Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm Back, Olympus 75 f/1.8 & Some Camera Musings

First of all, I would like to apologize for the long hiatus period, I was (and still am) deeply bothered with the events taking place in Egypt, and with a 7 pm - 6 am curfew, which has been in effect for almost a week now, and shall continue for 3 more weeks, there is barely an energy outlet for me or my family, especially the young kids who get bored by sitting still for just one minute.

That's why I decided to spend a few nights (despite my heartache) taking photos at home, and posting on this blog again instead of going crazy. As for Mic, he's quite busy nowadays and has no time to post here, I (or he) will let you know if there are any updates, but for now, you'll have to bear with me.

I received my Olympus 75mm f/1.8 last Saturday, and it's given me enough spark to ignite my interest in photography again during these hard times. As expected, I didn't have enough time to shoot with it in real world situations, so I will keep the full impressions for a later time. The lens feels quite hefty and well-built, and with a relatively huge front element, it looks classy and very cool, it immediately reminded me of the Canon 85 1.8 and the 200L 2.8 which both have a large front element. As all reviews have mentioned, it is very sharp wide-open (it might even beat the 200L, but I have yet to shoot more photos). Focus is not as instantaneous as the Olympus 45 1.8 or the PanaLeica 25 1.4, but I consider it a quick focusing lens, considering that I only shot with it indoors.

And to let you know how lucky US citizens are when it comes to purchasing electronics and gadgets, here's a snapshot of what I paid for the lens (by the way, after I placed my order on Amazon, the lens price got reduced to $799 the day after, lucky me).

The "Our Fees" part are the fees of the shipping company, and I ended up paying $15 for international shipping fees, it is calculated after the item arrives and gets weighed, you pay $7.5 for each 0.5 kg. And at the end of the day, you don't get local warranty because it is bought from the US of A. And no, it is not available from Olympus Egypt (which doesn't exist).

You've all seen the new Panasonic GX7 camera, now that's a well-specced, very good looking camera, especially the silver version. I've said before that I would buy the OM-D EM-5 successor which was rumored to be announced next month. Would the GX7 be a worthy upgrade for me? Reviews said it has comparable image quality to the OMD, a viewfinder inferior to the Olympus VF-4 (which is the major point for me), inferior image-stabilization system compared to the EM-5 and the EP-5, and it doesn't have phase detection auto-focusing. Additionally, my Olympus flash and intervalometer would probably not work with it, so it is not worth the hassle.

However, if I were in the market today for a new high-end MFT camera, I would consider the GX7. The EP-5 is a great camera, but when you add the VF-4, it becomes oddly large and expensive, and the VF-4 takes up the hot-shoe, I use my OMD a lot with my Olympus FL600R flash mounted on top. And that brings us to the upcoming Olympus camera, the leaked OM-D EM-1, it will supposedly sit above the EM-5 and cost somewhere around $1,500!!! It better has some super capabilities at this price point. Rumors say the EM-5 successor will come some time next year, hmm.

I would consider the EM-1 if it achieved the following points (sorted by order of importance to me):
  • Size not larger than the EM-5 with the hand grip installed.
  • PD focusing that works and can track moving subjects like a DSLR can.
  • Similar EVF to the current VF-4.
  • Lower base ISO and higher maximum shutter speed.
  • Better video options (mic input, manual audio levels, focus peaking, touch to focus, 1080p @ 60 fps, etc...)
  • Better image quality (they say it won't have an anti-aliasing filter).
  • Uses same battery as the EM-5.

Otherwise, I would wait for the EM-5 successor, or wait until GAS hits me. Which brings us to a more important point. With the increasing price points of high-end MFT cameras, and the expensive quality glass, what edge does the MFT system have over an APS-C camera other than the obvious size and weight difference? You can get a D7100 or a 70D body for $1,200, and you'd get a larger sensor, more resolution and higher image quality.

As I see it now, high-end MFT systems are facing tough competition, with a few advantages that can be argued both ways, but I will leave that to another topic. I will be away for a while. I am preparing a guest post for that will take some time to finish, I will let you know when it's up.