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

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.

Olympus PEN E-P7 introduction

In 2009 Olympus introduce in Berlin the E-P1 the first mirrorless camera with Micro Four Thirds standard. Already at that time, the camera design was based on the PEN design in the late sixties. Several successors have been released and in 2013 the last PEN of the P series has been released. Now after 8 years, OM Digital Solutions pick up the threads and releases with the E-P7. Its design doesn’t require hiding from its predecessors. Modern but classic looks pretty nice and OM Digital Solutions achieved once again a very attractive camera.

Olympus PEN E-P7 with M.Zuiko Digital 12mm F2.0

The inner values

Personally, I love the design and this is already a good reason to buy the E-P7, but the E-P7 is coming with the newest technologies. It has the current image processor TruePic VIII and brings a 5 axis image stabilisation, which can correct 4,5 EV steps. In addition, it is the first PEN with the known 20 MPixel sensor of the E-M10 Mark IV. In conjunction with the high-quality M.Zuiko lenses, the E-P7 can deliver the best possible image quality.

What I like about the E-P7 most are the creative possibilities. Besides the well know Art Filters and the long time exposure function Live Composite and Live Bulb, the E-P7 is coming with Monochrom Profile and Colour Profile Control, which is known from the Olympus PEN-F. For both profiles, the E-P7 comes with four presets, which could be adjusted to personal preferences. The creative functions can be combined. For example, you can combine the Monochrom Profil or Color Profile with Live Composite and LiveBulb. This enables you to create unique results without long time post-processing.

The target group of the E-P7 are those who are using the smartphone to take images and looking for a camera with interchangeable lenses to be more creative. Therefore is the camera compatible with OI.share, with which you can remote control the camera. In addition, it is possible to transfer images directly from the camera to the smartphone. New in the E-P7 is, that you can transfer taken images automatically to the smartphone. Now it is even easier to transfer images to your smartphone and share them on social networks.

Olympus PEN E-P7 white

Critics

As beautiful as the camera is there are some features which will not be liked by all of you. For example, the display is only tiltable by 80° up and 180° down. It is also no swivel display. As the display is tilted downwards to see it from the front it is not possible to use a tripod. This makes selfies and selfie movies more difficult. OI.share can help here, as the live view can be used to control the image.

In addition, the E-P7 doesn’t have an electronic viewfinder. A lot of photographers do prefer an electronic viewfinder, especially when they are taking images in bright surroundings or need reading glasses. Here is a viewfinder helpful as the image is shown in infinity. The missing viewfinder is the reason for the compact size of the camera, which enables you to have the camera always with you.

Conclusion

All in all the E-P7 is a very nice camera. Especially using the creative functions is fun and enable you to create impressive images without post-processing. This helps you to share your own image styles fast and uncomplicated on social networks. Due to the small size and weight, it competes with a camera like the Canon GX7 with the advantage of interchangeable lenses. In case you own already a Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-P7 is certainly an option as a second camera.

My experience with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 PRO

Photographers like landscape photography. It has only a few entrance requirements and, as nature is not moving fast, you have enough time to shoot and you don’t have to know your camera in detail. The M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 PRO is the third wide-angle zoom from OM Digitalsolutions in the Micro Four Thirds standard, Even though that Panasonic has also three wide-angle zooms in their portfolio, the new lens is worth thinking about it. Especially in landscape photography, an open aperture of F4 is not a disadvantage.

M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4 PRO top view

Inner Values

The biggest advantage of the lens is the huge zoom range. With 8mm is covers the ultra-wide-angle area and it reaches 25mm the normal area. Therefore it is not only usable in landscape photography, but also for street and portrait photography. In opposite to the 7-14mm lens from Olympus, the front lens is plane and normal filters without a special adapter are useable. The filter diameter is 72mm the same as the one from the 12-100mm, 40-150mm and 100-400mm lens. In case you already own a filter in this size you can reuse it for the 8-25mm as well. In case the filter thickness is less than 4mm you won’t have any vignetting.

The lens is equipped with a retracting mechanism to be as small as possible in case you would like to transport it. In opposite to the 9-18mm lens the 8-25mm lens doesn’t have a button to unlock the retracting mechanism, but a very defined resistance, which has to be overcome to make it small. This reduces the complexity of construction and makes it easier to make the lens weather resistant. The disadvantage of this mechanism is that the length of the lens is also changing when you zoom.

Although the 8-25mm lens covers a much bigger zoom area than the 7-14mm it is even smaller and lighter. As all Pro lenses of OM Digital Solutions, the 8-25mm is weather-resistant and freezeproof down to -10°C.

M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4 @8mm
M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 @7mm

Besides the focus ring, which could be used to switch from autofocus to manual focus by pulling it back, the lens has also a programable function button.

Image quality

As all Pro lenses from OM Digital Solution delivers the 8-25mm lens already at open aperture outstanding image quality. Also in the image corners, which are losing only a bit in sharpness. From aperture 11 onwards the lens is getting softer. This is caused by diffraction. In case you would like to have the highest resolution possible I recommend not using smaller apertures than 11. In case you would like to have a bigger depth of field, focus stacking and focus bracketing is supported with the E-M1X, E-M1 Mark III, E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III in case the newest firmware is installed.

Resolution and sharpness are on the same level as the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO and also don’t have to be worried about any other lenses.

Distortion is from 25-12mm no issue at all. In case you are using a shorter focal length barrel distortion becomes visible in RAW converters which don’t use the attached lens profile. In case you are using the profile this distortion is perfectly corrected.

Conclusion

The third ultra-wide-angle zoom from OM Digital Solutions is unique. It covers not only the ultra-wide-angle area but with 25mm it is covering the normal focal length as well. Therefore it is very universal and the image quality is in all areas superb. In the wide end, it has one millimetre less than the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO and in case you don’t shoot nightscapes you will not miss the 1 f-stop. Though is the M.Zuiko Digital 8-25mm F4.0 PRO smaller and lighter than the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 and it is its biggest internal competitor. In case you are shooting landscapes or architecture, I personally would prefer the 8-25mm over the 7-14mm. Also for photographers, who are travelling much and would like to reduce weight and size as much as possible the 8-25mm lens is the better choice. Although it is not essentially smaller and lighter than the 7-14mm lens, it allows leaving one lens behind due to the huge zoom range.

You get the best Balance in case you are using cameras from the E-M1 series or E-M5 series. Smaller cameras like the E-M10 series doesn’t fit so well, here the 9-18mm lens fits better.


Great usages report from Peter BaumgartOlympus Amerika Webite

5 Tips to increase battery life

Even so, the modern mirrorless systems nowadays have a decent battery lifetime, that gets you through the day, it can be yours that you get into situations where you must be economical with the remaining energy. I would like to give you a few tips and hand that will enable you to continue working as long as possible.

Tip 1
Use the display not the viewfinder!

Even though the back display of your camera is much bigger than the display in your electronic viewfinder, it needs much less energy. This sounds weird but is logical. The viewfinder has much more pixel and as switching pixels needs energy the viewfinder needs more energy. Besides, the refresh rate of the viewfinder is much higher than the one at the back display. This needs also more energy.

Tip 2
Reduce display brightness!

Once you are using the back display you could optimise the setting. By reducing the brightness of the display you can save additional energy and extend battery life.

Tip 3
Switch of image stabilisation!

Olympus OM-D camera does have fantastic image stabilisation, but to be able to correct movements it needs energy. In case your battery life is at the end you have to decide whether you would still use the image stabilisation or not, but you can shoot some more images.

Tip 4
Switch off Autofocus!

Even though that manual focus in a modern camera is realised by electro motors, you are able to save energy in case you switch off the autofocus. Especially when you are shooting slow-moving object as you just have to set the focus once. The autofocus on the other side is moving the motor every time you half-press the release button. Alternatively, you could use the back button focus method, which uses the AEL/AFL button to activate focus.

Tip 5
Keep your batteries warm!

The capacity of batteries highly depends on the temperature. Working in cold conditions the battery life is much shorter than usual. Therefore I have always one battery close to my body to keep it warm, mostly in my pocket. In case the battery in-camera is dying I can use the one in my pocket.