Sunday, March 10, 2013

Short B&W essay with the Olympus OM-D E-M5

Black and white photography has been the classical way of doing light imaging right from the start of this new pictorial "art". And I have followed the same path since my modest debut with a Kodak Brownie 620 film camera.

The best definition of the mastering this art has been described, analyzed and practiced by Ansel Adams as he have extendedly explain in his book trilogy: the Camera, the Film and the Print.

I will not pretend approaching Ansel Adams artistic ability but I think that if you are doing good black and white pictures it can improve deeply your entire photographic skill even in color.

Here are some recent works with the Olympus OM-D E-M5. All pictures files are originally done in black and white.

Snowfall over the bridge

Minette face in B&W

Cross lightning over the balcony

Black and white photo painting of the river in winter


                                                                           

The Nikon 1 V1: The new "Tintin" camera




Nikon 1 V1: A "Tintin" reminiscence.


In my younger age I was fascinated by the Tintin universe. As a french speaking native person, the Hergé hero was a king of modern model for all the young guys of this era who were eager to discover the world and live new adventures outside their own limited town. At that time we cannot tell that the entire Tintin saga has been written during a very large period of time and furthermore new albums were still coming (We were at the beginning of the sixties).

During one striking episode located in the Tibet, Tintin was using what seem to be a Leica rangefinder equipped with an add-on bulb flash. In fact it was probably a Voss Diax rangefinder model produced around 1952-56.






That combination later inspire Leica to produce a special compact Minilux model edition with engraving and accessories. I have the honor to use one of those during a German trip to the Solms factory in 1997 and this small 35mm camera was working perfectly well.






When I have first seen the new Nikon 1 V1 it has remind me suddenly those recent and less recent souvenirs. So I could not resist to buy the Nikon 1 model with the flash and lenses additional accessories. I love the way the Nikon 1 V1 looks with the flash mounted and for my personal experience it has taken very nice pictures.

Here are some examples presented here without any pretentions.










                                           

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Panasonic Lumix LX5: The 2011 Barcelona Experiment



We are always looking for the best small quality camera to bring with you on traveling. This is particularly true when you are visiting crowed urban area like Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. Even M4/3 format camera seem to be a bit too much big size to fit in your everyday every-use small shoulder bag.
In September 2011 I have finally chosen to go with the Panasonic Lumix LX5 equipped with the optional electronic viewfinder LVF-1. It prove to be a very competent compact camera even considering the obvious exposure limitations and the lost in term of quality of the picture files. The maximum aperture of the Leica zoom lens was very handy in low light situations as for the widest focal setting equivalent to 24mm in classic 35mm film format.



The camera by itself is in fact very compact and controls look fragile at first but they work perfectly throughout my different visits. The LVF viewfinder is a must considering the difficulty to use the LCD screen with strong backlightning but its viewing image overall quality is in the low side to say the less.

Here are some of the results obtained with this LX5 / LVF1 combination. Barcelona is a fantastic place to visit and to stay for a longer time if you want. There are a great variety of activities to do and places to go.



Urban architecture of Barcelona is one of the biggest cultural attraction of the Catalan city.


                                                                                                                        

ANTONI GAUDI








Barcelona is tightly associated with the work of Gaudi who has mastered many architectural patrimonial building with a very distinctive style such as the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.












































Here are some examples of Gaudi realizations:

















The ability of using the widest focal setting of the Lumix LX5 give me the chance to present very unique Gaudi interior perspectives. 











Confined interior spaces have always been a good challenge for photographer but results can be very rewarding...


                                                                                                                        

CULTURAL BARCELONA





                                                                                                                        

I hope you have appreciated this short visit of one of the nicest city in Europe.





Saturday, March 2, 2013

Olympus M4/3 Lenses: a personal view





M. Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8: The Perfect Portraiter

Some would say a true cult lens. I certainly agree that the M.75mmF1.8 is an exception on its own. Despite its high price point, it worth every penny of it.
The lens by itself is beautifully design and crafted with the classic metal feeling and the very smooth manual focus damping. It is an heavy lens by M4/3 standards especially compared to the « polymer » products.
The results are outstanding. I meanly use this M.75mmF1.8 as a portrait (face) lens. I like the creamy effect of the out focused area surrounding the subject.
You have to pay attention to the weight of the lens by holding it the classical way using your left arm as a palm receptor. This position allow you to manually correct the focus with the OM-D E-M5 S-AF/MF autofocus mode.
I am not really fond of the big lens hood proposed except maybe with some strong punctual front light situations.
My only recommendation is to protect the front optical element of the lens with a first class neutral filter.
Yes the M.75mm F1.8 is a beauty by itself but it is also a competent tool that generate outstanding results.



                                                                                                                          



M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8: The “Normal” everyday telephoto

The M.45mm F1.8 was the first prime lens that I have bought to fit with my EP-3 camera two years ago. And it was precisely the overall performance of this lens that has convinced me to invest further in the M4/3 system.
The M.45mm F1.8 remind me closely the pleasure of using my ex-90mm F2.8 Tele-Elmarit some twenty years ago as a all-around short telephoto lens. For that matter I have chosen to add the lens hood that just to remind me the first purpose of the lens (telephoto). 
Medium portrait results are outstanding with moderate creamy background. But the lens can be used as a long "normal" lens for everyday picture taking. It compress moderately the foreground and the background subjects for interesting landscape or "urbanscape". 
Because of its plastic construction the lens is very light and as I already said the M.45mm is very small.
For the selling price point don't prevent yourself to bring one in your...pocket since you don't need to have a gadget bag to do so!






                                                                                                                           



M.Zuiko 12mm f2.0 (Silver): The real contextual wide angle

The others (re: Canon, Nikon) never deliver it in their APS-C and DX formats. Olympus does it right from the start. The M.12mmF2.0 is the 35mm format equivalent of the famous 24mm which is a must lens for many serious photographer.
It is not an easy lens to use for many because you cannot anticipate it as a M.17mm or M.45mm. It has to be experimented first but it can deliver results not possible with the more classical focal length lenses.
It is a true urban lens and a real contextual contender. It works perfectly for interior uses. 
And results are in fact sharper than any zoom lenses but not as a star level of the M.75mmF1.8 which is a very exceptional lens of its own.
The M.12mmF2.0 has a first class design and quality of built. I use it most of the time without the lens hood which is too large to simply put the lens in my pocket.... 
Price-point for the M.12mmF2.0 is positioned at a level you can expect for an exception lens.



                                                                                                                          


M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R: All-around urban lens at mini cost

This lens was part of the package I have bought with my EP-3 camera in 2011. With time I have learn to use the M.14-42mm as an urban lens because of its compact size and overall performances.
Picture results were good but it cannot pretend to be at the same levels as the prime lenses. The 14mm wide setting is sometime too narrow especially for interior uses or contextual picturing.
I recommend you to add the lens hood that give you a more easy way to handhold the M.14-42mm during your picture taking.
Considering the price-point of the lens it is a good starting all-around option for a Pen series model.






                                                                                                                          



M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 (Black): The one zoom solution for the outdoor traveller

The M.14-150mm is the M4/3 equivalent of the 28-300mm in 35mm format lens. It is the kind of flexibility you are looking for a one zoom package when you are travelling especially in outdoor country.
The M.14-150mm is a compromised design using low maximum aperture. My best results have been obtained at its widest setting (re: 14mm) in daylight. I have never experimented vignetting results even when using the lens hood. It may be have been autocorrected by the camera post-treatment software as many modern cameras do now.
The handling is good since the lens is light and have a moderate size. The so-call « plastic » (polymer) construction is well made considering the price-point of the lens.
Color rendition when using it with the EP-3 was respectful of the real scenery.
Since the low maximum aperture of the M.14-150mm, I agree with other reviewers to use the electronic viewfinder (VF-2/3) with the Pen series to get a better stabilized combination.
I recommend the M.14-150mm for a one-zoom option in particular for outdoor traveller in open space.




                                                                                                                          



M.Zuiko MSC ED M.12-50mm f3.5-6.3: The all-weather traveller solution for the OM-D E-M5

The M.12-50mm was part of my OM-D E-M5 combo and I was a bit sceptical regarding the optical performance of the model.
The first good news was the weather resistance ability of the M.12-50mm which is a strong point for traveller and outside photographer. The second one is the focal widest setting of 12mm (24mm equivalent in 35mm format).
The third one: the M.12-50mm is in fact a good performer especially for outside daylight picturing.
Some less desirable points: A much too easy zoom option setting between manual or power (electrical) zoom. The lens size is a bit long if you combine it with the small Pen camera series or even the OM-Ds. The low maximum aperture of the M.12-50mm can prevent you to use it with low light action subject.
But as an all-around traveller lens it stays as a good choice