Josh Ginter reviews the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 Micro Four Thirds lens →

February 11, 2015 |

Gorgeous review, as ever. I couldn’t agree more with Josh’s take on this incredible lens, and his pictures make an amazing job of showing what this little gem is capable of in the right hands. It may seem small and somewhat cheap but make no mistake, this beauty punches well above its weight. I purchased mine the very same day I got my E-M10, which is probably why the 14-42mm kit lens has been locked up in a drawer since then.

I also very much agree with Josh’s conclusion:

Will the 20mm pancake be in my collection forever? Probably not. I view this lens like a ninth grade teacher: The subject is capable of teaching you fundamental skills, but may peak in its lesson-giving at some point in time. However, upon return after years away, that teacher can still remind you of the basic skills and drive home something new entirely.

This may sound odd, but I’ve actually been considering selling my 20mm pancake for a while. For all its virtues, I can’t help but feel I’ve sort of outgrown it in the past few months, and I often find myself wanting to explore different focal lengths. In particular, I’ve been wanting to switch over to the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens.

I’m going through a 35mm phase in my photography lately, which is why the lack of a truly outstanding 35mm-equivalent lens for the Micro Four Thirds system (17.5mm in MMFT terms) annoys me to no end. Sure, there’s the awesome Voigtländer 17.5mm f/0.95, but it’s manual-focus only and costs almost $1,000, so it’s not exactly an alternative to the Lumix. That leaves only the Olympus. By all accounts, it’s not as sharp as the Lumix, but it has some other redeeming qualities, not the least of which is its slightly wider focal length, much closer to the classic 35mm focal length than the Lumix.

To be honest, I’m torn between the two. On one hand, the Lumix has taught me so much that it’s already earned a place in my heart forever. Besides, its amazing size and image quality are surely still deserving of a spot in my lens collection, even if its just relegated to casual, nostalgic use in the future. On the other hand though, one must change habits to evolve as a photographer, and I keep feeling the time has come for me to move on. And the simple truth is, I need the money to fund the Olympus, so the only way I can get it right now is by selling the Lumix.

In an ideal world I would very much like to own both, but I realize it would be for sentimental reasons more than anything else.

Actually, scratch that. In an ideal world, I’d get the Voigtländer.

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Don Poynter invented whisky-flavored toothpaste in the 1950s →

February 11, 2015 |

Messy Nessy:

In 1954, Don secured a $10,000 bank loan and began manufacturing the best damn reason to brush your teeth twice a day.

The toothpaste was available in Bourbon and Scotch flavours and contained 3% alchohol. The product gained enough buzz that LIFE magazine did a story on it and Poynter’s invention became a popular novelty product across the country in the 1950s. The idea was later copied by several other brands and Poynter ceased production soon after.

There goes another one of my ideas to become a millionaire. And they say we live in an advanced society.

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The best seat in every restaurant is right at the bar →

February 11, 2015 |

David Chang:

Wedged a*s to elbow in the center of a packed dining room, moving my fork and knife in tiny, jerky motions to avoid bumping my neighbors, I’m consumed by a single thought: Why the hell didn’t I sit at the bar?

The bar is where it’s at. This is not a new development: Think of Grand Central Oyster Bar in Manhattan, your corner bistro, every diner ever, sushi houses, and hole-in-the-wall yakitori joints. Spain and Japan have understood the superiority of bar dining for decades. But America’s best restaurants are only just starting to catch on.

I’ve always been a huge fan of sitting at the bar. I love talking to seasoned bartenders, and learning all about their craft. I also make it a point to learn and address them by their first name, which in my experience goes a long way to earning their trust. Bartenders are some of the most insightful people around, and they often have great stories to go along with a perfectly chilled Martini. You really can’t beat that.

Via Kottke.

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A Medium experiment →

February 11, 2015 |

Jonathan Poritsky tries posting an article on both the candler blog and Medium to see how the article fares in both places. Here’s what he found:

When I started the candler blog in 2009, the best way to get your thoughts (especially longer thoughts) out onto the web was still to start a blog. I’m lucky to have this site and a readership that still drops by even if I don’t publish anything for weeks on end. The allure of Medium is that you don’t need any infrastructure whatsoever; all you need is your name and your words. For many that will likely be the way forward.

Getting the candler blog to be what it is today was a years-long journey, and it is by no means complete. Personally, I’d rather own every last bit of my writing and how it appears online. Perhaps that’s an outdated thought. But at least now I know: I can do just as well for myself on my own as I can on Medium. If not better.

Own your words.

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A list of every Micro Four Thirds lens available from every manufacturer →

February 10, 2015 |

Typically, when we think about the Micro Four Thirds system, two names come to mind: Olympus and Panasonic. While it’s true that these two giants are the main driving force behind the system, many other manufacturers are also contributing. Storied names like Voigtländer, Sigma and Kodak will hardly sound alien to any photography enthusiast worth her salt.

Following the title link you will find a comprehensive list of every Micro Four Thirds lens available for sale today, along with their specifications. It even includes older Four Thirds lenses, which are still compatible with the Olympus OM-D E-M1, albeit via the use of an adapter.

You’ll be surprised to see just how many native MFT lenses are actually out there. If you’re in the market for a new lens for the system, this list could come in handy. And if you prefer a downloadable version, here’s a PDF brochure with all the information.

Please note that the list does not include announced but still unreleased lenses, such as the new Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro zoom or the Voigtländer Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 prime lens.

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James O. Thach's different take on Amazon customer reviews →

February 10, 2015 |

James O. Thach is a terrific writer who specializes in a very specific brand of literature: Amazon customer reviews. For a taste of his unique approach to product reviews, take his very last one on Amazon, aptly titled “A Helmet for Oberyn”:

Whether you’re a veteran biker, a new rider, or a vengeful prince facing the Mountain in a trial by combat, I can’t stress enough the importance of proper head protection.

There are plenty of options in the helmet world, but this model has some features to recommend it. Its open-faced design allows the freedom to deliver scathing accusations. (But don’t talk too much– 80% of brain injuries occur while monologuing). Its light-weight, composite shell is virtually uncrushable. And most importantly, it includes goggles. No one’s pressing their thumbs through these peeper-protectors. You may wind up with a case of raccoon eyes, but it beats the heck out of the alternative.

The urge to go commando will always be there. But remember, whatever heroic journey you’re on, you’ll never get there without a head.


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Spider-Man is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe →

February 10, 2015 |

Anthony Breznican, Entertainment Weekly:

In a deal long-sought by Marvel Studios, Spider-Man—the character licensed to Sony Pictures years before the comic book company got into the filmmaking business—will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers team.

The deal means Spider-Man will appear in one of Marvel’s upcoming movies next, the studio said in its announcement late Monday. That will most likely be Captain America: Civil War, which is set for release May 6, 2016. Neither Sony nor Marvel specified a project, but Spider-Man was a key component in the comic book story line that inspired this movie—a clash between Cap and Iron Man over whether superheroes should be registered and monitored by the government. Spider-Man makes a critical decision about which side to take in the Mark Millar 2006-07 crossover series that pitted hero against hero.

Can’t wait. The next Captain America movie just got a whole lot more interesting. Also, here’s Marvel’s official statement announcing the deal.

Via Mike Bates.

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Shawn Blanc announces ‘The Power of a Focused Life’ →

February 09, 2015 |

I’ve been waiting for this book to be announced since this past Summer, when Shawn started talking about it on his members-only podcast, Shawn Today. It’s a topic I’m incredibly interested in, and I don’t think there’s anyone better than Shawn to guide us through it. In his own words:

In short, The Power of a Focused Life is about living without regret in the Age of Distraction. I’ll admit, it sounds a bit melodramatic — but I’m serious. I’ve been working on this book for over a year. I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading and doing research (with much more to do still). And I’ve been applying these principles and ideas to my own life for over a decade.

Shawn has always been one to walk the talk, and it shows. His previous book, Delight is in the Details, literally changed my life and was one of my main inspirations when I decided to take my chances with Analog Senses. I trust Shawn, and usually share his views on life, work and the relationship between them. I couldn’t be more excited to read what he has to say about this.

Also, whatever you do, don’t miss that introductory video. Now that’s how you announce a product.

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Josh Ginter on why the E-M10 is still the way to go →

February 09, 2015 |

Josh Ginter:

Do most people find themselves outdoors in temperatures lower than -20 Celsius for extended periods of time? I’m willing to bet not. So why spend almost twice the money for weather sealing? For the person in the market for a mainstream Micro 4/3 camera, the E-M5 Mark II’s weather sealing (in my opinion) doesn’t warrant the extra $500. If you recognize that you need a more robust camera body, then you’ve probably already made up your mind on the E-M5 Mark II.

Agreed. In my mind both cameras are excellent, but the E-M10 is clearly the mainstream model of the two and factoring in price, the better model for most people.

It’s actually a bit like the difference between Apple’s 13” MacBook Air and 13” Retina MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is clearly the better machine, but it’s also clear that the Air offers more than enough to meet the needs of the vast majority of users. If you really need or want a MacBook Pro, chances are you already know it and are prepared to pay for it.

Now imagine if instead of being only $300 more (or a 30% premium over the Air’s price), the MacBook Pro cost almost twice as much as the Air. Imagine if it started at $1,850 instead of $1,299. It’d still be the better machine, but it’d be a lot more difficult to recommend to anyone but the most specific subset of users.

Similarly, the E-M5 Mk II is clearly the better camera, but a $500 premium is a heck of a lot to command these days, when most cameras are excellent.

The E-M10 is an absolutely incredible camera for the money and to me, by far the better pick when factoring in everything and budgeting for the entire system, which of course also includes the lenses. As ever, your mileage may vary — and that’s ok, too.

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