Tuesday, August 12, 2008

some tidbits from the olympus dpreview forum

Michael Meissner

Here are my thoughts on lenses. I have 5 main lenses on my camera:
Olympus 11-22mm, f/2.8-3.5
Olympus 14-54mm, f/2.8-3.5
Olympus 50-200mm (old version), f/2.8-3.5
Olympus 50mm, f/2
Sigma 30mm, f/1.4

Plus I own a EC-14 extender for the 50-200mm.

I used to own a EX-25 for macro, but sold it because I found it required a lot more deliberation to use to get the photo (you have to move the camera forward and back until you get into the zone of focus).

I used to own the 14-42mm kit lens that came with my E-510 and I sold it. I do kind of regret selling it, as I contemplate upgrading the E-510 to the E-3, and the E-510 with 14-42mm would sell for a higher amount than just the E-510 body.

Note, the 14-54mm is bigger than the 14-42mm, and will cause a shadow if you use the pop-up flash, but I have an external flash, so it isn't an issue. Nowadays in upgrading your main lens, you could go for the 12-60mm over the 14-54mm. For many people, the $400 or so that the 12-60mm costs is an issue, and there are pros and cons of the 14-54mm vs. 12-60mm. Going with either the 14-54mm or 12-60mm will replace your 14-42mm kit lens. It will allow you to shoot in a little bit lower light than the 14-42mm, and is a little bit sharper and has less distortion, but it is a matter of degrees. If you are budget challenged, you might want to skip this lens immediately and concentrate on lenses that do things your current lenses can't.

One of the things you probably want to do is shoot macro (close up things like flowers and bugs). There are 7 choices:

Olympus 35mm f/3.5
Olympus 50mm f/2
Olympus 70-300mm f/4-5.6?
Sigma 24mm f/1.8
Sigma 105mm f/2.8
Sigma 150mm f/2.8

The longer the focal distance of the lens means the further away from your subject you can be (i.e. with the Olympus 35mm or Sigma 24mm you will need to be on top of your subject, while with the Olympus 70-300mm and Sigma 105/150mm you will be much further away).

Another thing to think about is shooting in low-light. Here you want a lens with a larger aperture (smaller f/ number). Note the depth of field when shooting at large apertures is much smaller (at f/1.4, it is razor thin). Sometimes you want this (for example in portraiture), and sometimes you don't. Lenses to consider include:

Panasonic 25mm f/1.4
Sigma 24mm f/1.8
Sigma 30mm f/1.4
Olympus 50mm f/2
Olympus 14-35mm f/2
Olympus 35-100mm f/2

If you want to shoot wider angle from your kit lenses, the lenses to consider are:

Olympus 8mm fisheye
Olympus 7-14mm f/4
Olympus 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5
Sigma 10-20mm
Olympus 9-18mm (announced but not yet shipping)
Olympus 12-60mm

Right now, the 9-18mm is unknown in terms of image quality, but it should give you quite a bit of wide angle for less than the 7-14mm. The 11-22mm has less distortion than you normally see in wide angle lenses, and might be the lens to use if you are shooting architecture where you don't want to correct parallel lines in post processing.

Note, Sigma lenses have a reputation for having sample variation problems, where you might get a good lens and might not, so you might want to buy from a store with a liberal return policy. I also had two of the cheaper Sigma lenses (18-125mm, 55-200mm) and found I needed to stop down the lens to f/8 to get acceptable pictures. The only Olympus lens that has this reputation is the 18-180mm, and there are rumors that it is actually built by Sigma.

If you can afford just one lens, I would probably suggest the 70-300mm as your first lens, which gives you a lot more telephoto range and macro support at a reasonable cost. Also, if you decide to buy a polarizer filter, it has the same filter thread as your kit lenses.

idream wrote:
> With the standard kitlenses you can only go so far. What would you
> reckon are 'essential' (or at least desirable) add-ons for a 510/20
> setup?
> Certain lenses, perhaps a external flash, filters, that sort of stuff.
> Curious about your opinions :-)

It depends on your budget, and what you shoot. Outside of lenses, I would say:

1) External flash -- the pop up flash is useful if you want to shoot police lineups (where you are shooting people fairly close with straight on flash, want harsh shadows, and don't care about red-eye), but if you want to take better flash pictures, get an external flash, which will give you more power and better options for controlling the light. I think for most people, the best flash is one that is made for Olympus cameras, can support wide angle lenses with a diffuser, has both tilt and swivel options, has a motor drive to adjust the flash depending on the focal length of the lens. If you go with the E-520, you might want to get the flashes that support wireless TTL mode (FL-36R, FL-50R, Metz 48/58). I put together a web page that lists all of the flashes that I knew about that supported Olympus cameras: http://www.the-meissners.org/olympus-flash2.html

2) Light modifier for your flash -- There are several different light modifiers for flashes out there. I tend to prefer the Demb Flip-it modifier, because it is simple to use, gives good results, and packs easily in my bag. In January 2006, I put together a web page to show the effects of the various light modifiers I had accumulated: http://www.the-meissners.org/... .../2006-flashmod/index.html

3) Rechargeable AA batteries and charger -- while the flash will take non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, it will start getting slow fairly quickly, and you will need to keep buying the batteries and dumping them in landfill. I like the LaCrosse BC-900 as a charger, and Sanyo enloops for the batteries, but you probably need to get these online. One place that specializes in batteries and chargers is Thomas Distributing: http://www.thomas-distributing.com/index.htm

4) Memory cards -- Well you obviously need at least one to get started, but you might want to consider getting more cards. Right now, I tend to buy the 4GB cards, which if I wanted to make a raw backup, can be dumped onto a single DVD (I must admit I rarely do this anymore, and may start getting 8 or 16GB cards). The E-510 does not have UDMA support, so you won't see much of a speed increase by getting the high end cards like the SanDisk Extreme IV ducatti, compared to the medium speed cards like the SanDisk Extreme III. I don't recall if the E-520 supports UDMA (E-3 does). You want compact flash, and not xD for your main card, since it is much faster, cheaper, and has higher capacities than the xD card. You might want to get a 2GB Olympus xD card to put in the xD slot, which will give you more space and also protect you in case you leave home without the card in the camera. The Olympus branded xD cards will also allow you to use the panorama mode, but you can make panoramas with non-Olympus software without the mode. The prices at retail stores tends to be high, except when the cards are offered for sales. Stay away from Ridata cards, the manufacturer just admitted that several of its cards were poorly designed, and did not work well in faster DSLRs. One online place that sells memory cards fairly cheaply and has a wide selection is My Digital Discount (I've bought from them, but not memory cards): http://www.mydigitaldiscount.com

5) Memory card wallet -- if you have more than one card, you will need to hold the other cards. I like keeping my cards in one place, rather than having them scattered throughout my bag, and getting lost.

6) Gear bag -- there are many different options for holding your gear. I always recommend buying a bag from a retail store where you can take all of your gear in, and try it out in person to see how it fits (and then buy it from the store that gave you the extra value of being able to try out the bag in person). If you are going to be buying other lenses, you might want to wait until you get the lenses, or else you will be like many of us, and have to upgrade your bag each time you add to your gear collection (though I use the smaller bags when I'm going out with less than my full collection). My current bag of choice is the National Geographic NG-2477, but it is likely too much bag for just the E-510/E-520 and kit lenses.

7) Tripod -- Even with image stabalization, a tripod is useful in some scenarios. The $20 Walmart special are likely not stable enough for a DSLR, particularly with the heavy lenses. Like bags, tripods are best bought at a retail store, where you can try out the various makes and see what works for you. In particular, try putting up a tripod in field conditions, where you might be holding the camera while setting up the tripod.

8) Wired shutter release (RM-UC1 or clone) -- with tripods, I like to use the wired shutter release to fire off the shots. You can find on ebay a clone version of the RM-UC1 shutter release, much cheaper than the Olympus version (I use the clone RM-UC1 -- note for the E-1/E-3 users, the clone of the RM-CB1 wired shutter release isn't as well made, and you probably should go for the Olympus version).

I forgot to add filters. There is a lot of debate about whether to use a protective filter (either clear or UV) on your lens or not. I am in the protective filter camp, but many fine photographers are in the other camp. Note, I shoot in wet weather with my E-1, where the filter becomes more of an issue (the E-510 is not weather sealed, so I generally don't use it for bad weather). If you do go with a protective filter, you want to get a quality filter that is multi-coated. Otherwise, the filter will cause image degradation, particularly if you shoot into the sun.

Don't buy filters from any seller that offers you a 3 pack that includes florescent filters, as digital cameras can change the white balance on the fly (unlike film cameras which you have to use a different film). Any company that is selling that for a digital camera is clueless. Also, any vendor that offers you Titanium or Crystal Optics filters should assumed to be a bait and switch company that is heavily discounting the main camera, and then making it up by loading up high cost (to you, not to them) 'extras' to pad their bottom line. The place that I buy my filters is the Filter Connection, http://www.2filter.com.

In terms of filters, for the low end lenses, I have problems buying a higher cost filter to protect a low cost lens, but for my better lenses I went for the B+W MRC filters. Hoya is also a good maker, but they make several different lines of filters, going from cheap junk to the more expensive pro filters.

The one filter that you should consider is the circular polarizer filter. However, a good quality CP filter is fairly expensive. If you have different lenses with different filter threads, you have the choice of getting multiple filters (which allows you to use the lens hood made for the lens) or getting a filter for your largest lens, and using step up rings. You won't be able to use the lens hood for the lens (except for the one lens that the filter is made for), but you can get 3rd party lens hoods if your filter has front threads. Don't buy a filter without front threads, as you won't be able to use your normal lens cap (I did that, and then regretted it).

Here is the wikipedia article on filters (look at the polarizer section for why you want a polarizer): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter#Polarizer

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about cokin filters.
Budget-wise all you need is a P-series kit to get you started and the appropriate fitting ring to suit the diameter of your lens. You pay AU$20-$30 for the ring and you only need a single P164 polariser filter which you can pick up for AU$110-$130. Compared to getting individual polariser filters, which for the 12-60mm lens at 72mm diameter would set you back $180-$220 for a Hoya HMC.
You can't fit a lens hood, but the fitting system effectively cuts out stray light. Just remember that there is a standard fitting which will hold multiple filters and a low-profile single filter fitting for wide angle lenses.


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