My Olympus Camera Kit

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Over the past year I have been in the process of researching camera gear and equipping myself with higher quality lenses. I am moving to Stuttgart in less than a month to pursue my Masters so I am happy to have pieced together a great kit before embarking to Europe. Here is what I shoot and edit with and what I think of each piece of gear:

Computer: Macbook Air 13″,  2014 

It’s light, easy to use. I haven’t had issues with it since owning it (other than that it disconnects randomly from the internet a few times a week, but that’s pretty minor). I know I should probably upgrade editing software but I rely mostly on iPhoto and the free instagram editor for my instagram photos. I downloaded a Lightroom trial a few months ago but it felt joyless and time consuming to use so I have decided not to buy it. I don’t shoot in RAW though so I can mostly get away with light edits from iPhoto. The laptop sleeve is from Society 6 .

Camera Body: Olympus Em5 Mark ii 

Great, quick, lightweight micro 4/3 camera. The jpegs come out great SOOC. The dials are well constructed. It’s weather-sealed when paired with the proper lenses. I’d only upgrade cameras if Olympus comes out with an Em5 Mark iii or if Fujifilm ever implemented 5 axis stabilization (although a new Fujifilm is a bit out of my price range).

Favorite lens: Olympus 25mm F/1.8

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I. Love. This. Lens. I love it. It makes everything look dreamy. It’s a safe focal length for if you were to leave the house with just one prime lens. I keep telling myself I need to use my Olympus pro zoom more, because of the versatility, but my heart always leans towards the creamy, lightweight Olympus 25mm.

Olympus 12mm F/2

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This lens autofocuses so fast. It’s great for sunsets. I used it a lot the last time I was in D.C. to take architectural snapshots. It’s the lens I keep in my camera bag for when I realize that I’ve reached the limits of what my 25mm lens can do in terms of autofocus or capturing a wider scene. Though it can’t create the bokeh that a normal focal length lens can, it will still deliver that dream like quality that compels one to buy a prime lens in the first place. It’s also my lightest lens which is a plus.

Update: 

I’ve just recently sold off my 12mm lens. As nice as it is, if I were shooting at 12mm I’m much more likely to use my zoom lens which offers almost as shallow depth of field. I may use the money to buy a 17mm prime. I may just try out the minimalist two lens approach. Either way it’s a relief to get the money back from something I just wasn’t using very much anymore. 

Olympus 12-40 F/2.8 (WR)

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It’s the most versatile lens I own. The autofocus is stellar even when the lights go off. I also rarely use it these days which causes me guilt. If I were traveling more, especially to a rainier destination like the Pacific Northwest or Denmark it would probably stay on my camera all the time. In fact I invested into weather-sealing in the first place because I was sad that I took so few pictures during my study abroad in Denmark since it was always raining or really foggy outside. I suppose this lens is the swiss army knife of my camera bag. It can do everything I need it to, but it’s a little overkill for sunny days and city streets.

Iphone SE

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My backup camera for when my Olympus isn’t with me. I used this camera a lot during the eclipse because I needed the wide focal length. I had only brought a 25mm prime with me. The iPhone camera is very underrated I think. (Phone case also from Society 6.)

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Bonus gear: Moleskine Pocket Notebook

This past year I have been in the habit of keeping a notebook around to jot down to-do lists and wish lists. I just got this cute little Moleskine last week at Marshall’s for 4 dollars which is a steal for this brand of notebook. They retail for around 14 at this size. I have a page in the back of this notebook where I write down dream lenses for my camera. The list reads as follows:

  • Olympus 17mm F/1.8
  • Panasonic 15mm F/1.7
  • Leica 9-18 F/2.8-4
  • Leica 12-60 F/2.8-4
  • Olympus 25mm F/1.2

Hope you’ve found this post informative or at the very least entertaining.

❤ Adri

 

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Olympus 12-40 F/2.8 Lens Review

I have read from many Olympus photographers that the 12-40 F/2.8 zoom lens is the one lens people say they can’t live without. When I saw it refurbished for a great price I jumped on it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, as it is much bigger than my kit zoom, but while it is awkwardly large, it’s not nearly as heavy as I thought it would be. Lens flare is well controlled even when shooting into the sun.

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Each lens from Olympus has its own unique profile and so far I’m enjoying the look of my new zoom. So far my favorite lens has been my 25mm F/1.8 prime, but the Olympus 12-40 is incredibly versatile and performs even better in low light somehow. The 25mm prime technically opens wider, but because it struggles to focus in low light I actually prefer either my 12mm F/2 lens or the new Olympus zoom if it’s dark out.

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If you’re on the fence about whether or not to upgrade to this lens I would only do it if you either find a good deal like I did or if zoom capability in low light is a must have for your photos. Otherwise the Olympus 12-50 takes aesthetically pleasing photos in all light conditions (albeit with some focusing difficulty at night). I don’t own the 14-42 lens anymore because I had one break on me a few years back, but I also really enjoy the photos I took with that lens and it’s delightfully lightweight. In short, with Olympus optics you are always in good hands and with the 12-40 lens you can travel fairly light with a capable tool that “does it all” with ease.

Olympus 25mm F/1.8 Review

The Olympus 25mm F/1.8 is my second acquisition in my quest to upgrade from my camera’s kit lens. I was nervous before it came in the mail last week because even though everyone swears by the so called “nifty fifty” lens as a classic and economical focal length, a staple to any photographer’s kit, I felt it was a very narrow focal length to use as a walk-around lens. Perhaps I should have gone with the 17mm? , I thought.

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I was wrong. This lens is amazing. No, it will not give you the panorama view of my other prime lens, the 12mm F/2. It will however give you consistently beautiful and creamy bokeh with very minimal distortion.

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If you need a lens for close-ups and casual snaps of things you want to remember or if you are looking for a versatile portrait lens, look no further. Of course the new Olympus 25mm F/1.2 has just come out. Its mystical image quality is so good that the reviewer Steve Huff has said he’s sold off some Leica gear to purchase it, so that tells you something. That lens is retailing for over $1000 right now which is more than I paid for my camera body. For those that aren’t professionals that’s a huge investment. Also the F/1.2 lens is enormous due to its wide aperture and weather sealing. I’d say if you did portraiture often, you live in a very rainy place like Seattle, or if you know that you’d only use the 25mm lens in your work, spring for the Pro lens. If not the Olympus 25mm F/1.8 is a more than adequate consolation prize.

Love,

Adri ❤

Olympus 12mm F/2 Lens Review

Hello Internet. Long time no see. Today I wanted to discuss the subject of prime lenses, more specifically the Olympus 12mm F/2 lens (24mm Full Frame Equivalent). A few months ago I decided the best investment I could make to grow in my photography would be to try out prime lenses (single focal length lenses). I became paralyzed with the choices available. I knew I loved landscape and architecture photography, but at the same time I also had been taking a lot of close up photos of plant life. After much deliberation and also finding a sale on a refurbished 12mm lens I decided to try out this semi wide angle focal length as my first prime lens.

First impression: Amazing clarity, insane focusing speed, dreamy color rendition.

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Second impression: I am spending a lot of time squatting and contorting in weird angles just to get close to things. I was so frustrated after a while with this limitation that I switched back to my zoom. Still I ended up going back to the prime lens for all the aforementioned strengths it has. It’s okay to miss a few shots every now and then. I had on the 12mm on a walk when we saw some deer. They were closer than deer normally allow you to be but because I had on just the 12mm there was no way to get a decent photograph of the deer family before us.

However, if I would have just had my zoom lens on me I wouldn’t have gotten a great photo because it was dark outside at the time and the aperture on my zoom wouldn’t have been wide enough. This scenario made me realize I should invest in a 25mm prime lens. They’re more affordable and a bit more versatile for everyday snapshots. I’ve been loving the first shots I’ve gotten with it but sometimes I miss the wide field of view from the 12mm. Thankfully for me there’s no need to choose. Both lenses are small enough to carry with me on my adventures, and for times when I don’t have the patience or I’m on a trip there’s always my handy dandy zoom lens.

Love ❤

Color Me Adri

I made an Official Portfolio :)

I’ve been getting some questions lately about whether I had a portfolio for my photography and my paintings. The previous answer to that question was no, but now I’m happy to say that last week I put one together.

If you enjoy my work (and/or like me as a person) you should check it out and maybe give the page a follow, share, like, or a Pin.

Official Portfolio

Also feel free to follow my instagram as I update it fairly regularly:

@colormeadri

 

Have a Nice Day 🙂

Collaboration with Girls Rock Socks and Sandals

Hey Ya’ll,

Just got back from an amazing vacation in the south of Mexico with relatives. Shortly I will be putting up a few posts about the trip, but for the time being I just wanted to let you guys know about a collab I did with another blogger Girls Rock Socks and Sandals

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The blog creator, Alex, is an outdoor loving girl from Maryland who interviews people about how they like to style themselves when they where socks and sandals and also about their general lives and interests. The blog is a lovely exploration of individuality, style, and the bravery to be oneself. I see great things coming in this bloggers future so be sure to check her out at her blog:

Girls Rock Socks and Sandals

@girlsrocksocksandsandals

And of course if you aren’t a subscriber to my instagram you can follow my photographic adventures at:

@colormeadri

Stay creative!

Olympus OMD EM5 II Camera Review

Over Thanksgiving Break I was able to get an incredible deal on an Olympus Omd Em5 Mark ii camera. I’ve been looking to switch to the OMD line for a while now. I loved my Olympus Pen Lite 5 Camera and hadn’t owned it for all that long, but because it didn’t have dedicated controls for ISO, Exposure Compensation, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and White Balance I felt I had outgrown my Pen Camera. I was hesitant to make the switch because I had been using a few different models from the Pen line since 2011 when I bought my first camera. I sold my Olympus Pen camera now and have no regrets. To learn more about my personal history with taking photos you can check out my previous post: My Personal History with Photography: From Point and Shoot and beyond.

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Here are some basic specifications for the Olympus Omd EM5 MII (taken from Cameradecision.com )

Olympus E-M5 II Key Specs

 

  • Announcement Date: 2015-02-06
  • 16MP – Four Thirds CMOS Sensor
  • ISO 100 – 25600
  • Micro Four Thirds Mount
  • Sensor-shift Image Stabilization
  • 3″ Fully Articulated Screen
  • 2360k dot Electronic viewfinder
  • 10.0 fps continuous shooting
  • 1920 x 1080 video resolution
  • Built-in Wireless
  • 469g. 124 x 85 x 45 mm
  • Weather Sealed Body

(Stock Photo from PCWorld.com)

The LCD screen swivels out like a camcorder and the touchscreen is even more responsive than the one on my Olympus Pen Camera. I haven’t tried out the camera in the rain yet, but if I did, it’s great that the LCD screen can be turned inwards towards the camera body for extra protection against harsh weather elements. I purchased the 12-50 mm weatherproofed lens to go with my camera body so I’m very excited that rain and snow are no longer limitations for my future photographic endeavors. The 12-50 mm lens works brilliantly and even has a macro button for extra stabilization on close up shots.

 

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I love the degree of control I have over my photos with this camera. The dials have a smooth but firm feel when operated. Best of all is this camera’s Electronic Viewfinder. I never used to enjoy using viewfinders, but I love the one on this camera so much. You can see everything you could see on the LCD screen and I feel like sometimes the view from the viewfinder looks more real than real life due to the high screen resolution. There is absolutely no lag. I don’t know how they did that but Olympus is amazing and this is why I love them.

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One of this camera’s big strengths is its stabilization system which renders clear, sharp shots even in lower light. I’ve been told that supposedly that, in this department, a four/thirds sensor will never be able to match an APS-C or Full Framed Sensor, but to be perfectly honest I am already blown away by the EM5 II’s performance in low light and don’t really need much better performance in low light.

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We were taking down wallpaper in the bathroom and I just thought the torn edges looked artsy.

I can’t wait to take this camera on trips and hiking adventures. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Goodnight Beautiful Hills

Till Next Time,

Adri

Follow me on instagram: @colormeadri

Dreaming of Leica and other Musings (High end Mirrorless Camera Comparisons)

I’ve been slightly obsessed lately with looking up high end mirrorless cameras and seeing where the strengths and weaknesses lie. There are four cameras that my mind keeps wandering back to. I notice some similarities in my choices.

What I notice about all my choices is that they are all waterproof. I don’t typically take a lot of photos in the rain or by the water, but in my imagination I dream of traveling to Iceland or back to Scandinavia again where it rains pretty much daily. One of my regrets about my stay in Denmark last year was that I ended up taking so few photos because I didn’t have a weather-sealed camera or phone.

I’d really like to have a camera that has lots of dials for manual controls, so that I can have better control over the settings on my camera instead of relying on editing to fix things I didn’t get quite right using Auto settings.

Here below I will show a photo of each camera, a sample image, list a few camera specs that stand out to me and point out some interesting features of each model. I won’t list a whole bunch of numbers or information about video because you can find that info at a review site from more experienced technical reviewers. Again, I’d like to point out that for me at the moment all of these cameras are out of my price range. I do think it’s good though to sometimes look at models beyond what you can afford to see what features you are interested in. Enjoy!

Leica SL

Stock Photo

Stuartrichardson.com (Scogar-cows.jpeg )

Selling price body: $7,450

Resolution: 24MP – Full frame CMOS Sensor

 

ISO: ISO 50 – 50000

Pros: Vivid colors, easy control menu , weather sealing

Cons: No image stabilization, low battery life, video quality is supposedly not so good for such an expensive camera

Olympus Em1 mark II

Stock Photo

http://www.olympus-imagespace.co.uk/landscape-photography/ (This image was actually shot with the Em5 mark ii. The new EM1 is very very new and therefore there aren’t a lot of images to chose from to display here.)

Selling price body: Around $2000

Resolution: 20MP – Four Thirds CMOS Sensor

 

ISO: ISO 64 – 25600

Pros: Top of the line continuous burst shots (great for action and wildlife photography), 5-axis stabilization, weather sealing, micro 4/3 system allows for smaller zoom lenses

 

Cons: Low battery life

Fujifilm Xpro2

Stock Photo

http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/x/fujifilm_x_pro2/sample_images/

@Gianluca Cola

Selling price body: $1,549

Resolution: 24MP – APS-C CMOS Sensor

 

ISO: ISO 100 – 51200

 

Pros: Great labeling on the shutter speed and exposure dials, night time shooting, presets that mimic film, weather sealing

Cons: No image stabilization, low battery life, some people have said the dials are difficult to turn

Sony A7S

http://www.lonelyspeck.com/sony-a7s-astrophotography-review/

@Ian Norman

Selling price body: $2,198

Resolution: 12MP – Full frame CMOS Sensor

 

ISO: ISO 100 – 409600

 

Pros: Incredible ISO performance, weather sealing

Cons: No image stabilization (which is actually a pro for astrophotography), low battery life, low resolution (again can be a pro for nighttime photography depending on how you look at it), supposedly Sony doesn’t carry a huge variety of lenses but I feel like there’s sufficient selection

If you are into Instagram follow me there at : @colormeadri

To view or purchase prints of my artworks visit my Society 6 and Redbubble shops:

Redubble

Society6

Thanks for reading 🙂

My Personal History with Photography: From Point and Shoot and beyond

These days I’ve been doing a lot of camera day dreaming. I plan to do a separate post about cameras that I love but are beyond my price range. The more serious part of me is pretty sure that my next camera is going to be the Olympus OMD-EM10, which is more suited to my needs and desire to have manual control dials.

Photo from getolympus.com

While researching different camera brands I came across a number of comparison sites and photo blogs that I love, so I figure I’d share those links:

http://cameradecision.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/DigitalRevCom

Mathieu Gasquet (youtube)

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/

This list could extend on forever but I’ll just end it right here.

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m very brand loyal to Olympus. I understand that they don’t necessarily stay on the cutting edge of technology in the imaging side of things, but quite frankly I’m just used to using these cameras and their stabilization and focusing capabilities are quite fast. Olympus produces lightweight cameras that are durable and relatively inexpensive compared to other pricier brands like Nikon and Sony.

My first ever camera was one of those old Nikon Coolpix point and shoots. I don’t remember what the model was even called, but since it shot at anywhere from 3-6 mega pixels depending on how far it was zoomed, the model name isn’t even worth the mention. Regardless I loved that camera. I loved having the option to take snapshots wherever I went. I was ecstatic at the time that I could take more than the 25 photos I would have otherwise taken with a disposable film camera from the grocery store. I could even print the photos at home on our printer, which was cool because we’d just recently upgraded to a color printer.

When I began painting in middle school I used these poorly pixellated paper printouts as reference photos for my equally bad quality landscape paintings. (You’ve got to start somewhere right?) Initially no one foresaw that digital cameras would ever surpass film in definition, color depth, and so on. Even as large digital SLR’s began to enter the scene I always assumed I’d continue to take snapshots on crappy 6 megapixel point and shoots, simply because SLR’s were quite costly and much too big for me to hold up for longer than 5 minutes at a time.

Enter the Olympus EPen 1, which I believe came out around 2008. It was one of the first mirrorless 4/3 digital cameras. It took a while for people to understand that this technology would soon take over the digital photography world and make it less and less attractive to own a bulky, boxy SLR.

My first high quality camera was the famed Olympus EPL1, which my parents graciously bought me in the fall of 2011. When I think back, having a decent quality camera really boosted the quality of my paintings as I could now actually see the details in my pictures. The EPL1 shot at 12 mega pixels and retained these pixels even with zoom, since mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras typically are used with optical zoom lenses instead of digital zoom (which crops to the center to zoom and thus cutting out digital data as one zooms further and further).

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Beautiful Low light performance from the Olympus EPL1 (Seattle’s Discover Bay in Winter)

It was a beautiful camera and it turned out beautiful Jpeg files, even more beautiful than any of the Olympus cameras I’ve used after it. It did lag quite a bit so when I got to college I decided to sell it to buy a camera with faster performance. My next Olympus camera was the Pen-mini 1, which was indeed a very quick and small camera. Even though the specifications for this camera looked similar on paper to the Pen lite 1, the mini had horrible white balance issues. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix in iPhoto but I hated just how much editing I had to do to each file just to get the picture to look normal again.

Even with its small size the Olympus pen mini is still able to create amazing results. I loved having my pen mini with me in Europe (even when my kit lens broke on me in Zürich).

This past spring I sold my mini to get an Olympus Pen Lite 5, which is an amazing camera. I barely have to edit the files unless I took them in weird lighting or at night. This model gave me an extra 4 megapixels which allows me to sell a considerable variety of print products on Society 6 and Redbubble. I couldn’t have enabled nearly as many products with the 12 mega pixels on my pen mini or my iPhone (which has honestly become my second favorite camera since it is the one I’m almost always guaranteed to have on me.)

It amazes me how far digital cameras have advanced technologically since those first micro 4/3 cameras came out. Sometimes I wonder if my pictures would be better if I bought the fanciest camera on the block or some extra lenses but new products are always coming out. There’s no need to go chasing after the next new thing. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to have the latest gear, but for now I don’t necessarily want a bunch of high res ultra focused shots. I don’t want to distract my eye from the compositions and the colors of nature that first drew me to photography. I’d rather make small upgrades in cameras then jump up to some ultra capable camera right now when all I’m used to is small mirorless models with the kit lens the camera was sold with. I am excited though to see how these technologies progress over time for when it makes more sense for me to own a fancier camera.

Stay tuned for subsequent posts and if you’re into instagram follow me there at: @colormeadri