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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 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!).
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.
The 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).
The 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.
One 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.
Like 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
Except 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.
Interface 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.
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.
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.
Action 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.
Post-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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Cela a été vraisemblablement le premier sujet photographique moderne d’un de ses inventeurs, Nicéphore Niepce vers 1827. Tous les férus d’histoire iconique connaissent cette image imprécise, granuleuse et, somme toute, plutôt intrigante. Mais on devine déjà son intérêt … du moins pour son auteur! Car cette prouesse technique allait démontrer la faisabilité de réaliser des témoignages en prise directe de la réalité en éliminant en grande partie les aléas de l’interprétation nécessaire des autres techniques de reproduction en deux dimensions.
L’habitat, humain surtout, constitue un sujet privilégié de notre imagerie sociale et culturelle. Pour les archéologues, c’est une ressource documentaire bien souvent seule survivante d’une organisation sociale disparue, d’une communauté oubliée et d’une civilisation évanouie. Il y a donc un intérêt manifeste à y retrouver un vécu précurseur de notre modernité contemporaine.
Refaire le parcours de l’histoire récente de la photographie démontre la richesse du contenu consacré au recueil iconique du sujet de l’habitat. Mais au delà du simple aspect documentaire, il y a aussi une toute autre interprétation de l’habitat humain qui reflète sa diversité culturelle, sociale et politique même. Il ne s’agit plus d’un simple enregistrement d’images documentaires mais plutôt d’une affirmation parfois très créatrice d’une vision personnelle et artistique des lieux et des arrangements matériels des humains. Il faut donc aussi intégrer la photographie d’habitat comme un art à part entière.
Aujourd’hui, on s’en rend compte de plus en plus, la photographie permet la survivance de lieux et de construction dont la pérennité est remise en cause par la pression démographique, culturelle et économique des populations. C’est un paradoxe pour un art, la photographie, qui a été longtemps perçu comme plutôt éphémère. Souhaitons seulement que l’impression physique des images fixées redeviennent une finalité nécessaire du processus photographique en ces temps numériques virtuels.
Tout objet, tout assemblage, toute organisation matérielle générés par l’humanité en contient une partie de son âme. Bien sûr la ou le photographe doit en exprimer la nature intrinsèque par son interprétation du sujet. Il s’agit d’un vision biaisée, nous le savons, mais tout de même bien instructive d’un fragment d’un passé déjà révolu. Et au rythme actuel où nous consommons, l’ancienne contemplation des objets et des lieux devient quasi-impossible sur une plus longue période. L’érosion technologique de notre civilisation est devenu un mode-éclair de vie.
Alors il faut tenter de préserver toutes ces perceptions matérielles de notre humanité et la photographie en est un des meilleurs vecteurs de conservation.
Rien de nouveau sur la planète Photo. Pour plusieurs sujets, des appareils photo compact ou ayant un format réduit de surface de captation, argentique ou numérique, ont été et sont encore couramment utilisés avec succès professionnellement parlant. Alors quelle est cette perpétuelle et lancinante persistence à dénigrer les petits formats? Un snobisme qui empoisonne toute objectivité quand on parle photographie pratique et intéressante.
Il fut un temps que le format 24X36mm appelé aussi 135 ou 35mm en argentique était considéré comm un mini format. Aujourd’hui, il se proclame, indument d’ailleurs, “plein format”, en anglais full format, si bien qu’on en a oublié la vrai signification de cette expression décrivant une technique de tirage consistant à utiliser la totalité de la surface de l’image enregistrée peu importe la grandeur de négatif ou positif employé pour la prise de vues. Il y a donc à tout le moins méconnaissance mais peut-être aussi pour beaucoup une médisance malsaine et volontaire.
Pendant ce temps les vrais professionnels eux se balancent totalement de ce faux débat et utilisent leur propre recette en termes d’équipement de prise de vues, de traitement d’image et de support de diffusion. Et oui c’est ainsi qu’elles ou ils s’en foutent éperdument ainsi que de tous ces pseudo tenors omniscients de la photographie de salon genre pixels-pippers qui sévissent dans ces forums où certains naifs s’y laissent prendre encore, mais de moins en moins il faut l’avouer.
Mon bonheur est d’explorer l’univers photographique en images et d’y découvrir de vraies perles dont l’origine se retrouve dans l’usage d’appareils compacts tout à fait adéquats mais surtout techniquement bien maitrisés par leurs utilisateurs respectifs. Bien sûr le contenu l’emporte sur le contenant et tout photographe de métier le sait très bien. Pendant mes années de photographie corporative et freelance, il m’est arrivé peut-être une fois ou deux qu’un client m’a demandé quel appareil ou quel film j’utilisais. Si jamais quelqu’un vous pose cette question, interrogez-vous plutôt sur son intérêt à le faire alors qu’il devrait à priori se préoccuper d’obtenir un produit final répondant à ses besoins.
Par rapport à la période argentique, les capteurs d’image numériques des appareils photo d’aujourd’hui sont capables de prouesses techniques inimaginables comme une sensibilité ISO variable et poussée, un ajustement immédiat de la température couleur de l’image, une dynamique étendue entre les hautes et basses luminosités, une capacité énormément accrue du nombre de prises de vues, un coût quasi nulle de l’espace de mémorisation des images et j’en oublie. Et tout ça avec des appareils photo de plus faible encombrement et de poids réduit. Alors pourquoi s’en priver?
Même chez les manufacturiers d’appareils au capteurs de moyen format, on voit apparaitre de plus en plus des modèles plus petits et légers comme chez Hasselblad et Fujifilm. S’il est vrai qu’un plus grand capteur d’image induit nécessairement une meilleure qualité d’image théorique, est-ce que cette différence reste perceptible sur les supports de présentation des ces photos. En bref s’il faut pousser le grandissement au delà des limites du raisonnable, où en est la justification tant artistique que professionnelle?
Il est plus que temps de briser ce mythe du grand format et de ramener le débat au niveau des véritables préoccupations des photographes, i.e. pouvoir utiliser un matériel suffisamment performant et ludique qui encourage la créativité et la productivité photographique. Tout le reste n’est qu’un débat futile ..!
We have heard this advice again and again in our life, but things are more “complicated” in reality than it supposed to be in books, movies or in any fictional representations of our day to day. Human behaviors are complex beasts to comprehend even for the most philosophic people. Because in fact life is a complex thing compose with an overwhelming number of different elements that seem to contradict themselves continuously over time and places.
So “Keep it simple” can be nice to say if you intend to relieve yourself or others from some tension but it is another affair when you try to apply it because it involves subtracting a lot of “disturbing” factors of the equation. The same remark can be applied in photography. You may be seduced by a certain context or composition but after taking the picture it happens that too many “foreign” and “none invited” objects are clothing the main subject and distracting the looker from the basic message of the image memorized.
In some aspects “Keep it simple” is easier to apply. For example, it is better for us, for our wallet and for our creativity to bring less photo gear and use the ones selected more intensively with a better understanding. In doing so we can better apprehend our subject and work with it.
I can apply the same motto for the technical aspects of our photography. The basic parameters (File format, monochrome or colors rendition, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, focus) can be mostly selected at first and then you can focus yourself on the final image composition and exact picture taking moment. So, there is a kind of preliminary routine to master before your actual photo shooting that will prevent you to be overwhelmed by the technical process of it. Many professionals use to work with the same formulas for their commercial or artistic production.
More important is to identify your main subject of attention and extract it from the disturbing elements of its surrounding. It can be done by eliminating them or by simply reducing them. For example, a main subject will be prioritized by being close to you if you are using a wide-angle lens. For their part the telephoto lenses have already the ability to isolate the subject and blurry its surrounding by the effect of a shallowed deep of field. Panning a moving subject can extract it from its detailed context. So, there are many ways to isolate and to enhance your subject.
“Keep it simple” apply also for your entire photo project. It is far easier to plan a photo session with less different picture assignations and concentrate our attention on variations of the same subject cooping on different angles of view or moments of picture taking expression. Specialize yourself with one or few specific photo approaches that will definite your style or your signature. All that will participate to your personal progression as a creative photographer.
One of the most difficult things about the “Keep it simple” philosophy is to be able to subtract ourselves from others influences and personal agendas (often unrevealed but clearly present). There is their way of doing things but the more important there is your own way that is ought to be protected and cherished.