Two cars, and a high ISO portrait

This morning at work, my colleague Arno was even earlier than me. He was on early shift and came with his wife’s car:

7de_b286280-not alone

You are not alone…

And yesterday I wrote something about taking photos using high ISO settings in the camera. I thought ok, well, Robin Wong even does that with people and/or with animals. So I had to try it:


Zuleikha, practising silently, November 2014

This is ISO 5000 which gave me 1/20th of a second at f/1.4 – together with the in-body stabilisation of Olympus’ cameras, that was just enough to hand-hold the camera to take this picture. Like yesterday, I applied a “low” noise reduction using the Olympus Viewer 3 raw converter, but otherwise there’s no post processing except a very slight rise of the luminance curve in the blackest blacks.

Good enough? Well at 100% you’ll see noise of course, but I’d say that this still would make a nice A4 print. You can look at the picture in 50% instead of 100% which would get you closer to the impression of how it would be on paper. And that would be good enough for me indeed. Again: much better than film ever was (except maybe some of the black & white films. But even Tri-X would have only ISO 400, so my exposure time would have been more than three and a half stops longer – not enough for moving and breathing subjects…).

Thanks for reading.

Two cups at ISO 6400

Robin Wong had an article on his blog lately which he called “About High ISO Shooting with Olympus“. And in his post he showed some impressive images done with ISO settings between 3200 and 6400. One commenter accused him of cheating because his photos were reduced in size, which helps suppressing noise (with reducing the overall size of a picture, the grain gets smaller and so less visible as well).

Of course Robin wouldn’t have to do that – he proved often enough with 100% crops how good these modern cameras actually are. Look at this one:


Two cups at ISO 6400

Like he wrote, it helps if you don’t underexpose. It also helps if you take a custom white balance even before you go for your final image, especially in diificult light. The light here came from our kitchen, ca. 5 meters away, from a 7 or 8 Watt power saving LED bulb. So even with ISO 6400 and with no underexposure, I had a time of about 1/8th of a second with an aperture of f/2.2.

For all those who think Robin was cheating – go ahead and download the full resolution image from Flickr if you want. If you “pixel-peep” at full size, will you see noise? Sure. But if you look at the whole image on a 24 inch monitor like mine, you’d have something like an A3 print. Noise at that magnification? Sure, it’s still there, but on paper it would be gone if you view that from a normal distance. Plus the noise is a bit like film grain, but much finer and less obtrusive than anything I ever achieved with real film in the small 24x36mm format (which they nowadays call “full frame”). It’s no comparison at all; this is much better.

Anyway – thanks to Robin who showed much better (and lots more) pictures than I have here as my quick eexample shot. But I even dared to do it with “crappy” light – and the result is still pretty good enough for my eyes.

Thanks for reading.

Tuna on Zuleikha’s chair

While we were getting ready to go shopping, Tuna sat down on Zuleikha’s chair. She loves places which are nice and cuddly – especially when they’re also useful as a lookout:


Tuna the cat on a high chair, November 2014

Taken with the Olympus E-PL5 camera and the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 lens at f/2, with ISO 800. No noise reduction, as usual almost no post-processing except from adjusting the white balance, exposure, and contrast a bit.

Thanks for viewing.

A pink “Z”

Today the weather was really nice around here, so during our lunch break, my colleague Arno and me decided to take a short walk around the block. It was a bit chilly in the shadows of buildings, but as soon as we were out in the open it became really enjoyable.

There was some action at the relatively new datacenter building next to our employers’ ones, and it looks as if finally they put up some kind of logo on a wall. A big pink “Z”:


Pink “Z” 1/3


Pink “Z” 2/3


Pink “Z” 3/3

All images taken with my Olympus E-PL5 camera and the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 lens.

Thanks for viewing.

A VF-4 for Mitchie

We gave Mitchie’s VF-2 viewfinder to my brother Willi, for whom the E-PL1 is a totally new camera with it, as he said. And for Mitchie I ordered the newer VF-4 viewfinder which has a higher resolution and a bigger picture. It arrived today, and one look through it confirmed it: this is like an old Olympus OM – big, even brighter than its older film sibling, and with lots more overlaid information in the picture of course. Should be ideal to manually focus lenses for instance, but even the initial experience of looking through it confirms: this is big cinema indeed. I recently looked through a Nikon D700, and I definitely prefer the VF-4 (ok, that might be a bit unfair, because the Nikon had the 50-500mm “Bigma” lens mounted which isn’t as bright as our small primes of course).

To show you the difference, here’s a photo of both our E-PL5 cameras:


Tabletop with two cameras. (Almost) identical twins. Photo taken with Olympus E-520 and a ZD 50mm/2 Macro lens (and two studio strobes). More info about the photo is on Flickr (click on it).

Now I understand why everyone who tried it loves the E-M1. Or the E-P5 which comes with this same viewfinder. It’s compatible with “lesser” (cheaper but not necessarily worse) cameras like ours, but you might need a firmware upgrade – so in case you’re interested, don’t forget to consult the Olympus pages first.

Thanks for reading.


Got this as a present some while ago:


adidas® Victory League. Olympus E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 at f/5.6, two lights, both gridded. 1:1 raw conversion, quasi out of camera.

Thanks for viewing.

Just playing around with two lights

I was changing the standard reflector of the newer studio strobe to a gridded one, and played around with hard light. Then I used it as an effect light from the front, like here:


Fruits. Olympus E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 at f/5.

You can see it in the reflections that I was using two lights, and they were set up like this:


Setup shot of “Fruits”. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic 14mm/2.5 lens at f/5.

I had the side strobe with the socked beauty dish on 1/16th power, and the front gridded strobe at 1/32nd power, which gave me an aperture of f/5 at ISO 200. Could have gridded the beauty dish as well to get less spill onto the background (a 5-in-1 reflector/diffuser/light blocker). But even with a quick setup like this you’ll get some usable results.

Update: I just did that – a shot like this takes half an hour, together with setting up and removing the lights and background plus the few things that I do in post processing:


Fruits II. Olympus E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens at f/4.

As you can see, there are still two lights, but changing the sock to a grid on the beauty dish takes away 2/3rds of a stop of light. I decided not to adjust the light but the camera’s aperture, so now that side light is more an effect light, and the gridded light from the front is more of a main one. Also changed angles a bit, and all in all this one is lit a bit more on the “dramatic” side. Small changes and movements can make quite a difference.

In the end it’s all more or less a matter of taste – and for me it’s still an interesting way to learn to light.

Thanks for viewing/reading.

One more of Zuleikha’s horn

Zuleikha considers to change her horn for a smaller one – one more reason for me to take some photos of the current one. For this photo I used two studio strobes, one with the beauty dish as main light, the other from behind and above the black background. Taken at an aperture of f/8:


Model 702 horn, by Meister (master) Hans Hoyer. Olympus E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens at f/8. Two studio strobes at 1/8 and 1/32 power.

Thanks for viewing.

P.S.: while thinking about what I could show you as an example of good music made with wonderful instruments like this one, of course Maurice Ravel’s Bolero came to my mind first. The best interpretation I ever heard (and I bought the CD and gave it as a present to our aunt) is the one with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Sadly, the video on Youtube doesn’t play here in Germany, most probably due to a legal problem with Gema I suppose. So consider listening to a version conducted by the wonderful Daniel Barenboim instead – his isn’t really worse than Ozawa’s, just different of course, and it’s always a pleasure to see that maestro perform. There’s a short moment where you’ll see a hornist with a double horn, and later you see them as a group – but all the other instruments and performers are also playing so good.

If you want to see Seiji Ozawa instead – I didn’t know until today that he even performed the also very beautiful Polovtsian Dances from Borodin, together with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, open air. And also with this one, you’ll see that Ozawa is the one in classics who really understands rhythm – the man lives and breathes it. But watching Barenboim is even more interesting, at least in the Bolero above. Here’s one who’s conducting with ever so slight movements, and still it works out very beautifully. Highly recommended listening. And both pieces are wonderful.