The Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS: Improve my reach!

It may be a more existential question regarding telephoto lenses and more specifically long telephoto zoom lenses that have a tendency to extend almost up to the infinity. The good thing about this it is the fact that you don’t really notice it when you are looking at your viewfinder but otherwise it could be seen as a bit of indecent…

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS zoom lens is from the start a very fine product. Not fast as a “pro” F2.8 lens but it can deliver a lever of quality image output result that can stand on par compare to these more expensive products. Its design presentation is a mimic of the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4R LM OIS standard zoom lens and we can assimilate them as the four optic elements of the Fujifilm NMARX X-series lens models (None-Marked-Aperture-Ring-X-Series-lens i.e. NMARX) (the other ones are the Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4R and the XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6R both OIS).

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm is not a compact product. The “left-hand-holding” lens got a lot of inertia on which you can count to stabilize it. It will better fit with larger Fujifilm camera models like the X-T1/2/3 or the X-H1 for the weight repartition between the body camera and the lens. Using a center viewfinder will also work better with this powerful telephoto zoom lens especially when you select its longest focal length and doing more action photography.

Because of its first nature of being a zoom lens, the XF 55-200mm is a kind of “all-around” telephoto optics that can be convenient into many different situations like portrait, sport, nature, detailed or compressed subjects. With a minimum focusing distance of 1.1m it is not a real close focusing ability lens but its maximum magnification ratio may be sufficient for bigger objects.

By design and construction the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS will extend a lot at its longest focal length which is less esthetically interesting to say the least. So you will not impress the pro photo intelligentsia of this small planet but other than that the XF 55-200mm is a very well built optic. Remember this is not a weather sealed product and it need to be protected to perform flawlessly in adverse conditions (a good translucide plastic bag used along with a rubber band surrounding the lens hood can easily do the job here).

The variable maximum aperture of F3.5 to F4.8 is a good compromise that avoid the choice of smaller maximum aperture like F5.6 or F6.3 at its maximum length and in doing so it minimize the aperture-stop lost compare to more “pro” lenses of F2.8. For portrait situation, the aperture of F4 can be set within the focal range of 75 to 90mm which should be sufficient to get an average clear/blur separation between subject and foreground/background.

Even with heavy cropped picture the Fujinon XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS
won’t prevent you to get good results.

In action photography and with a maximum aperture of F4.8 you will have to compensate 1 1/2 stop opening by increase your ISO or panning the action of your subject. If you can keep your sensor sensibility below the ISO 1600-3200 mark the quality lost should be minimal. For years a 300mm F4 or 4.5 lens in 35mm film (200mm equiv. in APS-C sensor format) was the workhorse for many press photographers prior to the venue of the now inevitable 300mm F2.8 lens version.

The in-board optical image stabilizer (OIS) of the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R is very efficient allowing us to select shutter that are almost three stop under the usual reference (1/focal length). For example you can get good results at 1/60sec instead of 1/250-1/500. In doing so you are less penalized by its more modest maximum aperture. Working with a long zoom telephoto such as the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R will ask you a more careful holding of the camera/lens combo because of the image magnification which is about 6 times higher compare to the standard 35mm lens for the APS-C sensor format. The use of an additional support like a monopod, a tripod or even an improvised one will help you to get a better rate of success.

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS has good focusing abilities. Even in low light or with less contrasty subject, it perform well assuming that the camera model is recent. But in some specific situations manual focusing may be the only sure way to rightly lock on your subject. The “prefocusing” method can be also used for tricky subject in action photography.

62mm is the moderate filter accessory diameter of the XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS zoom lens. A dedicated lens hood is part of the original manufacturer accessories that came with the lens which is always a good habit to observe in the industry. You can use it to prevent flare coming from light sources located in front of the camera but in some others light scenario it can afford be dispose. As I use to say a protective filter made of high quality optic is a safe precaution for preventing to spoil the front glass element of the lens or cleaning it or even replacing it (when it is possible!).

Fully extended the Fujinon XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS is a fa
irly long lens!
 

Despite its more standard size dimensions and weight I really appreciate to work with the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R LM OIS zoom telephoto lens. Part of it can be certainly related to its quality of construction which is giving confidence to use it intensevely. But I would say that the high level of the image quality output is may be its best asset. If can afford its limitations like the minimum focusing distance and its moderate maximum aperture you will enjoyed with very large variation of focal lengths that gives to the XF 55-200mm an outstanding versatility.

 

 

 

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Digital Black & White Photography

Since the invention of modern photograph black and white representation have played a key role into the evolution of the medium. For sure color reddition have been preferred over time for its own added pictural information that eventually partly if not almost completely submerge the black and white (B&W) image reproduction. But suffise to mention that still today color processing is using multi layers of B&W sensitive areas with added applied color to the get the final result.

But the real question for the photographic enthousiasms of this world is that black and white stays a pertinent way of recording and later diffuse an image output? Because the digital media photo output is now so cheap and easy to obtain that  can be very simple to skip the choice between color and B&W reedition and rely in post-processing to make your final decision. So why working in B&W during your picture taking session? Is it redondant? Yes and no because even if it is true that the post treatment possibilities offer the final choice it remains impossible to modifie certains basic photo parameters after the fact like your picture taken position (angle of view) or the moment of the exposure. Those critical element depend on the initial selection done on the very premises of the subject.

I wont argue here the virtues of every way of doing photography because in fact they are all justified by the creativity involved in every different processes experimented by the auteur. My point is the following. With contemporary digital camera there is a big new window opened for the B&W photographs in a way that you can actually previsualize your result on screen before the final picture taking action. And that the most interesting aspect of it. No more imperfect (at the most) polaroid tests on the spot to rely. What you over your back screen or electronic viewfinder or your external screen is the “real” visual output. And the technical advancement give a capital advantage to work your B&W output right on the spot something ever dreamed during the traditional film photography era.

Doing black and white pictures
As for many others picture reproduction techniques doing B&W photography have its own requirements and limitations. A beautiful color scene doesn’t always be translated in a magnificent B&W picture. Sometimes yes sometimes definitively not. Because in part of the fact that the color palette offer psychological contrast (between the colors) that BW gray scale is not able to reproduce totally or simply not at all. So different gray patches will blend each other and the final results will be dull and the image information will be difficult to decode. So as you can presume contrast is a key point in B&W photography.

As for any photographic processes the exposure (the light levels distribution) is another critical aspect to consider. Because your own eye has a very larger dynamic light perception between the highlight and the lowlight it has been always a challenge to produce image captor that can be able to mimic human eye perception. Today our recent image sensor have revolutionized that frontier limitation at a point never dreamed a few decades ago. But still the exposure factor is another key to faithfully master in order to get the full palette of gray tonal you need. On the opposite side you can always redirect you exposure setting to discriminate voluntary part of the gray scale you don’t want to register as for example in creating silhouette subjects.

Toning voluntary or not B&W photograph is not a new feature in photography. In the past during the film photography era many paper supports were generating different white tonal renditions from cool to warm as for paper chemical developers that were able to “tint” the silver oxide of the black and gray areas of the picture. Those possibilities have been incorporated in the inboard camera image processors or/and the post processing image applications. It is up to you to decide to register an already (tone) altered image or to wait et the post processing stage of it.

B&W photography enhance graphic value by concentring the attention of the looker on the lines, on the forms and the texture of the subject. Tridimensional perception in B&W depends greatly of the composition of your picture. It rely also on the previous visual experiences of the people who will look at it. So selecting, positioning and exposing your main subject are important tasks to fulfill in the creation of a B&W image that will show impact and got a story to tell. Foreground and background will contribute to let the eye to prior focusing on the first glimpse then to voyage over all the picture but they can also play as a distraction of the main message of your picture.

The expression of your main living subject will create a major impact to the first perception of the image because as human we will be attracted especially in B&W by the “face” of the subject. So interaction between the photographer and its model or subject is basically what we apprehend at first. Eyes, mouth and facial expression may be the most difficult photographic aspects to master a spontaneous or not portrait.

(Partial B&W photography and special effects)
Another interest optional feature present in some digital photographic camera is the possibility to remove the entire color palette in profit of only one selected. In that way we create a kind of B&W picture with added color. These studies can be interesting if you carefully compose your image and most important don’t forget to still focus on the impact and story of the subject. An array of different “special” and easy photographic effects is now available in digital photography. The danger is that you can distract your auditoire from the main subject as many people can simply skip it.

Finally I cannot emphasizes more the importance to explor
e
the medium. Your (documented) research will help you to raffine your quest of a better picture that will suit your own visual expression. Because at the end B&W photography is just another way to communicate your perception of your living surrounding.

Five years ago Olympus introduced the first OM-D E-M1

With the new official entries of Nikon and forcoming Canon into the professional mirrorless world  in the next months (end of 2018 or beginning of 2019), many reviewers were anticipating the apparition of big camera body assorted with mammouth lenses which will contradicte the very essence of the mirrorless camera evolution. In fact the newest rumors feed by the concerned Nikon and Canon confirm this very fact.

When I have learned that Mike Johnston of the famous “The Online Photographer” web site have decided to renew with the Panasonic GX8 model I was not overlay surprised. The present “plateau” of the mirrorless evolution seem to temperate most of the recent past enthusiasm of the photo passionates on the web.  In fact the excitement is shifting from the equipment mania to the pleasure to do photography with always exciting products.

Why speaking of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (original version) in 2018? Five years after its official introduction in 2013, the OM-D E-M1 has been surpassed technically in many ways by more recent models such as the E-M5 Mark II and others Mark II versions of the E-M10 and E-M1. But productivity (or creativity) has not a direct link with the technical performances of the camera model. Proof of that has been demonstrated over times by many renowned photographers. The fact is you are better to master the use of your camera instead to exchange it for a more recent model because the learning curve of the novelty can differ you to produce satisfactory and repetitive image output.

The evolution of hardware is not a guaranty of evolution of the essence of photography as a visual art of expression. And we are not speaking of a “coming back” (like saying “things were better in the past”) but more likely a choice between devices, techniques and outputs that suit our expectations. In saying that last remark I don’t want to prevent also the manufacturers to poursuit their research to innovation which is always a good thing to do in my sense as long they can preserve in their line-up the models that are still in demand (that is another debate…).

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 first version was a great effort from Olympus to seduce the professional market  (or part of it) to migrate to the M4/3 or MFT image captor format. The success of their OM-D E-M5 model was so good that some very serious photographers already start to use it on a professional level  for studio purpose, wedding and photo-reportages. Sure the E-M5 was not a camera model that was initially designed to sustain the intensive work pression in those fields and Olympus wisely extended its line up to offer a more rugged device. When I saw first the E-M1 I was impress by the solid feel of the model compare to my OM-D E-M5 that I was using at that time. It remind me the same feeling I have experimented with previous film professional models such as Nikon F3 HP or Leica R4 or even Olympus OM-2.

By the MFT standards of the moment (circa 2013-2014) the Olympus OM-D E-M1 was a bigger camera compare to the previous Pen series and the original E-M5. Sure everybody has understood the technical constraints to built a “Pro” oriented model with weather seal and stronger dials and others operational mechanisms needed to do so. But the fact remains that it was a bigger photo device in dimension and heavier to hold. However direct comparaison with APS-C competitor equivalents such as the Nikon D7100 prove the compactness of the Olympus package (OM-D E-M1 body + HLD-7 vertical grip). Moreover it appears more equilibrated when you combine the E-M1 with the M.Zuiko Pro lenses as for the 12-40mm & 40-150mm F2.8 for example. On a long term it create two design tendencies between the Premium lenses and the “Pro” series which were obviously bigger by design nature. Later in 2014 Olympus has completed its OM-D offer by adding the amateur E-M10 model into its line-up (entry level – intermediate – pro).

The original E-M1 camera was an impressive step ahead from the first E-M5. Better ergonomics were certainly a good part of it as for a clearer electronic viewfinder (EVF) with more eye relief. Because of its permanent right hand grip (oppose to the optional OM-D E-M5 one) the camera body stay firmly on hand in a very confortable and secure way plus the fact you are gaining more space for the different control buttons and dials of the device. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 interface is very complete and it can be personalized at will if you care to do so. Many specific direct functionalities are already configured into the E-M1 but permutations are possible if you invest time and interest to learn from the camera. Tutorials are available over the Web to help you to master the model. No serious photo gear reviewers have really contested the ability of Olympus to design and produce a “pro” camera. Since the venue of the OM camera series back in the nineteen-seventies they had developed a more compact signature alongside with electronic innovations and the actual OM-D series inherit a lot of that thinking.

The original Olympus OM-D E-M1 won’t surprise the new user with its pseudo SLR architecture positioning the EVF at the same axis of the optical taking lens.So it gives you a very predictable camera especially when you are doing action photography including news, travel, urban or even sport. If you are working with a small Premium lens or a regular M.Zuiko one you may find that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is a fairly compact camera assuming you don’t add the optional HLD-7 vertical grip (even if it is still more compact that many D-SLRs with vertical grip). But it is not as discrete compare to a “rangefinder” style model like those offered into the Pen series and it won’t definitively fit in your pocket even the largest one.

Many features were imported from the original OM-D E-M5 to accommodate the E-M1 users. If you are familiar with the Olympus complex interface way you should be able to mastermind most of the critical operations in a rapid pace. Newcomers to Olympus OM-D products have to invest time and intellect to learn the multiple options of the camera. At first don’t be confuse and rely on the short OK menu option to get to the principal parameters of the E-M1.

If you stay in the comparaison with the first Olympus OM-D E-M5 it is easy to notice the added robustness of construction of the “pro” E-M1 including, the body, the function buttons or dials. You feel more confident to use the E-M1 in adverse conditions alongside with a lens that got the same feature of resistance. On still photographic point of view, the original Olympus OM-D E-M1 can stand even today high quality standard image results. Video is another story but as usual I am not really concern since I don’t produce any.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) can be qualified within the good average of today (2018) standard. It is not outstanding compare to the replacement version of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The eye relief is good also but on the limit for eyeglasses wearers like me to be able to see the entire picture at glance. There is a subtle light greenish viewing cast that can be detected but other than that you can rely on the EVF to get a good appreciation of your final result registered on the native picture file.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is very fast to wake up after the camera put itself on standby which preserve your battery pack. You won’t be able to totally shut down the LCD viewing screen on the back if you want to use only the EVF (with the eye detection on) because it remains a kind of very dark blue screen. Since you cannot pivot back the LCD screen like the Mark II the battery pack endurance will be affected in some way. The tilting back screen stay a nice option for retro-macro-waist level-crowd level work.

The optional HLD-7 vertical grip is an intelligent add-on for the Olympus OM-D E-M1. For people that are producing critical vertical framing like in portrait, sport, nature the accessory will give a better handling and an extended battery life (along the possibility to change the exhausted one on the grip first in a 3-pack rotation). (Small trick: by removing the battery pack from the HLD-7 grip the combo will be a bit less heavier). Finally you have to be aware that the function buttons and dials as the shutter release button may be activated inadvertently if you don’t lock the grip controls.

Flash system rely on the Olympus ou dedicated third-party flashlight devices beginning with the very diminutive unit furnished with the camera that can serves as an emergency unit for fill flash or command   unit in a multi-flash arrangement. I am not really fund to use a direct flash on camera that literally kill the light ambiance and is often unpredictable. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 can deliver you very decent image results up to ISO 1600 which in my sense is mostly sufficient in many low-light situations.  For sure in that case a faster lens (with a larger maximum aperture such as F1.8-1.7-1.4-1.2) will be strongly appreciated. Since the beginning of the M4/3 format, many independent flash manufacturers have decided to extend their flash system possibilities offered for the Olympus and Panasonic cameras.

A standard lens or a transtandard zoom lens for the E-M1 is a very personal choice. On many publication you will see most of the time the combination of the E-M1 coupled with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro which is mimicking the Pro D-SLR usual kit (Body + 24-70mm F2.8 lens for the 24X36mm image sensor format. Since the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is a bigger and relatively heavier zoom lens the HLD-7 vertical grip may be required to get a better balance between the camera body and the lens. Some reviewers have proposed more modest lenses such as the M.Zuiko 14-42mm (basic) or 12-50mm (Splash-proof) zoom lenses or a Premium lens such as a 25mm or 17mm F1.8. These optics are smaller and lighter than the Pro ones but often in a less quality construction and sometimes with less optical quality. At the end it remains that the combination of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera body with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens appears to be the most appropriate one except for the compactness factor.

Five years ago the Olympus OM-D E-M1 introduction confirmed the serious of Olympus into its involvement in MFT format. Moreover the forwarding presentation of their M.Zuiko Pro lenses has offered a complete new alternative for professionals that are looking for a serious MFT system available.

 

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.

 

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).

Compactness
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.

Fix our attention on focal fixed lenses. Mix with the Fix(es)!

 

Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7

It is a matter of fact that I have a basic tendency to privilege the focal fixed lenses over the zoom (or vari-focal) ones when it comes to qualify them as creative photographic tools. In every formats prime lenses are usually faster, often smaller, seem better built, less intrusive, nicely balanced and easier to handhold and control. The good zoom lenses and more the “Pro” ones are often bigger units with natively smaller maximum aperture but yes their respective variation of focal length represent by itself a big advantage in term of versatility and handling speed. But even considering this specific factor the focal fix lenses are still strongly alive and popular among photographers from professionals to simply amateurs.

Fujinon XF 60mm F2.4 Macro

One of a beauty of the compact format is that the most serious manufacturer players, Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic, have really invested on focal fixed lenses as major part of their line-up right from the start. One of the best early example was the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0 an equivalent of the 24mm in 35mm film format. We are still waiting for a similar lens offer in APS-C format from Canon and Nikon D-SLR which represent in my sens a mesure of the non-committement from those two camera majors manufacturers for a compact format. And wide angle zoom lenses cannot be fully comparable to a good focal fix doted with a better maximum aperture.

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8

Compaticity is another factor in favour of fixed focal lenses. Lighter and more discrete they are a serious tool for non-intimidating “on-the-spot” photography. Their larger maximum aperture give a greater latitude when you are facing low light condition. Moreover this advantage translate also by the availability of a shallow deep-of-feild that is helping you to better discriminate your principal subject from the foreground/background. With less optical distortion (or stronger in-body camera post-treatment) and less visible chromatic aberration the prime lenses will ask less post-editing treatment to get a finer picture.

And focal fixed lenses can be more spontaneous photographic tools in same case being less intrusive for the main subject as already mentioned.

Compare to the zoom optics, the focal fixed lenses will ask you more effort to apprehend your subject, prepare yourself and your equipment and take finally the picture. But the result will be very often more precise, more creative on your part and at the end more rewarding.

Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix G 42,5mm F1.7
Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mmF1.7
Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7
Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8

Black’nd Mine: An Adventure in Gray Tone.

Tone my expression in a gray world and I will be in the black of mine. Storyboard of my life is the témoignage of the despair of emotion. Click the instant desire of eternity and the full inspiration of the romantic soul.

Where are you my love, my muse, my perfect picture of the physical human art. Light is triking the edge of my insanity. And I hope some understand my deviance. That’s only photoetry.

You must say something, you must show something so we want to see.

 

 

 

 

 

On the street with the Panasonic Lumix GX7

 

The Panasonic Lumix GX7 digital camera was marketed more than two years ago and has been already replaced by the newest model GX8. But the GX7 is still used by many photographers as an everyday camera. It is a very handy camera designed first for still photography despite its own video ability.
Table Top Wall Stripes

Digital compact camera offers handling advantages in term of small dimensions and low weight. But because of the multiple function buttons seen on many very diminutive models like the Lumix GM1 or GM5 we have reached a point that the compactness is inducing a lot of involuntary finger touch manipulations. The Panasonic Lumix GX7 can be classified as a mid-size compact camera with interchange lens option. It is not a subcompact (GM5 class) but combined with many Lumix G lenses it stays a small package.

With user experiences you can memorize most of the main function buttons and operating reels. As usual I have found there is too many options available to really mastermind their utility on picture taking situations with fast rate shooting. By keeping it simple you will better optimize your photographic results.



The display fonction button can be too easily involuntary activated and the rear adjusting dial edge is located too far to get a confortable reach from you thumb. Those two design flaws can be annoying in particular when you are using more manual setting.



The viewing system that offers a LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder (EVF) is very distinctive of camera design inspired by the ancient rangefinder cameras. It is a compact camera but not as a subcompact or a miniature like the Panasonic Lumix GM5. In that sense the handling of the GX7 is more secure partly because of the larger dimension of the body of the camera. Face strong front day lighting the EVF will generate a more contrast picture that doesn’t really help to evaluate the fine details of your composition. In those cases you have to guess first and check the result over the LCD screen.

Fifteen before six: Very good B&W gray tonal graduation even in using high ISO setting

The images preserved from the fine quality JPEG file option are generally very exploitable for web uses and mid-sized printout. As usual a basic RAW file will give the full opportunity to more deeply post-treat the taken image. The default contrast rendering is on the high side and you may have to use some of the softer rendering picture taking options to counteract this effect. The color rendering is mainly natural but artificial lightning can generate some misinterpretation of the white balance auto setting function.

 

Native JPEG Outdoor color rendering is very accurate

 

Onboard flash
To have an onboard flash option is liberation. The flash of the Lumix GX7 is easily reachable by a mechanical switch on the backside of the camera. As a fill flash it work very nicely but it can be advisable to power down a bit the flash output especially with nearby subjects. As a commander flash it is a perfect tool. And Panasonic designers preserve the possibility to add a more powerful unit via the hot shoe.

The EVF viewfinder as waist (sternum !) level finder

Many reviewers were sceptical about the use of the partly moveable viewfinder of the Panasonic Lumix GX7. Looking down to a camera viewfinder is not a real novelty. You can go back to the ancient twin lens reflex or to the very first reflex mirror cameras to find the same way of viewing your picture. A complete generation of amateur and professional photographs can easily remember the glorious days of the various Hasselblades and Rolleiflexes. The “waist level “ view option allows the photographer to better control the linear rendering of the lens by facilitating the positioning of the camera which respect parallel lines better than tilting up or down your point of view. It is remarkable that so many photo experts have missed that point.

Spontaneous close-up photography is easy by using larger aperture prime lenses such as the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f1.7

As I have pointed out with many other camera models of the same features like EVF, it is very recommendable to bring extra batteries to prevent abrupt photo session finales.

Overall the Panasonic Lumix GX7 camera has been and still is a very competent picture-taking companion. It generate very interesting image results, the overall handling is on the good side, the Panasonic lens offering is correctly extended (and can be completed with the Olympus M4/3 counterpart lenses), the camera-lens combination is discrete, the operating system cost is reasonable and you can manage to overcome the few design flaws of the camera. 

BNC Tower over De la Commune, Old-Montreal

 

 

Photo-imaging with Nikon 1 30-110mm f3.5-5.6

Mini -Intro
Last March (2014) I have decided to “flush again” my entire photo taking system which is part of a periodical therapy for my mind, my back and my wallet! So I came back with the idea to choose for the second time to purchase a Nikon 1 model, the V2. My first experience with the V1 has given interesting result but I was not really enthusiasm with the handling of the camera.
The Nikon 1 V2 remind me with its odd body form, the design of my old and beloved Nikon F3 HP, an ancient 35mm film camera that have the pleasure to work professionally some years ago (!). But today any digital camera is giving us instant gratifying result.
Of the two lenses composing my present kit, I must admit that I prefer the 30-110mm which is a beautiful lens especially for near distance capturing subjects. Here is some examples.