Feb 182017

Blog-wise we are still in E-P5 territory. These images are half a year old and in the meantime I have upgraded both cameras. The E-P5 and the E-M1 share a shelf in a closet, the PEN-F and the E-M1 MkII are what I use these days. Or rather should use, I might say.

In reality I rarely take images at all, and if I do, I use the PEN-F. Last time I went to Vienna, I decided to take the E-M1 with me. Maybe with the 7-14/2.8 and the 12-40/2.8 only?

I grabbed an old, small Sony shoulder bag that I had originally bought for the E-P2, and really, I could pack the 7-14 and E-M1 MkII with the 12-40 mounted into that tiny bag. Even the 40-150/4.0-5.6 fit in. Cool!

But still too heavy. I replaced the 7-14 with the 9-18 and kept the 40-150. Nope. Off went the 40-150.

Didn’t make much of a difference. The 40-150 is a featherweight anyway. Basically the culprit was the 12-40. Dammit!

The next idea was a small kit with 12-32, 9-18 and 40-150. That’s what I had on the E-M5 when I was at Lago Maggiore a few years ago. In terms of weight this was much, much better, but neither the Panasonic 12-32 nor the Oly 40-150 focus particularly fast. Much more the opposite. They are hardly the right lenses to use on one of the fastest cameras on the planet.

9-18, 25/1.8 and 45/1.8? That’s what I finally packed. Mission accomplished, although in a somehow unsatisfying way. So unsatisfying in fact, that what I went out of the door, I found the other bag with PEN-F, 12/2.0, 17/1.8 and 75/1.8 hanging from my shoulder 🙂

Feb 082017

Now that’s the same church as yesterday, only not molten 🙂

The image of the bird is unfortunately not sharp enough to qualify for its own post. Still, the scene is too perfect to throw the image away.

Granted, I’ve used an unnecessary f9.0, but the focal length is only 100mm (200mm eq.), taken at 1/250s. I should have been able to easily hold that, even without stabilization. Fact is I couldn’t – and this is only one out of three images. All were taken with the same technical parameters within seconds and under the same light. I wasn’t in a hurry either.

This may be one of the odd combinations of camera body, lens, focal length and shutter speed, where some weird resonance renders the stabilization ineffective. The E-P5 normally has the same stabilization as the original E-M1, but I can’t remember ever having seen this with the E-M1 or with any other lens. I think this is what “Anti-Shock” was introduced for. I believe the E-P5 should already have had it, but I may be wrong.

Feb 072017

The only way to take this image was from an elevator, through thick sheets of glass. You can imagine the image needed a lot of saturation and contrast in post-processing 🙂

Hmm, reminds me of some surrealist, maybe a little of Picasso as well. It’s amazing what seemingly flat sheets of glass can do to a reflection 😀

Feb 012017

You may ask yourself, is this the right time to get an E-M1 MkII? Isn’t this a little bit late? Should I wait for the next model?

Well, no. If at all, it’s still a little bit early. Lightroom only has “preliminary support” for now. It looks good, but the usual Olympus color profiles like “Normal” and “Vivid” are not yet available. Neither is support in DxO. The latter is announced for February. In other words: no need to hurry 🙂

Jan 302017

If you think Orthanc, well, looks close, but you’re wrong. Rovinj it is 🙂

So, now that I have the E-M1 MkII, was it worth it?

Yes and no. Strictly speaking, frankly, no. There is nothing earth-shattering that the new camera can and the old couldn’t. If you’re happy wih the E-M1 and you consider upgrading, well, you might get an few new things to like, but you won’t get anything that opens up new horizons. It’s the same, already almost perfect camera with a bit of further perfection. You may like some of it, some of it may come unneeded, but then, if the standard is that high, I refuse to complain 🙂

I’ve tried continuous autofocus on cars and people on the street. It works, even impressively so, at least as well as on the Nikon D300 … and I don’t need it. I may not use it ever again 🙂

High-speed modes? That pre-event “Pro Capture Mode”? I didn’t try it and I probably never will.

The most important things for me are the 20 megapixels (finally the same resolution as on the PEN-F). the fact that I can configure the camera to leave “Magnify mode” (14 times magnification as focus aid) upon shutter half-press, The fact that I now can configure manual lenses to be recorded in EXIF, just as I can do it on the PEN-F, and the fact that I have one more fully programmable button. Yes, it does not sound like much, but those and the few other small improvements all add up. As regards myself, I call this a success.

Is this a recommendation? Let me put it this way: If you look for a new camera and the price does not hurt you, it is certainly one of the best cameras you can possibly get, regardless of price. If you’re already set for Micro Four Thirds and you are mostly a stills photographer, you can’t get anything better. Panasonic may beat it in the video game, but for stills the E-M1 MkII rules surpreme.

Well, actually, yes, it’s a recommendation 😀

Jan 292017

In a comment to “3744 – The Organic Emerging From The Liquid“, Joe Jarosak said, he’s

contemplating upgrading from E-M1 to the MkII but balking at the price. Curious as to the sensor upgrade.

Well, so am I. We’ll find out soon 🙂

While writing this, I am on the train. I’ve bought the MkII, an EP-13 eyepiece (the deep one) and a spare battery an hour ago. What I found while the train was not yet moving, was that, using the 17/1.8, I could hold an image at 1.6 seconds. Then the train started moving and I couldn’t get any spectacular results. I’ll try again at the next station 🙂

I have no idea how good the sensor is, but I wouldn’t expect noticeably better performance than on the PEN-F. But then, let’s see. I’ll try to make a few images under identical conditions tonight, and this should clarify things.

OK, we’ve just held in a station and I could take an image at 2s and two images at 3.2s. All sharp – and that’s not yet the crazy mode of the stabilized 12-100/4. It’s just a normal, non-stabilized lens. Cool.

By the way, no chance to do that while the train moves, but for wide lenses and dim churches I see great opportunities. I’ll try the 75/1.8 at the next station and see how slow I can get.

Yes, it keeps impressing! I’ve made an image at 1/10s and it’s razor-sharp. One more at 1/4s is still sharp, but as it’s textile, it’s a little bit hard to judge. 1/8s while the train was already moving was probably luck.

One stop later: 75/1.8 at 1/2.5s, twice at 1/3s, once at 1/4s, all of that series completely sharp.

On the MkI I could repeatably hold the 75/1.8 at 1/30s, but I have one image taken at 1/25s in last year’s Lightroom catalog. Slower might be possible, but 1/10s never was. I’m pretty sure about that. Next stop: 12mm 🙂

Bad news! I can’t hold 4s. Two seconds were OK, 3.2s sometimes, and more I didn’t get time to try. This is not better than with the 17mm, but it may well be that 4s are more a restriction of myself than of the camera. In any case it seems incredibly long.

Let’s be conservative. I think it is safe to say that the MkII has more than one stop advantage in image stabilization. How big is it really? My first tests are of course pretty unscientific, especially because I don’t have the MkI to compare with, but it certainly feels like 2, maybe even 2.5 stops. That’s pretty much consistent across focal lengths as well.

OK, here we are. So far a damn fine camera for my needs.

Jan 272017

What could possibly be wrong with my new Lenovo ThinkStation P310? Well, turns out, a lot.

Basically I’ve never had a worse customer experience in my life. It all started out with my super-expensive hard drive not being available for a week. The dealer had advertised it wit 1-2 business days. Really not Lenovo’s fault, but it set the mood 🙂

Last Friday it was finally there. I unpacked it, opened the case to put in the data drive and … was dismayed. I have built a few PCs, I have seen a few PCs built buy companies like Fujitsu, but I have never seen something like this. It looked like a garbage can. Cables thrown in, unorderly, cheap parts and sharp edges everywhere, the SATA heads on the motherboard hardly accessible. So that’s for the heir of IBM’s PC business. I swallowed my anger, closed the case, started the PC and saw it boot … Windows 7!

Really. Windows 7 Pro! Yes, I had known that the computer came with both Windows 7 Pro and Windows 10 Pro, but I had assumed naïvely, that Windows 10 Pro would be preinstalled, with an option to downgrade to Windows 7 Pro.

Nope, so let’s search the box for the Windows 10 DVD. Tedious, but … where … no … can that … that can’t …

Turned out it could. Instead of a DVD I only found a sheet of paper with a URL. Grrr!

On my new Windows 7 computer I used Internet Explorer to call Lenovo’s support site. There I found that I had to enter the serial number of my computer (that was easy) and, lo and behold, I was eligible for downloading a Windows 10 recovery medium. I only needed to login with my Lenovo ID.

Lenovo ID? OK, I need one. Thankfully they allowed me to log in with my Google ID. Cool?

Not so cool in fact, because what sounds easy in theory, is pretty nerve-wracking when you are on a web site from hell. Lenovo’s support site is a web sie from hell. They even managed to deliver an internal server error on the support home page 🙂

Anyway. I finally could log in and on that download site I could even convince the page that I was already logged in. It had taken a few iterations, and I guess the majority of users would already have given up. I didn’t, I persevered and …

It turned out that they wouldn’t let me just download a damn installation DVD. Instead I had to download a program that would download the data and then burn it on a 16 GB USB stick. Imagine that: Lenovo saved 20 cents for a DVD, and instead they force me, the customer, to buy a USB stick and to burn hours and hours of my precious time in an attempt to recover what I’ve paid for and what should already have been installed.

When I started that program, it asked for my Lenovo ID (Ha! I’ve got one! Take this!!) and my … password? C’mon! I’ve logged in with my Google ID. I did’t use no freakin’ password!

Again I logged in to the Lenovo support site (I guess it was there that I encountered that hilarious “Internal Server Error”), went through a “reset password” routine (the only way to set a password), and finally I had my password. I entered it, download began, and it would take no more than a few hours.

After an hour or two I came back, only to find that the PC had gone to energy saving mode. My fault, yes, I should have thought of it. Anyway. I moved the mouse, the screen went on again and … the download program crashed.

Fortunately when I restarted it, it recognized what had already been downloaded. It tried to continue and … failed! No network.

A few reboots and a few “network repair” wizards later, I thought I’d try to uninstall the McAfee firewall and anti-virus product. And really, one more reboot and I had my network back. Carry on downloading, can we? Oh yes, I first changed the energy saving settings to avoid sending the computer to sleep during download again.

It took half of the night. When I woke up, I had already two thirds. An hour later I still had about two thirds. Download speed was at 10 kB/s. Another network problem? I decided to interrupt the download (it picks up anyway, doesn’t it?) and reboot, but instead of a proper reboot, I saw a message telling me that update 1 of 88 was being installed, and that I shouldn’t turn off power.

Great! My useless and unwanted Windows 7 had dowloaded updates, thereby starving the Windows 10 downoad program.

It took an eternity, but then I could restart the download. Finally I had everything downloaded and the download program started to format and write my USB stick. It did so and … failed. The error message was all but useless. I tried it again, but it told me that some file was missing and that I had to restart the process.

What now? Downloading again, only to probably find myself in the same situation? I was almost ready to give up, but I thought, well, let’s try to just boot from that damn stick. Maybe it has already been written.

And so it was. Seemingly the stick had been ejected automatically, and the program had not recognized it. It boooted and a weird custom installation of Windows 10 began, full of scary and useless messages. Needless to say that it also terminated with an error. Needless to say that the message was again completely misleading. Needless to say that in fact it was not an error at all. Instead I had … a Windows 10!

From then on, it was just the usual installation process. It still took me enormous amounts of time to move my data, it’s still not finished, but at least I have now what I should have already had out of the box.

Lenovo? Never again! I mean, granted, it’s not easy to provide a perfect customer experience, but delivering a known, virgin product, and delivering an update process that fails so miserably so many times, that is nothing but pathetic. In terms of customer experiences it was nothing but a nightmare. What do they think? I have a degree in Computer Science. I have built computers myself. I am their best-case customer, and even I was close to throwing in the towel, giving up on that included Windows 10 license, and simply buy a new one from Microsoft. What would a normal customer do?