PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Sometimes it’s better to practice than write

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: I haven’t written anything here in a long time.  It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, but that I’ve been unusually satisfied just doing other things, shooting, among other things.

For most of the intervening time, I have simply been putting mileage on my M9 and the same kit of M lenses I’ve held onto for the last 3 years. Once I found this kit, or this kit found me, I had no desire to keep testing and reviewing more so the reporting ground to a halt.  Needs change though, and there may be more to write about again.

Look at me, I’m care-free!

In a way, writing was a great way to get rid of the unsatisfactory baggage accumulated along the way. Have I been baggage free, then? No. I’ve failed to report just how unsatisfactory the D800 has been for me.

The D800 is the most amazing camera that I just don’t want to use, and I’m still its owner only because of fear that I might need it. Its sensor is so awesomely good that it has rebuffed several cases of egregious pilot error, who needs to expose properly when you can fix 3-stop errors (either way) in post? The downside is that it’s a heavy, fat and ugly beast with only the lenses to match (including ZFs, in my present opinion).

The last lens I mentioned on this site, only with a hint, was the new Sigma 2.8/180mm OS Macro which exemplifies what I've come to dislike with the DSLR. In short it's a beast, I think it’s the biggest lens I’ve handled yet. I found it to be sharp, stopped down, but with the same dull micro-contrast I’ve come to associate with Sigma lenses (fairly or unfairly, OK, don't flame me) so I just didn’t care to finish writing the review.

Look at the 100MP right next to it!

Writing can do more than vent frustrations with a lens or camera, though, it can also be a way to infect others with particular enthusiasm for the same.

There is some of that to go around lately: I’ve jumped on the m4/3 bandwagon and am loving it! How could I not, after Olympus executed precisely what I asked for in this post from 2010 and then provided a terrific answer to this other post from 2011?  Right, I could not avoid it.

Adopting this third system has taught me a lot:

  1. That auto-focus is not completely hopeless, in fact it can be wonderfully implemented and actually deliver the goods for once.  Contrast AF is the right way to do AF, especially with clever eye-priority algorithms, and it isn't slow at all.
  2. That I am in fact happy to give up the OVF for the unique benefits that EVFs provide.  Being able to visualize dynamic range limits directly while framing is a great way to do ETTR.
  3. That adapted lenses from other systems are good (fun, even!) for idle experiments but next to useless in practice.  It was a romantic notion to which I held for a long time, in absence of experience, and which I discarded almost immediately after trying it.  I occasionally find a use for it, but it's rare.

Some of these combinations are laughable.

In the short time since this picture was taken I’ve already added 3 more lenses, at least; I’m addicted to the gratification of excellent and inexpensive m.Zuiko glass now. Just earlier today I compared the new 1.8/25mm Zuiko and the 2/50mm Planar through aperture series, and couldn’t find much to fault in the Zuiko except: tad lower contrast, some field curvature.

I think I am finally getting to see the flaws in m4/3 but it’s taken months of continuous use, far longer than it took for me to fall out completely with the D800.

I’ll probably be writing about the m.Zuiko lenses eventually.


Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Nice to hear for you.
    And I would be happy to know more of your experience with Zuiko glass… BTW, why Olympus and not Fuji, for instance?

    • There are three reasons why I didn’t buy a Fuji:
      1. The lens system is too limited and the lenses aren’t exactly small. One of the things I want badly is a *compact* 70-200 f/2.8 equivalent lens, this is coming for m43 later this year (I knew this when I bought into m43 in the first place).
      2. This is my second (or third…) camera system, so it really doesn’t need to excel at everything. It needs to handle my telephoto needs primarily. The Leica covers the 28-50mm range very well.
      3. At the time of purchase, the Olympus seemed like it had a higher chance of being a polished product. Now it seems like the Fuji X-T1 is a well-polished product too. The Olympus sensor-integral IS is still a pretty good draw, though.


  2. Merci Olivier.
    It will be interesting to know more of your experience – including the flaws of m4/3, as you say… Could you hint at what they may be? I would guess some limitations of the sensor?

  3. Nice to hear from you, I always enjoyed reading the site.
    That Sigma is huge indeed. But there is a super-compact tele out there, the Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 180mm f4 and it is light and small (66×79 vs 95×203, 485g vs 1630g!), optically superb (very sharp right from the go with good magnification) and mechanically fine as well (not quite as good as Zeiss but good on its own).
    But of course it is fully manual so maybe in today’s world the Zuiko 75mm f1.8 for the m43 is just as good in practice and one can actually get one easily.

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