More, Less, Different … Progress

I think I am making some progress in deciding what I want to do with my photography.  In the past few years I constantly looked for cameras and gear that were lighter but with better and better image quality.  That direction led me to getting the Fujifilm X-T1 and mostly prime lenses; but that meant that I had to give up some of the things I use to photograph.

Since all cameras are compromises, I tended to keep prioritizing my gear for lower light photography of people; i.e., up close with higher shutter speeds to stop motion while moving about inside rooms and hallways that have poor lighting.  The biggest problems with those choices are that I can only show a few of the images on my blog because of privacy concerns, and I don’t make the kind of images that allow me to experiment with post processing, etc.

I have come around to the conclusion that I went a bit too far and might even have gone in the wrong direction.  I am now going to shift my goals toward maximizing my opportunities to make more images that I like to experiment on and use in my blog.  I want to go back to some of the kinds of images I have posted in past years.  Those kinds of images require longer focal length lenses than I can afford with Fujifilm gear.

If I am going to try and take more long distance landscape details as well as attempt to make more unique wildlife and flower images, I am going to have to do it with a different camera that has reasonable long focal length zoom lenses.  It also means that I need a capability to take close-ups, maybe even macro pictures.  I do have the Fuji 60 mm prime lens which is as close as they have for such images, so I have been trying some different images with it to see how I like it.  The images below were made with it in very low light.

The problems I have with the lens are it really isn’t a macro lens, the focal length is a little short, it doesn’t focus as close as I would like, and it is slow to focus.  It slowly travels from one end to the other and back and even then when it locks on focus I’m not sure what it locked on.  This means that if I obtain another camera system I might also want to look into getting a true macro lens.

For longer focal lengths, I am interested in a camera and lens that will allow me to reach out to an effective focal length of 600 mm if I can.  I have several possible alternative systems to look at to see which best meets my needs.  If I stay with my Fujifilm system for long focal lengths, my 50 – 230 mm lens is the longest that I am willing to pay for; but, it has a number of shortfalls.  First it only reaches out to an effective 345 mm, and I have had trouble with focusing in cold weather.  Due to cost restrictions and the excellent ergonomics of the X-T1, I might continue to use my Fujifilm system and “make-do” with the limitations of the lenses, but I’m really hoping to get back to a capability to photograph a wider set of subjects.

I have made progress in thinking about what I would like to photograph, but less progress in how to do it.  As I age I find that more and more of my choices are limited by funds, and more critically, my physical condition.  Before I blog about what I will be photographing, I must first determine if I can do it and/or how to do it; therefore, I find that I still have to consider my equipment.  My available subjects and physical conditions are hard limits that I have to work around.  What gear I use will answer my personal questions of will I be photographing more, less, or differently.  Actually it will likely be some combination of more, less, and different.

Searching

160131-081652-16JEHI am still searching for a reason to take pictures and blog.  Until I come up with some new ideas to have fun with a camera, I don’t know what camera and lens I will need; therefore, I am returning the Olympus E-PL7.

I will also be taking a break from frequent blogging and posting pictures until I decide what I want to do with my blog and photography.  I would still like to do something different this spring with my photography but I still don’t know what that will be.

In the meanwhile, I’m looking forward to warmer weather, spring, and better conditions to be out and about with a camera.

So COLD!

It was 40 degrees F. and windy, but I felt like I needed a walk, so yesterday I walked down to the pond and made these pictures; but, I didn’t stay out long due to the wind.  I hate wind, especially cold wind!  This morning it was 19 degrees F. according to my thermometer when I walked down to the pond with Misty, but at least it wasn’t windy.

I used the E-PL7 and the 14 – 42 mm EZ lens to make these pictures.  Each of these were taken at 42 mm and then cropped a little.  Just for my records … an Olympus 45 mm lens would have been a perfect focal length for these pictures, but the 45 mm lens is also longer than the EZ zoom when it is collapsed and it wouldn’t fit in my pocket as well.  Those are strikes against the sharper 45 mm prime lens.  I’m now thinking about other lenses I might best use if I keep the E-PL7 since that has a bearing on whether I keep the camera.

Visual Diaries

160205-123042-16JEHI often think about what to photograph as well as, why photograph.  During one of my mental excursions it dawned on me that an iPhone 6 would make an excellent camera to use while keeping a visual diary.  As an example, I have been spending more of my time sorting through old pictures and picking out a few to print.  This is a picture of one of my latest prints from some pictures that I took in Ireland with a small Olympus E-PL2 camera and the Panasonic 20 mm prime lens back in 2011 before I moved to Homewood.

You might have noted that the picture was taken with an earlier version of the camera that I am now thinking about going back to.  I haven’t totally decided, but I admit that micro 4/3 cameras and lenses are looking more appealing to me.

Another connection that just dawned on me, my blog is mostly a visual journal of what I see and do, especially relative to photography.  I might expand on that theme with an iPhone camera

Image Comparisons: X-T1 vs. E-PL7 vs. iPhone 6

While evaluating my Olympus micro 4/3 camera, I decided to take similar pictures, one right after the other with three different camera-lens combinations.  I did not attempt to do anymore that take pictures as I would with any of the cameras.   I didn’t take multiple pictures.  I used my Fuji X-T1 with the Fuji 18 mm lens, my iPhone 6, and my Olympus E-PL7 with the Olympus 14 – 42 mm EZ lens (at the 14 mm focal length).  The subjects are sitting on a white board in front of a south-facing window.  No flashes were used, all were handheld, and were taken in program mode for the Fuji and Olympus, and in auto for iPhone 6.  I wanted to see how each camera handled the situation without my intervention.

To eliminate any confusion, or errors, in which camera was used for each picture, I included the cameras in the image.  The camera used to make the picture is the one you don’t see.  For the first set of pictures I’m showing, I made no changes to the images.  The pictures taken with the Olympus and the Fuji were raw files and are as processed using the standard Adobe settings in LR6 … just like I always do.  The iPhone 6 is a jpeg straight out of the device.  The pictures were then cropped to 1:2 ratios, resized to my blog standard of 2100 pixels on the long side and saved as jpegs.

The first picture below was taken with the Fuji X-T1 which chose ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/140 sec.

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The next picture below was taken with the iPhone 6 at ISO 32, f/2.2, 1/120 sec.

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The following picture was taken with the Olympus E-PL7 which chose ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/125 sec.

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You should have noticed that the exposures and white balances and colors were different.  I am at a loss to explain the exposure differences.  My first thoughts were that the iPhone 6 was the most realistic and most pleasing, and the Fuji was the worst.  This was not what I expected.

The following images have been tweaked.

I then used the LR6 eyedropper to set the WB by selecting a point on the white board below the magazine in each picture.  I then increased the exposure taken by the X-T1 by +1, and auto set the white and black points on each image using LR6.  The results are as shown below and are not in the same order as above.

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I was reluctant to do anymore adjusting of the images for this quick comparison.  I am sure that with careful comparisons I could adjust the raw images made with Fuji and Olympus cameras by tweaking colors, clarity, exposures, etc. and make them more similar, but I’m not sure that it would prove anything for this initial quick comparison.

At this moment, I’m not sure about what to do next.  I may take an outdoor set of comparisons to get a better handle on sharpness, dynamic range, etc. and I might do another set of comparisons at longer focal lengths and/or with subjects at a greater distance.