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That bokeh is indeed lovely. If IBIS is the point, I suggest you consider the E-M5 II or wait for the the E-M1 replacement. IBIS on the E-M5 II is even better than on the Mark I. I suspect it's a result of the refinement of the sensor movement mechanism to allow the High Res Mode. Where the early OM-Ds were awfully good, the E-M5 II is spectacular. Does hand held 300 mm, 1/20 sec. sound like a tough test? As someone who shot a lot @ 300 mm, and now shoots a lot @ 400 mm, it's a major improvement. How much difference it will make for you, who mostly use what I would call short lenses, I don't know. One caveat: "A" Mode together with Silent Mode somehow invokes a different exposure algorithm which goes to silly slow shutter speeds before starting to raise ISO. This is only a problem in the liminal range between bright light and very dim light, which is how the above image came about, but I apparently shoot there fairly often. I was apparently the first to document this behavior to Oly service/support. They acknowledged that they duplicated it, but had no cure and couldn't say whether a firmware update might fix it. So far, that hasn't happened. Perhaps the E-M1 replacement will correct it. ------------------ As to setting complexity, I suggest using the menus only to set the camera up to meet your preferences. Then stay out of there and use the easy and powerful Super Control Panel for all immediate settings changes that the buttons and dials don't do. Press the OK button in shooting mode. Up pops lots of detail about settings on the LCD. Apparently some folks see this as just a report, or don't like changing settings on the LCD? I dunno, but it's very quick and powerful. Operate by touch, if you have that on. If, like me, you have touch off, there are two other ways to use it: 1. Use the four way controller buttons to move around and the OK button to select choices. 2. Use the rear wheel to navigate between settings and the front one to change the selected setting.
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2016 on Sentence: Back to Olympus at The Online Photographer
"The reason I prefer to set my cameras for back-button focus if possible is because I don’t want the camera to re-focus every time I press the shutter button." And I DO want the camera to re-focus every time I press the shutter button. I've tried the other way, and dislike it. Endless missed focus, and I never adapted. "This is important because I generally use the center AF point only. BBF avoids the need to keep the shutter button half-pressed to lock-in focus before I re-compose and shoot. I can focus once, re-frame, then shoot to my heart’s content without worrying that the camera will re-focus between shots. This only applies to still subjects, of course. With moving subjects I use continuous focus, a larger off-center AF area, and keep the focus button depressed while shooting." My preferred use is just the opposite. Most of my shooting is outside in nature, or semi-nature. Everything moves, a little or a lot, except some landscapes. For those, I half-press for AF to set focus, then press the Fn2 button next to the the shutter button, to switch to MF. I may then re-frame, including the many multi frame panoramas I do. A quick press of Fn2 again, and I'm back to normal. I do a lot of close, to really close-up shooting, hand held. The flower is moving, subtly or wildly, in the breeze, I'm not a tripod, and I don't hold perfectly still forward and back, the bugs move, and CF doesn't seem to be for them. So, although I too use the center focus point, set to small, I get the results I need "the other way", using Fn2 to turn half-press AF on and off, as needed, and never use "BBF" I also sometimes use fore and aft camera movement with the shutter half-pressed for fine adjustment at high magnifications, before completing the shutter press - body focus? I don't know how else to get a shot like this little fly, alive and moving, in the "wild", wingspan about 3/8" That's the full frame, BTW. The AF has trouble choosing my subject at 800 mm eq. and this magnification. I'm not a bug guy, though, and shoot anything and everything, at all sorts of distances and magnifications. Not to say that Mr. Lewis is wrong, for himself, just mostly not right for me. "I agree with those who pointed out that the Fn1 button on Olympus OM-D cameras is too small for optimum use as a BBF button. That’s a separate rant for a different time." Out of date generalization. There are more, better placed, Fn buttons on the E-M5 II. Specifically, the Fn1 button is different, and far more accessible to a thumb on the back. There will, inevitably, be those who don't like the placement, but it is a big improvement.
Toggle Commented Jul 14, 2016 on Update at The Online Photographer
When those kind of overly convoluted "solutions" arise in my mind, it is, for me, time to go out and take some photos.
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2016 on Crazy... at The Online Photographer
". . . arranging that Gordon and I don't have to configure these absolutely basic settings that all right-thinking photographers will want means other wrong-thinking photographers lose out . . ." ". . . since I already have well-developed camera setting preferences different than what Mr. Lewis has selected." Isn't this the heart of the matter? We have a choice of complex settings choices or limited ways of operation - chosen by someone else. How many of us are happy with the default settings with which the camera came? Really? You only want to change a couple of little things? But Bob only wants to change a couple of things, too, but different ones than you. And I want to change a few, but all different ones than you and Bob. Olympus seems to me to have tried to meet the desire for simpler menus for some, more complete control for others - turn on or off the A-G 'advanced' menus. Then they offer rather complete control of major settings that are not set on the many buttons and wheels - with on screen settings controls. Pressing the OK button when in shooting mode brings up the Super Control Panel on the screen, which allows immediate control, without going into the Menus, of essentially every setting that affects image capture. Even the High Res Mode may be set there. With touch off, as Mr. Lewis and I prefer, the SCP is navigated with the control ring buttons, otherwise it may be operated by touch. Personally, the only reason I need to go into the menus after initial set-up in ordinary use is to set Bracketing (for focus stacking) on and off. Since pressing the Menu button takes me back to where I last was making settings, this isn't a major problem, but I do consider this a shortcoming I hope they correct I've personally been using both Oly and Panny menus for some years. Unlike Mr. Lewis, it's much easier for me to find the settings I want in the Oly menu structure, several menus and submenus, than in the Panny design of only a couple of major menus with endless seeming entires.
"The Biggerstaff photo is still much higher resolution than the Reeves portrait, but it required adroit Photoshopping by an expert to effectively reduce the resolution of the portrait subject's skin." That's a pretty good job. But it's also something anyone reasonably adept at PS and the use of masks shouldn't find hard to do. However, neither a separate Pro to do the work nor all that much expertise are necessary. There are many plug-ins and stand alone aps designed to do exactly this job. We see the results of overuse all the time, plastic faces sans pores, in posted images, even in ads for the aps. The 2 or 3 I've tried have been capable of quite competent, nuanced results, comparable to my eye to what I see in the Pro example.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2016 on Just-Right Resolution at The Online Photographer
I'm not rushing it. Enjoyed the Todd Webb book so far. Several images I liked a lot as art. And it was fun seeing kids about my age growing up in such different worlds from my childhood. A good deal I expect to get a lot more enjoyment from.
Lots of nice things said about the E-M1 by owners. Then again, most of them are true of the E-M5 II, sometimes "truer". "The E-M1 is a terrific camera: it can handle long lenses in particular (...e.g; a small, lightweight 300mm behaving as a 600mm...) with ease, as it also has that very effective in-body sensor stabilization, allowing slower shutter speeds than you'd expect to use with 'long' lenses." All true of my E-M5 IIs and continue to be true as I've moved from my beloved and well used 75-300 to the PanLeica 100-400 and IBIS in the newer body is distinctly better. (I assume this may be related to improvements to the sensor shift mechanism to support the HR Mode.) "Probably the best current platform for made-for-digital Zuikos, old and new." True enough, but for those, like me, who skipped the original 4/3 DSLRs, the old don't exist. For me, the E-M5 II is the best current platform for the µ4.3 lenses I have. I saw no point in paying a premium for a function I'd never use. The other big distinguishing feature of the E-M1 is the large grip. Fingers, hands and tastes differ. I dislike huge grips like the one on the E-M1. The big distinguishing feature of the E-M5 II is the HR Mode. For some sorts of photography, it's a huge game changer. The E-M1 at current prices is certainly a bargain, at least for those for whom its combination of pluses and minuses work and for whom the added qualities of the Mark II (or whatever it's called) won't be compelling.
Toggle Commented Jul 5, 2016 on Olympus E-M1 Price Drop at The Online Photographer
"...But that's not the way the world is now. The conventional wisdom has flipped, and everyone wants shallow focus." Smaller sensors and their DoF characteristics happen to play into my most common preferences. So I like them. I've had some great results from the tiny 1/2.3" sensors in the Panny ZS cameras and the Oly TG-4 (which goes even further, with in camera focus stacking.) Yet I can imagine photographers who like shallow DoF for much of their work AND would like to take advantage of the small size and light weight of smaller sensor cameras. Might not the current wailing and gnashing of teeth be only from a subset of all of us folks out there taking pictures — and who know what DoF is? A different subset than were feeling the pain of larger sensors/film? \;~{)> "Ah, the odd vagaries of group taste!" Are "photographers" anywhere near a cohesive enough group that that sort of generalizations are of any meaning or usefulness? ". . . Very often, too shallow." That part, I don't "get" "Oh yeah, I meant to get tip of the nose in focus and the eyes soft." " Sure, it was important to get the traffic behind the subject in focus." When it works, it can be wonderful, but there sure are a lot of misses out there, at least to my eagle eye. And those are the ones that get on the web galleries; imagine the outtakes! When I'm concerned about placement of the plane of focus and DoF, I take brackets of focus.
Finally, some respect! -(;~)> Not that I seem to have a choice. I see flowers, I take photos of them; just the way it is. Our garden is as you describe, beautiful things coming and fading in endless parade. Where I live, that's almost year round, but esp. Feb through October. ". . . you can kind of guess that something might be about to happen." This is what's about to happen: Although much more appealing at a larger size. Or perhaps this: Or some other extravagant color! These are, BTW, simple snaps with an Olympus TG-4 P&S. It isn't that hard, with some practice and learning how your tools work for the subjects. (And shot RAW with a dash of post.) Now, you need a maintenance gardener, so all that work that you are now enjoying doesn't fall apart.
Toggle Commented Jun 21, 2016 on Specialists at The Online Photographer
"[Looks good on you." Thanks! We were out and about today, so I got Carol to take a snap of an old guy in proper old guy hat and proper old guy car. \;~)> "I have an unusually large head, and most hats make me look silly. Well, even sillier than I normally look. --Mike]" Y'all come on out; we know how to handle that in Calif.
"I chose this and it's awesome." You've gone beyond "bad", beyond "dorky", into a land beyond limits of taste . . . "Watch for convertible Corvettes and Miatas and notice who's driving. Chances are it'll be a grumpy-looking older male in a bad hat. Bro! :-)" They're grumpy 'cause they bought sexy cars that aren't really comfortable and unbelievably un-sexy hats that no one could be happy in. With one of my non-bad hats, in my 21 year old Olds convertible, I'm smilin'. I don't seem to have any in the car, so these will have to do. You know, I do look a little grumpy in this one, maybe the glare, maybe 'cause I'm driving a rental SUV? Still, a good looking hat with chin strap for the convertible. (I looked at and sat in Corvette, Firebird and Camaros, and test drove a Mustang, before buying the Olds. All cramped and uncomfortable.) [Looks good on you. I have an unusually large head, and most hats make me look silly. Well, even sillier than I normally look. --Mike]
Seems to me that Flanders and Swann fit the quintessential Englishmen mold. Their take on your title: '"There'll always be an England". Well, that's not saying much, is it? I mean, there'll always be a North Pole . . .'
Ever the contrarian, I tend to react to such statements by testing them. One way is by imagining how the opposite might, or might not, be true: "No camera is as good as the simplest photographer." My wife is a very good photographer, who never uses a camera. She tried photography, but found even the moderate technical things that she had to keep in mind with a good P&S camera distracted her and the results were no more than poor reminders of what she had wished to capture. So now she says something like "Oh look, Moosie, pretty!" and moves on, knowing that the subject she has seen will be captured about as well as is possible for her later viewing pleasure. One might then use me as the standard against which to measure cameras for the "simplest photographer." By that measure, they fall short. The latest intelligent Auto Modes are really awfully good, but some care and attention is still required in capture, and often after, to get the desired result. Looking at the other side, do I imagine Steichen to be correct? And in what way(s) might I disagree? Certainly my cameras are capable of photography which I don't use them for. I don't do astrophotography, fashion photography, HC-B style street photography, and so on. Does that mean I've not used the cameras in all the ways they are capable of working, and thus I'm not as "good" as they are? He's talking about insufficiency in photographer, not cameras. Yet, there are things I've asked of my cameras over the years of which they weren't capable. I often test their limits. And that seem to me at least as important as my shortcomings as user of the cameras. There are certainly photographic opportunities I would take, but do not notice, not "see", and which the camera could capture. There are all too many photographs I could have done better. But in that sense, the camera isn't "better" than I; it doesn't notice subjects I've missed, or ways I could have done better. It's only an unused intermediary, uninvolved in the failing, incapable of averting it. And I'm not the measure, anyway. He says "No photographer . . ." It seems to me that there have been quite a few photographers, both famous and not, who have used their cameras right up to their limits - at least for the work the photographers want to do. Do you suppose that Steichen may have been feeling the itch to buy a new camera, and was talking to himself? A useful quote to those suffering from excessive GAS. \;~)> Might he have just been looking at some less than adequate work by others, and generalized from too many times saying "You could do better, there's nothing wrong with your camera."? For, me, on balance, this quote, while pithy and sounding like there may be some deep truth in it, proves pretty light weight.
WOW, what a cornucopia. My eyes may start bleeding. \;~)> And yet, that Moose fellow also does more than a bit of that sort of thing. The sub (and sub-sub)albums of Alt dot Moose contain examples, in different moods, modes and styles. All are photo derived, although many may not appear so.
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2016 on Educate Me? at The Online Photographer
Might this all be a tempest in a teapot, at least for most of us? My late brother did some statistical analysis on the Consumer Reports frequency of repair data for cars. He said the the data, while accurate, had no meaning. The rates of failure were so low, that the differences between them weren't significant. He advised ignoring them. From statistics to anecdotal data . . . I followed his advice. My 1995 convertible was on the CR do not buy list that year, for it's "terrible" repair record. At almost 21 years of age, it has been remarkably reliable and continues to please me. Not that it hasn't required repairs, but not often, nor particularly expensive. Because of the CR warning, I bought an extended warranty, which did me no good at all. For most of us, photo gear is not a great expense. For (all too?) many of us, gear is technically obsolete before failure. Many times, a failure may only speed up an inevitable upgrade, anyway. As pointed out above, statistically, self insurance is always cheaper. The Fortune 500 company where I worked most of my life was almost entirely self-insured, even health insurance. So if all of us here go ahead and buy 'dumb', maybe one or two a year will get stuck with an unexpected , but manageable, expense for repair, replacement or early upgrade. Over the course of a photographic lifetime, I'll bet we would all end up ahead. Seems to me there are better ways to spend my time and energy than worrying about this part of life.
OY! Please don't start it while some folks (like, well, me) are off at play (a retreat in the woods) for the Memorial Day weekend, possibly without web access. Thanks
Toggle Commented May 26, 2016 on Next Book Sale Alert at The Online Photographer
". . . image quality. That has been significantly improved, and is the leading edge of the wedge as the Fujifilm X-Pro2 garners glowing praise from all over the world." It's easy to rave about a camera, harder to compare them, especially for intangibles, such as, say 'drawing' quality. The standardized studio test subjects at DPR and IR have their weaknesses, but also the strengths of really direct comparisons of a variety of subjects, textures, repeating patterns, etc. Take a close look at the DPR X-Pro2 test, image comparison tool. For starters, select X-Pro2, ISO 200, RAW, and Oly Pen-F*, ISO 200, Normal (as opposed to HiRes). Wander around the image a bit; clicking on a spot brings it into the 100% windows. The 20 MP Oly image is slightly smaller, but almost everywhere I look, I can see slightly more, finer detail than the Fuji. The Fuji wins on the star moire patterns**, but falls behind on the paint brush bristles and the feathery green stuff. Many subjects just seem identical. On resolution and pixel level clarity, I'd call it almost a dead heat, with the Oly edging a bit ahead for doing better on more of the sample subjects. Wander off into other ISOs, different Raw converters, and one may never return.*** Color is tougher, as none of the people are real, just photos of photos, but both they and the feathers, pigments, etc. seem a draw to my eye. I'm not saying that the X-Pro2 isn't a great camera; I'm sure it is. I am suggesting that in the excitement of getting a new camera body, particularly if it's a brand one likes, hyperbole is easy. In the process, phrases like ". . . the leading edge of the wedge . . ." may be , uh, er, um, excessive. * I'm not touting the Pen-F, not a camera for me. It's about the newest µ4/3 sensor in it and the GX8. ** I assume the Fuji has an AA filter. The Oly does not, cannot, to allow the high Res Mode. The AA filter, while controlling moire, may be losing some superfine detail in non-patterned subjects. *** I'm also vaguely aware that X-Trans sensors have had some trouble with Raw conversion in ACR. Is that still a thing? Does it make a difference here?
Toggle Commented May 23, 2016 on Best Cameras at The Online Photographer
It seems to me that current copyright law, while clear, is wrong headed. I have bought several low $ pieces of art at co-op galleries over the last several years, including work by friends. In no case was the gallery apparently aware of how copyright law works. No documents to sell the copyright with the physical work were available, nor did the gallery folks know what I was talking about. In the case of my friend Bob Whitmire's gorgeous prints, things are as they should be. He owns the rights and I own prints for my own enjoyment. In the case of Marilyn's small oil painting, I thing it's wrong. I purchased the original work and there are no copies, with her or anywhere. I believe that, absent any documentation to the contrary, original art works should carry with purchase of the physical object, the IP rights. In other words, unless the sale includes my agreement that I am not buying the IP rights, they are mine. Of course, the vast majority of these modest sales at co-ops, small galleries, house and garage sales, etc. won't lead to any trouble. But one of these days, such an object will end up being worth a great deal of money. The original intent of buyer and seller will be overturned by the law. Presumption in law that the vast majority of such sales include the IP rights, would legitimize millions of transactions. Only the relative few that involve larger values and knowledgeable sellers who have the buyer sign the appropriate document would not include IP rights. It's a cleaner approach. Digital photographs would likely be an exception to the above, as a unique, physical original doesn't exist. Just sayin'
"Here's a camera that actual photographer moms might like." The TG-4 is a camera with a split personality. As a rugged P&S, IQ is far superior to their TG-8x0 series. Then, after a quick trip to the phone booth . . . Raw output. I know, some folks say that's of no consequence with tiny, high pixel count sensors. With both of my 1/2.3" cameras, TG-4 and Panny ZS40, the Raw files make a huge difference in the quality I get out of the camera. The post processed version may seem overdone to some, but that's the point; these Raw files stand up to serious manipulation. Microscope Mode, super close focus - with focus stacking in camera. With the accessory ring light pipe, it will shoot Microscope Mode and focus stack in complete darkness. A very capable and useful camrea in a small, rugged package/ I imagine there are some moms who would like it.
"But there's now a lens that really is the King of Bokeh." Tastes vary. I do not consider most of what I see in the samples to be excellent bokeh. I generally don't like hard, visible edges in OoF parts of images. I particularly dislike it when lines of tiny specular highlights are turned into lines of overlapping rings of light. I did this simulation some time ago, to allow me to describe visually what I am talking about when I talk bokeh. I consider the top two to be excellent and very good bokeh, the bottom two bad and awful. The samples in your link seem to me to range from OK to fairly bad. I've been working off and on on a process by which to convert hard edged bokeh into soft edged bokeh with brighter center than edges. This is a recent example of the results of a PS Action I've been developing. ================= For the moment adopting your definition, at least as shown in the samples from this lens, would not this image from the Oly 45/1.8 qualify? Bokeh looks very much like the last of the samples to me. Another example, perhaps even closer to what I like, again from the Oly 45/1.8. The Oly is the same price as the Panny, and very much liked by many more people than just me. It seems to me that what this new Panny really offers of value is not any optical superiority, but the OIS. I'm a fan of the GM1 and 5, but the above portraits were taken with Oly Pen bodies, for the IBIS. I think the reviewer is right, that GM5 and 42.5/1.7 lens are a great combo, but primarily for the addition of IS. My GM5 and Oly 45/1.8 would be essentially the same, but for the lack of IS.
"True?" No
Toggle Commented Apr 21, 2016 on Humor! at The Online Photographer
This is, or has become over the years, a two layer question. 1. - RAW conversion. How does it perform at the limited task of converting the Raw formats into generalized formats with three color values for each pixel and gamma corrected luminance? Of all the various tabs and sliders, I would only include the first tab and only the color temp choices, Exposure, Highlight and Shadow sliders. Adobe test new cameras to allow them to produce default colors in ACR conversions that meet their idea of correct WB - and may different considerably from the camera makers' own ideas. Thus they tend to be similar for different makes. I have generally found that I prefer ACR's WB/colors to those of Canon's own conversion software, Oly's Viewer, SilkyPix for Panny and DxO Pro. But that's just my eye. 2. - Editing ACR has also become a powerful editor in it's own right. Although LR has been adding local area effects, its editing functions are still really a fancy GUI on top of ACR. I know people who use ACR as their only, or primary, editor. The two functions are separable. One may, as I do, use ACR for RAW conversion and pass that result on to one's favorite editor for the rest of Post. Or, if there is a converter that does a better job of X-Trans Raw conversion, use that just for that, and pass the image on to your fave editor, ACR. ACR may be set to open JPEGs, too.
"Buy the glass that you need, and use whatever body the company is offering." One interesting result of the High Res Mode of the E-M5 II is discovering that µ3/4 lenses are considerably out resolving the 16 MP sensors. Nice to know my menagerie won't be outdated anytime soon.
Strategy, smategy. My strategy in photography is to enjoy myself, not to minimize its expense. If one of my hobbies were scrimping, saving, making do, and so on, I might enjoy doing photography with greater emphasis on doing it on the cheap. But I don't derive joy from that. So I would do it if I had to, but I don't, for the gear I like. If I derived joy from high status stuff, and could afford it, perhaps I would be using Leica* and other high $ gear. But what really floats my boat is finding gear that I enjoy using, that "fits", and that is capable of producing images that I enjoy having made and enjoy sharing with others. And, truth be told, I simply enjoy taking photographs. I'll see something I've shot many times before, and still derive pleasure out of really paying attention to it and shooting it again. Sheer waste of time, and perhaps a little $, but this is not an exercise in efficiency. So, I drive a 20 year old convertible, 'cause it fits me, and equally elderly low end of the high end audio electronics, albeit with Class A minimotors. I used a 5D for five happy years. OTOH, I upgraded from E-M5 to the Mark II in only 2 1/2 years, paying the early buyer's penalty, for the simple reason that it added functionality that's important to me. I suppose I'm saying (Form of) Strategy follows function. The strategies you propose, all based on minimizing cost, will be useful for some, not for others. * They are making something other than rangefinders, now, no? I really dislike rangefinders.
"[I agree about the turntable point. I use a 1980s Yamaha that lifts the arm and turns itself off at the end of every record. Those are called "semi-automatic" turntables and they're not made any more except in very cheap, inferior products. I find it a basic convenience I'm not willing to do without." I have a little arm lifter gadget labeled Thorens on my Well Tempered Record Player. A tiny bit fussy, but does the most important job of lifting the needle out of the grooves. Seems it was sold as Thorens Q-UP, and someone new is now selling it, with added height thingies, as simply Q-UP. I had to stick it to a weight to mine, to make it stable and consistent in use.
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2016 on Open Mike: Bestsellers at The Online Photographer