Hiking with the Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens – what is it good for, how can it best be used?

Written by Gary on October 3rd, 2015

Following on from my previous post on Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 lens with MC14 1.4x teleconverter for hiking, last night I ventured out on another solo sunset bushwalk on a different track through the gorges – but this time I brought some head lamps to get me back in the dark!

For the hike, I only took 2 cameras and lenses as with the last walk, but this time did not use the MC14 teleconverter, and again both cameras were carried on my waist belt which really takes the weight of my back which is fantastic – but see my last post for issues with this method.

The Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens on Micro Four Thirds equates to an ultra-wide angle 14-28mm zoom on full frame, and thankfully, the f/2.8 aperture and image stabilisation provided by the Olympus OM-D E-M5 allows when to keep shooting hand held in the gorges after sunset whilst keeping ISO at only 400 which allowed for f/5 shots for adequate depth of field and 1/6th to 1/3rd sec shots hand held even though my heart was pumping from the exertion and a little fear of heights as I stood on the edge of a 100m sheer drop to get some of the shots!

I have previously discussed the specs of this lens and compared it to the Olympus ZD 7-14mm f/4 lens for Four Thirds dSLRs in which I point out that thanks to the shorter sensor-lens flange distance by removing the clunky mirror of dSLRs, wide angle lenses can now be made much smaller and lighter – this lens is one stop faster at f/2.8 yet is substantially smaller, lighter and less expensive than the Four Thirds version.

What can you use such a wide angle lens for and how can you use it to get the best visual impact?

Ultra wide angle lenses do take a bit of practice to make the most of them and are not to everyone’s tastes but can really add an important tool in your kit, even for hiking.

Most people would initially think, great it lets me shoot really wide shots so I don’t have to bother with panoramic stitching. Whilst that is true, you will end up with lots of sky which can be boring.

A better use is to find an interesting foreground object (these are not always easy to find on Australian bushwalks) and ensure focus is on that subject, and stop down the aperture to give enough depth of field to give the object context and perspective of the landscape background.

Other uses for a lens like this include:

  • ultra wide angle shots of alley way graffiti art – often alleys do not allow one to get far enough back with other lenses to capture the entire artwork – this lens will, and as alleyways tend to be dark, you can use this lens hand held in darker conditions than most other camera combinations.
  • Milky Way astroscapes like the one I captured in the next post after the walk at the railroad crossing – these require a wide aperture lens (f/2.8 or wider), a ultra-wide angle lens (14mm full frame) which is very well corrected for coma aberrations, purple fringing, etc which would otherwise make for ugly star shapes – this 7-14mm lens is really very nice for this.
  • indoors – the lens is awesome for available light real estate agent shots and architecture
  • creative works

Let’s see what I managed to get on my very hurried hike in low light:

First an overall view of the gorge after sunset. Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens at 7mm f/5 1/3rd sec hand held on top of a sheer drop down a gorge after sunset, ISO 400.

gorge

The sheer drop down the cliff, Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens at 7mm f/5 1/5th sec hand held:

gorge

The narrow walking trail of the spur, Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens at 7mm f/5 ¼ sec hand held:

gorge

The narrow walking trail of the spur, Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens at 7mm f/5 1/6th sec hand held:

gorge

More uses for the 7-14mm:

Forest canopy at sunset, Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens at 14mm f/4 1/60th sec hand held.

forest canopy at sunset

Here is how it performs in a dark alley at dusk:

Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens at 9mm f/3.5 1/3rd sec hand held.

alley graffiti art

And some more bokeh shots with the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8:

62mm at f/2.8:

gorge

70mm f/2.8:

gorge

 

 

Comments Closed

Comments are closed.