Light, shadow, perspective … ever changing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This game room is in our apartment complex office, and in the afternoons has an ever changing pattern of light coming through the west windows.  That, coupled with the simple chess board on a small table, and perfect art on the wall, always gives me a chance for a new perspective on a familiar subject.

Taken with the Olympus E-M1 and the 12-50mm kit lens. This lens is incredibly cheap right now ($150 USD … normally $500), and is a great buy. It’s got a fairly slow aperture at 3.5-6.3, but a nice range of 24-100 (FF equiv.), and a very good close-up ability.  At that price you can hardly go wrong with this little jewel, especially if on a budget.

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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 …”

Friedman’s E-Book about the E-M1 is Available!

The e-Book about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 was released by +Gary Friedman , over at The Friedman Archives.  Gary has been writing great books about Sony cameras for years, and has now finally decided to branch out and start writing about these wonderful Olympus cameras.
(NOTE:  You’ll also find a book about the Fuji X100s and an upcoming book about the Fuji X-T1.)
If you’ve read any of Gary’s previous books, you’ll be happy to know he brings the same level and depth of understanding and coverage to this book.  If you haven’t read any of his previous work, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find not only complete coverage of the camera and all of it’s functions, but also a ton of excellent general photography tips.  Plus, he writes in an informal and easy reading style.
Here are some of what he’s said about the book on his website:

The OM-D E-M1 camera has been hailed as “The King of Micro Four Thirds” format for good reason! The engineers gave this camera one of the most customizable and nuanced user interfaces ever. While a good move, even experienced users will sometimes need help getting their arms around all of the different permutations of features or groups of features spread across different menus.

In this detailed and easy-to-read reference, professional photographer Gary L. Friedman simplifies the complexity and provides the shortest learning curve for this infinitely-configurable camera.”
When you order one of his e-Books, you get all three versions:  A full color .pdf file, a .mobi version for Kindle, and an .epub file for Nook or other e-reader.  There are print versions available, too, but at an extra cost, of course.
Plus, he has a money-back guarantee, so you really have nothing to lose.


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! 🙂

Finally – Got the Olympus OM-D E-M5!


It’s Beautiful! I got the black one – obviously. Color is all personal taste, and the all black model just appealed to me more, plus I think it makes it just a bit less obtrusive when shooting out in public. Some lenses are black and some are silver, so either color you choose is going to have some contrast depending on which lens you have mounted.


So far, I’m loving just about everything about the camera … it’s fast and responsive, takes very nice images, is extremely customizable, it’s small and light, and is just a joy to use.

Since I’ve only had it four days, I won’t go into any details about using the camera or image quality, but will have more about all of that, soon, so please come back.

Full Review of Olympus OM-D E-M5 Posted at DPReview!

DPReview.com has finally posted its full review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

They have lots of good things to say including, “…the E_M5 is one of the best looking cameras we’ve encountered in some time.” (I agree.)

They go on to give the camera an 80% rating and their prestigious Gold Award: “The E-M5 is without question, the most accomplished Micro Four Thirds camera we’ve yet seen, and given how well established the system has become, it vies for the title of most capable mirrorless option yet.” Here, I think they are talking about it as a “system” and the established large number of lenses and other accessories that are available.

As usual, DPReview presents a great, unbiased, and thorough look at every nuance of the E-M5, pointing out its many strengths, a few weaknesses, and an in depth look at the possibilities.

So, go take a look. If you’re already committed, then you’ll feel even better about your decision. If you’re still on the fence, it just might knock you off – in favor of the E-M5. And if you’re not interested … well, then it still makes for good comparative reading.

Now, the BIG question ……… is Amazon going to come through with tomorrow’s delivery (to me), or continue to keep me frustrated? I’ll let you know.

Images from the Olympus PEN E-PL1

I’ve had the little Olympus PEN E-PL1 for just over two weeks now and thought I would share some sample images.

I’m enjoying the camera a lot but find I REALLY need a viewfinder when shooting outdoors in bright light – the screen just isn’t bright enough, plus since I don’t wear glasses (and I need to) I have a hard time telling if it’s in focus or not.

What I love about the camera is that it takes high quality images up to a reasonable ISO of about 800 and still okay for some applications above that. As a habitual “tinkerer”, I also really appreciate the deep menu system that allows a high level of customizability. Lastly, at current prices – I’ve seen body only for $150 online – I think this camera is a steal, especially if you’re a micro four thirds (m43) user and can share lenses with another m43 camera. (Like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 whenever it finally gets here!)

These images were all taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL1 using the 14-42mm kit lens. They were shot at various ISO’s and some have had some processing done.

This black and white was done in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

The following two images were done with “Light Painting” … darkened room, 10 second exposure, and lighting with a flashlight.