All posts by wjl

Some went missing…

This morning they took down several trees around the houses where we live. Now the view is like this:

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A missing tree. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic Lumix 14mm/2.5 lens.

And it used to be like this:

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An old friend. Olympus E-PL1 with Panasonic Lumix 20mm/1.7 lens.

It had to be. That tree was indeed old and bent over, and one of the next storms would probably have brought it down anyway. Plus – and that’s more important – it happened on demand of the fire fighters. That tree was blocking access to the house for their rescue ladder trucks, so it was a bit of a silly idea to plant a tree right there in the first place.

Still I miss it. The place and the sky simply look naked without it. It gave us a nice and cool shadow during the summers, and it was home and shelter for some doves’ nests as well.

Well – nothing is eternal, right? Still I feel a bit like Dogmatix (Idefix in German) whenever Obelix rips out one of those trees…

Thanks for reading.

Getting closer

We have thunderstorms since a few days, and rain. Which is good – the plants need it. Mitchie and Zuleikha went to the cinema, so what does a man do when left at home? Right. He starts dust-cleaning a bit ;-) :-P – and of course, playing around as well.

I mounted the Four Thirds Zuiko Digital 50mm macro lens onto my E-PL5 camera via an autofocus-capable adapter and first took a photo of a still uncleaned figure:

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Dusty “nubi”

Then I took off the front panel of one of the speakers to take a photo of its tweeter:

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Tweeter (of a Nubert model 381 loudspeaker)

And after cleaning that little guy a bit as well, I got real close. The closer you get, the more you have to stop down because your depth of field will become very thin. Thankfully, with a 50mm lens there’s still some room – but this is f/22:

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“nubi”

It’s about as close as I could get with my 1:2 macro lens. If you want to get closer, try the 35mm 1:1 macro from the Four Thirds series, or an older manual Olympus OM or any other manufacturer’s macro. There’s a 90mm/2 macro from the OM series which is possibly the best you can get, but these are over 1k€/$ even used, and they’re a bit hard to find. The best value should be the 35mm, or any used and manual 50mm macro (ours was about 120€ or so, not even a third of my also used autofocus lens).

Update, about three hours later:

I took a photo of that small guy again, this time with Mitchie’s old and manual OM Zuiko 50mm/3.5 macro lens, at f/11 (instead of f/22 with my own). If anything, it’s even a bit sharper, which it should be because diffraction won’t be as bad at f/11. Colours and contrast are a bit different, but it’s also because of the time of day – 16:30 and 19:30 means different light of course. So here’s the photo from a 120€ lens:

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“nubi” with a manual OM lens

At least as good as my ZD lens, which is great praise.

Thanks for reading.

Another useful tool…

… and another present from Mitchie (my wife), this time for what they call Eidul Fitri in Southern Malaysia, which means the end of Ramadan.

It has a counter weight:

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Boom stand detail: counter weight. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm lens.

It has a pivot:

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Boom stand detail: pivot. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm lens.

It is a boom stand!

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Boom stand, carrying my studio strobe and a 20″ beauty dish. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm lens.

Very useful, even essential if you want to achieve what they call ‘butterfly lighting’. I made use of it for the family photo session today already (tho not for ‘butterfly’). It’s a Chinese product, but it seems to be pretty sturdy, so I trust it enough to hang it right above my own head in our dining room. And as you can see, it doesn’t come with the usual sandbag but with a solid 4.5kg counter weight – so this is meant to be kept in “the studio” (read: our home).

So thanks again sayang!

And thanks to you all for reading.

Our little studio helper

While I was setting up the lights and background for today’s family photo session, Tuna helped me a lot. And she seemed to like the storm grey, so I had to take her photo of course:

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Tuna the studio cat 1/2. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm lens, flash.

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Tuna the studio cat 2/2. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm lens, flash.

Thanks for viewing.

Selamat Hari Raya

So – Ramadan is over, and if you’re interested you can read about it in Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Indonesia, Arab, or in English or even in German.

We’ll take some family photos for Mitchie to send home today, and to test my lighting setup I took a photo of some blueberry muffins which she and Zuleikha made yesterday:

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Blueberry muffins. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 lens at f/9. Flashes with beauty dish (main) and softbox (fill). Cropped 5:4 in post.

Thanks for viewing.

A present from my wife

My old and trusty (read: slow, but so far reliable) CD / DVD burner didn’t wanna work anymore since a while – it denied to read in any new media I tried on it. Simply gave up. So I looked for a replacement, put some found device onto my Amazon wish list, and forgot about it.

And when I came home from work yesterday, there it was – a brand new drive, waiting to be assembled.

This is what I did, but I had to open the computer case twice: the old one was ATAPI, the new one SATA, and I knew we had cables somewhere; just couldn’t find them. And after cleaning my PC a bit with a vacuum cleaner, I also took some pictures of course. Here are one from its inside, and one of the new and shiny (black) CD / DVD drive:

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PC. Olympus E-PL5 with PanaLeica 25mm/1.4 lens. Studio strobe with gridded beauty dish.

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LG DVD burner (and a card reader). Olympus E-PL5 with PanaLeica 25mm/1.4 lens. Yongnuo YN-460II compact flash bounced over a wall.

The best thing about it? The experience with the operating system. Did I mention that I just love Linux, and Debian in particular? Except making the device known to the machine’s BIOS (and selecting the boot order), it meant no configuration at all – no fumbling around with drivers, no operating system config changes, nothing at all, everything went unnoticed by the user. Much easier than with any other “user friendly” operating systems I know. It’s in fact the way it should be.

Oh, and because I could finally disable the legacy IDE chip in the BIOS, the machine even boots a bit faster now. Perfect.

Thanks for reading.

What a wonderful wonderful lens

Andy from Austin, Texas was given the opportunity to try an Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm F2.0 Macro lens and wrote about it in two articles, here and here. Now he and one of the commenters on his blog are considering to buy one, and all I could say to that is: excellent choice!

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Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm F2.0 Macro. Picture by its makers.

I use this lens for everything. Macros and portraits are the obvious choices, but it’s also my go to lens for product shots, still life, sometimes even landscapes. In fact it pretty much lives on my DSLR (and that’s why I mostly have the 25mm PanaLeica lens on the “Pen”, so I have a normal and a short telephoto lens without even swapping lenses).

Take this photo from this morning for instance:

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Cups. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens at f/2.

Here is some of the Exif data from the original out of camera jpg image:

Lens ID : Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm F2.0 Macro
Focus Distance : 1.29 m
Circle Of Confusion : 0.015 mm
Depth Of Field : 0.04 m (1.27 - 1.31)

4 sharp centimeters in 1 meter and 30 distance – and if you focus on the closest edge of the cup, you even lose half of that in-focus plane. That’s what also makes it a great portrait lens; with apertures like f/2 or f/2.8 you’ll have the eyes in focus, the nose still ok, but the ears will show some slight blur already. With f/4 at close but normal distances, a head will be sharp and perfect as it can be.

I showed Andy this photo in a comment on his page:

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Happy birthday to Zuleikha. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens at f/2.

This was taken on December 29th, 2012, on Zuleikha’s 8th birthday when she gave a party for some of her friends. Even Robin Wong liked this one (and he loves that lens as well). You can separate single people out of a group when used wide open, again at close to normal distances. Here’s another favourite of mine showing the same separation effect:

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People from Moerfelden-Walldorf. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens at f/2.

Here are some of my more popular images from Flickr, without further comments:

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Looking out. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens at f/2.

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Zuleikha, May 2011, lit. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens at f/5.6. Yongnuo YN-460II at 1/4 power through a 24″ softbox. Background is a white wall.

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Marble. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens at f/5.6. Yongnuo YN-460II flash behind object into 24″ softbox. Cellophane surface, partly reflective – no “shopping” around here…

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OM Zuiko 1.8 50mm. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens at f/5.6. Simock E300 studio flash with 36″ Octabox.

And if you want to see more, here are some more…

This lens is wonderful, one of the best if not the best I have. It is in fact the one reason I’d never consider switching to other systems (another reason is the in-body stabilization of Olympus cameras, so all of your lenses, even the oldest manual ones from the OM film system become stabilized lenses). Apart from Olympus, only Pentax has that (if I remember correctly).

I bought mine used, so it wasn’t the most expensive lens I’ve got (that would be until now the PanaLeica). Still, if I were Gollum, this one would be my preciousssss – the one I’d take to the proverbial island, the one I’d shoot all of my images for the rest of my life with*. It really is that good. Or, as DPReview wrote in their test of this one:

“Quite simply, every E-system user should own one.”

Thanks for reading.

* Take this as what it was meant to be – a joke. Of course, people are much more precious to me as things could ever be, so should I really crash on that deserted island, I’d know whom to take ;-)