Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upgrade continued - got flash

In my Canon life I was using flash on camera quite often so when I started evaluating Olympus OM-D E-M1 not everything could be tested. Eventually I decided to get FL-600R flash to make sure I can do similar things with new camera. Of course I do not have same range of lens for new system so making switch decision will be based on partial data.
After unpacking Olympus flash I compared size of these two devices. Definitively Speedlite is stronger and bigger but if FL-600R takes same amount of batteries its recycle time must be pretty good. With less power I might not be able to flash across big rooms but this is not what I am doing very often anyway.
When I got chance to bounce light off the white ceiling it looks pretty good. Sometimes I cannot do this so I decided to get some sort of reflector. As you can see there are velcros on my Speedlite. I was suing LumiQuest ProMax system with it. It has a holder for multiple reflector and frankly it was to complicated so I was using it infrequently. Especially since I got off camera flash bracket which seems to work better. Anyway I wanted something that can be easier attached to flash. I looked at flash soft boxes and and accidentally I found something looking pretty interesting: Rogue FlashBender. It can be quickly attached without any velcros. Also you can bend it anyway you want, sometime it could be faster than tilting whole flash head.

Great little bonus, you can wrap it and make quick snoot :-)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Big switch

I am testing new Olympus mirrorless camera, OM-D E-M1. Most likely I will change system, after almost 20 years with Canon. It is not going to be breaking news like when famous photographer switched from Nikon to Canon :-)

So far after 3 days of evening testing at home I could say that transition would require some effort. First of all I do not have all comparable lens with new system. I do not have decent flash unit so I have to make a decision based on what I can see now. For a while I got access to Olympus PEN camera so I am not entirely lost in their menu system. The advantage of OM-D is that it has all the buttons like DSLR so I do not have to dig into menu every time I need to make small adjustment to settings. In fact it probably got more that my Canon.

Lets start comparing. One of main reason for switch was size and weight. At 895g Canon is twice heavier than Olympus (443g). If you add professional L lens to the package, like EF 24-105mm it is additional 670g. It is again almost double of ED 12-40mm PRO lens which is 381g. So we start with 1565g vs 824g. If I go for a hike in a mountains every gram matters :-) I think one of the reasons I was suffering on my Mt Whitney hike was the weight of my camera bag it was 5lbs in addition to my 30lbs backpack.
Next "big thing" is sensor size. It seems that recently people believe that everybody needs full frame sensor camera. Yes full frame sensors have better noise performance but if simple bigger was better we would be running around with Hasselblads and I do not see it would happen any time soon :-). I bet current technology allows to put medium format sensor into smaller body but you cannot bend laws of physics it would require bigger and heavier lens. If only sensor is compared, yes 5Dmk2 has better one. I am not sensor expert so I checked DxOMark Sensor Scores for both camera sensors:

DxOMark Canon EOS 5Dmk2 Olympus OM-D E-M1
Overall Score 79 73
(Color Depth)
23.7 bits 23 bits
(Dynamic Range)
11.9 Evs 12.7 Evs
(Low-Light ISO)
1815 ISO 757 ISO

What does it mean? E-M1 only looses in Sports category. Let me put it into perspective. Why people need high ISO? Because when they shoot action hand held and they need higher shutter speed. I am not doing that. Shooting my daughter at playground does not count :-) Besides even with my current 5Dmk2 I would need faster lens anyway. If I disregard Sports category sensors are pretty much comparable.
Let me go a little bit further. Is 5Dmk2 with F4 lens at 800 ISO comparable to E-M1 with F2.8 lens plus IBIS? Because of camera weight and in body stabilization I most likely can go ISO 400 or less when shooting handheld and still got similar results. You cannot just compare bare sensors, lens and other features might totally change the equation. This is main reason I got E-M1 first. I will check if it can fit the type of photography I am doing and if answer is yes I can sell all my Canon gear. If it fails the test I can still return it.