Blog Posts

Olympus Makes Really Good Cameras

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The internet is awash with debate about the health of the Olympus camera division, with many predicting the imminent death of their micro 4/3 system, and many predicting Olympus will march on.  It does appear they are losing money, and logically they can’t continue to do that indefinitely.  It appears that the world is moving on to full-frame sensors and sales are down even in the APS-C market.  This has reminded me of my Olympus experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I bought my Olympus E-620 camera in 2011.  That was while the company was still making DSLRs with 4/3 sensors – before their mirrorless micro-4/3 cameras.  I have fond memories of my Oly E-620.  It was a very capable and well-designed camera.  And pictures from it still hold up today.  My processing of some of them. . . well, less so.  But the RAW files themselves  can still deliver what is needed for quality pictures.  I had received an Olympus E-420 for Christmas in, I believe, 2010.  That was a 10 megapixel camera and was outshown by the E-620 by an additional 2 million pixels and by, more importantly, it’s in camera image stabilization.  The 620 also featured an articulating screen which is handy but not indispensable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Zuiko lenses for the Oly DSLRs were good to excellent.  Certainly they were good enough for the megapixels of the day.  I eventually had a good number, from the excellent 14-54mm lens and 9-18mm lens, to the optically excellent but cheap 40-150mm zoom.  That covers the gamut from 18mm to 300mm in full-frame equivalent.  Plus I had the 25mm pancake.  Today I look back on pictures I made with this system and wonder why I sold it.  Partly I moved on for the promise of better pictures from larger sensors, and partly because it was a dead system – Olympus released no more DSLRs after 2010.  Of course, being a dead system is what allowed me to buy into the system for a reasonable price.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found the system quite versatile, producing “pretty” pictures with it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs well as more documentary pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI even took engagement pictures of my daugher and future son-in-law.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I suppose most today would turn up their noses at the camera’s 12 megapixel, smallish sensor, and at it’s dynamic range and noise and aggressive anti-aliasing filter.  I can’t say much as I sold mine in 2013 based on those very concerns.  Well, mostly the dynamic range and noise as I still think 12 megapixels is probably as much as we need most of the time unless we are making huge enlargements.  But sometimes I wonder if I was too hasty in walking away.

Back to the current financial troubles of Olympus.  I don’t know how that will wash out, but I know the company has a history of embracing, and walking away.  They did with film cameras in 2002.  They did it with their 4/3 system in 2010.  So if they are indeed losing money, I have no doubt they will do it again.  And then likely reinvent themselves again.

Early Morning at Spendthrift Farm

Spendthrift
Walnuts

Last Saturday I arose at six o’clock to attend a photo tour of Spendthrift Farm, located about nineteen minutes from my home.  That’s what Google said, and Google was, of course, right.   Spendthrift has a long history as a thoroughbred horse farm, and is simply beautiful.  I crammed all the photography I could into the ninety minute outing, but it is hard to get both the sunrise and great lighting for the active horses in such a short time.  The tour left me wanting more, which is probably part of the hope – that I will come back for more tours.  Well, I think I will.  Well played, Spendthrift Farm!

Spendthrift Square-5 Spendthrift Square-8 Spendthrift Square-2  Spendthrift Square-3 Spendthrift Square Spendthrift Square-6 Spendthrift Square-7

 

Jeff Damron, Street Photographer?

Street
St. Mark Square, 6 am

I’ve never thought of myself as a street photographer.  I’ve never really understood a lot of what seems to pass as “street” photography these days, which often appears to me to be snaps of people walking randomly, frequently away from the camera.  I’ve stumbled upon a bit more interesting photographs on Youtube lately in which background architecture and lighting seem to be the most importants aspects, with people walking there mostly for perspective.  I often don’t get those either, but some strike me as a really interesting.  And those picture have gotten me thinking about my my own.  Although I don’t typically go out on the “streets” for photography, I certainly seem to go there when I’m traveling.  And with this in mind, I’ve combed through the last ten years of my photographs and found a hundred or so that I think fall within this more expansive definition of street photography.  Here are some from a vacation to Italy taken in June.

Street-14
Monk on Cell, Assisi
Street-11
Nun, Assisi
Street-2
Florian Cafe, Venice
Street-3
Dome, Milan
Street-4
Lugano, Switzerland
Street-5
Market, Lugano
Street-6
Lugano
Street-7
Assisi
Street-8
Assisi
Street-9
Assisi
Street-10
Assisi
Street-12
Assisi
Street-13
Assisi
Street-15
The Duomo, Florence
Street-16
Florence

Switzer Covered Bridge and Elkhorn Creek

I received two lenses from KEH today.  They are in “bargain” condition according to the dealer, but they look like they have only been lightly used to me.  The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens is a great wide-angle lens with a useful  zoom range.  I took my new toys, uh, tools, to the Switzer Covered Bridge in Franklin County, Kentucky this evening, trying to arrive during the “golden hour” before sunset.  It probably would have been better to arrive a little earlier, or to have underexposed a little, but I am happy with the lens’s performance.

Switzer Bridge

Switzer Bridge-4

I also bought the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens, a moderate telephoto zoom.  One of the pictures has some blur from not noticing that the shutter speed had dropped to 1/30 of second and I was shooting hand-held. This was too slow for the 100mm setting , but here it is anyhow.

Switzer Bridge-2

The other picture I took with the  lens was also at 1/30, but at 55mm – the short end of the zoom range.  It turned out sharp.

Switzer Bridge-3

I’m happy with my new lenses so far, even though I only got a handful of pictures in today.  I saved about $700 by buying them in “bargain” condition instead of new, and that does make me happy.

Sigma DP2 Merrill Memories

It’s hard for me to believe that it has been seven years since I spent a month using, and reviewing, a Sigma DP2 Merrill.  The little camera had amazaing output, and if I hadn’t already purchased two other cameras I had tested not long before, I would probably have bought it then and there.  I’ve always been a fan of the “look” one gets from Foveon sensors, which use a radically different technology than other manufacturers.  While others have different pixels absorbing and reporting different colors that are then merged to form the picture, each individual pixel in a Foveon sensor is sensitive to all of the three primary colors – red, green, and blue.  The Foveon formula blew other sensors away when it came to sharpness and resolving power per pixel.  The small camera came with a small f2.8 45mm equivalent lens that was a perfect match for the sensor and which have some very nice bokeh, to my eyes at least.

But that was 2012, and the bayer pattern sensors that have abandoned detail-smearing anti-aliasing filters,  and Fujifilm sensors that also don’t have such filters, have narrowed the gap on the Foveons these days.  Until the latest round of Sigma cameras, however, RAW images from Foveon sensors did not play well with Adobe products.  One had to use Sigma’s own rather clunky software to first convert RAW files into TIFF formats, and then import the TIFFs into Lightroom.  Also, Foveon sensors have always been, and apparently continue to be, very noisy about ISO 400.  In short, those Sigma cameras are (still!) capable of truly impressive images, but at the cost of more work and less versatility than their bayer pattern siblings from other companies.  At the time, while appreciating the special nature of the Sigma pictures, I opted for ease and versatility in my camera choices.

Here are a few of my favorites from the 2012 DP2 Merrill, taken while I had it.

Sigma DP2 Merrill-15 Sigma DP2 Merrill-10 Sigma DP2 Merrill-16 Sigma DP2 Merrill-17 Sigma DP2 Merrill-8 Sigma DP2 Merrill-14 Sigma DP2 Merrill-13 Sigma DP2 Merrill-12 Sigma DP2 Merrill-4

Sigma DP2 Merrill-3

Sigma DP2 Merrill-2

Sigma DP2 Merrill

Sigma DP2 Merrill-7

Sigma DP2 Merrill-6

Sigma DP2 Merrill-11

My Labor Day Walk at Paintsville Lake

I finally hauled myself out of bed early this morning for a short walk at Paintsville Lake.  It was quiet and beautiful, with the early  morning light, calm water, woods, and fog.  Beauty, like Art, like Literature, like God, is a mystery, and one that we should strive, not necessarily to understand, but simply to appreciate and experience.  And, of course, if we have a camera handy. . .

Sept 2_-2
The Dam
Sept 2_
The Copse in the Fog
Sept 2_-4
The Dam Control
Sept 2_-5
The Cone
Sept 2_-3
The Shore
Sept 2_-6
The Floating Leaf
Sept 2_-7
The Path