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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.

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

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.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7

The Perfect Camera Bag?

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Shown with two Leica M cameras; L-R: Leica M9 with 50mm Noctilux ASPH and M9-P with 35mm Summilux ASPH. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

As photographers we spent our years searching for that perfect image. Any photographer who has been in the industry for any length of time has most probably spent a sizeable amount of time also searching for the perfect camera bag!

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Front view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Firstly, I would say that no such thing exists as “the perfect camera bag”. It’s taken me a couple of decades to come up with this conclusion. I would say though that the perfect camera bag system does exist. One type of bag simply will not work for all situations, types of equipment or types of assignment, therefore having a system of bags is the answer. I’ve been a user of Think Tank Photo bags for many years now and was so impressed with them that I even joined the design board a couple of years ago, for a year. (I hasten to add that I’ve had no input into this bag, so it is a straight forward review). I now use a system of roller bags and backpacks which allow for transportation of gear to an assignment, and then a selection of belt pouches, chest bag (the Change Up) and shoulder bags, to work from (I choose what suits the assignment best).  I choose what will suit a particular assignment as carefully as I choose my camera or video gear. This way I can work both comfortably and quickly, with the equipment not getting in the way of the job at hand.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I’ve been actively using the Retrospective 7 on assignment for several weeks now and must say I am very, very impressed. It now houses my Leica M outfit, comprising of an M9, M9-P, 21mm Elmarit, 28mm Summicron ASPH, 35mm Summilux ASPH, 50mm Noctilux ASPH, 90mm Summarit, SF 58 flash and various accessories. The main thing with this bag though was that it was designed to take an Apple 11″ MacBook Air or iPad too, so depending on what I’m doing, I will slip the appropriate computer in the rear zipped and padded compartment.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple 11″ MacBook Air in the rear pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Like the other Retrospective Bags, it’s lightweight, unconstructed and soft, with a moving base (made up of several padded sections that move with the movement of the bag). This makes the range, and this bag too, an extremely comfortable shoulder bag to work with and work from. It also has the genius silent velcro system which comes in very handy in quite press conferences (and will suit every wedding photographer when it comes to working in a church environment).

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple iPad 3. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Although I house my rangefinder outfit in the Retrospective 7, it will also be perfect for any Micro 4/3 system by Panasonic or Olympus and the Fuji X-Pro 1 kit. It will also take smaller DSLRs (without grips), including the 5D MkIII or D800, with lenses up to the 24-70 f2.8s and smaller prime lenses. It’s an extremely versatile size and can be configured to house a wide variety of gear, including a means to edit and send pictures.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Interior shot, with dividers set up specifically for a Leica M outfit. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Is it the perfect bag? Well, I’d say it’s the perfect shoulder bag and it’s now my favourite shoulder bag of all time. Highly recommended.

The Retrospective 7, along with most of that range is available in Black, Pinestone and the new Blue Slate colours. If you’re in the UK, check out SnapperStuff where you can order directly or find your local dealer. Otherwise, check out the Think Tank Photo.

Addendum: Macjim has kindly sent me this picture showing his Retrospective 7 with the Apple 13″ MacBook Air in the front pocket. I wouldn’t say it’s ideal, but appears a workable solution if needs must.

 

The Leica M Monochrom Hands On Review

The King Of The Tones?

Opening of the Leica Studio-S, 27 Bruton Place, Mayfair. Portraits of photographer Edmond Terakopian trying out the new Leica M Monocrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. May 16, 2012. Photo: By Brett / http://www.bybrett.com

I have to admit that when I first read rumours of a black and white Leica M, I thought it would never happen. When I saw the announcements, I was a tad surprised, until I saw the images. Such tonal range and amazing detail at very high ISOs all of a sudden made so much sense.

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 640 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 640 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I was fortunate enough to be able to try out a pre-production Leica M Monochrom today, along with the astonishingly great Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. In my enthusiasm to shoot with the camera I unfortunately didn’t check to see if the camera was set to RAW, so all these test images are from jpegs which I have processed a little in Aperture. Naturally RAWs produce the best files, so take these jpegs, which have been saved again as jpegs and thus degraded the image quality (especially at higher ISOs) as a guide. Even so, they are amazingly good!

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 8000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 8000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 10,000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 10,000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One of the great aspects of the launch event for the press at Leica Mayfair’s S-Studio was being able to discuss the camera with friends and colleagues.

Photographer Ian Berry from Magnum Photos tries out the new Leica M Monochrome. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian (Image shot on an M9-P and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2)

Photographer Ian Berry from Magnum Photos tries out the new Leica M Monochrome. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian (Image shot on an M9-P and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2)

I must admit to being blown away and yearn to be able to work in black and white like the good old days!

The huge thing with this camera is not needing the bayer filter in front of the sensor. This makes the sensor much better at picking up ultra fine detail and a wider tonal range, not to mention it’s ability to produce really gorgeous files at 8000 ISO. Just playing with these jpegs it’s clear to me that Leica have in fact pulled off a master stroke of absolute genius. I can’t wait to get my hands on this camera again, shoot in DNG and process them properly through Aperture. It is going to be lush!

For a full set of images taken with the M Monochrom, visit my Flickr stream.

The B&W Connoisseur’s Camera?

The  Leica M Monochrom

Leica M Monochrom. Photo: © Leica

It does at first glance appear a tad odd; a digital camera that only shoots in black and white. There are two types of photographer who this camera will appeal too though; the high end enthusiast who is into monochrome photography and also the established professional photographer who has made a name for themselves by shooting black and white.

I’m very much hoping to do a hands on review soon, but meanwhile, Andreas Jürgensen from the Leica Forum has done an interesting video review.

The camera certainly appears not to be a Leica M9 which just shoots in B&W. It does indeed have a brand new sensor and it’s ISO range is upped to 10,000. Watching the video and listening to Andreas’ conclusions, the camera produces noiseless images at 3200 ISO and absolutely usable images at 8000 ISO. The sensor also renders massive amounts of micro detail. This camera appears to be an astonishing tool; an interesting concept brought to life with a brave decision making by Leica and also executed in a magnificent way. I really cannot wait to shoot with this camera and make some prints on my iPF6300 and Hahnemuhle paper!

Update: I’ve just read a fantastic piece by Jonathan Slack on the Leica M Monochrom; well worth a read and definitely check out the wonderful gallery of images.

Update: There are some images by Magnum Photos photographer Jacob Aue Sobol on the Leica M Monochrom site that are well worth checking out.