Mobile backups — don’t lose your photos when you’re on the move!

(Hopefully) most photographers have settled on a good backup scheme for use while they’re at home. Backups can be life savers when it comes to protecting against data loss — whether due to human error, hardware failures, software problems (either accidental or due to a hacker’s intrusion), theft, even natural disasters.

But of course, it’s easier to have and use a robust photo backup approach when you’re sitting still in your own home, compared to when you’re on the move. Routinely backing up your photos while you’re traveling introduces a number of challenges and complexities. You have to contend with limits on the weight and size of your backup hardware, you may or may not be able to count on a WiFi connection, and you’ll have additional constraints on your time. In particular, it’s much more challenging to do automatic (set-and-forget) backup while traveling.

But fear not, gentle reader — not all is lost on the mobile backup front. The march of technology has been a big help to us lately.

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The new OM System OM-1 Mark II — my first take

On January 30, 2024, OM System announced an upgrade to their previous flagship camera. The OM-1 was released early in 2022, and is now being replaced by the OM-1 Mark II. As you might expect, there is no shortage of commenters online — some are enthusiastic fans of the upgrade, others quite disappointed by it.

OM-1 II stock photo

Image courtesy OM System

I… have some thoughts.

Mind you, I definitely haven’t had access to one of the new bodies, and they won’t “hit the street” for until the end of February (at least, in the U.S.), so what follows is based on published data and early reviews.

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Fun with infrared light and modern architecture

Over the past few years, I’ve dabbled here and there with infrared (IR) photography, but didn’t take it very seriously until I recently took an online course in the subject from Derrick Story (a.k.a. The Nimble Photographer). If you’re at all interested in IR photography, I can highly recommend the seminar — you’ll learn a lot from the instruction, and quite a bit as well from your fellow students.

In particular, one of my fellow students recommended taking IR photos in office parks with mature vegetation. You can, he said, get some nice results with the architecture, windows, and greenery.

So as my first example of this subject matter, here’s the Pacific Western Bank building in the Denver Tech Center (Denver, Colorado):

PWB iPhone

The above is a quick reference photo I took with my iPhone — it’s poorly framed but still a good comparison for the images below.

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OM-1 Battery Testing

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been mulling over battery options — partially because OEM batteries are fairly expensive, and partially because some 3rd party options have potentially attractive additional features.

I’d gotten busy with regular life activities, and almost forgotten about my promise to do some testing, when I ran across this interesting video on YouTube. In the video, a Finnish gent tests an OEM BLH-1 battery and some 3rd-party replacements for it, using an OM-D E-M1 camera. I liked his approach, with a few provisos — namely, that I think using the internal intervalometer was causing him some of his issues (camera stops recording before the battery is fully discharged, residual charge level varies from battery to battery).

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ProMaster batteries — a good option for the OM System OM-1 camera?

When the folks at OM System (formerly Olympus Imaging) released their new flagship camera, the OM-1, it came with its own new high-capacity battery — the BLX-1. As is usually the case with new battery designs, supply was tight at first. But pandemic supply chain issues (and maybe other problems) have helped keep supply tight since then, and prices for BLX-1 batteries have only gone up in the meantime.

So what’s an OM-1-loving / cost-conscious photographer to do? Plenty of 3rd-party batteries are available on various websites, with varying price, performance, reliability, and safety. I’ve seen good results from ProMaster accessories in the past, so I thought I’d give their batteries a try, particularly since they’ve recently introduced BLX-1 “equivalents” with a twist — built-in USB charging. What follows is a “first impressions” view of the situation (more details will follow in a later post).

Visual overview

Batteries compared, bottom viewLet’s start visually. Here’s a bottom view of three batteries that I’ll be comparing — an OM System BLX-1, a ProMaster replacement, and a ProMaster battery with built-in charging. If you were curious, I purchased all of them — no vendor-provided stuff here.

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LS-P4 vs. LS-P5 audio recorders — an early comparison

The fine folks at OM System have just announced the upcoming release of their new LS-P5 audio recorder (it’s now available for pre-order). A variety of tutorial-centric videos have been released as part of this announcement, but I couldn’t find a direct comparison of the LS-P5 to its (slightly dated but still pretty good) predecessor, the LS-P4 (update on that situation is below).

LS-P5 Photo

Photo courtesy of OM System

So based on available information, I pulled together my own high-level comparison — I’ve got an LS-P4, and wanted to know if the new gadget would be worth the upgrade for me. Continue reading

SmallRig cages compared — Olympus E-M1III vs. OM System OM-1

Like many photographers in the Olympus / OM System world, I’m in the process of upgrading my photography gear from the E-M1III to the OM-1. Fortunately, SmallRig just started shipping a camera cage for the OM-1, since their long-unavailable cage for the E-M1II (which also fit the E-M1III) does *not* fit the OM-1. Before I sell off the old cage, I thought it might be helpful to compare the two models for anybody that may be in the market for one or the other.

At a high level, there are some key changes: some mounting points went away, or moved; the overall shape changed just slightly (in the process, access to body-front buttons is improved); and the new cage has a built-in Arca-Swiss mounting plate and captive attachment tool.

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The new OM System OM-1 — a few scattered observations

Back in February, I preordered one of the new Olympus OM System OM-1 camera bodies, and after a few weeks of waiting, it arrived at my local camera store. There are plenty of full reviews of the camera available for your perusal online, so I won’t attempt to compete with / duplicate them.

Just the same, I’ve spent a few weeks traveling with the OM-1 (using it daily), and I’ve got some thoughts:

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A Tale of Two Grips

The Olympus OM-D E-M5III can be the basis of a fantastic small photography system. You get good performance and good features (including weathersealing) in a lightweight, compact package.

But for those of us with larger hands, an E-M5III can be a little too compact.

E-M5III in-hand

And then, of course, people have been reporting problems with the durability of the camera’s mounting plate. So, both usability and camera protection could drive you to adding some sort of grip to an E-M5III. But preferably not something large and/or heavy enough to make the camera as big as its larger brothers in the E-M1 series. Continue reading

Photo therapy for cabin fever

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re spending most of your time at home these days, thanks to the Coronavirus. It’s pretty easy in those circumstances to start feeling cooped up.

Luckily, photography gives us some treatments (if not a cure) for cabin fever while waiting for the worst of the pandemic to burn out. If you’re on Facebook, I’d recommend joining Joe Edelman’s Tog Chat group — while this group normally focuses on fashion / portrait photography, Joe’s opened up the admission criteria for the duration, in order to support what he’s calling the “Stuck at Home Photography Challenge.”

The best part is, you really don’t need any new or particularly expensive gear to participate — just your camera, and things you likely have around the house. I’ll show you some of my contributions to date as examples.

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