Olympus Australia is running its Summer Bonus promotion from 1st November 2017 to 31st January 2018 for Australian and New Zealand residents purchasing eligible Olympus cameras and lenses within the promotional period. Terms and conditions apply.
Eligible Olympus cameras and lenses include the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-D E-M5 Mark II, Pen-F cameras and a range of M.Zuiko Pro professional prime and zoom lenses.
Camera bag maker Cosyspeed has released the black version of its largest hip bag, the Camslinger Streetomatic+. The Camslinger line is, in effect, a distant descendant of a pair of belt packs I relied on during the analog era to protect my beloved Leica rangefinder cameras and lenses but that, in the end, badly let them down. Cosyspeed’s modern styling, anti-cruelty artificial leather, internal and external pockets, and integrated waist belt, go far beyond those now mouldy trad-style leather-trimmed hip bags in the realms of safety and comfort.
While previous Streetomatic bags have looked promising from their images and descriptions online, the Streetomatic+ looks to be the first large enough to carry my mirrorless still and video bare essentials while still being smaller than my currently smallest cross-shoulder bag, the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13.
I chose the smaller Everyday Messenger as I must be careful not to over-stress neck and spine permanently damaged by a lifetime of carrying movie and photography equipment starting with the big Zero Halliburton cases I carted about the deserts of Western Australia as a corporate photographer with mining company clients.
Despite the EM13’s small size as a messenger bag, and the small load I carry in it, I still experience shoulder pain in the middle of a long day shooting. A belt pack would be a welcome relief but the only one I have now in two sizes, Think Tank Photo’s innovative Multimedia Wired Up 10 and Multimedia Wired Up 20 proved it wasn’t quite up to the job.
The Multimedia Wired Up Collection was a brilliant response to the needs of the pioneers of DSLR-based multimedia stills and video production but it predated the mirrorless revolution that cemented the hybrid stills/video camera concept. It was a radically new concept released before its time.
Had Think Tank Photo continued developing the collection well into the mirrorless era then it would have had an enduring winner. When the writing was on the wall and Multimedia Wired Up Collection bags began vanishing from foreign online retailers, I set out to collect them all and continue to use some of them to this day.
The Multimedia collection’s centrepieces were the two Wired Up belt packs. Each has a waist belt and each bag’s internal carrying capacity can be enhanced by attaching further bags from the collection or other packs in Think Tank Photo’s Belt Systems.
I like to assume that the two Wired Up bags might have evolved by gaining more dimensional stability, trading too much softness and collapsibility for a much sturdier frame.
As ProVideo Coalition’s review of the Multimedia Wired Up 20 indicates, both belt bags need to be supplemented with one or both of the crossover shoulder straps that come with them. Neither works as a pure belt bag and adding one or two shoulder straps makes my spine and shoulder problems worse.
Cosyspeed Camslinger Steetomatic+
So on to Cosypeed’s Camslinger Streetomatic+. Is it the waist bag I had hoped my two Multimedia Wired Up belt bags might have been, apart from the wired-up cable integration aspect of Think Tank Photo’s underlying concept?
It is hard to tell from the online evidence alone: only a good hands-on tryout can put that possibility to the test. From the photographs above, the Camslinger Streetomatic+ can carry mirrorless and DSLR cameras minus battery grips, with a zoom lens attached or two smaller prime lenses, and I am hoping that a small external microphone like Røde’s VideoMicro with windshield or even its amazing Stereo VideoMic X may fit instead of the second prime lens illustrated above.
Multimedia Wired Up Bags and StuffIt! to supplement the Streetomatic+?
I still use many of the component belt bags in the Multimedia Wired Up belt bag system to supplement bags and backpacks made by other manufacturers.
Think Tank Photo’s innovative Multimedia Wired Up belt bag system was innovative and released before its time, then was tragically discontinued with no replacement or successor system in sight.
I am also hoping that the Streetomatic+ permits attaching other belt bags from the Multimedia Wired Up collection or contemporary belt bags like Think Tank Photo’s Stuff It! (I have two, as they are so handy for personal items) or either or both of Cosyspeed’s own supplemental belt bags, the LensBag 80 and StuffBag 30.
Despite the uniqueness and utility of its bags, Cosyspeed has yet to find a distributor in Australia so I have not had the chance to examine any of its products and thus my questions remain unanswered for now.
One thing is for certain, the arrival of advanced stills/video cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, the Fujifilm X-Pro, X-T2 and X-T20, the Sony Alpha 9, the rest of the Alpha series and other mirrorless hybrids, has shifted the photography and moviemaking landscapes for those of us needing to work alone and light on our feet.
I look forward to camera bag makers keeping pace with camera makers and am hoping that the Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic+ may prove to be a suitable centrepiece for a lightweight carrying solution that other bags and belt systems I have owned or tried out have not.
I am also often asked for the best advice I can give stills photographers and moviemakers just starting out as well as long-established professionals in both fields. Opportunities to see and try production hardware are few and far between here so my ability to provide that advice is limited by that, but one colleague in particular wanted to know my opinion of the Olympus OM-D cameras and Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional lens series.
He is considering revamping his production kit now that small camera 4K movie production has become an affordable reality and wanted to know which lenses he should buy and what camera system in particular. He prefers primes over zooms but is happy to use zooms when he needs to.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Micro Four Thirds/Super 16 Hybrid Camera
I did not have an opportunity to try out the OM-D E-M1 Mark II at the event so the best advice I can give is to check out the plethora of product reviews and information available online.
If a review loaner is available sometime soon I will be very keen to put the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s 4K video and other capabilities to the test.
The Olympus Micro Four Thirds M.Zuiko Pro Lens Lineup
For the work my colleague does, a fast 25mm prime lens – equivalent to 50mm in 35mm format – is a mainstay so he wanted to know what I thought of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro especially in combination with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II for shooing video.
My moviemaking colleague has other cameras to which M43 lenses can be attached without adapters, including those made by Blackmagic Design or via adapters such as Digital Bolex‘s D16 CCD sensor global shutter Super 16 cameras. So any new lens purchases need to work with a range of cameras, current and future, mostly in manual mode but with autofocus when advantageous.
One of the two most recent M.Zuiko Pro lenses to appear, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro is the second prime lens to join the Olympus professional lens collection.
Although the 25mm focal length, equivalent to 50mm in 35mm format, is not one of my favourite local lengths of all time, 25mm most certainly has its uses when shooting stills and video. It is useful for full-length and half-length portrait photography, covering events conducted in available darkness as this product launch was, and is a much-used focal length in documentary and feature filmmaking.
I like 25mm lenses for face-to-camera interviews, interviewer-and-interviewee two-shots and product shots when I don’t need the immersive deep space feel better suited to extreme wide-angle lenses.
Although slower 25mm lenses have their place especially when breaking into video and stills photography, fast 25mm primes are invaluable when faced with a range of lighting conditions such as the one under which I shot the photograph below.
With aperture set at f/1.2 and my Panasonic Lumix GX8 at A for aperture priority and auto ISO, I manually focussed the lens on the eyes of the Olympus Australia staffer in the centre, allowing everything else in the image to fall into defocus aka bokeh.
One of the unknown pleasures of the GX8 is its clean HDMI-out 4:2:0 8-bit 4K video, non-DCI for sure but great for documentary moviemaking as a lightweight but powerful rangefinder-style camera, a well-kept secret that only filmmakers like Rick Young of Movie Machine seem to appreciate.
Invest in the coming Leeming LUT One for the GX8, set your camera up as recommended, shoot ETTR (expose to the right), apply the LUT in your NLE, rinse and repeat. Do the same for your other cameras. Doubtless a Leeming LUT One for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II will appear soon enough.
One of the several joys of Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro professional lens collection is their clutch manual focus. Draw the focus encoder ring back towards the camera, spin it left and right, watch critical detail snap into focus with focus magnification or focus peaking, then shoot.
Under this focussing system the encoder ring goes from close to infinity in a quarter turn, perfect when focus-pulling or needing to snap from one focussing distance to another and back. Count me as a major fan of this form of manual focussing in contrast to manually focussing via encoder rings that spin and spin and spin.
My interest in the travel zoom lens category had been piqued when trying out Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lens last year. Given the long focal length range travel zooms encompass, there will be compromises in optical correction and the same applies to the lenses’ maximum apertures.
I managed to snap off a couple of frames before the lens was needed the other side of the room, but in the image below one can see a slight amount of optical distortion in the white columns and ceiling.
This barrel distortion can be corrected automatically with in-camera JPEGs – I rarely shoot them as I much prefer shooting raw files only – and in correction-savvy raw processors and image editors.
Optical distortion when shooting video is another matter again though. Optical correction in non-linear editors (NLEs) would be far too processor-intensive and so one must grit one’s teeth and bear it. Hence the curved parallel horizontals and vertical one often sees in television shows.
This lens is in interesting proposition, with its long focal length range, slower maximum aperture than the M.Zuiko Pro collection’s other zoom lenses, relatively small size and low weight for its reach, and Olympus’ very first attempt at in-lens optical image stabilization (OIS).
The OIS in this lens reportedly works in conjunction with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s 5-axis IBIS (in-body image stabilization) though I would prefer to test that out in practice. The big question for Panasonic users is, will this lens’ OIS also work in conjunction with the IBIS in the GH5?
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro
Older than the other two lenses I tried out, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro was also on my wishlist of lens tryouts. Fisheye lenses are a low priority – I have resisted the temptations of the GoPro camera range – but this lens has potential for special situations like time-lapse stills and video in tight, poorly-lit spaces, or extreme close-ups.
The outstanding feature of this lens is a much higher maximum aperture than other full-frame fisheye lenses of which I am aware, and its good light distribution with lack of noticeable fall-off though I was using it in poor lighting.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro is definitely one to try again in future.
Snapshots from the Event
I managed to achieve two out of three goals that night, briefly trying out the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 Pro zoom lens. My short play with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro was an unplanned bonus.
The same applies to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, the ostensible star attraction at the event but one which I did not manage to spend enough time with. From its specifications list, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II looks like it is a Super 16 hybrid video camera to be taken very seriously indeed, especially given Olympus has got it right with the small but essential things like custom white balance.
I look forward to learning more about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s video production features soon. This year is already a very interesting one for 4K video and the question now is which new camera and which range of lenses to consider investing in.