Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lupine Season

My favorite spring flower is the lupine. Some of the best places to discover this flower are the Weyerhaeuser Campus (336th) in Federal Way, along Ft Lewis' N. Gate Rd SW, just north of Chambers Bay on Chambers Creek Road West and on Tyler just south from 56th street. Theses flowers bloom mid to late May.

Often the wind is blowing when I want to shoot flowers.  This makes the photograph more difficult to capture.  You'll want a shutter speed faster that 1/250 of a second, an f-stop of 5.6 to 11 and continuous focus.

An important technique that I did not quite accomplish in this image is element separation.  The two lupine in the center of the photograph overlap each other.  Had I moved a bit to the left those two could have been separated and the image would be stronger.

Go shoot some Lupine.

- Tom

Shot with Olympus OM-D EM-1 with the 60mm macro at f/2.8, 1/640 and ISO 400.  45 minutes before sunset.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Telephoto Lens Compression

Those who have visited Tacoma's waterfront know that Mt. Rainier is about 42 miles away. But looking at this photo it seems Rainier is just a few miles away. This is the effect of longer focal lengths, the compress the scene. This compression technique can work great on portraits as well as it helps to control the background of the photo. Give it a try.

This image is taken from the Dupont end of the waterfront, just South of the new entrance to the Tacoma Yacht Club. Olympus OM-D EM-1, 40-150mm at 150mm, f/20, 1/125 at ISO 200.

- Tom

Monday, March 10, 2014

Meet my Olympus OM-D camera system

Those that know me know that I am a Nikon snob. I've been shooting Nikon for 10 years and have always advocated their system as the very best. And for the professional photographer my stance has not changed. My wife, a professional portrait photographer, shoots Nikon.

I recently sought to find a more compact and lightweight system. Traveling for my 'day-job' I have many opportunities to capture images of new scenes in spectacular places but I usually leave my camera at home due to bulk and weight. I wanted small but I did not want to compromise on image quality.

Lets define image quality. I want my images to be competitive in contests, pleasing to any clients I may have, desirable to print/frame/hang. I do not represent myself as a professional photographer. When I do 'paid' photography assignments I never charge the rates that a true professional should. And when I print and hang I print poster size not wall size. In other words, I want truly fantastic image quality but I do not need best possible image quality.

Enter the Olympus OM-D cameras. These cameras have a four-thirds sensor. Generally speaking the larger the sensor the 'better' your camera can record light and the 'better' your images will be. Most professionals shoot with the sensor represented by the blue rectangle, the 35mm equivalent 'full frame' sensor. But even these professionals are compromising by not using the largest possible sensor. It begs the question, with today's sensor technology, can a slightly smaller sensor like the four-thirds sensor used in Olympus cameras meet my image quality needs?

The answer based upon my investigation and experience is yes, the four-thirds sensors in these cameras can produce image quality that meets my needs. I'd compare the image quality in the OM-Ds to the image quality of the APS-C sensor found in my Nikon D7100 or the latest Fujis (X-T1 for example). The exception is low light... think darker indoors setting like a dimly lit church... in this setting the four-thirds sensor cannot match the APS-C sensor. But image quality has more factors than merely sensor size.

The Olympus OM-D EM-1, Olympus' flagship and my new professional-level camera, has the very best image stabilization technology available on the market. I can shoot handheld with a 1 second shutter speed and get clear results. The lowest shutter speed I can shoot handheld on my Nikon D7100 with a 35mm VR lens is about one half second. With image stabilization added to the image quality equation the Nikon at ISO3200, f/1.8 and 1/2 second is equivalent to the Olympus at ISO1600, f/1.8 and 1 second. The image quality of these photos will be very similar because with the Olympus I can use an ISO setting that is 1/2 that of the Nikon.

Here is a photo comparing the size of the D800 my wife shoots to an Olympus OM-D similar to mine. There is a huge difference in size and weight and the Olympus makes its way into my luggage on every trip I take.

I definitely get better image quality with a camera that is with me than a camera left at home.

What else makes the Olympus OM-D system the right system for me?

  • Excellent camera build and controls layout (I much prefer EM-1 controls to Fuji X-T1)
  • In-camera image stabilization so every lens benefits (advantage over most camera brands)
  • Smaller and lighter lenses (incredible advantage over APS-C and full frame cameras)
  • Plenty of high-quality lenses to choose from (micro four-thirds is a mature offering)
  • Splash and dust proof (E-M1 with pro 12-40mm lens)
  • A complete system including accessories, flash, etc
  • Most of my accessories with great with the system such as Phottix flash triggers

Anyone looking to enter the d-slr camera world and anyone looking for a lighter and more compact kit should definitely give the Olympus OM-D line a fair chance.

- Tom