Month: June 2015

Do You Want a Fisheye Lens

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Salt Flats, Bolivia. Olympus EM5 with Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye.
Salt Flats, Bolivia. Olympus EM5 with Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye.

I noticed the other day that Olympus has a new 8mm fisheye lens about to launch. Ordinarily I am a huge fan of Olympus equipment and especially there lenses. But this one, I’m not even interested in. The reason is the price. I’m sorry but £799 for a fisheye lens is way overpriced. It’s not as though this will be a main lens. It will have very limited application and could end up sat in your camera bag without ever being used.

If you use micro 43 cameras and are interested in buying a fisheye, take a look at the Samyang 7.5mm. This is a really well built lens for around a quarter of the price. It feels solid and is a joy to use. It’s almost the same focal length and gives 180 degree view just like the Olympus. The key difference (other than price) is that this is a manual focus lens but don’t let that stop you. At f/2.8 you will get depth of field from 30cm to infinity. Basically just stop down to f/5.0, focus on infinity and shoot away without focusing.

The other aspect of the Samyang that some might find unusual is that you don’t set the aperture using the camera. The camera will report the aperture as 0.0 as if there isn’t a lens attached. Instead you set the aperture on an aperture ring around the outside of the lens. Personally I really like this although I admit it might not be to everyone’s taste.

In short, this is a great lens and an excellent price. If you want a fisheye then I would recommend taking a look at the Samyang.

New Lenscraft Tutorials

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Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, ISO800, f/5.6, 1/20". Processed in Photoshop with Nik Silver Efex Pro. The window light is totally false.
Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, ISO800, f/5.6, 1/20″. Processed in Photoshop with Nik Silver Efex Pro. The window light is totally false.

I have been hard at work over the past month developing further tutorials for my Lenscraft website. All are free in the hope they will help photographers everywhere (as well as promote the Lenscraft website). If you find these helpful please pass on the link to others:

Simulate Film Grain Using Photoshop Layers

Simulate Film Grain Using Photoshop Camera Raw

Understanding HDR Photography

Photo Sharpening Tips You Need to Know

What is Depth of Field

Sharpening with the Photoshop Unsharp Mask

What is Creative Camera Control

Correcting Converging Verticals in Lightroom

Organizing Lightroom Presets

The Best ISO Setting

What is an F-Stop?

How to Install Lightroom Presets

Dodge and Burn in Photoshop

How to use Photoshop Actions

Add an Image Border in Lightroom

Preparing an Image for Flickr

You can find all these tutorials and more in the Resource Hub section of Lenscraft (

I’m also really keen to provide tutorials about subjects that people want to read about so if you have any ideas or thoughts please email me at

Friday Image No.56

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Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, Olympus 9-18 lens, f/5.0, 1/30", ISO200
Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, Olympus 9-18 lens, f/5.0, 1/30″, ISO200

This week’s Friday Image is another from my recent revisit of Wells Cathedral.

What I am finding interesting is that this trip appears to have many more image that I like than my previous trip. I don’t know if I have developed as a photographer (I certainly hope so) or if there is another factor. I recall that I spent a lot of time on my first trip fighting the equipment. The Canon 5D just didn’t work for me in this location and I tended to avoid using the LX5 as I mentioned in my last posting.

For this trip I used the Olympus EM5 with a couple of lenses and it seemed to work much better. I did miss quite a few shots still through camera shake but overall the camera seemed better to handle.

Hope you like the image (there are probably a few more to come) and have a great weekend.

PS I also did the monochrome version below but I think I prefer colour for this one.

Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, Olympus 9-18 lens, f/5.0, 1/30", ISO200
Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, Olympus 9-18 lens, f/5.0, 1/30″, ISO200OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not Following my Own Advice

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Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, ISO800, f4.5, 1/10" handheld
Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, ISO800, f4.5, 1/10″ handheld

I recently wrote a short tutorial titled “The Best ISO Setting”. Whilst you can of course read it by following the link, it comes down to this, the best ISO to use is the one that lets you capture a sharp image. It’s much better to suffer a little ISO noise than have a shaky image. You can also correct a lot of the noise but camera shake is very difficult if not impossible to correct well.

Despite this sound advice, I still find myself trying to shoot at low ISO’s and achieving poor results. The other problem I sometimes have is that I want Pixels, lots of pixels and the ability to print large. I therefore tend to reach for my Olympus EM5 when I should really be picking up a compact camera such as the Panasonic LX7 or Canon G16. Typically I have made this mistake yet again quite recently.

A few years back I visited Wells Cathedral which is a super location for photographers. Yes you need to pay for a photographers pass but it’s not very much and it will allow you to walk around taking photos all day. At the time I was shooting with an LX5 and a Canon 5D MKII. The results from the Canon were pretty poor with many images being soft and noisy. I also had problems with depth of field as the Canon was full frame and I was typically needing to use the lenses wide open. The LX5 by contrast was also being used wide open but the images had much better depth of field thanks to the small sensor. The images were also nice and crisp if not a little noisy. I realised – much too late – that the LX5 was the better camera for the location.

Roll on to a couple of weeks back and I was driving back from Cornwall. I decided it was time for a detour and pulled off at Wells to visit the Cathedral again. This time I took the EM5 and made the mistake of leaving behind the G16. The results are good from the EM5 but I still struggled a little at times with depth of field. I found myself not being able to use the aperture that I wanted without slowing the shutter speed too far. I would probably have been better off with a compact camera but for some reason I just didn’t put one in my pocket.

The moral of this story is that you shouldn’t always follow popular wisdom but check what really is the best tool for the job.

Sony RX10 – Is now the time to buy

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The sea in Cornwall has a wonderul colour and the Sony RX10 captures this perfectly.
The sea in Cornwall has a wonderul colour and the Sony RX10 captures this perfectly.

I just received an email from WEX Photographic saying that I can pre-order the RX10 MKII. Whilst they don’t list the release date, it must be soon. The price is just short of £1,200 and browsing the spec, the thing that hits me is that it seems quite similar to the current RX10 model. Sure it shoots 4K video but I suspect the image quality is similar to the RX10 and that, as a landscape photographer is what I’m interested in.

I love the RX10 but I won’t be trading it for the MKII. In fact checking the prices on Amazon I can see that I can pick up the current model for just under £600 which is a 50% reduction on the new release. If all your interested in is still photography and you have been thinking about buying an RX10, now might be the time to keep an eye open for a great deal. I’m even tempted to buy a second one and convert it to Infrared.

Friday Image No.55

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Cornwall, Olympus EM5, 12mm, ISO200, f/7.1, 1/100". Lee Seven5 0.6 ND Grad
Cornwall, Olympus EM5, 12mm, ISO200, f/7.1, 1/100″. Lee Seven5 0.6 ND Grad

In my previous post I showed an image shot during my recent holiday in Cornwall. It was used to illustrate how you can achieve a significant depth of field even at what might appear to be a large aperture. I said in the post that I had a better version of the image which was shot at sunset. I therefore thought that I would share this as this week’s Friday image. I hope you like it.

Have a great weekend everyone.

PS I am still working my way through a large backlog of emails so if I haven’t responded to you yet I will do as soon as possible.

How Much Depth of Field

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Hale, Cornwall. Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/50".
Hale, Cornwall. Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/50″.

Last week I took a well-deserved break (at least in my eyes) and went on holiday to Cornwall. Whilst away I took this photo that I wanted to share with you. The reason for sharing is not that this is a great Landscape image (I have a much better one taken at sunset rather than on an overcast day, that I will share soon). No the reason for sharing this is that it illustrates just how much depth of field can be achieved with smaller sensor cameras.

This image was taken using a Sony RX10 which has a 1” sensor. This is slightly smaller than the micro 43 sensors but somehow Sony has managed to cram 20Mpixels onto it. If you were looking at the print of this scene you would say that the image was in focus from the foreground to the background. It’s only when you view the image at 100% magnification on the screen that you see the distant lighthouse is very slightly outside the depth of field but is still acceptably sharp. Also the flowers nearest to the camera (literally inches from the camera) are out of focus but again this isn’t objectionable. Interestingly you don’t notice either of these points on the print as the image appears very natural.

What really makes you stop and think though is that the Aperture used to achieve this is f/5.6. The trick to this if there is one, is where you place the point of focus. Here I was focussing on the hillside just beyond the foreground flowers (probably around 10 feet from the camera. Had I tried to get all the flowers in perfect focus I would have lost the distant lighthouse. This compromise appears to work very well.

I hope this gives you food for thought about depth of field and needing to use very small apertures.