All posts by wjl

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 ;-)

Bicycle race

This morning I ran into a bicycle race, looked like it was part of a triathlon. I had my zoom lens on the camera set to 17mm, so I was closer to the action than it looks here…

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Bicycle race. Olympus E-PL5 with 14-42mm lens at 17mm.

Thanks for viewing.

Necklace

Some of the kids – including Zuleikha of course – were wearing these on the school party:

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Artificial flower necklace. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm/1.8 lens and off-camera flash.

Thanks for viewing.

Three from yesterday’s school party

Zuleikha’s class had a goodbye party yesterday, where they performed a theatre play, showed some of the stuff they made, and invited for snacks and so on. I took photos, while Mitchie made a video of the play. Of course we know these people and respect their privacy, so I can’t show any photos of people here without asking them first. So here are three which I can show:

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Mitchie’s camera, set up to record a video of a theatre play at school (E-PL5 photographed by E-PL5)

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Zuleikha, proud artist

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Paper owl, made by Zuleikha

Thanks for viewing.

Not enough (brain-) power

When walking around my employers’ garden this morning, I found this:

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Not enough (brain-) power. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 lens at f/2.

The label says “energy drink”, tho about half of it seems to be beer. Anyway – even tho this is a bottle with a token on it (meaning you’d get money back for it somewhere), it doesn’t seem to give the consumer enough energy nor mental power to even take care of his/her litter. Might have been left by some youth folk at night, but we also have enough suits with ties who weren’t lucky enough to receive some proper education from their parents; you see those everywhere these days.

Thanks for reading.

Stopped my one month experiment

I’ve decided that it’s enough. I get frustrated much too often when trying to reduce myself to using the DSLR and its “kit zooms” solely for one month. This is old technology, and while there might be some use cases for these, they’re mostly for things I don’t do anyway – like sports (greetings and congrats to the German team for winning the FIFA world cup btw), or for birds / wildlife and so on. For about everything else, we have much better stuff by now.

Couldn’t have taken this with my DSLR for instance:

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Karipap. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 lens at f/1.4. Cropped 3:2. Very low light from next room (our kitchen).

Zuleikha and Mitchie made karipap today, for explanations see the Malay, English and/or German Wikipedia pages.

I took this hand-held with an f/1.4 lens wide open at ISO 2500. No sharpening, no noise reduction.

Is it noisy? Yes. Does it bother me? Not at all – this is still far better than ISO 400 film in a “full frame” camera, and also better than using ISO 800 with my DSLR. For which my fastest lens is the Zuiko Digital Macro 50mm/2, so there’s another stop advantage for the smaller but more modern “Pen” camera.

Also, the white balance was set to “Auto” with the additional option to “keep warm colors = off”, something the DSLR couldn’t do. The focusing is much easier and more precise with the newer camera as well, and even in crappy low light like this, these cameras have a wonderful and fast working autofocus. I took this in aperture priority mode with the lens wide open, the rest is more or less point & shoot (except the composition and framing like always).

About the only advantage of an optical viewfinder vs. an electronic one is that the former doesn’t drain the battery, you can look through it as long as you want. For everything else, electronic viewfinders are much better than their pentamirror or pentaprism cousins already, and even the VF-2 has an image much larger than the one from most of its DSLR counterparts – the newer VF-4 is the same as the one in Olympus’ OM-D E-M1 camera, which is as big as the best “full frame” DSLRs (Canon 1-series), but with much more information displayed.

So in my case, it’s a clear 1:0 for mirrorless (or mirror free) cameras against DSLRs, which are becoming a thing of the past in my opinion. And it’s also – and again – a clear 1:0 for fast prime lenses against zooms, but I knew that already.

My DSLR is 5 years old by now, and it’s still a nice or at least usable studio camera, and for a portrait its 10 MP are more than good enough as well. For everything else, the “Pen” wins easily and clearly – in fact, it’s no competition at all. Maybe it’s about time to reduce the weight even more, and to get an E-M10 for the studio work. For about €600 for the body, I’d clearly prefer that to any DSLR I could think of.

Thanks for reading.

An almost empty salad bowl

Taken this morning at around 3am, with room light and the modeling light of my studio strobe:

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An almost empty salad bowl. Olympus E-520 and 40-150mm lens at 73mm. Cropped 16:10.

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An almost empty salad bowl: something like a setup shot. Olympus E-520 with 14-42mm lens at 14mm.

Update, ca. 5 hours later: Shot the same salad bowl again, this time using two bounced flashes:

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Same salad bowl again. Olympus E-520 with 40-150mm lens at 73 mm. Cropped 16:10.

Thanks for viewing.