Pictures from paradise

My colleague Arno and his wife are on Ko Samui, and our colleague Nabil is on Phuket. Some ten days ago, Arno sent a picture which he took with his phone, writing that he doesn’t really want to come back…

Reminded me of our last time in Malaysia, which is five years ago already. Well, paradise, yes, maybe. For us. But first and foremost, it’s hot. You’re sweating without doing much:

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Zuleikha, Malaysia 2010

So after noon, you sometimes just sit around, feeding keropok to the cats:

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The kids – here are some of our relatives – play and pose, but even under the trees in some other kampung further North, it’s hot – and at night, you’ll get eaten up by mosquitoes:

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Finally, here are two portraits I made during that holiday (I’ve shown them before). The first one is of Comel who is now married and has a baby boy herself:

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Comel, July 2010

And the second one is of her brother, who sadly isn’t amongst us anymore:

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Mohammed Haniff, July 2010

So is Malaysia, or is Thailand paradise? Like I wrote above: Well, paradise, yes, maybe. For us. But that is only because first these people – relatives or not – will do everything they can to make it paradise for you, and second we’re ignoring most of their problems.

Have to go back there soon…

It’s green again

First of May, and finally you see that it’s spring. I took this photo three days ago at work while having our usual lunch walk (and it shows my colleague Arno):

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Spring in Sossenheim

And I took this one just a few minutes ago on our veranda:

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It’s green again

We’ve had a bit of rain lately, with probably more to come. Still this is very good for the plants – we don’t have some tropical rain forest around here yet, but it surely helps. 😉

For the first picture I used the Panasonic Lumix 14mm/2.5 lens (and a Marumi Super DHG polarizer in front of it), for today’s picture it was the M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens, both with an aperture of f/4.

Thanks for viewing.

A photo, not taken by me

Normally I rarely show photos here which I didn’t take myself. But here’s one I found at work:

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IBM Debuts Analytics for Everyone, by ibmphoto24 on Flickr

The photo shows IBMs next big thing, called Watson Analytics. And the slightly blurred colleague who holds the tablet PC is actually IBMs youngest Vice President (of IBM Big Data and Analytics, and since I’m working in Business Intelligence and in the IBM Software Group like her, she’s actually one of my highest bosses), Mrs. Inhi Cho Suh.

It’s an impressive technology, and if you want to know more about it, just visit IBM. I’m just showing it here because I also think that this is a nice photo.

Thanks for viewing.

My DSLR, long

So today I had the longer 40-150mm “kit zoom” lens on my DSLR, but I didn’t have time to take too many photos. Therefore, I’ll show you one from today and one older one again:

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Leaves. Olympus E-520 and 40-150mm lens at 150mm.

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Arno, June 2013. Olympus E-520 and 40-150mm lens at 150mm.

In that second one you see how you can blur the background on closer distances to your subject. The first one above is a bit “busy”, but you can also see how thin the depth of field really is – one of those leaves is really sharp.

Also a really nice lens, and for the price as good as unbeatable. A long zoom like this is really recommended if you want to concentrate onto a single subject, and leave as much as possible out of the frame. Or to blur it into oblivion like in picture #2.

Now I have to find some even nicer light, maybe at those golden or blue hours of the days. Oh well, maybe on the weekend which lays ahead.

Thanks for reading.

A 135mm equivalent angle of view

Today I was in the mood for something a bit longer than usual. When I started with analog film photography, I had lenses with 28, 50, and 135mm, and I wanted to see and to get a feeling for the latter again.

On Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras, you have sensors with roughly a quarter of the area of film, which means they have a so-called “crop factor” of two. So as a substitute for my 135mm film-aera lens, I had to use something around 67.5mm to get an almost similar angle of view (beside the differences in formats; (Micro) Four Thirds has a 4:3 format, while 24x36mm film was of course 3:2).

The only lens I have in that focal range is my Zuiko Digital 40-150mm zoom lens, so I decided to use that one today, first on the Olympus E-520 DSLR, and later with a cheap Viltrox autofocus adapter on my E-PL5 “Pen”-type camera. So here are some photos I took with that lens today:

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Toys on Arno’s monitor. E-520 with the lens at 64mm.

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Through the roof of Arno’s car. E-520 with the lens at 64mm.

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Soup. E-520 with the lens at 67mm.

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Corpse. E-PL5 with the lens at 70mm.

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Zuleikha. E-PL5 with the lens at 67mm.

Differences? Well yes. First, the lens was made for the phase detection autofocus of the DSLR. Which means it’s lots faster on it, but not as precise as on the Pen which uses a contrast-based autofocus technique. Second, it’s sharper on the “Pen”, not only because that one has more megapixels (16 instead of 10), but also because it has a much thinner or almost non-existent anti-aliasing filter in front of its sensor. And another part of the reason for the higher sharpness is the contrast-based autofocus – I said already that it’s more precise than fast.

As part of my DSLR double zoom kit, this lens was and still is an absolute bargain, and as such an easy recommendation. If you have – or plan to get – a Micro Four Thirds camera, there’s also an M.Zuiko version of it today, and some dealers offer these as a rip-off from double zoom kits from around 150€ or so, which is still a very nice proposition.

If – like me – you have a Micro Four Thirds camera and like faster lenses or even fixed focal length lenses, you have several other options in that focal range:

– the Panasonic 35-100mm/2.8 zoom is one of them. Costly, but very very good. And Olympus is planning to release something similar, even with a tripod collar if I remember correctly
– the cheapest fixed focal “prime” lens option with autofocus would be the Sigma 60mm/2.8 “Art” lens, of which I keep reading only the best comments. Very nice portrait lens or general short tele for not too much money (around 200€ or so)
– then there is the probably most versatile one: the Olympus 60mm/2.8 Macro. Maybe three times the price of that Sigma, but if you want or need a macro lens, it’s worth every penny of it. Comparable with my Zuiko 50mm/2 macro, which says a lot.
– and last not least one of the kings or poster childs of Micro Four Thirds: the awesome Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm/1.8 – probably the best lens of the whole system so far. Costs about as much as the Panasonic (or Olympus) zoom, but if you really want to “melt” away the background of portraits with Micro Four Thirds, you don’t really have any better option. For even shallower depth of field, you would need one of the old, heavy, and super expensive Zuiko Pro Grade lenses with aperture 2, which are still available bust cost north of 2000€. Or you’d need a real 135mm/2 on a “full frame” camera. The cheapest of these would be a Canon 135mm/2 which is offered starting slightly under 1000€ (like the 75/1.8 from Olympus). See this or this photo from Elena – or more from her impressive collection – to get the idea.

Thanks for reading.