Review: Zelenpol Half Case for X-Pro1

Zelenpol Half Case for X-Pro1

Video Review: Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Philip Bloom has made a 45min detailed video review of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.


There's a great quote at the 26:24 mark that really stood out for me. In case you missed it, he said,"If you're out shooting for fun, just getting some shots of images of anything that you want, don't listen to anybody saying 'That's no good, you got no story' or anything like that. As long as you're shooting and you're happy, who cares?"

Below's the full short clip featured in the video above.

Hunter as a Horse "Your Darkest Hour"

A music video shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1

Tips for DSLR Video Recording with Lok C

Lok C, from DigitalRevTV, gives tips on video recording with DSLR. He shoots with a Canon 5D something and 24-105mm f/4 lens.

The first video talks about IS, aperture, wide angle lens, and distance scale.


This second video looks at shutter speed, audio recording, and video editing.

Nikon D600 High ISO Shots

Here are some Fujifilm X-E1 high ISO shots from That Nikon Guy.

All photos below link to a larger 2048px photo. The original size is available too.


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Fujifilm X-E1 High ISO Shots

Here are some Fujifilm X-E1 high ISO shots from That Nikon Guy.

All photos below link to a larger 2048px photo. The original size is available too.


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GH3 High ISO Comparison Shots

Here are some GH3 high ISO shots from That Nikon Guy

All photos below link to a larger 2048px photo. The original size is available too.


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Book sculpture at Museum Meermanno

This installation art from Spanish artist Alicia Martin is now running at the Meermanno Museum in The Hague until 25 November 2012. Martin is one of 14 paper artists participating in the International Paper Biennial 2012.

Museum Meermanno | Huis van het Boek

50mm Bokeh & DOF Test: Panasonic Leica 25mm 1.4 vs Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4

Here's a quick test comparing the bokeh & depth of field of two lens of 50mm equivalent, the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens and the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 lens.

Review: Olympus 17mm f/2.8 lens

Olympus 17mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lens - 49

This review will be looking at the lens being used on a Panasonic GF2 (& GF1) and Olympus E-PL2.

Design

The lens is well build but feels plasticky and not as sturdy. It comes with a small front lens cap that fits onto its 37mm filter. It weighs 71g

The lens protrudes out slightly when it's in shooting position.

It's a 34mm on a 2x crop Micro Four Thirds camera.

The rear lens cap doesn't cover the whole of the metal mount. There are some tiny gaps where dust might get it. I recommend getting a Panasonic MFT rear lens cap on eBay to replace it.

Panasonic GF2 with Olympus 17mm f/2.8 black lens
The lens is available in silver and black. Black lens on a black camera is stealthy.

Autofocus

Autofocus speed is average, but feels faster than the Panasonic 20mm lens.

There's some operating noise when the lens is focusing which might be captured in video recording (if you have auto-focusing turned on).

Sharpness

The tests below are shot using cameras on tripod with a 2s timer.

Centre sharpness is great so let's just look at the edge sharpness.

17mm f/2.8 lens on GF2 and EPL2
There's slight softness at the edge that seems to improve at f/4. The softness doesn't go away at all aperture sizes but not really noticeable when looking at the photo as a whole.

Chromatic Aberration

There's some slight chromatic aberration on both camera systems not corrected totally. It gets stronger at smaller apertures, at that point it becomes noticeable.

Vignetting and distortion

Peranakan Museum (EPL2 17mm)
There's slight vignetting at wide open f/2.8 but shouldn't be obvious in real life.

Distortion is minor and generally well corrected by the camera software.

Bokeh

Olympus 17mm f/2.8 bokeh background blur

Lens flare

Olympus 17mm lens flare
Lens flare is quite strong with pointed to the right direction.

There are various lens hood available for the lens. This uses a 37mm filter thread. I use a 37-46mm step-up ring together with the vented lens hood that I'm using with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens.

Video

Here are some videos shot using the lens. They are 720P videos. If you visit the individual Youtube page, you can choose to view the video in a pop-out window at 100% 720P.

EPl2:


GF2:


Conclusion


The lens is suitable for street shooting as it focuses fast enough. For landscape, it's also not too bad but really depends on your subject and whether the lens is wide enough to fit everything in.

Image quality pretty good, but not great especially when compared to the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens. There are other issues mentioned above. I think the difference in price also reflects a bit on the quality.

However if you want a standard wide angle view, this 34mm equivalent is a very decent, small and portable.

Availability

You can check out more reviews on Amazon.

17mm f/2.8 Silver (Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.co.jp)

17mm f/2.8 Black (Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.co.jp)

Review: Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens


This review will be updated in the future as I use the lens more. For this review, I've used the lens with an EPL2 and GH2.

Design

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens is the first weather-sealed lens for the Micro Four Thirds system.

It is well built, the exterior is hard plastic. It weighs 212g and is comfortable enough to hand around the neck for one whole day. Just for comparison, the kit lens 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 from Olympus weighs 113g and from Panasonic 165g.

The lens has a 52mm filter thread and takes a bayonet mount lens hood (not included).

The front of the lens is discreet and has no markings. Information on the lens is stamped on the body's side. There is no range marker so you won't know if you're shooting at 12mm or at 14mm.

The lens comes in silver and black. Black on looks better. The silver one has alternating straps which looks a bit distracting.

Unfortunately, there's no image stabilization, so it's better when paired with a body with stabilization.

Below's a video comparing the lens build with other lens.



Zooming and handling


The focusing ring is smooth and nice to turn. Manual focusing is focus-by-wire, well implemented and responsive for fine adjustment. Manual focusing has a slight motorised sound.

After focusing ring is the zoom ring that doubles as a zoom mode selector. There are three modes of focus to choose: macro, manual and electronic.

To engage the macro mode, you have to hold the macro button on the body and slide the ring to the front. To select manual focus, slide to the centre, and to the back the electronic zoom. The lens doesn’t change its size while focusing.

When you’re on manual focusing, the lens will somehow “lock” to a limited zoom range of 12-50mm. I say “lock” because there’s a damping mechanism created to prevent the ring from turning indefinitely.

When the lens is on electronic zoom, turning right goes wide and left less wide. The speed depends on how much you turn to the respective side. A slight turn will have a slower zoom than a hard turn. Electronic zoom ensures a smooth zoom during video recording.

The lens handles very well. You can actually switch zoom modes using one hand, but to switch to macro you'll need two hands on the lens, one for the macro button.

Autofocus

Autofocus is instant and silent.

You can have autofocus during zooming controlled by your camera. On the EPL2, I find that the autofocus zoom to be fairly accurate and quick. Sometimes it does miss the focus but with a shutter press everything is locked on again. Autofocus during zoom with the GH2 is as fast as the lens can go. GH2 performs better in this area.

Sharpness



Olympus 12-50mm lens vs the 12mm lens

At 12mm, corners are slightly soft and seems to stay that way throughout. The sharpest seems to be at f/5.6. I'll take a couple more comparison photos in the future to confirm.

It's hard to differentiate between the Olympus 12mm lens when you're not viewing at 100%.

Original files taken with the 12-50mm: f/3.5 | f/4 | f/5.6 | f/8


At 50mm, sharpness is quite good, at f/6.3. Sharpest at f/8.

Chinatown in Singapore (2012) pt 2
24mm, f/3.5, 1/320s, ISO160, GH2

Chinatown in Singapore
24mm, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO200, EPL2

Chinatown in Singapore (2012) pt 2
50mm, f/6.3, 1/80s, ISO 1600, GH2

Macro

Olympus 12-50mm macro picture 01
43mm, f/6, 1/100s, IS01250, GH2

Olympus 12-50mm macro picture 02
43mm, f/6, 1/500, ISO800, GH2

The macro focal length is 43mm and aperture starts at f/6.0. Macro mode has no zooming.

The closest focusing distance is 20cm during macro and 35cm during normal mode. Magnification is 0.72X. While it's not 1:1 like the Panasonic Leica 45mm lens, it's good enough for most purposes.

The macro mode is convenient and useful because it can be used for closeups, for example when you want to capture details, textures, small items, or use for product photography.

Chromatic Aberration

Chinatown in Singapore (2012) pt 2
12mm, f/3.5, 1/640s, ISO160, GH2

Chinatown in Singapore (2012) pt 2
50mm, f/6.3, 1/100s, ISO250, GH2

For Panasonic cameras, chromatic aberration is slightly discernible at the wide end and not visible at the tele end. Olympus cameras have no problems with chromatic aberration with this lens.

Video

This video below was shot with the Panasonic GH2.


Electronic zoom is a delight to use during video recording. Because you just have to turn the ring very slightly to zoom, there's not much handshake.

Conclusion



This lens reminds me of those compact cameras that feature zoom and also have macro. Now there's a lens that can do that on Micro Four Thirds cameras, except less compact.

The other lens capable of 12mm are the Olympus 12mm & 9-18mm lens, and Panasonic 7-14mm. However, this lens covers a commonly used focal length equivalent of 24-100mm.

That extra wideness of 12mm over 14mm can often provide you options you won't normally have, such as stepping back to get an even wider shot, in a narrow alley or inside a tight room. The field of view between a 12mm and 14mm look can be quite different.

This lens serves its purpose well as a walkaround outdoor lens. It's not a fast lens at f/3.5-6.3 so under low light, you'll often find yourself tuning up the ISO dial to achieve a faster shutter speed. I've tried the lens out in a lighted room, and had to switch to the brighter Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens. I think a fast lens as a backup is highly recommended.

Image quality is good, sharpness is not too far away from the 12mm prime lens. The macro quality is not too far from the Panasonic 45mm prime as well, if we don't mind the 0.72x magnification.

While the price is not that of a kit lens, this lens does throw in 12mm, macro and weather-sealing. It's still pricey so it's probably more worthwhile to get it together in a body-kit set.

The main advantage is the 12mm and it's less expensive than the Olympus 12mm lens alone. You don't really need that a fast 12mm lens unless you're shooting wide under low light or indoors frequently.

Speaking of shooting under low light, this is where the lens falls short. Shooting indoors at 12mm f/3.5 is still alright, but the lens becomes too slow when you zoom in. When I've auto-ISO on, and it's almost always goes ISO1600 for anything less wide than 12mm.

Overall, it's a good outdoor lens, worth considering upgrading from the standard kit zoom lens just for the extra features, or if you don't like changing lens.

Or if you really want faster lens, you can choose and use alternative Four Thirds lens, via adaptors, such as the Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 lens or the Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 lens

At a glance
+ Wide angle at 12mm
+ Useful focal length equivalent of 24-100mm
+ Fast and silent autofocus
+ Electronic zoom ensures a smooth zoom during video recording
+ Lack of chromatic aberration
+ Not too heavy
+ Very usable macro mode
- Larger than standard kit lens but size doesn't change while zooming
- Small aperture of f/3.5-6.3 is not helpful during low light, especially at tele end
- No image stabilization
- Doesn't come with lens hood

Availability

Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens (black)
Amazon (US | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP)

Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens (silver)
Amazon (US | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP)

Be sure to check out more reviews on Amazon.

Review: Olympus 12mm f/2 Lens

Review: Olympus 12mm f/2 Lens

Design

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f/2 lens is full-metal with a smooth finished surface. The build quality is excellent. Unfortunately, it comes only in silver so it might look a bit strange when mounted onto black bodies. I find the silver lens and black camera body to be particularly eye-catching. I've noticed people looking at my camera more than other combinations.

This lens will give you 24mm (35mm camera equivalent) focal length on a Micro Four Thirds camera.

The lens weighs 130g, just slightly twice that of the 14mm f/2.5 lens. It's also twice the height of that pancake lens. It's however smaller than the kit zoom lens. This lens is small compared to other 24mm lens from full-frame and cropped DSLRs.

Size comparison between Olympus 12mm f/2 Lens & 9-18mm lens & Panasonic 7-14mm lens
This is how it compares to other ultra wide angle lens, the Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 lens (middle) and Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lens (right).

There is no image stabilization.

The focusing ring is a snap type that you can pull back. When it's pulled back, a distance indicator is revealed on the barrel. With this snap ring, you pull it back to get into manual focus mode, push it back up and you're in auto focus mode. There's no need to get into menus to switch focus modes.

The lens has a 46mm filter thread, which is similar to that of the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens and 14mm f/2.5 lens.

Unfortunately, the lens doesn't come with a lens hood, which Olympus is selling separately for an overpriced US$100.

Focus

Autofocus speed is snappy and operates silently.

The lens can focus from a minimum of 0.2m to infinity.

Sharpness

Centre sharpness is excellent so let's just look at the edge sharpness.

The images below are taken from the edge of a photo. They are shot on tripod with timer. The differing exposure are from moving clouds.

Olympus 12mm f/2 lens edge sharpness comparison at different aperture
There's slight softness at the edges across all aperture sizes. It's not drastic so it's not a major issue.

Now, let's compare with other wide angle lens that can shoot at 12mm focal length, namely the Olympus 9-18mm lens and the Panasonic 7-14mm lens.

The images below are from the corner of the photo. They are shot with the Olympus E-PL2 on tripod with timer. Again, ignore the differing exposure.

Sharpness comparison between Olympus 12mm f/2 & 9-18mm f/4-5.6 & Panasonic 7-14mm f/4
The 12mm lens is basically tied with the 7-14mm lens for sharpness. It shows how sharp both those lens are at 12mm. You can see the vertical lines on the bottom right front facing wall. When stopping down, some of the lines have meshed together, indistinguishable from one another.

The 12mm lens has the advantage of 2 additional stops of sharp images. By the way, the 7-14mm is one of the best Micro Four Thirds lens around - it's sharp at all focal length.

The 9-18mm doesn't perform as well at the corners. But for most uses, that edge softness might not really a factor unless you've strict requirements.

Bokeh

Olympus 12mm bokeh example
The bokeh is beautiful and creamy. However, as a wide angle lens, you won't see much of that shallow depth of field unless you're shooting wide open and really close to the subject, risking distortion.

Distortion

There's some degree of distortion that comes with shooting this wide, but it's expected from a wide angle lens. You have to take account of this especially when taking photos of people. Human subjects will appear stretch near the edge of photos, short people might become taller. People standing nearer to the lens will appear much closer than those standing slightly away.

Face near corner

Chromatic Aberration

On Panasonic cameras, the pictures have slight chromatic aberration. They are not as visible on Olympus cameras as they are corrected by the software.

Vignetting

Not noticeable.

Video


It focuses fast and quiet. It's great for video.

What this lens is for

Olympus 12mm f/2 lens street photography
A lens this wide will require you to get in real close to your subject to fill the frame. Sometimes, you literally have to get in-your-face close. In the photo above, the depth of field isn't as shallow even though I was shooting quite near the guy.

Olympus 12mm f/2 lens street photography
In the example above, I didn't get close enough. I had wanted all the items to fill the bottom of the frame.

Composition with this lens is challenging, but you can always crop, which will be most often the case if you don't get close enough. If you don't like shooting so close to people, you might want to use a lens closer to 35mm, 50mm equivalent or longer.

This lens is great for landscape photography since it's wide enough to capture the scene.

With the f/2 aperture, it's great for low light indoor shooting, in tight spaces. Wide angle lens also have the ability to accentuate lines, which can sometimes make images more dynamic.

Accessories

This lens doesn't come with a lens hood or lens pouch for the price.

Olympus is selling the official lens hood for this lens at US$100. I say wait for the imitation to appear on eBay.

This lens uses a 46mm filter thread just like the Panasonic 20mm lens. If you're using the vented lens hood for the 20mm lens, that particular lens hood will cause heavy vignetting for the 12mm lens. That lens hood isn't wide enough.

If you intent on shooting f/2 wide open under broad daylight, it's highly recommended to get a Neutral Density filter. I've a 2-stop (4X) ND filter from Hoya which suits me just fine. You can check out various ND filters on Amazon. It's recommended to get a good one, Hoya or B+W brand.

Conclusion

You have to know what type of photography you like before considering this. It might be too wide for daily use. Composition can be tricky.

The other lens to consider seriously is the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 which is cheaper and performs relatively well.

It's also a tough call to choose between this and the Olympus 9-18mm lens which is arguably more flexible.

The most important question you have to ask is whether you need the f/2? Do you shoot in low light situations often? If you need to shoot wide indoors, this is the lens to get unless you want to use a tripod all the time.

While the lens is expensive, the performance is still worth paying for if you're in need for this focal length and aperture.

At a glance
+ Excellent build quality
+ Small, light & portable, relative to DSLR equivalent
+ Very good image quality
+ f/2 aperture is great for low light shooting
+ Fast and silent focus
+ Focusing snap ring can be used to get into manual focus instantly
+ Accepts filters
+ Worldwide warranty
- No lens hood included
- No lens pouch included
- Pricey

Availability

Olympus 12mm f/2 lens is available on Amazon (US | DE | JP).

Be sure to check out more reviews on Amazon.

Review: Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 Micro Four Third Lens

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 micro Four Thirds Lens

This review will be looking at the lens being used on Panasonic and Olympus bodies.

Design

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 is the next widest lens after the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0. This is made for the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system and is 18-36mm (35mm equivalent) on a 2x crop MFT camera.

This lens is not to be mistaken for the almost similarly named ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 which is not the MFT system, but is of course compatible with four-thirds system via an adapter. This is a M.Zuiko -- remember the 'M'.

There's no lens stabilization so you'll have to depend on the camera's in-body stabilization, which is available on the Olympus but but on the Panasonic. Anyway, a wide angle lens isn't affected much by hand vibration.

Panasonic GF2 with Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 lens
Here's how it looks when fixed onto the Panasonic GF2. This is the locked position. It has to be unlocked to be used.

The design is really compact for a wide angle lens. Compared to the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens, this is slightly longer at 49.5mm and just 5g heavier at 155g.

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 & Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 wide angle lens
Compared to the Panasonic 7-14mm, this is almost 33mm shorter and weights half as much, and is extremely portable as a result. It's one of the most compact wide angle lens across all camera systems.

Panasonic GF2 with Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 lens
The build is mainly plastic but feels durable enough, and better than the kit lens. It features a collapsible design with a zoom locking mechanism similar to the Olympus kit lens. The picture above shows the unlocked position, ready for taking photos.

The lens is threaded 52mm filters so you can have fun experimenting with filters.

Autofocus

Autofocus is snappy and quiet. It won't pick up noise when it is focusing during video recording.

Sharpness

Centre sharpness is excellent so we'll just look at the edge sharpness below.

9mm test on GF2 and E-PL2
There's some very slight softness at the edges, noticeable only when you zoom in 100%.

Distortion

At 9mm, there's slight barrel-shaped distortion not unexpected from a wide angle lens. This lens is very sharp in the centre but has some corner softness at this range, but gets better when going less wide.

Chromatic Aberration

Some slight chromatic aberration on the Panasonic body. Olympus cameras removes that with the camera software.

Vignetting

No vignetting is noticed.

Olympus E-PL2 with 9-18mm f/4-5.6 at 9mm | f/11 | 1/320s

GH2 with Olympus 9-18mm
This lens is great for landscape photography. At its widest, it is great for shooting in tight spaces but good light is required as the aperture is not constant and drops to f/5.6 at 18mm.

In the indoor shot above, you can see some edge softness even when the photo is scaled back this small. The landscape shot looks sharp enough.

Conclusion

Overall, it's an extremely fun to use. It has good image quality packed into a portable package. The major selling point is definitely the size of this lens.

The lens does not come with a hood or soft case which should really have been included given the price.

The other lens worth considering also is the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0, which is sharp from centre to edge if you require your photos to be.

At a glance
+ Small, light and extremely portable
+ Good image quality
+ Fast focus
+ Quiet
+ Accepts filters
- Very sharp in centre with slight corner softness
- f/5.6 is not good in low light situations
- Does not come with hood

Availability

The Olympus M.ZUIKO 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 lens is available on Amazon (US | UK | FR | DE | JP)

Be sure to check out more reviews on Amazon.