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.

Waxweiler hike

IMG_5728IMG_5740We were in Waxweiler again for some hiking / Scotland training with Andy & Mika yesterday.  We even had decent weather and walked the ‘Devonpfad’ which is really a great walk, 16km and 500m of ascent with some great views.

 

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Siskin suicide attempt

When I got up yesterday I was just opening the curtains when I heard a gentle tap on our french window.  I’ve heard that sound before but never when the curtains were closed.  Sometimes we get birds who think that they can fly through our house only to crash into the closed window [maybe Ria should clean them less?] this little Siskin knocked himself out, but was still breathing so I picked him up and kept him warm in my hand for about 10 minutes as he started to come around.  Once he had opened his eyes I put him in the garden where he was well camouflaged.  15 minutes later he was flying again 🙂

Siskin

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Hiking weekend

The lonley Fenn in Winter

We had the entire group from Ria‘s Peru trip come over to East Belgium for some hiking this weekend.

Yesterday they went into Germany around Bleialf, today we went into the Fenn.  It snowed all day but the nature was still beautiful and where we hiked was virgin snow.  Fantastic to break through fresh snow that sometimes comes up to your knees,but pretty hard work especially as the ground underneath was nor frozen but boggy.  Still it was a great weekend and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.IMG_5666 IMG_5665

Coffee

   Rare sight in Northern Europe 

New hobby

Having damaged my Achilles heel running for a plane I didn’t catch, thanks to AA [no, neither Alcoholics Anonymous nor the Automobile Association but American Airlines] I was looking for another sport to replace cycling and hiking while my heel mends.  Cut a long story short: skateboarding!

And here it is: my ‘born again’ sports machine all the way from Hawaii.  Superbly crafted and ready to take on the not so smooth Belgian tarmac.  I already feel 10 years youngerThe package The board boy Topside Bottom side

Nostalgia 2011 Annapurna, Nepal

I was going over the old stuff again, reminiscing, and came across the film clip I made during our fateful attempt to ride the Annapurna Circuit in the rainy season.  We crossed landslides, mudslides, rivers and went through waterfalls on the way.  Never a dull moment 🙂

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