I have stated in a previous article that I probably will sell all my DSLR gear eventually, so rarely does it ever get used. Virtually all my work now is done with mirrorless m4/3 (Olympus EM-5). But I must admit to being glad that I brought my DSLR along with me to a recent trip to The Lake District and Scotland. And while I used my EM-5 for virtually the entire trip, canoeing on lakes and hiking up hills with it in a small camera bag, I knew the DSLR would be more effective at capturing the night sky. I was hoping at some point the skies would be clear enough for me to capture some stars, possibly even the Milky Way, and since I had my car bringing along extra gear was not an issue.
For many people, the main limitation of the micro 4/3 systems, while being more portable and fun, has been in capturing movement and action, owing to the contrast-detection AF system. And they would be entirely correct. While it is super fast for static subjects, the lack of effective phase detection AF, as found on DSLRs and other mirrorless systems, causes difficulty in tracking moving subjects.
Warm greetings to my fellow Photography Life readers! My name is Sharif and I am the photographer behind Alpha Whiskey Photography. I have been very kindly asked by Nasim to write an article for Photography Life, which has proved to be an excellent resource for photographers all over our planet. Nasim specifically invited me to write about my experience with my Olympus Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera, the lenses I choose to use with it, and why I prefer it to my DSLR system, along with some examples of images I have produced with it.
Olympus and Panasonic are taking care of the m4/3 system Black Friday discounts, and those involve both lenses and mirrorless cameras. The list consists of the most popular cameras and lenses, so there is a good chance that, whatever you were planning to buy, it is now more affordable.
A while ago, I posted a detailed article about a very defined pattern of red dots / artifacts that I saw on the Fuji X-series cameras when shooting against the sun. This was the first time I encountered such a problem, so without fully researching the issue and understanding the real cause, I wrongfully blamed the Fuji X-trans system for creating those patterns (my sincere apologies to all the Fuji fans!). A couple of our readers pointed me to some other links on the Internet that show a similar issue on different camera systems from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and a number of others. The pattern indeed seemed to be quite similar between those and what I saw on Fuji cameras. I then decided to take my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera for a side-by-side comparison and see if I could reproduce the issue on it as well. Now that I have done enough research to understand the root cause of this problem, I will not only explain the red dot phenomenon in detail, but also show image samples from two different mirrorless systems to illustrate the point.
The red dot patterns can be quite frustrating to see in images. Although this particular phenomenon only happens when the light source is very intense and the lens aperture is small, one would still probably wonder what causes it to happen and how one could minimize or even eliminate it. Before I talk about those things, let me first demonstrate that the red dot flare issue is not related to a particular camera or a lens. When shot in the same conditions, pretty much every modern mirrorless camera will show this and even our DSLRs are potentially prone to the same problems, as discussed below. Take a look at the following image taken by the Fuji X-Pro1 camera and the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 lens at f/22:
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 mirrorless camera was released on February 7, 2012 right before the CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging show in Japan. Along with the camera, Olympus also released two lenses for the Micro Four Thirds mount – the 75mm f/1.8 and the 60mm f/2.8 Macro. The E-M5 generated a lot of buzz among the photography community when it was released, because of its impressive specifications, compact weather sealed body and a beautiful retro style design – all to satisfy the demanding needs of the enthusiast and professional crowd. Within a relatively short period of time, the camera became a huge success, thanks to raving reviews from respected photographers. I did not pay much attention to the E-M5 at the time, because I was too busy with the Nikon D800/D800E announcements and tests. However, I really wanted to check it out sometime later, after all the dust settles. Summer and Fall were very busy seasons for me professionally, so I had to postpone my plans even more. The camera finally arrived in mid November, along with a bunch of other mirrorless cameras from Sony, Nikon and Canon. It only took me a week with the E-M5 to realize that it was exactly the camera I had been longing for.
I have spent a considerable amount of time working with 7 different mirrorless cameras from Sony, Canon, Nikon and Olympus. I apologize for not being able to provide periodic updates on these cameras. I have come up with new ways to measure digital camera sensor performance, so it took me a long time to do it in a way that I believe will be more accurate and objective compared to my previous methods. Not only will you be seeing crops of sensor performance in a controlled environment, but I will also provide some numbers to quantify performance in colors and dynamic range. As I have already mentioned before, I will be measuring dynamic range myself going forward without having to rely on other websites for the data. It will be interesting to see how my data compares to other sites like DxOMark. I am not planning to do anything super intensive and I bet my measurements will not be without issues and errors, but I believe it is something worth trying. Hopefully it will give a different perspective to testing sensors.
Here is the first test that shows the low light performance of the following mirrorless cameras: Nikon 1 J2, Canon EOS-M, Sony NEX-F3, Sony NEX-5R/NEX-6, Sony NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D EM-5. Since these cameras all look excellent at ISO levels between 100 and 800, I decided to only show ISO performance at 1600 and above. Take a look!