Camera comparison: Olympus vs iPhone

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:

_7262684
Olympus
img_0039
iPhone
_7262687
Olympus
img_0041
iPhone
_7262688
Olympus
img_0042
iPhone
_7262689
Olympus
img_0043
iPhone
_7262690
Olympus
img_0045
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:

img_0049
Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
standard iPhone profile
img_0049 2
Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
mono iPhone profile
img_0049 3
Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
silvertone iPhone profile
img_0049 4
Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
noir iPhone profile

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 🙂

Let’s enjoy it while we can…

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:

7e4_6272607-bird-feeder-sunset
Bird feeder at sunset, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

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…

That Pen-F look

Olympus has had this special camera, the Pen-F (talking/writing about the digital one here, not the original half frame film version from days long ago). And that digital Pen-F was special because no other camera did black & white as good as that one, in my humble opinion. They really should consider their decision not to continue it, it was simply brilliant, and lots of people loved it (at least those who bought and owned it).

Now a fellow photographer who has both the Pen-F as well as the OM-D E-M10 Mk2 (which I also have) has managed to get pretty close to the look of black and white images from the Pen-F when using his E-M10 Mk2. So here’s Rob explaining how he did that:

How to Get That Olympus PenF Monochrome Look On your OM-D ep.210

Of course I immediately had to try that, and I used the Mono-2 without grain settings to try. I also noticed that indeed applying a -0.3EV compensation helps with keeping a bit more infos in the highlights. Look:

7e4p2172047-zuleikha
Zuleikha, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2020

That’s really very close to Kodak Tri-X if you ask me. And although this was at ISO 1250 it’s still much cleaner than film ever was – if you want to apply grain you can still do so with a few mouse clicks.

Cool. Thanks Rob, your tips help a lot. Really appreciated!

Tuna the cat, from November 30th, 2019

My proclaimed “month of the kit zoom” will end today, and I haven’t taken many photos this month. So when I saw our cat on that towel beside my computer desk (in our living room), I thought let’s take a picture…

7e3_b301672-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

So – that’s my kit zoom at 17mm again, a bit like 35mm on film (tho the format is 4:3 instead of 3:2).

This evening I’ll go and play the bass somewhere, but I don’t know if anyone will take photos of that using my camera – let’s see.

And as always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.

Mark Wallace shows how to make a Gobo

Here’s a nice and quick way how you can make interesting portraits of your friends and/or family (and I’d have everything shown except that I use Olympus cameras, not a Leica (but I have a Leica lens 🙂 )):

Use a Gobo to Shape Light for Portraits: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

BAM! A very good explanation and demo, what Mark explains here in 10 minutes took me a bit longer… 🙂

And now try it on your own friends and family. Have fun! 🙂

Month of the kit zoom

I have decided that this November should be my month of the kit zoom. Wanted to go a bit more to taking wide-angle photos, and although I have a very nice Panasonic Lumix 14mm/2.5 I’ll opt for the Olympus kit zoom instead which also offers other focal lengths up to 42mm – very convenient.

Of course it has maximum apertures of f/3.5 at the wide and f/5.6 at the long end, and November isn’t the brightest of all months, but I’ll see how I’ll get along. For inside, there’s always flash, right?

Here are some three shots (of my favourite model) using daylight only:

7e3_b021624-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
7e3_b021625-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
7e3_b021626-dust
Dust, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

First and last one are at 14mm (which is like 28mm on film), and the middle one at 42mm (like 84mm on film).

I’ll show you more after I took any. For now and as always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Update, in the evening:

Here are two more photos – or in fact it’s one photo taken with two different focal lengths (of the same kit zoom lens), 14mm and 35mm:

Cat cup, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
Cat cup, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
Cat cup, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
Cat cup, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Notice how the cup seems to be kind of ‘flatter’ in the second photo, taken with the longer focal length? And how that flower vase seems to be coming closer to the cup as well? Well, you’ve just discovered the main characteristics of tele vs. wide angle perspectives, that’s the exact reasons for using one vs. the other.

Oh, and these two photos are the jpg files straight from my camera – no post-processing whatsoever.

Thanks again for viewing, and for reading.

A new tripod ball head for Mitchie

Got this Manfrotto MH494-BH for Mitchie’s 190-series tripod today:

7e3_8311504-tripod-head
A new Manfrotto Mini Ball Head 494 for Mitchie

And yes, that’s her camera and lens.

Oh, and like the photo in my last blog post I used RawTherapee 5.5 (and only that) on my Linux machine to make this with a simulated Kodak Portra 160VC film. Also cropped it to a 4:5 format. Took it with my E-M10 Mk2 and the 45mm/1.8 lens at f/2.

Mitchie’s new tripod head feels and operates very nice, and for the size of her camera it’s the appropriate size as well. And it has friction control and even a panoramic mode – cool.

Thanks for reading.

A new lens

Got this one as a present last week:

7e3_6080123-a-recent-present
A recent present, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

I first saw this mentioned in a blog post and thought that it might be a nice addition, much smaller than the 40-150mm lenses we have from the Four Thirds system and which need an adapter, a bit sharper perhaps, and with a faster autofocus. Even image stabilized though we don’t need that on our Olympus cameras which have the stabilization built right into their bodies already. So I had put it onto my wishlist at some big store, not further thinking about it – and what a nice surprise when all of a sudden I had it!

It comes with a lens hood which is reversed on the lens in the picture above (take that, Olympus!), and it is indeed nice & sharp at all of its focal lengths which compare to a (much bigger) 70-200mm lens on a 24x36mm film camera. I used it on last week’s photo of Tuna the cat already:

7e3_6040735-phf-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

But this photo is heavily processed with its “in-body” (added by OV3) pin hole art filter. Still, this somehow also replaces my 75mm/1.8 which was stolen in Paris last year.

Today I used it at the longer end and somewhere in the middle (at 64mm) on some flowers on our veranda:

7e3_6090748-some-flowers
Some flowers on our veranda, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
7e3_6090749-some-flowers
Some flowers on our veranda, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
7e3_6090751-some-flowers
Some flowers on our veranda, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
7e3_6090752-some-flowers
Some flowers on our veranda, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

So with its variable aperture of f/4 to f/5.6 which closes down pretty fast when you zoom in it’s a pretty little lens for outdoors – but I also tried it indoors at 35mm already with good results:

7e3_6050739-sfx-019fab14-self-portrait
Self portrait, Frankfurt 2019

Cool. This might come handy for the upcoming documentation project of Zuleikha’s school event, and also for the upcoming summer holidays. How great to have this; thanks a lot!

Also for reading and viewing, as always.

My weekend of week 6, 2019

Yesterday I had some “fun” (read: work) again with Mitchie’s new computer. It started with lots of slow updates of Windows 10, about which I wrote already in my last post, and it went on after I finally got a nice new external casing for her SSD which came with the machine.

As it turned out, I had forgotten or at least not considered the fact that before installing both Windows and then Linux on her new SSD I had switched off SecureBoot in the machine’s UEFI (formerly called ‘BIOS’). Tho Ubuntu could have dealt with it as well as Windows, it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. But what I hadn’t known and considered was the fact that Lenovo was so friendly as to turn on Bitlocker encryption on the drive as well, so even with jumping through several hoops to even get that key from Microsoft, I still couldn’t get Windows to de-encrypt the whole shebang again. In the end I gave up on this – there are things to do during your lifetime which are more worth of your time than dealing with stupid stuff like this. And the fact that a commercial vendor like Microsoft has keys to your machine which they don’t even tell you about seems more than questionable to me… So I formatted that old SSD and put a FAT32 partition onto it, so that it can be used as a bigger (and much faster and more reliable) USB “stick” with 128GB.

One more positive side note about Lenovo: their support pages are first class. If you allow them, they scan your machine and install all the drivers (for Windows of course) you might need. That’s almost as good as Linux which simply installs them without even bothering you with it.

Another topic:

Mike Johnston wrote a nice short article titled “Mike’s Seven Laws of Lenses” on his site The Online Photographer. And – not for the first time – he included a photo of a lens which he seems to love, and which I even have:

Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm/1.4 on Mike’s page

This is a nice one indeed, and well worth having should you consider a Micro Four Thirds camera (or even have one already). With my copy of that lens I took the following snapshot of Mitchie’s new machine, with the additional SSD leaning against it:

7e3_2090333-mitchies-new-machine
Mitchie’s new machine, with an additional SSD leaning against it, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

This is btw such a dark scene that I had to underexpose it in camera with -2.3EV to keep the blacks real black (pictures such as this one confuse the metering of even the best cameras, they would turn the photo into an average grey instead of mostly black). Anyway, you see her new “USB stick” (her old SSD) and its size as well. The machine with its 13.3″ screen is tiny, the drive even more so.

So that was my Saturday. My Sunday started with getting another new piano which was described in an article (in German) on Delamar – an online magazine from musicians for musicians from Darmstadt (ca. 18km from here). That virtual piano was interesting me because it’s some kind of hybrid between a sampled (=recorded), and a modeled (=computer generated) one, and because the sound sample on Delamar’s page sounded really nice (and some of its users even claimed that it’s better than the commercial modeled Pianoteq which I’ve tried (and liked) on Manjaro lately).

Of course like so many other “freebies” this piano comes as a Windows or Mac plugin only – but thanks to falkTX’s Carla the loading of an unencrypted Windows VST is no problem on Linux anymore (except of course that you’re running an additional Wine layer to emulate some Windows resources on Linux, but that’s not falkTX’s fault). So after downloading that freebie I could look at and listen to it on my Debian machine – looks like on my screenshot of it:

Screenshot from 2019-02-10 12-45-57
the freebie “NeoPiano” from Soundmagic, a Windows VST running on Linux (thanks to falkTX and his Carla plugin rack)

And yes it sounds nice tho I haven’t tried much until now. But now that Zuleikha has Mitchie’s old Core i5 notebook from Dell, she will be able to test it as well – she’s the pianist in the family, not me. 🙂

So next time Zuleikha comes up with a new composition of hers, we can compare it against the commercial xln Audio ‘Addictive Keys’ Studio Grand (a Steinway D sampled in a studio somewhere in Sweden), and the other free ones we have already like the Salamander (Yamaha C5) or the ‘Piano in 162’ (another Steinway). The files she uploaded to Wikiloops so far were all done with the commercial xln one.

And now let’s have some more coffee, and a piece of cake 🙂 As always, thanks for reading.