Help Me to Help You


North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.
North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.

I have been reading some books about blogging recently and apparently I need a mission statement – okay, let’s go with this for a moment. When I started The Lightweight Photographer blog it was my intention to share information about lightweight cameras as well as information about achieving fast results when editing images. Four years on and I feel I have lost a little bit of focus. In an attempt to address this, I wrote a mission statement.

To create a valuable resource of lightweight photography information and to make this freely available.

And this is where I now need your help. When I sit down to write these blogs, as well as the tutorials on Lenscraft, I am guessing a little about what people want. I am also guessing as to what problems and concerns people have about following a lightweight approach. So…

  • Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?
  • Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?
  • Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?
  • Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?
  • Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?

I really want to hear about your concerns, thoughts, observations and questions. This will allow me to focus the blog and my website to hopefully respond to some of these points. If it is to do with photography but in particular lightweight cameras and image editing, then I would like to hear.

Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts.

Thank you.

26 thoughts on “Help Me to Help You

Add yours

  1. Yes to all but number three.I like the versatility of the m43 cameras but the limitations of the sensor size does sometimes come into play

  2. I am a T6i Rebel user, a very serious, experienced photographer. I have been a reader for a long time and looked forward to your posts and tips – at the least, they refreshed my 81yo memory! I have purchased at least six or more of your books as a result of the offer at the end of the info.

    I appreciate you must sell books to make a living, HOWEVER, I now skip most of your emails because they are now just pitches for the books and contain little content.

    I hope you will consider returning to having meaningful content as well.

    1. Thanks Bill, I’m happy to share lots of information but I’m warry of repeating myself. I also want to get a better steer for what people want to read about.
      I’m sorry that you think my emails are a pitch to sell books because they aren’t intended to do so. I want to let people know what I’m working on. I try to share my latest ideas through the blog and add Tutorials and Videos to Lenscraft to cover topics people have asked for. Yes, I like to tie this in to my books where its relevant and I think people might want to read more. I also try to limit my emails to one a month unless there is a significant announcement. Please feel free to suggest topics/subjects and I will do my best to cover them through one of the channels.

  3. Being an Olympus m4/3 fanboy I was surprised to find the E-M1 with a Pro lens is far from small and light.
    Yes compared with full frame or APC equivalent it is relatively smaller and lighter. But compared with carefully chosen alternatives it can come across as an awkward to carry lump.

    As an ‘out on a mission’ camera the E-M1 fits the bill, IQ is sufficient, composability is superb, ISO acceptable.

    But I have better for less, with the inevitable compromises.
    For cycling and street, Ricoh GRii, noticeably sharper lens, smaller lighter.
    For mountains and multidays: DP2Merrill with Ricoh GRii no lens changing, prime lens IQ, shared battery. Unrivalled resolving power from the merrill.

    At the end of the day they are all sufficient for web and the majority of printed output. It boils down to haptics enjoyment and what im chasing on the day.

  4. Actually, a year into micro 43 work I am still a little concerned about all these things. So far, image quality has been outstanding, but I haven’t printed anything really large yet. I was assured that programs such as Resize would enlarge as much as I wanted, but haven’t tried it yet. Aperture still bothers me as does depth of field when doing macro work. I feel less confident judging this things with micro 43 than I did with my full frame camera. Any help with these things is most appreciated. Thanks for the blog.

  5. I am wrestling with which way to go, so this is really a good topic. I currently have pretty complete Nikon D800 and Olympus EM 1 systems. Coming from a MF background, I’m comfortable with the Nikon and the limitations of heavier cameras. What keeps me from selling the Nikon gear is the occasional image that I get from the D800 that just sings. I wonder if I am giving too much away trading 36MP for 16. I’m hoping that the new EM 1 will push me to take the decision.

  6. Anything more than 16MP given the excellent lenses and sensors available today is much ado about not a lot. Micro 4/3 equipment is more than enough. The fact that the equipment in this format is so darn portable compared to everything else means that I will take more images in a given time frame. Photography is in large part about being there and doing. Sensors will improve in every format going forward. I choose to be light on my feet enjoying the journey…..

  7. Dear Robyn,
    Thank you for the chance to send you some input. I am not a great “responder” but I read all of your emails and own about 8 of your books. I find the books invaluable for quickly and easily learning and refer to them often.

    About me: I am almost 68 years old and have a great love of the outdoors and photography. I walk, ski and paddle. An active lifestyle has resulted in lower back and knee issues that prevent me from carrying heavy stuff.

    My Cameras: Many years ago I owned a Canon SLR and several lenses. The camera was ruined in a canoe capsize and I sold the lenses. It was some time before I could buy into digital – with a Lumix FZ20. I loved it but it was ‘big’.
    While planning an overseas skiing trip I realised I needed a camera that would fit under my jacket – to survive skiing in Canada in -25C So bought a Lumix ZS7.
    Then found you and your review of the LX7 – another upgrade. Now while planning to visit Canada in Summer I wanted more zoom, so have just purchased the Lumix TZ80. It is a little noisy but I don’t mind if I cant count the bear’s eyelashes.
    Both of my little cameras fit in a bag that goes under my Goretex jacket when necessary and I can focus from cms to infinity, with a zoom range of 25 to 700mm equivalent and F1.2 to F8 and can print to A3. Very happy.

    So you see I am a true lightweight -I believe it is about what you do with what you have, not what you have.
    Sorry this is a bit wordy. Hope it is of value.
    I love all of your generous teachings and am currently learning the Nik software.
    Many best wishes and thanks, Lorraine. (in Australia)

  8. Hi, Robyn,
    I look forward to your emails and enjoy seeing your photographs and find the reasoning and explanations to go with each shot very interesting. Your post processing advice is extremely helpful and I have purchased several of your books, you have a great way of explaining things. But…I’m still not sold on the concept of going lightweight for myself. Yet. The cost of selling my Nikon outfit to change to a lightweight camera is not justifiable when you consider it won’t necessarily result in better pictures, and I certainly cannot afford both. So I will go on enjoying your thoughts and your photography, feeling a bit of a fraud with my heavy camera bag, but for me until I win the lottery going out with a Nikon D7000 body with a Tokina 11-16mm is as lightweight as it’s going to get..

  9. Buying into any format should be about what it can do – not what it can’t.

    Providing independent and meaningful ‘warts and all’ assessments, commentary and advice to enable your readers to make the maximum benefit of any feature or image style, whether through camera settings, shooting processes or in post processing, would provide the greatest benefit; Especially if it is continually reappraised as technology develops over time.

  10. I enjoy your posts and have learned from many of them.
    My predominant photo interests are street and landscape photography. Currently I mainly participate in UK club competitions, and in our large club m4/3 systems have come to dominate the former genre. The position is more balanced in landscape, but m4/3 systems now do extremely well there as well. It’s only in some areas of wildlife and sports that DSLRs seem to do best, and that is because of fast AF performance, not resolution.
    I have used m4/3 systems since they were introduced, chosen mainly because of neck and back problems I have with heavy FF and APSC systems (mainly with long lenses, of course). I have never heard any judge criticising any m4/3 images in ‘blind’ competitions for having insufficient resolution, either as projected digital images or standard-sized prints.
    In summary, my main concerns for the future in choosing systems for these genres are camera handling/facilities and size for street (image quality being frankly now good enough, but I haven’t found any camera that matches the speedy handling of the Oly E-M1 for street photography), and whether I am going to encounter an issue with resolution when I come to make large landscape prints, which is an ambition later this year.
    I also own a Sony A7S (for low-light street photography) so I would consider an A7Rii for landscape, but the cost is currently too great for me and FF long lenses will always be too large and heavy for me to adopt the A series for general photography.
    Hope that helps.

  11. Evolving and adapting, a way to keep your message and our interest peaked. This is a good thing and your comments and thoughts have helped me understand my equipment and techniques. Your questions:

    Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?
    None,
    Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?
    With the PP now available no.
    Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?
    Again, good technique and the PP tools no out there
    Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?
    No, if I worry about DOF, I shoot a bracketed series and again in PP stack them
    Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?
    Yes, I have 4/3, M4/3, an APSC (Fuji) and to deviate recently an X700 film (to use the same lenses I use on the lightweight cameras.
    I have noticed other blogs doing a retrospective on their mission. I think a stagnant blog cause folks to loose interest and seek challenges elsewhere. We shoot lightweight and enjoy it, I enjoy it more knowing that you are experiencing the same issues that we face and offer solutions and listen. Just look at the comments; Steveeb, Bob and Lorraine to mention but a few, all point to your knowledge, the challenge that they felt able to tackle because of you doing it, your books and the community that follows and responds. It can’t get any better.

  12. Hello Robin

    I really enjoy reading your posts, and I own most of your books, as you are so thoughtful and experienced, and explain things so clearly. We also share a lot of the same equipment and have similar interests in photography.

    I’ve tried to answer your questions below.

    * Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?

    * Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?

    I always feel that I should be shooting full frame, so I have migrated from a Canon 5Diii to a Sony A7Rii. There is no doubt that the image quality of both these cameras is superb. However the camera I want to shoot with used to be the Olympus E-M5, but after a tumble from which I recovered but the camera didn’t, is now the E-M10ii. I bought the E-M10ii rather than the E-M5ii as it is smaller and has a flip out screen that I prefer. Although it is only a half size sensor, the image quality from the old E-M5 and new E-M10ii are excellent. I frequently print on A3 for camera club competitions and the results cannot be faulted, and my successful LRPS panel was mostly shot with the E-M5. So, no, although I feel I ought to shoot full frame, I have no concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for my purposes.

    * Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?

    I have just bought a Sony RX100iv at my brother’s recommendation and am looking forward to seeing what the image quality and noise experience is. He says it is better than his Fuji X-T1.

    * Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?

    I read in one of your blogs that 5.6 is a good compromise, so this is my default setting. If the light is strong I go up to f/8 or even f/11, but, focused the correct distance ahead, 5.6 often gets the job done – thanks for the tip!

    * Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?

    I hardly ever use my Canon 5Diii nowadays. I took it on a “trip of a lifetime” to the Arctic last summer, together with 3 L lenses and a tripod. After a few days of jumping out of Zodiacs into freezing water and hiking up glaciers, I started leaving the (unused) tripod behind, then I just took the lens I thought I would be most likely to use. But after 10 days, I could hardly move my neck. At 64, I have to accept that the spirit is willing but the body is weaker than it was. I’m going to the Antarctic next winter, hence the investment in the A7Rii (have you seen Joe Cornish’s videos on sailing in the Antarctic with a Sony A7R in “On Landscape” online magazine?) I’m sure the E-M10ii will come with me as well!

    With very best wishes, Hilary

  13. Hello. I use both Canon 5dmkiii and Fuji x-t1. I really, really like the x-t1 for travel, but I don’t think it has the same quality when it comes to narrow dof using the macro lens. I also still find it too slow to focus effectively for my liking. If I want to be able to focus quickly and reliably, for example, at a wedding, I’d rely on the Canon every time. I’m also curious as to whether, at the resolution that it has, that prints from shots on the x-t1 could be upscaled to A2 and above. I do find that I can shoot at slower shutter speeds effectively with the x-t1 than the Canon 5dmkiii in comparable situations, providing I am deliberate in my shooting and don’t try to ‘grab’ the shot.

  14. Last but first, yes I use lightweight M43 cameras, esp. a Oly Epl5 stock, another EPL5 converted to 720nm IR, and a third, but an EPL6, converted to full spectrum for color IR and astrophotography. I believe I have mastered these cameras and use them with the clipon EVF’s. For Image Quality, excellent and as good as the EM5 I own but rarely use. I use tripods about 95% of the time with the EPL’s. I also employ Piccure software when additional resolution required. No problem printing A3 with EPL’s and other M43. I use Epson 3800 printer which is exceptional. Noise is not an issue for me but I do not shoot at high ISO’s at night not withstanding astrophotography. I do not have aperture/DOF problems, however I use a lot of wide angle and ultra-wide angle lenses and very little telephoto. I love the portability of M43 and if one pays attention to rules of good photography just about any modern camera can and will give great results, however, the little marvels of the Olympus EPL series are really outstanding and exceptionally light weight.

  15. Hi Robin, I initially replied in the wrong section of your site.

    I own a few lightweight cameras and lenses (Oly EM-1 and EM5 II, plus a Sony RX100 III), primarily because of back issues and simply the fact that I loathe large camera bodies and lenses. I mostly post on my website through Zenfolio, but occasionally will print. I use the Oly bodies the most because of the ergonomics and ability to handle a variety of situations. Having never owned or used a full frame camera from any manufacturer, I sometimes wonder if I am sacrificing too much image quality and dynamic range, and I do feel that pull at times. I enjoy your posts and writings about squeezing the most out of the smaller sensor cameras, and always look forward to your Friday images.

  16. Hi Robin,

    I’ve know you by your eBooks, primarily on digital post-processing. That said, and I’m not a 4/3 or compact camera photographer (APS, is “my last” camera), I would not benefit from any of your mission bullet points. I probably would slowly gravitate away from your Blog, as I enjoy some of your meanderings in photography.

    I hope you can find mission in telling us (in the same detail as your eBooks) how you processed images, whether they be from lightweight cameras…or not. Then you will be able to serve people like me, who think of you as an author of eBooks in photography, rather than only a lightweight photographer. If so you must go into equipment, like Fuji, Sony, and others, which is another can of worms to focus a mission.

    Not that I would object to an occasional blog about lightweight cameras/tripods and accessories, but with a mission statement like you propose, the straight and narrow road might lead to serving only those on that path—not including readers who have joined your journey, without being lightweight.

    Wei Chong

  17. Robin…I appreciate your blog and the concept of being a lightweight photographer. As I’ve aged, now 70, I’ve become less willing to lug around my former Canon 70D and seven lenses. It seems that simplifying my life in as many ways possible is important. I sold my Canon and got a Panny gx8 and three lenses (12-35, 35-70, 100-400). The quality has been fine, but the camera body is a bit small for my hands and the 100-400 is still heavier than I want. Recently, I read a stellar review of the Sony rx10 iii point-and-shoot camera. I’ve only had it a few days and I like it so far. I haven’t found the menus all that difficult to use, as the reviews have stated. It’s very freeing not to have to change lenses all the time too. I am struggling a bit with being a serious photographer and “only” using a point-and-shoot. Ah, the old ego getting in the way again. But, as for your blog and mission statement, it fits me perfectly. Thanks for your focus on those of us who want to shoot lightweight, but don’t want to think of our photography as lightweight.

  18. May I add a P.S. to my previous email?

    I always read with great interest your comments on lenses. The lightweight set-up is only lightweight if both the bodies and the lenses are lightweight. I read a long time ago, and it seems borne out in my experience, that good glass is at least as, if not more, important than the body. The more recent, and supposedly better quality, lenses are much bigger and heavier than the first generation. I have bought the Olympus 12-40 f/2.8, which means that my Olympus E-M10ii now doesn’t really fit in my handbag. And I have bought a couple of “G” lenses for the Sony A7Rii, but I have bought the f/4 lenses not the f/2.8 lenses. Obviously this is the cheaper option, but the main consideration for me was that the f/2.8 lenses are SO big and heavy.

    What do you think about the trade-off between size/weight and quality in the lightweight set-up?

    Best wishes, Hilary

    From: Hilary Everett [mailto:hilary@newmead.co.uk] Sent: 30 June 2016 17:29 To: ‘The Lightweight Photographer’ Subject: RE: [New post] Help Me to Help You

    Hello Robin

    I really enjoy reading your posts, and I own most of your books, as you are so thoughtful and experienced, and explain things so clearly. We also share a lot of the same equipment and have similar interests in photography.

    I’ve tried to answer your questions below.

    * Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?

    * Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?

    I always feel that I should be shooting full frame, so I have migrated from a Canon 5Diii to a Sony A7Rii. There is no doubt that the image quality of both these cameras is superb. However the camera I want to shoot with used to be the Olympus E-M5, but after a tumble from which I recovered but the camera didn’t, is now the E-M10ii. I bought the E-M10ii rather than the E-M5ii as it is smaller and has a flip out screen that I prefer. Although it is only a half size sensor, the image quality from the old E-M5 and new E-M10ii are excellent. I frequently print on A3 for camera club competitions and the results cannot be faulted, and my successful LRPS panel was mostly shot with the E-M5. So, no, although I feel I ought to shoot full frame, I have no concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for my purposes.

    * Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?

    I have just bought a Sony RX100iv at my brother’s recommendation and am looking forward to seeing what the image quality and noise experience is. He says it is better than his Fuji X-T1.

    * Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?

    I read in one of your blogs that 5.6 is a good compromise, so this is my default setting. If the light is strong I go up to f/8 or even f/11, but, focused the correct distance ahead, 5.6 often gets the job done – thanks for the tip!

    * Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?

    I hardly ever use my Canon 5Diii nowadays. I took it on a “trip of a lifetime” to the Arctic last summer, together with 3 L lenses and a tripod. After a few days of jumping out of Zodiacs into freezing water and hiking up glaciers, I started leaving the (unused) tripod behind, then I just took the lens I thought I would be most likely to use. But after 10 days, I could hardly move my neck. At 64, I have to accept that the spirit is willing but the body is weaker than it was. I’m going to the Antarctic next winter, hence the investment in the A7Rii (have you seen Joe Cornish’s videos on sailing in the Antarctic with a Sony A7R in “On Landscape” online magazine?) I’m sure the E-M10ii will come with me as well!

    With very best wishes, Hilary

  19. – Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?
    No.
    – Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?
    Usually, I do not print A3, but I would not be worried about quality of micro 43 for that.
    – Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?
    No.
    – Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?
    A little, recently I have made tests and came to the conclusion that starting at f8 detail is already much lower.
    – Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?
    Yes, because it is lighter, because it has an EVF, because the lenses are smaller and particularly because of the 14-140 mm lens.

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