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I've started using the 2X digital zoom function on all of my Olympus OM-D cameras. By doing so, I am able to use a fast prime lens, such as the fabulous Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 at wide apertures, then double its magnification without losing any light gathering power.

In the field, this means that I can work at an effective focal length of 90mms or 180mms at f/1.8. The question is, how much am I giving up by using the 2X digital zoom?

digital-zoom-comparison Side by side comparison of the RAW file at 45mm (left) and the Jpeg at 90mm (2X digital zoom) on the right. Images opened in ACR 8.8 with no adjustments.

For my real world test, I shot in RAW+Jpeg with the Jpeg mode set to Super Fine on an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 45mm lens set to f/2.2. I was able to keep the ISO at a reasonable 800, and I used +1 exposure compensation, giving me a shutter speed of 1/100th.

The RAW file dimensions are 3456 x 4608 with a file size of 15.31 MBs. The Jpeg has the same 3456 x 4608 measurements, and weighs in at 5.16 MBs. I opened both images in ACR 8.8 on a 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display and captured these screen shots.

raw-file-400-percent.jpg RAW file at 400 percent.

jpeg-file-200-percent.jpg Super Fine Jpeg with 2X digital zoom at 200 percent.

Bottom Line

The 2X digital zoom fares well against its RAW file companion. The RAW file has not been processed, so it has more to offer in post production. The Jpeg can be published as is without further work.

I've set a function button on all of my OM-D cameras to toggle the digital zoom on and off. By doing so, I can shoot more with my prime lenses, knowing that I can zoom in without having to change the glass.

For critical work, I'll probably stick with RAW only. But for my street shooting, photojournalism, and event photography, I'm loving the 2X option. In fact, in these shots, I like the Jpegs better.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Essential Tools for Event Photography, 5 Additional Things to Do with a 50MP Camera, ACR 8.8 New Camera Support (but not Lightroom) - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - Ten New Cameras Supported by ACR 8.8 -

  • Casio EX-ZR3500
  • Canon EOS 750D (Rebel T6i, Kiss X8i)
  • Canon EOS 760D (Rebel T6s, Kiss 8000D)
  • Fujifilm X-A2
  • Fujifilm XQ2
  • Hasselblad Stellar II
  • Nikon D5500
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 II
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 (DMC-TZ70, DMC-TZ71)
(Source: DP Review)

In other news... "Ricoh reveals pixel-shifting high-resolution mode: Coming soon to a camera near you?" Unlike Olympus' approach, which grabs 8 frames and uses a half-pixel shift between two groups of four to interpolate additional pixels, Ricoh's method uses just four shots, to bring the four pixels of each Bayer color filter array cell into alignment with each other. The resulting file has the same number of pixels as conventional shots, but each pixel contains full, uninterpolated RGB data. (Source: Imaging-Resource)

cheese-at-the-festival.jpg

Story #1 - Essential Tools for Event Photography - Whether you're getting ready to shoot a wedding, trade show, or birthday party, these tools will help you capture better images while increasing your enjoyment. I'll explain each of these in the second feature of today's show.

  • A professional wide to moderate zoom. The constant aperture f/2.8 zoom that covers roughly from 24-70mms is a workhorse for the event photographer.
  • A fast portrait lens. I prefer a f/1.8 or f/2.0 85, 90, or 100mm prime lens to complement my zoom.
  • A lightweight flash modifier. I always carry at least one Rouge FlashBender to help me tame the light coming off my strobe.
  • Battery grip. Even when I shoot mirrorless, I keep a battery grip on the camera. This allows me to shoot the entire day without changing batteries, which usually occurs at the worst time possible.
  • A skilled assistant. Have an extra set of hands to manage the shot list, set up group shots, keep an eye on an activity not yet ready to photograph, and serve as a second shooter when needed is a blessing beyond description.

Story #2 - 5 Additional Things to Do with a 50 MP Camera - Yes, there are the obvious choices such as landscape and product photography with a new Canon 5DS R. But what about...

  • Start a business shooting life size portraits.
  • Become the first indoor sports photographer that only uses a 50mm lens.
  • Advertise yourself as a billboard photographer by shooting the first 50 MP selfie, then putting it on a billboard.
  • After the next holiday, send a 50MP RAW file attachment to a family member with a 5-year-old Dell with the caption, "Can you believe what Aunt Jenny revealed at the party?"
  • Rent your 50MP camera to other photographers who can't afford one, then use the money to buy stock in 4TB drives.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Black-and-White Project: Creating a Dramatic Landscape with Lightroom and Photoshop with Chris Orwig

You can watch Chris in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Chris' movies, plus every other title in the library (including over 20 by yours truly).

Virtual Camera Club News

News from Red River Paper: Have you made your archive 6 prints yet for 2015? The best backup system in the world is high quality prints properly stored. I recommend that photographers do a print run of their best twice a year. Here's why.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (35 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until May!

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Living by Mirrorless and Jpegs

I just completed a 3-day assignment covering the Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma, CA. Instead of shooting with my DSLR and RAW files, I opted this year to use my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and shoot in Super Fine Jpeg mode. (You can read more about this setup in the article, Daring to Shoot Jpeg).

Daring to Shoot Jpeg

My Aperture library now has 1,500 new images of cheese making, classroom instruction, ballroom festivities, marketplace sales, and more. The images look fantastic, and my turnaround time for the PR agency has been the fastest ever.

The bottom line is this: if you're careful with your shooting technique and use quality gear, Jpegs from today's cameras are sharp, colorful, and professional. Event photographers don't need to be a slave to the RAW workflow. Use the best format for the situation, and dazzle your clients with the results.


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This workflow has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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New owners of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II should be happy to know that Adobe has released ACR 8.8 with RAW support for the latest Olympus mirrorless camera.

ACR-with_Em5Mk2-web.jpg

Current Bridge/ACR owners simply need to go to Help > Updates to download the new version of the software.

After a bit of testing, I'm happy to report that the RAW interpretation seems good. The software read the embedded lens profile for my Olympus 75mm f1.8 portrait lens, allowed me to apply a Camera Portrait profile, and did a nice job with all of the basic adjustments.

My guess is that Lightroom users will have to wait a bit longer for E-M5 Mark II support as Adobe is working hard to put the finishing touches on Lightroom 6.

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I began the photo shoot with the boys using the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 prime, a spectacular lens. But then we started moving around, and I needed something more versatile if I was going to keep up with these guys. So I reached for the Panasonic 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. zoom. That was a good call.

twins-and-brick-wall-web.jpg

To be honest with you, this optic defies logic. It is incredibly compact, measuring 2.19" x 1.97" and weighs less than 5 ounces. Yet it covers the equivalent of 70-200mm, and it does so with fantastic sharpness, contrast, and color.

panasonic-35-100-side

Once we found an intriguing urban alley to work, I mounted it on the Olympus E-M5 Mark II. And that Olympus/Panasonic tandem allowed me to keep up with a pair of teenagers.

I originally bought the Panasonic 35-100mm as a travel companion for my assignment in Cuba. And it performed so well there, that I've kept it in my daily camera bag. Now it's an optic that I seem to reach for daily.

Since this zoom includes optical image stabilization, it's a great choice for both Olympus (with sensor based IS) and Panasonic (optical IS only). In other words, if you have a Micro Four Thirds body, this lens will serve you well.

And at $379, it's not going to break the bank.

For more on this excellent lens, see my Field Test from Dec. 2014.


Nimble Photographer Logo

The Panasonic 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. zoom has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Eye-Fi Rubbed RAW, Expensive Filters, Lowepro Reboot, Planning and Staging an Exhibition - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - Lowepro launches weather-proof Fastpack backpacks for traveling photographers - "Both bags include Lowepro's All Weather AW Cover, which is basically a built-in raincoat that can be untucked and pulled over the bag in a rain shower. The tablet sections feature what Lowepro calls CradleFit padding that grips and suspends the tablet so that it remains protected in the event of a drop. Using compression straps the bags are designed to also attach to the handles of rolling luggage, and both can support a tripod via straps and a mesh pocket."  (Source: DP Review)

fastpack-bp-top.jpg

In other news... Eyefi's newest Mobi Pro SD card lets you sync RAW photos - "Self-proclaimed as 'the most powerful wireless SD card ever', the Mobi Pro sets itself apart from Eyefi's lower-level Mobi cards by now allowing you to transfer RAW files to your desktop or mobile device, straight from your camera." (Source: Imaging-Resource)

Story #1 - Think of Your Filters as Very Thin Lenses - I just spent $48 for a Hoya 46mm EVO Antistatic UV(0) Filter. Why would I do such a crazy thing? Here are a few reasons:

  • Absorbs Ultraviolet Light (helping to reduce bluish cast)
  • 16-Layer Super Multi-Coating (99.8 percent light transmission )
  • EVO Antistatic Coating Repels Dust
  • Water, Stain, and Scratch-Resistant
  • Optical Glass Construction
  • One-Piece Low-Profile Filter Ring (lessens the likelihood of vignetting)
  • Front Threads for Filter Stacking

And then I add a few more...

Story #2 - You Can't Beat the Price for the Fotor Image Editor - I've been playing with a lovely, smart and free image editor called Fotor. Will it replace Aperture? No way. But it does leverage Mac OS X technologies in an elegant, fun package. I discuss in this segment of the show.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Planning and Staging an Exhibition with Konrad Eek.

You can watch Konrad in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Konrad's movies, plus every other title in the library (including over 20 by yours truly).

Virtual Camera Club News

The TDS Bodie/Eastern Sierra Photography Workshop is Sold Out.

News from Red River Paper: Have you made your archive 6 prints yet for 2015? The best backup system in the world is high quality prints properly stored. I recommend that photographers do a print run of their best twice a year. Here's why.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (35 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until May!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

If you don't mind having a small ad parked in the lower right corner of your screen, Fotor for Mac is a clean, easy to use, powerful, and a fun image editor.

fotor-image-adjustment.jpg

The combination of adjustment sliders, effects, borders, tilt shift control, and text tool gives most photographers to power they need to spice up a photo and send it on its way. I also like the built-in collage maker and batch processor, unexpected bonuses for free software.

Fotor draws upon Mac OS X for its RAW processing (as it does in other areas too). So if your Mac provides RAW support for a camera, so does this app.

Bottom line is this: Mac photographers looking for a free editor with lots of punch should take a look at Fotor for Mac (It's also available as a sweet iOS app).

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The good news is that the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II includes a stereo microphone jack that can be used for an audio input device of your choice. And you can use the External Grip HLD-8G to monitor the input during recording. The bad news is that the interface is somewhat noisy and you may not want to bother.

omd-em5-mkii-with-mic.jpg

I've done some informal testing using a non-powered Sony stereo mic, a powered Audio Technica clip-on device, and the built-in stereo pickups in the E-M5 Mark II itself. And after running through all of the settings, the built-in mics performed about as well as the external devices. Listen for yourself.

Audio Technica Clip-On Mic vs Built-In Pickups

I start out this video using a powered clip-on recording in mono, then switch to the onboard pickups in the E-M5 Mark II. They definitely sound different, but the amount of background hiss was about the same.

Sony Non-Powered Stereo Mic

This time around I recorded some music and just myself talking. No surprisingly, when capturing the music, background hiss wasn't really a factor. But once again, when it was just me, the hiss was noticeable.

Bottom Line

Since the video with the E-M5 Mark II is outstanding, it's worth figuring out the audio. For casual recording, I thought the onboard stereo mics worked nearly as well as low-end external units plugged in to the camera. So I can't think of a compelling reason to bring a separate mic for on-the-go video capture.

The next option is a mic with a 10db boost. These devices often have a narrow recording pattern, so they're not perfect for every situation. But they're well-designed for quick interviews and news reporting. The 10db boost helps compensate for the weak preamps in the camera.

The best audio is going to be recorded with a separate device, such as a Zoom, then substituted for the native audio in post production. For critical use, this is still the preferred method. Not everyone, however, wants to spend the extra time in editing. Just like everything else in photography, you have to figure out your priorities and go from there.

After listening to the samples, what do your ears hear?

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Nimble Photographer Logo

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

DxO Optics Pro is in the news today with their 10.3 release. Olympus also announces a handsome new travel camera with a 24X zoom and RAW support. And finally, Adobe released Photoshop Mix 1.5 with added support for Adobe Ink and the Cloud Clipboard.

DxO OpticsPro 10.3 Supports New Cameras, Adds Features

The latest update to DxO's image-processing software features support for the Nikon D5500, Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, and Olympus PEN E-PL7, as well as new correction tools and an improved user experience.

dxo-optics-pro-10pt3-web.jpg

The Mac OS X version also offers a new drag-and-drop feature that allows photographers to directly open a folder by dragging it into the Image Browser, providing quicker access to images. The correction tools have been revisited, now adding greater finesse and ease to DxO OpticsPro. The Horizon slider now makes small rotations easier to perform, and the Dust tool is also easier to use.

DxO OpticsPro v10.3 is now available in the DxO online store at a special discount through March 31, 2015.

Olympus Announces the New Stylus SH-2

The Olympus Stylus SH-2 features a 24x wide-angle optical zoom lens, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for remote shooting and sharing with a smart device, RAW capture capability, and 5-Axis Image Stabilization that supports both still image and video capture. The SH-2 also adds new Nightscape Modes for night scenes and portraits.

oly-sh-2-with-case.jpg

The Olympus Stylus SH-2 will be available in April at an estimated street price of $399.99 (available in Black and Silver). For a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus site.

Adobe Updates Photoshop Mix 1.5 for iPad and iPhone

Adobe has released Photoshop Mix 1.5 with added support for Adobe Ink and the Cloud Clipboard, allowing users to browse an album of their creative assets that can be pasted into an image in Photoshop Mix with one touch of the stylus. Photoshop Mix also now supports Wacom and Pencil styluses.

Also new in this update is the ability to merge images. In Overview, drag one image on top of another to combine them into a single image. Also, when the app is launched, prior to signing-in, users will get a quick hands-on demo of how to cut out part of one photo and add it to another to create a combination image.

Photoshop Mix is a free app for the iPhone and iPad and is built with Adobe's Creative SDK to integrate a seamless mobile workflow with Creative Cloud.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: E-M5 Mark II Hands On Review, Beta Testing Photos for OS X, Who Let the Air Out of the Latest MacBook? All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - Iridient Developer 3.0 Released - Some of the key new features introduced in Version 3 include multiple new demosaicing algorithms for both Bayer and X-Trans sensors, new Clarity adjustment for enhancing midtone contrast, new options for adjusting overall tonality including an adaptive "Fill Light" style exposure adjustment and pixel neighborhood adaptive highlight/shadow adjustments,several new monochrome mixer conversion methods, a greatly simplified colour management setup, two new monochrome toning methods including Split Toning and Mono Tone, and much more. This final 3.0 release also adds support for RAW images from the Olympus E-M5 Mark II shot in the 40 megapixel high resolution mode.  (Source: Photography Blog)

In other news... Apple's radical 12-inch MacBook is the slimmest, lightest MacBook ever - Apple reveals a new 12-inch MacBook, a radical revamp that shakes up the winning MBA design by dumping virtually every conventional port--Thunderbolt, the SD card slot, a power connector, everything--in favor of a pair a single USB Type-C connection and an audio jack. That, paired with numerous other advances, helped the 12-inch MacBook become the slimmest, lightest MacBook ever--and it's silent, too. (Source: Macworld)

E-M5MarkII_BLK_top_M14-42EZ_BLK.jpg

Story #1 - Hands On Review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II - Beautifully crafted, intelligent inside, the latest mirrorless offering from Olympus might be their best camera yet. I discuss why in this segment of the show. You can also read my article about High Res Shot, one of the standout features of the E-M5 Mark II, at c't DigiPhoto.

Story #2 - Beta Testing Photos for OS X - you can join the OS X beta program and test the latest version of Photos. I provide my first impressions.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Photoshop CC Essential Training with Julieanne Kost. For my money, Julieanne is the best Photoshop trainer in the business. And she shines in this tutorial.

You can watch Julieanne in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Julieanne's movies, plus every other title in the library (including over 20 by yours truly).

Virtual Camera Club News

News from Red River Paper: Have you made your archive 6 prints yet for 2015? The best backup system in the world is high quality prints properly stored. I recommend that photographers do a print run of their best twice a year. Here's why.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (33 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until Sept!

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.