Olympus Pro Lens Range

Since we appear to be commenting on micro four thirds a lot recently, I thought I would use this opportunity to go over the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens line. This particular line of lenses has its heart routed in the vintage Zuiko OM film lenses. The best of which, had top quality optics, lovely bokeh, and were physically well built. 

Now, most people’s foray into the new M.Zuiko range of lenses will likely be the 12-40mm F2.8 Pro. This is Olympus’s flagship normal zoom, which produces fantastic results. This lens is fairly large for a M43 lens, however it does not look out of place on something like an OM-D EM10 model. This is the best M.Zuiko Pro lens in terms of bang for your buck. It covers a decent amount of ground, and renders colours beautifully. Weather sealed, and metal, it feels quality in the hand, just like the rest of the Pro range. 

Conversely, the Olympus 12-100mm Pro F4 IS lens, which is my favourite of the Pro zooms available, has even more features. Now, this lens is obviously bigger than the 12-40mm, and although useable with am OM-D EM10 model, it will be unbalanced in terms of weight, and will look rather odd. This lens was clearly built for the larger flagship OM-D EM-1’s. This lens comes with an IS switch, which allows you do make use of Dual IS with the OMDEM1MKII! Which makes it extremely useful with the 4K video feature. This is my run and gun lens, and is extremely handy! Another big feature of this lens, is the closest focus distance: I literally have the front element almost up against subjects and get sharp wide angle close ups with lovely bokeh. 

The F1.2 prime lenses look and feel like pure class. I have my eye on the 17mm F1.2 Pro in particular. These lenses have been designed to aesthetically look similar, and all fit the same size filter. A handy trick, well done Olympus! The most important part of these lenses is of course the F1.2 aperture. These lenses are specifically made for low light and shallower depth of field. The Bokeh in the 17mm looks fantastic, and renders images sharp, and does exactly what it says on the tin. The 45mm being the portrait prime, is similarly made, and will be extremely useful to professionals. The 25mm takes the place of the normal prime in this instance, and although traditionally a fun focal length, is probably the least exciting of the three. 

All of the Pro range sport the manual clutch, which is a great feature. This allows you to take over control of focusing on the fly quickly, and for those that find it annoying, it can be turned off. Dolly enough, the Pro range of lenses finally introduce a decent lens cap! As much as I love Olympus lenses past and present, I have always felt their lens caps were not good enough. I am glad to see the quality lens caps finally make an appearance. 

So is it worth you buying an Olympus Pro lens for your Micro Four Thirds body? Yes and no. Firstly, if you want these lenses for the sake of them being the top range of lenses, but aren’t doing much photography, then I would say let it go. We all have an inner gear slut, but the standard and premium M.Zuiko lenses are quality enough. I would however suggest these lenses to someone that is trying to do photography for a job or is wanting to do YouTube videos etc. There are extra features about these lenses that will help your set up in this regard, and you will easily use them enough to make back your money. 


Ricoh GRiii announced 2018!

The time is finally nye! The long awaited Ricoh GRiii has been announced a photokina, and what I have heard has got my salivating. Earlier in the year I did a ‘is the Ricoh GRII still relevant in 2018?’ Video, in which I go over specs for a potential GRiii. Some of this has come true, and I am excited to get my hands on this little pocket rocket!

Before I jump into the specs, let me just stated the GRii prices will start to drop a fair amount from this point, and still is a quality compact camera. I highly recommend this as a general walk around camera, and still competes with current top compact cameras out there.

Now for the important stuff! The GRiii has been announced, and the stand out features are as follows:

  • 24 megapixels

  • Macro/ close focus: 6cm

  • 3 axis image stabilisation 

  • Touch screen

  • Internal storage 2GB

  • Video: MPEG, H.264sRGCm Adobe RGB

These features may not seem particularly special to those not within the loop, however as a Ricoh GR user these specs are a decent upgrade from the previous model. Firstly, 24mp update was needed. The 16mp sensor in the GRII is fantastic, but we know that APS-C type sensor megapixel ceiling is a fair bit higher. This will allow for any cropping one may wish to apply to files. I have heard through the grape vine this is likely a sony sensor, which is not surprising. 

The macro focus increase from 10cm to 6cm is a biggy for me. One of the most used features, outside of the snap function, has been the macro mode for me. I use this for general pickup photos for videos and the site, as well as enjoying the function in general. Going from 10cm to 6cm may not sound like much, but it makes this Swiss Army knife pocket rocket an added edge. The GRii macro feature bokeh looked lovely, so an added 4cm will be Schweet. 

The 3 Axis Image stabilisation is an interesting one. I honestly believe still cameras do not really need IS, and feel that this may impact on the performance of this camera. With that said, if they make the 3 axis image stabilisation usable with the video function, that will be a good step forward. So far, only Olympus/ M43 has utilised IS in a good way for stills.

The newest feature, and probably the least exciting for me, is the touch screen. I am not a huge fan of touch screens on cameras. It is likely you should be able to turn this off, which means I have nothing to complain about. If they can make this feature unintrusive to the shooting experience, then this will be a good added feature in my opinion. 

Internal storage is a new function that has caught me off guard. Those that are familiar with the GRII, might recall that if you have forgotten to put in a memory card you can take a couple of photos and have them stored on board. If this storage allows you to also use it in line with a memory card that would be fantastic. Otherwise, 2GB is very restrictive, considering I use several 32GB cards when I go out and shoot. Let’s wait and see...

Updated video features: Again, if this works in line with the IS, then fantastic! It would make a handy little 2nd video cam or a back up in extreme circumstances. There has been moments where I have used this camera in videos, so any update here is welcome (as long as it doesn’t take anything away from the stills experience!). 

My conclusion is that this is a great addition to the GR line, and the upgrades made on the GRII make the GRIII a worth while purchase. I see a lot more positive than I do negative, and it sounds like the brand are paying attention to their loyal fans as much as possible. I will most certainly be purchasing this camera! - Sly. 

Der Leica

There comes a time in every photographers life when they consider getting a Leica. The draw of that legendary build quality in both the bodies and the lenses, the rich history behind the Leica branding. The draw of both the M mount and the lesser chased R mount glass is strong. 

Last week I was looking at several models in the Leica M range: M6, M8, M9, Mtyp240, and also the Leica Q had a look in. Being both a film and digital shooter, all of these appeal to me for different reasons. I will give you a quick breakdown of why I was looking at them, and the reason why I chose the one I did. 

Firstly, let’s talk about the only 35mm film camera on this list, the M6. The M6 is a classic rangefinder camera, with fantastic build quality, a lovely sleek black look, and the presence of a light meter. This camera was built to be a work horse. Why go for the M6 over the M7 or MP models? The simple reason of money. Those two models used are around the same price as a used M9/ Typ240. They do offer Aperture priority, but that is something I never really use.

Secondly, lets look at the M8 and M9. The M8 is probably the cheapest option on this list, is the oldest out of these digital M’s I am looking at, but produces beautiful pictures. At 10mp on APSC, I could not justify spending this amount (and I am not MP/ pixel peeping whore). The M9 is the best option of the digital M’s in terms of value for money. It has a competitive 18mp full frame sensor, and if you can find one that has had a sensor replaced it is worth picking up. The M9 was high on my list.

Thirdly we have the Leica Typ240. The Typ 240 is a 24mp full frame beast. The ‘black out’ of the screen after taking a shot is much better than the M8/9, and this camera can go head-to-head with other brands for street shooting. The drawbacks being the price, and it has a louder shutter. 

Lastly, is the wild card. The Leica Q. Now this camera suits me down to a T. A fixed 28mm full frame lens on a smallish body, does macro, and is built for street shooting. Fantastic! Except the price. This beast is very expensive for what it is, and although I reckon I would love this camera, I did not end up choosing it for several reasons. The first being price. The second being that I really wanted an M mount camera this time around, and thirdly it would give my Ricoh GRII a run for the money, which comfortably owns the compact 28mm equivalent street camera position in my roster.

If you haven’t noticed any of my videos by now, it will be a surprise to learn that I went for the Leica M6. Firstly, this is a camera that would not go out of date or need to be replaced, it is the only camera on the list you could consider ‘timeless’. The version I picked up was the M6 classic, and it is a beautiful camera. I am happy with it, but I wouldn’t say no to picking up one of the other M cameras in the future.

Now, I will admit, this is not the first time I have thought about getting a Leica. In fact, the first time I nearly bought one was about 2 years ago, and it was one of the SLR cameras that take the lovely Leica R glass. If you are looking for the Leica experience and are not keen on rangefinders, the Leica R series of cameras is where it is at (much cheaper too!).

Speaking of glass, no matter what M body I went for, I was always going to pick up a Voightlander lens. I did look at the Leica 35mm F2 Summicron, but after looking into other 35mm lenses for the M mount system, I found that there is quality glass in this range. I chose the Voightlander 35mm F1.4 Nokton, which is based on the classic Leica 35mm F1.4. This is a wonderful lens, that even dwarfs my Zuiko OM lenses in terms of size! (Yes it is that small).

There is a myth that if you own a Leica camera you must use it with Leica glass as that is the ultimate combination, however after doing a lot of research I have found that truly is a myth. When you have huge quality brands like Voightlander and carl Zeiss also making lenses for the Leica M system at a cheaper price, you start to realise you are paying a lot for the name. Don’t get me wrong, you cannot go wrong with Leica glass, and there are a load I would love to own, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must match body and lens brands, always shoot with your eyes and your heart, not necessarily your wallet!

Any tips for someone wanting to get into the Leica M system? Yes! Go for the 35mm Leica CL, is a lovely camera, and is a great way to break into the system. You get a lovely Leica 40mm F2 lens with it, and it costs half the price of an M6 body on its own. Even now I’d love a CL, as the focal length 40mm is something I love shooting. 

Seriously do you need to own a Leica? Well, no. Quite honestly, if you want a top quality 35mm rangefinder but you only want to spend a couple of hundred pounds on one, i would recommend the Olympus 35SP. Hand on heart, this camera gives Leica a run for its money, with a sharp 42mm F1.7 fixed lens and the ability to go from manual to auto and anything in between. It also has both a light meter and a spot meter, although the light meter is for Auto modes only (Aperture priority, shutter priority, fully auto). For less money you can pick up the 35RD, my personal favourite, or the baby brother the 35RC. 

If you are wanting digital, then your only ‘cheap’ option is an M8. I would suggest saving up and getting an M9 with a replaced sensor. 

Whatever you want to do, just make sure you are using it. Cameras are meant to be used!