Olympus m.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 Review

Olympus m.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 : Perfect Travel Option

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro Review Image

From Photography Blog UK:

“The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro makes a great all-in-one travel partner to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera, forming a fast, well-built, weather-proof system that delivers excellent image quality, not to mention featuring the most advanced image stabilisation system of any camera/lens combination currently available.

Optically, it’s not quite a perfect lens though. While both centre and edge sharpness are very high throughout most of its focal length range, the performance drops off a little at the 100mm focal length, where you need to stop down to get acceptable results. Otherwise it’s all good news. Chromatic aberrations are almost completely absent, vignetting is not a real issue, and distortion is very well auto-corrected through software algorithms.

The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro is a great choice for those users who want an all-in-one solution to their everyday photography and videography needs, covering a very versatile focal range whilst featuring both a fast f/4 aperture and an amazing image stabilisation system. Highly Recommended”! 

November 2016

Sony Alpha A6500 Reviewed

Sony Alpha A6500 : Sony’s best mirror-less camera to date

On-line review site cameralabs has posted a very extensive review and test of Sony’s mid to upper range mirrorless range-finder styled camera the Sony Alpha A6500.

The Sony Alpha A6500 comes with a 24 Mp APS-C sensor, built-in stabilisation ( 5 stops of compensation), 3in 920K dot touchscreen, 4k video, a XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, a new powerful AF system ( with 425 embedded phase-detect AF points), and 11fps continuous shooting (or 8 with live feedback) that means thee camera is likely to appeal to potential action shooters. In essence the new A6500 becomes the new flagship APS-C e-mount body.

From Cameralabs:

Good points
Detailed 24 Megapixel stills.
High quality uncropped 4k video, 1080 up to 120p, S-Log profiles.
Built-in 5-axis stabilisation works with any lens. 4 stops in my tests.
Fantastic AF system, fast 11fps bursts and leading buffer depth.
Touchscreen allows you to reposition AF area with a tap.
Spot metering can be linked to active AF area.

Bad points
Touchscreen under-used. Can’t tilt to face subject either.
Screen is dim and can’t be brightened in 4k or 1080 / 100p / 120p.
Often confusing or inconsistent menus and user interface.
Maximum shutter of 1/4000 (electronic or mechanical).
No RAW processing playback.
No dual card slots. No headphone jack.

Sony A6500 final verdict

“The Alpha A6500 is Sony’s best all-round mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor to date. The original A6000 was the first mirrorless to confidently take-on sports and fast action. The A6300 then improved the focus and live feedback even further, while adding weatherproofing and great quality 4k video. Now the A6500 gives it broader appeal by adding built-in stabilisation, a touch-screen, deeper buffer and Bluetooth for hassle-free low-power location tagging. The built-in IS may not be quite as good as Olympus, but greatly improves composition, still shooting and movie filming with unstabilised lenses, and while the touch capabilities are under-used, you can at least tap to reposition the AF area or pull-focus while filming. While it’s the continuous autofocus and fast bursts that continue to set it apart from rivals, the upgrades have made it a much more compelling camera overall than its predecessor. Sony needs to do some work on its controls and user interface, not to mention updating some features that should be standard at this price, but they don’t hold it back from a Highly Recommended award”.

My Take:

The Sony Alpha A6500 is clearly a very good camera, in particular Sony have honed and tweaked AF peformance and the result is a very competent all round performer. BUT I agree 100% with Cameralabs, the ergonomics and handling experience still have  a lot to be desired and more often than not its how a cmaera handles and feels in the hand that sways users.

Also following the current trend the new camera is quite expensive.

Personally I’d consider the Fjifilm X-T2 over the Sony Alpha A6500 or even the Panasonic Lumix G80 and although both are different body designs and physically bigger the Panasonic G80 in particular is a fair bit cheaper.

If money is no issues and you need class leading mirror-less AF perfomance the new Olympus OM-D EM1 II has to be top of your list.

If Sony played with the physical layout of the A6500 they could have a winner in their hands all be it an expensive one.

Mark Baynham ( December 2016)

 

Pragmatic Choice : The Panasonic Lumix FZ2000

Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 Review:

Great all-in-one infusion of still & video capacity

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000 Review Image

On-line review site Cameralabs has published a detailed review of Panasonic’s high end enthusiast bridge / superzoom, the Panasonic Lumix FZ2000, a considerable update to the well received FZ1000 and a natural rival to Sony’s mega expensive high-end Superzoom the Sony RX10 III.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 is DSLR-styled super-zoom camera sporting a 20x / 24-480mm f2.8-4.5 range lens (with internal zooming), a 1-inch 20 Megapixel sensor, large EVF (2.4M dot, 0.74x magnification), fully-articulated 3″ touchscreen as well as a wealth of pro movie options which includes unlimited 4k recording in UHD or Cinema 4k. In fact the FZ2000’s video capacity is as good in many ways as Panasonic top end M43 CSC camera the GH4.

Intended to act as an all in one solution for those wishing to have combined photo / video capacity, the FZ2000 could represent as much camera as many will ever require. The 20mp 1-inch sensor has proved itself in the image quality department and the new camera has a shed load of features, scene modes and the like which combine to form a hell o a spec list.

Realistically only the considerably more expensive Sony RX10 III can match or “beat” the FZ2000 in some areas ( ie it has a longer “faster” lens, produces slightly more “crisp” images and is weather sealed).

So what did Cameralabs think?

From Cameralabs:

Good points
20x lens range with internal zooming.
Built-in 2, 4 and 6 stop ND filter.
5-speed smooth, stable, slow zooming.
Articulated touch-screen.
Cinema 4k and UHD video modes.
Headphone jack.
4k Photo modes including focus stacking.

Bad points
Poor battery life and can’t be charged in-camera over USB.
No weather sealing.
4k movies and 4k Photo employ a fairly tight crop.
Results not as crisp as Sony RX10 III.

“With so many enhancements and improvements though, it’s hard not to enthuse over the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 which packs in a huge range of features at a very competitive price. As a high-end camera I do wish it had weather-sealing, but it doesn’t hold it back from earning a Recommended award”.

My Take:

Its a no brainer that Sony’s Cyber-Shot RX10 III is the best bridge camera – superzoom on the market, however its also by far the most expensive one and by some margin.

The new Panasonic FZ2000 is 90% the RX10 III but at a considerably lower cost.

To my mind unless you absloutely require a weather sealed body, or absolutely require a 25x zoom lens as opposed to “only” 20x, the new FZ2000 is the pragmatic choice for anyone seeking a high performing all-in-one photo-video hybrid camera. As a general purpose holiday camera, although not the smallest or lightest option the FZ2000 could be the perfect solution.

Mark Baynham ( November 2016)

 

 

Another OM-D EM1 II Review

Olympus OM-D EM1 II :

Quality, Speed & Performance but it comes at a cost

 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review thumbnail

On-line photography review site Photography Blog UK has review the new Olympus Micro Four Third flagship CSC the Olympus OM-D E1 II and in many ways echo what Dpreview concluded the other day.

From Photography Blog UK:

“The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a veritable speed demon, offering incredibly fast shooting rates coupled with a much improved auto-focusing system that keeps moving subjects sharp. Together with the simply amazing 5-axis image stabilisation system, which provides up to 6.5 stops of compensation with certain lenses, and a durable weather-proof body, the E-M1 Mark II is capable of successfully capturing a wide variety of subjects in almost any shooting situation that you’ll encounter. Add the fact that it delivers outstanding still image quality for a camera with such a small sensor, whilst making several leaps forward for video, and it’s clear that the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is easily the best Olympus mirrorless camera to date”.

In our view, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a big step forward for Micro Four Thirds and mirrorless cameras as a whole, but it does come with a big price tag to match, so you really need to evaluate the image quality that it delivers and whether or not you’ll really take advantage of all the cutting-edge features that it offers…”

November 2016

Gold Standard – Gold Award: Olympus OM-D EM1 II Review

Olympus OM-D EM1 II : As good as Micro Four Thirds (m43) gets.

Dpreview has posted the first really detailed full in-depth review of Olympus’s Pro-Enthusiast focussed high end Micro Four Third ( M43) camera, the Olympus OM-D EM1 II.

olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii-camera

Olympus has high hopes for its new flagship mirrorless micro four third model and this is reflected not only in its specs but also it retail cost which has raised a few eyebrows in the micro four third world ( mine included).

As a current OM-D EM5 II owner / user and having ditched my Canon gear for a clutch of m.Zuiko “Pro” lenses I have had my fingers crossed hoping that Olympus hasn’t been over confident when it comes to some of its claims for its new flagship camera.

olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii-camera-3

olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii-camera-2

Well having read Dpreview’s report it would seem most of my fears have been well and truly put to bed because the new EM1 II not only looks like the best M43 camera yet but a fantastic camera period.

As good as a FujiFilm X-T2 ( probably the best overall mirrorless camera at the moment), well Dpreview has given the OM-D EM1 II a “Gold” award and that award is not easily won.

olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii-camera-1

olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii-camera-4

Here’s some choice quotes from Dpreview.

“To say that Olympus has topped itself with the E-M1 Mark II is an understatement. The company told us that this camera was overdeveloped, and it shows”.

” While its outer changes aren’t going to surprise anyone, it is pretty surprising just how far of a leap forward the E-M1 II makes compared to its predecessor.”

“One of the E-M1 Mark II’s biggest selling points is its in-body 5-axis image stabilization system, which is rated to 5.5 stops using the CIPA standard. If you’re using the Olympus 12-100mm F4 lens, that number rises to an incredible 6.5 stops (a figure Olympus says is now limited by the rotation of the Earth)”.

“The AF system is one of the best we’ve seen on a mirrorless camera and DCI 4K video quality is superb. As with its predecessor, build quality is impeccable”.

And Dpreview’s conclusion:

” The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is Olympus’ most ambitious camera yet and it blows away its peers in terms of raw speed – and it’s no slouch when it comes to photo and video quality, AF performance and build quality. The Mark II is customizable to the point where it’s overwhelming, so it’s not for everyone. It’s may also be a budget-stretcher for a lot of people. Aside from those and a few other quirks, the E-M1 II is an interchangeable lens camera to be reckoned with”.

Dpreview’s Pro’s / Con’s

Pros Cons
  • Market-leading image stabilization for both still and video shooting
  • Hybrid AF system is quick and generally tracks subjects well
  • Weather-sealed body is sturdy and has well-placed buttons and dials
  • Incredibly customizable
  • New 20MP sensor increases resolution without impacting noise levels
  • High bitrate UHD and DCI 4K video
  • Continuous shooting at 60 fps (single AF) and 18 fps (continuous AF)
  • Dual SD memory card slots
  • Above average battery life
  • High Res Shot mode offers extra detail and improved handling of motion
  • USB 3 (Type C) jack
  • Clever articulating external flash included
  • Expensive
  • Noise reduction in JPEGs a little strong
  • UHD 4K not as detailed as DCI; 1080p video is soft
  • Subject tracking can be unreliable during burst shooting
  • Customization options can be overwhelming
  • Placement of I/O ports can impede LCD rotation
  • Menu system is a step back from previous models
  • Highest frame rates with electronic shutter may result in rolling shutter effect
  • Only one SD card slot supports high-speed UHS-II media
  • Cannot enter playback mode while buffer being cleared

Gold Award  85%

My Take:

First I won’t compare the OM-D EM1 II to any full frame mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7 series as some people have on various blogs. Although whilst it costs the same as some full frame models to my mind that’s simple an unrealistic comparison. The Micro Four Third system was never intended to compete with full frame cameras, so why compare them.

No, I’d be much more inclined to compare the new Olympus flagship model to  models like the Fuji X-T2 ( with an APS-C  sensor), Sony’s A6500 (another APS-C mirrorless camera), Panasonic’s G80 & GX8 and even Olympus’s own EM5 II (all  m43 cameras).

And when I read Dpreviews in-depth analysis its apparant that the EM1 II smashes all other M43 camera, pretty much walks all over the Sony A6500 in most aspects and when all things are considered probably even takes the Fuji’s X-T2’s crown as top dog in the cropped sensor mirrorless world.

Its so clearly good, very, very good and as a result I am now far less likely to pass comment on its cost, because its a class act and lets face it class has never come cheap?

Buy the Olympus OM-D EM1 II and some of the sublime M.Zuiko “Pro” lenses or some of the wonderful m43 prime lenses and you’ll have a high performing combination that’s for most shooters in most situations is hard to beat.

Is it a “Pro” camera? Yes it is, and so finally the Micro Third system has comes of age.

Mark Baynham ( November 2016)