Category Archives: Cameras

Why I purchased the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Up until this week, I carried the Canon 5D Mark 3 and Canon 7D cameras in my camera bag, along with the Canon 24-105, Canon EF-S 10-22 and 70-200 lens.

This week I replaced the 7D and EF-S 10-22 lens with the Olympus OM-D EM –  1  Micro Four-Thirds camera plus the Olympus M Zuiko 14-40 lens.

Why did I do this?

Main reason was to reduce the weight of the gear I carry.  I usually carry two cameras with two different lenses to photograph various items.  I carry both on a harness set up for two cameras.  Recent events impacting my physical strength has made me rethink all the gear I carry.  I felt I needed to reduce weight and the Micro Four Thirds Cameras seems to be a possible solution.

Several photographers whom I highly respect are currently using the Olympus OM E-M1.  So I decided to lease one from lensrentals.com .  I then used the camera to photograph some of my favorite subjects.  This was not a scientific analysis.  It also wasn’t a comparison of the 7D or 5D vs the E-M1.  It was simply a study to see if using this camera would meet the quality expectations I have and support my shooting style.

Findings

1) The negatives
The user interface to the camera takes some time to figure out and get used to.  The manual is not written in proper English so it takes some to figure out how to set up the camera for your required configuration.  For example you can place the lens into manual focus mode by pulling the focusing ring on the lens.  Finding documentation on how to get out of manual focus mode took a Google search.

Also this camera is not for low light situations.  At over 4000 ISO images become unacceptably grainy.  This is the same as the 7D.  Where the 5D is far superior in low lighting.

White balance is not always perfect and needs adjustment in Lightroom.  Here I am spoiled by the 5D M3 which gets white balance correct almost always.

2) The Positives

Light weight. Smaller and easy to handle with equivalent performance to a 7D.

Speed.  6.5 frames per second.  Superfast response for Auto focus in various conditions.

Comfort.  The body feel comfortable in the palm of my hand.  Easy to carry around all day.

Quality of images.  Very happy with the image quality.  The Auto Exposure needs to be compensated but am happy with the results.  Here are a few images.

Support for HDR.  Built-in bracketing to support HDR is really nice but wish the bracketing was 1 stop instead of 2 and 3 stops.

Build-in WiFi.  Really nice to have a seamless link between my camera and my IPad to transfer images.

Immediate results shown through the viewfinder.  A great feature of the Micro-Two Thirds Cameras is that they are mirrorless.  This means that your viewfinder is actually a LCD display.  This opens up all sorts of possibilities to the camera designers in Japan.  The coolest thing is being able to see through the viewfinder the result of the capture and the ability to immediately make adjustments to get the image you want.  This capability is what took me over the top to spend the money.

Results

I purchased the camera from Hunts Photo and Video.  As I have said in the past, they know how to treat people properly.  They continue to really support the amateur photographer community something that is becoming harder to find in this web-based world.  (I just wish they had a better website…)

So now I am a hybrid user.  Canon for my high quality shoots, off camera flash photographs and in places where the full frame capabilities is needed.  Olympus for my walk around photography.  And both with the Canon and the 70-200 lens on a harness with the Olympus camera and the 12-40 (24-80) lens for walk around shoots.

So there it is.  A new tool in my bag.  I now have something I can easily carry around on day trips with the performance of a DSLR. It is a great camera.

Foot Notes

Products mentioned in this blog post.  (Links are sponsored with Amazon so click and buy something from Amazon so I can afford to pay for this camera!)

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS with 1080p Full-HD Video Mode Digital SLR Camera (Body)

Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Body Only)

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Zoom Lens – White Box (New) (Bulk Packaging)

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/detail_page.cfm?ProductID=V207010BU000&cid=7&manufacturer=Olympus

Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Interchangeable Lens

Trip of a lifetime, Try 2

 In January, I had posted about a planned trip of a lifetime, the postponement of that trip but then the task of turning lemons into lemonade buy using that time to test the Canon 7D and 16-33mm 2.8 lens I had rented.

Well it is a few months later and the US Navy kept their promise and have rescheduled this trip. I leave this weekend to spend a few days on the left coast. I’m going to spend some more time photographing San Francisco (seeing my long lost cousin), some time in San Diego and then 24 hours on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Since that post, I’m now the proud owner of a Canon 7D. This along with my Canon 40D, will be my tools to try to capture this once in a life time moment. The fun part was trying to pack all my gear into one carry on bag for the trip. But that’s another post.

The pondering on my drive into work today was around what I want to learn while on board the USS Abraham Lincoln. I think the biggest learning opportunity is one of management and leadership. I’ve been watching the PBS Special Series Carrier. Which gives some wonderful background but I am sure, until I experience what our sailors experience I’m distanced from their realities.

What would you want to know if you were to spend time on an Aircraft carrier?  What Pictures would you want to see captured?

Last notes on my Canon 7D experience

Last notes on my Canon 7D experience:

1) The camera simply “nails” exposure. On my Canon 40D, I almost always have to adjust the exposure compensation since the camera almost never gets it right. On the 7D, it is a no brainer. The metering on this camera is a joy. The image attached to this blog shows a very difficult subject to meter. On the 40D, there is a bunch of trial and error to get it right, on the 7D, BAM: one shot and right.



2) I used the camera for the last time last night. I was asked to take pictures at a retirement party for someone I’ve worked with for over 7 years. The auto focus of the 7D with poor lighting was spot on. No issues waiting for the camera to find the subject. I’m attaching one photo not because it shows the ability of the camera but it shows the skills of another colleague at work who made this figure out
of icing and used it to top the cake!

Turning Lemons into Lemonade 3: The Canon 7D and the 16-35mm 2.8L lens.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade 3: The Canon 7D and the 16-35mm 2.8L lens.


Okay gear heads. Here are my thoughts about the Canon 7D lens and the Canon 16-35mm 2.8L lens.


It starts as an unfair comparison since I’m comparing this camera to my Canon 40D. My current camera is an excellent camera and I am very happy with it. The 7D is up a step in class from the 40D given the same sensor size..






Canon 7D at sunset

To start with, if you are ever going to spend money on a new expensive camera or lens, I suggest you rent one and live with it for a week. This will help you really get a feel if this is something you want to spend lots of money on. I rented my camera from www.lensrentals.com. I’ve rented from them before and they are great. Customer services are top notch which is what you need from a rental service. I even receive responsive on weekends from Kristin in customer service. Also, lensrentals.com makes it a point to deliver the rental early to make sure you get it on time. You start paying on the date you requested, not on the date you received the camera/lens. So there is always extra time to play.


First impressions.


The 7D and the 40D appear to have the same body. This is nice since I love this form factor. Buttons are in different places which can be a problem when moving from one camera to the other. The power switch for example is on the top (and correct) location for the 7D. The Menu, Info, Picture Style, Image view and trash buttons are on the side not the bottom like the 40D: yet another improvement.


There is this “Q” button which I had no idea what it was for until my friend Phil told me. It provides an interactive display where you can change settings; a really nice feature. There is also a “Raw/Jpeg” button which allows you to change file types on the fly.


There is also an M-Fn button next to the image capture button which controls the auto focus capability. (You have to be impressed that Canon allowed a button to be called M-Fn. Now say it a aloud “Canon has the M, F-IN Button to control the Autofocus”. If you don’t get the joke, you grew up in a better place than I. The problem is that this button is MFn to use. If you want to change Auto Focus modes you have to press the AF button first then press the MFn button to change modes. Canon does have a really nice menu setup however which allows you to change the function of almost every button, but I could not figure out how to change this requirement to press these buttons in this order.


Auto Focus


Joking aside, the autofocus is great: very responsive. It is very flexible as you get used to the controls. Although I wasn’t taking pictures of F18’s I can see how this camera would do a great job on an aircraft carrier capturing landing and takeoff. (Sigh!…)


On screen menus


One annoyance with the 40D is that in the dark, it can be difficult to change settings because you cannot see the changes. On the 7D the 3 inch LCD provides a really nice display as the setting change. Now if only Canon had a touch sensitive display where control could be like something say an iPhone…


Biggest Plus


The biggest advantage of using this camera is the view finder. Looking through the viewfinder is like looking through a window; bright and clear. On my 40D, I find myself squinting to look through the camera. According to the spec, the 40D viewfinder provides 95% coverage with a .95x magnification. The 7D is 100% coverage with 1x magnification. For me this difference was very noticeable and a potential buying reason. It wasn’t until I looked at the spec that I realized the difference. (PS the 5D M2 is 98% coverage at .71 magnification).


Big Files


As one would expect, given the 8 additional mega pixels 18 vs. 10 mega pixels between the 7D and the 40D, the file sizes are larger. Larger size means a longer time to do anything with each file; from downloading to the computer to renderings in Lightroom to loading into Photoshop. I guess this is the price you pay but do you get better quality images? It is true that you do gain the ability to crop into an image and still get something as good quality as a 40D.


Photographic Quality


I’m not sure if I get anything better by way of quality of images between the 7D and the 40D. Now to be fair, I haven’t done a true A-B comparison. I don’t think I’ll have the time to shoot a variety of subjects with both cameras given the same set up. But for this evaluation this kind of test wasn’t my goal;. there are other smarter bloggers out there doing this kind of work. For me this test is more about seeing what is is like to live with this kind of equipment in my tool box. After all, in the end, photography isn’t about the tool / machine but the eye and ability to use the machine. In that matter, I’m just an amateur getting there but not a master by any sense of the imagination. The photos I most recently shot with the 7D are good but none of them struck me as an outstanding image. And this was not the fault of the camera but the operator.


Next Steps.


So where do I go from here? In a few days I’ll put the camera back in the box and ship it back to lensrentals.com. I’m not sure if a 7D is in my future. Having two bodies is great since you can move from one to the other and I did plenty of that over the weekend. What I really want is a 7D with the sensor of the 5D Mark 2. If I was going to spend money on another body, I keep thinking I need to go to a full size sensor. But I would want the full frame sensor with the processing speed and autofocus capability of the 7D. Something I need to wait for Canon to invent.


And what about the 16-35mm 2.8L wide angle zoom? This is a really nice piece of glass and something I truly see on the horizon.

A trip of the lifetime

Next week, I will be traveling to San Diego to spend 24 hours on the USS John C. Stennis as a “Distinguished Visitor”.  The Navy and my company are both members of the Social Media Business Council and the Navy has been gracious to invite members of this council (fortune 500 companies) to observe our hard working men and women in the military serve our company.  I am honored to be allowed aboard the USS Stennis, a 5000 + Person Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carrier.  A ship that carries the most impressive collection of aircraft on the planet F/A-18 Hornets, E2C Hawkeyes, EA-6B Prowlers and the MH-605Seahawks.


In preparations for this trip, I’m watching the series Carrier http://www.pbs.org/weta/carrier/full_episodes.htm which I understand provides a realistic view of life on an aircraft carrier.


I’m excited to note that I will be landing on the aircraft carrier in a C-2 Greyhound aircraft and taking off from the same.


The SMBC coordinated an earlier visit with a number of influencal bloggers.  My favorite blog is “How to Change the world” by Guy Kawasaki


The coolest thing is that I will be able to take pictures!  So in preparations I rented a Canon 7D “backup” camera to go along with my 40D, and also rented a 16-35 wide zoom.  We’ll see what happens.  I am really excited to see the people and equipment in action. 


You can check out my latest air show gallery here.


A podcast from the 2008 air show here.


And see my favorite signature image here.