Today I took a photo of our cat again, sitting on the chair at my computer desk, looking out the veranda door. I cropped that photo into a 5:4 format again, and made it black & white using first the Olympus Workspace, and then Silver Efex. Back in Linux, I added my usual midtoning in RawTherapee. Looks like this:
Today I was out – I wanted to take a walk to compare the new iPhone SE (2nd gen, or 2020) with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk2. The iPhone has a 4mm/1.8 lens which has an angle of view comparable to a 28mm lens on a film (or the so-called “full frame”) camera, so I mounted a comparable 14mm/2.5 Panasonic lens onto my Olympus cam.
Originally I just wanted to walk, but I was warned about the weather (thank you Shi), so I took the car and went to Mönchbruch first, and around the airport later. So here are some photos “out of camera” (without further processing) from both the Olympus and the iPhone:
So what do I see?
The Olympus photos straight from the camera with the standard or “normal” jpg profile are flatter, and leave more room for further enhancements – while these from the iPhone look heavily processed already, with a hint of HDR, contrast, colouring etc. already applied, and this may well be what most people (including me in some cases) would actually prefer. You can really take these and share them because they’re kind of “ready”, while these from my camera need some further work to make them look really good.
Awesome. Who would have thought that?
So yes, these are comparable which is a great result from a sensor only 1/3.5th the diagonal size of a Micro Four Thirds one (see the focal lengths of 4mm vs 14mm), and even with “only” 12 megapixels that iPhone isn’t really much worse than the 16 MP camera, at least in good light like here.
And like most modern mobile phones, there’s software built in to further “enhance” your photos to taste which means that you really don’t need any processing software or even a computer for “development” anymore. There are even three good looking black & white profiles, so see a last photo I took after returning home, and what you can do with it in camera:
Cool. Understandable that for most people these cameras in modern mobile phones are all they’d ever need…
As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading. And thanks again to my friend Shi who saved me from a really heavy shower 🙂
… keeps the doctor away, so the old saying goes. Well maybe the internet doctor in this case. Let me explain.
My boss has the same internet provider that we also use, it’s your usual cable ‘triple play’ provider who gives you TV, phone, and internet all via the same line. That has been pretty good until the beginning of this year, when services – especially internet and thus phone (which is nothing more than VOIP anyway) – stopped working, sometimes for days. So both my boss and I had days when we had to wait several hours until we could resume working, especially since the lockdown and stay at and work from your homes rules.
So our employers decided to give us LTE access points as a backup for the usual cable service, which means a mobile phone. And at our employer, the current standard mobile phone is an Apple iPhone. The colleagues who ordered theirs some 2 weeks before I did got the iPhone 8, and yesterday mine arrived – the brand new iPhone SE from 2020. And it’s small, see here:
There it is still in its packing which isn’t that much bigger than my mouse as you can see. One big plus of these phones – for me – are their “tiny” screens with just 4.7 inches, even the old Google (LGE) Nexus 5 had a 4.95″ screen (although with a higher resolution).
So by now it’s set up (through IBM, who are the owners of this thing, I’m only the user), and this is the normal start screen (learned to make a screenshot on an Apple device which is all new for me):
That screen has a resolution of 750 pixels wide and 1334 pixels high, so here you’ll have that screenshot in its original size. Not FullHD like the 1080×1920 size of the Nexus 5, but I tried and watched Wim Wenders’ wonderful “Paris, Texas” movie on it yesterday, and I haven’t been put off just because of the screen size – that’s still such a wonderful movie that you’ll forget about all that.
Played around only briefly with Apple’s free GarageBand until now because I don’t have an iRig or other interface to get my bass (or Zuleikha’s piano) attached.
But of course I had to try the camera – so here you go:
Nice colours, hm? And about 4mm focal length, here with f/1.8 (I think it opens up to f/1.4 if it needs to or if you want that), ISO400 in this case, and 12MP resolution. Not as good as our real cameras, but who’s complaining if you get that for free in a sub 400$ phone (and I really have the smallest and cheapest, with 64GB of storage, more than enough for what we do with them).
So would I recommend these, or even buy any from my own money? I don’t know, honestly. These Android phones like Mitchie’s Google Pixel 3a are damn fine devices as well, and even cheaper (seen that one for under 300€ in the stores already). And Android is still more open, that thing has both a better (but alas, also bigger) screen *and* a better camera, at least when the light gets dimmer (plus it has an old style 3.5″ headphone/microphone jack). Apple on the other hand has way more processing power under its hoods with their own ARM-based A13 chips, these devices multitask like the big boys without even breaking a sweat – which is always good for artists like painters, video guys or musicians. They cost a lot more money tho, especially the add-ons (look at pencils and keyboards for iPads for instance, or RAM upgrades for Mac computers).
But it’s always interesting to look over the fence or the borders of your own plates, and to learn something new can’t be bad as well. So thanks boss, glad we have these… (and let’s see if that’ll become my gateway drug which will lead to further addiction – but I’m still glad I also have Ardour on my Linux box) 🙂
Thinking about Olympus selling off their camera business branch to another Japanese company, we’ll have to consider the fact that the brand could be gone soon without a real replacement, and without anyone doing service and repair jobs perhaps.
So what are the alternatives? Panasonic? Well they claim to support Micro Four Thirds, but they still invented a so-called “full frame” (24x36mm) mirrorless camera or two. And even if they do still support their Micro Four Thirds mount, that’s probably more interesting for video than for stills guys (and girls of course).
APS-C? Or “full frame”? Well yes – if you consider that a modern Canon RP or Nikon Z6 or Sony Alpha 7 (1,2,3) aren’t bigger and heavier than an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 (or Mk3), and that some of them are at the same price even, then…
… well, each of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and none really could replace Olympus, who were always innovators without any real comparison. Ok, with “full frame” you’ll get a better image quality (about 2 stops), and also a shallower depth of field (also about two stops), but the latter one is also both an advantage as it is a disadvantage – sometimes you need more depth of field rather than less. Consider this image I just took a few minutes ago:
I cropped this image into a 3:2 format to make it comparable to one taken with either an APS-C- or a “full frame”-sized camera. This was taken with the widest lens I have, a Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5.
I stepped down the aperture to f/5.6 to get halfway enough depth of field for the whole bird feeder, and it’s still not really sharp front to back – should have used f/8 instead. Which means that when using an APS-C camera you’d have to use f/11, and with that so-called “full frame” one, f/16. I was at 2 seconds, so multiply that accordingly.
There is no such thing as “equivalence” – these systems are too different to really compare them.
And so I’ll enjoy the Olympus camera and system as long as it works – and get another one when I really need it.
As always, thanks for reading.
Edit: this is interesting. And thanks to Kirk for the link…
Yesterday I’ve tried and downloaded Ubuntu Studio 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” (with its standard XFCE desktop), wrote the Live image to a USB stick, and booted my work notebook from it after work.
That’s quite a nice release, and everything I tried worked right out of the proverbial box, even from that “Live” USB stick. There were some packages I’ve never even seen before, like for instance OBS Studio with which you could make training videos or even live stream some computer games to Youtube if you’re into that kind of thing.
Otherwise, it’s what the home page says: a free and open operating system for creative people, very nice, and everything which is difficult when using ‘normal’ distributions like my Debian (on which Ubuntu is based of course), or which would require some extra work like the audio and/or realtime stuff is preconfigured already, so you can simply start making music, or developing your photographs, make movies or drawings, whatever creative people might want to do.
Documentation including some really nice books is/are here.
Very nice, and highly recommended – that one costs nothing, makes things really easy, and brings the fun back into computing.