Sep 282016
 

Image quality. On the PEN-F we see a moderate increase from 16 Mpx to 20 Mpx. That’s not bad, but most competitors made the jump from 16 to 24. If we take the smaller sensor area into account, we can expect that all current cameras of about the same price segment have about the same pixel sizes with about the same per-pixel quality. I can’t verify my expectation, but the fact, that most of the sensors involved originate with Sony, supports my expectation. Obviously different sensor sizes make for a difference in resolution.

When working with images, I frequently look at them on pixel level. The higher the resolution, the smaller the part of the image that I see, but while I am at pixel level, resolution is not a criterion for image quality. Noise is one. I know how it looks like on pixel level. I know how it looked on the D200, D300, the LX5, E-P2, OMD E-M5 and finally on the twins OM-D E-M1 and PEN E-P5.

There was a distinct quality gain from the D200 up to the D300. There was an even bigger step back to the LX5. The E-P2 was worse than the D300 and maybe about equal to the D200. The OMD E-M5 was a big step over the E-P2 and it also surpassed the D300. The last two didn’t make much of a difference, their advantages were elsewhere.

The PEN-F? Maybe slightly better on pixel level, but it is close. Therefore the relevant difference is again the number of pixels.

Does it count? My logic would say no (or only slightly), but working with the pictures, I’d say the difference is significant. I try to frame precisely, but I still find myself cropping or rotating or skewing. Doing so, I always have to sacrifice a few pixels, and having more of them to begin with, definitely helps.

Is it worth the few annoyances? Yes, I think so. At least I wouldn’t want to go back. The PEN-F is it, and if I find enough common sense, I’ll put the E-P5 up for sale within the next days đŸ™‚

Is it worth the money? Do I recommend you sell your E-P5 + VF-4? That’s a tough question. As a recommendation, I’d say no. At least you should try to look through the PEN-F’s viewfinder first.

And what if you have only the E-P5 without VF-4? Well, I’d probably still recommend buying a used VF-4.

And if all that is like I said it is, why, you ask me, did I buy the PEN-F at all? Good question, I’d say. I suppose it was mostly for the looks and because I could afford it. It also was for the integrated viewfinder, a feature that I like, but if I think of why I like it, it’s probably also mostly for the looks.

Interestingly enough, the most useful feature of this camera over its predecessors is the dedicated exposure compensation wheel. And I guess that’s it.

3605 – More Rural Beauty, Less Color

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO  Comments Off on 3605 – More Rural Beauty, Less Color
Sep 012016
 

OK, back to Carinthia, back to the E-M1, back to the big, long and heavy lens. Well, at least for Micro Four Thirds that is.

Does it make a difference? Sure, it does. Here we have a dreamy, rural scene, shot wide open through a lot of foreground dandelions, augmented by a pseudo-infrared black and white conversion in Lightroom. You can’t do that with the cheap plastic lens at f5.6 or, as I mostly use it, at f8.

On the other hand, aside from the conversion, the use of foreground bokeh is an effect. I like it, but using it makes the image less dependent on composition. In a way it just looks good all of itself.

I wouldn’t call it a cheap effect (certainly not in a literal sense, when you consider the price of the lens), but when I think of it, working without it takes more creativity.

Well, look at yesterday’s streetlight overwhelmed by the tree. Positioning the light was a conscious decision. I put thought into it and I like the image, because there is much of myself in it.

You know that I have my problems with the concept of “style”, but as it is, you can’t escape developing something like that. Yesterday’s image has more of my style than today’s. Today we see just a technique that I employ a few times a year, when I feel like it or, like here, when the lens permits it.

Here’s the color version.

3589 – The Secret of the Spiral

 Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0  Comments Off on 3589 – The Secret of the Spiral
Aug 162016
 

Do you also like this kind of images? Exotic spiral staircases? I certainly do. You see a real lot of them on Flickr and elsewhere, and I have always wondered how people find so many of them.

Well, I suppose I know now. I’ve always looked in public places for big spiral staircases. Of course the few that I found were always full of people. Recently I discovered this one, and suddenly it all became clear: they are tiny and narrow! They are not in big public buildings, they are in private houses.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll suddenly find more of them, but it means I can stop looking in the wrong places đŸ™‚

3526 – Only 10 More Steps

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO  Comments Off on 3526 – Only 10 More Steps
Jun 142016
 

This is f5.6 at an effective focal length of 300 mm, focused on the two people walking towards “Villach’s probably most beautiful terrace along river Drau” (love those overly specific claims!). As you see, there’s plenty of DOF, but I don’t mind.

Much to the contrany in fact. Normally my problem with long lenses is, that I can’t use them to capture what I see. Depth of field is a simple physical characteristic of a lens, but it gets much mor ecomplicated when it comes to the human eye and to the brain doing the final processing.

We are vigilant creatures by nature. Our eyes constantly scan the environment, flicking across the scene, always re-focusing. In the brain these raw signals are merged together. Much detail is immediately dropped, different depth layers are mentally joined into one image, and sometimes this process of merging even goes along the time axis.

Therefore, if I want to isolate a certain depth layer, I can easily do it with a long lens completely opened up. In many ways that is satisfying, not because it perfectly records what we see, it’s because our eyes never see that way. It’s the exotic that we love in shallow DOF images.

If I strive for more compositional photography by cutting a frame from reality, then shallow DOF gets in my way.

3507 – Lonely Stairs at the Railway Station

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3507 – Lonely Stairs at the Railway Station
May 262016
 

This image was taken at f5.6, 1/20s and ISO 1600. I wouldn’t have needed DxO to process it. I did, just to try out their keystone correction tool.

Well, it works đŸ˜€

In the end, the result of my evaluation of DxO Optics Pro 10 was that I bought it. You need the “Elite” version in order to get PRIME noise reduction, and while I was at it, I just bought the whole suite, including Viewpoint (the geometry correction tool, also with support for eye-friendly de-fishing) and Filmpack.

Since then I have hardly used it – but still, for the things it does well, mostly high ISO noise reduction, it is a nice arrow to have in your quiver.

3472 – The Bark

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3472 – The Bark
Apr 212016
 

I think I haven’t taken less images in any period of the last ten years than in in the last few months. Here we have the sole survivor of a desperate attempt one afternoon in Villach. Nevertheless, in black and white it even turned out interesting.

It’s hard to tell what the reason for my dwindling interest in photography was. A that time, in late December, I didn’t have the stress at work that I currently have, and I didn’t have anything else that occupied me or my mind. It was just some kind of sluggishness. Thankfully that seems to be over now đŸ™‚

3444 – The Wooden Tower

 Mitakon Speedmaster 25/0.95  Comments Off on 3444 – The Wooden Tower
Mar 242016
 

Here we have two images of the new wooden tower on Pyramidenkogel (“Pyramid Hill”), a free-standing hill with a great view over most of Carinthia.

It was the first time I’ve been there since they’ve replaced the old concrete tower, and unfortunately while I drove the 20 km from Villach down to the tower, clouds gathered. When I arrived, the sun was gone and the light flat. I decided to skip buying a ticket and try it another time.

The images were taken with the Mitakon Speedmaster 25/0.95 at something like f4 or f5.6.