A tale of three lenses. Two Panasonic and One Olympus. In the end it's all about the optics.

 25mm Panasonic Leica.

I thought it might be fun to post some samples of the three lenses I was carrying around yesterday in San Antonio. I'm practicing with the lenses and camera because I have several jobs coming up at the end of the week that will require me to shoot lots of images in all kinds of lighting and I'm planning on taking the two GH3's, some cool modern lenses and a few old chunks of glass and I'd like to proficient operating the cameras and quickly getting in to the groove with the different lenses. There always seems to be a re-adjustment period required for my brain when I switch between sensor sizes and especially between formats.

The image just above and the one just below were taken with the Panasonic/Leica 25mm 1.4 lens. It's crispy and modern looking and it looks good from wide open all the way down to f8. I'll use this one for all the social photography I plan on doing this Saturday. This is one of the lenses I originally bought when I was shooting with all the earlier Olympus gear. It works well on the Panasonic but my one wish is that it had image stabilization....(or that the GH3 had IS built in). I know the Olympus cameras have great IS built into the camera but we'll see how abstaining from coffee and stress work out before I go out and buy yet another solution.

Part of a "Day of the Dead" altar at the St. Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas.

The six images just below were taken with a very inexpensive zoom lens from Panasonic. It's the 45-150mm lens. It's relatively tiny, has image stabilization and seems to perform well enough...especially for the price. It's a bit slow for interior work but for anything exterior it should work well. All of the photographs in this blog were done handheld which should be a caution sign for anyone hell bent on using the images as the final litmus test of quality. We can always do better with a tripod... 

The final six images (below) were all done with the ancient Olympus Pen FT half frame 50-90mm f3.5 zoom lens from the early 1970's. It's not as contrasty as the modern lenses but with a little boost in contrast and just a tiny, tiny smidgeon of sharpening I think it holds up well. The secret with older, single coated lenses is to try never to shoot them into a light source unless flare is the special effect you are looking for. The lens is all metal construction, incredibly well made and in perfect operating condition decades after being first pressed into service. I find its incredibly smooth zoom and focus rings to be as good as anything on the market in the last few decades.

Have I learned anything wildly new shooting the GH3, it lenses and the old legacy lenses?

Yes and no.

The new glass is sharp and good pretty much across the board.

The older fast lenses from the Olympus Half Frame Pen FT series are 

remarkably good. As good (one stop down) as just about anything being cranked out

by the camera makers today.

The 60mm f1.5 is awesome at f2

The 70mm f2 is really sharp and nice at f2.8 

and the 40mm f1.4 maybe the sharpest lens I've used for this camera system.

They are a bit more trouble to use than the AF stuff but the reward is

in a look that's a pleasing combination of 

sharp and mellow.

That's about it.

Studio Portrait Lighting

A continuation on a theme. The iPad as the new Instamatic.

No big fanfare, just two interesting Olympus OMD e-m1 posts from my friend at ATMTX



The views expressed at ATMTX's blog represent his feelings about the cameras being reviewed and don't necessarily exactly reflect my views here at VSL.  Head on over to his site and read what he has to say about his long term, hands on experiences with two of the hot cameras of the day. Oh...yeah, he directly compares the e-m1 with Canon's 6D, which he also owns....

Interesting assessments!


Studio Portrait Lighting

Another chance for an ancient lens.

I went to San Antonio yesterday to visit my parents and to walk around and try a few different lenses with the Panasonic GH3. My parents are doing quite well. And San Antonio is as fun and colorful as ever.

I took along three lenses: the 25mm f1.4 PanaLeica, the el cheap 45-150mm f3.5 to 5.6 zoom and an absolutely ancient Olympus Pen FT (manual half frame ) 50 to 90 mm, constant f3.5 zoom lens. I'm pretty sure that the old Olympus lens isn't even multi-coated but I thought I'd give it a try since I have two copies of the lens and the zoom and focus actions are still incredibly smooth and the aperture ring turns with a wonderfully damped precision.

I spent a lot of the day with the 25mm on the front of the camera because it approximates so well the angle of view I learned to like from shooting successive generations of 50mm lenses on old 35mm film cameras. I switched to the new Panasonic zoom when I got to the market because it was easier to pick out details and faces. Near the end of my time downtown I switched to the old Olympus zoom.

Because of the primitive coatings I expected the lens to have more flare and less contrast. Because of the zoom's advanced age I expected that the optics would never be able to match the glorious results of nearly forty five years of advanced optical progress. So I was prepared to open the files in Aperture, review them and then move on to the little gems created by the other two, thoroughly modern, lenses.

This was the first file I opened at full screen and I was partially correct, the image did need a bump in contrast. I chose to make the correction in the mid-range with the controls in the Aperture shadow/highlight menu. But I was partially incorrect because the file needed very little sharpening. No more so than a typical digital file from a camera with an filter over the sensor...

The Olympus zoom is a great series of focal lengths for a portrait photographer and, with the one button ability to zoom in to 8x and gauge correct focus it's a pretty handy combo with the Panasonic GH3. I'm looking forward to shooting some portraits in the studio with more controlled lighting. I already like what the lens optics are doing for the background at f5.6. Let's see what it looks like when paired up with a beautiful face.....

Studio Portrait Lighting