Win10, and hardware

Let me tell you this first: I’m a Linux user. Since years. And happy with it.

So yesterday the latest and greatest (and probably last ever) Windows was released. A colleague of mine immediately tried the “Enterprise 2015 LTS” branch in a virtual machine at work, and I tried the “Pro” version yesterday evening at home, also in a virtual machine:

Screenshot from 2015-07-29 22:45:46

Screenshot from 2015-07-29 22:45:46

Windows 10 in an Oracle VirtualBox on 64 Bit Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie”

Looks pretty cool, especially the new “Edge” browser. But at the moment it cannot replace my also virtualized and small Win7 since VirtualBox on Debian is probably a bit too old to run the Guest Additions, which you’d need to share drives, or to use the full screen (1920×1200 pixel in my case) with a proper driver. For dual booting, sure, I’d probably give it a try, but since I don’t use the typical Adobe heavyweights, I don’t need it to access all 8GB of RAM, and to spread itself all over my boot disk.

Which brings me to hardware. Nasim Mansurov has a very nice and interesting article about building the optimal PC for photographers’ needs, and his recommendations even top the ones I read in a c’t special issue about the optimal machine for using Photoshop (a guy from Adobe themselves said that 16GB of RAM is just fine at the moment).

What makes Nasim’s article interesting is that it mentions stuff I didn’t know about, like his point 4 about M.2 SSDs. But both his recommendations are a bit overkill in my opinion, or to use his own car analogy, that feels like driving a Ferrari through the rush hour, when a Toyota Corolla would do fine as well.

If I were to build a PC these days (and yes, I have also done this since at least 15 years or so), I’d probably go with something like the Quad Core PC mentioned by c’t in January this year, updating it with the newer components from issue 16 sans the series 5 processor which would produce BIOS/UEFI problems with most boards.

So my choice would look like: 16GB of RAM, Core i5 or i7 processor, SSD as boot and OS drive plus that 4TB spinning disk data drive they mention. All in all, without OS, that would still be under 1k€ (or $) – cheaper than even the “small” machine recommendation from Nasim. And more than capable for the rest of us who don’t even have 36MP cameras.

Yes, I’d probably dual boot a machine like that, and have a look at Lightroom or Capture One Pro on Windows. Of course, the best part of it would and will always be Debian, or any other free (as in beer and as in speech) operating system. I’d rather trust my open source buddies than any corporation (whose best friends will always be the shareholders instead of the customers).

About cameras? Even my old 10MP E-520 DSLR can still take a nice enough picture, even if it has only about a quarter of the sensor of a D810 (both area and pixel count, so pixel density is about equal or even higher than with that top Nikon camera):

7df_7280729-orchid

Orchid

Update: Please note, I’m not anti-Microsoft, or anti-anything. Tools are tools, you have to search the ones which are right for you and your needs. In fact, some of the guys working at that corporation are pretty cool, like this nice tip shows. Maybe my wife can use that to upgrade her new Dell notebook from Win8.1 to Win10, without affecting her Ubuntu bootloader. It also makes me think about upgrading my hardware, see above. Found via this and this page, during a quick scan of interesting daily news.

Thanks for reading.

Another week went by

This week was the last week of school in our county, so by now the kids started their 6 week summer holidays. I didn’t do much photographically, but let me still show some.

On Tuesday, I still had the 40-150mm tele zoom lens on my camera, and on a short walk after dinner, I took a photo of clouds with it:

7df_7211535-ghost-riders-in-the-sky

Ghost riders in the sky

On Wednesday we were informed on very short notice that in the evening there was a summer concert in Zuleikha’s school, and that she had to attend and to play with her brass class. I took some photos but remained seated in the second row like Mitchie, who tried to make some videos. So I didn’t want to compete with other parents who were proud of their kids, and who moved around just to get a good shot of them:

7df_7221562-todays-average-camera

Today’s average camera

Meanwhile, at my employers’ place it was decided to give up just another two stories of a building to save some costs (won’t comment on this). So in the building I work in, what was once the reception now looks like this:

7df_7231577-emptiness

Emptiness

So forgive me if I took just another “selfie” in the mirror of one of the company’s lifts, with my favourite camera and lens combination. Who knows how long I’ll be able to take one of these?

7df_7231578-me

Me

Another week, then I’ll have some time off myself. We can’t leave for a longer vacation tho, since we don’t have anyone to care for the cat. Too bad for Mitchie, who would love to see England and Scotland…

Well, maybe we can at least visit the upcoming DebConf in Heidelberg (I offered to take some portraits of Debian developers).

Thanks for viewing.

P.S.: Special thanks go to “Brass & Co.”, and also to Dr. Eckhardt and the PDS Big Band – you were as fantastic as always. They played:

  1. Birdland (Weather Report),
  2. Fly me to the moon (B. Howard),
  3. Children of Sanchez (C. Mangione), and – as a da capo,
  4. Sweet Lucy (R. de Souza)

Always worth visiting, and listening to. For readers who can’t come to hear them play around here, there are some songs which you can download from the band’s home page.

The best value in (Micro) Four Thirds?

Kirk Tuck, well-known Austin-based professional photographer lately wrote on his Visual Science Lab blog about the Olympus 40-150mm/4-5.6 zoom lens. He has the Micro Four Thirds version, and as I commented on his blog, both Mitchie and me have the older Four Thirds version, which we still can use with an Olympus or third party adapter, even with autofocus.

These small and inexpensive tele zoom lenses are marvels. Total gems within the system. Consider this:

7df_7211522-sunrise-garden

Sunrise in a garden

You can click on the picture to get it on Flickr, even in the original resolution. This was taken at 76mm with the aperture fully open – and the picture was not sharpened. It’s pretty much like it came out of the camera.

If you shop around, you can get these (or the Micro Four Thirds version which should focus a little faster) for around 150 Euro or Dollars. And if you plan to get into the Micro Four Thirds system, definitely consider getting a double zoom kit which has this lens as well. It’s really good as you see, so for the price it’s a steal.

Highly recommended. And no, I’ll get nothing for doing so.

Thanks for reading.

Olympus OM-D E-M10

Late last month, a colleague asked my advice. A friend of his wasn’t sure whether she should get an Olympus OM-D E-M5 (first version), or the E-M10 which I also have (they are at about the same price right now).

“Tough decision”, I said, and told him about the differences. But now, thinking of it after owning the E-M10 for about 5 months (it was a birthday present), I think that this is my favourite of all the Olympus cameras I have, or had. Which are/were:

– Olympus E-520 DSLR (since late 2009)
– Olympus E-PL1 (given to Zuleikha)
– Olympus OM-2N (film camera, some 40+ years old)
– Olympus E-PL5, and, the latest,
– Olympus OM-D E-M10

I thought I’d best write a short summary about this latest camera I’ve got. Not a review – you can read lots of them elsewhere – but just my reasoning why I like it that much.

But first, let me show you the camera as it’s on my desk right now (with the Panasonic Lumix 14mm/2.5 “pancake” wide angle lens attached):

7df_7117835-em10-front

7df_7117836-em10-back

This is the very first picture I took with, not of the camera. It shows my birthday card, hand-made by Zuleikha:

7df_2180001-birthday card

Here’s a tight portrait I took of Zuleikha, using my Four Thirds 50mm/2 macro lens:

7df_3210369-zuleikha

This little camera has quite a few tricks in its sleeves. It has for instance a “live composite” mode, which is ideal for fireworks or for star trails:

7df_4140630-spinning-round-n-round

With using this mode, the camera will take one base exposure, and then several other ones where it only adds additional or moved lights. I think the photo above took some 45-50 minutes and was made from about 90 exposures, which the camera composes to one raw and one jpg afterwards. Easy trails without fumbling around with 90+ layers in your favourite photo editing software. And I’m not sure if the E-M5 could do this already.

The sensors of the cameras since the E-M5 and E-PL5 generations are the same, with the exception of the E-M1 which adds phase detection autofocus onto its sensor (which is said to be from Panasonic again; these here are from Sony). So it’s the same 16MP (Micro) Four Thirds sensor, with about the same colours as my E-PL5 has:

7df_4280845-spring-in-sossenheim

Speaking about the sensor: a (Micro) Four Thirds sensor is about half the size (quarter of the area) of 24x36mm film. It measures 13.3x17mm, and has a diagonal of about 21mm, again, half of that of what 135-type film had. So it has a so-called “crop factor” of 2, which means that a 25mm lens on the digital OM-D is like using a 50mm lens on the film OM-2N. And that makes them tiny, both the cameras and the lenses. The OM-2N was one of the smallest film cameras, and the E-M10 is about the same size:

7df_5057772-generations

To give you an idea of its size, here’s a self portrait I took in one of the company lifts:

7df_5201012-wolfgang

So what can it do? This for instance:

7df_7031369-linliang

I started a series of black & white portraits lately, and absolutely love the performance of both the camera and also the tiny 45mm/1.8 lens even when used wide open like here.

Could it be better? Well not for the price I guess. At the time I’ve got mine, the price for the camera body was about 600€, or 100€ more with the typical kit lens (I had one of these already, so I didn’t need it). And both the E-M10 and the slightly older E-M5 (first version) bodies are now at or even under 500€.

If you shoot sports events or anything fast moving, and you need a good and fast continous autofocus with perfect tracking, then there might be better cameras around for that. However, if you want small and light, with absolute precise autofocus for bright prime (single focal length) lenses like I do – well I couldn’t think of a better camera for the money.

Another point: the batteries of the smaller E-PL “Pen”-type cameras and this E-M10 are compatible. The E-P series and the “bigger” OM-Ds (E-M5 and E-M1) have slightly bigger batteries. So if you own one of these cameras already, that might be an additional factor to consider.

So I hope this could help my colleague and his friend (or relative), and I also hope this explains why I like that camera that much. It’s affordable, tiny, and still delivers top-class results – what else could one ask for?

Thanks for reading.

One photo of me, two of the cat

Yesterday, Zuleikha took my picture, using my camera, lens, and studio strobe with a beauty dish attached:

7df_7061381-wolfgang

And today, I took some of Tuna. Here’s one with a bounced studio strobe, and another one from outside:

7df_7071389-tuna

7df_7071402-tuna

All taken with the Olympus Micro Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens, at apertures from f/2 to f/7.1. At the moment, and for living and breathing subjects, it’s by far my most used lens.

Thanks for viewing.

Some pictures from last week

Got only one for my b&w portrait series during the week:

7df_6251272-bianca

Bianca

Or make that two, if you allow cats:

7df_6251277-tuna

Tuna the cat

After these, I decided to change my lens from the 45mm/1.8 M.Zuiko to the older 50mm/2 Zuiko Macro. Being a macro lens and not having phase detect autofocus in the E-M10 camera (the E-M1 would have that), it focuses much slower than the 45mm, but I love it nonetheless. Here are some shots taken with it (and it is still on my camera, tho today I wish I’d also brought the 40-150mm):

7df_6261285-sewing-machine-detail

Sewing machine detail

7df_6271294-mystery-web

Mystery web

7df_6271300-tuna

Tuna the cat

7df_6281309-will-to-survive

The will to survive

7df_6281312-dangerous-grounds

Looking at dangerous grounds

As always, thanks for viewing.