Saturday, February 20, 2016

Is MFT (m4/3) Dead?!

Lately, some folks posted videos declaring the death of the MFT (micro four thirds) system. Well, I do have a different opinion on that.

The usual arguments:
  • MFT got a smaller sensor than other camera systems
  • MFT has not developed any further
  • neither Olympus nor Panasonic provided a break-through lately
Guess, what, I do agree with the above statements. However, I don't care about those either. To understand what I am coming from, I do shoot with APS-C systems too: Samsung NX and Fuji X. Followers of my blog might already know that...

Here are some of my reasons why I believe MFT is just at the beginning, rather the end:
  • a smaller sensor means that lenses can be smaller too, not only in focal length, but also in dimensions
  • shorter focal lengths allow for wider apertures at equivalent focal lengths
  • focal length scales cubic for volume, i.e. bag space - MFT lenses are so much smaller, you average bag will hold a lot more fast primes that in any other system (despite the Pentax Q)
  • if it ain't broke, don't fix it! ISO400 in 16Mpix MFT is just fine, use ISO400 135 film will get you a granularity of about 4Mpix
  • does Mpix count really matter?
  • Olympus offers in-body stabilisation on all bodies, Panasonic on some, maybe Panasonic can improve here (thinking old glass)

Surely, the 2 other systems I favour have an edge beyond the MFT system.

The Samsung NX1, which is the best mirror-less camera out there presently, is just as big as any Canikon Pro DSLRs. With an APS-C BSI 28Mpix sensor, it actually (b)eats any Canikon system in its price range. The lenses a superior too, however, the price, weight and size are premium too. My NX1 with the standard S-zoom rarely moves beyond the wall of my house, due to the bulk and weight.

The Fujifilm X system is somewhat lighter and smaller. The X-system competes in the market of fast primes. However, there are only a few interesting lenses available, and due to the larger sensor, the lenses are bigger too. So, less will make it into a bag, for a higher price however.

Consequently, I do believe that many hobbyists will appreciate the form factor of the MFT system. There is no other system out there to provide that many possibilities (options) in a portable setup whilst maintaining as much quality.

Lenses in MFT are small, lightweight and relatively cheap. And that is the success factor of the MFT system over any other system presently available.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

High Contrast Cityscapes

When photographing in a city, often the photos looks somewhat dull. Often the culprit is a blueish haze. Such haze also lowers the contrast of a scene.

So, here are a few Lightroom settings, which can turn dull photographs into a picture having a little more punch. Please note that this settings (as a preset) are only a starting point. Depending in the photo, one will have to alter one or the other parameter.

  • Exposure +0,45
  • Contrast +37
  • Highlights +46
  • Shadows +35
  • Whites 0
  • Blacks -59
  • Clarity +36
  • Vibrance 0
  • Saturation -54
HSL (saturation):
  • Red +59
  • Orange +78
  • Yellow +18
  • Green -54
  • Aqua -74
  • Blue -74
  • Purple -46
  • Magenta 0

Color Photos

The following photo was shot with the Samsung NX mini (ISO800, f/8, 1s/125, 27mm).
original (RAW) exposure
above settings applied

B&W Photos

original RAW converted into B&W

settings applied before converted to B&W

Fingers crossed that blogger does not "correct" the differences away...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Take the Photo When You Want

This must be a generation thing... I heard about "shutter lag" first only a few years ago. At that time, I had a hard time understanding what the actual problem was. Mind you, my photographic experience originates in a fully manual SLR-cameras, which always released the shutter when I pressed the release button.

Finally, it all was clear to me, the complaints about shutter lag was caused by fully automatic settings, in particular auto-focus, of "modern" generation automated photographic equipment.

Being used to manual focus, my habit was to set the cameras to all manual, in particular for focusing. I never trusted any camera to know what I wanted in focus.

Lately, some cameras had a real impact on me, cameras that could be told which distance to focus at and stay at that distance.

First to mention in that context is the Fujifilm X-Pro1 with adapted legacy glass. Some of my older M42 lenses are rather sticky in the focus department. Set the lenses' apertures to f/8 and adjust focus according to the distance scale. Done! The metering of the camera is fast enough to adjust the shutter speed in an instance. However, if one wants to be rally be assured of the fastest reaction of the camera: choose ISO and shutter speed (according to sunny 16) manually. Great to have a dial for shutter speed selection.
The camera should have lost all the shutter lag by now.

Second choice: Ricoh GR (version V) or GR-II. Ricoh understood that auto-focus causes the greatest delays in automated photography. So, Ricoh decided to add the "snap focus distance" feature to their GR camera. With the camera in AF mode, half-press the shutter release and AF will start. However, when focus is not yet achieved but the shutter release is fully pressed, the focus defaults to a predetermined distance. Brilliant! Again, depth of field by the aperture chosen helps to determine the preset zone.
The Ricoh GR is extremely compact and fits in pockets, however, operation is very much menu-based.

Next: Leica X2 (Leica X-E, same camera, different color scheme). The Leica allows for decent manual zone focusing. The focus distance can be locked in, so it can't accidentally knocked off. That is really great for zone focusing with a predetermined DoF. The Leica also offers manual aperture and shutter speed dials, which is great for fully manual exposure settings.

Only at my 4th place: Fujifilm's X100 series. I love those cameras, no doubt! The manual focus scale displayed in the OVF is magnificent. However, the focus ring is very loose, I knocked it off bu accident several times, which ruined the shots. I wished there was a feature to lock the manual focus.
The X100 series sports manual aperture and shutter speed dials, which is really great!

5th (1st) place, solely for the reason that the other cameras are doing so well when stabilisation is not required: Olympus MFT bodies. Those cameras employ in-body image stabilisation, which is great for low light situations. When in any low light environment, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is my prime choice! With adapted legacy glass, the Olympus still stabilises the image by sensor motion.

The above ranking is certainly not carved in stone! The differences are pretty subtle.

The most important message I wanted to convey:
  1. shutter lag exists when shooting in AF
  2. shutter lag disappears almost completely when focusing manually
  3. setting exposure parameters manually cannot harm
Conclusion: Remove as much automation as you are comfortable with, you'll be rewarded with a more timely photography.