Shooting On the Go With the Olympus OM-D

Shooting On the Go With the Olympus OM-D

Not too long ago, I switched to the Nikon D800E with a series of prime lenses for all of my primary photography. I love the Nikon, and it’s proved to be a fantastic system, capably handling just about everything I’ve thrown at it. The downside is that it is, truly, a system. A big, heavy system. I quickly found myself looking for a smaller, carry-around camera for some of my more photojournalistic endeavors, and immediately turned to the family of mirrorless cameras out there for an answer. Of these, there is no shortage. You have the awesome Sony NEX-6, which I’ve raved about in the past. There’s also the Sony RX-1, the Panasonic GF3C, the Fuji X-Pro1, and the subject of this article, the Olympus OM-D E-M5. I’ve had the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for the past few weeks now, and have been using it as my primary “take everywhere” camera. It’s small size, lens selection, and great image quality combine to provide a system that’s flat-out my favorite in this category. In this article, I’ll present my experience shooting with this little thing, rather than a full-on technical review. The Build This thing is solid and extremely well-built. I’ve got chubby little sausages for fingers, but I can still get a pretty decent grip on it, thanks to the tab on the back and the indent in the front that give your thumb and middle fingers a secure place to grasp onto. The buttons, though tiny, are pretty responsive, so it’s not hard to use many of them just by feel The back of the OM-D, shown above, is...
Powerful Portrait Inspiration With Steve McCurry’s iPad App

Powerful Portrait Inspiration With Steve McCurry’s iPad App

Steve McCurry is one of the most prolific photographers alive today. His photograph for National Geographic’s June 1985 cover of Sharbat Gula (also know as the “Afghan Girl”) is one of the most recognizable portraits in history, and his imagery has graced NatGeo’s pages many, many times since. McCurry has repeatedly proven himself an absolute master of the portrait. His street portraiture, especially, carries tremendous impact. He has an uncanny ability to capture his subjects’ essence, distilling it in a split-second into an image that can range from haunting to exciting and everything in-between. Now, McCurry has taken 200 of his best portraits and rolled them into an iPad app. Along with a 20+ minute introductory video, the app shows his portraits, where they were taken, and a caption with some details. Based on that description, you might be thinking, “What, no backstory? No technique tips? No metadata for the images?” Well, no. And thank goodness for it. First, many were taken with film cameras, so adding metadata would be out of the question. Moreover, the caption is all the backstory these images need; they speak reams and volumes on their own. The simplicity and elegance of the app is actually kinda impressive. In the current marketplace, where photographers are gravitating towards apps in an increasing fashion – McCurry isn’t the first NatGeo photographer to release a portfolio on the iPad – basic things like user experience and sensible interface design often get left by the wayside. So to see a well-designed app like this one is a true pleasure. That’s not to say that the app is a glorified...
Mirrorless Magic: Spending Time With the Olympus OM-D

Mirrorless Magic: Spending Time With the Olympus OM-D

When we recently received the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (there’s a mouthful for you) in our warehouse, I wasted absolutely no time in snagging one of the bodies and taking it for a whirl. My “whirls” usually last a few weeks so that I can put the camera to use in a variety of different ways, and given the feedback I’d heard from other photographers about this diminutive body, I was eager to put it through its paces. Two weeks later, I have my conclusion: Olympus has an absolute winner on its hands. The gear The Micro-Four-Thirds platform isn’t a closed-loop system. Olympus and Panasonic both make bodies for it, and there’s even an MFT-based version of the enormously popular Blackmagic Cinema Camera on the way. Panasonic, particularly, has two lenses that I decided were going to be my go-to lenses for this test: the 12–35mm f/2.8 and the 35–100mm f/2.8 lenses. Together, these cover the equivalent of the 24–70 and 70–200mm lenses in 35mm terms, giving me the focal lengths used by most photographers. Because the OM-D features a 5-axis, in-body stabilization, that entire focal length is stabilized as well. First impressions and handling The first thing you think when you see the OM-D is that it’s both bigger and smaller than you thought it would be. It’s bigger than, say, Olympus’ E-PL2 (which I used for a long time), but it’s smaller than any of their DSLRs, despite looking like one. The design is also very retro, evoking the look of Olympus’ venerable OM–2. The front is pretty sparse – other than a lens release button, there’s nothing...
The Softbox Cheat Sheet

The Softbox Cheat Sheet

A while back, we put together an article on how to use softboxes with your light of choice. At that time, I mentioned that we’d be putting together a cheat sheet that would allow you to figure out which softbox could go with which light, and what you’d need to make it work. Well, that cheat sheet is here. In the the matrix below, you’ll see the lights we rent down the vertical axis and the softboxes we rent across the horizontal. There’s a legend at the bottom of the table that will indicate if you need something additional to make the combo work. You can click on the image below to enlarge it (warning – it’s a big image), or download the PDF version here. The PDF version has embedded links to direct you to the gear mentioned.   We hope this helps with the constant conundrum of what softbox goes with which light! As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below....
Is the Canon 6D Under-Exposing? UPDATE: No, It’s Not.

Is the Canon 6D Under-Exposing? UPDATE: No, It’s Not.

Final Update and Winners of the BorrowLenses.com Gift Certificate, Friday, December 7, 2012 11:35 AM Okay, we found the cause of the D600 bodies’ overexposure. Turns out, it WAS damage, not a defect. In the damaged bodies, the little prong that actually pushes the aperture closed was bent, as you can see in the image below. The top one is of one of the damaged D600’s, while the bottom is of an undamaged D7000. No idea what caused this, but there you have it. Winners of the $50 BorrowLenses.com Gift Certificate: K.G. Wuensch, who left the suggestion that led to our discovery of the cause of the overexposure on the D600 bodies is, unfortunately, not based in the U.S., and so is unable to use the certificate I promised him. He has, instead, requested that his prize be entered into the pool for the general drawing. So we now have two gift certificates to give out. I entered all the commenters’ names into a list randomizer at random.org and the two names at the top are our two winners. Congratulations to David Johnson and Michael Clark! Please email your contact info to sohail.mamdani at borrowlenses dot com, so I can send them to you. Once again, thanks to everyone for your fantastic support and feedback.  Update Thursday, December 6, 2012 2:11 PM Thanks to a suggestion from one of the folks who left a comment below, K.G.Wuensch, we found the issue that led to the big discrepancy in the images you saw from my test, and the issue turned out to be with the D600, not the 6D. Take a look at these images. Both...