It ain’t cheap its the Olympus OM-D EM1 II

As expected Olympus has announced the retail pricing of its new Micro Four Third ( M43 / MFT) DSLR like high end camera the long awaited Olympus OM-D EM1 II and also as expected the new heavy hitter from Olympus comes with an equally heavy price tag, namely almost £1,900 – OUCH

Now as we know camera prices generally are begining to show around a 20% price increase due to the weaken £ but the price of the new EM1 II is around £600 more than that of the EM1 when it was released over 3 years ago, that’s a hell of a difference.

Such a price pushes the new EM1 II into unchartered waters as it has to do battle with not only some excellent mirrorless competition (ie the Fuji X-T2) but also some seriously good APS-C DSLR’s.

The one piece of comfort is that unless they are completely crazy Olympus must be confident that the new EM1 II is a true power-house camera that can and will take the fight to the APS-C equipped rivals?

For sure Olympus’s “Pro” range of M43 lenses are first class top-notch optical performers so fingers crossed the EM1 II will move not only image quality onwards for mirco four third users but also camera performance in general.

Time will tell whether Olympus have been bold or slightly over confident. My gut feeling as a micro four third owner is that the new OM-D EM1 II will turn out to be the best M43rd on the market and a true and proper rival to bigger, bulkier and heavier APS-C DSLR’s . It may even become the model that finally proves that the M43 sysyem can compete with bigger sensor rivals.

Mark Baynham ( November 2016)

The only way is up: Camera prices can only increase

It probably hasn’t escaped many’s attention that recently announced cameras (ie Sony RX100 V & Canon EOS 5D IV for example) have seen a fairly substantial retail price hike over previous models.

Well there are a nunber of factors influencing camera prices not least the weaken pound (£) and in very broad terms this has translated into a general 10-20% price increase for imported goods.

Despite a common belief, retailer margins are not as large as many believe and therefore its probably totally unrealistic to expect retailers to absorb these increases.

This means camera prices are only going one way for the foreseeable future and that’s skywards.

A good example will be the new Olympus OMD EM1 II. Its yet to be officially released ( this is likely to happen in the new 2 weeks or so) and Olympus has been pretty tight lipped about how much it will cost. However its been recently reported that the Japenese Yen figure for the new camera hints at a likely UK £ cost which could be anything up to 60% higher than that of the orginal EM1, WOW.

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

Unfortunately this sort or price increase will most probably be here to stay and unless the £ gains some serious strength against foreign currency ( highly unlikely) we have entered a new reality when it comes to camera ( and lens) prices.

Will this effect overall sales? Probably yes but I suspect that many photography enthusiasts will simple save more, buy less frequently and / or make do with their current gear for longer periods.

Photography in general used to be very much more exclusive past time in the past but competition & technology developments changed that a long time ago. Through complex economic and political factors we may even see photography becoming a bit more exclusive once again?

Mark Baynham ( October 2016)

Olympus OM-D EM1 II – A quick assessment

Why the EM1II will be worth every penny

3_e-m1ii

Although us Micro Four Third isers we will have to wait a few months before we get our hands on the just announced Olympus OM-D EM1II a quick look at Olympus’s press release reveals what a power house the new camera promises to be.

I’ve shown the main differences / improvements over the EM1 and the EM5Ii as well for that matter and they are significant.

Sensor.

Olympus has increased resolution over the EM1 / EM5 by introducing a 20mp sensor.

Sensor Performance.

Here’s where it get intresting. Olympus has stated that the new sensor when combined by the new TruePic VIII processor will produce “dramtically improved image quality at high ISO” as well as an improved dynamic range performance, this with increased resolution promises much.

The new sensor will boast 121 cross-type AF points an increase of the 81 found on the EM1 and a significant upgrade.

The new 20.4 megapixel Live MOS sensor will provide a read speed three times faster than that of the EM1, that’s impressive.

AF Performance.

The new sensor and processor means frame rate leaps from 10fps to 15fps

The new EM1II will also allow users to adopt the “AF target pad” feature whereby you can use you finger to select the AF point on the rear screen whilst looking through the viewfinder.

The new EM1II will shoot at6 18fps in RAW in autofocus or 60fps (yes 60) at Full RAW if autofocus is not used, this is a sports and wildlife shooters delight

The AF performance is aided by a quad core processors which is dedicated specifically to autofocus.

EVF.

Unlike many rumours the EVF has remained the same ie a 2.36k resolution and 1.48 magnification BUT runs at 120fps with a reaction to of 6millisec’s so it will offer a crisper more natural view.

Shutter Life.

The shutter mechanism will be rated to 200,000 shots which is “pro” standard.

Improved 5-Axis Image Stabilisation

The new EM1II promises up to 6.5 (yes 6.5) stops of stabilisation when certain “Pro” lenses (which have image stablisation) are used on the lens, so lenses like the 300mm F4 Pro and the new 12-100mm F4 Pro will work a dream on the EM1II.

Improved High Res Function

The new TruePic VIII Image Processor will effectively suppress blur due to subject movement, making it possible to utilize High Res Shot Mode in a wide variety of shooting conditions, such as gently-blowing grass, tree leaves, or ocean waves.

NB: I suspect true hand-held high res shooting will become available via a firmware update in the future.

Improved Battery life

The new 1720mAh battery promises 37% improved battery life.

Dual SD Slots

The new EM1II will boast 2 SD slots a useful update,

New “low” ISO 64 setting.

The new EM1II will allow of a new ISO64 setting something which can in some circumstance be very useful

4K Video

The EM1II gains 4K video a first for an Olympus OM-D model. The 4K  can be shot in the wider aspect ratio ‘DCI’ Cinema 4K at up to 236mbps.

Improved Grip

The EM1II will have a re-shaped grip that will improve handling when paired with the larger Pro telephoto lenses

Even more rugged

The new EM1II will be even more rugged and robust than the EM1the new camera  will dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof (down to 14°F / -10°C)

Summary / First Impression.

One word, impressive

And there you have it. You throw all the above together and you are left with what appears to be a truly “Pro” focussed camera, one more than able to hold its own against its bigger APS-C equipped rivals.

If the EM1II delivers on the promised improved image quality the previous superiority of APS-C DSLR’s vanishes.

Pair the new EM1II with the growing “Pro” lenses or some of the high quality Leica micro four third primes or gems like the Zuiko 17mm f1.8 or 75mm f1.8 and you’ll have a sublime package.

The forth coming EM1II looks like it will take the micro four third system to a whole new level and I for one will be the first to stick an order in, I am that convinced it will be a winner.

Mark Baynham (September 2016)

 

 

DSLR’s vs Mirrorless / CSC

Are the days numbered for DSLR’s?

Last weeks Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine was devoted to comparisons, assessments and reviews of DSLR’s vs Mirrorless cameras and a facinating read it was.

Of course I have to confess to being an convert having last year ditch all my Canon APS-C DSLR gear and thrown my lot in with Olympus via the EM5 / EM5II and a clutch of the latest M.Zuiko “Pro” lenses.

Having run dual systems for some time then having dipped my toes into the Sony NEX system I boughyt the orginal Olympus PEN EP1 and I was sold. For me the thought of lugging around a heavy DSLR and lenses simply lost its appeal.

It was finally with the introduction of the EM1 and orginal EM5 back in 2012 that I realised that for me personally for 90% of the time my Micro Four Third camera would suit me just fine.

I love the available range of  Micro Four Thirds (MFT – M43) lenses (Both Panasonic and Olympus not to mention 3rd party one) and lets face it an optically excellent lens paired with a good sensor will always be superior to a good sensor and OK lens.

Many lenses being produced by Zuiko, Zeiss and Leica for mirrorless models are sublime to say the least.

So has mirrorless finally got the legs on DSLR’s?

Well on balance and for most potential users I’d say yes, for most of time anyway. OK mirrorless cameras have traditionally tailed DSLR’s in focus tracking (but they are now at least as good,, check out the X-T2) and as observed by AP Magazine battery life in mirrorless models is still an area that need improvement but take a critical  look at the recently released Fujifilm X-T2 or pick up and play with a X-Pro2 and you’ll notice that these two cameras can easily competes with any DSLR.

And yes in the past the EVF’s (electronic viewfinder’s) have been poor but not any more.

And finally if you have any doubt that mirrorless is somehow inferior or more “amateurish” than DSLR’s take one look at the utterly brillant Sony Alpha A7RII. My word what a tour de force of cutting edge technology that camera represents,  its 42mp BSI stablised full frame CMOS sensor with 399 on-phase detection points really kicks a” $ its a market leader, there is simply nothing like it out there.

And then there was the 28mp APS-C BSI CMOS sensor with 205 (yes 205) phased detect points tha was found in the now discontinued but class leading Samsung NX1. No APS-C DSLR could come close to this 15fps (WITH continuos autofocus, 4K equipped camera. Its such a pity that the NX1 and the entire NX range has been sent to an early grave but the NX1’s sensor was superior to every (and I mean every) current APS-C CMOS sensor. I’d be stunned, utterly stunned if one of the big two (ie Canon & Nikon) hasn’t purchased NX1 sensor technology and we’ll see it in a future release?

Want 4K video or even 6K Photo ( a new feature that will appear in the GH5) or maybe future 6/8K video, slow mow etc, etc, well mirrorless almost cetainly has the edge.

So will mirrorless finally overtake DSLR’s in the next 3-5 years?

Well like some writers in AP Magazine I am certain that they will but I”ll actually go further as I have a nagging suspicion it may be even sooner?

With Photokina just round the corner I suspect a number of soon to be announced models (and maybe one which is just  a rumour) will represent the nail in the coffin of most APS-C DSLR’s.

I suspect the soon to be announced Olympus OM-D EM1 II, Panasonic’s eventual GH5 and the just released Fujifilm X-T2 in particular will take the fight to the DSLR’s and win.

I’d imagine professional focussed full frame DSLR’s specifically intended to appeal to sport and wildlife shooters will soldier on for a few years yet but even then Sony has showed what the full frame future landscape may look like so their days are numbered?

Hell I even predict that medium format is also  likely to be slained by mirrorless in the future,  Hasselblad has just introduced a medium format mirrorless and as written in AP Magazine “and maybe we’ll even see another medium-format system on the back of Hasselblads X1D”

Has AP Magazine maybe heard the same rumours about a medium -format Fuji mirrorless camera? Mmmmm

The rise and development of mirrorless system has been relentless these past 8 years although ironically in the process they have also introduced people to photography who would never have picked up a bulky, intrusive and complicated DSLR in a million years, and that’s no bad thing.

Mark Baynham (September 2016)

 

Can a camera -phone be any good?

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge : Decent phone & excellent camera.

First a confession. Previously I have never really used the camera facility on any of my android Samsung smart phones.

However I recently to a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and when I took the trouble to read some online reviews all commented on the quality of the S7’s camera which consists of a f1.7 lens in front of a 12mp dual pixel sensor.

Then I realised the phone allows RAW capture via DNG format and my attention was drawn.

So I’ve actually taken some “snaps”with the S7 Edge and I am impressed.

So in the real world can the camera module in the S7 Edge replace a “proper / real” camera ” ? Well the answer is YES in quite a few circumstances. Using free apps one can truly get very acceptable results and here’s some 2 examples to prove it.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge:

Cross Processed Flowers (Samsung Galaxy S7 ) (DD)

Norwich Cathedral (Samsung S7) (DD)

Flower (1) (Samsung Galaxy S7 ) (DD)

Its no wonder the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge won an EISA award recently.

Mark Baynham