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:


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.

Early Sunday morning portrait

Zuleikha got up while I was still fumbling around with my cameras and other gear, so of course I also took her photo:


Zuleikha, July 2014. Olympus E-520 with 40-150mm lens at 58mm. Simock E300 studio strobe bounced over wall & ceiling.

Thanks for viewing.

An almost empty salad bowl

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


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


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:


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

Thanks for viewing.

A colleague’s fan

And on we go with using my DSLR, this time with the longer one of the two “kit” zooms again. I took this photo of a colleague’s fan (both heater and cooler) on a Friday morning at work. In the background my blurred desk…


A colleague’s fan. Olympus E-520 with 40-150mm lens at 73mm.

Thanks for viewing.

One from the “Pen” in between

I know. My intention was to use the DSLR for a whole month, and with its “kit” zooms only. But I broke that yesterday already, when I took some photos of flowers in our home using my macro lens. And today during my lunch break at work, I also didn’t fancy walking around with the DSLR too much, so I took the E-PL5 “Pen” camera instead, with the Panasonic Lumix 14mm/2.5 “pancake”-type lens mounted, and the viewfinder taken off. That way I had a really small camera. I also set it to show me black & white and square in its LCD. When I returned from my walk, I took this one at my desk:


Black “mouse”. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic Lumix 14mm/2.5 at f/5.6. Between half and 1/3rd of a second at ISO 200, hand-held.

Funny how I miss that camera. Using a DSLR feels so “retro” and old-fashioned after you’ve experienced one of these for a while. But let’s see, maybe that will change during the month.

Thanks for reading.

Photos of the FIFA half finals, and the world’s best stalker lens is always a good source for photos, and they also have an impressive set of pictures of this years’ FIFA half final matches. Well worth a look if you’re into football (or ‘soccer’, like the US and parts of England call it).

Mike Johnston from T.O.P. (The Online Photographer) once declared the Hubble Space Telescope as being the world’s best lens. That was in 2006. In 2030, there could be a better one, called ‘ATLAST‘. Found this in Telepolis who wrote that it should be 2000 times better than Hubble (in German). See also in the English Wikipedia. Would be a lens for Tim Allen‘s ‘Home Improvement‘, right? It also reminds me a bit about Crocodile Dundee’s

“A knife? This is a knife!”


Thanks for reading.

Flowers, 300 degree light

I used my macro lens to get close, and my gridded beauty dish left and behind the object at approximately a 300 degree (or ten o’clock) position to take this flower shot:


Flowers. Olympus E-520 with ZD 50mm/2 macro lens. Simock E300 studio strobe with gridded beauty dish. Aperture was f/3.2 with the flash output at 1/4 power.

As you can see, the white wall which is about 1m behind the flowers goes almost completely black – or at least dark brown – when using directed light like this. Want it completely black? Then use a black background, a non-reflective surface on which you put your object, and switch off the ambient room light (which was on here), or use a higher flash output and close the aperture down a bit more.

Thanks for reading.

Berries to and fro

Zuleikha took some of the berries to school – and brought them back. And I took a photo of them last night, this time using a grid on my beauty dish (instead of the sock). So the light is a bit tighter and harder, and you can clearly see the falloff in the background:


Berries, after being taken to school, and back. Olympus E-520 with 14-42mm lens at 42mm, f/6.3. Studio strobe with gridded beauty dish.

Like Laurence commented on my last blog post, spending 200 Euro on some light will have more impact on your photos than the newest camera or lens. Especially at home, at night.

Thanks for viewing.

Berries, with a strobe

As regular readers of this blog will know by now, I’ve decided to use my older DSLR – and only that – for a whole month again. But of course it would be unfair to use it only with ambient light. First, the two zoom lenses it came with are of a variable aperture type (f/3.5 to 5.6 and f/4 to 5.6), and so they have a huge disadvantage when compared with my fixed focal length “prime” lenses which I normally use on my mirror-free “Pen” camera (they have maximum apertures of f/2.5, f/1.4 and f/1.8). Second, even with these I use flash indoors quite often, since it simply gives much better colours than whatever “available” room light there might be. So last evening I took a shot of some berries which Mitchie bought, using my studio strobe with a beauty dish attached to its front:


Berries. Olympus E-520 with 14-42mm lens at 42mm, studio strobe.

To give you an idea of what that “strobe” (= flash) looks like, here it is, taken with “uncorrected” room light:


Studio strobe with beauty dish. Olympus E-520 with 14-42mm lens at 21mm. ISO400 with +0.5EV correction during the raw conversion with Olympus Viewer 3.

That’s a Simock E300 strobe with a Jinbei 20″ beauty dish attached which also comes with some nice add-ons like a grid and a “sock” which you see here. The strobe itself can be bought as a kit with a light stand and a 36″ Octabox for around €200, which is an incredible value for the money (cheaper than most on-camera TTL flashes, and much more powerful than those, also giving nicer and softer light). Dangling from behind the flash you also see a Yongnuo CTR-301P radio remote which I use for triggering, and which is also cheap and works flawlessly since years. Highly recommended stuff if you’re on a budget and still want good light.

Oh, and because someone asked on Flickr: yes, I’ve tried one of those berries by now, and yes, they taste really nice.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Independence Day to all Americans!

Qotd comes from Roger Cicala of LensRentals, who explained:

“(For those of you who aren’t American, the 4th of July is when we celebrate our Independence by getting sunburned, making burnt offerings of animal parts in our backyards, and then eating said offerings. During the entire day, we drink massive quantities of American beer and once it gets dark we shoot off massive quantities of Chinese fireworks. All too often, the results of mixing alcohol and explosives prove that Darwin was correct — but hey, that’s what celebrating is all about, right?)”

Hehe, awesome. Thanks for a good laugh, Roger!

Update, later in the evening: And here’s a candle for you folks:


Tea light and alarm clock. Olympus E-520 and 40-150mm lens at 58mm.

I love that lens. And tho I have an adapter for it, I still should get the same one with a Micro Four Thirds mount for my “Pen”. Best value in the whole business IMHO.

Thanks for viewing.