May 262016
 

My thoughts and photos: Leica Q

By Alejandro Ilukewitsch

(If you want to submit a user report, email Steve at [email protected] with your idea)

I have been shooting extensively for the past days with the Q. I can only say that it is really a great little camera. There are some positive and negative aspects I can highlight. First the bad ones:

· High iso – is not a high iso camera. Actually even the Sony A7ii which was not good, might have been better.

· Banding – if files are pushed, and only a few steps, banding will appear. I read that this was also a problem with the M, that was solved with a firmware update. I hope the same will happen. It is not a big issue if you don´t tend to over-edit your files, but it does happen.

· Auto Exposure Lock – it doesn’t have a well implemented function. If you want to lock exposure you need to leave the button pressed. That means that you cannot use AEL with the Exposure compensation wheel. Ex: Lock exposure, and then use Exposure compensation, since you must leave your finger on the AE button pressed. Horrible design.

· There is no way to disable the back screen and only use it to see settings or playback. You can use auto switch, which leaves the back screen all the time turned on, and turns it off when you put the camera on your eye, or use EVF only, which turns the screen off. But all needs to be done through the EVF. Shame on Leica for this, it seems it was designed by engineers who never shot a camera. Hope is also corrected via firmware.

· The Buffer is limited, but who said this was a machine gun kind of camera:)

· Playback of images is slow. I don´t really chimp, but when is needed there is a slight delay.

It might look like a lot of bad things, but actually the camera is a joy to shoot.

· Auto focus in AFS is incredibly fast, like a dslr, and it is 99% on focus, (better than a dslr).

· The lens is a beauty: sharp, colors – yes it´s software corrected, but who cares.

· The camera is fast, everything works just right, (with the exception of chimping).

· The Sony RX1 v2 might have better image quality, but shooting with the Q is fun. It gives excellent results, and most of the time doesn´t get in your way. It feels like a camera, not a computer, even thou I still prefer an ovf. (Comments based on my experience with the RX1 v1 and A7ii).

Some images from the last week, (all images shot in Bucharest):

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My blog, website, and flickr…(thanks for looking)
ailukewitsch,wordpress.com

www.ilukewitsch.com

flickr.com/malabito

May 202016
 

Trip to the Azores Islands

By Miguel Teotónio

Ilhéu de Vila Franca, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal. 

You must have seen the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on TV, … well I heard about this place before, but that competition raised my curiosity to a higher level. Last week while visiting São Miguel in the Azores, we managed to get there and see for ourselves. This beautiful islet has the shape of a large semicircle, creating an atoll in its interior surrounded by an extraordinaire scenery with rocks and cliffs eroded in exquisite natural structures.

You can visit this nature reserve from June to September by boat and easily get to Vila Franca do Campo by bus. One of the few places in São Miguel where you won’t be needing a car. There’s no sense on that cause you will be spending (at least) two hours in the ilhéu and even more (time) on the boat to the islet and back.

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Praia de Santa Bárbara, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.

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Lagoa das Sete Cidades, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.

We rented a car for a few days during our stay in São Miguel to see what we had planned, but our main objective was to stop between spots to admire the extraordinary landscapes that this island has to offer. When driving to Lagoa das Sete Cidades, we took the long way on a secondary dirt road, and what a great choice! We drove into the unknown (no GPS at this moment) and circled the two lagoons (the blue and the green) with a view from above on one of the most beautiful scenery I have ever had the pleasure to experience. We were amazed with such an idyllic place.

We had the best view of it all (in the afternoon) on an abandoned hotel rooftop. Monte Palace Hotel front rooms had a privileged view to the lagoons. Some said it was like being a part of a painting. Now, only sadness can be felt in its interior.

(http://sicnoticias.sapo.pt/programas/abandonados/2014-06-09-monte-palace-nos-acores)

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Rabo de Peixe, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.
This is undoubtedly one of those places you have to be careful while visiting. People are helpful but very suspicious, so there’s no need to say that they take their privacy seriously. If you don’t “trespass”, everything will go well [ or not :-) ] . I did just that but ended up missing some great shots of colorful houses and a few friendly young locals. Maybe next time … This once, I saw what I had in mind, … Vhils … What else?!

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Lagoa do Fogo, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.

This is Lagoa do Fogo. A crazy dog running down the hill, it’s one of the things I’ll always remember from this trip. That was the image I experienced a moment before we reached the viewpoint over the lagoon. The animal was an adrenaline junkie, almost running over cars that were heading to the top.

Here at the Serra de Água de Pau, you also must visit the Caldeira Velha Natural Monument and take a bath in the natural thermal waters (37°C). A pleasant and relaxing surprise at the end of the day.

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Ferraria, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal. 

Lighthouse at Ponta da Ferraria.

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Miguel Teotónio
www.miguelteotonio.com
http://que-suave-e-o-ar.blogspot.com/
Antes de imprimir pense na sua responsabilidade e
compromisso para com o MEIO AMBIENTE !

May 202016
 

Film Friday: Rolleiflex w/ Ilford Delta 100

By David Patris

I am from Belgium and I have been a frequent reader since a few years now. Recently I discovered my father’s Rolleifleix ( 75mm, Tessar 3.5), which was left a long time in a closet, with this camera I am enjoying to go 6×6 cm.
I use the Ilford Delta 100, a long favored film of mine, scanning them with the Epson V750 and processing the files with lightroom.

Thanks for your work with this site. I hope you will appreciate the following pictures.

David Patris

Blankenberge, Belgian coast 1.

Blankenberge, Belgian coast 2.

Colorado provencale. Lubéron, France.

Lubéron forêt des cèdres arche 2

Lubéron, forêt des cèdres. France.

Arc de Triomphe. Paris.

Congressiste, porte Maillot, Paris.

Parisan Trip.

May 192016
 

howtour

How to submit a User Report or Daily Inspiration!

Hey guys! Happy Thursday! Many have been e-mailing me lately asking how to submit a review, report or daily inspiration. It’s easy!

If you want to share with a huge photo community right here on STEVEHUFFPHOTO, all you have to do is have your report written up, some images, and then to email them to me at [email protected] with the subject line of “USER REPORT”. You can include links to your website, social media or wherever. Images should be no larger than 1800 pixels wide and no smaller than 680 wide. You will get exposure for your website, blog, or social media. Your report can be on ANYTHING related to photography. A review, an essay, or a personal project. A gadget, gizmo or accessory. A story about your personal journey. What inspires you?

So if you want to submit a report or review email me HERE. 

For a Daily inspiration, just send three fave photos of yours, an explanation of them and what gear was used. Email those to [email protected] as well with the subject line “DAILY INSPIRATION”.

To read more details about submissions, see HERE for User Reports and HERE for Daily Inspirations! 

Thank you all!

May 182016
 

Passover in Bnei Brak

By Ziv

Hi Steve and Brandon,

On Passover Jewish law prohibited eating chametz. Before Passover traditionally Orthodox Jews burn the chametz (bread, etc.). The following pictures were taken in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city. The pictures were taken mainly by Canon 6D with the wide lens 17-40L.

Each tour in that city and especially before the holidays is a great experience and exciting.

Best wishes
Ziv

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May 182016
 

Fabricated Landscape

By Olaf Sztaba

We have thought about photographing the Canadian Oil Sands for a long time. Finally, this year we drove to Fort McMurray – the hub for oil sands operations. Even though we approached the subject from a purely visual perspective, what we encountered made a huge impact on us.

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This land stretches 54,826 square miles, an area larger than England. Structures such as the toxic tailing lakes are some of the largest human-made structures in the world – so large that they can be seen from space. The land has been rearranged, altered and manipulated by human activity to the point that it is barely recognizable but so visually appealing – so ugly but strangely beautiful.

As we photographed this area, we had no clue that just two weeks later Fort McMurray and the oil sands operations surrounding it, would be threatened by massive wildfires. So far this huge fire has triggered an evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray or nearly 90,000 people. As I write this note, the fire has been moving north toward massive oil sands operations.

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Below please find a link to the Canadian Red Cross website, which accepts donations and helps those impacted. Please consider donating.

http://www.redcross.ca

www.olafphotoblog.com

www.olafphoto.squarespace.com

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The entire project was shot with the Fuji X-Pro2 paired with the XF 50-140mm or XF 14mm F2.8 and Fuji X100S.

May 172016
 

My thoughts on the Fuji X-Pro 2

by Mohamed Hakem

Hello Steve,

I’ve been trying the Fuji Xpro2 for a couple of weeks and have real images with my final word that thought of sharing it with you.

MY WEBSITEhttp://www.hakemphotography.com  – FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/hakemphotography INSTAGRAMhttp://Instagram.com/moh_hakem

I can now say that I’ve used the Xpro-2 in many situations: I’ve used it casually, for taking pictures of my friends and family, in professional photo sessions, under the rain and in the desert were it experienced hard dusty conditions,  What I can say is that it is the best fujifilm camera Out there. It is very responsive, fast and quick. As you have already noticed I didn’t speak much about the specs because I am not a fan of evaluating a camera by its numbers! great pictures are not taken by higher spec camera. If you understand the Fuji approach which is a camera that you will love to use and will reward you with excellent image quality rather than going into a pointless technical race. Now the Auto focus is on the DSLR level, not the pro ones but still very good, For me I will wish nothing more than that.

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The New Sensor is 24MP and this is in my opinion is the sweet spot in the MP counts. I’ve tried Higher than this (36MP and medium format) and I see no reason to have higher than 23MP. 16MP was very good and having a 24MP is the highest that I would want… for now.

I have used the camera in a photo session and the colors were absolutely amazing. the quality it produces really shortened my post processing time. Black and white out of the camera is beautiful! I bet if any one would ever retouch a black and white afterwards.

the ISO performance is fantastic, a little grainy but higher in details, it won’t give you the melted look of the extreme ISOs of the XT-1.

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for me this is the best camera and would be my primary one

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The Pros:

-Perfect Image Quality

-Very good Auto Focus

-Fantastic Buttons Layout

-Hybrid view finder is very good – still the X100T is better

-Dynamic Range is very ..very good

-The Camera is responsive – you won’t feel a difference if you are coming from a Pro DSLR

-JPEGs out of the camera are the best of all

-In Camera filters are very useful

-And of course the things that Fuji are already famous of (build quality/Size/looks/etc..)

The Cons:

– No tilting screen! the back LCD in the mirrorless world proved to be used by professionals! we were just not used to it due to the DSLR limitations. Now the tilting screen is being used in many applications. I personally use it in landscapes and sometimes in street like shooting from the hip technique.

-Battery life, mirrorless are known to have this drawback. in the XT-1 the camera made around 300 pictures per charge. with the XPRO2 the usage became more and it is around 250. To be on the safe side during assignments I usually have 4-7 batteries!

May 172016
 
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The Fashionable X-Pro 2

by James Conley

Hi Steve and Brandon. I wanted to share a fashion editorial with you, and my experience using the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in the studio.

For a few years now, I’ve relied on Fujifilm’s X-Series as my workhorse system for documentary, street, and travel photography. Originally working with an X100s and an X-E1, I’ve now added the X-Pro2 to the stable. (These days, the X-E1 is a backup body.) However, for studio work I’ve continued to rely on Canon.

Studio work involves different kinds of habits from those of the photojournalism I usually do. The thought process in working with lights, settings, models, and scenes is nearly quite the opposite kind of thinking required to capture unfolding moments on the street. Studio work is slower and more deliberate, and the distractions of the equipment cannot be avoided, with each shot requiring manual adjustments of light stands and strobe settings.

For studio thinking, I always found a Canon DSLR a good match. The studio is about controlling light, and it’s often a dim place to work. Seeing directly through the lens is not only easier in low light, but it also makes me feel more connected to the model. Fleeting expressions are easy to catch, and small framing adjustments are quickly comprehended when looking through an SLR.

The X-E1 was impossible to consider for the task. The slow refresh rate of the EVF is very frustrating in low light. The X100s was too limited with its lens options (even taking into account the WCL and TCL). Its EVF suffers the same problems as the X-E1, and the rangefinder is not an acceptable solution because of parallax issues. So it was Fuji on the streets, and Canon in the studio.

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With time, however, the Canon system has shown its age. Not the least of the frustrations is a limited number of focus points. Especially when shooting with wide apertures, “focus and reframe” can introduce a host of issues. There are also issues with low light performance. Working with an SLR, it is much harder to tell if the focus is correct in low light, and many times it isn’t.

Newer Canon bodies have more focus points and better low light performance, but that necessitates buying a newer body. I have a substantial investment in Canon glass, but unfortunately the technology has left them behind and there are many frustrations with focus speed and lock on. What was a great L-series lens a few years ago is now a slow-focuser with a lot of chromatic aberration.

With the X-Pro2 in hand, I finally had an option. The EVF is fast enough not to be a distraction, and the low light performance is excellent. Faced with the choice of upgrading the Canon system or testing the X-Pro2, it was easy to decide to get the Fuji hooked up to the lights see what would happen.

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My approach to studio light is very simple: one or two Paul Buff lights, with a variety of modifiers. The lights are on radio triggers, with a transceiver on the camera. I shoot the camera in manual, and make adjustments to the lights as needed to achieve the exposure I want.

The first problem came when the radio triggers wouldn’t trip the light. Investigation into the issue led to no satisfying answers. I’ve used Yongnuo 603Cs for years with no issues. My first fear was a hotshoe issue with the X-Pro2. (In the past, I’ve found that Canon studio accessories worked with the Fujis.) Forging ahead, though, I made the assumption that the issue was with the Yongnuos and not the X-Pro2, and purchased a set of RadioPopper receivers and a transmitter. They worked straight out of the box with not a single misfire, so I’ve concluded that the pins on the Yongnuo 603C’s aren’t correct for the X-Pro2.

Although a stressful one, the trigger issue turned out to be the only issue. The X-Pro2 is a delight to use in the studio. The EVF gets out of the way, and there were very few focus issues—and only when there were a lot of shadows. The sensor on the X-Pro2 is fantastic, and gives a very film-like quality to the images, with incredible amounts of latitude.

Getting the X-Pro2 set up for studio use is short work:

set the shutter speed to 1/250th
set the ISO to 200
turn Preview Pic Effect off
turn the flash mode to on

Manually set the aperture, and away I go.

I’m looking forward to continuing to use the X-Pro2 in the studio. Even more, I’m looking forward to not having to buy a new Canon!

More images can be seen on my website: http://f-eleven.com, and on Instagram: @philatawgrapher

May 122016
 

HEART OF THE CITY

by Darek Meyer

My last post – the one about Harinezumi – was kind of wink. I`m not a gear person, at least not anymore. I have to admit, there is new camera in my bag now, but I`ll leave the story for next time. Of course, we all need cameras for photography. Some of us are aiming at the latest gadgets; some stick to their favourite cam, and use till it can`t take any pictures.

One thing which I`ve wrote time ago, about photographs which my father took, is still true for me. Photographs are memories. I take them as memories of people and events, I take them also as memories of what I felt this particular time. And I`m not alone with this approach. You can find it all on http://where-were-we.com

What you will see below, the pictures and how they look, is just one of these stories. For over two years I was frequently coming to Jakarta. Usually for couple of days a week; office work, and some meetings with business partners.
During that time, I was living in a hotel in Jakarta city centre. It is located close to the office, but with Jakarta traffic, it means on average half an hour by taxi. Or, twelve minutes walk.

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Many of hotel guests will never use the latter option. These 12 minutes can be very challenging for people, who have never seen Kampong (village), which is located in between. Some could be afraid, some could not send the smell, jump over puddles with unidentified liquids, or being continuously alert to avoid motorbikes.

I took the chance of walking, as it was much faster option. With time, I also started to bring my cameras with me, compacts ones. I have witnessed daily life of people from Kampong in Jakarta centre, especially in the mornings and afternoons. Some walks there, instead of having lunch, also brought additional views. I have watched people making their food, fighting flood, selling small koi, kids growing, cat families ruling the street. And for all of them, and for the only one dog which lives there, I will always be a stranger.

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Attached is just a brief intro to the series. I have made first selection for my page, and you can find it here:

http://darekmeyer.com/HEART.html

One can say, this material is not coherent. It is not meant to be. As I have mentioned, different compact cameras were used. I have developed these pictures almost immediately after taking them. And now, I have just adjusted the size to fit web layout. Some are blurred, some come from my „extreme hard contrast” time. Some I took in a rush, some when carrying travel bag with me, or at least umbrella. I think that altering them now, would change the way they were meant to look like the first time. So, no, I`ll not touch them. It is not the end of „Heart of the city” series. My library has more than 3,000 pictures. Soon, as I find bit more of spare time, I will add more.

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In such moments, hard to say “I hope you enjoy the story”, as this is more personal take than other things I did with my photography. But if I receive even one message, that someone is waiting for continuation of this series, this would mean a lot to me.

Best regards
Darek Meyer

May 092016
 
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The OLYMPUS PEN F Experience

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By Thomas Ludwig of COSYSPEED

Thanks Steve for the opportunity to share my thoughts about the PEN F on your amazing blog. You are doing super great work and I feel inspired everyday!

It’s a sexy little camera, the PEN F. Many would use it as a street photography camera and that’s the way I wanted to review it. My focus was also on the way it fits into a CAMSLINGER bag and how this combo works on the streets.

JPGs out of cam are extremely good, so I didn’t touch the RAWs at all. All images in this review, except product images, are straight out of cam, shot in Monochrome Mode II with added grain and vignette. That’s the way I would have processed them in Lightroom.

FACES – The OLYMPUS PEN F in Lübeck/Germany

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The PEN F in the Streets

Some days ago I got the chance to test the new Olympus PEN F together with some Olympus prime lenses and I was curious to see how it performs. As many others like Steve have already mentioned all features of the PEN F in their reviews, I will only focus on street photography with the retro stylish micro 43 camera – of course to my personal needs and habits.

When shooting on the streets most important to me is image quality and focusing abilities. And so this review is mainly focused on these points. In fact it ended up being a PEN F / Monochrome Mode review, as I liked the JPGs right out of the cam.

For those of you who don’t like to read long texts: The PEN F is a timeless designed camera, that you will enjoy for many years. In my eyes it is already iconic, just like it’s forefather PEN F from the 70’s. I enjoyed using it every minute especially because of the JPGs that I could use without editing – this gave back HUGE fun to my style of street photography.

 OBSERVED

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The setup

Olympus PEN F | Olympus 12mm/F2 | Olympus 17mm/F1.8 | Olympus 45mm/F1.8 | Spare Battery | Olympus Macro Converter

All packed in a CAMSLINGER 160 with STUFFBAG 30

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BEAUTIFUL GRAIN and NICE LOOK – All images in this review are shot in Monochrome Mode II with Grain and Vigenette added. This was made all in cam.

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TIRE and WOOD
NICE DETAILS and RICH TONALITY – The new sensor in the PEN F delivers plenty of detail. Tonality of the Out Of Cam JPGs is simply great!

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Image Quality

Actually I had only two full days of street shooting with the little Oly. So I went to Lübeck in my neighborhood, a city next to Hamburg/Germany. I shot in RAW and JPG, while for JPG I used the Monochrome II filter, added some vignette and grain – all IN cam which is absolutely great. I would have converted the RAWs this way in Lightroom and so I was keen to see how the JPGs would look like on the screen of my PC. And they looked great! That great, that I even didn’t touch the RAWs. So all the images in this review are out of cam without ANY editing. To me this worked 100% to my taste. High ISO? This is an overrated point IMHO, nevertheless the PEN F delivers very well images up to ISO 3200 and if used in Monochrome Mode with Grain, you can go higher without any problems.

Besides the cool design of the cam this is maybe the strongest point of the PEN F in my opinion – beeing free of editing and post processing and getting what I want right out of the cam.

SOMEDAY

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CHURCH

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OUT OF THE LIGHT

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SPRING

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TUNNEL

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Handling

The PEN F handles very nicely. Due to a missing grip, it is maybe not as comfortable to hold as a SONY a6000 or LUMIX GX8, but there’s an optional grip available if you need it. To me it was absolutely fine. Especially because the PEN F feels very premium and it’s a pleasure just to hold it in your hand. All the dials feel durable and solidly made. The UI with so many physical controls needs some time to get used to, but as soon as you know where all functions are, it makes photographing much easier.

The design reminescense to the original PEN F from the 70ies is especially visible with the silver PEN F model. Look at these lovely curves and lines!

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Focusing in the streets

I’m using mostly three focus methods when in the streets:

#1 – Single point auto focus
#2 – Continuous auto focus with subject tracking
#3 – Hyperfocal focusing

#1 – Single point auto focus

The auto focus of modern micro 43 cameras is so quick, that to focus and to trigger is almost one process. And so I was using single point auto focus most of the time and with moving subjects I had about 95% in focus, even when using the little 17mm/F1.8 wide open. The focus of the PEN F is insanely quick and accurate in single point mode. To me there was nothing left to desire.

WHAT DO YOU THINK – Single Point Auto Focus works amazingly quick and accurate

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#2 – Continuous auto focus with subject tracking

Actually this method seems to be the most charming. Set your focus point and the cam will track it until you press the shutter. However continuous auto focus with subject tracking turned out to be not very effective on the PEN F. I’d say that 50% of my shots were out of focus. I guess this is a firmware problem and can hopefully be fixed in the future. However focus is not all!

WELCOME TO THE GYM – Not in focus but I like it anyway

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#3 – Hyperfocal focusing

Set a distance in manual focus mode and just trigger, when you think your subject is in the frame as you like it. Sounds easy but in fact hyperfocal focusing is tricky if you like to get some DOF. The more you open the aperture, the thinner is the in focus area. The day in Lübeck all images where more or less out of focus, when using this method because I was shooting wide open all the time. If set to F10 I’d say 99% would have been in focus. I know now, that I have to improve my skills :-)

The OLYMPUS 17/1.8 and 12/2.0 are very well suited to this focusing method, as they have a manual mode with distance scale!

ROSARY, MISHABA or MALA – Hyperfocal focusing wide open is difficult

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The PEN F in a CAMSLINGER

A CAMSLINGER bag is all about quick, single-handed operation and designed to wear at the hip. I fixed the included FINGERCAMSTRAP to the cam and was able to grab the PEN F within a second out of my little bag. But the On/Off switch is on the left side of the PEN F and so one needs always a second-hand to turn it on. As soon as you have a coffee in your left hand or fix yourself while standing in a shaking subway with one hand, then you could of course access and draw the PEN F quickly out of the CAMSLINGER, but not take a photo. So I never switched the cam off and had it always in stand-by in my CAMSLINGER. This may cost a bit of battery power, but fixed my little problem easily.

CAMSLINGER 160 and PEN F 015 CAMSLINGER 160 and PEN F (1)

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Carrying the PEN F and gear in a CAMSLINGER at the hip, is extremely comfortable. As your upper body is free of belts and straps, your neck will never hurt. In fact it is almost as quick to grab your cam, as it would be with a sling strap – but the PEN F was always protected, when not in use. I prefered to use the slimmer CAMSLINGER 160 then the more space offering CAMSLINGER Streetomatic. The 160 is just perfect for rangefinder styled cameras like the PEN F.

THOMAS IN LÜBECK WITH CAMSLINGER AND PEN F

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Conclusion

The PEN F is a marvelous piece of camera design and delivers stunning images. It’s technology is up-to-date and will be for many years. I’m hoping a firmware update will lift the tracking abilities on the professional level of the OLYMPUS EM-1, because this is a feature that makes street photography much easier.

The possibility to get final results right out of the cam is pretty cool and gives a further kick to the fun I had with the PEN F. So just go out, shoot and come back with images that are simply ready – to some this is might be a game changing benefit!

The PEN F is one of these rare cameras that one will use for many years and so a good medicine against G.A.S. :-). The timeless design and great build qualty makes a camera that is simply gorgeous! If you are looking for a street photography camera – go for the PEN F!

 

Reference: COSYSPEED

B&H PHOTO: COSYSPEED BAGS

FROM STEVE: Thanks Thomas! Many of you may not realize I met Thomas in Las Vegas a couple of years back where we shot a Street Shooting video. Thomas is an amazing man and he has a great passion for photography, that was very clear when we met. Below is the video we shot while there, was a great memory I will never forget.

 

May 062016
 

Memoir of a scavenger: a quick shoot in the desert with a Phase One IQ250

By Andrew Paquette

www.paqphoto.com

This morning I went out to a local desert area to do a comic book/sci fi-themed shoot with a colleague, Neville Marcinkowski, who styled the shoot. The idea was that a character is writing his memoirs, and some of those scenes are depicted in the photos, along with the writing process. I rented a 150 mm SK LS lens for most of the shots and used a Phase One IQ250 back with the Phase One DF+ body. All of the shots had extra lighting from a pair of ProFoto B1 units and in case a reflector as well. The most complicated aspect of the shoot was dealing with the sand. It got into everything and dissuaded me from changing lenses in a spot the pretty much begged for a 28mm. One of the legs of my Induro tripod got so gunked up that I’m going to be spending at least an hour tomorrow fixing it. The next most demanding aspect of the shoot was that we had to hike all over these sand dunes carrying about 65kg of equipment. If we hadn’t had an assistant, we wouldn’t have gotten as many shots. The day before we went out, I made a few sketches, so we would know what we intended to get for the day. Of the sketches, we got all but one, but two were altered significantly. Below are the photos.

Click on them for better versions!

Figure 1 Memoir of an adventurer, 150mm SK LS lens, f/3.5, 1/160s, ISO 200

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Figure 2 Scavenging, 80mm SK LS lens, f/8, 1/800s, ISO 200

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Figure 3 The trek, 150mm SK LS lens, f/9, 1/800s, ISO 100

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Figure 4 Native, 150mm SK LS lens, f/9, 1/400s, ISO 100

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Figure 5 Portrait, 150mm SK LS lens, f/9, 1/160s, ISO 100

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And here are the sketches:

Figure 6 Memoirist sketch

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Figure 7 Scavenger sketch (I thought the model’s jumpsuit would be white)

taking stock

Figure 8 Trek sketch

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Figure 9 Native sketch. We had planned on a bright mask but didn’t get it done in time so we substituted a red banner.

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May 032016
 

My opinion of the Wotancraft Ryker, Scout and the new Leica 28 Cron

by Dan Bar

Hello Steve and Brandon!

About a week ago I received my new 28 cron. It is the first time I use a 28 as I am a 35\50 guy. I was really curious to see how I felt about it. I also read Steve’s articles about the Wotancraft 2 bags + read all articles related, so I bought a new Scout a few months ago, and when I heard a friend of mine ( Tomer Vaknin) wanted to change his Ryker ( his was brown and he bought a new Ona Berlin Black) I immediately gave him one of my BLACK bags and took his BROWN Ryker.

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There are a lot of article\reviews about those bags and i am no expert, so I will just emphasize my opinion and thoughts. Both bags are beautiful , the Ryker is is made of the finest smooth leather and looks beautiful, as a matter of fact to my eyes it is the most beautiful bag on the market. It is not big and it can hold two Leica M cameras with lenses and no more ( in the main department of course). The front department has no zipper which is not safe, so I will never keep batteries of memory cards there. Next is a zipped pocket which can hold the cards + batteries but it is not separated into 2 pockets and that makes it uncomfortable to carry a few things together.

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Nobody mentions it is a heavy bag. You could go to the articles and see it is 1.675 grams but I don’t intend to write a review. I simply mention my feelings. It is a heavy bag, even with one camera ( no BATTERY and charger). It is heavier than the scout wich is bigger. That of course is a leather side effect.

So I will use this bag for only one camera + charger, some batteries , memory cards etc. All being said i love the look of this bag, the leather quality. Everything here shouts top-notch. Oh, unlike my friend Tomer I love the brown color which will age nicer than the black version ( in my opinion). You can see more at WOTANCRAFT.com

THE LEICA 28 CRON

As said I received my 28 Cron a week ago, so I did not have much time with it, As with the bags I shall only write about my feelings. The lens is a beauty. It is small beautifully built like all Leica lenses , very comfortable to use, it is not a heavy and the best thing is the metal hood which is compact and this time screwed to the body so no more accidents with it. I think it is a very sharp lens with a nice bokeh. It is very light and I know LEICA people love the Cron version.

Here are some of the photos of the 28 shot with the Leica 246 of my family..

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Thank you and take care!

Danny

May 022016
 

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The Mighty Panasonic-Leica 100-400mm Lens Review

By Bob Towery

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I recently acquired the Panasonic Leica 100-400mm lens to go along with my Olympus OMD-M5 Mk II kit. I didn’t start off with the idea of writing a review but as I began getting to know this lens I thought it might be a nice addition to Steve’s excellent collection of resources for us enthusiasts. (From Steve: Thank you Bob)!

As background, I have been shooting digitally since 2001, with Canon bodies and a wide array of L lenses. I have had a number of 70-200’s, as well as 300mm and 400mm L primes.

About five years ago I wanted to get into a smaller kit for travel work. Partly with the excellent information I got here on Steve’s site, I got a Leica M9 setup and used this for quite a few trips. But I do enjoy telephoto work as well, and certainly that’s not the M9’s forte. And although I became pretty proficient at both manual focusing, there are still those instances where you have one second to get a shot and it’s lucky indeed to have pre-focused accurately. I found I was only using my M9 when going street shooting.

Fast forwarding, when the Fuji XT series came out I dove in. Somehow I just never warmed up to this system. It’s AF was exceedingly poor (since improved I’m told). The camera also failed on a trip, the first time that had ever happened to me. Although Fuji did a stellar job of repairing it quickly on their dime, this unnerved me and I sold that kit off.

Knowing Steve had always been an Olympus fan, I followed those reviews, and when the OMD M5 II was released I jumped into the Oly pool. Using the Olympus kit has been very rewarding. It’s a high performing camera, with the only limit (for my use) being the noise at higher ISO’s.

THE SCENE

Living where I do on an island near Seattle, I have a lot of opportunities to shoot interesting birds like Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons. The Fuji would nearly always miss. So the first paces I put the Oly through were to shoot these birds, and its AF performance was excellent. This was with the 40-150mm, so fully zoomed in we are at 300mm effective. But even these large specimens of the bird world are pretty small subjects. BTW, below I’ll do a few comparison shots with both the 100-400mm and the 40-150mm.

It’s spring time right now and there are a lot of beautiful flowers to shoot here. This will be a “real world” review. Some of the images are those subjects I enjoy shooting, and some are just for the review factor.

THE MIGHTY PANASONIC-LEICA 100-400mm

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Enter the Panasonic-Leica 100-400mm! Image stabilized, effective focal length (long end) of 800mm. Before we get into the pictures, I want to state that I’m not a professional reviewer, or even photographer, just an enthusiast. I know many of you would do your own tests differently than mine. My testing was around the kinds of things I like to shoot, which don’t involve test patterns. And all of these are real world, no tripods involved (well, one exception). Also, to be practical when I give a focal length, it will be what LR reports and is on the lens body, i.e. in-between 100 and 400. If you want to double the focal lengths you see given the body’s crop factor that is fine by me.

WHAT ABOUT THE NEW OLYMPUS 300mm?

We all know Olympus was building and releasing their 300mm prime at about the same time. I considered this for a short time, as I prefer Olympus products and given the price of this glass, it’s going to be a fine prime performer. I’d bet my 401k that the Oly 300mm will outperform the Panasonic 100-400mm handily at the same focal length. But for me, these primes are impractical. “Zoom with your feet” really doesn’t work when say you are standing on a beach looking out, or trying to catch a flying bird. There have been times where I approached a sitting bald eagle with my full frame body and 400mm, and by the time I got close enough to make them fly away for a glorious picture, I can’t get the whole bird in the frame – too close! At an effective 600mm, I just can’t count on being the right distance from my subject. So the Oly 300mm prime is out for me.

HOW’S YOUR STABILITY?

I’m sure most readers know the camera has IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) and the lens has its own IS. Unlike a Panasonic body mated to the lens, sadly the Oly IBIS and the lens IS do not speak the same language. From my reading, and brief testing on my own, the best option is to turn IBIS off and use the lens IS, so that is what I did.

IMAGES IN THIS REVIEW

Also, Steve told me to process as I normally would. In general, this means a few tweaks in Lightroom, 90% of the time less than one minute’s work. I’ll point out below when I did no post. All images were made with the Olympus OMD M5 Mk II and the Panasonic/Leica 100-400 unless otherwise indicated. Only one shot was with a tripod. Others are hand held, sometimes with me leaning against a post. Apologies in advance if I didn’t test something as you would have. I really wanted to include some people shots, seeing how it rendered faces, even if that isn’t a practical use for the lens, but I didn’t have an opportunity to work that out.

Also, all images were exported from Lightroom using Screen/Normal sharpening. I decided to number the images, as readers often comment by number.

All right, let’s hit the road.

THE SAPSUCKER STUDY

Shortly after the lens arrived, I had a lunch planned with a friend who happens to be a great and dedicated wildlife photographer. Our lunch date was to discuss an upcoming joint trip. I had thrown the Oly and the lens in the bag, basically just to show him. He’s a Canon shooter too, no M4/3 experience.

When we got back to his home I opened the trunk and zipped open the bag. I handed it to him and we were chatting, but noticed a loud woodpecker nearby. I said, “let’s go check this out” and he said “they usually fly away once you start staring at them.”

#1 – 264mm, f/5.5, 1/2000, iso 640

Before we get to the “good shots,” I want to share this one, to show you what we were up against. (And it turned out to be a red breasted sapsucker, not a woodpecker, but they still bang away on the tree.) The sapsucker is in constant motion, including jumping from one branch to another. The tree is filled with branches both in front of and behind the bird. But notice that even in this tangled mess, with center dot focus selected, the lens focused perfectly.

CLICK ALL IMAGES IN THIS REVIEW TO SEE THEM CORRECTLY!

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So as I began shooting, I had to move both left and right around the tree, while waiting for him to get clear.

#2 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, iso 640

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It was a pleasure to have the reach to fill the viewfinder with a bird that is just say six inches high. Here at 400mm and a distance of perhaps 20 feet, the bird and the branch are magnificently sharp.

Crop of #2

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Here is a 1:1 crop from this frame. How long is that talon, 3/8”s of an inch?

#3 – 300mm, f/8.0, 1/500, iso 640

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Moving along to bokeh, this certainly isn’t the finest I have ever seen. And I wouldn’t expect it to be, given the massive range of this lens, the f/6.3 aperture when fully zoomed, and the sub $2,000 price tag.

#3 with background smoothed in Lightroom

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However here’s what I got in about a minute in Lightroom. I used the Adjustment Brush, with the Clarity and Sharpness sliders all the way to the left. Then I went around the birdie numerous times which did a nice job of softening up the background area. I then lightened up the bird’s back just a tad. Given the fact that I’d have no shot at all with most of my other lenses, I can live with this.

As I’m getting these shots and my friend and I are viewing them on the LCD, he begins getting jumpy and then dashes into the house. He returns with his amazing Canon 200-400mm, mounted on an older 1D Mk IV. I have serious lens envy, but that kind of size just isn’t practical for me.

#4 – Iphone

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My wife got this shot of us with her iphone. Guess who can handhold longer?

#5 – Samsung S6

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Here we have King Kong on top and Cheetah below. Interestingly, my rig is both wider and longer than his, focal length speaking. His is a 1.3 crop body, thus the “widest” is 260mm. The lens has a 1.4 teleconverter built in, so with that engaged, he’s at 728mm by my calculation.

Of course I would never expect the Panasonic to compete with this Canon in IQ. However it does cost six times as much and weighs eight pounds. (My apologies, my friend didn’t get any shots that he felt like sharing, so we could compare.)

IMAGE WITHIN AN IMAGE

Over the years I have found finding new compositions within my images to be very rewarding. View your image full size, set a crop, then drag the crop around in the Navigator window. It’s surprising how often you can get an additional image or two from one of your shots. Sometimes even more compelling than your in-camera composition. But of course there is a penalty in terms of resulting image size, due to the crop. Not a big deal for blog/facebook posting, but would come into play say if you intend to print.

#6 – 100mm, f/5.6, 1/200, iso 400

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When I saw the scene above, my thought was that the child on the bike could be interesting. Looks like a beginner, the setting is quite nice, and so on.

#7 – 280mm, f/5.6, 1/500, iso 400

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Look what happens zooming way into the scene. The rider is nicely isolated. Bonus points for my timing of an otter jumping into the scene, what do you say? Normally I’d crop that out but it’s so unusual I left it in just for the fun factor. If I cropped that deep into the original image, there just wouldn’t be enough pixels left for much use. I believe at the time I planned to wait for the rider to get into that sunny area, but the otter surprised me so much I lost track. (I scrambled down on to the beach to try to get him too, but he was long gone.)

#8 – 141mm, f/9, 1/640, iso 200

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When I saw this sailboat going by, I wanted to get a couple shots just to see how clearly the lens would render the lettering and sailboat details. But thinking about this “image within an image” idea I zoomed all the way in and moved the lens around the boat.

#9 – 400mm, f/9, 1/640, iso 200

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I found this colorful and pleasing composition and grabbed a couple frames.

#10 – 400mm, f/8, 1/1250, iso 400

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This kayak was WAY far away. I would estimate 300-400 yards. The piling and bird are about half way to the kayak. Thought it would be interesting to see how the foreground would be rendered when I focused on the kayak. This is about a one quarter frame crop!

MT. RAINIER STUDY

So I’m very fortunate to have a view of Mt. Rainier from my backyard. She’s only out one out of every three to four days. There are often clouds that completely obscure her.

#11 – 70mm on a Canon FF body

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Google Earth says the summit is 60 miles from my house. I wanted to get a full frame shot at 50 mm to show you what that looks like in person. But the weather hasn’t cooperated, so here is an older image I shot at 70mm on full frame. What can we do with the Panasonic 100-400mm on a nice day?

#12 – 400mm f/9, 1/800, iso 200

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Here we are at 400mm. Handheld! Note that between our positions are Seattle’s southern suburbs, as well as the Sea-Tac airport. The sky is continually filled with jets. It takes a rare day to have completely clear air, and I didn’t have any while preparing this piece. So I believe some lack of sharpness here is because we are looking through 60 miles of air as opposed to lens performance.

#13 – 300mm f/8, 1/200, iso 200 – tripod mounted – 12 sec timer

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I took this one at 300mm as it includes an island that provides a little context. Used a polarizer to cut through the haze.

GOING BOATING

#14 – 100mm, f/6.3, 1/1000, iso 200

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There is a continual parade of boats in front of my place. Including ferries, commercial, military and pleasure craft. Here is one that isn’t real attractive but serves our purpose of seeing what this lens can do. This is a small boat, 30 feet at most. Above is what it looked like at 100mm.

#15 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/1000, iso 200

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Full zoomed in. Keep in mind the boat is moving, I’m having to pan to keep up with it. Pretty acceptable detail.

#16 – 400mm, f/8, 1/2000, iso 400

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Google Earth tells me this buoy is 735 yards from my location (that’s more than four-thirds of a mile).

Sea lions often jump up onto the buoy and boats and other passersby stop in for a look. In this case some kayakers. Previously I have only been able to see this kind of detail with my high powered binoculars.

#17 – 400mm, f/8, 1/2000, iso 400

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As I’m shooting this, a speedboat comes along. While I can’t make out the license numbers on the bow, I can clearly read the model letters on the side. See the faded “4” on the top right of the buoy? Not bad from this distance.

#17 – crop detail

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FYI this shows the crop in the boat/buoy image.

#18 – 300mm, f/8, 1/800, iso 200

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This boat was much closer. This is the uncropped shot at 300mm. Boat is going perhaps 20 mph; I’m panning. Everything looks good to me.

#18 – crop detail

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Take a look at this crop. Look straight down from the second zero in “2000.” There are two openings there. The one to the right is most likely a drain from an ice chest compartment. We are talking two inches wide, at the max. I’d say that’s pretty amazing detail. One can see that the dye from the canvas is leaching out and staining the hull, and this is in a shaded spot!

#19 – 236mm, f/5.3, 1/640, iso 640

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Lots of small details to look at in this ferry shot. Note that these ferries really move – about 23mph. This is a bit of a crop. Full size, it is very sharp.

#20, 100mm, f/4, 1/80, iso 1600

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This shot amazes me. There had to be some luck involved with my panning here, given that I’m at 1/80th and the shot is very sharp. But look at that perfect focus, in the dark.

BUILDING STUDY

#21 – Panasonic 100-400 – 146mm, f/8, 1/640, iso 320

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Let’s get into comparing the 100-400 vs the Olympus 40-150 PRO. I really didn’t expect the Panny to hold up well against this lens, but once again I am surprised, in a good way. These shots are about a minute apart. I’m standing in the exact same location, attempting to have the Panny at 150 but missing by a couple mm’s. I turned IBIS on for the Olympus lens. The shot is cropped just a bit to be identical.

#22 – 40-150mm Olympus Pro – 150mm, f/8, 1/640, iso 320

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There isn’t really much between these two, is there? When I look at them full screen in Lightroom’s compare mode, it’s hard to tell which one is which. Even the tonality is remarkably similar – the building, the sky and the grass. No post on these images by the way.

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Crop of #21 (Panasonic Lens)

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What happens if we examine crops to show us more detail? Here are crops of the same two images for closer comparison.

Crop of #22 (Olympus Lens)

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I can see the wording on the sign is a bit sharper with the 40-150 shot. The focus was on the center rectangle, so the building was the focus spot. Perhaps the result here would have been different had I focused on the sign? It’s a slight difference in any case.

Crop of #21 (Panasonic Lens)

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And here is the upper right corner, which I chose because of the tree branch.

Crop of #22 (Olympus Lens)

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Once again, the 40-150 shows more definition, at least to my eye. But I don’t think there is much to complain about with the 100-400 version.

(This setting by the way is http://www.bloedelreserve.org )

FLOWER STUDIES

#23 – 146mm, f/4.6, 1/200, iso 200

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The wind was blowing these plants around, so the shots don’t look as identical as they could.

I focused on the center flower in both cases. I think both images are perfectly reasonable. Kind of like the bokeh on the 100-400 shot a bit better actually.

#24 – Olympus 40-150 Pro – 150mm, f/4.5, 1/200, iso 200

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But there is definitely more detail in the lightest part of the flower with the Oly 40-150 version.

#25 – 264mm, f/5.6, 1/200, iso 200

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The post for this image was +38 on Vibrance, +12 on Saturation and a touch of vignette. I didn’t mess with the background area at all. Gorgeous bokeh, I’m sure due to my distance to the blossoms, and then the distance to the background.

#26 – 236mm, f/5.3, 1/1250, iso 1600

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Just a touch of Vibrance.

#27 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/250, iso 640

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I came across this tuilip in someone’s yard and thought it would be interesting to see what the lens did with the very busy background. I added Vibrance as well as a graduated filter at the bottom in post, but left the background alone. Using the adjustment brush with de-Clarity would fix that right up.

#28 – 100mm / f/5.6, 1/250, iso 500

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Here is the scene, from the exact same spot, minimum focal length.

#29 – 100mm, f/4.5, 1/200, iso 1600

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Another shot from someone’s yard.

#30 – 146mm, f/4.6, 1/1250, iso 200

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One more, just to show that a background doesn’t have to be completely blurred to add to the image.

BIRD STUDIES

#31 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/640, iso 500

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We have some spectacular birds in our area. On the larger side, we have Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles. Wasn’t fortunate enough to get any Bald Eagles but Ms. Heron decided to join in the fun.

Herons are very aware. They are able to get airborne with one leap of those long legs. So they don’t fly off unless you get too close. Given their great size, in the past I have gotten some nice images with my full frame Canon and 400mm fixed, approaching very slowly.

#32 – 318mm, f/6.3, 1/640, iso 200

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These birds are a joy to see in flight. They are gorgeous and graceful. Unfortunately they will show their tails in nearly all shots. That is because if you approach from the side, they fly the opposite way. If you approach from the back, as I did here, no matter which way they go, you only see the back. I really need to try this from a kayak or boat.

They are also smart and often wait to fly off until you look down at your footing, back of your camera, etc. So you have a very small reaction time. To me the important thing about this shot was that I sensed the takeoff, raised the camera, framed, autofocus was instant, and I got a crystal clear shot.

There’s just no griping about autofocus with this lens.

#33 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/640, iso 500

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Here is an even better test. I was out on my deck, which is about 75’ above the water. I believe I was shooting the Harlequin ducks when all of a sudden I see movement in the sky. I instinctively raise the camera, get focus and shoot. No time to play with any settings. And we have a crystal clear shot in glorious focus.

#34 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/500, iso 500

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I was very close to this tiny bird, about 15-20 feet. This bird is perhaps 6 or 7 inches beak to tail. There was a concrete half wall between the bird and I, perhaps that is why it didn’t fly off. At 200mm on a full frame, this wouldn’t be much of a shot as the bird would be too tiny for any usage. Very impressed with the lens in this situation. The definition in the feathers seems just about perfect to my eye.

#35 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/500, iso 500

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Mallards are relatively large, but at this distance, only this sort of focal length will create any type of reasonable image. This is a crop – about one-third of the frame.

#36 – 300mm, f/8, 1/500, iso 800

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These harlequin ducks are regulars in my back yard every Winter/Spring. They are extremely shy and fly off basically as soon as they see you. I have never gotten a decent shot of them until now. This shot was taken from about 100 feet away. I’m far enough back that they don’t panic.

#37 – 318mm, f/8, 1/640, iso 500

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Having this range leads to some compositions I have never been able to consider before.

TELEPHOTO-MACRO?

#38 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/800, iso 320

While shooting the ducks, walking back to my house, I ran into this lizard. Pretty good size, probably 9″ long. Why not give it a try? Minimum focusing distance is 1.3 meters, which is where I was (moved a bit back and forth until I got focus lock.)

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CONCLUSION

I like this lens a great deal. I have never had this kind of reach before, and for some of the subjects I like to shoot I feel it will be invaluable. I’m very impressed that the IQ compares “quite well” to the Olympus 40-150mm. If I was going on a trip where I wanted this extra reach, I’d have no problem leaving that Oly lens at home, maybe throwing in a couple of Olympus primes for the intermediate range.

All things considered, this is an effective 800mm lens that is 6.5” long (collapsed) – a modern marvel, in my book anyway.

Would really have been nice to compare my images with my friend’s, with his Canon bazooka. Especially since his older body is also a 16mp like the OMD M5 II. But I’m not trying to get into NatGeo with my images. I especially appreciate the size/weight/value proposition of this Panasonic lens. His outings with that lens are few and far between, whereas I can bring this lens along anytime I want.

Although I didn’t show these images, for a while it appeared to me that images at 300mm were superior to those at 400mm. I did some test shots and cropped the 300mm ones to see an equivalent. Upon review, my thoughts just didn’t seem to hold up. I didn’t see any significant degradation at 400mm vs 300mm.

#39 – 400mm, f/8, 1/800, iso 200

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If you want to be able to shoot anything moving, quick AF is a must. This lens has it. I was down by the beach having a cocktail with my wife this evening. I noticed this heron feeding. I took some shots of her wading, but really she was just too far away, even at 800mm, to make an interesting composition. Somewhere between 100 and 150 yards. I didn’t even have the camera to my eye when I sensed the movement. Quickly raised, got focus, fired. I love this artistic rendering, with the sun more or less directly behind the heron.

Of course I wish Olympus and Panasonic would cooperate such that the body-lens combo would use both IS systems. But these results are plenty good IMHO. Every single body/lens combo is a compromise in one way or another. Even a brand new Leica SL with the 90-280 zoom could not get many of the shots on this page, not being able to reach out to an effective 800mm.

#40 – 400mm, f/6.3, 1/1000, iso 1250

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I’m closing with this one last image. First, it is my favorite image in the review. The camera and lens performed perfectly, the lighting was favorable, and Mr. Heron contorted himself into this wild position. This is a crop, it’s about 60% of the frame. Imagine the FF Body/800mm lens it would take to get a shot like this? I could own one, but it is doubtful I would be all set up with it to capture this moment.

Which brings me to my very last thought (finally! You are thinking). Had it not been for needing to go shooting for this review, I wouldn’t have a lot of these shots. As I’m quite pleased with many of them, this is a reminder to us all to get off the computer and get shooting. It’s a beautiful world, and at least for me, this lens is going to help me capture that much more of it.

Thanks Steve once again for your site. Thank you to my fellow photographers for reading and I hope this is helpful.

Apr 282016
 

My Pentax 6×7 Experience

By Fahad A.

Pentax_6x7_(8169376210)

Hi Brandon,

I would like to share my limited experience with film. Sometime in 2010 I decided to try medium format, after a quick research I bought myself a Pentax 6×7 along with the 105mm lens. that one the heaviest camera I have ever held!

After purchasing the Pentax and exposing the films I bought (Ektar & Pro H 400), I needed to develop the film and scan it. i could easily find places that would develop the film, but couldn’t find someone to scan it. so I had to buy a scanner, ended up buying the canoscan 8080.

I like the outcome, however if you asked me today about developing and scanning, I would have preferred sending the film to a pro lab to do it. It’s obvious my negatives were dirty and my scanning skills are not the best.

Pentax 6×7, 105mm 2.4 lens

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night-lights-dusty-ektar_9371059852_o

Pentax67 Ektar 100 2

Pentax67 fuji pro 400 01 s

Pentax67 fuji pro 400 05

 

 

 

Apr 272016
 

Flower shots on 800 ASA film with a canon FD 85mm f/1.2 and a Petzval lens.

By Dirk Dom

Disclaimer.

I have somewhat mixed feelings sending this write up about shots, taken with 40 and 100-year-old gear, and which aren’t even remotely sharp. This is not at all for pixel peepers and gearheads. I hope you enjoy the shots as much as I do, and, who knows! Maybe you’ll get a roll of film out of the fridge and try it too!

The Story.

About ten years ago, I tried to do macro shots of flowers with the 85mm f/1.2 and a 50mm extension tube, to see if ultra-shallow DOF shots of flowers looked like anything. I used 400 ASA Fuji Superia film which I overexposed some four stops. (Had no choice). I discovered that compositions had to be extremely simple which made for very intense searching and the least bit of wind made the flower wiggle and made focusing very difficult. Over the course of two weeks I managed three nice shots.

About a year and a half ago I looked at the scans of these shots and I discovered something I had ignored before: grain! While digital grain (“noise”) is random in color and ugly, film grain comes in the same color as the subject and is, to me at least, gorgeous. I bought a three stop grey filter and Easter of 2015 I made macro shots on Fuji Superia 800, with the 85mm wide open, overexposing 4 stops.

For some reason I had no more trouble finding compositions and the shots came out extremely nice. I’ve put them on this website, you can find them back.

This Easter I went to the Costa Blanca, Spain, where I did more of the same. I introduced a 100 or 150 year old Petzval lens.

The Gear.

Canon F1 new, FD New 85mm f/2 L, Speedfinder, 50mm and 25mm extension tube, 3 stop ND filter.

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The Speedfinder allows shooting up to ground level because it revolves from horizontal to vertical. It allows to see your entire viewfinder image up to 2 ½ inch distant. I used manual metering all the time. The three stop ND filter allowed me to shoot, four stops overexposed, at 1/2000 to 1/250 second.

Canon F1 with Petzval.

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I got this lens for free with a large format camera, it covers about four inches image circle. It’s focal length is about 150mm, f/4 to f/5.6, uncoated of course and it’s very soft focus. I made an bronze adapter for it which connects to Canon FD, with a further adapter I can use it on any mirrorless camera. I’ll tell you later about this unique and very difficult to master lens.

The shots:

Pixel peepers should stop reading now.

Over the course of two weeks, during five walks, I shot eight films, 360 images. 59 of those were good. This is a selection, from sort of normal to sort of crazy. First the Canon lens, everything at f/1.2, the Petzval I keep for a bit later.

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The images, scanned and post processed, were a complete surprise. In Spain I saw my images through the viewfinder, with shallow DOF etc etc, and I knew it was technically possible, but that was only ten percent of the bargain. Only now I see what the images really are. They have to be thoroughly post processed because they exit the scan with the colors out of whack and rather flat. Fuji Superia 800 clearly isn’t made to be overexposed four stops and still be perfectly balanced. It’s also possible the scanner software (Silverfast) plays tricks. Every shot I need to search how to make it work. But when it opens up, it’s a revelation. I have to be very subtle with color saturation and contrast and levels, because otherwise the delicate grain and image structure gets destroyed. The grain only can take so much tweaking. So, the results you see here aren’t far off from what got on film originally.

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My Eizo screen is absolutely essential; it’s the best buy I ever made. The photo’s light up on it. If I had done the processing on my laptop, it wouldn’t have worked: Colors are flat compared to the Eizo and I’d either have given up or way oversaturated and the prints would have been money down the drain. Because, just as with black and white: The print is the only thing that counts. On a screen you can get anything. Everyone sees something different and most of the time, unless you have a really good one, it’s a serious disappointment. Imagine seeing this on a smartphone!

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I don’t know if you can see the grain structure on your screen, but it’s I think the most beautiful thing in these shots. Not only are they to be appreciated from a distance, but you can also look at the structure from very close by. They are in fact identical to film black and white, with color as an extra dimension. This is a shot, totally underexposed for a change. Contrast is just about nil, I couldn’t up it more without destroying the grain structure.

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Not knowing what will emerge feels very weird to me. Black and white, with its grain and color filters, is partially like that, but there I ‘m confident the outcome will be beautiful.

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The Petzval: something different.

This lens is so difficult I almost sold it twice already. It’s a hate/love affair.

It’s a very soft focus lens which has a mind of its own. Sometimes it’s sharp and sometimes it isn’t, and I still don’t know why. A second thing is, that because it’s not sharp, I keep on hunting for focus and don’t know when to press the shutter. This is extremely tiring especially at close focus.

The images it gets are often wildly unlike what I remember was in the viewfinder.

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Because of the difficulties, I got fed up with the lens, once again decided to sell it and only shot one film, which yielded these three images.

They exhibit sort of an impressionist look, I think. Will I sell it? Certainly not! I have to learn to control it.

A good ten years ago I went to the nature photo club with a disgustingly high self-esteem. I thought my flower shots were very, very good, while they were lousy, I can show them to prove it. God, I’m still embarrassed about that. The shots I make now make me feel very humble and grateful. I’ve hit photography which needs more searching and control than ever, and yet every shot here is a surprise. I only take images in nature, it’s amazing there is so much beauty there.

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What am I going to do with these shots when I’ve reached 200 images or such? Evolve further? Stop it? I can’t just stop this. I have to find a positive way out. Making money on flower shots is almost impossible. Maybe I should offer prints to hospitals. It took me 40 years to get this far. I’m 58 and I got my first camera, a canon Ftb, from my parents when I was 18. I bought a few diopter lenses, two years later I had a macro lens and it started: Shooting flowers has always been my passion.

Bye,

Dirk.

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