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.


Filed under: m4/3, Nikon, Personal 4 Comments

D700 vs G1

Saw this a while ago but for some reason it didn't register:

The G1 has 1/4 the sensor area of the D700, and the results show an exact 2-stop hit.  Neat.  So in terms of imaging the G1 is basically like a D700 with a 2x teleconverter permanently attached (bug or feature, depending).


Images of the G1 and Leica M lenses

Very exciting stuff showed up on LeicaRumors over the last couple of days. I couldn’t care less about the M8 “panda” but the enthusiasm surrounding the little Panasonic wonder G1 is really contagious. The Leica-M adapters are shipping to users now and you can see the unavoidable camera porn here and here.

With a 2x telecentric conversion it’s going to be very difficult to achieve a wide angle of view with the G1, but an embarrassing panoply of choices open up for portraiture in the 70-200mm range. Consider the already-amazing 90mm APO Summicron-M ASPH which converts to a 180mm f/2 APO lens (!).

I can’t help but re-iterate my wishes for the G1’s successor: HD movies and sensor-based image stabilization.

Here I include two examples of particular importance to me because these are two lenses I desire greatly (in my opinion, the two most desirable lenses period):

G1 and 28mm Summicron-M ASPH.  Photo Credits: Flickr user Nokton from Holland.

G1 and 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH.  Photo Credits: Flickr user Nokton from Holland.

Finally, to give you an idea of the scale of the outfit:

G1 and the first Tri-Elmar-M.  Photo Credits: Howard Cummer over at the Leica User`s Gallery.


Real Innovation

Remember the little Micro-4/3 camera that Panasonic launched recently?  The Panasonic G1.  Well it just went up 10 notches in historical significance.

First, if you haven't already, check out the performance of its tiny kit lens.  Besides that lens, there is something else to know about this camera that is making some circles buzz recently. They say it just got infused with a chunk of turbo-charged awesome, nay an intravenous shot of whup-ass.

Some people connected these two dots:

  1. The Micro-4/3 flange distance is 20mm.
  2. The Leica M flange distance is 27.8mm.

With this stroke of genius:

The tiny Summicron-M looks average-sized when mounted.

They accomplished four things at once:

  1. This is lowest entry price into the Leica M system by about $5K.
  2. This is the first and only means (in history) of shooting a Leica M lens with “TTL” viewing.
  3. This is even smaller than the G1's native kit, and is easily pocketable in a regular coat pocket.
  4. This might just be the most image quality per ounce, or per cubic inch, out of any imaging system available.

Imagine a G2 successor that has in-body IS/VR and shoots HD video...  both would be historic firsts for the Leica M lens system!  I really hope that the Leica+Panasonic relationship is going well and that we'll see a true Leica body emerge with a similar foundation.  I can easily imagine a rangefinder using a digital RF patch.

Just when you thought the order of things was settling down, we get this turbulent mixing of new and old… with surprising results. Very exciting.