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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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):
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 →
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:
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.