• Bag Review – 247 Medium Holster is a Little Workhorse

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    I have been testing the 247 Medium Holster bag for a couple weeks now and it certainly seems to be a very capable bag when you just need to grab your camera body and couple lenses for an afternoon of shooting.  Actually, it’s quite fun to carry on a street shooting adventure or even to a baseball game.

    I loaded up my 247 Medium Holster with my Olympus PEN-F and these lenses, 75-300mm, 60mm Macro, great short distance lens for sports, the 17mm prime and the Body Cap Fisheye.  I was set for a few instances and still had some room in the back zipper to hold paperwork and things like that.

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    The outside of the 247 is very tough outer shell material, which felt good but was still tough to stand up to the streets or whatever I threw at it.  It can be worn across the chest or on the shoulder with its removable strap.  I also liked the side clips, which spin so the strap wouldn’t tangle.

    Another feature is the attached weather protection that comes out from the bottom of the bag and is always there if you happen to be caught in a rainstorm, nice feature.  Another couple features which I liked was the SD card holder and the front pockets were good for a lens cloth and lens pen which are always necessities to take along.

    The main compartment was well lined and padded and easy to find items with its orange color material.

    Overall I really liked the 247 Medium Holster for a quick bag to hit the streets with.  I would have liked to see a small sleeve for a water bottle.  That would be a nice addition.  I would recommend the bag to all those looking for a nice bag that won’t break the bank but can hold your micro four-thirds equipment and keep it safe.

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  • Introducing the New Olympus PEN-F

    ©2015 Jamie A. MacDonald

    For the last three months I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to shoot with the new Olympus PEN-F. It is such a fantastic addition to the PEN line and it’s focused directly at the Street Photographer. The new PEN-F model gets its name from the original PEN-F introduced back in 1963 which sold over 500,000 units in its lifespan.  I am very excited today to finally start talking about all the wonderful features combined with such great technology. This blog post is not going to be comparing high ISO shots to those of other brand cameras or looking at how a certain lens functions with the new PEN. It will talk about my shooting experiences in multiple conditions on the streets of 4 major cities in the US, all of which have a great street photography vibe. This camera was able to adapt to each scenario and my intentions are to illustrate that through words, video and more importantly, the images I produced with the new camera. If you want a high tech review version you may have to look elsewhere because this camera to me is all about “feel” when I am in the streets and how it captures my creativity. It’s a camera that helps you understand the passion behind image making.  Hold on and fasten your seat belts, because here we go…

    To start, you will find some great information in a video I did with fellow Olympus Trailblazer, Jamie MacDonald. After spending considerable time with the camera I asked Jamie if he wouldn’t mind doing a video type interview exploring the camera from A to Z. He captured that discussion on video and mixed in some images to give you a feel of how the camera operates in the streets. I would ask that you watch this and then come back to my blog to further explore the images I created with the PEN-F.

    When I first received the camera the timing couldn’t have been better because over that next 6 weeks I was going to be in New York twice, San Francisco, Chicago and of course my hometown, Detroit. I was more than excited to get out into the streets and work with it in as many conditions as possible. I shot over 2,000 images in this time frame and used every feature I could find on the camera. I documented all of my personal Monochrome and Color Profile Control settings by taking images with my iPhone and naming them after famous street photographers from New York City. You will see images and those settings below in my galleries. It was almost like eating an elephant, where do I start? I knew I needed to try every feature on the camera and I approached everything from a street photographer’s mind set.

    A couple images with the new PEN-F compared with one of the original film cameras that debuted in the 1960’s.  (click on image to enlarge)

    ©2015 Jamie A. MacDonald                    ©2015 Jamie A. MacDonald

    The Features

    Now that you have the back story on how I used the new PEN-F, let’s talk about some basics concerning the features. The 20 megapixel sensor was a surprising addition and I felt more comfortable letting my Auto ISO run up to a max of 8,000 at times while using the M.Zuiko prime lenses. I only used the primes from Olympus during my shooting. I never used zoom or PRO lenses from the Olympus catalog, but of course you can. The camera body was well balanced and felt very solid to the initial touch. It uses the same 5 axis stabilization as in the O-MD E-M5 Mark II which is second to none.  The outer casing was all black and sported a new exposure compensation wheel on the top right side which I loved to use. Very noticeable is the “sleekness” of the outer body seeing that there are no visible screws to be seen.  I can only imagine how much work this was for the engineers to hide the screws and give it this look.  Unlike the PEN models of the past this had an electronic view finder that was simply amazing and the eyepiece is located on the left side of the body. I was so happy about this because when I am shooting I like to keep both eyes on the street and now my right eye can be on the viewfinder and my left can be surveying the streets ahead. It was definitely one of my favorite features. Overall though, my top feature that I fell in love with was the dial on the front of the camera that allowed me to select Monochrome and Color Profiles. This is what makes this camera different than anything I ever shot with. Post processing, outside of a few crops, was nonexistent for two reasons. One is I did not have a RAW converter yet and most of everything I captured was the look I wanted before I began to shoot because of the customization through the Color and Monochrome Profiles.

    Profile Controls

    The Monochrome and Color Profiles on the PEN-F make all the difference to an image maker looking to emulate old film quality in their shots or develop their own style and emulsions through its customizable settings. Each Profile Control has 3 settings. The first has no presets and you can make your own here. The second and third each have a specific setting which resembles certain types of film. I will explain these in more detail below with sample images.  (click on images to enlarge)

    Color Profile Control:

    • Profile 1 is up to you. You can adjust how the colors are depicted and select the level of curves and shadows that will show in your image all from the back toggle button located below the selection wheel. By using the right and left toggles you can go through the colors or select the level of Highlights and Shadows to make your own customizable setting. These are the settings I referred to earlier in this post about taking pictures of the screen and keeping it in my notes on the iPhone.

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    –Here is one of the Color samples I named Patterson.  These are highly customizable in color schemes and curves.

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    • Profile 2 is Chrome Film which has rich colors.

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    • Profile 3 is Chrome Film  with vivid saturation

    color_3_20160112_12_07_36_Untitled-11-3_©mikeboening_2016color_3_20160112_12_07_22_Untitled-06-3_©mikeboening_2016color_3_20160112_12_07_34_Untitled-09-3_©mikeboening_2016color_3_20160112_12_07_14_Untitled-03-3_©mikeboening_2016color_3_20160112_12_07_35_Untitled-10-3_©mikeboening_2016

    Monochrome Profile Control:

    • Profile 1 is up to you. Like above in Color Profile 1, the same goes for the Monochrome here. The difference being you choose the color filter and you get one more option which is the selection of a vignette. The vignette is also found on all three of the Monochrome settings.  You also get one more new feature and that is film grain.  This is not your heavy handed electronic film grain options like in other filters.  I know for a fact that Olympus went to great lengths to make this a very realistic grain and it can be added in differing levels of density.  You will be surprised in the difference this grain has and how it feels like something from the past film days.

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    –Here is one Monotone sample I named Boogie.  Green filter, -3 on Vignette and -7 on both shadows and highlights

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    • Profile 2 is a Classic Film, like a monochrome film.

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    • Profile 3 is a Classic Film, like an Infrared Film.

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    You also have settings like Color Selector and Art filters we all may be used to when shooting with Olympus cameras.

    Here are some images from the Art Filters settings with some of my unique tweaks in those settings.

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    The Build and Quality

    As soon as you pick up the new PEN-F you will notice how well constructed and solid it feels in your hand. The button placements were right on the money for me and as previously stated I love the eye piece being on the left of the camera for how I shoot in the streets. The top controls are laid out well and the new exposure compensation wheel at the top is solid and clicks well when turned. You will notice a hole with threads in the shutter button to screw in a mechanical “plunger” cable release. In staying with some previous PEN designs the top is nearly level across the buttons and hot shoe with the bottom being ultra-cool with nothing more than the socket for a tripod plate (see comments above about no screws can be found). Smooth all the way across. It does have a fully articulating screen like the OM-D E-M5 Mark II and a solid raised portion on the back for your thumb rest. I was not able to shoot with the additional grip but would like to get one soon to see how it feels. I had no problem shooting with it though because I hand hold my camera with a wrist strap 95% of the time. The pictures below will give you an idea of what the camera looks like from many angles. They were all shot by Jamie MacDonald when we worked on the above video.

                                  

    Conclusion

    To tell you I think the new PEN-F is a great camera for the type of photography I do would be a huge understatement. It is the best street camera I have ever used and with the new Control Profiles for Color and Monotone along with a 20 megapixel sensor, it makes the possibilities endless. If you are a street or urban type of shooter you need to check this camera out as soon as possible and if not, you will love the versatility built into this new PEN-F for many types of image making. Olympus has hit a Grand Slam in my book with this new camera and I can’t wait to continue talking about it in the weeks to come on Mirrorless Minutes and in all my social channels. Please stay tuned for more and if you liked this post please consider signing up for my email list on my home page.

    Shoot Light | Shoot Often

    -Mike

    ©2015 Jamie A. MacDonald

     

     

     

     

    I would like to personally thank fellow Trailblazer Jamie McDonald for all the help in making the above video and snapping some images of the camera. He has some amazing skills on this type of project and I was glad he said he helped bring my story out to everyone about this new gem from Olympus.

    PREORDER THE NEW PEN-F HERE

    Other Specs from the camera you might find interesting:

    -OLED Electronic view finder approximately 2.36M dots
    -Simulated Optical View Finder mode (OVF)
    -AF targeting pad
    -Up to 1/8000 shutter speed
    -High Res Shot equivalent to 50 megapixels (8 shots combined into a single JPEG using sensor shift)
    -Lens tagging for 3rd party lenses

  • How Did You Get That Shot #6

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    I have always wanted to do a shot from the roof of a car trying to duplicate the “warp speed” effect you might see in a space movie and knew we had a great place near me in Metro Detroit in the city of Rochester Hills. Each year the stores down Main Street in Rochester Hills decorate their store fronts with over 1 million points of light and this happens to be the 10th anniversary too, which means it should be spectacular. It only happens between late November and first week of January and the streets are always busy with shoppers and those just coming to drive by. So, some planning would need to take place.

    untitled_20151205_22_43_29_IMG_9467_©mikeboening_2015First the car I am in needs to be going at a somewhat slow and steady speed. It can’t buzz through the city because it’s only a few blocks long and it can’t just sit there in traffic at the busiest times because the light effect may get shaky. So, knowing that the show is open till midnight, I chose a Saturday night after 10:00pm to start the shooting. It doesn’t take much equipment at all. A sturdy tripod quick release adapter screwed onto a suction cup for the car, a cooperative assistant to drive back and forth till you are happy with the shots and of course an Olympus OM-D model camera with Live Composite and the 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens. I hooked the suction cup just outside the sun roof so I could reach the camera while sitting. I could have also used the OI Share app with its new update has the ability to do Live Composite through the Wi-Fi connection. I went with the more manual set up with me depressing the shutter to activate and stop the LC.

    untitled_20151205_22_37_02_IMG_9460_©mikeboening_2015Once I had all those in place I started to have my assistant, wife actually, drive in the closest to middle lane which centered me as best as possible and I would start the Live Composite feature at a stop light setting the base image so as we started to leave the light I would commence taking the actual shot. With Live Composite, the best feature is the ability to know you likely will not be losing much detail because of blown out areas as the Live Composite only records the newest highlights over the base image I made while stopped at the light. With the car moving, these newest highlights would blur into a sea of color with the road staying static from the center line while my wife held her spot in the lane the best she could. If you start to swerve at all or switch a lane you will get those blurs in your image and they just don’t have the same effect as your car moving fast in a straight direction.

    I know many cities at this time of the year that have very decorative store fronts whether in lights or displays that when passed by in a car can make some amazing images you might not be able to get any other time of the year. In fact if you want to practice a bit, try it in your own neighborhood. Find that street that almost everyone decorates their home for the holidays and start to run some tests from your own sunroof. Technology like Live Composite can really spark your creativity and the best thing to do I found is when that spark hits, let it burn. Have fun and share your results.

    Equipment Used:
    Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
    8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro Lens
    Suction Cup Holder
    Manfroto quick release adapter

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Gifts for Your Street Photographer

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    I know there will be lists everywhere for what you should be getting people for Christmas this year and I could write a long one for gear and such.  This time though, I am going to go with things your favorite Street photographer might want.  We are a different breed of photographer and our likes differ a bit so here it goes.

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     Everybody Street Movie– $13.00 to buy or $5.00 to Rent

    If you like an edgy movie featuring some of the best street shooters around within the confines of New York City you will love this movie.

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    The Americans by Robert Frank-$23.55

    First published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank’s The Americans changed the course of twentieth-century photography. In 83 photographs, Frank looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a people plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians and rendered numb by a rapidly expanding culture of consumption. Yet he also found novel areas of beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life.

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    Looking for more books?  Head over to Rocky Nook where they always have great deals on all types of books including Street Photography!

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    Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 prime lens

    In my opinion the ultimate street shooting lens for Micro Four Thirds.  Sharp and extremely fast focus.  This lens is well built and even has a manual clutch where you can shift it back and forth in and out of manual focus which I like when doing street photography.

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    Olympus 9mm f/8.0 Fisheye Body Cap Lens for Micro 4/3

    This inexpensive lens is gets packed in every bag I carry.  It can produce some amazing shots with a much different perspective.  Never leave home without it.

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    The Lens Flipper by GoWing.  This little product is great for shooting in the streets when you want just one or two extra lenses.  Great for being inconspicous in the streets.  Who needs a bag?  Throw a couple extra batteries in your pockets and an SD card, wear your small lenses over your shoulder and hit the streets.  I have done this a couple times in New York and it’s a great way to get through crowds.

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    The Camslinger Streetomatic is the Street Shooter’s bag.  I have tested it now for over a month and have come to love the simplicity of it and that’s what I like when I am shooting in the streets.  Simplicity.  I don’t want to worry about gear or what I am carrying it with.  We have had the Cosypeed CEO on the the Mirrorless Minutes Show and he is a great guy too, which means you know the product is built that way.  Worth checking out for sure.  Now it’s an Indiegogo project but soon to be delivered.

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    Gear Ties 16 Pack

    OK, this may not be for any specific type of photography but I love having these little things around to manage my corded life.  It’s a great stocking stuffer that will be used all year long.

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    The San Francisco Photo Workshop – April 6-9, 2017

    Invest in yourself in the new year and take a street photography workshop in one of the best places on the planet to learn, San Francisco.  You will be immersed into the culture and the streets of San Francisco with the Nimble Photographer, Derrick Story, and yours truly, me.  Taking a workshop can be so rewarding on many levels from the learning to the camaraderie, it’s a gift that just keeps on giving the whole year.

  • Manfrotto Tripod Review

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    Recently I worked with my friends over at Hunt’s Photo and Video to write a review on the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Tripod.  This is a very light tripod and a real workhorse at the same time.  I tested it while traveling and locally, to give you some good insight.

    Check out the blog post here.