Tag Archives: equipment

My "New" Olympus Pen Camera

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.

Olympus Pen FT camera with Olympus G.Zuiko 40mm f1:1.4 lens
Olympus Pen FT camera with Olympus G.Zuiko 40mm f1:1.4 lens

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:

Metalwork:  Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film
Metalwork: Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film

 

Figure, Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film
Figure, Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film

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.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Rochester 8×10 View Camera

I was out with Lynn last weekend and she saw an antique store that she wanted to browse through.  I went in with her, and we noticed this wooden 8×10 view camera from around 1910.  Well … I’ve always wanted one and couldn’t resist.

Having some fun with my new toy – a Rochester View Camera, circa 1910.

Although it doesn’t have a name plate, because of markings on the film holders I think this one was made by the Rochester Camera Company.  I’m not entirely sure what model it is although it strongly resembles this one.  It did come with a tripod, case, and several backs including the ground glass and film holders.  The Goerz Dacor f/6.8 Series III No. 4 lens appears in Rochester catalogs from the time and so is probably original with this camera.  The lens is clear and the shutter seems to work fine too, although the rubber pneumatic shutter release has hardened over the years.  All in all, the whole kit looks to be in very good shape given its age, and I might experiment a bit more with it.

Looking it over, it’s hard to imagine carting something like this all over and even climbing mountains to make photographs with it.  It’s huge, heavy and very primitive compared to what we’re used to today.  And once you exposed the image you still had to deal with developing and printing it.  Given all this, it’s amazing how good the results are from back then.  Or is it maybe that only the best photographs survived all this time?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog – now go make some photos!

© 2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

A few more updates

Sorry for not posting last weekend.  Much to do and little time to do it.  Here’s an update on three recent Central Florida Photo Op topics.

Ravine Gardens:  We made another trip up there and I’ve refreshed the main Ravine Gardens post with a few small revisions and two additional photos following our visit yesterday.  Bottom line:  A nice place for spring flowers.

Dogwood blossom in front of azaleas

Dogwood blossom in front of azaleas at Ravine Gardens

Viera Wetlands:  Kevin M. and I went by last Saturday.  Highlights of the trip were the White Pelicans in the click ponds (migrants in Florida) as well as getting images of 3 new (for me) birds.  By the way, the Tree Swallows are very difficult to photograph.  They never seem to perch and their flight patterns are very erratic.  But they are good practice for flight shots!

Least Bittern in the reeds

Least Bittern in the reeds

Tree Swallow?

Tree Swallow

European Starling

European Starling

Sigma 150 – 500 OS:  I did use this lens at Viera last weekend.  It worked well, but started to  “chatter”  one time.  Then it stopped and worked fine after that.  Not sure what to make of it, other than to keep an eye on it over time.

Thanks for stopping by!

© 2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 150 – 500 returns and more flowers

I mentioned at the bottom of this post that I was having trouble with my Sigma 150 – 500mm OS lens and that I’d let you know how it turned out.  I said that I’ve been very happy with it and one of my few complaints was that the Optical Stabilization was a bit noisy.  Lately, it’s developed a “chatter” where it sounds like the OS motor is vibrating back and forth.  While it does this, you can see the image vibrating through the viewfinder.  I sent it back to Sigma to have them check it out.

Sigma called after about a week and said that it tested OK for them.  I described what I’d seen happening in detail and they agreed to look at it one more time.  They called again and said that it still checks out OK and that they were sending it back.  They did mention that cold weather (which can lower the power available from the camera’s battery) might make this happen.  But I shoot in Florida, so I doubt that’s it.  They also said that hitting / knocking the lens can make the OS oscillate.  I’m very careful with my gear and don’t remember hitting it at all, much less the several times when it’s done this, so I don’t think that’s it either.  It arrived late on Friday (after work, so I actually was here for the UPS guy!).  I’m under the weather with another bad cold, so I haven’t had a chance to try it out.  But I will.  I do have two more years of the extended warranty remaining, so I’m not too worried.  If I learn anything more, I’ll update you.

And just so this poor blog doesn’t go too long without an image, here’s one that I reprocessed this morning.

Composite Black and White Image

Composite Black and White Image

The original photo was made in October of 2004 with a Minolta Dimage 7Hi.

Source image

Flowers in glass water bowl

This morning, I ran it back through Nik Silver Effects Pro with four different settings and re-arranged the results into the single B&W image that leads this post.

© 2004 and 2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Macro photography – D7000 or D700?

There are many kinds of photography. I tend towards landscapes, birds & wildlife, and sometimes macro. When I was using a Nikon D90 and a D700, it was pretty easy to decide which camera to use for what. They had roughly the same number of pixels and well known ISO performance. I would use the D90 as my primary bird and wildlife photography body (especially in good light), and the D700 for almost everything else.

Now that I’ve swapped the D90 for a D7000, these questions have become a little harder to answer. The D7000 has better ISO performance than the D90, and more pixels than the D90 or the D700. Clearly, the D7000 is still a very good first choice for bird & wildlife (unless they’re especially cooperative and close), even more so than the D90 because of its improved autofocus and resolution. And in dim light, the D7000’s ISO performance should make it even more useful than the D90, although not as good as the D700. Using the camera now for a couple of weeks has confirmed all this.

But what about landscape photography and macros? This isn’t as easy a question. They’re most often done with a tripod and therefore ISO performance isn’t a factor, so you can use the camera’s base / optimum ISO (D7000 @ ISO 100, D700 @ ISO 200). Which body to use probably comes down to magnification and depth of field vs. diffraction. I hadn’t had a chance to explore using the D7000 for macros, so I decided to do a little experiment today.

My subject is a rosebud from our front garden (by the way, if you know what kind of bugs those are on our rose bush, let me know). The setup was fairly simple: Tripod mounted camera, using the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR macro, and a Neewer LED ring light with the rose against a black background. I used matrix metering, with an exposure bias of -3EV to avoid blowing out the red channel (every digital camera I’ve owned – including the D7000, has overexposed red roses). I tried to keep the positions / setup as close as possible but unfortunately, I had to go back and re-take the D700 photo and it isn’t exactly positioned the same. I used an aperture of f/11 with the D7000 and f/16 with the D700, since those values should give the most depth of field without any degradation due to diffraction. I also used the cameras’ base ISO settings. I then ran the two photos through Capture NX2 with the exact same adjustments ( daylight White Balance, vivid Color Control, Noise Reduction off, and Unsharp Mask set to 30/5/2) and created a .jpg of each.

Rosebud:  D7000, ISO 100, Nikon 105mm macro, 1/20 sec @ f/11Rosebud: D7000, ISO 100, Nikon 105mm macro, 1/20 sec @ f/11

Rosebud:  D700, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm macro, 1/13 sec @ f/16Rosebud: D700, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm macro, 1/13 sec @ f/16

So what conclusions did I draw from this? With a sharp lens, using base ISO, the D7000 makes full use of all of it’s pixels and therefore has very good resolution when compared to the D700. For macro photography, the extra magnification, pixels, and increased apparent depth of field will almost always be an advantage. So my first choice for macro photography now will be the D7000.

What about landscapes? That adds a couple more things to consider (e.g. dynamic range, field of view), so it needs some additional thought and experimentation. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Note: A click on the photos above, will take you to Flickr where you can select Actions / View all sizes to see full resolution JPGs.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

High ISO performance of the Nikon D7000 vs. the D90 and the D700

You’ll have to pardon me, but I’m going to take a short photo op break and geek out a little bit on camera gear.

Today, Adobe came out with a release candidate of Adobe Camera Raw that will process  D7000 RAW files.  I ran a quick test to see how this new camera  compares with the D90 and the D700.

I’ve put together a composite image below, which shows roughly the same scene photographed with each camera.  I kept everything as constant as possible (e.g camera position, light, lens).  The D90 is on the top at ISO 3200.  The D7000 is in the middle at ISO 6400.  And the D700 is on the bottom, also at ISO 6400.

I processed all three images with a zero preset in ACR and then adjusted only the exposure / fill light and tone to make them look roughly similar.  I left all sharpening and noise controls set to zero (off).

Judging by this pseudo-rigorous test, the ISO performance of the D7000 appears to be in between the D90 and the D700.  It looks about the same at ISO 6400 as the D90 does at ISO 3200 (e.g. ~1 stop better).  Noise is not as low as the D700, but resolution looks better.

I’ve put this and other D7000 images in this set on Flickr.  All of them are in high resolution so that you can better judge the image / camera quality.  You can also click on the image below to go directly to it on Flickr.  For any of these, select “Actions / View All Sizes” to see much larger versions of the photos and judge for yourself.

Comparing the High ISO performance of the Nikon D7000 with the D90 and the D700 (view all sizes for a high resolution version)Comparing the High ISO performance of the Nikon D7000 with the D90 and the D700

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Additional Nikon D7000 Samples at Viera Wetlands

Lynn and I went out to Viera Wetlands this morning to survey the wildlife that’s around and so I could get a little more field testing in on the Nikon D7000.  Once again, this great birding spot didn’t disappoint us and although the activity and number of birds were down a bit from their peak during the nesting season, we found plenty to see and photograph.

I’m shooting the D7000 in RAW & fine jpg mode, but using only using the jpg files until later when RAW is supported by ACR and Nikon CaptureNX2.  So far, it’s definitely living up to my expectations.  The combination of more pixels and improved sensitivity is a great for bird photography.  Here’s one shot I did early in the morning, before the almost full moon set:

Great Egret, Ibis, and MoonGreat Egret, Ibis, and Moon, Nikon D7000, ISO 100

On this photo, I cheated a bit. The depth of field on the Sigma 150 – 500 @ 500mm and f/7.1 is too shallow to hold the moon in focus along with the tree and birds.  So I made a second exposure focused on the moon and masked it in using Photoshop.

I set up the camera in auto-ISO mode and let it respond to the varying lighting conditions so that I could see how it performed over a range of ISO sensitivities.  At ISOs up to 1000, there is very little noise.  I need to do some comparisons with RAW files, but so far, it looks to me like the ISO performance of the D7000 is at least a 1/2 stop better than the D90.  Here is one example from today at ISO 900:

A pair of Limpkins share a snail snackA pair of Limpkins share a snail snack, Nikon D7000, ISO 900 (Try repeating that caption 3 times fast!)

Here is another, un-cropped photo of a Great Blue Heron:

Great Blue Heron keeps watchGreat Blue Heron keeps watch, ISO 280

One of the comments on these photos today on Flickr was “You’re lucky to be in an area with amazing wildlife.”  I couldn’t agree more.  And that’s just one of the many ways that I am so very lucky.

You can click on the photos above to view them on Flickr.  I’ve also uploaded several more in this D7000 set on Flickr (sorry, no longer available). Many of them are in high-resolution so that you can better judge the image / camera quality.  You can also view more photos I’ve made at Viera Wetlands here in this set.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Nikon D7000 Sample Images

So far, I’m very pleased with the Nikon D7000. I’ve posted a few sample photos on Flickr in this set (sorry, no longer available).  They were all uploaded at full resolution and all but this one of a very cooperative Red-Shouldered Hawk are un-cropped.

Red-shouldered Hawk, D7000 at ISO 220, full resolution, cropped

Red-shouldered Hawk, D7000 at ISO 220

I haven’t had a chance to do any direct comparisons, but the D7000 results seem very good all the way up to ISOs above 1000.  With the D90 I’ve been reluctant to use anything above ISO 800.

The photos I’ve posted so far were all made in JPG.  I took them in RAW+JPG mode, but so far Adobe Camera Raw and Nikon  CaptureNX2 can not process the RAW files.  To do a real comparison of the performance at different ISOs, I’d like to use the RAW files without any adjustments.  A project for another day.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Make use of wide angle lens perspective

In photography, wide angle lenses typically have a focal length that is much shorter than the diagonal dimension of the image sensor (or film). For a full frame 35mm digital camera, the diagonal measure of the sensor is about 50mm, and this is considered a “normal” focal length.  Wide angle lenses have a focal length shorter than this (typically 12 – 35mm).  It’s important to understand the characteristics of shorter focal length lenses so that you know how to use them in your photography.

Of course, wide angle lenses take in a wide field of view.  They also have a  larger depth of field when compared to normal or telephoto lenses.  And they are also very good at helping you vary the perspective of your image.  What’s perspective?  It’s the relative scale of nearby and distant features.  This is what I want to discuss today.

Take a look at the two photos below.  Both have the same subject matter.  They were both shot with similar focal lengths, but the perspective differs greatly.  In the first photo, the nearest tree is only about 1/3 of the length of the fort in the distance.  In the second, the same tree is almost as tall as the fort is long.  This is a huge change in the relative size of the image elements.

How can you achieve a similar effect?  Wide angle lenses exaggerate the size of things that are close, and make things farther away look smaller.  The wider the lens, the greater this effect is.  When you have a wide angle lens on your camera, you can move closer or farther away from things so that you can control the relative size of close image elements and those that are farther away.

I wasn’t happy with the composition of the first image.  I made the second by moving in closer to the trees.  Since they were nearby, and the fort was in the distance, the trees were enlarged much more than the fort.  Simply adjusting where I placed the camera allowed me to vary the relative size of the trees and fort.

Castillo de San Marco at sunrise
Castillo de San Marco at sunrise, 17mm focal length, f/4.0 @ 1/800 sec, ISO 200

Sunrise at Castillo de San Marcos #4
Sunrise at Castillo de San Marcos #4, 16mm focal length, f/11 @ 1/13 sec, ISO 200

Now that you understand this basic principle of photography, you too can use it to control the relative size of the elements in your composition.  I will leave a discussion of why wide angle lenses aren’t used for portrait photography very often as an exercise for the reader.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Epson R 1900 printer and Exhibition Fiber paper

For your information:

A friend told me about Epson Exhibition Fiber paper and since it was on sale at Atlex, I bought a box to try. Unfortunately, I just assumed that Epson would have a profile for using this paper with my Epson R1900 printer.

They don’t. But I went ahead anyway and got pretty good results with it by printing with the Premium Photo Paper Semi-Gloss profile.  YMMV.