Category: Homewood at Plum Creek

My Lumix 20mm F1.7 Lens

My favorite walk-about camera-lens combination is the Olympus PEN-F camera with the Panasonic Lumix 20mm lens mounted on it.  I leave that lens mounted on the camera most of the time.  It is an ideal focal length for most things, especially when I’m out walking about since it is a lightweight small combo for hanging from a strap or carried in a small bag.  Between it being fast enough for low light conditions and its close focusing capabilities it covers a wide range of conditions.  I used it for both of the above images.

I have diverged away from this camera and lens several times as I keep looking for the ultimate system, but I seem to return to this 20mm lens with its effective 40mm focal length which is in between the normal classic lenses of 35mm and 50mm.

I have thought several times about giving up with long lenses and larger sensors, but I currently also have a Pentax K-3 and long zoom lenses for limited, special uses.  I also have my Olympus E-M1 Mk II and several zoom lenses for my Homewood photography which often amounts to a run-and-gun documentary type of photography.

For my walk-about photography I prefer my PEN-F and the 20mm lens, but I do have other micro 4/3 prime lenses.  I have the older (not the larger Pro lenses) 17, 25, 45, and 75mm primes.  One issue I am now considering is selling some, or all, of those other prime lenses.  As a minimum I’m thinking I will sell the 17 and the 25mm lenses since they are too close to the 20mm and I haven’t used them since I got the 20mm.  My next thought would be to sell the 75mm since it is larger and heavier and sees little use, but I have occasionally used it for Homewood photography.  I will probably keep the 45mm since it is a nice small compliment to the 20mm … and I sometimes wish I also had a lightweight small prime on the order of 12mm.

I only acquired the prime lenses in order to get the large apertures for low light and to keep the weight to a minimum when I only need one focal length.  If I found a good lightweight small collapsible zoom lens, it would be fine, and I wouldn’t need the prime lenses; but I have memories of fine sand getting in my zoom lens and needing to shift to a single prime lens when in the Sahara Desert.  I would feel even a lot more comfortable if the PEN-F and the 20mm lens were weather resistant.

I also keep revisiting the use of prime lenses on the PEN-F for some of my Homewood photography.  I was experimenting the other day with this setup as shown in the following images.

The 20mm F1.7 and PEN-F combo is fine for handling the lighting conditions.  I was sitting towards the rear when I made these images.  You can see that I crop-zoomed more and more as I checked it out.  I think these would be fine for some in-house uses, so I might get a little bolder in using this setup inside.  The only caveat is that I would need to continually adjust the exposure settings depending on where/what the ultimate cropped image was to be.  That is easier done with the E-M1 Mk II so I may as well use a zoom lens on it as I have been doing.  Hmmm, another reason to maybe sell all of my prime lenses other than the 20mm Lumix.

Why another Pentax DSLR

Those of you who have been reading my blog for years know that I previously owned Pentax DSLR cameras and lenses and then gave them up.  I gave them up for basically two reasons.  One I was searching for one camera system that would enable me to take pictures of Homewood events in poor light and that would be silent; i.e. no loud flapping mirror and shutter, as well as satisfy my other desires with my personal photography.  Second, I was searching for a lighter camera and lenses that I could more easily handle with arthritis in my hands and back.  Since no Pentax DSLRs met all of those needs, I sold them and tried several other systems including a series of Fujifilm cameras and lenses, and finally settled on a micro 4/3 system and the Olympus PEN-F and E-M1 Mk II cameras.

My micro 4/3 gear meets my needs for photography of Homewood events and activities and it is a lighter, smaller system for my walks; but, I felt that something was missing.  While I wasn’t sure of what was missing, I suspected it involved the size of the sensor.  The best way to reduce camera system size and weight is to reduce the size of the sensor (as I had done) but that doesn’t come without other issues.  I just felt that I didn’t have the aperture DoF effects and resolution that I had with previous Pentax DSLR cameras.

Recently, I purchased another used Pentax K-3 and a couple of WR lenses with the idea that they would give me a “knock-about” weather resistant system that I didn’t have, and that I would try them again and see if I regained whatever I had lost after selling them before.  Since getting them, I have been making pictures with them.  The ones at the top are examples of using the Pentax gear for closer work.  I have liked the results.

I have also been using the Pentax gear for distant shots, like for the ducks in my previous posts.  The following images demonstrate another capability that gives me better results than with the micro 4/3 gear.  That is the resolution and IQ for severe crop-zooming.  I took the picture below, handheld, from my back porch at 300mm focal length (an effective 450mm).  I then severely cropped out a portion of the bird walking near the center, and then upsized it from 758 pixels wide to 2100 pixels wide to make the second image shown below.

Based on my tests so far, I have decided to keep the Pentax gear to use outdoors when I don’t have to carry or hold it for long periods.  In essence, I have given up on a one camera solution.  I will use my micro 4/3 gear and excellent fast lenses when photographing for Homewood around people and use my Pentax for some of my personal outdoor photography as long as I don’t have to roam far from my car or home.  The Pentax K-3 has the best ergonomics and fit to my hand of any camera I have ever held.  It is also the most weather resistant for the size, weight, cost, and image quality of any camera I have seen.

The problem I now have is maintaining two totally different systems, but it is one I will deal with, as long as I don’t go overboard buying lenses for both.