Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dynamic Range of LX100 & GM1

A friend who is really keen to purchase the latest Lumix LX100 asked me if it's dynamic range is as wide as the GM1.

Afterall, he concluded, the LX100 "crop" the 16MP sensor to 12 but the GM1 utilises the full 16MP M43 surface!

So, in real life; the little GM1 should have WIDER dynamic range than the much larger (physically) LX100?

Smaller but better dynamic range? The little GM1, right and the latest LX100
Guess what?  I CANNOT give a confirm answer to my friend's question!  The reasons being, of the two days I was loan the LX, I do not have the time to compare the dynamic range of the two cameras.  And now I cannot repeat the test because I do not have the LX100 any more :(

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Awesome Lumix LX100 !

The waiting is finally over!

In mid September this year, Panasonic announced their "most sophisticated COMPACT featuring an MFT Sensor and 4K Video, BUT it took them nearly THREE MONTHS before the LX100 reached The Land of The Long White Cloud!

Last weekend, I had the pleasures of assessing if this much anticipated compact is really Panasonic's best.

The LX100 is a solidly build camera, holding it in your hand, you can feel the heft; it is 393 g (13.9 oz), my favorite GM1 is only 274 g (9.6 oz).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is PICCURE + a Good Sharperner?

Capturing a REALLY SHARP digital image depends on the following...

a) A high quality lens with minimum optical aberration and defects.

b) A fast shutter speed to combat camera shake.

c) Able to focus accurately on your intended subject.

However, sometime; you thought that you have fulfilled all those three requirements BUT your picture still look "a little soft". Especially when you view it at 100%!

What breaks?

Let us examine those three conditions again...

a) 99.99% of photographers, including you and me, CANNOT afford a $4,000 lens with minimum optical aberration and defects. Most of us use the kit lens, at less than $300, you get what you pay for ;)

b) Fast shutter speeds? No problem, or we can use a tripod!

c) With modern digital camera, accurate focussing is a given.

To counter condition a), enter PICCURE+

According to them...

"piccure+ is a new software program capable of correcting optical aberrations that cause a lack of sharpness in your images. With piccure+, it is possible to recover much sharper images."

Sound very impressive and being one of the "tester" in the last few months, I find the software impressive too. How come, then, they were getting some negative feed back after last week's launch?

I decided to give piccure+ another go, to find out once and for all if it is a good image sharpener.

My first image...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Can piccure+ Turn Your Kit Lens into "L" Lens?

Some of you might have read my posting about piccure a while back, in my conclusion of that story, I said...


From my test I can see PICCURE did an incredible job of removing camera shake induced artifacts and blurriness!

I think those guys at the Intelligent Imaging Solutions might give Photoshop a run for their money in this area.

Like any beta release, there are a few issues to iron out; like it crashed sometimes when the image is a TIFF and more than 70MB.

Instead of just being a PLUG-IN, I personally feel that PICCURE also should include a stand alone application; not everyone have Photoshop!

It has been an interesting test, I look forward to testing the official release!

Well, the "+" version is officially launched today!

According to them, "piccure+ is a new software program capable of correcting optical aberrations that cause a lack of sharpness in your images. With piccure+, it is possible to recover much sharper images."

During my beta testing, I was told that piccure+ can virtually make your $300 lens performing like a $3,000 lens!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Is Lumix TZ60 a Good Travel Camera?

My colleague Martyn love pixels, the more the merrier!  He also adores large sensor in his DSLR, full-frame; no less! Oh, did I say he also uses only "L" lenses for his 5D Mk3?

Imagine my surprise when Martyn came back from his long Australia holiday and told me how impress he was with the LUMIX TZ60 he took with him!


You kidding me?

That is an 18-megapixel small 1/2.3-inch sensor point n shoot!

Look at the lens, a 30X Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3-129mm f/3.5-6.4 zoom (24-720mm in 35mm equivalent).  A whopping 24-720mm?


The really compact TZ60 with the 30X Leica zoom lens
Martyn's enthusiasm got my attention alright, so when he offer to let me play with his TZ60 for the week end; would I refuse?  Duh!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Adiós DSLR!

I have friends who go on extended travel lugging their big bag of photo gear, usually a DSLR and two or three zoom lenses. Don't laugh, I use to be like them because 5 years ago DSLR give you the best performance; that was before, how about now?

During our last gathering, my DSLR die hard friends were shocked when I told them I only took my little Lumix GM1 when we went to Malaysia and Taiwan this year!

They all sneered at the small wonder, to them, nothing but their HEAVY DSLR can give them the travel pictures they are proud of!

Mind you, as you can see from the picture above, I still have my DSLR; a Nikon D300 that I bought 5 years ago. The zoom lens attaches to this once the Camera Of The Year, a Nikon 12-24mm f/4 AF-S DX , this Nikon has an equivalent field of view of an 18-36mm lens.

When you are on a shoot-n-run travel, to me, this is the best lens to have on your DSLR!

On the left of the heavy weight D300 is my feather weight Lumix GM1 with the
Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 ASPH LUMIX G VARIO ultra wide zoom.  This incredible optics behave like a 14-28 mm equivalent!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do All 24mm (equivalent) Kit Lens Vignette?

For those that don't know, what is vignette or vignetting?

"In photography and optics, vignetting (/vɪnˈjɛtɪŋ/; French: "vignette") is a reduction of an image's brightness or saturation at the periphery compared to the image center.

Vignetting is often an unintended and undesired effect caused by camera settings or lens limitations. However, it is sometimes deliberately introduced for creative effect, such as to draw attention to the center of the frame."  - Wikipedia

In general, a good lens should not vignette or at least show minimum darkening of the image corners.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sony RX100 lll or Lumix GM1?

After I post my user experience on the little Sony RX100 lll, I know the inevitable question will come..

Sure enough, friends wanted to know was the Sony BETTER than my favorite Lumix GM1 and which one do I prefer, the Sony or Lumix?

The Sony RX100 lll, left and Lumix GM1 with the 12-32 kit zoom. Both cameras are "off" and with their lens retracted.
Before I give you my answer, let me just get the following out of the way...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sony RX100 lll, Ultimate Compact?

When Sony launched its first RX100 back in 2012, the photo communities were in awe. This year's iteration is by far the most impressive yet, it came with a superior lens and a unique pop-up EVF!

There are compact cameras that look "cute" but only able to produce so so pictures, and there are compacts that not only look cute, well built and take quality photos; the little Sony belongs to this.

Thanks to our local Photo Warehouse, I have the opportunity to try out this much talk about Sony compact for four days!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Lens

Last week, thanks to Wellington Photo Warehouse; I had the pleasure of testing the Sony A6000 15-50/55-210 Twin kit for the weekend. The delightful Sony A6000 mirrorless compact which I like a lot, also came with a rather long but light tele zoom.

The all black, all plastic Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Lens might look intimating on the compact A6000, but weighing at a mere 12.2oz  (345g); it balance quite well on the camera.

The twin lens set cost NZ$1,675.00, in a way, this long zoom  is a bargain.

Considering the camera with the 15-50 lens, alone; cost $1,348.00, you are actually getting this very long, telephoto zoom (82-315mm eqv) for only $327.00!

I was please that the mounting bayonet is metal instead of plastic :)

As far as I know, this lens is not sold separately in New Zealand.

According to Sony, this 13 element zoom consists of 2 aspherical and 2 ED elements; the lens provides image stabilization, super quiet focusing, and a useful zoom range of 82-315mm eqv.

DXO Mark gave this lens a peak sharpness of 7-Mpix and 12 points overall which is about average for a lens with this range.

Numbers to me are just a guide, I prefer some real world shooting, comparing the Sony to what I have; which is an LUMIX G VARIO PZ 45-175/F4.0-5.6.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SONY A6000 素敵なカメラ!

In case you are wondering, 素敵なカメラ! translates to "Nice Camera!"

The first time I read about the Sony A6000 in Imaging Resource, I wanted to hold one in my hand! There is something about this
Alpha ILCE-A6000 (full model name) that make you want to do that ;)

So I got in touch with Sony customer support in Australia, expressing my interest in testing their good looking camera. Their efficient support guy told me I have to apply for "sponsorship" from Sony, even gave me a link, which; however I try, I cannot get my request through.. so after a few days of trying, I gave up :(

Saturday, May 17, 2014

SONY RX100 III - Mother Of All Compact!

Just when Canon, with their G1X Mk II; thought they had Sony beaten...

Today Sony up the ante and announced their Mother Of All Compact, the Mark III version of the ever popular RX100 series!

I can see Canon crying ;)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

G1 X Mark II - Did Canon Nail It?

The Power Shot G1X Mk2! There has not been so much excitement over a new compact point n shoot for a while, wait! It is NOT even NEW, it is Canon REPLACEMENT for the lacklustre G1 X, Mk none ;)

In my last posting, I concluded with "May be, finally; Canon have got their compact act together?"

"Well, DID THEY?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G1X Mark II, Canon finally got it right?

Two years ago, Canon launched their point n shoot with a large 14MP 1.5" CMOS sensor and called it the G1X.

Canon thought they had the enthusiast photographer section sussed, after all; this is a ‘take anywhere’ camera that has DSLR-like handling and image quality! The sensor is SIX times larger than their very popular G12, for goodness sake!

Well, Canon was wrong!

As far as I am concern, the G1X is just a larger version of the G12! Apart from the large sensor, the auto focus is just as slow...

I believe sales of this glorified point n shoot, like Canon's EOS-M was lackluster!

But that was two years ago!

Canon came back with a vengeance!

Friday, March 21, 2014

LCD Shade For Lumix GM1

By now, you would have notice I like to take the little Lumix GM1 wherever I go, it is my perfect pocketable point n shoot with great IQ (image quality)!

My friend asked me what are the features that I do not like about this small wonder, well there are TWO that actually irritate me; the rest, I can live with ;)

Actually, both of the irritations have to do with the LCD screen!

Mind you, that 3" screen is sharp and accurate; except it CANNOT tilt and on numerous occasion, while shooting out on a sunny day; the screen has so much reflection that I cannot even frame my shots!

My second irate on the screen is the focussing "square" always move to a different location, this happen because your fingers accidentally touch the screen when the camera is turn on!

Unlike my OM-D, I can actually turn off the touch-ability of the screen!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Get A Grip For Your Lumix GM1 !

You know I love my Lumix GM1, but in the situation where I really need to shoot holding the little camera with one hand... Grrrr!! It is nearly impossible! There are no support whatsoever for you to hold on to the camera, it is highly likely that you will DROP it!

The smooth front with nothing to hold on to!
 I know, I know... good old Panasonic make a "grip" for this small wonder, take a look...

Nikon 1 V3, a Speed Freak!

Do you know of any mirrorless "compact" WITH interchangeable lens that can shoot at 20 frames-per-second (fps) AND with full autofocus?


Until now!  Presenting the new Nikon 1 V3...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We Went To The Newtown Fair

Kiwis love going to markets and fairs, if you take a look at "Markets and Fairs"; you will find hundreds of upcoming fairs all over the country, from now till December :)

The last time I blog about  New Zealand fair was way back in 2012, Personally, I don't fancy going to a Kiwi fair; they are for the ladies... you do not find high tech toys at fair do you?   ;)

They said the yearly Newtown Fair is the largest in Wellington, it attracted 75,000 visitors last year and they expect MORE this year! I shivers at the thought! I DO NOT like crowds ;)

To avoid the herd and the searing sun, we went late; at 3.30 pm :)

As usual, I try to take as many pictures as I can... taking good shots at fairs are not as simple as you think. Most stall owners do not like you snapping their products, so to get any shots at all, you have to be stealthy (sneaky?); camera (with a wide angle lens) round your neck and snapping away blind is a acquired method ;)

Home made sambal and chutney are popular at fairs!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

PENANG Island, a Full Circle! (Part 2)

"Please, sir, I want some more!" - Oliver Twist

Yes! Food, glorious Penang food, is what thousands of tourists and homesick Penangites oceans and clouds away; coming back for more!!

They own one of the Hokkien Prawn Mee stall in Penang, you got to eat their noodles to savour the "hot", sweetness and oomph to realise why patience customers sat in the humid afternoon heat up to 30 minutes, waiting for their order! We did!

Never underestimate "hawker" who serves Penang goodies, most likely he make more money in a month than you in a year!

Penangites claimed to know hawkers who own half a dozens of "hi-end" properties on the island!  And looking at the customers at some of the stalls, I believe the gossip ;)

PENANG Island, a Full Circle! (Part 1)

My blog posts on our 4 weeks break should have started from Penang, our Malaysian hometown!  But like the Star Wars Trilogy, I started from behind and wrote about Taipei, then Singapore and now, a full circle later; Penang!

It was a long, long EIGHT YEARS ago that we were in our hometown! This time round we only have EIGHT DAYS to get whatever we needed done on this often known "The Pearl of the Orient", or "东方花园" (Garden of the East)!

Before we landed on this now over crowded "garden", I had promised to meet up with good friend like Jeff Ooi; FB friends like Sam Ong (of Eat Out With Sam fame) and Bea Chai, but alas; like life, it did not work out as we thought... there were just too many commitments with relatives, so here; thousands apologies to all those friends that I cannot catch up with. So so sorry :(  It was my loss!

The Penang I remembered fondly has changed!  It is now SO CROWDED, the number of cars on the road; I can imagine the massive traffic jams during festive seasons!  Just as well we did not arrive during the Lunar New Year!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We ♡♡♡ Taipei Part 3

Taiwanese love their night markets! If you are visiting Taipei, you must go and experience the Shilin Night Market!

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市; Shìlín Yèshì) is a night market in the Shilin District of Taipei, Taiwan, and is often considered to be the largest and most famous night market in the city.

Our hotel provides a free van service to this famous night market.

What's inside the market?  Pictures are better than words!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We ♡♡♡ Taipei Part 2

Taipei 101 (臺北101 / 台北101), formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, is a landmark skyscraper located in Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan.

The building ranked officially as the world's tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. In July 2011, the building was awarded LEED Platinum certification, the highest award in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and became the tallest and largest green building in the world!!

Taipei 101 was designed by C.Y. Lee and Partners (nothing to do with C.Y.Leow ;)) and constructed primarily by KTRT Joint Venture. The construction was finished in 2004. The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening.

Fireworks launched from Taipei 101 feature prominently in international New Year's Eve broadcasts and the structure appears frequently in travel literature and international media. - Wikipedia.

We ♡♡♡ Taipei Part 1

Hardly a week in Penang, the super humid and hazy weather was driving us up the wall! We decided to take a four nights trip to Taipei :)

We bought the rather pricey China Airlines direct flight from Penang to Taipei, other airlines do a round about trip to get there in 8 or 9 hours; China Air only 4!

The service of China Airlines was impeccable! Since I am on a walking stick, we are given priority check-in and boarding :) They even have priority seats while we wait to board! This was the first time I find out about this service to seniors with impaired movement, I was given special attention in Penang, Taipei and Sydney BUT SADLY, NOT in New Zealand!

Our plane landed at the beautiful Taoyuan International Airport and a wheelchair and a friendly helper was waiting for us.

Monday, February 24, 2014

In Singapore, What The Duck!!

No, that is NOT a typo; if you read on, What The Duck is correct ;)

On our recent break in Malaysia, we decided to spend three nights in Singapore; before we head home to Wellington.

The last time we were in this island nation was 6 years ago! Goodness, the Little Red Dot has changed; a lot, from what we remembered!

The most eye catching building is the Marina Bay Sands which jut out like a sore thumb, in my view; not a very attractive structure ;)

However, two days later; we were taken up to the KU TA restaurant up at Marina Bay Sands Sky Park, and the panoramic view really impressed me!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH, the "Perfect Normal" Lens

Four years ago Panasonic presents their large (F1.7) aperture "pancake" 20mm (40mm equivalent) lens as the kit lens for the Lumix DMC-GF1 camera.

Shortly after, M43 photographers discovered the "beauties" of this compact prime lens...

The 40mm-equivalent may at first appear unusual, but some discovered that; with a focal length equal to the M43 sensor's diagonal; this compact optics is in fact a 'perfect normal' lens!

This means the 20mm will produce images free of the 'perspective distortion' associated with wide angle or telephoto lenses!

Shortly after launch, this "pancake" lens became a celebrity when photo blogger Steve Huff claimed that the lowly kit lens is sharper than a Nikon 50/1.8 on a D3S!

Suddenly, this small wonder was so hot, it was hard to come by!

FUJIFILM X-T1 Gunning for OM-Ds?

2014 is gonna be a very interesting year in new digital cameras launch!

As Olympus OM-D fan boys are rubbing their hands in glee, waiting for the new OM-D E-M10 to launch on January 29 at 6am London time...

 FUJIFILM dropped a bomb shell...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lumix G Vario 12-32mm On OM-D E-M5

By now some of you might realised that I am mighty impressed with this little "kit lens" that came with my GM1, why... I even compared it's performance with a much "larger" Olympus kit and it won!  I even "jump to my conclusion" that the tiny 24-64mm (equivalent) zoom might make a perfect traveling lens on my Olympus OM-D E-M5!

The ultra compact Lumix G Vario 12-32 f3.5/5.6 zoom look really cool on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 body!

Back at work today, my colleague; Nigel does not exactly soak in my excitement on this little jewel... he even STRENGTHEN my untold doubt that the Lumix 12-32 performed better because it was on a Panasonic Lumix camera!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Battle Between Two Kit Lens

A kit lens is a "starter" lens which can be sold with an interchangeable-lens camera such as a single-lens reflex camera. It is generally an inexpensive lens priced at the lowest end of the manufacturer's range so as to not add much to a camera kit's price.

Originally kit lenses were of normal focal length; more recently kit lenses tend to be inexpensive zoom lenses that range from medium wide angle to mid telephoto for added versatility. - Wikipedia

The two kit lens I am comparing here are:

The Olympus Digital M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED came with my Olympus E-P2, three years ago. The focal length range is equivalent to 28-84mm in full (35mm) terms.

The new LUMIX G VARIO 12-32mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH / MEGA O.I.S. that come as a kit lens with my ultra-compact Lumix GM1. The focal length range is equivalent to 24-64mm in full (35mm) terms.

The two kits, Panasonic; left and Olympus, right. Both lens are in their "retracted" positions.  The new Pani for the GM1 is a lot smaller than the 3 year old M.Zuiko.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lumix GM1 With Leica & Nikon Prime Lens

I have used my selections of old Nikon and Leica M optics on my Olympus E-P2 and OM-D before, the experiences were not intuitive mainly because it is so bloody hard to get an accurate manual focussing on these digital cameras!

Most of you have heard of Focus Peaking, which is a tool to assist you while manual focusing.  It highlights the areas that are in focus so you are able to quickly focus the lens on that area.

You would think that most modern digital cameras with an electronic viewfinder will have focus peaking built in?


But did I not post an article about the focus peaking feature in OM-D E-M5?

Yes, but the feature in E-M5 is what I call "pseudo focus peaking", it is very clunky and not very user friendly.

I was not expecting any special feature when I try out my 25 year old 50/2 Leica Summicron-M lens on the GM1!

I was wrong!!

The Leica Summicron-M 50/2 attached to the GM1 with a Voigtlander VM adapter.