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.

Switching from winter to summer time

Every year in spring and autumn we have to switch the clock by one hour. In case you own an Olympus E-M1X, which has a built-in GPS receiver, and you have set-up the automatic time switch, all will be done automatically. If not, you have to do it by yourself. Otherwise, the time in the EXIF data is not the correct capture time. In case you use your smartphone to record GPS data the position in the EXIF data is wrong.

Set time with OI.share

In case you own an OM-D, which can be connected via WiFi with your phone, I recommend connecting it once with Olympus OI.share. If you selected synchronise time in the settings, the time will be adjusted just by that. How this works in detail you see in the movie on the left.

Adjust time manually

In case your camera is not equipped with WiFi or you don’t like to use Olympus OI.share, you have to set the time manually.

Just go to the wrench menu and change the time.

Both methods are quick, but guarantee that the capture time in the EXIF data in your image is correct. This helps you in the end not only if you synchronise GPS data of your smartphone with your camera, but helps you sorting the images as well. It helps a lot when you are searching within your images.

Utilise Tough TG-6 as GPS Tracker

Only a view system camera, like the Olympus E-M1X for example, do have a built-in GPS. Those cameras can either write the position directly into the EXIF data or record your route. In case you don’t have a system camera with built-in GPS there are several possibilities to record GPS data and write them into EXIF or record your route.
The easiest is for sure the smartphone together with the appropriate App, like OI.track from Olympus. The disadvantage is that a smartphone doesn’t survive the whole day in case you have GPS activated. As I anyhow own a TG-6, which has also a built-in GPS, as a second camera, I’m using it as a GPS tracker.

Advantages

In opposite to the smartphone, the TG-6 can be used over several days without recharging in case you only use GPS recording. Also, you could be sure, that your smartphone is used for other things. As with the smartphone, you can send GPS data to your camera and save them as EXIF data into your image.

Preparations

First, you should connect your TG to your smartphone. As soon as you have done it the time in the TG-6 will be synchronised with the time of your smartphone. When you do the same with your OM-D the time of all three devices are synchronised. This is especially important in case you would like to save the GPS data into your image EXIF data. Base on time the camera decides which GPS data is written to the fitting image.
Also, I recommend installing A-GPS data into your TG-6, then the TG-6 can find the GPS signal when you switch it on. How to do this I described in my article “….”

How to

The TG-6 (by the way the same switch is available on TG Tracker as well) has a switch to activate GPS constantly, even if the camera is switched off. In case you are using older TG cameras, you can activate GPS constantly on the menu. Once you have activated your GPS you only have to have the camera with you.

Select those tracks, which you would like to use, and wipe to the left.
Select more.
Select “share” to send track per mail or to your computer.

As soon as you finished you can download with WiFi the GPS recording with OI.share to your smartphone. OI.share is available for free on Apple App Store or Google Play. From the App, you can send them via mail or store it on your computer (in case you are using Apple devices the easiest way is AirDrop). Or you send it to your OM-D camera to save the position data in the EXIF data of each image.

Use GPS data

GPS data can be saved in different formats. The data of TG-& are .log files, which are not usable for all programs. Therefore in some cases, you have to convert them. For example, in case you would like to save it on Google maps. You can do that on the free website GPS Visualizer.

Select “Convert to GPX” and upload your TG file to the website to convert it. In case you have recorded several files, you have the possibility to select all of them. Those files will be converted into one file. Here one example on Google maps.

Taking a coffee cup at home

Even if you have no studio equipment and have to stay at home, it is possible with simple tools to shoot beautiful images. Windows are perfect light sources and with some creativity, you can even handle to hard light. But first about my image. I had the plan to shoot an espresso cup with fresh, steaming coffee. Here my result.

First I looked for a suitable window that had enough light and set up my image. A wooden board from the kitchen served as background. A piece of fabric as a black background that I found in the closet. In theory, a t-shirt, duvet, or something similar would probably work as well. Since the light through the window was too hard, I had to think of something. Since I had no alternative, I cut up sandwich bags and stuck them to the window with adhesive tape. You can see this quite well in the next picture.

On the other side, you can see a brightener that I still had at home. If you don’t have something like this at home, you can alternatively use a simple piece of white paper. Coffee is made quickly and the cup, like it, is quickly put into the image. But I quickly discovered that the steam after the fresh brewing was not strong enough to be visible in the picture. So a creative solution was needed. First I tried a match, but unfortunately, the smoke was too strong. It looked unnatural. Then my son had the idea to light a coffee bean and let it burn until it glowed. This worked very well. The advantage is that you could put the bean in peace behind the cup and the smoke lasted long enough to take a picture.