Reviews

Vanguard ALTA ACCESS 33X Review

     My friends over at Vanguard were kind enough to send me the new Alta Access 33X messenger bag to try out. Typically I like to use a backpack style bag for my gear but one of the features of this messenger is that you can configure it to work as both. It's a good looking bag and very functional. It's perfectly suited for an event photographer and works very well for a nature and landscape photographer too thanks to it's versatility and strap options! Let's check it out....

 Vanguard Alta Access 33X

Vanguard Alta Access 33X

     The first thing you'll notice is how much room this bag has and it's very well padded so you can load it up and don't have to worry about your gear getting banged up. All of the inserts and dividers are removable and you can customize the bag as needed. You can actually empty it out and use it as just a standard bag when you're not out shooting. 

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      The Alta Access has a TON of pockets and pouches. It's setup to keep everything organized and you can get to what you need quickly without fumbling around looking through the bag. It also has a few extra pouches; one of which can connect to the outside of the bag to give you easy access to frequently used items. I like to keep my speed light or Nisi filters in it.      

 Main insert, exterior pouch (for lens, flash, etc), laptop or tablet sleeve 

Main insert, exterior pouch (for lens, flash, etc), laptop or tablet sleeve 

     I really like the size of the Alta Access 33X. It can hold A LOT of gear but it's not so big that it's a pain to carry and travel with. Check out my typical gear when I head out to shoot landscapes. To be fair there are still pockets I could utilize for more items if needed and it has a pocket for a 13" laptop or a tablet. I usually don't carry either with me when I head out to shoot but it's nice to have the option when traveling. 

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 Olympus E-M1 Mark ll, DJI Mavic Air Remote, DJI Mavic Air, Olympus 40-150mm 2.8 Nisi V5 Pro Filter Sysytem, Lens Cloths, Memory Card pouch, Olympus 60mm 2.8 Macro, Olympus 8mm 1.8 Fisheye, Olympus 75mm 1.8, Olympus TG-4

Olympus E-M1 Mark ll, DJI Mavic Air Remote, DJI Mavic Air, Olympus 40-150mm 2.8 Nisi V5 Pro Filter Sysytem, Lens Cloths, Memory Card pouch, Olympus 60mm 2.8 Macro, Olympus 8mm 1.8 Fisheye, Olympus 75mm 1.8, Olympus TG-4

     Alta Access 33X carrying options...

 Alta Access 33X Backpack configuration

Alta Access 33X Backpack configuration

 Alta Access 33X Messenger configuration

Alta Access 33X Messenger configuration

 Alta Access 33X with Vanguard VEO 2 Tripod attached

Alta Access 33X with Vanguard VEO 2 Tripod attached

There is an easy access zipper on the top flap so you can get to your camera without sitting the bag down. 

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Final Thoughts...     

Overall I really like the Alta Access 33X messenger.  Compared to my Alta Rise 30 messenger it has a wider base which I really love. At times the Rise will tip over when loaded up as it has a much narrower profile. That's not an issue with the Access series at all! It's very comfortable in both the messenger and backpack configurations. It's very easy to quickly switch from one to the other. The size is good for heading out for a full day of shooting and a great option for traveling as well. It has a vinyl bottom that will keep it dry and easy to clean up after sitting it down. I love the side pouch and top zipper that allow easy access to my camera and most used items. I hate having to stop and sit my bag down every time I want to get something out or switch lenses. It's also nice to be able to attach my tripod to a messenger style bag. I know other messenger bags have already done this but this is the first one that I personally have gotten my hands on. Going forward this will most likely be my new go to bag when I head out to shoot! If you have any questions or comments let me know

 

Thanks for reading...

Peak Design Slide Lite Review

     The cool people over at Peak Design were nice enough to send me the Slide Lite Camera Strap to review! I have been using it for a little over a month now so I figured it would be a good time to share my thoughts. 

 Peak Design Slide Lite Strap, Quick Connectors, and Arca Plate

Peak Design Slide Lite Strap, Quick Connectors, and Arca Plate

     The Slide Lite is designed specifically for mirrorless cameras and is quite versatile. The Slide Lite features the Peak Design Anchor Link quick connector system which allows you to change the setup easily depending on how you prefer to wear it. It also has quick adjusters that allow you to change the length from 39" to 54" in no time at all. That's my favorite feature! You have the option to hook your quick connectors to the sides of your camera and they supply an Arca Plate that you can add a quick connector to and anchor from the bottom of the camera. By doing this you have the ability to switch between a neck strap, sling, or shoulder strap within seconds!

     The addition of the Arca plate is very beneficial in comparison to straps that anchor directly to the bottom of the camera. By using the Arca plate you can still use the camera on a tripod without removing the strap. Everything about the Slide Lite is quick, easy, and functional. I personally prefer to wear my camera in the sling position and if you have it adjusted in the right position your camera will lay calmly on the small of your back without bouncing as you walk. 

 Peak Design Slide Lite, Sling position

Peak Design Slide Lite, Sling position

     All of the components of the strap seem strong and well made. They say that is can actually support up to 200 lbs. The Slide Lite is the most versatile strap that I have used and is very comfortable to wear around all day. It's priced at $49.95 and I feel that it is well worth the money if you are looking for a versatile strap. As always if you have any questions or comments leave them below and I will be sure to answer.

Whistler 2017

     Back in April I had the amazing opportunity to join Olympus in Whistler BC for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. They brought myself and a few other photographers along for a few days of fun and we got to shoot with some of their newer gear while we were there. It was unbelievably fun and the time flew by! Here were some of the highlights...

     The weather there could have been better as it was cloudy and rained on us about 95% of the time. The 2 exceptions were our drive in on the day of arrival and the drive out of town at the end of the week. This shot is one of my favorites and was from the drive in when we stopped to check out Sharon Falls.

 Sharon Falls taken with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro with a NiSi 6 Stop ND Filter

Sharon Falls taken with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro with a NiSi 6 Stop ND Filter

     The next morning Olympus hooked us up with some gear to use for the next few days! We got our hands on the E-M1 Mark ll, M. Zuiko 12-100mm f4 Pro, M. Zuiko 300mm f4 Pro, M. Zuiko 25mm 1.2 Pro, and the TG- Tracker. All of these items are fantastic but the headliner for me was the E-M1 Mark ll! After we had breakfast we packed up and went for a drive through the Squamish area. The first stop was along a river down at the base of the mountains known for birds and bald eagles. It was a steady rain at this point and we stayed out there for about 30 minutes. With a fully weather sealed camera system the only concern for me was how wet I was willing to get ;) I'm usually a fair weather shooter but I stayed out so the other guys wouldn't laugh at me lol. We didn't see many birds out there but here is one I snagged with the 300mm f4.

 Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 300mm f4 Pro

Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 300mm f4 Pro

     The next stop was at Train Wreck! Train Wreck is a hiking area near the Cheakamus River where old train cars are scattered through the woods from a wreck back in the 50's. All of the cars are covered inside and out by graffiti from local artists. We had to hike through the woods on twisting, wet,  and icy snow covered trails. It wasn't a bad hike but was more challenging due to the conditions at the time. At one point we came to a bridge to cross above the flowing river below. We stopped to shoot there and take pics of each other on and around the bridge. after crossing we came up to the Train wreck. It was such an amazing place to see. I spent most of my time there shooting with the E-M1 Mark ll and the M. Zuiko 7-14mm 2.8 Pro that I borrowed. The 7-14 was a perfect fit as l love to shoot wide! I've wanted that lens for quite some time and after shooting with it more on this trip it's moved to the top of my list. We were shooting in fairly low light and the E-M1 Mark ll shot beautifully with high ISO. All of the images were very clear with very little if any noise. Below are some of my favorites from the day...

 Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 12-100mm f4 Pro

Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 12-100mm f4 Pro

 Train Wreck taken with E-M1 Mark ll and 7-14mm 2.8 Pro 

Train Wreck taken with E-M1 Mark ll and 7-14mm 2.8 Pro 

 Train Wreck2 taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 7-14mm 2.8 Pro

Train Wreck2 taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 7-14mm 2.8 Pro

     That night we attended the Olympus 72 hour filmmaker showdown. The event was a lot of fun and there were some really good and entertaining movies shown. Olympus has been holding the contest for a number of years and you can find out more about the event here.  I ran around with the E-M1 Mark ll and 25mm 1.2mm that night. I didn't shoot anything that exciting but I was curious to see how the lens and high ISO on the Mark ll handled. I did an lot of people shooting and used a customer B&W profile setup in camera. I thought the combo did very well and that lens is CRAZY Sharp! Here are a couple shots from the evening...

 Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 25mm 1.2 Pro ISO 2000

Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 25mm 1.2 Pro ISO 2000

 Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 25mm 1.2 Pro

Taken with E-M1 Mark ll and M. Zuiko 25mm 1.2 Pro

     The next day we went to SuperFly Ziplines.  What an unbelievable rush! There isn't much more to say than they take you way up in the mountains and then you literally fly down! The epic views as you soar through the mountains were absolutely beautiful. I took the TG-Tracker up there with me and shot some videos during the runs.  We had a lot of fun that day! 

     Afterwards I went out during some down time to try the Pro Capture feature and focus tracking on the Mark ll. I went over to the ski hill and shot sequences of the skiers and snowboarders coming down the mountain. I have never been flat out amazed at a camera feature like I was with this. When Olympus introduced Live Composite a few years back I was stunned at how cool that was but Pro Capture and the speed of the E-M1 Mark ll will leave you speechless. Whether you're a professional sports photographer, shooting your kids sporting events, or playing with the kids in the backyard you can't miss the shot with this camera. It's very easy to use you will never be going through your images and say "man if I was a second sooner or later".  You will capture every frame and always get the shot you wanted. I didn't get a chance to shoot anyone doing anything really exciting but here is a set so you can see how sharp each and every frame is in the sequence. If you have been on the fence with this one just go get it and thank me later!

     After dinner that evening we went to the Olympus pro photo showdown which a another event they run each year. There were 5 contestants from around the world that shoot stunning action sports photos. Everyone of the slideshows were jaw dropping and inspirational. Seeing the shots those guys capture and what they must go through to get some of them is mind blowing! The night was a lot of fun and I personally left motivated and inspired after seeing the show. 

     I had to fly out the next morning and my whirlwind adventure was over like that. It was truly an experience that I will never forget and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to go. I met a lot of great people and made some new friends out there that I will keep in touch with for years to come. Huge Thank You to everyone on the Olympus Team! I will never forget this!

 Leaving Whistler taken with E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro

Leaving Whistler taken with E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro

NiSi V5 Pro Filter System Review

     Most landscape photographers love to shoot with filters as they allow much more creative control over your scene and limits the amount of processing you have to do in the end. For those of you that have not tried shooting with filters, you have no idea what you are missing! I have used screw on filters for a long time but I recently became a NiSi Ambassador after using the V5 Pro System. Working with this system for a short period I knew that this was the way to shoot! Although I am an Ambassador for NiSi I give my honest opinions in the review. After all I wouldn't endorse a product that I didn't believe in. So lets get into the details....

 NiSi V5 Pro Advance Kit

NiSi V5 Pro Advance Kit

Whats in the Kit?

     I have the V5 Pro Advanced Kit. The items below are all included..

  • 1 x NiSi V5 Pro100mm Filter Holder including step down rings for 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm adapter ring + C-PL.
  • 1 x Nisi Soft Graduated Neutral Density Glass Filter GND8 (0.9) 100 x 150mm
  • 1 x Nisi Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Glass Filter GND8 (0.9) 100 x 150mm
  • 1 x Nisi IR ND1000(3.0) 10-STOP 100mm Neutral Density Glass Filter
  • 1 x Nisi IR ND64(1.8) 6-STOP 100mm Neutral Density Glass Filter
  • 1 x Nisi IR ND8(0.9) 3-STOP 100mm Neutral Density Glass Filter
  • 1 x Cleaning Cloth
  • 1 x NiSi Air Blower
  • 1 x Nisi Cleaning Eraser for Square filters
  • 1 x NiSi All In One 100mm System Case

Build Quality

     The V5 Pro is CNC machine fabricated aluminum with a black matte finish to reduce reflection. It feels sturdy and solid which is nice compared to some other options that are plastic. It holds 3 x 100 mm filters which slide into the pressed clips smoothly while still holding them snug. The filters themselves are made of high quality glass to ensure minimal color cast and limits the loss of sharpness. Each side is polished and multi coated to reduce reflections and flare. Nano coating to both sides reduces streaking from water and improves scratch resistance. The text is laser etched to the surface to prevent fading. The kit comes in a nice hard leather case that protects the filters and has plastic dividers which makes it easy to get the filters in and out. 

 NiSi V5 Holder and 82mm Adapter Ring

NiSi V5 Holder and 82mm Adapter Ring

Assembly

     First you need to grab a step down ring to the 82mm size of the filter holder. NiSi supplies 67mm, 72mm, and 77mm step down rings with the kit. If you need something other than that you will need to buy your own. After you attach the step down ring to the adapter you can screw it onto the lens. NiSi has come up with an ingenious way to add a polarizing filter to the mix if you want to use one as well. The kit comes with a thin polarizer filter that can screw on to the adapter and fits between the lens and the square filters which allows you to still use 3 square filters in addition the the polarizer. The adapter has a small wheel that allows you to rotate and position the polarizer without having to take the kit apart. Once you have the adapter and polarizer in place (if you choose) you put the filter holder up to the adapter and pull a little knob out the move it into place and release. The knob clips the holder on and you are ready to put the filters in. The filters are slid into the clips on the holder which are snug to ensure the glass stays in place. Watch the video below to see how to assemble the V5 Pro system. Big thank you to Seth Duimstra for helping with the video!  

 NiSi V5 Pro Filter System mounted on the Olympus E-M1

NiSi V5 Pro Filter System mounted on the Olympus E-M1

Results

         So far the GNDs have very little cast if any at all and work as expected. The CPL cuts glare and adds some vibrancy. The three stop reverse GND is one of my favorites. It is designed to help you control your exposure when the sun is close to the horizon. It works perfectly allowing you to keep details in the sky and foreground. Shooting sunrise and sunsets will never be the same! The filters are easy to clean and I have yet to experience any scratches. I am very careful with my gear though.

     Overall the NiSi V5 Pro Filter System is a great addition to any landscape photographers bag. Initially the setup and assembly could be a bit tricky for those who have not used a square filter system but once you get it; it is very easy to work with. I love the design and build quality; especially the design for the polarizing filter!  I will leave you with a few shots taken with the NiSi filters below. If you have any questions or comments be sure to leave them below and I will get back to you soon!

 Vandercook Lake   Take with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro NiSi 10 Stop ND stacked with the Reverse Grad Filter, CPL. 30 Sec exposure

Vandercook Lake 

Take with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro NiSi 10 Stop ND stacked with the Reverse Grad Filter, CPL. 30 Sec exposure

 Sharon Falls  Taken with Olympus E-M1 and the M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro NiSi 6 Stop ND Filter. .04 Sec Exposure

Sharon Falls

Taken with Olympus E-M1 and the M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro NiSi 6 Stop ND Filter. .04 Sec Exposure

 Morning Glory  Taken with Olympus E-M1 and the M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro NiSi Reverse Grad stacked with Soft Grad Filter.

Morning Glory

Taken with Olympus E-M1 and the M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro NiSi Reverse Grad stacked with Soft Grad Filter.

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D Review

     A few weeks ago Vanguard sent me the new Alta Sky 51D bag for my trip to Florida. As I mentioned in my last post I took a lot of camera gear and my Phantom 4 along with me. Needless to say I needed a good solution to carry everything on the airplane because there was no way I was going to check any of my gear. The Alta Sky 51D is designed to configure for multiple situations and was a perfect fit for what I needed.  

 Vanguard Alta Sky 51D, Phantom 4

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D, Phantom 4

     Since this bag is designed to carry a drone along with camera gear at the same time it is big and when I say big it's BIG! Don't be scared though, it's not so big that it isn't practical to wear and use. It is about the max size for a carryon when traveling on an airplane and I was a bit worried that it may not fit once I had it all loaded up but when I got on the plane it slid in perfectly to the overhead bin and we were off and flying!

 Vanguard Alta Sky 51D

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D

     I was able to load my Phantom 4, remote control, plugs, filters, 2 batteries, and the propellers in the main compartment configured for the drone and I was able to carry 2 camera bodies and 4 lenses in the bottom compartment. I do shoot with Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras and lenses so they fit easily into the bottom. I also had my Ipad in the tablet/ laptop slot in the back. (not pictured) I will say that everything did not fit as pictured on the Vanguard website. The Phantom 4 fit pretty snug and I had to adjust some of the dividers and I had to tuck the top arms further forward into the top of the bag. I also had to put the remote at the bottom rather than the top due to the adjustments but it worked out just fine. The propellers are in the very top under the drones arms. When you go to zip it up it looks like the back arms will be too high and tight when closed but it zips easily and there isn't enough pressure to worry about once it's closed up. Now because I got this primarily for drone use I have yet to configure it and use it for camera gear only but you can check out the versatility of this bag here.

 Top: Phantom 4, 2 batteries, charging cords, Polar Pro Filter kit, Remote, Propellers  Bottom: M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8, M. Zuiko 75mm 1.8, Olympus E-M1, Olympus PEN-F, M. Zuiko 60mm 2.8, M. Zuiko 8mm 1.8 Fisheye

Top: Phantom 4, 2 batteries, charging cords, Polar Pro Filter kit, Remote, Propellers

Bottom: M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8, M. Zuiko 75mm 1.8, Olympus E-M1, Olympus PEN-F, M. Zuiko 60mm 2.8, M. Zuiko 8mm 1.8 Fisheye

     So with all of this gear loaded into the bag I was very curious how comfortable it would be and how long it would take before my shoulders and neck got too tired and strained. Too my surprise it took quite awhile before I got tired. I actually walked the beach with this configuration for a couple hours along with my Vanguard VEO 265CB and it was very comfortable! The straps and padding in the bag were designed perfectly to distribute the load evenly without putting a lot of downward strain or pull on your shoulders. It was also designed to allow air to pass between the bag and your back preventing you from getting to hot and sweaty. 

 A shot me with the Vanguard Alta Sky 51D and VEO 265CB 

A shot me with the Vanguard Alta Sky 51D and VEO 265CB 

 Vanguard Alta Sky 51D back view

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D back view

    The design was well thought out. It was designed for a lot of storage and they give you a lot of access points to the main area of the bag. It has a bunch of Velcro inserts to move around and use to organize the bag how ever you see fit. You can obviously open the entire bag from the back to load and unload but they added an access flap on one side and one on the top so you can get to your camera, lens, etc without opening the entire bag. The bottom hatch is it's own compartment which open with a zipper and 2 buckles. It too is fully customizable with Velcro inserts. They added an exterior flap that can be used to carry your drone on the outside of the bag or you can roll up a sleeping bag or jacket and carry it in the flap.  It has several exterior and interior pockets to hold everything from SD Cards, lens caps, and water bottles. The bag is VERY sturdy and padded well so I am not concerned with anything happening to my gear if it gets bumped around.

 Vanguard Alta Sky 51D side pockets

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D side pockets

          Overall I really like the Alta Sky 51D and I will use it often especially when I have my drone with me. It's not an all around everyday bag for me but if you are going out hiking or traveling with a lot of gear it's a perfect solution! If you have any questions or comments leave them below and I will be sure to respond!

 

Vanguard VEO 265CB Tripod Review

     I got the Vanguard VEO 265CB tripod a couple weeks ago as I wanted a better option for a travel/all round tripod. Now that I have had a chance to work with it I figured I would do a quick review.

 Taken with Olympus TG-4

Taken with Olympus TG-4

     So when I'm looking for a tripod I want something very lightweight, compact, and sturdy as I travel and carry it around with me all the time. I primarily shoot landscapes and love shooting long exposures so you will rarely find me without a tripod. The VEO 265CB fits the bill on many levels. While folded up it measures approx. 15.4" which allows it to fit in or connect to just about every camera bag I've used. You can also easily fit in your luggage if needed when traveling. As for the weight this is a carbon fiber tripod so it's designed to be light and it is; only weighing 3.3 lbs! It has 5 section flip lock legs that extend out to 59" which is a pretty good height considering it is a compact travel tripod. I personally prefer to shoot low and they have that covered too. It comes with an extra column that is shorter so you can swap out the standard neck, extend the legs out wide and shoot right off the deck if you need to. The load capacity is 17.6 lbs which is plenty to handle a full sized DSLR without a problem. The VEO is very sturdy but it lacks the hook in the bottom of the center column that some people like to  hang a bag from. It's not a huge deal for me but thought it was worth mentioning for others.

 Taken with Olympus TG-4

Taken with Olympus TG-4

     Another great feature is how the neck folds away. The neck flips downward and the legs surround it. Not only does this make it much easier to setup and take down compared to other tripods where you have to fold the legs up and down but it's handy for taking low angle macro shots as well.

 Taken with Olympus TG-4

Taken with Olympus TG-4

     Below are a couple of long exposures that I took using the VEO and my Olympus E-M1 with the 12-40mm 2.8 pro.

 Drift, Taken with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro/ Vanguard VEO 265CB Tripod

Drift, Taken with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8 Pro/ Vanguard VEO 265CB Tripod

 Glimmer, Taken with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8/ Vanguard VEO 265CB Tripod

Glimmer, Taken with Olympus E-M1 and M. Zuiko 12-40mm 2.8/ Vanguard VEO 265CB Tripod

     Overall I really enjoy working with the VEO 265CB! It's a versatile travel tripod and is built to last. It will cost you a little more being that it is made of carbon fiber but in my opinion if you want a super light and well crafted tripod it's well worth the investment.

     Thank you for reading and sharing

Tough Weekend

     I was fortunate enough to pick up the new Olympus TG-4 Tough camera this past weekend. This little camera blew away my expectations with all that it has to offer! I spent the entire weekend shooting and playing around with all of the fun features built into the TG-4! I decided to do a little write up to talk about it and show some examples. So here we go....

 Sunset on the 4th of July 2015 taken with Olympus TG-4

Sunset on the 4th of July 2015 taken with Olympus TG-4

The first feature I want to talk about is also my favorite, the   TG-4 has an amazing microscope mode (as does some of its predecessors). This mode allows you to take unbelievable macro shots with details that the human eye can barely see. There are 4 settings within the microscope mode that give you even more control over your shot. Taking shots of insects and flowers with great detail has never been easier!

 Tiny little fly on the palm of my hand, taken with Olympus TG-4

Tiny little fly on the palm of my hand, taken with Olympus TG-4

 Hen and Chicks in bloom, (yeah strange name) taken with Olympus TG-4

Hen and Chicks in bloom, (yeah strange name) taken with Olympus TG-4

The next feature is the video capabilities. The TG-4 has full 1080p video along with some really fun slo mo video settings. You can shoot in 120FPS and 240FPS for some great action clips. While I was at the lake we had to take advantage of the 120FPS. Did I mention the TG-4 is also waterproof to depths of 50ft!

The TG-4 has many more features including time lapse, live composite, built in wifi, GPS, and much more. The newest feature is the ability to shoot in RAW format which is a nice option to have for some of us.

 I did take a time lapse of the sunset on the 4th of July but with the lack of clouds it was rather uneventful so I won't waste your time with that. I used my joby gorillapod to set up the quick attempt at a time lapse.

 TG-4 set up for a time lapse taken with Olympus E-M1 12-40mm 2.8

TG-4 set up for a time lapse taken with Olympus E-M1 12-40mm 2.8

All in all the TG-4 was much more then I had expected  for a "point and shoot" camera. I will be sure to have this camera with me at all times going forward. It's compact, rugged, and full of features that will make it a great option for just about anything you encounter. To learn more check it out here

As always be sure to like, share, comment, and subscribe, I look forward to hearing from you

Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 PRO Review

The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 Pro was one of the most anticipated lenses of 2014. For Olympus Micro 4/3 shooters it was a an exciting new piece to their already fantastic system and for DSLR shooters it was the lens that many of them said they needed in order to consider switching to Micro 4/3.  Having a medium telephoto lens with a constant 2.8 maximum aperture is a must for most professional shooters and Olympus took aim directly at them with this lens. Well; It's finally here and performs great so there is one less excuse to switch to the lighter side of photography! I was fortunate enough to pick this lens up right at the end of the year and have been shooting with it for the past 2 months. Although the weather around me has been less then desirable for my liking I have been able to shoot some portraits and wildlife with it. This lens has become one of my favorites and I look forward to getting out with it a lot more once spring finally arrives. Lets dig into the details now....

 Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO with Olympus E-M1

Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO with Olympus E-M1

Build Quality and Design

When designing this lens Olympus truly hit a home run!  First off they built it to withstand just about anything you can throw at it. This lens is Dust Proof, Splash Proof, and Freeze Proof! When you couple that with the Olympus E-M1 or New E-M5 Mark ll you have a system that can handle all of the elements!  It comes in the sleek black design that you would expect form the Olympus Pro Line. The lens itself is made completely of metal and feels very solid. I won't intentionally test this but I'm sure it can handle being banged around a bit. It weighs  1.94 lbs which isn't exactly light when you think of Micro 4/3 gear but when you consider it's' DSLR counterpart a 70-200 2.8 which weighs 3.375 lbs it's considerably lighter. Not to mention that the 40-150 has the 35mm equivalent focal length of 80-300mm so you are not only lighter then the equivalent lens on a Full Frame sensor you are also getting a bit more reach on the long end. It comes with a tripod collar like you would expect which can be rotated for portrait or landscape shooting without removing it from a tripod. It can also be removed if you have the desire to do so. It also comes with a pretty slick lens hood! The hood is made a high grade solid plastic and attaches to the lens with a quick release ring but unlike other lens hoods it is not reversible for storage. Instead Olympus designed it to be collapsible so with the twist of the ring on the hood it simply slides back rather then having to remove it and reverse for storage. To extend it you just pull it out until it locks into position. It too can be removed if you choose to do so. Overall this lens is built to last.

 Olympus 40-150mm 2.8 with Lens Hood Collapsed

Olympus 40-150mm 2.8 with Lens Hood Collapsed

Focusing

The focus ring has a built in slide clutch so you can switch between auto and manual focus quickly and easily. When the ring is in the forward position the lens will autofocus to whatever auto focus mode you have your camera setup to. When you slide it to the back position it reveals a distance scale and you can instantly use manual focus. This lens also has an internal zoom and internal focus system so the lens never gets any larger then it comes out of the box. Some people will really love that feature since this is the largest lens in the Olympus Micro 4/3 system. I find the auto focusing to be extremely quiet, fast, and accurate. In good light it will focus almost instantaneously even when zooming from front to back.  In lower light conditions I found that it is slightly slower and will hunt a bit but it's nothing to worry about. One surprise with this lens was the minimum focusing distance. Unlike most lenses in this focal length range it has a close focusing distance of 27.55 inches which gives it a bit more versatility. It's not quite in the macro class but it can be used to capture very close up shots of flowers and other fun subjects you may come across while out shooting!

 Close Up taken with E-M1 and 40-150mm  f8.0 120mm ISO 400 4sec

Close Up taken with E-M1 and 40-150mm  f8.0 120mm ISO 400 4sec

Sharpness!

When it comes to sharp glass this lens is one of the best! I'm not a lens chart guy at all so I can only speak to real world shooting. Besides what fun is it to take pictures of excel spreadsheets and lines anyway?? I found that shooting wide open the center is razor sharp like one would expect but even as you move out to the edges you aren't loosing much at all! It is exceptionally sharp across all focal lengths as well. The only time I can say that you would need to stop down is to expand your depth of field. This lens is one of the sharpest I've used, I would say it's right up there with the M. Zuiko 75mm f1.8 prime which is a fantastic lens in it's own right! Yes this telezoom lens rates right up there with fast primes in my opinion.

 Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8  150mm

Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8  150mm

Bokeh

The Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 has beautiful bokeh! It has a 9 rounded blade diaphragm which helps create nice round bokeh balls. When shooting portraits it provides a very creamy soft background that really helps isolate your subject.  Bokeh quality can be somewhat subjective so below I have a couple of images for examples.....

 Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 150mm 1/800 ISO 200

Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 150mm 1/800 ISO 200

 Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 135mm 1/25 ISO 1600

Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 135mm 1/25 ISO 1600

Conclusion

For me this lens is a no brainer, I shoot weddings, portraits, and landscapes. I find it to be perfect for weddings/events and portraits. I don't shoot much wildlife but this lens is perfect for that as well. If I am shooting landscapes I prefer to shoot super wide so using the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 and a fisheye lens are what I go to. It's not going to be for everyone, some may find it too big and bulky for a Micro 4/3 system. Others may say it's too expensive. When you consider what it is replacing in the Full Frame DSLR world neither of those factors would apply. For the focal length and fixed aperture it is much smaller then it's counterpart and at a price of $1499.99 it is a much better deal then the $2499.99 that you would pay for on a Full Frame system. 

During my time with this lens it has performed very well and I am completely happy with it. The build quality is very solid and it's beautifully designed. It is sharp across all focal lengths and it has a very quick autofocus system. Like I mentioned before it will hunt a bit in low light but it is not a deal breaker at all. If you are a photographer that has a need for a fast medium telephoto lens this is for you! It is also worth mentioning that Olympus offers a digital 1.4x teleconverter for this lens which extends the focal length by 40% which would make it 210mm or 420mm for a 35mm equivalent. You do lose one stop of light making it a max aperture of f4 when using the teleconverter. I have not used it myself but if I do get the chance I will be sure to update this review with the new information. 

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Until next time,