SUMMER FROM THE DECK THROUGH A LONGER LENS

I have wanted to get a long lens for my Olympus cameras for quite a while. I have had the Olympus f4 40-140mm lens for years. I got it as part of a kit, but never enjoyed it. I don’t know why I don’t like it, but I don’t. The pictures come out well enough, but it’s not fun to use.

fuchsia june 2015

Finally, I gave in and bought the Panasonic 45-150 mm. Like the Olympus lens, it is slow (f4) which makes it useful only outdoors. But it is smoother, focuses more crisply, and has — to my eyes — a more attractive bokeh.

Here is early summer from the deck. Through the long lens, on a bright June afternoon.

WAITING WITH THE NEWS – A HEALTH ALERT UPDATE

The only time I read the newspaper is when I’m waiting for the doctor or dentist. Usually, I get headlines online and carefully avoid reading “hard news.”

I don’t want to know. I can’t fix what’s broken in the world. Knowing about it will depress me.

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Yesterday, I had a moderately long wait for the dentist. It was an emergency visit and I didn’t bring my Kindle. My bag is already stuffed, overloaded with camera equipment and everything else.

Garry always buys newspapers and he had brought two. Halfway through the second newspaper, I remembered why I don’t follow news. I caught up with everything I didn’t want to know.

The waiting experience was crowned by seeing the dentist.

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The good news? The antibiotics healed the infection in my gums and if I lay off the flossing, I should be fine. Other good news? My broken tooth was filled. I no longer have a big, jagged hole where my premolar ought to be. In fact, I still have the premolar, or what’s left of it. Even better news? The tooth can be fixed, made good as new, almost.

You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, right? Wait for it …

$1200 for the crown. No insurance. Because health insurance doesn’t cover teeth, vision, or hearing. Eating, seeing, and hearing are cosmetic, not medical issues.

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Now that I know I’m not going to die from infection, I can relax. I can stop being cranky, snarky, and insomniac. Because all I need to worry about is money.

Footnote: The photographs have nothing to do with the post. I took them when we got back from the dentist. With the Pentax Q7, which was not having a good day. It took me an hour to figure out what was bothering it — and set it to rights. I felt obliged to use the pictures.

ON THE EDGE, OFF THE LEDGE

What keeps me on the edge, but off the ledge? Dogs. Friends. Writing. A new camera and a good lens. A husband who is always a challenge. A movie that makes me laugh.

Speaking of Garry (were we?), he likes to hang around on ledges. He’s an edgy, ledgy kind of guy.

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Me? Not so much. I prefer not to tempt fate. Curiosity keeps me going — and safely off ledges. I want to be around to see whatever is coming next.

Survival is nature’s way of keeping the species going. We survive because. I don’t think we need a reason to follow our instinctive need to be.

As for edginess? “Getting old is not for the faint of heart.” Getting through any day is quite a balancing act.

On the edge …

TOO MUCH STUFF, REDUX

A couple of days ago, my new 60 mm Olympus macro lens arrived. I didn’t expect it so quickly. I’ve been lusting after this lens for years. Olympus finally dropped the price by $100. I bought it.

I unpacked it, attached it to the new Olympus PEN PL-6. I moved the 20 mm lens to a different camera and put the 40-150 zoom into a pouch because that’s the lens I never use.

I decided to put together a “grab and go” bag of Olympus equipment, but the bag was too small.

Camera bags

After a lot of pulling things out and repacking, I knew a full equipment reorganization was the answer. The big bag I’d been using for “spare parts” moved up to lead camera bag. Previous number one became the grab and go bag.

By the time I finished reorganizing the equipment, I was too tired to take pictures. But I took some yesterday morning — the camera bags and the fuchsia were taken with the new lens.

Today, Garry and I are on a photo shoot in Boston. 
Just to let you know, I'm off-line all day.

The good news? I found a place for everything, sort of. I’m careful with equipment. Every camera, lens, widget, and gadget has a clean, padded place to live. But it’s an incoherent solution. Too much stuff in too many containers. I need one large box with a lid to put cables, cords, wires, connectors, lens backs, flash attachments, filters in a place where I might find them should I actually need something.

empty equipment boxes

The empty box situation is out of control. In recognition that I need to deal with it, I piled the empty boxes on my desk chair. Each time I go in there, it will remind me to reconsider the box situation.

Alternatively, I could avoid the room. Just close the door. It would bother me only when I have to put something away or retrieve something. Which would probably be every day.

Or I could deal with the boxes.

I have the original box from every camera, lens, cell phone, and accessory I’ve bought since 2000, when we moved into this house. The theory is that original boxes make equipment more valuable on resale. Except, I’m not going to sell anything. I already know that. So what’s the point? Why am I keeping the boxes? For that matter, why do I have software and manuals from the 1990s?

Maybe I can re-purpose one of my sweater boxes for spare stuff. Even though I don’t need and won’t use any of it. Anyway, if I re-purpose a sweater box, what will I do with the sweaters?

I’ll think about that later.

My first macro shot. Not too bad.

My first macro shot. Not too bad.

Among the many things I don’t want to think about are trunks filled with doll parts and clothing for antique and collectible dolls. For that matter, one of the closets in my office holds a couple of dozen (small) Madame Alexander dolls from the 1950s and 1960s. In original boxes with tags. Properly stored, face down, so their eyes won’t stick or fall back into their heads. But the poor girls have no place to go.

Another macros hot of fuchsia buds

Another macro shot of fuchsia buds

I would happily give them away, but kids don’t want dolls like that these days. These are relatively common dolls, as old plastic dolls go. They aren’t worth huge money. Antiques and collectibles are the ultimate goodfer. I don’t suppose anyone out there collects dolls and would like a lot of dolls and related stuff? You pay the shipping and it’s yours. Free.

Then, there’s the crate containing books I wrote, the evidence I worked for a living. The books have no value — other than sentimental — because I’m never going on another job interview. Ever. I’m retired.

My office has become a closet. Not disorderly or dirty. Just full.

It comes round to the same point at which I started. I do NOT need another bag. I need to get rid of stuff. I can’t seem to do it. It’s a disease, a disability.

Is there a 12-step program?

SPEAKING OF CAMERAS

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Taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 from hundreds of feet away. Great lens!

Some photographers use a favorite camera all the time. Others use various cameras, depending on what they are doing. I’m one of the latter.

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On some level, I’m always shopping for a camera, lens, a bag, an accessory. Shopping for equipment is as much of a hobby as taking pictures. I guess this counts as a confession. Of sorts. I suspect it’s true for many of us.

We love equipment, the discovery of something new to play with. And, I’m always looking for the perfect camera. The perfect lens, bag. Something.

Swans battle geese

Meet the Super Zoom

I like taking pictures of birds. Doesn’t everyone need a super zoom, at least sometimes? There is no super-zoom lens for my Olympus or Pentax. It’s not even an issue of price. The lens I want doesn’t exist for my interchangeable lens cameras.

My solution is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. It’s got a 24x f2.8 Leica lens. In 35mm terms, that’s 24 to 600 mm. In technical terms, it’s a helluva lens. Faster than the usual glass on a point and shoot. Faster than most long lenses you can buy for big money. It’s a big camera. Not a pocket-size point-and-shoot.

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I love this camera and have loved it from the first day I owned it. Panasonic makes longer zoom lenses, and much more compact versions of this camera. But none of them are as fast as this camera … or can do as much. Did I mention that Garry uses a slightly older version of the same camera? And loves it?

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OLYMPUS PEN PM-2 and PL-5

The backbone of my camera collection are Olympus PEN 4/3 cameras. I have two PM-2, a PL-5, and a PL-6. Why so many? It’s easier and faster to swap cameras than lenses. The PL-5 and PL-6 both have adjustable LCD screens. The recent entry into the U.S. market, the PL-6, has a touch the screen focus-and-shoot function I love.

PL-6 focus test

PL-6 focus test

Finally,I can overcome auto-focus’ programming which defaults to focusing on the foreground. The PL-6 lets you touch any part of the screen. The camera focuses there and snaps the picture. Fast. Of course, all Olympus PEN cameras let you manually focus, but my eyes are not good enough. I have to rely on auto-focus. Age is a bitch.

pl-6

The PL-6 was released more than a year ago in Japan, but never released in the U.S. Until mid-April when for reasons best-known to Olympus, they released at $299.  At which price, it’s a bargain, especially if you have a few credits available to apply.

The quality of the lenses is great and Olympus color is the best. I have five lenses, three “normal” zooms which came with cameras, one medium zoom, and three primes.

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My favorite lens is the Olympus 45mm f1.9. It has a wafer-thin depth of field and gorgeous bokeh. I always say you can’t take a bad picture with that lens. It’s not entirely true. Close.

Really, I’ve taken plenty of bad pictures with every lens. Don’t we all?

PENTAX Q7

Replacing a point and shoot compact camera as my carry-everywhere, the little Pentax Q7 has put the fun back into photography. This little camera is unlike anything I’ve used. It’s better than I expected and different. Hard to explain the difference, but you can see it in the pictures. There’s something about them …

Pentax Q7 plus lenses camera

Specs don’t always tell the story. The Pentax Q7 doesn’t sound like a big deal on paper, but in fact, it’s a great little camera. Tiny, light, it does almost everything its bigger brethren do.

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Low light test on the Q-7

The resolution is startling. You can’t make poster-size prints from these files, but 8 X 10, and 11 X 14 prints are no problem. The focus is fast. The gyroscope level is a great help. Most important, it gives me pictures that are crisp, clear, and true to color.

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Pentax put out a new version recently, the Pentax QS1 but the Q7 is still available on Amazon and other sites.

It is the smallest camera I own — the smallest interchangeable lens camera anywhere. I carry it in a padded insert in my tote. Which is how come it gets used more my other cameras.

Portability is an issue for most of us. I am always searching for the most camera in the smallest package. The Q7 comes very close to it. The camera with 3 lenses weighs less than most compact cameras. But … it isn’t right for everything.

Pentax Q7 camera inset in bag

No Camera Does Everything

No camera is good for everything. The camera industry is based on this fundamental truth. If one camera did it all for everyone, business would be very slow.

1) The Q7 takes gorgeous landscapes and is great for street photography, but it would not be my first choice for portraits, and none of its lenses is long enough for birds or other wildlife.

2) The FZ200 is a great all-around camera, but too big to carry all the time.

3) The Olympus 4/3 cameras are amazing, but I need lenses that don’t exist or at are too expensive for me.

When I combine all the cameras, one is usually just right for the job at hand. If I’m not sure, I default to the FZ200.

From across the pond with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

From across the pond with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

THE BEST CAMERA

The best camera is the one you have when you need it. Whatever you choose, keep it close.

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Comparison Shopping – THE ONLY Way To Go

I only paid full price for a camera once. These days, it’s hard to tell if there is a “full price.” You can find two identical new cameras online, one for $350, the other for $700.

Before you buy a camera or lens, check at least two camera sites, plus Amazon. Buy from a legitimate site, but don’t overpay. You’ll kick yourself when you discover you could have gotten it for hundreds less if you’d looked around.

solarized art effect horizontal kitchen

Using the art filter setting on the Olympus PEN PL-5

How Will I Know It’s the Right One

You won’t know for 100% until after you’ve used it for a while. You can read every review, get advice from every photographer you know and still discover it’s not exactly right for you.

No matter how carefully you do your research, you may not love the camera you buy. There’s no logical reason. It’s like finding the pair of jeans. They look the same, but they don’t feel the same.

We take better pictures if we love the camera. Seriously, we do. The search for perfection is ongoing … and fun.

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Wide-angle normal on the Pentax Q7

TURNING ON THE OLYMPUS SUPER CONTROL PANEL

Olympus E-PM2 Super Control Panel (SCP) The Olympus Super Control Panel is a special hidden control system. As you can see above, it makes viewing and changing settings on your camera really easy. …

Source: blog.atmtxphoto.com

If you have Olympus PEN cameras, from the PL-1 to the latest OM-D, this is information that you can use to turn on a “one menu does everything” for your camera. Indispensable, but hard to find information!

See on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things