Olympus E-M1 Mk II Tips

I finally made the upgrade to the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II …

e-m1-mk-ii-oly-website

Last week I finally made the upgrade to the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II, and so far it’s everything I thought it would be. It’s fast – fast for Turn ON, AF, and Playback, and the Shutter Release feels almost instantaneous. It has great IBIS, and all the features we love about the OM-D line, plus some other great improvements. There’s an improved deeper grip and the menus are a little different, no less confusing than before, and still as deep and complex. But I do like it it and will soon be parting ways with my E-M1(Mk I).

I want to address a couple of the things that seem to be most confusing about this camera. I agree Olympus cameras can be complex and frustrating, even after four years of using and writing about them. But, they are still my overwhelming camera of choice. Partly for that very complexity that allows us so many choices and variations in camera setup.

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The “Q” … My First Experience with a Leica

The Leica Q has been on my wish list since I first read about it when it was announced on June 10, 2015.  Why?  Well first, it’s made by the renowned German camera maker, Leica, plus it has a full frame sensor, fast Leica Summilux lens, excellent EVF, and for me the image stabilization is important.  I kept trying to get the same general features but at a lower cost by using different cameras, and I thought maybe the Ricoh GR would scratch that itch since it had the 28mm lens and an excellent APS-C sensor.  It didn’t.  In the end, I think it came down to the fact that I had never used a Leica and I just wanted to … Continue reading “The “Q” … My First Experience with a Leica”

Sony A7RII Delayed Temporarily

In my Last Post, I talked about the recent mishaps leading to my decision to buy the A7RII.  It turns out, that decision will have to be delayed for a short while.

Recent serious problems with my computer forced me to buy an “unplanned” new laptop.  This understandably put a slight kink in my budget, so I’ve gone back to the Sony A7II until I can catch up with my finances.

Now, this is not a bad deal in any way.  The A7II is a fantastic camera, only a step behind the A7RII.  The biggest difference as you all know is in the resolution, 24MP vs a newly designed 42MP sensor.  Of course, the newer A7RII also sports some very nice refinements, notably in the EVF and AF, and reportedly a possible improvement in the 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization system.

So for the near future, it’s the A7II and just like before … I’m loving it!  🙂

My Digital Experience … The Madness Continues

Image from Sony.Net
This is what seduced me “this” time … the Sony A7RII.
Full Frame
42 Megapixels
and 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE.
I think I’ve finally found a possible long term cure for my G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), but first some background.
A funny thing happened on the way to my next attempt at “temporary sanity”.  I had both of my favorite cameras in hand, the Olympus OM-D E-M5II and the Sony A7II, and loved them both.  But, I needed to get rid of one of them.  Every time I would think about putting one on Amazon for sale, I’d have regrets and change my mind … I just couldn’t decide, and that’s unusual for me.  I flew airplanes professionally for 33 years and quick decision making was part of the everyday business of getting from point A to point B, safely and expeditiously.
So I did what any rational person would do.  I decided to let the market decide for me, and put both cameras for sale on Amazon.  Perfect!  Whichever one sold first, I’d just keep the other one.  What could possibly go wrong.  🙂  What was that quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men …”?  Yeah, that is true wisdom, and of course, by now you’ve probably guessed what happened.  Both cameras sold the same day!

For a couple of weeks, I just took a break and lived with my great little Ricoh GR, but for most photography work I really like to have image stabilization and an EVF.  I’d been looking longingly at the Fujifilm X100T ever since it was released, so I finally decided to take the plunge and there is not much to find fault with that wonderful little camera.  However, at age 66 my hands just aren’t as steady as I wish they were, and I’ve learned to truly appreciate a camera with built in image stabilization.  That has become my must have feature, with everything else being just icing on the cake.  The X100T is headed back to mother Amazon at this very moment.
I’ve also been looking at the Sony A7RII and reading the reviews (mostly glowing, some not), but thought the high resolution combined with its much improved shutter, excellent EVF, and 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization (Sony calls it “SteadyShot INSIDE”) would make it an excellent candidate for long term ownership … an unusual thing for me, and only time will tell.  But I feel confident that it will be the case This time.  Wish me luck!  🙂
PS:  I’m thinking of changing my website name from ThruMikesViewfinder.com to MirrorlessMadness.com … what do you think?  🙂

For great ebooks about your favorite camera, if it’s a Sony, Olympus OM-D, or Fujifilm, be sure and take a look at www.FriedmanArchives.com.

Update: Exposing Olympus OM-D E-M10 (and E-M1/E-M5II) Myths – HDR and the EVF

Note:  There are a couple of great books available from The Friedman Archives that cover all of the features in great detail for both the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and E-M5II
Olympus OM-D E-M10 (and E-M1/E-M5II) Feature Clarifications: HDR and EVF settings.
Okay, there are a couple of myths floating around the Internet that are bothering me. In the last couple of days, I’ve read blog posts (and reviews) that either neglected to mention or complained about what they “perceived” as problems with these OM-D cameras.
Myth #1: The E-M10 is not good for HDR work. I disagree because Olympus gets it. Bracketing and HDR really are separate issues. We bracket to ensure we get a correct exposure. We use HDR to expand dynamic range of an image. So Oly has separated these two features. And while Bracketing does limit the number and range of options, the HDR setting is great, allowing up to 5 exposures with 3 EV spacing and 7 exposures with 2 EV. Plus, it automatically puts the Drive Mode to Continuous H. Nice!: -)
Myth #2: Some seem to have an issue with using flash, generally in a studio. Sometimes, it’s necessary to use high shutter speeds and/or small apertures to make sure you get a dark background. Normally, the EVF tries to show you what your image will look like with your current camera settings, so in this case you get a very dark (or black) view in the EVF, making it impossible to frame and focus. To avoid this and have your EVF behave like an OVF (i. e., show you what’s in front of the camera unadjusted for settings), just turn Live View Boost (Custom Menu D) “ON”. And “voila”, problem solved. Maybe even create a flash preset with this setting (and others, of course).
Now, go take some pictures!: -)
UPDATE:   Readers +Paul Amyes and +Eric Lawson  offered this idea:  Set one of your buttons to DOF Preview and it will accomplish the same thing as turning Live View Boost ON.  My guess is that it temporarily does just that when you press the button, giving you an OVF like look at your scene.

Setting Up the NEX-7 – Revisited

I recently read somewhere, “Photography is a disease for which there is no known cure.” ( – Author Unknown)  I know I’m afflicted by it and I sure hope it isn’t fatal . . . . . aside from my wife wanting to kill me for exceeding my photography budget! 🙂 

A couple of days ago I “reacquired” the Sony NEX-7. There’s a lot to love there:  A beautiful, black, metal body; 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor; 10 frames-per-second; Terrific EVF (Electronic ViewFinder); and the Tri-Navi control system to give you almost instant access to many of the camera’s functions.  This camera is very customizable with several buttons that can be re-configured to setup this camera to work the way you work.

Many of you may not want your camera setup exactly like I do and that’s okay. We’re all individuals and approach photography with different goals and techniques.  In fact, my settings change from time to time as my current photographic emphasis changes.  But, if you’re new to the NEX-7 or maybe just struggling with the overwhelming customization options, maybe this will help. Here’s how I have mine setup, at least for now.

First, in the Main Menu, go to Setup and about halfway down you’ll find the Function Settings. These are the settings that are accessible using the Function Button (next to the shutter button) and adjustable with the two top Control Dials and the Control Wheel (Tri-Navi Controls).
  • Function Settings 1 > Focus Settings
  • Function Settings 2 > White Balance Settings
  • Function Settings 3 > Creative Style Settings
  • Function Settings 4 > Custom Settings
  • Custom Settings 1  > DRO/Auto HDR (Having Auto HDR and Quality in Custom Settings means they are both accessible at the same place. And since I often shoot in RAW, this makes it easy to quick change to JPEG when I want to use Auto HDR.)
  • Custom Settings 2  > Quality
  • Custom Settings 3  > Picture Effect
  • Function Settings Start > Previous (this just takes me back to whatever I had last changed)
Next, with Soft Key A, go back into the Setup Menu, and select Custom Key Settings. These will change the function of several of the buttons on the back of the camera.
  • AF/MF Button > AF/MF control
  • Right Key Setting > Flash Mode
  • Soft Key B Setting > Focus Settings
  • Soft Key C Setting > Shoot Mode
  • Custom Settings > N/A unless you set Soft Key C to Custom Settings, then you will have several choice to add, here.
With this configuration, I almost never need to go into the camera’s extensive menu system to make a change while I’m shooting, which is a big deal for me since I do tend to change settings quite often.  The possibilities are so varied, that you’ll probably need to do some experimenting with different combinations to find what works best for you, but maybe this guide can give you a place to start.

Please comment and share with us how you have your NEX-7 setup – and why – so we all have the chance to learn another way of doing things.

In a recent blog post, I mentioned that I worked with Gary Friedman (www.friedmanarchives.com) to produce a comprehensive manual about the new Sony NEX-5R and NEX-6.  You can find that eBook about the Nex-6 / 5R at www.FriedmanArchives.com , plus other books about all of the Nex models including the Nex-7, the RX100/M2 and most of the Sony Alpha models.

Waiting Game – Olympus PEN E-P5 Release Delayed

I ordered the E-P5 the day it was announced from Amazon and have been waiting for almost two months … nothing yet.  Initially, Amazon showed a release date of June 21st, but then on June 21st they informed me the release had been delayed to sometime between late July and late August.  So, what does one do …… Get the E-PL5 and stick the new VF-4 external EVF on it!  🙂

The E-PL5 is a very nice little camera but I miss the control dials that are on my E-M5 and coming on the E-P5.  Image quality is of course pretty much the same as the E-M5 (same sensor) and the menus are nearly identical with just a few differences.

As for the VF-4, it is very nice!  The higher resolution is a bonus and the larger view is wonderful.  I don’t really like the look of the camera with the VF-4 sitting on top, but I much prefer a viewfinder for composing shots instead of using the rear screen, so I’ll make the sacrifice.  It looks a bit fragile and vulnerable up there, but it actually attaches very securely, by plugging into the accessory port and also the hot shoe.  Another nice feature is that it will rotate up 90 degrees, which can be a big help when composing shots with the camera close to the ground.

Hopefully, the E-P5 will show up in the next 3 or 4 weeks at which point I’ll be putting up my first impressions and images from the new camera.

Below are a few of the initial shots with the E-PL5.  The first one is an HDR from 5 images at 2EV spacing and processed in Nik HDR Efex Pro.