Friday, 22 June 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time, some readers send me questions. Here are the most common ones, with my answers:

What is your favourite lens?

The Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 and Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake.

The last year or so, my most used lens is the compact tele zoom lens Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6. As part of the "premium" X branded lenses, this one costs more than the basic kit zoom Lumix G 45-200mm. While the newer has a slightly shorter zoom range, it also gives better image quality, a power zoom, useful for video recording, and a much more compact form factor. It is also non-extending when zooming, which makes it feel very solid.

I rarely carry only a tele lens, though. I often find myself bringing along the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens. It is extremely compact, very fast focusing, and gives good image quality. When having these two lenses, I feel that most of my needs are covered. Some times I need a stabilized short lens for video, though, and if I do, I might replace the 14mm pancake with the basic kit zoom lens.

In addition, I might mention that I like the Samyang 7.5m f/3.5 fisheye lens for the good value for money, and very good optical properties. However, this is a very special lens, and it is not a lens that one would normally use a lot. Fisheye images have some novelty interest, but one should not overuse it.

Would you replace your GH2 with the Olympus OM-D E-M5?

No.

The only feature of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 that I would like to have access to, is the in body image stabilization (IBIS). It would be good to have image stabilization also for non-OIS lenses, e.g., the Olympus M.ZD 45mm f/1.8. As far as I have read, the Olympus E-M5 is the first camera to have IBIS working during video recording, which sounds very useful.

As for the E-M5 camera body itself, I don't like the ergonomics as much as the GH2. Sure, the E-M5 looks nice, in a retro fashion way. But I think the GH2 has a better grip, and, generally, better controls. This is of course a subjective thing, and some will surely disagree here. The swing-out LCD display of the GH2 is also a feature I very much like.

Another subjective thing is the body materials. The E-M5 uses metal as external body material, and I prefer the plastic casing of the GH2. For a small camera like this, I think the plastic external shell of the GH2 is the most sensible. I have accidentally dropped it on the floor (wood and stone) several times without problems, and I have never experienced any problems with the body quality. In my opinion, Olympus chose the metal external shell for the retro feel, and there's nothing wrong with that, it is just not my piece of cake.

While the GH2 built in flash is small, and has a low power, it is still much better than having no flash built in at all, like the Olympus E-M5.

Should I hack my GH2?

Probably not.

Many consumer electronic products now feature "firmware". This is a bit like the operating system on a computer. Without it, the device would not operate.

The firmware is some times upgraded from the manufacturer. You can then download the new version from the internet, and install it to the device for some bug fixes, some improvements to features, or even completely new features. Panasonic and Olympus routinely update the firmware of their cameras and lenses.

Some people have spent time trying to improve the device even more by making unofficial changes to the firmware. Installing these unofficial firmware versions is often refered to as "hacking" the device. This could, given that the author has done a good job, unlock new features of the product, or improve existing features.

It could also be harmful to the product, if there is a bug in the unofficial firmware. The producer might not provide help for a hacked product.

There exist several different hacks for the GH2. These include increasing the bitrate of the video capture, removing the 30 minute video recording limit, and more.

By increasing the bitrate of the video capture, you could get videos of slightly higher quality. The downside is that the video files will also take up more file space.

I my opinion, the video quality of the GH2 is already quite well balanced, and I see little need for increasing the bitrate further. The gains are pretty much insignificant, and the files will become significantly larger.

If you do need video files that are longer than 30 minutes, though, then appying that hack will certainly make sense.

3 comments:

  1. Nice to see somebody stand up for the 14mm lens! It seems to be the forgotten and unloved child between the M. Zuikos 12mm and the 20mm pancake.

    The 14mm is also my preferred lens while I save up for the 25mm.

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    1. I think the 14mm disappointed some people when it was announced, since it "only" has an aperture of f/2.5. Some were expecting another fast lens, after the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7. I think that is one of the reasons why it has a low standing.

      Also, it has been sold in cheap kits with the GF3.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your opinion. The best equipment is one that suits your needs, not the one which is the most overhyped.

    ReplyDelete