17mm

Last week was my birthday, and I got a new lens: the Olympus M. Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 which is wonderful. Here it is on my camera, took that shot using the Google Pixel 4a phone:

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New (to me) lens, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2021

Some first images taken with that lens:

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Flowers, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2021
Just a little ad…
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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2021

As always, thanks for viewing.

Those last three black & white images…

You’ve seen them already if you read this blog, but here they are side by side, as a screenshot from my Flickr stream:

These were all unprocessed, and from left to right, taken with a smartphone (Google Pixel 4a), my normal digital camera (Olympus), and film (Agfa).

I think I see different tones here – the one on the left seems “warm”, the film image “cool”, and the middle one “neutral”. What do you think and see? Interesting to see what comes out of cameras without any manipulation (ok, in the film case you can’t really say that – it’s not only the film, but also the developer, and here a picture printed out on a certain paper (Fuji), scanned in by our all-in-one HP office printer/scanner… but that would apply no matter how you’d digitize a negative, you’d always have at least that one additional device…).

Anyhow, as you see I sometimes just like black & white (or, as my brother said lately, black – the background is white already (if you think subtractive)).

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Another photo from my newest camera (phone)

Took this today when coming back from shopping, using the Google Pixel 4a phone as a camera, the lens has an equivalent angle of view like a 27mm lens on 24x36mm film:

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Decorated house, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
Google Pixel 4a “out of camera” picture, no post processing

As always, thanks for viewing.

Another new camera

Mitchie got the new Pixel 4a 5G phone, so I was willing to buy for one shilling – her “old” and “normal” Pixel 4a. Which basically means that for the first time in my entire life I’m now the owner of a current smart phone (the iPhone doesn’t count since that belongs to my employers).

I had to test the camera of course, so here’s the obligatory cat picture, in the phone’s ‘portrait’ mode:

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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
shot with the Google Pixel 4a phone in ‘portrait’ mode

Not too bad what you can get out of these devices – both this Pixel 4a and the iPhone SE – without any further processing even. Without any doubt this is good enough to use it for blog posts such as this one, even if these pictures can’t reach the quality from a real camera with their much bigger sensors like the µ43rds ones I have…

But ok, fun anyway in a device millions of people carry around their daily lives anyway. No wonder the camera industry is struggling, and only the best of the best survive in that field.

I only got that phone yesterday evening but like it already.

As always, thanks for reading and for viewing.

Edit, in the evening of the same day:

Here’s another photo of her, this time taken with my Olympus camera and a 45mm lens, with using a studio strobe bounced over the ceiling:

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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
studio strobe, bounced

Again, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Second edit, from Sunday evening:

And here’s another photo of Tuna who jumped our bench, ready to steal whatever she might have found. That was in almost no light at all, the only light source was from the kitchen – and I took the photo from my computer using the same 45mm lens and camera as in the previous one. Converted it to black & white, and toned the greys more brownish as usual:

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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

Again, thanks for viewing.

False alarm – my camera lives!

Oh wow. I complained too fast, before doing all necessary tests (which hadn’t made a difference with my old camera, but with this one it did):

  • removing the SD card let me switch the camera on and off as usual, it also reacted on keystrokes and showed a display as usual plus it reset the lens when switching off
  • doing the same with the SD card in again, and still everything worked
  • I took some photos, back in business as if nothing had happened.

Strange. But I’m glad that the camera still works, don’t really need a newer and/or better one…

Edit, from the same evening:

I just took another photo first of my ColorChecker (for the room light white balance), then of Tuna. Here are two versions of the same photo I took of her:

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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

As always, thanks for reading.

My second – and most probably last – Olympus camera died today

Two years ago, on November 11th, 2018 my first Olympus camera died. I wrote about that, and since my second (or “backup”) camera together with my best and most expensive lens (E-PL5 and M.Zuiko 75mm/1.8) got stolen in Paris short before that, I was without a camera for a while. To recap, here’s the last photo I took with my old 1st generation E-M10:

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Zuleikha with Tuna the cat, 21st of October 2018, Mörfelden-Walldorf
the very last (and “out of camera”) picture taken with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 (Mk1) before it died

At least it was taken with another one of my favourite lenses, Mitchie’s wonderful Panasonic Lumix 20mm/1.7…

Today the weather was so nice, and I thought that I really should go out and catch some late October autumn colours as long as it lasts – even from my chair and through our veranda windows I could see green, yellow, and red leaves, so I decided to mount my Zuiko Macro 50mm/2 (from the old “Four Thirds” system) onto my E-M10 Mk2 and to take a walk with that combination. But when I tried to take a first picture of those exact leaves on our own veranda – my camera was dead. Same symptoms as the 1st gen camera had, I couldn’t “properly” turn it on (or off) anymore, and no battery or lens change could cure that – so again a system failure of the mainboard I suppose…

And the last picture taken with that camera was – the one of me with the upright bass, taken by Mitchie, which I had shown in my last blog article. Ok…

Now I still have that old and half mechanical SLR also from Olympus, the wonderful OM-2n – but for that I currently have only a black & white film laying around, so not exactly the right gear to take for autumn colours 😉 – and since I don’t have any other real camera, I was left with the iPhone which was given to me (and to all colleagues of mine) by our employers lately. Also a nice camera in that one, tho of course this isn’t a 100mm-comparable macro lens (100mm like on 24x36mm film). Still I wanted to walk, so I took this camera phone which doesn’t even belong to me…

… and here are some impressions from my walk, without further explanations:

just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk

Or maybe I should write a few words? It was a really nice day as you probably can see, and the sun and the people were smiling, and I was smiling back, almost like in Shi’s wonderful “Le maloya d’une enfant”, so if you want you could listen to that while viewing the rest of these photos, because that was in my head as well during that walk:

Now on with the iPhone photos:

just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk

As you can see, I did try to take some close-up photos of some leaves, but what you also can see is that a mobile phone with a focal length which compares to 28mm on film will never be a match for a 100mm-comparable macro lens, it doesn’t even have a remote chance against that…

But still, iPhone photos aren’t that bad, so thinking about what to do now, hmmm… of course I could (and probably should) have that camera sent back to Olympus for a possible repair job again and see what happens. But would/should I buy another one? Good question…

There were times when I wanted to be a portrait photographer, and I wasn’t that bad really, learned everything about light, how to pose people, and so on – but there was one thing lacking in my person and in myself which you can see in some if not most of the photos I took of people: I was missing some proper communication skills.

What I want to say is that it’s not enough to just admire beauty when you see it, and then smile at a beautiful person – you have to get her or him really comfortable, especially in front of a camera to get their real self as the saying goes. You have to have them forget that there’s someone pointing a camera at them, and maybe thinking about how they will look, all that. So when I for instance took photos of Mitchie, they were ok, beautifully lit, well posed maybe – but when Zuleikha took photos of her mum, she always had the better ones. Portrait photography is interaction between two people, and just pointing your camera on beauty isn’t enough.

What else? Oh, landscapes, yes, everyone including me loves landscapes. Or even nightly shots of the starry sky, with or without telescopes and all that stuff, right?

Well I’ve tried that as well – but now I can’t walk that good and that far anymore because of my atherosclerosis, and I never could stand the cold for too long, so I never got that precise sky tracking motorised system for the telescope, and never walked the alps with my camera so far (and believe me, if you can’t properly walk anymore but used to love it, then you just dream about walking the Camino de Santiago or the Via Francigena or for Muslims, the Hajj (and on that latter, cameras aren’t even allowed)).

So for that I also don’t really need a camera anymore, at least nothing I couldn’t also do with a phone camera. Plus taking portraits is really kind of difficult since the outbreak of covid-19, isn’t it?

So sitting on a bench at a bus stop today, I had some other song in my mind, again from Shi, but I haven’t played on that one so far. The song is still wonderful like most of what she does, and its title is “Low tides”, and the lines I had in my head were:

“… nothing lasts forever
only time still marches on”

Hear it here if you want to know what was in my head, thinking about photography, art, and myself:

Today my very first Wikiloops album ever is the “Album of the day” – and for the cover photo of that one I also used my first E-M10 camera, and the cutest “model” I had around (that one was taken with daylight through the veranda door by the way):

That album doesn’t have any contributions of my own, which is why I never included it into the list of “My albums”. But it contains really cool collaborations of others whom I wanted to promote and to celebrate a bit with that album, so here is the link to what I called “The cool cats from the loops – Hit singles” – hope you enjoy it as much as their music impressed me.

So while I’m still thinking, I’m without a camera again for the moment.

As always, thanks to my musician friends and to Richard from Wikiloops for the music (which is an important lifeline for me, much more so than photography) – and thanks to you for reading, viewing, listening, and/or even commenting.

Have a nice rest of your Sunday.

Camera comparison: Olympus vs iPhone

Today I was out – I wanted to take a walk to compare the new iPhone SE (2nd gen, or 2020) with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk2. The iPhone has a 4mm/1.8 lens which has an angle of view comparable to a 28mm lens on a film (or the so-called “full frame”) camera, so I mounted a comparable 14mm/2.5 Panasonic lens onto my Olympus cam.

Originally I just wanted to walk, but I was warned about the weather (thank you Shi), so I took the car and went to Mönchbruch first, and around the airport later. So here are some photos “out of camera” (without further processing) from both the Olympus and the iPhone:

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Olympus
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iPhone
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Olympus
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iPhone
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Olympus
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iPhone
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Olympus
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iPhone
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Olympus
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iPhone

So what do I see?

The Olympus photos straight from the camera with the standard or “normal” jpg profile are flatter, and leave more room for further enhancements – while these from the iPhone look heavily processed already, with a hint of HDR, contrast, colouring etc. already applied, and this may well be what most people (including me in some cases) would actually prefer. You can really take these and share them because they’re kind of “ready”, while these from my camera need some further work to make them look really good.

Awesome. Who would have thought that?

So yes, these are comparable which is a great result from a sensor only 1/3.5th the diagonal size of a Micro Four Thirds one (see the focal lengths of 4mm vs 14mm), and even with “only” 12 megapixels that iPhone isn’t really much worse than the 16 MP camera, at least in good light like here.

And like most modern mobile phones, there’s software built in to further “enhance” your photos to taste which means that you really don’t need any processing software or even a computer for “development” anymore. There are even three good looking black & white profiles, so see a last photo I took after returning home, and what you can do with it in camera:

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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
standard iPhone profile
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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
mono iPhone profile
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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
silvertone iPhone profile
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Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
noir iPhone profile

Cool. Understandable that for most people these cameras in modern mobile phones are all they’d ever need…

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading. And thanks again to my friend Shi who saved me from a really heavy shower 🙂

Let’s enjoy it while we can…

Thinking about Olympus selling off their camera business branch to another Japanese company, we’ll have to consider the fact that the brand could be gone soon without a real replacement, and without anyone doing service and repair jobs perhaps.

So what are the alternatives? Panasonic? Well they claim to support Micro Four Thirds, but they still invented a so-called “full frame” (24x36mm) mirrorless camera or two. And even if they do still support their Micro Four Thirds mount, that’s probably more interesting for video than for stills guys (and girls of course).

APS-C? Or “full frame”? Well yes – if you consider that a modern Canon RP or Nikon Z6 or Sony Alpha 7 (1,2,3) aren’t bigger and heavier than an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 (or Mk3), and that some of them are at the same price even, then…

… well, each of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and none really could replace Olympus, who were always innovators without any real comparison. Ok, with “full frame” you’ll get a better image quality (about 2 stops), and also a shallower depth of field (also about two stops), but the latter one is also both an advantage as it is a disadvantage – sometimes you need more depth of field rather than less. Consider this image I just took a few minutes ago:

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Bird feeder at sunset, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

I cropped this image into a 3:2 format to make it comparable to one taken with either an APS-C- or a “full frame”-sized camera. This was taken with the widest lens I have, a Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5.

I stepped down the aperture to f/5.6 to get halfway enough depth of field for the whole bird feeder, and it’s still not really sharp front to back – should have used f/8 instead. Which means that when using an APS-C camera you’d have to use f/11, and with that so-called “full frame” one, f/16. I was at 2 seconds, so multiply that accordingly.

There is no such thing as “equivalence” – these systems are too different to really compare them.

And so I’ll enjoy the Olympus camera and system as long as it works – and get another one when I really need it.

As always, thanks for reading.

Edit: this is interesting. And thanks to Kirk for the link…

That Pen-F look

Olympus has had this special camera, the Pen-F (talking/writing about the digital one here, not the original half frame film version from days long ago). And that digital Pen-F was special because no other camera did black & white as good as that one, in my humble opinion. They really should consider their decision not to continue it, it was simply brilliant, and lots of people loved it (at least those who bought and owned it).

Now a fellow photographer who has both the Pen-F as well as the OM-D E-M10 Mk2 (which I also have) has managed to get pretty close to the look of black and white images from the Pen-F when using his E-M10 Mk2. So here’s Rob explaining how he did that:

How to Get That Olympus PenF Monochrome Look On your OM-D ep.210

Of course I immediately had to try that, and I used the Mono-2 without grain settings to try. I also noticed that indeed applying a -0.3EV compensation helps with keeping a bit more infos in the highlights. Look:

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Zuleikha, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2020

That’s really very close to Kodak Tri-X if you ask me. And although this was at ISO 1250 it’s still much cleaner than film ever was – if you want to apply grain you can still do so with a few mouse clicks.

Cool. Thanks Rob, your tips help a lot. Really appreciated!