learn each panel as the model is upgraded.
With the SCP displayed on an
E-series camera, press the
OK button and a yellow highlight box will appear. On the older cameras it would
always be at the top left but later models have a "last position used"
Once the box is highlighted, simply
direct it to the setting you wish to adjust using the direction arrows
around the OK button. Now twirl the input dial. On single
dial cameras its the only dial available and on twin dial cameras it's the front
dial. This will scroll through all the possible values for the adjustment you
are making and you simply have to stop twirling when you see the value you want.
Touch the shutter button and its set.
On the latest OM-D series cameras
it is even easier. In this case it is Press, tap, twirl and touch.
Once you press OK, tap
the screen icon of the item you wish to change and the yellow box will move
there. Twirl the dial to set and touch the shutter to confirm.
So intuitive that Nikon have copied
it (sort of) and Canon have adopted a similar approach on their latest products
- although there you have fewer options to adjust with the control panel - and
on most you have to press OK to confirm each setting.
clip shows you how fast and easy it is to use the system on the older
non-touch and the newer touch-screen cameras.
The reviewer in this video
obviously had not bothered to learn about this aspect as he constantly tried
tapping away at the screen when the box failed to appear and complained that the
screen was obviously not sensitive enough. Well buddy, you do not want things to
just be called-up and set by the accidental brushing of the screen so it only
enters touch mode when you press OK (as detailed in the instructions). RTFM Doffie!
Certainly not the best or
most credible review ever. Reading the manual and finding out how to activate
the touch screen would have rescued your credibility (slightly) mate.
While watching any review on the
web, if the reviewer uses words such as "I think this model has
this..." or "I'm not certain if that feature is included..." or
similar phrases and fumbles about trying to show you a feature or control, you
just know they are not serious, have not read the manuals and have certainly not
used the equipment nearly enough to fully understand it.
Knowing the features, understanding
every control inside-out is the minimum effort any reporter should make when
entrusted with a brand's reputation. Even reviewers as apparently eminent as
Darren Miles and Tony Northrup have said "I'm not sure if it's on this model..."
or have started a review using old Canon legacy film lenses on the camera and
been iffy about the handling!
Note to those gentlemen: Concentrate less on how sunny Naples Florida is and read the
books Darren and if you are reviewing a new system camera use its own lenses
Tony - the designers made it to perform its best with those.
YouTube appears to be crammed full
of reviewers without the faintest clue about the difference between a review and
a mis-informed opinion or outdated and clunky methods of using cameras.
It is, therefore, no mystery to me why the few photo retail outlets that are left are still dens of mis-information
and out-dated techniques. Retail assistants seem to dislike reading and would
rather google a video.
Furthermore, many companies are now using
"brand ambassadors" who know even less about the products and their
design history than many enthusiasts - but that policy is the grist for another
What a mess!
15 July 2015
OLYMPUS E-M1 FOCUS TRACKING IS
Right. After some time spent between assignments
where I tried every possible setting on the E-M1 I reckon we have an
understanding of the things we can do in the future.
I am quite expectant - especially in regard to
action sequences that need focus tracking.
Birds in flight are regarded as the most
challenging of all subjects to follow in the viewfinder.
I reckon that the following in the viewfinder
was the easy part.
Technology, however, lagged behind in permitting
the focus system to keep the subject correctly focused in all frames of a
sequence at 5 frames per second.
Even the long-time alleged king of AF, the Canon
series of EOS cameras, struggles with subjects moving obliquely. Most Canon
sports shooters I know have told me they use Servo focus with the central point
selected and hope that they get at least one or two tack-sharp shots in any
given sequence. This holds true only as long as the subject is in a drect line
of sight to the camera as any subject that gets interspersed will throw the
focus off the main subject.
Those shooting the so-called black gold kit -
Nikon, have paraded a subtle air of superiority for some time due to the ability
of their cameras to use 3-D focus tracking. Essentially - despite what the
promotional blurb says about recognising the size, shape and colour of a moving
subject - the focus system follows any subject upon which you have locked the
focus and does not re-adjust it until a set time has passed if the subject is
It was this feature that saw the migration of
virtually every football photographer in the world to Nikon in the past few
Now we have the E-M1 and its focus tracking
You select C-AF+TR.
Then you select focus points or leave it up to
the camera. With legacy 4/3 lenses the area in which tracking is possible is
shown with a green frame on the electronic viewfinder. If you go outside the
area it can use the frame changes colour to warn you.
With Micro-4/3 lenses its the entire frame.
And it rocks!
Nine frame per second sequences, even with
similarly coloured items in the scene for a fraction of a second, result in
tack-sharp images of subjects moving obliquely through the field.
Birds in flight are easy pickings now.
And tracking footballers will be hum-drum.
Colour me impressed!
Not even the appearance of the tree between the goose and the
camera upset the electronic genie inside the E-M1 in this sequence.
This was just amazing! Perfect early morning
light and a young owl looking for a snack. She was very fast and moved in a line
towards the camera away from the stump.
9th frame in the sequence once I had picked her up again
between frames 5 and 8.
GOODBYE TO A FRIEND
An inevitable consequence of adding new tools to
the gadget bag is that, eventually, reality sets in and you have to realise that
you cannot use 5 cameras.
Having the new E-M1 on hand led to my E-3 bodies
(the last two new ones available in 2012) seeing little or no service.
Dozing in a gadget bag is no life for a
previously active and faithful E-3.
So, the newest one of the pair plus her HLD-4
recently found a new owner - all the way in Melbourne Australia.
The new owner will have a brace of E-3s when she
arrives and is planning a trip around Australia with them.
At least she will enjoy the similar weather once
they get over the typical Austrlian Bight winter at the moment.
Enoy the adventures mate.
E-M1 - THE PLUNGE TAKEN
Having bumped my head with the Olympus E-M5 body
as a potential replacement for my E-3 and E-5 cameras some time ago (the blog
entries are below regarding this episode), I took some time before giving the
"E-5 successor", the E-M1, a trial.
At first, in the middle of last year, I was less
than impressed. The slow multiple release rate and the iffy performance with the
existing SWD lenses did much to tilt the balance towards hanging on with the
existing kit. It went back into the "close but no cigar" category.
However, in January this year Olympus released
firmware version 3.0 for the E-M1 and dispatches from the front lines of press
work from colleagues in the UK told me that many of the issues which had
troubled me appeared to be either resolved, or at least reduced to niggardly
However, given that the E-M5 II has made an
appearance with the high-res 40MP shot option, as well as the fully articulated
rear screen (Vital so that you can fold it out of harm's way when doing news
work), I suspect that the E-M1 II (or whatever) boasting both of these features is
So, when some suppliers made E-M1 bodies
reasonably affordable, my interest was piqued. Then a colleague got new kit and
had a 1212 release body going begging for a relative song. No brainer!
After two weeks of toying-about getting to know
the unit and its many menu quirks - for example the old, much used light-box
image display is now a display option hidden in the custom settings menu and
somewhat restricted versus the E-5 - I am coming to terms with the only possible
upgrade for the E-5 body and Four Thirds lenses there is.
One aspect confirmed so far is that the handling
is very similar to my OM-4 body. The power switch is now in an instinctive
place, the size and "heft" is similar although the HLD-7 grip is a
must for any sort of ease of use when FT lenses are attached.
The electronic viewfinder irritated me when I
tested the camera at a BMX event as the image froze momentarily when tracking
riders at high speed. This meant I could not follow the action through the
The solution to this problem is to
switch off the image review mode in the menu. This ensures that the camera does
not try and show you each frame in the sequence as it is taken. Another quirk is
that with the best viewfinder refresh rate (and thus the best view), the
continous shooting experience is likewise interrupted. Setting to normal refresh
rate gets you (almost) to the point where viewfinder lag is not such an issue
However, the focus tracking is a vast
improvement on the E-5! Each shot in 9 frame per second sequences of riders
coming towards the camera or tracking obliquely was tack-sharp as these two
samples demonstrate. So, from a performance point of view, once I get the
viewfinder and my brain on the same highway, things should show a good leap
Another obvious difference is the image quality
and noise aspect of the sensor. From 800 ISO upwards there is no contest and the
E-5 (and obviously the E-3) are simply left for dead as regards image quality-at
any setting and in any conditions.
Two aspects that are delightful are the low mass
and bulk and the virtually silent shutter. Not making a noticeable noise has
already allowed me to get some candid shots that would not have been possible
using the E-5 (or at the very least I have not been rumbled when taking a candid
shot and in this past week of craziness in South Africa that is a vital safety
I know that a refresh of the EM-1 is just around
the corner so will be pensioning off my E-3 body to a good home and running the
E-5 alongside the EM-1 for a while until the EM-1 II appears.
Hopefully by then I will have fully adapted to
the "new era" and be happy to step off the prism finder bus
I still hope that some day, just because it's
possible, they will make an electronic OM-4. That simplicity would be the
However, back in the real world...
GOOD GEAR PROVES ITS WORTH -
There are many so-called "weather
sealed" cameras knocking about on the market.
The first D-SLR to offer this vital design
feature was the E-1 that launched the E-System.
Like other now commonplace features pioneered in
E-System cameras, other brands list this ability to shrug off a bit of inclement
weather as a regular selling point of their semi-pro and pro kit.
Time and again, however, I have seen other
photographers bagging their gear or begin to speak in tongues as their equipment
refused to work after a light drizzle coated the shooting location.
Yesterday a lovely couple with their family
flown in from Lithuania and Estonia had their long-awaited dream beach wedding.
The week days up to the big day were typical, idyllic
African sunshine fare.
The big day dawned grey, overcast and wet.
The bride and groom, however, were determined.
It was planned as a beach wedding and so it would be!
Squalls came and went through the morning and
finally a gap seemed to open up at about 3.30 in the afternoon. It stopped
raining and the sky brightened from about 5% to 30% grey.
Mother nature was up to something...
Guests were seated and the groom took up his
place. The lady of the moment set forth from her room at the resort and all
seemed fine until she arrived alongside her husband.
A light mist of fine raindrops began to fall.
The ceremony progressed.
misty drops became larger drops. As each minute passed the drops grew in size as
the wind picked-up and the elements conspired to drench the bridal party and
gear had no choice as the ceremony carried on - in fact, I did not even spare a
thought about the weather as I have come to depend on the weather sealing
proving its worth again and again - I was able to concentrate on the actions
(and reactions) of those pressing on with the wedding in spite of the weather.
Afterwards a dash ensued for cover and the
guests toweled-off in the beachfront marquee and Lapa. I took shots of their
efforts and then put the cameras down to dry
Many comments were made about the fact that I
was sure to need new cameras after this and one wag even took a shot of the E-3
I had used where it sat next to the 5 as he expressed his view that it was a
"funeral shot" of a camera and he wanted to show his mates back home
how I had sacrificed a camera and flash to get the shots.
Well, the rest of the night progressed and the
allegedly terminal equipment went on to play its role in documenting the
After the guests had seen the rushes of selected
shots after dinner the positive comments about the photographs taken in the rain
were effusive. While the guests agreed it was a memorable event for the
conditions and subsequent consequences, there was almost universal appreciation
for the fact that the entire ceremony was documented.
The day offered confirmation, yet again, that if
you undertake to record an event for a client, you need to be able to deal with
anything that happens. Investing in top gear that can work through the
conditions - no matter what they may be - is a non-negotiable and worth the
extra money. My cameras have soldiered-on through dust, snow, rain, sea-spray
and the inevitable bumps and knocks of reportage and sports work.
As far as I have seen the only gear used by
colleagues at events that has kept up with the E3/5 bodies so far has been the
D3, 4 and the 1D.
So, simply, if you are serious about working as
a photographer, get serious kit that can deal with all kinds of conditions and
remember that the lenses need to be environmentally sealed as well to get the
maximum benefit from the feature. Luckily all pro and super-pro optics from my
chosen brand are sealed.
Other brands have them few and far between so
choose with care if this is a feature you need.
ROLL ON Q4 2013
I have no illusions that the designers at
Olympus have read this blog.
However, as someone who uses their equipment
daily I needed to know what was up in the future for my High Grade 4/3 lenses as
regards a newer imaging tool I could attach to them.
So, I asked them directly.
They very politely replied and said an "E-5
successor" for all 4/3 lenses would be available before the end of this
Now back to work...I have two new cameras to pay
NEW CHRISTMAS WISH...
OK. So I had a moment of weakness. Like running
off with a smaller and younger camera system while my E-3's slept in the
The E-3's are back in harness and I now have one
of the OM-Ds on E-Bay and the local smalls. (Will keep one for days when I want
to travel light...)
Why has the relationship ended?
Simple - the investment made in high-grade
lenses for the E-3 bodies does not deliver value when they are used on the OM-D
After initial attempts to find work-arounds
(There are none) I took one final shot at it.
I spent 4 long days trying to find workarounds
for the focus issues while doing a show-jumping derby recently and I eventually
tanked the OM-D kit and went back to the E-3s.
I had to.
I needed to deliver crisp photos of the horses
and riders at the right moment - not ones at the split second after they jumped.
So, my new Christmas wish list to the gentlemen
at Olympus please.
The OM-D sensor (Could shoot rock concerts and
floodlit sports - if you pre-focused - with no discernable noise), stabiliser
and tone curve tool in the E-3 body so I can (a) Have my optical finder back and
(b) Have the speed of focus I get with the E-3.
Not a M43 camera please - a proper camera I can
hold for hours on end and with which I can shoot more than 9 000 frames in less
than four days without repetitive stress injury.
No need to change the layout - no need to change
anything on the outside (I do not need a touch screen on the camera to be
honest). And, as the tooling and body is virtually paid for already, just toss
the OM-D guts into the E-3/5 body please.
Call it what you like...I will call it the E-7
And you can have an order for 2 on announcement.
ALL MY CHRISTMAS CAMERA WISHES
GRANTED AT ONCE!
On Wednesday last (8 February 2012) Olympus -
the company that was supposed to be down and out/bankrupt/no good at making
serious cameras/(add your view here...) - released a camera that has set the
lack-luster ordering in-boxes of online, and bricks and mortar retailers,
amazing thing is that this activity is not just limited to Japan - but the USA
and Europe have had a flood of pre-orders placed for the camera. Out here in
South Africa the local agents - I understand on good authority - are still
considering if they will even bring in the camera as the "...price may be
too high and it may not sell...yadder-yadder!"
Oh well... At any
price this camera has no competitors. At only about R14 000 or so (which is the
overseas retail price of $1300 with a weather-sealed lens and portable TTL
flashgun x R8 plus VAT and something for the agent's flash metal fund) it is
an absolute giveaway. As a serious photographic tool it is the business.
Now, if conventional wisdom is applied (based on
repeated comments by alleged boffins on forum after forum on the web) then
there must surely be a lot of idiots out there for there to be so many orders
flooding in. After all, why buy a camera with a sensor that is too
small (compared to what I ask?) and that looks just like the old
ones from the 1980s.
Let's appraise the latter comment first. While
the mirror-less compact cameras produced by Panasonic, Sony, Nikon and - of
course the ones who pioneered the format - Olympus, have until now been
interesting, they have been clunky to use fast. This, in fact, may well be why
the local agents have a jaundiced view of the Micro Four Thirds
marketplace...but then they must also honestly look at themselves and see how
much effort they have put into marketing Micro-Four thirds equipment
I have done my best to make friends with an E-P2
but time and again I find myself instinctively putting the camera to my eye only
to realise there is no viewfinder. In that instant, many opportunities have been
lost. Yes, I could buy the EV-F2 but you still have to hit a switch to go from
one to the other - more seconds lost waiting for it to happen. And that EV-F2 is
like a huge carbuncle atop the camera anyway. Yes, when all things work in one's
favour, the image quality and the capabilities are breathtaking. Of course the
size is absolutely lovely but you do not find yourself thinking it was a good
decision to reach for the E-P2 rather than the E-500 or the E-3 when popping out
somewhere and you lose a shot because of the "not there as I expected"
People switching-up from a compact camera,
however, would never find this a problem - it is the folk like me who have been
using SLR type equipment for decades who have this issue. It is also us who
populate the top-end of the camera purchasing population and who can afford the
kit in this price range. So, this is another reason why the OM-D series makes so
much sense and is proving to be a sales hit just like the original OM models and
why previous Micro Four Thirds sales charts need to be tossed-out of the window.
Are you listening at Tudor house there guys?
So, by copying a matured design and placing a
viewfinder into the camera directly where you expect it to be, Olympus have done
- in my view - exactly the right thing. Many decry the look and feel/shape of
the OM-D series as too retro (And let's understand this - Like the PEN series
and E-Series, this is a new camera series altogether) but this first iteration,
the E-M5, is not just a cheesy attempt to milk the nostalgia market for ballies
* like me who remember the working tools we used for more than 20 years. The
layout of the camera has, like in most serious Olympus working cameras to date
(OM-1,2,4 and the E1,3 and 5) been decided - and I can clearly see the
continuity of the thought process instilled in to the design team by Maitani-San
- by asking the simple question "Is that button needed? Will it help you
take better photographs or will it intrude in the process?
So, the answer to why it looks like an old SLR
is because they worked ! As we reached the 1980s SLR cameras were a very
mature technology. Wild and fantastic designs had been tried (Anyone remember
the Canon Epoca or the Minolta Vectis series?) and
discarded and the layout and design had - largely - been settled. So using this
type of layout is not just an exercise in nostalgia - in a very solid manner it
is a return to what really matters. Compact, simple, every button for a
particular purpose and easy to learn to use with the camera at eye-level.
The fact that one seamlessly goes from large
rear screen to instantly available viewfinder as one did in the past is a treat.
Olympus say they have made the AF the fastest of any camera and this is
something I will take as read - after all, unless you want to be churlish and
simply pig-headed - there is little between the E-P3 and any D-SLR you care to
pick when it comes to focus acquisition.
If the E-M5 is as fast (and Olympus say it
is faster) then there is nothing to bother about in that department. Certainly, Terada-San
is not given to boasting and the confident (but very quick) smile of pride he
permitted himself in the press interview when he said it was the world's fastest
auto-focus for any camera is convincing enough. What is more, Terada-San
is, himself, an accomplished photographer and from a similar generation to
myself. The way his fingers danced over the controls as he demonstrated the
machine - coupled to his obvious enthusiasm for the camera and what it offers -
further convinced me it has been thoroughly thought-through and carefully
designed for light artists and not just happy-snappers.
As for the rest, the compact OM size (it is in
fact a bit smaller), the simple layout, the correct balance and the ability to
add the HLD6 grip make it an obvious choice for those who, like me, were getting
more of a slouch as modern D-SLRs got larger and heavier. Aside from the fact
that the E-series was the only designed for digital system, the mass of
competing kit I would need to carry for the same performance from any other
brand was another major reason I went with the E-system when I made my switch
from film - and a Nikon F5 - to the brace of E-3s I still use. (Well...a Nikon
D200 has crept into the equipment cupboard along with a triplet of lenses
and a SB600 flashgun but that is another story unrelated to daily requirements
Now, I must admit that, just as I was thinking
about the long term possibility of putting a foot in another camp, the new E-M5
has got me sold. I have two on order and fully intend making them earn their
keep. I expect to be able to use them for weddings (imagine how mobile one can
be without tons of gear to lug around) and sports (up to 9 fps!) and given my
location (often raining and misty) being able to use the cameras just like my
E-3 bodies (it is, just like them, made from Magnesium and weather sealed) without
bothering about the damp will be nothing short of a treat. Oh, and of course I
can use my existing pro lenses with a weatherproof adaptor too but then again,
there are some tasty - and very fast - Micro Four Third prime lenses on the way
from Olympus as well...this is too much happiness!
you are chasing the action in a number of sports, splashing and other issues
should be the last of your concerns. In real-world conditions a properly sealed
camera like the E-3, E-5 or the new E-M5 and lens is not a flight of fancy - it
is a necessity.
As for the issue about the supposedly
"useless 4/3 sensor" I read about so often on various fora, I
think that argument can now be ignored. The image quality of the Nikon V1 is
amazing and that sensor is smaller than the 4/3 one. The latest Canon all-in one
has a sensor the same size as the 4/3 (OK, what is 1mm really?) and Canonophiles
are hailing its quality...The E-M5 at 16MP has more pixels than you are likely
to need if you frame your shots properly and even has enough if you need to rely
on the cropping tool to make you look half decent.
Next, with a performance
at ISO3200 that is breathtaking (I have seen pre-production sample shots from
friends in the European imaging press who have had sample cameras for a week or
so..) there is nothing one could sensibly do in photography that this camera is
not more than capable of offering. Let us not forget that this is not wishful
thinking - I have had many billboard and interior mural images made from the
output from the E-3s and E-5 at "only" 10 and 12MP. Then of course
there is the HD video facility which opens up a whole new world of possibilities
for new revenue streams...
And we have not even come to what I feel is the
greatest (and will probably be the least understood) feature of the E-M5. That
viewfinder or screen will allow me to set the exposure even more accurately via
an interactive tone-curve than
I could with the multi-spot metering system of the OM-3/4 and it is the cherry
on the top of a solid specification. Tone curve? What?
Listen carefully - Almost as a footnote, Olympus
have added a gem of an exposure tool into this camera. You can call up the tone
curve on the screen or EVF (allocate the function to one of the 3 function
buttons on the camera, give it a press and up it comes). By turning the front
input wheel (surrounding the shutter release) you can bias the highlight curve
to pull back or whiten highlights! The rear input wheel (looking for all the
world like the OM-1 ASA wheel at a quick glance) allows you to sort the shadow
curve and handle details or contrast in darker areas. The screen or EVF shows
you exactly what the result will be before you hit the shutter! Just think of
the time you will save with bounce-boards and in post-production.
Picture this -
start by taking a Spot-Hi reading as the basis to keep a white dress white
without blow-out, hit Fn2 and then twirl the back dial to pull up the shadows of
the groom's suite...or take a Spot reading from a dramatic moody early morning
seascape and then twirl the front dial to get the cloudscape looking as it does
to your eye...oh my goodness! A whole new realm of opportunity awaits with this
If there is any wedding photographer out there
(and without a noisy mirror bouncing around you can now shoot at virtually any
point in the ceremony without getting a scowl from the minister) -
or anyone regularly photographing dark skin tones in sunlight - or doing
landscapes - that does not immediately grin from ear to ear about this bit of
wizardry then they just do not understand the import of the feature.
Furthermore, they probably do not deserve to use this amazing photographic tool
Domo Origato Olympus - this is the
paintbrush I sent you so many e-mails about. While it is not the simple 3 button
system from the OM3/4 which I repeatedly asked you to build into the next
serious camera you made, it is easier to use and far more powerful. My wish has
The last time I had the anticipation of getting
just the gift I wanted was before a very distant Christmas when I was about 8.
April - when these wonderful tools start shipping out from dealers - is just too
*Ballie - South African colloquialism for
a gentleman of more than middle age from whom one may learn about life even
though he may be well set in his ways. It is most often a term of endearment and
respect - unless you are being an intransigent old codger...