December 29, 2013


When I first moved to Florida my partner and I became Disney World annual pass-holders and decided that this year we would spend Christmas at the happiest place on earth. We also decided to spend the first two days of our vacation at Universal Studios Orlando. Since I had recently purchased a 7.5mm MFT fisheye (Bower version), I decided to become familiar with it at the park and from the get go it was mounted to my EM5. I took it off on occasion, but this lens was so much fun it was in use for about 95% of the time. I think this lens works extremely well at a theme park because the attractions are often immense, you are surrounded by people, and there are bright colors and interesting shapes everywhere. The distortion caused by the fisheye accentuates all of these things and I feel made for some pretty interesting shots. I took an obscene amount of pictures, but below are a few of my favorites.










  




I also shot a short video of one of the roller-coasters at the park because it was pretty intense. I cannot believe I rode it! It was a blast though.. In case you are interested it is named the Hulk. I accidentally had my camera's mic turned off so there is no sound :/ Also, I HARDLY ever take video so I am not sure of all the "specs" here. I undoubtedly need to do more videography research, and this should only be taken as an example of what you can capture with the lens and not necessarily a great example of the EM5's video quality.

video

I had soooooooo much fun not only at Universal, but using this lens there. I highly recommend it especially for shooting at a theme park!

December 19, 2013


To help relieve a severe case of G.A.S. I purchased the 7.5mm MFT fisheye (Bower version) this past week for a very affordable $199 on sale at B&H (unfortunately back to full price now). The following are a few initial shots I took while wandering around my neighborhood- Calle Ocho in Miami, FL. There are plenty of formal reviews for this lens, (see: here, here and here) so all I am going to say is that I LOVE IT! I have seen many post asking how to "defish" the images this lens renders, but my approach is to embrace the distortion and use it to come up with interesting compositions. The only problem I had with this lens is that my fingers sometimes "ruined" my shot... especially when I was in magnify mode (to help me manually focus) and did not look at the entire frame before hitting the shutter button. After a couple of botched frames I made it a point to hold my camera differently and it became a non issue. In post, I also noticed a fair amount of chromatic aberration, but this was very easily fixed in Lightroom 4.  I am on my way to Disney World for Christmas and cannot wait to use this lens there!!! Thanks for dropping by, hope you enjoy some of these photos =)

Sam D.













For more on this third party fisheye:
Part II: Universal Studios
Part III: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

December 13, 2013


This idea was first published here, but I thought to isolate the subject and expand upon it in a separate post due to inquiry from Flickr contact. Diffusion is important because it reduces the "harshness" of your flash. Studio photographers have come up with all sorts of flash diffusion techniques and one of the simplest is to bounce your light off of an umbrella or white wall. This effectively smooths the light and gives it a more natural look. As of now, I do not have an off camera flash, and my kit flash cannot be aimed at a wall or umbrella for diffusion. I spent a good while contemplating how to soften the kit flash's output and by complete accident I stumbled upon the solution of diffusing using latex gloves. I had a pair left over from a while back when I had to deal with a mold issue so I cut two fingers off (thumbs-largest) and fitted them over the small flash head. If you do this make sure the glove is stretched taught across the "bulb area". Below are examples of photos taken with (right) and without (left) the latex diffuser.

FULL power
1/2 power
1/4 power
1/8 power
1/16 power
1/32 power
1/64 power
Besides me needing to badly clean my keyboard, you can see that the light in all the photos on the right is more natural looking and evenly distributed than the photos on the left. All it takes to accomplish this is a small amount of latex and I think it can really help efforts in macro photography using the BCLmacro or unmodified BCL and Meike extension tubes. There will be some instances when you do not want a softer flash and removal of the latex is quick and easy. If you are in teested in using latex as a diffusion method, I suggest purchasing finger cots to reduce environmental waste:


I cut one of the fingers in half and you will end up with a "ring" of latex and the "finger part". From here I just stretch the two pieces of latex over the kit flash. End result in selfie mode because I have no other camera:


You can also use latex to diffuse other continuous light sources such as flashlights:


 Light before diffusion:

 Light after diffusion:

I have also used latex to diffuse a light up ice cube that came with an adult beverage bought at Disney's Hollywood Studios:


I thought this would be a neat light source because it can change colors:



Of course the output is not very high, but these small diffused continuous lighting options may work for macro and small product photos:


So unless you are allergic to latex, using it may be a viable option for flash and other light source diffusion. The only downside is that it is impacts the aesthetics of your camera. Hope this idea is useful for someone, thanks for stopping by!!

Sam D.

All photos in here (click) were taken with diffused kit flash.

Wicked


December 11, 2013


Since I was catapulted into the world of macro by discovering the BCLmacro, I have fallen in love with this form of photography. This is not a big surprise, as I really enjoyed working under a microscope while in graduate school. I purchased the Meike extension tubes after researching macro photography while offshore and thought to write about my experience using them so far. These extension tubes were quite inexpensive when I purchased them (about $25), but in the past month have gone up in price. The tubes are ideal because they allow for communication between the camera and your lens (if the lens has electronic contacts). I assume what I present could be duplicated using ones without electronic contacts, but the Meike variation enables you to auto focus and retain exif data. Micro four thirds photography (http://m43photo.blogspot.com/) published a great review of these extension tubes and how they perform with a suite of Panasonic lenses. I found that these worked really really well when used with the Olympus body cap lens and modified BCLmacro. For a comparison, I also show how these tubes perform with the Olympus MZD 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens.

Magnification


The figure below is a summary of the magnification between each of the lenses when coupled to the 10mm, 16mm, or both (26mm) extension tubes. To assess the magnification, I simply photographed a ruler. The first row is of the BCLmacro and the next two are of the unmodified body cap lens at it's close focus and infinity distances. As you can see, the difference between the infinity and close focus distances is not that noticeable when used with the 16mm and 26mm extension tubes. Overall, the BCLmacro has the greatest magnification and the 45mm MZD portrait lens has the least.


Below is a table outlining the millimeters photographed and calculated magnification [18mm (sensor size)/mm's photographed]:

Closest focus distance


While photographing the ruler I also measured the closest focus distance which is the distance between the lens and the subject. The working distance was also calculated and represents the distance between the sensor and the subject. Both are summarized in the table below. Interestingly, the differences in magnification between the BCL at the infinity and close focus settings is small, BUT the closest focus distance is significantly larger with the close focus setting. This is a good thing because some subjects will "flee the scene" if you get too close. In fact, when using ANY of the BCL options you will need to get extremely close to your subject (1-2.3 cm). To put that into perspective, the diameter of  nickle is 2cm... so, you have to get REALLY close. The 45mm MZD portrait lens allows you to keep your distance, but the magnification is not as great.

Sharpness


To assess sharpness, I reverted to photographing a $1 bill which is the subject that I used to describe the BCLmacro.  

BCLmacro

10 mm
100% center crop
16 mm
100% center crop
26mm
100% center crop

BCL @ 0.3m

10 mm
100% crop
16 mm
100% center crop
26 mm
100% center crop

BCL @ infinity

10 mm
100% center crop
16 mm
100% center crop
26 mm
100% center crop

45mm MZD

10 mm
100% center crop
16 mm
100% center crop
26 mm
100% center crop
The following figure shows all the photos above which gives another example of the difference in magnification. 

Since no one goes around taking photos of dollar bills all day, the following are a few real world examples of sharpness. All were taken with the body cap lens variants and diffused kit flash. The photos represent JPEG converted RAW files and 100% crops were taken from in focus areas. 


100% crop

100% crop

100% crop

100% crop




100% crop

100% crop

Conclusion

Overall, my favorite combination is the unmodified body cap lens with the 10 mm or 16 mm Meike extension tubes when set to the close focus (0.3m) position. For ultra close up photos my choice would be the BCLmacro and 26mm extension tube. However, this combination will only work if your subject is static (or very slow) because of the extremely close focus distance. It is also important to note that with any of the body cap lens variants that the DOF is razor thin. This makes focusing difficult and it takes a bit of patience to nail a shot. I have not really used the 45mm portrait lens with the extension tubes because I have had so much fun using the body cap lens, but eventually I will update this and add some sample shots. At $40 on Amazon right now, the Meike extension tubes make a great alternative to a macro lens... especially when coupled to the $50 body cap lens : D I have had a blast exploring the world of macro photography and hope that some part of this article has interested you. Thanks for stopping by! 

Sam D.

If you live in, or are traveling to Florida and would like to schedule a photo-shoot, I am currently offering portrait services in and around Central Fl. Check out more of my work at www.samgoldphotography.com

Additional sample photos:

Cockateil
Eyelash
Seeds
Follow the leader
Pink


 
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