This goes here, that goes there (using the E-M1II’s two card slots)…

There’s been some discussion online about ways to use the Olympus E-M1II‘s dual slots, so I thought I’d write up how I use them — in the hope that this is useful for other owners of the camera.

So, first off, three things:

  1. The camera’s two slots have different speeds. Slot 1 (the “top” one) is capable of handling UHS-II cards but is backwards compatible with earlier cards, and Slot 2 (the “bottom” one) is capable of handling UHS-I cards. This is a new thing (to Olympus) with the E-M1II, so earlier models don’t have this capability, and only time will tell what later models will have it. If I’m reading the card specs correctly, the fastest UHS-II card will be 3 times faster than the best UHS-I card.
  2. You can use the two slots in any of six different modes for stills, plus a separate choice for video. Note that your selections are “captured” by custom modes, so you can use the cards differently for each of the 3 custom modes plus your normal mode — if you’ve got the cognitive “real estate” to remember all these permutations.
  3. You’ll need to make changes in two places in the menu system (maybe three, depending on how you set up your camera), but they’re logically separate so pretty easy to keep straight.

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Back-button focusing on the Olympus E-M1II, revisited

Anybody that’s had an Olympus digital camera in recent years can attest to the fact that they are highly customizable.  Possibly, almost too customizable.

So I’ve gotten into the habit of revisiting my custom settings a few times a year, just to fold in what I’ve learned about a given camera model through use, and to see what improvements I can make for my personal style of shooting.  And of course, there is plenty of user-generated information out on the internet, so it’s good to give yourself an opportunity to learn from new things other people have learned and written about (personally, I’m a big fan of wrotniak.net and biofos.com).

So in my last sweep of the E-M1II‘s custom settings, I thought it was about time to revisit how I handled back-button focusing.  As I mentioned in a previous post some months back, this is easy to do with a custom “MySet.”  And commenters pointed out that by setting “Mode 2” for the camera’s back lever (a.k.a. the Fn Lever), two separate sets of focusing settings could be easily managed.  But unfortunately, Fn Lever Mode 2 just “captures” three things — focus mode, focus target shape, and focus target location.  So you can use it to switch between auto-focus and manual focus easily, but you still don’t get back-button focus from it, at least not with this one setting alone.

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Corona, revisited

I’ll admit, I’m new to solar eclipse photography, much less to post-processing of solar eclipse images — so I’ll freely admit to being on a learning curve here.  My previous post contained an image put together from 7 photographs, using some commercial HDR software.  Subsequently, I found two helpful videos on how to do a similar thing using Photoshop (and it’s a pretty quick process, too) — here are my results:

Corona, revisited

This took a bit longer to produce, but I like the results better.  Your thoughts?

Waiting for the light to go out

So, with about half of North America, I plan on driving to the path of totality for the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse on August 21.  I was originally going to write up some tutorial information on this, but since so much of it is already available, I thought it best to primarily link to the sites I think are most helpful. Continue reading

A funny thing happened in Pro Capture mode…

Quite a few people have been posting the photos they’ve taken of moving things (birds, athletes, race cars) using their Olympus E-M1II cameras in what’s called “Pro Capture” mode.  Basically, Pro Capture on the E-M1II brings to Olympus what only a handful of cameras have had to date — the ability to buffer in-camera some frames before the photographer presses the shutter button all the way down.

Given the normal delay in human reflexes, this sort of feature allows a photographer to capture a decisive bit of action, even if they mash down on the shutter a bit late.  Lacking race cars or even many birds to try this out on, I was lucky to have a rodeo to work with.  The bottom line is that Pro Capture worked well in the vast majority of photos I made — but a few frames concern me.

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High-speed SDHC card speed comparison

Since I ordered my Olympus E-M1II, I’ve felt the need to buy new SD memory cards as well, just to keep up with the data rates it can produce.  But of course, cards’ labeled speeds aren’t necessarily all that accurate (“your mileage may vary,” as car ads used to say), so I took advantage of discounts and gift certificates to pick up one each of four name-brand cards, and tested their read / write speeds.  What’s common among them:

  • 32 GB capacity
  • UHS-II / U-3 ratings
  • Fastest SDHC card for their brand

For comparison, I also included one card that until recently *was* the fastest memory card I owned.  So here are the contenders, in no particular order, with their current price at Amazon (just because Amazon sells all of them, so this keeps pricing somewhat consistent between them):

  • Lexar Professional 1000x — advertised speed 150 MB/s (read), available at Amazon for $22.48.  My “old standby.”
  • Lexar Professional 2000x — advertised speed 300 MB/s (read), $54.95 at Amazon
  • Delkin UHS-II — advertised speeds 250 MB/s (write) / 280 MB/s (read), $53.90 at Amazon
  • Transcend — advertised speeds 180 MB/s (write) / 285 MB/s (read), $44.99 at Amazon
  • SanDisk Extreme PRO — advertised speed 280 MB/s (read), $57.69 at Amazon

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The Olympus E-M1II and backyard astrophotography

A lot of people are still waiting for their pre-ordered Olympus OM-D E-M1II cameras to arrive — in the meantime, a number of them asked to see some high-ISO photographs to judge the camera’s abilities in the realm of astrophotography.  After days of waiting, I finally got clear night skies where I live, so took some shots of the constellation Orion.  Please bear in mind that I live in the south Denver metro area, so have to deal with light pollution — here’s the view looking south toward Orion from my house (enough sky glow to silhouette bits of a telephone pole and two trees):

Orion at ISO 1600

For the above image, the EXIF is E-M1II,  12-40mm Pro lens @ 17mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 8.0 seconds.  This is a SOOC image, by the way — all I’ve done to it is RAW conversion and scaling (to fit my blog’s template) in Lightroom.

But I didn’t only take this one image — I took a series of them, all unguided (i.e., on a still tripod): Continue reading

Local color — E-M1II experimentation in real life

In our neck of the woods, we’ve had cloudy night skies recently (at least, since my E-M1II arrived).  So I’ve lacked a clear view of stars to test the beast on, but fortunately there are plenty of Christmas lights to work with.  Here’s a quick shot from one of the more-colorful nearby houses:

Local color

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The Olympus E-M1II and long exposures

Some of you may recall that when the original Olympus E-M1 was released 3 years ago, quite a controversy was stirred up by its handling of long exposures.  Basically, the noise level for the E-M1 was much higher than that for it’s much cheaper predecessor, the E-M5.  At the time, I was able to compare an E-M1 and E-M5 side-by-side, and wrote up the results for public scrutiny.

So, now that the E-M1II is available (if only in limited quantities so far), I thought it’d be interesting to compare my copy of it to my E-M1 that helped make such a stir (while I still own it).  I’ve also got an E-M5II on hand, so thought I should throw it into the mix as well.

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The Olympus E-M1 Mark II and back button focusing

Note to readers: I’m keeping this post alive for its useful comment threads, but the post’s content has really been superseded by material in a newer post.


I recently received an Olympus  E-M1 Mark II — the idea being that it’ll shortly replace my trusty original E-M1 I purchased a few years back.  While I’ve still got both, I’ll be shooting and posting some comparison shots between the two models — but first will be writing a few posts on upgrades and changes in the new model.

First up — setting up back button focusing.

What is back button focusing?

For those unfamiliar with the term, back button focusing refers to separating the focus and expose functions that normally occur sequentially when you depress the camera’s shutter button (focus on half-press, exposure on full-press).  If you “move” the focus function off the shutter button, and assign it elsewhere, life is easier when photographing a fast-moving subject (like wildlife) — you can focus once, then concentrate on your timing / composition / exposure.  Assuming, of course, that your subject doesn’t change its distance from you significantly as it flits about.

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