I stumbled across something interesting on micro-4/3 camera forums, and thought it worth pursuing. It’s been said (here, and here, and here) that the Olympus E-M1 has a problem with long exposures. I’d noticed what looked like grain in my E-M1 images, so thought maybe it had a similar cause.
Since I’ve got an E-M1 and an E-M5 camera, and a bit of history with debugging, I thought I was well-placed to do some characterization testing. To get a fair comparison, I first ran pixel mapping on my E-M5 and E-M1 bodies (to take care of any obviously “hot” pixels on the sensors), then took dark images (with the lens cap on) under the same conditions with both bodies:
- ISO 200
- 60 second exposure
- Noise Filter set to Standard
I did this twice for each camera body — once with Noise Reduction off, and once with it on. I took all 4 RAW images, converted them to JPG using Olympus Viewer 3, then grabbed a 400×400 pixel crop out of the center of each.
When we stopped at the Chicago Botanic Garden on our recent trip to the windy city, we found they had a whole courtyard devoted to bonsai trees. Better still, the trees were displayed with frosted glass backings — making for some really nice photo compositions.
In this particular case, the glass could have been a bit taller. But I’d never been to Chicago before, and have no plans to return anytime soon, so I wasn’t about to be fussy. A bit of work in PS Elements, and the size of the frosted glass became immaterial.
Personally, though, I prefer the silhouette / monochrome version. Gives it a nice, crisp look, don’t you think?
If you’re curious, this tiny forest is a Sawara False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’).
On our recent trip to Chicago, we did our usual tour of the local botanic gardens (one of the benefits of being married to a garden-loving woman). While wandering through the Chicago Botanic Garden, I spotted an in-progress plein air watercolor:
Sadly, the artist was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t chat with them. Just the same, I liked this composition…
If you follow the camera gear press at all, you’ve likely heard that Olympus has announced their new flagship digital camera: the OMD E-M1. If you’re a dedicated Canon or Nikon or Sony or Pentax (etc.) shooter, this likely won’t matter much to you.
But for those of us that have been users of the 4/3 system cameras, or of the newer micro-4/3 system gear — it’s a very big deal.
It’s basically been a foregone conclusion of late that Olympus had decided to abandon the now 10-year-old 4/3 system. There wasn’t any official announcement to that effect, but the last 4/3 camera (the E-5) was released late in 2010, and available 4/3 lenses are solid performers but not exactly spring chickens either.
So Olympus has now officially stated that the E-M1 will sit at the top of their line-up, replacing the 4/3 system E-5. The E-M5 carries on one rung below the E-M1 (hopefully the now-confusing numbering will get cleaned up with the next release cycles), and the Pen series digital cameras hanging on below that.
All well and good, but what’s the new camera got to offer? The E-M1 is in many ways an improved E-M5, so on a pure specification basis, here are the big differences I see:
- Better ergonomics (check out the grip, much like what the E-M5 only offers with an accessory purchase)
- Improved sensor and image processor — anti-aliasing moves from a filter on the sensor to software in the processor, better overall low-light response, built-in phase detection pixels on the sensor (giving it good handling of 4/3 lenses), smaller autofocus target points
- Improved viewfinder (essentially the same as what’s in the VF-4 accessory unit released with the E-P5)
- WiFi and remote operation
- Focus peaking (a godsend for manual focusing of lenses from the pre-digital days)
- Improved weather sealing, more-rugged body frame
I’d love to be able to give you a first-person report of this unit’s handling, and show you pictures I’ve taken with it — but unfortunately I’m not one of the lucky few that received a review unit before the release. I’m waiting along with everybody else that placed a pre-order, and is now waiting for their prize to arrive in the mail (hopefully in October).
But for now, I’ll do what I can do — and that’s compare the E-M1 user manual to the E-M5 user manual to sort out some less-publicized differences and commonalities between the two cameras.
We managed to sneak away for a few days’ vacation this past holiday (in the U.S.) weekend — for its cultural amenities, we chose Chicago. But this little guy (gal?) was just waiting for breakfast outside our hotel room window our first morning in town:
It must have been a good judge of real estate, as its web was littered with the remains of past meals. I thought the local buildings made a nice colorful backdrop (not too cluttered, though, when you put them out of focus):
If you’re working on your own case of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), I took these with an Olympus E-M5 camera equipped with a Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm lens. A potent combination, if you ask me…
Just a quick note to let folks know that it’s Craft and Vision’s 4th birthday. For a limited time (through 8/28/2013), they’re selling all their eBooks for half off — so hustle on over if you’d like to fill out your collection of their excellent photography titles!
So I went on a little trip to Texas last week for business, and managed to grab a window seat on the way down. This gave me a fantastic view when our plane’s flight crew had to play dodge-the-thunderhead a few times on the way.
This is just one of the beasts we had to work our way around (the orange tint is from the last bits of sunset working their way through the clouds).