Posts Tagged ‘Olympus’

Solidarity with Palestine

Saturday, September 21st, 2019

As someone born as World War II was finishing it isn’t surprising that I grew up with with a great deal of sympathy and support for the young state of Israel, which had won its freedom from the British mandate by a number of terrorist attacks, most notably the King David Hotel Bombing, a massacre which killed 91 people and left around 50 badly wounded.

I was too young to know anything about it at the time of the attack, but in later years the Zionist underground organization the Irgun  was the first which I heard some call terrorists and others freedom fighters. Around 15 years later when I started a real interest in politics and free cigarettes at the local young socialist meetings in the Co-op Hallit was certainly the latter view that prevailed, not least because many of those in the Labour movement were Jewish.

Then we believed the lies that were told about Israel occupying a largely empty land and making the deserts bloom. Since then we have become aware of the properties and land stolen from the Palestinians, many of whom were forced out as refugees, and of the shrinking map of Palestine and the attacks on Gaza. The Zionist Israeli government has become increasing right-wing, violating the human rights of the Palestinians and international law over the years, setting up an apartheid system in Israel, making it impossible now not to support the Palestinian cause.

The protest on 11th May came at the start of the week remembering the Nakba and called for an end to Israeli oppression and the siege of Gaza and for a just peace that recognises Palestinian rights including the right of return. It urged everyone to boycott and divest from Israel and donate to medical aid for Palestine. Many of those on the march carried keys, some those of properties they had been forced to leave back in 1948, others simply as a reminder of the dispossession.

Among those marching was Palestinian teenage activist Ahed Tamimi, arrested after slapping an Israeli soldier in December 2017 after soldiers had entered her home and severely injured her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed. It wasn’t easy to photograph her on the march as stewards kept photographers outside the area in front of where she was marching holding the banner at the head of the march.

I wasn’t able to get close to her, but had to photograph with a long lens from a distance. With the 14-150mm lens on the Olympus E-M5 Mk II I managed to get a decent image with her filling much of the frame. The lens is equivalent to a 28-300mm, and for this picture I was using it at its extreme and at f5.6 and 1/250th at ISO 1250.

I think the result is rather better than I would have expected using a Nikon, thanks to the stabilisation of the OM body. And I would probably only have been carrying a lens with a maximum focal length of 200mm, so would have had to crop to get a similar image, thus losing some of the advantage of the larger sensor. I think the autofocus is almost as good as the Nikon, close enough to show no real difference in speed, and face detection is sometimes a help. And as a final point, despite weighing half as much, the Olympus lens is I think a better performer.

As well as the Olympus, my second camera was a Fuji X-T1, with a 10-24mm lens (15-36 equiv) that is also a fine performer. It doesn’t have quite the advantage in size and weight over Nikon that the Olympus has, and the camera somehow feels a little less responsive. I bought it when I was hoping that a Fuji system could replace my Nikons, but now I’m more likely to move to Olympus, keeping a Nikon only for the larger file size when used with bellows and a macro lens for digitising negatives and slides.

As with most events showing solidarity with Palestine it was joined by several Jewish groups, including the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta  and also opposed by a small group of Zionists. You can see pictures of both on My London Diary, along with coverage of the rally close to the BBC before the march. I left and went home before the rally at the end.

More pictures at National Demonstration for Palestine.

Long lenses

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Last Friday I was testing out equipment for an event I was hoping to photograph the following day. For the last few months I’ve seldom used the two working Nikon DSLRs I own, working instead with a Fuji XT1 and an Olympus OMD EM5 MKII, and I wasn’t confident that they could cope.

I knew I would need a fairly extreme telephoto lens for some pictures. The longest I own for the Fuji is the 18-135mm F3.5-5.6, equivalent to a 27-203mm, and for the Olympus, the lightweight 14-150mm (28-300mm equiv) f4-5.6. Would either of these be good enough or should I take the larger and heavier Nikon D810 with the 70-300mm Nikkor zoom?

I was worried about the weight as I was expecting to have to walk some distance, so would have preferred not to have to carry the Nikon, as along with another lens to cover the mid-range it would roughly double the weight I was carrying for around four or five hours. But if it really gave better results I’d have to put up with it.

I could get greater magnification from the Nikon, as I don’t need the full image size, but could switch it to DX mode, making it at its long end a 450mm equivalent lens, while still retaining roughly the same pixel count as the Fuji or Olympus, and I thought before looking at the results that this would make a vital difference.

So I got out the gear and took pictures of a subject at roughly the same distance as I would be working – around 200 metres and compared the results. I used more or less the same shutter speed and aperture as I expected to need on the following day, around 1/500 f8 at ISO640, and made sure the image stabilisation was on for the Fuji lens and Olympus body.

I got a couple of surprises from these simple tests. The first was that the two mirrorless systems both focused at least as fast as the DSLR, with the fastest usually being the OM5 (though both the Nikon and the Olympus occasionally went in for a little hunting.)

It took a little fussing around to view the images with the subject roughly the same size on my screen, but the results were interesting. The pictures themselves are pretty boring (and as I was photographing a window in a nearby flat perhaps an invasion of privacy) so I won’t include them here; the differences between the 3 camera/lens setups would in any case probably barely show even on enlarged small sections.

I’d expected the Nikon with its larger sensor and longer (equivalent) focal length to have a distinct advantage, but this wasn’t the case. The clear winner in these tests was Olympus, though the differences were not huge. It seemed a little sharper and to give just a little better gradation. Details in highlight and shadow seemed a little clearer. Even though I had to magnify it more it still more than matched the Nikon. The Fuji lens gave a nice sharp image, but the extra magnification it needed just about showed. But at any size I was likely to need to use the pictures any of the three systems would have done the job.

The D810 in full-frame mode gives images 7360 × 4912 pixels, compared to 4896 x 3264 for the Fuji and 4608 x 3456 for the Olympus. All more than enough for an A4 print – and if the images are sharp you can go considerably larger. Those extra pixels that the Nikon has to offer are very seldom needed.

Of course Nikon has newer and better telephoto lenses than the old model I own, the 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED AF Nikkor. The Fuji lens weighs 490g, not particularly heavy for its specification, but almost twice as much as the Olympus at 285g. Both essentially replace two of my Nikon lenses, and of course both Olympus and Fuji bodies are considerable lighter than the D810.

My Nikon 70-300 was made for film and is not really up to the demands of high-pixel digital cameras, particularly at its longer focal lengths, so I shouldn’t be too surprised at the result. It weighs 520g, only a few grams more than the Fuji 18-135, but its modern replacement, the AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR is noticeably heavier at 680g – and reviews show it to be a rather better performer. I don’t do a great deal with long focal lengths and got my lens second-hand at a bargain price, around a fifth of the cost of the newer model.

The tests showed me that the Olympus would do the job well and so I packed my bag ready for the following morning. But the following day gale force winds meant I had to cancel my journey. But at least I know for the future that I don’t need to carry the extra weight to use a long lens.

Christchurch vigil

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

There was a strong reason to hold the vigil for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks outside the offices of The Sun newspaper. Murdoch’s papers have for years led the promotion of xenophobic views on immigration, on Europe and of simplistic right-wing views around the world, along with the misogyny exemplified by its ‘page 3’.

As I wrote in My ‘London Diary’:

Increasing numbers of Islamophobic incidents are taking place in the USA, Nigeria, Palestine, China and the UK, fueled by extreme right groups who are encouraged and emboldened by Islamophobic articles in newspapers, across the whole of the right-wing UK press, but particularly The Sun and other Murdoch titles worldwide who have engaged in a long campaign of demonisation of Muslims, and on our major broadcast media as well as on social media.

My London Diary:
http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2019/03/mar.htm#christchurch

You can see many more pictures from the event there.

I had taken both my Nikon D801 and the fairly newly bought Olympus E-M5MarkII with me, and began the event working mainly with the Olympus, which coped well in the fading light. But when it got really dark I began to severely underexpose with the Olympus, largely I think because I was simply unfamiliar with the camera.

Given that the viewfinder image comes from the sensor, I had assumed that if the viewfinder image looked good, the pictures recorded would be OK. But it didn’t seem to work like that, or at least not on the camera settings I was using. Even after using the camera regularly for over 3 months I still find its behaviour rather a mystery at times.

Of course almost all modern cameras are greatly over-complex, overloaded with features largely driven by the advertising departments. Even though I find using either of my two currently working Nikons generally straightforward, they can still throw in the occasional oddball when using flash. But I have much greater problems with both Olympus and Fuji mirrorless cameras, though rather different with the two makes.

But the Nikon D810 performed without problems, producing all of the usable later pictures using the available light, mainly from the candles. Part of the reason it worked better was undoubtedly that because I was using a wider lens I was also using a slower shutter speed, around 1/15s though that did mean a few images were spoiled by subject movement.

Vigil and protest for Christchurch victims


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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Vigil mourns deaths on our streets

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

It is appalling that we have so many people homeless and living on the streets in what is still one of the richer countries of the world. And even more appalling that so many of them are there as a direct result of government policies. While Labour didn’t have a great record on dealing with homelessness, since the Tories came to power (at first with the support of the Lib-Dems) in 2010, the numbers of those sleeping rough have increased dramatically as a result of benefit sanctions and changes to benefits, in particular the introduction of Universal Credit, which has led to a remarkable number of people being evicted from their homes, unable to pay the rent.

My wife volunteers to work part time in a food bank in a relatively affluent area, where before 2010 there was no need for food banks, and the great majuority of the people who are referred to them as needing assistance need it because of the deliberate failures and actions of the benefits system.

‘One death is one too many’ was the clear message on one of the banners – and on its reverse were the names of around a hundred people who had died as a result of benefit cuts – a very small sample of the many thousands who have met premature death – academic studies suggest over 100,000 since 2010.

The protest was organised by a number of groups who help people in desperate circumstances on our streets, providing food and where they can shelter – despite the response of some local councils wh have passed by-laws to criminalise giving people food on the streets. I think anyone with any humanity should be angry about what is happening here.

Nikon

Strictly from a photographic viewpoint, I was interested to see how my recently purchased Olympus E-M5MarkII compared with the Nikon D810 working in low light. Despite being on a major street, the light on the pavement is fairly low. The Nikon has a full-frame sensor while the Olympus is a Micro Four Thirds system camera, with a sensor area roughly a quarter of the size. It also has a rather smaller pixel count.

Olympus

The difference in the images taken at ISO6400 is noticeable when viewed at full size, and still apparent when I view them at roughly A4 size. But the Olympus still produces usable images, far better than I could have obtained using film. And as the grain of my Tri-X images seldom if ever bothered me, neither does the slight tooth of these digital images. But perhaps I prefer the Nikon colour, though as is clear in the top image (Nikon, no flash) there are several light sources of different colour temperatures in the frame.

I don’t like to use flash at events like this, as it seems rather intrusive, and it’s too easy to lose the atmosphere of the candle light, but I did feel I needed to take as least some pictures using flash, and as I had the Nikon SB800 with me, used this for some pictures with the Nikon D810. I think I got the light balance about right in most of them and you can see the difference the flash makes from this pair of pictures both taken at 1/40th, f5.6, ISO 6,400, -0.3EV

More on the protest and more pictures: No more deaths on our streets


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images