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The Gatherers Of Light

Voigtlander Nokton and Super Nokton; Long Term Real World Review

A look at a pair of the latest additions to a most unique line-up of lenses, designed for m43 cameras. Read through to find a 15% discount on the full range of Voigtlander m43 Nokton and Super Nokton lenses.

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 Super Nokton (f0.8 equivalent 58mm field of view) on camera and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). Pictured on my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

This astonishing f0.8 aperture’d lens, with an equivalent 58mm field of view on 35mm full-frame format, is in a class of its own. Ground Aspherical elements and a 12 aperture blade design mean that its rendering is simply as spectacular as its light gathering. It focuses down to a very impressive 0.37m and measures 88.9mm x 72.3mm, coming in at 703g.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view) with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

A 120mm equivalent at f0.95 makes for a very special portrait lens. Its close focus of 0.34m though, brings it into close-up photography territory, making for a very versatile lens. Measuring in at 82.5 x 87.7mm and weighing 860g, this is the chunkier of the newest two Noktons. 

The pair make for an extremely impressive set and the addition of a Voigtlander 10.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton or Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton lens will make for a perfect three lens outfit, for photographers or film makers, with a uniform rendering, colour, feel and of course, unique light gathering ability.

Discoveries Of The Super Fast F No.

I’ve been using fast aperture lenses for most of my career (almost 33 years at the time of writing). I was the first amongst my colleagues, on my first two newspapers in the 1980s and early 90s, who had an f1.2 lens, in the form of a Canon 55mm f1.2L FD lens. This was soon to be joined by the phenomenal Canon 85mm f1.2L FD lens. In those days of film, the most common film a photojournalist had was 400 ISO, so those fast apertures allowed us to work in hugely varying light conditions.

For me, fast lenses have always been about their light gathering ability and not ‘bokeh’.

I later went on to get AF versions of these lenses in my Canon EOS days. Many years later, when the Leica M9 came along, I saw what the recently released Leica Noctilux ASPH could do. So, after some saving, an insurance cheque from when a security guard dropped a bag full of camera gear and broke most of it and selling off of less used equipment, I managed to get a Leica 50mm f0.95 Noctilux ASPH. An aperture I’d never ever dreamed of and one which opened many possibilities.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Angelika Ghazaryan, a descendant of Genocide Survivors, at the 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th, 1915. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. US President Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

My philosophical approach to lens choice has always remained the same; standard lenses, later joined by zoom lenses as the quality increased, married to at least one super fast aperture lens. This approach makes for an extremely versatile outfit.

Years later, I started shooting what began as a personal project on opera, which soon turned into a major 10 month project with an exhibition (seen by over 400,000 people) and a book, supported by Olympus. I was an Olympus Visionary at the time and was shooting with OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 MkII cameras. When working backstage, I quickly realised that the f1.7 M.Zuiko lenses weren’t fast enough. My Leica M9 and 50mm Noctilux weren’t usable either, as I simply couldn’t see enough in the dark to allow me to manually focus the optical rangefinder. The Olympus mirrorless with its EVF was allowing me to see in the dark, almost like a soldier’s night vision, but the available lenses just weren’t usable as the light levels were so low. I started looking for a speedy solution.

I recalled Voigtlander has a 25mm f0.95 Nokton and when I looked deeper into this, realised that the range had been expanded. A quick phone call to Hardy at Robert White Photographic, was followed by me ordering a Voigtlander 17.5mm (35mm equivalent) and 25mm (50mm equivalent). These two f0.95 lenses allowed me to create work impossible to shoot otherwise. Having these f0.95 apertures was truly a revelation. To give an idea of the lighting conditions, I’d often be shooting at 5000 ISO, 1/20th of a second at f0.95. The marriage of fast aperture and built in body stabiliser allowed me to work unhindered by the less than favourable conditions. The slightly deeper depth of field on m43, also aided me to get my subjects sharply in focus. Some of these pictures were printed at over A0 in size, approaching around 1.5m in length for the exhibition.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII and Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Ida Ränzlöv, singing the part of Arminda, Anchise’s niece, waits backstage for her cue. Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. Dress rehearsal. Royal College of Music Opera School, Prince Consort Road, London. November 25, 2016. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Later on, on a different production, I decided to add the Voigtlander 10.5mm f0.95 Nokton (21mm equivalent) to my setup. These three Noktons have stayed with me since I first got them in 2015, through to my transition to Lumix.

To see some of my work using these Noktons, either visit my Instagram @terakopian or look at the backstage, low light work in my reportage on the opera, Albert Herring on my SmugMug website: https://terakopian.smugmug.com/Albert-Herring-Opera 

To help illustrate the light gathering aspect, imagine this as a shooting scenario: You’re shooting a portrait in a dimply lit church, trying to craft a beautiful image using the available daylight, gently flowing through the windows. At a very reasonable 400 ISO, you choose to shoot at 1/125th shutter speed, to ensure no movement from you or the subject. With a Nokton, you’re at f0.95, which allows these settings. If you were to shoot with your pro spec zoom lens at f2.8, you would have to ramp the ISO up to a less acceptable 3200 ISO. For me, this ability to shoot with available light is far more of a priority, than bokeh hunting, which of course the Voigtlander Nokton and Super Nokton will give you, by the bucket load. The ability to isolate the subject, is there, in a very unique and aesthetically pleasing way. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. A portrait of opera singer Aris Nadirian. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Fast F No. Flip Side

These are all specialist lenses and when wide open, they’re not clinically pin sharp when shooting a lens chart, specifically as you start to edge further out from the centre, the sharpness drops somewhat. Even a Leica Noctilux ASPH costing over £8000 struggles with this. Physics is physics and any lens that reaches the dizzying apertures of zero point something, has to make a compromise or two. I only raise this as I’ve occasionally read criticism of all these mega aperture lenses, where the social media poster clearly doesn’t understand that these are specific tools for ultra low light work. Of course, when you stop down to the f5.6 through to f9.0 window, the lenses will sharpen up dramatically, including towards the edges, rendering ‘perfect’ clinical results. For me though, an image with soul wins over a clinically sharp picture of a boring, static object. Photography is about emotion and thought, and these lenses give us the tools to create such work, in conditions often out of bounds.

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 SUPER NOKTON (f0.8 equivalent 58mm field of view) on camera and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). Pictured with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

These aren’t general purpose lenses, they are however masters in low light and creative photography. They allow you to work in conditions that are dreamt of and rarely realised with regular prime lenses or zooms. Just to put your mind at ease when I write they’re not clinically pin sharp, I’m more than happy to put my reputation on the line and produce not only my own personal work with these nocturnal creatures, but shoot commissioned assignments too. They are that good. Just not as good when shooting charts on a wall, pixel peeping the chart and comparing them to standard lenses, which don’t have the f zero point something magic.

It’s about keeping in mind that these are specialist tools, which means that I use my Noktons for specific work, that’s where they shine. For fast street photography during the day, I’d definitely choose an AF lens. However, for the same genre at night, when trying to work in the most challenging of situations, then these lenses are the perfect choice and will produce magic. For observed moments in a pub, at a wedding, by the canals in Venice, or a portrait of a loved one, choosing either of these lenses will produce pictures that you will treasure. The close focus also adds the ability of still life closeups, of anything from flowers to objects. Shoot these wide open to create something extremely unique, or stop them down for a more traditional look.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Barbed wire and fencing nearby London Underground rail tracks. Ealing, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

This magic takes a little bit of work though and you need to raise your skill level. Once you do though, imagery that wasn’t recordable, begins to write to your memory card. Put in the time it takes to master manual focusing, learning how the focus ring behaves, develop a little muscle memory, use focus peaking and punching in to magnify the focus point to check critical focus, and these lenses will make you smile. You start to produce results from environments you simply wouldn’t have previously been able to really work in. One other tip is to focus wide open, which allows you to be absolutely critical when focusing (it also gives focus peaking a razor’s edge of area to highlight, adding to accuracy) and then if needed, stop down to shoot. Naturally the subject dictates how to approach it, so with faster shooting scenarios, one can focus stopped down as well.

My bag of three Noktons is now a bag of four Noktons and one stellar, Super Nokton. These five lenses are a crucial tool of how I work. I’d definitely recommend you check them out. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Sunset reflections during a COVID 19 Lockdown permitted exercise walk. Ealing, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Tonal Range

My years of shooting with my three Voigtlander Noktons showed me that these lenses have tremendous tonal range; from highlight detail, with a lovely information rich gradation, all the way to the deepest shadow areas. This provides a raw file with all the details you need, ready to be processed to produce a vibrant colour or the lushest of monochrome images. I’m thrilled to share that these new additions exhibit the same rich, full tonal range. Stop them down a little and they become pin sharp too, perfect for detail rich landscapes or urban cityscapes. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Daily life on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Image Processing

When it comes to image processing, m43 cameras have their lens correction info built into their raw profiles. With any non-m43 or non electronic lens, this information is missing. I’m thrilled to say that Adobe’s LightRoom has all this information in the lens correction module. So, just choose Voigtlander and then find the profile for the lens you’ve shot with. In my LightRoom, I’ve actually set up Custom User Presets for each lens, so one click, populates all the settings I need, including some raw processing tweaks.

On the subject of image processing, all the images posted here and in the related Flickr album (see below), were shot in raw and processed in LightRoom. The finishing touches to the colour photographs and the black and white treatment on the monochrome images, were done in Exposure Software’s X6 and X7.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Daily life on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Construction

Anyone who has used a professional grade manual focus lens from the ‘good old days’ will immediately feel at home. Both of these lenses are phenomenally made. Engineered to perfection; perhaps, over engineered even. To help illustrate this, my three previous Nokton lenses are seven years old at the time of writing; seven years of professional use has left the performing exactly as they did initially and looking practically brand new. These are well made, professional grade lenses. As the DNA is the same with the two newer lenses, I have no doubt that a decade or two on, these lenses will be just as good as they are now.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view) with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The focusing rings are smooth, the aperture rings sure footed. For film makers or those working on film sets as photographers, the aperture ring can be de-clicked at the twist of a ring, resulting in silent operation.

On the video front, the full range of m43 Noktons and the Super Nokton, provides an amazing set of lenses. High end film makers prefer manual focus anyway. The feel, accuracy and look of these lenses, married to a quality ND filter, will produce a wonderful look and feel.

I used to shoot Canon FD (mainly L lenses) and then Nikon AS and AIS lenses in the 90s and both of these Voigtlanders remind me of using those quality lenses with their silky smooth and sure footed handling.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

These solid and metal bodied lenses are heavier than most of their plastic bodied brethren though, so one needs more careful matching to camera body. They balance perfectly and handle beautifully on my Lumix G9 cameras, with or without (which is how I usually have mine) the vertical grip. I wouldn’t really use them on my smaller and grip-less Lumix GX9. I’d definitely recommend the higher end bodies with grips or the middle range bodies with their optional grips. This will make for a more comfortable setup. In my days when shooting with Olympus and my set of three Noktons, the E-M1 balanced perfectly, but the E-M5 MkII definitely needed the grip added for comfortable working, as the built-in grip was just too small. Of course if working with a tripod, or a cage for video work, the handling won’t be an issue. It’s worth keeping in mind that the extra engineering and metal construction makes for much more control on fine tuning the focus, which is crucial when working wide open. 

Other f0.95 Options

At the time of writing, other options for proper f0.95 lenses are from Leica with their Noctilux range and Nikon with their Noct. These options will set the photographer back in the £8000 to £10,000 range. There are a few other options available, but these are gimmick lenses in my opinion and good to play with perhaps, but not to shoot seriously with, in situations when one has to use dependable gear. I definitely wouldn’t use the other options on professional assignments, where as I haven’t hesitated to use my Voigtlander Noktons.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. (London, UK) 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

At the time of writing, the Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton comes in at £1,599.00 (inc VAT) and the Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton at £1,049.00 (inc VAT). Whilst not cheap, nor is their construction, or the results they produce. Given how well they perform, how well they’re made and well my older Nokton lenses have lasted, these are valued appropriately I’d say. These lenses are worth every penny and the Super Nokton is unparalleled in it’s f0.8 aperture.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. (London, UK) 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

When planning a camera outfit or planning lens purchases, investing in the best lenses you can get, is the wisest move. Sticking a cheaper lens in front of the best sensor, will give an much inferior result to putting a great lens in front of a good sensor. The other aspect, is that lenses far outlast camera bodies. So invest wisely and you won’t need to change the lens anywhere near as often as you would a body. 

Both of these optics produce phenomenal results, with a look and feel that gives the images a signature and a ‘pop’. For me, a huge part of the attraction for Lumix and Olympus m43 is the Nokton range, as it adds tremendous versatility that no other lens mount on the market has; super fast apertured lenses covering ultra wide angle, to medium telephoto (equivalent of 21mm to 120mm). With the addition of these two optics, the range is now not only complete, but with the Super Nokton, out of this world good. I can’t recommend them highly enough. As I have done, get in touch with Robert White Photographic and check them out. You won’t be disappointed. 

Final Thoughts

Whilst both m43 brands produce exceptional lenses, especially in their Leica DG and M.Zuiko PRO ranges, including faster f1.2 and f1.4 options, there just isn’t the option to go faster. In a sea of images shot with f2.8 zooms, with some stretching for the Lumix, Olympus or Sigma faster lenses, nothing is going to give the look of these Voigtlander lenses. The 60mm Nokton and 29mm Super Nokton, render in a unique way, not only letting you create in lower light, but to make an image which is unique. An image which pops. Bringing almost a three dimensionality to the scene. If you can look at a scene, raise your camera and make a unique photograph, I say, why not?! Creativity is about creating, not mimicking the masses with run of the mill facsimiles.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. The wall of hearts grows as a memorial to loved ones taken by coronavirus. Each heart representing every one of the UK’s close to 150,000 victims (to date). The memorial is the idea of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group, which has called for an inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. The National COVID Memorial Wall. North Wing, Lambeth Palace Rd, South Bank, London SE1 3FT. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Aperture Is Aperture

These astonishing lenses are f0.8 for the Super Nokton and f0.95 for the Nokton.

Let’s clear up a misconception though; that of apertures being somehow different in Micro Four Thirds, as its a cropped sensor. I keep seeing misinformation online in forums and groups, so think it crucial to clear this up!

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. A portrait of Elvis. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Imagine that you have a 70-200mm f2.8 lens. Its a constant aperture lens, so f2.8 all the way through. So, at 70mm, f2.8 is the same as f2.8 at the 200mm end. Both, given identical lighting conditions, will provide the exact same exposure. So, f2.8 is f2.8.

However, the depth of field on the same lens will differ tremendously from the 70mm to the 200mm end. 70mm will give a wider depth of field, with more being in focus, compared to a shallower depth of field at the 200mm end.

So, it’s in fact depth of field and the rendition of the image in defocused areas, or bokeh, which differs between sensor sizes. So, an f2.8 aperture on a given lens, will render bokeh, or set depth of field differently between m43, APS-C, full frame or medium format etc. The larger the sensor, the shallower the depth of field and the softer the bokeh. As mentioned though, the light gathering ability of that f2.8 aperture remains the same. So, for the physics of light, these f0.8 and f0.95 apertures, have the same astonishing light gathering ability as a full frame camera and lens would….well, if there was an f0.8 option available.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Geese on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One last point on the subject of bokeh; many novices will rush to buy the most exotic aperture lens they can afford, wrongly thinking it will improve their photography because its a “bokeh monster” or that it will magically just render bokeh, without the photographer needing to master any basic elements of photographic technique or understanding of photography.

One can achieve beautiful subject isolation and soft background, with a lens set at F5.6 or f8.0, or get everything relatively sharp in the frame with little or no isolation using an f1.4 aperture. Camera to subject distance needs to be close and subject to background, much farther. Keep this in mind. It’s not just setting an aperture, but understanding subject and background distances, for a given aperture, for a given social length.

Given this understanding, then yes, a magical aperture of f0.95 or f0.8 will not only let you work in super low light, but allow you to achieve astonishing subject isolation, with that 3D look and super soft, beautiful bokeh. Given the lens is a good lens; aperture alone won’t produce creamy backgrounds. So dear reader, do get these dream lenses, but also learn about photographic technique and practice too, so you can get the most out of your lenses and even more importantly, get much more joy and satisfaction out of your photography. 

One Last Thought On Bokeh

It’s really disconcerting how may photography enthusiasts are bokeh hunters. There’s a sizeable enough group of people who express more interest in out of focus backgrounds, than they do for the in focus aspect within the photograph; the actual subject. No great photograph in history has ever been about the out of focus background. Whilst these lenses will allow this, crucially, they allow creating photographs and video, in lighting conditions which would make it impossible. They produce a beautiful and unique signature when doing so and can make your subject pop. That is where they shine in my opinion. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

READERS’ DISCOUNT CODE

The fabulous folks at Robert White Photographic and Flaghead Photographic Limited have very generously provided a 15% discount code. The code is multi-use, so you won’t be limited when getting a second or third lens, should you decide super low light photography or subject isolation like never before available on m43 is for you.

The code Terakopian will get you a 15% discount off, from any of the six Voigtlander Micro Four Thirds lenses. Visit Robert White Photographic if you’d like to use this discount. Having shot professionally with five of these lenses for years, I really cannot recommend them highly enough. They open up new avenues of possibility with your camera.

Link To My FLICKR Album

To view the photographs featured and some others, without downsizing or compression, please visit this Flickr Album which accompanies this review.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. A Pilot Custom Urushi fountain pen. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Seam Between Photojournalist and Artistic Photography

As the year comes to a close, I was truly humbled and moved when photography commentator Shira Shavit wrote a piece about my work on her extremely popular LinkedIn.

Opera singer Ida Ränzlöv, singing the part of Arminda, Anchise’s niece, waits backstage for her cue. Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. Dress rehearsal. Royal College of Music Opera School, Prince Consort Road, London. November 25, 2016. Photo: ©OEdmond Terakopian / 2016

Shira chose a backstage photograph of opera singer extraordinaire, Ida Ränzlöv, as a leading image and very kindly wrote the following about my work.

“I usually write about photographers who are not among the living. For photographers who have left a priceless legacy. That influenced me. Who left a mark on me. I have written very little about photographers while they are still alive. But this Is one of the pulse-pounding photographers and I am very attached to his work. A brave connection of a viewer In front of the work of the photographer – It’s a special bond . Edmond Is one of them. The seam between photojournalist and artistic photography – He symbolizes for me. Beyond being a photographer of supreme grace he Is also a wonderful human . Photographers show us the world, through the lenses of their eyes. I have a real and sincere fondness for observing the subject Of the world through the lenses of Edmond’s special eye.”

“Photography as a language, of all visual languages, Is known to be the most intuitive, completely unmediated and speaks directly to the brain. There Is a factor In photography that evokes the almost physiological response of the word / sound – wow. The wow factor – I found In his work.” – Shira Shavit, December 2021.

Loupedeck CT Review

Five Months Of Working With The Loupedeck CT

Workspace. Ergonomics. Repetitive Strain Injury. Workflow. Efficiency. Speed. Control.

Jargon that gets introduced into any conversation about working on a computer, ranging from moans about things taking too long to physically painful woes. As creatives though, we’re using computers in much more in-depth and involved ways. Photography, video, audio and so on, bring with them much more complex creation software, which moves us away from typing, some mouse usage or simple cut and paste shortcuts, into a myriad of easily confused and forgettable keyboard shortcuts, some involving a fair amount of finger dexterity. Add to this the operating of a cursor applying a brush or a cut on a timeline, and it’s very easy to start doing advanced level yoga with our fingers on a keyboard and mouse or probably even worse, trackpad.

Loupedeck CT at my Apple Mac workstation. London, UK. April 01, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Spending hours editing and processing a big assignment, or sometimes weeks editing long term projects, made me realise I had to find a better way of working. Around seven years ago, I bought a Contour Design ShuttlePRO V.2 and programmed it for use in Lightroom. This lived on the left side of my keyboard whilst a Wacom tablet lived on the right hand side. The concept was simple; program often used commands and key strokes into the unit, operate it with my left hand, whilst the right hand operated the Wacom pen. Much more efficient and also ergonomic.

The Shuttle Pro though wasn’t perfect. The keys stopped responding properly after a couple of years and I wanted something more designed for creative use, rather than as an office tool which could be re-purposed. Also, the software left much to be desired. At The Photography Show at the NEC around three years ago, I was walking past the Loupedeck stand and caught a demonstration of the Loupedeck+. At the same time, a colleague walked past, saw me watching the demo and told me he’d been using one for a while and loved it. I was sold. Passed over my credit card and walked away with it under my arm.

With both of these systems, I had to add printed labels onto the keys I had programmed. Otherwise it becomes too much of a head scratcher trying to remember (although given enough time, it does become muscle memory, but for the initial weeks and months, labels are definitely needed). I’d seen various, often gaming targeted, keyboard type devices with small OLED panels which could display labels, but non were suitable for my needs. Then came along another product from a company I had already trust in; the Loupedeck CT. 

The company calls this unit a “precision editing console for creative professionals”, with “endless customisation”. Well, they’re not wrong! Whilst the Loupedeck+, which I’m still very fond of and do recommend, was primarily aimed at LightRoom users, the CT opens up many more applications, with the bonus of having customisable workspaces and pages of programmable keys with icons that show what they each do. No more printed or scribbled labels needed! Plus, having the added ability of having multiple pages, each touch key can take on multiple uses, so an ever changing set of labels on the touch screen, is a tremendous help indeed.  

Before I get into my thoughts and experiences, I decided to make this a long term review, for two reasons. Firstly, the CT is as complex or as simple a product as you wish it to be. The Loupedeck CT software already comes with customisation for a variety of different photography, video, illustration applications as well as the OS itself. So, it’s good to go, straight out the box. Or, you can spend time with it and create your own customisation; from modifying the existing setup with the odd key here or there, to fully making up your own workspaces, buttons and so on, which if you want to do it properly, will take a little bit of time to design efficiently, so it suits you perfectly. The actual software is very user friendly and easy to customise. The second reason for making this a long term review, was a colleague told me he had read a report of build quality issues with the knobs on the Loupedeck CT. This did surprise me as the unit felt very well built and constructed as a premium piece of professional grade hardware. As a result of these points, especially the latter, I decided to use it for a while, in a full on professional environment, before writing up my review. The Loupdeck CT has sat on the left of my keyboard for months, whilst to the right of which is a small, Wacom Intuos Pro tablet (highly recommended). As a side note, these two peripherals work perfectly together and fulfil the same ethos of taking away physical strain and fatigue, whilst adding more precision at the same time. Add a quality twin monitor setup (my choice is Eizo CG monitors with built in calibration) and you’ll have a sweet setup that helps you fly through editing and gives you precision when processing.

Even in Finder, the OS controls make it a very useful tool to have. I have LightRoom and Photoshop programmed on two launch keys. One tap and the software I need starts up. Even something like the Calculator becomes easier to use; tap the Calculator button and the CT itself turns into a calculator keypad. You even get a snazzy analogue clock in the centre of the main control dial. The Launchpad, Siri, a new Finder window or System Preferences are all one button touch away.

Getting back to the customisation aspect, the best piece of advice I can give is to live with the CT as is for a while. Use it extensively and get a feel for how the unit works. Soon, you will organically start to realise what’s missing for your own particular needs. We all have our way of working with the software we use. Our own individual quirks or specific workflow needs. Its this extra time spent, that’s time well spent, as it will not only get you used to the various touchscreen and hardware controls, but will help you mentally map what you would like to customise and add, for your unique workflow needs.

Loupedeck CT at my Apple Mac workstation. London, UK. April 01, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

If you do a lot of work on location or a lot of travelling, one huge bonus the CT has over the Loupedeck+ is that its size makes it travel friendly. You can even get a travel case for it. A strange addition, until I thought it through, is that it has 8Gb of onboard memory, which just shows up as a removable drive, when the CT is plugged in to your computer. This is perfect for keeping any custom settings backed onto, the driver software, along with any other custom presets you may have for other software, meaning that you could just plug the CT into any machine and have it set up for your custom needs, within minutes. Fully self contained, on location tool.

So, almost five months on, I have sat down to type out my thoughts. To address the second point first, the one of build quality, I haven’t had a single issue with neither the hardware, nor the software. Every dial, button and touchscreen interface has worked flawlessly since I first plugged it in, around the middle of November 2020. In this time frame, I’ve gone through at least 10,000 pictures (assignments, personal shoots, competition edits, putting together talks and presentations, as well as putting together images for my new forthcoming website. Just as my Loupedeck+ never gave me a single issue, the Loupedeck CT has just worked and blended invisibly into the background, letting me work efficiently and without fuss. For me, this is always the mark of a good piece of equipment or software; something that empowers you to work well, without making itself apparent and just fading into the background. I’ve even gone through a major OS change, going from Mac OS Catalina to Mac OS Big Sur on my 2013 Mac Pro, without issue. Incidentally, Windows is also supported, although I’ve not tested the unit on a Windows machine. 

There are two main things the Loupedeck CT allows you to do; work with efficiency and work with much better control over the tools you use within your chosen applications.

The added control comes with having tactile knobs (which have gentle clicks as they are turned) to turn when changing controls such as exposure, contrast, colour temperature and so on. You have so much more fine control on making either small tweaks, or turning the knob at speed and making large changes to the onscreen slider. It allows you to do all of this whilst keeping your cursor where it belongs, on the image itself and not constantly moving in a frenzy between processing controls, brushing and so on. The second huge boost for control is having the main control dial allowing you to change brush size and feathering size, again without needing to move the curser off your photograph and onto the processing modules to the right. This lets you brush on precise masks when working, giving you much more control and also allowing you to do this efficiently and not constantly taking the cursor or your concentration off the area you’re working on. It helps you keep a flow, which is not only much more efficient, but much less irksome and creatively rewarding, during long editing sessions. Creativity should flow, unhindered. 

Customisation

After much procrastination, I realised the company’s own settings for LightRoom Classic, generally suited me just fine. I used the pages in the control set as they were, but with use, started to change out some of the buttons for ones which suited me. On a page like the Presets, I removed all the existing presets and instead added all of my custom raw presets, which were already saved in LightRoom. The Loupedeck software interface is a joy to use and very simple. Just drag and drop. That’s it. The Loupedeck CT is updated live as you make changes, so as soon as you switch to your software, you’ll see the remapping and relabelling has already been done; you’re good to go. Very elegant and very simple. The possibilities are also pretty endless, so if you have extremely specialised needs, you can customise to your heart’s content. 

The Loupedeck software and the first page for Lightroom’s Library, with a few of the buttons swapped out for my needs.
A page with my custom raw presets.

In Use

In use, the hardware gives you the physical buttons, dials and touchscreen buttons, as mentioned. You also have two segments on the screen which label the six smaller dials, so one instantly knows what they are mapped to do. Swiping this same screen, takes us to the next page, which different dial operations and touchscreen buttons.

The CT also has an amazing main dial, in the lower portion of the unit, positioned centrally. This offers super precise control to change values or movement. The genius part though, is that it also has a circular display in its centre, which displays a plethora of functions, depending on what software, module or page one is on. Did I mention this is a touchscreen too?!

As for the touchscreen’s virtual buttons, to keep with the tactile nature of the unit, each press has a haptic feedback alongside a generated sound, so in use, one is assured of having pressed the button.

This is an extremely useful design. If for example when in the Develop module, one press on the touchscreen button ‘Basic Panel Wheel’, brings up on the circular touchscreen, all the processing sliders, in the same order as they appear in LightRoom. You can swipe up or down, from one to the next and if you decide to make a change, you just turn the main dial clockwise or counterclockwise. Then swipe to the next and so on. Elegant, fast, simple and precise, without taking your concentration away from the photograph, rather than having to constantly look to the onscreen slider and move your cursor there to change a value and have your eyes darting back and forth as you change a value and then look to see the change on your picture.

So, as well as cutting down on physical fatigue of hand and digit, it also helps hugely reduce eye strain, as one doesn’t have to constantly keep looking at various panels, sliders and the image itself. Whilst a quick edit now and again won’t result in much fatigue, add a large shoot with several hundred pictures and this fatigue quickly adds up. Now multiply that by a couple of times a week and in no time, you can have either have fatigue and eye strain, or you can choose to just have precisely edited and processed work, done comfortably.

So, is it all good news?

Well, the unit is expensive. The cost reflects the build quality and its ability. Whether it’s good value or not, will probably entirely depend on if one realises it’s true worth or not. Anyone who has ever used a similar product to aid in faster, smoother and less fatiguing workflow, will immediately realise its extra abilities and see its value. Those who are still struggling with just their trackpad and cramp, may need to research this a little more. I remember many years ago, well before Loupedeck was around, forward thinking colleagues were getting musical MIDI interfaces and programming them to move sliders in LightRoom. No where near as elegant, but it was the start of realising that we needed a better solution for longer editing sessions.

With use, familiarity kicks in and muscle memory begins to form, allowing very fast use, switching from Library tool sets to Develop tool sets, swiping to get to secondary pages of control dials and touchscreen buttons and so on. Being a tremendously capable and thus complex machine, does mean to get the most benefit, one just has to spend a little time with the CT. As mentioned, it works straight out the box; simple. The more time spent though, the more you realise just how much it can do. So whilst the learning curve is not steep at all, exploration and mastery of just how capable it is, will take a couple of weeks of use. My advice would be to just dive in and get started. It comes together quickly enough. 

I found that without really noticing, I’d transitioned from looking and hunting for a function I wanted, to just doing it. I’d liken it to learning to ride a bicycle or drive a car; suddenly everything just comes together and rather than thinking, you’re just doing. 

Loupedeck CT at my Apple Mac workstation. London, UK. April 01, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Final Thoughts

Based on how well my Loupedeck+ has performed over the last two years I’ve used it and based on the build quality of the CT, which feels much more substantial and solid than the Loupedeck+, I have no hesitation in thinking that the CT will be a good investment as a piece of professional grade, daily use equipment, which will last many years. 

Taking into account just how customisable it is, means that the software with which we use it, in my case mainly Adobe LightRoom Classic, the unit will adapt to changes or new controls introduced during updates to these programs. Remember how Adobe brought out the Texture control? Brilliant tool, but the Loupedeck+ couldn’t physically have a labelled slider, so had a programmable dial reprogrammed instead. With the CT though, as it’s so highly customisable, I don’t foresee any such issues. It will just adapt, with keys and dials just remapped to accommodate, along with a nice graphical label showing exactly what’s what. 

Weighting up all these variables, including the price of the unit, I conclude that it will be an investment very well made. Cutting out fatigue, cramps or strain, whilst allowing a faster workflow with more precise control over processing, makes it a great product. It’s a no brainer in reality. So, whilst an expensive peripheral, my experience is that it’s not overpriced and considering the workflow and health gains, it’s actually of good value.

Working efficiently and without fuss. Our tools should never get in the way of our creativity, which must flow unhindered. The Loupedeck CT has done just that. Let me work without being aware of it.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Review

Is The Sequel Any Good?!

Cameras come and cameras go. It’s a cycle that every manufacturer repeats every few years. As a professional photographer, I naturally keep my eyes open for new and better tools and as a reviewer of camera equipment for my blog and also various magazines over the years, I naturally get to use and review a lot of equipment from a lot of the main brands in our industry.

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II fitted with the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II fitted with the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

So, how do I know if a camera is any good? Well, one sure way is at the end of the test, when I box away the camera to send back. If at this stage I feel bad and want to hold on to the camera, that gut feeling says it all. As I boxed away the OM-D E-M5 Mark II last night and begun taping up the box, I really wished I could keep it!

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. The two grips, the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. The two grips, the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

Although I never used Olympus in the days of film, I always really fancied the OM3Ti; to the point that even now, once in a while I’ll look them up on eBay! When Olympus launched the first PEN, the E-P1, my interest in the company’s cameras was re-invigorated. Since, I’ve owned and use various PEN cameras, the most recent being the brilliant E-P5. When I saw the first OM-D, the E-M5, I did rather like it and when I saw the E-M1, I did rather love it. It was a camera that just felt perfect from the second I picked it up and since has become my most used camera system, putting my Canon DSLR and Leica M setups in early and part time retirement. I’ve been using the new E-M5 Mark II for exactly two weeks now. My first outing with it was a video shoot of an anti ivory demonstration at the Chinese Embassy, which will be used in the feature length documentary, The Last Animals. Having played with the camera the evening before, it gave me such confidence in it’s abilities that I was happy to take it on a real and important assignment the next day. Although I brought a Canon 5D MkIII as a backup, just in case, the little Olympus worked faultlessly and perfectly, allowing me to shoot the entire demo with it. The camera’s ergonomics and menu system are very well designed. Not having a manual for the two weeks meant having to figure everything out by exploration and I’m happy to say that everything just came together nicely, all because of a well thought out camera, by designers and engineers who clearly understand photography and photographers.

A rare Ferrari 288 GTO  built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A rare Ferrari 288 GTO built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

One of the highlight aspects of the E-M5 Mark II is it’s new high resolution mode; the resolution is boosted from it’s normal 16mp to a whopping 40mp. It does this by taking eight images, shifting the sensor for each shot and combining them into a 40mp jpeg, all in a matter of seconds. As the camera can fire up to 11 shots in the silent continuous mode (more of this later), the actual picture can be taken in under or around a second, so long exposure’s aren’t needed.

A rare Ferrari 288 GTO  built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A rare Ferrari 288 GTO built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A detail crop; A rare Ferrari 288 GTO  built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A detail crop; A rare Ferrari 288 GTO built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The processing of the eight images then takes a couple of seconds. A tripod is a must and your subject needs to be still, but I can see a lot of creative uses of this with moving subjects! The results are astonishing though. An image dimension of 7296 x 5472 takes things into the higher end of medium format territory. The results are pin sharp, full of detail and tonal range. Whilst this wasn’t a feature I was enamoured by when I first found out about it, having used it, it has really blown my mind!

Taxi Rank, Paddington Station, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. February 01, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Taxi Rank, Paddington Station, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. February 01, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

To download a full resolution file of the above image and see for yourself, follow THIS LINK. The other huge feature of the E-M5 Mark II is an updated and even more capable 5-axis in camera stabiliser. In a nutshell, every axis of movement is stabilised, meaning hand held shot are possible at very slow shutter speeds for pin sharp photographs. With practice I found I can shoot hand held at down to almost a one second exposure.

Shooting Video

This stabiliser also works in the video mode and in this aspect, pushes the camera to be one of the most able video shooting stills cameras around. It frees the user up to shooting so much more hand held shots. In my short film Taxi Driver, I shot the majority of shots completely hand held. Something I would never do with a DSLR, even with a stabilised lens.

Some of the shots in the film were done by attaching the camera and a mic, onto the windscreen of the taxi or to the bonnet, using a Delkin Fat Ghecko vehicle mount. This triple suction mount worked perfectly, but on it’s own offers no means of stabilisation. Considering how much a diesel London Taxi vibrates and the state of the bumpy roads in some parts of town, the smooth results just blew me away. The stabiliser is both extremely capable and extremely freeing, allowing you to shoot and create, without worrying about steadycams or a tripod. In fact, the only scenes I used a tripod and monopod were for the interview in the cafe and a few shots of a taxi rank. The rest of the seven hour shoot was freehand! By adding a grip (either the HLD-8 or HLD-8 Power Battery Grip) one also adds a headphone socket. This is essential for being able to monitor what the microphone is picking up and really makes this camera an even better video shooter. Thankfully, the audio gain level (along with ISO, aperture, shutter speed and headphone volume) can be changed using the silent touch screen during video shooting. Brilliant!

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Picture shows the all important headphone socket, now part of the optional (and essential) grip, the HLD-8G and HLD8 Battery Power Grip (shown), February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Picture shows the all important headphone socket, now part of the optional (and essential) grip, the HLD-8G and HLD8 Battery Power Grip (shown), February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

Thankfully, we now have variable frame rates, meaning that 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p can be used for full 1080p HD video. The video file itself is very beefy! ALL‑I has a data rate of 77Mbps. IPB gives the following data rates in the following quality setting: SF: ~52Mbps, F: ~30Mbps, N: ~18Mbps. Having shot the majority of the two films in ALL-I at 77Mbps, I can say that the detail holds up extremely well, rendering both highlight and shadow detail properly, allowing for proper grading. It also pushes the camera’s data rate into one the BBC with their stringent guidelines should approve of. Another very handy feature is various levels of slow motion (and speeded up footage) available in camera. I have made good use of the slow motion and am very pleased with the results. You can see this in action in my London Taxi film mentioned earlier.

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II fitted with the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip and Rode Steroe VideoMic X. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II fitted with the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip and Rode Steroe VideoMic X. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

On the audio front, the camera has the all important audio limiter, meaning loud sounds or a raise in volume won’t blow the audio and make it useless. The audio is also recorded at 16 bit, 48Hz, Wave Format Base, meaning it’s actually of better than CD quality and not compressed. Naturally there is an on screen audio meter during shooting. Although the camera has built in stereo microphones, it also comes with the essential mic socket, and during filming my Rode VideoMic Pro and Rode Stereo VideoMic X found themselves at home and recording great audio. Other Goodies The flip out, articulated screen is a great bonus which allows various camera angles to be used with ease. One thing I found I was going a lot was flipping it so the screen was hidden from view and the camera resembled a film camera. This is great as it’ll stop the chimping photographer, make them concentrate on the scene and not the camera back and as a result save on battery power. During the interview scene in London Taxi, I was shooting multicam, and the screen allowed me to tilt it on the wide camera, meaning I could keep an eye on it and on the one in my hand; very handy indeed. Another very handy aspect for me was the practically silent shutter. It can barely be heard and on the street, it should be completely inaudible. Need to take pictures in a monastery of monks who have taken a vows of silence? Not a problem as there is also a completely silent electronic shutter mode. And yes, I do mean silent. Completely. Zero sound. It’s absolutely astonishing to put the camera into silent continuous and know one’s shooting 11 frames per second, in absolute, total and complete silence! In normal mode, the barely audible shutter mode means in continuous mode, the count drops by a frame to 10fps.

London Taxi driver Terry Bradford. January 31, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

London Taxi, St Paul’s Cathedral. January 31, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The built in WiFi remains from the previous cameras and married to the Olympus O.I. Share app on iOS means you can download jpegs (I always shoot RAW and medium jpeg for just this reason) and also have full, wireless remote camera control. This naturally opens up huge possibilities and also allows quick sharing of images on social media (just check out my Instagram!) or for sending a quick image to a client for approval or a newspaper for publication. As a very important bonus, the battery system is the same as the previous OM-Ds and PENs; this means that when travelling, one needs one type of charger and one set of batteries. It’s this type of uniformity that endears a brand to the photographer and really helps on assignment. Final Thoughts So, is everything perfect? So far, I have had nothing but praise for this camera; I almost have nothing but praise for this camera. The only thing that bugs me, is the rear function button, labelled Fn1. It’s just too small and flat and is next to a lever which juts out too much, adding to it’s difficult use. In normal function button use, this isn’t an issue and works perfectly well when holding the camera away from the face and accessing the menus, but there are some photographers, myself included, who prefer back button focus, so assign all AF use to the back button. Whilst it’s usable, it’s not comfortable and not as tactile as it should be. So if you’re one of the breed who likes to back button focus, you will be annoyed. However, I like this camera so much that I will try and find a way to attach something to this button to make it stand out a few millimetres.

Dramatic Clouds At Sunset, London. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

Dramatic Clouds At Sunset, London. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

Well, as I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t want to return this test camera back to Olympus; I like it that much. One thing is for sure, a couple of E-M5 Mark II cameras will definitely be joining my bag as soon as they are available. My E-M1 cameras are extremely capable (and will be even better with the new firmware bring faster continuous AF, I’m sure) but for video, the E-M5 Mark II has raised the bar tremendously. For me, it’s a must have camera…..so yes, the sequel is much better! Links: Here’s my Flickr Album with E-M5 MarkII images; this will be updated, so do keep an eye on it.

Addendum

My black Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera and M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens. April 29, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

My black Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera and M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens. April 29, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

A few months on and I’ve got myself a pair of E-M5 Mark II cameras. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s a great camera. In fact, I have an assignment tomorrow and I’ll only be shooting on these; shall leave the E-M1 cameras at home. One thing however has changed since my review; the back “Function 1” button. Olympus have clearly been listening to the feedback and seem to have completely changed the button’s mechanics. It’s no longer hard to press and feels much better. The design isn’t ideal as the lever juts out too much, but with the button being softer to the touch and with much more feel, back button focusing is actually achievable comfortably. I’ve set up both my cameras with back button focus enabled. Top marks to Olympus for making this small yet significant change since the sample camera I had for my initial review.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII Video

“London Taxi”

A short film shot on the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera. The film was shot using two cameras and the following Olympus M.Zuiko lenses: 9mm f8 (Body Cap Lens), 12mm f2, 12-40mm f2.8PRO, 25mm f1.8, 45mm f1.8 and 75mm f1.8.

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II fitted with the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip and Rode Steroe VideoMic X. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II fitted with the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip and Rode Steroe VideoMic X. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

Addendum:

I have since made a shorter edit with a different grade of London Taxi (above) and it’s called, Taxi Driver:

Ambient audio was recorded on camera using a Rode Stereo VideoMic X. Audio was also recorded using an Olympus LS-100 with it’s internal microphones for ambient sounds and also hooked up via XLR to a Rode NTG3 for other atmospheric recordings. A Rode Lavalier microphone was used for for the interviews, attached to the Olymps LS-100 via it’s XLR input. All of the microphone mounts and windjammers used (apart from the one on the Stereo VideoMic X) were by Rycote.

The Olympus LS-100 audio recorder and Rode NTG3 microphone.. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The Olympus LS-100 audio recorder and Rode NTG3 microphone.. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The majority of shots were hand held, using the camera’s built in stabilisation system to keep the shots steady. For the shots where the camera was attached to the taxi, a Delkin Fat Gheko camera mount was used. A Manfrotto tripod and video monopod was also used for the interview and cab rank scenes.
Editing was done on an Apple Mac Pro and FCP X, using Eizo CG-276 monitors and monitoring audio on Event Opals. Asset management and image processing were done on Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. The two grips, the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. The two grips, the HLD-8 Power Battery Grip. February 05, 2015. Photo: © Edmond Terakopian

Testing The New Olympus 25mm f1.8 Lens

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 Test

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has fast become one of my favourite cameras. One of my favourite focal lengths, especially for street photography and environmental portraits is 50mm and I felt that the Olympus m4/3 lens lineup was missing this. I was delighted to find though that this lens was going to be announced soon and Olympus UK kindly lent me the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.8 lens to shoot my Los Angeles trip with. I’ve therefore been shooting with this lens since the 5th of January, for creating real pictures. Those who are familiar with my tests know that I don’t do the scientific breakdown or photograph brick walls; I take equipment on real assignments and shoots.

The sun rises over Los Angeles, California, USA. January 13, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The sun rises over Los Angeles, California, USA. January 13, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), plays volleyball on Venice Beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), plays volleyball on Venice Beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach at sunset. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach at sunset. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), at the funfair on Santa Monica pier in the evening. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the funfair on Santa Monica pier in the evening. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

For those not familiar with the m4/3 (Micro Four Thirds) system, the 25mm lens gives an equivalent of 50mm at a relatively fast aperture of f1.8. Married with the astonishingly great 5-axis stabiliser in the E-M1, this means that hand held extreme low light photography is very possible. At f1.8 one also gets lovely separation of subject from the background. I shot with the lens solidly whilst on a trip to Los Angeles and day in, day out, it performed perfectly.

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator - www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator – http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator - www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator – http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Visitors at the Chinese Theatre forecourt featuring handprints, footprints and signatures of iconic celebrities. The young visitors check out the Harry Potter imprints. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Visitors at the Chinese Theatre forecourt featuring handprints, footprints and signatures of iconic celebrities. The young visitors check out the Harry Potter imprints. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Cartoon characters interact with the tourists. Walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Cartoon characters interact with the tourists. Walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Very fast (and silent) to focus, pin sharp, accurate colour and tonal rendition and great element coating, meaning that shooting into the sun is not a problem. Being part of the M.Zuiko Premium range means it’s extremely well built. As you can see from the product photography, it’s also tiny and only weighs 137g. With two Aspherical elements and a close focusing distance of only 0.25cm, it has fast become my standard lens on my E-M1. I won’t hesitate in recommending this lens; it’s fast, crisp, small and extremely capable.

To see more photographs taken with the Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens, please visit my Flickr set.

LA Fashion District, downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

LA Fashion District, downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown of Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Centre and was designed by Frank Gehry. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown of Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Centre and was designed by Frank Gehry. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed next to the 45mm lens for size comparison.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed next to the 45mm lens for size comparison. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Shown with supplied lens hood attached.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Shown with supplied lens hood attached. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*