Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II: The Caméléon Camera!

(Lastly edited May 8, 2017) (First parution November 15, 2016)

Back in 2012, Olympus has announced and preview its first OM-D  a sort of digital emulation of the classical SLR film camera series originally named OM. Apart the general aspect and dimension of the E-M5 model presented it was a complete new design very different from the other digital M4/3 Olympus line, the PEN series. Since the beginning of digital cameras as the new photographic mass media Olympus has been innovative and very productive of different concepts and model series. The Camedia and E-X series can be rightfully reckoned as one of the most serious effort to produce very effective photographic digital tools.

 

The first OM-D E-M5 declination has been a true success story among photographers and reviewers that simply salute Olympus with a very strong endorsement of the product. Furthermore the E-M5 has been also one of the first M4/3 format model really used on a professional base around the world although it was remaining more an exception and a curiosity. Olympus eventually have responded by offering a new OM-D E-M1 for a more specific pro use.

In 2015 Olympus issued the second version of the E-M5 tagged Mark II with is an upgraded product in many ways (with the exception of its menu interface presentation…!).

Rotative LCD Screen (versus Tilt-able original version): A video reminiscence imported to OM-D
The LCD screen of the EM5 Mark II is a beauty to use ether as a live “full” scale viewfinder or as a reviewing tool. As a live viewfinder (LVF) it is a better choice for evaluate exposure and color rendition of the picture. If the situation allow you to do so the LVF will be a very productive option. I am not a big fan of LVF at the beginning but more and more especially with the “mobile” device event the photographer … and the subjects are getting used to it and felt more comfortable now than by holding the camera the traditional way.

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF): Shut down (or rotate back) that LCD screen!
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is doted of a very fine Electronic ViewFinder (EVF). Fine details can be easily observed and all the infos are present (but without the automatic vertical rotation feature for the infos). Manual focusing can be done accurately through the EVF with the loupe option and dont prevent yourself to do it.
In strong lightning context the EVF may seem to be more contrasty than for low light subject. This caracteristic has been addressed from the early EVF and tend to be corrected gradually but there is still place for improvement. As for the delay between the image seen on EVF vs real-time situation. For action photography I will suggest you to stay and rely on EVF in preventing misinterpretation of the “pic” of the image or subject action.
The presence of the LVF (LCD screen viewfinder) couple with the automatic switch over option between EVF and LVF can be annoying for people who mainly EVF users. By entirely rotating back the LCD screen you will facilite the exclusive EVF use with a better battery life (at the expensive of the fast access to the LCD screen I must add…).

Enhanced Dials
One of the most noticeable difference between the original E-M5 and the new E-M5 Mark II version are the dimension and the nature of the direct control dial that are now bigger and offer better adherence. Adding the optional grip will give you the same arrangement for front handling but in vertical holding you will recover the “old” dial design which is a disappointment in my sens even if the original controls stay efficient in every way.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a small ILC compact camera and because of that all fonction buttons and dial are accordingly cramped for this type of device. You may accidentally change setting and falsely working with a non voluntary configuration. So the best way to counteract these effects is to verify time to time all the basic information showed on the viewfinder EVF or LVF.

New “more” grip ( More proimenent front hand grip for secure and confortable handling and appreciable vertical shooting ability)
The Olympus HLD-8 grip &battery holder combination is an upgrade version of the previous HLD-6 model offered for the original E-M5. Dimensions and control dial of the grip by itself (HLD-8G) have been revised ans a earphone plug for monitoring the recorded sound has been added. Using the HLD-8 with or without the additional battery had a lot of confort to the handling of the E-M5 Mark II.

In using the complete grip kit you can alternate a two batteries turn around (with one battery always full load in camera) without removing the unit .

Vertical shooting is more secure and easier. Weight and di
mension distribution between camera and lenses are better served when you are working with bigger lenses such as the “Pro” series. If you anticipate doing action or outdoor photography the extra battery autonomy will be an appreciated advantage. And it stays a relatively compact package compare to the similar D-SLR combos. Finally having an additional power unit with the extra battery can be a precious help for intensive shooting sessions.

Lot of Personnalisation … if you remember their functionalities…!
Since the event of the first OM-D (E-M5 original version), Olympus has always offer to the user  extended possibilities of camera personnalisation. Again with the E-M5 Mark II there is a lot of different setting available though the various dials and push (function) buttons present on the camera. For sure you will have to memorize all these personal setting but that can be a real advantage to fine-tune a product configured for “your” specific needs. It add speed and convenience for those who are willing to invest on learning the system.

Mini Flash (less bits and parts, marginally better height, orientable bounce and side-tilt options)
Many photo enthusiasm over the years are knowing already that Olympus has been a pioneer of TTL flash metering since the seventies especially with the original OM-2 24X36mm film camera model. Commun sense dictate the manufacturer to offer a very sophisticated dedicated flash system starting with the mini unit FL-LM3 which is part of the accessories included in the box and that can act as a master unit for controlling multi-flash (from Olympus) arrangement.
The diminutive FL-LM3 unit can be consider as a good fill-in flash option for on the spot situations. Thanks to Olympus to have simplify the attachement of the flash to a single flash  hot shoe port (no more multi-fonction bottom port) since I am not a big fan of potentially losing parts to protect these ports. The addition of the bounce and side-tilt head orientation option is another good value but you have to kept in mind the limited power of the unit. As a master remote flash indirect lightning is a welcome feature.
Olympus pro photographers on assignation like wedding, journalism even sport are considering  the flash option as a obligatory feature to compensate deficient or uneven lightning over the subject. Olympus has just release (October 2016) a new FL-900R powerful unit addressing that demand.

Vintage Flash unit arrangement using PC sync cord and camera sync port.

PC Sync Port (“The” studio vintage feature!)
A PC outlet has been added to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It is a past feature seen in most ancient film and traditional SLR and other camera models. For studio or flash work the use of a PC (trigger) sync outlet is inducing that you accept to use flash devices and camera/lens combination over their manual setting without relying on the automated TTL functionalities present into the E-M5 Mark II. In my sens it stays a curiosity more than a practical advantage. Yes you can still do flash photography by using a flash meter for balancing your light units but more and more professionals will prefer to rely on interface setting devices or by using the in-board camera fonctionalities.

Extensive but complex menu settings are an Olympus trademark.

Olympus Interface Presentation or “Learn your lessons!”
What can I add to the many “pro” reviewers that have already point out so many times for almost every new Olympus models that their interface presentation is hard to comprehend and assimilated. The E-M5 Mark II is not a different beast and will ask you to get use to the many aspects of the extended menu options. A quick menu option available by pressing the OK button is may be the best way to access to the fondamental parameters of the camera.

Lens combinations: Prime’s vs Pro Zoom Optic Battle: Small & Discrete Size vs Focal Versatility
By nature there is always the question of the lens choice when you decide to work with ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera). In general the Olympus prime (fixed focal length ) lenses will give the best optical quality result. Furthermore the fixed focal lens are faster (larger maximum aperture) less bigger and heavier than the zoom lenses. For better results when you are selecting zoom lenses Olympus offer you their “Pro” line but with the expense of a more modest maximum aperture, larger dimensions, more weight and for…more $$$! These Pro lenses will appeal to photographers that are working on assignations, in rapid action photographic situations including intensive studio shooting and specific outdoor subjects. If you like to contextual photography you may prefer the prime lenses selection.

Same not the same 16MP Image Captor
Every manufacturer has its distinctive image “signature” that will translate with an overall specific color reddition, contrast, accentuation and exposure distribution identity. Yes you can alter in many ways the original bias of the camera that will invalid the first setting but it remains sometimes a very tedious exercice for non initiate peop
le like many actual camera users. The Olympus color palette is very distinctive with slight blue tonal (or cold color temperature) color imagery representation.

Zig Zag Over Dome (Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II)

Olympus B&W own interpretation
It is now a standard feature over the mirrorless camera offer to get easy access to a monochrome B&W option along with the different color palette interpretations. For those who have first learned photography by using B&W material or simply by consulting the classic B&W works of earlier photographers it always a pleasure to be able to produce monochrome imagery right from the camera and because of the EVF feature you can get the final result right from the start on screen. Another interesting direct functionality is the possibility to adjust the High and Shadow Light curves on the spot although it has certain limitations compare to post processing treatment. With strong lightning I will usually cut down the exposure by 1 to 2 EV factor (stop) to privilege the highlight detail over the shadow area. For sure it is up to each photographer to find its own setting bias.

Apple Eye taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II / M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8

About cropping
Dont prevent yourself to do extensive cropping of your original picture if the camera image sensor can maintain an acceptable photographic quality. And dont forget that it is the nature of the human sight (i.e. eye view) to select portion area of the total pano view to be able to register a partial composition of the entire picture. You can assume that the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II will deliver you pleasant result even with a pronounced crop.

OM-D E-M5 Mark II compact outfit configuration recall
 the original OM series of the film era

A discrete and versatile camera
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a discrete compact ILC camera with its small size and smoothness of operation. Its All-Weather construction allow you to use it with more confidence in many various situations with moderely adverse conditions but dont forget to select a lens model that have the same feature. Furthermore it is common knowledge that some professional photographers are choosing the mirrorless cameras for different manners such as the overall size of the system, or the lens selection, the interface, the video possibilities, etc. The “Pro” involvement of these manufacturers like Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Sony is just proving the serious of them.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a very modular camera with grip and power options.

The shutter release of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is exceptionally smooth. It is always a great pleasure to do photography with such discretion and elegance. The environnemental sealing of the camera body is another serious advantage for all condition utility of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I also salute the modularity of the model with or without the HLD grip combo option which is transforming the E-M5 II into a small “E-M1” of its own. Flash system is well deserved with the in-house TTL system and none-wired external flash units control via the FL-LM3 mounted unit.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is not cheap as for many Olympus products. If you are intend to keep the camera model for a short period of time you will lose a significant amount of money but on a long run (3 years +) it wort the expense. Otherwise you can wait to end-of-life deal like it has been observed in the case of the original version of the E-M5. For a professional use, you may also consider the new OM-D E-M1 Mark II option but keep in mind that it will required a significant larger budget.

If you intend to do street photography the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II alone coupled with one small prime lens will give you a very “petite” camera. In action photography the camera will behave on the average level asking from you a good preparation and a sense of anticipation. In that field (Action) it is more a pro-active than a reactive camera like the big D-SLRs.

Out-In Light (OM-D E-M5 Mark II / M. 45mm F/1.8)

About the Future of M4/3
At first you have to consider that the primary 4/3 digital format has been set in 2006 as new standard endorsed by various major photographic compagnies such as Kodak, Fujifilm , Leica among others. Two years later the original format has been evolve into the new Micro 4/3 especially designed for more compact mirrorless camera. In the battle to survive into the classical photo market the M4/3 format has been mainly supported by the combine effort of Olympus and Panasonic production. For Panasonic their strong video knowledge has been successfully  incorporated into their flagship GH4/5 models that have been adopted by many. Olympus really intend to design cameras firstly for their still photography capabilities. Both Olympus and Panasonic have developed a very fine line of interchangeable lenses in a smaller package compared to the Canon and Nikon bigger production for example. In this small mirrorless world with Fujifilm (and Canon) APS-C format and Sony so-called “full” format (ancient 24X36mm mini film size) the long term future viability of these alternatives stays on balance.

For sure the user loyalty may be part of the answer but more than that the dedication of the camera manufacturers can make the final outcome. And Olympus even considering their recent internal difficulties never really downplay their contribution. As a fan, a user and an appreciator of their line of products (both cameras and lenses) I hope they will successfully maintain their dedication for the M4/3 format for a long time.

Final Note: Since the venue of the E-M5 Mark II Olympus had also upgraded their E-M1 (Mark II) & E-M10 (Mark II) models and extended their lens offer by adding short, long and Pro lens models.

 

iPhoto Manon Paquette

 

Advertisements

Black’nd Mine: An Adventure in Gray Tone.

Tone my expression in a gray world and I will be in the black of mine. Storyboard of my life is the témoignage of the despair of emotion. Click the instant desire of eternity and the full inspiration of the romantic soul.

Where are you my love, my muse, my perfect picture of the physical human art. Light is triking the edge of my insanity. And I hope some understand my deviance. That’s only photoetry.

You must say something, you must show something so we want to see.

 

 

 

 

 

Montréal Like It Like It Not: A Black & White Desire

Montréal is my born city even if I became a suburb boomer like many of us. Montreal is the essence of our cultural french identity the other places are simply anecdotical for us. When I walk in the streets of Montreal I am always strike by infinite nature of changes over the places, the people and the time. Montreal is a survivor in this very competitive world of North America.

You can see the buildings, the beautiful girls and boys as the ancients, the surroundings, the noise and  the music, it is the the dis-harmony of life. It is Montréal!

Are you with me ?

On the street with the Panasonic Lumix GX7

 

The Panasonic Lumix GX7 digital camera was marketed more than two years ago and has been already replaced by the newest model GX8. But the GX7 is still used by many photographers as an everyday camera. It is a very handy camera designed first for still photography despite its own video ability.
Table Top Wall Stripes

Digital compact camera offers handling advantages in term of small dimensions and low weight. But because of the multiple function buttons seen on many very diminutive models like the Lumix GM1 or GM5 we have reached a point that the compactness is inducing a lot of involuntary finger touch manipulations. The Panasonic Lumix GX7 can be classified as a mid-size compact camera with interchange lens option. It is not a subcompact (GM5 class) but combined with many Lumix G lenses it stays a small package.

With user experiences you can memorize most of the main function buttons and operating reels. As usual I have found there is too many options available to really mastermind their utility on picture taking situations with fast rate shooting. By keeping it simple you will better optimize your photographic results.



The display fonction button can be too easily involuntary activated and the rear adjusting dial edge is located too far to get a confortable reach from you thumb. Those two design flaws can be annoying in particular when you are using more manual setting.



The viewing system that offers a LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder (EVF) is very distinctive of camera design inspired by the ancient rangefinder cameras. It is a compact camera but not as a subcompact or a miniature like the Panasonic Lumix GM5. In that sense the handling of the GX7 is more secure partly because of the larger dimension of the body of the camera. Face strong front day lighting the EVF will generate a more contrast picture that doesn’t really help to evaluate the fine details of your composition. In those cases you have to guess first and check the result over the LCD screen.

Fifteen before six: Very good B&W gray tonal graduation even in using high ISO setting

The images preserved from the fine quality JPEG file option are generally very exploitable for web uses and mid-sized printout. As usual a basic RAW file will give the full opportunity to more deeply post-treat the taken image. The default contrast rendering is on the high side and you may have to use some of the softer rendering picture taking options to counteract this effect. The color rendering is mainly natural but artificial lightning can generate some misinterpretation of the white balance auto setting function.

 

Native JPEG Outdoor color rendering is very accurate

 

Onboard flash
To have an onboard flash option is liberation. The flash of the Lumix GX7 is easily reachable by a mechanical switch on the backside of the camera. As a fill flash it work very nicely but it can be advisable to power down a bit the flash output especially with nearby subjects. As a commander flash it is a perfect tool. And Panasonic designers preserve the possibility to add a more powerful unit via the hot shoe.

The EVF viewfinder as waist (sternum !) level finder

Many reviewers were sceptical about the use of the partly moveable viewfinder of the Panasonic Lumix GX7. Looking down to a camera viewfinder is not a real novelty. You can go back to the ancient twin lens reflex or to the very first reflex mirror cameras to find the same way of viewing your picture. A complete generation of amateur and professional photographs can easily remember the glorious days of the various Hasselblades and Rolleiflexes. The “waist level “ view option allows the photographer to better control the linear rendering of the lens by facilitating the positioning of the camera which respect parallel lines better than tilting up or down your point of view. It is remarkable that so many photo experts have missed that point.

Spontaneous close-up photography is easy by using larger aperture prime lenses such as the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f1.7

As I have pointed out with many other camera models of the same features like EVF, it is very recommendable to bring extra batteries to prevent abrupt photo session finales.

Overall the Panasonic Lumix GX7 camera has been and still is a very competent picture-taking companion. It generate very interesting image results, the overall handling is on the good side, the Panasonic lens offering is correctly extended (and can be completed with the Olympus M4/3 counterpart lenses), the camera-lens combination is discrete, the operating system cost is reasonable and you can manage to overcome the few design flaws of the camera. 

BNC Tower over De la Commune, Old-Montreal

 

 

Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7 O.I.S.: The Selective Lens

It is a common say in the photo channel to qualify the Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7 OIS lens as a “portrait” lens. Mainly because of its narrowed angle of view and its relatively large maximum aperture, the Lumix G 42.5mm (as for the Olympus Zuiko 45mm F1.8 counterpart) is mainly assimilated to that specific subject.

 

 

 
In fact it’s a selective lens because it proposed a cropped vision of the photo context and also because of its maximum aperture it proposed a narrowed depth of field. But combined with the Optical Image Stabilisation (O.I.S.) the Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7 is opening you an array of photographic opportunities exceeding by far the limited use of portrait.
 
 
For example its close focusing ability can be use for near photography and for smaller subjects. Discriminating the foreground from the background can be also a very creative option that exceeds the normal human vision.
 
 
Well built with a large manual focusing ring the Panasonic Lumix G 42,5mm f1.7 lens is easy to handheld with a good compactly virtue. The furnished lens hood complete a good package and offer an extra protection of the front glass element of the lens.
 
 
You should appreciate the Lumix G 42.5mm as a strong discriminating lens for street and casual photography or any kind of discriminating photography essay.
 
 
 

Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 (II): The fair lens with or without flare!

 

One of the nicest focal fixed lenses produced by the Panasonic Compact System is the Lumix G 20mm F1.7 referred as « Pancake » by many users. Although it is not part of the usual kit proposed for the Panasonic m4/3 cameras like many standard zoom lens such as the 14-42mm the Lumix 20mm F1.7 has been combined with the Lumix GX7 for example as a standard lens.

Everybody knows that the picture quality results are most of the time better if you select a focal fixed lens. This Panasonic lens is no exception and you should appreciate the picture outputs obtained. The Lumix 20mm F1.7 is compact, well built and has a very smooth manual focusing ring effect. The color rendition of the lens is respecting the Panasonic own bias of the others lens models of the series (Thanks possibly to the in-board camera image post treatment).
Foreground/Background In-Out Focus

The angle of view of the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 is similar to the one you got for your own vision if you concentrate on the detailed part (in focus) area. So it is a very predictable lens that will allow you to anticipate your composition without constantly using to the viewfinder or the screen of the camera.

Typical Lens Flare













I have read from one respected reviewer that the lens is very sensitive to lens flare phenomena when it is exposed to direct source of light like the sun. Every lenses will present some kind of lens flare over different contexts and because of the very compact (flat) optical design of the Lumix G 20mm F1.7 it is a normal to get lens flare. Since I am somewhat more experimented with optical physic I recommend using your hand as a “flag” (like we use to do during studio photo sessions) to counteract this effect. 

A good lens hood will give you the same
service for most of the time. 

 

No more lens flare by using your hand as a flag.

At the end and considering the photographic value of the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 it is really a good opportunity at a small sales price to get access to a very good photographic tool.


A great street lens!

 

Panasonic Lumix GM5: The purpose of M4/3 format

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 / G Vario 12-32mm OIS

 

When I saw for the first time the new Panasonic Lumix GM5 I was sceptical of the ability of the camera in producing equivalent quality results like its bigger brothers into Panasonic and Olympus line-up. But more I have used the GM5 more I became convinced of the equally performance of the tiny model. In fact this is the first M4/3 format camera since my previous Olympus EP-3 model that is responding to my need for a real compact camera with the interchangeable lenses option and using a larger format than the diminutive Nikon 1 series or Pentax Q series models.
The diminutive Lumix GM5 alongside its big brother the Lumix GX7


Obviously the small size of the GM5 model has introduced important design limitations. The tunnel effect of the EVF (electronic viewfinder) can be annoying for a former Panasonic GX or an Olympus OM-D user. The fixed back LCD screen is another restriction you have to cope with. The tiny size of the control reel and the push buttons are more difficult to mastermind without looking at them. As usual this is an imperfect camera like many others as that I have seen over the past decades in the photo industry.

 

Spontaneous street photography is easy

But the big advantage of the Lumix GM5 is its small dimensions along with the possibility to interchange lenses. Furthermore it is a real compact camera with a good reactivity that helps to be ready to take picture in a short time.

The rear-setting reel is a good addition compare to the original GM1 model but you have to consider that is small reel with limited access and also the fact that this reel replaces the two reels of the higher class models. Pressing once the reel does the commutation of the functionalities.
The touch screen option is a big help to mastermind the interface of the GM5. It is by far more intuitive compared to the traditional menu way of interacting with the camera.

 

The external flash, which is part of the kit, is powerful enough to do fill flash but you may have to correct its power not to overexpose the compensating enlightened areas.

A tiny external flash for a tiny camera

The maximum workable ISO sensibility seems to be around the 800-1600 settings. Above that point the quality of the details of the picture may be below many expectations.

The battery life is short especially if you are using fully the LCD screen as a your main viewfinder. For a day shooting I recommend to use only the EVF and select the Display option that will shut down the LCD screen. This way you will extend the life of your battery charge significantly. Using the external flash is also very demanding. If you are a strong flash user, I suggest you to look for another external flash unit that employs its own batteries. For all day long photography session bringing one or two spare batteries at least is a real necessity.
The G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S. kit lens is the basic combination to start with the GM5. Its strongest advantage in my sense is the 12mm focal setting that is giving a wide-angle equivalent of 24mm in 35mm format. For traveling or urban photography that angle of view appears to me as a minimum wide angle to have. The zoom ratio of the 12-32mm is very narrow and doing portrait can be a challenge. The G Vario 35-100mm F4.0-5.6 Mega O.I.S. lens is the real companion lens for the basic 12-62mm. Many GM5 users have completed their kit by selecting this 35-100mm for its compact size and its focal range.

FIne details with Lumix 42.5mm 1.7 lens

The fixed focal lenses are always very attractive mainly in reference of the good old nostalgia of the film era. Considering the fact that the GM5 have no in-board stabilisation option like the GX7 and GX8 models the use of these lenses can be deceptive especially in a hand holding shooting context. The only exception is the G 42,5mm F1.7 O.I.S. “portrait” lens equipped with the optical stabilization option. This 42.5mm f1.7 lens is a superb quality piece of optic made in Japan and can deliver high level of picture results. The focal fixed lenses force you to be more creative in your composition of the picture. They are introducing a kind of discriminating factor.

The stabilization factor is still a very important element for getting precise picture from those small cameras. It is easy to be mistaken by the tiny size of the GM5 but you have to consider the format (m4/3) and apply the same care during your shooting as you may already do with DSLR cameras. Finally by using the EVF you will improve your rate of success simply because you are holding the GM5 steadier.

The GM5 cannot be assimilated as a static camera that is able to freeze action with an high rate of success like most of the DSLR cameras. To cope with moving subjects you will need a sense of anticipation and to follow the action. As usual for EVF, my recommendation is to follow the action through the EVF viewfinder because of the obvious time lag inferred by the electronic respond to show the subject into the viewfinder.

Since the Lumix GM5 is a very light camera there is no inertia phenomena induced by the weight of the equipment. For people who have long experience in using heavier cameras such as DLSR or Leica type models it will represent a new challenge to handle and shoot with the GM5.

 

Automatic settings: WB, autofocus, exposure, and coloration
Generally speaking you can count on the automatic settings of the GM5 for most of the different situations. White balance is accurately done. In low light condition a slight but pleasant warm bias can be observed. The coloration is natural without the oversaturation as seen with some others models. In daylight the green color rendering happens to be occasionally a bit offset (may be too cold) for my taste. The automatic light metering of the GM5 is very performing allowing good general exposure. A strong frontal light can fool the metering system and in that case it is better to use the auto exposure memory option to lock the light meter settings or by scrolling manually the exposure compensation reel. The autofocus is working well even in low light condition but with a slower pace.

Using the Lumix GM5 with a tripod for static subjects will give you very excellent results even by using the Vario G 12-32mm O.I.S. kit lens. In my experience the O.I.S. stabilization system of the lens doesn’t interfere in the finesse of the picture rendering. It is not a specialized macro lens but close focusing is easy and setting the aperture at f8 will give you a good workable deep of field.
 
Sunny but very dynamic results
Picture quality perception
As most of the digital camera that I have experimented and owned (To my financial despair) you have to get used with the inboard picture treatment that has been implanted by the manufacturer. Each of them has its own formula of color, contrast, saturation, etc. You can fine tune those default setting but you need to be aware how you can manage interaction between all those factors. If you are not basically satisfied at least at the beginning it can be an everlasting process of corrections after corrections.
At ISO 200 the GM5 will deliver very fine details with amazing agility on Jpeg files, which are the most useful, and readiness way of imaging. I always try to avoid intensive post treatment of my pictures and I prefer to fine-tune the image with basic parameter such as exposure, brightness, contrast, etc. At ISO 1600 the image start to show some pixilation into a grainy aspect and inboard camera photo processor will generate some fuzzy interpolations with textures. Using high ISO will ask you to not heavily crop your picture.

Graphic B&W composition

People who know for my humble photographic experience are aware about my love for black and white picturing. In my youngest years black and white photography was still dominating the field and it was the basic way to learn photography. Digital photography is allowing us to regenerate this beautiful artistic experimentation of black and white imaging. The Lumix GM5 is producing very fine black and white pictures with strong contrast number 3 or 4 level as we use to call them black and white print paper. This is particularly true by using fixed focal lens such as the Lumix 42.5mm F1.7 lens.

The “way of seeing” of Panasonic had asked to me a certain psychological adaption since I used to be an Olympus, Fujifilm or Nikon user. But after few days I began to be able to anticipate picture results. As usual analysing your image with EVF viewfinder and LCD screen can be deceptive compared to your final picture seen over a computer screen or print on paper.  The same problematic was observed during the film era when you were trying to convert a negative to a final print. Each picture diffusion system has its own bias.

Clear Foreground/Blurry Background/Shallow DoF

Overall I have found the Lumix GM5 pictures detailed, saturated, contrasted and accurately color reproduced most of the time. The exposure latitude of the image captor is on the good side if you pay attention to your exposure settings. Even in the bright sun the white tone details can be preserved which it is very appreciated during your travels in sunny countries.

The Panasonic Lumix GM5 can be certainly seen as a everyday camera that can also deliver good and excellent results considering the limitations of the model. It surpass the usual rendering of more compact cameras and fairly approach the quality of picture done with more sophisticated models. The ability to change lenses gives a strong advantage compare to compact cameras with fixed zoom lens.
Yes it is a tiny camera but you can produce beautiful pictures from it.

Lumix GM5: A camera to grow with it.
 

                                                                                                                                                                    

Adventure with (late) Apple Aperture

Post-treatment with Apple Aperture
Following the breaking news that Apple will cease the updating of their Aperture photo software, I was really disappointed considering the good services that I have experimented over the years in using it.
I must add that I am not really fond of most other photo editing software that are far more related to graphic designers or “photo painters” as I like to call them.
Post treatment in photography is a subject of long controversy and this is not a new theme. It began right from the start of this form of art expression.
Even if I really appreciate certain works done by “photo creators” I do have a more classical view in doing and showing photographic work. And it starts by pre-visualisation of your picture reality and transposition as near as possible on the media of presentation. That can be seen as a modern translation of the Ansel Adams precepts exposed in his books “The camera”, “The film” and “The print”.
But enough philosophy and more on photography!
What I love in using Aperture is the way fundamental picture parameters are presented and can be altered. Everything is based on the normal language of photographers. For example all the exposure factors are simply listed in a very friendly user way. Exploring the possibilities is easy.
Jpeg versus Raw
This is big debate since the beginning of digital photography. Suffice to say that all your raw files will need to be converted in jpeg files to allow you rapid sharing of your pictures. And that can be a bit annoying in term of delay. But the best results will be obtained by starting with raw files. Lastly the raw files are greater space consumers into your memory card and system.
Personally I use raw files in very rare occasions.
Enhancing your pictures
As a start, many pictures need to be fine tune to correct small disparities from the original light and framing conditions. Redressing the horizon line and choosing a different frame cropping can be the first steps. Correcting the color temperature of the overall picture can be the next step. I am not really fond to use the tint correction but it may save some really off-color pictures.

Redressing and cropping
Original Picture Taken
Exposure is a fundamental. Exposure correction will apply for the overall rendering light distribution. The luminosity option can be used but result are often destructive of the details contained in high and low light so you have to be precautious.  Working with the high and low light detail correction option can be mandatory to recover good information in these areas. I suggest increasing just a little bit the contrast setting to give punch to your result.

Croping and Color Temperature

Original




Redressing, Cropping, Enhancing High-Light Details




Original




















The others fine-tuning setting may be suited for particular needs on your picture. It is just a matter of experimentation. My only suggestion is to keep it simple by using one correction at a time and evaluate the result. Depending of your expectation and the way your picture-taking equipment behave, you will find a personal combination of settings that will be frequently used.

Black and White Effect (moderate contrast)

Strong transformation

There are a lot of special effects that can be applied to your pictures. For myself I love to transform color images in black and white by using the different types of filters available. If you found that the color rendition is distractive you may try these options.
“Painting” with Aperture can be done with relatively ease if you invest a bit in learning to do so. Dodging and burning image areas are a classical way to enhance your picture. You can copy part of your image and reproduce it on another part. I use this option to salvage some portraits mainly by removing distracting object or person from the original image. Again it need a bit of learning.

Special “Retro” Effect


There is also an assortment of “special” effects that will alter more severely your picture mostly in the range of classical photography rendering. That can be interesting if you are using your image on a particular illustrating context like anniversary or typical event. The more you will find applications for your photos the more you will be motivated to do photography and post process the results.

This short presentation of certain applications of Aperture has been done as an incitation for using it. My only hope is that Apple will develop its new iPhoto application in retaining most of the aspect of the present Aperture.

Portrait Extract with Background Removed and Replaced.















                                                                                   

Fujifilm X-E2: The digital rangefinder without rangefinder.

Working with the Fujifilm X-30 compact camera has been so gratifying as a creative experience that I have impulsively decided to buy the Fujifilm X-E2/XF 18-55mm Camera & Lens kit.

 

Fujifilm X-E2 / XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS

 

Yes it is a bigger camera (especially with the XF 18-55mm lens) and heavier too. But many aspects justify the difference between the X-E2 and the X-30. The general performances of the X-E2 are really enhanced by using a bigger APS-C image captor. Its viewfinder is bigger although the automatic vertical information rotation of the X-30 is missing (this option has been added to the Fujifilm X-E2 with firmware update no.4). The direct aperture and shutter controls are reproducing the past experience of the traditional cameras using film.
The handling is good but could be perfectible for the handgrip and the position of certain feature controls.  The menu interface is easily comprehensible but it has to be learned with practice. For myself I have chosen to reprogram one Fn button to regain control of the viewfinder option, which doesn’t offer the same ease of use as the X-30. The playback option should be configured in a way to allow direct viewing over the LCD screen in disregard of the picture taking viewing option selected.
The Fujifilm X-E2 can be a quick camera for spontaneous photography for most of the situations. The AF functionality is usually reliable except for some specific situations that are demanding a manual intervention or a pre-focus process. The AF/Manual focusing option will be welcome in the next firmware upgrade of the camera (Dec.18th 2014).

On-camera flash photography has always been a challenge for a more natural rendering of the exposure. In using the X-E2 with the inboard flash has given me the impression that this unit is a bit underpowered even for short portrait distance. To counteract I choose to add an external flash unit (Fujifilm EF-X20) that allow more pleasant rendering.

 

At that point the combination of the X-E2 with the XF 18-55mm lens and the EF-X20 flash really recall the days of the rangefinder era.

 

 

The picture quality issued from the Fujifilm X-E2 is excellent both in color and black & white. This X-E2 is definitively a creative camera very funny to explore and bring along you on every circumstances. The low profile of the camera design (and the black version of the body) help to stay modest during the photo session.

The last December 2014 Firmware Upgrade was an excellent improvement of the camera functionalities especially regarding the final manual focus correction option and the camera remote control in using a tablet. Another firmware upgrade is now (February 2016) that offers the same internal performance at the level of the new X-E2S version and very similar to the X-T10 model.
 

Little Add-On: I have tried the Joby wrist strap with both my Fujifilm X-30 and X-E2 and found them very confortable and non-intrusive materiel proper to hand carries your camera. Since I am using a small Lowepro Passport gadget bag already I don’t need a full shoulder strap.  The flashy lime color version is helping me to identify my X-E2 from the X-30.

 

 

Here are some preliminary results of my initial itineration with the Fujifilm X-E2:
 
 
Product Link: Fujifilm X-E2 Link

Fujifilm X-30: the "cool" camera

Fujifilm X-30 at rest

 


Close friends who happen to know me a bit more don’t really understand the continuous flow of different models of cameras that is part of my way of life. In my view cameras are photographic tools (including in-camera devices) and I am still looking for the ideal one in terms of esthetical beauty, better camera handling and finest picture quality. All those qualities may not be reached soon in my humble opinion.
What about the Fujifilm X-30 that is the third version of the high-end compact Fujifilm X-two digits series initiated by the X-10 and X20 previous models. It is definitively a very fun camera. It works nicely. It performs decently for its image captor format. The handling is good with a bit of adaptation needed to interact with the controls and options. But the big improvement is the use of an electronic viewfinder instead of the previous imprecise optical viewfinder of the X-10 and X-20. Now the new EVF give you the complete story in term of picture rendering and the entire picture taking info’s.  In my sense a viewfinder is an essential option in traditional compact photography (including D-SLR as they suppose to be compact cameras…).

So let the pictures speak as you can review in this small essay:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product Link: Fujifilm X-30 Link