Tag Archives: Olympus

I Switched to FujiFilm!

Seems like I start all of my posts this way –
“It’s been awhile since my last post”.  Sorry about that, I haven’t had much going on in the way of photography lately.

Part of my downtime can be attributed to my switching from M43 (Olympus and Panasonic) to FujiFilm.  I sold off just about all of my M43 gear, except my Olympus E-P3.  Unfortunately, this camera was just too old and not worth much, and I didn’t want to just give it away to the camera store, so I kept it.

What I ended up with is a pair of very nice Fuji’s, the X100T and the XT-1 with 18-135mm lens.  This post will mostly be about the XT-1.

Why did I do this?  First off, there was nothing wrong with my M43 gear.  It all performed quite well.  I was just looking for something, different.  It’s hard to quantify.  The Fuji’s have some advantages over the M43 gear.  One of the main things is the sensor, it’s an
APS-C sensor, making it larger than the M43’s sensor.  The Fuji’s are also much better at low light using high ISO’s.

One of the other reasons was that I needed to trim down the amount of equipment that I had.  There were times when we packed up our motorhome for a trip, and I loaded up 5 camera bags.  If I had it, it went in a bag and cluttered things up.  So, this was a good time to make a move.  I did a lot of research and the Fuji’s seem to rate quite well.  Following will be my impressions of the XT-1.  Please note – these are just my opinions based on my experience and usage.  Nothing scientific here.  I’m sure you can do a Google search and come up with plenty of that!

On Saturday (Feb. 4th), there was a Ham Radio event at the Palm Springs Air Museum.  I have a Ham Radio license, and have recently gotten more active.  The venue for this event happens to be a wonderful air museum.  The Palm Springs Air Museum is right next to the airport and has a beautiful back drop of San Jacinto Peak and the San Jacinto Mountain Range.  The weather was great, mostly clear blue skies and about 70 degrees.  There was some wind, but that’s to be expected with a storm heading into the area over the next couple of days.

I packed my XT-1 with 18-135mm lens in a small messenger bag and headed out.  There are several planes out in front of the museum, so I started off with an F-18.  The XT-1 feels very solid in my hands, like a precision instrument.  It’s just big enough to feel like I can get a good grip on it, but not so big that it’s a pain to carry around.   One of the things that I really liked about the Fuji’s is all of the external  controls.  There are quite a few dials on the body, and it saves you from having to constantly having to dive into the menus to make a change.

After I pulled the XT-1 out of the bag, I grabbed a couple of quick shots of the F-18.  Since I wasn’t used to the camera, I took a look at the results on the screen.  Oops!  I should have paid more attention to all of my settings.  I thought I was in Aperture Priority mode, but was actually in Manual mode.  I made the appropriate adjustments and fired off a couple more frames.  The results this time were better.  I needed to slow down and be much more methodical and deliberate than I was accustomed to when using my M43 gear.  I realized that I was still in the “getting to know you” phase with my new Fuji.  

The 18-135mm Fuji lens seems like a good choice for an all around, general purpose lens.  While it is a little larger than most of the M43 lens (physically, not in focal length), it wasn’t a burden to use in this setting.  One of the nice about this lens is that it’s stabilized.  I like the range of this zoom, it seems to cover most of what I need for most of what I do (landscapes, family gatherings, etc…).  If I need to go longer, I did keep my Panasonic FZ1000!

My time with the XT-1 was somewhat short, just a couple of hours, and some of that time was shared by wandering around the Ham Radio event.  Overall, I am more than pleased with the XT-1.  I’m looking forward to getting out and using it more.  I also have the Fuji X100T that needs some quality time.  I’ll write about that in another post.

Once I got home and downloaded the photos, I was happy with the results.  I found the images clean, with very little noise.  I shoot in both RAW + Jpeg, but have found that both file types require very little in the way of post processing.  I still enjoy giving my photos that personal touch, but they do quite well all by themselves.

Here are some of the photos from the Palm Spring Air Museum.  If you are in the area, check it out!

F-18 Hornet, Palm Springs Air Museum.
F-14 Tomcat, Palm Springs Air Museum
SBD Dauntless, F-8 Bearcat, TBM Avenger on the backside of the Palm Spring Air Museum
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Miss Josephine , Palm Springs Air Museum
P-51D, Bunny, Palm Springs Air Museum
F8 Bearcat, Palm Springs Air Museum
AT-6/SJN Texan, Palm Springs Air Musuem
Submarine Spitfire, Palm Springs Air Museum

 

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

Back Yard Humming Birds

Trying to get a decent shot of back yard humming birds has been an exercise in frustration for me.  It’s something I’ve been working on for several years now.

As far as gear  goes, I’ve used Canon DSLR’s (40D and 60D) and 70-200mm f/4 and f/2.8 lenses.  Lately I’ve been using M43 gear including my Olympus E-M5 and now my Panasonic GX8.  Lens choice for M43 is usually between my Panasonic 45-200mm or Olympus 75-300mm.  Neither of these lenses are considered fast, meaning they have a variable aperture with the 45-200mm being faster at f/5.6 vs the 75-300 at f/6.7 at the long end of their zoom range.

So, what does all of that aperture and f-stop stuff mean?  A faster lens, one with an f/2.8 aperture at full zoom will let in a lot more light than one like mine that is f/5.6 at best.  This means you can use a faster, action freezing shutter speed at a lower ISO setting.  Since I don’t have that advantage, I have to get creative to make what I do have work.

One of the things I tried in order to get a decent shutter speed is to increase the ISO.  With my Panasonic GX8 and Oly 75-300mm combination, I start the ISO at 800 and have gone as high as 1600.  While this does increase the sensors sensitivity to light, it can also introduce noise.

With an ISO as high as 1600, I was able to get a shutter speed of 1/800th to 1/1000th of a second. This seems like it should be enough to freeze a humming bird in flight but my results were hit and miss.

Here’s an example:

It’s not a bad shot, but compared to what I’ve seen on various websites and online forums I know it could be much better!

After some very useful information from one of my favorite online forums, and doing a little research, I learned that some folks have excellent results by using flash. This was something I hadn’t considered before. I have a Yongnuo 560III flash that I have only used from time to time and this seemed like a good opportunity to put it to work.

There isn’t an exact science to setting up the camera. I lowered my GX8’s ISO from 800 down to 400, and set my shutter speed for 1/200th of a second, and aperture at 300mm is f/6.7. This was just a starting point and I made some adjustments based on a couple of test shots on a wandering butterfly. One important note is how I set up my flash. The 560III is strictly a manual flash, no TTL or ETTL. Because of this, I needed to determine how much to adjust it’s power output. My starting point was 1/8 power, and once again I adjusted it based on my test shots, but never more than 1/4 power. One of the benefits of keeping the power output of the flash low is that it will recycle much quicker and be ready to fire another shot within a few seconds.

And now for the results:


As you can see, using flash allowed me to capture the humming bird in flight, and increase the color and detail of this tiny little bird. Even with a much lower shutter speed that when I was shooting in natural light with a hight ISO, I was better able to freeze the action using flash.

While I am pleased with the progress I’ve made, there’s still some work to do. One of the problems I’m having is trying to accurately follow these little speedsters as they flit from flower to flower. There are times when the camera will lose focus, and by the time it comes back, the humming bird is gone. I think this just proves that I still have to keep practicing! In the future, I’d like to try and set up the flash off camera, on a stand and a little closer. I may have to disguise it so it doesn’t spook the birds. And just to increase my odds, I got another humming bird feeder. Personally, I like to capture the birds around the flowers and not have a feeder in view, so I have it there mostly as an attractor.

I’ll close this post out by saying that I am in no way an expert on this subject. If anything, I am humbled by both the humming birds and some of the photographers whose I work I’ve seen and admired online.
If you’re curious or want information from a real pro, check out this website – Gerlach Nature Photography. I plan on picking up one of his books for more insight and how-to information. If you have any tips, tricks, or comments, head over to my Facebook page – Up At Dawn Photography and leave them.  Sorry for having you jump over to Facebook, I’ve given up on comments here on the website, there’s just too much spam to deal with.

That’s it, now get out there and do some shooting!

Panasonic GX8 and Air Show, Part 2

The Planes of Fame Air Show has come and gone. Sunday was a fun day and always a pleasure being able to attend the show at sunrise.  The Sunrise Photo Pass isn’t cheap, but is worth it to me.  Not only do I gain access to the planes sleeping on the tarmac, I also get preferred parking!

In my previous post, I gave some of my initial impressions of the GX8, and included my FZ1000 as well.  I am beginning to think that my FZ1000 is simply the best, most versatile camera I have ever owned.  I wouldn’t dream of attending an air show without it, especially since I only had my GX8 for a few days before the event and wasn’t used to it yet.  But this post is about the GX8 so I won’t keeping gushing on about the FZ1000.

Before I go any further, I want to be clear, this is not an in-depth review of the GX8. There are plenty of other websites and Youtube videos available covering that. This is just my opinion on using the GX8 in an action photography event. I also won’t be going into too much detail on settings, technique, etc… If you are interested in any of that, go to my post called “Aviation Photography for the Average Joe“. Just click the link and it will take you there, and as a bonus, you can download my PDF/e-book covering this topic (don’t worry, its free).

After spending a couple of days with my GX8, I’m both impressed with it and frustrated by it.  The GX8 has an impressive set of features, and I probably should have planned my purchase better so I wasn’t trying to learn the camera during the air show.  Unfortunately while the timing wasn’t great, the price of the camera was!  I got my gently used GX8 for several hundred dollars less than the full retail price.  My purchase was for the body only (I already have several lenses) and everything was packaged in the original box and looked brand new!

The performance of the GX8 was impressive, especially compared to my Olympus E-M5.  As much as I love the image quality of the E-M5, I continued to struggle with it at fast action events like an air show.  Yes, I was able to make it work, but it was a pain in the ass to say the least.  I’ve written about my experiences with the E-M5 in previous posts and you’re welcome to browse those if you’re interested.  And, since I already have invested in several M43 lenses, I was looking to find a body (Olympus or Panasonic) that could make use of them.

To be successful with your photography at an air show, you really need to hone your technique.  Good panning skills are essential and the process doesn’t change no matter what camera system you are using. The GX8 was no different.  I tend to use Shutter Priority most of the time at these events.  Slow shutter speeds are required for propeller planes and faster shutter speeds are for jets.  I went back and forth between the auto focus single and auto focus continuous setting and from a single focus point to multiple points.  This is where the frustration came into play.  With the touch screen activated, my nose kept moving the focus points around, and it usually always happened at the worst possible time, while I was trying to grab some actions shots of the planes passing by.  Sometimes the focus points weren’t too far off and the camera would achieve focus properly, but many times it was way off and the focus would be locked onto something entirely different than the plane I was following.

I want to be fair and not blame the camera, but rather myself.  I didn’t have enough time to figure out all of the settings and functions of the GX8 before the air show, and was learning as I went along.  When I got too frustrated I put the GX8 away and grabbed my FZ1000.  The FZ1000 just seems to do everything right.  I know, it has a smaller sensor, and a fixed zoom lens that only reaches out to 400mm (FF equivalent), but it works quite well in spite of its limitations.

By the end of the air show, I was able to tweak the GX8 enough to get some very decent shots.  The main thing that worked for me was to turn the touch screen off completely.  I’m sure that there is a way to keep the touch screen on and not move the focus points around accidentally, but for now I’m just going to leave it off.  I just need a little quiet time with the camera to figure out all of its secrets!

Here are some of the results from the air show.  Keep in mind that I shoot RAW and post process all of my images.  My normal process includes adjusting the contrast, color, and sharpness in Photoshop CS6 and Perfect Effects 9.  Sometimes I will convert the image to black and white for a vintage look and feel.











I hope the examples give you an idea of what the GX8 is capable of. Overall, I found it to be a solid, well built tool and I’m looking forward to spending time with it and using it for many years!

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