Vainglory Review

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Vainglory is a game that shows how mobile gaming should be taken more seriously.

I’ve been meaning to write a review for Vainglory for months now. From the moment I joined The Cube as the App Store game writer, Vainglory was going to be my swan song to mobile gaming. Sadly it was just one of those things that kept getting pushed back for the right “time” and I also pivoted what I wrote about. Simply put I had my Vainglory review on the back burner. But no more.

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Vainglory is a mobile MOBA/ARTS game which has been “perfected for touch” as they put it. I agree. It takes place on a map called “The Halcyon Fold”. It has a single lane with a jungle bellow the lane. You play as one of 3 hero’s vs a group of another 3 Heroes. Like most MOBAs victory is decided by destroying the opponents “Vain Crystal”. (The namesake of the game but basically the Throne or Nexus.) Something different from most MOBAs is your heroes here have one less ability than usual for a total of 2 normal spells and 1 ultimate ability. Unlike most MOBAs that come out nowadays you still have last hitting and on use items. Which is fairly surprising since those are considered aspects from more “hardcore” MOBAs. It all ends up working really well since they kept some things in while streamlining other parts of the game. Overall it feels great and plays fast.

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Heroes are split into 3 roles. Lane, Jungle, and Roam. Lane and jungle are fairly straightforward to anyone who’s played an MOBA before. Lane is best played by hero’s who can poke from a distance and don’t have to commit as much for last hitting or poking the other laner. Junglers rotate around their jungle and sometimes the enemies depending on how ballsy they are looking for gank opportunities. Roam is a more tricky role and debatably the most skill capped. They are usually the leaders of the group and are expected to make the calls on when to go in or out and decide what’s the most important objective. They are a mix between a bruiser or support style hero depending on who you play.

They have a few game types but their main standard MOBA game type (Halcyon Fold) lasts about 20 mins. A decent amount of time but nothing crazy. They also have a few others which will take less time. The fasted game type being “Blitz” which is emphasized for only being just about 5 mins long or less. This is also their newest game type that was added with the latest patch. I prefer the standard game the most but Blitz is the game type that will see the most play from me when on the go. I’ll have 5 mins on the go far more often than 20 mins. Basically, you have options for how long you want to play and how you want to play them.

The cash shop if you ask me is a bit of a mess. Even after getting used to it I feel confused at times with it. You can buy things with either real money or in-game currency. The real money currency is called ICE. The earned in-game currency is called Glory. On top of that, you can also get Opels which is a separate currency that can get you some skins. These special/seasonal skins can only be bought with Opels and not ICE or Glory. There are other skins you can buy with ICE for a fairly big premium or craft with cards. Yes, that’s right another resource that is specific to skins. If you are confused right now reading this don’t worry because I’m confused writing it. You can make skins using these cards and to get these cards you can buy them with either ICE or Glory or break down other cards for guess what? Yes, that’s right another resource called Essence. I’m not going to go any further but I think you got the idea. Hey, Super Evil Megacorp lets try and get it down to 2 maybe 3 currency’s /resources guys. Honestly its getting a little ridiculous.

Aside from the unnecessarily complicated currency/resource system, you have your usual fair of market content. Heroes, Skins, Chests, Account Boosts and so on.

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The game can be played on Android or iOS cell phones or tablets. It comes with customizable control schemes across the board to tweak to your liking and you can also get scaling options for varying screen sizes.

Overall I am genuinely impressed with this game. From a technical standpoint to a gameplay standpoint they nailed it. It plays smoothly and anyplace with an internet connection becomes a LAN party all of a sudden. They make it easy to stay in contact with your friends with the guild and party system. Alone or with other, if you have 5 mins to 20+ there is something to do on Vainglory. I give Vainglory a 4/5. If they fix their shop it would be an easy 5/5.

Ratting: 4/5

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MMOs Are Dead And VR Will Save Them

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MMOs boomed with the success of World of Warcraft. Every company and their mothers thought they were going to be the next big hit MMO and to this day the corpses of games that tried to fight the monster that is World of Warcraft still litter the fields around the giant beast. Not so giant any more mind you but still a monster. I will also go back to WoW. Like an abused wife, I will always find a way to forgive WoW for what it’s done to me. This is because World of Warcraft is my first true virtual home. It is the familiar safe place that may change here and there but at the end of the day I am always connected to it. If I’m playing it or not. But even I do not feel the urge I once did to go back home like I did many times before.

At the bases of why MMOs are not holding their own any more is due to the players. The players have grown, gamers are older now then they ever have been. They have some variation of school, work, or family they have to deal with. They can’t sit down and level for 3 days of active play time anymore. Being a working photographer who I think has much more free time on his hands than most others, even I have to admit I don’t have the time or patience to level and grind in MMOs. The time to results threshold as been met for me and a lot of people. Why play a MMO everyday and constantly be behind and not have fun when you can play a few games of Hearthstone, League of Legends, or Battlefield? Good or bad matched you get to go to bed feeling like you got some work in vs aimlessly grind a few dungeons with teammates who said nothing the whole time.

The MMO space is excellent. It’s still needed and it’s still good. It’s not Dead it just hasn’t adapted yet. Honestly it might not need too. Maybe we all need to just accept that MMOs might not be for us anymore. The problem with that is MMOs are crazy high budget and if the developers aren’t able to make money then the MMO is done for. So MMOs in theory can’t really be niche. It needs a strong thriving player base to exist in one way or another. Which is why you might notice the past year there are a lot less of them being announced. Most of them being from Asia as well, one of the few places where MMOs still kind of work. So how do we fix this problem? Well we can’t really, not the way it is now. The current model is not what people want anymore and the ones that do want it have options that already exist. If you say you like MMOs and there’s not a single MMO you like on the market right now, well I’m sorry to break it to you but you don’t like MMOs.

Where I think the future of MMOs exist is virtually reality. VR is still young and being watched with a close eye by the world but where I think the medium will thrive is the MMO space. Even back when MMOs were young everyone wished for a VRMMO. From The Matrix to Sword Art Online people have wished for open virtual worlds where we can explore without the limitation of a screen. It doesn’t even have to be a great MMO. I’d drop cash money for a VR rig and any needed upgrades for a half decent VRMMO. I think a lot of people would as a well. At least a lot of people like myself who haven’t leapt in yet. Any day now I’m waiting for the announcement of the first VRMMO. Everything stated above is void for the sake of escapism. The need of exploring a new world as close to reality as possible but with the addition of orcs and demons. I might not have time for MMOs now but for the right VRMMO I would make time.

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VOEZ App Game Review

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Coming off the the mess that is Mafia III Rivals last week I thought I should talk about a game that is actually really enjoyable. VOEZ is a game that has quite a decent following of players. There is even an active sub Reddit. It was originally released in Asia with very good reception they decided to port it to the rest of the world

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What is VOEZ? It is a music based rhythm game where you press keys as they fall from the top of the screen to the bottom in sync to the music. Similar to games you have probably played or at least herd of like Rockband and Dance Dance Revolution. Something I noticed and liked right from the start is how absolutely beautifully the app is designed. Other developers need to look at this game and take notes. It has this pleasant melody playing lightly in the background as you open it up. The UI and layout are smartly placed for ease of use and style. The whole app from the loading screen to the gameplay looks beautiful. It’s I game I wouldn’t mind not playing and just watching. There is also some sort of story that seems to be progressing based on how well you play and meeting certain achievements. It’s not something I find myself caring about in this kind of game but from what I can tell it seems to be a pleasant story to unlock.

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VOEZ has a decent amount of tracks that sway more towards Asian pop/techno/happy hardcore/hardstyle type music. If you are looking to jam out to the hottest new Drake track then you are out of luck. I don’t mind it personally, I appreciate all styles of music and the higher bpm tracks in VOEZ make the gameplay come across more intense and enjoyable. There are also slower easier tracks that don’t require as much effort as some of the more focus driven tracks the game offers. The tracks are all given a level. The higher the level the more difficult the track is. Each track falls into 3 different levels at 3 different difficulties for each track. Easy, Hard and Special. Special seem to be the most difficult of the 3. Also don’t forget the difficulty of a track is based on the individual track not an overall system. So all special tracks for instance are not the same level. It’s best for you to find tracks that fall into the difficulty/level that best suits you and work up from there. I find I like hard tracks and I’m at a skill level of about 8–12.

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The game is free to play but you have to pay for the tracks. The currency they use are these bird keys. Each key unlocks one track but I could swear I bought a track that cost me 2 keys once. You are given some keys early on but it kind of ends there. They really want you to pay here and there for tracks. I don’t really like is kind of system for the most part but I get it here. I just wish there was and unlock all tracks option that wasn’t just buying a bunch of keys. Then again this let’s them make more in the long run I guess. I personally don’t find much of this to be a problem since they have implemented a song rotation. Every week another random set of songs will be available to play. And yes I do believe the rotation is random. So you can run into a track you have seen in rotation recently.

To get every single track you would probably have to pay for the top key bundle which is $55 for 55 keys. I personally think it’s a bit steep for a mobile game. That’s pretty much full retail price for a high budget game. I mean the new Doom game is on discount right now for $40. I know they are not similar games but in terms of value I just don’t see the worth of $55 here. That being said I really don’t mind paying for a cheaper bundle just to support the game and and unlock the tracks I like. Personally speaking I don’t like all of the tracks anyways and the rotation still gives you the option to play them all at some point.

Overall I think the games awesome and I highly recommend it. This is the first game I am giving a 5/5 for. Don’t expect many of these, I am usually very hard with my reviews so you got to earn that extra star there to complete the set. I hope other developers have a look at this game and take some notes because they really need it. I also hope that developers of VOEZ continue to support the game and the community stays strong.

Rating: 5/5

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Hammer Bomb App Game Review

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I’m very happy to start off by saying Hammer Bomb is a game. Something I find and bring up in all my game app reviews is that most mobile/touch screen “games” are not games. They are toys. Easily 90% of the games on mobile are toys with a few decent games hidden in the flurry of plastic fisher price gimmicks. Now toys aren’t a bad thing. They work well for their purpose, which is to keep you entertained for a little bit here and there. That being said I’m a gamer, have been since I was 6 years old and toys don’t cut it anymore. There are fun ones sure and they will get a fair review if they are good but for the most part I’m looking for solid content.

Hammer Bomb is very reminiscent of old school point and click dungeon crawlers. I was never a fan of this style back in the day. By the time I started gaming they were able to pulley realize real time characters and active fluent combat. So the whole take a step and figure the way out of a dungeon type adventures were already old news to me. That being said I find they the last 3 years or so there seems to be a small resurgence of this style of game and not having been a part of it when I was young it’s nice to see and try now. It’s a really interesting experience. Makes you feel a little trapped and a little claustrophobic in a good way. Having to figure out where each hall way leads and the fear of a monster being around any corner is a nice thrill. It’s also a cool feeling when something really old feels so new due to my generation missing out on this style of game.

Enough generalizing though, how is Hammer Bomb? It’s really fun. Mirroring everything I said above. It has varying monsters to fight, ever changing dungeon to explore and items to find. The completionists will have a good time here. I don’t find myself to be a completionist but I found myself finding the exit early and turning around to explore the whole dungeon before leaving. Graphically I would say it’s a takes on the old school look of it’s predecessors but I want to say it has a bit of a Minecraft look to it too. It also has some retro 80s style music and looks sprinkled here and there. I personally like it. One thing I don’t like is the constant running aspect of the game. Your character is always moving forward on his own accord and you swipe in the directions you want him to turn and tap for his interactions with monsters and items. It’s fine I just wish I could tap to move forward block by block in the old school style. That’s not a knock on the game just my personal feelings on it.

There is a cash shop you can buy gold with that is used to buy weapons and upgrades. So far with a few hours of game time I never felt the need for more gold. You can also remove the ads for about $3. The ads are not annoying or intrusive but I feel if you like the game it’s good to support it. $3 is a very fair price for this game.

Overall I’m happy with this Hammer Bomb. It’s fun and intuitive. You can play it quickly on the bus or sit on the couch and put some time into it. If you like the game I say support it by removing the ads for $3. I rate Hammer Bomb a 4/5.

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Why Do You Love Violence While Being A Pacifist?

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Over the years people have grown more and more attached to violence in media. It has become a day to day fact for life for us. Who gets killed next in Game of Thrones? Don’t tell me I can’t wait to see for myself. Who got bit this week on The Walking Dead? I hope it’s not Rick but man would that be some crazy character development for Carl. Yeah, a son watching his father die to only come back as a monster and then die again is character development now. It’s exciting, it’s entertaining, its violence. Now Im not here to say let’s end it if that’s what you think I’m doing. If you know me even a little you know very well I’m not on the side of the angels. 🙂

The question is why? Why does our society get off on violence. In music, in tv and movies and the good old classic media target, video games. Well it’s simple. Everyone deep down is a psychopath. Maybe not to the same degree as others but you all have a little bit of the devil in you. The thing that scares you is you like it. You won’t admit it but we both know you like it just a little. Violence being a part of our culture isn’t a new thing actually. It has always been here we just evolved it as we changed our overall views on life. As we slowly became more and more passive and told ourselves things like violence and being mad isn’t a good thing.

Back in the day we would watch gladiators murder the living shit out of each other to keep the peace, now we watch Spartacus to do the same and get off on random boobs that pop up on the show. At least that’s why I watch it. The thing is you can’t admit anymore you are into violence. I’ve even been looked at all side eyed glare for saying I’m a Mike Tyson fan. I don’t care if Tyson killed a box of puppies on front street, the guy is a living legend. A true monster among men. These same people that don’t like Tyson or boxing or mma then go home and jerk off to Game of Thrones and Call of Duty and I got to sit there like an ass hole explaining why Mr.Tyson is the greatest.

The pussafaction of our society is in direct correlation to the amount of violence we encounter in media. You have a problem with some one in school? Don’t kick the kid in the teeth and teach him a lesson he will never forget, no don’t do that. Instead go tell a teacher who will make both of you apologize for some fucking reason. Some ones being a real prick to you? Well don’t do anything, just keep your head down and get on your knees and suck it up. No, I’m fine right here thanks. The passivity of today’s society, the lack of anger is in direct correlation to the amount of violence in everything else. People are too pussy to have a voice or stand up for themselves or each other so they watch super hero’s do it on the big screen while secretly rooting for the bad guy. I’ll be honest, The Joker and Two Face made a lot more sense to me than Batman did. My respect to the caped crusader but I rather be a dog chasing cars.

All I’m saying is stop being a little fuck about everything. Pacifist will say this is male posturing or an overdeveloped ego. To that all I got to say is “blow me”. You’re wrong. The fire in your veins and the Devil in your heart isn’t something you have to hide from the world. You should be proud of it, indulge it, feed it. Not with The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones , but by getting off your ass and defending yourself, by not just sitting there with you phone out recording something horrible happen. If you are going to secretly be a bad person then try and do a good thing for yourself or a few others once in your life. Make love not war sure, but if war is looking you in the eye don’t blink, cause you will wake up later feeling like a piece of shit.

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35mm vs 50mm Photography Comparison

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the Olympus 17mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

If you are reading this you are most likely one of a few people, the first being someone looking for their first lens. Another being some one who has either a 35mm or a 50mm and wanted to see what its like to be on the other side. Maybe you are looking for a single prime to take on vacation. Lastly and most likely you might just be one of those gross creepy street photographers like myself. Whoever you might be, I hope I can help you out a little here.

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with thePanasonic Lumix 25mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

I am a former exclusive member of team 50mm. I still love the focal length and it is still probably my favourite overall focal length. That being said the 35mm focal length is damn good too. I was never really a fan till now where I forced myself to get it and use it. I herd up until this point from other street photographers and other photographers in general about how great the 35mm focal length is. How its the perfect all around focal length and how its great for traveling. If there was any one lens to do it all it should be the 35mm. I believed it, I just never got the chance. I felt the 50mm was pretty much the same thing but I was able to get more shallow depth of field with the trade off of not having as wide a shot. Truly that is what the 50mm is and it is great for that. That is part of why it is considered “Standard”. The 35mm on the other hand comes off as much more “normal”. (See what I did there? No? Don’t worry about it.) A better way I would put it is that the 35mm comes off a lot more natural. I feel it covers more ground. Gives you more options including a little bokeh.

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the Olympus 17mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

So which is better? Well I say both. Im sure thats not what you want to hear so ill go into detail. The 35mm is a swiss army knife, a jack of all trades. It does it all and it does it well. The 50mm on the other hand can be a little fancy. It just makes the subject look nice. You cant go as wide sure but on the other hand you don’t have to go as close to the subject. Its just at the curve where portrait lenses start so it can double as a portrait lens too. Sure the 35mm can do most of this but you can really make some models uncomfortable with how close you need to get.

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with thePanasonic Lumix 25mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

Lets look at it this way. The 35mm is a grey suit and the 50mm is a black suit. This might be going over a lot of heads now since I’m going into fashion territory here but it is openly considered a grey or charcoal suit is much more versatile to wear than a black one. You can mix and match with a grey suit a lot easier than you can with a black one. You can wear a grey (charcoal) suit to a funeral or to a party and not look out of place. All that being said, damn does a black suit just look good. Not as versatile, no. The question is does it need to be? It just looks so good that, who cares? So which suit should you buy? For travel get yourself the 35mm grey suit. It will do everything you need it to do and it will do it well. For your first lens? Either one works here. If you plan to take more portraits and such the 50mm black suit. Maybe more into landscapes? Then go with the 35mm grey suit. If you have a 35mm grey suit and you are looking at that 50mm black suit don’t worry you are not missing out. Same goes the other way around. That being said I think all men should have a black suit and a grey suit. To my street photographers. Same deal. You can go either way and be happy but again I think all men should have a black suit and a grey suit.

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OM-D E-M5 Mark II Review

Olympus 17mm 1.8 Lens Review

Olympus 17mm 1.8 Lens Review

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 35mm f2.8 Canon FD Lens using High Res Shot UnEdited

I got this lens quite last minute before my trip to Cuba. Actually I got it about an hour before leaving to the airport. Before this I had the olympus 25mm 1.8 lens that I got with my OM-D E-M5 Mark II a few days earlier. I love the 50mm focal length but I just didn’t like the build and the continuous wire focus ring on the 25mm. I also felt it overall lacked in build for its price. The image quality was great and the auto focus was on point, but I like to have the option for solid manual focus and I want a solid build. So last minute I went and returned the 25mm for the 17mm and I’m very happy for it.

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

The 35mm (actually 34mm with this lens but close enough) focal length you get with the 17mm Olympus is quite something. I was a bit skeptical before this about it since I’m overall on team 50mm. Since using the 35mm I have to say I find myself playing on both teams now. It gives crips solid shots at about 4.0 and up and you can also get some beautiful bokeh in if you stop it down a bit. You should see some samples here and linked bellow is my Instagram where you should be able to see more. The focus ring is great too, if you pull back on it, it will lock into place and switch to manual focus. Its not actually manual focus, its still focus by wire. It just simulates old school manual focus and it does it extremely well. You wont have the same speed you would with pulling the focus ring around like you would with say a vintage lens but its pretty close and its as good as it will ever get for focus by wire.

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Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

The overall build is prefect. Small, solid metal/quality plastic construction all around. It felt heavier than the larger 25mm I had before, if not more dense. I was never worried about breaking it in use and when I would bump it into things it seemed to bump back just as hard. Ill be honest I hate using neck straps and rarely do but it was simply too hot in Cuba for me to carry my backpack around which means my Peak Design Capture Clip couldn’t be used. If you read/herd my review on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II you would understand I didn’t overall like the grip even though I’m use to it now. So I had to use a strap and let me tell you did my camera and lens take a beating. I would get up from a tables and the lens and camera go smashing nose first into the edge of the table. They would both shrugging it off like it was nothing. I expect this kind of solidarity coming from the OM-D E-M5 Mark II which was build for it but not the lens. Simply put I was impressed at how well it can take a beating.

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8

In conclusion I would say it was worth every penny. When I got it I thought I would return it if I didn’t like it. (Same with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II) In the end I couldn’t let either of them go. The only thing that would make this lens perfect in my eyes is if it had weather sealing. Cant have it all I guess. If you are looking at this lens I highly recommend it and if you are thinking about this vs his brother the 25mm, I still highly recommend this over that. Now thats not a 35mm vs 50mm thing thats this particular 17mm vs that particular 25mm thing. If you want to see my comparison and thoughts on the 35mm focal length vs the 50mm focal length check the links bellow. I cant say more good things about this lens from a general use standpoint and a street photographer standpoint.

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OM-D E-M5 Mark II Review

OM-D E-M5 Mark II Review

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Shot on the Sony A6000 edited in Lightroom

I have been using the OM-D E-M5 Mark II extensively for about 2 weeks now. I got it just before going on my trip to Cuba expecting to test it out on the trip. In short I am very happy with this camera but its not perfect. So lets start there with the cons.

Cons:

The Grip

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Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

I didn’t like the grip right form the start. My hand is larger than most and it was just too uncomfortable for me. I never felt confident holding it like I do with other cameras like my Sony A6000. Due to the size and weight of it I found it to dig into my ring finger most the time, kind of between the side of my nail and the next closest knuckle. I was always worried about dropping it randomly so to make up for that I would hold it more often in my left hand while cupping it from under with the lens. I also found myself mistakenly clicking the button located on the front of the camera. Im not sure what it would be assigned to on a stock camera since one of the first things I did when I got it was go in and change all the buttons to my liking. I had to key bind it to nothing for a while since I couldn’t find a use for it, it would mess with my shots when I click it by mistake or hand it over to a friend. Whenever I would hand it to a friend I can see them also click it by mistake every time. Now all this being said after about 3 days of handling and use I got use to it. My hands have naturally adapted to the weight and grip of the camera. I don’t notice it anymore. I feel I am nitpicking a bit with this flaw. To be honest I like the camera quite a bit and most of these flaws may come off as nitpicks.

The Menus

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Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

Don’t let me get started on these menus, simply put…they suck. I don’t know who signed off on this but I have made better wireframe layouts for menus in my sleep. I feel the best way they could have went about it is increase separation. Which is how I feel most companies handle their menus. If an item cant be placed into a category, simply give it its own dedicated one. What Olympus here seems to be trying to do is lower the amount of clutter but combining things here and there. It looks like there is less clutter but what ends up happening is features you would need fast access to are then hidden away within other menus. One excuse that can be given is this camera has crazy amounts of customization and in the process of that the menus can be “complicated”. I know “complicated” and this is just “messy”. I doubt this will happen but maybe Olympus will come out with a software fix for this.

Micro Four Thirds and 16MP

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Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

This is one of the things I was worried about when getting this camera. This is my first M4/3 camera having only used the Panasonic GH4 before this at an event just to try out. I felt it was excellent for video but I didn’t know what to really expect for photography. With my A6000 which is a APS-C sized sensor at 1.5 crop I would find myself with a lack of light at times. Ending up having to fiddle with the settings and make compromises to my shot to make it work. I also saw 16MP to possibly be a problem due to not allowing me to print larger or crop further. My worry about the lack of light was not that big a deal. It handled really well in dimly lit situations as good if not better than my A6000. If you don’t pixel peep at the individual grains it would give you very solid images in low light. The 16MP on the other hand has been a bit to work around. I feel I am more carful with my shots when taking them to make up for the megapixel size so I don’t have to crop into the shot later. Its not a deal break or huge for me. The way I shoot allows me a lot of wiggle room for things like this but it would be a much bigger problem for others. If you expect to do large prints or be cropping in post a lot I would have to say Micro Four Thirds is not for you. (Only exception being is if you are a product photographer and you plan to take advantage of “High Res Shot”. If its not moving it will look brilliant with a 4K shot in the end.)

Little Bits of Annoyance

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 lightly edited in Lightroom

I wont state all my little annoyances here but there is one that stands out to me and I’m going to talk about here at the end of the Cons mainly because it is maybe the smallest problem the camera has but it is my biggest personal annoyance. Now I do understand that this con might mean nothing to you but coming from a design and media background it makes me wonder if they even bothered testing the camera out properly before release it. Now my little problem with this camera is Focus Peaking turning off when I switch to manual through the lens or when using a vintage lens. Yes you are probably asking yourself, “Do people really still manually focus in photography?”…Yes they do. Magnification and Focus Peaking work as manual focus aids to allow you to manually focus on your subject more accurately and faster. It may not be as fast as todays auto focus but I still find it to overall more reliable. Even though I find auto focus to be getting better and better every year.

All that out of the way, Why? Why does this feature that exist as a manual focus aid get turned off automatically when switching to manual though the lens or when using vintage lenses. It works fine when I flip my AF to MF switch but it just loses it mind when any combination of this is done. My A6000 doesn’t do that. This is what makes me think no one tested this out in development enough. This would have been one of the first things I tried if I was working on this camera. It is one of the first things I tried when I got it. I may be coming off as being really pissed about this and its kind of true. I feel the Devil is in the details and its such a simple detail that should not have been overlooked. Now there is a work around for this and its not to bad. You can set one of the Function Buttons on the camera as a Focus Peaking on/off button. So when the camera decides to turn it off on its own you just click that button to turn it on again. The button I personally use and recommend is the small round button located on the front of the camera when your ring finger or middle finger meets the grip. The same button I talked about above when we went over the grip. I like this spot a lot since its easy to get to and miss clicking it wont change any setting thats would effect the end result. Its simply a toggle for focus peaking. If its on and you need it, great. If its off and you need it just click the button once.

Pros:

The Build

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Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus

Now this is debatable, but after a bit of thinking this over I think this may be the best built camera I have ever used, and I have used many different cameras from Canon, Nikon and Sony. Im talking about all of the A7 line and the top Canons and Nikons. I like the build of this more. Lets just say this, If I were to drop my Sony A6000 on my foot I would be worried about my A6000 maybe breaking. If I dropped my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II on my foot, call an ambulance because I most likely need medical care. The military should have a look at this camera, because this is how you should build tanks. The weather sealing, the machining and the quality of parts is as good as it gets for a pro grade camera.

High Res Shot

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 cropped

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II has all the features you expect from mirrorless cameras, focus peaking, magnification, HDR, swivel touch screen, great amounts of customization, and wifi to name a few, but it also has great new features like High Res Shot. It allows you to take a 4K picture the only catch being be subject cant move at all. So things like people are out of the question. Like I said above, product photographers will have a great time with this. The few times I tested it out, I was very surprised by the result. It can also maybe be used for some landscape shots such as waterfalls. Since any kind of movement will blur the image you can get some really cool 4K shallow shots with this feature. I personally have not tried this but in theory it should work. Having written all this and then taking the pictures you see above I realized there is a lot of potential in using Hight Res Shot for macro photography. Just look at how much you can crop and how close you can get in the second picture.

In Body Stabilization

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the Canon FD 135mm f3.5 handheld from my room, edited in Lightroom

I’m not much of a video shooter anymore but the advantages that IBS brings to photography is is excellent as well. I like to use vintage lenses. I own the Canon FD 35mm, 50mm, and 135mm. On the OM-D E-M5 Mark II Micro Four Thirds  sensor these focal lengths are all doubled to 70mm, 100mm, and 270mm. These lenses are extremely adorable and shoot amazing images and video. The problem with them is being vintage they have no image stabilization and no auto focus. Now auto focus isn’t a problem with features like magnification and focus peaking but image stabilization cant be helped. When you are trying to pull focus and also shoot a stable shot there can be a lot of motion fuzz or blur in the final images. This coming from maybe slightly missing focus and the lack of stabilization. Now with the IBS in the OM-D E-M5 Mark II there are no problems at all. Sharp clear, bokehlicious images and video all around.

Micro Four Thirds

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 25mm f1.8 edited on Lightroom

M4/3 might have its limitations when it comes to light and megapixels but it also has its advantages. As stated above all mm based on full frame standards are doubled. For instance the 50mm becoming a 100mm. Same goes for a lens at say 300mm, it would be an effective 600mm on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II M4/3 body. This allows you to get ridiculous range while still maintaining a smaller form factor. I have used full frame cameras with some long telephoto zooms and comparing the size and weight of some of those zooms to the M4/3 counter part is laughable. The size of some of these full frame lenses really seem to be over compensating for something.

Image Quality

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Shot on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the 17mm f1.8 edited in Lightroom

I don’t know what Olympus is doing to get these images to look as good as they do. Maybe unicorn horns or angel tears but the images and colors that come out of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II are simply beautiful. I don’t shoot in jpg, I did when I started photography but I got off it quick after seeing what can be done with RAW shooting. That being said this is a camera I would actually consider shooting in jpg here and there. I probably still won’t because again, even though it gives out excellent images it will still look better after processing in RAW, but damn did I come close a few times to hitting jpg. The colors and sharpness are something special from this camera. Now part of it has a lot to do with the lens I used which in this case the Olympus 17mm 1.8. I picked this lens over the Olympus 25mm 1.8. If you want to know why, keep an eye out for my next post “35mm vs 50mm”. Speaking on only on the (35mm) Olympus 17mm 1.8 I have to say its an excellent lens.

This lens teamed up with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II just might be the perfect all around team. The 35mm focal length handles everything really well. For a travel combo I cant think of anything better when it comes to primes. Only thing better for an all round use combo/travel combo would be some sort of zoom with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Personally I really cant stand zooms for many reasons I wont state here. If you are not sure why I don’t like zooms, you are most likely new to photography, just prefer zooms over primes, (Really?) or shoot very different subject matter.(Wildlife for instance) Whatever kind of shooter you might be there is a lens combo that will work well for you and the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. For me personally its some combination of a 35mm 50mm and 100mm prime. Ill make a separate review on the 17mm 1.8 lens itself or talk about it on my podcast. Either way check the bottom of this post for links to related subjects.

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Olympus 17mm 1.8 Lens Review

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