Sunday, May 23, 2010

Micro 4/3rds Shoot Out

The Back Story

Let me explain this situation I find myself in. Imagine 2 cameras neither of them are bad, but neither of them suit you completely. That's my current situation. I'm looking for a Micro 4/3rds camera to carry around everywhere, where my 1D MkiiN can't go. I've had the Olympus PEN for a long time about 3 months, and I just got a Panasonic G1 a week ago. I've been playing with both the cameras side by side for the past few days and have come up with a few points for people who are in a similar situation.

Size and feel

In the size department the Olympus PEN clearly wins. Being nearly perfectly rectangular its profile is a lot smaller than the G1, and even if the G1 was smaller the way you perceive the PEN is that it's a very small camera, just by the way it looks. This doesn't mean the PEN feels cramped though, the button layout is well thought out and overall it's decent to use.

The G1 is larger but on the bright side the feel is very conventional, so if you like how SLR cameras feel then you'll be just at home with this camera. It really just feels like an SLR smallified.

Electronic Viewfinder/Screen

Here is where things start to get dicey. The G1 screen itself essentially blows the PEN screen out of the water then kicks it in the face. First, the screen resolution, the G1 has a higher resolution screen (460k vs 230k). Secondly, outside in daylight the G1 screen is much more viewable than the PEN screen, and the fact that it articulates just brings in a new dimension of shooting. Oh and not to mention the built in electronic viewfinder on the G1 is insanely nice, rendering sharp details and making it ideal for manual focusing, especially with the manual focus assist which zooms into the focus point for more precise focusing (in good daylight of course).

There is one major caveat though. In low light the G1's live view display (on the main screen and viewfinder) really really takes a dive. No matter how nice the screen is if the camera can't keep up with the frames it isn't that effective. This is a small issue if you use just the selection of Micro 4/3rds lenses since you don't need a perfectly steady image to focus, since the camera will still focus fine. This is however an issue if you plan to use manual focus lenses of any kind in low light, or even stopped down. The frame rate slows down so much that it almost looks like a fast slide show as oppose to a live feed, making it very difficult to manual focus.

The PEN screen on the other hand may be lower resolution, less viewable in day light, and overall not as impressive, but it maintains a good frame rate in low light. This makes it vastly more useful if you were to shoot indoors with your micro 4/3rds camera. Both cameras do get noisy in low light, but the detail rendered in the live view on the PEN is good enough to precisely focus.


I'm not going to really go into that because it's easy to read about at DPreview. Over here . My views and observations about the noise are pretty well the same. The PEN wins, generally the only issue that comes out is that the PEN's native ISO is 200 and the G1 is 100. This leads to the PEN's ISO 100 looking worse than the G1.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From Russia With Love, Or Not

So it's been a while since my last post.

I've got a small update for you though. The Fed 2 was broken, after I ran one roll of film through I found that there were light leaks. In all the photos that I took there'd be a great big streak where the image blew out, so either it has light leaks or the shutter is gone. The point is that the review can't continue, the good news is I came across a Zorki 3 with a banged up 50mm f3.5 collapsible lens and I now have a light meter and a cheap-o film scanner. What I'm saying is we've not seen the last of my film days, not by a long shot.

Oh, here's a shot I took with my Yashica Electro 35 GTN, scanned using the Wolverine F2D scanner (a very very cheap scanner, the scanner does a decent job). The colors are a bit wonky because of the expired film I used.

Here's a link to a larger scan of the photo

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The FED 2: From Russia With love. Part 1


Today I'll be talking a little bit about rangefinders - the FED 2 in particular, because I can't afford to buy Leica cameras.

If you don't know about rangefinders, I'll do a very, very brief rundown. They're generally small cameras (by comparison to SLR types), which can have interchangeable lenses (in the FED 2’s case it does). This type of camera also focuses differently; you don't see through the lens. The user generally looks through the viewfinder to focus by aligning 2 images on top of each other.
***If you feel like getting to know these cameras better go here: ***

Build and handling

The FED 2 is a Russian camera, essentially a copy of early Leica screw mount cameras. It’s very solidly built and feels hefty in hand, but small. Overall, the is a beauty of a machine in my opinion. It operates very simply and even without an instruction manual, it’s very, very easy to pick up and go. There is one little thing about the camera, though; you must ONLY set the shutter speed when the film is advanced. Not doing so can damage the camera. Oh, and I know this doesn't sound big, but the back plate on the camera comes out, so it’s easier to change film. Some of these older rangefinder cameras only have the bottom plate removable, making changing film an ASS of a job.

Viewfinder and Focusing

On the copy I got, the focusing patch is bright and contrasty. If you're coming from a 35mm film SLR or DSLR it's going to be a bit tough because the finder on this is, I believe, smaller than even a crop camera. Overall, manually focusing this type of camera in general is much simpler and faster.

The Lens in play

For now, all I can say is that it's an Industar N-61 52mm F2.8. Next week, my first roll of film will be processed and I'll show you guys the results. Hopefully it'll be good.

See you guys next time!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Interesting low ISO shooting

Hey, as I said in my first post I am a gear whore. Recently I bought a Kodak DCS-14NX partly bcause it was cheap, partly due to peer pressure from my nikon friends. It's been interesting. It has a special low iso mode with iso 6/12/25/50 for use under specific exposures. Anyways I decided to try some new photography with it.

Here is the larger version of the photo.

What we have is a bit of a ghosting effect. It's a product of taking many exposures and combining them.
Here's what I used:
-Kodak DCS-14NX at iso 25
-Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 at F16
-Sherpa branded tripod (don't remember the model number I borrowed it from the paper office)
Here is what I did in a nut shell:
-Multiple exposures, about 18 (Not needed if you have lots of people standing still where you're doing this) (If you're using a camera without an intervolometer use mirror lock up or a timing delay between shots to reduce camera shake)
-In photoshop I copied each layer onto a new psd file
-set all the photo to darken on top of 1 base image (you might need to adjust the position of each photo to be exactly on top of eachother depending on how nice your tripod is)
***You can do this by going into edit and then selecting Auto Align Layers
-selected every layer ( minus base layer)
-desaturated those layers
Hope this was helpful.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Who Am I?

I'm not sure. I know somethings about who I am and I'm going to tell you about them.

I'm an engineer, but I also take photos for my university's news paper (, so I figure I'm not too bad of a photographer if my photos get printed every week. But I do suffer from the common affliction of gear whore-ism. That's when a photographer is more concerned with camera gear than photos. I do at times get very carried away with my gear, BUT I also do actually go and take photos and enjoy it! Right now my gear whore-ism is in a delicate balance of buying/selling and photographing.

I do take photos so I'm not 100% a gear whore as I said above, so I do have an ass-ton of camera gear. I'm also going to hopefully help you decide what kind of gear is right for you and what kind isn't. I'll also try to give some photography tips to those who actually think I do take good photos and want to know how I do it. One thing I will also try to do from time to time is just post some photos and talk about them, how I got them, why I like them, why I took the photo.

So, let's talk about this photo here (here's a bigger version )

I took this photo during summer. I was driving my brother up to meaford and I saw these huge windmills. We didn't have time to stop so I just remembered the location where we saw them and on the way back home we stopped the car and photography ensued. So why is this my favorite shot? It's simply composed and the colors to me are very pleasing, contrasty and saturated. Oh and did I meantion they're HUGE?! Look at the turbine in the back, it's at the tree line. Now look at the trees!

Anyways, I wanted to say that sometimes you see a photo just waiting to happen but you can't take the photo, it pays to try come back another time and take it. It's not going to be the same photo because the earth never waits for anyone but it doesn't mean you should forget about it. In this case, I think coming back to the spot worked out better because the sun wasn't as intense, so that let my camera could capture the full range of colors and not just a bunch of flaring.

And there we have it, my first post. Keep posted for more of these on a random basis! (ok well I'll try for once a week)