Upload & Sell: Off
I've been using a Canon G1X with a cable remote trigger as "pole" camera since quite a while. Normally the lens is set to the wider focal length of 28mm equivalent, at f/2.8 aperture. The image quality has been pretty good, still not comparable with what I get from my Canon 5D Mk III reflex.
I finally got an old Android smartphone to try remote control by wi-fi instead of cable. That means trying my Olympus EM-1 instead. The body, without lenses, weight 500g and has very effective stabilization (a crucial factor in such a scenario).
Initially I tried the 12-40 f/2.8 zoom (380g), the combo was too heavy and there was no benefit from having the zoom, since I can't zoom while the camera is above my head. A major factor here is that I need to keep the smartphone on my right hand, leaving only my left arm and body to hold and control the "pole".
I immediately tried a 12mm f/2.0 fixed length lens (130g). The weight was bearable, even if I get tired much earlier compared to the G1X solution. The 24mm equivalent is a bit too wide. I tried the Olympus 17mm but that was too narrow.
The whole tests gave me a good excuse to order a Panasonic 15mm f/1.7, a 115g, that should arrive later this month. I am positive this should be the right focal length for the job.
You can see size/weight a comparison here:
As usual I tried the new equipment in Full. I summarize what I learned:
- While G1X image quality was good, the EM-1 blows it out of the water
- The ability to use lenses faster than f/2.8 is nice in low light, but, as expected, you better stay in 2.8/4.0 range to avoid part of the subject being out of focus
- 24mm equivalent is a bit too short as focal length
- Using the smartphone to control the camera is amazing! It's not just remote shutter control, it's full control of camera settings, I can change aperture, speed an ISO remotely, even better, I can select the focus point on the touch screen. This is really a huge improvement, much better than I anticipated.
- Holding the pole/camera on one arm and the smartphone on the other is more complicated, less stable and more tiring
- It takes some time to get used to the eye/arm coordination required to control the set-up
Finally, here is some sample shots with the Oly 12mm:
D-944 PSZH by Massimo Foti, on Flickr
Chenillette Renault UE by Massimo Foti, on Flickr