Short Splash Comment: Autonomy of (digital) cameras have never been so good!

No contest about memory cards that have already a fabulous
picture (file) capacity compare to traditional films.

Very often people tend to refer on recent past history in photography. For example in pretending that older (film) cameras were having more or autonomy than their modern digital personifications. While it is true to say that the in-board  exposure cell battery of these cameras was able to last a very long time (more than one year in many cases), are we comparing the right think?

Because autonomy in my book is referring to the ability of taking pictures on a continuous flux without any interruption (like a camera reset of any kind). In the case of the digital cameras this occurence will apply mainly when you are substitute an exhausted battery for a freshly charged new one. Rarely it apply in this modern age for a replacement of a fully loaded memory card by an empty one since their capacity have increased dramatically in the past decade.

Manufacturer proclaims more than 300 exposures with this unit but when adding
 the optional vertical power grip you will simply double that number…

Digital cameras (including mirrorless) will give you a typical autonomy of 250 exposures or more per battery pack charge. At that point you can substitute the battery pack by a newer in less than one minute. And the battery pack is reusable once it get a full charge … which is not the case of a used film! Speaking economic a 36 exposures film including basic processing will cost you something like $10-12 assuming that you will thereafter scan the film to further process your image for print or to share the result (because traditional and chemical printing is costly and far less flexible). Per comparaison the cost of a new battery pack is about 7 or 8 times the selling price of a film and again it is reusable several, several times!

Loading a 135 film? Just follow these simple steps!

Just make sure the film tip is fully engage but not too much!

Wind the camera until Number 1 position…

(All pictures from Nikon FM Manual)

And dont forget to ajust your ASA (ISO)!

Nikon F3 HP / MD4: 
A faithful combination of the golden era of the SLRs
(Picture from web source)

Now a last question for all the happy triggers of this world: What is the autonomy of a 36 exposures film in term of working time? Lets say you are using a Nikon F3 HP equipped with its MD4 motor drive (with the very useful electric rewing option) and your shooting rate is 5 frames per second. Your film cartridge will last around 7 seconds of recording time not much more. So very short burst are recommended if you dont want to change fil too often. And not instant review of your pictures is possible with film cameras.
With a digital camera it will depend essentially of the memory card capacity or the camera memory buffer capacity or the battery autonomy. But you can be sure it will surpass largely the traditional film camera abilities.

In short digital cameras are better photographic devices with added autonomy and more accurate and oriented results. So next time take a little longer to apprehend and do your picture and … bring an extra battery pack, That way you will face all the odds!

1989: Nikon F3 HP good times with 36 
exposures per film cartridge autonomy…
Refill those pockets!
2017: Olympus OM-D E-M5 II with 600 
exposures (accentuations) autonomy!
Scotty, Beam me up!

And as a bonus feature: How to load a film into the Nikon F3 HP (Extracted from Nikon F3 Manual). That was part of the entry exam to be qualified as a true photojournalist!




The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro: Doing more than macro in M4/3 format.

It may be the most curious looking lens of the entire Olympus optical line up for M4/3 format camera. Strange may be also another epitheth to describe it. Its physical aspect with its non-obvious function dials are giving to the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro lens a more confidential reputation based for a good part to its specialized first task intended i.e. macrophotography.

Close focusing photography has been always of a great interest for me as for many of us. Subjects in that field are infinite with various points of view. On a purely documentary side doing macro photography was at first on the scientific priority but very early on following the first spreading of the new medium we have seen beautiful artistic black and white and later on colourful macrophotographic pictures. We may qualify them as the prelude of abstract photography.


Although many fine lenses designed for more general purpose can produce very fine close focusing pictures camera and lens manufacturers had soon beging to offer specific macro lenses calculated mostly to cope the flat field exigence of reproduction purpose. That trend has been observed throughout the technical evolution of the photographic equipment. Today macro lenses are current part of many photo arsenal of photographers around the world.

Into the M4/3 format lenses you can rely on different models part of the Olympus and Panasonic line-up. All of them are exceptional contenders of their own. Normal focal ones such as the 30mm length are more suited to be versatile as macro and everyday lenses. Long focal counterparts such as 45mm and 60mm may represent a more powerful alternative for doing very small and near object or better tool for studio and reproduction works.

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro represent a very interesting lens with close focusing ability at first and unprecedented characteristics such as its longer focal length and its all-weather construction. With an angle of view of 20 degrees it surpass many short telephoto for portrait work. Even with a maximum aperture of F2.8 it can be use for action photography in normal daylight condition. Of course close focusing can be its primary advantage combined by the fact that its longer focal length prevent most of its potential obstruction of light on the close subject.

Maybe the most spectacular part of the Olympus 60mm Macro is its oddly aspect if you compare it with others lens designs. But in the past many macro lenses had and still have that kind of visual aspect. I have to concede that it is not the most discrete optic I have ever used.

As for most telephoto macro lenses the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro is a very creative tool and versatile because of its close focusing ability. If you accept the fix focal length factor you will find many ways to produce very original pictures that emphasize your main subject. As usual telephoto lenses can be also very competent for doing landscape or urbanscape photography with their dramatizing compression of many subjects in one frame.

The Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens is a small optic which is part a the traditional M4/3 format line of prime lenses. With a focal length of 60mm it is magnification factor of 2.4X compare to a standard lens (25mm) with an angle of view of 20 degrees which is qualified the optic for portrait or for small telephoto work. At 185g it is also a very light package easy to bring with you as an extra lens but you have to pay more attention to your stability in use since it is not possible to count on its own weight inertia (like bigger telephoto counterparts), In that case the camera stabilisation option is a welcome feature.

Manual focusing can be performed nicely through its large and very smooth focusing ring. Using the 60mm with the OM-D E-M5 II and its EVF (Electronic ViewFinder) is easy and the image is clear and accurate in most photographic situations. Focusing speed is surprisely responsive for this type of (macro) optic and it qualify the 60mm Macro lens for all other subjects associated with the use of a medium telephoto.  And yes the use of the limiter dial can save you time (and picture opportunities!) if it is applied in the good working context. The reproduction ratio scale is an amusing gadget also.

Typical third-party screw-in (46mm) metal lens hood
for telephoto. (Always check for trace of vignetting)

There is always that annoying discussion about the utility of using a lens hood with the 60mm since Olympus does not provide one with the lens (which is also very annoying…) My answer is simple: if you can afford to buy and bring one dont prevent yourself to do so. I have found the Olympus official lens hood to be a clever design (like the one that came right from the box for the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F.2.8 Pro model !) but you may consider some third party options less pricy and less bulk
y available through the Web. Essentially lens hoods are preventing some lens internal reflections (flare) especially when you are pointing in direction of punctual light sources.

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro is a very fine lens as it is intended to be. We are reaching pro level image results. Picture are crisp and rightly detailed. Colours are accurate and follow the Olympus expected bias without any adaptation compare to the other lenses of the Olympus line up. Out of focus areas are pleasant even considering the moderate maximum aperture of the lens.
The macro ability of this 60mm is flawless and enhanced by the longer focal length that reduce the risk of interfering with the subject light.

In bref it is fair to consider the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro lens as an all-around medium telephoto optic with very handy macro possibilities but also nice other abilities such as for spontaneous photography, portrait or even action subject.


Choose your lens first! … then look for the camera body

The Lens Factor

For must of us it is a commun and general tendency to select first a camera model and then combine an optic to it. After all it is the camera body that will register your picture and no picture mean no photography! Let say that is a bit similar to human nature with no possible image memory without a brain to sustain it. But think about the essential role that have to play your eyes during that process. Without them no image at all (except your own virtual in mind imagery of course…)

So the lens role is equally important in photography. And often the most neglect one when a lot of people buy a new camera. Many camera manufacturers have comprehend the idea and usually propose a combo kit lens with good optical performances but cheap overall construction. It is also intended that the kit lens will be used more lightly than intensively and will be certainly replaced by one or another with a more quality optic if the photographer get more dedicated in his or her practice of the medium.

The different ILC camera systems will offer you a complete line-up of lenses. Some optics are more oriented to a general purpose use. Others are really specialized tools. The manufacturers will often produce a professional alternative of lenses that are designed for more intense use in adverse conditions. Moreover these “pro” optics are bigger units equipped with larger focusing and zooming rings, smoother mechanism, constant and larger maximum aperture for most of the models but these are also heavier devices to bring with you and operate.

Are you looking for focal fixed length or variable (zoom) ones? The price to pay for the zoom ones is usually a more modest maximum aperture and may be a variable one which can be annoying if you want to to keep constant your basic exposure parameters such as the shutter speed, the aperture or the ISO sensibility. The zoom (focal length) range is another factor to consider. All-in-one zoom models are addressing to photographs that like to work with a minimum photo equipment and a maximum of flexibility. The short zooms can be basic trans-standards optics or specialized ones like did trans-wide-angle or long telephoto models. The maximum optical quality will be obtained with the “pro” series and will be comparable to focal fixed (prime) lenses.

The focal fixed (prime) lenses are the most compact ones with larger maximum aperture compare to the zoom lenses. Because of their fixed angle of view they will ask from the user to be more available to mobility and anticipation of your subject. Many prime lenses will give you superior results and will force you to pay more attention to your picture composition. You have also a better control of your deep of field (DoF) that will help you to discriminate easier your foreground and background from the main subject. Furthermore some prime lenses are really specialized tool to produce macro photography or corrected linear architectural pictures from the ground level or giving you an hyper wide angle view (fisheye) for example. These complex lenses are really dedicated tools and offer far less flexibility than more “normal” counterparts. Lens manufacturers have started to add in their line up some focal fixed “pro” lenses with very exotic maximum aperture like F1.2  but those units are fairly expensive ones.

Give them a try!
So selecting a lens that will suit your need and taste can be a perilous exercice of pick so try and … repeat again if necessary. The possibility to borrow them or to rent them or at least try them at the store or at manufacturer (store) clinics can help you. The other factor to consider is what will be the best camera combination to choose for the type of lens and the style of pictures you want to realize. Again trying the equipment will give an edge before buying the thing.

It is amazing to think that most of the personal involvement of people for the purchase of a photo device is directed to camera body specs and features in forgetting the crucial aspect of the optic in photography. Sometime it’s better to use a lens that correspond to your vision and will suit your photographic needs instead of having the most powerful camera body.

P.s. Lens Factor
If you intend to equip yourself with 2-3 or more different lenses chance you may adopt a complete lens system. The good way of doing it is to stay with the same manufacturer and the same lens model series. In doing so you are assuring yourself to have a fully comparable design, construction, optical results and future compatibility with the camera upgrades.