*Olympus m.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens, a user review w/ @getolympus

P1070426

Ultra wide angle options for every system, tend to be expensive and/or compromised.  It can be difficult to optically correct and transfer light onto these digital sensors which are far less forgiving than film ever was, especially outside of the center frame.  Add to that, with various “crop” formats, the physical focal length needed to achieve these angles of view has to be remarkably short which provides other engineering challenges.  Panasonic saw the need for an ultra wide angle zoom lens from the very early stages of the Micro 4/3 format, and has offered a very solid 7-14mm f/4 lens for years, but many system shooters wanted both a faster option, along with one that was environmentally sealed for outdoor work.  Olympus answered that call with the m.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens.  A substantial, weather sealed, tank like 14-28mm f/2.8 equivalent lens (in light gathering you FF fanatic naysayers, you) that costs a pretty penny, especially considering the Panasonic Lumix option at close to half the price, it’s not necessarily one for the budget minded shooter.  It is however, a pretty damn stellar performer.  I have had this lens for the better part of the year, and I’ve just returned from a trip to Portugal and Holland where I used this lens on the GX8 for my travel documentation needs.  I have some other shots sprinkled in, but I want to give a bit of perspective when using this lens as a travel companion. C’mon in for some shots and thoughts…

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*12 days of Topaz with @TopazLabs

 

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If you have been looking to pick up a Topaz plugin or two, Topaz Labs is running a promotion where each day they offer one of their plugins at a 40% discount with a new plugin each day, running for three days.  You can read more about some of my favorite Topaz plugins that I’ve reviewed HERE.  I’ll add each day of the sale and the showcased plugins as they’re released, so stay tuned and come back to see what shows up!

Day 1 – 12/12 is Topaz Detail use code DETAIL12 (running through Thursday the 15th) Find Detail for 40% off HERE.

Day 2 – 12/13 is Topaz DeNoise (best NR I’ve used!) use code DENOISE12 (running through Friday the 16th) Find DeNoise for 40% off HERE.

Day 3 – 12/14 is Topaz Simplify use code SIMPLIFY12 (running through Saturday the 17th) Find Simplify for 40% off HERE.

Day 4 – 12/15 is Topaz Impression  use code IMPRESSION12 (running through Sunday the 18th) Find Impression for 40% off HERE.

Day 5 – 12/16 is Topaz ReMask (I love this one!) use code REMASK12 (running through Monday the 19th) Find ReMask for 40% off HERE.

Day 6 – 12/17 is Topaz Adjust use code ADJUST12 (running through Tuesday the 20th) Find Adjust for 40% off HERE.

Day 7 – 12/18 is Star Effects use code STARFX12 (running through Wednesday the 21st) Find Star Effects for 40% off HERE.

Day 8 – 12/19 is Topaz Glow use code GLOW12 (running through Thursday the 22nd) Find Glow for 40% off HERE.

Day 9 – 12/20 is Lens Effects use code LENSFX12 (running through Friday the 23rd) Find Lens Effects for 40% off HERE.

Day 10 – 12/21 is Topaz Texture Effects use code TEXTUREFX12 (running through Saturday the 24th) Find Texture Effects for 40% off HERE.

Day 11 – 12/22 is Topaz ReStyle use code RESTYLE12 (running through Sunday the 25th) Find ReStyle for 40% off HERE.

Day 12 – 12/23 and finally, Topaz Clarity (one of my absolute faves) use code CLARITY12 (running through Monday the 26th) Find Clarity for 40% off HERE.

Happy, Merry everyone.  I hope all is well, and here’s to finally getting 2016 in the rearview!

Happy shooting,

Tyson

*The Panasonic Lumix GX8 vs GX7 showdown. How much of an upgrade is it, really? Well… w/ @LumixUSA

gx7 vs gx8

Well, my friends, I have been enjoying the comparison between these two great cameras, and in this article I would like to present my opinions and findings regarding how they directly compare to each other in regards to performance and file output, once and for all (for my purposes, anyway).  Here’s my disclaimer… I don’t work for Panasonic.  I’ve always researched and purchased my own gear, and do these tests in an attempt to help others like myself see what I wish that I could have seen in cases before buying stuff.  Enjoy and I hope this shows you something you’ve not yet seen.

I’ve been looking at the comparison from the angle of one who is curious about replacing my historically favorite micro 4/3 camera in the GX7, with it’s intended upgrade in the GX8.  I’ve now had the GX8 for a couple months and have shot a few thousand images with it, so I have been able to get a good feel for how it handles, performs and how the files look when digging into them.  With the GX8, Panasonic has given us an increase in size, resolution and features, which have all looked good on paper, and I’m now wanting to really see that come through in practice, which in most cases, it has.

Here is what I’ve seen, and what I’ve found…

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*A Pana-Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 review – I never should have doubted you.

Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH OIS Lens Panasonic

Now, readers may remember a mere 6 months or so ago, I purchased the Voigtländer 42.5mm f/0.95 lens (see that review on a new page HERE) for my micro 4/3 system setup.  I’ve loved that lens, but since its announcement I’ve been curious about the Leica branded Nocticron, largely because I do really enjoy shooting two of the other Leica branded lenses for the system in the Summicron 15mm and 25mm models.  The asking price for this portrait lens was always high for my taste, which was why I opted for the Voigt to begin with (which isn’t cheap in its own right, but 2/3 the retail price of the Nocti).  Well, as luck would have it, an open box/like new Nocticron came up for sale at near the same price as the Voigtländer and my curiosity couldn’t be held back, and now I’m tasked with figuring out which one to hold onto.

Here are my initial impressions on this beautiful lens.

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*Olympus M.Zuiko MC14, 1.4x Teleconverter Review

m zuiko mc14 1.4x micro 4/3 teleconverter for 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens

Olympus continues to add to its Pro lens quiver with the M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14, available as a useful accessory to the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom lens.  Currently, the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens is the only lens that this teleconverter works with, but I’d assume that once we see the soon to be M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 PRO prime lens show up, that number will climb to two.

A teleconverter effectively multiplies the focal length of the lens it is coupled to, while decreasing the lens speed by one whole stop in the case of a 1.4x, or two stops when using a 2x tele converter (Oly, feel free to bust one of these guys out too!).  In this case, it converts the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens into a 56-210mm f/4 optic which translates to an effective field of view in full frame terms of 112-420mm.  Not a bad range, and one that for system users essentially turns the 40-150 (80-300mm e-fov) into two very useful lenses if we’re to look at it in Full Frame equivalency as a workhorse, studio portrait/event tele zoom akin to the various 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses as well as the more sport and light wildlife tele zooms of the world in the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 flavor, it begins to make a lot more sense as to why Olympus chose this range, as opposed to what would have been a more traditional 35-100mm (70-200mm) lens in the first place.  Hmmmmm…  Continue reading

*Helpful Topaz Workflow Suggestions

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image © Darcy from Topaz – all rights reserved, used with permission

Hi all.  Darcy from Topaz Labs was nice enough to share this simple yet remarkably helpful graphic showing us the proper order to best utilize and stage different Topaz plugins.

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a honk for the Topaz products as I really feel they offer an amazing value in the plugin universe.  I’ve fielded quite a few emails over the years asking about when is it best to implement noise reduction versus sharpening, etc and I’ve always said it is good to get your initial, simple exposure tweaks done in your host or digital asset management software (lightroom, aperture, et al) and then before altering the pixels any further, run through noise reduction before doing anything to sharpen or further define the pixels as that would also further define the noise or any artifacts, color shifts, posterization, etc.  Sharpening should be the last thing done to any image, and now we have a cool step by step in visual form.  Thanks Darcy!

Darcy has laid this out wonderfully in Topaz terms, and for those of you who’ve been getting into the Topaz plugins like myself, I’d imagine this graphic will do well to help us streamline our workflow through the various Topaz plugins.

Currently, Topaz Detail 3 is on sale for 50% off through April (click HERE and use “aprdetail” to get 50% off)!  What is normally a $40 plugin is now $20, so head over and download the free trial to give it a go.  If you like it, buy it before the end of the month to qualify for the half price license.

You can head over to Topaz Labs website to see what they offer, or below are reviews I’ve done of some more of the Topaz plugins that I use often, and love.

Topaz DeNoise 5, the best noise reduction software I’ve ever used.

Topaz Clarity, possibly my favorite enhancement plugin.

Topaz ReMask, anyone using photoshop masks should download this. Now.

Topaz Simplify, art filters with the click of a button.

Have a look, have a go, and enjoy.  Please feel free to share your results (or any imagery) with our ever growing community on Flickr HERE, and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks and happy shooting!

Tyson

 

*Moving upward and onward!

backyard shenanigans

don’t worry, there were no kids harmed during the photoshopping of this image.

Hello everyone!  You may have noticed that I’m quietly adding content to the site.  This is being done to try and make a more complete resource for those visiting the site to reference specific tutorial articles or find gear reviews, etc.  The biggest changes are the new “Tutorial” “Review” and “MyGear” pages up at the top of the page.  I will be trying to catalog the more popular tutorials and reviews for easy reference, and the new gear page has allowed me to link certain cameras, lenses and miscellaneous gear that I use to my affiliate links at B&H.  Yup, you read that right.  I’ve finally succumbed to the monetary necessity of trying to make a little coin to keep the site going.  Read on for my reasoning and ever cheesy gratitude…

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