Kai Wong (Digital Rev) checks out the 'toy' category of micro 4/3 lenses: Lots of fun with minimum moolah.

Quite an interesting bunch here: 

- Lomography Experimental Lens Kit for Micro Four Thirds 
- SLR Magic 50mm f/0.95 
- Holga lens  . . . read more

Panasonic Lumix Vario PZ 14-42/3.5-5.6 X G lens review by Ming Thein.

So, what happens when you put the 'X' on a consumer grade kit lens?

"Optically, the 14-42X is a bit of a surprise: it’s excellent, even used at maximum aperture. You don’t lose any sharpness close up, either. This is important seeing as anything much beyond f8 is severely diffraction limited on M4/3 cameras anyway due to the very small pixel pitch. Use this one wide open without issue, though stop down one stop to 5.6-8 to gain a very small improvement in the corners. There were two aspects of performance I found especially

. . . read more

Panasonic GF6 previews round-up: A camera that recognizes meals is shurely a good thing.

So, how was Panasonic's latest micro 4/3 camera entry received by the media? Pretty positively actually. We've selected some quotes:

Shawn Low from Cnet.Asia writes: "Although the GF6 is thicker and has a boxier build, we found the camera's front grip and substantial thumbrest provides a more secure grip and better ergonomics than its predecessor."

Richard Butler at DPReview: "But, while it gains features that will appeal both to the point-and-shoot and the take-control crowd, the GF6's trump card is Wi-Fi. Or, more specifically, the best implementation of Wi-Fi to hit the market so far." . . . read more

Panasonic GF6 hands-on review by Amy Davies at the Tech Radar: Shhht, its a secret! (Until April the 9th)

This preview was not supposed to go official yet, but some admin at the Tech Radar was apparently too trigger happy. The pages have now been withdrawn, but not before they ended up in the Google cache.

The New and Exciting:

  • NFC chip, it allows cameras to exchange images and videos by touching each other (sounds kinky, huh?)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Manual Video controls
  • 180° flipping rear touch LCD monitor. It is also a bit more responsive than its predecessors.
  • An extra dial makes the camera easier to handle compared to its predecessors. No more constantly diving into the menus.
  • New Venus engine will (supposedly) make for faster and better performance, in both video and still image capturing.
  • More digital effect filters, brings the total count to 19. Anyone up for some 'Bleach Bypass"?

The Bad:

  • No hotshoe for external flashes
  • Same "old" 16mp sensor as the one used in the GX1. 
  • The GF6 is a bit chunkier than the GF5, although this can be a plus for some users.

Here's the early conclusion from the Tech Radar review: . . . read more

The Panasonic LUMIX G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8 zoom lens gets DXo Marked: Not exceptional, nor bad, and very expensive for what it does.

The DXO reviewers are not going easy on Panasonic's 12-35mm f2.8 zoomer. The lens seems quite good compared to the (very few) other high-end m4/3 zoom lenses, but Panasonic is riding high on its f2.8 zoom monopoly when it comes to the price:

"Micro 4:3 is a popular format, there is a wide range of cameras and lenses on the market, letting you choose the most appropriate equipment for the type of photography that you want to do. There are definitely combinations that will compete well with APS-C. However, in these examples there does seem to be a strong emphasis on the quality being weighted towards the wider apertures which may not always be what you want. The Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8 ASPH Power O.I.S is the best lens of it’s type by quite a long way, but at a price that would buy better . . . read more

A simple way to improve your OM-D's FL-LM2 or FL-LM1 mini flash, by Henavs at the Club Snap forum.

Ok, photographers of all levels have been doing variations of this theme for as long as I can remember, so this is just a reminder for anyone less antique than me. Club Snap furum user Henavs has made this nice little tutorial, complete with a with/without bounce card shot:

"The more reflective the surface, the less loss of light. I use glossy photo paper on this, it can be improved with mirror (as dereth mentioned below) or gold/silver reflector. You can make the bounce card any size you want & keep the card in your pocket or bag. For me, I just keep it small & stick it on top of the flash when not in use, easier to store."

Olympus releases OM-D/EM-5 firmware version 1.6, doesn't fix much, and adds nothing new.

To be fair, most of the shortcomings of the E-M5 cannot be fixed with a firmware upgrade, except maybe for the custom user settings implementation.  Firmware version 1.6 only addresses these issues:

1.The highlight and shadow control function was modified so the exposure settings are applied correctly at ISO 2000 or higher.
2.The issue that occasionally prevented operations during long exposures was resolved.

You need the Olympus Camera Updater in order to upgrade your firmware to version 1.6

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review by Laura Hicks at Digital Camera Review: Love at First Click

Laura's camera of choice for this lens review was the Olympus E-M5:

"This one is a keeper. I am a big fan of this lens -- mainly due to my love of all things macro. The autofocus was generally fast, the color quality was very good and the images were pretty sharp. I found the image quality to be excellent for this price range. As a portrait photographer I could easily utilize this lens in traditional shooting mode. As a macro fanatic, the macro setting of this lens was extremely fun to play with. My only real concern with the 60mm f/2.8 macro lens is the double edge effect I noticed especially at wide open apertures. At times I did not notice it much, but sometimes it was far too obvious and quite distracting. That being said, I still recommend this lens. For me, it's simple. This lens makes me want to use it. For those who are not used to macro

. . . read more

The Panasonic GH3 Gets DXO MARK'ed, comes out as very similar to the Olympus E-M5, do they use the same sensor?

"The Panasonic Lumix DMC GH3 is a very good camera, among the best tested by DxO Mark in this format. It is small and light and will make an excellent camera to travel with and fulfils all of the requirements that a serious enthusiast is likely to have. However, it is pricey for a hybrid and it has competition from several directions. The Olympus is even smaller and lighter and scores slightly higher but it does lack a viewfinder. For a similar price you could be buying either the Pentax K 01 or the K-5 IIs, both of which have scores consistently higher than the Lumix but obviously with the overhead of a bulkier and heavier piece of . . . read more

Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 ultra wide-angle zoom lens review at Camera Labs

Gordon Laing tests this camera with a Panasonic GX1 camera:

"The Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 may be one of the earliest native lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system, but remains one of the most compelling, delivering superb quality across its focal range from standard wide to extreme wide angle.

With coverage that's equivalent to 14-28mm in the full-frame format, the Lumix 7-14mm is ideal for capturing expansive landscape views and enormous buildings inside and out. It conveniently starts where most general purpose lenses stop, providing the photographer with wider and wider coverage until . . . read more

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 lens review by Spike Tennyson at M43 Info: "It’s spectacular. Sharpness, colour, contrast; the look of the files this beast produces are just wonderful."

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8

Spike uses a Panasonic GX1 body with the lens on this review, and it sure helps him explore the dark underworld of the Pattaya naughty industry scene:

"The lens is sharp at F1.8 and sharpens up more as you stop down. Personally, I like to shoot wide open whenever possible, to encourage bokehliciousness (maybe not a word). So what are the negatives? Cost is an obvious one, but having used the lens I think it is a bargain. I have paid more than twice the price for Canon L lenses which can’t match the 75mm for IQ (or convenience, or light gathering). The only thing I would say is that the focus speed on this lens can be lacking occasionally. Take a series of photos at a similar distance from the subject and the 75mm is as fast as anything else out there; but . . . read more

Happy 1st Birthday Anniversary, Olympus OM-D/E-M5!

Oh how time flies. A full year-and a day, has passed since the official revelation of the E-M5, a camera that came at a very crucial moment in Olympus history, the company still shaking by the aftermath of the financial misbehaving of its board. This little cam took the limelight away from all that, and has carried it far and away: The E-M5 must be the most awarded and decorated digital camera so far, having received a 'camera of the year' award by most major photography sites worth their affiliate links, and of course, by me.

Here is my 'best camera' definition: It is the one you can carry with you to as many places as possible, under as many environmental conditions as possible, and can deliver reliable output, day or night. And by that definition the Olympus E-M5 is the best camera that I've ever had, and I've been using digital cameras since 2001. I've been through almost all of Canon's EOS range, up to and including the 7D and the 5D Mark III, an untold number of prosumer cameras, both pocket sized and superzooms, and a couple of earlier micro 4/3 models from Olympus and Panasonic, even some NExes. . . . read more

Olympus 15mm f/8 body cap lens review at Camera Hoarders: "If you have an Instagram account, listen only to bands that sold 15 records or less and ride a fixie, the 15mm lenscap is the thing to have"

Ivan doesn't think very highly of the 15mm body cap lens:

Compared even to “low-end” Olympus 14-42 F/3.5-5.6 kit lens, the 15mm is nowhere near sharp. In all samples below, 14-42 used at the F/8 aperture gives clearly sharper images in center. Corners are even worse, where 15mm sometimes looks bad even when viewed scaled to my monitor’s size (24″). But keep in mind at all times, Olympus 15mm costs $ 40 and is smaller than smallest available lens for micro 4/3 system. There had to be a trade-off somewhere. There’s another issue though… when set to infinity, the lens has sharp corners, but somewhat blurred center; set at hyperfocal center . . . read more

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS lens review by Lindsay Dobson

Cheap kit lenses need some review lovin' too, and Lindsay provides plenty of that. The pan(a)cake with the double vision was tested with a Olympus E-M5 camera:

"So why do I need another “kit lens” when I already have one? Good question. And the answer is convenience. Whilst the 12-50 can make a genuine addition to my casual (non-professional) kitbag thanks to its high degree of weather sealing and it’s genuinely useful macro capability, it is nevertheless a few inches long and when connected to a camera it isn’t pocketable. If I have the Panasonic Vario PZ 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH lens on my OMD instead, I immediately have what could reasonably be classified as a compact system, which will fit in a large coat pocket or in a make-up bag which can be placed inside my handbag. And this is the key thing about the 14-42 pancake zoom. I don’t know if it’s optically any better than any other variable aperture kit zoom (I . . . read more

Fujifilm X-E1 Versus X100 comparison at TR, and the winner is...the Olympus E-M5?

Well, that was distracting, but the darn OM-D keeps turning up in places it shouldn't. This time its in Tech Radar's Fujifilm 2 flagship cameras comparison, and their place among the top competitors, the NEX7, the GH3, and the E-M5. Things look pretty normal until the Raw performance comparison charts. Also noteworthy, the rather unimpressive results given by the GH3:                                                                  

"The signal to noise ratios of the TIFF images (after conversion from raw) from the Fuji X-E1 don't compare quite as well for signal to noise ratio as the JPEGs did, coming behind the Olympus OM-D at all sensitivities and below the Panasonic GH3 at ISO 200 and 400. The Fuji X-E1 beats the Panasonic at higher sensitivities though, and beats the Sony NEX-7 andFuji X-Pro1." . . . read more

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 prime lens review at Camera Labs: This is superb performance made all the more remarkable by the tiny dimensions and relatively affordable price tag.

Gordon Laing is the reviewer, and he took the unusual step to use the Panasonic GX1 as the test camera: 

"The Olympus 45mm f1.8 is arguably one of the best lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system, whether you're using an Olympus or Panasonic body. This lens is so small and light you'll hardly know you're carrying it around, yet is capable of delivering industry-leading performance with pin-sharp details across the entire frame right into the extreme corners. With an effective focal length of 90mm and a maximum aperture of f1.8, the lens is ideal for portrait work and can deliver sharp detail on the subject with a satisfyingly blurred background behind it. Likewise for closer subjects down to the nearest focusing . . . read more

System Camera Production increased 34% in volume, 43% in value during 2012, compact camera production shows further decline.

japan system camera production increased during 2012

A few notes: These numbers come from CIPA, Japan's Camera & Imaging Products Association, and as thus, production numbers from China and Korea are not included. However, seeing the onslaught of Chinese branded digicams in markets everywhere, my guess is that China's compact camera output has not declined at all, and since Samsung's latest earning report stated a slight volume increase too, the Cassandras predicting the imminent demise of the compact camera segment can just pack up and go home. Also, the biggest increase in volume occurred in Europe, maybe photography is a good outlet for austerity related stress :)

Chris Cheesman at Amateur Photographer reports:
Production of interchangeable-lens cameras rose 34% in 2012 and shipments of lenses broke through the 30 million unit mark, Japanese trade figures have revealed. But total digital camera shipments – including compacts – dropped 15%, according to Japan's Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA).

. . . read more

Tamron 14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III VC vs. Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 vs. Panasonic Vario HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 ASPH MEGA OIS hands-off comparison.

micro 4/3 superzoom shootout, tamron vs olympus vs panasonic

For some reasons only known to Tamron's managers, the company chooses to enter the micro 4/3 format with a 14-150mm zoom, closely matching the popular Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 and the elder Panasonic Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 ASPH MEGA OIS lenses.

Now, if they had bothered to shave a millimeter or two off the wide end, it would have been really exciting news, but as it stands now, the micro 4/3 mount is served by no less than 11 zoom lenses all sharing the 14mm wide end. Is there enough playing field for the New kid?  . . . read more

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro scores at DXO Mark: For super-sharp outdoor close-ups and video.

The Olympus M.zuiko 60mm macro scored a slight bit better than the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS lens, while costing less money and offering weather sealing on top of that.

"With strong performance across most of the DxOMark tests and a video-friendly MSC AF motor as well as a weather-resistant design, the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro is a good choice for outdoor macro shooting, such as nature portraits or close-up videos.  Compared to its main (and more expensive) competitor, the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS, it offers better quality for the money, delivering category-leading vignetting performance among Micro Four Thirds prime lenses as well as excellent sharpness. . . . read more

Olympus releases Redesigned Olympus M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II Superzoom tele lens

I guess this is what Olympus users wanted, a new, dark n'plastic 75-300mm lens. At least it looks like a proper lens now, and the addition of ZERO coating won't hurt either. Reading the press release issued by Olympus, i wonder what they mean by saying that the lens is redesigned to match the E-M5 and the Pen series cameras. So, what did the previous lens match, the drapes?

Olympus Press Release

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 29, 2013 – Olympus makes high-performance super-telephoto shooting more accessible than ever before by introducing the affordable M.ZUIKO ED 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II lens (35mm equivalent 150-600mm). Olympus has redesigned the lens to match the distinctive OM-D E-M5®   and PEN®Micro Four Thirds® series cameras and added a new advanced ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating to keep scratches off, and . . . read more

Olympus OM-D EM-5 epic review by Nasim Mansurov: Without a doubt, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is the best mirrorless camera on the market today. I just wish I checked it out earlier.

And I wish i had discovered this post by Nasim earlier. As far as reviews of the EM-5 go, this is one of the top 3 there is, the other two being Thom Hogan's recent essay and of course Richard Butler's technical at DPReview. Nasims reviews strike the perfect balance between lyrical and tehnical, and just for this, we forgive him for making fool predictions :)

"Until I came across the Olympus OM-D E-M5. From the day I started using the OM-D E-M5, I just fell in love with it. Everything just felt right about it – excellent image quality, incredibly fast autofocus, wide lens selection, superior ergonomics with a boatload of customization options. Suddenly, it just felt like the camera I had been wanting to own and use all these years. My only doubt was the smaller sensor size – for a while I thought that I would go with a

. . . read more

Little Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm f/8.0 go to the DXO Mark playground, gets called 'cute' by the grownups.

Why read a review of the body cap lens? It costs less that some of Oly's lens hoods, is comes at around the same size as a regular body cap, but is a lens. Excellent for photography training too, as every prime lens it makes you use your feet instead of a zoom range.  I gave it as a Christmas gift to a fat relative of mine, and now he's looking healthier than ever!

"No photographer buying a $49, 9mm long body cap lens is expecting optical perfection. Instead this lens is a bit of fun, a curiosity, a point and shoot option that’s a bit quirky and doesn’t cost much money.  The limited focusing, fixed 15mm focal . . . read more

Tamron 14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III VC lens for micro 4/3 announced. No info on price and availabily yet.

Tamron announces the development of the company's first Micro Four Thirds high-power zoom lens, equivalent to 28-300mm in the 35mm full-frame format

Tamron 14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III VC (Model C001) with Tamron's proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation)* mechanism and sophisticated metal finish in two colors - black and silver

Product features:
With one LD (Low Dispersion) glass element, two molded-glass aspherical elements and one hybrid aspherical element, Tamron's new Micro Four Thirds high-power zoom lens delivers leading-edge high image quality by thoroughly compensating for aberrations.
The ingenious optical design achieves a compact body with a filter diameter of just 52mm despite being equipped with the Tamron's highly regarded VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism. . . . read more

Sigma greatly expands its Art series lineup, announces 4 new entries: 3 Mirrorless and one Dslr lens.

Whoever thought the CP+ event would be a minor one-beyond the cheapo inexpensive digicam crap range, will have to rethink. We're to the tune of 9 new lenses announced so far, and Sigma contributes the heavy metal part: 4 new 'Art' series lenses, all made with Aluminum bodies and fitted with brass bayonets. You may recognize the Sigma 19mm F2.8 DN and Sigma 30mm F2.8 DN names, but the 60mm F2.8 DN lens is a totally new entity. All three lenses share the metal construction  and updated optics, come in silver or black color, and will be available in micro 4/3 and Sony E mount versions. They also share lack of information by Sigma regarding availability and price.

As for the fourth lens, its an update to the venerable 30mm f1.4 DC lens announced back in 2005. The newcomer is compatible with Sigma's USB dock, and completely overhauled, inside out. It will come in Sigma, Canon and Nikon mounts at an unknown date for an unknown price. . . . read more

More specs revealed about the Olympus XZ-10 camera and M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 Mk. II Lens.

Lens first: Everything appears unchanged, except for the new ZERO coating (ZUIKO Extra-low Reflection Optical Coating), same as the one that adorns many of Olympus Prime Lenses. Availability set to March 2013. The lens is also slightly redesigned, it looks a bit less like a designer flower-vase now and more like a proper lens. 

As for the XZ-10, it is a smaller, lighter and cheaper successor to the similarly looking XZ-2, with little else in common. The lens is now a 5x optical zoom of 26-130mm F1.8-2.7, and the sensor is very sadly a smaller 1/2.3" 12 Megapixel story, that kinda puts this cam out of the 'prosumer' range we're covering at Estiasis. If this digicam is still of any interest to you, grab your Google transgorbler and head over to Digicame.info for the rest of the spec list. . . . read more

Thom Hogan finally finishes his Olympus E-M5 review: I trust it for the type of shooting i normally do.

I can really see why it took him so long. There are no charts here, no Iso trains, no technical sections, heck not even images (except for one), but in this review they are not needed. It is evident that Thom has poured a lot of labour into this, and reading it will give a better picture of what the Olympus E-M5 really is, better than any review out there.

"This was a tough review to write. Indeed, it's taken me longer than it should have because there have been a series of small things that I wanted to be sure of before committing to them on the site. On the one hand, it was clear to me that I had started carrying the E-M5 instead of a DX DSLR when I needed to go light and small. On the other hand, those menus and options can be frustratingly dense and confusing. Was I perhaps just favoring the light and small and putting up with the complexity? It really takes time to answer that question, and thus the long germination of this review. . . . read more

Lindsay Dobson writes about her impressions of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ lens, and impressed she is.

This kit lens may come out mauled by most the reviewers, but a minority like Lindsay-and others, see it otherwise. It may not be the optically best mirrorless kit lens there is (that distinction should probably go to the Fujinon XF 18-55mm), nor the cheapest, BUT, it is sharp enough, has a good zoom range, and is unbeatable when it comes to features., the 'Jack of all trades-master of none' equivalent of lenses.

And for those buying the E-M5 and get rid of this kit lens within 5 minutes because they read a bad review of it, just try it first, will ya? You get Weather sealing, 24-100mm range, power zoom and macro mode, all in one convenient package. Too dark for you? Just bump up the Iso and you're set. Don't believe me? Check out Lindsay's pics, many of these are shot at Iso 1250-1600:

"But the question got me thinking, and I asked myself if there might be situations where the Olympus M Zuiko ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ would prove useful to me. And actually, the answer is yes. . . . read more

New Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH MEGA OIS lens revealed, set to launch in March.

Panasonic is set to unveil yet another slow and cheap kit lens, their forth micro 4/3 lens in this zoom range. The previous 14-42mm lens was updated to 'HD' status via firmware back in September, the new one comes HD ready out of the box, complete with the sticker. In Panasonic terms HD is:

" Specifically these HD lenses excel in tracking focus in video recording while offering silent auto focus and exposure control. In addition, there is enhanced stability of O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) in video recording"

Furthermore, the new lens is downsized compared to its predecessor, in every dimension: Its lighter, smaller, and takes smaller filters too (46mm vs 52mm). Price will remain unchanged, availability date is set to March 2013.

Steve Huff reviews the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 Pancake lens and finds beauty where others find mediocrity.

"This one is easy. This lens has the build, the speed, the feel, the looks, the design and the performance in IQ that makes it a no brainer for your Olympus Micro 4/3 camera (especially the E-M5). If you shoot a Panasonic camera I can not say how the lens does as I did not test it on a Panasonic body but on the E-M5 it rocks just as much as their other premium lenses. . . . read more

Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 ASPH VS 30mm f/2.8 EX DN Lens sharpness comparison by Fredrik Gløckner

From my own findings, there's the issue of Sigma's much lower CA and purple fringing when used on Olympus bodies. In any case, the Sigma is an automatic buy anyway, due to its current very low price.

"We see that the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 has an impressive level of sharpness, even wide open. The Sigma 19mm, on the other hand, needs a bit of stopping down before reaching the same level of sharpness. At f/2.8, the 19mm lens is a tad bit dull, even in the centre of the image frame. This finding is consistent with other tests I have seen. Generally, it is observed that the Sigma 19mm lens is not the sharpest at f/2.8, and improves when stopped down to f/4 and f/5.6. Stopping down beyond f/5.6 does generally not add anything to the overall sharpness, but does give you more depth of focus (DoF). If you need a deep DoF, it may still be wise to stop down to f/8 or even further, but this will give you slightly worse sharpness at pixel level.

. . . read more

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