I was in the Lake District at the weekend for a couple of days walking in the hills and as you would expect I took my camera along (the Olympus EM5). Looking through the images last night, this particular one stood out for me.
This was the last picture I shot at the weekend. It was taken after sunset (although there wasn’t one to speak of) when the light was fading fast . There must have been sufficient light around though as it was captured handheld at 1/20″ using ISO400 with my 14-45 lens set to f/5.6. The great thing about Micro 43 lenses is that they tend to be sharp even when the aperture is quite wide.
When I took the picture I liked the scene but I didn’t hold out much hope for the image. I thought it would be quite coarse and grainy, filled with noise and lack detail. In fact, I almost didn’t take the shot because I had conditioned myself to give up under such circumstances.
I’m pleased that I did though as this reminds me never to give up whilst there is still light.
I recently blogged about my new lens, the new Panasonic 14-140. I wanted the lens so that I didn’t have to keep changing lenses (between my 14-45 and 45-200) when out walking in the hills. The only problem I have found is that I don’t trust the 14-140 given the results I have had.
In my previous post I mentioned that it seemed OK in the 14-45mm range but less sharp than my 14-45 lens. Beyond this I thought the poor results were from my sloppy technique – NOT SO. Having had the lens on a tripod it’s still very soft, has poor contrast and even makes the images look grainy.
I ran through a batch of images that I had shot with the lens and nothing over 80mm was sharp – not one. Between 45 and 80mm the image quality was generally poor. Between 14-45 the quality was acceptable but not good. This is not a travel lens or a replacement for the other two when weight is an issue.
I suspect there may be some of you reading this who are screaming out that this is an excellent lens but I have talked to a few people now who have this new Panasonic lens and all have thought it quite soft. It might be that I had a bad sample but I don’t want to risk it so I have asked for a refund. As I left it a few weeks before trying out the lens and reporting it I am out of the refund period so the retailer will only issue a credit note.
This isn’t a problem though as I have my eye on a Sony RX10.
I have to own up and say that this for me is exercising the ghost of a perfect camera, the Sony R1. I had one of these a few years back that I had purchased second hand. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the R1, it was a bridge camera with a fixed lens. It weighed slightly less than an SLR and was only slightly smaller. It had a 10Mpixel CMOS sensor but coupled with an astonishingly good Zeiss lens. The lens was the equivalent of a 24mm – 120mm and was amazingly sharp and distortion free throughout the zoom range. The results from this camera were amazing.
When I look at the RX10, it looks very similar to the R1. It has the same huge Zeiss lens but this time goes from 24-200mm and is f/2.8 across the entire range. This is enough to convince me that I have to have one. No doubt I will dissatisfied in some way but at least I will have it out of my system.
My last post has drawn some interesting feedback on which image people like best and why. The thing I find fascinating about this exercise is not only do we tend to favour one image over the other (most of the time), but we tend to do this for different reasons. I have just read a great comment from Paul making the point that the different tones in the surrounding grass, some dead and some alive is distracting as well as the direction of the grass. Whilst I also see this (more now Paul points it out), it doesn’t cause me any issues with the colour image. In fact it makes it feel more natural to me.
Another comment from David talks about liking the subtle graduations in tone from the colour image. This is also my perspective and what I find so attractive about the colour image. I do however also like the sharpness and clarity of the black and white image BUT wouldn’t want to see that reproduced in the colour image. I feel it would lose it’s subtly if that happened.
This suggests to me (perhaps this is obvious to others) that when we assess an image we each favour different qualities over others. Some of us look for strong shape and form in an image and judge this to be the priority. Others look for subtle graduations in colour and tone ahead of other factors. Maybe other favour texture over everything. Perhaps if we develop an awareness of how others see photography we might develop a more rounded view ourselves, which could lead to our performance as photographers improving.
So enough of the psycho analysis. I wanted to share a few more versions of yesterdays image, adopting some (not all) of the suggestions made.
The last two images are my preference, but the colour one sneaks it, for me at least.
I captured this image of a frosty yesterday morning on the edge of a car park. It did raise a few eyebrows from passersby. My initial intension was to convert it to a black and white image using Nik Silver Efex Pro. I made a few variations of the image using different conversions, some high key some low key and some high contrast but none ticked the box for me.
Then I remembered a new Nik programme that I had downloaded whilst trying to fix a problem with Lightroom 5.2 (still not fixed) and thought I would give it a go. The filter is called Analogue Efex and allows you to simulate all sorts of camera and film effects. Usually I am not impressed by such applications and to be honest, looking through the presets I wasn’t hopeful. I then found the custom sections where you can create your own effects and the image below was the result. I produced both the colour version and then converted this to the black and white version above with Silver Efex Pro.
I have made prints from both and the prints are excellent quality but I don’t know which I prefer. I think I am edging towards the colour version but then I switch to black and white. I was wondering what others thought – my wife dismisses anything black and white immediately so if you have similar tendencies your immediately banned from commenting.
Does anyone have any thoughts?
I almost forgot, there also seems to have been other updates installing themselves in the background. This includes a few presets for different applications but I also noticed the grain simulation is now superb. It looks completely natural and is so much better than before. I actually find myself wanting to add grain.
I think I will try to make it a habit to to share an image for the weekend on Fridays. That probably means I will fail dismally after this one, as my commitments often keep me from sticking to a schedule.
Let’s start with this image though. I shot this a couple of weeks back on a trip to the Lake District. At the time we had hoped for much more as the weather had been beautiful and we thought there would be some cloud to give a sunset. The weather was also perfect for mist to rise from the river (as it often does at this time of year).
In the end the cloud vanished. There was no sunset to speak of and the mist was very wispy. Even more annoyingly was the condensation forming on my filters constantly caused by the sudden drop in temperature once the sun had set.
The mist you see on the image here is the result of my cleaning my filter at the top and bottom so that I left a misty strip along the centre. I then lined it up on so that it appeared to hang over the water. It’s old tech but it worked
To be totally honest, it’s actually two new lenses in the bag. The first is a 14mm prime which I picked up very cheaply. It was originally part of a Panasonic G series camera kit, but was sold separately having never been used (there are a lot of these on the market at present). The other lens and the subject of this blog is the new Panasonic 14-140mm lens.
I have wanted one of these lenses for a while and my hope is that it will replace my 14-45mm and 45-200mm lenses. This won’t be all the time but when weight and convenience is a factor. Typically this will be when I am out walking in the mountains as I don’t really like to stop to change lenses. I know that sounds lazy but when you’re up a mountain in bad weather, possibly with others, possibly at altitude, you don’t want to start messing around swapping lenses.
My first impression of this lens is that it is well made as you would expect from Panasonic. In terms of size it’s only slightly bigger than my Panasonic 14-45mm and doesn’t weight too much more. The front element is slightly wider at 58mm where the core zooms in my Micro 43 kit are all 52mm.
What matters to me most however is performance. If I compare this lens to the two lenses it needs to replace, my first impressions are that it isn’t quite as sharp as my 14-45mm but performs very nicely within this zoom range. Beyond this I am a little uncertain. It certainly isn’t as sharp as my 45-200mm which is excellent and its performance seems to dip beyond about 60mm BUT I think this may be my technique.
So far the weather hasn’t allowed me to really get the feel for the longer focal lengths. I have been shooting these handheld and the speeds haven’t been as fast as I would like. Every so often I have been able to shoot an image which looks good and the performance has been quite close to the 45-200mm lens. I think I need to get this on a tripod and take some comparison shots.
Hope you like the image.
Not a long post today but I thought I would share one of the images I have been working on. This is Thornton’s Force in the Yorkshire Dales (UK). A friend and I had visited the Lake District to shoot Landscapes but the rain had come in so we reconsidered our plans. We checked our mobiles and only an hours’ drive away the weather looked much better (don’t you love technology). When we arrived, it was still overcast but at least it wasn’t raining heavily.
For those of you who know the area, this is quite an impressive falls. It is heavily photographed but most images that you see tend to look at the falls directly from the front. Despite this, the point I shot this image from is equally accessible but for some reason few people seem to use it. I’m sure there are lots of images out there already but I quite like this and wanted to share it.
Have a good weekend.