Monday, October 16, 2017

Choose your lens first! ... then look for the camera body

The Lens Factor

For must of us it is a commun and general tendency to select first a camera model and then combine an optic to it. After all it is the camera body that will register your picture and no picture mean no photography! Let say that is a bit similar to human nature with no possible image memory without a brain to sustain it. But think about the essential role that have to play your eyes during that process. Without them no image at all (except your own virtual in mind imagery of course...)

So the lens role is equally important in photography. And often the most neglect one when a lot of people buy a new camera. Many camera manufacturers have comprehend the idea and usually propose a combo kit lens with good optical performances but cheap overall construction. It is also intended that the kit lens will be used more lightly than intensively and will be certainly replaced by one or another with a more quality optic if the photographer get more dedicated in his or her practice of the medium.







The different ILC camera systems will offer you a complete line-up of lenses. Some optics are more oriented to a general purpose use. Others are really specialized tools. The manufacturers will often produce a professional alternative of lenses that are designed for more intense use in adverse conditions. Moreover these "pro" optics are bigger units equipped with larger focusing and zooming rings, smoother mechanism, constant and larger maximum aperture for most of the models but these are also heavier devices to bring with you and operate.

Are you looking for focal fixed length or variable (zoom) ones? The price to pay for the zoom ones is usually a more modest maximum aperture and may be a variable one which can be annoying if you want to to keep constant your basic exposure parameters such as the shutter speed, the aperture or the ISO sensibility. The zoom (focal length) range is another factor to consider. All-in-one zoom models are addressing to photographs that like to work with a minimum photo equipment and a maximum of flexibility. The short zooms can be basic trans-standards optics or specialized ones like did trans-wide-angle or long telephoto models. The maximum optical quality will be obtained with the "pro" series and will be comparable to focal fixed (prime) lenses.

The focal fixed (prime) lenses are the most compact ones with larger maximum aperture compare to the zoom lenses. Because of their fixed angle of view they will ask from the user to be more available to mobility and anticipation of your subject. Many prime lenses will give you superior results and will force you to pay more attention to your picture composition. You have also a better control of your deep of field (DoF) that will help you to discriminate easier your foreground and background from the main subject. Furthermore some prime lenses are really specialized tool to produce macro photography or corrected linear architectural pictures from the ground level or giving you an hyper wide angle view (fisheye) for example. These complex lenses are really dedicated tools and offer far less flexibility than more "normal" counterparts. Lens manufacturers have started to add in their line up some focal fixed "pro" lenses with very exotic maximum aperture like F1.2  but those units are fairly expensive ones.

Give them a try!
So selecting a lens that will suit your need and taste can be a perilous exercice of pick so try and ... repeat again if necessary. The possibility to borrow them or to rent them or at least try them at the store or at manufacturer (store) clinics can help you. The other factor to consider is what will be the best camera combination to choose for the type of lens and the style of pictures you want to realize. Again trying the equipment will give an edge before buying the thing.

It is amazing to think that most of the personal involvement of people for the purchase of a photo device is directed to camera body specs and features in forgetting the crucial aspect of the optic in photography. Sometime it's better to use a lens that correspond to your vision and will suit your photographic needs instead of having the most powerful camera body.

P.s. Lens Factor
If you intend to equip yourself with 2-3 or more different lenses chance you may adopt a complete lens system. The good way of doing it is to stay with the same manufacturer and the same lens model series. In doing so you are assuring yourself to have a fully comparable design, construction, optical results and future compatibility with the camera upgrades.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Olympus Pen-F: a “large” pocket digital camera

The love of rangefinder style camera

The Olympus Pen-F with the M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 as a fine all-around combination. 
(Please take note that I will not talk about the video abilities of the Olympus Pen-F)

Personal Note: I always have a special crush for any rangefinder style film or digital camera. It has and still represents the traditional way of seeing a (real) compact camera in my sense. All those models are usually fun to work with and can generate very original photo material. When Olympus had introduced the Pen-F I was charmed by the look of the product and now I began to discover its special abilities as a strong but funny photo device to experiment. The Olympus Pen-F has its own standards and cannot be assimilated or compare to other D-SLR type (or on-axis viewfinder) models.



There’s always that modern camera style debate regarding SLR versus rangefinder categories that you can translate today by the choice of on-axis and off-axis viewfinder compared to the taking lens. Moreover rangefinder style cameras have been assimilated to compact and discrete devices nor that SLR style camera have been associated as the center element of a complete and extended photographic system which is using longer telephoto and wider lenses and faster motorized advance film option.

The best illustrations of those two “schools” are present in all major line of mirrorless products available from Fujifilm, Olympus or Panasonic cameras and lenses. It replicate in this digital era the same pattern observed in the past with the Leica film camera offer with the M and the R lines.

With Olympus you can choose between the Pen and the OM-D lines. Accordingly their focal fix prime lenses fit perfectly with the Pen models and their zoom and Pro lenses combine well with the OM-D series.

Olympus EP-3 Pen series predecessor 
During the past decade I have the chance to use both Olympus series including the earlier EP models with the add-on viewfinder (a bit similar to the ancient Leica film I-G series). You can refer with my previous blog-notes on these models such as the EP-3 or the OM-D E-M5 (first version) or the most recent ones concerning the OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

Both rangefinder and SLR styles have their own advantages. OM-D E-M1 and OM-D E-M5 are really all-weather devices with enhanced grips useful when combined with bigger faster lenses or external bigger flash units. The battery autonomy is greater and the viewfinder in the case of the E-M1 Mark II is clearly more confortable with its wider view. For many assignation works the OM-D series will get my preference. But for urban, travel or everyday subject the Olympus Pen-F is a perfect on-hand camera.

Clearly ex-centris viewfinder compare to the taking lens.
The Olympus Pen-F

Doing spontaneous photography with the Olympus Pen-F is unbeatable because of its compactness and its own discretion. On travel and urban surrounding it is a strong advantage. And the Olympus Pen-F is far less intimidating regarding people or animal (domestic) photography. Using the silent mode option (electronic shutter) represent another strong advantage of the Pen-F if you are facing more quiet or calm condition but with still subject.

It is already said that the Olympus Pen-F replicates many aspects of the ancient rangefinder film cameras. But in that sense the past ergonomic solutions of the film era may also apply to the actual digital devices. On the Olympus Pen-F some traditional dial functionalities have been transformed such as the On/Off interrupter that simulate the traditional film rewind knob and the front special effect dial which is recalling the old slow shutter speed selector during the film era. You can also use the traditional screw-in shutter release cable as a remote trigger unit.

The Olympus Pen-F is a slim and compact camera. Its “Pavé” design (like a slender decorative brick size) will dictate a less confortable and secure sense of handling. In three words there is “no protuberant grip” to rely and the use of a wrist or shoulder strap seem to be an obligation for the everyday user. There is also the possibility to add the Olympus ECG-4 optional grip. The slim design of the Pen-F is especially suitable for the combine use of the small Olympus (or Panasonic) fix or variable focal lenses. Examples of these fine optics are the Olympus M.Zuiko lenses such as the 12mm F2.0, the17mm F1.8, the 25mm F1.8 and the 45mm F1.8 lenses or the 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 zoom as an all-around optic. A lot of bigger lenses are fully compatible with the Pen-F but the handling of the camera will suffer accordantly.

Except for the On/Off interrupter all the important dials and function buttons are located on the back & front of the Olympus Pen-F right hand side. This disposition facilities greatly the right hand control of the camera and liberate your left hand for a better handling of the taking lens especially in regard of the manual focusing (and zooming if available) option. As usual for Olympus cameras many functionalities may be directly available after prior setting of the control knobs and push buttons. Most default setting are logical and nicely presented although it may be altered at will in regard of your specific requirements.

EVF / Back live screen
The “look through” electronic viewfinder (EVF) will give a well definite picture with a very short time lag not really noticeable if you are concentrate on your subject. As usual the more high contrast rendering compare to the final image output registered has to be considered.  The Live/Review back screen is also very well definite and can be relied as a good reviewing tool.  It has also the great versatility of pivoting in almost every way (A tilt able version may have been marginally more slim but with less video capability).

Interface and Quick menu
Olympus interfaces are by tradition very extended and complete but the numerous accesses to the different setting options can be confusing and will ask you to invest on the learning curve of the menu. Many default setting are excellent and can be use right from the start. Furthermore the quick menu mode synthetize the most important factors usually chosen for the camera setting. There are also the Custom modes setting (C1; C2; C3; C4) that are very handy for the photographer who want to switch on the spot to a complete different setting. My suggestion is to experiment gradually the Olympus Pen-F and get use to its multi-possibilities. On a short note I have found that in many cases the multiple way (by going through the menu or the quick mode or even the direct dials and function buttons) of doing the same adjustment can be a bit confusing.

As for many other Olympus models (with the exception of perhaps the OM-D E-M1 Mark II) it is suggested to bring an extra battery considering the limited autonomy of the BLN-1 battery pack. Shooting by using only the EVF can extend significantly the life of your battery pack charge.  I just have to reverse the LCD screen to use this option.

Flash options
No in-board flash has been incorporated to the Pen-F. A small external Olympus FM-LM3 optional flash is included with the camera package and can be used as an emergency fill-in flash or as a commander unit of a multi external Olympus flashes arrangement. Otherwise you can rely on a more powerful and versatile unit such as the Olympus FL-600R that is powered by its own 4 size AA batteries.

Image Output 
By using the 20MP image captor similar to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II or to the Panasonic Lumix GX8 the image quality has been optimized on the Olympus Pen-F. The extra resolution compared to the previous 16MP sensor will give an additional marge of manoeuvre for post treatment ability with less visible lost of definition. In some case like monochrome picture taken on high ISO setting the difference can be notably appreciated.
If monochrome represents most of your photo projects the Olympus Pen-F (like many Olympus M4/3 format models) will fulfil your tasks very nicely.
The Pen-F offers you a lot of different pre-program color configurations plus the possibility to create your own color bias and record it into its different custom menu. In that sense there are no real limitations for the photographer creativity. The whole M4/3 format digital system has reached a great maturity.

Action photography with the Olympus Pen-F ?
Spontaneous photography as street or urban or travel subjects are well deserved by the Pen-F as everybody seem to agree easily but that perception differs a lot when you are speaking of action or sport photography. Many just points out a restricted ability of the camera to properly autofocus on moving subjects which absolutely true from the beginning. Moving (often erratic) targets present a challenge to all autofocusing system and there are only a very limited camera models that can properly answer that demand like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. So in the case of the Pen-F action photography is not the ideal situation to use it… but it can be done by setting for example a pre-focus area on manual position. For sure anticipation is fully required to do so but it got the advantage to more carefully plan our final picture composition. To illustrate that I have simply presented two examples of action picture done by an Leica M-4P rangefinder in late eighties and by the Olympus Pen-F at the present time. So with certain restrictions and more skill asked from the photographer part the Pen-F can fulfil the bill. At the end the Olympus Pen-F can be rightly assimilated as a perfect second very compact camera on hand for the sporty photographer.

(Conclusion)
In brief the Olympus Pen-F may represent the summit of their Pen series evolution simply by the fact that it reunite the slim design with the off axis viewfinder like the ancient rangefinder film cameras. This model is complete in its features and performs very competently with the latest 20MP image captor. Although I did not intent to use the video aspect of the model the Olympus Pen-F is a very competent and compact still digital camera. Because of the compact size of the camera and the lenses that suit this volume (like the 12mm, 17mm, 25mm or 45mm) the Olympus Pen-F is very easy to bring all-time with you and is a good picture generator. It can fulfil many different photo projects on an everyday basis.  Its 20MP image sensor will give very high quality output at the same level of the “Pro” OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

The versatility of the Olympus Pen-F is on the side of its compactness: easy to bring, reach, show, shoot and share.










Post-scriptum on the Olympus Pen-F

Olympus Pen-F with M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R lens
There are many lens-body combinations available with the Olympus Pen-F.  For sure the best image quality results will be obtained by using the Premium (prime) and Pro series lenses. But you can also explore a more modest approach with small zoom lenses such as the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R lens model that is very affordable, compact, versatile and will give very good pictures. It can be a small lens that facilities greatly spontaneous photography practice.

Since my introduction to the M4/3 format with the Olympus EP-3 I have selected the M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R lens as an ever ready “everyday” on hand optic on several occasions without being deceptive by its output. It represents a king of normal trans-standard zoom lens. Its major flaw remains its very small maximum aperture and it is difficult to really extract your subject from its surrounding by using a shallow deep-of-field. But on the other hand it can be a fantastic contextual lens that will allow you to compose beautiful urban scape for example. The same can be told for other optics of the same level from Panasonic.


(If you are looking to buy the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R you will often get the best deal when you combine it with the purchase of a camera body.)



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Green light for the Panasonic Lumix G85 (G80)

The Panasonic Lumix G85: the genius with modesty!


Selecting a Panasonic product will be the natural alternative in M4/3 format. Over the previous years I had the chance to own some of their most recent models such as the GX7, GM5 and GX85 that I have found equally competent products into their respective speciality field. And many reviewers have been impressed by the D-SLR like mirrorless Lumix G7. The Panasonic approach in designing cameras and lenses remind a lot the Leica way. Pure lines, basic controls, low profile presentation have been appreciated among spontaneous photographers for travel, street or casual portrait shooting.  Furthermore many Panasonic Lumix products are lightweight. It is true to add that the initial physical touch of their products seems to feel less robust than some similar competitor models but after the initial impression this perception tend to be forgotten in profit of the confort and the ergonomic of the Lumix products.

The Panasonic Lumix G85 is a D-SLR like mirrorless camera with practical virtues like a very secure handling (grip) along with control dials and fonction buttons that are easily reachable. Adding the optional power grip (DMW-BGG1) will simply give a longer battery life autonomy and a superior hand prehension when using larger lenses of external flashes.

Some aspects of the Lumix G85 have to be consider as inherent characteristics in parallel of the price point value of the model. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) for instance which very precise and handy for manual focusing is still more contrasty than the actual picture registered so appreciation can be falsely done. The LCD screen is a lot more accurate in that matter. The refresh rate frequency of the EVF is  on average and seems to slow down a bit in low light condition.

The Lumix G85 interface is reasonnabely intuitive et front forward as for the Quick Menu option. Controls dials and buttons are well located meanly on the right side of the camera and are configurable. The side door memory card access is also a nice touch. The LCD touch screen facilite the access to interesting fonctionnalities. Pivoting LCD screen is another practical option for videographers, macro photographers and photographers who like to simply protect and shut down the screen. As usual the custom camera configuration (C1, C2) allow you to program complex combinations and keep it for future frequent uses. Wifi interactions are also present with the Lumix G85 when you are using the appropriate Panasonic application for mobiles and tablets.


Small but fully appreciated attentions from Panasonic and the Lumix G85 are certainly the side door access to the memory card and the extra battery pack furnished free of charge with the vertical grip BGG-1 as for the lens hood which is also part of the whole package.

In-board flash option is another advantage if you want an easy fill-in light directly available. The Lumix can also manage an external flash in order to get a more powerful and versatile unit.


About the kit lens (Lumix G Vario12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Power OIS)
And dont prevent yourself to choose the Panasonic Lumix G85 kit that include the Lumix G Vario 12-60mm lens Power O.I.S. For the difference of selling price it is a steal. Although the Lumix 12-60mm is not particularly a fast lens it is a very versatile optic to carry all around. Its focal length equivalence in 35mm film format is 24-120mm which represent a very handy choice of angles of view and the G Vario 12-60mm can easily replace at least 2 or 3 prime lenses such as the 12mm, 15mm, 20mm, 25mm and 42.5mm but we must add with the expense of a much smaller maximum aperture. The imagery results from the 12-60mm will surprise you considering the dollars you have spent to get it.





Premium picture output on the spot!
Yes I am particularly pleased by the standard output issued from the Panasonic Lumix G85 both in colour and Black & White. And I must admit that I use almost exclusively Jpeg files over the RAW entertained option. It is a matter of personal choice to get fast and exploitable results to edit and share.
Exposure metering by the Panasonic Lumix G85 will give you a clear picture rendering but as usual I prefer to underexpose as far as minus 1 EV to get more profound colours and better details into the highlight areas. In doing so especially with JPEG files you will get a more useful chance to correct your exposure when you are editing your pictures. It follows the old slide film rule of metering your highlight and then correct your lowlight areas.

After working with the new Olympus E-M1 II for a few weeks I did received my new Panasonic Lumix G85 and right from the start everything was falling in place. I can get pleasant and prévisibles colour rendering and most important B&W pictures were again very impressive and comparable to Fujifilm rendering which I consider as one of the highest level standard in mirrorless camera offer.

Furthermore the Panasonic Lumix G85 is a bit less heavier body and that factor adds a lot to its duration confort especially if you carry most of the time the camera with one hand (to be ready to photograph on the spot...)

Another secret is the better interaction of the automatic white balance option of the Lumix G85 especially with mixed sources of domestic interior lightning and in particular with the new LED. In those cases the Olympus E-M1 II was really struggling to get a natural and balanced result. Automatic exposure accuracy of the Lumix G85 is asking less use of the manual exposure correction dial maybe because of its more general metering pattern nature.

Automatic focusing of the Lumix G85 is snappy and repetitive. The only exception will occur when you are facing low contrast subject with low light condition and even under those circonstances the Lumix G85 manage to do its focus eventually most of time. The continuous autofocus option may also struggle when you have a subject that tend to produce space erratic movements and as a result the system may shift from a subject to another. (In my sense you cannot call this "hunting the subject") As usual manual pre-focusing techniques may a good alternative option for action photography.

A strong advantage of the Panasonic Lumix G85 is certainly its all-weather resistant construction that allows you to work in many adverse conditions without compromises and fear. It can sustain rain, freeze, snow but you have to remind you to combine its body with a lens that have the same ability like the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 OIS. Working with a AW camera such as the Lumix G85 is giving you the ability to bring the camera whatever is the environmental condition and in doing so it opens a lot a photographic possibilities neglected by others.






Green Light for the Panasonic Lumix G85




High ISO 3200 is very exploitable but you will loose some fine subject details...

At the end the Panasonic Lumix G85 is by far a more paisible instrument for the casual and expert photographer. It is a simpler package that give you fast and pleasant output with less fussy reconfiguration of the medium. It encourage you to bring the camera and experiment on the field by taking pictures. Photography has to be fun and rewarding and the Lumix G15 is perfectly adapted for that task. Dont prevent yourself to enjoy it.

Haro on the Panasonic Lumix G85 (G80)






Friday, August 18, 2017

The mid-range deep of field is on your side!

To Be or Not To Be (as for to have or not to have...)


Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm @ 42mm, 1/125sec F5.6 ISO200 Monochrome
There is the ones who are searching for the minimal deep-of-field and there is the others that are looking for a maximum deep-of-field. Portraits, sports, fashion are part of the first category and landscape, architectural, illustration are dedicated in the second type of photography. And to get such results within the traditional optical limitations i.e. maximum aperture in one case and less light diffraction in the other way you have to rely on specific cameras or/and lenses that may be expansive and far less versatile.







Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm @ 32mm, 1/125sec F5.6 ISO200
Since I am not very fond of big and costly photo equipment my answer to that challenge is simply the following. Why not exploring more abordable photo material and discover how to get image results that will fulfil those special tasks regarding the amount of deep-of-field (DOF) that will satisfy yours needs. Is it possible by using very basic optics such as so-call "kit" lenses? In my modest examples I have tried to outreach the usual standard imposed to these products.And dont forget in this digital world of wonders that most of the time "what you see is what you get" usually apply!

How can we definite mid-range deep-of-field (Mid-DOF)? Anything between two extreme: almost no deep-of-field or about infinite deep-of-field like in landscape photography. So Mid-DOF can be assimilated as an intermediate area between the closest and the longest(or infinite) distances. Most lenses for compact camera format (M4/3, APS-C and 24 X 36mm called wrongly "full-frame") if not all have the ability to do mid-range deep-of-field by using their smaller aperture settings such as F4.0, 5.6, 8,0 or 11.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm @ 100mm, 1/800sec F7.1 ISO 200 Monochrome
The safety gap
If you are facing many various picture taking conditions it is good to rely on a certain deep-of-field margin. This "safety gap" ensure you that critical focusing is at least obtained for the principal subject  especially considering its volume aspect for example on a face, on objects with incrustations, etc. Sometimes you won't be able or you will simply forget to double check the full clarity of your subject. This is why a mid-range deep-of-field will play as an insurance for your final image results.

Optical quality pick of the lens
Rarely you will get the optimum quality of your image by using the maximum aperture available on the lens. Furthermore we know already that the diffraction phenomena for an optics will appear by using its minimum aperture. So the best output will be registered in selecting the medium aperture such as F4.0, F5.6 or F8.0 on many lens model or even at F2.8 with lenses doted of a larger maximum aperture (F1.7, F1.8, F2.0).

Compactness
Lens models that are designed with a more moderate or modest maximum aperture are reckoned to be more compact and lighter package a big advantage if you have to carry them extendely. Their smaller size mean also more discretion or less intimidating aspect. All these consideration of better mobility and less carrying fatigue will be fully appreciated for your street or traveling photo projects or any other situation that required an additional effort from your part.

Good pricing on your part
Many moderate maximum aperture lens models are far less expensive compare to their "Pro" counterparts. Often they are available on special selling package with the camera at a ridiculous add-on price tag. I can recommend you without any doubts the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R & 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ or the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm & 12-60mm both F3.5-5.6 OIS or the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 & 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 both OIS which are all excellent optical tools.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm @ 32mm, 1/320sec F5.6 ISO200
What you loose? Essentially a larger maximum aperture for a minimal DOF, a higher quality design and construction and often a better sealing protection for using the lenses in adverse conditions. But you will double or triple your price tag to get them. And you will have to bring them with you...

A picture should tell a story and that story can be very limited when you are selecting a very narrow deep of field or on the contrary the story can be very long (translate boring) if you choose an infinite deep of field. Something in between could be the best thing to do... The choice is yours but a mid-range deep of field choice is certainly on your side. And the beauty of this is already available on the most affordable (kit) zoom lenses.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Short Notice: The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO



"Mine is smaller than yours!".

You will rarely say this as an advantage especially from the macho male photographer point of view. But in the case of the Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO the story can be true considering the extended versatility and the reduce size of this model compare to the DSLR counterparts. Furthermore the same statement can be proclaimed for all the M4/3 format equipment.

For sure there is still a strong resistance to the introduction of the M4/3 format from the so-call professional intelligentsia (?). The picture quality argument has been served ad nauseam to reject the compact option. But time is passing by and moreover people are changing. The new state regarding photography and its popularity is intimacy related to its fast and versatile connection ability. Big DSLR dont seem to follow that path so extinction is not far away for them (Shame on me!!!).

The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 PRO stays a massive lens by M4/3 compact standards. But it replace two DSLR Pro lenses, the traditional 70-200mm and 300mm both with maximum aperture of F2.8. So the trade-off is still at the advantage of the Olympus Pro telephoto zoom lens model. It prevent also the necessity of changing lenses or to operate two different cameras.

Using big telephoto zoom lenses increase the unbalance tendency between the optic and the camera. That fact can be critical if you need a correct handling especially if you are panning the action not only for the effect but simply to follow the subject. Fatigue can be a highly distractive factor that will affect your ability and motivation to produce pictures. You can enhance your handling by adding an additional grip or vertical power grip on the camera. If you adopt a more static position a fix support like a monopod or a tripod will be a great help for stabilisation and a more careful picture cropping. In fact the nature of your subject will characterize your working methodology.

With such a Pro lens model with a larger maximum aperture of F2.8 the photograph will select most of the time a fairly large opening between F2.8 and 5.6. Those aperture opening will narrowed the deep-of-field and privilege the main subject. Focus can be critical at that point and autofocus or prefocus have to be set carefully. Your picture waste will also increase accordingly. That is part of the experiment. If you are a more stereotype photograph like the photojournalists you may prefer to work with DSLR equipment. I am always impressed to see those boxes full of photojournalists with identical equipment in major sports events. They only reproduce the same picture without any search of originality. This is another specie of photographs in danger of obsolescence.

As a Pro lens the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 is getting a superior quality of construction. The zoom and focusing rings are larger and will turn nicely with a simulated friction similar to old-fashioned lenses. The click-on manual option available on the focus ring is a very secure and fast way of selecting between auto or manual possibilities. By selecting the manual focusing only position you over rule the autofocus fonction and get a better focusing ring resistance similar to the previous manual focusing lenses. It replicate what is already present to the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens which is often the companion optic chosen by many. As for all the Olympus other M4/3lenses, no aperture ring are offer on that model assuming that it will done by one of the dials of the camera.

The monumental push-pull lens hood is included with the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. Operating the mechanism may require some study and practices from your part. I have worked freely with or without the lens hood (if it was possible to do so without compromising my picture quality). The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro is also doted of an already tripod/monopod accessory mount that can be rotate for horizontal or vertical shooting. The making of this piece appears to be very well designed and constructed. My suggestion is to kept it permanently on the lens and simply rotate it aside when you are handholding it alone. The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens got the weather protection which qualify the optic for an extended use in most adverse conditions. It allows you also to fully clean the lens.

Contrary of the usual mystic regarding the use of those big Pro lenses these optics are not fast handling device. They will require from the photograph an effort in preparation and during their specific manipulation. Shooting at will may expose you to some disappointment in view of the final results. With try and experience you will mastermind the care and the limit of these pro telephoto lenses such as the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. In-board camera stabilization may partially help you but the fundamentals stay the same such as selecting a higher shutter speed and panning your subject. If possible an external support such as a monopod or a tripod can help you a lot (and prevent fatigue!).

The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro can be a very fine portrait lens and many beautiful examples presented over the Web illustrate that fact. It can be also an interesting "abstraction" lens that allows many defocusing experimentations. Working with relatives short distances (for this type of lenses) will narrow the deep-of-field for bokey effect. Sport and nature photography appear to be the most spontaneous themes of preference for what the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro has been first designed et manufactured. And many users have already demonstrate the rightful of this perception. As I have already said at the beginning of this post, this telephoto zoom pro lens is in fact more versatile into a smaller package. In many ways it respond to the standards imposed in almost any photojournalistic situations. But it is not part of the Canon-Nikon 24X36mm sensor format media cartel as an Olympus M4/3 product. In my sense it a shame but it proves the stalemate of evolution of many so-call themselves "professional photographers"and extinction is not far ahead.

Finally here is a short note regarding the high selling prices of many of those "pro" lenses. Usually these professional intended optics are produced in smaller quantity with higher cost material and for a limited distribution. Therefore their price tags are positioned at a selling point difficult to reach for many of us (including obviously myself!). But if you consider the added durability of these models and their constant value over time, you will often discover that they simply follow the inflation rate over the years and the decades. It is up to you to invest yourself in that kind of heavy expense.

The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens is a very fine, constant, versatile, workhorse optic that is reliable into various conditions of uses. It is part of the traditional duo along with the Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro and also with the T(h)ree family if combined with the Olympus 7-14mm Pro. All these pro lenses will form a very competent equipment when teamed with OM-D bodies like the E-M1 and E-M5 or even the E-M10 (Original or Mark II versions of any of those models).

A complete Pro system
Olympus is very serious about its Pro line of lenses involvement and offer a complete line-up of fine, fast and sturdy optics with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8, 12-40mm F2.8, 12-100mm F4.0 IS, 40-150mm f2.8, Fisheye 8mm F1.8, 25mm F1.2 and 300mm F4.0 IS. Combined with the OM-D E-M1 (original or Mark II), an independent professional photographer will find a very competent and compact eco-system that will sustain most of its need.





Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Holy Classical Lens: The Olympus M. Zuiko 25mm F1.8

During the so-call 35mm film era we use to call it the "normal" lens. The one optic that came almost the facto with any camera model ... and the most economical one too! If you are looking through it (via you viewfinder) it respect roughly our eye sight for the proportion of the subject. So it was and still is a very previsible lens. Parts of the Olympus fine lens line-up there are two versions of this normal lens: the M. Zuiko 25mm F1.8 and the Pro 25mm F1.2 the latter has been introduced lately. Their angle of view are similar (47 degrees for the F1.8 version) but the big differences are mainly their specific construction and their respective maximum aperture available. If you are planning to use your 25mm very extendedly in adverse external condition or for many studio mandates it can be wise to privilege the F1.2 Pro version. But for a more casual use the basic F1.8 will do the job without any losing quality expense. This is the version that I will briefly review.



Legendary Belgian World Champion Eddy Merckx at the finish
 line of the 1974 Montreal World Cycling Championships.
This shot was done only with anticipation and has succeeded !

( Photo Daniel Marchand)

A "normal" lens on sports assignment !!!


Typical 1974 Photo Press Release of the photo finish lane
( Picture source from Cycling Week Web site )


Memories: Some years ago (let say few decades) my first 35mm SLR camera (a modest Argus Cosina STL1000) was coupled with the economical standard Cosinon 50mm F1.7 lens, a package available for 249 $CAN which was a lot of money from a yesterday point of view. And I remember "covering" the World Cycling Championship in Montreal in 1974 with a few black & white rolls of film and this minimal combination of camera and lens. The results of that improvised assignment had just convinced me to poursuit my photographic dream of a career which finally happened about ten years after. And that story along many others is proving the great versatility of a so-call normal focal fixed lens such as the 25mm in M4/3 format.


Other photo extracts of that day of the 
1974 Montreal World Cycling Championship.
( Photos Daniel Marchand)


(Let's return to our regular program...)

Physically the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 is a small package considering its relatively large maximum aperture. This compact design will match nicely the camera dimensions of most M4/3 format models. A large focus ring is surrounding the 25mm which is a strong permanent tentation to select manually by yourself your focus point. It is really a creative prime lens, an academic optic as should add the traditional photographic teachers.

A polymer made lens hood is part of the accessories included with the lens. It is a nice addition offer with a none too much perturbing size. And it is bayonet mounted and very easy to put in or pull out.




With an angle of view of 47 degrees the Olympus 25mm F1.8 is a very confortable optic to work with. All perspective aspects of the image respect your own view of the subject. By moving yourself you can control the cropping of your picture without surprise. So it is really a pro-active tool in that sens.




No subject is out of the reach of the Olympus 25mm although it can ask to reframe in some cases when you finally edit your picture for diffusion. Very close focus subjects can be photograph with this "normal" lens. As for subjects with minimal deep of field study. And you can do portrait assuming that there is always the possibility to crop afterward the picture.




The Olympus M. 25mm F1.8 is a fine lens. The quality output of its picture results is high for its modest price compare to "pro" counterpart such as the Olympus Pro M.Zuiko 25mm f1.2 optic. Most of the time I have selected the largest apertures available ranging from F1.8 to F5.6 without suffering any lost of definition. Moreover I suspect that the lens has been primarily designed to be used within that range of apertures. Focus final selection can be easily performed by configuring the camera with the option allowing the combination of auto-manual focusing. The more you will explore your subject with it the more you will learn to appreciate its abilities.




Is the 25mm lens can be assimilated as a "one and only" lens to bring option? May be depending what type of photographer you are. For sure for contextual street photography into urban area its angle of view can be perceive a bit too much narrowed compare with the Olympus 17mm f1.8 for example. But remember that guys like Henri Cartier-Bresson have done very fine and emblematic  pictures with that angle of view (translated by the 50mm focal length in 24X36mm film format).


















Finally if your are more oriented "zoomer" photographer by choice or by necessity, the Olympus 25mm F1.8 is a nice back-up lens for on-the-spot replacement and its useful maximum aperture in low light conditions or even for its smaller less intrusive size and it can be slip in your pocket.

Yes the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 is another affordable gem part of the nice Olympus M.Zuiko line-up.