Short trip to the big five / part 2

Botswana Moreni Game Resort

From the Hwange national park in Zimbabwe, we flew via Victoria Waterfalls to Kasane in Botswana. We were lucky as our pilot made an extra round over the Victoria Waterfalls, which is a very impressive view, even though the water level is not very high in November. From Kasane, we flew to the Moreni Game Resort. Where we could visit the Wilderness Safaris camp Mombo. The welcome in the room was with lovely arranged coffee beans very warm.

As in Zimbabwe, we haven’t much time to enjoy the room as we started immediately to a game drive. The Okavango Delta is even more impressive than the Hwange national park in Zimbabwe. Not only due to the animal variety but also scenic. As we have been there shortly before the rainy season we were lucky to see also nice cloud formations. In the image below we even had the hope that we are getting a thunderstorm and I hoped I would be able to shoot some flashes with the Live Composite mode. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Despite the scenic, we concentrate on the wildlife. After a short time, we met a lion family which killed a zebra shortly before. Unfortunately, we missed the hunt, but anyway it was interesting to observe the family hierarchies and the behaviour of the animals.

Lion zebra lunch

The family also had offspring who nibbled at the zebra rather clumsily and tried to secure a piece. We spent an hour here and the time flew by. Can’t imagine anything more exciting than observing nature. Some of my friends asked if it was disgusting, but being in the wild and seeing animals in their natural habitat is more than normal. On the contrary, it was exciting to watch.

After we had seen enough we went on a search to find more wildlife. As said, we were in Botswana at the beginning of the rainy season and therefore there was almost no water in the Okavango Delta. The few remains of water were very popular not only with water dwellers but of course also with their predators, the kingfishers. One of my favourite animals in Africa. So far I only know the European kingfisher. In Africa, however, I learned to love the kingfisher genus as such and in the places where the fish are trapped in a puddle, it was of course very easy to find this species of animal and could observe its behaviour very well.

Pied Kingfisher

The bird biodiversity in the Okavango delta is phenomenal and a perfect area to use one of my favourite Olympus OM-D functions. Pro Capture is very helpful to capture the exact moment when birds take off. One of the most beautiful birds species is in my eyes, beside the kingfishers, the bee-eaters.

bee-eater take off

Short trip to the big five

Zimbabwe Hwange national park

When you like to take images a safari to Africa is an interesting challenge, even though you are not specialised in wildlife photography. When you are additionally invited by Wilderness Safaris is this an opportunity, which you should not let slip away. Therefore I flew in autumn 2017 to Africa for 4 days to visit Zimbabwe and Botswana. The trip went from Hamburg via Frankfurt and Johannesburg to the Victoria waterfalls. Arrived there we were welcomed by Wilderness Safaris.

propeller machine for 12 passengers

From the Viktoria waterfalls, we flew with a small propeller machine Cessna C208 for 12 passengers from Wilderness Air into the bush. Compared to the huge jets you get a more direct flying experience. But not only the flying experience compare to the huge jets is different but also the available space. This means, that the total weight of your luggage should not exceed 8 kg. In case you have photo equipment with you this is a challenge. Fortunately, the Micro Four Thirds cameras from Olympus are small and light. Directly after arrival, we started to a so-called game drive, which means driving with an offroad car to explore landscape and wildlife.

sunset in Africa

Our first destination was Linkwasha in the Hwange national park Zimbabwe. Besides breathtaking wildlife, this location has also breathtaking landscapes. Shortly after touch down, if I remember correctly it was less than 10 minutes, we saw the first elephants and proceed to a so-called pan (this is the name of the watering hole as they look like a pan) to observe several elephants herds while drinking. An unforgettable experience, especially as the light was different to what we are used to in Europe.

Elefantenherde auf dem Weg zur Wasserstelle

When you are in camp, the daily routine is full of game drives. As the animals are not very active in the noon sun, you start the day before sunrise, to observe the animal activities in the early cool morning hours. During noon you make a siesta and two hours before sunset you start again with a game drive. Besides the game drive, I enjoyed most being away from the busy world, as neither telephone nor mail or other modern communication possibilities is available in the bush.

Has the term focal length become obsolete?

Bild der weißen Olympus PEN E-P7

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In analogue times, the world was still simple. If you disregard medium format cameras, which were only affordable for professional photographers these days, there were only 35mm format cameras available. All focal lengths were easy comparable. Nowadays, however, there are several formats available. Besides the 35mm format APS-C and Micro Four Thirds are available, which are showing a different angle of view with the same focal length due to different sensor sizes. To make matters worse, the APS-C cameras also have slightly different sizes. With Canon, APS-C is 22.3 × 14.9 mm2 and 23.5 × 15.6mm2, which sounds little but makes a difference in the recorded angle of view.

Since customers were used to the focal length specifications in 35mm format in analogue times, at the beginning of the digital age camera manufacturers converted the focal lengths of other sensor formats to 35mm using the so-called crop factor. This helped the user to understand which angle of view he could record with the lens. The approach certainly made sense at the beginning because the entire target group of manufacturers were used to the focal length information from the analogue cameras and it was, therefore, easier to sell new products. Nowadays this is no longer the case, as the younger generation did not grow up with the 35mm format. So I notice again and again that I look into questioning eyes when I talk about crop factor and try to explain that the lens with a focal length of 25mm in Micro Four Thirds format records the same angle of view (section) as a 50mm lens in 35mm. After all, the lens says, mostly very prominently, 25mm and not 50mm.

Why don’t we use the angle of view?

In the specifications of the lenses, the manufacturers always specify the angle of view, which is identical to 47 ° for a 25mm in Micro Four Thirds format and for a 50mm in 35mm format. In case the manufacturers would write the angle of view on the lenses instead of the focal length, a comparison would again be possible without any conversion. Even newcomers would understand that the two lenses can be used for the same purpose. For the experts among us, this might be hard in the beginning. Who has the angle of view for each lens in mind, but that is only a matter of time, especially if the corresponding angle of view instead of the focal length is printed on each lens, it would soon be easy for us to have the angle of view ready.

Conclusion

I am aware that this is only a theoretical game of thought. Current practice is too deeply rooted for that. Manufacturers who use 35mm image sensors, in particular, have a strong interest in having this sensor size as a reference. This strengthens their position as the holy grail of image quality. Thought by the end-user, however, it makes perfect sense to use the angle of view, because all lenses would be directly comparable. A conversion of focal lengths would not be necessary. Yes, maybe not for those of you who are well versed, but for those of you who are new to photography and have no idea about all of this, it will be easier.

Your opinion is asked

I am looking forward to discussing the topic with you. So leave a comment with your perspective or opinion. I look forward to a factual discussion with you.

Customise your AF points

The E-M1X and the E-M1 Mark III do have already a lot of AF layout presets, which are usable in many different situations, but you can increase your AF hitting rate in case you are using customised AF points. You can adjust them like follows

1 In the gear menu select A2 “Target Mode Settings” and open the menu with the arrow right key.

2 You can program and save up to four AF field presets.

3 To be able to select those presets you have to activate them under “Mode Settings”.

You also can watch the following film, which shows step by step how to program your AF fields.

Almbach Gorge the natural territory for the E-M1 Mark III and the 8-25mm lens?

Bild der Kugelmühle der Almbachtalklamm

In my article “My experience with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 PRO” I showed you already the 8-25mm lens and how flexible you can utilise it. In my holidays I have been in the Alps and visited the Almbachklamm nearby Berchtesgaden. I planned to use the E-M1 Mark III only with one lens and as the Almbach Gorge (Almbackklamm) is very narrow I decided to go with the 8-25mm F4 lens.

Bild der Kugelmühle der Almbachtalklamm

The Almbach Gorge

The Gorge is not far away from Berchtesgaden and close to the B305 in the direction of Salzburg. It belongs to the little village Marktschellenberg. At the entrance is the last working pebble mill, which is still producing marble balls with water power (title image). The gorge is 3km long and ends with the Theresienklause, a dam which was utilised to transport wood through it. The way back is again through the gorge or via the Etterberg and the church of pilgrimage “Maria Heimsuchung”. We left the gorge at half of the way and went directly to the Ettenberg. In case you would like to know more about the route you will find it here.

The gorge, the natural territory for the E-M1 Mark III and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4 PRO lens

As already mentioned earlier the combination of E-M1 Mark III and the 8-25mm lens is the perfect combination for such a trip. Half of the gorge is at least up to the half very narrow a wide-angle lens is needed, in addition, there are a lot of motifs, which are a bit farer away so that the zoom area of the lens will be completely used. Already at the start, there is a small ravine, which you can reach via a little bridge and therefore a nice easy motif.

8mm F11, 1,6 sec
22mm F11, 1,6 sec

The images already show how useful the zoom range of the lens is and how it can be utilised to create your image, but also why the E-M1 Mark III is the fitting camera for such a hike. With the built-in LiveND filter you can make, without a physical ND filter, long time exposures, which enables you to show the floating water in your images. Thanks to the image stabilisation you can realise these images without a tripod. You. can leave it at home and save weight.

25mm, F13, 2 sec

Many claims that zoom lenses are only used in their extreme focal lengths. In this case 8mm or 25mm. However, this hike showed something else. I also used the focal lengths between the extremes, depending on how the composition of the picture required it. The picture of the church, for example, was made with 18mm. The picture of the watercourse was taken with 14mm.

Conclusion

As already indicated in the headline, the decision to take the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4 PRO with me on the hike was, in retrospect, exactly the right one. The lens covered exactly what was needed with the focal length range. But the E-M1 Mark III was also able to show its strengths to the full. In particular, the image stabilization in combination with the built-in LiveND filters (this is a digital ND filter) was very helpful in realizing images that would normally only have been possible with a tripod and physical filters. So I only had one camera with one lens with me. I could leave the tripod and ND filter at home and thus save a lot of weight, which would otherwise have burdened me on the hike.

Olympus PEN E-P7 and OM-D E-M10 Mark IV compatible with Profoto Air Remote O-TTL?

Silberne Olympus PEN E-P7 liegend

The Swedish flash manufacturer is one of the world-famous. Their studio flash systems are high-quality, very reliable and could be triggered remotely. With Air Remote TTL they have a remote control that can control the light amount via TTL. This makes the studio flash photography much easier than before and speeds up the workflow in the studio. In addition, it is easier to operate studio flash systems.

Official compatible Olympus products

On the Profoto website following Olympus cameras are compatible:

  • OM-D E-M1X
  • OM-D E-M1 Mark III
  • OM-D E-M1 Mark II
  • OM-D E-M1
  • OM-D E-M5 Mark III
  • OM-D E-M5 Mark II
  • PEN-F

On the list are only high-grade cameras, which have as target group professional photographers in mind. Makes sense as those cameras are bought by poeple, who are very interested in photography and therefore most properly are using them also in the studio.

What about the PEN E-P7 and the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Recently Olympus released its own system to remote control their system flashes, which controls the flash intensity via TTL. The PEN E-P7 and OM-D E-M10 Mark IV are the first entry-level cameras that support this system. The basic requirements for this system are surely similar to the ones of Profoto. Therefore I just tested it. Air Remote TTL-O connected to the camera and set to TTL. Flash switched on and put to full power. The camera pointed to a white wall and released. Lo and behold, the settings of the flash are automatically reduced and the white wall is taken neutral grey. Seems that both cameras are working with the Air Remote TTL-O.

Are both cameras compatible now?

No, they aren’t. As long as the cameras are not on the official Profoto website staged, they are not compatible. It is possible that the cooperation with the Air Remote TTL-O no longer works at any time. For example when one of the firmware versions will be updated and the communication with the Air Remote TTL-O will be adjusted. On this occasion, you don’t have any possibility to complain that the cameras have to work. In addition cover my short test, not all functions, which has to be covered to be compatible. For example, it could be that the high-speed sync is not working or the flashes are not 100% in sync. Therefore I would not recommend buying an Air Remote TTL-O in case you own a PEN E-PL7 or an OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. In case you already own one to use with a compatible camera you also could try it on a PEN E-PL7 or an OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. In case you do, please leave a comment underneath.