Tuesday, August 28, 2012

...first impressions, OMD-EM5

...this camera took forever to be in my hands...I wanted the Black Body/no lens combo and it was forever to become available...forever...

I think we all know by now that this puppy is a rock-crusher for IQ... it has a very fresh Sony 16mp m4/3 sensor that equals most, all or some of the latest APS-C sensors from a variety of manufacturers...'nuff said

but first impressions are forever, and of course I have a few that I would like to share...starting with the Name... OMD-EM5...I mean what do you actually call it ????...also, it HUMS, yes, it has the slightest humming sound from the Internal Stabilizer System upon power-up, you can hear it in a quiet room, barely...it is small, I had the Panasonic G3 and it is approximately the same size, but because of its SLR type styling it looks waaaay small, as the G3 did not appear to be that small, the G3 looked pretty normally sized...it is not light, it feels solid, robust and not of a plastic nature...the styling is retro, it really looks like a 70's shrunk SLR, you may or may not like it...the Internal Image 5-Axis Stabilizer is off the charts, just try it and I think you will actually see a difference in very low light...the machine is "fast" in operation, fast in handling and of course has the "speed of light" autofocus system which means nearly instantaneous auto focus...the shutter sound "rocks"...the G3 had a "thunk" the OMD has a "thwack"... a significant difference in the way the camera feels to a shooter...last, the OMD LCD back panel is always face-open, the back screen is articulated, hydromatic and everything else, but the back glass is always face open

...but alas, I must report the other impression...the Menu/Info system...remember the old phrase from the 70's "user knarly"... well this is it !...the menu and information system is very comprehensive, its' just knarly to use...so many different ways to display the information all slightly different...and a few other surprises like when I selected my image quality you have choices for jpegs of large fine/large normal/medium fine/medium normal/small fine/small normal plus an assortment of RAW in combo with and without the jpegs...no problem so far, but perusing page 90 of the 133 page manual I discovered that by changing the BASE menu structure that a large/SUPER fine was available...that's great ! but without spotting that novelty on page 90 I would have never known that Super Fine was an option from the menu system...and the other oddity, the OMD has a touch screen/lcd panel that is a joy to use, but not always touch available depending upon the menu/information that you are currently trying to activate...as an example, the OMD has a "Super Control Panel" default screen which displays and controls all active shoot settings, with cursor control only, no touch control...and in live view mode  has TOUCH control for autofocus subject selection and shutter actuation...more great stuff but perplexing...I must admit I HAD to read the manual

first impression, a unique camera among a sea of cameras, a bit eclectic, but man, this is the real DEAL !!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

... speed of light !

...so what to take, that was the question ? the US Pro Challenge was finishing atop Beaver Creek and what to take? or more exactly, what NOT to take? ...I decided on the "lets' go light scenario"... reasoning was,  I was going to SEE the bike race, not photograph another event... I thought !

...the pickings were plentiful, A65, K-01, OMD-EM5, GX-1 plus a full compliment of lens...and of course you already know, the one I picked...the GX-1, fitted with the 20mm pancake f1.7 prime...and it was jacket pocket-able, with room to spare...oink - oink !!!

...the Jacket was key as I knew I would be standing, squating and walking for many hours, and besides there were plenty of folks carrying their dastardly black Canon and Nikon systems with matching neck straps/braces and insurance health cards hanging on a lanyard from there necks...

Panasonic is touting there new autofocus system as "Speed Of Light"...and that certainly sounds like marketing dung to me...but I wanted to use the GX-1 as sort of a "fast draw" machine, fastest gun in the west...simply raise from the hip, aim, frame and shoot anywhere from 3~5 frames in about a second...it did, it did, and it worked, I ended up shooting something like 600 pix in a few "FUN" hours... "FUN" being the operative word...I watched the DSLR crowd slowly banging their machines to there foreheads, twisting, turning and hanging on to their zooms for dear life...I mean were these folks actually having fun...I think not

...but for every upside, there must be a downside, and the GX-1 for having lightning fast autofocus did  have limited (think none) predictive/tracking autofocus...grrrr ...but ya' know, I worked through it

...bottom line, these new m4/3 machines have autofocus that works near the speed of light...check out the pix at www.ronster.smugmug.com and enjoy !

Monday, August 6, 2012

...twas the night before,

...well it was certainly not the night before Christmas...twas the night before the "big" wedding ! ...you see, I don't do weddings, I had only shot a small affair about four years ago, an associate of my wife's ...it was a smaller event, backyard ceremony and such, journalistic style... but this, this was going to be the wedding of the decade and somehow, I managed to end up being the photographer of choice !!! ...I tried to discourage this, but to no avail...

...I thought, what if I actually planned for this event, how 'bad" could it be ? ...well, either pretty bad or pretty good, depending on how you viewed the glass half empty/full scenario...

...I had been advised to not try any state of the art lighting techniques, that it may cause pre-mature aging and a lowering of testosterone and so forth...I should have listened...

I knew I wanted to use diffused light every chance I had...so simply bolting a strobe to the top of my camera would not allow me to create the tense technical scenarios and profanity outbursts that only photographers can appreciate...hmmm, so I decided to shoot with the Gary Fong Lightsphere Diffuser...I mean we have all seen Gary slap one of these "salad spinners" atop his strobe, point the damn thing anywhere and effectively light up the state of Rhode Island with the first shot...I mean if Gary could do this for YouTube, then certainly I could duplicate some of this success ? right ????

..so a week prior to the wedding, I began testing...

I have three camera setups, with matching vendor strobes, so the odds of finding a favorable and competent  combo should be child's play...you sort of know where this is going, right ???

Choice #1, the Sony SLT A65 with Sony HVL-F56am "honker" strobe...matched with either the Sony 16-50mm f2.8 or the Leica 16-80mm f3.5 would be a to die for combination for a "newbie" wedding guy... problem was, I kept getting strobe blow-outs with a variety of combinations of this body (2) lens and strobes (2)...hmmm, but still had a few days to go, surely I could work this out, surely...

Choice #2, the Panasonic G3 with the Olympus FL-50r "honker" strobe...but alas NO fast standard zoom as they had just intro'd the 12-35mm f2.8 and it was not available, and to further compound the problem the lens was priced over $1k...yowza !!! ...so the wedding would have to be shot with an assortment of fast primes, and I knew changing lens during the event would further induce pre-mature aging and a possible drool... testing indicated that his combo worked well for the strobe work with the Gary Fong spinner...

Choice #3, the Pentax K-01 with the Pentax AF360 "semi-honker" strobe...I had the fast zooms and primes but alas, during testing I discovered that the af360 would rotate vertically but NOT horizontally... that would knock out my ability to shoot vertical strobe shots with the GF diffuser...drat ! ...scratch the Pentax combo

well for whatever reason, "twas the night before" and I still had not worked out the Sony combo to any high degree of success...I told my wife that I was going to shoot the wedding with the Pano G3...at least it was producing excellent results with the the GF spinner and I had stopped shaking when I used the Pano combo...she indicated I was daft !

...bottom line, the wedding shoot was great with the Pano G3 combo and GF spinner...I was pleased as was the client, and had only shortened my lifespan by a few years, I did not have to start the Viagra treatments...the primes worked great and caused far less trepidation than I had anticipated... whew, a job well done...

I returned  to testing the Sony combo AFTER the wedding, this had to be Pilot-Error... and  I discovered a variety of automation features I had selected and left "on" were creating the flash inconsistencies...HSS/ auto ISO/variable apertures/ADI flash control, etc, etc were contributing to the blow-out situations...or so I think...but bottom line, the Sony is now a viable contender for my upcoming wedding photography, I switched to the new Nissin di866 strobes...like the Bride and Groom, we will all live happily ever-after !!!

...anyone else getting married ????

Friday, August 3, 2012

...the Pentax K-01, second most maligned on the planet !

...the Pentax K-01 has received a fair number of reviews, mostly poor... in the early days they always started with astonishment that Pentax could have intentionally created a product like this...it's ugly, it's boxy, it's too big for a mirrorless, it's too slow, flange depth is too great, it's just too something, it's just crap, and did I mention ugly...and of course, the very LAST sentence of the review said "oh, by the way, the K-01 is capable of exceptional images "

...so, what if we started this review with the last sentence ("exceptional images") and worked from that perspective...what if we presumed the glass was really half-full rather than half-empty...I mean what if your taste buds were so whack-o that you could not tell a good enchilada from a peanut butter sandwich ???

...ok, we've cleared the air...lets begin !

the Pentax K-01 is capable of exceptional images !

 I understand it uses the the 16mp Sony sensor that appears to be the sweet spot for some Nikon's, Sony A57/NEX, Pentax K-5 and others. Need we discuss further that Sony is the weapon of choice for people with the need, for sensors...and oh yeah, the OLY OMD EM5 uses a Sony sensor ...hmmmmm

...but wait, the flange depth is toooo deep, and the only advantage to that is the compatibility with K-mount glass...I mean who would want this camera unless you already have K-mount glass ???... have you seen the availability of K-mount glass ??? it is off- the- chart, and it's great glass ( just check the prices)...you can acquire this stuff as primes, zooms, pancakes, full frame or aps-c configurations, from Pentax, Tamron, Tokina and others, or from YOUR closet...as far as the eye-can -see !!!...forever ! this glass is more immortal than we are...is it conceivable or even possible that a normal human being might like this glass as a first choice for glass (screw the camera, glass is forever)  having never had anything Pentax before ??? ...maybe

...so, great sensor, great glass, but it's ugly and too big...well, its a lot smaller than the SLT a77/65/57's, those are mirrorless and nobody complains about there size...in fact the new a57 uses the larger a65 body because it was a tad too small as the the a55 (does that make sense ? )...the k-01 is larger than the Pano GX-1, that is true, but bottom line, none of these cameras will fit into a tight pair of jeans, with or without a pancake lens...if you do manage to get the cam into your jeans it will leave a serious bulge in your front pocket and I will assure you that it will NOT attract the ladies...

...well, it does not have a hand contour grip, this is like gripping a brick... ...right-o, it does not, but it does have a rubberized wrap over the entire body, making it very tactile...it is not prone to sliding out of the fingers...

...ok, I could go on like this for hours... ...the -01 must then be perfect ???? ...nope, nyada, ninski...it has a few imperfections ! ...the auto focus system is at its best with fast glass and bright sun...so if your taking pix inside a cave or do wedding photography, you had best start with f2.8 or brighter or you may experience searching or slight out of focus sceanrios... I have plenty of F2.8 or faster glass, but if your sitting at f5.6 with the kit zoom shooting dimly lit nudes than your in for a very frustrating experience....did I mention it is also slow at f5.6...it is

...another tipper-ouuu is the new batch of reviews that are just popping up on the Pentax K-30...they are very favorable (well it looks like a dslr and actually has a glass pentaprism) and the very last sentence of the review is usually (the K-30 is exceptional as its' basis is the K-01 which of course creates exceptional images)...wow ! seems we've come full circle...

I shot these images for a recent assignment... exceptional image quality !