I acquired another “new” camera. This one is an Olympus Pen FT, from the late 1960s. These cameras are “half frame” meaning they use standard 35mm film, but make two exposures in the space of a single 35mm frame. Modern Olympus micro 4/3 digital cameras are also half frame (actually the 4/3 sensor size is ~1/4 of a full frame camera). You can buy adapters to use lenses like the 40mm f/1.4 that came with this camera on digital 4/3 system cameras. They’ll be manual focus and there’s no electronic coupling with the body. But f/1.4 is nice.
Aside from a few scratches on the body, this camera’s in pretty good shape. The lens is clear and the focus and diaphragm work correctly. The body is relatively clean too and the shutter and exposure counter work. The self timer is a bit dodgy, but that’s OK. The FT model has a built-in light meter, but it uses a mercury based battery which is supposed to be hard to get in the US. I haven’t even tried to get a battery, so I don’t know if the meter works or not. It’s surprisingly heavy (all metal construction) and very well made – it lasted for 45 years so far and still works. Do you think today’s cameras will still work in 2056?
I did run some black and white film through it. And I re-discovered that manual focus can be a bit tricky, especially if you shoot at f/1.4 with a relatively dim view finder, like this one. Here’s a couple of sample images:
My first photography teacher – Mr. Dove, had an Olympus Pen. I don’t remember if it was an F or an FT model. Someone stole it from him while he was teaching us and he really missed it. I wonder if he ever recovered it or replaced it.
Here’s another photo from our trip last week to the Circle B Bar Reserve:
Sunrise marsh: Early morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland, Florida
The dynamic range of the light in a scene like this is extreme – a perfect opportunity to try your hand at High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. I won’t get into the details on how to do HDR. You can find an excellent tutorial on Trey Ratcliff’s site. But I wanted to offer a some hints.
For sunrise / sunset images such as this, I usually bracket 9 frames at 1 EV apart. This allows me to capture the very bright sun, details in the sky, and even details in the shadows. You may want to consider biasing your overall exposure to underexpose slightly since it’s usually the sun’s brightness that is hard to capture.
When you process your images, select only the ones you need. I look at the image and histogram in Lightroom and use that to pick which ones to use. In this example, I didn’t process the brightest exposures. The reason for this is that as you use more and more exposures, you increase the chances of introducing noise and ghosting into your final output.
If you can afford it, try different software to process your image. Photoshop, Photomatix, and HDR Efx Pro (and others) all have their strengths and weaknesses and one may work better on any given image than the others.
It’s hot and muggy here in the land of sunshine and the later in the day you go somewhere, the hotter it gets. This is real motivation to get out early – so Frank and I were on the road at 5:30 am yesterday to drive over to the Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland, Florida in time to catch the sunrise. I’m not sure what these flowers are, but I really like how they almost match the color of the horizon:
Misty Sunrise Flower; 9 bracket capture processed with Nik HDR Efex Pro
We saw a lot of the usual wildlife: Limpkins (one with a very large, fist sized snail!), Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Moorhens, Grebes, many Woodstorks (especially in trees) – including some juveniles, a Bald Eagle, quite a few Ospreys, several Hawks, and of course a few Alligators (mostly in Lake Hancock). This Great Blue was posing in front of some Spanish Moss. I wanted to do something a little different, so I converted it to Black and White. It makes it much more of an abstract composition:
Great Blue Heron on one leg with Spanish Moss; B&W conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro
All in all another good visit, but by the time we left it was very warm. I’d like to share some tips with you for this kind of weather. When you travel somewhere in your air-conditioned car and take your cool camera gear out into an environment like this, your lens and eyepiece are very likely to fog up. Try these things to minimize the issue:
Keep your gear packed up while inside the car to insulate it from the cold. It will be much worse if your camera is sitting on the seat by you right in the A/C blast zone as you drive
Consider running the A/C at a higher temp on your way over so the gear doesn’t get so cold
Try to arrive a few minutes early to give your gear time to warm up
Take a lens cloth with you
If you have a filter on the front of your lens, you can remove it when it fogs and get the next shot before the front element fogs up
The smaller your gear, the quicker it will warm up and stop fogging. If your big DSLR glass fogs, pull your point and shoot out of your pocket and keep going.