Banff Film Festival

I wish I’d planned my trip better. I have to return home tomorrow and the majority of the films will be screened during the second part of the week. I’ll just have to catch it when it comes to Belgium

Banff National Park

Came up to the top of Sulphur Mountain to clear skies, loads of Asian tourists and beautiful views all around. Banff National Park is breathtakingly beautiful. I’m actually here to see the screening of Chris Eyre-Walker’s film ‘Dreamwalkers-The Faroes Project’ at the Banff Mountain Film Festival screening for the first time this evening. Really excited to see what the sold out, almost 1000 seat, cinema will bring as reaction.

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Banff Mountain Film Festival

The view from the Banff Centre. So chuffed to be here to see all these awesome films, just finding it difficult to adjust to the 7 hours time difference

A bit of bird watching

This weekend we are up in Antwerp to visit Ria’s father and friends. What better reason to spend the night at Biesbosch Nature Reserve and see some of the migratory birds on their way to better weather for the winter

Mukla being attentive

Mukla posing during his short weekend at our place

Another test

Wow just keep trying

Great place for hiking

Had a really great weekend around the Müllertal last weekend.

The Oosteschelde deltawerke flood protection

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This is just a part of the huge flood protection scheme the Dutch built to protect the east polders from a catastrophic flood like the one in 1958.  Ria’s uncle Frans lost his leg and several people died during the construction.

Long weekend in Zeeland

Zeelandiabrug

This has to be quite the longest bridge I have ever crossed on a bike.  We are in Oostkapelle for the long 1st November weekend.  Yesterday 20km hike and today 80km road biking.  Zeeland is known for its wind, but we have had no wind, sun and calm seas.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 vs Sony NEX7

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Why?

Why am I, a hobby photographer, writing this post?  I used to use a Sony NEX7 as the camera which was always with me when I travelled or when I planned to take better quality photos than my iPhone allowed.

The biggest advantage of a mirrorless system camera is fairly obvious to anyone who looks at one next to a D-SLR & the NEX7 is a good camera which has served me well since I bought it in 2012. Unfortunately the offering of lenses was never very good if you didn’t want to use the Alpha series lenses with an adapter.  The adapter is fine and adds phase differentiation focus to the contrast detection focusing, but rather defeats the object of a small camera if you have to use full-size lenses and an adapter.  Worse is that Sony now use sensor shift stabilisation on the newer models so there is no development in the lenses with inbuilt stabilisation, the ones I need for my NEX7.

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So it was time to reconsider my camera and buy a new one.  I looked closely at the new Sony Alpha 7 range, but using a 35mm sensor would mean coming back to the large and heavy lenses, again losing one of the important features in my list of needs: size and weight.

What tipped the balance?

Our son Christopher is a professional photographer and Olympus Visionary for Olympus Australia, specialising in surf, travel and landscape photography and has been using an Olympus OM-D E-M1 for quite some time, so I have had the chance to try his on several occasions.

Although the body is slightly heavier and bigger than my NEX7, the equivalent lenses are smaller as the Olympus is a micro four thirds compared to the Sony APS-C of the NEX7. (micro 4/3 means you double the focal length of a lens to give the 35mm equivalent, APS-C is 1.5x the focal length.)

I bought the OM-D E-M1 black body and M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 Pro lens

What I particularly like:

  • Speed and accuracy of the autofocus
  • Weather proof
  • Customisability
  • Lens offering
  • Stabilisation
  • Controls layout

The auto focus is sensational compared to my NEX7 which is also not weatherproof either.  The menu in the NEX7 is unfathomable and the customisation of the functions much more limited.

The E-M1 menu is extensive and I was glad to have Chris here to help me setup the camera, I think I would have spent several hours finding and tuning the settings without him!

The ‘Pro’ range of lenses are awesome, especially the new 300mm f4.0 (read 600mm for a full size sensor!) which is incredibly sharp and, further to the 5-axis sensor stabilisation, has in-lens stabilisation working in harmony with the sensor stabilisation which makes it easy to use hand-held.  It is also not too heavy either, especially when compared to a full-frame equivalent.

The stabilisation is fantastic, allowing handheld shutter speeds using the 12-40mm lens of 1/25th without problems, something I could never do with my NEX7.

The 2 main dials are front and back as opposed to being next to each other on the NEX7.  I often found myself turning both on the Sony.  The resistance on the E-M1 dials is also greater, avoiding changing settings by mistake..

Conclusion:

I could go on for several more pages of comparison, but it seems pointless, there are much higher qualified critics capable of doing a better job of that than I would.  What matters to me is that the E-M1 seems to be a better camera for my needs and I am getting to grips with it quite nicely.  It is also great to have Chris here to give my tips and lend me his lenses from time to time.  I am looking forward to trying some of the time lapse modes soon too.