Walking around, looking for trouble.

These are all handheld images taken this afternoon (after a long day of commercial shooting) with the Olympus EPL2 and the kit lens or the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens.  This is what I do to relax after a day at work.....
I knew I would get in trouble when I posted this afternoon's blog.  Apparently, I just didn't understand that, while the red dot might not affect me personally, it would render the EPL2 ineffective for skyline shots at night.  This is the Frost Bank Tower.  At twilight.

And this is the Frost Bank Tower about 35 minutes after sunset.  Wicked flare from the street light....

Funny what you'll find in a typical parking lot in Austin, Texas.  Kit lens.

I love the clouds in the winter and I love the view from the pedestrian bridge.  You could tell we had a nice 60+ degree day in Austin because the downtown hike and bike trail was packed with runners, walkers and bikers.  Sorry, no HDR....  Just good timing.

We Austinites are fascinated with high rise buildings.  Especially condo and apartment towers.  I guess it's because we had so few in the city until recently.

 I tried some more dot photos.  I didn't get the red dots but I froze the pigeon near the center in the bottom third of the frame.  That's gotta count for something.

Someone questioned my last test with the sun over to the side.  "What would happen if the sun was in the center of the frame?"  they asked.  This is what it looks like with the sun in the center of the frame.

Pretty Sky.  Softlight.  Fresh Cookies. Sumatran Coffee.

 Gosh.  I couldn't even get the street light to misbehave.

I've lost my chance to show the red dot at sunset for today.  But I was already out walking and the camera felt so good around my neck I just kept going.

 There's so much energy in downtown Austin these days.  The W Hotel just opened and everyone is hanging out at the bars.  I dropped by to get a Bloody Mary but it was too bloody crowded so I decided not to stay.

 The IS has its mojo working.

 If you want skies to do this neat color thing then chuck the AWB and keep your camera on "daylight" as the sun sets in the west.  It's really cool and warm at the same time.

I thought I got it.  I thought the dot showed up.  See the street light on the left?  Look about one third down from the top and the same amount to the left and there's a soft, white dot.  On further inspection it's really the light on top of the moon tower in Clarksville.  Foiled again. But nice OOC black and white...

I walked from 5 to 7:30pm and then it was time to go home.  Dinner.  An interesting one.  Lentils and rice with a yogurt sauce and grilled onions.  A salad of fresh avocado and grapefruit slices with a drizzle of oil and vinegar dressing and fresh shallots.  

Can we talk very frankly? About the serious, red dot issue????

I walked in the door a few minutes ago and set down my stuff.  I've been shooting photographs for an oral surgery practice again today.  Yes,  I shot a model released patient having a procedure done.  Yes, there was a little blood.  Yes, I'm squeamish about blood.  Yes, we took lots of frames to get the angles and relationships between the surgical team just right.  I shot most of it with can big, heavy Canon camera but I shot some of it with the little Pen EPL2 because I'm trying to keep it in my hands all week.  It's the only way I can write a review about it.  Anyway, the first thing I find when I hit my mail box (sorry, I'm not the kind of pro that can keep his head in the game and still instantly respond to e-mails and texts.....) is a growing hysteria about the alleged Olympus EPL2 RED SPOTS CATASTROPHE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Otherwise sane readers are on the edges of their seats, eager and anxious to know more about the red dots/spots dilemma.  Well.  That stopped me cold.  I've looked at the red dots on some sample photos from the middle of China and I've tried shooting the camera with the sun in the center third of the frame and I'm not able to replicate the problem.  At least that's the answer I posted a couple of days ago.

But that wasn't good enough.  People implored me to shoot:  "With the sun peeking around a building." "Directly in the middle of the frame."  "At 4 pm."  "At noon."  "With all the Pen lenses."  "Wide Open."
"Stopped down to f16."  "Surrounded by naked women."  "In a Klingon Null Force Field Containment System."  "While riding in a black helicopter."  And much, much more.

I have no doubt that you can make the Pen cameras create red dots.  Really.  Not disbelieving the possibility.  But chances are I have a Pen EPL2 in my hands and you don't.  I've pointed it at the sun, and a house lamp and an LED lamp and you haven't.  So,  to increase your anxiety or put your mind at ease (depending on which side of the fence you are on.....) I want to give you the straight scoop.

Now, before I do I need to let you know that ALL the camera and lens manufacturers are trying desperately to keep you in the dark about this.  I'm breaking all sorts of NDA's to tell you this.  But I think you have a basic, All American, All trans European, All Asian (etc.) right to know this......

Here it is:

SINCE THE DAWN OF COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY YOU'VE HAD THE POWER TO MAKE RED DOTS WITH ANY CAMERA!!!!!!!  It's nothing more than abusing an optical system.  It's like oscillating your Siemens centrifuges back and forth over their red line.  It's like driving your car at red line for hours and hours and waiting for the engine to smoke.  The red dots are no doubt coming from lens flare.  Here's the scenario:  Take a small sensor camera with a reflective sensor surface and shoot it at f16 (the system is already diffraction limited at about f5.6, at most, f8).  Point it directly at a point light source many times brighter than the surrounding area.  Watch the lens flare.  Watch the collimated light hit the sensor and bounce back against the rear lens element.  Watch it ricochet off the lens element and restrike the sensor. Repeat ad nauseum.

But here's the special, secret part:  You've been able to do this with any camera you can think of.  And pretty reliably too.  Just shoot stupid.  Of course the manufacturer warns you not to point the camera directly at the sun.  Of course every lens manufacturer warns you not to include a bright light source in the frame for fear of flare.  Guess what?  If you go it your own way, all independent and self-reliant and what not......you'll likely get some sort of flare.  Could be repeating patterns of the lens diaphragm.  Could be general light source smear, could be red dots.  But if you use any tool outside its proscribed parameters you get to deal with the......artifacts.  Or the blown engines.  Or the flare.

But......I would not give up on my personal search for the EPL2 red dots because I know how important it is to everyone out there considering a full featured, interchangeable lens, 12 megapixel, still / HD movie camera with included optical zoom to have a camera and lens that is more flawless than camera systems costing 100x more.

Well.  In my testing I could make a Leica M9 flare like fireworks with a $5000 lens on the front and I wanted to get the same performance from my $100 lens and, frankly,  I started to despair.  Perhaps my technique wasn't all I thought it was.  Did I have a defective system?  And I remember being able to ably elicit flare and red dots from the Phase One camera I tested a few years ago.

Then, my dog reminded me of a new and better way to get the red dots.  Photoshop's filters menu.  Apparently many of you think of Photoshop as only a tool to get those wonderful and sought after HDR files.   But, it's also a great tool for red dots and all kinds of flare effects.  Just go to Filters.  Then to Render.  Then to..............lens flare.  The possibilities are endless.  And they represent what photographers have seen from real world camera and lens systems for decades!!!!

Cameras and lenses are not yet computers.  They are tools.  They have limits.  No one camera system has a lock on flare.  Get over it.  I'd worry more about this:  I measured the self timer performance of the camera, with a fresh battery and at room temperature.........the ten second increment on my unit is fast.  It goes off in just 9.85 seconds.  Wait till they hear about that over on the forums.  Olympus will never be able to sell another camera.......... (for the achingly literal:  The last sentence is not true.  I have no way and no intention to test the self timer on any camera....).