It was an early start yesterday. Up at 4:30 in the morning in order to make the 2 hour journey to Ullswater in the Lake District for a dawn shoot. Despite the early morning start it was without question one of the most enjoyable days photography that I have ever had.
Overnight the temperature had dropped like a stone and there was a thick haw frost on the ground. Most waters in the Lakes had a thin layer of ice starting to form around their edges but because the temperature had dropped rapidly the deeper water was still cooling. Instead of ice covering their surface they had a wonderful mist and the conditions just got better as the day went on. The image you see above is of the boat jetty near Pooley Bridge, at dawn. Captured on the Olympus OMD EM5 with Olympus 12-40mm lens and a 0.3 ND Grad on the sky. Aperture was f/9.0 (a mistake as I would have shot this at f/7.1 usually). ISO200 and shutter speed 1/125″.
So you might ask, what is the important decision? The answer is, that I have decided to sell the Nikon D800; but I want to explain and share my reasoning.
Firstly, this is the third trip I have made where I can’t bring myself to carry the extra weight. When I returned from Bolivia I suffered a prolapsed disk at the base of my neck and for a while it looked like I might need major surgery. Fortunately, this is looking less likely now but the pain over the past couple of months has been unbearable at times – and pain killers just didn’t have an effect on it. I was finding that even trying to lift and support the heavier equipment was aggravating the pain.
OK, so this might be a temporary condition (I certainly hope it is) but other things are more permanent and important. One of the reasons I bought the D800 was that a lot of people were claiming how the image quality is exceptional with the right lenses and I would agree, yes it is. The camera would perform very well even with lesser quality lenses but needed a little more adjustment to really bring this out. But the important point is, the image performance is no better at low ISO (which I use almost exclusively) than the EM5. In fact, the corner and edge sharpness of the EM5 images beats the D800 even with high quality lenses.
All I really get with the D800 is an image file that produces a 24.5″ inch image rather than 15.36″ at 300dpi. Does this additional image size matter? Well, unless I am going to be making a print larger than 30″ and look at this with my nose pressed against it. You really need to be doubling the print size to notice the difference in output quality due to the way inkjet printers work. If you print on Matt paper then you might even need to go larger than this. As for output to the Internet, there is no benefit to having more pixels and then throwing most of these away by downsizing the image.
Where the D800 does score well over the EM5 is in the RAW files. I seem to be able to push these all over the place in editing and see almost no noise, even in shadow areas. This is very nice but again it comes with a downside. The RAW files from the D800 do seem to need much more processing in comparison to the EM5 RAW files. It’s almost as if the D800 RAW files are a little flat, possibly to the additional dynamic range the camera has. Whatever the reason, it feels like I am having to relearn how to get the most out of the camera and I don’t really have time for that at the moment.
The final and most important problem is that the D800 really doesn’t suit my style of shooting. What I don’t like to do is pop the camera on a tripod, spend a lot of time getting into position, check everything and then make one or two good exposures. This just doesn’t work for me. My approach is to move around and into the subject, taking lots of pictures and checking them regularly. As I work I find images that I like or things I like about an image that I work with to incorporate. The shots gradually get better until I arrive at the image I want. This style of working isn’t for everyone but if it’s your style, you will find it hard working with a large DSLR.
I do have to admit though that I didn’t always recognise this. It was only when I moved to the EM5 that my shooting style really started to develop in this way and that I started to feel free. Now when I try to go back it’s as though I am constrained and I have lost that feeling of freedom and spontaneity.
So, this is my reasoning but I will caveat it with a final thought. I reserve the right to change my mind. As I was writing this I was looking back at some of my RAW files from the D800 and they do have a quality that I really like. I’m just not sure it’s enough to make me want to keep the camera.
Yet another trip from my recent visit to Nantes in France.
This time I was walking along the river and spotted these three bird(two cormorants and a heron). They appeared quite tame as this was shot with my 45mm prime – it was the longest lens I had with me at the time. Fortunately it was the 45mm prime which is exceptionally sharp and will allow me to a high quality enlargement if required.
I hope you like it and have a great weekend.
Some of you might recall that a month or so back I asked people to recommend their favourite image enhancement filters. I love playing around to explore new software and was interested in film emulators. One thing led to another and I ended up trying then buying Alien Skin Exposure 6. I don’t know why I haven’t bothered with this software before but I love it. I will go into the reason why some other time, but I also discovered some great tools (not Alien Skin) for pulling more detail out of my Infrared images which, I will share this in another post.
For now, here is the latest Friday image. I shot this on my trip to London back in April. This is landmark Lloyds Building which I used to pass almost daily when I worked in London. Back then I never paid any attention to it but now I think it’s iconic. In case you’re wondering the conversion to black and white was done in Alien Skin Exposure 6, using one of the Infrared Presets which was then tweaked a little.
Have a great weekend everyone.
The day has just run away with me again. It’s now 10:15pm UK time and I realise that I haven’t posted my Friday image. I have been hard at it since 07:00am and I’m tired. I have therefore turned to a traditional coastal landscape image from my recent holiday (which now seems a very distant memory) to cheer myself up. I hope you enjoy.
Have a great weekend everyone.
I admit that it’s been a while coming but I have finally managed to shoot the XRite ColorPassport in suitable lighting conditions to generate a profile for the Olympus EM5. To be honest, I didn’t expect the new profile to achieve much as the EM5 produces good colours already and in any event, Lightroom includes a few alternate profiles. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I generated this profile and tried it out in Lightroom. The images are noticeably stronger and more natural than using the Adobe Standard profile. I also like the new profile more than the other options that now come with Lightroom for this camera.
If anyone uses Lightroom and an Olympus EM5 (shooting in RAW format) then you can download the colour profile for free from my Lenscraft web site.
Looking back some 3 to 4 years, I was a devoted user of Lee Filters although they were far from perfect. I didn’t think the quality was great and I can point to examples of colour shifts in my work. When I moved to Micro 43 I found the Lee 100mm filters were too large so I switched to using Hi-Tech 85mm filters and then more recently the Hi-Tech 67mm.
I was very pleased with the Hi-Tech filters and they were also much better value than the Lee equivalent. That was at least until I purchased the Sony RX10. When I use the 85mm Hi-Tech filters with this camera (the 67mm filters vignette badly) I find the sky takes on a purple tint. I can correct this in Lightroom using the grad tool but it’s annoying. What’s interesting is that this isn’t a noticeable problem when I use the filters with the Olympus EM5.
Now enter the GM1 and I found a similar problem was now occurring with the 67mm Hi-Tech filters. It’s not as strong an effect as the 85mm filters on the Sony but I can still notice it. Again, the effect isn’t noticeable when using the filters with the Olympus EM5.
It was this small but very frustrating tint that has taken me back to the Lee filters. I decided to bite the bullet and invest in the Lee Seven 5 filters, and I’m so pleased that I have. These filters and holders are very well made indeed. Best of all there is no discernible colour shift on any of the cameras I use. What really hit home for me was when I used the 0.9 Grad for this image and found the effect to be perfectly natural. If there was going to be a colour shift it would be with this filter but the results are excellent.
If you are thinking of investing in the Lee Seven 5, my view is that the expense is well worth it.
This week’s image is one I took recently in the Lake District (my favourite place in the world). I was near to the summit of Great Gable when I shot this. I had just descended Green Gable and was climbing back up and noticed this great path leading up the hills to my right. I couldn’t swear to it but I think it’s a route up Great End. I should probably look it up on a map.
I’m going to take a short break over the next week as I have a lot to catch up at home but I’m planning lots of new material including more from the new GM1 and also some work with my new Olympus 17mm f/1.8 (a wonderful lens)
Have a great weekend everyone.
Firstly I am going to start with an apology. Last week there was no Friday Image and some readers may have found me slower to respond. This is because my mother is in hospital (and has been for a few weeks). I have been trying to work around this but it is having an impact on my productivity. Being self employed I need to put my business next after my family. I hope you will understand and bear with me whilst I work through this.
Now to the image which was shot with the Olympus EM5 and the Panasonic 45-150 lens. This wind farm is quite far out to sea and I had to use the 45-150 at its farthest reach. I also used quite a wide aperture to keep the shutter speed up (I was hand holding) and add the feeling of depth to the image. I am very impressed with the lens performance given the extreme focal length and the conversion which was done using Nik Silver Efex is exactly what I had visualised at the time I took the shot. It’s great when something works out for you.
Have a great weekend everyone.
You will no doubt have heard the advice before, but it’s too easy to forget. We shouldn’t be taking photographs of objects but of the light. It’s the light that illuminates the object, that makes it attractive, captivating or simply ugly. You need to take control of the light to create a great image, but if you can’t, you need to select a subject to suit the light.
I recently went for a walk up Black Combe which rises some 600m from the sea. I was expecting some great landscape views but nothing caught my eye because the light was wrong. Where the light was right is out to sea where there was no shape of form to speak of, just wonderful shafts of light breaking through the cloud. It reminded me of a painting.
So remember, it’s the light that’s critical to great photography.
After I published the Friday Image No 20 I decided to review my Olympus EM5 shots. I had taken a few of the same location with the extremely sharp Olympus 45mm prime. You can see one particular example above.
What I noticed, that took me completely by surprise, is that I can see traces of noise in the EM5 image which isn’t present in the GM1 shot when viewed at 100% magnification. I have always been impressed by the EM5 images and just how clean the images are, but the GM1 appears to surpass this when both cameras are used at their base ISO.
If you are wondering why I find this so important, it’s because this noise becomes amplified in post processing, especially when enhancing images with structure and dynamic contrast tools. The less noise is present, the higher the quality of the finished image and the less noticeable any image artefacts are.