Friday, August 18, 2017

The mid-range deep of field is on your side!

To Be or Not To Be (as for to have or not to have...)

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm @ 42mm, 1/125sec F5.6 ISO200 Monochrome
There is the ones who are searching for the minimal deep-of-field and there is the others that are looking for a maximum deep-of-field. Portraits, sports, fashion are part of the first category and landscape, architectural, illustration are dedicated in the second type of photography. And to get such results within the traditional optical limitations i.e. maximum aperture in one case and less light diffraction in the other way you have to rely on specific cameras or/and lenses that may be expansive and far less versatile.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm @ 32mm, 1/125sec F5.6 ISO200
Since I am not very fond of big and costly photo equipment my answer to that challenge is simply the following. Why not exploring more abordable photo material and discover how to get image results that will fulfil those special tasks regarding the amount of deep-of-field (DOF) that will satisfy yours needs. Is it possible by using very basic optics such as so-call "kit" lenses? In my modest examples I have tried to outreach the usual standard imposed to these products.And dont forget in this digital world of wonders that most of the time "what you see is what you get" usually apply!

How can we definite mid-range deep-of-field (Mid-DOF)? Anything between two extreme: almost no deep-of-field or about infinite deep-of-field like in landscape photography. So Mid-DOF can be assimilated as an intermediate area between the closest and the longest(or infinite) distances. Most lenses for compact camera format (M4/3, APS-C and 24 X 36mm called wrongly "full-frame") if not all have the ability to do mid-range deep-of-field by using their smaller aperture settings such as F4.0, 5.6, 8,0 or 11.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm @ 100mm, 1/800sec F7.1 ISO 200 Monochrome
The safety gap
If you are facing many various picture taking conditions it is good to rely on a certain deep-of-field margin. This "safety gap" ensure you that critical focusing is at least obtained for the principal subject  especially considering its volume aspect for example on a face, on objects with incrustations, etc. Sometimes you won't be able or you will simply forget to double check the full clarity of your subject. This is why a mid-range deep-of-field will play as an insurance for your final image results.

Optical quality pick of the lens
Rarely you will get the optimum quality of your image by using the maximum aperture available on the lens. Furthermore we know already that the diffraction phenomena for an optics will appear by using its minimum aperture. So the best output will be registered in selecting the medium aperture such as F4.0, F5.6 or F8.0 on many lens model or even at F2.8 with lenses doted of a larger maximum aperture (F1.7, F1.8, F2.0).

Lens models that are designed with a more moderate or modest maximum aperture are reckoned to be more compact and lighter package a big advantage if you have to carry them extendely. Their smaller size mean also more discretion or less intimidating aspect. All these consideration of better mobility and less carrying fatigue will be fully appreciated for your street or traveling photo projects or any other situation that required an additional effort from your part.

Good pricing on your part
Many moderate maximum aperture lens models are far less expensive compare to their "Pro" counterparts. Often they are available on special selling package with the camera at a ridiculous add-on price tag. I can recommend you without any doubts the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R & 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ or the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm & 12-60mm both F3.5-5.6 OIS or the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 & 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 both OIS which are all excellent optical tools.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm @ 32mm, 1/320sec F5.6 ISO200
What you loose? Essentially a larger maximum aperture for a minimal DOF, a higher quality design and construction and often a better sealing protection for using the lenses in adverse conditions. But you will double or triple your price tag to get them. And you will have to bring them with you...

A picture should tell a story and that story can be very limited when you are selecting a very narrow deep of field or on the contrary the story can be very long (translate boring) if you choose an infinite deep of field. Something in between could be the best thing to do... The choice is yours but a mid-range deep of field choice is certainly on your side. And the beauty of this is already available on the most affordable (kit) zoom lenses.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Short Notice: The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO

"Mine is smaller than yours!".

You will rarely say this as an advantage especially from the macho male photographer point of view. But in the case of the Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO the story can be true considering the extended versatility and the reduce size of this model compare to the DSLR counterparts. Furthermore the same statement can be proclaimed for all the M4/3 format equipment.

For sure there is still a strong resistance to the introduction of the M4/3 format from the so-call professional intelligentsia (?). The picture quality argument has been served ad nauseam to reject the compact option. But time is passing by and moreover people are changing. The new state regarding photography and its popularity is intimacy related to its fast and versatile connection ability. Big DSLR dont seem to follow that path so extinction is not far away for them (Shame on me!!!).

The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 PRO stays a massive lens by M4/3 compact standards. But it replace two DSLR Pro lenses, the traditional 70-200mm and 300mm both with maximum aperture of F2.8. So the trade-off is still at the advantage of the Olympus Pro telephoto zoom lens model. It prevent also the necessity of changing lenses or to operate two different cameras.

Using big telephoto zoom lenses increase the unbalance tendency between the optic and the camera. That fact can be critical if you need a correct handling especially if you are panning the action not only for the effect but simply to follow the subject. Fatigue can be a highly distractive factor that will affect your ability and motivation to produce pictures. You can enhance your handling by adding an additional grip or vertical power grip on the camera. If you adopt a more static position a fix support like a monopod or a tripod will be a great help for stabilisation and a more careful picture cropping. In fact the nature of your subject will characterize your working methodology.

With such a Pro lens model with a larger maximum aperture of F2.8 the photograph will select most of the time a fairly large opening between F2.8 and 5.6. Those aperture opening will narrowed the deep-of-field and privilege the main subject. Focus can be critical at that point and autofocus or prefocus have to be set carefully. Your picture waste will also increase accordingly. That is part of the experiment. If you are a more stereotype photograph like the photojournalists you may prefer to work with DSLR equipment. I am always impressed to see those boxes full of photojournalists with identical equipment in major sports events. They only reproduce the same picture without any search of originality. This is another specie of photographs in danger of obsolescence.

As a Pro lens the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 is getting a superior quality of construction. The zoom and focusing rings are larger and will turn nicely with a simulated friction similar to old-fashioned lenses. The click-on manual option available on the focus ring is a very secure and fast way of selecting between auto or manual possibilities. By selecting the manual focusing only position you over rule the autofocus fonction and get a better focusing ring resistance similar to the previous manual focusing lenses. It replicate what is already present to the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens which is often the companion optic chosen by many. As for all the Olympus other M4/3lenses, no aperture ring are offer on that model assuming that it will done by one of the dials of the camera.

The monumental push-pull lens hood is included with the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. Operating the mechanism may require some study and practices from your part. I have worked freely with or without the lens hood (if it was possible to do so without compromising my picture quality). The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro is also doted of an already tripod/monopod accessory mount that can be rotate for horizontal or vertical shooting. The making of this piece appears to be very well designed and constructed. My suggestion is to kept it permanently on the lens and simply rotate it aside when you are handholding it alone. The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens got the weather protection which qualify the optic for an extended use in most adverse conditions. It allows you also to fully clean the lens.

Contrary of the usual mystic regarding the use of those big Pro lenses these optics are not fast handling device. They will require from the photograph an effort in preparation and during their specific manipulation. Shooting at will may expose you to some disappointment in view of the final results. With try and experience you will mastermind the care and the limit of these pro telephoto lenses such as the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. In-board camera stabilization may partially help you but the fundamentals stay the same such as selecting a higher shutter speed and panning your subject. If possible an external support such as a monopod or a tripod can help you a lot (and prevent fatigue!).

The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro can be a very fine portrait lens and many beautiful examples presented over the Web illustrate that fact. It can be also an interesting "abstraction" lens that allows many defocusing experimentations. Working with relatives short distances (for this type of lenses) will narrow the deep-of-field for bokey effect. Sport and nature photography appear to be the most spontaneous themes of preference for what the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro has been first designed et manufactured. And many users have already demonstrate the rightful of this perception. As I have already said at the beginning of this post, this telephoto zoom pro lens is in fact more versatile into a smaller package. In many ways it respond to the standards imposed in almost any photojournalistic situations. But it is not part of the Canon-Nikon 24X36mm sensor format media cartel as an Olympus M4/3 product. In my sense it a shame but it proves the stalemate of evolution of many so-call themselves "professional photographers"and extinction is not far ahead.

Finally here is a short note regarding the high selling prices of many of those "pro" lenses. Usually these professional intended optics are produced in smaller quantity with higher cost material and for a limited distribution. Therefore their price tags are positioned at a selling point difficult to reach for many of us (including obviously myself!). But if you consider the added durability of these models and their constant value over time, you will often discover that they simply follow the inflation rate over the years and the decades. It is up to you to invest yourself in that kind of heavy expense.

The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens is a very fine, constant, versatile, workhorse optic that is reliable into various conditions of uses. It is part of the traditional duo along with the Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro and also with the T(h)ree family if combined with the Olympus 7-14mm Pro. All these pro lenses will form a very competent equipment when teamed with OM-D bodies like the E-M1 and E-M5 or even the E-M10 (Original or Mark II versions of any of those models).

A complete Pro system
Olympus is very serious about its Pro line of lenses involvement and offer a complete line-up of fine, fast and sturdy optics with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8, 12-40mm F2.8, 12-100mm F4.0 IS, 40-150mm f2.8, Fisheye 8mm F1.8, 25mm F1.2 and 300mm F4.0 IS. Combined with the OM-D E-M1 (original or Mark II), an independent professional photographer will find a very competent and compact eco-system that will sustain most of its need.