Mr. Contradiction. "The camera doesn't matter." "Lenses don't matter." But I have a new favorite lens. And I'm having fun with it just walking around shooting pretty pictures.

Can't remember if I mentioned it but recently I traded in the Olympus m.45mm f1.8 lens and bought myself a Panasonic 42.5mm lens. No, it's not the ultra sexy 1.2 version it's the smaller, cheaper f1.7 version but as of about an hour ago it's my favorite lens. (If you are new to the blog you may as well add this to the last sentence: "for at least the rest of the day....").

I've been regaling you recently with tales of productivity that revolve around the full frame Nikon cameras, and you could be forgiven for assuming that my allegiance to them was complete and air tight but nothing could be further from the truth. The Nikons are amazingly proficient in the same way that my Kenmore washer and dryer have been amazingly proficient. I take them out and set the controls correctly and they return to me big, technically perfect files. That's all very well but technically perfect gets boring quickly. It's eccentricity that sells.

When I've had my fill of routine, day to day work with the Craftsman power tools of my profession I like to relax and sink into fun photography with the quirky but powerful Olympus m4:3 cameras. In fact, I had so much fun shooting with an EM5.2 today on my walk through downtown that I am already changing my Tues. plans to dump the Nikons back into their drawer in the studio and instead bring only the smaller cameras along with me on an industrial assignment, because there is nothing in the assignment that leads me to believe I'll need the "ultimate" files. The client has evinced no desire or even interest in me manufacturing Ultra Prints (tm) at this juncture. 

I am sure that the ad agency I'm working for will be happy with the micro contrast either system delivers but I have an intuition that the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 might just give me the edge where ultimate NANO ACUITY is involved. I know that the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f1.4 is a masterpiece of Nano Acuity as well. And I'm just a little bored with the bigger cameras since I shot them for four assignments last week (proof that professional photography is waning, right?). 

Why the new resurgence of my interest in the smaller cameras? Some of the lenses, like the 42.5 (either flavor) the 25 Panasonic or Olympus, and all of the pro, f2.8 zooms for the micro four thirds cameras are exquisite and much more fun to haul around. The image stabilization in the EM5.2 is magical and the EVF, for me, handily replaces the crystal clear but dumb OVF in the Nikons. I'm of the mindset that you have to have both. Maybe it's a Texan thing; a Tesla or cute little BMW for week days in the city and a Ford F150 pick-up truck for weekends hauling crap the dump or firewood out to the ranchette. I love shooting the M4:3 cameras and lenses for just about any thing but I also love the steeper de-focus ramp of the bigger format and there are times when nothing will do but the higher res files of the bigger cameras. 

Sometimes you go to the pool to compete and other times you go to float around, stay out of the heat and have fun. I can't give up either modality. And most of the times, with the smaller format, it's hard to see that I'm giving up anything at all. 

What prompted me to make the lens change? I've had two different copies of the Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens and wide open I always found it to be good but not great. Stopped down a couple stops and it's as sharp as anything out there but with the smaller format and the more limited options for controlling depth of field it's more important to me that those first two f-stops be functional. No, better than functional, I want them to be as good as the lens's optical performance at f5.6. I want it all. 

I borrowed the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 and tested it on the new Olympus EM5.2. I found it to be sharper wide open and I liked the form factor much better. The crowning determiner in the trade-in? Those smart marketers at Panasonic throw in the lens hood as an included accessory. (kidding? maybe...). 

I've shot a few things with the 42.5 but I've been enmeshed in some video/photo hybrid shoots and that's something the D750 and D810 do with greater ease (and longer battery life) than the Olympus cameras. Today was my first day to spend three or four hours shooting with nothing but the 42.5mm economical Panasonic. When I got home from my walk I shoved the Large Super Fine jpegs into the absolute latest rev. of PhotoShop CC and took at silly look at 100%. The lens convinced me that it's in the class of High Nano Acuity along with a select smattering of other lenses. When I start investigating my own brand of ne plus ultra prints (tm) it will be one of my "approved" optical tools. 

The lens is also small and light. Works well on both dominant m4:3 systems and even comes with I.S.

You should rush right out and buy one now. They may become scarce.....

Guess which company gets a delivery of Sunday New York Times newspapers in downtown Austin!?? Why it's Google Fiber, the subsidiary of the world's biggest aggregator which is helping to kill real newspapers and journalism around the world. I guess when the elite companies who are changing the "paradigm of tomorrow" really need solid news for their own research they still depend on the wonderful resource of well researched and well written journalism from one of the few sources left standing..... And they like to put on their white gloves and read it on paper, the way the gods intended.

Fun line-up of live music at the Moody Theater/Austin City Limits. Sorry to let you know that Jill Scott is sold out. But I notice that Weird Al Yankovich is on the list....

We love taking our friends for walks around the city so they can see for themselves how beautiful and special Austin (the new Dallas) can be. The construction clutter is everywhere. No one's mom is teaching them to clean up after themselves anymore...

To sum up. Lens very good. Walk always healthy for your eyes and your heart. Construction currently ubiquitous, makes me think the bursting of the bubble is coming sooner rather than later. Finally, nice to walk on days where the temperature stays away from the triple digits. 

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Dennis Elam said...


Next time you want to trade off an only micro 4/3 lens call me instead of precision camera !

Glad you like the panasonic, I need to do more with my legacy only F1.8 50 mm, probably not as good as the pany but for $35 a deal, and made in Japan

Mike said...

I have both of the 42.5 lenses, and the baby brother 1.7 sees a lot more use than his overgrown 1.2 sibling. At 1.7 they are very close, so unless I need that extra stop, and sometimes I do, the big guy stays home. The Oly 45 was a bit of a dog wide open, but not the 42.5's.

amolitor said...

In this day and age the lens and the camera mainly matter in the way you love them or not. They're all technically adequate for most things most of us want to do most of the time.

But, if you think it's sharper and more technically awesome, it's going to affect how you shoot, whether it is or not. It it feels good, it it makes a great German >snick< sound at the right moment, if it belonged to your dad, whatever. I used to tell sailboat racers that polishing the bottom of your boat doesn't make your boat faster (it doesn't), but it makes YOU faster (it does). Same deal.

Obviously, you love this setup, and it shows.

The newspaper shots struck me, somehow. I don't know why or even if they stand out from the rest, but they struck me.

Peter F. said...

Hi Kirk, For portraits where you might be more likely to shoot wide open, might it actually be an advantage to have a lens with softer corners? That argument, if valid, would favor the Olympus. For landscape and travel images I usually shoot m43 gear at F4 - F8. At those smaller F-stops I understand the Olympus "sharpens up" in the corners. All that being said I sold my 45mm Oly this past winter as I got sharper results with the Sigma 60mm (90mm-e) on a Sony a6000. At F2.8 maximum for the Sigma, on a APS-C camera it gives approximately the depth of field as the 45mm on the Olympus at F2.


Max Rottersman said...

I've been thinking about your posts lately and decided it would be better if I just wrote a post on my blog instead of cluttering up your comments. I'm not finished with it. As you say, you'll be onto something else soon, so ready or not, my thoughts.


Rohith Thumati said...

I traded my Olympus 45mm for the 42.5 f/1.7 as well, and am really happy with the trade. I liked 45mm a lot, but the 42.5's images are just more pleasing to me. I don't know if there's all that much of a sharpness - sorry nano acuity ;) - advantage, but it's one of those lenses that really makes people look good (a lot like my Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and 12-35 f/2.8). The great close focusing ability is really nice, and, while doesn't allow for macros, closeups of things like flowers are possible with the 42.5, while wasn't with the 45mm.

rexdeaver said...

I just got this lens and shot a portrait session with it. Absolutely gorgeous and a steal at the price.

JerseyT said...

For walking around photography, check out the
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Lens.
And be sure to get the clever auto lenscap accessory.
Turns your EM5.2 into practically a pocket camera.
Not the sharpest lens in your drawer, but pretty good
for casual shooting and the size is amazing.

James Weekes said...

I took your title to heart and exhumed my old Lumix GF3 and a 14mm lens that I have never liked, and spent two days shooting with them. I was shocked at how good the files were. But.......when I downloaded the files and reinserted the SD card, the rear viewfinder did not come on and won't come on. Somehow I think you owe me a new camera;~))

Michael Matthews said...

DO NOT ENTER.....EXCEPT BICYCLES. Wait a minute. What's going on here?

Steve Mack said...

Speaking of construction, when I lived in Chicago, I was told that Chicago had two seasons: Winter, and Construction. At first, I thought that statement was a little bit overblown. O'Hare Field convinced me otherwise. When I moved up there, it was under construction. When I retired, 32 years later, it was STILL under construction.

With best regards,


Martin said...

I think that it is aspherical Panasonic magic against plain jane Olympus glass.

Kaweeno said...

Hello Kirk,
Really enjoy your blog and I couldn't resist chiming in. Now listen to me, walk around the house find valuable stuff that you no longer need, you know like that beautiful gold chain your first girlfriend gave you, that chainsaw you bought on an early Saturday morning. Remember? Now, collect all that stuff go the nearest pawn shop and get some cash.
Cash in hand, run (no walking here!) get yourself that "sexy" f1.2 - Do it now! No kidding, it is that good. Take a look: https://www.flickr.com/photos/135402721@N05/albums/72157657010963899
Best Regards!

evil said...

Very well written. The photos look great. Did you do some post production or are these pics out of camera?