Category Archives: Review

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review

Hands On Review Of The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Camera

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the new Olympus M4/3 12-40mm f2.8 zoom and grip. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the new Olympus M4/3 12-40mm f2.8 zoom and grip. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The E-M1 was about to join a list of cameras which had made an impression on me from the moment I had picked them up; the Nikon FE, FM, FE2, FM2, F3. The Canon T90, 5D MkIII, 1D MkII, MkIII (after the sub mirror fix), Mk IV and 1DX, Leica R6.2 and every single Leica M camera from film to digital, but excluding the M5, M8 and M8.2.

I was sitting in the airport terminal, waiting for our plane to Ireland. That’s when I first saw the 16MP Olympus OM-D E-M1 in the flesh. The second I held the camera, it just felt right. It was solid like no other micro four thirds camera I’d used, more like a pro DSLR. The ergonomics were right; the grip was the perfect size and the buttons just fell to hand perfectly. It definitely felt right. I knew then I was in for a treat. The little Olympus had joined a very exclusive list of cameras that conveyed a feeling upon first touch.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Olympus had arranged for a few photographers and trade journalists to fly off to Ireland’s lovely Castle Leslie and spend seven to eight hours with the camera. Various scenarios were arranged to give us the opportunity to try out the camera’s various functions and also to put Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds and older Four Thirds lenses (which are compatible and also AF, using an adapter) to use. Everything from models, lighting (flash and continuous tungsten), galloping horses, dark and dingy situations and an amazing light drawing artist were all at hand, as was the beautiful surroundings of the castle itself. I have to say that the event was organised and executed perfectly.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Lit with a portable Pro Photo studio flash triggered wirelessly. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Lit with a portable Pro Photo studio flash triggered wirelessly. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

We were each given a camera bag with the E-M1, grip and brand new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens (in 35mm terms, this becomes a 24-80mm f2.8 – we were in fact the first photographers worldwide, outside of Olympus staff to use this lens), a second lens (in my case a 12mm f2.0) and a flash (which I didn’t get a chance to try). We were split into three groups and within the groups we had access to all other micro four thirds lenses, including the simply brilliant 45mm and 75mm f1.8 lenses. We also had the knowledgeable Florian from Olympus Germany on hand to help with any technical questions.

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a Four Thirds Olympus 300mm f2.8 lens, attached with an adapter.  This combination was used to take the photograph below. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a Four Thirds Olympus 300mm f2.8 lens, attached with an adapter. This combination was used to take the photograph below. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 300mm f2.8 Four Thirds lens (effectively a 600mm f2.8).  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 300mm f2.8 Four Thirds lens (effectively a 600mm f2.8). Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

One lens not yet available, but a mock up of which I saw, was a 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens (80-300mm f2.8 equivalent). With this addition to the system, I feel the E-M1 is ready for most things and could well be the news photographer’s perfect kit. Two E-M1 bodies, the 12-40mm and 40-150mm, all roughly pack into the same area as a traditional pro DSLR and 24-70mm f2.8 lens would take. It would also probably be lighter and roughly cost around the same.

The E-M1 In Use

Having spent around eight hours with the camera, I can definitely give my impressions of it, but it’s not long enough to be able to run a full test. Hopefully I shall do this in the future. As I mentioned in my intro, the camera just feels right as soon as you pick it up. Several photographers made the same comment and we were all surprised that we all said the same thing, using identical words! The design has obviously been really well thought out and tried out too.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Although there was no time to read through a manual, the camera’s buttons and menu system are easy enough to figure out and after a little fumbling, one gets very used to it. I’m a big fan of having buttons and dials for major operational features and as a result of incorporating these, the camera is easy and quick to operate. The rear LCD is extremely crisp; a high res, bright and touch capable screen that also flips up or down. Very handy indeed.

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Being a micro four thirds camera, it doesn’t have a mirror box, so it’s not an SLR. This means that the camera is much smaller (around half the size of a pro DSLR) and lighter. This in turn means the lenses are also much smaller and lighter too, even the fast f1.8 offerings. Being a Leica M photographer small is something I appreciate in my cameras and lenses; well, the Olympus lenses are even smaller than Leica M optics.

A floating bubble with the reflection of a glass roof. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot   Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

A floating bubble with the reflection of a glass roof. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Not having a mirrorbox naturally means no optical viewfinder, but Olympus have incorporated the very best EVF on the market (electronic viewfinder) into the camera. It’s bright, sharp, fast (no streaking or smearing) and supremely sensitive in the dark – it’s practically night vision. I’ve been using EVF’s since my Leica Digilux 2, then on my Olympus PEN E-P2. I now have an EVF for my Leica M (Type 240) and nothing I have used or tested before comes close to just how good the E-M1 and it’s built in EVF work. If you’re a sceptic, definitely pop to a shop and try it out when the camera is  available from October 2013.

A closeup of a flower, shot with the macro function of the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot   Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

A closeup of a flower, shot with the macro function of the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

The EVF allowed me to work in normal portrait conditions, in the bright sun, in a practically black, darkened library and also tracking galloping horses coming straight at me and also across from me. It worked flawlessly. During the day’s shooting, I didn’t once feel an optical finder would have helped me make better pictures.

Ghosts in the library. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Ghosts in the library. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

The speed of the drive is also very impressive; 10fps, falling to 6.5fps for continuous AF. The buffer is also huge, allowing 50 raw files to be buffered whilst writing to card.

Auto Focus

Ok, this really is surprising. The speed and accuracy of focus felt on par with my Canon 1DX. I haven’t done side by side testing, but the speed of the AF using Micro Four Thirds lenses really does astonish. No sooner have you touched the shutter button that the subject pops into perfect focus. I found this both is single and continuous mode.

The camera uses a dual AF system, combining phase detection and contrast AF, switching between the two depending on the lens in use.

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Being old school, I very much tend to choose my AF point and work. A professional portrait photographer who was at hand convinced me to try the face detection, with eye detection during a portrait shoot. Very reluctantly, I did, as I don’t believe in gimmicks. Well, it’s no gimmick and works perfectly! The camera picked the face of the model and focused on the eyes. Shooting at f1.8 on the 45mm and also 75mm lenses, the results were spot on, pin sharp.

ISO and Low Light

The ISO also impresses, topping out at 25,600 ISO and giving clean and crisp results. The low light operation also has the immense benefit of the camera’s built in 5-axis image stabiliser. Being built into the camera means that every lens can be stabilised. The system works tremendously well, both in stills and in video mode.

Detail Crop: ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. The 5 axis image stabilisation has kept this 1/5th of a second shot pin sharp.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *RAW image processed in Olympus Viewer 3 and Aperture*

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. The 5 axis image stabilisation has kept this 1/5th of a second shot pin sharp. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *RAW image processed in Olympus Viewer 3 and Aperture*

Video

Alas, this is the area where the camera could do more. Positively, the 5-axis stabiliser makes this the most suitable stills camera in the world for shooting video on. Stabilising, smooth clips are to hand. Another boon is the E-M1 has a built in mic socket. Sadly, the negatives are too many at this stage. No headphone socket. As far as I could see, no way to monitor manual audio whilst shooting (I may be wrong as time was limited). The huge omission though, and one which I hope with firmware upgrades can be changed, is that the camera only shoots in 30P in full 1080P HD. I really don’t understand why 24P and 25P were not included. Judging by the size of the buffer and processing power, I would guess that 50P and higher should have also been possible, allowing beautiful slow motion to be shot with the camera.

With the 5-axis stabiliser, Olympus have a winning feature that elevates them over the entire competition. They need to take this seriously and update the firmware to allow for the missing frae rates. Also future models need to have headphone sockets.

There are a huge list of other features; the built in WiFi with iOS App control, and amazing live bulb mode, it’s weather sealing and expandability all add up to impress. To get a full specification list, visit this Olympus page.

Final Thoughts

I really like the Olympus PEN range and they impressed me from the start. Olympus has shown itself to be one of a small number of camera manufacturers who really innovate. I played with the first OM-D, the E-M5, which impressed. However, the E-M1 just jumps ahead, light years, over anything Olympus have produced and most cameras on the market.

A shot of me with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: Damian McGillicuddy

A shot of me with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: Damian McGillicuddy

It feels right from the first time one holds it. The lenses are brilliant, the system works. Speed, accuracy, small size, unobtrusive. It’s a shame the video aspects aren’t up to scratch as the camera is pretty much perfect otherwise. With the addition of a professional service plan (Service Plus), Olympus shows it’s serious about the pro market. A few longer Micro Four Thirds lenses alongside the 40-150mm f2.8 and I think the system will be ready for most types of professional photography.

Give the camera a try. You won’t be disappointed. I for one was seriously impressed.

Visit my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Flickr Set to see more images shot with the camera.

Olympus PEN E-P5 Preview

Hands On Test With The E-P5

The Olympus PEN E-P5 with the Olympus 45mm f1.8 and 75mm f1.8 lenses at Olympus's UK press event launching the new camera.  *NB-Image shows an initial production camera*  London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The Olympus PEN E-P5 with the Olympus 45mm f1.8 and 75mm f1.8 lenses at Olympus’s UK press event launching the new camera. *NB-Image shows an initial production camera* London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

I was fortunate to be at the press launch for the new Olympus PEN E-P5 in London last week. Olympus had kindly arranged for a couple of models and I managed to get some time to try out the new E-P5 and a range of Olympus’s rather cool fast prime lenses. Before I carry on with this preview, it’s imperative to let you know that the camera was an IP model (Initial Production, meaning not yet final production) and the firmware was pre-production. Also, as the camera is so new (not available for purchase yet) my choice of image processing software, Aperture, does not yet support the RAW files, so all images here, as well as comments on image quality are based on the camera’s jpegs (which were then processed as needed in Aperture). Needless to say the RAW files will improve things further (better colour, more highlight and shadow detail as well as less digital noise at high ISOs).

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus's UK press event launching the new camera.  *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera*  Model Sonia Yasmin Ali.  London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian   Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture and Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2. ISO 3200, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus’s UK press event launching the new camera. *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera* Model Sonia Yasmin Ali. London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian
Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture and Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2. ISO 3200, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

When Olympus brought out the first PEN, the E-P1, I was very impressed and really liked the camera. The  Olympus PEN E-P2 improved things further, including adding the ability to add an EVF (electronic viewfinder) and video shooting, including adding an external microphone for better sound. I was so impressed with the E-P2 that I added one to my toolset and shot with the camera extensively.

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus's UK press event launching the new camera.  *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera*  Model Sonia Yasmin Ali.  London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian   Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 2000, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus’s UK press event launching the new camera. *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera* Model Sonia Yasmin Ali. London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian
Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 2000, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

The E-P5 has moved things on much further. It’s definitely the best PEN by far. The design looks superb and looks a little more like the original PEN cameras from the days of film and more importantly, the ergonomics are great. The specification sheet is very impressive;  16 megapixels, super fast (and accurate) AF, 9fps (yes, nine frames per second!), full 1080p HD video, built in 5 axis image stabiliser, manual focus with focus peaking assist, built in WiFi and a brand new 2.36 megapixel external electronic viewfinder; the VF-4.

I’ll get straight to my conclusion; I loved this camera. Extremely responsive, small, unobtrusive with some stunning Olympus prime lenses. It behaved exactly as a camera should; it was an extension to my wish to shoot pictures and never got in the way. Although I didn’t get a chance (due to time restraints at the press launch party) to thoroughly explore the camera and drill down into the menus and customise settings as I would want them, I can already say that I love this camera and won’t hesitate from recommending it. Having shot extensively with the E-P2 and to a lesser extent the E-P1, I know the heritage of the digital Micro 4/3 PENs and the E-P5 has taken this line and just made it so much better.

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus's UK press event launching the new camera.  *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera*  Model Sonia Yasmin Ali.  London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian   Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 3200, Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus’s UK press event launching the new camera. *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera* Model Sonia Yasmin Ali. London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian
Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 3200, Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens

During my time with the camera, I shot 159 images, both indoors (dark) and outdoors (around 8pm). The combination of the camera and I managed to get one shot out of focus; everything else was in focus; bang on. This is extremely impressive.

I’m one of these photographers who likes to use cameras as they were meant to be used; to the eye! The new VF-4 is a great addition and I would say is a must have accessory. It’s pin sharp, bright, fast to refresh and just absolutely usable. I never once felt I was looking through an electronic finder.

Since I had my E-P2, Olympus has brought out some extremely impressive prime lenses and I got a chance to shoot with these too. I shot with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8, 45mm f1.8 and the 75mm f1.8. As Micro 4/3 cameras double these, the equivalents are 35mm, 90mm and 150mm. All of these impressed thoroughly; optically superb and very fast to focus. The thought of having a 150mm f1.8 lens should be a great comfort to a news or wedding photographer!

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus's UK press event launching the new camera.  *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera*  Model Sonia Yasmin Ali.  London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 500, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus’s UK press event launching the new camera. *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera* Model Sonia Yasmin Ali. London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian
Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 500, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

The E-P1 would run into noise issues above 1250 ISO. The E-P5 produced beautifully smooth 3200 ISO shots. Remember, we’re judging from a jpeg here! The ISO range goes all the way up to 25,600 ISO, so it will be interesting to see how high one can go to make usable images. You can see the full specification sheet here.

The Micro 4/3 mount has come a long way. One of the huge strengths is the ability to practically mount any lens onto it. I have adapters for Leica M, Nikon and Canon lenses. The mount is so flexible that Black Magic have chosen it an option to include on their digital cinema cameras. This flexibility lets the photographer not only use any current lenses they may have, but to search out old and interesting lenses to use, each bringing with them unique characteristics.

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus's UK press event launching the new camera.  *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera*  Model Sonia Yasmin Ali.  London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian   Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 1600, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

Test shots with the Olympus PEN E-P5 at Olympus’s UK press event launching the new camera. *NB-Image taken on an initial production, pre-final firmware camera* Model Sonia Yasmin Ali. London, UK. May 29, 2013. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian
Technical notes: jpeg image processed in Aperture. ISO 1600, Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens

Is everything perfect on this camera? Not quite; I would love to see the EVF built in to the camera in place of the flash. A viewfinder on the rear top left corner, similar to a Leica M, would be perfect. As the camera already has a tiltable rear screen losing the tiltability of the EVF is no big loss. Having a built in EVF would just make the camera perfect. I would also like to see a microphone input (and ideally a headphone socket to allow monitoring of audio) getting built in too, rather than using the SEMA-1 accessory.

All in all though, these negatives don’t detract. Definitely get your hands on the camera and give it a try; you’ll be impressed.

For a full GALLERY of images, please visit my Flickr Set on the E-P5.

 

A couple of images of me trying out the Olympus PEN E-P5, kindly supplied by Claire Voyle:

Photographer Edmond Terakopian trying out the new Olympus PEN E-P5 at the launch event in London. May 29, 2013. Photo: Claire Voyle / www.facebook.com/ClaireVoylePhotography

Photographer Edmond Terakopian trying out the new Olympus PEN E-P5 at the launch event in London. May 29, 2013. Photo: Claire Voyle / http://www.facebook.com/ClaireVoylePhotography

Photographer Edmond Terakopian trying out the new Olympus PEN E-P5 at the launch event in London. May 29, 2013. Photo: Claire Voyle / www.facebook.com/ClaireVoylePhotography

Photographer Edmond Terakopian trying out the new Olympus PEN E-P5 at the launch event in London. May 29, 2013. Photo: Claire Voyle / http://www.facebook.com/ClaireVoylePhotography

ioSafe Rugged Portable

Tough, Tough & Tough!

ioSafe Rugged Portable at the pool. Royal Hideaway Placar, Riviera Maya, Mexico. July 12, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

ioSafe describe their Rugged Portable drive as an aircraft black box for mobile date; I must say that I agree. I’ve been using their 500Gb model for over three months now and I am very impressed. From the moment you pick it up you realise it’s no ordinary portable drive. It is solid; really solid, yet not too heavy. The case is a solid piece of aluminium covering the top and the sides, with another solid piece of metal covering the bottom. Just by knocking it you can feel that this thing is built to last and designed to take knocks. ioSafe say that it will withstand a three meter drop and is crush proof withstanding up to a ton of weight. It’s also water proof! Yes, a waterproof portable hard drive! It can withstand being immersed in up to three meters of water (salt or fresh). The titanium and SSD versions of the drive can withstand even more abuse. To top things off data recovery and a no quibble warrantee finish things off nicely.

I took this drive on assignment to Cancun. As with my G-Tech Minis, it stood up to the knocks of travel well. One thing however I would not do to any other drive out there is take it to the hotel pool. I even immersed it in the pool, threw it around underwater and knocked it about a bit. Some bubbles escaped from the interface sockets (FW800 and USB 2.0), but that was it. I was absolutely certain though that I had killed the drive! I then took the drive out, dried it up and went back to my room, where I washed it in the sink! After drying out the contacts, I plugged it into my MacBook Pro using FW800 and it started up without issue, mounting on the desktop immediately. Checking through my data, all was safe; no issues at all. I for one was absolutely stunned, shocked and in a state of disbelief.

ioSafe Rugged Portable in the pool. Royal Hideaway Placar, Riviera Maya, Mexico. July 12, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

ioSafe Rugged Portable in the pool. Royal Hideaway Placar, Riviera Maya, Mexico. July 12, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

ioSafe Rugged Portable at the pool side, dripping with water after being submerged. Royal Hideaway Placar, Riviera Maya, Mexico. July 12, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

My only wish would be for a faster drive, as the one used runs at 5400rpm. My guess is this is purely to manage heat build up, as without ventilation slots a 7200rpm would probably fail. Having said that, 5400rpm is more than adequate for backing up. Our data is important to us; for most, it is vital. Most of us work in hazardous environments from time to time and on top of this, accidents will happen even in normal surroundings. I’m so impressed by the way this little yet solid drive has worked that I will definitely become a customer of theirs. With the SSD and titanium versions offering even more protection, it comes as a no brainer for me to recommend you look at this range of Rugged Portable drives by ioSafe. Very impressive indeed. Amazon UK price this drive at under £195 which is good value in my opinion. You can find other UK stockists here.

ioSafe Rugged Portable is washed in the sink. Royal Hideaway Placar, Riviera Maya, Mexico. July 12, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The company also has a range of desktop solutions, which add fireproofing to the mix. Lastly, they are on Indiegogo crowd sourcing funds for their new Disaster proof private cloud NAS RAID box.

ioSafe Rugged Portable plugged into a MacBook Pro after being dunked int he pool. Royal Hideaway Placar, Mexico. July 12, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

SD Card Holder

SD Pixel Pocket Rocket

It’s often the little things that make life so much easier for the working photographer. Carrying memory cards has always been an issue. Personally, I found the perfect way to carry mine when Think Tank Photo came out with the Pixel Pocket Rocket; a way to carry ten CF cards and some business cards, in one nicely made, slim, wallet. The cards themselves came together in their individual pockets when the wallet was rolled up, making the wallet extremely rigid.

The new Think Tank Photo SD Pixel Pocket Rocket. September 14, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

As we now shoot much more SD cards, the company has thankfully addressed that issue too with their new SD Pixel Pocket Rocket which can accomodate nine SD cards as well as some business cards. Any digital Leica M, Micro 4/3, Sony NEX or small DSLR photographer is going to love this. Small, compact, well made and extremely useful and usable. Lastly, as with the other Pixel Pocket Rockets, it has a loop which makes attaching it to the inside of your bag or pouch extremely easy.

The new Think Tank Photo SD Pixel Pocket Rocket, which can carry nine SD cards. September 14, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

My workflow is that I put my empty, formatted cards in face up (with the logo on the front showing). When I’ve shot a card, it goes into the wallet face down. That was I know which cards are used and which are blank.

It’s a simple accessory, but I can’t emphasise just how totally useful this is; get one!

For the UK, check out the local distributor Snapperstuff for your local retailer or to order direct. Other countries can check out Think Tank Photo’s website to find their relevant source.

Other World Computing

The Fastest; Accelsior PCI Express SSD

Long Term Test

OWC stands for Other World Computing, a title which I felt was very apt for this article. Since I started using OWC’s adapter for modifying my Mac Pro to take multiple SSDs in the optical bay and installing their blisteringly fast SSD into the optical bay of my MacBook Pro, I’ve become a fan of this company. Their adapters and SSDs just seem out of this world; great design, well made and extremely fast.

It was with great interest when I first heard that a PCI Express SSD card was going to be introduced by the company. The advantages of using a PCI Express SSD card are numerous. Firstly, one is directly plugging into the motherboard, using the fastest interface, without having to go through the SATA connectors, adding some speed to operation. Secondly, it frees up your SATA connectors and drive bays for more SSDs or conventional hard drives for storage. In my Mac Pro, I now have four conventional hard drives in the drive bays which I use to store my RAW files amongst other data including documents, music, video and so on. I also have two SSDs installed in the optical bays. One is used to clone the Accelsior every night which is my OS drive, and the other is used for video files when editing  a project. Having FCP X run on the OWC Accelsior and the ProRes 422 video files run from a OCZ 120Gb SSD makes for a very fast and fluid editing experience.

If you’re on a PC, the Accelsior will also work. Regardless of which system you’re using, the helpful thing is the card does not need a driver, so will just work once installed. On a Mac, you will naturally need a Mac Pro as the iMac does not have PCI Express slots.

I decided to go for the 240Gb version which is enough space to store the OS, applications and Documents. Via iTunes I did move the iTunes folder to another drive though as it was simply too big. The card uses Sandforce controllers and several systems to ensure that the SSD chips are used efficiently and kept running smoothly. The SSDs themselves are on smaller circuit boards which clip into the PCI Express daughter card; this means that in time if you want to upgrade to a larger size, it’s easily done.

Speed

Using OWC’s own figures, comparing their top of the range traditional SSD (Pro 6G) to the Accelsior makes interesting reading.

OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G – Read 559MB/s Write 527MB/s (Peak Data Rate)
OWC Mercury Accelsior  – Read 762MB/s Write 763MB/s
Traditional 5400rpm Hard Drive – Read 75MB/s Write 77MB/s

These are test figures so real life use will vary, but it will vary proportionally, so the speed advantages are clear to see.

Compared to my previous OS SSD, the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS which was very quick, the speed advantage of the OWC Acceslior is immediately noticeable, even without timing.

I did perform some comparisons though using my early 2009 model Mac Pro.

Reliability

Speed isn’t the only consideration to have though. I’ve had the Accelsior installed in my main imaging workstation, a Mac Pro, for three months now. It has performed without a single hiccup. I installed it when running OS Lion, cloned the OS drive onto the Accelsior using the superb CCC and upgraded to OS Mountain Lion a few days after it’s release. My Mac Pro is on 24/7, used for photo editing, photo archive use, Giclée printing, video and audio editing and general computing too. It’s hooked up to a Sonnet D800 raid with a PCI Express RAID card as well as countless other peripherals and I didn’t have a single issue at all! The Accelsior just performed with 100% absolute reliability and speed.

Final Thoughts

As new technologies come and go and we take leaps forwards, some leaps are giant. The leap to SSDs being one. They are still too costly for storage, but for using as our OS and program disks, the capacities are more than there and the prices have dropped to affordable levels. Although purely on paper the jump to PCI SSD doesn’t appear huge, it is much more than just the speed increase; it’s the convenience increase of freeing up a drive bay for storage too. I for one can’t recommend SSDs highly enough; however if you have a machine with compatible PCI Express slots, then the OWC Accelsior is an absolute no brainer. You’ll love it!

European Buyers – Macupgrade has kindly offered readers of this blog a 10% discount with the code: macupgradephoto

The Perfect Battery Accessory

Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 4 Review

Lenses, cameras, cards, computers, software and bags – all important equipment that helps us work and make great photographs. There are those little things though that can make life so much easier, especially for the photographer on the road. Enter the Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 4.

Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 4. Photographed with Canon LP-E6 (for the Canon 5D MkII, MkIII) and a set of 4 AA Batteries in one of the compartments. July 4, 2012. Photo; Edmond Terakopian

So simple it’s perfect! Designed to take four DSLR batteries, it can also hold four AA batteries in each compartment too. Naturally smaller batteries (Micro 4/3, NEX etc.) will also fit. I bought two of these, one for my Canon gear and one to house my Leica M9 batteries. They each now stay inside the relevant camera bag.

Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 4. Photographed with Canon LP-E6 (for the Canon 5D MkII, MkIII) and a set of 4 AA Batteries in one of the compartments. July 4, 2012. Photo; Edmond Terakopian

One very cool design feature is their footprint; being thin and long, they take up minimal room and can either put upright in a shoulder bag’s main compartment, or laid flat in a front pocket. Also, they fit nicely into the lid pockets on roller bags and backpacks too.

Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 4. Photographed with a set of 4 Leica batteries for the M9. July 4, 2012. Photo; Edmond Terakopian

Not a brilliantly designed lens nor a superbly engineered camera, but nonetheless, it’s an essential bit of kit and has my absolute recommendation.

If you’re in the UK, you can order them from Snapper Stuff or check out the Think Tank Photo website for details of your nearest supplier.

ioShutter Review

The Ultimate Timelapse Tool?

It was one of those “oh, wow!” moments. In 2011, at Focus On Imaging, I was chatting with James Madelin from Enlight (the makers of the Orbis and Frio). He shared with me his plans for an iPhone app that could control remote firing a DSLR. I thought it was a cool idea to have a cable release always with you, so was impressed at this simple, yet extremely helpful idea. Then, I got more impressed as he expanded on the project, sharing that it was in fact a complete intervelometer allowing full control over time and frequency of shots.

Behind the scenes as Sotheby’s prepares the Gunter Sachs Collection ahead of the sale on May 22nd and 23rd, 2012. The IO Shutter in action with a Canon 5D MkII, on a time lapse. It is being triggered by an iPad 3 in the Sotheby’s bag. Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, London. May 17, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I now have this rather super ioShutter cable with me and it has become part of my regular camera kit. The interface is just genius and very intuitive to use. It also works on the iPad and newer iPod Touches. To control the camera, one has to download the ioShutter app from the iTunes App Store. There is a free version with limited ability or the full on pro version offering much more control. Naturally, I would fully recommend the Pro version of the app to allow full creativity.

I had an assignment at Sotheby’s to make a timelapse video of the Gunter Sachs show being set up. I had three cameras on the go, covering various angles and rooms. For an overhead, fisheye type shot, I had my GoPro HD Hero clamped around a lighting rail using a large Joby Gorillapod (tripod). I had one of my Canon 5D MkII cameras on a tripod being triggered by a Pocket Wizard MultiMax which I’d put into intervalometer mode. On my other 5D MkII I had my iPad attached, using the ioShutter cable. First problem was finding a way to attach the iPad and a Sotheby’s carrier bag proved an elegant and workable solution!

I made sure the volume on the iPad was turned way up (as the IO Shutter cable plugs into the headphone jack), set my duration between shots to five seconds and set it to shoot. First attempt in the field and no problems. The app and cable worked perfectly.

This assignment started around 9.30am and finished around 5.00pm and the system just worked. I carry my Pocket Wizards in my location lighting bag, so unless I’m planning to use them, the Pocket Wizards aren’t always with me. With the ioShutter, I have the cable now in my Think Tank Photo Airport International roller, so it’s always there. I also always have my iPhone and usually my iPad with me, which now means that if see an opportunity for a timelapse, I can just shoot it.

Screen shots of the ioShutter Pro App.

Compared to the Pocket Wizard MultiMax, it’s also a cheaper option, with the camera control cable on the MultiMax costing considerably more. It also has various other uses, as a timer or a sound triggered release too. Lastly, it’s available for Canon and Nikon DSLRs.

Thinking back to our first chat about the ioShutter, I was very excited by the idea but had doubts about it materialising as it was just too good! Well, it’s here, it’s real and it’s genius. Very highly recommended.

If you’re in the UK, you can get the IO Shutter cable from Snapper Stuff.