*Lumix GM1, mine’s smaller. A quick look at the smallest MILC camera.

this little piggy...

How small is too small?  How about a micro 4/3 camera that is smaller than most any fixed lens compact sporting a 1/1.6″ or 1/1.7″ sensor (not to mention any of the 1″ sensor cams, or even most compact p&s cameras I’ve owned)?  Well, I’d heard that the Panasonic Lumix GM1 was small, but I don’t think I was prepared for HOW small this thing actually is.  Have a look…

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*Another set of this guy’s opinions, or Mirrorless Lens buying guide!

IMG_6052 - Version 2 (1)

As requested from the camera body shopping guide post (thanks Tim and Chris), here are my opinions on the best lenses for the various mirrorless systems.  Keep in mind that I have not shot extensively with all of these lenses, or at least, many of the lenses for systems that aren’t the micro 4/3 system aside from the tire kicking in stores or when getting the chance to shoot friend’s gear, so my opinion is based on minimal use combined with personal intrigue and web based research.  Because I don’t own an X series or Alpha E (NEX, etc) camera body, I have not been able to access many of the lenses on offer for any period of time, but there are a few I have, as well as those that I would certainly look long and hard at if I was invested in these systems.  As for the micro 4/3 lenses, I have those down pretty well.  C’mon in and I’ll lay out my faves…

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*The Mirrorless Diet, how to lose weight instantly! Part 3

Rainier Morning Ascent

PART 3: Processing your shots

After applauding your choice to invest in featherweight cameras and optics that have the image quality to rival top end digital SLR’s (well, in many scenarios anyway), it all comes down to processing, and turning those files into the beautiful images you knew they’d become.  While weight is no longer a huge part of the equation, it is now time to see if we’ve compromised our ability to document our travels for posterity in all their pixel rich glory…

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*The Mirrorless Diet, how to lose weight instantly! Part 2

PanhandleGapDaleBLOG

PART 2: Shooting your trip

You’ve already suffered through my long winded gear explanation in the previous post about gear weight in part 1. Here are some of the images and techniques I use with the gear being utilized for each shot, laid out. The above panorama shot was a handheld series of 5 frames, shot in portrait orientation using the Canon EOS-M and 22mm f/2 lens. The third and final part in this series will focus on the actual processing of the shots and won’t really have much to do with backpacking per se, nor the weight saved, but hopefully can show that with these small cameras, image quality is not compromised.

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*The Mirrorless Diet, how to lose weight instantly! Part 1

mirrorless diet

PART 1: Preparing for a trip

Have you ever had to pack for a trip, a hike, climb, vacation or another adventure where you’d be carrying everything on your back or slung over your shoulder?  Gear laid out on the floor the night before leaving for the trip after having unpacked and repacked to see if you could fit everything in less space getting rid of everything you can to save weight.  For those that saw their toothbrushes in half to shave off a few grams, or anyone that could stand to lose a little weight in the camera bag, this series of articles may be useful.  Now, the question is, can we do this, and still carry quality photographic gear with us?

This will be the first part in a three part article focused on capturing images while backpacking and wanting to keep weight down while not compromising image quality.  It is also potentially useful for any travel situation where gear weight may become cumbersome.

I’d like to thank Yukon Trading CompanyMarmotJetBoil, LEKI Trekking Poles43rumors.comExpert Shield screen protectors, and B&H Photo for the continued support, and particularly for much of the stuff provided for me during this trip.  Losing weight isn’t always fast and cheap, but they’ve helped make it sexy.  Throughout these articles, I’ll be mentioning and linking to various products that I use(d) and highly suggest looking into.  Fortunately for me, we got hooked up with companies that put quality at the top of their list.  It doesn’t hurt that they also engineer some of the best, lightest and highest performing gear on the market, so, thanks guys!

Never has weight been more a factor for me than when trying to stuff all my gear into a pack with the realization that I’m going to have to carry all this stuff on my back for days on end, all while climbing, hiking and sliding around in the snow. I will start by disclosing that I am far closer to resembling a photographer than a back country, mountaineering aficionado. I’ve certainly been adventurous throughout my life, spending many nights in the elements, climbing and hiking my way to the next spot so that I may eat dried fruit, ramen and nuts for dinner, or do my best to create aches in areas I was previously unaware my body had by forgoing any type of sleeping pad or pillow. Most of the time, when I travel, or set out on any type of adventure, photography is a very large part of it, and I’ve tended to sacrifice other comforts to enable the room for my camera gear. Since adopting a mirrorless setup, I’ve not had to sacrifice at all…

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*Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm, waste of time, or amazing value?

Lumix G Vario 100-300mm f/4-5.6

One huge benefit to a smaller sensor is the effective focal length multiplier.  Sure you can crop into an image captured at a wider angle, or on a larger sensor but as we have seen in the focal length vs sensor size post, when utilizing a smaller (relative to full frame) sensor, you can actually decrease your depth of field with the same focal length if shot from a fixed location, all while generically increasing your focal length by way of the effective multiplier in that smaller sensors crop into the larger image circle.  Aperture is aperture as far as exposure is concerned, so even by this standard, f/5.6 is relatively quick when you consider the focal length and price.  This said, is the Lumix G Vario 100-300mm f/4-5.6 (<UPDATE! click the link to see it at B&H, and if you click on “Savings Available” the price is down to $499 if you purchase one of the three things that qualify, like the $10.99 software…) worth the price of admission when you consider you get a 600mm lens able to shoot at f/5.6?  Let’s see…

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*Olympus 75mm f/1.8, all it’s cracked up to be?

Oly 75mm f/1.8 Lens

After my recent disappointment with the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro (read here), and my ongoing ups and downs with the Olympus OMD EM5, I have been looking to be convinced by Olympus.  I hear so much about Oly’s stellar reputation, but I’d not personally felt those plaudits justified through my experiences with the few Olympus products I’ve owned (hopefully the fanboys will be kind to me here).  In comes the M. Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 lens.  A solid, sharp, 150mm EFOV lens with quite a reputation of its own has come onto the scene.  After returning the 60mm macro, I wanted to make sure that the investment in the 75mm lens would be worth it to me…

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*Against the grain on the new Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens

oly 60mm f/2.8 macro on the omd em5

I’ve been debating a dedicated macro lens for either my full frame setup or my micro 4/3 setup for a little while now.  I wanted to try out the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 dedicated macro lens as I felt the micro 4/3 system really played to its benefits with a macro setup.  It really had to work to supplant the idea of acquiring the PanaLeica 45mm f/2.8 OIS Macro lens in the micro 4/3 realm, or some more illustrious full frame macro lenses for my larger system as well.  Now, I may be the odd man out as every review seems to really like this lens, but I was not impressed.  Read on to hear about why…

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*Panaleica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH, I couldn’t help myself.

It’s a hard thing to admit to myself really.  Being that I’ve been in love with the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens for so long, I never really thought about acquiring a lens for the Micro 4/3 format that provided such a similar angle of view.  Now that I have, I must make a decision, which do I keep…

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*Olympus OM-D E-M5 Firmware Update, please.

As much as I do love this camera, I find myself absolutely frustrated with it in certain situations.  While the squeaky wheel is normally the most annoying, it is also the one that gets the grease.  Let us become a loud enough wheel so that Olympus may take notice and deliver some updates to make this camera all it can be.

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