Friday, September 28, 2012

Olympus TG-1

The Olympus TG-1
The Olympus TG-1 rugged compact camera has caught my eye.  While I'm still more likely to use the Panasonic LX-7 when I need a compact camera, the Olympus TG-1 has the best specifications I've seen in a rugged compact camera:
  • 25mm-100mm focal length range (full frame equivalent)
  • f/2.0-f/4.9 f-stop 
  • waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, GPS, etc...
  • effective image stabilization 
The lens covers a useful 25mm to 100mm range, which translate into a moderate wide angle to moderate telephoto range.  This covers a range useful for scenic outdoor shots to portraits.

It starts of with a relatively bright aperture of f/2.0 at the 25mm end.  Great for maintaining the higher shutter speeds needed to freeze motion, and in low light.  At the 100mm end, it slows down to a rather "ho hum" f/4.9.

The full specifications are available here.

There are some genuinely useful accessories that you can buy for the TG-1 which include a 19mm waterproof wide angle lens, a 170mm waterproof telephoto lens, and a waterproof dive housing.
Conversion Lens Accessories for the TG-1
The TG-1 does not shoot RAW images and initial reports suggest that the out-of-camera JPEG image colors are a bit muted.  That's not necessarily bad thing.  I would rather have the colors toned down a bit rather than have them overcooked, that way, I can still boost the colors in a post production program on my home computer.  If the colors come out overcooked from the camera, detail will be lost that you cannot recover.

The Olympus TG-1 is available below from Amazon.com:




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ride for Peace

I've just returned from the 4th edition of The Tour de Timor.  The country has had a checkered past.  It was invaded and occupied by Indonesia in 1975, and after a long struggle, became independent in 2002.  It's troubles were not over.  In 2008, an assassination attempt on the life of it's president and prime minister was made, leaving both wounded.  This year, most of the UN peacekeeping force will be leaving, and the task of safeguarding the country will lie in the hands of the new president and the fledgling Timor Leste Armed Forces.

The 2012 Tour de Timor was the first time the race crossed into Indonesia, the land of its invaders, and was aptly nicknamed 'The Ride for Peace'.  Our team from Singapore was sponsored by Air Timor.  We finished 10th in our category and our teammate, Alvin, won the Mens Masters Division.  Here's a quick look at the race from a rider's (my) perspective:


I shot the video with 2 Gopro Heros: An HD, and an HD2.  Here's what I learned:
  • I don't like riding on road
  • The Gopro HD2 is much better than the older HD
  • I really needed my OMD (or GH2) for more lens options 
  • I rode one hard day without the Gopro and missed it
  • It would have been nice to have been able to review some shots
I keep learning more and more about making video, and although I had a clear idea of the video I wanted to make, the task of racing and making a cohesive vid were at occasionally at odds.  There was one long hard day where I elected not to carry the Gopro and focus on the task of racing, and of course, I regretted it.  I should have just carried the Gopro using the handlebar mount, which although is probably the worst possible place to mount the Gopro on a bike, is also the least obstructive position.

Incidentally, I think the best place to mount the Gopro is actually on top of the helmet.  From a single mount on top of the helmet, you actually have 2 positions: facing forward, and facing backwards.  In addition, you can quickly set your helmet on the ground and have a stable platform to shoot from.  I also find that the position on top of the helmet is more isolated from shock than the handlebar mount.  It also picks up less dust and water from splashes.

Some essential shots went missing.  I'll be packing at least the LCD screen so I can review shots and re-shoot any essential sequences.

The Gopro, compact and rugged, is great for race footage, but is really is not enough to round out and tell a full story.  I really needed more options like a longer lens and a faster lens, for low light, and for stills.  I felt my Olympus OMD was too precious to be stuffed into my duffle, thrown around, sat on or have other luggage piled on top of, and left in the sun and rain.  I'll find a way to bring it next time.




Thursday, September 6, 2012

Return to Timor

Bacau Kids at the 2009 Tour de Timor
On Saturday, I'll be heading back to Timor Leste for the 2012 Tour de Timor mountain bike race.  My team has a free slot (Whoopee!) courtesy of Air Timor and the Singapore Cycling Federation; with race entry, airfare and hotel fully sponsored by Air Timor (Thank you Air Timor!).

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you might have noticed the fewer number of posts lately.  One of the reasons is because I've been learning to shoot and edit video.  My video work sucks, and I've been embarrassed to post them.  I'm challenged by the fact that I suck at it, and so I am determined to make my videos 'unsuck' ;o) 
Biking the Flume Trail, Lake Tahoe, California.  HDR with the Olympus OMD EM5.
My adventure and travel photography equipment has morphed into a video/stills kit, comprising of an Olympus OMD EM5 with four lenses (although mainly just the 7-14mm and 45mm f/1.8 lenses), a Gopro HD Hero2 and a few Gorillapods.  The OMD isn't the best for video.  Some of the issues I experienced were my fault as I left the OMD in Vibrant color mode with the sharpening and contrast maxed out to try and get better AF performance (see The Whole Enchilada).  I'm sorry I sold my GH2 which was better for video, but I'm NOT sorry I bought the OMD as the 5-axis image stabilization is fantastic, and overall, suits my shooting style better.  However, the major issue I have to work around with the OMD is that the continuous autofocus just doesn't work for me.
    The Gopro has found a place in my kit as it not only shoots video, but also makes an awesome timelapse camera.  Check out the timelapse sequence at 3:15 on The Whole Enchilada.  As you can see, it rained during the sequence, but with the waterproof housing, I can leave it outdoors without fear. 
    Geyser Pass Hut where we spent our final night during our 7-day, hut-to-hut ride from Durango to Moab. HDR with the Olympus OMD EM5.
    Anyhow, I'm committed to improving my video work, and I hope to have something to show you when I get back.