I have been making pictures of recent shows for Homewood, so between that and the weather, I haven’t been off campus making pictures for my blog, but I hope to someday.
Making pictures of shows here at Homewood is a challenge and I find myself working at the limits of my cameras and lenses. The following image is an example of the limits made as an out-of-camera jpeg using the Olympus E-M1 Mk II and the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens. The image was made at ISO 6400, 93mm, f/2.8, and 1/50 sec. and is a crop of the lower right-hand portion of one image I made last night.
I manage to get-by, even if they aren’t as good as I would prefer. Actually, I would rather output them as B&W images as shown below.
My problems are multi-fold. First, I have problems with access and I have to photograph from the rear of the room and am often limited in being able to move side to side. Second, the lighting isn’t good, and I have to deal with bright lights and dark areas while keeping my shutter speed as fast as possible to stop subject motion. If I could just do them in higher contrast B&W I would try to increase the ISO even higher to stop all subject motion. I would also probably photograph at a fixed ISO level for all areas of the room rather than using the auto ISO function of the camera. I think I could then better correct for the effects of less dynamic range, color shifts, etc.
For those who are wondering, I do not use flash since that disturbs the audience and I photograph in the camera’s silent mode for the same reason. I bought the Panasonic 35–100mm f/2.8 lens rather than the Olympus PRO 40-150mm f/2.8 lens in order to keep the size and weight down, but I am considering it to gain a little more reach. That is another reason I am using micro 4/3 system gear. I also sometimes use two cameras with prime lenses in order to be able to photograph at f/1.8 when possible; but the longest I have is the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 and I have to crop and sometimes resize the images.
I have been thinking about trying a full frame camera and lens since I never had one before; but, after seeing what I can do with my micro 4/3 gear I stopped thinking about full frame sensors. The cameras are too big, too heavy, and too expensive.
I made the above uncropped images with my Panasonic 20mm lens at F1.7. I think I will continue using it for a while since I find it to be a very versatile lens. I have been using it on my E-M1 II camera while my PEN-F is being repaired by Olympus under warranty. The rubber pad under the thumb came off and I lost it on the streets of Hanover. The camera should be delivered back to me today or Monday.
As I’m writing this it is raining. I don’t know whether I will be able to make my scheduled outdoor photograph for Homewood this morning or not. Hopefully, we can make it in between showers.
Our weather has been cold, dreary, and wet for a few days and I have redirected my efforts to the inside and my micro 4/3 cameras and lenses as I get ready to return to making some images for Homewood publications in the coming couple of weeks. As such, I have been making sure that I have my Olympus PEN-F and my Olympus E-M1 Mark II set up the same since I might end up using both with different prime lenses.
Since I haven’t been using my micro 4/3 gear so far this year, I need to get back into practice using it and put the X100F away in the drawer for a while. The images I will make for Homewood publications will be in color (you can start breathing Lois), but I am also still working on a B&W style for my own preferences. I have shown a few examples of them above. I have mostly used the X100F and TG-5 for my previous B&W work so I’m also using my test images made with the micro 4/3 gear to see how they might change my B&W processing. I made all of these from color jpegs recorded on the Olympus gear since I have shifted to using the out of camera natural color jpegs for my Homewood documentary work.
I have been walking and thinking about my cameras and lenses. Is what I’m mostly using, the Olympus Pen-F with various micro 4/3 lenses, the best one to use for most of my photography? I have a Fujifilm X-T2 and many lenses that I could be using. Considering that I’m basically just recording what I see around me, I think the Pen-F fits best, mainly because of the small lightweight lenses. If the image quality in low light is good enough, I’m starting to think that it might also be a sufficient camera for recording Homewood events and activities, but with faster lenses for indoor photography.
Such a choice also seems to fit the philosophy of Kirk Tuck as he describes it in his post: Texturists vs. Contextualists. Maybe I like what he said because I tend to agree with it. Give it a read. It is long but thoughtful. One thing that Kirk mentions, is that often the type of camera and the way it is used is a function of what the photographer is able to physically photograph. That is probably an over-riding factor in my case; therefore, it has also contributed to what and how I photograph. A lack of new things to photograph has moved me to get more creative and to experiment with different compositions and processing in order to keep photographing.
This post is to see what pictures made with a micro 4/3 camera look like that were taken under less than ideal conditions. I am still experimenting with a used Olympus E-P5 camera and an all-purpose zoom lens, the Olympus 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 II. This camera/lens combination is a smaller micro 4/3 system, and it doesn’t make as good images as I can get with my better Fujifilm camera and lenses; but is it good enough? I assumed that with perfect lighting conditions and time to work with them, that pictures made with it would be fine for my blog as well as for various printed outputs.
I thought that as long as I didn’t make pictures inside under poor lighting conditions that I could make micro 4/3 gear work. But, while walking the other day I made these pictures. The first two were inside under very poor lighting. The results surprised me, especially with a lens like this slow zoom lens at the widest aperture.
These results have encouraged me and I have decided to continue with micro 4/3 gear and other lenses, but there will be a delay. I am going to return this used camera since it has a minor problem that is an irritant for some of my other types of pictures. I will then have to pick and purchase another camera.
For those who are wondering why I would want a “lesser” camera when I have the excellent Fujifilm X-T2 camera, the answer is weight when using longer focal length lenses. The micro 4/3 lenses are much smaller and lighter. If I wish to walk with a longer focal length lens, I need to drop down to a smaller sensor camera system.
I accumulated too many cameras and lenses. I primarily did that while trying to cover many different photographic situations and trying to figure out what I wanted or needed. The above are what I had when I started my recent purging, and you will note that I had a lot of overlapping systems. It doesn’t include all the other cameras I tried and sold previously. Lately, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I want to do, can do, and will do, in my future photography so that I can simplify. By-the-way, there are a lot of differences between “want to do, can do, and will do”.
The unmarked camera in the picture at the top on your left is the Canon SL1. At the time I took the picture I had black tape over the lettering. I had one other camera in addition to the above cameras that I used to take the picture. It was the Ricoh GR.
I have given up on reducing down to one camera for the time being, but I am reducing the number of different systems that I have and selling off some of the above with the goal to end up with fewer options. While trying to decide which way to go, I cycled through each of the above cameras and used them to remind myself of their individual characteristics and why I got them in the first place. Each has a particular strength and capability so my decision process came down to deciding what, or how, I will not be photographing in the future.
I have tried to pick a subject to concentrate on. I first thought it would be Hanover streets and buildings, and it might still be; but I have concerns. In some of my trials I have had minor confrontations which I have been able to walk away from so far; but I am concerned that the confrontations might increase, especially if I use a DSLR camera with a long zoom lens.
I would like to do something with a rangefinder style camera with a focal length of 35 or 50 (e) mm; but that usually means photographing people, and is not likely … in town or within Homewood. But, that doesn’t rule out such a camera for buildings, landscapes, etc.
What about other possibilities? The big one is travel photography but for several reasons, that is not likely for me. Another possibility would be nature, wildlife, etc. We have limited wildlife but it is still a possibility. There are also weather, clouds, etc. but that is limiting from an opportunity perspective. I can’t photograph the weather effects when I wish since it is dependent upon the whims of the weather.
I am still trying to decide what it is that I mainly hope to photograph, but in the meantime I am going to concentrate on what is most likely. The picture below shows what cameras and lenses I am currently using after going through my initial simplification and concentrating on what will most likely be available for me to photograph.
The Pentax gear and the Lumix LX7 have been sold. The rest have been boxed up for sale or storage. I haven’t sold the micro 4/3 gear yet since I haven’t yet decided to give up on micro 4/3. I like my micro 4/3 gear but I can’t do everything (especially in low light) that I would like as well with it. You will also see my latest acquisition, the Canon 70D with the 18 – 135 mm lens attached that I am trying for 30 days. Yes, the Canon is heavy (just slightly lighter than the K-3) but it has advantages and uses that I would rather not give up. I really like the articulated LCD and fast live-view focusing. In order to deal with the weight, I might not carry it far or often, and if necessary, I could get a 50 mm lens for it and back off using the longer, heavier focal length lenses. Currently I am trying the Canon 70D for certain uses like clouds, wildlife, some internal Homewood projects, etc., and using the Ricoh GR for my pocket camera while walking about as well as for several projects close to people, etc. where all I need is an effective 28 mm focal length.
My objective is to just use the Canon 70D and the Ricoh GR for a while as I continue to evolve my future photography over time, and later replace one or both with a camera that is better for a more limited style of photography when, or if, I decide or find I need or want to reduce further.
I am considering slipping into two different modes for much of my photography. One mode tends to be sharp, clear, and documentary. I will use this mode for my Homewood and Hanover related projects. These types of images will probably be primarily made with both my Canon SL1 using the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens and my Ricoh GR with its effective 18.3 mm lens.
Another mode that I like is similar to the images shown above. These types are limited, collapsed perspective images made with long focal length lenses like the above made with an effective 300 mm lens. Due to the necessity of a long focal length lens while at the same time desiring to keep weight and size to a minimum, I am considering using a micro 4/3 system. I used my Olympus E-PL5 with the Olympus 40 – 150 mm lens for the above images. My problem is that the camera I used, the E-PL5, doesn’t have a viewfinder and that is a limiting factor for long focal length lenses since it is hard to hold the camera-lens combination steady enough. In addition, I tend to accidentally hit buttons when I use it vertically, especially when shooting quickly.
My other option is to expand my use of the Canon camera and get a longer lens for it. The advantage is primarily using one Canon system; the disadvantage is the increased weight and size. In addition, if I found a lens I liked and could handle with the SL1 camera, I could potentially sell all of my micro 4/3 gear and Pentax gear.
And then there is the “big option” … my Pentax K-3 with the 55 – 300 mm lens. The advantage of it is that I have it and the lens is better and longer (effective 450 mm at the long end). Other advantages are that I also have a vertical grip for it and I prefer the vertical/portrait orientation with this style of image, and it a weather resistant system. The disadvantage is that the K-3 and lens and vertical grip is large and heavy.