Blog Keywords

Popular Posts for the Month

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Zuiko and Olympus E-620 Up Close

I went to the Olympus E-system luncheon... and had a very close encounter with the E-620!!!
E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm f2.0 SWD
35mm, f/2.0, 1/80s, ISO500, Pin Hole ART Filter

Such a petite camera.. but don't let its appearance full you!! It's jam-packed with features that will make many envy!!! The viewfinder is luxurios for such a small package!!! And the HLD-5 grip is just marvelous for its size!!!

This is a shot showing the size in the hands of an average Asian guy. His left hand is cusping the battery grip, and the lens attached is the standard kit 14-42mm lens.

This is one baby you got to see to believe!!!

The flippable LCD is something this baby has in common with its bigger brothers E-30 and E-3. And all I can say is that, this is way so COOL!!!

Zuiko and a Fire Hydrant

While I was waiting for my wife at work, I did a short walkabout at KL Sentral.

Near Hilton, I found a fire hydrant. The location was perfect to get some shots; blurred shots effects! I sat at the railing adorning the 5-foot walkway, and shot away inconspicuously using Live View and the flippable LCD.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 MACRO
50mm, f/5.0, 1/13s, ISO100, Pin Hole ART Filter

I wish our Pos Laju service is as fast as depicted in this image!! Sigh....

The E-30 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2.0 MACRO proved to be the perfect choice to have the frame just right from my vantage point. I chose the E-30 Art Filters mode and shot away; CLik! CliCk! cLIcK!

Other interesting shots of the fire hydrant...


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Zuiko and Urbanscapes

E-510 with Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 & Hoya C-PL 72mm
11mm, f/4.5, 1/320s, ISO100, -0.3EV

The taxi cab was making a turn, and I figured this added a good element to the image.

The point of view from below added impact with the strong blu sky as the background. The colorful posters addorning the building were the main attraction. It was very striking!
Polarization was at the maximum to further saturate the strong colors. That was the key element to this image. Colors, colors & colors!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Zuiko and a Wedding

Wedding photography! A type of photography that I would categorize as chaos. Not in a sense of the photographer losing his/her mind, but in the sense that the whole event is just chaos.

I would say that most of the time, the photographer has no control of the situation and must make the best out of it.

In this instance, the best way to approach it is through a technique known as wedding photojournalism.

The principle is simple. The photographer will use all the resources at hand to capture any artistic opportunity without the bride and groom's awareness. So called candid, but with a complete story to tell!

A good start to do a wedding job is to use the E-3 or E-30, with a very good zoom lens either the Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 or the Zuiko Digital ED12-60mm f2.8-4.0. A strong flash is a must; thus, only the FL-50R qualify. The battery grip will be also helpful to double the shoot rate and to assist in portraiture framing. Carry spare batteries for the body and also the flash. A high capacity memory card is recommended such as the SanDisk Xtreme III 4GB or 8GB.

Additional lenses to assist include the Zuiko Digital ED50-200mm f2.8-3.5, Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 and the Zuiko Digital ED50mm f2.0 Macro. Though, I would say that the normal zoom lenses will be main workhorse and will cover up to 80% of the total shots.

This was a wedding I did about 9 months ago. It was only for 1 session, the groom's reception.

This image is the typical classic couple wedding shot. With the E-3, Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 and FL-50R. The focal length was 54mm with aperture of f/3.5 and shutter speed of 1/100s. The sensitivity was set to ISO400.

E-3 with Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 and FL-50R
23mm, f/5.0, 1/25s, ISO400, -0.3EV

Another important aspect of wedding photography is the post-processing workflow. Typical album is a 22-page 8RW layout, with an assortment of photos up to 150 shots!! It is up to the photographer to finalize the layout. And the amount of work is double the photo shoot job!! So, be prepared!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Zuiko and High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range... what does that mean?

If we understand the Zone System, a HDR image should be able to capture up to 11 stops from Zone O to Zone X. Thus, the image will have tonal gradations of up to 2048 shades. This is quite high for a sensor to capture, and in most cases, if the image is shot in JPEG, only 8 stops are captured. As such, to get HDR image, it is imminent to use multiple images to stretch the dynamic range.

E-3 with Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f2.8-3.5

11mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO200, -0.3EV

This is a shot of Tanah Lot in Bali, Indonesia. The sun was setting, and the landscape struck a chord for an HDR scene. Click on the image to see a bigger picture.

I used the E-3 with the Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 lens and captured in RAW format. Knowing that the E-3 is able to capture up to 9-10 stops of dynamic range, I opted to use 1 RAW file to make a composite of 3 JPEG files in different exposure compensation. Then, I processed the JPEGs in steps of +2.0EV, +0.5EV and -1.0EV.

Using the GIMP software, I merged the 3 JPEG files using contrast masking procedures, and VOILA!!! A bit of advice: Watch out for color shifts. This can be very difficult to correct if got it wrong in the first place.

Introducing the Olympus E-620

Hmmmm.. this looks more like E-420/520 replacement.

What I like most from the specifications are:
  1. 7 AF points, with 5 points being cross-hair sensors
  2. Flippable LCD screen
  3. External White Balance sensor
  4. HLD-5 battery grip

What I am bit disappointed are:

  1. Smallish Optical Viewfinder
  2. Not weather-sealed (hey, Pentax can do it!!)
  3. No dedicated DoF preview button
  4. Only one command dial

In all, this is a good range for the E-system.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A New E-SLR Cometh?

I was taken by surprise when I received this invite from Olympus Malaysia for a lunch gathering on the 28th of this month. First of all, I was been told upfront about the gathering due to my review of the E-30 back in late December 2008. But, the first line item on the agenda was really a surprise!!!

I was told by a very reliable source that the new E-SLR will be between the recently launched E-30 and E-520. Another TWEENER?

I hope it will have something different to offer from the rest of the E-family. Really, really different!!!!

E-30 with Zuiko Digital 50mm F2.0 MACRO
50mm, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO250

There are also some news in the forums that Olympus France will be announcing on the 26th of this month! Hmmmm... interesting times ahead, definitely.

Ah well, I have to wait for the microFourthirds announcement a little bit later, then. Maybe in June??

Friday, February 20, 2009

Zuiko and a Matter of Composition

It was a sunny morning, the sun was shining brightly. I was going to work, and I stumbled upon an opportunity to shoot this little flower in my garden. The garden had just been watered, and the droplets were just a beautiful addition to the already gorgeous marigolds.

Water is a powerful addition to a composition. The globule effect creates additional story to the image, similar to an insect perching on the flower petals. Another beauty lies in the reflective behaviour that adds another dimension to the image. In essence, there are two images in the single frame!

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 MACRO
f/2.5, 1/640s, ISO400

A common problem with shooting a simple subject is what is the best composition. If shooting a difficult subject is more on the technique, shooting a simple subject is more on the depth. In creating depth to the image, the subject must convey multidimensional qualities!

Okay! I already have a flower with a water droplet as my subject. Which is the best way to capture this beauty?

First of all, what I really liked was the lighting. The strong sun created a nice shadow and light effect to the flower that I did not really require a fill-in flash or a reflector.

Next, to get very close-up, a macro lens was used. With the Zuiko Digital 50mm f2.0 Macro attached to the E-30, the setup was complete.

I shot a couple of images, both with different angle and aperture. One thing in common, though; both the flower's top opening and the water droplet were in focus!

If you are careful enough, the droplet reflection in itself is an additional composition.

The first image I used a smaller aperture of f/5.6 to get most of the flower's top opening in focus. Because of this, I had to move higher at angle angle to isolate it from the yellow background. The flower bud and water droplet were also in focus.
The second image I used a large aperture of f/2.5 to only get the water droplet and the body of the flower in focus. The rest of the image was left to blur. I did not have to shoot at a higher angle to isolate the flower's top opening from the yellow background.

From these images, I had a tough time selecting the better shot. Somehow, the shallow depth-of-field from the second image won it. The small buds emerging from the flower's top and the sole droplet with the sharp outline of the flower's body got it made. The foreground and background blur added a sandwiched effect to further convey the beauty of the subject.
To finish it off, I did a square crop and a touch of vignetting to enhance the vibrancy and energy of the composition. A tad of dodging and burning added crispness to the color and contrast, too!

Shooting a simple subject is actually difficult. Making a multidimension image out of a mundane subject is definitely tricky. The only way to improve is to continually shoot in various angles and apertures to nail the shot. Once you get it, it is very satisfying!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zuiko and 108MP Image

Digital Zuiko lenses are sharp end-to-end, even at wide open. The consistency of exposure is excellent too, with the vignetting at corners are very minimal. These qualities enable me to do some stitching of images with high precision and accuracy.

E-30, Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 Macro
44 images stitched and cropped to an approximately 3x3 frame of the 50mm coverage

With the composite of 44 images, and later cropped out about 25%, this single frame sized up to 3x3 of the 50mm coverage. In relation to the framing, it is safe to say that this is similar to the coverage of the Leica S-system format.

Using the industry-defining ED50mm F2.0 Macro lens, it is not surprising to see the results to be outstanding. The aperture is at F2.0, and the resultant depth-of-field is very narrow and shallow.

What I really want is to have the capability to get a highly sharp image with razor thin depth-of-field. The marigold flower is medium-sized, and to have up to 15 in the frame really shows the coverage of the image.

I actually created a quasi-Medium Format image similar to a sensor of 48mm by 32mm, with real resolution in excess of 100MP!!! It is not surprising, as a single image from the E-30 is a 12MP image - with 9 composites will be approximately 108MP!

Not bad for a small format system. As long as the lens is top notch, anything is possible!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Zuikos and the Need for Primes

I just got my E-30 yesterday from Olympus Malaysia. And boy, does this camera match perfectly well with the Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 Macro lens.

This morning, I made a few shots with this combination. Although I was using a prime lens, there were certain aspects that prime lenses can be more advantageous opposed to varifocal lenses. I had noticed at least three aspects. One aspect was the size; small and nimble. Second aspect was the speed; large f/2 aperture value. Third aspect was the close focus; macro capability at least up to 1:2 reproduction.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 Macro
50mm, F2.0, 1/100s, ISO320

Well, not all aspects can be part of a prime lens. Design constraints and price will also be the determining factors. However, at least two aspects should be there. With these characteristics, the value of a prime lens is justified over a varifocal lens. Alas, in the case of Zuikos, there is a great mishap on the availability of such lenses to the photographers. Thus, the greatest need for such primes!!

Looking at the current lens lineup, it is easy to pinpoint the gaps. I can straight away list 3 lenses that are a must for Olympus to manufacture.

Zuiko Digital 12mm F2.0 wideangle lens: This wide-angle lens should be a favorite with many photographers. It covers both size and speed. With the 4/3 mount, 12mm requires a retro-focus design. This design is complex and requires many exotic optical material and configuration. Thus, it is acceptable to have the speed limited at F2 since wides do not require much speed. But, the advantage is the design can be more compact. It is possible to have it in 50mm-lens size with a larger diameter front element.

Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.7 normal lens: Normal prime lens should be a flagship lens; that is how I feel. Sadly, Olympus has none of it. However, 4/3 shooters can opt for the Leica D 25mm F1.4 ASPH lens. For me, I will pass this lens. It holds only one of the aspects that I had outlined. Instead, there should be a Zuiko with F1.7 aperture value. This flagship lens can hold all three aspects in terms of size, speed and close focus capabilities. At 25mm, it will not be retro-focus, and the design should be as simple as possible to meet all three criteria. I am hoping for 50mm-lens size with a close-focus down to 20cm.

Zuiko Digital 42mm F1.2 portrait lens: I have to confess, I like portraiture. Most of it actually is capturing the human condition; in my case, my children. What a great bonus if Olympus make such a lens. I always find the 50mm is a tad long for casual portraiture; especially due to the nature of being in close proximity. Focal length of 42mm should be perfect for it. Indeed, such fast optics is highly complicated to construct. The speed justifies for the loss in size and close-focus advantages. The shallow depth-of-field should be the strongest seller and should also the bokeh. With delicate design decisions, I expect this to be a bit smallish size of the 14-54mm lens with 62mm thread. This should be fair enough.

Rightly so, these lenses can easily be slotted at the High-Grade/Pro-Grade lens range along the 12-60mm and 50-200mm lenses. The optical qualities and robust weathersealed build related to this grade should be the strong factors to add to the already established aspects for each lens.

These prime lenses will quickly fill the gap for the photographer to capture the most demanding photographic situations. I can guarantee it.

Then again, these are my hopes. Hoping for the best....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Zuiko OM 50mm F1.4 Silvernose

E-3, Zuiko OM 50mm f1.4, FL-50R
50mm, f1.4, 1/100s, ISO100, RC TTL Ch1A -0.3EV

I came back from work one day, and my kids were playing in a small tent in the bedroom. There was this little window that I saw my kids like to peer out. It seemed to be a very good photo opportunity.

In deciding the lens, I opted for the old manual lens. I did not know why. But luckily the result was very satisfying. The room lights were not bright enough, I estimated around 7EV. Also, with the kids' rapid movement, I needed fast shutter speed to freeze motion to get sharp image. I needed additional light. Instead of attaching the Flash on the camera, I set up the remote flash. All done less than a minute. The flash lighting was tamed by bouncing up the wall with a 60-degree angle.

With the flash located at the bottom of the camera, directly into the tent's window, I just waited for my kids to peer out. I took about 4 to 5 shots, and settled with my daughter's image. The facial expression was just subtle, with a hint of curiosity. The little fingers at the bottom added more dimension as if she was about to peel out of the opening.

Another tough part was to get the accurate focus, as this was done using a manual focus lens with a very thin depth-of-field. I pre-focused on the tent's blue rim and abruptly did a quick fine-tune adjustment to get the eye in sharp focus within an instance. I have to confess, it was very difficult in such a dim environment. Kudos to E-3's bright viewfinder, I managed to manual focus without much problem.

A little story about the lens. This lens, the Zuiko OM 50mm F1.4 "silvernose" was part of the original kit lens launched with the revolutionary OM-1 SLR camera back in 1972. My father bought this lens with the OM-1 in 1973, and it still works!! Not bad for a 36-year-old optical gizmo. Though covered with fungus, the rendition is still acceptably sharp; I would add with a slight hint of "soft focus" effect.