Macros from Olympus E-M1 + Panasonic 35-100 + Canon 500D close-up lens

Though I have several dedicated macro lenses, I chose to take this makeshift arrangement (refer to my blog title) to the botanic gardens on Saturday.  I have had the Canon close-up lenses for many years and have used them on a number of cameras, well before I purchased my first macro lens.  From time to time it is fun to take these acromatic close-up lens out of their cases and give them a "go".

For more details and explanation see my prior post.

In all of these cases, aperture was F2.8.  I'm not sure that gave enough depth of field. You may like or not like the result.  But my desire was to get a blurry, creamy background if possible, and for that a large aperture is needed.

Except where indicated, these were shot at full zoom of 100mm (FF=200mm). With this combination of camera and lenses, when zoomed into 100mm, depth of field is about 1/4".

Here's what I got:

75mm (FF=150mm)


Macro Set up #1: Olympus E-M1 + Pany 35-100mm + Canon 500D closeup lens

For years I have been enjoying the use of add-on "filters" to add close up capabilities to zoom lenses.  These look like thick filters but are actually acromatic lenses.

I have two made by Canon: the 500D and the 250D.  They are about $100 each. Both of mine have 58mm threads. This makes them a perfect fit for the Panasonic 35-100 F2.8, which I used yesterday at the nearby botanic garden, and the Olympus kit 40-150mm F4-F5.6. The Panasonic lens is a zoom with a big aperture so it had an advantage yesterday because I wanted to shoot with a narrow depth of field to get a blurry background.  But both lenses provide very sharp images.

The 500D is designed to focus your zoom lens at 50cm (about 20") and the 250D is designed to focus your zoom lens at 25cm (about 10")

When the Panasonic is zoomed to 100mm (FF=200mm) you can get a 1:2 macro (FF equivalent) with the 500D and a 1:1 macro (FF equivalent) with the 250D.  Of course, a longer zoom will get more magnification, and is one reason I have used the Olympus kit 40-150 from time to time.

Here's the set up I used yesterday at the botanic gardens.  (I'm still reviewing the images, hoping for a few "good" ones to post later this week.)

In the foreground are the two Canon Close-up lenses: 250D and 500D

58mm threads fit perfectly on the Panasonic 35-100 mm zoom.
I used the 500D yesterday shooting flowers, and will post some
images soon.

A 500D or 250D in a larger size would work, too, but a step up ring would be required.
The advantage of the 58mm size is that it doesn't interfere with the lens hood.


Just returned from a 12-day sightseeing trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada

Yesterday I finished up a 12 day blog of my trip to PEI with my wife, Laurie.  You might enjoy looking at the photos and reading the text if you have been there before.  You'll probably recognize some of our photo locations.  After all, it's not a big island.  As I understand it, it takes about three hours to drive from end to end.

Here's a link to my bog, Peter's PEI Blog.



Why I like my sleek Sony A6000 more than my awesome Olympus E-M1 (Part 2: exposure settings)

This is Part 2.  Part 1 is here.

Exposure settings for this post relate to:

  • ISO,
  • aperture,
  • shutter speed,
  • white balance, and
  • EV compensation.

The Olympus EM-1 exposure settings are very nice.  There are two dials on the top plate with which to make adjustments and with the nifty use of an A/B lever you can get four functions from these two dials.  Unless I am out in the field for an extended time using this camera, I have to admit that I get a bit confused by all the functions.  As a result I find I do not use the A/B lever.

The Sony is rather compromised in the dial department but I've learned to like it.  I have things set up so the single top dial makes the important adjustment (changing aperture in aperture priority, changing shutter in shutter priority) and the dial around the four-way controller changes EV compensation by either rotating or (as I do) clicking the down button to get a ruler scale for EV and then I  use the right and left button to move things along the scale. In manual mode, the top dial adjusts shutter speed, the four way controller when rotated with your finger adjusts aperture, and you will need to use the down button to adjust EV compensation.

Since there is no room for a second control dial
on the top panel where it would be more convenient,
the dial around the four way controller

[Note to live view histogram fans:  When adjusting EV, as long as you do it by rotating the dial around the four way controller, you will see live adjustments to the histogram. If you use the down button instead, it will take you to a new screen for making EV adjustment using a ruler scale.  There is no histogram visible here... you will need to enter your EV choice and go back to the original view before you can see the changed histogram.... But, hey, that's a lot better than dSLR folks.  They can't see a histogram until after the picture is taken.]

I like the fact that the features accessed by the four way controller are labeled in white on a black background, so I don't have to remember them. The right button adjusts ISO, though 95% of the time I keep this at Auto ISO, for which I have set min. and max. at 100 and 6400.  (I personally am less concerned about high ISO "noise" than I am in getting a good exposure.) In comparison, the four way controller on the EM-1 is unlabeled.

Below are my four favorite exposure-making features:

1) Auto ISO works in M mode.  The EM-1 does this too, so this is not a reason for me to love the a6000 more than the EM-1, but I do need to mention this feature so as to explain feature #2) below the butterfly.

Let me give an example of why this feature is important to me. We have a local butterfly house.  I like to shoot at 1/250 sec and F8.  (For flowers out of doors I might use 1/250 sec and F2.8.) By using Auto ISO I am able to get a good RAW exposure without thinking more about it.  The Auto ISO takes charge of providing the right exposure as light changes.  This only works well if you need higher ISO than 100.  Obviously if you are outside in bright sunlight, you will get overexposed pictures because Auto ISO can only reduce ISO to 100.  You'll need to switch to aperture priority and let the speed increase above 1/25to 0 accommodate ISO 100 and F8.

M mode.  1/250sec and F8.  Auto ISO chose 1600.

2) EV compensation in M mode.  This is something the Olympus cannot do.  If you are shooting as described above and find that your images are too dark (or too light) in spite of the Auto ISO giving you a "correct exposure", you can use the down button to adjust EV.  Because you have set the shutter speed and aperture manually, the EV compensation will adjust the Auto ISO.  For example, if Auto ISO would give you 1600 for a given situation, if you set EV to -1 (i.e. underexpose by 1 stop), then Auto ISO will now give you 800.

3) Custom white balance.  I like the fact that when setting the custom white balance, you need only aim a small circle in the middle of the screen, at a white of grey card.  Try this:  wear grey or white socks and you can white balance off of them.  I just did it with a 30mm lens at my waist, aimed at one sock.  How cool is that.  With the Olympus you have to fill the entire screen with the white or grey card.  Just like the Olympus, after you create a custom white balance, you will need to confirm it with a press of the center button; but a bonus with the Sony is that on the confirmation view the white balance reading is given in degrees Kelvin. (Not so on my Olympus.) I find this to be a great learning tool.

I performed a custom white balance off my sock from this distance.
2500 degrees Kelvin was the result.
The room was lit with incandescent lights.

Yes, there will be a Part 3  !


A new toy: iPro Lenses for iPhone

This kit of three add-on lenses for my iPhone 5S was a rather spontaneous purchase.  Right now, they are kind of fun.  But long term, I'm not so sure.

One of the nice things about the iPhone camera is that it is so simple and easy. Whatever image quality compromises exist, they are worth it for the ease of using the camera.  Plus easy editing.  Plus sending to friends by text or email. Plus there's dropbox.  Plus automatically copying to my iPad via whatever (iCloud?).

But when you start adding complexity, then the "image quality/fun to use" balance starts to change.  Anyway,  right now I am having fun.

The kit includes (1) case for the iPhone, (2) three lenses designed by Schnieder Optics according to the Web site but branded "Century" on the lenses, (3) a three part handle that houses the three lens... very convenient, and (4) a lens cover.  The handle is in use in the image below.  It also has a screw mount in the bottom for using a tripod.

The lenses are (1) a macro that focuses between 1"-2" from the object but will not focus when you are further away, (2) a 12mm-equivalent "super wide" angle, and (3) a 60mm-equivalent which is much better distortion-wise for people images compared with the native 30mm-equivalent lens on the iPhone.

Also available, but not part of this kit, are two other lenses:  a wide angle lens somewhere in the 20mm-equivalent range and a fish-eye lens.

I own a iPhone 5S, but I see on their Web site that there are cases available for the two new versions of the iPhone 6.  The reason you will need the case is that it provides just the right fitting for the lens.  I've seen similar lenses for sale, but they all but fit on an uncased phone, something that is not acceptable (for protection reasons) to me.

Here is a link to the iPro site

Below is the macro at work:

Note: iPro lens case has screw holes for the handle.
Macro lens attached allows 1-2" focus only.
Two sections of the three section hand are used here to support iPhone
Each of the three sections provides storage for one of the three lenses.