Neptune Photo Newsletter
August 2018 Volume 79
by Steve Zimic
More About Micro 4/3 (µ4/3)
Last month I described the process I went through in switching from a FF DSLR to the mirrorless µ4/3 system. Compared to DSLR cameras there are lots of advantages to mirrorless systems such as, IBIS, totally silent shutter, and more accurate sensor based focusing. The Olympus µ4/3 system though has some rather unique advantages over larger mirrorless counterparts. Size and weight are perhaps the most obvious, which in turn reduces the size and weight of accessories such as bags, filters, tripods, and batteries. Some models have some very useful camera features such as Live Bulb and Live Composite which allow you to watch the progress of an image being created on the LCD in real time. The first time I tried out the Live Bulb feature, the only thing I could say was WOW. One feature I’m particularly fond of is the in camera focus stacking. I’m not talking simply about focus bracketing, which these cameras do have, but rather the ability of the camera to combine a series of focus bracketed images into one, and even do it hand held if needed. How the camera aligns and merges a series of 8 shots into one perfectly focused image in about 10 seconds is truly amazing. Some may say that letting the camera do this kind of work is cheating. Those same people years ago claimed that auto focus was cheating. You be the judge.
Olympus currently only offers cameras with either 16 or 20 mega pixels, and on a considerably smaller sensor than full frame cameras. On the subject of resolution, I’m not sure why anyone would need more than 16MP, unless they were printing mural size images. My first digital DSLR only had 6MP and that beat all my 35mm film images, so there you go. The smaller µ4/3 sensor definitely has limitations over full frame, mainly when considering high ISO images. I’ve found that the limit is ISO 2000 for 16” x 20” printable images, and that’s about 2 stops lower than most FF cameras. Of course I rarely need to go that high with the ISO because of the incredible IBIS which delivers a 3 or 5 stop benefit depending on the model. The smaller sensor also delivers a larger depth of field which for me at least is an advantage. For example a µ4/3 lens with an equivalent field of view of a FF lens will yield the same DOF at f5.6 as the FF lens at f11. Being able to use that larger aperture also helps with not having to use such a high ISO. On achieving a shallow DOF though, the µ4/3 sensor can be a disadvantage. Comparing equivalent portrait focal lengths, an aperture of f2.8 on µ4/3 will yield the same DOF as FF at f5.6, which in some circumstances will yield too much of the background in focus. Fortunately Olympus has multiple fast lenses at f1.8 and f1.2 to solve that problem. A perfect example is the 45mm f1.8 (90mm FF equivalent), which when shot at f1.8 is tack sharp and delivers a very shallow DOF with creamy bokeh. When composing a head shot with that lens wide open, there’s enough DOF to get all of the face in focus, which the FF counterpart at f1.8 would not achieve.
Perhaps the biggest benefit I’ve found after switching is that photography now is more fun. The part that’s fun is all the great options these cameras provide to make more creative images and being able to carry 2 bodies and five lenses in a small camera bag all day with no fatigue.
Sony RX-100 VA
Even though Sony has announced the RX-100 VI last month, they’ve not forgone the RX-100 V with its shorter zoom and faster f1.8-2.8 aperture. The upgraded VA version contains a better processor and has the new easier to use revised menu like version VI. You’ll also get a larger buffer with up to 233 images. Also added is zone area focusing and a variable size spot meter. The website still refers to the camera as the RX-100V and the $999 price hasn’t changed, but the specs now show the new version. Check out the Sony website for all the specs.
Nikon Coolpix P1000
I guess Nikon wanted to have the biggest super zoom camera in the world, and this one certainly takes that honor with its 24 - 3000mm equivalent lens. At the wide end you get a decent f2.8 aperture but things slow down considerably at 3000mm with a maximum aperture of f8. Of course at the extreme end the camera would be pretty useless without IS. To that end Nikon has included their optical VR claiming a 5 stop benefit. Even with the VR, I would think that keeping your subject in the frame at 3000mm would be extremely difficult without using a very steady tripod. Although small and light compared to what a comparable DSLR camera and lens would be, the camera does weigh in at a tad over 3lbs and uses a 77mm filter. The rather small 1/2.3” 16MP sensor has an ISO range of 100-6400, and is about the same size as that used in many smart phones. That’s not necessarily such a bad thing as the quality of modern phone cameras is quite good. The downside though, is like phone cameras, you need a good bit of bright light to make a decent image.
The camera appears to have plenty of dials and buttons for the advanced photographer, and has the option of shooting in RAW. Zooming is motorized and controlled by either the lever surrounding the shutter button or the lever on the side of the lens. The number of focusing points is not specified, however the focusing method is specified as contrast detection. That’s a good thing when it comes to accuracy, but typically not so good for speed and tracking. Expected availability is Sept at a price of $999. In the meantime you can read the full specs on the Nikon Website.
Tamron 28-75 Sony Mount - Version 2.0 - Fixes intermittent AF operation during video recording while zooming.
Leica M10, Q, CL, TL2, T/TL - A variety of new features and improvements to existing ones have been added. Visit the Leica USA website to upgrade your firmware.