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Found 176 results

  1. Dallas

    50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD

    My favourite telephoto lens for the MFT system is this one. I find that the optics are better than the newer 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens (not that that lens is bad, it just isn't as good bokeh wise as this one). The tripod mount is removable and when you take this off as well as the somewhat large hood, it fits into a moderately sized camera bag without much fuss, which gives you a very versatile wedding lens that has a smaller form factor than the typical 70-200mm f/2.8 for 35mm systems. If you also can find the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter for this you will get an extra 40% magnification and as far as I am concerned there is no noticeable loss in image quality. Not the most heroic looker when fully zoomed (the barrel extends), but when IQ is more important to you than what a lens looks like, this one will make you very happy as an MFT shooter (using a dual AF system camera body like the E-M1).
  2. Greg Drawbaugh

    Oshkosh 2018 Airshow

    A few weeks ago "AirVenture 2018" better known as Oshkosh took place in where else, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 2018 marks my 11th consecutive year in a row to visit and photograph this monumental event. The scale and scope of this event is hard to imagine unless you have visited it in person. For the over week-long event, over 600,000 visitors, 5,000 volunteers, 10,000 aircraft arrivals, almost 20,000 aircraft operations, almost 3,000 show planes and over 40,000 campers in 12,000 sites on the airport. For me, it is one of the few airshows I attend and photograph, so it always takes a few days to re-learn my airshow photography techniques. I tend to want shots a bit different than some of the other airshow photographers seek out, and I also like to push the envelope in my post-processing for some different looks. I am pleased to present a sample of the 5500 photos I took during my week in Oshkosh. My eleventh trip to the event also marked my very first air-to-air photography experience. Please take a look and see what you think, constructive comments are always welcome. I will continue to add photos as I continue to process photos. Saturday morning marked a monumental event in my modest photography life. I was able to take a flight in a 1940s Vultee BT-13 trainer along with another Vultee BT-13. I occupied the rear seat (including strapping on a parachute) in the BT-13 named "Lucky 13" piloted by Hunter Reiley. All I asked was "please do not humble me" as I just want to take photos and not lose my camera (and a very light breakfast!). Hunter was very smooth and gentle with me, and I think we captured some great photos of his friend Kelly's BT-13. E-M1 mkII and Olympus 12-100 Pro
  3. Dallas inspired me to show some of what can be done with a mirrorless camera and aviation photography. I have been taking aviation photos for years with my Micro 4/3 cameras, but getting the fast-moving jets and sufficient prop-blur on the propeller-driven aircraft has been a real challenge. With the recent advances and firmware updates on the Olympus E-M1, I was finally able to capture what I think are worthwhile photos, at least for me. All of these shots were taken with the E-M1 "classic" in 2015 and 2016. Airshow season for 2017 is just starting, and I am anxious to see what I can do with my E-M1 mkII. This is an F-16 "Viper" making a hard break immediately after take off, E-M1 with Olympus 300mm f4.0
  4. Greg Drawbaugh

    Chickadee in an Apple Tree

    This is a Black-capped Chickadee seeking shelter in the apple tree in our Minnesota backyard. These little guys are always fun to watch and always seem happy. This one ducked into the apple tree for safety, likely after seeing me point my E-M1 mk11 and 300mm f4.0 his direction, shot at ISO 1600.
  5. @Joe Edelman posted a video on his first 6 months shooting with Olympus after switching from Nikon. He makes many of the same conclusions I did 5 years ago.
  6. Note: unfortunately the original images used in this article were lost during a software upgrade. Those of you following my (sometimes daily) musings will already know that I was selected to photograph the 47th ICANN international meeting which was held here in Durban, South Africa last week. It was a pretty hectic affair with something like 50 breakaway sessions happening every day, not to mention the bits in between, such as VIP breakfasts, lunch meetings, social gatherings and gala dinners. I was often needed in two places at once, so I had to move around quickly. Fortunately I had my wits about me and I had planned my equipment use well, so I was prepared for just about everything. The only thing I wasn't prepared for was the rain that happened at the gala dinner event which was held outdoors at our marine park. It never rains in Durban in July, except when you don't want it to. I found myself up at the top of the dolphinarium with a very heavy ThinkTank Airport Security roller, faffing around with my gear, not entirely sure which body and lens to use, whether I should be shooting the dolphin show or testing the weather-proofing on the D700 to photograph the ICANN participants watching the show in the rain. More on that later in this piece. Gear-wise I brought along three bodies for this job. I had my old trusty Nikon D700, a newish Nikon D3100 and of course the sexy little Olympus OM-D E-M5. Lenses for the Nikons included the Nikon 24-70/2.8, Sigma 12-24mm and 70-200/2.8. For the Olympus I brought with me the 9-18mm Olympus, 14-45mm Panasonic, the ridiculously sharp 75/1.8 and the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye. I had flashes for all three bodies, SB-900 on the D700, SB-800 on the D3100 and the FL-600R on the Olympus. Basically there are three main things that an event photographer needs to capture: 1) the venue 2) the people 3) the interactions Four days is a lot of time to cover those three areas, but the thing is, the organisers needed images immediately for use on social media platforms (such is the fast paced nature of our modern lives) so there was literally no time to do much editing. I had each camera set up to shoot both RAW and large JPG files so that if I needed to I could pull off a JPG at short notice. The trouble with that idea was that I would still need to re-size the JPG because a large one would be too large for media requirement and would simply slow things down too much. I suppose I should have set the JPG to be smaller in camera. What I ended up doing was importing the RAW files to Lightroom and I left my laptop with the ICANN media liaison, showed her how to white flag or reject any of the files as they were being imported (in Lightroom you simply use the P and X key to pick or reject an image from the import). This worked very well and once the process was done all I had to do was set an export recipe and hit the button. We dropped the small JPG's onto a thumb drive and the ICANN staff were then able to use them immediately. I found that using the OM-D with the 75/1.8 lens gave me the best low light results. I am quite comfortable shooting that combo at ISO 3200 and leaving the aperture wide open at f/1.8. This almost always results in a shutter speed of well over 1/500s which combined with the in-body image stabilisation system (IBIS) produces very good results. Some minor toning and noise reduction applied during the Lightroom import and you've got a winner. The D700 with Nikkor 24-70/2.8 didn't fare as well in the same conditions. Bear in mind that there is no image stabilisation with that combo, plus the 24-70/2.8 I don't find quite so sharp wide open, so I limit myself to shooting it at f/4 maximum. That's a full two and one third of a stop slower than the other combo. A lot of light in anyone's book. I used the D700 and 24-70/2.8 with the SB-900 when I needed to take photos of award winners or I could get decent ambient light. That didn't happen so often, so I found myself wishing that I had a 2nd OM-D with perhaps a 17/1.8, or even better, a Fujifilm X100s. The evening of the gala dinner was held at the uShaka Marine World down at the southern point of the city. Clouds had been gathering all day and at around 5pm the first few drops began falling. It was a slight drizzle at first, but then it really began bucketing down (see the top corners of this shot). I literally had nowhere to go, so I ended up shooting the dolphin show from right up at the top of the little stadium, where it was at least dry and I could keep an eye on my ThinkTank Airport Security case. I gotta say, that rolling case was a Godsend on this event. I rolled it everywhere with me and was able to gain easy access to my gear most of the time. The only downside was when I needed to put the raincoat on. I just couldn't figure it out and eventually gave up. I should have practised that before I took the case on a job. As most of the activities at the gala were taking place outdoors, things got chaotic very quickly. Almost a thousand people were crammed under the main marquee getting their dinner and I had nowhere to put my bag down without it getting soaked or trampled on, so I squeezed off a few high angle reference shots and made my way home after that. My feet felt like they were going to literally explode inside my shoes - I had been on them the entire day and it was pushing 10pm.
  7. Dallas

    Olympus 50-200mm with 1.4x TC

    I see no image degradation with this combo at all. In my honest opinion, this lens and 1.4x TC outshines the newer 40-150mm 2.8 PRO with its own TC by a long way.
  8. In this vlog episode we chat about using the legacy 4/3 lenses from the Olympus DSLR era on the mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M1 (original) camera bodies. We also demonstrate the auto focus speed of the 50-200mm (with a 1.4x TC) in an outdoor situation. Jump directly to the AF speed demo at 16:00. If you have suggestions for future vlog episodes please let us have them in the comments.
  9. In this vlog episode we chat about using the legacy 4/3 lenses from the Olympus DSLR era on the mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M1 (original) camera bodies. We also demonstrate the auto focus speed of the 50-200mm (with a 1.4x TC) in an outdoor situation. Jump directly to the AF speed demo at 16:00. If you have suggestions for future vlog episodes please let us have them in the comments. View full article
  10. Last year I co-led an epic, month long Photographers.travel safari from Cape Town all the way up through Namibia, to the border of Angola and then a little bit into North-Western Botswana for good measure, before heading back to Cape Town via Namibia. We did this road trip in two vehicles with 8 guests (all Nikongear.com members) and covered some 8500km (5300mi) in total. It was by far the longest road trip I have ever done. It was gruelling at times because of the state of some dirt roads we had to use, but it was well worth it because it also saw me shooting more photographs in that month long period than I have ever taken before, and getting my best results too. I made a lot of discoveries on that safari. The most significant being that it was the beginning of the end of my love affair with the DSLR. When I got back from Namibia and began looking through my photos I had a whole new appreciation for my little Olympus OM-D E-M5 and what I could accomplish with it. I also noticed that I had done about 95% of my picture taking on safari with the Oly and not my supposedly superior Nikon D700. It wasn’t long afterwards that I began selling off my Nikon kit. I’m now a full micro four thirds convert as a direct result of my discoveries on safari. This article is an insight as to how that trip helped shape this transformation in my approach and the gear I now use to get the images I want. A little background first. I live in Durban, the third largest city of South Africa. It’s located on the East Coast of the country, about 1600km (1000mi) from Cape Town. My business partner and I started putting together photo safaris in 2009 and we’ve been doing it ever since, making new friends from around the world every year. Last year we decided to do a trip that started in Cape Town and went all the way up into Namibia and the Kavango region of Botswana. The easiest way for me to get to Cape Town is to take a local flight. It’s about 2 hours flying time and because the two cities are of similar size (over 3.5 million people each) there are numerous flights between them every day. The planes used are typically jet-engined Airbus or Boeings, so you’ll have overhead bins for hand luggage. The airline I was on for this trip had a checked baggage restriction of 20kgs (44lbs) and hand luggage limits of 7kg (15.4lbs). I had a big problem in that my hand luggage made up of all my camera gear, laptop and other valuables weighed about the same as my suitcase, just under 20kg. It was all packed into a ThinkTank Airport Security roller that looks like a suitcase and while it was technically OK to use as a carry-on in terms of its size, the weight was definitely going to be an issue if the ground staff decided to take a closer look at it. I’ve done this flying with camera gear thing enough times before and while I have gotten away with really heavy carry-ons in the past, I can’t begin to explain the stresses you go through during check-in. What if they don’t let you carry it on? What if there’s no room in the overhead bin by the time you get to your seat? What if there’s no overhead bin? The paranoia doesn’t abate. This time I got to Cape Town OK but of all the trips I’d made in the past, this one was by far the most stressful as far as gear goes and I was beginning to think that if I am going to keep on doing these photo safaris, I was going to need lighter gear. So eventually the safari got underway in Cape Town amidst some horrific Cape winter weather. Cape Town has a wet and windy winter climate, which is the complete opposite of what I am used to in Durban where our winters are dry and mild. A lot of the activities we had planned on doing got scuppered because of the weather, so we had to console ourselves with lots of wine tasting. Photographically it’s a bit boring sitting around a table watching people sample wine (especially if your interest in it runs parallel with mine, which I must confess is not very high at all), but a lot of the places we visited in Stellenbosch and Klein Constantia had some interesting historical buildings so I often found myself wandering around wine cellars, taking shots of old oak barrels and even some of the vats they use to produce the stuff. (click on the images to view them larger) The one thing I began to become aware of was that I hadn’t used my Nikon D700 at all yet on the trip, despite having some choice lenses to use with it. I had brought with me a little ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag and inside it I had my E-M5 and 6 lenses, covering from fisheye up to 175mm (which is 350mm in “big camera” speak). It was light and inconspicuous, whereas my fellow travelers were all lugging monster DSLR’s and large bags around with them wherever we went. To the casual observer I might not have been a part of the same group, because trust me, a lot of people got a case of the Tom Cat curiosities whenever they saw this small army of DSLR users coming! After enduring a few days of the Cape Town winter weather at its worst (apparently it even snowed on Table Mountain while we were there) we headed North towards Namaqualand, which is famed for its wide open plains of wild spring flowers. It was here that I discovered another massive benefit to using the Olympus E-M5. I didn’t have to crawl on my belly to get level with the flowers when composing a shot. I simply angled up my LCD, sussed out what was going on with the composition and then tapped the screen to take the shot. We spent a few days in Namaqualand going from farm to farm photographing the wild flowers before we made our first border crossing of the trip into Namibia and the enormously vacant landscapes it offers. This was what I had been longing for. This was where I was hoping to make some magical images! Namibia is unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s hard to describe the solitude of these massive, ancient and inhospitable landscapes. It’s as if the earth has a dried up patch on its skin, on which nothing appears to flourish. The moment you cross over the border from South Africa the geology changes dramatically. Our first stop was the Fish River Canyon, which is the second largest canyon in the world (behind Grand Canyon, USA). Photographically it’s difficult to capture the awe of this place. You need to explore it from many different locations and the best times for photography would be in the evenings, so you’d want to give yourself a couple of days to scout a good location and then take your shots. This makes it a bit of a challenge because during the day there’s not much else to photograph in the area, so you end up spending a lot of time doing nothing in camp, which is not exactly thrilling. We got there towards evening on the first day, so we did get some nice sunset images of the canyon. We revisited it the following morning at dawn, but I didn’t find it as interesting as the previous evening (photographically that is). The evening is definitely the better time for canyon photography as the rocks take on wonderful hues in the soft, dusty sunsets. Once again I found myself using the Olympus while the Nikon D700 slept in the big rolling camera bag. Onward into the desert proper we went after the canyon, our next stop being Sossussvlei which is where you find the enormous red sand dunes of the Namib desert, the oldest in the world. This rapidly becomes landscape photography heaven as you have the dunes coming into contact with the Naukluft mountains. We had three days in this amazing landscape. It was winter but it was still unbearably hot during the day, with temperatures easily climbing over the 40C (104F) mark. My objective here was to put my recently acquired LEE Filters Seven5 system to the test in the field. For those of you unfamiliar with this system it’s basically the same as the regular LEE filters drop in filter system except that it’s been made smaller for use on mirrorless cameras like the Olympus OM-D series. To put it as succinctly as possible, I just adore the images I got out of the E-M5 using those ND Grad LEE Filters. They are a must have item for anyone interested in landscape photography. After our time in the dunes came what has to be the most mentally demanding drive I have ever undertaken. Going from Sossussvlei to Swakopmund along the badly corrugated dirt roads was something that drove home just how desolate this place is. Roadworks departments might take years to get these roads re-graded. The actual distance isn’t that far, about 350km (217mi) but because you have to drive so slowly it takes between 5 and 6 hours to get there. If you’re not careful your vehicle might end up shearing a wheel right off its axle. This happens with disturbing regularity on this road. Swakopmund is a sleepy little seaside town seemingly stuck in the early 20th century. Most of the buildings and architecture date from the time when South West Africa (as Namibia used to be known) was a German colony. German is still widely spoken here, in fact together with Afrikaans it’s the most commonly encountered language. Mornings are usually damp and misty as the cool air coming in off the Atlantic mixes with the hot and dry air of the desert often creating thick fog. We were there for three nights and each morning was the same; overcast and moist, gradually clearing towards lunch time. Apparently it’s like this most of the time. Thankfully it was considerably cooler than Sossussvlei (about 16C daytime high)! Photographically it is very interesting and well worth the visit. We spent some time in the town itself, getting the vehicles checked out after the horrendous drive there, plus we also went a little South to Walvis Bay to photograph the large flamingo colonies found there. Typical building found in swakopmund. Note the grey sky. The dunes surrounding Swakopmund are fascinating and were the highlight of our stay in Swakopmund. It’s hard to believe that anything can survive in them yet on a couple of guided tours we were introduced to some of the creatures who do just that. From snakes to spiders and chameleons, they all somehow get by. It was in these harsh desert conditions that I came to realise my days of lugging around a DSLR were almost over. Lying in my hotel room in Swakopmund one night I read online (with unbridled enthusiasm I’ll add) Olympus’ announcement of the E-M1. It addressed all the shortcomings of the E-M5, particularly where auto focus tracking is concerned. But it wasn’t so much that announcement that drove home this realisation, it was watching my guests and safari business partner lying on their bellies in the desert taking photos of a chameleon with their faces mashed against the view finder that truly drove home the sheer inadequacy of the DSLR design for me. In the midst of all the technological advances we have made over the past few years, major companies are still asking camera users to contort their bodies in order to frame a shot using old mechanical interfaces (mirrors and prisms). Moments before I took this shot I had been sitting next to these guests, also shooting the chameleon, but instead of taking the somewhat impractical measures of lying down in the sand, I had merely hunkered down, tilted my LCD upwards and once again used the touch screen of the E-M5 to make a series of super sharp, perfectly exposed images of the reptile zapping a grub at 9 frames a second. I could check the images immediately without the interference of the desert glare using the EVF. That was it. It was all I needed to convince me that the move to mirrorless was the way forward. We spent another 2 weeks in Namibia, moving from Swakopmund to Caprivi. Along the way I found yet another shooting situation where the E-M5 refused to accept the label of “inferior instrument” from its older DSLR cousins. In Damaraland there is a village of Himba people who live their lives according to their tribal traditions. We got to go inside one of the Himba women’s huts where she demonstrated to us how they bathe themselves using smoke. There we all were, 10 of us photographers crammed into this little hut where the only light coming in was via the short front entrance. Nobody else seemed to be taking photographs in the gloom. I was right next to the Himba lady and with the incredible Olympus 75mm f/1.8 ED lens I was able to make some awesome images of her ritual at high ISO. Photography is a wonderful craft and a great pastime. It’s evolved dramatically over the years and it’s continuing to evolve as new technologies are incorporated into camera designs. Since December my mirrorless m43 system has become the only system I use, both professionally and for my personal needs. All the Nikon stuff is gone. I have added an E-M1 body, Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO, Olympus 45/1.8, Olympus 7-14/4 (4/3rds mount with MMF2), Olympus 50-200/2.8-3.5 (4/3rds) and a couple of Olympus FL-600R flash units. I’m ready for just about anything the world can show me, but the most important change hasn’t been so much about the new gear itself, it’s been about how the new gear has allowed me to rekindle my love for photography. It makes me want to take it everywhere because its so easy to take a bunch of lenses and accessories wherever I go in a small camera bag without any fuss at all. It’s all I have wanted for years. The next big challenge I will put my m43 gear through are the two group photo safaris we’re doing later this year. We’re heading back to Botswana again on the first safari, this time to the Chobe region where big game and birdlife are the primary subjects. I’ll be using the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 for that one as well as hopefully the new 40-150/2.8 PRO if it is out by then. We’ll stay on a houseboat for 5 days and then also spend some time on land in Chobe before heading to Victoria Falls for some action and more water based adventure photography. That trip is in September and there is still one suite left for a couple sharing if there is interest amongst readers (full information here). Then the following month we head to Sabi Sabi for our annual Ultimate Big 5 Safari, which is to be honest, the best introduction to Africa and it’s wildlife you could ever hope for. You get closer to the Big 5 than you’ll get anywhere else and the photo opportunities are ridiculous. It will certainly be a great test of the long lenses that are available for the E-M1. Maybe we’ll see some of you there too?
  11. Dallas

    Similar Posts

    I discovered a feature of the software I didn't know existed before and have implemented it in the page footer of all posts where tags are in use. So, for example, having tagged this post with Nikon and Olympus, readers should see shortcut links to several posts with the same tags in the footer. Enjoy!
  12. A couple of people have asked me to make a video about some of the more advanced features of the Olympus Flash system. In this video I take a very quick look at a few of the features I find most useful. If you have any questions about the video, the flash or Olympus in general, please post them in the comments and I will do my best to help you.
  13. A couple of people have asked me to make a video about some of the more advanced features of the Olympus Flash system. In this video I take a very quick look at a few of the features I find most useful. If you have any questions about the video, the flash or Olympus in general, please post them in the comments and I will do my best to help you. View full article
  14. One of the coolest things about mirrorless cameras is that with an adapter you can mount and use just about any lens from other camera systems on a mirrorless body. Every m43 camera I have tried doing this on, going back to the original digital PEN models, also does a very good job of calculating exposure in A mode without even knowing what aperture you have set on the lens. This makes using non-native lenses on an m43 camera even easier. Of course you can also use the live histogram and highlight/shadow clipping warnings in other modes to get your exposure right if you prefer shooting that way. Before I made my move to m43 from Nikon I purchased a really cheap F mount adapter for G lenses from eBay so that I could mount my Nikon lenses on the Olympus E-M5. It cost me about $10 including shipping to me in South Africa which is extraordinarily cheap. At that point I only had the E-M5 body, so I didn’t have the benefit of the E-M1’s focus peaking feature when it came to focusing some of the F mount lenses I tried on the Olympus. I had to focus using the magnification method, which admittedly wasn’t ideal as it involved a few steps that weren’t always in the forefront of my mind. However, even with this somewhat hit-and-miss approach, I was quite impressed with the way some of the lenses I tried performed on the E-M5. The Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS was seemingly even sharper on the Olympus than it was on the Nikon D700. When using a Sigma 2x teleconverter coupled with that lens on the E-M5 I was able to get an effective angle of view similar to that of a 1200mm f/5.6 lens on a 135 camera. Paparazzi manna no doubt, except that the tripod support I was using for this get-up was not all that good, leaving me with no option but to use the self timer to get a sharp image. With such a small angle of view every tiny vibration felt by the camera is magnified to the point where locating anything in the EVF steady enough to focus on is a real challenge. I’d pretty much given up on the idea of using adapted lenses on my OM-D’s but the other day I was cleaning out some of the drawers in my office and I came across a clutch of Canon FD lenses that have somehow survived getting the dreaded fungus that plagues lenses in the humid climate here where I live. Included in this small collection are a Canon 19mm f/3.5, Canon 28mm f/2.8, Canon 50mm f/1.8, Canon 35-70mm f/4-5.6 zoom and a Vivitar 200mm f/3.5. I thought they might be worth trying on the E-M1. Nikon adapter (left) and Canon FD adapter (right) The short (14cm), all metal body Vivitar 200/3.5 is one lens in particular that I hoped might shine on m43 and prove to be somewhat useful given it’s small size and 400mm equivalent angle of view. With that kind of narrow view and relatively fast aperture I became curious enough to send another $10 to China for an FD adapter which arrived this past Friday. Since then I’ve been having some fun with these old FD lenses. The other lens I was curious about that I never got to try out in my film days is the Canon FD 19mm f/3.5. The reason I never got to use this guy is because it only mounts on FD bodies with mirror lock-up functions. For a short while I did have a Canon F-1 that had this feature, but for some reason I never ran a film through that hefty body. In the course of my love affair with Leica M bodies I eventually sold the F-1 but kept the 19mm. This lens has an extreme design - its rear element is so close to the film plane that even with the m43 adapter a portion of it still protrudes beyond the inner throat of the adapter which makes mounting it on some m43 cameras impossible as there is not enough clearance around the sensor for the rear element to fit. Fortunately the E-M1 seems to have more room in that area than the E-M5 does and after a few nervous moments during mounting it where I thought I might destroy the E-M1’s sensor by mashing it against the back of the lens, it all clicked neatly into position and nothing broke. The 19mm view would be quite wide on a 135 camera, but it offers more of a normal view (38mm) on the m43 sensor. After all those years of waiting to try it out the image quality is nothing special, in fact it’s quite disappointing, sort of soft all around, very prone to flare and largely of devoid of the contrast we’ve come to expect from modern lenses. Lens design has certainly come a long way since this chap was a desirable item for Canon shooters back in the day. I do think one area that it might prove useful in is for video use. It offers up a lot of depth of field, so if you are shooting a general scene you can set the aperture to around f/8 and everything from 1.5m to infinity is in focus (an advantage of having hyperfocal distance markings on the lens is that you can simply move the infinity symbol to the aperture you’re using and the opposite side of the scale shows where your nearest point of focus will be for that aperture). Just as well because trying to focus it manually involves some finger gymnastics as its focusing ring is wafer thin and there are only two very small ribbed sections to grip it with. Oh well, at least I know now what it’s like. I don’t think I’ll be using it all that often. L-R: Vivitar 200/3.5, Canon 28/2.8, Canon 50/1.8 and on the E-M1 the Canon 19/3.5 (note the thin focus ring) The other lens I was keen to try is the Vivitar 200mm f/3.5. Back in the heydays of manual focus lenses Vivitar weren’t exactly known for being stellar optics, but they did have their Series 1 lenses which were quite well regarded. While being exceptionally well built, my 200mm isn’t a Series 1 lens and the optics show that. It starts getting fairly sharp at around f/8, but as with the 19mm there’s this lacklustre contrast performance to deal with. Definitely not the kick-ass, small lens I had hoped might come in handy for shooting wildlife on safari. Unsurprisingly the two better FD lenses I have are the small and light Canon 28mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.8 optics. Stopped down to f/4 these lenses both offer exceptional sharpness on the E-M1 and they also do pretty well in the contrast department. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 FD can be picked up for as little as $20 on eBay and when used on the m43 sensor it makes for a terrific portrait lens. The 28mm I am very impressed with as far as sharpness goes! Above and below images taken with the Vivitar 200/3.5 stopped down to about f/8 - you can see colour fringing on the royal ibis in the background below Above: the Canon 28mm f/2.8 turned out to be a good lens on the E-M1 Above: Canon 50/1.8 FD is pretty sharp and makes for a good portrait lens on micro four thirds Recently I came across this company, Fotodiox, who have developed an m43 speed booster adapter for Canon FD and Nikon G lenses named the Excell+1. According to the literature these adapters will not only provide you with an additional stop of light, but will also shorten the FD lens focal length so that they are closer to the original by a factor of 0.72x. So when you’re using the adapter on an m43 body together with a 50mm lens instead of getting the view of a 100mm lens, you’re getting a 70mm view because the built-in optics of the adapter reduces the actual focal length of a 50mm lens to 36mm. Would be cool to pick up a Canon 85mm f/1.2 and use it with one of these adapters. You’d get an aperture of f/0.something! However, those lenses still command high prices on the used market (I saw a couple going for close to $1k on eBay), so you’d probably be better off just getting the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 native mount lenses for m43. Even so, I’d still like to try this speedbooster out on the Canon 28mm f/2.8. It would give me a very fast 41mm field of view. An interesting product for sure. At the end of the day using lenses like this on my OM-D is more about having relaxed fun than serious photography. There’s something inherently cool about putting old lenses to use again. It also slows you down some and forces you to think a bit more than usual when making a shot. I will definitely do more excursions where I only use the FD lenses. I may also just add a few more eBay bargains in the future too.
  15. If like me you came to Olympus cameras via some other brand first (in my case it was Nikon), understanding how the Olympus camera menus work can be challenging. However, once you get used to them they do make sense and now after 5 years of use I am fairly competent in using them, although sometimes I do have to remember where certain lesser used items are kept. In this series of videos I will attempt to give some insight into the way the menus work that will hopefully help other users, or potential Olympus adoptees not be so scared of all the deep menu levels and various options. I am going to try and upload as often as possible, keeping the videos to around 5 minutes each (it took me 2 hours to upload this first one!), however, if you have specific items you would like me to cover in a video, please let me know and I will prioritise them. Also let me have any other production suggestions. If you like the video please hit the thumbs up on Youtube, share it wherever you can and if you're a generous soul please consider donating to Fotozones or helping me out via Patreon.
  16. Over the years I’ve bought ridiculous numbers of lenses for many different camera systems, ranging from Nikon to Canon to Leica to Bronica and most recently the micro four thirds system. On all the systems there have been dogs, there have been stars and there have been run-of-the-mill lenses. I think I can probably count on the digits of one hand the number of lenses I have used that literally made me gasp when reviewing their drawing characteristics on LCD playback or in the computer. Up in the top 5 of my best ever experiences are lenses such as my Nikkor 24-70/2.8, the Micro-Nikkor 60/2.8 (I use the older AF-D version), a Leica 180mm f/3.5 APO-Telyt-R, the Canon 400/2.8L USM and now joining them is this remarkable little gem from Olympus, the 75/1.8. When Olympus first unleashed this lens there were gasps heard all around the online photography world. Some were saying it was the sharpest lens they had ever used and had bokeh on a par with the likes of the Nikon 200/2. Now that particular Nikkor is almost mythical when it comes to optical performance, so claims like this definitely got me excited. Especially since the lens they were waxing lyrical about is only a little longer than the standard 50/1.4 offered by most manufacturers of 35mm equipment and weighs a mere 305g. Of course 75mm on m43 offers the same field of view of a 150mm lens on the bigger format, which is pretty close to 200mm, a focal length I use a lot on my 70-200/2.8. I had to have one. This article is more an assessment of how the lens worked for me on a recent shoot than an in-depth review. I’m never going to offer any form of resolution charts or figures on articles like this - all I’m going to do is talk about how the lens fits in with my needs and expectations. Ok, so right off the bat I need to explain how I came to acquire the 75mm and how I used it on a paid assignment. Those of you who follow my posts over on Nikongear.com may have read about my purchase of a Nikon D7100 last month to use as a second body to help me cover a 3 day hotel conference here in my hometown. The intention was for me to use the D7100 with telephoto lenses such as the Sigma 70-200/2.8 and then also with the Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS later this year on the Namibia wildlife safari we’re doing. I would use my D700 with 24-70/2.8 for all the other shots. When I got the D7100 home I immediately set about seeing how it played with those two Sigma tele zooms. Well, let’s be frank about this. Either I have totally lost my ability to hold a camera steady (even on a tripod), or there was something wrong with this camera. I tried every Nikon F mount lens I own (a fair number of them) and I couldn’t get it to produce a sharp image at all. I tried calibrating, I tried faster shutter speeds, I tried manual focus, I tried everything I have learned about photography since Y2K. No dice. It wasn’t working for me, so I took it back to the store and they were going to get me a replacement to try out. The problem was I was running out of time and had to get myself ready for this conference within a few days. They didn’t get the replacement in time so I had no option but to ask them for a refund. I then used that money to purchase the Olympus 75/1.8 with its hood, as well as the HLD-6 grip for my OM-D, together with a 2nd battery. I will admit, I was a bit apprehensive going into this conference without a dedicated body for my 70-200/2.8. I would be using my D700 together with the 24-70/2.8 for the normal shots and then relying on the OM-D and the 75/1.8 for shots of speakers at the lectern as well as unassuming delegates in the audience. The apprehension soon evaporated when I got a look at the first shots taken at home with the lens set to f/1.8 and the OM-D set to ISO 3200. Good grief. Was I seeing this right? Could it be that sharp? Really?? After a couple of days of checking and re-checking wide performance in dimly lit rooms at home I felt confident that I would have no problems using the 75/1.8 on the OM-D for speaker shots, as well as whatever else might catch my eye from a distance. I felt comfortable that shooting the OM-D at 3200 would also be OK because even though it does exhibit a fair amount of noise, it’s very manageable within Lightroom’s own RAW noise controls. Having shot many conferences at this particular hotel in the past I knew what the lighting would be like too, which also eased my worried mind. Here are some examples of speaker images shot at f/1.8 and ISO 3200 on the OM-D. Here are some shots of the delegates in a pretty dim auditorium: On the first night of the event there was a "Mad Hatters" cocktail party at another hotel a few kilometres away from the conference venue. This is where the 75/1.8 really shone! Autofocus acquisition in the even dimmer lit bar was outstanding. I had to pump up ISO to 6400, but I was getting very usable shots that I could run through a noise reduction setting in Lightroom. Here’s my assessment of a few key features that photographers will be looking for in a lens review. Sharpness Oh yeah. This baby is sharp and most importantly, it’s sharp where it matters most - at the widest aperture. There’s literally no point in having a fast lens that isn’t sharp at its widest aperture. Yes, all lenses will get a bit sharper as you stop them down to a point, but the whole purpose of having a fast aperture is so that you can let more light into the camera, keep your subject sharp and smooth away the background. This lens does exactly that. At f/1.8 I’m getting stuff that is sharper than any other lens I have ever owned with an equivalently fast aperture. Bokeh It’s as smooth as I need it to be. I’m very happy with the way it renders out of focus highlights. Smaller sensors like those found in the m43 system will normally not provide you with the subject/background separation that you get from bigger sensors, such as those found on DSLR’s. The Olympus 75/1.8 does a very good job of this though, as can be seen in all these images. Build & Handling The lens is just awesomely built. The only plastic found on this lens appears to be the lens caps and the bit that secures the front element into the barrel (you know, the place with the lens nomenclature etched in white lettering). Everything else is made from high grade metals. Not even the focus ring has rubber - it’s grooves are milled! The focus ring is the smoothest you are ever likely to find on any lens. It’s still a focus-by-wire lens, meaning that the focusing ring doesn’t physically engage any of the elements, it merely issues a electronic command to the lens to move the glass inside. Personally this is never something I would see myself using. Up until just a few weeks ago it was only available in the silver colour, but I believe that it is now possible to get a black version for the same money. I like the silver on my silver OM-D. Autofocus Speed On my E-M5 there’s a split second’s hesitation before autofocus engages, which after I did some testing, has more to do with the IBIS system starting up than it has anything to do with the lens. After that initialization of the IBIS the acquisition of focus on any object with sufficient detectable contrast, both near and far, is pretty much instantaneous. It’s darn near completely silent too. It was only when I had the IBIS turned off for testing that I actually heard any noise coming from the lens itself. The Controversial Hood Every lens review that you read online about this or any other Olympus lens for m43 will have the same gripes: why don’t Olympus include the lens hood when they sell us the lens? Why are the lens hoods so expensive? I’m going to break the mold a little on this issue and view the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. I bought this lens and made sure that I got the lens hood for it as well (as you can see from the product shot I took of mine right at the beginning). I had to pay quite a bit more for it, but so what? If you look at the price of the lens with its hood, you’re still well below the cost of an equivalent 35mm system lens at this quality level. Well below! I am of the opinion that the Olympus range of primes for m43 are at the same premium brand level of Leica equivalents. That seems to be the approach Olympus are taking with their range these days, and rightly so, in my opinion. It’s a class above the competition. Have you tried pricing hoods for the Elmars and Elmarits? Summilux anyone? The hood that Olympus uses on the 75/1.8 is made in China, but like the lens it is milled from high quality steel and secures to the barrel with a knurled tensioning knob, very much like those found on super telephoto lenses for 35mm systems. It’s not a bayonet fitting. I always want a hood on my lenses because I never use UV or 1A filters on the front of them. The hood acts as a degree of protection, should I ever get sloppy enough to put the front element of the lens at risk of damage. Paying a bit more for the hood for this lens didn’t bother me in the slightest. I reckon if Olympus are giving us an option of getting the lens for less than it would have cost with the hood, then that’s a plus, not a negative. My Conclusion It’s by far the most expensive lens I have purchased thus far for the m43 system, but it is also by far the best lens I have ever used on that system too. It does everything I need it to and it solved a very important problem for me when it comes to working at a distance in dim light with the small, very lightweight OM-D system. The sharpness and subject isolation is just about perfect for the kind of work I do. I believe that if the next generation of OM-D improves the high ISO performance of their sensor, as well as the AF tracking to match that of the top end 35mm systems, there will be a flood of sensible indoor photographers looking to this lens to replace a lot of the 70-200/2.8 lenses usually seen at indoor events. I certainly didn’t find myself caught short at the conference I used it on earlier this month. If you’re a m43 shooter, don’t dilly dally, just get it. If you've already got one, don't forget to rate it in our official member's ratings thread here.
  17. Over the years I’ve bought ridiculous numbers of lenses for many different camera systems, ranging from Nikon to Canon to Leica to Bronica and most recently the micro four thirds system. On all the systems there have been dogs, there have been stars and there have been run-of-the-mill lenses. I think I can probably count on the digits of one hand the number of lenses I have used that literally made me gasp when reviewing their drawing characteristics on LCD playback or in the computer. Up in the top 5 of my best ever experiences are lenses such as my Nikkor 24-70/2.8, the Micro-Nikkor 60/2.8 (I use the older AF-D version), a Leica 180mm f/3.5 APO-Telyt-R, the Canon 400/2.8L USM and now joining them is this remarkable little gem from Olympus, the 75/1.8. When Olympus first unleashed this lens there were gasps heard all around the online photography world. Some were saying it was the sharpest lens they had ever used and had bokeh on a par with the likes of the Nikon 200/2. Now that particular Nikkor is almost mythical when it comes to optical performance, so claims like this definitely got me excited. Especially since the lens they were waxing lyrical about is only a little longer than the standard 50/1.4 offered by most manufacturers of 35mm equipment and weighs a mere 305g. Of course 75mm on m43 offers the same field of view of a 150mm lens on the bigger format, which is pretty close to 200mm, a focal length I use a lot on my 70-200/2.8. I had to have one. This article is more an assessment of how the lens worked for me on a recent shoot than an in-depth review. I’m never going to offer any form of resolution charts or figures on articles like this - all I’m going to do is talk about how the lens fits in with my needs and expectations. Ok, so right off the bat I need to explain how I came to acquire the 75mm and how I used it on a paid assignment. Those of you who follow my posts over on Nikongear.com may have read about my purchase of a Nikon D7100 last month to use as a second body to help me cover a 3 day hotel conference here in my hometown. The intention was for me to use the D7100 with telephoto lenses such as the Sigma 70-200/2.8 and then also with the Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS later this year on the Namibia wildlife safari we’re doing. I would use my D700 with 24-70/2.8 for all the other shots. When I got the D7100 home I immediately set about seeing how it played with those two Sigma tele zooms. Well, let’s be frank about this. Either I have totally lost my ability to hold a camera steady (even on a tripod), or there was something wrong with this camera. I tried every Nikon F mount lens I own (a fair number of them) and I couldn’t get it to produce a sharp image at all. I tried calibrating, I tried faster shutter speeds, I tried manual focus, I tried everything I have learned about photography since Y2K. No dice. It wasn’t working for me, so I took it back to the store and they were going to get me a replacement to try out. The problem was I was running out of time and had to get myself ready for this conference within a few days. They didn’t get the replacement in time so I had no option but to ask them for a refund. I then used that money to purchase the Olympus 75/1.8 with its hood, as well as the HLD-6 grip for my OM-D, together with a 2nd battery. I will admit, I was a bit apprehensive going into this conference without a dedicated body for my 70-200/2.8. I would be using my D700 together with the 24-70/2.8 for the normal shots and then relying on the OM-D and the 75/1.8 for shots of speakers at the lectern as well as unassuming delegates in the audience. The apprehension soon evaporated when I got a look at the first shots taken at home with the lens set to f/1.8 and the OM-D set to ISO 3200. Good grief. Was I seeing this right? Could it be that sharp? Really?? After a couple of days of checking and re-checking wide performance in dimly lit rooms at home I felt confident that I would have no problems using the 75/1.8 on the OM-D for speaker shots, as well as whatever else might catch my eye from a distance. I felt comfortable that shooting the OM-D at 3200 would also be OK because even though it does exhibit a fair amount of noise, it’s very manageable within Lightroom’s own RAW noise controls. Having shot many conferences at this particular hotel in the past I knew what the lighting would be like too, which also eased my worried mind. Here are some examples of speaker images shot at f/1.8 and ISO 3200 on the OM-D. Here are some shots of the delegates in a pretty dim auditorium: On the first night of the event there was a "Mad Hatters" cocktail party at another hotel a few kilometres away from the conference venue. This is where the 75/1.8 really shone! Autofocus acquisition in the even dimmer lit bar was outstanding. I had to pump up ISO to 6400, but I was getting very usable shots that I could run through a noise reduction setting in Lightroom. Here’s my assessment of a few key features that photographers will be looking for in a lens review. Sharpness Oh yeah. This baby is sharp and most importantly, it’s sharp where it matters most - at the widest aperture. There’s literally no point in having a fast lens that isn’t sharp at its widest aperture. Yes, all lenses will get a bit sharper as you stop them down to a point, but the whole purpose of having a fast aperture is so that you can let more light into the camera, keep your subject sharp and smooth away the background. This lens does exactly that. At f/1.8 I’m getting stuff that is sharper than any other lens I have ever owned with an equivalently fast aperture. Bokeh It’s as smooth as I need it to be. I’m very happy with the way it renders out of focus highlights. Smaller sensors like those found in the m43 system will normally not provide you with the subject/background separation that you get from bigger sensors, such as those found on DSLR’s. The Olympus 75/1.8 does a very good job of this though, as can be seen in all these images. Build & Handling The lens is just awesomely built. The only plastic found on this lens appears to be the lens caps and the bit that secures the front element into the barrel (you know, the place with the lens nomenclature etched in white lettering). Everything else is made from high grade metals. Not even the focus ring has rubber - it’s grooves are milled! The focus ring is the smoothest you are ever likely to find on any lens. It’s still a focus-by-wire lens, meaning that the focusing ring doesn’t physically engage any of the elements, it merely issues a electronic command to the lens to move the glass inside. Personally this is never something I would see myself using. Up until just a few weeks ago it was only available in the silver colour, but I believe that it is now possible to get a black version for the same money. I like the silver on my silver OM-D. Autofocus Speed On my E-M5 there’s a split second’s hesitation before autofocus engages, which after I did some testing, has more to do with the IBIS system starting up than it has anything to do with the lens. After that initialization of the IBIS the acquisition of focus on any object with sufficient detectable contrast, both near and far, is pretty much instantaneous. It’s darn near completely silent too. It was only when I had the IBIS turned off for testing that I actually heard any noise coming from the lens itself. The Controversial Hood Every lens review that you read online about this or any other Olympus lens for m43 will have the same gripes: why don’t Olympus include the lens hood when they sell us the lens? Why are the lens hoods so expensive? I’m going to break the mold a little on this issue and view the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. I bought this lens and made sure that I got the lens hood for it as well (as you can see from the product shot I took of mine right at the beginning). I had to pay quite a bit more for it, but so what? If you look at the price of the lens with its hood, you’re still well below the cost of an equivalent 35mm system lens at this quality level. Well below! I am of the opinion that the Olympus range of primes for m43 are at the same premium brand level of Leica equivalents. That seems to be the approach Olympus are taking with their range these days, and rightly so, in my opinion. It’s a class above the competition. Have you tried pricing hoods for the Elmars and Elmarits? Summilux anyone? The hood that Olympus uses on the 75/1.8 is made in China, but like the lens it is milled from high quality steel and secures to the barrel with a knurled tensioning knob, very much like those found on super telephoto lenses for 35mm systems. It’s not a bayonet fitting. I always want a hood on my lenses because I never use UV or 1A filters on the front of them. The hood acts as a degree of protection, should I ever get sloppy enough to put the front element of the lens at risk of damage. Paying a bit more for the hood for this lens didn’t bother me in the slightest. I reckon if Olympus are giving us an option of getting the lens for less than it would have cost with the hood, then that’s a plus, not a negative. My Conclusion It’s by far the most expensive lens I have purchased thus far for the m43 system, but it is also by far the best lens I have ever used on that system too. It does everything I need it to and it solved a very important problem for me when it comes to working at a distance in dim light with the small, very lightweight OM-D system. The sharpness and subject isolation is just about perfect for the kind of work I do. I believe that if the next generation of OM-D improves the high ISO performance of their sensor, as well as the AF tracking to match that of the top end 35mm systems, there will be a flood of sensible indoor photographers looking to this lens to replace a lot of the 70-200/2.8 lenses usually seen at indoor events. I certainly didn’t find myself caught short at the conference I used it on earlier this month. If you’re a m43 shooter, don’t dilly dally, just get it. If you've already got one, don't forget to rate it in our official member's ratings thread here. View full article
  18. If like me you came to Olympus cameras via some other brand first (in my case it was Nikon), understanding how the Olympus camera menus work can be challenging. However, once you get used to them they do make sense and now after 5 years of use I am fairly competent in using them, although sometimes I do have to remember where certain lesser used items are kept. In this series of videos I will attempt to give some insight into the way the menus work that will hopefully help other users, or potential Olympus adoptees not be so scared of all the deep menu levels and various options. I am going to try and upload as often as possible, keeping the videos to around 5 minutes each (it took me 2 hours to upload this first one!), however, if you have specific items you would like me to cover in a video, please let me know and I will prioritise them. Also let me have any other production suggestions. If you like the video please hit the thumbs up on Youtube, share it wherever you can and if you're a generous soul please consider donating to Fotozones or helping me out via Patreon. View full article
  19. Greg Drawbaugh

    Focus Stacking

    I had some nice cloudy bright sky after a light rain fall, so I decided I might attempt to get some flower photos using the in camera, focus stacking ability of the latest Olympus cameras. Red always gives me problems, so I decided I would tackle it first. This are all five-shot, hand-held focus stacks with some work in Lightroom, F5.0 at 1:50 sec
  20. Regular readers will know that I have been using the new Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO on various assignments (on loan periodically) since it came out. It’s a wonderful lens so I thought I would take it with me on our recent safari adventures to the Chobe National Park for the Wild Waterways Safari and Sabi Sabi for the Ultimate Big 5 Safari. Last year I used my Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 on both those trips and it was a really good lens for me in many situations. It’s bright, fairly compact and while it looks really ugly with its protruding front, it certainly delivers the goods on the image front, which is where it counts. When you compare it to the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO it most definitely doesn’t quite look as svelte but it’s still a very good lens. Because my Olympus kit is all so lightweight I considered taking both the 50-200mm and 40-150mm (with the 1.4x TC) with me on safari, but it would have meant leaving behind a few other smaller lenses which I like to use for general purpose shots, mainly because I wouldn’t have had space in my ThinkTank Retrospective 50. Just on that bag choice, I was planning on using the new MindShiftGear Firstlight 30L backpack, but it’s just a tad too big to look inconspicuous as carry-on luggage, so I went for the Retro 50 (which I have just realised I still have to review officially!) because it swallows up just about all my gear and my laptop and I find that messenger bags are so much more practical than backpacks for use in vehicles and boats. Anyway, I digress… The 40-150mm with the 1.4x TC gives it a slightly longer focal length (210mm) than the 50-200mm. In the 135 (35mm) system you’d need to use 100-400mm lens to obtain a similar viewing angle. The older Olympus lens has the advantage of being faster in terms of aperture when its zoomed in to the max (f/3.5 vs f/4), plus if you zoom out again you get f/2.8 at 50mm whereas if you’re using the 1.4x TC on the 40-150mm you’re at f/4 constantly, regardless of zoom position. The other big difference between the two lenses is that the new lens uses all the AF-points available on the E-M1 and makes use of both the CDAF and PDAF systems too. Plus you get the full 10 frames a second burst when needed. The older lens only uses PDAF with limited points and you are limited to 6 FPS. So in the end the 50-200mm stayed behind and the new kid on the block came with me. Prior to this trip I had used the 40-150mm in a number of situations where it excelled, specifically at my niece’s wedding in April and then at a rock concert my son was involved in a short while after. So I kind of knew what to expect. However, I hadn’t ever used the lens properly on safari and I hadn’t used it with the 1.4x TC either, so I was going in blind, so to speak. My first outing with the combo was on the Chobe river where shortly after setting off in the photography boat we came across a leopard sighting. Now this is extremely rare! Sure, we get leopards aplenty on the Ultimate Big 5 safari, but the Wild Waterways trip is more about birds, elephants and other bigger mammals who hang out near the water. We weren’t expecting to see a leopard. I made a couple of mistakes with this sighting that resulted in poor images. Firstly, I should have used the Gimbal attached to my swivel seat, because even though the 40-150mm is lightweight and the focal length isn’t that long, hand-holding on a boat that is bobbing up and down in the excitement with lots of water movement being created by other boats full of excited people can totally confuse the IBIS. Not only is it trying to compensate for my movement, it has the boats movement to deal with too and the resulting stabilisation is erratic at best. Secondly, I should have used faster shutter speeds. I almost always shoot in Aperture Priority mode, allowing the Auto ISO to float between 200 and 6400 on the E-M1. This is fine in most instances, but on a moving boat, shooting handheld, I really should have opted to pick a faster shutter speed than the focal length reciprocal the E-M1 is always going to aim for. The actual focal length of this combo is 210mm, so the camera in A mode is always going to settle on speeds around the 1/200 or 1/250 mark when light levels require it to begin upping the ISO. That speed should be much faster, because the angle of view is similar to what a 135 system sees at double the focal length. So it should have been at least 1/500 or faster. The net result is that I took close to 500 frames of blurry leopard images. Yes, I did get some acceptable images when he was not moving much, but all things considered, I found myself too excited to even think about things like this. I should know better since this isn’t the first time I have been on safari, nor was it the first time I had seen a leopard. Anyway… lesson learned. Next time I go on safari I will be sure to use S mode and I won’t let my speed be any less than 1/1000. However, having said that, I did find that the degradation of image quality from the 1.4x TC was pretty significant and after that first boat ride I took it off and didn’t put it back on for the remainder of the safari, except to remind myself that I wasn’t missing out on anything. This did leave me pretty short on a lot of the sightings, but I did have my 75-300mm lens with me. Not exactly a match for the 40-150mm IQ wise, but in good light it was OK. After a few more boat rides I began to settle down with the 40-150mm. I also adopted the rear AF activation method that most wildlife photographers use and while it took a bit of getting used to, I definitely believe that my hit rate increased as a result. Before long it was off to Sabi Sabi for Ultimate Big 5, which has proven year after year to be the best wildlife safari experience for us. We didn't think we could top off last year’s trips as far as sightings went, but boy, oh boy, did we! You can see more of my shots on our Photographers.travel Flickr page. I got loads of great shots on these 2 safaris, but I do think that I got better images on last year’s trips when I was using the 50-200mm lens. Why? I have thought about this and come to the conclusion that the 40-150mm PRO, while it is an awesome lens, is only really suited for near field subjects, which makes it less than desirable as a wildlife lens. Anything more than 25m away seemes to have less “pop”. Don’t get me wrong, I am still salivating after this lens for general use, but on future safaris I would definitely choose the 50-200mm over it. I do think that the 300mm f/4 PRO will be the business for safaris though and I reckon that if Olympus were to make a 200mm f/2.8 PRO (or maybe even an f/2.0 version?) they would have my order in no time.
  21. Andrew L (gryphon1911)

    Impressions: Olympus PEN-F

    Yes, I know...call me what you will...hypocrite, lucky, stupid, smart....whatever....I have an Olympus PEN-F in my possession. Long story short, some gear trades ended me here. Got a call yesterday from my local camera shop. PEN-F was in. Silver model. Made my way down to the store today on my lunch hour. Most of the guys that I talked to that handled the demo were impressed with it. They are mostly Sony and Fuji users in the mirrorless sector, but found the PEN-F intriguing. I've only had the thing in my hands for the last 30 minutes, so I'll just address what I can for now and get into more details later. Front Dial: I've heard from others on the internet that the front dial is sharp and cut into their hands. I'm a big guy with large hands and my fingers do not even come close to the front dial. Like the Nikon Df, the PEN-F needs to be held with a slightly different grip. I'm not going to hold it like an EM1 or a D700. Yes, the edges of the front dial have some bite to them, but nothing I would consider "sharp". However, that is a subjective matter and each person should decide that for themselves with a hands on. Grip (or lack there of): The thumb indent on the back seems adequate for me. The front is of a grippy like material. I had no issues holding the camera one handed. It will most likely be an issue with the larger lenses like the PRO lenses or the 75-300/4.8-6.7 II. My primary intention of using this camera is going to be with primes, so I don't consider that much of an issue. "Rangefinder-esque" Styling: I've never been one to prefer an "OVF hump" or side set EVF. I just require there to BE an EVF. For those that like built in EVF, this one does not disappoint. LCD Rear Screen AF Point Selection: One of the things that I envied of some of the Panasonic bodies was having the EVF be used as a way to select the AF point while looking through the EVF. We have that now and it makes for quick selection. After getting used to it, I can see where this would be great for quick changes while doing street photography. That's about all I had time to get to at the moment, and did not have a lens in which to test it outside the camera store. Aesthetically it is pleasing and I look forward to getting to know it better. More updates to this thread as I am able. I've got a 4 day sunrise to sunset event to shoot starting tomorrow, so it could be a few days before I have anything to report.
  22. Andrew L (gryphon1911)

    Impressions: Olympus PEN-F

    Yes, I know...call me what you will...hypocrite, lucky, stupid, smart....whatever....I have an Olympus PEN-F in my possession. Long story short, some gear trades ended me here. Got a call yesterday from my local camera shop. PEN-F was in. Silver model. Made my way down to the store today on my lunch hour. Most of the guys that I talked to that handled the demo were impressed with it. They are mostly Sony and Fuji users in the mirrorless sector, but found the PEN-F intriguing. I've only had the thing in my hands for the last 30 minutes, so I'll just address what I can for now and get into more details later. Front Dial: I've heard from others on the internet that the front dial is sharp and cut into their hands. I'm a big guy with large hands and my fingers do not even come close to the front dial. Like the Nikon Df, the PEN-F needs to be held with a slightly different grip. I'm not going to hold it like an EM1 or a D700. Yes, the edges of the front dial have some bite to them, but nothing I would consider "sharp". However, that is a subjective matter and each person should decide that for themselves with a hands on. Grip (or lack there of): The thumb indent on the back seems adequate for me. The front is of a grippy like material. I had no issues holding the camera one handed. It will most likely be an issue with the larger lenses like the PRO lenses or the 75-300/4.8-6.7 II. My primary intention of using this camera is going to be with primes, so I don't consider that much of an issue. "Rangefinder-esque" Styling: I've never been one to prefer an "OVF hump" or side set EVF. I just require there to BE an EVF. For those that like built in EVF, this one does not disappoint. LCD Rear Screen AF Point Selection: One of the things that I envied of some of the Panasonic bodies was having the EVF be used as a way to select the AF point while looking through the EVF. We have that now and it makes for quick selection. After getting used to it, I can see where this would be great for quick changes while doing street photography. That's about all I had time to get to at the moment, and did not have a lens in which to test it outside the camera store. Aesthetically it is pleasing and I look forward to getting to know it better. More updates to this thread as I am able. I've got a 4 day sunrise to sunset event to shoot starting tomorrow, so it could be a few days before I have anything to report. View full article
  23. Andrew L (gryphon1911)

    A Few Portraits From Ohayocon 2017

    From Ohayocon 2017. Just a few Portraits to storage your appetite for now. Olympus OMD EM 1.2 Olympus 40-150/2.8 PRO Ambient light only, no flash
  24. Greg Drawbaugh

    Micro 4/3 Converted IR Camera

    I have a spare micro 4/3 body that no longer sees service, a Panasonic GX-7. I was looking at having it converted to an IR camera by https://www.lifepixel.com/ Does anyone else have any experience with a converted Micro 4/3 body and lenses shooting IR? Which conversion do you go with, the standard IR? My goal is to have some fun and explore an area of photography I have never tried before, and the redundant body with little resale value seemed like a good choice to try?
  25. Dallas

    Assignment: Good Hair Day

    Yesterday I had a somewhat gruelling 7 hour shoot covering the launch of a new hair curling iron from GHD. There were two sessions each lasting about 2 hours, but there was setup and in between downtime that made up the other hours. This was probably one of the most difficult shoots I have had to do because the venue was an old warehouse that has masses of windows on both sides, which made for serious metering trickery. Now this is where the EVF of the mirrorless camera came in extremely handy. If I had been shooting this on a DSLR I would have been having to shoot and adjust, shoot and adjust. But with the EVF I adjust and shoot, adjust and shoot. There is a big difference in the outcome by reversing those tasks which makes for much easier shooting flow since you know what you're going to get before you get it. Anyway, I used 2 Olympus E-M1 bodies and 1 Olympus PEN E-PM2 body. For the morning session I had the Olympus 12-40mm on one body and the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 on the other and the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye on the PEN. Then, in the afternoon I sporadically swapped out the 12-40mm with the Sigma 19mm, but I also opted to use the older Olympus 35-100mm f/2.0 on the other E-M1. OMG. That lens. I had planned on selling it, but after this shoot, which is the first time I have used it professionally, I think I will hold onto it. Honestly, the size is ridiculous, but the results are worth the weight. While I wait for fortune to smile on me so that I can get the 40-150/2.8 PRO this lens may prove to be a long term workhorse. Perfect for this kind of job. So, some photos... Some things I learned on this shoot: 1. I think I am going to switch to S mode instead of A mode. I have noticed that my cameras when in A mode will always select a shutter speed that matches the focal length. This is fine for 135 system lenses, but I am finding that even with the IBIS in the Olympus cameras, it is better to use a faster shutter speed when using telephotos. For example, when using the 35-100mm the camera will settle on a shutter speed of around 1/125. I usually have auto ISO on so it opts for the slowest shutter speed at the slowest ISO which is not always ideal. If I fix the shutter speed when using a telephoto like the 35-100 to something like 1/400 and I give myself a decent range of auto ISO (on the E-M1 I am happy to float up to 12800 for personal work, but for client work I stop at 3200) the camera will always opt for the largest aperture first before it boosts the ISO. Widest aperture is where I am always shooting with Olympus lenses so that will work fine for me. 2. Instagram is the magic juice for professional photographers these days. I have had Instagram on my phone but never knew what to do with it. I've had many photographers tell me that they are getting more and more work via Instagram. I couldn't understand why this is because you can't upload pics to Instagram from your computer, you have to use your phone. But then I discovered that it is actually possible to share your photos to Instagram from your Flickr app on your phone. So I upload to Flickr from Lightroom, share to Instagram and tag the shots I am sharing. The power of this social media tool is apparent in how hashtags are used. If you use a relevant tag to the event you are shooting anybody on Instagram can see it and they can share it on a number of other social media platforms. This is huge because the people sharing your images don't necessarily need to be friends with you. I imported a shot or two while I was in-between sessions and tagged them with #ghdplatinumsa. Suddenly I am getting people from all over the show following me and liking my images. Now my audience is larger and the potential to reach more customers is larger because everyone seems to be using Instagram. I'll post more about Instagram in another article, but for now I am re-directing my social media efforts in this direction because a decade of being on Facebook has gotten me absolutely nowhere business wise.
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