Some crops from today, in black and white

Let’s talk gear a bit.

When Kirk Tuck lately mentioned “My lens of choice today was the older, Contax Y/C Zeiss 50mm f1.7 lens, with an adapter. I shot almost everything at f2.0.” (that was in his blog article I mentioned already), I thought of course of my old and manual OM Zuiko lenses, which are quite wonderful. Of course I thought of using them, but didn’t. Until today.

On my Olympus OM-2N camera I have the G.Zuiko Auto-S 1:1.4 f=50mm lens, and in the camera I have Kodak 400TX (“Tri-X”) black & white film. So my plan for today was to take and to use that camera and lens, but if I’d taken only that one, I wouldn’t have anything to show right now – film still needs some time for development and all.

So I decided to also use my second lens from the OM System, the Zuiko Auto-S 50mm 1:1.8 “made in Japan” lens, adapted to my digital OM-D E-M10 (so I would have something to show right now).

Like Kirk did with his Contax/Yashica/Zeiss lens, I let my 1.4 Zuiko on the film camera on f/2 most of the time, but you can’t use the 1.8 Zuiko at f/2 – so I used that one fully open (also most of the time, when I set one camera to f/8, so I did with the other as well).

And since I had black & white film in my film camera, I set the digital one to black & white as well, and also to a 3:2 aspect ratio, just like my 135-type film has (it’s “full frame” in modern terms, meaning it has the Kleinbildfilm format of 24x36mm – which is 2:3).

So – the title says “crops”, and that is what today’s images from the digital camera are. I framed (and “composed”) everything using the film camera, then using the digital one I took another image from the exact same position, only with f/1.8 instead of f/2. So from the digital camera I have a crop of that “full frame” of the film – the sensor of (Micro) Four Thirds cameras is ca. 13x17mm, which is about the quarter area you have on 135-type film. So the crop factor is about 1:2 (or the angle from the lens looks a bit like a 100mm lens would have on the film camera). Depth of field is almost identical using that technique of course (in fact my digital “crop” camera at f/1.8 has less depth of field that the “full framer” film camera at f/2), but the digital doesn’t show the full image – or the film shot is much wider. Name it as you will; this is what I did today.

So here are some of these “crops”:

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The next one was taken with the lenses at f/8:

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And this one was at f/2.8:

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Nice and sharp – like all Olympus lenses (the 1.4 version is a bit better than the 1.8 one). Back to f/1.8 (or “fully open”):

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And one last one which I took with the digital camera only, just to show you my camera of choice of today – the Olympus OM-2N, photographed using one of its own lenses:

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I’ll show you the film images as soon as I have those films developed.

Thanks for viewing.

The right camera, the right lens

There are a few other photographers whose blogs I follow; one of those I read since years is Kirk Tuck, a professional photographer about my age from Austin, TX, USA. In his latest blog post he wrote about a walk with his Panasonic G85 (which is here called G80, its successor is the G81), married with an old and manual focus Contax/Yashica/Zeiss 50mm/1.7 lens.

And yes, nice results. My main and now only camera is the Olympus OM-D E-M10, which is comparable, and like Kirk I wanted to take a walk with that camera today. I could have used one of my older and manual Olympus lenses from the OM system – I have the 50mm in both versions, with apertures of 1.4 and 1.8. Or I could have used the Zuiko ED Digital 50mm/2 Macro which I also love and which gives me autofocus with the right adapter. But instead, I just used the 45mm/1.8 from the newer Olympus Micro Four Thirds series of lenses, and like Kirk, I let it on f/2 almost all of the time.

So here are some impressions from my walk around noon today:

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Thanks for viewing.

That “full frame” look, and closed headphones

Yesterday I found a cat photographer on the Flickr blog, here. And it’s interesting to see that an (now considered old) Canon 6D is enough to get that “full frame” look – especially when using macro lenses or something like a 85mm/1.8.

Andrew Reid from EOSHD tho praises the new Nikon D850 – the best quality you’ll get if you need the best and have the money.

And the German-speaking “Sound & Recording” online magazine tested the Yamaha HPH-MT8 closed studio headphones, which seems to be an alternative to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50. Interesting; next time I’ll be in Cologne in the Music Store I’ll have to listen to both of them.

Thanks for reading.

Quote of the day, August 26th, 2017

“A well focused 12 megapixel camera trumps a poorly focused 24 megapixel camera any day of the week. A photograph of a captivating subject taken with a camera that’s mediocre at high ISOs still beats another noise free image of a coffee cup in a coffee shot every time. Waiting for the perfect camera is a fool’s errand.”

by Kirk Tuck, professional photographer in Austin, Texas, U.S.A., in a blog post of his.

Thanks for reading.

Learning just another (filmmaking) program, while not forgetting about photography

Recently, Zuleikha had just another gig as a musician (playing piano), and we recorded it – Mitchie on video with her Olympus E-PL5 and the 45mm/1.8 lens (on her tripod of course), and me with my Røde NT-1A microphone, the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd gen) interface, and the Lenovo Thinkpad P50 laptop/notebook which I’ve got from my employer.

Zuleikha’s piano teacher asked us to make a DVD from all the attendees’ performances, so we recorded everyone instead of just our own daughter. And since then (that was Sunday evening), I’m trying to learn just another video-editing program.

Why? Well because Ardour is more like Avid’s Pro Tools – a music studio inside of your computer, and OpenShot is a video editor which we’ve used previously, but which also gave me some headaches already – for bigger projects like a full-blown DVD, it’s not the most stable and full-featured one.

So at the moment I’m looking at the community version of Cinelerra, which seems to be great. There’s a very nice article on the German ubuntuusers wiki, with some additional nice links, like the one to Raffaella Traniello’s “Cinelerra for Grandma” – that answered most of my questions (and struggles) so far.

It’s still quite a lot to learn – these are not your basic editors, but full-blown and -featured professional programs like the commercial ones on other operating systems (and also a bit like Ardour vs. Pro Tools or Logic).

And with all that music- and video-related stuff, I’m still not forgetting about photography, even if I do that only for private and family “jobs” right now. So I’m still regularly reading the most interesting bloggers (and pros) like Kirk Tuck, or Michael Johnston’s “The Online Photographer” (and listening to Brooks Jensen’s “Lenswork Daily” podcasts).

I just answered one of Mike’s posts for instance, which was about his thought of a dual camera system (one his iphone, the other one maybe a Sony A7-2). My answer to that one, in case you don’t find it on his page, was:

“Love the idea, Mike.

I’ve got an Olympus OM-D E-M10 (first gen) which in cameras is in my opinion the equivalent to what our Corolla is in cars. It will do the job, and get you the picture. Not the best, but a quite acceptable one.

But the A7 Mk2 is the one that really interest me, even more so since I realized that both of our Olympus film bodies (OM-1 and OM-2) are having problems with their shutters, and ruin many potentially good (and expensive) film shots. So yes, a “digital back” for my OM Zuiko 50mm/1.4 would be great to have.

Or maybe an FM-2; could even be better. But that wouldn’t accept my Zuiko lens AFAIK.”

So beside my full-time professional job (still having to earn a living for us all), and beside my honorary work in the school’s parents’ association, I’m quite busy at the moment. Holding on to the next task, like: make a DVD for the parents of the other young and aspiring musicians – and for their teacher of course.

But being busy, and being together with the young ones keeps you young as well – or so they say 😉

Thanks for reading.

Please vote for the Nik collection to be open sourced!

Through an article on Imaging Resource I’ve learnt that Google will no longer maintain or “to update the Collection or add new features over time” of their Nik collection – which is a bit sad because they’re still awesome, and loved by many photographers either as plugins for programs like Photoshop, or stand-alone.

I don’t have Photoshop and/or Lightroom- and don’t plan to buy it – but still I have the Nik collection for some special effects on a Windows partition on my hard drive, so through their help center and forum I found this post from Paul Breslin, who volunteered to maintain it further after his retirement, and for which I “voted” already. And I suggest that you’d do the same; open-sourcing it would be the ‘proper’ way of dropping official support for a product.

And Google may even do it – they’re in some way still the “good guys”, with their initiatives like “Summer of Code” and so on and so forth. So if you also like or (occasionally) use the fine Nik collection, I’d advise that you do the same. If you haven’t heard of the Nik collection but have a Mac or PC with Windows operating systems, I’d suggest to try it out – it’s one of the best “free” (as in “no cost”) software packages there is.

My main interest in this? Well I’m still using real free and open source software on my Debian Linux machine, but who knows, maybe one day the Nik collection could be real free as well – it’s all a question of licensing. And there could even be a port for Linux, which would make that even greater as an artist’s platform as it already is (doing music and recording with it as well). It’s just a vote away, so what is stopping you?

Thanks for reading and/or considering.

P.S.: see also my comments here and here.

Some first impressions

Yesterday we were at the biggest local music store for a while. Zuleikha played some electric and acoustic pianos and bought some scores. And I took some hands-on first impressions of some instruments. What I found nice was:

Yamaha CG192S

Yamaha CG192S Classical Guitar

Ibanez SRH500F Fretless Bass

Ibanez SRH500F Fretless Bass

This one is awesome. Listen to it here, in 4- and 5-string versions:

In the studio department, we saw both my microphone and also my interface for it – but there, the most impressive experience for me was to listen to some active nearfield monitors:

Yamaha HS8 Powered Studio Monitors

Yamaha HS8 Powered Studio Monitor

Interesting – all Japanese products. Oh, and the Kawai and Yamaha acoustic (upright) pianos were also very nice.

As always, thanks for reading.

Portraiture, naturally

Happy new year again, everyone.

I’ve been thinking about my (and others’) photography lately, and watched lots of videos, and read lots of other photographers’ blogs. I also looked at my own photos, and identified some favourite ones. Almost all of them are photos of family members (including “our” cat). And that reminded me of my original reasons to get better cameras since late 2009.

It’s this personal photography which is most important to me. Keeping memories about family, friends, colleagues, strangers, simply people I’ve met or with whom I live. Thinking about 2017, I’d say that I have everything I need gear-wise. Ok; I could use some more lights (and/or modifiers for them), or maybe some more lenses. But mostly I have what I need – a very nice and capable little camera with prime (single focal length) lenses, and a telephoto zoom should I need some more reach and/or the perspective you have with these.

So I started the new year with what I like the most: take some portraits, naturally. Like this one:

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Zuleikha, January 2017

A propos the title of this short article, “Portraiture, naturally” – got that one from a video of British photographer David Thorpe on Youtube. David is a very interesting photographer, and both his Youtube channel as well as his blog are very worthy of having a look and read. Like us, he has discovered the Micro Four Thirds system as pretty much ideal for his needs, and this after a life-long career as a photojournalist. I’m always glad when I discover people like him, and some of his writings are just so funny – take for instance his description of a “gentleman” from his article about “The Gentleman’s Lens“:

“The gentleman has always held an emblematic status in England. A gentleman is good at what he does but not superb. That would involve too much effort, which is ungentlemanly. A gentleman is superior but without effort. Effort would imply that he is concerned about what others think. That would be pandering and decidedly ungentlemanly. The essence of a gentleman is summed up by the old English aristocracy’s mode of dress. For example, an expensive, but not too expensive jacket which has been allowed to become a bit ratty, with leather patches on the elbows and frayed – but not too frayed – lapels. The message of the jacket is that the wearer has enough money but not too much (vulgar!), though almost certainly more than you because he allows a good quality jacket to become scruffy whereas you, not being a gentleman, would probably have had it repaired or – horror! – bought a new one. The message is that so superior are you that you do not even deign to compete.”

Time- and priceless, just as his discovery why gorgeous women in glamorous bars never give him a second look (that’s in another of his articles, but I’ll leave that discovery for yourself). The man surely can make you laugh. And he has world-class photos.

Ok, enough for now. As always, thanks for reading.

Cat cookie

It’s two days before Christmas. Wow, the year was short, at least in retrospective. Today Mitchie and Zuleikha, who’s on holiday already, made some cat cookies, so I took a picture:

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Cat cookie

Taken with the Olympus E-PL5 camera and the 14-42mm zoom lens set to 17mm and f/4. I “muted” the colours with the Olympus Viewer 3 raw converter, and desaturated (-3/100 clicks) a bit further in RawTherapee.

Somehow I love the 17mm focal length, and because I don’t have this and that, I use the “kit zoom” when I want it. That 17mm Olympus lens is recommended together with the successor of my E-M10 camera for kid photos, here. And this whole trip to Europe was also taken with that single focal length, which shows how versatile that can be.

No affiliate links here, just a tip if you need a camera for family and travel photos.

And as always, thanks for reading/viewing.

If your camera…

Yesterday I took some photos of Mitchie who was sitting on our sofa, knitting. The only light was our small LED reading light with approximately 5 Watts or so – and since she was moving, I had to raise the sensor sensitivity (or amplification) to about ISO 6400, or even ISO 8000. With settings like these, I ended up with times like 1/10th to 1/15th of a second at an aperture around f/2.8.

Of course the results were not really optimal, so I started looking and comparing, like here. A Sony A7 Mk2 would be at least a stop better than my camera, a Nikon D750 easily two stops, and a Canon 5D Mk3 (an older model, but I wanted to stay roughly in the same price range) would be somewhere in between.

But while dark things in low (or almost no) light are one thing, I remembered that my camera also had the advantage of having built-in sensor stabilization (which that Sony also has), so I started comparing the Nikon’s and Canon’s ISO 12800 with 6400 on the Sony, and with 3200 on mine – which equals out the field considerably.

But ok, two stops lower also means times x 4, which would be counter-productive, at least for moving subjects. So what to do?

Simple: more light, as Goethe is believed to have said. Tried and true:

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Tuna the cat, December 2016

I took this photo of Tuna some minutes ago, while it is dark outside already. So I used my compact flash at 1/4 power on my computer desk, reflected over the wall, and one of my studio strobes at around 1/10th of its maximum output reflected over the opposite wall (behind me in this photo, you see it reflected in her eyes).

The aperture here is f/2.5, but with the really bright flash light I could use the sync time of 1/160th of a second, at ISO 200. Much better than my efforts from yesterday.

So if your camera isn’t as good as others in low (or almost no) light – simply add some. Better, far easier, faster, and also cheaper than to become envious and to think about other and supposedly better cameras…

As always, thanks for reading.