Outdoor portraits with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens – Melbourne’s Zombie Shuffle, bokeh heaven!

Written by Gary on October 30th, 2012

Olympus released the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras in the middle of this year and I am now a proud owner of said lens.

I decided to join the thousands of zombies and photographer’s at this year’s Zombie Shuffle in Melbourne – a great fun family event with a fantastic vibe and best of all for photographers, plenty of great portrait opportunities with some fantastic makeup and costumes and their owners very willing to pose for you.

The 75mm lens is not the ideal lens for use within a crowd
, particularly when they start moving – the long focal length and lack of room to get distance from your subject combined with the very narrow depth of field, makes accurate autofocus very challenging indeed.

Nevertheless, I wanted to test out the 75mm lens to find out how to use it best.

It was a bright sunny day, but fortunately, I could choose to shoot mainly under the shade of the big elm trees and thus could shoot at f/1.8 without having to resort to using polarising filters or ND filters. When I did go into the sun, I just switched the exposure mode dial to Shutter Priority to avoid over-exposure which would otherwise occur in Aperture Priority mode set at f/1.8. The Shutter Priority mode was set to shutter speed of 1/4000th sec (so it would give the the largest aperture possible), and ISO set to auto ISO with high level of ISO 800 (in case I moved back into the shade).

When taking portraits with the E-M5 with eye detect AF mode ON, it is important to give the camera that extra split second to detect the face and the closest eye, otherwise you will end up with AF on the default AF region (for me that is the central square, and thus not always what I am wanting).

This AF technique gives you wonderful opportunities to get sharp eyes no matter where they are in the frame without having to recompose – BUT, the short lag in acquiring the face detection may mean a trigger happy finger gets out of focus shots or you may miss a critical moment – that’s a compromise but a reasonable one.

An issue with face detect AF in a Zombie shuffle is that it does not always detect faces with extreme makeovers.

Finally, the E-M5 is not great at subject tracking of subjects moving towards the camera as Zombies tend to do!

The solution when using a lens with very narrow depth of field such as the 75mm lens – just wait for them to stop then get the shot.

Check out the incredible sharpness and lovely bokeh of the blurred backgrounds of these shots taken at f/1.8!

These have had minimal post-processing in Lightroom with some vignetting added to a few.

zip it up!

A beautiful zombie who met a sad end:

zombie girl

A backlit bride:

zombie bride

and a couple more:

zombie 1

zombie 2


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