Le Panasonic Lumix GX9 (GX7 Mark III): la synthèse de la continuité / The summation of recurrent ideas

(Please note that the english version follow the french text)


La synthèse de la continuité

Le Panasonic Lumix GX9 est un incompris pour certains photoblogistes qui anticipaient lors de sa présentation la reproduction d’un nouveau modèle Lumix “à la GX8” sur-vitaminé! En fait l’ancien Lumix GX8 était plutôt une sorte d’anomalie dans l’univers jusque là connu de la série GX par la plus grande dimension de son boitier  particulièrement si on le comparait à son prédécesseur, le GX7. Ce qui fut confirmé par Panasonic même dans la dénomination nippone du modèle GX85 / GX80 répondant au nom de GX7 Mark II sur le marché japonais. Et le Panasonic GX9 retrouve maintenant un format de boitier plus compact et discret.

On peut parler de véritable synthèse des différentes caractéristiques propres aux modèles GX antérieurs et récents à partir du GX7. Certes l’abandon de la caractéristique unique de la protection accrue contre les intempéries du GX8 (mais qui était absente de tous les autres anciens GX il faut le préciser) est peut-être l’élément le plus choquant de cette “évolution”. Mais une fois avalée cette pilule un peu amère, le Panasonic Lumix GX9 reste un appareil tout à fait adéquat et moderne. Son apparence modeste, une signature récurrence des designs de Panasonic pour la série Lumix, est un atout sérieux pour le ou la photographe urbain(e), le ou la voyagiste ou encore les adeptes de la photographie spontanée de tout genre.

Le capteur MFT de 20 méga-pixels est maintenant un produit éprouvé sous plusieurs déclinaisons tant chez Panasonic qu’Olympus. La qualité d’image reconnue de ce capteur lui confère un rendement supérieur et son traitement post-prises de vues est très bien maitrisée. La colorimétrie embarquée est plaisante et tout à fait para-métrable au goût des utilisateurs s’ils le souhaitent. Les options monochromes noir & blanc sont riches et facilement accessibles de l’interface car comme à l’accoutumée, les boutons et rondelles de contrôle des différentes fonctionnalités du Lumix GX9 peuvent être reconfigurés au choix de son ou sa propriétaire. Il n’y a aucun doute à être en mesure de produire des fichiers d’images tout à fait utilisables et suffisamment détaillées pour le tirage d’art sur du papier d’impression spécialisé.

La tenue en main est celle d’un compact avec viseur décentré (à la rangefinder) qui est la résultante d’un compromis entre le petit format du boitier et l’accessibilité aux fonctionnalités du boitier. À ce propos il est inutile d’entamer un débat d’où il ressort que le choix logique du photographe d’action ou sportif serait plutôt un Lumix à viseur centré à la (D)SLR comme les G85 / G80, G9 ou GH5! C’est donc dans l’ordre des choses que la préhension du Lumix GX9 apparaisse minimaliste pour les tenants du design de type SLR. Il y a toujours un apprentissage à considérer dans la manipulation un boitier compact et le Lumix GX9 n’échappe pas à cette règle (Rappelons toutefois que le GX8 était une exception à cette règle compte tenu des dimensions accrues du boitier). L’étude de la poignée optionnelle DMW-HGR2 est intéressante mais rend l’accès au compartiment de la carte mémoire et de la pile plus difficile et son remodelage plus pratique serait bienvenue.

Le viseur électronique (EVF) du Panasonic Lumix GX9 reprend essentiellement les caractéristiques techniques de celui utilisé dans le modèle Lumix GX85 / GX80 avec cependant l’option du pivotement vers le haut comme chez les précédents Lumix GX7 et GX8. Cet option d’orientation peut simuler adéquatement les anciens viseurs-poitrines offerts pour certains modèles d’appareils reflex argentiques professionnels.  Ce viseur électronique génère une bonne qualité d’image avec un biais typique un peu contrasté pour un sujet au soleil à contre-jour. Son relief d’oeil est bien pour un usage à l’oeil nu mais peut paraitre étriqué pour un porteur de lunettes correctrices. L’écran-arrière ACL est également orientable vers le haut et le bas ce qui lui confère un avantage indéniable en reprographie, photo-macrographie et proxi-photographie. Les différentes touches et rondelles d’opération sont aisément accessibles mais compte tenu de leur proximité, le risque de mise en route involontaire est plus élevé que pour un appareil de plus grandes dimensions. L’interface est classiquement celui élaboré par Panasonic pour ses appareils photo numériques.

    Les inspirateurs

Lumix GX85 / GX80 / GX7 Mark II

Il est évident qu’à plusieurs points de vue le Lumix GX85 / GX80 a servi d’inspiration et de moule créatif pour le Lumix GX9. Cette parenté n’est pas pour autant réductrice si on considère que le GX85 / GX80 constituait comme un retour à l’esprit original sous-jacent du Lumix GX7 par ses dimensions et son flash intégré. Sur le terrain ces deux qualités sont spécialement appréciées par l’utilisateur discret, spontané et flexible.

Lumix GX7 original

Avec l’usage on peut apprécier également la présence d’un sélecteur de type de mise au point bien accessible, de la roulette des coefficients de correction d’exposition, du bouton d’activation de mémorisation d’exposition et de l’option du menu rapide (Quick Menu) entre

autres touches-fonctions. Le flash intégré permet de déboucher les ombres pour des sujets peu distancés. Il peut servir aussi d’unité de commande dans une combinaison de multi-flashes sans-fil.

Comme à l’accoutumée je ne traiterai pas des fonctionnalisés propres à un usage vidéo.

Avec le format plus réduit du Panasonic Lumix GX9 le choix d’une optique appropriée tant par son utilité propre que par sa capacité à se marier physiquement au boitier revêt une importance incontournable. Le manufacturier propose d’emblée l’objectif-zoom trans-standard Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Power OIS, un choix judicieux de par sa versatilité, son faible poids (210g) et son tarif coupé. Évidemment toute autre optique au choix du photographe reste sa prérogative. Le Lumix GX9 s’harmonise très bien d’un objectif à focale fixe et les résultats obtenus avec cette combinaison sont souvent supérieurs à la moyenne et à ceux offerts par les objectifs-zoom sauf exception. Avec ses dimensions compactes, Panasonic pourrait nous proposer une combinaison appareil-objectif qui combinerait le Lumix GX9 avec le diminutif Lumix G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega OIS à l’exemple de son prédécesseur le Lumix GX85. Pourquoi le 12-60mm a-t-il été préféré? Peut-être en vertu de son design optique plus récent, de sa stabilisation plus efficace (Power OIS versus Mega OIS) et de sa plus grande amplitude de distances focales. Il se peut que l’exigence du capteur de 20MP soit un peu trop élevé pour l’ancien 12-32mm. À titre de comparaison personnelle j’ai brièvement équipé le Lumix GX9 de l’objectif G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega Vario sans observer une chute spectaculaire de la qualité des images obtenues par rapport au 12-60mm. Peut-être ma copie du 12-32mm était exceptionnellement fabriquée!

Je m’en voudrais de ne pas vous suggérer quelques accessoires d’appoint comme une pile-accu supplémentaire (ou plus) indispensable pour l’usage prolongé de ce type d’appareil, un flash externe qui évite de taxer indument l’alimentation de l’appareil si vous avez une propension à utiliser fréquemment cet éclairage d’appoint et peut-être une poignée optionnelle si vous utilisez des objectifs de plus grandes dimensions et de poids plus élevé.

Comme la plupart des appareils photo numérique à viseur décentré, le Panasonic Lumix GX9 est beaucoup moins intimidant que ses collègues à viseur centré de type (D)SLR. Cette caractéristique rend beaucoup plus aisé la cohabitation du sujet avec le photographe. Même en cette ère d’égo-portraits en toute occasion, le contact entre l’auteur et son sujet reste complexe et exige toujours d’une relation de confiance minimale. Le Lumix GX9 répond bien à cette exigence de discrétion et de compétence demandée. Si vous l’associez avec un objectif “toute éventualité” comme les Lumix G 20mm ou 25mm F1.7 ou encore comme le petit téléobjectif Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7 Mega OIS, vous serez en mesure de réaliser de superbes images et de maintenir la spontanéité de votre sujet principal.

Le Panasonic Lumix GX9 n’est peut-être un appareil de poche mais c’est assurément un compact qui répond bien à la définition originale de faible encombrement du format MFT. En tout comme en particulier il s’avère un appareil photo numérique traditionnel compétent, versatile et complet. Plus encore c’est certainement un compagnon idéal mais discret pour la photographie au quotidien qui encourage l’impulsion créatrice de son utilisateur.

Tous mes remerciements à Panasonic Canada et à Yannick pour leur support et le prêt de ce nouveau modèle Lumix GX9.

P.s. Pas de panique!

On ne peut pas s’empêcher de spéculer des intentions d’autrui et de ce que nous réserve l’avenir. Ainsi il y a cette rumeur de l’abandon de produire des appareils MFT à objectifs interchangeables dont le tarif serait d’entrée et de moyenne gamme par Panasonic pour sa série Lumix. Bien sûr une telle perspective n’est pas souhaitable et le maintien de modèles plus abordables comme dans les séries GX et G nous garantie l’apport renouvelé de nouveaux adeptes du format. Mais il existe cette réalité d’un marché pour l’appareil photo numérique traditionnel en plein resserrement qui contribue à une psychose de l’extinction de l’espèce par la disparition des marques et fabricants certes toujours possible mais pas seulement lié à ce seul facteur. L’industrie de l’équipement photographique comme toute autre du domaine technologique a connu et connaitra toujours des évolutions et des mutations profondes de temps en temps, c’est écrit dans le ciel de notre monde matérialiste. Mais aujourd’hui ne diffère pas fondamentalement d’hier et qui put vraiment “prédire” l’avenir! – DM

The summation of recurrent ideas

Handholding a camera can be a very deceptive experience and can give you that you think you have finally found one of the best photo device you ever have tried. Certainly it was my own impression regarding the late Panasonic Lumix GX8 which was a bigger package compared to the previous Lumix GX7 but was doted with a more secure grip and a new and more definite image sensor (20MP vs 16MP). So memories on the Lumix GX8 were pleasant especially if you compare with the Lumix GX85 (GX7 Mark II) smaller version and its reduced dimension and its less interesting image captor (again 16MP).

Many previous users of Lumix GX8 and even GX7 (Mark I) were badly surprised Panasonic have chosen to recycle the GX85 design concept to their newest GX9. Many early reviewers (if not almost all) were badly astonished by this choice from the manufacturer. So the Lumix GX9 (named elsewhere GX7 Mark III) has disappear from the reviewers radar on a fast pace. In my book on the search for compactness it  is a pity to simply ignore that new model Lumix GX9. If you consider the very nature of the M4/3 sensor format the Lumix GX9 rightly respond to that mandate in size and weight.

The Panasonic Lumix GX9 is a compact ILC in MFT sensor format as we were trilled to discover in the early years of that format. The conceptual idea to produce a very small photo device along with the appropriated lenses was without contest a very critical success although not so good commercially. But in some ways it has survived mainly with higher end models like the Lumix GX7 and GX8 or the Olympus Pen-F.  The Lumix GX9 is not obviously a SLR type camera with a centered viewfinder since it mimiques the “rangefinder” style with an off-center electronic viewfinder (EVF).  The swivel EVF option to the upper position allows the photographer to experiment a kind of chest level position that will give a more equilibrated point of view in helping to preserve the lateral and vertical straight lines. In some ways it refers to the older waist level viewfinders of the film era.

The Lumix GX9 is a compact camera but it has in own surprising weight that give more stability induced by the inertie phenomena. That can annoying for those who are looking for a very light pocket photo device which is not the case with the GX9. Furthermore in associating the Lumix GX9 with the Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Power OIS lens (a good optic in many ways) the combined package is relatively large in dimensions and partly destroy the compactness idea. For very discrete street or urban photography many will prefer to use a smaller lens such as the Lumix G 20mm F1.7 or the 25mm F1.7 or even the G Vario 12-32mm Mega OIS.

As usual Panasonic have designed a very classic interface presentation with almost all the function buttons and dials located on the right upper deck and rear side of the camera leaving main control on the right hand, your left palm hand serving as a stand under the taking lens and giving you a natural option to control your focusing ring and zoom cal range if available. Direct autofocus lever selector is a very handy feature as for the AE/AF locking button. Separate exposure correction dial is also a very appreciated option but the reel is located a bit far on the right upper edge of the camera body to an easy thumb control. Multi-fonction front and rear dials make easy selection of basic parameters such s shutter speed and aperture depending which exposure program you have chosen. The Panasonic Lumix GX9 offers you an infinity of configuration variations that allow a very deep personalization of the camera.

The viewfinder will give a good preview (but seems to be a bit too constraty) and the back screen definition is fine and will give you a nice appreciation of the scene and a good preview of the final image result. I didn’t feel handicapped compare to a classic optical viewfinder. No lag impression are generated by panning the subject. It is true to say that EVF have come a long way their first technical interpretation a few years ago. They are now reliable tools for the photographer.

In  the camera body the small electronic flash is a fine addition to perform fill-in flash on the spot. Mixing available daylight and flash burst can be done with confidence once you master the different options of memorizing the ambiant and flash light exposures. As usual for that GX series you can add an external compact flash light in order to get greater output and have an independant battery flash power.

Taking pictures with the Panasonic Lumix GX9 is an easy task. The camera can stay on hand and be ready on the spot if necessary. You just have to remind you that the Lumix GX9 is not weather protected. In comparaison with the previous Lumix GX8 it is surely a deception. So you have to think  about securing the camera under fairly adverses picture taking conditions.  Is this point could be addressed in the next GX one digit itineration of the model? It has to be seen in the future.

The best definition that can suit the Panasonic Lumix GX9 is its summation of recurrent ideas that we have already seen on the previous GX Lumixes. Cost considerations forced Panasonic to drop beloved features like the weather sealing and may be a larger body size for a better handling. But this model is available at a price level similar today of the previous GX7 which was a very successful model in the recent past. For a reason of my now I have not found that the Lumix GX9 is such a strong departure from the GX85 but you have to consider its improved image sensor (20MP vs 16MP) but other than that the two models are similar in many ways.

Finally I have noticed that since a few months there is a kind of Panasonic Lumix GX9 renaissance partly du of the very early negative reviews which is funny and demonstrate the lack of distanciation of the more instant reviewers. Like they said: “Moderation have always better taste”

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Bauhaus Einflüsse (témoignages d’aujourd’hui de la fonctionnalité esthétique)

Logo du Bauhaus, créé en 1922 par Oskar Schlemmer.
Source: Wikipedia

L’influence de l’école allemande du Bauhaus a été profonde dans notre société et ce malgré sa brièveté initiale de 1919-1933. Elle s’inscrit dans une vision originale qui allie fonctionnalisme et esthétique pour en produire une vision artistique moderne de notre habitat et de ses accessoires de la vie courante.

Le Bauhaus ou peut-être traduisible en l’art de construire une maison, a donné ses lettres de noblesse à l’utilisation de matériaux, de techniques et d’agencements purement contemporains et a proposé de nous libérer des visions classiques en architecture des bâtiments, des espaces et des objets à l’usage des hommes et femmes de notre société.

Plusieurs qualificatifs peuvent s’appliquer au Bauhaus: simplicité, audace, confort, cubisme, luminescence, etc. Bref son interprétation est multiple et très diversifiée. Plusieurs créateurs s’en sont inspirés consciemment ou involontairement car le fonctionnalisme moderne relie aujourd’hui la beauté de l’oeuvre avec l’efficience de son utilité.

Bref le Bauhaus a participé à l’émancipation de l’humanité à bâtir un univers propre à sa signature laïque, proportionnelle, artistique et fonctionnelle.

Voici quelques exemples de témoignages volontaires ou non du Bauhaus extraits de mon environnement quotidien:

Une résidence privée de construction cubique d’inspiration Bauhaus volontaire ou inconsciente qui réfère peut-être aussi au complexe d’Habitat 67 de l’exposition universelle de Montréal de 1967.


Le Centre de l’interprétation de l’eau de la Ville de Laval (Canada) dont le minimalisme
architectural rend bien la vocation utilitaire essentielle de ce service.






Le nouveau (2018) Centre d’exploration du Parc de la rivière des Milles-Iles (Canada) qui réunit une exposition d’interprétation de la faune et flore, un centre d’activités riveraines de plein air et un lieu de rencontres multidisciplinaires. Le bâtiment construit aux récentes normes LED de récupération et d’efficience écologique possède une fenestration très dynamique tournée sur l’intégration au milieu naturel.

Le principe des balcons avancés formant échelle en facade de cet immeuble.
Leur caractère indépendant confère à leurs utilisateurs une impression de liberté
par rapport à la vocation de confinement des appartements auxquels ils se rattachent. 


Ce n’est pas “la” chaise emblématique du Bauhaus mais
une interprétation fonctionnelle à la fois utilitaire, compact et esthétique.
Les lampes de bureau d’inspiration Bauhaus font parti de notre environnement domestique depuis plusieurs décennies. Aujourd’hui elles sont toujours d’actualité malgré leur usage moindre avec l’adoption de l’écran rétroéclairé des ordinateurs et des autres appareils informatiques. Ici nous avons une lampe FORSA disponible chez IKEA.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: The “more compact” pro camera from Olympus!

 

Suppose you love compactness and portability but you want a pro level camera model that can withstand an intensive use even under adverse conditions, what would be the more sensitive choice today? The answer is simple: the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. This model is part of an entire eco-system of different optics and accessories that will fulfill almost every specific photo tasks that any photographers “on the run” will ask for.

The Olympus pro range of products is now including two current version of the E-M1 which are the E-M1 Mark II and the E-M1X. The last one and newest model is integrating permanently the vertical power grip compare to the optionality of the one offered for the Mark II previous model. But the two cameras share the same MFT 20MP sensor and most of the function abilities although the E-M1X take advantage of some latest technical novelties or upgrades.

In 2017 the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II was introduced as an significative improvement of the original E-M1 by replacing the 16MP MFT sensor with the newest 20MP one. The autofocus functionality has been also upgraded. The video capability of the model has been enhanced. The LCD has been transformed to the tilted variation to a fully articulated screen.

At the time of the outcome of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, some reviewers have questioned its large size and its higher price tag. But as time past this perception is changing at a fast rate and more and more the size dimension of the Mark II appears now more as an average pro camera model.

The late Nikon F4S: A modern “Pro” 
design back in 1988 of the film era.

Over time professional photographers have always appreciated a camera design that will fall literally in their hand and have equally appreciated a more simple rounded ergonomic device that feels secure, confortable and robust on a long intensive use.  At the time of its introduction the newest autofocus Nikon F4S was representing a similar evolution in term of ergonomics compare the previous F, F2 and F3 series. The modular aspect of the model as for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II was cleverly designed for a complete integration of the each additional modules.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the second interpretation issued from the manufacturer of an especially constructed professionally oriented digital ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) for the M4/3 format sensor. It incorporate the newest 20MP image captor (sensor) for a finer definition and  higher overall performances. I have never really try to evaluate a camera model on specific statistical characteristics. In place I better prefer to regard it as an whole package. As a photographic tool you need something that will be coherent and flexible for your everyday use.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is not a pocket camera. It can be seen as the antithesis of the Olympus Pen series. It is a more pro oriented compact option and system (coupled with the intended lenses and accessories). It remains a camera made to be hold in your hand on a full time base. In that sense it stays a unique product from the entire M4/3 ILC Olympus line-up. A bit like a beefier Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with a permanent hand grip.

The simplicity of design of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is considerably emphases by the integrated hand grip that prevent the doublement of controls required with an add-on optional hand grip such as the combo seen on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. After a general setting of the camera many function buttons can be ignored to facilite the picture shooting. At that point complexity doesn’t mean necessarily complication. And this can be said also for the menu versus the direct access to the principal parameters option on the LCD screen. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a very configurable camera but you dont need to apprenhed every single option offered by the manufacturer.

You can add the optional (vertical) power holder grip HLD-9 that will double the power autonomy of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and give you a better vertical prehension of the camera for portrait framing type shooting. The Olympus HLD-9  keeps you access to all the essential control dials and functions of the camera. With larger and bigger lenses it can help you to get a better balance and a more secure way of handling the combo. Lastly the Olympus HLD-9 let you manage a three battery pack rotation (one into the camera, one into the grip and one spear) that extend your power autonomy during longer assignment.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a very sturdy model and very well protected against adverse contextual conditions such as rain, snow, freeze. It give a good sense of confidence to use the camera without the normal restrictions and open access to more delicate photo situations. The viewfinder and the LCD black screen are first class devices and even for people wearing glasses, the EVF is fully usable for seing the whole picture and technical information attached. Control buttons and dials are well manner and dont require too much contorsion and can be assimilated intuitively especially for previous Olympus users. The same can be said for the optional grip.

If you  like to adjust your focus point manually, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II electronic viewfinder (EVF) will help you in that task beautifully with its clarity and its definition finesse. Couple with one of the Olympus Pro series lenses and their Clutch Manual Focus mechanism, the combination is a winner. “Defocus” creative experiments are a delight to do with this model.

The left thumb cavity (located on the bottom right side of it) to facilitate the opening of the reverse LCD screen is a real special ergonomictouch. I discovered it simply by touch intuition but it became an instant reflex if I want review a picture without reversing permanently the LCD screen (Open out then folding it!). By the way the massive right thumb grip rest (on the upper right edge of the back of the canera body) is simply very practical and secure. In all the body molding configuration of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II reflect that a deep care has been done for a design and its manufacturing that cover the ergonomic needs of a (pro) photographer.

Getting the OM-D E-M1 Mark II alive (On) is fast and accurate. You can stay pro-active and produce spontaneous imagery at will without bothering long delay of awakening from the camera. The EVF eye detection is efficient even if you are wearing glasses. You will have a good sense of your picture exposure and be able to apply exposure correction factor on the spot be roughly evaluate its effect through the EVF.

The shutter release button is very smooth and the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a very discrete camera considering the sound level of it. It is perfectly suitable for shooting situations that require almost silence presence from the photographer. You can also operate the camera with the touch screen functionalities which can be practical for more static subjects (reproduction, macro. portraits, etc). The exposure and focus settings can be memorized by pressing with your thumb the appropriate push buttons rightly located on the upper right side of the back of the camera body. The same easiness of use can be said about most of the control dials and push buttons of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II although you have to get use of the Olympus way of actuating the camera (the famous classical On/Off lever).

You wont be deceived by the overwhelming availability to customize the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II to all your specific photographic needs. Many of us will simply scratch a fraction of its whole potential as it is the case for several digital camera today models.

Because the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a bigger camera than the OM-D E-M5 Mark II for example you will feel more secure when who are manipulating it and particularly when you are holding it with one hand. In that sense Olympus has designed this model for a professional intensive level of use in mind.  And that explain also the “superior” level of selling price of the camera the will be amortized by its everyday tasks performed.

And what about the famous Olympus interface? As usual the menu contain is very rich of different possibilities and will ask to invest a good amount of time on the side of the learning curve especially if you want to configure the camera outside the manufacturer default settings.

For still photography the autofocus system is fast and reliable. Follow-up action photography with greater subjects can be done in confidence for the focus tracking. As I have said in previous posts to properly photograph”on-pick” moving subjects may ask you a certain amount of preparation on your part. Exposure and focus preset are still a good way for doing this kind of task.

Flash system
For flash aid, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II rely on external unit either on-camera mount or completely none-solidaire devices(a small emergency flash unit FL-LM3 is furnished with the camera model). Connectivity can be done through infrared or radio communication or even by using a traditional but obsolete PC cord.  TTL flash option has been part of the Olympus system since the introduction of the analog OM-2 series and so the expertise and reliability are firmly established. Some Olympus flash units (FL-900R, FL-700R WR) are protected from adverse weather conditions and can be used under usually impractical flash photo contexts.

The picture output of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is absolutely impressive. Both colours and Black & White images can be produced flawlessly without compromise. The JPEG rendering is fully usable. The finesse of the details obtained by the combine in-board sensor and immediately post-treatment engine is remarquable if you respect the basic photo techniques required to get first class results. The camera is giving its best when fixed focal lenses and “pro” zooms are coupled with it.

Black and White Photography
The love to produce black and white pictures has been partly revived with the introduction of the electronic viewfinders that are allowing us to appreciate on place (and also with the LCD viewing screen) the B&W picture results. No exception for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II that is offering you the Monochrome option with some more grainy variations (Art filters). In all the quality of the B&W image outputs is a strong asset of the Mark II.

 

 

Art Filters are creative!

This is one of the most intriguing feature included into the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II capabilities (as for other Olympus models). There are a great number of these image art bias with variations depending which you are selecting. I gradually discovered some of them (Key Line, Partial Color, Soft Focus, Dramatic Tone, Sepia, etc) and began to use them occasionally with success. Each of these filters is proposing a different palette of colors or tonal effects alongside with specific alterations of the picture rendering. After the initial experimentation, you became able to predict their different bias in different photographic taking situations.

We have to remember that over the history of photography, past and present picture taking and registering techniques had and still have particular bias that are interpreting the subject. You can compare the Art filters option as a modern digital way to do the same today but with a far more versatility and easiest to produce it.

Keystone compensation
The Keystone compensation functionality is another fine in-camera image post-process that allow vertical and horizontal line corrections as we do optically with specialized tilt-and shift lenses. This application can generate pictures for architectural and still-life purposes that withstand the exigences of humain interpretation of the subject (subjective linear mind auto-corrections). The effect of the Keystone compensation can be controlled directly on the camera LCD screen or into the electronic viewfinder (EVF). On an average image magnification scale (X5-X7) its output quality impact seems to be very minimalist.

The more you will play with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, the more you will discover its flexibility to withstand many different shooting situations. Many interesting techniques and in-board functionalities will expand your creativity and offer you better opportunities to try something different.

Final thoughts
On a personal note, I love to work with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II because it is a pro “compact” camera that you can rely on in (almost) every circonstances. If you couple it with an Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens, you will obtain a perfect combination of quality of construction and image output. As an independent (freelance) or a self-entrepreneur photographer, the Olympus system can be a winning solution. What is the decisive factor for choosing the Olympus OM-D E-M1Mark II as a professional camera model? In many ways it can be resume to its compact portability (enhanced by by the superb Olympus pro lens series). The complete Olympus pro eco-system is perfectly suiting that particular task to be light, versatile, creative and highly competent in photography.

Some additional notes about the MFT system compare to bigger image sensor formats (APS-C, 24X36mm)

Some people may ask me why I am always coming back to MFT image format system. As you may have already noticed, I had the chance to own briefly and test recent Fujifilm products such as the X-H1 model along with some “pro” Fujinon lenses. First I must say that they are excellent, well built, easy to use products that deliver awesome image results. My only drawback is the size dimensions and weight of their products which are way over what I can endure myself for a day long assignment. And this is also for this reason that I have already discarded the 24X36mm image sensor option too.

Choosing the Olympus OM-D E-M1X make no sense in my book except if you intend to use it with larger or longer lenses, and be able to use some kind of handling assistance like a tripod or a monopod for example. So as a sport or nature camera, yes, the OM-D E-M1X can fit the bill but for a mobile photographer it is a big weighty burden…

(First Published in April 2017, Revised in May 2019)

Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro

The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO is not part of a very successful Olympus MFT story  especialy considering its extended versatility and its reduce size compare to the DSLR 24X36mm sensor format equivalents. Furthermore the same statement can be proclaimed for many M4/3 format photo equipment products.

 

For sure there is still a strong resistance to the introduction of the M4/3 format from the so-call professional intelligentsia. The picture quality argument has been served ad nauseam to reject any more compact option. But time is passing by and moreover people are adopting MFT and APS-C formats. The new state regarding photography and its popularity is intimacy related to its fast, versatile and portable ability. Big DSLR dont seem to follow that path so extinction seems not far away for them.

The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 PRO stays a massive lens by MFT compact standards. But it replace at least two DSLR Pro lenses, i.e. the traditional 70-200mm zoom and the powerful 300mm telephoto, both with maximum aperture of F2.8. So the trade-off is still at the advantage of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. It prevent also the necessity of changing lenses or to operate with two different camera bodies.

Using big telephoto zoom lenses increase the unbalance tendency between the optic and the camera. That fact can be critical if you need a correct handling especially if you are panning the action not only for the effect but simply to follow the subject. Fatigue can be a highly distractive factor that will affect your ability and motivation to produce pictures. You can enhance your handling by adding an additional grip or vertical power grip on the camera. If you adopt a more static position, a fix support like a monopod or a tripod will be a great help for stabilisation and a more careful picture cropping. In fact the nature and the context of your subject will characterize your working methodology.

With such a Pro lens model with a larger maximum aperture of F2.8 the photograph will select most of the time a fairly large lens opening often between F2.8 and 5.6. Those aperture opening will narrowed the deep-of-field phenomena and privilege the main subject. Focus can be critical at that point and autofocus or prefocus have to be set carefully. Your picture waste may also increase accordingly. That is part of the experiment. Many photojournalists  may prefer to work with DSLR 24X36mm sensor format classic equipment. I am always impressed to see those boxes full of photojournalists with identical equipment in major sports events. They often reproduce the same picture without any search of originality. This is another specie of photographs in danger of obsolescence.

As a Pro lens the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 is getting a superior quality of construction. The zoom and focusing rings are larger and will turn nicely with a simulated friction similar to old-fashioned lenses. The click-on manual option (Clutch Manual Focus) available on the focus ring is a very secure and fast way of selecting between auto or manual possibilities. By selecting the manual focusing only position you over rule the autofocus fonction and get a better focusing ring resistance similar to the previous manual focusing lenses. It replicate what is already present to the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens which is often the companion optic chosen by many. As for all the Olympus other M4/3lenses, no aperture ring are offer on that model assuming that it will done by one of the dials of the camera.

The monumental push-pull lens hood is included with the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. Operating the mechanism may require some study and practices from your part. I have worked freely with or without the lens hood (if it was possible to do so without compromising my picture quality). The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro is also doted of an already tripod/monopod accessory mount that can be rotate for horizontal or vertical shooting. The making of this piece appears to be very well designed and constructed. My suggestion is to kept it permanently on the lens and simply rotate it aside when you are handholding the lens. The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens got the weather protection which qualify the optic for an extended use in most adverse conditions. It allows you also to fully clean the lens.

Contrary of the usual mystic regarding the use of those big Pro lenses could require from the photograph an effort in preparation and during their specific manipulation. Shooting at will may expose you to some disappointment in view of the final results. With try and experience you will master the care and the limit of these pro telephoto lenses such as the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. In-board camera stabilization may partially help you but the fundamentals stay the same such as selecting a higher shutter speed and follow (panning) your subject. If possible an external support such as a monopod or a tripod can help you a lot (and prevent fatigue!).

The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro can be a very fine portrait lens and many beautiful examples presented over the Web illustrate that fact. It can be also an interesting “abstraction” lens that allows many defocusing experimentations. Working with relatives short distances (for this type of lenses) will narrow the deep-of-field for bokey effect. Sport and nature photography appear to be the most spontaneous themes of preference for what the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro has been first designed et manufactured. And many users have already demonstrate the rightful of this perception. As I have already said at the beginning of this post, this telephoto zoom pro lens is in fact more versatile into a smaller package. In many ways it respond to the standards imposed in almost any photojournalistic situations.

Finally here is a short note regarding the high selling prices of many of those “pro” lenses. Usually these professional intended optics are produced in smaller quantity with higher cost material and for a limited distribution. Therefore their price tags are positioned at a selling point more difficult to reach for many of us (including obviously myself!). But if you consider the added durability of these models and their constant value over time, you will often discover that they simply follow the inflation rate over the years and the decades. It is up to you to invest yourself in that kind of higher expense.

The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens is a very fine, constant, versatile, workhorse optic that is reliable into various conditions of uses. It is part of the traditional duo along with the Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro and also with the T(h)ree family if combined with the Olympus 7-14mm Pro. All these pro lenses will form a very competent equipment when teamed with OM-D bodies like the E-M1 and E-M5 or even the E-M10 series.

A complete Pro system

Olympus is very serious about its Pro line of lenses involvement and offer a complete line-up of fine, fast and sturdy optics with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8, 12-40mm F2.8, 12-100mm F4.0 IS, 40-150mm f2.8, Fisheye 8mm F1.8, 25mm F1.2, 45mm F1.2 and 300mm F4.0 IS. Combined with the OM-D E-M1 series, an independent professional photographer will find a very competent and compact eco-system that will sustain most of its need.

(First Published in September 2017, Revised in May 2019)

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is not a new product but for many photographers, it is still a great favorite zoom lens considering its versatility, its quality image output and even its reduce size compare to its sibling into the 24X36mm sensor format (24-70mm F2.8, I won’t argue about the equivalent F-stop and its annoying debate).

True to say it is not a tiny or a pancake lens but for its focal length range it is a good compact optic especially if you combine it with a standard size MFT camera model. We know already many of the big advantages of using aa Olympus Pro series lens. Better construction, larger controls and grip, better quality selected glasses, constant aperture (most of the time), weather resistant (WR) protection, etc. But the Pro lenses are also larger, heavier and… more expensive. Usually their variable focal length latitude is narrowed compare to the standard Olympus zoom series counterparts. I am not a big fan of larger size lenses that can be intimidating for your subject by their lack of discretion. The only added credibility you can expect from other people when using this type (pro) of lenses usually came from persons without real knowledge of photography (especially press credential personal!).

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The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is in fact an average zoom lens with a weight of 382g and a physical length of 84mm at its smallest setting. Its constant maximum aperture of F/2.8 is an usual standard for this kind of “pro” product.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is an impressive piece of glasses in particular if you apply the compactness standards of the m4/3 format. To properly use it you may need a camera model with a greater potential handle grip to be able to use it with confidence and comfort. But I must add that the lens is still usable without add-on grip. As a “Pro” design lens its primary destination is without a doubt the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (in both variations). With the OM-D E-M5 (original & Mark II) the optional vertical power grip will help you  in certain situations like in studio or for action shooting assignments. That can be said also when you are using the OM-D E-M10 (original, Mark II & III).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe feeling of the 12-40mm F/2.8 lens reveals its high class all weather construction especially if you compare it with the kit zoom lenses such as the M.Zuiko 12-50mm or the diminutive M.Zuiko 14-42mm. Control rings for zooming and focusing are fairly larger and can be easily distinctive by the touch. On the spot manual focusing operation is possible by pulling the focus ring very conveniently (Manual Focus Clutch). We also appreciate that the lens hood is part of the included accessory packaged with the lens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the big advantage of the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8 is surely its focal length variation starting with a real wide setting of 12mm (84 degrees of angle of view) up to an extended narrowed angle of view ( 30 degrees) at 40mm.You can consider as a short telephoto. At that point you get a magnification ratio of 1.5X compare to your naked eye. The Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro should be an excellent complement to the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALike I have said earlier the bigger dimensions of “Pro” lenses can sometimes generating intimidating reactions from spontaneous subjects. It is a price to pay and you may have to earn the confidence of the people you want to photograph prior to the shooting itself. Even the non-initiated person in photography will be aware of the “pro” level of your photo taking device.

The performance of the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens is on the upper lever flirting with the stellar performances seen on the prime (focal fix) lenses. It is a good substitute product to the 12mm, the 17mm, the 25mm and the 45mm prime lenses although all theses lens models offer a significant larger maximum aperture (F1.2, 1.8, 2.0) which support a better depth of field control.

The extended focal range of the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro qualify it as a good urban and traveler optic to keep at hand more than on your case. And yes, it can be a good action lens.

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If you are looking for a basic “pro” zoom lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro will be a strong contender to fulfill the task. And the image results will speak by themselves.

(First Published in December 2016, Revised in May 2019)

The Olympus Pen-F

The love of rangefinder style camera

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Olympus Pen-F / M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 Premium

It is true to say that I always have a special crush for any rangefinder style film or digital camera. It has and still represents the traditional way of seeing a (real) compact camera in my sense. All those models are usually fun to work with and can generate very original photo material. When Olympus had introduced the Pen-F I was charmed by the look of the product and now I began to discover its special abilities as a strong but funny photo device to experiment. The Olympus Pen-F has its own standards and cannot be assimilated or compare to other D-SLR style (or centered viewfinder) models.

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There is that modern camera style debate regarding SLR versus rangefinder categories that you can translate today by the choice of on-axis and off-axis (from the taking lens) viewfinder. Moreover rangefinder style cameras tend to be assimilated to compact and discrete devices nor that DSLR style camera have been associated as the center element of a complete and extended photographic system which is using longer telephoto and wider lenses and faster motorized advance film options.

The best illustrations of those two “schools” are present in all major line of mirrorless products available from Fujifilm, Olympus or Panasonic cameras and lenses. It replicate in this digital era the same pattern observed in the past with the Leica film camera offer with the M and the R lines.

With Olympus you can choose between the Pen and the OM-D lines. Accordingly their Premium and standard zoom lenses fit perfectly with the Pen models and their larger zoom and Pro lenses combine well with the OM-D series.

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Olympus EP3 / M.Zuiko 14-42mm R

During the past decade I have the chance to use both Olympus series models including the earlier EP models with the add-on viewfinder (a bit similar to the ancient Leica film I-G series). You can refer with my previous blog-notes on these models such as the EP-3 or the OM-D E-M5 (first version) or the most recent ones concerning the OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

 

Both rangefinder and SLR styles have their own advantages. OM-D E-M1 and OM-D E-M5 are really all-weather devices with enhanced grips useful when combined with bigger faster lenses or external bigger flash units. The battery autonomy is greater and the viewfinder in the case of the E-M1 Mark II is clearly more confortable with its wider view. For many assignation works the OM-D series will get my preference. But for urban, travel or everyday spontaneous subjects the Olympus Pen-F is a perfect on-hand camera.

The Olympus Pen-F

Doing on the spot photography with the Olympus Pen-F is unbeatable because of its compactness and its own discretion. On travel and urban surrounding it is a strong advantage. And the Olympus Pen-F is far less intimidating regarding people or animal (domestic) photography. Using the silent mode option (electronic shutter) represent another strong advantage of the Pen-F if you are facing more quiet or calm conditions and subjects.

It is already said that the Olympus Pen-F replicates many aspects of the ancient rangefinder film cameras. But in that sense the past ergonomic solutions of the analog film era may also apply to the actual digital devices. On the Olympus Pen-F some traditional dial functionalities have been transformed such as the On/Off interrupter that simulate the traditional film rewind knob and the front special effect dial which is recalling the old slow shutter speed selector of the time. You can also use the traditional screw-in shutter release cable as a remote trigger unit.

The Olympus Pen-F is a slim and compact camera. Its “Pavé” design (like a slender decorative brick size) will dictate a less confortable and secure sense of handling. In three words there is “no protuberant grip” to rely and the use of a wrist or shoulder strap seem to be an obligation for the everyday user. There is also the possibility to add the Olympus ECG-4 optional grip. The slim design of the Pen-F is especially suitable for the combine use of the small Olympus (or Panasonic) fix or variable focal lenses. Examples of these fine optics are the Olympus M.Zuiko lenses such as the 12mm F2.0, the17mm F1.8, the 25mm F1.8 and the 45mm F1.8 lenses or the 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 zoom as an all-around optic. A lot of bigger lenses are fully compatible with the Pen-F but the handling of the camera will suffer a bit accordantly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExcept for the On/Off interrupter all the important dials and function buttons are located on the back & front of the Olympus Pen-F right hand side. This disposition facilities greatly the right hand control of the camera and liberate your left hand for a better handling of the taking lens especially in regard of the manual focusing (and zooming if available) option. As usual for Olympus cameras many functionalities may be directly available after prior setting (via menu interface) of the control knobs and push buttons. Most manufacturer default setting are logical and nicely presented although it may be altered at will in regard of your specific requirements.

EVF / Back live screen

The “look through” electronic viewfinder (EVF) will give a well definite picture with a very short time lag not really noticeable if you are concentrate on your subject. As usual the more high contrast rendering compare to the final image output registered has to be considered.  The Live/Review back screen is also very well definite and can be relied as a good reviewing tool.  It has also the great versatility of pivoting in almost every way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInterface and Quick menu

Olympus interfaces are by tradition very extended and complete but the numerous accesses to the different setting options can be confusing and will ask you to invest on the learning curve of the menu. Many default setting are excellent and can be use right from the start. Furthermore the quick menu mode synthetize the most important factors usually chosen for the camera setting. There are also the Custom modes setting (C1; C2; C3; C4) that are very handy for the photographer who want to switch on the spot to a complete different setting. My suggestion is to experiment gradually the Olympus Pen-F and get use to its multi-possibilities. On a short note I have found that in many cases the multiple way (by going through the menu or the quick mode or even the direct dials and function buttons) of doing the same adjustment can be a bit confusing.

As for many other Olympus models, it is suggested to bring an extra battery considering the limited autonomy of the BLN-1 battery pack. Shooting by using only the EVF can extend significantly the life of your battery pack charge.  You just have to reverse the LCD screen to use this option.

Flash options

No in-board flash has been incorporated to the Pen-F. A small external Olympus FM-LM3 optional flash is included with the camera package and can be used as an emergency fill-in flash or as a commander unit of a multi external Olympus flashes arrangement. Otherwise you can rely on a more powerful and versatile unit such as the Olympus FL-600R that is powered by its own 4 size AA batteries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImage Output 

By using the 20MP image captor similar to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II or to the Panasonic Lumix GX8 the image quality has been optimized on the Olympus Pen-F. The extra resolution compared to the previous 16MP sensor will give an additional marge of manoeuvre for post treatment ability with a less visible lost of definition. In some case like monochrome picture taken on high ISO setting the difference can be notably appreciated.

If monochrome represents most of your photo projects the Olympus Pen-F (like many Olympus M4/3 format models) will fulfil your tasks very nicely.

The Pen-F offers you a lot of different pre-program color configurations plus the possibility to create your own color bias and record it into its different custom menu. Using the Art filter options is another way to experiment different picture renderings.  In that sense there are no real limitations for the photographer creativity. The whole M4/3 format digital system has reached a great maturity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAction photography with the Olympus Pen-F ?

Spontaneous photography as street or urban or travel subjects are well deserved by the Pen-F as everybody seem to agree easily but that perception differs a lot when you are speaking of action or sport photography. Many just points out a restricted ability of the camera to properly autofocus on moving subjects. Moving (often erratic) targets present a challenge to all autofocusing system and there are only a very limited camera models that can properly answer that demand like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. So in the case of the Pen-F action photography is not the ideal situation to use it… but it can be done by setting for example a pre-focus area on manual position. For sure anticipation is fully required to do so but it got the advantage to more carefully plan our final picture composition. So with certain restrictions and more skill asked from the photographer part the Pen-F can fulfil the bill. At the end the Olympus Pen-F can be rightly assimilated as a perfect second very compact camera on hand for the sporty photographer.

In brief the Olympus Pen-F may represent the summit of their Pen series evolution simply by the fact that it reunite the slim design with the electronic viewfinder (EVF) like the ancient rangefinder film cameras. The Olympus Pen-F is complete in its features and performs very competently with the latest 20MP image captor. Although I did not intent to use the video aspect of the model the Olympus Pen-F is a very competent and compact still digital camera. Because of the compact size of the camera and the lenses that suit this volume (like the 12mm, 17mm, 25mm or 45mm) the Olympus Pen-F is very easy to bring all-around with you and is a very fine picture generator. It can fulfil many different photo projects on an everyday basis.  Its 20MP image sensor will give very high quality output at the same level of the “Pro” OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

The versatility of the Olympus Pen-F is on the side of its compactness: easy to bring, reach, show, shoot and share.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPost-scriptum on the Olympus Pen-F

There are many lens-body combinations available with the Olympus Pen-F.  For sure the best image quality results will be obtained by using the Premium (prime) and Pro series lenses. But you can also explore a more modest approach with small zoom lenses such as the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R lens model that is very affordable, compact, versatile and will give very good pictures. It can be a small lens that facilities greatly spontaneous photography practice.

Since my introduction to the M4/3 format with the Olympus EP-3 I have selected the M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R lens as an ever ready “everyday” on hand optic on several occasions without being deceptive by its output. It represents a king of normal trans-standard zoom lens. Its major flaw remains its very small maximum aperture and it is difficult to really extract your subject from its surrounding by using a shallow deep-of-field. But on the other hand it can be a fantastic contextual lens that will allow you to compose beautiful urban scape for example.

(If you are looking to buy the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R you will often get the best deal when you combine it with the purchase of a camera body.)

First published in April 2017, Revised in May 2019.

Small is beautiful: A life with compact cameras.

Yashica Mat 124G (Analog 120/220 film) Photo source: Images and Cameras

When that passion for compact cameras really has been begin in my life? May be right from the start. At that time analog medium format cameras were still alive and were still selling relatively well. I remember that we were using Yashica Mat 124G cameras (120/220 film format) for our photography learning classes and although that twin lens reflex was very sexy, it was not so practical considering its reversed sided viewfinder, its annoying parallax in particular if the subject was close to you and the roll films needed were a bit annoyingto load into the camera body, but using its waist level finder was a nice feature that was helping you to compose your picture. Even at the time most of us consider the Yashica Mat 124G as a true compact camera!

Asahi Pentax SP II (Analog 35mm film)
Photo source: Wikipedia

For the 35mm (mini) film format, we were allowed to work with Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II cameras coupled with Takumar 50mm F1.8 or F1.4 standard lenses. For sure the Pentax was my favorite by far and it was the photo device that was resembling the most of the iconic Nikon F of David Hemmings in the Antonioni’s Blow Up movie. But on many aspects the ergonomics and the functionalities of the Spomatic II was better than the Mat 124G. And it was the start of a life long affair with compact cameras and their analog 35mm film format.

Olympus OM-2n (Analog 35mm film)

Compact SLR 35mm camera design culminate with the introduction of the Olympus OM-1 (M-1) in 1972 and their nice line of small Zuiko lenses. The Olympus OM SLRs were the modern replacement of the long traditional and successful Leica M series. Many cameras manufacturers have responded to that new trend of SLR compactness with their own interpretative models, Pentax with their M series, Nikon with their FM, FE and successors, Canon with their A more electronic series, Minolta with their X series, etc. It was really a beautiful period for SLR passionates because choices and novelties were numerous.

Konica Hexar Silver (Analog 35mm film)
Photo source: CataWiki

Passion for compact design were not limited to interchangeable lens cameras. There were several fix lens camera models that were equally interesting. One of my favorite was the Minox 35 which a tiny “spy” model perfect for travelers who didn’t want to be noticeable from the pack of tourists equipped with large photo gadget bags. The Minox was able to deliver fairly decent pictures but not really suitable for enlargement or more accentued picture cropping. On its part, Konica was offering a very fine Hexar model coupled with a beautiful 35mm F2 lens. And how about the Leica Minilux like the name rightly said was an expensive and competent model with a fix Summarit 40mm F2.4 lens. Each camera manufacturer have dedicated at least one specific 35mm film format (with a fix lens) model to embellish their reputation into the compact camera field.

Things had taken another technical turn with the introduction of autofocus cameras and lenses and the  compact factor seems to be no more in many camera designer agendas. With the apparition of the motorized advance of film into the camera bodies the size of them had inflated at a very discouraging rate and even with the event of the new digital era that didn’t really solve the problem at first.  But with time and new sensor formats such as MFT (Micro Four Third) and APS-C (23X15mm) we finally be able to own compact (interchangeable lens) models. Even some 24X36mm sensor format models are now smaller although their lenses are still on the big size dimensions.

There is more and more photographic enthusiasms including some pros who are sharing their passion to have and use compact digital cameras. The mirrorless technology embrasse rightly this contemporary trend. A mix of traditional ergonomics combined with the latest electronic and computer technologies are now producing highly competent, versatile, even robust compact camera models to be chosen by photographers. Some modular designs becoming very attractive as Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm or Sony have already introduced in their line-up. And there are hopes that Nikon and Canon  may follow in the near future.

The needs for compact photo equipment is not new and can be traced from the dawn of the photography. Today the demand for compactness is strong and their users want to have also access to the latest technical avancements and the highest photo quality available. A special mix that the recent new technologies have allowed at an affordable price. There is no reason not profit it!

What about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II ?

Don’t trow away your small pots!

Yes it is a very pertinent question in particular with the introduction of the newest pro graded Olympus OM-D E-M1X. We don’t know the manufacturer future planning concerning the still available Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II but some could be thinking in vue the recent price decrease of the Mark II that Olympus could be in the process to phase out the inventory of the E-M1 Mark II. True or not I think there is a place for the two models involved.

Let me trace a parallel with two ex-pro analog cameras of a less recent time. Nikon use to offer pro F series modular cameras from the original model F to the autofocus F4 which was a very clever choice for photographers who want to have the flexibility of compactness and the option of adding a sport motorized vertical grip. Later on the manufacturer choose to offer the F5 monobloc model that use the same principle design and handling that we are seing today with the new Olympus OM-D E-M1X.  Although I fully agree about the robustness and the “sport and nature” nature of the ergonomic of the E-M1X, it is certainly not what we can call a compact package.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II / M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro

So what about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II? In my book it is still a very competent pro photo device. For photographers on the run, for travel, for reproduction and macro works, for discrete application, etc, the Mark II fills the bill perfectly. If you are a user of small fix focal length lenses, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II represent a logic combo difficult to beat into the MFT planet but I must add that it is not a “pocket” camera obviously (Olympus have already various other models to fulfill that task). My humble advice to new E-M1X owners: don’t sell out your E-M1 Mark II (if you have one) and preserve it as a back-up or as an alternative camera for other different picture taking situations.

Even in 2019, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is filling the gap between the specialized “sport and news” E-M1X model and the rest smaller Olympus mirrorless models. And it is a “pro” photo device designed to withstand adverse conditions and intensive use.

We have reached a certain “plateau” in the development of the digital photo equipment and the manufacturers tend to diversify their offer in specific different amateur and professional directions. Because of its specialized clientele, many new camera models will be more expensive compare to the ones introduced during the previous “flash” era of artificial mass photo consumer market. Now we are entering into a more mature one in which most photographers are more carefully considering their buying options before committing into a camera  or lens model or an entire photo system.

If you like to do photography and you are looking for a proved compact pro option, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II may still be one of the finest offer over the market.