5.31.2012

Panasonic G3 meets a lens from another time.


I was pleasantly surprised by the file above.  It's nothing special.  The subject matter is banal.  The composition is boring and the lighting is nothing special.  But....

I shot it with an odd combination of gear that most would hardly expect to render anything technically decent.  Let's start with the lens.  I'd brought along a 150mm f4 Pen F lens that was built around 1970.  It works on the micro four thirds cameras with an adapter.  The lens is all metal, the focusing is smoother than marbles in Vaseline and the aperture ring is so well damped it suggests clicks instead of pronouncing them.  But it's over forty years old.  We've all been subjected to marketing messages that try to tell us that only with the latest supercomputers have any lenses been designed that have value....  Tell that to Zeiss and Leica and Olympus.  They've been making keepers for a long, long time.

On a micro four thirds camera this lens gives one the same field of view as a 300mm lens on a 24 by 36mm framed camera.  That means there's a lot of magnification going on.  I'm not the steadiest shooter; I presume that most habitual coffee drinkers aren't either.  So I'm not sure why I ended up shooting with this lens handheld.

I brought it along with me when I met my friend, Frank, for coffee at Trianon Coffee House last Tuesday.  He's a big fan of the new OM-D and I wanted to show this relic to him because Olympus's first small frame camera system was an ancestor of his new camera system.  I'd been thinking about the excitement concerning the announcement introducing the new Olympus 75mm 1.8 lens and I have owned and used the older 70mm lens, designed for the Pen f system for many years.  My 70mm lens is a f2.0 and it's slightly shorter so I question why Olympus had to make their new lens so much bigger.  I think their roadmap forward is largely a reflection of the previous lens line.  I can feel a 60mm 1.4 coming up soon, as well as a 100mm f3.5 macro and maybe a few 38mm f1.4's.

But the whine on the forums is about the lack of longer lenses.  And I wanted to show Frank the 150mm because I'm sure that we'll soon get an upgraded version for the m4:3 cameras.  I had no real intention of shooting anything.

I brought the lens along glomped onto front of my Lumix G3.  It's a from a camera family that seems stained by the idea that their jpeg files are substandard.  Color impaired.  Bad DR.  

At some point I turned around and handheld the camera and lens and shot the image above while seated at the table.  The camera was set at ISO 1600.  Standard Jpeg.  The lens was wide open at f4.0.  There's no image stabilization anywhere in the system or, for that matter, anywhere in my system either.  But I was able to hold this long lens (the same magnification as a 300mm lens on a Canon 5Dmk3) and lens steady enough to get an image in which I can see small type clearly rendered from 30 feet away.  Amazing.  

There's only one reasonable explanation:  Clean living.  Because it can't possibly be the gear...


Panasonic G3.  150mm E. Zuiko Pen lens.


21 comments:

Frank Grygier said...

I wish I had the OMD with me at the time but who needs 5 axis IS when the instrument is in the hands of a master. I did find a minty copy of the lens on the web for $450.00. Should I pull the trigger! The siren call of glass!

David Farquhar said...

Looks like its even cheaper in the UK, £120 on ebay, although there is one on auction which may go for less than that..

kirk tuck said...

There are lots of great lenses that will fit on the front of the OM-D. You might want to look at something faster...

Jim Tardio said...

I can relate, Kirk. I don't understand the fascination with IBIS, OIS, AXIS-5...whatever. I keep that stuff turned off. They've managed to market this as a "feature" no photographer can do without. Which is, of course, BS.

Thorsten Wieszniewski said...

... but why don´t they build a f 1 : 1.4 14 mm (or 17 mm)"Olympus-Leica" for street photography ? The 20 mm 1 : 1.7 Panasonic is too long for street shooting imho. I wrote a short article about Wolfgang Lonien (Olympus Expert and also (vintage glases user) from Frankfurt) in my weblog today.

Frank Grygier said...

Can do without but why?

Frank Grygier said...

Can do without but why?

kirk tuck said...

I like IS. I think it's a great feature. But I think most people would do well to learn good technique first and then make some of the features "the cherry on top of the sundae."

kirk tuck said...

I think the 20mm 1.7 is too short for street photography. The 25 is good and a 30 might be even better. Street photography with a wide angle lens is for people who can't make up their minds about what they want in the frame. :D

kirk tuck said...

Also, the 14mm end of the Panasonic 14-45 is really good. I'd just use that. Do you need fast AND wide?

Jim Tardio said...

Can do without but why?

Because I get the feeling that most people just keep it on all the time, which will do more harm than good for your shots. Shooting at 1/30th. & longer speeds with a longish lens I can see.

I don't know...it's just not something I rely on.

Darth Solarion said...

The IS is known to overcompensate sometimes, especially when you set the IS focal length wrongly. Whatever is the case, good technique is a must to complement the IS, not the other way around.

cidereye said...

Agree to a point Jim, most people, I'd wager, leave IS/VR on ALL the time and never turn it off. It's a very handy tool indeed obviously but it can and should be turned off when it is clearly not needed.

Thorsten Wieszniewski said...

he, he, he...what´s with shooting bubbling turkish bazars (indoor)? Well and as a beginner in photographie (since I was 9 years old in 1974) ... I AM probably one of those guys who can´t make up their minds about what they want in the frame, altough I actually HATE the lack of authenticity if I had to crop something ;-)

Claire said...

No IS for me, thanks. I like fast glass and I have steady hands. Come to think of it, that must be the clean living, and working out 6 days a week ;-)

Scott said...

Yes.

steveH said...

Then there are some others of us. I've had a noticeable hand tremor since I was a kid, and it hasn't gotten better in the intervening (n) decades. Which might explain why I do so much of my photography on a tripod (and target shooting off a bench).

It's nice to have when you need it.

Frank Grygier said...

Good Technique, Use your tripod. If IS helps you get the picture use it. If you don't need it turn it off. I just think the photo technophobs go a little to far with all the sanctimony. SteveH this ones for you.
http://www.petapixel.com/2012/04/30/olympus-om-d-5-axis-stabilization-tested-by-a-man-suffering-from-hand-tremors/

Jim Tardio said...

Let me add that my comments about, IS, VR, etc... only apply to still photography.

Dan Fogel said...

Kirk - which brand of adapters do you use? Are you buying the expensive ones or the cheapies from ebay? Thanks.

Dan Fogel said...

There's the new Sigma 30/2.8. It might fit the bill for street photography and not break the bank.