Olympus E-M1 Mk II Tips

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

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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.

Continue reading “Olympus E-M1 Mk II Tips”

Like a Moth to a Flame …

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has been in and out of my camera bag a few times, now.  Like the proverbial Moth to the Flame, I seem to be irresistibly drawn to the small but powerful Olympus.  I loved the Sony A-7RM2 and Leica Q, but they were just a bit pricey for my “enthusiast’s” budget.  And while the Fujifilm X-T1 and X100T are awesome cameras, they just don’t completely satisfy my desires.  (Although I must admit that I’m keeping a very close eye on the new X-T2.  :-))

Why the E-M1?

So what is it?  Why does the E-M1 seem to be (for me) the camera that most meets my needs? Continue reading “Like a Moth to a Flame …”

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.

Olympus Announces New Flagship PEN E-P5

Image by Olympus

Olympus has just announced their latest PEN, the E-P5.  It carries forward the traditional look of the PEN line while adding most of the capabilities of the highly acclaimed OM-D E-M5.

The E-P5 will have the OM-D’s 16 MP sensor and 5-axis IBIS for stabilization, plus a host of new features:

  • Shutter speed up to 1/8000th of a second. 
  • Built-in Wi-Fi. 
  • Two control dials … with a twist … a switch on the back of the camera allows you to change what the dials control. 
  • High resolution (approx. 1.04 million dots) tilt/touch LCD screen. 
  • A new optional VF-4 EVF with 2.36 million dot resolution, 1.48x magnification, and automatic switching between the monitor and the EVF. 
You can read the Olympus press release here:  Olympus Announces E-P5 and the DPReview.com hands-on preview here:  Olympus PEN E-P5 Hands-on Preview
This looks like a very capable and exciting new camera for Olympus and is supposed to start shipping in just a few weeks.  Interestingly, one of the kit options includes the new “black” 17mm f/1.8 lens and the VF-4 electronic viewfinder.  This kit is priced at USD $1,449.
Image by Olympus

Olympus OM-D E-M5 … Yes, I Like it!

I’m still amazed at all that this camera can do and how well it does it. Sure, I have a few little annoyances … okay, maybe a couple … but overall I just like it – a lot! Going forward, I won’t be attempting to do a professional review or any technical tests and comparisons. Almost everything here will be very subjective according to my personal tastes.

Today, I’m just going to post a few of the initial images and maybe a few comments about various features I’ve discovered, so far. Most of these images have had some light processing in Lightroom 4 since they were RAW files and needed a bit of contrast and saturation added.

Just for fun, this first photo was taken using the Key Line filter found in the Art Mode. One really cool thing the Art Mode can do is bracket all of the art filters available. Even if you’re using only RAW, once you’ve selected this and take the photo, the camera does in camera processing to give you a JPG of each art filter, plus you’ll still have the original unedited RAW file. It does take a few seconds to accomplish this so there will be a short “time-out” before you can take another shot.

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200; Key Line Art Filter

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200

 Here, the ISO starts to bump up, 2500, but still very clean at web sizes.

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 2500

This image was taken at ISO 25600 and at this size looks fairly good. When “pixel-peeping” the full sized image, there is a lot of noise and noticeable loss of detail and it is certainly unsuitable for any kind of commercial printing. However, it is still VERY usable and when that once in a lifetime chance comes for a moon light shot of Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, this could make you famous! 🙂

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 25600

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 6400

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 1600

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 800

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 8000

Next, I’d like to address a couple of the complaints I’ve read here and there on the internet.

  • Noise: There have been lots of comments about the noise from the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization). It’s mostly what I would call whisper quiet, a bit like a laptop fan on its lowest setting. Sure, you can hear it, but the only time I “notice” it, is when it stops – i.e. when I turn the camera off or it goes to sleep.
  • I’ve read a couple of complaints about how the right strap post is in the way and very uncomfortable. Maybe I just have the right sized hands, but I’ve never even noticed it.
  • Too Slow to Wake Up: One blogger complained that he missed shots because his E-M5 took too long to wake up. Frankly, I can’t even imagine that happening. From Sleep, it took about a second, maybe 1.5 seconds, for the camera to wake up, focus, and get the shot.
A couple of my favorite things:
  • IBIS – So far I’ve taken sharp photos with the Leica 25mm lens (50mm equiv.) at shutter speeds as low as 1/5 second. I think it is as good a stabilization as I’ve ever experienced and I’ve owned some pretty high end equipment.
  • Autofocus Speed – Olympus claims it is the world’s fastest autofocus (contrast detect I think) and I have no reason to doubt that claim. It is very fast and very accurate even in dim light on dark subjects. I’ve only seen it hunt one time and that was shooting a dark object in low light. Of course, a good Phase Detection AF system like you find on DSLR’s can out do it, but not by much. It’s a huge improvement over what I saw with the NEX-7 and Fuji X100.
Finally, I do have a complaint. I love the size and I’m still amazed at how much they have packed in to this small package. However, that small size does cause one problem for me. With the arrow keys set to move the focus point around, I find that my thumb pad is often inadvertently changing the focus point. Maybe there’s an elegant solution I just haven’t found yet – I hope so.
So, as you can tell, I LOVE this camera. It’s small and fast, looks fantastic, takes excellent images, and is fun! Now, it’s time to get back to taking pictures! 🙂

For Me … It’s the Olympus OM-D E-M5

Okay, the votes are all in (okay – “the” vote is in – mine) and I’ve decided on the Olympus E-M5.


I’ve read and studied and pixel-peeped every online source I could find and the E-M5 will be my next camera. The reasons are several and varied and no indication of which camera might be better for you or someone else. The perfect camera has yet to be built, so every camera includes a series of compromises in one area or another.


Here are some of the main reasons I’ve decided to go with Olympus:

  • Size: The size of these newer ILC (Interchangeable Lens Cameras) appeals to my sense of carry-ability. With a smaller lens, the camera will literally fit in my coat pocket.
  • Resolution: At 16 Megapixels, it’s no where near the top that is available, today, but still produces images that can be printed very large.
  • Image Quality: This has yet to be completely tested, but DPReview.com released their “Studio Scene” images which allow you to compare various ISO images against other cameras. In the DPReview tests, the E-M5 appears to compete very favorably with the Sony NEX-5N and Fuji X100 – two cameras that we know produce excellent images. Plus, it looks like it just edges out the NEX-7 at higher ISOs.
  • IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization): As I’ve grown older, I find that my hands just aren’t as steady as they used to be, thus the need for a little help from my camera. With IBIS, “every” lens can be stabilized if needed.
  • Lens Selection: Between Olympus, Panasonic, and now even Sigma, there is a substantial and growing selection  of Micro Four Thirds lenses available. Plus, a small adapter, the MMF-3, allows Four Thirds lenses to be used.
  • Weather/Dust Sealing: I don’t shoot in the rain much, however, a sealed camera is still a good thing – you never know when that next great shot may require you to get wet!
  • Customization: The E-M5’s menu system looks like it is very extensive, allowing the operator to set many camera functions the way they desire, not how the manufacturer thought it should be. Also, it has 4 User Memories for storing frequently or preferred settings.
  • Price: I’d love to have a Nikon D800, Canon 1DX, and the Fujifilm X-Pro1 (and others) but, like many, I have a budget. 😦 And while this camera is NOT cheap, it does work for me … after I sell a few things! 🙂
Of course, there are so many features and they’ve been discussed in depth across the internet, so I won’t go into all of them. My list includes just the “Biggies” that affected my decision process and, frankly, the IBIS stabilization system is probably one of the bigger factors … for me.
As always, I invite you to share your thoughts, pro or con, and let me know which way you’re going and why.
Be sure and check out my page Olympus E-M5 Info – it’s loaded with links to many reviews and other websites with pertinent information about this camera.