How's that Olympus 12-45mm Pro lens working for me in the "real world"? Not bad.


I'm really enjoying the new lens. Well, both of the new Olympus lenses. In each category they are small and light while being first rate imaging tools. I kept the Panasonic GH5ii with the Olympus 12-45mm Pro lens on the passenger's seat of my amazingly wonderful Subaru Forester for my entire two day trip to Santa Fe a couple of weeks ago. If I saw something I liked I pulled off the two lane highway onto a wide shoulder and took the shot. The 12/45 is pretty much the perfect range for me when shooting casually. It's the Ff equiv. of a 24 - 90mm lens and that just about covers everything I want in a walk around lens. 

It's sharp at its widest aperture and seems to handle diffraction well to at least f11. The increasing depth of field probably compensates psychologically for any loss of ultra fine detail...

It also makes for a small and light package which is low profile. And I think that becomes more important as cameras in general start to disappear entirely from most Americans public lives. The 12-45mm is on sale right now for chump change at most Olympus dealers. This week, at least, it's $100 bucks off the usual price. If I didn't have at the moment I'd probably go out and buy one. 

Funny quick tale about my car. I traded a two year old Subaru Forester (also white) for the latest model at my dealer last year. I paid a very small difference to upgrade. When I got back from my road trip last week I idly looked up the value of my newer Forester. If I do the math I paid something like $26,000 total to own this one. But the new pricing on the used models at the dealer is now over $30,000 for a same model and year but with 15,000 more miles on it than mine. I can sell the car right now for more money that I paid for it brand new. I'd consider selling or trading again but, at least in Austin, there are very few new cars to choose from right now. Still, I think the ramp up in prices is weird, perplexing and hopefully transitory. Cars. So silly. Right?

Ah. Site seeing in West Texas. This is THE view for dozens and dozens and dozens of miles...


After two big event jobs and a bunch of smaller advertising projects I spent some time pondering what I could add to the equipment mix to make life either easier or photography more interesting...


As you might have read I've taken a step or two back into the smaller format systems of Panasonic and Olympus. Some things have changed since I last worked with the smaller format. I'm not really designating either the m4:3 cameras or the Leicas as a "primary" system but am choosing them based on what a project might call for instead. And to that end I'm finishing out the smaller system with "needed" lenses. This allows me maximum capriciousness. 

Before my early April job with the big software company I bought an Olympus 12-45mm f4.0 Pro lens. More out of curiosity than need. I thought it would be cool to have something very flexible, very sharp and very small --- if that's the way it turned out. I was happy with its performance and found that it was at least as good, optically, as the Panasonic 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens. It's actually a more or less perfect walking around in good light lens. One thing I learned on the software retreat was that 60mm isn't long enough, even in small ballroom, to get effective speaker shots. 

When I went to Santa Fe last week for the gigantic banking association meeting I over-compensated by bringing along the Panasonic S5 and the Leica SL2 with big lenses. But I also doggedly brought along the m4:3 stuff as well. Most of the photos in Santa Fe were done with big, full frame lenses and full frame bodies but I did toss in a fair number of GH6 shots, mostly done with the 12-60mm, just for fun. They were more than adequate for quality it was just the reach that was lacking...

While shooting and working in Santa Fe I was invited to do a similar job in late June, in Nashville. This opened up a new line of thought for me. There's no way I'm going to drive to Nashville. In fact, I may never drive much further than San Antonio ever again! But I started thinking about packing gear for airplane travel and remembered the 26 round trips I did on airplanes in Fall of 2018 for a national infrastructure company. On those trips, on and off smaller regional jets and even smaller private aircraft, space and weight was a big consideration. Most of our locations were relatively remote and many times required a mile or so of walking in. On difficult terrain. And the side of mountains.

On those trips I packed a couple of G9 camera bodies and a small assortment of really good lenses. They worked very, very well. The images were well received and the small photo backpack I chose fit under any conceivable airplane seat. It seems I had found the sweet spot and the prevailing rationale for the smaller format systems. 

Once again, on a later trip to Iceland, I also packed the G9s and some of the same lenses. Looking back at images from that trip I thought the output from my selection of lenses was equally good and equally effective. 

So now I'm looking at packing up a backpack that will, again, fit under the seat of any airplane and also provide me with enough capability to provide extensive coverage of the next banker conference. The biggest gap in the system last week was longer lenses. The kinds of lenses needed for discreet podium photos of keynote speakers, entertainers and expert presenters. My first big zoom for the smaller system, back in the "old days" was the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens. Perfect imaging but a very hefty package to work with for long periods of time, handheld. 

The second lens I used with the "Pixie" systems was the Panasonic/Leica 50-200mm f2.8-4.0 lens. It's a really nice one but it's pricey and I don't really think it has the same "bite" as the Olympus mentioned just above. I'd been trying to track down a copy of one of the new Olympus 40-150mm f4.0 Pro zooms from Precision Camera but they kept coming up empty. My rationale was multi-fold. This lens is very small, very light and supposedly very sharp. While it's slower than the other two (aperture-wise) the f4.0 isn't bad and it's constant. If the lens is sharp wide open then it's not an issue. It will work for my purposes.

In my dreams I imagined a backpack that had only the two Panasonic bodies (GH6 and GH5ii) along with the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm and the new Olympus 40-150mm f4.0 Pro lens, augmented with one fast prime. The rest of the small, "Airport Advantage" backpack would be filled with dedicated flashes, extra batteries, chargers and cables. It would weigh about half the poundage of my last packed case and provide everything I would need for a corporate event. The bonus being "enhanced mobility."

So, I fired up the potent and glorious Subaru Forester and headed to the camera store. We looked for the Olympus lens but came up empty. I found a used Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 ii on the used shelf for the kindly sum of $579 but it really wasn't what I wanted. I found the Olympus lens on their website and it showed that it was currently in stock so my sales associate redoubled his efforts. Eureka!!! We found the lens I really wanted. I even got a nice discount on the purchase....

No lens gets in the backpack for a job until it's taken out into the harsh, "real world" and shot for a while. I've got about a month and a half to put it through its paces so I thought this afternoon would be a good starting point. Above and below are images shot with the Olympus 40-150mm f4.0 Pro lens; mostly at f4.0 or, at most, f5.0. 

The lens is small and light; as advertised. It was cost effective at $849. It fits right into the cutout I had prepared for it in my Think Tank case. It communicates and works seamlessly with the Panasonic GH5ii. I think it's going to work out well. See for yourself.

detail from the photograph at the top of the article. 

Sharp at the long end. 

I might give this one a try as the new studio work vehicle. 
It's pretty cute....

Highway photos. The new thing.

 58 miles to Santa Fe, NM. 

Camera: Panasonic GH5ii

Lens: Olympus 12-45mm f4.0 Pro


One more sample of the APS-C Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 lens on the Leica SL2. Neophyte Landscape and Architectural photographer tries again!


 Church in downtown Santa Fe. Late afternoon. Late April. 

Mismatched gear is interesting. 

Lenses. Some good. Some bad. Some atrocious. Let's talk "sample variation."


Remember that oh so cute and oh so cheap TTArtisans 17mm f1.4 lens I bought for the Leica CL a while back? I really liked that lens and found it to be more than sharp enough once I stopped it down past about f2.5 or maybe f2.8. And it's such an interesting and adorable bit of industrial design too. 

I looked for one when I started buying up new Panasonic GH cameras but they were out of stock everywhere. B&H finally got some more in so I ordered one.... pronto. It came midmorning today on a Fed Ex truck. Lucky me. I'd just finished billing two big jobs and also politely informing a past client why I didn't want to participate in his exciting enterprise any more and I was anxious to finally....FINALLY have time for myself. So I put the lens on the GH6 camera and drove downtown to do my usual walk around the buildings. So much has happened in downtown since I was last there. It had been almost two weeks since my last visit. It was warm and humid and threatening thunderstorms so you know it was just right for me. 

I walked. I ate stuff. I stopped for coffee and coffee cake. I put the camera on manual focus and roamed around. I used focus peaking. Sometimes I stood still and used focus peaking and then the added "assurance" of magnified focusing assistance. Everything looked pretty good in the EVF. I shot raw; just like the pros on YouTube!!! And when I got home I shoved the files into Lightroom and was giddy with the anticipation that I'd get the same kind of results I've enjoyed using the same model lens (but with an L mount) on the Leica CL/TL combo. 

The disappointment hit me like a ton of decaf. When I stop down to f2.8 or f4.0 the center of the frame is sharp enough. Not sharp like it's sibling but sharp enough. But here's the rub: it's only sharp in the center third of the frame. By the time you get to an edge or a corner it's like a carnival lens or a Diana camera lens. The three colors focus on different planes, and it's softer than premium toilet tissue. Even at f5.6 the center is fine and the edges are dog food. But not the good dog food you can sub into a meatloaf or something. Nope, they are as nasty as the edges of bad lenses get.
Shamefully bad.

Shaking my head here since the copy for the Leica is so good and the one for m4:3 is just so bad. I guess this is what they mean by "sample variation." Yuck. My first return of the year?

Mid-Walk energy boost at Cookbook Café.