My First Year with the Olympus 12-100mm F4 PRO Zoom | Part 2 of 2

Part 1 was about size and weight and one comment about sharpness....

Part 2 is about features and handling....

In my opinion the most wonderful thing about this lens is its flexibility.  This is not just because of the wide range of focal lengths, but the fact that you can fill the frame at essentially all focal lengths (not at 12mm, but at 14-100mm) with a flower that measures 3” across.  This lens has well for for me, for flower and food photography.  I have owned the Olympus 60mm macro lens since its introduction, but now hardly need it for flowers and food. 






Though there are times I’d prefer the option for a shallower depth of field for people photography, I nevertheless enjoy the no-brainer ease of just shooting wide open at F4.  For me that is usually candidly photographing family.



The 12-100 is all I need for car photography, which I have enjoyed a few Saturdays during the summer on the lawn of the Larz Anderson museum near Boston. Again, I typically shoot wide open. 





But most of my images are landscape and travel images. The lens has been perfect for that, as I hate changing lenses. Even if the 12-100 were glued to the EM-1, and therefore I had no other choices, I think I’d be happy.  






I also like the physical and ergonomic aspect of the lens.  It has a “snap back” or "clutch" focus ring which changes the focus ring from a fly-by-wire focusing system to what feels like a mechanic focus ring with hard stops at both ends of the focus range.

Fly by wire focusing available on the left.
But notice on the right that the focus ring has been pulled down
to reveal a distance scale with hard stops at both ends of the scale.

I like that the rings (focus and zoom) are metal, not rubber.  They do not show wear, which I think will be helpful when (or if) I ever sell the lens.

Metal focus and zoom rings.

Switching the image stabilization off when using a tripod is easy as there is a switch on the lens barrel. And finally, there is the L-Fn function button on the lens barrel next to the image stabilization switch. Because the EM-1 body has only the one AFL/AEL button, one option is to set it for AEL and use the function button on the lens to lock focus.

On/off switch for image stabilization and an additional function button.

I have found only one downside, and that is the 72mm filter size. This is my problem, not the problem of the lens, because unfortunately my largest filters were only 67mm.  Looking back, of course I should have done what so many have recommended. I should have bought 72mm filters (or even the next size bigger!) from the very beginning. Then just spend a few dollars to get a set of step up rings.  Oh, well. Live and learn. 

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My First Year with the Olympus 12-100mm F4 PRO Zoom | Part 1 of 2

Part 1 is about size and weight and one line about sharpness ....

The Olympus 12-100mm (24-200mm equivalent focal length) has been a well-used and well-loved lens for me this past year.  I see that it has even relegated my Panasonic 14-140, a favorite from the prior year, to my lens drawer. Though the 14-140 is a “sharp enough” lens, the 12-100 is “more than sharp enough” and importantly has a few additional features, albeit at a significantly higher (2x) price point. 

Most of the 12-100’s use last year (90%) was on the Olympus E-M1 which I have owned since it was first introduced some four years ago, and 10% of its use was on the Panasonic GX80/85, a camera that I acquired last summer. Both are 16mp cameras and I can't tell the difference in image quality with this lens, though I have to say that the lens balances better on the E-M1.

I did some filtering of images using Lightroom and found that last year I have saved about 2,000 images. I am sure my shutter actuations were more than twice that; maybe as high as 10,000, if past years' shutter counts are any indication. 

What I found is that 50% of my images last year were taken with this lens.  This is a very high percentage because I have multiple lenses, many of which cover the same focal width.  For example, my next most used lens was the Olympus 12-40 F2.8 PRO at 10%.  Overall, it seems there were very few images that could not have been made with the 12-100.

Some reviewers have complained (or listed as a “con”) that the lens is big and heavy for a m43 lens. Of course, that is a subjective conclusion.  I feel it balances well with the Olympus E-M1.  With the added RSS L-plate/grip, the total weight of the camera and lens is 2.6 pounds.  

2.6 pounds

This body and lens package is lighter than just the lenses would be for a full frame Canon shooter (the required two lenses to cover the equivalent focal range would total 3 pounds) or Sony shooter (lenses would total 2.8 pounds), data for which is in the bulleted sentences below. 

I smile when I think of how small and light this one m43 lens is compared to the full frame duo of a 24-70 F4 and 70-200 F4.  Yes, I do realize that it is not an apples-to-apples comparison because the depth of field is shallower with the full frame gear.  On the other hand, if you are mostly a landscape photographer who might shoot a scene with a full frame camera at, say, F16, you will only need F8 with m43 to get the same depth of field, assuming the same equivalent focal length and the same focusing distance.  Depending on the light available, this might be an advantage for the m43 system by allowing lower ISOs. 

Here are some comparisons (data from imaging-resouces.com):
  • In the Sony full frame FE mount, a 24-70 F4 plus 70-200 F4 combo would set you back about $2,700 and weigh 2.8 pounds.  Neither lens has much of a macro feature (1:5 and 1:7.7 respectively). Both have lens based image stabilization. The larger of the two lenses is 7” long.

  • In the Canon full frame mount, a 24-70 F4 plus 70-200 F4 combo with image stabilization would be cheaper than the Sony option and would set you back $2,050 and weigh 3.0 pounds. The 24-70 has a nice macro (1:1.4) but the 70-200 does not (1:4.8).  The larger of the two lenses is 6.8” long.

  • Now let’s look at the Olympus 12-100 (24-200mm equivalent all rolled into one). Image stabilization is a bit complicated.  Olympus cameras have in-body stabilization, as do now several of the Panasonic bodies.  In addition, a few of their longer lenses, including this one, have optical stabilization which works together with in-body stabilization on, at least, the E-M1 mark 2.  Regardless of how the two types of image stabilization work on my E-M1 (first version), I find the stabilization to be spectacular, and I am guessing that many would view it to be superior to what is on the Canon and Sony lenses mentioned above.  This lens will set you back $1,300 and weighs 1.2 pounds.  Macro is superb: 1:1.6 at wide angle and 1:2.3 at the long end (full frame equivalent). The length of the lens is 4.6”.

It is these comparisons that cause me to dismiss arguments that this "large" lens defeats the purpose of the micro four thirds format.

Part 2 will be about features and handling ....

My Photography Website is https://peterfraileyphoto.com/


One Photo: My Favorite 2017 Snowscape: "Schwendi Hutte on Mt. Tecumseh"

This composition is what you see when you get off at the top of the main ski lift at Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire. The elevation is 3,840 feet, just short of the 4,004 foot peak of Mt. Tecumseh. Partly out of sight to the right is a short chair lift going to the very tip-top of the mountain.  It is one of the original double chairlifts from when the mountain was opened in 1966. 

The red “hut” is my absolute favorite ski area upper lodge.  It’s called the “Schwendi Hutte“, which I am told is a made-up name.  Its sounds very alpine, doesn’t it.

"Schwendi Hutte"
Panasonic Point and Shoot "Tough" Style TS3 Camera @28mm equivalent
1/250sec, F10, ISO100, +.3EV

The view off to the left of the hutte is wonderful, the coffee served is excellent and bold enough for my taste, and the warm frosted cinnamon buns are extraordinary.  I check the Waterville website whenever I want to make a skiing day-trip , but if the hut is not open, I sometimes decide to ski elsewhere.  My normal Waterville routine is to stop at the hutte for a cup of coffee (and cinnamon bun!) at about 11am and enjoy a relaxing 30 minutes, usually finding someone interesting to talk to. I then ski until about 1:30 before going into the base lodge for lunch, thus avoiding the lunch crowd. 

I have great memories of Waterville Valley. I first skied there in 1967.  About two weeks after it closed in April that year it reopened after the top of the mountain received about 2 feet of snow (as I recall). My brother and I drive up in my dad’s 1966 (?) Volkswagon Karmann Ghia for the day. There was snow only at the elevation above the hutte, so we skied only the upper lift.  When we were done at the end of the day, we had to take the main lift back to the bottom.


One Photo: My Favorite Seascape from 2017:"Wave Action"

In Maine in October, this was taken at Reid State Park.  I didn't think all that much about this image (I liked it but it was not "great") until a friend fell in love with it and asked for a large print.  We agreed that at 24" wide print would make a nice wall hanging. I was pretty pumped and looked forward to printing it up big.  But then I sadly realized that the composition you see here was only created by severely cropping the original image file.  

Regretfully I had been lazy that day.  I had a single lens with me, a 12-100 F4 zoom with an equivalent focal length of 24-200mm.  Ninety percent of the time, that is plenty of reach for me.  But I should have remembered that some of the other 10% of the time occurs at the ocean, where a longer reach may be needed.

For this image I zoomed all the way into 200mm.  The crop, however, measures a mere 2,000 pixels wide.  That’s plenty for an iPad, HD 1080p computer monitor, or high definition television; but sorely lacking in pixels for a print over, say, 10” wide.  (By the way, here on the blog, images are hugely downsized, to 800 pixels wide.)

I’m still kicking myself for not going back to the car where I had a Panasonic 100-300 zoom!  That’s a whopping 200-600mm equivalent range.  That would have been plenty of reach to zoom right in on this scene.

"Wave Action" at Reid State Park, Maine
Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 12-100 @ 100mm (200mm equivalent)
Aperture Priority, 1/6400sec, F4, ISO200, -1EV
RAW file adjusted in Lightroom

My Photography Website is https://peterfraileyphoto.com/


One Photo: My Favorite Landscape from 2017: "T.A. Moulton Barn"

Over this past weekend I spent a considerable amount of time with my 2017 images (and wrote about organizing them here).  Motivated by what I have seen other photographers doing on their blogs and Instagram, I decided to try to pick my favorite image of last year, in a number of categories.  That is so hard!  I have a bunch which I like a lot.  Depending on the day I imagine I could make a case for any one of a dozen or so.  It’s not that I have a dozen or so great images, it’s just that I can’t differentiate among them.  

But I am going to try.  Just for fun.

Here is what today I am choosing as my favorite landscape image.  Perhaps a bit cliche, this is one of the two Moulton barns located on Mormon Row in Jackson, Wyoming. The barn is inside the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park. 

I just love photos of either of the two old barns, with the Teton mountain range behind them. The peak of the Grand Teton is actually behind and above the barn, and is partly hidden by the clouds looking like smoke coming out of the top. The Grand Teton is the highest point in the Teton Range, at 13,776 feet.

T.A. Moulton Barn
Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 12-100 F4 zoom @ 29mm (58mm equivalent)
1/2500sec, F4, ISO200, Aperture priority, -.3EV

This photo was taken on June 10, 2017 at 7am, as an overnight rainstorm was clearing off. My wife and I remember so well taking a few photographs and then returning to our rented pick-up truck camper to make a pot of coffee and a hot breakfast.  The temperature was in the 30s (Fahrenheit degrees) so we even ran the propane furnace while we enjoyed our breakfast and coffee. Oh so delightful and memorable.

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January Project: Organizing in Lightroom Classic this past year's Photos

I think of myself as organized. Using Lightroom Classic CC on import, and as shown in the image below, my photos are placed in annual and monthly sub-folders, with some projects or sets of images placed in their own sub-folder. I figure this structure will help me stay organized if in the future I switch to some other editing software. 

My organizational problem is that my keywording is a bit hit-or-miss. At least until year-end.

Here’s my solution:

Usually (and again this year) in January I go through my prior year images to be sure they’ve all been keyworded. I don’t go crazy with keywords. For example, a photo with any of our five grandchildren is keyworded with “grandchildren” rather than individual names. 

In the process of keywording, I find I also delete a whole slew of images. Most of the deletions are duplicates. This end-of-the-year process forces me to choose the best of sometimes dozens of images of, for example, the same sunrise. Due to the passage of time (this year’s sunset images were from August and October), the deletion process somehow becomes easier. 

All the same sunrise.  I have now deleted all but four.
As it turns out, going through this process yesterday (it was a perfect day to sit at the computer, with outside temperatures in the single digits and high wind gusts that made some New England ski areas close their lifts for the day), I reduced my total images for the year from 3,000 to 1,800. Having said this, I’ll point out that I think I take 10,000 to 12,000 images a year with a huge number of deletions taking place immediately after uploading from memory cards to computer.

When I’m finished with the keywording and deletions, I drag the entire annual folder (ex. “2017”) from my internal drive to an external drive.  Once moved to the external drive, this tells me that my 2017 photos have been “finalized”. The internal drive now becomes available to collect my 2018 images.

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Why are good Christmas Candids so hard to Capture?

I am embarrassed to say that I pressed the shutter button nearly 200 times on Christmas day.  But I had to delete most of them.  No one requested that I delete any.  That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that many were just plain bad.  After deleting duplicates, I am now down to 60 or so that I feel I can share with my family.

It’s a bit frustrating to have so many failed images.  But as I write this, I’ve decided to give myself some slack because I don’t think getting good candids is an easy proposition.  Unlike my favorite genre, landscapes, each expression or action that would make a good candid capture is often so fleeting. A facial expression can change in a second!  

One of many failures.  I got half of it right (not considering the background)

Another thing is that the chances of a good result greatly decrease if there is more than one person in the photo.  The more people in the photo, the more likely there will be one yawning or blinking or putting a Christmas cookie in his or her mouth.  Also, the more people in the photo, the more likely one will be out of focus due to movement or being out of the depth of field.  

Another one of many failure, now deleted from my library

To keep my ISO as low as possible, each photo I took this year with the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 lens was shot wide open.  I also used some fill flash. The next time, I think I’ll stop down one stop, to F4 and see what happens.  I’d like to come up with a default F-stop that would work for me, in most cases.  It’s been suggested that F5.6 might be a good choice, too.  (This is based on my m43 system with its 2x crop factor.)

This is what I am currently thinking might work for my taste:  Use F2.8 for one person. Use F4 for two people if they are more or less side by side. Use F5.6 for three or more people.... Yes, that will be my strategy next time!

All this being said, here are a few snapshots I like:

I don't mind the grandfather being out of the depth of field here.  At least he is smiling.
Also, it draws attention to the granddaughter


Two Photos: It's Amazing what a Kiss of Flash can Do

Two days before Christmas we had weather conditions that resulted in 1/4” of ice over everything. It rained all day, but the air temperature at ground level was near 20F.  It was a mess.

Also going on, I had been watching our dogwood tree for the last couple of months, as buds slowly formed (not a good thing) in November due the record breaking warmth (i.e. warmest November in history).  Now I could see that these buds were topped or encircled with a layer of ice. This is all very unusual; and I thought the juxtaposition of the buds and ice made for an interesting nature story. It was also quite attractive. Definitely, it was a scene worth documenting.

I grabbed the camera that I had all set up for the indoor Christmas Eve photographs that I hoped to capture that night.  It was the Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 zoom (24-80mm equivalent). Since the little Olympus FL-LM-3 auxiliary flash was already in the hotshoe, I figured why not try it?  I was stunned by the results.  I am not saying this is “great” photo, but it is definitely interesting and tells a nature story. I really like how the direct flash was able to bring out the colors of the buds. This is technique I need to remember in the future.

Below:  Though I like both of these images, I'm thinking now I should have taken the time to shoot some images using F5.6 or F8 for greater depth of field, albeit with reduced background blur.  These were taken at F2.8.

"November Dogwood Buds and December Ice"
Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 14-40mm @ 40mm (80mm equiv)
1/160sec, F2.8, ISO200
Olympus FL-LM-3 Flash (TTL)

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