Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Doing photography with personnal or professional assignation



Doing photography on purpose whatever it is is to be "on assignation" meaning there is a task (subject), there is a medium (photo), there is a follow up (by diffusing and sharing your pictures). So be on assignation is not a so call professional or strictly journalistic affair. It can involve everybody under some specific circonstances. This is why every types of photographic devices are pertinent to use on assignation assuming the fact they are available and fully operational. For sure the final purpose of your pictures may dictate some technical considerations in doing the choice of your equipment.

But at the end the importance to have a photo result to share is paramount and more pertinent than every other technical aspects. On assignation, "Get a picture first" must guide you in your preparation and execution of your task. And keep in mind that a camera is simply a tool helping you to produce your imagery.
The challenge to produce suitable pictures that answer a specific need can be exhilarating for certain people or simply frightening for others. Yes the pressure is there but it is important to lower as much as possible the "bad" pressure and keep the motivation involved in the production of your project.

Working with photojournalists during several years I had the chance to observe, develop and apply a personal approach regarding on assignation mandates. During the film era it was almost impossible to verify on place your production output except in using small low resolution instants photographs done with Polaroid tests. Now digital photography allows us to do post-check on the spot and to correct  or repeat your results almost instantly. On the other side the time between picture taking session and transmitting them has been reduced considerably and post-production opportunities are less available to photographers. Many automated photo correction softwares are now designed to respond to that new demand but often with the prejudice of preventing more original creativity.

Here are some mottos that I have develop over the years when I am planning a photo project:

Be prepared (materially) meaning be in shape, wear the right clothing and equipment including your back up material;

Be introduced by having the contact, the good credential and by assuming the right follow up with people involved;

Be documented, knowing your subject and its last development may be capital for your approach;

Be smart and stay aware of the context of your subject;

Be result oriented by acknowledging your needs or the needs of your mandate;

Be persistent and make sure to plan some back-up production;

Be aware especially about any security manner about the context you are working;

Be versatile to any in place adaptation or change of your planning;

Be systematic and make sure you follow most if not all your requirement;

Be sensitive about your subject since it can oriente your creativity to new directions.

And be prepared to invest yourself again and again because you will have the opportunity to learn, try and achieve new ways to fulfil an assignation. Even after these past years to have a certain amount of different assignations I am still ressenting the excitation (and by extension the insecurity) of doing a new assignation or photo project.



Lastly every photograph can develop its own style or signature from its own experiences. It is only a matter of believing on his or her ability to do so. Creativity is not an "elite" prerogative of the few but a basic characteristic of all the humanity and others living things.

We do photography on purpose (even for ourself) and doing photo projects may be one of the best way to illustrate that simple fact.






Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Pro Ergonomik Camera: The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: The "Pro" Olympus M4/3 Camera !


The late Nikon F4S: A modern "Pro" 
design back in 1988 of the film era.
As a user I have always appreciated a camera design that will fall literally in my hand. And professional photographers will also appreciate a more simple rounded ergonomic device that feels secure, confortable and robust on a long intensive use. A few(!) years ago I've got the same impression when I have transited from the Nikon F3 HP model to the newest autofocus Nikon F4S 35mm film camera that were using the 24X36mm film format.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the second interpretation issued from the manufacturer of an especially constructed professionally oriented digital ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) for the M4/3 format sensor. It incorporate the newest 20MP image captor (sensor) for a finer definition and  higher overall performances. I have never really try to evaluate a camera model on specific statistical characteristics. In place I better prefer to regard it as an whole package. As a photographic tool you need something that will be coherent and flexible for your everyday use.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is not by far a pocket camera. It can be seen as the antithesis of the Panasonic Lumix GM5 / 12-32mm combo compared to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II / 12-40mm F2.8 for example. It is true to say that it is a more pro oriented compact option and system (coupled with the intended lenses and accessories). It remains a camera made to be hold in your hand on a full time base. In that sense it stays a unique product from the entire M4/3 ILC Olympus line-up. A bit like a beefier Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with a permanent hand grip.

The simplicity of design of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is considerably emphases by the integrated hand grip that prevent the doublement of controls required with an add-on optional hand grip such as the combo seen on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. After a general setting of the camera many function buttons can be ignored to facilite the picture shooting. At that point complexity doesn't mean necessarily complication. And this can be said also for the menu versus the direct access to the principal parameters option on the LCD screen. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a very configurable camera but you dont need to apprenhed every single option offered by the manufacturer.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a very sturdy model and very well protected against adverse contextual conditions such as rain, snow, freeze. It give a good sense of confidence to use the camera without the normal restrictions and open access to more delicate photo situations. The viewfinder and the LCD black screen are first class devices and even for people wearing glasses like me the EVF is fully usable for seing the whole picture and technical information attached. Control buttons and dials are well manner and dont require too much contorsion and can be assimilated intuitively especially for previous Olympus users. The same can be said for the optional grip.

Because the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a bigger camera than the OM-D E-M5 Mark II for example you will feel more secure when who are manipulating it and particularly when you are holding it with one hand. In that sense Olympus has designed this model for a professional intensive level of use in mind.  And that explain also the "superior" level of selling price of the camera the will be amortized by its everyday tasks performed.

And what about the famous Olympus interface? As usual the menu contain is still very rich of different possibilities and will ask to invest a good amount of time on the side of the learning curve especially if you want to configure the camera outside the manufacturer default settings.

For still photography like I use to do exclusively the autofocus system is fast and reliable. Follow-up action photography can be done in confidence for the focus tracking. As I have said in previous posts to properly photograph"on-pick" moving subjects may ask you a certain amount of preparation on your part. Exposure and focus preset are still a good way for doing this kind of task.

The picture output of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is absolutely impressive. Both colours and Black & White images can be produced flawlessly without compromise. The JPEG rendering is fully usable. The finesse of the details obtained by the combine in-board sensor and immediately post-treatment engine is remarquable if you respect the basic photo techniques required to get first class results. The camera is giving its best when fixed focal lenses and "pro" zooms are coupled with it.





At the end if you compare the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II when the D-SLR Pro models offered on the market it stays a more compact unit that can be combined with more compact lenses.










Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fix our attention on focal fixed lenses. Mix with the Fix(es)!


Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7
It is a matter of fact that I have a basic tendency to privilege the focal fixed lenses over the zoom (or vari-focal) ones when it comes to qualify them as creative photographic tools. In every formats prime lenses are usually faster, often smaller, seem better built, less intrusive, nicely balanced and easier to handhold and control. The good zoom lenses and more the "Pro" ones are often bigger units with natively smaller maximum aperture but yes their respective variation of focal length represent by itself a big advantage in term of versatility and handling speed. But even considering this specific factor the focal fix lenses are still strongly alive and popular among photographers from professionals to simply amateurs.

Fujinon XF 60mm F2.4 Macro

One of a beauty of the compact format is that the most serious manufacturer players, Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic, have really invested on focal fixed lenses as major part of their line-up right from the start. One of the best early example was the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0 an equivalent of the 24mm in 35mm film format. We are still waiting for a similar lens offer in APS-C format from Canon and Nikon D-SLR which represent in my sens a mesure of the non-committement from those two camera majors manufacturers for a compact format. And wide angle zoom lenses cannot be fully comparable to a good focal fix doted with a better maximum aperture.

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8
Compaticity is another factor in favour of fixed focal lenses. Lighter and more discrete they are a serious tool for non-intimidating "on-the-spot" photography. Their larger maximum aperture give a greater latitude when you are facing low light condition. Moreover this advantage translate also by the availability of a shallow deep-of-feild that is helping you to better discriminate your principal subject from the foreground/background. With less optical distortion (or stronger in-body camera post-treatment) and less visible chromatic aberration the prime lenses will ask less post-editing treatment to get a finer picture.

And focal fixed lenses can be more spontaneous photographic tools in same case being less intrusive for the main subject as already mentioned.

Compare to the zoom optics, the focal fixed lenses will ask you more effort to apprehend your subject, prepare yourself and your equipment and take finally the picture. But the result will be very often more precise, more creative on your part and at the end more rewarding.

Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix G 42,5mm F1.7
Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mmF1.7
Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7
Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guadeloupe: a visit to the French Antilles Island with the Panasonic Lumix GX85

iPhone picture by Manon P.
Guadeloupe is the designation of a two parts island localized into the French Antilles. A dream island for many French vacationers and retired people with an ideal warm climate. For its own population it can be a different story considering in particular the lack of economical opportunities for the local and especially the youngsters.

You can travel for weeks and months to be able to discover the very diversified facettes of the Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre territories which compose the Guadeloupe. Here is some photo extracts that I have done recently with the help of the Panasonic Lumix GX85 and the Lumix G Vario 12-32mm & Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. lenses.

The colours of the French Antilles are very attractive but you can also produce beautiful black & white compositions. Architectures subjects, people, flowers, animals, etc are all subjects of discovery and artistic experimentations.

A Church at Saint-François, Grande-Terre

Marché nocturne (Night Market) at Saint-François, Grande-Terre

Marché nocturne (Night Market) at Saint-François, Grande-Terre

Jardin botanique (Botanic garden) at Deshaies, Basse-Terre

Jardin botanique (Botanic garden) at Deshaies, Basse-Terre

Jardin botanique (Botanic garden) at Deshaies, Basse-Terre

Jardin botanique (Botanic garden) at Deshaies, Basse-Terre

Deshaies, Basse-Tesse

Pointe-des-châteaux, Grande-Terre

Pointe-des-châteaux, Grande-Terre



Friday, March 10, 2017

The Walking Twins: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm & 35-100mm Mega O.I.S.



Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S. &
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F4.0-5.6 Mega O.I.S.

A pocket pair for everyday everywhere travellers!

Behind the fact that the traditional camera users tend to be older it is a universal phenomena that most of the people regardless of their respective ages want to be more mobile. In doing so we are looking for devices or equipment with less inconvenient in size and weight. You just have to look at the sport and outdoor accessories evolution since two or three decades to be convinced.

Compaticity in photo equipment is an historical quest since the beginning of this new medium. Some photo experts or enthusiasms have and still denigrate the ability of using smaller devices and obtain quality photo results. This debate was particularly fierce during the golden age of 35mm film. Today we know for sure the futility of these assertions.

Digital photography is another step to the direction of creating compact, simpler and performing cameras and the introduction of the micro 4/3 image captor format has contributed to establish the credibility of it. Today M4/3 camera system is world widely used and appreciated. For sure in the vast photographic universe there is always place for larger format as it has been proved by the reintroduction of "medium" captor format by Hasselblad and Fujifilm preceded by the Ricoh-Pentax offer without forgetting the digital backs designed by Phase One.

Olympus and Panasonic have been the commercial pioneers of the M4/3 format cameras. They have designed very compact devices with different interpretations and priority intended uses. Moreover they develop accordingly an optical offer that suit the compactness primary idea of the new format. Today we will look at a typical lens combination available from the Panasonic line-up.

Smart and Compact


A small reminder in the recent time-line of the different Lumix models recalls us the Panasonic first introducing of the GM1 and GM5 successor model declinations. They were very small M4/3 cameras and Panasonic had rightly associated these ones with their newest Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S. diminutive in size standard zoom lens. (see my GM5 report). Soon after Panasonic added the Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F4.0-5.6 Mega O.I.S. tele-zoom lens as a complement of the first one. The whole package is simply the correct expression of many of us consider the real purpose of the compact M4/3 format system introduction.

The Panasonic pair lenses are contracting lenses for easy equipment carrying. The Lumix G Vario 12-32mm Mega O.I.S. will be considered by many photographers as their primary lens since it deliver a very useful wide angle of view of 84 degrees similar to the 24mm lens into 24X36mm film format. That wide angle of view is rightly appreciated by many as a very fine and creative contextual lens for street travel, interior or social photography.  On the other end of the zoom 32mm focal length you will obtain a narrowed 37 degrees angle of view which is practical but won't have the same versatility compared to others bigger trans-standard zoom lenses such as the Lumix G Vario 12-60mm option. You may consider the 12-32mm more as a wide to normal focal lenght utility lens. No lens hood has been included by Panasonic for the 12-32mm although you may find one from independent manufacturer such as JJC. The filter size diameter is 37mm and could be considered for adding some kind of optical protection  or special effect filter. My only complaint is that Panasonic didn't "standardized" its filter size between the 12-32mm and the 35-100mm F4.0-5.6. I would also love that Panasonic have been added the automatic camera shut-off option when you are contracting the lens to its storing position. Lastly no manual focusing ring of the lens. That "flaw" can be partially compensated by using the pre-focusing  option  on the camera and than reframe your picture thereafter.

Using the Lumix G Vario 12-32mm lens more extendedly over the years prove to be a very handy optical device for doing photography "on the spot". Image results are pleasing and could be shared or presented without complex. Even if the 12-32mm have a small maximum aperture you can rely on its ability to do good interior pictures, thanks to its internal optical stabilization combined with the camera in-body counterpart if available. This is a good urban traveler option. The very compact design assimilated with more amateur camera models and in doing so give you a more discrete presence regarding the people surrounding you. If you add a ranger finder style camera the intimidated factor will decrease a lot. For sure quality won't be at the same level compared to to the higher and bigger lens models offered but for most of the digital presentation channel the difference should not be noticed. As usual I never pretend to analyse lenses or cameras on a purely technical point of view knowing that there already exist a lot of more competent people that do so over the Web universe.

The Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f4.0-5.6 Mega O.I.S. can be assimilated as the compagnon lens of the 12-32mm if you are looking for that focal length range. The Lumix 35-100mm F4.0-5.6 is a compact optic that can be slip in a coat pocket or in a hand bag without adding volume or exceeding weight. This 2 inches long lens will give you an angle of view variation between 34 and 12 degrees. It comes with a lens hood and you can add a 46mm size filter if you wish (As already mentioned this 46mm diameter is different from the 37mm size of the Lumix 12-32mm). The stabilization lens and cameras options are very essential tools to be activated when you are using the Lumix 35-100mm f4.0-5.6 lens mainly because of its modest maximum aperture and its long focal length.

While I have been a strong adept of small focal fixed telephoto lenses such as the Lumix 42.5mm f1.7 OIS and the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lenses I consider the Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F4.0-5.6 variante as a very good substitute product. For sure it lacks the shallow deep of field characterized of the larger maximum aperture of the two prime but that flaw can be partly compensated by the longer final 100mm focal length of the zoom lens. Because of its inherent compactness the Lumix 35-100mm fF4.0-5.6 is again a very non-intruse lens that facilite the casual picture session. In my view there is no quality issue regarding the image output of this lens. And again stabilization option is a key factor for reaching beautiful picture results. Because of its particular medium telephoto focal length the Lumix 35-100mm f4.0-5.6 can be a real composition tool with a good isolation and compression of the main subject.

As I have already mentioned in the past I consider the mirrorless camera category as the real modern successor of the basic idea of a compact camera device with the interchangeable lens option. A kind of Leica legacy of our today world. For sure direct Web connectivity has to be addressed by the different M4/3 format camera manufacturers in the near future to respond to our actuel need of personal communication. But at least the basic of the photographic technique parts are fulfilled already.

Yes the Panasonic twins Vario G 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 and 35-100mm F4.0-5.6 Mega O.I.S. are representing a very attractive and competent combination for compact photography.