Rocky Mountain National Park

Back in the Saddle.

After five days at Rocky Mountain National Park I’m finding it hard to get back into the swing of things.  Over the course of that five day period I spent 3 days hiking about 25 miles and and taking photos along the way. As the mini vacation wound down, I was hitting my stride and really wished for a couple more days in the park to shoot additional photos and hopefully see a bit more wildlife.

While there, I focused on using two lenses as my primary shooting tools. The Zuiko 17mm f1.8 prime, and the Zuiko 75 to 300mm f4.8 zoom. The 17 was used as a general purpose lens and the 75 to 300 for grabbing distance shots of wildlife in the park. The shots below were all shot as Olympus RAW files that were opened via Adobe Bridge with enhancements being done to the RAW data before opening the file. Once in Photoshop, files were cropped and in some cases merged to create the ultra-wide panoramas.

I’m not going to go into any kind of in-depth review of the two lenses. There is plenty of information on both of them all over the internet, and most give a much more technical review then I ever would. What I will say is this. I rented the 17 to try it out. I’ll be buying it. Hands down it was one of the best primes I’ve shot with on the OMD. I wish we would have had cloudless nights, because I wanted to try it for star trails. Maybe next time. The 17 is a fast focusing, super sharp, ultra quiet lens. The snap ring manual focusing sold it. As for the 75 to 300. It’s a solid lens, but it is by no means a best in class. For the money it was worth every penny. The photos below that were shot with it are annotated with approximate distances to show just how much reach this lens has.

Distance of about 30 feet with the focal length set to about 200mm.

Distance of about 30 feet with the focal length set to about 200mm.

Distance of about 50 yards with a focal length of 300mm. OMD in Black and White mode.

Distance of about 50 yards with a focal length of 300mm. OMD in Black and White mode.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Distance of about 75 yards with the focal length at 300mm.

Distance of about 75 yards with the focal length at 300mm.

17mm at the closest focusing point of about 8 inches

17mm at the closest focusing point of about 8 inches

RMNP

I’m going on vacation for a few days starting tomorrow so my concentration is blown. For the next 6 days I’ll be hiking around in Rocky Mountain National Park taking photos and enjoying the emerging spring in Colorado. Last week PetaPixel posted a link to a Phelarn video on tips and tricks for improving landscape photographs. I’ve been using Photoshop since version 1. Since before Adobe even owned the software. The thing that is great about Photoshop and sites like Phlearn is, you can always learn something new, or remember a technique you might have forgotten along the way. The image below is something I shot last year, and used some of the Phlearn tricks from the video below it to enhance my image. RMNP is going to be fun. I’ll be posting images from the trip over the next few days. I hope I don’t bore everyone to death.

RMNP

The Results. The Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm on my OMD EM5.

Last week and over the weekend I spent about 4 days shooting images with the Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD Zoom Lens in Colorado. I rented this lens for wildlife and some landscape photography from borrowlenses.com and did it ever pay off. After the last 5 days with this lens, I want to buy it.

This is by no means a comprehensive review of Olympus’s 50 – 200mm f2.8 lens. It is a hands on review of this lens paired to my Olympus OMD EM5 using the micro 4/3 adapter for the lens. To keep things simple and to the point I am going to break down the pros and cons and post a few sample images with a brief overview.

150-mm-at-4-feet f 2.8

First things first. If you rent this lens, or buy this lens make sure the firmware on your camera is up to date if you are using the micro 4/3 adapter. It will make all the difference with autofocus speeds with this lens. I found autofocus to be speeds to be adequate in bright light and open spaces. Where autofocus didn’t hold up was when I was shooting a subject where there were objects close to the subject or breaking into the frame. The lens simply couldn’t make up its mind on where to focus. This was really the case when the lens was zoomed all the way in. For most of my shooting I switched to manual focus. It was simply more accurate, and easier. If I had updated the OMD before I left, autofocus probably would have preformed better.

315mm-at f2.8

Second. This lens is big and heavy. It weighs in at two and a quarter pounds. If you are not used to using a lens that ways this much you’ll be in for a surprise. Collapsed it is almost seven inches long. Zoomed out, it is closer to ten. The lens hood will add another three. Be prepared to carry around a large, heavy lens.

250mm f2.8

Now with that said, the weight and size are a tribute to the quality of materials used in this lenses construction. It is a high-grade lens with a hefty amount of glass in it. Your payoff for all the weight and size is crisp, bright images with creamy bokeh when the aperture is fully open.

elk-at-350mm

The minimum focus distance is just under four feet. When zoomed out and focused this close, the lens takes incredibly sharp macro images. When using it for distance shots, the zoom has incredible reach with the same level of detail found in those images as well.

400-mm f2.8

 

Over the course of five days, half of the images I shot were with this lens. It provided me with a solid zoom that could be used to dial in on wildlife subjects that I just couldn’t get close to. I found this lens to be optically fast, precise, and accurate with sharpness and detail across the entire zoom range. In short I fell in love with it, even though I didn’t upgrade my camera firmware before putting it to use.

200-mm 4 feet f4

Pros:

  • Sharp images
  • Fast aperture
  • Bright
  • Great zoom reach

Cons:

  • Weight
  • Autofocus speed with 4/3 adapter

400mm-at-75-yards lone-aspens-w-cokin