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An interesting parallel to my adventures in FF Mirrorless and old/odd lenses. I didn't enter through the gate of high res, though. I'd been playing with lenses that make images often far from sharp contrasty and clear, off and on, going back to film days. I'd been getting some good images on µ4/3, but felt limited. The lenses I had already and those I wanted to try were really FF lenses, and not as "good" on µ4/3. As neither resolution nor IS were of great importance, I bought a used A7. I've used it exclusively for my alt.moose work, staying with my conventional gear for regular photography. I've made a lot of images I like, although I have much more to learn. Like you, I've had to take a lot of sample shots at various apertures to get a sense of what these lenses do. The main menagerie is smaller than yours: Tamron 28/2.8 T-mount Super Lentar 35/2.8 T-mount LensBaby Velvet 56 56/1.6 Holga 60/8 Minolta Varisoft 85/2.8 SIMA Soft Focus 100/2.0 T-mount Sankor 135/2.8 T-mount generic Pinhole The early, pre computer design lenses do some interesting things at larger apertures. This with the Sankor 135/2.8 With digital, it's also possible to combine effects, as with the old SIMA Soft Focus 100/2, at three of its Waterhouse stops. Then there's the local club of LensBaby Optic Swap System lenses, with straight and bendy mounts. I don't like the kind of images they tout, finding them mostly tedious, but find they can do other very nice things. I still have my whole line of OM Zuikos from 18 to 500 mm and many other old MF lenses in OM or Tamron Adaptall mount. Most of those won't end up on the A7, although the 500/8 mirror just did. The last version of the 50/1.4, for example, is indeed an excellent lens, but doesn't fit my purpose there. I'll just use the Panny 42.5/1.7 on an E-M5 II.
Toggle Commented Jan 8, 2017 on The 'Bokina' at The Online Photographer
I mostly agree with you about the Peugeot 604. Wide track, wide tires and good fore/aft weight distribution, together with whatever they did in the linkage details, made it a joy to steer. I loved my gas version, until the minor repairs I could do moved into full falling apart mode. The Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro that overlapped with and succeeded it was also a joy to drive/steer. The all mechanical full time quattro drive and weight balance made it an amazing handling car in the curvy stuff. Lighter/quicker on its feet than the 604 for that. I had a GX7; used it for over 10,400 shots and liked it a lot. I never could find a use for the tilting aspect of the EVF. I don't recall ever wanting to look down and not using the LCD screen for the purpose. I can't imagine what the GX8 can have changed that would make me use it differently. If they had dropped the tilting feature on the GX8, it would have had zero effect on my choice to buy or not. Never have wished that the EVFs on my GM5 and ZS50, which are otherwise located in the same place on the bodies, tilted. I also had a tilting EVF accessory for Pens, and never tilted it in use. We're all different. And thus all such awards, "real" or casual are expressions of taste, not some form of absolute. [What else? --Mike]
"But what about people for whom the value equation is important? But what about people for whom the capabilities of the top of the line cameras that are not included in the lower/older models are important? I don't know about all those other brands, but this is significant with Olympus µ4/3. As you pointed out, the E-M1 II has IBIS better than anything else. Also an HR mode that's a step up from the E-M5 II and wasn't in the E-M1 I, and focus bracketing. I would probably buy one, if it weren't for that huge grip and paying for PDAF for which I have no need. As it is, the focus bracketing, IBIS and HR Mode of the E-M5 II will suffice for a while. The E-M10s and Pen-F are innocent of these capabilities.
No one told the body designers that it's not a DSLR? Then someone beat it with an ugly stick? I know, taste is subjective, but somehow . . . ===================== Jim B., Oly started this foolishness, with the E-PL7. Why is a mystery until one looks at the E-PL5/6. The Oly accessory shoe for VF, flash, etc. made it impossible for the screen to flip up a full 180º, so the 'selfie' mode was ineffective. Is Canon's copy also mysterious? Have Canon decided that Oly is so cool that they can rub some off?? Far more mundane, I fear, as the VF eyecup clearly would prevent flipping up a full 180º, so down it is. Has the E-PL7 been a hit in Japan? Oly has kept the flip design for the E-PL8, so it must not have been a sales disaster.
Well, OK One more item off the list. Well, two. Happy Holidays
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2016 on Please Remember TOP at The Online Photographer
'. . . "Photography as Meditation" by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann' Thanks for the mini review, Mark. I've tried a few similar sounding books. I found The Practice of Contemplative Photography - Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes by Andy Karr and Michael Wood very helpful. Its roots are in Tibetan Buddhism, and especially the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa. OTOH, they led me to God is at Eye Level, by Jan Phillips, which sounded good in their description, but did nothing for me. I found The Tao of Photography, by Philippe L. Gross, Duane Preble and S. I. Shapiro, interesting. I find myself in dialog with it, wandering between agreement and disagreement, irritated at its non Tao tendencies to be directive and didactic, enlightened by some of its ideas and images. So I suppose it must be pretty good. Then again, I find the secular, descriptive and critical approach of Why Photographs Work, by George Barr (another Rocky Nook title) useful as well. It gives me interesting images and lots of idea and opinion about them to interact with. I find I can learn as much, maybe more, through disagreement as agreement.
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2016 on Upcoming Winter Print at The Online Photographer
' . . . added a paragraph explaining with uncommon thoughtfulness why he doesn't care for the word "spiritual."' They can be tricksy things, words. And one like 'spiritual' is more so than, say, 'automobile'. I was in a small group listening to Thomas Moore speak about one of his books. There was some restlessness in the group, a sense of uncertainty or disagreement. Finally, someone asked Mr. Moore what he meant by 'religious' and 'spiritual'. He explained that 'religious' meant to him true devotion to closeness to the Divine, however named. He defined 'spirituality' as something related to the spiritualism of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, much of the New Age movement of the 20th and the hucksters and con men who used the ideas of these movements to gain control over people and relieve them of excess funds. As an ex Catholic monk, who left that life on good terms with himself, his church and his God, that makes sense. It was, however rather directly the opposite of the definitions held by at least most of his Berkeley audience. He would, it seems, describe his many best selling books as essentially religious, with psychology, while his fans there would likely call them something like psycho-spiritual. Once terms had been defined, things went very well.
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2016 on Upcoming Winter Print at The Online Photographer
Strange . . . What is clearly the best zoom of 2016, the PLeica 100-400, isn't even available to vote for. I have thousands of shots with that lens, and it's spectacular. Beyond that, it's actually new ground, not a new version of an old FL range. It allows the photographer to do things that couldn't be done before. Hand held 800 mm eq. anyone? How can it not even be in the running with, yawn, yet more 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 lenses. I can see why Tammy's FF 150-600 is exciting to FF folks, but it's not a new lens, but an updated model. And it's not a new range to me, either, being eq, to the Oly µ4/3 75-300 I've had for years. ------------------- I pre-ordered the Oly 12-100 the moment it became possible, and just received it 14 days ago. That's hardly time to have any sort of opinion about its overall quality, at least not enough to vote it best. Yes, in resolution, it's better than the 12-50, the Panny 12-60 and 14-140 (Which is also better than the 12-60!) Yes, it's better than 14/2.5 & 20/1.7, as good as 25/1.8 and 45/1.8 and darn close to the 75/1.8. But how will I like what I get with it out in the field? Haven't even had time to check C-U, which is critical to me. I'd be ready to vote next year, if I really like it, but it will already be too old by then. But then, they say there are lenses on the list that aren't even shipping yet. Should there be a Best Vaporware category?
Hi Stephen, Could have been the lens, too, not just GF1. My 20/1.7 is distinctly softer than my Oly 25.1.8. Nice looking images, if you don't look too close. But then, that's just two particular samples. Moose
I don't get the Panny vs. Oly thing. Two excellent camera and lens makers working with the same mount - how can that not be good? For example, if you want to work in the dim with fast lenses, it's a mix of Oly and Panny (and (P)Leica) lenses on Oly bodies. Of 16 primes (20, with Sigma), only the two 42.5 Pannys and the Oly 300 have IS. I shot extensively with E-M5 and GX7 side by side. Whatever my body frequency and tics, I found no practical difference in their IBISes. The E-M5 II, however is a big step up in IBIS performance and the E-M1 II is supposed to be even better. I believe the GX8/85 is the same IBIS as the GX7. So, for the most effective use of those speedy lenses in the dark, they should be on a recent OM-D body. OTOH, for a compact casual/inconspicuous kit, the GM5 with 12-32 and 35-100 is light years ahead of an Oly Pen and awkward add-on VF. As a friend said "If it's going to be slow, it better be good.", and these lenses accomplish that. (BTW, the 12-32 @ 25 mm has higher center rez than the Oly 25/1.8 and 12/100 Pro.) GM5 with 14-140 is a more attractive, easier to use and superior IQ combo than an E-PL6 with 14-150. In fact, the Panny 14-140 is quite a good lens, better than the Oly 12-50, where they overlap. For those of us who find Focus Bracketing and HR Mode useful, the E-M1/5 IIs are light years ahead of the GX8/85. And I'm getting great results from those capabilities. ================== ". . . the formidable Panasonic Leica 100–400mm . . . POWER O.I.S., which, with its reach of 800mm-e, must surely be among the very top choices for birders and other critter and sports photographers." It seems to me that you, unintentionally, malign this lens with faint praise. Sure, I shoot critters, of all sizes and sorts, but that's because it's fun and they are there, but I don't go looking for them. I don't shoot sports. Yet, I'm in serious LUV with this lens. It's great for people, for anyone not mesmerized by the HC-B model, and makes wonderful landscapes - of different sorts. With appropriate extension or achromatic C-U lens, it's a spectacular C-U/macro lens with huge working distance. I can see where it would not be your cuppa, but it is far from as limited in usefulness as you imply. ================== ". . . whereas Panasonic definitely comes off as the junior partner to Leica. ...When people even remember there is such a collaboration at all, that is. Mainly it consists of Panasonic letting Leica rebadge its consumer cameras while jacking up the jack." I'm not so sure about that. The SL body includes ay least one small piece of Panny tech. A patent application for a FF zoom in Japan by Panny makes many people think the identically speced Leica 90-280 SL zoom is a Panny design. Anyone who thinks the Leica name on the Vario-Elmar 1.33-6.4/4.3-129 ASPH on some Panny ZS/TZ models means it was designed by Leica is a likely prospect for purchase of a large bridge. (My Panny ZS50 is a marvelous little travel camera, with a very good lens.) Is it not possible that the two companies are using the Leica name to maximize sales and profits, with no concern for what you and I think about which is tail and which dog.
I had a 911. It was fun, but I wouldn't want another one. Drove a Boxster, tiny, cramped, not enough storage for even a moderate kit. There seem to be other models since I quit paying attention. How could they make such a boring/ugly SUV? I have a T-shirt that says Maserati, but if Santa's listening, it's a Bentley convertible I really want. White, maybe azure, even red. Bent Moose
"Camera: The Hasselblad X1D-50c Why? For now, this is the only camera that every photographer in the world approves of and covets." Wow, I'm really minority. Until I normalize, and/or that camera becomes real-ware, may I carry my Lytro Illium and pass? (Weird, I told 'ya.) That Hassy/lens combo really looks like an Illium that lost its visual cool by going square. "Fuji joined the XD1 in the category" Typo?
Camera: The Panasonic GX[x, where x > 8]... Why? ...First, note that such a camera doesn't exist yet. That's okay, because the GX8 itself (above) is a splendid sleeper of a camera with the mirrorless world's nicest viewfinder, sez moi." I believe you, but I've always been unusually VF agnostic. The GX7 was more than fine for me. "Tainted by the "shutter shock" controversy with certain lenses, a rap the GX8 doesn't really deserve." Agreed. Use the EFC, and all is well. I used a GX7 in tandem with an E-M5 for a year and a half, 14,000 shots. Lovely camera that I'd still be using, if not for the Focus Bracketing and High-Res Modes of the E-M5 IIs. The GX8 got fat, and couldn't compete photographically with the above features of the E-M5 II. I'd like to have the IS sync with the PLeica 100-400, although the lens IS or body IS are mighty fine.
"Camera: The Olympus Pen-F Why? What do you mean "why?" Are you kidding? What photographer—no, what person—could fail to love this little gem? A handy, pocketable picture-taker with gobs of jewel-like object quality and style out the wazoo, it's a camera everyone likes to look at. [snip further praise of looks]" If you want eye candy, sure. For photographic abilities, the E-M5 II and E-M1 II are clearly superior. "Can't beat the Pen F with a stick." Don't need a stick, just focus Stacking/Bracketing and High-Res Mode. Cameras that add the ability to do things that couldn't be done before, and - at least for me - seriously widen what I can capture, trump pretty every time. Focus Bracketing has solved problems I've fought my whole photographic life. I use High-Res less often, for my photographic proclivities, But there's nothing like it for color accuracy but a Foveon sensor, and nothing like it for moiré free high res short of MF. Sooo, buy a broken Pen-F to put out as art, and use their real cameras for photography. Me? If I had that need, I'd get a broken real rangefinder for show. (Are there show Leica fakes?)
You seem to find the moon far more problematic to photograph than I, and I imagine many others, find to be the case. You have inspired me to collect some of my moon shots in one gallery. I hope the range may inspire you to see that there are many ways to capture the moon. None of these images involve exposure bracketing or HDR software; all done with appropriate exposures and what may be done in PS (sans HDR). One taken with a now ancient Fuji F30 P&S. One uses the OOF moon's brightness as an asset. One is a panorama from two 18 mm eq. shots, so approaching a 180° view. At the other extreme is a 1,600 mm. eq. for a 1.5° -ish AOV (the 2012 Supermoon). One uses focus bracketing to maintain focus on the moon and a near object, but the exposures were the same. Most of the focal lengths used are, I think, outside the range you like, which may in part explain your frustration with 'shooting the moon'?
You have hardly scratched the surface. There are many such services, some, unlike Amazon, with a deep history in printing. (Although they likely bought someone or are acting as agent for someone else.) Without even thinking about it, I knew of four, and there are more. I have used AdoramaPix for 11x14 and 16x20 prints on Kodak and Fuji photographic papers, and been pleased with the results. I've also shown them to the two best pro printers I know, who are very good, and they liked them, too. Shutterfly offers prints; I've only tried 100 free 4x6s from a promo offer. They were good. Others I know from seeing prints of friends' images by them, Bayphoto and Miller's Labs. Both have serious pro users, as well as amateurs, and a vast range of services. I haven't checked today, but suspect prices competitive with Amazon, especially compared to signing up for Prime for printing only. $99 will buy a lot of simple prints. Only mentioning two minor players seems awfully incomplete, and possibly misleading to any tyro who happens by.
For a great print, the image needs to be in excellent condition. If the pop-up version of the above is accurate, there appears to be a bright halo along the left skyline. Common enough from sharpening, and some other PS tools. Not everyone would notice; it would drive me crazy. Could be an artifact of down sampling for the web, too? [No bright halo in the print--. --Mike]
“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” - Egyptian Proverb
Toggle Commented Sep 28, 2016 on The Perfect Lens at The Online Photographer
'The image-forming light goes through the mirror, eliminating the need for the mirror to flip out of the way—as well as eliminating the "reflex" part of the term "digital single lens reflex."' I believe you have this wrong. The SLTs are still "reflex" cameras. Reflex refers to the use of a mirror to "reflect" the viewfinder image onto a ground glass/matte plastic screen. A Twin Lens Reflex uses a mirror to reflect an image from a lens next to the taking lens onto a screen that the user views directly. Early Single Lens Reflexes and many MF SLRs use a mirror that flips up and down* to reflect an image from the taking lens up onto a screen. This was really poor on 35mm; I could hardly see a thing on my dad's Praktica. Addition of a pentaprism and lenses made it work very well. Repeating all this stuff you know is only to point out that "reflex" refers not to a flipping mirror, but to the use of any mirror at all to deflect the light from a lens to produce an image on a screen outside the image path to film/sensor. Thus, I believe that the SLTs, using a single lens, with a mirror to direct all or part of the image making light to form a viewing image on a screen, are SLRs. * Or, rarely, sideways.
These delays, and those from other makers, may be aftershocks from the Kumamoto earthquake in April. Whaddya do when the protoypes work, the production line is ready - and you can't get enough sensors? Sit back and have folks like Mike (with the E-M1) defect, or do a big glitzy announcement, in hopes of convincing many to wait for the coming wonder? Looks like the 12-100 Pro lens will be released just after I return from a major shooting trip. C'est La Vie
"I guess most of why I think a big camera is an advantage is not resolution but the "malleability" of the files." I've heard that word used to describe files before, and not just from you. I wish I knew what they mean. I really don't. I've edited an awful lot of files from digital cameras, starting with a 1.9 MP Canon S110 in mid 2001, through many mid to fancy compacts, Canon 5D for five years, various µ4/3 bodies and now E-M5 II and Sony A7. I'm not a LR gunslinger, working the sliders to see what happens (nor implying that you are.) I edit in PS, using many tools, including several plug-ins and lots of masking of multiple layers. The only big things I find to hamper my ability to massage the images in the way I want are noise, in particular the way it can destroy fine detail, and DR, in particular how the files respond to underexposure of midtones and shadows to retain highlight tonal detail and how much highight recovery is possible in Raw conversion. Shoot the tiny 1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm) sensor of the Pany ZS50, Raw, at base ISO in good light, and the files are a cinch to process and play with. So they are malleable? Shoot fine, repeating patterns, as in fabric and ink drawings on a Nikon 810, and moire makes false colors and can kill detail. Not malleable at all. Might it be that you are looking for a pixel pitch that works with the current state of the art of sensor design/manufacture to optimize noise and DR, more than for a particular sensor size and/or # of MPs? The 5D nailed that for mid-decade, with 13 MP on FF. The 16 MP sensor systems of the OM-Ds to date seem to me to hit a good balance, as do the 16 MP Fujis.
". . . an optimum balance between quality and convenience, which to me right now means Micro 4/3 or APS-C ILCs.. . . a medium-format camera or high-megapixel FF camera as the other?" You might consider the possibility that the yearning for MF or HR FF may be rooted more in GAS than reality. Big gear with big numbers is definitely cool, but does it add any practical capabilities? One of my touchstones is the $19.95 print by Ctein that TOP sold in 2012 With a 15x20" image area (29x) from a 12 MP Olympus E-P1, the first µ4/3 camera, it's a pretty spectacular example of how much clear detail is actually available from a modest size sensor and a moderate number of MPs. One thing you don't mention above is what you would do with the resulting image files. Other than pixel peeping and posting 100% samples to prove mine is bigger than yours, how would anyone display images to others in a way that would show a difference from the very high MP sensors? It would take enormous prints, or perhaps some sort of array of display monitors. These are not idle thoughts, but things I investigate for my own understanding, and to temper my own GAS. I have done comparisons of normal to HR. HR captures more detail and better color. Interestingly, its image files also hold more detail when down sampled to the size of the sensor. This means that the lens is delivering more detail than the sensor is capable of capturing in normal use, the result of a combination of lens quality and the poor, ~50%, efficiency of Bayer array demosaicing in capturing detail. Moving forward to today, the E-M5 II's HR mode captures images that are in some ways equal to and better than the Nikon 810 and the Pentax 645Z Then forward to tomorrow morning; Oly's announcement when the HR Mode* firmware upgrade was released, and the many rumors, suggest that the E-M1 II will have a "hand held" HR mode. Oly originally said this would allow capture of the eight frames in 1/60 sec. or less (assuming a short enough shutter speed.) For my own photography, the focus bracketing added in the same firmware update has been far more useful than the HR Mode. The truth is that 16 MP is more than enough at least through 12x18" prints I have of my files, and I've seen much larger ones with fine detail even peered at very closely. Absent some killer feature beyond what's been rumored, I believe I'll pass on the E-M1 II, and wait for the E-M5 III. * Oly provided a converter plug-in for ACR, supposedly to take full advantage of the HR files. My own testing has revealed that it is little more than USM sharpening, and can leave obvious artifacts, bright, hard halos on contrast edges, on some subjects. Opening the files directly in ACR, DxO, etc. and applying either USM tuned to subject, or, better yet, deconvolution "sharpening" (Focus Magic, Topaz InFocus, etc.) results in better images.
The movie Tim's Vermeer absolutely fascinated me. It's about one obsessive man with money and time and a techie mind and his search to discover how Vermeer painted. I ended up convinced that Vermeer was, in a sense, the world's first photographer. As to a book, it shouldn't require more than one volume, as there are only 34 paintings attributed to him today. Not all that many pages, either, as not much is known about him. He fell from being slightly known during his lifetime into two centuries of obscurity after his death. Watch the movie!!
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2016 on Vermeer at The Online Photographer
I hope this hood is part of a trend that continues. On the advice of a friend, I bought one designed for the Panny 20/1.7. For whatever reason(s), Panny doesn't make hoods for the 20/1.7 and 14/2.5. The couple of third party conventional hoods I've tried worked OK, but are enormous and obtrusive on these small to tiny lenses. This reverse/snoot style hood works as well, and slips easily into a pocket with camera and lens. A one person effort that was expensive, although very nicely made. It seems the designer was cautious with opening size (to fit a 30 mm filter thread) and hood depth. As a result, it also works with the 14/2.5, without vignetting. Taking a couple of $ flier, I found that a generic 37=>30 mm step down ring, while less elegant looking, works well as a hood for the 20/1.7.
"I think I'll hang that quote on my wall. Love it." The most obvious and easily read thing above my desk, whenever I look up from my efforts to create beauty in images, is the ancient Egyptian proverb: "A beautiful thing is never perfect" _______________________ Next to it at the moment is a photograph I recently bought in which the photographer has somehow used a form of unsharpness that I would usually dislike to make an otherwise pleasant, but ordinary, land/seascape painterly and beguiling. I don't even know whether the result is intentional.