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OM-D E-M1 Front View

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is the successor to both the OM-D E-M5 and the E-5, providing excellent performance with both micro four thirds and four thirds lenses. How did they accomplish this feat? By developing "Dual Fast AF" that works for both types of mounts.

When a micro four thirds lens is mounted on the E-M1, it uses contrast detection AF for swift focusing. When Four Thirds glass is attached via an Olympus adapter, the camera switches to on-chip phase detection AF. I had a chance to shoot with both mounts, and indeed the technology works.

Evolved Look and Feel

As a result of this feature integration, the E-M1 looks different than either the E-M5 or E-1. In many ways, it's a whole new camera. The E-M1 does retain the distinctive electronic viewfinder housing of the E-M5. But Olympus has added a built-in grip and rearranged the top deck controls. The on/off switch has moved from the back of the camera to the top left (as you hold it in shooting position). And the exposure mode dial is now on the right side.

OM-D E-M1 Top View

Currently, there is only a black model available. Some of the finer details are also different, such as the textures for the control dials and the shapes of buttons and switches.

New Features

As you may have anticipated, there are plenty of feature improvements with the new model. Here are a few of the highlights.

  • 37-point On-Chip Phase Detection AF and 81-point Contrast Detection AF (auto switching)
  • New TruePic VII processor (the Live MOS sensor retains its 16MP resolution)
  • Built-in WiFi for both image transfer and remote camera control
  • Freeze proof body to -10 C (in addition to dust and splash proof)
  • Super large Electronic Viewfinder that is quite impressive (2.36M-dot LCD, 0.74x magnification)
  • Built-in HDR function
  • 10 fps burst mode
  • 1/8000th of a second top speed mechanical shutter
  • Diorama II Art Filter
  • Connectors for X-sync flash and microphone

OM-D E-M1 EVF View

Pricing and Availability

The new OM-D E-M1 will be available in Oct. 2013 for $1399.99 (body only). If you want to use Four Thirds lenses, you'll also need to purchase the MMF-3 Four Thirds Lens to Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount Adapter ($156).

I'm hoping to receive a camera to test soon. I'll report more after some hands-on work.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

Image Stabilization on Canon Lens

Larry asked an interesting question about how to test the image stabilization on his Canon camera. We answer with this handy technique that he can do at home.

Tom is planning a vacation to Europe and wants to know how to find information about photo tours so he can maximize his picture opportunities (and not get ripped off).

And John is interested in editing some of his Aperture shots in Photoshop and wants to know about "roundtripping." We show him how.

If you haven't stopped by the Photo Help Desk for a visit with Jeremy, Tom, and Derrick, then you're missing out on some great shop talk. We're here at Photo Help Desk 6 days a week to help keep you creative and productive. (On the seventh day we're out taking pictures...)

Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

One of the first steps for retouching a portrait is to clean up any distracting blemishes. There are a couple approaches to this technique, and I cover them all in this hands-on movie.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

Blemish Retouching with Aperture

To learn more about portrait retouching in Aperture, take a look at Portrait Retouching with Aperture. You may want to check out my other Aperture titles, including Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012), Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, and the latest, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

Aperture Workshop Coming on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013

Want to learn Aperture in a hands on environment? My next Aperture workshop will be Nov. 16 and 17 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll review all of the basics, plus work on portraiture (including a live model shoot), product photography, and more. Write me at for more information and a reservation form.

One camera that I'll never part with is my Hasselblad 500C with two lenses and lots of cool accessories. But I never get to shoot with it either. That may change soon thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign, Hasselnuts: Hasselblad Camera + iPhone DigitalBack Kit.

Lowepro Magnum 35 with Hasselblad 500C Will this Hassey kit return to service?

What the Hasselnuts designers have come up is an iPhone adapter that looks like a traditional film back. It incorporates a lot of clever elements, plus a dedicated iOS app that allows you to retain the analog shooting experience while creating digital images.

Hasselnuts iPhone Adapter

The first 44 backers can get the Hasselnuts back for $199. The second wave for $249. The estimated street price for the full production model next year is $349.

So, what would I do with this device? I've actually thought about this quite a bit. Other than the pure enjoyment of having my Blad sitting on a tripod in the studio once again, I would experiment with a few projects for Instagram and Flickr. A 6MP square image is more than enough resolution for social network use. And there's no lens on the planet that creates the look of the Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f/4 on a 500C body.

I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you're interested in this Kickstarter project, you can find out more here.

Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

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Ricoh Theta - Shoot First, Crop Later

Ricoh Theta

A spherical camera that pairs with your iPhone and is truly pocketable - that's the Ricoh Theta, just announced today.

Capturing spherical images is cool. But maybe not cool enough to spend $399 for a camera. But the idea that you can just hold the Theta up, take a shot, record everything around you, then crop what you want later... now that's interesting.

It's shooting distance is from 10 cm to infinity. So basically everything is in focus. The device pairs with an iPhone running the Theta app that allows you to view and share the images. There's also a Mac and Windows version.

How the Ricoh Theta Works

The device has 4GBs of internal memory and builds Jpeg files. Most of the controls are auto, but it does have exposure compensation. The Theta has a tripod mount and can be controlled remotely by an iPhone running the app.

Ricoh created a few movies that demonstrate its function and capabilities. The device goes on sale in October. If I can get my hands on one, I'll report more.

iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

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Producing compelling images of everyday objects isn't as easy as it looks. In my latest training, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture, I show you how to put the finishing touches on your photos to make them shine.

Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture

The training covers a variety of post production techniques including:

  • Evaluating the image quality before editing
  • Making sure the color is accurate
  • Determining the most effective color
  • Working with highlight recovery
  • Targeting areas for sharpening
  • Adjusting the background
  • Changing the color of objects
  • Vignetting
  • Round-tripping with Photoshop
  • Converting to black and white with Silver Efex Pro
  • Applying effects

Here's an Overview Moviie that gives you a taste of what this training is about. There are plenty of free movies for you to enjoy too. Visit Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture to see more.

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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Canon EOS 70D Review, a new podcast player, and Know Your Lens! - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Canon EOS 70D improves on one of my favorite DSLRs of all time (60D) in a fascinating number of ways. The headliner is the Dual Pixel CMOS AF that finally brings real autofocus to live view on a DSLR.

Canon EOS 70D with 40mm STM Lens

Speaking of AF, the entire system is improved. I'm enjoying taking any type of picture with this camera. The 19-point all cross-type AF system (including a high-precision f/2.8 dual cross-type AF center point) is a blast. There are not too many AF points, but plenty to handle just about any situation. The AF selection button next to the shutter button makes choosing the right pattern a snap.

I also cover the built in WiFi, HDR, multiple exposure, video snapshot, and more in this hands-on review.

Story #2 - A New (and very cool) Podcast Player for our weekly podcasts. I've been searching for a podcast player that will let us listen to the weekly shows on mobile devices and computers alike. We found a great solution and worked hard to implement it. You can now play the weekly shows right off the web page regardless of the device you're using at the moment. I explain in the second segment of the show.

Story #3 - Know Your Lens. Reading test reports are good, but do you really know how your favorite lenses perform on your camera and the way you shoot? It's easy to find out, and in my opinion, well worth the time investment.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (36 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The September 2013 photo assignment is Grab Shot.

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.

iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

Podcast Sponsors

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

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.Special Summer Sale! Just add "TDS: in the comments space of your SizzlPix! order, and you will get 20 percent off the entire order. Sale ends Sept. 21. Take advantage now.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

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OM-D with 17mm Lens and Metal Hood

The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens ($499 available in silver or black) is one of the most intriguing Micro Four Thirds lenses I've ever shot with.

I purchased it as part of the Olympus Limited Edition OM-D E-M5 Kit with 17mm f1.8 lens, metal lens hood, and metal lens cap ($1,399 in silver). I wanted the metal lens hood, and the engraved metal lens cap is very stylish. Plus it's a great price for items that would sell for $1,599 if purchased separately.

OM-D with 17mm Lens with Metal Cap

Online reviews on the 17mm lens ranged from good to great. Because there wasn't consensus on its performance, I tested the optic a bit more than I normally do a new purchase. And I'm glad I did. The results are fascinating.

Image Sharpness

Optimal performance for 17mm was at f/4. Center sharpness was excellent and edge sharpness was very good with no vignetting. I doubt that I would stop down this lens beyond f/8 because of diminishing returns in optical performance due to diffraction. Overall image quality was best at f/2.8, f/4, and f/5.6.

Olympus 17mm at f-4 Olympus 17mm f/1.8 prime lens at f/4. Photo by Derrick Story

Where things get interesting is shooting at f/1.8. Center sharpness is still quite good, but the edges of the frame soften a bit and there's some vignetting. Different photographers will interpret this result various ways. For me, I'm thinking that this is the aperture I'd use for portraits with the 17mm.

Olympus 17mm at f-1.8 Shooting wide open at f/1.8 softens the corners a bit and introduces mild vignetting.

For everyday shooting, I would use Aperture Priority mode set to f/4, then for portraits, open up to f/1.8. Also if you look closely at the edges of the frame, there is some purple and green color fringing on the fence. I checked this performance against my $1,200 Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm zoom at the same focal length and aperture, and its color fringing was about the same or even a bit more pronounced than the Olympus 17mm. (BTW: I love this fence for color fringing testing!)

Olympus 17mm f/1.8 Top View

Fit and Finish

The physical characteristics of the lens are beautiful. Its all metal construction with "snap focus" mechanism allows me to quickly move from auto focus to manual focusing. Focusing tension is well damped when in snap focus mode. The engraved distance markings are a nice touch.

One feature of this lens that's very important to me is the actual infinity focus setting. Most Micro Four Thirds lenses have a focusing ring that spins forever in either direction. That's fine for autofocusing. But if you are working in the dark, such as photographing a night sky, it's very difficult to get accurate focus. On this lens, you simply rotate the ring all the way to the left until it stops, and you are at infinity. It sounds like a small thing... until you need it.

Bottom Line

I've had a difficult time taking this lens off the silver OM-D. I initially bought this kit as a back-up body for my black OM-D because I don't think we're going to see anything like this camera ever again.

But to be honest, I don't think I've shot with the black OM-D since this purchase. The 17mm f/1.8 lens is addicting. The first picture I published with this lens, Light at the End of the Tunnel on Instagram was a hit with my following.

Personally, I like how the characteristics of the lens change from wide open to f/4. Other photographers who like consistent edge-to-edge sharpness at all apertures won't be as thrilled with this optic. But if you're a creative photographer, a street shooter, or someone who appreciates great design, then I can't imagine you not loving the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 prime lens.

Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

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Samsung Galaxy GC110 Running Android

Is it a camera? Is it an Android device? It's both!

In my TechHive review of the Samsung GC110 Android powered camera, I sum my experience with the device by writing:

The Samsung Galaxy GC110 is an ambitious product. The camera takes good pictures -- with a few nits concerning white balance and focusing -- and has an amazing optical zoom. The LCD is beautiful, especially when using the GC110 as an Android device. But in bright light, it's hard to compose photos. And the touchscreen-only approach still isn't as convenient as well-placed buttons and dials. As a camera, it's definitely more urban than country.


Pros and Cons for Samsung Galaxy Camera


  • Impressive 21X optical zoom
  • WiFi connectivity
  • 8GBs internal storage plus accepts micro SD cards up to 64GBs
  • Capable Android device
  • Easy to use HD video mode with real time zooming
  • 3.7 volt Lithium Ion battery holds up well thanks to conservative power management
  • Compatible with 8 music formats
  • Includes Bluetooth and GPS
  • Big, colorful LCD
  • Surprisingly good camera performance indoors


  • Auto white balance performs better indoors than outside
  • Autofocusing generally good, but can become confused
  • Difficult to compose shots in bright sunlight
  • Performance can lag at times
  • Strict power management results in quick sleep mode
  • Large size (5.07" wide by 2.79" tall) makes it not really a compact camera
  • Current $449 price tag puts it in the investment category

I think those who come to love the GC110 will think of it as a multifunctional Android device first and an everyday camera second. It's most useful when WiFi is within reach. If you don't want to tote an iPad or Android tablet, but you want the pretty screen and software capabilities, the Galaxy should be a good choice. And when you do need to take pictures, you'll have a 21X optical zoom, 16MP sensor, and plenty of bells and whistles to help you capture the moment.

The Samsung Galaxy is available for $389 on Amazon is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

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Portrait Retouching with Aperture

You can easily (and quickly!) improve your portraits by learning just a few basic techniques in Aperture 3.4. In this 2-hour training titled, Portrait Retouching with Aperture I apply a subtle hand to my people shots, and Aperture's toolset is just the ticket for performing natural-looking enhancements. People say to me after reviewing the images, "Wow, I really looked great that day!"

Derrick Story on Portrait Retouching with Aperture

In this course, I cover just about everything you need to know, including:

  • Assessing your image
  • Retouching blemishes
  • Enhancing skin texture
  • Adding highlights to the hair
  • Adjusting clothing and backdrop color
  • Brightening and sharpening eyes
  • Converting to black and white

This Welcome Movie (1 min) will provide you with a visual overview of what I'm covering.

I had a blast recording Portrait Retouching with Aperture. I hope you enjoy watching it just as much.

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