Category Archives: Reviews

Review – Peak Designs Capture Pro Camera Clip

August 2, 2014

As I was posting the above photo to social media, it reminded me that I have been meaning to write a review of the Peak Designs Capture Pro Camera Clip (Amazon Link). The picture above was possible because as I was hiking in Nepal I had my camera at the ready on a Capture Pro Clip. I was trekking through a small village on the way to Everest Base Camp. I came upon these two girls playing in front of their home and just unclipped my camera and took the shot. If I my camera had been in my backpack, I never would have dug it out for this quick opportunity.

If you are not familiar, the Capture Pro Camera Clip attaches to the shoulder strap of a backpack and has a mounting plate for your camera. You just clip the mounting plate into the clip on the backpack and your camera is at the ready for quick access. I used the system almost daily for three weeks while trekking in Nepal in May, and for almost a week in June while hiking in Colorado.

Here is the promotional video the company provides for the clip:

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Mobile Processing with the Olympus E-M1 and iPad Air

July 29, 2014

Mobile processing has matured in the last year and is easier than ever with the great wifi capabilities of the Olympus OM-D E-M1. I like sharing photos while on the road, but in the past it has been a sub-optimal experience. First, I needed an adapter for my iPad to upload the images from older cameras, and then once the image was uploaded post-processing was cumbersome.

The E-M1 has made uploading the images a quick and trouble-free process. Now, when I’m on the road, I set my camera to capture Raw + Small Jpeg. This gives me a raw file for processing at home and a smaller file that I can upload to my iPad and  tweak with the latest generation of photo apps. I upload the photos using the Olympus OI share app. Once the iPad has been configured for the camera, I just turn on the camera, click the touchscreen to enable wifi, connect to the E-M1 network on my iPad wifi, and finally open the Olympus app. It takes all of 5 seconds to be ready to upload images. The images display very quickly. I scroll through the viewer and select the images I want to upload and I’m done. Continue reading

The Sleeping Giant Stirs. Is this the Newest Micro Four-Thirds Camera?

February 19, 2014

The camera has a sensor that is slightly larger than micro four-thirds. The lens is 24-120 (equiv) f/2.0-3.9. The camera is mirrorless and compact. Is this the newest m43 camera?

While not technically a micro four-thirds camera, the new Canon G1 X Mark II is pretty darn close. The sensor size is almost identical (17.9×13.4 versus m43’s 17.3×13.0). The fixed lens looks promising with a 24-120 range and a relatively bright f/2.0-3.9 aperture range. The low 12-megapixel count makes me wonder if this the sensor is older technology compared to the more recent 16 megapixel m43 sensors. Canon claims the autofocus is improved over the previous version of the camera, but they make no mention of on-sensor PDAF.  There is a relatively expensive add-on EVF, but no built-in EVF.

Given the pre-release specifications, I’m guessing that the G1 X Mark II will come up slightly short of the newest m43 cameras. Nevertheless, the camera is an attractive package with a compact body and an alluring feature set.  It seems to have the Sony RX 100 Mark II clearly in its sites. The Panasonic GM 1 is more versatile with interchangeable lenses, but some have concluded that the small size of the GM 1 makes the handling fiddly. The price of the G1 X ($799) puts it in the middle of the pack on the market in terms of value.

Is this another half-hearted attempt by Canon to enter the smaller-sensor, mirrorless market (see EOS-M), or is it a sign of things to come? The G1 X will at least give Canon loyalists a reasonable choice when considering cameras in this class. Only time will tell if the company’s commitment to this class of camera will continue, but for the moment, they seem to have given consumers a viable choice if they are comfortable with the Canon brand. The camera should be available in the US in May.

Pre-order the camera at Amazon here.

Why I’m Excited About the Olympus E-M1

EM1__flont_M1240_BLK_______HLD7_September 11, 2013

The new iPhone wasn’t the only big technology announcement yesterday. Olympus announced it’s new flagship micro four-thirds camera, the OM-D E-M1. Like the iPhone, this was one of the worst kept secrets in the corporate world. Images and specifications had been leaking for weeks.

The Olympus slogan for the camera is “A camera as revolutionary as you.” A nice slogan, but frankly the camera seems more evolutionary than revolutionary. Nevertheless, there is one significant improvement: the autofocus system. The E-M1 has a dual autofocus system that uses CDAF for most purposes, yet has PDAF on the image sensor for continuous autofocus and legacy four-thirds lenses. Improved autofocus tracking is what I was hoping for, and it appears we may have it. Continue reading

Review – Lee Seven5 Filter System (including Big Stopper)

August 16, 2013

Although I like HDR as much as the next guy, I still use graduated neutral density (Grad ND) filters often. In the right situations, Grad ND filters give a more natural look and require less software processing once the file is downloaded. I also use straight ND filters to adjust shutter speed when necessary (smooth water, etc.).

For many years, I have been using the Singh-Ray ND filters in the Cokin P format (84mm x 120mm). I’ve got the Galen Rowell ND Grad filters in 2 and 3 stop versions with both hard and soft grad. They work well with my Nikon D200 as well as my Olympus OM-D. I also have the 4-stop ND filter. Admittedly, they are a bit large for the micro four-thirds format, but they do work. Although they are sold as neutral density filters, I find that the Singh-Ray filters give a slightly warm cast to the image. Since I use these filters mostly for landscape photos, this is not much of an issue. The warm cast is slight and generally pleasant for these applications.

Although I have a four-stop ND Singh-Ray filter, I have wanted a 10-stop filter for some time. The Lee Big Stopper was the only game in town for quite a while in modular format, but now Singh-Ray also offers a 10-stop filter (more on that later). Unfortunately Lee does not offer the Big Stopper in the Cokin P format. Until recently, the offerings meant I would either need to convert to a larger system (100mm wide) or carry two systems (Cokin P and 100mm) with their attendant adapters, holders, etc. Enter the Lee Seven5 system…   Continue reading

Review – Phottix Strato II Flash Triggers for m4/3 (Olympus OM-D EM-5)

May 24, 2013

I first published a version of this review as a post for the Digital Photography Review forums.  It seemed to fill an information void for many people, so I have updated it and posted it here.

I recently went to a local meetup event for models and photographers and really enjoyed the experience. I primarily used off-camera flash on my Olympus OM-D with a small Lastolite softbox.  I have 2 Olympus FL-600s and 2 Nikon SB-800s. I used combinations of the flashes set in manual mode with the optical slave function.  The slave function worked great with the flashes, maybe a little too great. The problem was that there were so many other photographers shooting that my flashes were constantly firing. As you can imagine, this used up batteries pretty quickly and slowed the recycle time.

Consequently, I started searching for radio-based flash triggers for the next meetup. Now, if I were buying the triggers for my Nikon DSLR this would not be much of problem. I would just buy Nikon-compatible triggers and be done. Unfortunately, most companies don’t make m4/3 specific accessories yet. Would a Nikon-compatible trigger work on my Olympus camera? Complicating the problem is the fact that I am mixing Olympus and Nikon flash units. Continue reading