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Concert photography from the back row

Friday, December 9th, 2011

We all want a little memento of the concerts we pay lots of money to attend and enjoy but taking a reasonable photo from 100m or more away is challenging given the constraints imposed by the concert venue – in particular – most only allow photos from “small digital cameras” and ban videos.

Don’t bother bringing a dSLR or large lenses – the security staff will almost certainly ask you to put it away.

Simple point and shoot cameras with their tiny sensors and minimal telephoto zoom reach are not going to get very good quality shots unless you are lucky enough to get to the mosh pit near the stage.

My solution which pushes the venue limits and may still require some discretion, in particular, you do not want security staff to be given the impression your are doing long sequences of video as that would be banned no matter what camera or lens you use.

Camera choice:

The best compromise then is a small, compact mirrorless camera with a built-in electronic viewfinder (you do NOT want to be distracting everyone with bright light coming from an LCD screen – use the viewfinder to do everything).

I use a Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera although even this is probably getting a bit big for venue staff – a smaller mirrorless camera such as a Olympus E-PL3 with the optional viewfinder may be a better option, and the Olympus cameras have the added benefit of built-in image stabilisation which can be useful in this situation where you will be using relatively slow shutter speeds of 1/125th second for 200-270mm telephoto reach at ISO 800.

The newer Sony NEX mirrorless cameras (eg. Sony NEX 5n or NEX 7) could be used if they have an electronic viewfinder but they have the disadvantage compared to Micro Four Thirds in that the same size lens does not give you as much zoom – and for this, you want as much telephoto reach as possible from your lens. Furthermore, they do not have built-in image stabiliser like the Olympus cameras do.

Lens choice:

Next step is to choose a lens to use which will give you enough telephoto reach without being too large that venue staff will object.

My preference is a legacy manual focus Olympus OM lens with wide aperture.

Olympus OM because they are among the most compact lenses you can get.

Manual focus lens because, I like to manually focus and then just leave it carefully in that focus position so I can just pick the camera up, turn it on and I am ready to capture a key moment without having to worry about focus – autofocus lenses may struggle in many concert lighting conditions and may cause you to miss your shot.

The Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 lens is probably the largest lens you can get away with and this gives you sufficient telephoto reach for a large concert venue while the f/2.8 aperture allows you to keep ISO around 800 and shutter speed around 1/125th – 1/200th sec.

If you know you will be a bit closer to the stage, the Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8 lens is smaller and much more likely to be acceptable to venue staff.

Next step is to set your camera up.

Firstly make sure it will NOT be firing the flash – flash will be useless at such distances, it will drain your battery and it is really, really annoying to everyone else.

Set your ISO to ISO 800 – a lower ISO will mean shutter speed will be too slow for hand held telephoto shots and you will end up with too much camera shake.

If your camera is an Olympus, set image stabiliser to the focal length of the lens you are using – assuming it is a legacy lens such as an Olympus OM lens.

Next, set your exposure mode to MANUAL and with your lens wide open (eg. f/2.8), take a few shots at different shutter speeds until the exposure of the faces on the stage under the stage lighting looks adequate – this will be something like 1/125th sec.

Finally, use magnified view to accurately focus your lens on the stage.

Then you are ready to go.

These images have not been cropped and have not had any post-processing (except colour adjustment in the last one) other than resize to web size and the default Lightroom export sharpening for screen.

Elton John

Elton John in concert, Melbourne 2011

Taken from a long way back using Panasonic GH-1 with Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 lens.

Elton John

Elton John

The Victorian goldfields of the 1850′s gold rush in infrared – Canon 1D Mark III with Olympus OM 21mm

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

IR goldfields

Click image for larger view.

Hoya R72 filter. ISO 200, 8sec exposure and I think it was about f/8.

No modification to image other than convert to B&W and minor levels adjustment.

Note that this OM 21mm f/3.5, unlike the other less wide angle OM lenses, creates a radial CA-like effect visible at high contrast edges such as at the tops of the trees. This OM lens is a beautiful compact ultra wide but alas is not so suitable for IR work.

The Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 on Micro Four Thirds – a nice, compact combination!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

The Micro Four Thirds camera system is getting some very nice lenses, but in the telephoto range, there are still none faster than f/5.6 at the 135mm native focal length although there is a Lumix 100-300mm f/4-5.6 OIS  coming next year which will give ~f/4.0.

You can use a Four Thirds ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 or the superb ZD 150mm f/2.0 lens, but neither will AF on GH-1, and will AF slowly on an Olympus Micro Four Thirds, not to mention, they are both really too large for this format camera.

Here is where the beautiful compact Olympus OM lenses can come in (even better if you have an Olympus camera so they become image stabilised).

The Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 has become a permanent fixture in my Micro Four Thirds walk-a-round kit as it gives you 2 extra stops of aperture compared to the Lumix 14-140mm HD lens which allows faster shutter speeds to stop moving subjects better, allow lower ISO for low light video on a tripod, and allow more background blurring.

Here are a few examples of it hand held on the Panasonic GH-1, and thus without image stabilisation, all at f/2.8, no sharpening or cropping:

Sleeping on the edge:

seagulls

Sulphuric acid and the peacock:

peacock

African musician at Melbourne’s Moomba festival:

musician

And to test the bokeh, it does quite well with annoying background highlights with minimal hard ringing:

tree bokeh test

If you do not wish to have 270mm equivalent focal length field of view in your hand at f/2.8, you can opt for the slightly smaller, but easier to hand hold without IS, the Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8:

The Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8 with OM-EOS adapter on a EOS-M43 adapter (yep, that gives 200mm field of view at f/2.8 – now that’s what I’m talking about for compact size!):

OM100mm

Memo to Panasonic and Olympus: PLEASE give us a compact telephoto with wide aperture, and if it is a Lumix, it will need to have OIS – in fact why not make a 100mm f/2.0-2.8 macro OIS and a 150mm f/2.8 OIS.

Panasonic GH-1 at Melbourne’s Moomba Festival hit by a once in 10 years super-cell hailstorm

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

It was a nice warm, albeit humid March day in Melbourne yesterday, so I decided to pack my Panasonic GH-1 , Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 and Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 lens and catch the train into the city to enjoy Melbourne’s annual Moomba Festival – a nice multicultural family event – Moomba is Australia’s largest free community festival and one of the longest running festivals in Australia.

There was no evidence of storms on the horizon, not on radars.

After a bite to eat  in our great little laneway cafe’s, I headed down to the festival region along the banks of the Yarra river.

I decided to try out my OM 135mm lens wide open at f/2.8 and stood some 30-40m from this African musician – I think his name is Jali Buba Kuyateh from the online programme (I did crop this image by removing about a third):

OM 135mm

and at the BMX bike stunt competition, I used the Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4 with the lens pre-focused so I could get nicely sharp shots with relatively shallow depth of field of this lad doing a jump on his bike (again about 1/3rd cropped out):

bike stunt

Then, with little warning, all hell broke loose, with sudden onset of golf-ball sized hailstones and cyclonic wind and rain which dumped 33mm in 30min causing flash flooding and cancellation of the festival for the day – this was the most dynamic super-cell thunderstorm to hit Melbourne’s CBD in 7 years – it dumped 66mm in 30min on nearby Flemington Racecourse where the Melbourne Cup is held.

Check out this short 720p HD video I posted to YouTube at the peak of the storm using the Leica D lens from the “safety” of a crowded, small gazebo – not protection at all for the lightning strikes, but we were lucky in that regard and had no other choice for better shelter.

This is freakin’ awesome man!

freakin awesome

And that Panasonic Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens was freakin’ awesome too!

See more of my photos from the event here.

See photos from other people hosted on The Age here.

Will I dare go back again today given that similar storms are forecast again for today?

ps.. my website was down for several hours after this event as the storm knocked out power to my internet provider’s data centre – apologies for that!

Now when will Olympus or Panasonic introduce a weather-proofed Micro Four Thirds camera and lens?

Micro Four Thirds and ability to blur the background

Monday, December 28th, 2009

One of the common misconceptions is that you need a large sensor to blur the background, and the 2x crop factor of the Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras makes it harder to blur the background.

It is true that the 2x crop sensor means depth of field for the same subject magnification will be deeper for the same aperture, thus the depth of field at the same subject magnification using a 25mm f/1.4 lens will be similar to using a 50mm f/2.8 lens on a 35mm full frame camera.

HOWEVER, the mathematics of background blurring is DIFFERENT to the mathematics of depth of field.

Let’s have a look at this visually.

I have set up a little Christmas themed scene and aimed to keep the subject the same size in each image (the large one is ~8″ tall, while the middle one on which focus is set is ~5″ tall) and see what happens to the blurring of the background Christmas tree ornaments.

The Panasonic GH-1 makes this a little easier as you can use a native 3:2 image aspect ratio, the same as on my Canon 1D Mark III which has a larger sensor (1.3x crop factor compared with 2x for the GH-1).

Let’s have a look at what the Canon 1D Mark III can do with an Olympus OM 35mm f/2.8 lens at f/2.8 giving an effective focal length of 46mm and similar DOF to 46mm f/3.6 on a 35mm camera:

1DMIII 35mm f/2.8

Now for the same effective focal length on a Panasonic GH-1, firstly, an Olympus OM 24mm f/2.8 lens at f/2.8:

GH1 24mm f/2.8

Not bad, the background blurring is almost as good as in the Canon image (note also the different colour rendering even though using AWB and default picture modes).

But let’s see what we can achieve on the GH-1 with a Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens which in DOF terms should be similar to a 50mm f/2.8 lens on a 35mm full frame camera:

GH1 leicaD 25mm f/1.4

Wow, beautifully smooth bokeh, and much smoother than one would expect from the DOF equivalences alone.

And for comparison, the GH-1 with OM 35mm lens at f/2.8 (equiv. to 70mm focal length in 35mm film terms), with camera moved further away to maintain same subject magnification:

GH1 OM 35mm f/2.8

Other than the change in perspective (ie. less background visible) compared with the Canon image at the top of this post, the background blurring is very similar.

This is why so many people are loving the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens – it is sharp, very compact, much cheaper than the Leica 25mm, perfect for social events and candid photography, gives a fast aperture for low light work and to top it off, allows nice background blurring at f/1.7 – better than a Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens and similar to, if not better than the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens and the f/1.7 aperture nullifies any high ISO advantage of the larger format cameras when they are using f/2.8 or f/4 lenses.

Of course, Canon 1D users can resort to 35mm f/1.4 lenses, and Canon / Nikon full frame users can resort to a 50mm f/1.2 or f/1.4 lens to give even more background blurring at this effective focal length, but the result is a much bigger, heavier, more intimidating, less discrete and more expensive system.

Olympus OM 135mm on the Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

The Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera comes with a very expensive, unique HD video optimised, 14-140mm OIS lens, so why would I even bother putting a cheap $100 2nd hand Ebay Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 lens on it?

As nice as the 14-140mm lens is, there is one major problem for me – its aperture at 140mm is f/5.6 which means I am not able to blur the background as much as I would like.

Now I could use the Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD which I love, or the brilliant Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L lens, but these are both big and heavy, not to mention expensive.

When I go hiking, I prefer to take a few lens options but still travel light, here is where the Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 comes in.

The beauty of the Olympus OM lenses are that they are so compact and light – much more so than Nikon F, Canon FD, Canon EF or any other 35mm SLR lens.

Of course, I would not use this for sports or action shots unless I could pre-focus – accurate manual focus even with the very nice MF assist of the Panasonic GH-1 still takes me 1 sec or so.

But would this lens perform wide open?

On Friday, I decided to test it out on one of my bush walks in a mallee tree forest and although the image below is not going to win any prizes, it does show how nice even a busy distracting background can become. There has been no PS sharpening but some toning/contrast applied.

The background would have appeared even smoother had I not applied a bit of contrast, but the image needed a bit of contrast given the overcast day. Also, note that these were taken in the GH-1′s uncropped 16:9 aspect ratio – another great feature of the GH-1, just wish it had an in-built image stabiliser too like the Olympus cameras.

f/2.8

Compare the background with that taken at f/5.6 which would be similar had I used the Panasonic 14-140mm lens wide open:

f/5.6

I was very pleased with the performance of the lens wide open, although it will perform better at f/4.

Remember though, using this lens is giving you telephoto reach of a 270mm lens on a 35mm camera, while its f/2.8 aperture is allowing a fast shutter speed – even in overcast conditions as with the above, shutter speed was 1/2500th sec at f/2.8, ISO 400.

More photos by lens used here.

Having fun with the Panasonic GH-1 – an afternoon in the city with a few lenses

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

It was fairly poor weather for doing anything much this Winter’s Sunday in Melbourne, so I decided it was time to have a real play with a few lenses on the Panasonic GH-1 – if you hadn’t missed it, the latest awesome Micro Four Thirds camera.

Now the GH-1 whilst a very versatile camera with high image quality and HD video to boot, is not everyone’s camera – it’s small and light (so big hands may have trouble handling it), it has an EVF instead of an optical viewfinder (so if you need to be inspired by the beauty of the optical view of your subject, you might have to change your visual creativity), and it’s not going to do continuous AF on fast moving subjects.

BUT, I had NO trouble holding it in one hand for 5-6 hours of casual walking around the city today whilst listening to my iPOD and grabbing a nice meal and very nice glass of Pinot Noir half way (although I suspect my hands were more shaky after that when trying the magnified view MF assist with the OM 100mm lens!).

Nevertheless, I easily carried the GH-1, Lens baby lens, Lumix 14-140mm HD lens (neither of these lenses I actually used today), Leica D 25mm f/1.4, Olympus OM 21mm f/3.5, Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8 and Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L lenses, all in a normal cheap lightweight hiking backpack (so I don’t get mugged on the train home at night!). I have the GH-1 in a Lowepro TopZoom 1 bag which is kept inside the backpack and prevents the lenses and camera from rubbing against each other.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well all these lenses worked wide open (you don’t get a choice with the Canon until someone comes up with an adapter that will allow you to change its aperture), and how easy they were to manually focus with the MF assist (although I did keep hitting the WB button by mistake – but that will come with practice!).

I hardly noticed I was using the electronic viewfinder instead of an optical dSLR one, and it really came into it’s own in the really low light times after sunset in the dark alleyways, and even better, the contrast-detect AF worked very fast on the Leica lens even in those light conditions when I suspect phase contrast dSLR AF might be struggling!

My only issue with the EVF is that it sometimes kept turning itself off when I half-pressed the shutter, not sure if that was a bug, or if I had moved my eye so the eye detection sensor was thinking I had moved my face away from the camera.

I did miss the built-in image stabiliser of the Olympus cameras, however, the GH-1′s markedly improved high ISO performance made up for that – it didn’t bother me pushing it to ISO 1600, but I do wish Panasonic would add a built-in IS which could be used when optical IS is not available – PLEASE!

I decided I would put one lens on and stick with that for a while before changing to the next – this would limit me changing lenses but more importantly, force me to think in terms of that lenses capabilities and ignore other options.

While I used the lens hood on the Leica for the 1st session at midday, I decided to try without it for the dusk shots. A lens hood was used for the Canon 135mm lens (as that lenses suffers from significant internal flare which lowers contrast and so I ALWAYS use a lens hood with that one!), but I didn’t use a lens hood with the OM lenses. All lenses had a UV or protective filter on.

As I wanted to show how this camera would work for most people, all shots were taken with AWB in jpeg only with default camera image settings and most were in aperture priority mode, and some I under-exposed on purpose. All were hand held. No sharpening applied to any of the ones taken today!

One problem I do find with the GH-1 is that my index finger often accidentally alters the front dial (which in aperture priority mode becomes the exposure compensation dial) and this can be very annoying and I had to continually monitor the exp. compensation value in the viewfinder.

I loved using all these lenses, the Leica was superb wide open at f/1.4 and will be a very useful lens for general work, particularly in low light.

The Olympus OM 21mm f/3.5 makes a great compact street lens giving 42mm focal length in 35mm terms and the ability to just set your focus distance at about 6-10 foot and set aperture to f/3.5-5.6, ISO to 400, and exposure to aperture priority and then you really don’t need to worry too much about focusing for those candid unexpected shots ala Leica rangefinder style of shooting.

The OM 100mm makes a nice compact 200mm lens in 35mm terms but I suspect it will be best used at f/4-5.6, but at least with the EVF auto gain, you don’t have to keep opening the aperture to focus as you do on optical digital systems. You do have to hit the AF button to go into MF assist to ensure accurate focus with this lens – as you must do with the Canon 135mm lens, although you can get reasonably accurate focus on these telephotos without MF assist – but its better with MF assist.

Now, I was not on a mission to make memorable photos today, but just to push the lenses a bit and see what this camera can really do, so here are some of the results – according to lens used.

A couple of the portrait orientation ones are shown here.

Olympus OM 21mm – dark alley graffiti art:

OM 21mm

Leica D 25mm after sunset at f/1.4 ISO 400 1/125th sec in 16:9 image aspect ratio – I must say, I love that capability of the GH-1 to change aspect ratios without just cropping images, as you suddenly gain a bit more width to your lens, and this format is more suited to telling stories.

Leica

One other little bug seemed to be that “check lens is attached properly” error which turns off the display – this came up only once – when I was attempting to AF the Leica 25mm to its closest focus for the flowers and I was a bit too close.

To see all these shots from today’s solo photowalk, see here.

Panasonic GH-1 with Canon EOS, Lensbaby and Olympus OM lenses

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Still waiting on my Panasonic Four Thirds to Micro Four Thirds adapter, but I do have a Canon EOS to MFT adapter, and an Olympus OM to Canon EOS adapter, so I thought I would post a few pics of the various combinations – actual photos taken with the combos will come soon.

The Micro Four Thirds system is the ONLY system other than Canon EOS which can use Canon EOS lenses, although as there is no aperture control on these lenses you can only use them at wide open aperture, and in manual focus at 2x crop.

The Four Thirds system would require a 5.5mm adapter to allow infinity focus with Canon EOS and such a thin adapter is not able to be made, so for the time being, you can only get Micro Four Thirds adapters to allow EOS lenses.

A cool example, is using the brilliant new, and very expensive, Canon 17mm TS-E tilt-shift lens. This lens obviously is 17mm on a full frame dSLR, and becomes 22mm on my Canon 1DMIII, but having the GH-1, adds to its versatility by allowing it to be used as a 34mm tilt shift lens and with HD video capability.

17mm TSE

The Canon EOS 90mm f/2.8 TS-E tilt shift lens becomes 180mm focal length field of view and has potential uses for portraiture and macro work where one wishes to selectively focus on a subject by tilting the focal plane and giving nice bokeh.

90mm TSE

The LensBaby Composer with its movable central sharp region surrounded by blur in EOS mount works very nicely indeed and allows you to simplify your videos by blurring out unwanted distractions.

Lensbaby

Now, the nice compact Olympus OM prime lenses such as the OM 21mm f/3.5 which becomes a nice 42mm street photography lens.

OM21mm

I won’t bore you with the other nice OM options such as OM 50mm f/3.5 macro, OM 100mm f/2.8, OM 200mm f/4, but just for fun, here is the GH-1 with the Olympus OM 300mm f/4.5. Now, this becomes a 600mm field of view and should give good results at f/5.6. BUT, in addition, you can use 2x digital zoom in HD video mode to give 1200mm field of view – you might be wanting a tripod for this focal length reach though!

OM 300mm

While it may be most efficient to have just a EOS to MFT and a FT to MFT adapter, then use adapters for other systems which mate with EOS or FT, a more stable method is to just use one adapter in the train, and new adapters are appearing all the time for Micro Four Thirds such as Leica M, and just recently, Cosina have announced Nikon F and Pentax K adapters.

The Micro Four Thirds system is THE MOST ADAPTABLE digital camera system available because of its short lens flange to sensor distance – its just so versatile, and with the absence of the mirror, we should be getting a range of bodies with different designs and functions – I would love a silent electronic shutter version, and an infrared-enabled version in addition to the cool retro design of the Olympus E-P1.

John Foster has posted his tests of Olympus OM lenses on the Olympus E-P1 here – these should be similar to results on the GH-1.

If you want to see more images of MFT cameras using rangefinder lenses, see here.

For example, Panasonic G1 with M42 adapter, macro bellows, and Pentax Super-Multi-Coated Macro-Takumar 50/4:
Panasonic G1 with M42 adapter, macro bellows, and Pentax Super-Multi-Coated Macro-Takumar 50/4

This is one exciting system, I can’t wait until we get some more HD lenses, or at least a contrast-detect 50mm f/2.0 macro lens for nice portraits with AF.

Oh, and did I mention how much FUN this system is?

AF confirm lens adapters – Olympus/Nikon/Canon/Leica/etc

Friday, November 28th, 2008

I have just received an AF confirm lens adapter for Olympus OM lens onto Four Thirds (Olympus/Panasonic) dSLR bodies from RJ Camera Accessories Ebay store.

I am using this on my Olympus E-510 but it should work the same on other Olympus cameras and he supplies other models for other model cameras.

It seems reasonably well built and certainly seems to fit more solidly than my last Chinese-made OM adapter.

The great thing about this adapter is that when you are manually focusing (as you have to do with legacy lenses on dSLR bodies), you get a AF confirmation light and if in S-AF or C-AF mode, you also get a very useful audible beep when subject is in focus which allows you to concentrate a little less on focus and watch the subject and composition.

When I first put it on, it didn’t seem to work but after removing it and replacing it and half-writing a letter back to the supplier, it suddenly started working.

If it is working properly, when the viewfinder data becomes active by half-pressing the shutter, the aperture defaults to f/2.8 and focal length to 50mm irrespective of which lens or aperture you have on. He states the adapter can be programmed to change these – I’m waiting to find out how (ps.. he emailed me same day with detailed instructions on how to program it) – it will not effect image quality, only EXIF data, although you can adjust back-focus setting.

When in an AF mode on the camera, you half-press the shutter while manually adjusting focus on the lens and when subject comes into focus, the green focus confirmation light in the viewfinder comes on and stays on (not blinking) and the camera will beep.

When in manual focus mode on the camera, you don’t get a beep (unless you set manual mode to m:3 – my favorite setting and use the AFL button to “focus confirm”) but focus confirmation light seems to work without half-pressing shutter (although you do need to half press the shutter to activate viewfinder data which stays active for a few seconds).

The AF confirmation works in apertures down to f/8 inclusive (amazingly, it even worked down to f/16 in low light on contrasty carpet pattern).

This has made using my Olympus OM 200mm f/4 lens that much more usable on the E510 as I can now quite quickly accurately focus even in relatively low light (indoors on a heavy cloudy day) and with the image stabiliser set (to 200mm) use shutter speeds down to 1/50th sec hand held (1/30th sec at a push if you are really steady) which is not bad for a 400mm equivalent focal length magnification. The nice thing about this lens is that it is very light and compact for a 400mm reach and it is very usable leaving the aperture at f/5.6 instead of wide open at f/4.

Here is a previous blog showing how good the Om 200mm lens is on the E510 hand held when a car caught on fire in a main shopping strip.

Now you could use the beautiful ZD 50-200mm lens instead and get sharper images and AF but it is quite a big, heavy intimidating lens when used at 200mm.

Alternatively, you could use the very compact, light ZD 40-150mm kit lens for perhaps better image quality but it only gives 300mm reach not 400mm and widest aperture is f/5.6 which can be limiting.

Another option is the much loved ZD 70-300mm lens which gives even more reach but AF is said to be a bit slow at the long end and images are not quite as sharp – but what other camera allows a compact, light 600mm equivalent focal length hand held at f/5.6 with IS in the camera?

Now if only Olympus would make a compact, light, high quality ZD 200mm f/2.8-4 lens I probably would not bother with the OM lens or any other lens on the Olympus cameras given the optical resolution of the ZD lenses far surpasses any lens made for 35mm film cameras that I am aware of.

Post script:

In actual use, it is still difficult with moving targets, the beep on AF confirm is difficult to hear in noisy environments and you need to turn the focus ring slowly and watch the viewfinder AF confirm light which detracts from composing and timing your shot.

For static subjects where you have time, the AF confirm makes a BIG difference.

Superman fails! Opportunistic photojournalism with OM 200mm lens

Friday, November 14th, 2008

I was on a brief holiday sojourn to Lorne, one of our beautiful coastal resort towns in Victoria, Australia when a car burst into flames in the main shopping strip just as I arrived.

I quickly parked the car at a safe distance and grabbed my Olympus E510 and Olympus OM 200mm f/4 manual focus lens to give a nice 400mm effective focal length so I could keep my distance and still get close shots.

None of these shots have been cropped or PS – just resized for the web. Click on the photos to see a 1000 pixel wide version.

In this shot it appears like the guy in the white shirt is asking superman why isn’t he putting the fire out – I will let you work out a version of the story line.

where u going superman

and moving in a bit closer….

car

oh.. and in case you are wondering, the guy is wearing a surf wet suit – the surf beach is only about 100m from the shops.

and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) arrive and the Captain watches his female junior carefully as she does a great job in putting it out.

fire girl.

More photos of this event can be found here.

More photos of use of the OM 200mm lens on an E510 can be found here.

For those who can’t afford the wonderful but big, relatively expensive Olympus ZD 50-200mm SWD lens, and can manage with manual focus, the Olympus OM 200mm f/4 lens works very well and is quite compact and light. Of course, with the Olympus E510/520/E30/E3, image stabilisation is provided. Although I do not have one, it would be worth getting an adapter with a AF-confirm chip on it to assist with manual focus.