micro 4/3

Friday Image No.116

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Olympus EM5, ISO200, 12-40mm lens, 1/250" at f/8.0
Olympus EM5, ISO200, 12-40mm lens, 1/250″ at f/8.0

I can hardly believe it. This time last week I was in the Lake District, sat in a pub enjoying a nice meal. The weather was turning very cold and the next day I was greeted by a very thick frost. I was staying near to the iconic hill known as Catbells with the intention of walking the Newlands Horseshoe. This image was shot near to the summit of Catbells and is a three-image stich using the Olympus EM5.

In the end, we didn’t make it around the horseshoe. We reached High Spy which is a little short of half way when we turned back. It looked like we would run short of daylight and the conditions underfoot were poor. The big mistake was forgetting my crampons. There was a lot of ice and snow about so walking in just boots was slow going and a little tricky at times. I didn’t mind turning back though as the walk (which I have done several times) gave great views in the first half.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.114

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Place Fell, The Lake District. Olympus EM5 Infrared + Olympus 12-40 lens. ISO100, 1/80" at f/7.1
Place Fell, The Lake District. Olympus EM5 Infrared + Olympus 12-40 lens. ISO100, 1/80″ at f/7.1

This week I would like to share another infrared image. This was captured using an Olympus EM5 which I had converted to shoot Infrared. It was shot in the Lake District at a location called Place Fell and it’s the first time I have been thee. I intend to return in the future as I think there is a lot of material in the right conditions.

I’m not sure why but the day was far better than expected for Infrared. Everything just seemed to be glowing. The EM5 also makes a superb Infrared conversion. The image was then converted to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Best Micro 43 Lenses for Landscape Photography

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Olympus EM5 with Panasonic 45-150mm lens. Want to know more about how this image was shot and edited? Check the video at the end of the blog.
Olympus EM5 with Panasonic 45-150mm lens. Want to know more about how this image was shot and edited? Check the video at the end of the blog.

Over the past week I have received at least four emails asking what Micro 43 lenses I would recommend for Landscape Photography. I can also see quite a few people reading a related post I created back in 2012. Given my advice has changed since I wrote the original post, I thought it was time to revisit the subject. If you would like to know more about the image above, check out the video at the end of this blog post.

Before I share my own recommendations, I believe there are a few points that need to be taken into consideration. These are:

  • Camera Ergonomics
  • Flexibility
  • Shooting Style
  • Budget
  • Quality
  • Features

You should consider these points carefully in order to come to your own conclusions. These points will also help you to understand my answers.

Camera ergonomics

Micro 43 is an extremely flexible format with a large range of available lenses. Unfortunately, not every micro 43 lens will suit every camera in the micro 43 range. The lenses may fit the camera and operate correctly, but are the two well matched. For example, the Olympus 12-40mm may feel great when used on the Olympus EM1. But place the same lens on the tiny Panasonic GM1 and it would feel completely out of place. If the lens makes your camera difficult to work with, it doesn’t matter how good a landscape lens it is.

Flexibility & Shooting Style

It’s a little difficult to cleanly separate these two areas so let’s cover them together.

Consider if you would prefer to work with prime lenses or zoom lenses. My own preference is for zoom lenses as sometimes you can’t get into position with a prime lens. I would much rather have the flexibility of using zoom lenses.

Consider the focal ranges you want to cover with your lenses. My kit covers 9mm to 150mm (or 18mm to 300mm in full frame equivalent). Would this suit your needs for Landscape? Do you need greater coverage of focal lengths or is such a large range unnecessary?

How will you carry your equipment? I use a small shoulder bag in which I carry the camera and main lens as well as two additional lenses.

Budget

The price of some lenses may be restrictive, especially if you are purchasing them new. Some lenses are quite difficult to obtain second hand so you might not have any option but to purchase them new.

Quality

Lens quality is of paramount importance to me. I want to render images that are superbly sharp and which contain lots of detail. This might not suit our style of photography or you might place other features ahead of image quality. A further example of this is lens distortion (Barrel and Pincushion). Although I say lens quality is paramount, I don’t really mind some level of distortion. If this becomes too obvious, it can usually be corrected by software during post processing.

Features

Are there any features that you need in a lens? For example, you may require the lens to be water resistant. One feature that I find important is the ability to mount filters to the front of the lens. Personally, in common with many landscape photographers, like to mount graduated ND filters on my lenses to help control exposure. Some ultra-wide angle lenses such as the Panasonic 7-14mm won’t accept such filters. The 7-14mm lens is a super performer but the frustration it caused me when trying to use filters resulted in me selling the lens.

Do you need image stabilisation in your lenses? I shoot with an Olympus EM5 which has in camera stabilisation so having a stabilised lens is not important to me. If your shooting with a Panasonic Micro 43 camera, this might not be the case. Equally, if you work exclusively on a tripod, you won’t need this feature.

How about having a constant fast aperture or close focus range? You need to think about these.

My Recommendation

Based on everything I have said, my current recommendation for the best Micro 43 lenses for landscape photography are:

  • Olympus 9-18mm
  • Olympus 12-40mm
  • Panasonic 45-150mm

These lenses are in my core kit and the ones that I take with me when travelling. All of these perform excellently, producing very sharp images and resolving fine detail. Of the three, only the 12-40mm is large. The other two are tiny for their focal range. I am prepared to accept the additional size and weight given the lens is weather sealed and has amazing optics. It also has a very close focus distance even at the 40mm end which makes it a pseudo macro lens if I don’t have room for one. In fact, the 12-40mm is such a great lens for my style of photography, it remains on the camera probably 90% of the time.

In the past I have worked with a Panasonic 14-45mm kit lens from a GF1. These are excellent lenses and available at a good price second hand. This is a good option if you don’t want the size, weight or cost of the 12-40mm lens. It’s sharp and versatile but lacks a little on the wide end of the focal range (for my preference).

If your confused by the multitude of lenses available in the Micro 43 range, consider the areas mentioned carefully before committing to a purchase. Whilst my lens choice is perfect for my needs, they may not be suitable for you.

If you like this video be sure to subscribe to my You Tube channel.

Robin Whalley You Tube Channel

Friday Image No.109

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The beach at Godrevy, Cornwall. Olympus EM5, 12-40 lens + 0.9 ND Graduated Filter
The beach at Godrevy, Cornwall. Olympus EM5, 12-40 lens + 0.9 ND Graduated Filter

It’s the end of another week and I’m preparing for an early morning start. I’m going to try some shots over in the Peak District but as is often the case, the weather forecast doesn’t look too good. Hopefully things won’t look quite as bad when I get on location.

I have also been busy trying to find an image to share but I wasn’t coming up with much. In the end I selected the image above. I have shared other images from this shoot in the past but I really like these.

This is a single RAW image processed in Lightroom and then enhanced with Nik Viveza. I have tried to keep the adjustments looking natural and I hope you like the treatment.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.107

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The Volcano on Vulcano. Olympus EM5 with 9-18mm Olympus lens.
The Volcano on Vulcano. Olympus EM5 with 9-18mm Olympus lens. Click to enlarge the image and get the real real experience.

I’m a little late today having been working solidly since around 07:30 this morning (it’s now 21:30). I have a backlog of work that seems to be getting longer every day and I have a full weekend and following week ahead of me. I need to cheer myself up and not just by dreaming of the Fuji XT2.

To make me feel better, here is one of the images from my recent volcano trekking trip to Italy. Here’s one from the rim of the volcano on the island of Vulcano. It’s actually a three image stich shot with the Olympus EM5 using the 9-18mm Olympus lens. The stitching was done in Lightroom.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Image No. 102

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Three image stitch using Lightroom. Olympus EM5 f/7.1, 1/250" at ISO200. Hanheld with the Olympus 12-40 lens.
Three image stitch using Lightroom. Olympus EM5 f/7.1, 1/250″ at ISO200. Hanheld with the Olympus 12-40 lens.

Last week I was in the Lake District followed by France. That seems so long ago now that I thought I would share one of the images. This one was captured on the Olympus EM5 and is three shots merged in Lightroom. The light on the day was quite blue and the hills were a very vivid green so this image is pretty true to life. I did do a little post processing in Alien Skin Exposure X, applying the Agfachrome 1000 RS slide film simulation. If you think you can see noise in the sky, it’s actually the grain simulation.

Have a great weekend.

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Appealing Nuclear Power

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Seascale Nuclear Power Station. Olympus EM5, Panasonic 45-150. Three image stitch with post processing in Nik Silver Efex.
Seascale Nuclear Power Station. Olympus EM5, Panasonic 45-150. Three image stitch with post processing in Nik Silver Efex. Click to see a larger version of the image.

Firstly, my apologies for the blog and video silence over the past week. I decided to take a break with my wife to do some walking in the Lake District and then to visit our Grandson over in France. In fact, I haven’t been back in the UK for more than a few hours and wanted to share this image.

I shot this from the top of a hill in the Lakes called Black Coombe. The Power Station in the centre of the shot is at Seascale and beyond this you can just make out the hills in Dumfries (somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a while but never found a good excuse).

The image was taken handheld with the EM5 and Panasonic 45-150 lens at 150mm. It’s not bad and should print OK but it is suffering from a lot of atmospheric distortion. The best cure for that of course is convert the image to black and white then throw in a lot of grain. It hides the fine detail but helps make the image appear sharper and less distorted.