Friday, 13 April 2018

Three months with the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm F1.7 ASPH lens

There are so many reviews of the Panasonic 25mm F1.7 lens. Why another one? Well I'd like my say because I am impressed by this lens! Also, I am just an enthusiast so maybe my view can be complimentary to what you've read elsewhere.


My Story
A few years ago I was using the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 pancake lens. I used it with the Olympus PEN and Panasonic GX7. It made my camera almost pocket sized. I liked the 20mm (40mm equiv.) focal length. But I grew restless and when I was shooting in daylight I tended to go for zoom lenses, especially when on holiday. I didn't use my 20mm much and when I moved to a new GX80 camera, I sold my 20mm along with my GX7. I was happily living with my 12-32mm kit lens for general purpose photography, it is really excellent.


My Surprise
This past Christmas I was given the Panasonic 25mm F1.7 lens. At first I thought I'd only use it for low light shots. To my surprise for the past three months the 25mm has stayed almost exclusively attached to my camera. Maybe it is just a honeymoon period but I do really enjoy using this lens. The 25mm focal length feels more versatile than the 20mm did. The focus speed is superb. The 25mm is bigger than the 20mm and many of my other lenses, I thought before that this would be a negative, somehow it isn't. I find the 25mm sits well on the front of my GX80, the camera is so well balanced with it. Maybe this is due to the 25mm being lightweight?



Build Quality
As I mentioned above, the 25mm is a lightweight lens. It looks high quality, at least to my eyes. In your hands it feels like plastic but despite this it is definitely a solid lens. The mount is metal, the focus ring is very smooth, I don't have any complaints. One upside of the plastic is that when it is very cold weather the lens barrel doesn't bite your fingers off like metal does!

If I were to be picky, I would say the supplied plastic hood can be a fiddle to attach. But I shouldn't complain because at least the lens hood is included in the box. It's a big hood too so it is practical. 



Focal Length
25mm in Micro Four Thirds is equivalent to 50mm in full frame. This is a classic focal length and I really do appreciate it because you can get a wide range of shots with it. Portraits with background blur are easy (the focal length plus the F1.7 aperture help!), full body shots are fine (you don't have to walk too far backward), landscape shots look great, there's no distortion as you get on some wide angle lenses. There are so many good things to say about this focal length. In some ways you can replace your kit lens with this. I know, a 14-42 or 12-32mm lens is really great and don't get me wrong, my 12-32mm still has it's place in my bag/pocket. I just mean that if you only take this 25mm lens out with you, it's ok, you can manage. Most shots can be had by zooming with your feet. 


Close-up
The minimum focusing distance is just 25cm. That means more of the subject can fill the frame. I've found the lens really good for photographing flowers and even insects. For insects of course they are very small so you will probably have to crop the photo to see any detail on them. The good news is that this lens is sharp so when you crop the detail is there. I've even done this with 4K photo mode, you still get insects shots that you can use on social media.


Low Light 
The typical kit zoom lens such as the 12-32mm starts at just F3.5. This isn't bad, in fact I've taken plenty of great photos in the evening or at night with this lens and the 14-42 PZ for that matter. It's just that you have that added amount of freedom with the 25mm F1.7. It lets lots of light in and therefore the ISO can be lower giving cleaner images. 

The 25mm does not have any image stabilisation. However, because of the F1.7 aperture and if you are using a camera with in-body image stabilisation you should be fine. For example, I have a Panasonic GX80 which has in-body image stabilisation and it works very well with this lens.


Kit Lens Compliment
If you've just bought a camera and it came with a 12-32mm or similar kit zoom lens, if you are looking for a step-up, the 25mm is the best choice. You can use it to experiment with low light and portrait shots with blurred backgrounds. It's a light lens so you can carry both the 25mm and your little kit zoom with you. If you do with to improve your photography skills, using a fixed focal length lens, a 'prime' lens such as the 25mm, will help you a lot. I have learnt so much from prime lenses, they force you to frame the shot by moving closer or further away rather than being lazy and turning the zoom ring. You end up learning to 'see' focal lengths. Really, after a while you know what 25mm looks like so when you point you camera, you can frame the subject much quicker. Practice helps but believe me, if you want to improve this is the way to go. 


Conclusion
The Panasonic 25mm F1.7 is a great lens. I know many reviewers out there have said other more expensive lenses are better. Maybe at the low asking price of this lens, you can't go wrong. The photos are so sharp and vibrant, only but pros with the keenest of eyes would notice the difference in image quality between this and a more expensive lens. For those of us who are enthusiasts and with mortgages to pay, this Panasonic 25mm F1.7 makes a lot of sense. 




Reference
DPReview of the Panasonic 25mm F1.7



Sunday, 1 April 2018

Give your Honor 7 a Pixel makeover!


My Honor 7 is running Android 6 with the Huawei EMUI 4 skin. I never really liked the skin, the borders around the icons looks very ugly. I didn't want to install a launcher so I looked for a theme that could give my Honor 7 a more Google Pixel look and feel. I once tried Roundexicons but I didn't like that one. I was giving up hope and then I found Pixel EMi...


Pixel EMi theme by Vobiscum on XDA
I've been using Pixel EMi for a few weeks now and I really like it. It's easy to install, just a theme, but it changes the icons completely into round ones. Here's my home screen with Pixel EMi installed:


Notice the icons and folders are round. In the above the text of the clock and icons in the notification bar are white. This colour changes depending on the wallpaper you use. The following is with a different wallpaper:


In the above screen shot, with a different wallpaper the colour of the notification bar and text changed to black. This happens automatically, this picture is a little lighter than the previous one.

It isn't just the icons that change, the look of the Settings menu also changes significantly:


I really like this, I find it much clearer than the original from Huawei. It's subjective of course :-)


Download

Look for 'Download Theme', click the link, it'll download a file called Pixel EMi_20.hwt. Save this in your theme folder (HWThemes) on your phone. Then from the Themes app select Mine and the Pixel EMi theme (it'll be the last one in the list). 


Conclusion
If you have an Honor 7 and you'd like to give it a fresh look without installing a launcher, this is an easy option. As the phone was released in 2015, giving it any sort of makeover is a good thing. The best thing is that this is quick and easy to install. I've been using it for a while and I recommend it. Thanks to the creator of this theme; vobiscum

I have an Honor 7 and on the XDA website this theme says it is specifically for the Honor 7. However, it may work on other EMUI 4 phones. I do not know but it is likely. Maybe search on XDA for more information.


Disclaimer
In my opinion it's harmless and I've not experienced any bugs with this theme and that's why I recommend it. But I take no responsibility for anything that might happen when you download and install this theme or anything else. Install it at your own risk!






Friday, 16 March 2018

WMIC /format - Invalid XSL format (or) file name.

You may see an error when using WMIC /format switch, as in the following example where I wanted to write a list of the installed patches on my computer to a CSV file:
wmic /output:"d:\patches.csv" qfe list full /format:csv

But I got this error: Invalid XSL format (or) file name.


Solution
Copy the XSL files as follows:

from
C:\Windows\system32\wbem\en-us\*.xsl
to
C:\Windows\system32\wbem

Once you've done that, when you run the WMIC command with the /format switch, it will work. I have successfully tested this on a Windows 7 computer.


Reference
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/9673057/wmic-error-invalid-xsl-format-in-windows7