22 February 2019


Two different paths come together this week - and a new/old friend will come of it.

First path was one in search of a new-ish prime lens for the µ43 system. I figured it would be a Lumix 20 or some variant of a 25mm (of which many are available). With the 14mm and the Pentax 40 and 70mm Limiteds in hand, what would be the better fit?

Another path was an old, familiar one: backpacking. I had been contemplating a Sierra trip to a familiar area - well it was so in the mid-90s at least. It was a short hike to pretty country, and a pony ride would be available to carry my wife.. and maybe some nice extra camp comforts? Hmm..

This path led me to reconsider my dear old hiking slides that were wasting away inevitably in a corner of our garage. I'd really like to revisit that trip - but of course the slide projector has been dead for a decade or more. Time to reconsider the task of digitizing the slides?

My plan for that has been in the works for a few years. In fact I had planned to use an Olympus E500 and the 35mm digital Zuiko macro. That pairing was long gone, but I did have a 4Thirds adapter for my EP5 and G85. Wonder how much that lens costs now?

Convergence occurred - and off I went to look over sale copies of the 35mm f/3.5. I put up a bid and today it worked in my favor. The lens will arrive soon, and for well under $75! Just for old times' sake I looked at the imaging-resource lens tests, and remembered why I bought a copy before. This is an excellent 1:1 macro lens, even more so for such an absurdly low price.

This purchase tells me that the 20mm will be a better future fit than a 25mm lens. It also fits nicely with the nagging thought that I should let the 40mm Limited prime depart with some other Pentax gear. The 70 will remain however!

Time to take another look at those old 1990s Sierra hike slides..

14 February 2019

no fair (dirty details on a great image)

I recently posted an image that has been my most-liked image ever at both an online photo forum and on facebook.

What did I do to make this appealing image happen?!?

The answer is - well, embarrassing.

First off, here's the shot.

  • Gear - Lumix G85 and 12-60mm² lens.
  • Processing - resized, cropped to remove the right side which was all wall. That's it.
  • Technique - none. I suppose that could be expanded upon a bit.

After a couple of cold and stormy days I awoke to a clear and cold dawn. I wasn't dressed to go take photos, and our deck had about a foot of snow on it. Since it was so pretty out I went with the alternate plan: stick my arm out the sliding door and shoot.

Here was the result. Neat light on the clouds, plenty of snow, and I managed to stay warm as I sipped my coco-mocha.

About fifteen minutes later the sun broke through those low clouds and illuminated the yard and deck with warm-tinted sunshine. The texture of the snow in our yard looked really cool and I needed to take a second photo. Having looked at the first shot I knew it was too wide, so I zoomed in a bit while standing in the warm house. So the composition step was taken in absentia and was quite arbitrary, with the goal of more yard, less house.

The G85 allows one to pop the screen halfway out for shooting at odd angles, e.g. one-handed out a sliding door. I didn't do that. Instead I held the camera out again at arm's length, eyeballed it as level, and clicked. It could possibly have been a bit better with some actual time spent with composition but with my arm extended the image was really too far away for me to work hard at improving the composition.

It was much later in the day that I looked this shot over, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had caught the sun in the image. Note that it sits between the downspout and the wall of our home - meaning that any earlier or later (or if my arm were longer or shorter!) this would be a completely different image. So a bit of planning might have helped, but probably would have led to a poorer overall result; thankfully, I did none.

When I saw the 'post your snow images' thread at an online forum I imported the image into LView Pro v1.D2, my mid-90s imaging software that is tiny and excellent at simple editing. I cropped out most of the outside wall, resized and re-saved.

Yes, some day I can grab the original and do some 'serious' editing of this image. I may even want to do that. Maybe.
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I like stories with morals so here goes:

Good gear is good, and gear that suits you is better than gear that doesn't.

Gear that you know will serve you better than gear you don't know.*

Light/location/timing are more important than gear!

Go take pictures, and be amazed.

*The G85 is not gear that I know just yet. It's impressed me consistently despite my ignorance.
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Note - why is this lens labeled 12-60²? That would be because the 12-60¹ was an Olympus 4Thirds lens, my lens is the 'kit' Lumix f/3.5-5.6 version, and the newest iteration is the Leica f/2.8-4.0. Yes the 24-120mm equivalent is very nice - but does the 4Thirds group have no other creative FL options??

07 February 2019

impossible shots

I've been shooting stars lately. Handheld, for up to two seconds, with no great effort made to steady myself other than exhaling slowly.

Results are just stupid, as in quite good!

I tried it first with the G85 and Lumix 12-60mm lens. That's a dual-IS arrangement that is purported to give 5 or more stops of stabilization (e.g. a 1-second shot as steady as 1/30s). I'm not crazy enough to pixel peep or seek out errors - I know they are in there - just looking for a reasonable capture. Yes this can be done, up to even 1.6 seconds.

I then grabbed the Oly EP5 with a Pentax Limited 70mm lens. IS in body but not in lens, so much more likely to show shake especially at 140mme (even at f/2.4). Both the Pleiades and Hyades looked quite nice.

Aldebaran and the Hyades with EP5 and Pentax DA70/2.4 Limited. 
Resized and slightly brightened.

I stepped back to the Lumix 14mm f/2.5 and shot a few more with the EP5. Going up to iso3200 really brings out faint stars and colors as well.

I'm impressed! It shows the value of image stabilization even when the feature is abused - and it strongly suggests how nicely images would turn out if I used just a little more effort.