11.15.2013

The "sky effect" lens. 14mm.


We got lost a couple of times. Once when trying to find the wastewater treatment plant outside Abilene and another time trying to find a park but when we finally got our sense of the layout of Abilene we had no trouble finding the pistol and rifle ranges for the Abilene Police Department. It was fun (in a very American way) to photograph cadets and officers firing magazine after magazine at various kinds of targets. Some targets were engaged from static positions and others required the officers to move laterally while shooting.

I may have been wearing my safety glasses and a set of ear protectors but it didn't stop me from seeing this amazing cloudy sky just a quarter of an hour before the onset of sunset. I put down the GH3 and the telephoto zoom and grabbed the Sony a99 with the zany Rokinon 14mm and tried a few shots. I was happy with the result. This is one of those fun lenses that pushes one to try it over and over again with all kinds of subject matter until you basically burn out on the effect and go back to your regular way of engaging. But I'm still in the fascination period and having a blast making skies look dramatic.

The Rokinon 14mm Cine t3.5 Lens. Fun.



I had fun in Abilene and enjoyed using a new system and a new lens on an existing camera.

Concrete Expert. From an Annual Report three years ago.

I'll quickly admit that I'm more comfortable with medium telephoto lenses than with very wide angle lenses any day of the week. But that being said I'd like to talk about my new "favorite" lens, the 14mm t3.5 Rokinon Cine wide angle.  It's a lens I bought in anticipation of an upcoming project. I've been talking to a potential client who makes CT scanners about making video programming in some very tight spaces where their machines are installed. We're talking about very large machines in very small spaces. I've done a number of still images in similar installations and no matter how wide a lens I bring I always wished it was just a little bit wider...

I'm hoping to use the lens on a Sony a99, mounted on a slider, for the wide, overall shots that are critical to establishing the video.  Like all projects, nothing is certain until the ink is on a contract and we're watching the red light blink on the location. But it's always best to get some practice with a new tool so you have and idea of what are can do with a lens when you get onto an actual location. With that in mind I stuffed the 14mm and the Sony a99 into the left side of my big Domke bag and took it along with me on my assignment in Abilene, Texas.

Right up front you have to know that this $400 lens is not going to be anybody's first choice for architectural photography. It's got a lot of geometric distortion. Really....a lot. There are several shareware profiles out on the web that will go a long way toward correcting the distortion in Lightroom but I didn't really care about the distortion for the shots I was working on the last two days and in video the 16:9 crop takes away the worst of the distortion which occurs mostly along the edges of the full frame.

What the lens does have is very, very high sharpness in the middle of the frame, and, at f8, excellent sharpness over the entire frame. A bonus of the super wide angle of view is really deep depth of field. I found that I could get sharp focus at 10 feet and use a quick hyper focal calculation to essentially make the lens a "focus free" optic. By that I mean that if you focus correctly and set the aperture to f8 you'll have enough depth of field for just about anything you can think of.

I used the lens a lot yesterday to do full body shots and group shots close to the camera and leaned on the lenses ability to do dramatic wide skies in the background to add interest to the shots. It was a technique that worked really well.  I anticipate that most of my use with this lens will call from cropping down to a focal length of around 21mm since that seems more comfortable to my eyes.

The lens is very well built and fun to handle. Even though the front element is huge it's fairly well protected by the built in lens shade and there's a decent lens cap as well. The lens balances well on the a99 but may be too front heavy for a smaller camera. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable using it with an adapter on a smaller system like the Panasonic m4:3 cameras. But as a specialty optic is sure delivers what I wanted: Lots of information in the frame and a very dynamic way of rendering subjects in space.

My recommendation?  I'd buy it again.

That brings me to the primary system I used in Abilene, the Panasonic GH3.  I wanted to travel lighter this year. Last year I brought along a couple of Sony a77 cameras and a bag full of fast Sony lenses. I also brought along too many lights and too many accessories. This year I wanted to pack smaller and shoot smarter. And let me emphasize that by not being a "lens snob" I was able to largely accomplish those goals.

I packed a couple of GH3 bodies, two kittish lenses (the new 14-42 and the 45-150mm) the PanaLeica 25mm 1.4 and several manual focus half frame lenses (which I wound up not using), and a couple of manual, battery powered flashes. A much, much lighter assemblage of gear! And I had no trepidation about its ability to perform after having shot nearly 2,000 images with the same system under available light conditions last Saturday.

Here's what I liked about using the GH3 all day long yesterday: It's lightweight but it doesn't feel under built. It's rock solid, only lighter rock solid. The EVF is great and is also adjustable for luminance which means you can match it more exactly to match the image on the rear screen. The lenses focus quickly and surely. The flippy screen is great when using the camera low on a tripod and with an external loupe.

I've had the cameras for a very short time but the menus have already become second nature to me. I liked being able to move the AF point anywhere on the rear screen. You can also use your finger on the touch screen to set the AF point while looking in the EVF. Nice.  I got a lot of use out of the standard kit lens and it was more than adequate. Quite sharp in the middle and good on the edges, even near wide open! The longer zoom is optically very good and, at f8, sharp beyond my needs.
But my go to lens was the 25mm 1.4 which I tended to use at f3.5 or f4 for single subject shots. It's a really good lens which I reviewed about a year and a half ago. Nothing has changed my initial high regards.

I owned the previous camera from Panasonic, the GH2 but the GH3 seems like a completely reworked camera that's been upgraded, modernized and made more highly functional. They paid close attention to making buttons the right size, getting the auto switching between the EVF and the rear LCD just right and lots of other small details. One of my favorite things about the new camera is the battery life. The camera uses a much bigger, higher capacity battery (which may account for the increased size of the camera overall) that's about the size of the battery in my Sony a99.  I was able to shoot a bit more than 16 gigabytes of RAW-Jpeg information yesterday and still have the 2/3rd full indicator left on my original battery. For a mirror less camera that is nothing short of amazing. If I'm shooting more or less continuously and not chimping all the time I can get an enormous number of Jpegs. Last Saturday I shot well over 1,000 files with each of my two GH3s and never changed a battery. Nice.

There's one feature I did not even know the camera had and that's the auto switch in the hot shoe that senses when a flash is attached and turned on and sets the view screens to give one a bright finder image regardless of the camera settings. It's what you get when  you use a Sony a99 and switch "Setting Effect" to off. If you use an EVF or Live View camera you know that when you attach a flash you generally need to switch to a different viewing mode to get a scene bright enough to focus and compose in when you are in a dark environment. It's nice that his camera will do it for you. 

Take off the flash, or just turn it off and the camera reverts to your previous viewing setting. 

I originally bought the two GH3s for my video projects but they've grown on me as still cameras. I didn't find any situations (other than the lack of a super wide lens...) that made me want to grab another camera at any time during the whole shooting assignment. I did use the a99 sparingly but only as a partner with the new 14mm lens. 

Here's my short list of "pros" for the GH3:

1. Small size and happy weight
2. Good EVF and good auto switching with LCD
3. Nice selection of lenses, both Panasonic and Olympus
4. Wild and crazy good video performance
5. Best in class battery life
6. Optimum files size for long run still jobs

Here's my current shortlist of "cons" for the GH3:

1. 

Edit: I'm removing my paragraph about Formula One in Austin. While I am vigorously opposed to the government subsidies larded out for this event I've come to realize that some people like it. I don't but then I don't really like most mass gatherings so I've decided to remove my judgmental comments and the e-mails they engendered and we'll hew to the topic of imaging instead.






Studio Portrait Lighting













11.13.2013

Packing up and getting on the road.

Berlin.

It's Weds. morning and I'm moving through the studio with a sense of purpose. An art director I've worked with for years is meeting me here at 1:30pm and we're heading up to Abilene, Texas, about four hours north of Austin. We'll be shooting images for an annual report and I'm in the sorting and packing mode. What will I need and what will fit in the Honda CR-V?  

We'll cruise up at a leisurely pace this afternoon, spend the night and then get right to work first thing in the morning. If past assignments are an indication we'll be shooting people working indoors and we'll be shooting big public works projects outdoors. Last year we did photos of giant fire engines and first responders at the start, shot airline maintenance somewhere in the middle of the day and finished up shooting alligators at the zoo. What it means is that we have to be prepared for a range of things.

I'm packing light. I'm taking a couple of Panasonic GH3s and four m4:3 lenses that range from 14 to 150mm. I'd like to shoot as much as possible with the 25mm Summilux and the 60mm Olympus Pen FT 60mm 1.4 but I have a suspicion that the wide end is where we'll see the most action. I finally tested the Rokinon 14mm Cine lens yesterday and it's fit for service so I'll bring it along attached to a Sony a99 body for stuff that needs to be really, really wide. I know that this lens has a lot of distortion but I've found a really good profile that I can use in Lightroom to straighten out the edges...

I'm going equally light on light. I've packed a few battery powered, on camera flashes but I'm also packing the enormous and heavy Elinchrom Ranger RX AS flash unit and two heads. This system is capable of belting out 1100 watt seconds about 250 times in a row, if needed. I plugged in the batteries last night (primary and a spare) and we've got green lights everywhere. I'm bringing along two Elinchrom modifiers. They're like enclosed shoot through umbrellas. One small, one large. 

The lighting kit gets rounded out with two light stands and, of course, a tripod. A wooden one since it's going to be cold up there and I hate touching the bare metal on tripods when we get down to the freezing zone.

What else do I do to prepare for a couple days on the road? I make sure to get a fast, hard swim in so I hit the pool with a bunch of people from my master's swim team at 7:00 am. It was 36 degrees and steam was coming off the pool. It's a heated, outdoor pool. One of my favorite coaches was on deck and writing the workout on a white board. Her name is Kathleen Hersey and she swam butterfly in the 2012 London Olympics. She has amazingly good energy and a cheerful heart. We swam a bunch of different sets and knocked out a couple miles at a good pace.

I'm happy that I'm still excited about hitting the water on a cold day and pounding out the yards. You'd think that after over fifty years of swimming up and down various pools and watching the black line on the bottom one would get bored but every time in the pool is exciting and fun for me. It's active meditation, it's competition and it's concentration. Lots of good stuff for your body and brain to do before that first cup of coffee...

As an afterthought to my packing I realized that I needed a good, fun (non-work) camera to drag along and take silly snapshots with so I stuffed one of the K-01 Pentax cameras into the car. I'm taking the black one with silver knobs. I think of it as my "formal" clown camera. And just to be different I've stuck the kit zoom, the weather resistant 18-55mm version, on the camera. I know it seems pedestrian but I've come to like it pretty well. 

I can hardly wait to go shoot. This is the kind of straight forward work I really like doing. 

Stay warm!

11.12.2013

14mm sunset.








Every once in a while you have to stop and scrape all the extra stuff off your plate and start clean.


I've been doing too many disparate things this year and I've found, to my dismay, that I am not a good multi-tasker. I am not able to shift from craft to craft, from camera system to camera system. From industry to industry. And it's been hard for me to shift from my role being behind the still camera to the role of being in front of the video camera. I got too scattered and too distracted. I tried to be too many things to too many people and the thing that suffered the most was the time I had available to spend taking my photographs and writing the stuff I like to write without the slightest even ephemeral pull of a client's gravity impinging on my thought process. I was drowning under hats and subtle currents.

But we're all done. The cameras I agreed to test have been returned. Collected by FedEx only an hour ago. The Craftsy.com courses are complete and online. A recent book project politely declined. A workshop left unscheduled.

And I feel free for the first time in a long time. I don't compartmentalize well. If there are ongoing projects on my plate I find my brain including them in an inventory of subroutines that uses up precious brain cells I can hardly spare. Not having the compartments occupied has given me a huge sense of relief.

At a time when executing a profitable career as a photographer has become ever more difficult financially I find more and more of my peers have done what I have recently done and jumped on every opportunity that's been presented to them, in and out of their field. They've become workshop leaders even though most of the best shooters I know are loners and the least adapted to enjoy working with groups of people to help them improve their craft. They embrace the books. They look for sponsors. In short, their (our) careers stopped resembling a straight line of intention and became a series of part time jobs that are remotely aligned with imaging but in the end have little or nothing to do with moving our own work forward. The jobs set up new barriers to becoming the artists that we always hoped we would have the courage to work toward being.  Distraction is my number one nemesis. I'm fatigued by distraction.

I have a certain amount of fear that belts will be worn tighter around here if I only do the photos and videos and writing that I want to do but it seems like a challenge I'll have to deal with because I need to be committed and working toward a goal or a series of goals for my photography to work for me.

I'm using the gear I'm comfortable with. I'm looking for projects that seem to leverage my way of working. I'm looking forward to more personal work. I'm looking forward to the equivalent of swimming without floaties in the career I always wanted in the first place.

I'd rather labor well in obscurity than feel like a hollow actor in a role that doesn't fit. I feel like I'm coming home again to my craft. Not as an "expert" but as a beginner.

I'm not selling anything here today. I'm not suggesting you buy this camera or that camera. I don't care what kind of lighting you use. I'm not impressed by any camera. I am writing this today to say that the real challenge is to peel back the layers of distraction and fear we create that keep us from doing what we love. Life is too short for everything else.














11.11.2013

A fun assignment and a tale of three cameras: The Sony a99, the Panasonic GH3 and the Pentax K01


I had the good fortune to be hired to take images for the "Thinkery." The Thinkery is the new name for our newly relocated Children's Museum, here in Austin, Texas. The assignment called for me to head over to the museum this past Saturday and take photographs of kids, parents, staff and everyone else trying out the new museum and all the new exhibits and interactive features. It was a "friends and family" experience meant to serve as a shake out or test run for the official opening in early December.  I was to work as discreetly and minimally as possible and that meant no tripod and no light stands.

At first I decided to go entirely minimal and take only the new Panasonic GH3's along with a small collection of lenses that included: the 25mm Summilux, the new kit lens (18-55mm) the longer entry level zoom (the 45-150mm) and a few fast Olympus Pen FT lenses. At the last moment I hedged my bets by bringing along the Sony a99 fitted with the 85mm 1.4 Rokinon Cine lens and a few extra batteries. Then I figured, "Oh what the heck?" and I stuffed the yellow Pentax K01 along with its 40mm 2.8 pancake lens into the bag.

During the course of the day I took about 2500 images. Some were just motor drive sequences where I was trying to catch the peak of action or the best expression and some were gratuitous color studies. But I did use all three of the cameras under the same conditions and it went a long way toward me understanding the differences between the cameras; or at least the differences between three Jpeg engines.

The Sony a99 was a known commodity and it did its stuff correctly. It was the most cumbersome to use and I expected the image quality of the big, gnarly full frame sensor to squash the other cameras but the reality was that while there might have been less noise in the files all three cameras performed quite well and the images from all three were equally usable.

The GH3 is like a trim athlete that knows its regimen cold. It focused quickly, the lenses were uniformly sharp and the colors and metering uniformly pleasing. I saw very nice files and very nice skin tones under mixed lighting at ISOs all the way up to 3200 ISO. For a camera system purchased primarily as a video toolset I am happy to see that it's also a very usable still imaging system. Much nicer files than I remember getting when shooting stills with the GH2 several years ago. And the batteries lasted all day long!

Finally there is the case of the Pentax K01. The "clown car" of the camera collection around these parts. I used it in a cavalier way. I set the ISO to auto and let the camera roam from ISO 100 all the way up to ISO 6400. I set the mode dial to "P" and set the autofocus to face detections (till I got bored and started to play with focus peaking in manual focus...). In other words this was the camera of the three that got the least in the way of controls and mindful direction from me. I would see something I liked, bring the camera up to frame and then flail away with a volley of three or four quick exposures.

All three of the cameras were set to deliver the largest and less compressed Jpegs available on the menu. All three were processed in Apple's Aperture program in much the same way.

I was happily editing and there were no surprises until half way through the edit when the files under went a change. The colors got richer. The images got sharper and more detailed and the files got more robust to changes and processing.  I wondered if the dog had changed a setting in Aperture when I left the office for coffee so I double checked. Nope.

I had just gotten to the section of the folder that was filed with Pentax files. Even at ISO 3200 (and, under the right circumstances---a bit above...) the faces were free of noise but invested with detail. The files had a different look and feel than the files from the other two cameras. The images of one and two year olds just glowed! And I remember how freeing it felt not to totally control my camera when I was taking those particular shots.

My friend, Paul, reminded me not to read too much into the files. He reminded me that I was mostly just comparing the different ways the cameras rendered Jpegs. But given that all of my favorite files from the day came from a camera and lens combination that cost me about $200 used gave me pause. Lots of pause. Had I spent the last 26 years doing this whole photography thing incorrectly?

Should I have eschewed the technical tunnel vision from the get go and just concentrated on being in the moment and trusting to the machine? Or did someone build a machine for taking pictures that works best for me and I just now found it? Or maybe it was just one of those days but it did make me give more thought to the idea of just what is creativity and what is mastery?

11.06.2013

My Craftsy.com video on making family portraits. Absolutely free. No money. No obligation. Just free.

www.craftsy.com/ext/familyportraits



www.craftsy.com/ext/familyportraits

Back in late September I was in Colorado making several classes about photography with the folks at Craftsy.com. The first class we did was one about making better photographs of our families. We created a video program that's a little over an hour long and it may be interesting to you on several fronts. If you are just starting your journey taking more controlled portraits you might find a lot of value in watching me succeed (and sometimes fail) in making portraits of one year olds, toddlers, groups, etc. If you aren't into gear you'll be happy that we work a lot in the video with window light, garage door light and one flash, mostly on camera. There are also tidbits and hints on posing, getting the attention of small children and managing bigger groups. The video is well shot, there are no product endorsements or mini-commercials in the actual program. There's really nothing to buy.

On the second front, if you think I'm too serious on the blog you'll find a much lighter aspect of Kirk Tuck as I lay on my stomach and make strange noises in an almost desperate attempt to get the attention of my smaller sitters. My wife and I watched the video for the first time last night and she laughed out loud at some of the things I was trying in order to get the right expressions from pre-toddlers.  If you are a VSL malcontent and think I'm crazy this video will probably confirm your point of view as well.

The Lightroom tutorial at the end of the program is basic and straightforward. You can watch the video as many times as you like.  And when you are through with it you can cruise over and see the little intro trailers to Neil Van Niekirk's classes or Rick Sammon's class.

Everyone I know who uses Craftsy.com as a learning platform loves it. This is your chance to test drive the platform for free.

Belinda and I like Craftsy because we can sit around and watch the programming together. We're both interested in cooking and wines and there's great stuff about that on the site.

It's better than a live workshop because you can watch it over and over again until you master an idea or a technique. And on the paid classes, if you hit the wall and just don't get something you can post questions for the instructor and they'll answer them.

There's also the opportunity to post projects that you do based on what you've learned in the classes and you'll get feedback from the instructors and other members of the class. Kind of like getting a group critique and an instructor critique from the comfort of your own home. Even in your pajamas.

Watch me make a fool of myself and watch as we go through the process of making fun family images.

The class is free and I would love to see some strong support from the VSL crowd. Take a minute to go and watch. Then let the comments fly!

www.craftsy.com/ext/familyportraits


11.05.2013

I'm not the least bit conflicted about Nikon's new Df camera. I think it will appeal to a huge number of fellow photographers who cut their teeth on dials and external controls.

Whether or not they'll actually trade their cash for it is a whole different story.

  The New Nikon Df.  Old school? 

I haven't touched this camera or seen it in the flesh but I think Nikon will be moderately successful with a certain segment of the camera buying public. I'm pretty sure that a large slice of the camera toting demographic who "grew up" in photography using film cameras from the era referenced by the Df's design notes will be happy to go back to dials that had discrete functions and real, tactile feedback. The real dividing line will be between those who experienced the FMs, FEs and similarly configured cameras from the film age and those whose first brush with photography happened after the introduction of digital. Of course there will be outlier and you'll probably be able to point to a number of younger photographers who like the interface or the nostalgic nod to yesteryear just as you'll find a number of more experience shooters who were happy to leave the old interfaces behind.

In this case I'm ambivalent. I'll admit that I like the three control dials (shutter speeds, exposure comp. and ISO) as separate, easily accessible controls but I've pretty much made my peace since the Nikon F5 and F100 with electronic interfaces. The camera looks like a real camera to me mostly because I am over 50 years old and this product design is so similar to the tools that were around when I initially learned photography. 

I do think that, in the balance, Nikon has gotten a lot of things right. I'm glad they waited until they were firmly into their full frame comfort zone because I am certain that people will want to press some of their old prime lenses into service for this camera and they'll want those focal lengths to match the angle of view they were used to on film cameras. I think it was brilliant to integrate the Nikon D4 sensor into the mix as that sensor is great at low noise performance and, at 16 (big sized) megapixels it creates very beautiful files.

Much as I love EVF's it was the right decision to keep making last century optical finders for a retro camera design like this. That probably helps enhance battery life, which Nikon claims to be about 1400 shots. I'm pretty sure it will focus quickly and accurately as Nikon reportedly is using the same AF system as its latest D610 camera which seems to have fairly bullet proof auto focus.

If I were in the market for a full frame camera I wouldn't consider this camera over the D610 or Canon's 6D because I'm not sure there is any imaging or performance advantage to the Df over those full frame choices. But everyone will have a different opinion depending upon how they use their cameras. For the most part the only five controls I use on a day to day basis are shutter speeds, apertures, ISO, exposure compensation and color balance. Most of the geeky stuff sprayed around most menus is an enigma to me (by choice) and I don't have a very hard time acclimating to different cameras given the small range of controls I'm generally looking to master. In fact, most of my friends who are serious shooters also work within a very tight range of menu items while my friends who collect gear tend to know how to customize their cameras in depth with different buttons revised and re-dedicated to all sorts of new settings.

Where the camera falls down (and these are NOT deal killers if you like the external control design) is in little things. The first for me in having the memory card and battery under the same bottom mounted door. After several years of dealing with that on the Sony Nex cameras it is liberating to once again be using a camera (Panasonic GH3) which has a separate battery chamber on the accessible, righthand side of the camera. It makes for fast and sure card changes. 

Another point, raised by a reviewer at DP Review, is that the camera is clearly aimed at people who might want to use pre-AF Nikon lenses on the camera; and indeed, it is set up for their easy use. Given it's ability to accept and meter older Nikon manual focus lenses it seems almost cruel that Nikon has given users a fixed viewfinder screen.....and to turn the screws a bit it's one with no manual focusing aids! Even if no one ever gets around to actually using it a camera like this should give the user the option to pop in a split image rangefinder screen to quickly focus some of those manual gems that are still floating around.

The rest of the camera seems very well done and I have little doubt that the production values will be quite high. While I don't like to factor price into every camera buying situation I do think the relatively high price points to a collector conception for this camera rather than a user conception. Older, well heeled photographers will, perhaps, embrace it and use it hard, taking advantage of the retro design of the controls and their comfort with that interface but I do think that a younger generation, raised on buttons, menus and won't see the value of spending a thousand dollars more for the same kind of performance they could get from three other full frame products that are (or soon will be) out on the market. 

What would it have taken to get me interested in the Df camera? Oh, just an EVF. Once you've pre-chimped I don't think you'll ever want to go back. That and a price around $1500....

In the end Nikon more or less gave a vocal minority of Nikon users something they've been collectively asking for since the dawn of the digital age; a digital Nikon FM.  They delivered and now it's up to the market to decide whether this implementation is successful or not.... 





One final note: I know color choice is supposedly subjective but....would anyone seriously make the claim that the silver version is anywhere as nice looking at the black one?  





11.04.2013

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.