Sunday, 17 May 2015

Lumix 14-140mm OIS jitter?

I really like the Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 superzoom lens (click for my review). Compared with the older version of the lens, I find that it is better in every way: Smaller, lighter, cheaper, better image quality. So what is not to like?

There are some who say that the new version of the lens causes "micro jitters" when recording video handheld, which makes it impossible for use with video. As the lens is advertized for video use especially, this sounds like a very bad thing.

To test if there is merit to the claim, I have tried to put both lenses (the new and old version) on the same camera, Lumix GX7, and recorded video at 1080p, 50FPS. To avoid motion blur, which might hide the micro jitters, I set a fast shutter speed at 1/200s.

Both cameras were connected to a Desmond mini stereo bracket. The new version of the lens to the left.

Friday, 1 May 2015

OM-D E-M5 II video quality

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 II is the first Olympus M4/3 camera with a real promise to quality video output. It features 52Mbps output in the "SF" (Super Fine) mode, at 1080p, 60fps (or 50fps if you are in a PAL region country). So how does the video compare with the Lumix GH4, the reference in terms of M4/3 video?

First of all, let's note that there is disappointing news about the E-M5 Mark II video: The sensor is cropped slightly, making your lenses less wide than you expect. Here is an illustration of the sensor area used for video:

This corresponds to an additional crop factor of 1.16. Or in other words, the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 becomes 14-46mm when using the video mode. So the effect is not very dramatic.

This crop during video is not uncommon, by the way. The Nikon D7200 can only do 1080p video at 60fps with a 1.3x crop of the sensor. And that is Nikon's premier DX DSLR. While we wait for the D400.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Olympus E-M5 II shutters

The Olympus E-M5 Mark II introduces a number of firsts in Micro Four Thirds: In-body image stabilization usable for video recording (tested here), high resolution mode (tested here), and the first Olympus camera with an electronic shutter mode. In this article, I will compare the shutter modes of the Olympus E-M5 Mark II.

Electronic shutter mode was introduced with the Lumix G5 camera in 2012. The same Lumix G6 and Lumix GH3 shared the same electronic shutter implementation, which has a significant drawback: The sensor is read during a rather slow period of 1/10s second, which can lead to significant rolling shutter effects.

The Lumix GH4 (my review) improves upon this with a 1/30s sensor output, on the other hand, it only uses 10 bits depth in electronic shutter mode, which can give you less effective dynamic range.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II High Resolution Mode

The headline new feature of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is the high resolution mode. The camera is not the first to take multiple pictures while shifting the sensor, to achieve a higher image quality. The Hasselblad H5D 50c takes six picture for a total of 200MP resolution.

However, the E-M5 Mark II takes this feature to the affordable enthusiast market. By taking a total of eight pictures using the electronic shutter, while shifting the sensor, it achieves a whopping 64MP resolution (available using RAW only, the JPEG output tops out at 40MP).

But is the resolution really twice that of the ordinary 16MP output? That is what I am looking into here.

To test it, I have taken the same picture at 12mm using the high resolution feature, and at 24mm using the normal exposure. The pictures were taken with the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 (my review), which is the best M4/3 lens I have used.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

OM-D sensor shift in action

I previously looked into the effectiveness of the sensor shift image stabilization of the new E-M5 Mark II for video use. Even when using a long lens, it is much more effective than the Power O.I.S. of the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8.

Here, I'll be looking into how it actually works. By removing the lens, it is possible to look straight into the sensor, to see how it moves during video recording. To video record the sensor, inside the lens mount, I put the Lumix GH4 with the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens pointing straight into the E-M5:

For an even lightning, I put some white paper around the Samyang fisheye lens. The lens was set to the closest focus distance, and f/8 for sufficient depth of focus.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

GH4 vs E-M5 II: Video image stabilization comparison

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has a number of firsts in Micro Four Thirds: The first camera to have a sensor offset high resolution mode, the first Olympus camera to feature electronic shutter (called "Silent shutter" by Olympus), and a well functioning in-camera image stabilization feature that also works during video recording, which I am testing here.

To make the test very challenging, I used long lenses on the cameras.

On the E-M5 II, I used the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 (my review) at f/2.8. As the Olympus camera crops the sensor a bit when recording 1080P footage, this lens corresponds to about 60mm in video mode, or 120mm in equivalent focal length terms, which is a quite long lens.

The Lumix GH4 was fitted with the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 (my review) set to about 60mm, f/2.8. I set the lens to 60mm to match the field of view of the Olympus camera, when recording video. The GH4 does not crop the sensor when recording 1080P footage, thankfully.

I used OIS on the Panasonic Lumix system, and IBIS (In-body image stabilization) on the Olympus system. I only had the IBIS mode (mode 2) initiated on the OM-D, not the IBIS+digital stabilization (mode 1).

Friday, 20 February 2015

More creative potential with Wifi

The camera makers are fighting a battle against smart phones: People want to be able to share their pictures on social media, and this is very easy with the smart phone camera.

To increase the connectivity of cameras, Wifi has become a must have feature. And it does make it more easy to share your pictures with a connected device.

But Wifi also allows you to remotely control the camera, which is a very cool feature. Here is an example where I used it to take close up pictures of birds.

I used the Lumix GH4 with the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens (click for my reviews).

To avoid getting dirt on the camera, I covered it with a transparent plastic bag:

I later experienced that transparent plastic appears to scare off the birds. So I was much better off using a green coloured, non-transparent bag.

I then placed it on the ground near some pigeons, and threw some bread crumbs in front of the lens to attract them. When using the smart phone app, you can see what the camera sees, and can remote control the shutter. It looks like this on the phone:

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Product news

We've had the CP+ trade show in Yokohama, and the major camera brands have been showing their new stuff. Here is a short summary of mirrorless camera news.


The big news from Olympus is the new OM-D E-M5 II. It looks a lot like the the predecessor, but has some improvements to the ergonomics, including a fully articulated touch LCD screen.

The new feature which is going to sell the camera, though, is the new sensor shift high resolution mode. It works by taking eight consecutive images, while offsetting the sensor. First, four exposures offset by one pixel in the two directions, designed to overcome the limitations of the Bayer sensor.