I'm converted

No, not like that.  Didn't join a cult, or new religion.  Converted my camera system from Sony full frame to micro 4/3.  I went in one day to Precision Camera to pick up some film and ended up speaking with the Olympus rep.  Super nice guy, checked out the prints he had at the store, and I was intrigued.  Then he started to show me the kit.  I was curious to the EM-5 as I had seen it hanging around the neck of some photographers I follow.  See Sean Archer, Juan Gonzalez, Jamie MacDonald

My curiousity led me to rent it from Borrowlenses.com.  They have a great selection and super speedy service so I grabbed the EM-5 and the 12-40 2.8 PRO M. Zuiko lens.   Immediately I could feel a weight difference between the Sony a7r II and the Oly.  

How does it feel?

Olympus equipment feels great.  Solid metal design, textured barrel, zoom, and focus rings.  Sealed bodies and lenses (PRO lenses) give me a comfort factor when travelling.  Virtually none of my Sony gear was weather sealed.  

Yes, but how does it feel?

Oh...weight.  Body weighs in at 410 grams, compared to 625 grams.  The 12-40 lens is really a 24-80 35mm equivalent, and comes in at 382 grams.  (Micro 4/3 has a 2x crop factor, unlike APS-C which is 1.5x).  Total net weight of 792 grams for camera and lens.  Sony 24-70 equivalent at 2.8 is a hefty 886 grams bringing the Sony 1 body and 1 lens to over 1500 grams.  1.5 kg for just one part of the kit.  I'd also be carrying the 70-200 (1480 grams) and the 16-35 F/4 (839 grams).  That's quite a kit and only 1 body/3 lenses.

My Olympus setup is as follows: 

  • 12-40 2.8 Pro (24-80mm equiv)
  • 45 1.8 (90mm equiv)
  • 75 1.8 (150mm equiv)
  • 40-150 (80-300mm equiv)
  • EM-5 Body

Total weight at:  2.03 Kg

I have a kit from 24-300mm, 2.8 aperture or less, and 1 body for the same as I would the 70-200 and a7r II.  That makes a huge difference.  

How much you got?

Next factor is price.  I sold the a7r II for a good price and was able to get 75% of the kit above at new retail price in turn.  The Sony selection is not only getting larger, but more cost prohibitive.  The 24-70 lens alone is more than the EM-5 and 12-40 put together.  Selling off 3 other lenses will net me enough to get the 40-150 and be fully recovered on the switch.  My range has extended from 35,55,14,85 to now having full coverage from 24-300 mm.  All with fast, pro glass.  

You're going to miss it

That's what I told myself.  "Don't do it, you already invested, it's great glass and superb mirrorless system."  I mulled this decision for the week I had the rental.  I looked at everything I could.  Here is what I will be giving up.

  • full size sensor (35mm)
  • small loss of depth of field (of which yet I can't find a noticeable difference)
  • Ergonomics - the EM-5 is smaller but I shoot with the Sony A6000, so i'm used to a smaller grip.  That is what my rapid strap is for :)
  • Internal 4K - didn't use this much at all, but it was beautiful
  • 42mp sensor - the files were big and lots of detail, but i haven't had any issues with the 16mp files from Olympus.  Plenty of detail still, little more noise if you pixel peep, but that is expected.  

Ok, so what do the shots look like?

Here are some shots I've taken thus far.  I've really enjoyed the flexibility of the kit.  

 

 

 

Does it shoot video?

You bet.  Here's a ttimelapse I shot the other morning.  I've also shot a couple of ad-hoc videos of the kids.  

Timelapse of morning sunrise

 

Verdict

Lightweight, compact, stunning photo and video.  I'm converted.  It is a rough feeling going thru a system change.  I changed to mirrorless the year before, moved over from Nikon.  I didn't get much gear when I moved to Sony.  Beautiful system but the move was mainly for me to get my gear moving.  Needed to be light, capable, and versatile.  I think I've found my system.  (watch me post a year later I'm with Fuji.....lmao)

Stay Focused

Focus stacking in Photoshop people!

small <rant>, was using Edge, the new browser in Win 10 and everytime I'd go to youtube to grab the link to insert here, it would blow away my post.  First time I thought it was a glitch, second time I was just dumb and did it again.  So now back on Chrome < \end rant>

So let's do this!  Focus stacking...what is it?  In a nutshell, which most things are, is this: Taking multiple images of a scene at different focus areas using manual focus and using Photoshop to blend them together to one final image.  How to do this?  Great question.

The setup is easy.  Put the camera on a tripod and focus on the closest item in the shot, your subject.  Then just adjust the focus a little farther out on each shot, turning the focus ring and taking shots until you get to the end of the focus limiter.  (infinity mark)

Can you take as many shots as you want?  Of course.  Can you use any f stop? sure, for this I used f/1.8.  Shutter speed and ISO are irrelevant but if you need a starting point I was at ISO 50 on the sony a7rii and 55 1.8 Zeiss lens using the Joby Gorilla Pod as my tripod.  It's great for getting those close to the ground shots.  The mode on my camera was aperture priority so shutter speed varied a little.  

I took 7 shots to compose this focus stack, and the tutorial is in the video below.  The final image is posted just below the video to see exactly how this turns out.  Also a gallery of the original images for reference is embedded as well.  

Final image - 7 image composite


Minolta ROKKOR-X 1.7 MD Lens review

Picked up my second Rokkor lens the other day and I'm loving it.  It's an excellent copy and has no haze, fungus, purple fringing, or other flaws that I can see.  

Buying lenses used you have to look for these things, as well as testing the aperture ring since that part is manual.  Look through the back of the barrel and check out the inside to see if you can spot anything on the glass.  Older glass may have some dust but if it wasn't kept in a cool, dry place for long then it will show signs of fungal growth, haze, and worse inside the barrel.  

I was very excited to get this from the local camera shop for $25.  Some of these go for $50-$100 on ebay and other resale sites.  The only thing needed is a MD-NEX mount adapter that you can get from Amazon.com for cheap.  Mine is the FOTGA MD-NEX as you can see from the picture.  

Some of the images I've taken are seen below in the gallery.  These are at f 1.7 and ISO 125 straight out of the a6000.  

I'm still working on nailing the manual focus.  At 1.7 you don't have much room to miss so a couple of these are not super sharp but it's my fault.  (You can really appreciate optical stabilization in the newer OSS lenses!) However, you can get the idea of the depth of field you can bring in with this lens.  Everything falls off beautifully in the background.  There is a nice circular bokeh as well.  I'm using these on a crop sensor and I get no vignetting even with the adapter which is a huge plus!

These lenses are a very cheap way to get into using your Sony camera as a walk about without having to spend $700-$1000 on lenses like the 24mm E mount or the 55 1.8.  Yes they are sharp, yes they are autofocus, and yes they are 50x the price of this lens :)

I am now just awaiting the a7rII so I can get a full frame and really see how much depth of field I can produce.  

Stay focused

Learning from mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time.  Sometimes you lock your keys in the car.  Sometimes you leave the sandwich too close to the counter edge with furry burglar nearby.  Either way, we all do it.  

The other night I was shooting landscapes in one of my favorite spots on top of Austin at the Pennybacker bridge.  

The night was awesome.  Stars out, cool breeze, not too chilly for Texas winter.  I had my tripod setup, camera was locked down, shutter speed dialed in to about 8 seconds, perfect.  I was trying to catch some stars and light trails in the viewfinder since we have a new moon.  My setup was awesome, at least I thought.  

When I looked in the 3" LCD the pics were looking so awesome.  

However upon inspection I noticed one crucial detail. &nbsp;They were not in focus. &nbsp;The bridge was ok, the side of the mountain too, but the stars and the background are all fuzzy. &nbsp;Why are they fuzzy, I mean all I did really was just aim my camera and turn the focus ring to manual, put it on infinity, and press the shutter button. &nbsp;  Well my friends that is where the lesson comes in to play. &nbsp;Always check your lenses to see where infinity focus is during the DAY!! &nbsp;Yes, this is huge. &nbsp;See, sometimes the focus ring on lenses can be different as to where "infinity" actually is. &nbsp;It could be smack in the middle of the sign on the focus ring. &nbsp;It could be off by 1mm left or right as well. &nbsp;I just kinda...well...turned it close to infinity and said "it can't be that bad can it?"

However upon inspection I noticed one crucial detail.  They were not in focus.  The bridge was ok, the side of the mountain too, but the stars and the background are all fuzzy.  Why are they fuzzy, I mean all I did really was just aim my camera and turn the focus ring to manual, put it on infinity, and press the shutter button.  

Well my friends that is where the lesson comes in to play.  Always check your lenses to see where infinity focus is during the DAY!!  Yes, this is huge.  See, sometimes the focus ring on lenses can be different as to where "infinity" actually is.  It could be smack in the middle of the sign on the focus ring.  It could be off by 1mm left or right as well.  I just kinda...well...turned it close to infinity and said "it can't be that bad can it?"

Example of focus set to infinity

Example of focus set to infinity

The answer is a resounding yes!  I did some testing just now and found out that even objects 15 to 20 ft away could have a different spot on the infinity symbol even though they are all more than 3 ft away.  (a common myth is that anything farther than 3ft away on a wide angle zoom you can just set the focus ring to infinity and it will be sharp)  

I found out my ring is dead center on the money for focus.  Everything farther than 3ft or for example in the picture above should have been focused dead on the infinity symbol.   The margin of error is so small that even .5 to 1 mm left or right made a fuzzy exposure.  See below.  

The moral of the story is this - Check the focusing on your wide angles in the daytime and make a mental note or keep something in your camera bag that shows where infinity focus is for that lens.