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....
Easy Holiday Photo Booth

Easy Holiday Photo Booth

Holiday events have a way of filling a room. Being tasked with running a party photo booth for friends and family can be daunting, especially if your budget isn’t big and your space isn’t, either. We put together a simple, fun photo booth using portable items that you can rent from BorrowLenses.com.

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...
Building on the Sony NEX System

Building on the Sony NEX System

Sony’s NEX cameras have been taking the mirror less camera market by storm of late, coming out with models that repeatedly and substantially improve on their predecessors. And, as these models have evolved, the number – and quality – of add-ons for them have increased as well. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few ways of building on the NEX series of cameras – which now include some fantastic video-specific offerings from Sony as well. First, let’s clear one thing up. Sony’s NEX series of cameras, which include the NEX–5, NEX–6, and NEX–7, as well as the VG-series of video cameras, use a lens mount called the “E-Mount”. Sony also has a line of popular DSLRs, which use the older “A-Mount” system they inherited when they bought Minolta. Sony has made a number of fantastic lenses for the E-Mount, including the 16–50mm f/3.5–5.6 OSS and the 10–18 f/4 OSS lens, both of which offer built-in Optical SteadyShot, Sony’s name for their image stabilization technology. The stable of E-Mount lenses isn’t filled out just yet. There are a few missing holes, mainly in the area of constant-aperture zooms and longer lenses. However, this isn’t as noticeable an issue as you might think, as Sony – and a few third-party vendors – have come up with a first-rate way to compensate for the lack of a full selection of lenses. They have done so with a number of adapters that allow you to use Canon, Nikon, and Sony A-Mount adapters with the NEX system, and in this article, we’ll take a look at some of them. From Sony...
Understanding Softboxes

Understanding Softboxes

Off-camera strobes and other forms of lighting have become remarkably approachable over the past few years. The knowledge and information that were once the sole province of pros working with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment in studios or on location is now all over the internet for the taking. We carry a fair amount of lighting gear, and given that we cater to the novice as well as the pros, we also answer a number of questions about one particular piece of lighting gear: the softbox. Over the phone, via email, and through our social networking outlets, we respond to queries ranging from the number of stops a box’s diffusion fabric will eat, to “What’s a speedring?” This article is designed to help you understand the various pieces of a softbox and how it is used with a studio light like the Einstein E640 or the Profoto D4 heads we rent. Let’s start with what a softbox is. Basically, it’s a light modifier. Its purpose is to diffuse the lighting coming out of a studio head (or a small flash, but we’ll cover that in a later article) so that you can achieve the soft shadows and gentler light quality you see in so many professionally-taken photographs. Now let’s break down a complete light setup, with softbox. In the image above, you can see the three basic components of a studio light with a softbox. We have the softbox itself, a speedring (which is only barely visible right now), and a studio light. You’ll probably have noticed that the softbox is made by Profoto, while the studio...
Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 2

Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a series on using Tilt-Shift or Perspective-Control lenses. In this part, we look at the “Tilt” functionality of these unique lenses. Part 1, which covered “shift” functionality, can be found here. At some point in time, we’ve all seen photos where the subjects – usually views from high-up of cars, buildings, people, etc. – appear to be miniaturized versions of reality. This is perhaps the most the most often-seen result from using tilt-capable lenses like the Nikon 85mm PC-E. In this part of our series, we’ll explain how this effect is achieved with tilt-shift lenses. The image below was shot by Jim Goldstein, our Marketing VP. Taken in Geneva with a tilt-shift lens, the camera was pointing downwards at the railroad tracks, with the tilt element swung upwards. The reason these tracks look like miniatures is because the plane of focus is so narrow, that both the foreground AND the background are out of focus.  That’s not something the human eye is used to seeing, and we interpret images like this differently. Wikipedia adds to that  explanation as follows: Diorama effect or “diorama illusion” is a process in which a photograph of a life-size location or object is made to look like a photograph of a miniature scale model. Blurring parts of the photo simulates the shallow depth of field normally encountered in close-up photography, making the scene seem much smaller than it actually is… Now, in order to achieve that effect, you have to swing the front part of your tilt-shift lens in so that it is either as perpendicular as possible to...
Sony Delivers Big-time with the Nex-6

Sony Delivers Big-time with the Nex-6

When rumors of the Sony NEX-6 hit the internet, it was a welcome bit of information for fans who wanted something between the high-end NEX-7 and the more consumer-friendly NEX-5N. There was a real need for a camera that added a few more physical controls for advanced amateurs, for example, who are used to dials and switches to quickly change camera settings, or for a camera with tweaks to the user interface, or – a pretty important feature for me – a viewfinder. Well, Sony has provided all of those features, and then some with the NEX-6. So, naturally, when we received this shiny new toy, I had to take it for a spin. Now, the really cool lenses – the 16-50mm and the 10-18mm are very much in demand, and all of our copies were checked out when I wanted to take them for a spin, so I settled on the massive 18-200mm lens and the Zeiss-badged 24mm f/1.8 lens. I shot them in a variety of different conditions, and – spoiler alert – I had an absolute blast. Operation First, let’s look at the top of the NEX-6. As you can see, there are two dials up-top, a Mode dial and a silver one, directly underneath it. Depending on the mode you put the camera in, the silver dial can change aperture or shutter speed. The Fn button’s use changed depending on your settings or the mode the camera is in. Sony aficionados will notice that the hotshoe looks very different from the ones on the NEX-7. After years, Sony has finally gotten rid of the old...