Olympus OM-D EM1 II: Another “Gold” award

Olympus OM-D EM1 II : As good as it gets

This weeks Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine has published a full test and review of the Olympus OM-D EM1 II and awarded Olympus’s top-end Micro Four Third (M43) mirrorless camera a “Gold Award”

AP’s verdict was also pretty straight forward:

” Its unarguable that the EM-1 Mark II is the best camera Olympus has ever made, it gives thye impression of being the best camera the firm could possibly make given current technology”

But equally AP conceded that the EM1 II couldn’t quite match the outright image quality of the best APS-C camera’s noting:

“While the EM1 II has very considerable strength, will they be sufficent to pesuade users to accept the Four Third sensor with its inevitable compromises in image quality? Its clear that it can’t match its APS-C peers when compared ISO for ISO

I’d only comment I’d add is  that whilst this is true the image quality from the EM1 II is the best of any M43 camera and in a recent DxO lab test the EM1 II’s sensor only lag that of the very best APS-C sensor but a small margin.

For the vast majority of potential users / buyers the difference is too small to either notice or matter.

And then finally there’s the cost of the EM1 II and this is AP Magazine’s take:

“The EM-1 II isn’t the only recent camera to look expensive, the huge drop in the value of the pound against the Yen in 2016 has seen to that. But as a result tthe EM1 II finds itself in the uncomfortable position of costing more than some very capable competitors, such as the Nikon D500 (APS-C DSLR) , Pentax K1 (Full frame DSLR) or Fuji X-T2 (Mirrorless APS-C). But make no mistake the EM1 is a very fine camera too, and doesn’ feel out of place is such exalted company. Anyone looking for a fast, rugged yet lightweight camera, particularily for sports or action should add it to their shortlist”

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review Image

My Take:

Personally the main reason I dumped all my Canon APS-C gear and committed myself to the Micro Four Third system were reasons of size, weight and access to some delightful optics.

I’ve always accepted that outright image quality form a M43 camera may never exactly match that from a high end APS-C DSLR or APS-C mirrorless camera but up to say 1600 ISO the difference is to my mind (and eyes) insignificant and not something to be too worried about.

The fact that the the likes of the EM1 II, PEN F and EM5 II have hugely capable  in-body stabilisation and that the M43 system offers many fast primes and zoom lenses means more often than not you can avoid high ISO settings anyway.

All things considered serious M43 shooters and in particular Olympus users will be falling over themselves to get their hands on the new EM1 II whilst others thinking of entering the more serious digital photographic world are probably best advised to put the EM1 II, the Fuji X-T2 and Nikon D500 at the top of their list and go and physically try the cameras out.

The recent Panasonic Lumix GH5 M43 camera in fairness does confuse things a little but probably mostly for people who take video seriously.

For me personally as the owner of a clutch of M.Zuiko “Pro” zooms and a bag full of M.Zuiko fast prime lenses the Olympus OM-D EM1 II is a no brainer even at its high retail price”

Mark Baynham (January 2017)

Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG “Art”

Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG “Art” : Performance & value for money

Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine has review the Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM “Art” zoom designed to work with full frame DSLR’s. So has Sigma got another priceless piece of “art” on its hands?

Well the article is very detailed but the conclusion simply. Yet again a Sigma “art” lens delivers in spades and at a price that puts the big names to shame, Its worth a read if your in the market for a full frame wide angle zoom.

From AP Magazine:

“This lens has created a bit of a buzz among landscape, architectural and interior photographers, and all for good reason. Yes its heavy and may not hold the title of being the world’s widest rectilinear zoom lens like the Canon EF 11-24mm f4L USM, but it does have many of the features of its closest rival, for a lot less money.

Its yet another superb addition to Sigma’s Art line-up”

January 2017

Canon EOS M5 Reviewed by AP Magazine

Canon EOS M5 : Still a C+ / B- effort 

Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine has published a full technical review of Canon’s latest attempt at a mirrorless CSC, the Canon EOS M5. So has Canon finally cracked itv and produced a truly credible mirrorless model? Well sort. Common sense indicates that the likes of Sony, Olympus and Panasonic have little to fear.

From AP Magazine:

“With the EOS M5, Canon has finally made the kind of mirorless model that users have been asking for. With its built-in electronic viewfinder and plentiful set of controls, it should appeal strongly to enthusiasts, while its Dual-Pixel autofocus works remarkably well even with old EF-mount SLR lenses.

But while there’s a great deal to like about the EOS M5, in some way it does feel rather behind the times.

Indeed the huge problem for the EOS M5 is its price, and this makes it difficult to rate.

But right now, £1049 body-only is simply too much to pay in this competative sector. However if the price were to drop closer to £800 in the future, then the EOS M5 would be a much more serious contender”

My Take:

At the moment the likes of the Fujifilm X-T10, the Panasonic G80, Sony Alpha 6300 and Olympus OM-D E10 II are far, far better options over the hugely over-priced Canon EOS M5. Besides Canon has still failed to produce truly high performing EF-M lenses to complement the camera and “M” system generally I reckon the company are simply playing mind games with the Canon faithful. Maybe they have something really special up their sleeve but somehow I am not so sure?

Mark Baynham (January 2017)

Sony FE 50mm f2.8 Macro Prime

Sony FE 50mm f2.8 Macro Prime.

Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro Review Image

Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine contained a test / review of Sony’s FE 50mm F2.8 Macro prime lens designed to be used with the company’s Alpha A7 range of full frame mirror-less camera’s.

From Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine:

“In terms of image quality its hard to fault the Sony FE 50mm f2.8 Macro”

“In summary, the build quality is superb, optically the lens is great and if you are primarily looking to shoot macro images but also want a standard 50mm lens, then its a good option”

“Users on a tight budget could consider buying the FE 50mm f1.8 with a set of extension tubes instead”

December 2016

Pentax K-70: Bang for Bucks Value.

Pentax K-70: Another winner from Pentax

Pentax K-70 Review Image

This weeks Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine had a full review of Pentax’s mid-range APS-C DSLR the K-70.

Pentax DSLR’s have traditionally pretty much always offered:

Excellent image quality ( especially high ISO performance)

Incredible value for money

Hugely impressive feature set (ie 100% viewfinders & durable bodies)

The one of two features simply not present in equivilent rivals.

Accesss to a wealth of K fit legacy lenses going back 20 years or more.

Access to a wide range of modern high performing Pentax optics

Slightly slow AF performance when compared to rivals.

To be honets its a bit of a mystery as to why despite a rich history and excellent cameras, Pentax have continually failed to gain a more significant share of the APS-C DSLR market.

So how does the K-70 fair against obvious rivals like the Canon 760D and Nikon D5500? What did AP think?

Well they liked it.

From Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine:

” Overall the K-70 offers great value and a solid set of features in a compact body that should be easy to use for beginners, But equally it will keep budding photographers happy for longer as their experience grows and they start to experiment with the more advanced features that it includes in abundance. For the price the K-70 is hard to beat”

My Take:

Yep, and there you have it. The Pentax K-70 is a 24mp APS-C weather sealed DSLR with a 100% viewfinder and in-body sensor stabilisation (which also brings pixel shift high res mode). The brutal truth is that no rival (not one) comes close to such a rich feature set.

Yes its true that once again AP Magazine found that the camera’s AF performance lags the opposition but despite this “quirk” or maybe even because of it the K-70 should ( no will) appeal to traditionalists, old school photographers and they will laughing all the way to the bank because you can pick up a brand new Pentax K-70 kitted with 18-135mm all purpose zoom for around £800 and that’s superb value for money.

Mark Baynham (December 2016)