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.

When moving the camera around, one can see how the sensor also moves, to stabilize the video:

In this case, I left the focal length setting at 15mm on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Setting it higher would make the sensor move more.


The IBIS (In-body image stabilization) of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II makes it very useful for handheld video recording. However, it is a shame that it involves cropping the sensor during video, so that you need even wider lenses.

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).

Both cameras were connected to a Desmond mini stereo bracket:

The video settings were: 60FPS 1080p, with autofocus enabled, using the medium sized centre AF spot, on both cameras

As you can see, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 mark II is vastly better at stabilizing the footage. I have side by side comparisons of the video output below:


The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II video image stabilization works remarkably well, even with fairly long lenses. Using a wide angle lens gives much better results than what has been shown here.

Perhaps this test was a bit over the top: You wouldn't expect to be able to walk around with a 120mm equivalent lens, and expect the footage to be stabilized. But the Olympus camera does achieve it quite well.

On the other hand, the Lumix GH4 was better at focusing during the video recording, using DFD technology and, probably, a faster imaging processor. If you don't care about the stabilization differences, I would definitively get the Lumix GH4 (my review) for video use.

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 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.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Mirrorless camera statistics from Japan

BCN ranking is a source for Japanese camera sales statistics. Looking at historic statistics from BCN, I have compiled this chart of the market shares of mirrorless cameras.

For the years 2009-2011, it is based on the 20 most selling camera models in Japan, including DSLR cameras. For 2012-2013, it is based on the 20 most selling mirrorless cameras. For 2014, it is, apparently, based on all mirrorless camera models. I skipped 2008, since it only contains one single mirrorless camera, the Lumix G1, giving a 100% Panasonic market share.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

New firmware for Lumix 35-100mm

Panasonic recently announced a new firmware for the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 pro grade tele zoom lens (my review). Click here to download the firmware version 1.2.

Here is the lens mounted to the Lumix GH4:

So what exactly does this firmware update do? If you follow online forums, you will see some few, but quite vocal, people complain about "micro jitters" when recording video using this lens. Based on the press release explanation from Panasonic, it might appear that the firmware addresses this issue:

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Samyang 12mm f/2 review: Compact, inexpensive and well performing

Samyang is a third party manufacturer which tries to fill the gaps in system camera lineups with manual focus lenses. One common gap is affordable wide angle prime lenses, which they have filled with lenses like Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 and Rokinon 14mm f/2.8. What these lenses have in common, though, is that they are quite large, and relatively slow.

Now, a new lens has popped up, the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2, which is fast, and quite compact in size:

From left: Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2, Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 (my review) and Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 (my review) set to 12mm.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye

There is a new, expotic, and reasonanbly priced lens available, the Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye. It was announced in April for DSLR mounts like Nikon F and Canon EF. In November, it was further announced in Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E mount.

So, should you buy this lens, and if so, in what mount? That's what I will be trying to answer in this article.

To help the review of the lens, I will be comparing it with a similar lens for Sony E mount, the Yasuhara Madoka 180 7.3mm f/4 (my review). Both lenses are shown below:

Left: Yasuhara Madoka 180 7.3mm f/4 circular fisheye lens. On the right, is the Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 with an adapter for Sony E-mount.