Category Archives: MFT

My New Pocket Rocket

Catchy title, isn’t it! I’m referring to my Sony RX100. Technically it’s a point and shoot camera, but that’s a good thing, really!

You may be wondering why I got myself a point and shoot (P&S) when I have so many other choices. That’s because I’m always on the the hunt for a small camera with excellent image quality.  After doing quite a bit of research, I picked the Sony RX100.  Yes, this is the original.  There are 2 revisions to this model on the market.  As nice as these newer versions are, they come with a hefty price tag and I decided that I really didn’t need the additional features.  Some of these features seem like gimmicks and marketing ploys, and I probably wouldn’t use them.  My primary “must haves” were excellent image quality, shoot in RAW, and it had to fit in my pocket.  The RX100 does all of this, and more.

Before I share a few examples let me say that this little P&S is not a DSLR replacement much less a M43 (micro 4/3rd’s) replacement.  As good as it is, it does have its limitations.  One of the things that makes it so good and also the reason it won’t replace my other cameras (like my Canon 60D or Olympus E-M5) is it’s sensor.  The little RX100 comes with a 1″ sensor.  This is much, much larger than what typically comes in a P&S camera.  The 1″ sensor is also much smaller than the sensor in either my 60D or E-M5.  The other thing that makes the RX100 so good is it’s Carl Zeiss lens.  It’s fast (f1.8 on the wide end) and provides excellent image quality with very little color fringing or chromatic aberration (so far).  It also has an image stabilizer and can shoot up to 10 frames per second.

I probably won’t try to use my RX100 at an air show for fast moving air planes.  The long end of the lenses zoom range is only 100mm, and while it can shoot 10 frames per second, it doesn’t have a view finder, either electronic or optical.  It would be very difficult to track and shoot the planes as they quickly pass by using just the screen on the back of the camera.  And if I did manage to grab a shot or 2 the planes would look like little dots.  I would however take it along for photos of the static displays of aircraft on the ground, or in an air museum.

The main reason I got the RX100 was for those times when I don’t want to bring anything that wouldn’t fit in my pocket.  There are times when even my trusty Olympus E-P3 or E-M5 can be bulky (in comparison the RX100).  I’ve been on a quest to shrink my photo gear footprint for a while now.  Since I got the RX100 and used it alongside my E-M5 I think I’m pretty close to where I want to be.  So much so that I’m even thinking of selling a couple of my other cameras.  I’ll keep the Canon 60D and big lenses mostly for air shows, the E-M5 for just about anything else, and now the RX100 as a backup or primary camera when I want to go very fast and light.

There are a lot of P&S cameras on the market.  Some are ok, like the Canon S90 to S120.  Nikon and Fuji also have some very good P&S cameras.  I’m sold on the RX100 mainly because of the image quality and other reasons I already mentioned above.  This obviously isn’t a scientific review, just my thoughts and reasoning for picking up this great little camera.  Here are some examples:

The images above with the exception of RAW conversion and resizing were not “enhanced” in any other way.

That’s it for now, there will be more to follow in future posts as I’m able to spend more time with the RX100. Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Testing My New OM-D

Today was a good day!  I got to have breakfast with a friend, see his son play in a baseball tournament, and finally use my new Olympus OM-D E-M5 in some action!

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been trying to shrink my camera gear footprint.  Looking for alternatives to my large DSLR’s started with the addition of my Sony NEX3.  The NEX3 has many nice features, good image quality, and I still use it today.  It is not however, a replacement for my DSLR.  It’s too slow!  It’s actually ok to use  for static subjects, but lousy for anything that moves quickly.

Next I moved to the Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic GX-1.  These are both Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format camera.  I love the features, size, and image quality, but they are not suitable replacements for my DSLR.  Same story, too slow for any type of action.

There have been some advancements in the MFT world.  The introduction of the OM-D E-M5 (OM-D) really made some noise in the world of cameras and photography.  This was back in the early part of 2012, and I wasn’t able to jump on the bandwagon and buy one for myself at the time.  So, I bided my time and watched my favorite camera stores, waiting for a deal.  And finally last month, I was able to take advantage of one that presented itself at Adorama.

It was love at 1st site when I took my OM-D out of the box!  I loved the size, look, and feel of this little jewel.  But, was it the DSLR replacement/alternative that I was looking for?  By the way, if you’d like to read a review, click this link – OM-D.

The answer to that question is yes, and no.  Yes, because it is fast.  Much faster to use than any of my other non-DSLR cameras.  It can focus quickly, and can fire off 9 frames per second (fps).  And no, mostly because of user error and a little having to do with the way this camera achieves focus.  I don’t want to get into all of the techno-babble regard autofocus, but if you want, you can read about it here – Autofocus.  I’m sure as I get used to my OM-D, I’ll become more comfortable with it’s many features and settings and be able to confidently use it for any type of action.

And now, the results!  The action on the baseball field was lively.  For the most part ,the OM-D did just fine.  At 9 fps I was able to catch some great action sequences.  I was also able to capture what would have been some great action sequences, if they had been in focus.  To be fair, that could have happened with my DSLR.  I noticed a couple of times that my focus point was off (I usually set it to center).  Focus accuracy improved greatly once I reset it.

One of the other things that I discovered was that I had better luck setting the OM-D to single autofocus, rather than continuous autofocus or continuous tracking autofocus.  I’d pick a point on the field where I anticipated some action to take place and focus on it.  Once the players moved into view I’d press the shutter and fire away.  That may or may not be the best way to catch the action, but it seemed to work well for me today.

Here are a few shots from the game:

Baseball action, Olympus OM-D E-M5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baseball action, Olympus OM-D E-M5
Baseball action, Olympus OM-D E-M5

All of the shots above were converted from the original RAW file format to jpeg, and resized for viewing on the screen.  There was no other post processing performed.

While I’m not much on pixel-peeping, I have looked pretty closely at these images.  Overall I’m very pleased with the image quality.  My seat-of-the-pants review is by no means scientific,  but I think it does demonstrate how the OM-D works in a real life setting.  To my eyes, the image quality from my OM-D is on par with my Canon 60D.  While the 60D has a slower frame rate (5.5 fps to 9 fps), it does seem to do a little better tracking fast moving subjects than my OM-D.  Not by much mind you, but it is something to think about.  In every other area I think the OM-D is equal too or greater than my 60D.  I’ll need more photo opportunities such as the one I had today to make up my mind.  There will definitely be more to follow!

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

 

My Latest Addition

I’ve been gone for awhile, enjoying a family vacation in the motorhome with my wife and 3 little dogs.  It was also a time where I could experiment with my latest addition to the camera family, the Olympus OM-D E-M5!

This camera was 1st introduced last year and received many great reviews.  Here are a couple in case you’re interested:

Steve Huff – OM-D Review
DP Review OM-D Review

The E-M5 is classified as a mirrorless camera, and not a DSLR.  While it does resemble a DSLR with it’s viewfinder, it really is a different camera.  The viewfinder is electronic (EVF), and works extremely well.  I really like this feature and is the one thing I have missed on my other mirrorless cameras.  Each of the others is equipped with a display on the back of the camera, and it can be difficult to use in certain conditions such as very bright sunlight.  The E-M5 also has a nice large display on the back on the camera, and it articulates, making it much more useful!

I’m one of those guys that jumps right in with cameras, spending very limited time with the manual.  It didn’t hurt having owned another Olympus (the E-P3) because the menu system is very similar.  One of the biggest improvements over my E-P3 is all of the external controls.  The E-M5 has a lot of buttons and dials (makes for faster setting changes).

One of the things I’ve been looking for in a mirrorless camera is better performance with fast moving subjects (airplanes, cars, kids).  As much as I love my E-P3, it really is lousy for this kind of photography.  The E-M5 on the other hand is amazing!  I’ve found the autofocus to be very fast, and having 9 frames per second doesn’t hurt either.  Will this replace my Canon 60D for airshows?  Only time will tell.

There is one other thing worth mentioning, and that is low light performance.  This is another area with my E-P3 struggles.  The E-P3 does work, but requires a tripod and careful handling.  The E-M5 is simply amazing in low light.  With the right lens and settings, this little camera can see better in the dark than I can.  I was very impressed with it’s low light performance.  In a real world example, I was standing near the Imperial Beach Pier after sunset.  The light was low, but beautiful and I thought I’d give it a try.  I used the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens set at f/2.8 and pressed the shutter.    The ISO was set at 1600 for this handheld shot:

Imperial Beach Pier, Olympus OM-D E-M5

The original image was a RAW file, converted to jpeg and resized, no other adjustments were made.

I was also able to use my recently acquired Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye lens.  What a find this was!  The Rokinon is a manual focus lens, but that really wasn’t a problem.  For most of my shots, I had it set the aperture to either f/8 or f/5.6 and the focus to infinity.  I rarely had to make any other adjustments with these settings.  Here are a couple of photos from the E-M5 and Rokinon:

OM-D E-M5 and Rokinon Fisheye, Imperial Beach Pier

OM-D E-M5 and Rokinon Fisheye, Imperial Beach Pier

I have a couple of thoughts in closing this post.  The 1st is that there are some very good deals out there on equipment that is about to be superseded by the latest rendition or already has been.  The OM-D may be last years model, and although it has been superseded by the OM-D E-M1 it has proven to me that it’s an extremely capable camera!  There are some that must have the latest and greatest every time it is introduced, but that’s not the way I work.  If you can fight the urge to resist every little change in features, you can have what you want and save some $$$ too!  This really goes for anything (cars, bikes, cameras, phones…..).

And my final thought goes back to the E-M5 replacing my Canon 60D.  So far my testing is saying yes!  There are a couple of things I still want to try before selling the 60D, one of those being a kids baseball game!  If I can get similar results with my E-M5, I might just have to put the 60D up for sale.

That’s it for this post.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!