Thursday, December 30, 2010

In Love with E-P2 again…

(…thanks to Panasonic Lumix 45-200 f/4-5.6!)


I bought E-P2 in Dec-2009 thinking that I will have the same advantages of E-30 (my main DSLR at that time) with lot less weight. However I was not completely right in my expectations and here are the reasons why;

  • The Kit lens (14-42) was extremely slow in focusing, and in low light it pretty much gave up. I assumed that all Oly m4/3 lenses will be like that so never bought another one.
  • Recently I was at a safari and since I didn't have a DSLR (E-30 was out of commission), I relied on E-P2 to provide me the same service. But attaching 50-200 SWD on E-P2 is not same as attaching it on E-30. So it was not a very good experience to say the least. It was oddly bulky and hard to handle. Again I had the issue with slow focusing (on E-30, the 50-200 is pretty fast).
  • The in Body IS is not as effective in E-P2 as it is in E-30 or E-5. Because of the small size the the camera shake is lot more pronounced than in E-30 or E-5, when bigger lenses (especially 4/3 lenses)are attached.
  • Unreliable focusing, especially in low light, with kit lens and other 4/3 lenses

As a result my E-P2 was relegated to some dark corner in my cupboard….until…

Until I bought the Panasonic Lumix 45-200 f/4.0-5.6. Here is what I found it to be.

  • Extremely light weight, its like a feather in hand - you can hardly feel it.
  • Amazingly fast internal focusing AF, even in low-light.
  • Extremely reliable AF. With my 14-42, I can never be sure if it has really focused where I want it to, even when the camera has beeped. With Lumix 45-200, its fantastic experience to see it focus reliably without any effort.
  • Fantastic image quality. Beats my 14-42 in image quality definitely, which shows the optics used are far superior to Oly 14-42.
  • Fantastic MEGA OIS performance. In all the (un-scientific) tests I have done in low light using the MEGA OIS and E-P2 in body IS, I found that up until 1/15s both the IS perform well. However the MEGA OIS starts gaining advantage anything below 1/15s. Infact I could get reasonably sharp images even @ 1/1.6 with MEGA OIS where the in body IS image was completely unusable.
  • Lastly the cost – @ $250 i think its a steal when you see how it performs.

Here are some sample images which I took from the lens

ISO-2000, 1/1600, f/4.9 115mm. About 30% Cropped
Was trying to capture pigeons in flight so was using high ISO for fast shutter.
ISO-200, 1/40, f/5.6 200mm about 20% cropped.
Only Contrast adjusted in CS4. I love the clarity
ISO-200, 1/25, f/5.6 200mm No CROP.
Adjusted contrast in CS4.  Lovely clarity at full ZOOM
ISO-1600, 1/25, f/4, 45mm No CROP.
Shot in available kitchen light
Adjusted contrast and vibrancy in CS4.  Clarity is brilliant @ lowest end of the barrel as well!!
ISO-1600, 1/6, f/4.5, 84mm No CROP. SOOC. Soft Focus Art filter.
Shot under tungsten light in a room. Very very reliable focusing and amazing MEGA OIS
The Lens….
E-P2 with the lens…Looks big, but is light as a feather….

All I can say is that, this lens has made me fall in love with E-P2 all over again. In fact so much so, that I have now ordered LUMIX 100-300 f/4-5.6 :-)

Hope you enjoyed the pics!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Visit to the winery – Chateau Indage, Narayangaon India

Note: I meant to write this blog a long time ago, but for some reason I kept postponing it. I had it saved in my draft so thought about posting it now!

Not many people know that India has a great wine making tradition. And many wineries are located in, near and around Nasik, which is a fertile belt ideal for growing grapes. One such winery in Chateau Indage (formerly Champagne Indage).

Chateau Indage was established in the year 1982 after collaboration with Champagne Technologies of France. Since then this winery has been producing exquisite wines for both local and international consumption.

We went there on 2nd October 2010 - a dry day!  :-(
A dry day in India is a day when no liquor is sold or served and all liquor shops are closed. So our plan to have a nice afternoon lunch while sipping Chardonnay was crushed :-(

However the proprietor was very kind to us and he offered to sell us the wine with a condition that we don’t open the bottle at his premises :-) - to say the least. I was over the moon!! :-)

So we purchased 6 bottles of the finest wines the winery could offer.

The vineyard/winery had a nice restaurant where they served us a very nice lunch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The IVY Restaurant @ the winery
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Adu all set for the lunch :-) Lovely cuisine!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Something of interest to me :-)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The restaurant from outside…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The vineyard. Its a beautiful place!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The main gate, leading to the vineyard and winery.
The Winery also has a guesthouse where you can book rooms and stay. You will be given a tour of wine making process and during the harvest period, they say, you can actually crush the grapes as well. Hmmmm… Sounds interesting. I will see if I can go then! :-)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the way to the winery, a colorful building! :-)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the way from back from Narayangaon, we took a halt at the place called Avasari Ghat. It had a nice trekking trail which went right inside the forest. Quite Amazing!!
We halted here for few minutes.
i will go there for a trek next time!

I will be back there soon!

All pics taken using Olympus E-330 and 25mm pancake. E-330 has this irritating quirk of overexposing and washing out longer wavelength colors (i.e. yellow, orange and reds). I did a mild HDR processing on the single RAW exposure to get the colors and exposure back.

I never had much faith in 25mm pancake before, but on E-300 its a perfect fit as it makes the system small and easy to carry.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Olympus E-5 – First Impressions

Finally – I got my E-5 and how!

As many of you know, my E-30 is out of commission since my trip to Mauritius. The reason for that being I dropped during one of the boat rides (well, not in the water but inside the boat). I sent it to Olympus America (thank God I had taken 2 year extended warranty!) and they have repaired it. But the trouble is, its still with one of my friends who is going to get it for me. It should be with me sometime next week.

In the meantime, I leaned that another friend of mine is coming down to India. So I ordered E-5 and asked him to get it for me. Last Thursday, on my official trip to Hyderabad, I collected the camera from him :-)

Boy! was I glad to hold it! It was like holding my girl friend for the first time, that first touch, the first caress, the first…ok ok I know I am getting carried away.. ;-)

My first thought when I un-wrapped E-5– Man! this is a TANK! – I got the same absolutely SOLID and Rugged feeling that you get when you hold a ROCK. Just amazing build quality.

I had taken my charged spare BLM-1 battery and the trusty 12-60 with me. I slowly took it out of the wraps and inserted the battery and put the lens on. In the first few shots I could see that the performance was better than E-30 especially in low light. Blazingly fast and accurate AF.

I was doing all this in my office cubicle so didn’t have time to take any serious pics. But that 10 minute test was enough to make me realize that its a totally different beast I am dealing with, not E-30, not E-P2 something totally different and I was loving it!

I couldn’t wait to go back to my room and do a few test shots. In the evening I when I went back to the room, I did just that…

PC160062 A self shot. Very fast and accurate AF. Good Auto WB and a fantastic metering! Absolutely Lovely. I think the IS has also improved by a huge measure.
PC160076 The Dramatic filter
PC160084 Dramatic tone – I think I am in love with it! :-)
PC170109 Hyderabad Campus in the morning
PC170212 …and @ night!
PC170180 Amazing metering ! Just about blown me away…

Here are a few things I absolutely Love about E-5

  1. Metering - A huge improvement over E-30. Metering was one of things I thought E-30 did not do best. As a result I had to a lot of adjustment to exposure and contrast in Photoshop. E-5 has solved this issue. Its amazingly accurate and also very true. Some people say there is highlight clipping., well I don't care if there is one. I would rather have my highlight clipped than a badly exposed pic, thank you!
  2. Auto WB - A definite improvement over E-30 and E-P2. A very accurate colour temperature with auto WB. I used to adjust WB a lot in PP, now I don't think I need to.
  3. IS - Just seems a little better than the E-30, but need to do a more thorough comparison as i could take sharp pics with upto 1/5s using 14-54 and 12-60.
  4. The Screen - big improvement over E-30 and E-P2
  5. ISO 1600 performance - Much better than E-P2 and huge improvement over E-30
  6. ISO 3200 - Much more usable than E-P2
  7. Low light AF acquisition - Much Much better than E-30 and very accurate even with slow lenses like 70-300.
  8. Straight Out of Camera (SOOC) JPGs - Amazing SOOC image quality, I could never get one from E-30. E-P2 did do a better job, but E-5 absolutely takes the cake.
  9. Color Fidelity - In low light, both E-30 and E-P2 messed up with colors, especially reds. E-5 has amazing color fidelity. In good light its even better,
  10. Art Filters - Ability to apply filter in A/S/M modes. I never use art filters in E-30 or E-P2 as I don't like camera controlling the whole picture taking process. This for me a big improvement.
  11. Live View - Much better LV and faster CDAF (Contrast Detection Auto Focus). LV in E-30 is barely usable. This is cool. You can also do PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus) in LV.

Lastly, the dramatic tone filter - I think I am in love with it :-)

Few tests below– I hope you will enjoy!