Lost & Found Photographs

An interesting phenomenon I’ve come across lately, is when someone finds something that another person has lost, they put is some place prominent so that it’s easy to find again. And it’s always been interesting to see the kinds of things that get hung up in various places. Here’s some of what I’ve come across so far:

Comparing Lenses

I don’t use long telephotos much. Most of the time, they don’t fit what I’m shooting or how I’m shooting. But I know they’re useful. Certain shots can only be attained with a long telephoto, such as this one from the summit of one of British Columbia’s coastal mountains.

Even if I could have gotten to a vantage point where the tree would have been roughly the same size in the frame, background compression would have made everything dramatically different. And I likely wouldn’t have been satisfied–though my back and legs would likely have been happier with not carrying a 600g lens up 6000ft.

And for this reason, I keep the Olympus 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens with me. It isn’t used often, but it is used and I’ve created some rather nice photographs with it. And I’ve been perfectly happy with its results. The lens isn’t known for its resolution quality. It kind of stinks. But used at the right aperture, it’s a good enough lens for what I need–even at 300mm. And I’ve been content with it.

Until now.

The problem is that I recently decided to compare its resolution with a legacy telephoto I’ve had lying around. A Konica Hexanon AR 200mm f/3.5. It’s a fast lens, though wide open, it isn’t particularly impressive. I don’t have the comparison shots I made. I don’t save those. But I can still tell you what I saw in the two lenses when I examined the images in Lightroom afterward.

The Konica Hexanon 200mm has more resolution at f/4 than the Olympus does at 200mm (which is at f/5). And at f/5.6 there’s enough to crop and up size the image and still be competitive with the Olympus lens at 300mm. These are both at the cost of chromatic aberration, which Olympus controls rather well, being designed for a smaller sensor than 135mm film, like the Konica. But CA can be corrected in post right? Lightroom 4 deals with it really well.

So you would think that the Konica Hexanon would become my preferred long telephoto. So would I. The problem is that the less is massive and heavy. With the adapter it’s over 160mm long and weighs about 900g. And so I say to myself. Huh. If I’m going to be lugging around a massive lens, shouldn’t it be something that I’d find more useful? So at this point the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD is becoming more and more attractive. It’s about the same size and weight as the Konica Hexanon. It’s a zoom,its incredibly sharp, and doesn’t have the CA problems the Konica 200mm has. But that’s a serious wad of cash for a poor grad student. I just don’t know…

Lesson learned: Don’t compare you lenses too often–or at least not when you’re broke. You might create a sense of dissatisfaction that wasn’t there before. I’ll remember that next time.

An evening walk

There’s always construction in our neighborhood. Someone is always building new homes. Everyone, it seems, wants to live in Vancouver, and those who can’t afford to live in the suburbs. That’s not why I live in the suburbs. I’m here because my university is here.

Yesterday and today was the first sunny day we’ve seen since the beginning of October. It was a nice reprieve from the rain. So we want on a walk. And I got this nice view of the sunset…and the construction.

OM-D ISO200 20mm f/1.7 1/4000

Yeah, I know. I should have stopped down…f/2.8 would have maximized corner sharpness much and given me some space in shutter speed for bracketing if I needed to. But I didn’t really need to. The OM-D’s exposure range is such that pushing the shadows in post isn’t a particularly big issue. At least my excuse. The reality is that I’m still not self-conscious enough with settings to maximize my images.

Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Color-Skopar PII – One Complaint

The title of this post is a little deceptive, I suppose. This isn’t a complaint about the lens itself. I’m extremely satisfied with the lens.

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It’s an issue with the Leica M mount adapter. I didn’t (and still don’t) have the extra cash required for either Panasonic’s “official” Leica M to μ43 adapter (Panasonic DMW-MA2M), or for that matter, Voigtlander’s similar adapter (Voigtlander Micro 4/3 – Leica M Adapter). They’re both rather pricey for a piece of metal. But with that price, you’re also paying for accurate tolerances and the ability to focus to infinite.

If you make an adapter even the slightest bit too thick. It’s not going to focus to infinite. And that doesn’t make photographers happy at all. So what third party adapter makers do is play it safe. They intentionally make the adapter too thin. That way, you’re guaranteed a lens that goes all the way to infinity focus (and “beyond”).

The problem is that you pay a price for that. Everything bit of turn on the focus ring beyond infinity focus is lost in what you would normally get at the minimum focusing distance.

This isn’t always a big deal. SLR lenses tend to have relatively short minimum focusing distances anyway. So what’s the the loss of an extra inch, really? No much, most of the time. But M mount lenses aren’t SLR lenses. And they don’t have SLR lenses’ focusing distances. And that means the loss is that much more significant because the smaller flange distance allows less room for error. And that my complaint. In pairing this superb lens to my camera, I picked up second hand with a cheapo $15 adapter (RAINBOWIMAGING Leica M Lm Lens to Micro 4/3 Four Thirds). The lens that’s supposed to focus down to 70cm, only focusing to 90cm. That’s nearly eight inches for any Americans out there. It also changes the dimensions of the frame at the closest focusing distance from having a 17 inch diagonal to having a 22 inch diagonal and adds an extra inch of depth of field when shooting wide open: from 3.64cm at 70cm to 6cm at 90cm. All of this is frustrating when you only get so much to work with from the start. This longer minimum focusing distance hurts a lot.

So now I need to decide between trying a new adapter or just living with it. I don’t know yet.

WordPress Image Compression?

I don’t know what it is, but I’m not particularly happy with how my images look on my blog as opposed to how they look on my computer or in print. This one, in particular, has lost a lot of its attractiveness and looks significantly more grainy and pixelated than it is supposed to.

Backpacking the Howe Sound Crest Trail

There’s a superb trail that goes from Cypress Bowl in West Vancouver to Porteau Cove. It isn’t exactly a deep wilderness trail. In this case, you make a trade: distance from civilization for amazing panoramic views of Howe Sound at a mile above sea level. Water can be an issue simply because you’re above most sources, but there are a handful of useful places where you can fill up. For my wife and I, it was the last backpacking trip of the summer back in August. We slept in hammocks under the stars and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

It’s locations like this in British Columbia that make 8 months of rain every year worth every moment of it. And being able to hike 30 miles with a nice compact camera, like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and three lenses is just perfect (Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6, Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4, & Olympus 45mm f/1.8). Even with extra batteries, my gear weighed less than a kilo. That’s really nice for long hikes with major elevation changes like this. I’ll be printing some 16×20’s of many of these.

In the first miles of the hike you pass through the small alpine ponds around Yew Lake:

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OM-D ISO200 25mm f/1.6 1/4000

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OM-D ISO200 9mm f/4 1/400

At this point, we’re still near the ski area of Cypress. The trail is nice and wide and well formed. We also still have energy and our feet don’t hurt. Ah, the deceitfulness of the beginning of a hike.

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Fallen Giant OM-D ISO200 9mm f/4 1/2000

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Old Stump OM-D ISO200 f/5 1/200

The majority of the trail, though, involves regularly going above and then again below the tree line. Summiting one peak going down and then going back up the next. We camped at St. Mark’s Mtn. the first night and enjoyed a beautiful view. Including the beautiful sunset and sunrise.

Howe Sound Sunset from Mike Aubrey on Vimeo.

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The Setting Moon OM-D ISO200 9mm f/4 1.3s

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Sunrise OM-D ISO200 25mm f/2.2 1/320

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Sunrise over the Sound OM-D ISO200 25mm f/2.2 1/200

In the end, the only downside to the trip was the fact that the portion of the trail between Cypress Bowl and the Lions can get rather busy with day hikers. But once you get past that point, it’s a lot less crowed. Even still, we Canadians are a friendly lot anyway and we enjoyed a couple nice conversations with a few other hikers.

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Untitled OM-D ISO200 9mm f/4 1/800

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Untitled OM-D ISO200 9mm f/4 1/1250

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OM-D 18mm Stitched Panorama

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The Lions OM-D ISO200 18mm f/5.6 1/500

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Untitled OM-D ISO200 18mm f/5.6 1/1600

Standing in the Clouds
Standing above the Clouds OM-D ISO200 9mm f/4 1/2500

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The Lions OM-D 25mm Stitched Panorama

A two lens kit

Well, I’m hoping that it will be a three lens kit rather soon, but for now, it’s a two lens kit. One of the purposes of micro four thirds is compact size and to that ends, pancake lenses have been quite popular, especially the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7.

One of the main reasons I picked up the Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 pancake was so that I could have a pancake trinity to go along with my OM-D. The third lens will end up being the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 eventually, but that will have to wait. There are other bills to pay.

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In the meantime, though, these two lenses make for a rather nice little pair. The camera fits nicely in my jacket pocket with a lens in my trousers pockets. Perfect. And I’ve enjoyed trying them out together over the past two weeks. I still find the colours quite nice on the Voigtlander

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OM-D ISO200 35mm f/4

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OM-D ISO200 35mm f/8

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OM-D ISO200 35mm f/2.5

It works extremely well as a short telephoto (70mm equivalent) and is just long enough for nice head shot portraits, though I haven’t had an opportunity for that just yet. The closest to a portrait was this candid shot I got of a small boy eating lunch at a Starbucks (his mom was getting her drink):

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OM-D ISO200 f/2.5

As you can see, overcast sky has returned to the Fraser Valley and summer is over. It was bound to happen.

The only real disappointment with the lens—and I was fully aware of this limitation before I bought it—is the rather long minimum focusing distance of 70cm. That’s pretty standard for rangefinders and that’s what this lens is designed for. But it was a sacrifice worth making, already having the Panasonic 20mm to fill in that gap. It may be a good bit wider than the 35mm, but its minimum focusing distance is 20cm. Between that and its larger aperture, it makes up for any faults of the Voigtlander.

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OM-D ISO200 f/5.6

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OM-D ISO200 f/1.7

All in all, I’m quite happy with the pair. They’ve done great work so far as my minimalist/portable kit and I’m looking forward to continuing to enjoy them through the winter.

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OM-D ISO200 20mm f/5 1/80

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