Tag Archives: Mirrorless

Using the GX-1 at an Air Museum

I have a Panasonic GX-1. It was purchased on a whim because of a “deal of the day” advertisement that I saw online. The deal was too good to pass up!  The GX-1 showed up in a few days and I immediately started using it.  And then, it stayed unused in a camera bag.

My thought on getting the GX-1 was as a back up camera to my Olympus E-P3.  Both of these cameras are in the same class, Micro Four Thirds (MFT) and are known as mirrorless cameras.  Neither one has an optical or electronic viewfinder and you must rely on the LCD on the back of the camera for picture taking.  While not really pocketable, they are both much smaller than my DSLR (Canon 60D), and produce very nice images.  This type of camera is generally not very good at any type of fast action photography, but do quite well for just about anything else.

I really loved my Olympus E-P3, from the moment I first picked it up.  It felt solid and has a nice retro look.  I’ve taken some very nice photos with it too!  The E-P3 is starting to show its age, especially with its older 12mp sensor.  Low light high ISO capability was not really one of its strengths.  To counter that and work within this limitation, I kept the ISO low and put the E-P3 on a tripod in low light.  The solid build has come into play for me personally.  While out hiking with the E-P3, I slipped and fell – twice!  I came away with some scrapes and bruises, and so did the E-P3.  Nothing too serious but there are a couple of battle scars on it.  Other than the pop-up flash not working very well, the rest of it is just fine.

As for the GX-1, it doesn’t have a very solid feel and is definitely not retro.  The body doesn’t look bad, it just seems like it has more plastic than the E-P3.  Both the GX-1 and E-P3 have plenty of external controls and touch screens.  I’m kind of funny in that I don’t really care for the touch screens and turned them off.  The GX-1 is a very capable camera, and has a newer 16mp sensor and better low light, high ISO performance than the E-P3, and when I used it, found that it too produced some very nice images.  The other plus of having the GX-1 is that being a MFT camera, it could use all of the lenses that I currently had for the E-P3.  I just never really warmed up to it and didn’t use it, especially after getting my Olympus E-M5.

A week or so ago, I was digging around in my camera bags and saw the GX-1.  I decided to get it out, dust it off, and give it another try.  One of the places that I enjoy walking around and using my cameras is the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California.  It’s fairly close, and always has interesting subjects.  What better place to get re-acquainted with the GX-1!

To my surprise, I enjoyed using the GX-1 more this time than I had when I first got it.  I used my Olympus 17mm f/1.8 and 45mm f1/8 lenses and tried to capture images in a variety of conditions.  Nothing that I want to get too technical about, suffice it to say that there was quite an extreme difference in the indoor lights of the hangars and the harsh mid-day sun.  Not the most ideal shooting conditions, but very realistic.  You can’t always have an epic sunrise or sunset with deliciously warm, golden light.  Sometimes you have to work with what you have!

Here are some of the pictures from that day.  I had the GX-1 in aperture priority mode, and changed the aperture (f/stop) and ISO according to the brightness of the light.  I also set the camera to shoot RAW for the express purpose of post processing.  I know there are some that don’t like post processing, and that’s just fine for them.  Personally, I enjoy working on my photos and finding new methods for creating an image.  Sometimes it’s black and white, sometimes HDR, and other times just a few minor tweaks.  Since I don’t consider myself a journalist or documentarian, I have no problem with post processing.  But to each his own, it’s all good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m very pleased with the GX-1, it was fun to use again.  It’s fairly small and easy to carry around.  I got used to changing settings and didn’t have to fumble around too much.  The RAW files provide good quality images with plenty of pixels for me to play with in post.  I think I’m going to keep it out and use it some more!  Unfortunately it has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but is still available if you look around.  I found it on Amazon – GX-1.

That’s it for this post, 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!