All posts by badzan

I was born in Canberra, Australia in 1980 and founded illume photography in 1997. My first camera was given to me by my father at the age of 10. I decided on a life of photography at a young age and was inspired by my parents' history and journey to Australia. My greatest passions in life are photography and travel. Experiencing other cultures and communities broadens one's view of the world, this allows me to capture scenes and events as I see them.

Exploring Creative Opportunities with the Olympus OM-D E-M1

2014-10-22-11.37.08The following  has been taken from Robert Rodriguez ‘Beyond the Lens’ blog  that can be found in full here

Mirrorless cameras have come a long way in the past few years, and I can tell you they’re here to stay. I’ve been using the Olympus OM-D EM-1 system for the better part of the year, and I’ve received lots of questions concerning why I’m using it, and how it compares to my DSLRs. So what follows is a little background for context and my overall impressions of the E-M1.

My workhorse camera over the past six years has been a Canon 1DS Mk III, with a few Canon lenses: 17-40mm L, 24-105mm L, and 70-200 f/2.8 L. It has and continues to be an amazing system that provides fantastic image quality, 22MP of resolution, and tank-like construction that I have tested and abused over the course of many hours in the field. Suffice to say, I am extremely familiar with its strengths and weaknesses. One of the major reasons for purchasing the 1DS Mk III years ago was my need for the highest resolution possible from a DSLR. I print much of my work for exhibition and sale, and have many corporate customers that request large prints.

After six years of using the same camera with the same set of lenses, I decided I wanted to explore some other options, given all of the technological changes that have occurred since then. One of those was the Micro 4/3 format. I had already used this system by way of a Panasonic GH1 andGH2, which I purchased primarily for video. While I enjoyed the size and weight, I just couldn’t get used to the EVF (electronic viewfinder), and overall lack of image quality as compared to my full frame DSLRs. The EVF was slow, lacking in clarity, and felt artificial. My standards for image quality are very high, and so any system I use must really convince visually on my monitor, and in a fine art print.

Benefits of Mirrorless Cameras

I was naturally skeptical of any mirrorless camera at first; then I tested the Olympus E-M1. It claimed to have the best EVF to date, great image quality, tough weather-proof construction, and many lens choices from Olympus and Panasonic/Leica. The ability to use lenses from other formats via adapters was also a nice bonus. Olympus also holds a special place in my heart since it was the first camera manufacturer I became aware of as a young adolescent taking snaps of the family with my Dad’s OM-2 (which I still have.) I fondly remember looking through that huge viewfinder with the analog needle indicating the current exposure and being totally captivated by this new way of seeing and interpreting the world around me.

MG_1165                        My childhood OM-2 next to my current E-M1

And after some research and careful consideration of the options, I decided to invest in the Olympus system. I also decided I would use the opportunity to explore some creative and technical options; fixed focal length lenses (primes) instead of zooms, and a different aspect ratio (3/4 vs. 2/3). I like shooting vertical images, but always felt constrained by the narrow 2/3 format of DSLRs. The 4/3 format is noticeably wider vertically, and I rather like that for many of my compositional tendencies. I hoped these changes would get me out of a “comfort zone” I’d come to rely on, consciously and sub-consciously. Perhaps this would push me to see things differently.

There was another factor, however, and it’s one I’ve heard from many others as well. I often found myself wanting a smaller, lighter camera system, especially when traveling or doing very long hikes. Problem is, once you get used to a certain amount of IQ and what I’d call “ergonomic functionality,” it’s hard to let go of that familiarity and confidence. I know every dial, switch, and menu item on my Canon, and that lets me get in the “flow” of making photographs rather easily. Change is often a scary, but necessary part of life.

The Olympus E-M1 has been a revelation. In addition to the reduced size and weight, it does not sacrifice much in terms of ergonomics, quality, or crucially in my opinion, a good viewfinder. Plus, any camera that gets me to make more images on a regular basis due to its portability is a welcome addition. Ask any professional what percentage of their time they spend shooting, and the answer is almost always “not enough.” In short, I wanted to shoot more by any means possible, yet not give up the benefits of a professional tool.



For full blog entry please click here



Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO Review by Robin Wong


The following  has been taken from Robin Wong’s review that can be found in full here

‘At this moment in my personal scoring system the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 is the BEST Micro Four Thirds lens ever’


Let’s start with something that everyone wants to know about the lens: how sharp is the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens?

Looking at the MTF chart, the sharpness of this lens surpasses even the legendary Super High Grade ZD 150mm F2, and my expectation was indeed very high. I have shot enough images to conclude that the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro is extremely sharp, even at wide open aperture F2.8. The amout of fine detail this lens is able to resolve is amazing, with plenty of micro-contrast. Every single image I have shot with this lens came out richly detailed and there were a few moments I thought I was actually seeing results similar to what I would expect coming from the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens!

Shooting at wide 40mm, all the way to 150mm, the lens showed no sign of softness, and I had a difficult time figuring which focal length was the optimum (I gave up). And like all Olympus M.Zuiko lenses the lens is already very sharp at wide open aperture F2.8, and it is even better at F3.5 and F4, which I often stopped down to when shooting subjects in near distance to achieve sufficient depth of field. The sharpness is also uniform from edge to edge of the frame, showing no corner softness.







 The M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens is able to shoot at minimum focusing distance of 50cm from the front of the lens to the subject, which is very respectable for a tele-zoom lens of this category. Rival competitor’s lenses can only do 1.2-1.5m closest focusing distance. Having such close shooting distance allows interesting tele-macro shots, and it was indeed interesting to see this lens able to shoot up to 0.41x magnification factor.
Although this is not a macro lens, which it is not intended to be, the close up shooting is a huge welcome, and a long tele close up shot can be quite interesting, creating very compressed shot with very little background, amplifying the subject isolation. I could go very near to the subjects, for example the butterfly shots, as well as the few images as shown after this paragraph. One disadvantage of using long lens for close up shooting is the need to narrow down the aperture to achieve more depth of field, which is often an issue (not having enough zone in focus). The longer you zoom and the nearer you are to the subject the shallower the depth of field.
Full lens review link