Review Olympus Om-D E-M5 Mkiii. Early thoughts. One week road trip.

Centauri27

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Wonderful summary of your trip, and fantastic photos! Are they all SooC JPEGs? If so, I'm gonna have to consider shooting more JPEGs too the next time I go out!
 

Centauri27

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Mine arrived Tuesday and I’ve been shooting garbage as I work out the setup. It will replace my GX9 and E-M1.1, and is in most ways an upgrade to the M1. I really like the light weight body and the grip is fine with a small prime, for sure. I’ll miss the Myset settings on the mode dial (firmware upgrade, Olympus!) and the loss of the bracketing access on the top left button.

The increased eyepoint lets me see the entire evf with glasses - good deal. And I’m looking forward to seeing thru it with polarized sunglasses if we ever get some sun.
Do you find the the increased eye relief makes a big difference compared to your other cameras? That oddly enough (plus the OLED viewfinder) was the tipping feature to make me choose the E-M5 Mk III over the heavily discounted E-M1 Mk II. Not being able to use the viewfinder when outdoors with sunglasses was so annoying!
 

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Wonderful summary of your trip, and fantastic photos! Are they all SooC JPEGs? If so, I'm gonna have to consider shooting more JPEGs too the next time I go out!

They've all been taken from jpegs, yes and just had some adjustments in Snapseed on my phone. ( I've discovered since getting home that DXO wont open the 5iii raws unless i update to PL3. Hmmm. I may just install Olympus Workspace)
 

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I did similarly, that is, acquire the 10 II as a small camera. However, the 5 III could replace an EM1 and the 10 II in my kit. That's what I'm aiming for.
I have to wonder how the E-M5.3 vs E-M1.2 will handle with larger lenses? I have the E-M1.2 and Pen F. The E-M5.3 and Pen are really about the same size. The E-M5.3 has the hump for the EVF and a better grip, otherwise they are pretty close in size. My O12-100 is pretty big on the Pen, I wonder how it would be on the E-M5.3.
 

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Do you find the the increased eye relief makes a big difference compared to your other cameras? That oddly enough (plus the OLED viewfinder) was the tipping feature to make me choose the E-M5 Mk III over the heavily discounted E-M1 Mk II. Not being able to use the viewfinder when outdoors with sunglasses was so annoying!
Yes, I'm pleased with the eye relief on the 5.3. I can see almost the entire image with my glasses on. With my other cameras, I often wind up pushing my glasses down to see the evf without them - usually blurry, of course.

Here's a 6-image stitch from today with the 5.3. Not much of a picture, but the quality looks nice. It's raining, so shooting indoors is about all I can really do comfortably.

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Holoholo55

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I have to wonder how the E-M5.3 vs E-M1.2 will handle with larger lenses? I have the E-M1.2 and Pen F. The E-M5.3 and Pen are really about the same size. The E-M5.3 has the hump for the EVF and a better grip, otherwise they are pretty close in size. My O12-100 is pretty big on the Pen, I wonder how it would be on the E-M5.3.
Some are saying you would need the accessory grip to feel comfortable with bigger lenses like the 12-100. But, if you feel OK with it on the F, it should work fine on the 5.3. Hard to beat the EM1.1 or .2 with big lenses though.
 

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Some are saying you would need the accessory grip to feel comfortable with bigger lenses like the 12-100. But, if you feel OK with it on the F, it should work fine on the 5.3. Hard to beat the EM1.1 or .2 with big lenses though.
I'm saying that anything that seems fine on the Pen should be fine on the E-M5.3.

But will those that seem to big on the Pen (like the O12-100) also feel too big on the E-M5.3?

Once upon a time I consolidated from the E-M1.1 and E-P5 to the E-M10.1. It's not out of the realm possibilities, that I might do it again with the E-M1.2 and Pen F. But then I also had a rolling bag of FX event gear. That's not the case anymore, these are my only cameras right now. Could I do something like the E-M5.3 and maybe the new X100v? Probably not.
 

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Week 2. The Daily Grind Camera.

Hey ho, home we go. Life being what it is - for most of us, excluding a few like, oh, America's Orange President - normality doesn't involve eternal holidays or an endless tour around New Zealand. So we returned to plain old Melbourne, to our plain old lives and settled in for the daily grind.



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Above: Five second exposure crouch down at an awkward angle. Five Seconds! sure, its only at 15mm (30mm eq fov) , but its still five seconds!

Which saw the new arrival thrust into its primary environment, and one in which its supreme weight advantage (or lack-of-weight advantage, more accurately) as a travel camera is neutered. Sure, it's always nice to have a small and compact camera for casual use, but here we aren't counting the grams nor pondering infrequent charging opportunities.

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Above: panasonic 15mm, handheld, 1.5 second exposure with in-camera filter. I'm starting to actually enjoy some of Oly's filter effects, to the surprise of no-one more than I. Don't discount the value of these functions, if you like the jpeg outputs of a camera it becomes even more suitable as an everyday option.



This week, i simply asked the Em5iii to be the grab-and-go daily shooter, and whilst in New Zealand it offered abilities that were unmatched for the purpose, here it is competing for my attention with plenty of other camera bodies. I warned it that the threat was real from the PenF and Gx8, and the G9 is ruthless on a day trip. No point sugar coating things, right?



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We started on a rocky footing. Whilst away, i didnt concern myself too much with camera setup and mercifully largely stayed out of the menu's. But now i wanted to set it up. For me. Good grief. I blundered through various menu's. I unquestionably set some things up in the wrong order. Case in point - i discovered the file name function and decided that @Rob Trek had a great idea of keeping the sequential file numbers with a 5EM prefix. So i set that. But it's not an overarching global setting. Oh no. It should in hindsight have been the first thing I did. Instead, that prefix only got applied to shots in PASM modes. Anything shot in my Custom setups retained the original Oly file name sequences......... Imagine my delight when i transferred 800 photo's off the SD card and found a mish-mash of file names all out of time order. Much smacking of forehead ensued. Now, I'll freely admit. It's my fault. I did it. But its symptomatic of how difficult i find the Olympus menu's, and the mindset needed to tackle them.

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Above: Just Dance. The colours feel suitably retro here. This image has been cropped because the focal length was too short.


I also had to go digging for certain things. Electronic First curtain shutter ("Anti Shock") for instance, isn't immediately available. At first i thought it was not required/not installed on this camera. But no, i eventually found it buried in a menu. Go to Cog Menu D1, drive settings and tick the box with the diamond symbol. I know, I know, what could be more indicative of anti shock than a diamond, huh? Now, I'm NOT saying that the 5iii needs antishock. I haven't done a test to check. But it's there, i used it on the old Em1i, and i couldnt see a downside.




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Above: Fujifilm rightly gets a lot of love for its colours, but i really like the Oly for its pallette, particularly in urban settings.


Similarly, I set about creating a myset for manual lens and/or manual focus use. Initially, this proved problematic, particularly in regards to the Pre-MF setting, which i thought sounded marvellous. Like a version of snap-focus for the street. Do you think i could get it to work? Not on your life. Oh, i worked out how to set the Pre-MF distance. That was fine. But then the follow up step of "now assign Pre-MF to a function button"? With all due respect to those i looked up on line, what the hell are you talking about? Its not giving me that option! Actually, i seem to be missing quite a few function-button settings. Back to the PDF manual (another pet peeve of mine, for 1800 bloody dollars surely i'm entitled to a paper manual!?) and the hunt for clues. Wait, what's this bit? "Pre-MF not available if Selection Lever is set to Mode 2 MF focus blah blah blah" . But Mode 2 was my quick way of getting to MF if the lens onboard wasnt equipped with a MF switch. Sigh, ok, have it your way.


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Above: I was sitting in a cafe having lunch during a break from work, when a film crew arrived with two models, a bunch of lastolite panels, a 5diii in a gimble and promptly took over the area. I shot this from about 12 meters away with the O75.

So FN lever changed to Mode 1. Hey presto, now I can set Pre-MF to a button. I'd made Monochrome the default colour profile (no idea why, but manual lenses make me think of black and white shooting!) I had Auto-iso on the SCP, so i decided to map Pre-MF to the ISO button. Keep in mind that Pre-MF only works on modern electronic AF lenses. It's no use with real manual lenses, whether adapted or native. With that in mind, i mapped "magnify" to the front face FN button, and also turned on focus peaking and focus ring magnification in the menu's (Cog A4, "MF Assist"). I then stored all of this to Preset C-3 (without, of course, remembering to change the file name until later). It's a bit cumbersome to get to , but these settings are mainly for adapted Pentax glass and i figured that i wasnt likely to be put on a Pentax lens for a few minutes at a time. I can live with the menu diving for this aspect.


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Above: Taken handheld with the 15mmPL and a 10-stop ND filter. I stuffed it up a bit - focus seems to be on the seat- and the 4 second exposure isnt tack sharp but i like the sunstar effect.

Just circling back to the FN lever for a moment, Mode 1 simply doubles up the functions of dials. ISO and white balance are the default secondary roles, but i changed the WB to flash exposure comp for now. ( I have aperture/shutter set to the front dial and exposure comp to the back in their primary roles). It's not terribly revolutionary but i guess what it does do is free up the two dedicated FN buttons on the top plate to be used for other things. I havent yet developed the habit, but rapid dial access to ISO in particular should be handy. There is also a Mode 3 available, which shifts the camera from Stills to Movie mode with a flick of the thumb, but its of little interest to me as i shoot little no video. All of this is access through Cog B - FN Lever Function.

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Above: handheld at low angle using the articulating screen. Very versatile feature. I was hoping for someone to come through with a real purposeful stride, but it wasnt to be.

On the same Cog, you'll find an option to make the FN lever the On/Off switch if you prefer to operate more fully with the right hand. I havent used this option, finding that i quickly adapted to turning the camera On via the top main switch. I use a Luckystraps wrist strap most of the time and whilst i cant dangle the camera from a few fingers under the grip - which is much improved over the Em5i but still wont let the camera balance on the finger tips - I've found that its surprisingly easy and comfortable to pinch it between thumb and forefinger. The light weight no doubt helps here, and quite simply the 5iii is effortless to carry about. I instinctively flip it on with left thumb as i raise the camera to my eye.


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Above: More O75mm magic. Want Subject separation and sharpness from across the street? You got it.

More broadly, C1 is set to monochrome mode. Mainly for instant access to a Mono EVF view, i find that it aids in visualising tonal luminence. I have the curve shifted -1 Shadows, +1 mids, +2 highlights. Contrast +1, sharpness +2, Red Filter, Neutral tones. It's not PEN-F Monochrome quality, but so far I'm liking it. I may drop the shadows further though. A lot more shooting required before i settle on a Mono jpeg output.

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Above: Just a laneway shot. I'm trying to learn exposure regarding the Oly's dynamic range. I've lost the highlight on the bike seat but i have some detail in the shadowed bricks.

Daily Colour setting is Neutral with +1 saturation and -1/+1 shadow highlights curve. Auto white balance with "keep warm tone" turned off (Menu Cog G).



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Above: The Outsider. At first i was attracted by the three girls posing for their own selfies. When i brought the 15mm to my eye, i noticed the girl at left and it seemed to work. The three posers didnt see me until i had the shot, at which point they started laughing and waving. I've pulled the exposure down here and tried to emphasise the blue tones in Workspace.

AF I have generally left set on Face Recognition(i) . This has been interesting. Distance plays a large part here, and I'm finding that - especially with wider focal lengths - it doesnt pick up the face(s) as far out as i thought it may. However, I did a brief shoot for my brother-in-law, who needed some shots for his work brochure. I used the Noctricron wide open at a few meters distance and face detect locked on every time. I used the Em5iii because i needed the little Fl flash and the G9 cant drive it. I was impressed, actually. I need more work on this , i'll be interested to see the Face Detect range when my 25/1.8 arrives.

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Above: Shot on the 15mm from the hip, silent shutter to respect the worshippers. The clarity in this shot amazes me, every now and again the PL15 and Em5iii combine to produce colours and tones that i just love. The internal Inn shot at Hobbiton in the first post was such a one, and this one is another, though the composition here is literally just point and shoot without even looking at the camera.


One option that i really like is having the front FN button set up for returning the focus point to centre. Wherever you may have moved the AF point to (and i tend to shoot in single point, small box size) , a quick press instantly centres the AF. Press it again and it returns to the previous point. Once the muscle memory kicks in, this will be rapid and very useful for me. The G9 has the same thing on its joystick and I use it quite a lot. I also activated track pad and i have shot more than i thought with the EVF facing outwards. I think this is because I've become used to a joystick on other camera's and its the closest way to mimic such a feature. Arguably faster, in fact. Which reminds me. I need to get a screen protector.


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Above: Instant Film filter with border option and pinhole option added in-camera.

So, the time since returning home has been spent mainly on general shooting. Nothing very exciting, no terribly great shots, just learning my way around the camera in daily use and normal surrounds. Shooting conditions in Melbourne have been tricky, and far from ideal. We're still prone to bushfire induced smoke haze, for starters. I tried out the Hi-Res function briefly, but for various reasons it wasnt worthwhile. Hi Resolution photo's of a hazy skyline tend to only produce bigger photo's of hazy conditions. Who'd have thought....



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Above: Light and shade. O75, spot metered for the sunlight. I was hoping for an office girl in high heels. The white runner worked well though.


I did take it to a junior basketball match for half an hour and trial the Continuous AF, but I'll perhaps cover that in a separate post. So i simply carried the camera about with me - it's diminutive size making it a general carry camera par excellence. I looked for things that would show off the IBIS ability and its attendant uses for expanding the "shooting envelope". There are shots in this post of 4 second exposures without a tripod. That's unheard of for me. But it still requires the owner to do his/her bit, which i wasnt always up to the task of. Lets expand on that a little.


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Above: PL15mm. This one screamed black and white at me as soon as i saw it, but Monochrome on the custom slot helps to aid in visualising the luminence changes in the EVF.

We often speak of "learning" a camera, and the OMD certainly requires that. Obviously in the menu's and setting it up, but I've also found it needs a little time in its general handling. The size - so much an advantage in many ways - at first felt a little awkward. Interestingly, in an unexpected way - a stable hold. I didnt feel terribly solid when actually shooting it, like i was asking too much of the extraordinary Ibis, and i felt i was actually pulling the camera to the right a little bit when tripping the shutter. Particularly in portrait orientation. Two factors in play here. Firstly, i broke my index finger before christmas and I'm having problems with it in terms of flex and feel. Secondly is the small grip and overall small size of the body. There's not a lot of inertia with such a tiny camera and your shooting form may be tested. Mine was. However, yesterday i quickly crouched into position for a shot and i was struck by how rock solid everything felt. Its quite a good analogy for the Em5iii overall. It needed concentration on my part, but I'm adapting myself to the camera. Everything's there in this camera body, but its still up to me to get the best from myself and not rely on the Olympus to do it for me.

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Above: I liked the mix of colour saturation and texture here. Metered off the white wall and exposure comp added.


Elsewhere, i love how the camera feels. And looks. I don't even register that its a polycarbonate body. Its definitely a "Prime" camera for me - disclaimer: I love Prime lenses anyway, so yes, there's a preheld bias in this - in how it handles and the tactile nature of the design. The Olympus 75mm feels great on it (wow, what a lens that is in its output!) and the systems best lens (imo of course) , the PL 15mm Summilux is gorgeous as always. Oh, a brief aside here - in the opening post i voiced my long held frustration that we don't have a small weathersealed prime for the Em5 series. I have another long held gripe - Mr Olympus, please recognise the Panasonic Aperture rings. The 5iii would be an alltime classic shooting experience with an aperture ring enabled PL15. Ok, yes, i know you want me to buy the 17/1.8 , and yes the pull back manual focus ring and distance scale would also be fun to use, but really? Ok, I'll do a deal with you. I'll compromise. Weatherseal the 17mm and I'll buy one. I promise. Maybe even two.

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Above: Oly 40-150 kit lens pressed into action.

But you'd better hurry up, because if Panasonic seal the 15mm then you've probably missed the boat. Give me that weatherproofed 35mm equivalent and if you need to pay for someone to travel the world on a promotional "One camera, One lens challenge" , I'll even step up for you. Deal?


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Above: early morning snapshot with the 15PL. Not sure where the fireman has gone.


Err, where was I? oh yeah. The shooting experience. We've all tended as photographers to view incamera filters with disdain. Shoot raw and process for best results, right? Right. And that does still hold true, I always have a raw file for a shot. But this is the first camera I've owned that has felt "good" shooting with its various art filters. It somehow encourages it and the output often surprises me. I think I'll explore this far more before going indepth, but the retro vibe of the camera seems eminently matched by some of the jpeg outputs you can get. And its not the same as the PenF , at least for me. The F revolves around the monochrome modes and the ability to tune the colour output to chase certain looks. Whereas I'm finding with the 5 that I'll suddenly decide to shoot the stock Instant Film filter, or a Dramatic Tone, and be very happy with the results.


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Above: Pre dawn shot at a train station. At full size you can see that the gentleman has moved his head ever so slightly. the IBIS can give you a long exposure, but it cant keep your subjects still.


Overall, after another week of playing around, I'm very very pleased. If i was to consolidate my system onto the Em5iii i think I'd need to buy the optional grip. There are times when I'd like that extra holdability. I havent as yet broken out the 40-150 Pro but i suspect it will be somewhat ungainly. But I'm changing my techniques and methods to suit the camera, and as i do I'm loving it even more. It initially felt like a very appropriate tool. Now it feels a bit more than that. Once again, it's not about one thing it has. Nor , even with yesterdays release of the EM1 Mkiii, is it about anything it doesn't have. This camera makes most sense when viewed in its entirety.



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Above: My niece. Shot with the Nocticron at F/1.2 , Olympus monochrome mode. I love the look of this one, smooth and diffused lighting. Face detect locked on, i just had to be careful i didnt sway in or out as the dof doesn't suffer fools easily.


To summarise, so far, so good. If the camera is "niche", its starting to feel that way only in as much as it can offer so many things as a package that others don't. The learning curve continues. Thanks for looking.
 
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saladin

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Interlude: Ponderings on the Em1 Mkiii release.




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Ok, admission. The 20 photo limit on a post meant that i had a few extra images left over from the above ramblings. So this is at least in part just a secondary image sharing play. But the release last night of the the new flagship - the Em1 Mkiii - just three weeks after i spent a large sum of money on the 5iii forced me to ponder on how i felt about that.


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Instinctively, I'm not terribly put out, actually. The new 1 looks like a great camera, and I'm sure it is. But it hasn't gota better EVF than the 5, they're the same. It has some of the better features from the 1X - handheld high res, for instance, and the better processor - but I'm not sure that i'd miss them. Perhaps i would. Its claiming better IBIS, and that certainly would be useful. But 5+ stops is still remarkable and something beyond our comprehension as photographers just a few years ago. It has USB charging ability now, and that's great. But so does the 5iii, it was a driving force for me to buy it. No new sensor, so IQ should be more or less identical. I've no doubt it will handle better as an allrounder, you cant beat increased real estate for things like joysticks and function buttons or ergonomical grips. But there's the crux of the matter for me - the increased size. I have the G9 for that role.

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Its interesting watching the early review video's and a few who were somewhat lukewarm about the 5iii - its not offering anything new or earthshattering (fair call, in isolation it's not) - have changed position subtly and are now asking if the Em1iii is the best travel camera available. It may be. But for my use, the specific overarching reason for going with the 5iii, was fitting it into a tiny kit for low weight travel. The 1iii still wouldnt have met that need, any more than the G9 couldn't. It would have been left at home. I am most likely going to add the optional grip to the 5iii and hopefully get a compromise on the "best of both" front.

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So from that viewpoint, I harbour Oly no ill-will. How could I? They built the camera that i wanted - as small as possible, weatherproof, good evf, usb charging and customisable. The 5iii met those needs. It still does. Further more, I just received an email letting me know that my free 25/1.8 was on it's way. Additional value on the Em5 purchase. Last night changes nothing. I hope both camera's are a huge success, though i fear that the 5iii is going to be undervalued by many.

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If i can offer one piece of advice, its to set out exactly what you need from your next purchase. Why are you buying it, what can it do? I tried to answer those honestly


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Whether the 5iii could become my ONLY camera is still well open to question. But I already know that the larger bodies cannot.

New camera's will come and go. Always have, sometimes quickly. So don't sweat the small stuff.

Happy Shooting.
 
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They've all been taken from jpegs, yes and just had some adjustments in Snapseed on my phone. ( I've discovered since getting home that DXO wont open the 5iii raws unless i update to PL3. Hmmm. I may just install Olympus Workspace)
Have you done some slight adjustments or heavy processing in Snapseed?
You've also talked about art filters. Did you use them much and which one did you use?

I've never really tried JPEG in my Oly cameras (I've been shooting RAW for a long time now) and maybe I'll try it with the E-M5.3 (raw+jpeg of course :) )
But I'm kind of lost among all the jpeg settings & numerous art filters.
 

Linh

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Both, surely? 😁😁👍
Along with an X100V and XT-4 if it has IBIS. All the things!

But truthfully, if anything, probably the em5.3 because I have the 17/1.8 already. Can't do both. And will curse the fact I can't use the aperture ring
 

saladin

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Oh yeah, if the 17/1.8 is already in your bag then the 15 is harder to justify.
 

saladin

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Have you done some slight adjustments or heavy processing in Snapseed?
The OP samples were done with snapseed. Most were done with a little structure and sharpening plus a contrast curve. Fairly minimal. The Hobbiton sign, iirc, copped more treatment via a snapseed vintage and drama filter.

The more recent post has pictures from Workspace. The train shot was an in-camera drama1 filter, the boat was Instant Film. I've also used Drama2 a bit and a few others. I'll do a day specifically using the jpeg filters at some point to see when and where I like them, and which ones.
 

memzinla

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Along with an X100V and XT-4 if it has IBIS. All the things!

But truthfully, if anything, probably the em5.3 because I have the 17/1.8 already. Can't do both. And will curse the fact I can't use the aperture ring
I've never thought about the X100V until now. The quality looks so good!
 

saladin

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OP, that strap/clutch in second photo looks interesting, what is it?

It's a wrist strap made by a local Australian company called Luckystraps. They make great leather straps and other bits and pieces. I think they post worldwide too.
 

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