|Volume 9, Number 17||17 August 2007|
Welcome to the 208th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Can't figure out the next lens to buy for your dSLR? Jason and Dave are here to help. Then Shawn puts the achievement of the Olympus E-510 in perspective. We felt like we were on vacation reading Aaland's new Lightroom book -- but it was just an illusion!
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By JASON SCHNEIDER and DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full article posted at http://www.slrgear.com/articles/secondlens.html on the Web site, which includes links to the test results and in-depth discussions for each lens.)
The crowning glory of the dSLR is its ability to use different lenses. This signature feature provides unparalleled optical flexibility, allowing you to pick the precise type of lens that best suits your subject and shooting style, from ultra-wide-angle to super-telephoto and everything in between.
Indeed, lens interchangeability, along with instant responsiveness and "what you see is what you get" through-the-lens viewing, are the key features that have made a dSLR the hot ticket for everyone from serious photographers and pros to sophisticated snapshooters seeking better picture quality.
But getting the most out of your dSLR means choosing the right lenses. And picking your second lens is perhaps the most crucial decision of all.
By far the most popular first lens bought with a dSLR is a short zoom lens (sometimes called a "standard" zoom) like the roughly 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lenses offered by Canon, Nikon, Pentax and others with their dSLR starter kits.
The 18-55mm, which is equivalent to a 28-85mm lens on a 35mm camera, provides decent wide-angle to medium telephoto coverage and a 3:1 tele-to-wide zoom ratio. Compact, lightweight and inexpensive, the 18-55mm is a great starter lens for general photography that lets you enter the wonderful world of dSLR photography without breaking the bank.
However, you can increase your telephoto reach at little additional cost by opting for an 18-70mm lens (equivalent to 28-105mm) instead. Some manufacturers (notably Nikon) offer such lenses as an alternative kit lens upgrade. Other brands may require you to go the third-party route for a longer focal length and broader zoom range.
ALTERNATIVE FIRST LENSES
Long-ratio Super Zooms. Other intriguing first lens possibilities include selecting a long-range "universal zoom" such as an 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 (28-300mm equivalent) in lieu of the usual short zoom that comes with the kit.
No, an 11:1 zoom can't do everything (you give up a good measure of sharpness and must accept a smaller maximum aperture), but it's a fantastic choice for hiking a nature trail or walking around the zoo where you want a compact one-lens outfit to cover as many picture-taking possibilities as you're likely to encounter.
And an 18-200mm is also a great choice for folks who want to get all the other advantages of using a dSLR without having to change lenses! It's a great way to reduce the likelihood of getting dust on the sensor.
Long-Ratio Zoom lens recommendations:
Another fascinating first lens for photographers who want to shoot natural looking non-flash pictures in low light is a fast, short zoom like a 17-50mm f2.8. This type of lens, roughly equal to a 27-80mm on a film SLR, offers the superior light-gathering ability of a wide f2.8 aperture at all focal lengths -- great for street photography and indoor available light shooting. This is the ideal lens, if you've been frustrated with too-slow shutter speeds when trying to take photos indoors. It's also great for indoor photography, where you need a wide-angle to take in the entire room.
- Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6-GB IF-ED AF-S DX VR, $950
- Olympus 18-180mm f3.5-6.3 Zuiko Digital, $450
- Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC, $350
- Sigma 18-125mm f3.5-5.6 DC, $250
- Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF AF, $370
- Tamron 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical IF Macro AF, $460
Short/Fast Zoom lens recommendations:
Neither of these two alternative first lenses is as inexpensive as a normal kit zoom, but in the long run either one may help you build an efficient lens arsenal at the lowest possible cost.
- Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM, $950
- Canon EF 17-40mm f4L USM, $450
- Nikon 17-55mm f2.8-GB ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor, $1,200
- Olympus 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 Zuiko Digital, $450
- Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 EX DC, $400
- Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 Di II LD Aspherical IF SP AF, $450
THE WIDE, WIDE ZOOM
Do you take lots of pictures indoors, interior views, kids having fun in the family room and groups of friends and relatives gathered around the holiday table? If so, an ultra-wide-to-wide-angle zoom like an 11-18mm, 12-34mm or 10-20mm is the perfect second lens for you.
These lenses make it easy to get everyone in your extended family into the picture, shoot in tight spaces and capture all the action from an intimate perspective. The equivalent of a 17-35mm optic on a film SLR, the 11-18mm is also a superb choice for shooting expansive landscape pictures and scenic vistas and for giving a more spacious look for everything from car interiors to small rooms.
That's why ultra-wide-to-wide zooms are the essential lenses for taking real estate pictures of your house for posting on the Internet and a great choice for travelers who want to bring back memorable photos of historical landmarks.
Ultra-Wide-angle Zoom lens recommendations:
- Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM, $700
- Nikon 12-24mm f4-GB ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor, $900
- Olympus 7-14mm f4 Zuiko Digital, $1,500
- Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM, $500
- Tamron 11-18mm f4.5-5.6 Di II LD Aspherical IF SP AF, $540
THE SUPER TELEPHOTO
If you like to take pictures of birds and other small, skittish woodland critters or you're into shooting big league baseball from the bleachers or NFL or college football from the 50-yard line (or even the local grade-school soccer action from across the field), there's nothing quite like a really long telephoto zoom lens such as a 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 or a 200-500mm f5-6.3.
On a consumer dSLR, a 200-500mm is the equivalent of a whopping 310-775mm lens, a range that lets you capture intimate shots of birds in a nest or close-ups of that great catch in the outfield. That's why it makes a great second lens for these applications.
This big gun is most effective on a tripod or monopod, but it's also easy to handhold and its aperture is fast enough to let you shoot at high shutter speeds to stop action and minimize the effects of camera shake. If your dSLR or the lens itself has image stabilization, your handheld shooting range with the 200-500mm is even greater.
Long Telephoto Zoom lens recommendations:
- Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM, $1,400
- Nikon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6D ED AF VR Nikkor, $1,400
- Tamron 200-500mm f5-6.3 Di LD IF SP AF, $850
THE SHORT SIDE OF LONG
With less reach than the spectacular super telephotos, medium telephoto zooms cover a very useful range of focal lengths, in smaller, more compact packages. Medium-length telephoto zooms are far and away the most popular second lenses for new SLR owners, letting you get close to distant subjects, often at an affordable price. Their utility and huge popularity has led manufacturers to develop many models in a wide range of price points. In the recommendations below, we'll try to help make some sense of the offerings by categorizing them according to their selling prices.
Mid-range tele zooms have historically had focal lengths in the 80-200 to 70-300mm range. On dSLRs with APS-C size sensors, the latter is the 35mm equivalent of a 108-465mm lens, representing a magnification ratio relative to the 50mm "normal" focal length ranging from 2x to 9x.
The far end of this range is a pretty hefty telephoto requiring a tripod unless it also incorporates image stabilization. Even then, you'll still need fairly good lighting to avoid blurring from camera shake.
Taking into account the "crop factor" of most dSLRs, whose smaller sensors multiply the effective focal length of any given lens, some newer mid-range zooms cover a 50-200mm range, roughly equating to the classic 70-300mm on a 35mm film camera.
Some of these lenses also focus down close enough to give a 1:2 (half life-size) macro mode, letting you get dramatic close-ups of everything from nature subjects like insects to small, detailed collectibles. The 70-300mm also provides enough reach for sports and wildlife and its relatively light weight makes it popular with soccer moms and dads. The 70-300mm's ability to shoot close-ups from further away is also a real plus in all kinds of macro photography, including nature shooting.
Economy Mid-Range Telephoto Zoom lens recommendations:
Higher-Priced Mid-Range Telephoto Zoom lens recommendations:
- Canon EF 55-200mm f4.5-5.6 II USM, $220
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6-GB ED AF-S DX Nikkor, $170
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6-GB ED AF-S DX VR Nikkor, $229
- Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro APO, $195
- Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2 AF, $180
- Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 LD Macro 1:2 AF, $160
- Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM, $600
- Canon EF 70-200mm f4L USM, $600
- Canon EF 70-200mm f4L ISUSM, $1,100
- Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM, $1,100
- Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L ISUSM, $1,700
- Nikon 80-200mm f2.8D ED AF Nikkor, $900
- Nikon 70-200mm f2.8-GB ED-IF AF-S VR Nikkor, $1,600
- Nikon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6-GB IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor, $500
- Olympus 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 Zuiko Digital, $850
- Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG HSM APO, $890
If you enjoy either taking extreme close-ups or shooting portraits, consider choosing a macro telephoto as your second lens. When it comes to taking pro quality close-ups of flowers, coins or nature subjects, nothing beats a single focal-length macro optic such as a medium-tele 90mm f2.8 or 105mm f2.8.
"Single focal-length" just means a non-zoom lens. You'll also see such lenses referred to as "primes" by some photographers.
All of these extraordinary lenses get down to 1:1 (a life-size image on the sensor) for extreme close-ups and provide the superb imaging performance that only a lens specifically designed for macro photography can deliver. They also have wide maximum apertures that let you focus and view with greater precision, a significant plus when shooting extreme close-ups.
Telephoto Macro lens recommendations:
Macros for portraits? Yes, here's why!
- Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM, $500
- Nikon 105mm f2.8-GB IF-ED AF-S VR Micro Nikkor, $850
- Nikon 105mm f2.8D AF Micro Nikkor, $660
- Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro, $400
- Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX DG Macro, $370
- Tamron 90mm f2.8 Di Macro 1:1 SP AF, $460
A long focal-length 90 to 105mm macro lens is really two lenses in one because it also makes a superb portrait lens and its wide maximum aperture allows you to use shallow depth of field (also called selective focus) to make your subjects "pop" off the background. This time-honored technique has been used by many of the great portrait photographers past and present. Employing it with a 90mm or 100mm lens is especially effective because it allows you to shoot portraits from a great enough distance to get a pleasing perspective that flatters your subjects and de-emphasizes defects such as prominent noses.
Many 35mm photographers consider a 90mm f2.8 Macro a "portrait tele" because of its focal length, but a significant number of today's top portrait photographers are now using longer lenses like the 180 or 200mm Macros to achieve the even more dramatic portraits seen in leading magazines and portrait studios. So, if you'd like to shoot great-looking portraits, take a look at the macro lenses listed above.
But remember that a 100mm lens on a 1.6x crop factor camera is equivalent to a 160mm on a 35mm camera. That means shooting distances that could be hard to accommodate in a home studio or in the field. Take into consideration the space available in your studio or other shooting environments in making your portrait lens focal length decision. A 60 to 85mm lens may be preferable for shooters with typical-size home studios.
FAST SEMI-WIDE TO MODERATE TELEPHOTO
Are you the type of photographer who shoots in the medium focal length range and wants a great compact, lightweight general-purpose lens with a wide enough aperture for very bright viewing and low light shooting? A fast, semi-wide-to-moderate telephoto lens like a 28-75mm f2.8 may be just the ticket as your second lens.
Its coverage on a consumer dSLR is equal to a 44-116mm lens on a film SLR, a very useful range for reportage, street shooting and general events coverage. That's why the 28-75mm is popular with "weekend warriors" who supplement their income shooting weddings and other events where the action is fast and the lighting isn't always predictable.
This zoom ratio may not sound too impressive but the performance of the lenses listed below certainly is -- which is why you'll find one of these "sleepers" in many pros' bags.
"Happy Medium" lens recommendations:
- Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM, $1,100
- Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 ED-IF AF-S Nikkor, $1,500
- Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro, $400
- Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical IF SP AF, $370
Obviously, there are a lot of subjective factors in choosing lenses for your dSLR. And there are as many answers to the question, "What second lens should I buy?" as there are photographic styles and working methods. The main thing to bear in mind when buying your second lens is to pick the one that works best with your first lens to extend your photographic range in a direction that includes the type of pictures you shoot most often. Hopefully we've provided enough solid info here to let you do that, too. Good shooting!
By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E510/E510A.HTM on the Web site.) Olympus EVOLT
While their basic specs are quite similar, the E-510 really is a different camera from its smaller, lighter brother, the E-410. They both share the 10.0-Mp image size, Live View and the basic control and menu structure, but the E-510 has added functionality, a few extra buttons and body-based image stabilization. Overall, it's a better camera for the enthusiast photographer, a decision I came to reluctantly after using both in several different situations with some of Olympus's other lenses and accessories. I love the E-410's small size, but its lack of a sizeable grip makes adding any accessories awkward. If you plan to expand your system beyond the 14-42mm and 40-150mm kit lenses, the E-510 is the better choice.
Unlike most camera manufacturers, Olympus has only ever produced two lines of SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses. The first was the Pen F, a small half-frame 35mm camera that was very popular and the OM-series of full-frame SLRs. The OM-series spanned three decades, culminating in the OM-4T, an innovative, albeit manual-focus camera that was finally discontinued in 2002. In 1990, the company introduced a three-point AF system in their IS-1, a camera design they dubbed ZLR, for Zoom Lens Reflex. It was essentially a film SLR without interchangeable lenses.
Olympus never produced an autofocus SLR system with interchangeable lenses, which is why it was easy for them to let go of the manual-focus OM-series and build an entirely new system designed around a smaller sensor, which they dubbed Four-Thirds (http://www.four-thirds.org.) Unlike other manufacturers, all with an existing base of autofocus lenses to support with their new dSLR designs, Olympus could afford to start fresh.
The main design goal of the Olympus E-system was to keep everything small. As such, they chose a small sensor and designed their lenses to make that goal easier to achieve.
Until these two latest lenses, it didn't seem like they were realizing their goal. The bundled lenses were as big as most equivalent competing designs and sometimes bigger. But these two lenses finally deliver on the promise of smaller optics. The 3x lens is only smaller by a nose, but the 40-150mm takes you to 300mm equivalence in a remarkably small space.
The other major goal of the Four-Thirds system was to be "designed for digital." Manufacturers like Nikon, Canon and Pentax at first used lenses designed for 35mm film cameras, while using sensors that were roughly APS-C sized. This was a smart way for these companies to keep their loyal lens owners by giving them a safe upgrade path. But Olympus argued that digital sensors themselves required a different approach to avoid light falloff in the corners, among other problems.
The approach seems to work. Though other manufacturers have come out with their own digital-specific lenses, it seems these two new lenses outperform the two most popular manufacturers' kit lenses.
From a technology perspective, the company that gave us smaller SLRs, Focal Plane flash sync and automatic dust removal is once again taking the lead, deploying the second generation of full-time live preview SLRs for consumers. Unfortunately, their implementation doesn't jibe with consumer expectations. It's not just expectations, but the problem of the marketing department promising something that the engineering department hasn't quite built.
The problem with Live View on the E-510 and E-410 is that it introduces terrible shutter lag. If there's one thing digicam owners quickly grow to dislike more than small, cramped optical viewfinders it's extreme shutter lag. Live View introduces significant and widely varying shutter lag, ranging from a half second to three or more seconds depending on whether the camera can focus on the subject.
It's not that Olympus is marketing these two cameras exclusively as Live View SLRs, but because they're the first with Live View, people will expect the E-510 to work just like their digicam; and further, because it's an SLR they will also expect it to have lower shutter lag than their digicam. But both notions are incorrect.
SLRs are designed to set autofocus and exposure with the shutter closed and the mirror down. But to draw a live image from the sensor, the mirror must be up and the shutter open, blocking the autofocus and metering sensors.
Though Live View does give you a live image onscreen, that image won't be in focus until you press the AEL/AFL button. When you do, the image freezes and the mirror and shutter flip closed until focus is achieved. Then your live image returns and the selected AF point illuminates onscreen. Depending on how contrasty your subject is, you can focus in around a half second or it might take a few. It also might never focus. You can move the camera to a more contrasty subject, but you won't be able to see just where you've moved it until the camera focuses and your live view returns. Sound frustrating? It is.
You can also just trust that the Olympus E-510 will focus properly, press the shutter all the way and it will usually focus right before it fires. Shutter lag in this mode is 0.84 second, provided it has a good target and sufficient light to focus. If you pre-focus by pressing the AEL/AFL button, this time goes down to 0.66 second. For comparison, if you shoot with the optical viewfinder, the shutter lag does full autofocus and fires in 0.35 second; and if you pre-focus, it's a blazing 0.091 second. That's what you buy an SLR for: fast autofocus and fast capture. But in Live View mode, the E-510 is slower than most digicams, let alone most SLRs.
Live View can be confounding to the subject and the photographer if you're not patient.
And that's the true pitfall of Live View. Those who choose it as their main shooting mode will think the E-510 is the slowest camera they've ever used. It's the perception, not the truth that stands to hurt Olympus. But that need not be the case, which is why I've bothered to explain all that.
To enjoy the beauty of the E-510 or E-410, you'll want to use the optical viewfinder for most shots, because you want to eliminate as much shutter lag as possible. But as I've spent time with both cameras, I have been surprised by just how often I use Live View mode.
Taking a picture of my son sleeping on the floor, I realized the shot would be a little better if I could get directly above him, but without my feet in the shot. If only I could hold the camera out over him and still see through the viewfinder, I thought to myself. Then I remembered Live View. Just press the button on the back, compose on the LCD and press the shutter button. So long as there's sufficient contrast under one of the three AF points and I hold the camera still, the mirror will flip down, the camera will focus and the mirror will flip back up to capture the image. In this situation, I don't care that it's slow. He's sleeping, after all.
Live View is one feature you won't get many other places, but it's not the main mode you should use. Most of the chief benefits of an SLR are found in the optical viewfinder: You're seeing exactly what the lens sees and what the sensor will see once you press the shutter. Compared to an LCD display, you're getting your information at the speed of light, not filtered and delayed through oodles of electronic circuits before it gets to the LCD. Live View is great -- a worthwhile feature -- but it's nowhere near as great as an actual live view at 186,282 miles per second.
Olympus was also the first to take on this challenge. Dust was always a problem with film, but now it's worse. Film caused scratches on the emulsion while moving through the camera and stuck to negatives and slides in storage. Seldom did it affect a single frame during capture; and if it did, that would change when the film advanced to the next frame.
With digital, there is no advance to the next frame. The sensor is the same shot-to-shot, so any dust that sticks to the glass just sits there, affecting each frame the same as the last. Now that Olympus has enabled Live View, the problem is magnified because the sensor can be exposed to dust for minutes instead of fractions of a second.
So far, it looks like Olympus's dust solution is still the most effective. What dust it doesn't shake off is substantially blurred in the final exposure. I'll have to take brief issue again with the marketing strategy, because once again they're overselling a good thing. Dust can still get into the E-510 and it does. The SSWF is good, but not that good.
Their Super Sonic Wave Filter works well to remove many types of dust and the body is sealed to keep most dust out. Be aware, however, that even if the body were perfectly sealed and you never removed the lens, dust still enters through zooming and focusing the lens and dust can even come from the camera's internal components, especially the fast-moving shutter and mirror mechanism. My understanding is that while some of Olympus's high-end lenses are sealed to resist dust and moisture, these two new lenses are not. The good news is that Olympus's system works well; but the truth is that you'll still periodically need to clean the sensor, as you will with all other brands.
Nearly all the advanced features you expect from a mid-range SLR are included in the E-510. Flash exposure compensation; multiple color modes, including black and white tones and filters; High and Low key settings; Preset and Kelvin White balance capability; mirror lockup; and even AE bracketing. There's also White balance bracketing and Flash bracketing. You can set a high ISO limit with the E-510, define a color space, turn on shading compensation and an array of other custom functions that were left out of the E-410 to keep it simple.
Conspicuously absent from the Olympus E-510 are two scene modes: both of them Underwater modes. That's because there is no underwater housing available from Olympus for the E-510. So the E-510 has only 18 Scene modes instead of 20.
The E-510 and E-410 are compatible with Olympus Studio 2.0, a more advanced version of the Olympus Master software bundled with the camera. Available for $200, a demo version is included on the CD.
One of the more interesting features of the software is the ability to remote control the E-510 via USB connection. Just click a button onscreen and your image is captured and downloaded to the computer. If you can't imagine why you'd need that, it's probably not worth buying the software. You'll get most of what you need to handle Raw images with the included Master software. The good news for studios, whether pro photographers or ebay stores, is that this software is there if you need it. (The Canon Rebel XTi comes with the software for this trick at no extra cost.)
OPTICS AND ACCESSORIES
Buying an E-510 avails you of the entire suite of 20 Zuiko Digital lenses, as well as flashes, cables, finders and there's even a lens adapter for using old OM lenses. You can also use other lenses from other Four-Thirds manufacturers, currently 28 in number.
Lenses. Olympus has some impressive lenses available for the E-410. I played with a few during this review and was impressed with both their size and overall sharpness. It took some time to get used to them and their idiosyncrasies, especially the very narrow depth of field wide open (not unusual, but I find I have to play with a lens a few times before I tune in to its habits and capabilities on a given body). I used the 150mm f2.0 and the 50-200mm f2.8-3.5. Both were very sharp, but I got better results locking them to the center AF point due to the narrow depth-of-field. These were large and heavy enough that they really required a tripod and were better suited to the Olympus E-510, with its bigger grip and sensor-shift image stabilization.
Flash. While the FL-36 external flash was fine with the E-510's kit lenses and worked reasonably well in bounce situations, the flash recycle time was a little too long; and the camera wouldn't fire until the flash had recycled. I'd recommend the FL-50, as the FL-36 doesn't recharge quickly enough after a full-power shot, probably due to its use of only two AA batteries. It turns out that you can actually change the release priority to allow the camera to fire if the flash isn't fully charged, but it also removes the condition that the camera achieve focus before shutter release.
Olympus took an extra step to invoke the memory of their OM-series cameras. If you pop up the E-510's flash, you can see the same shape found on the OM-1's pentaprism housing. It's subtle, but an interesting homage.
Storage and Power. The E-510 uses both CF cards (CompactFlash) and xD cards. This is great for those already invested in either kind of card. Most pro SLRs use CF, so E-1 owners will already have storage for these new cameras; but consumers who own a digicam that uses xD can also step into the E-510 with less initial cost.
With Live View mode off, the E-510 can capture around 650 shots with its 7.2V, 1500mAh lithium-ion battery (Model: PS-BLM1).
With a better grip, image stabilization, a big battery and all the optical benefits of the Four-Thirds system under its belt, the Olympus E-510 is currently the most well-rounded choice among Four-Thirds SLR cameras.
I was particularly impressed shooting the E-510 with its kit lenses, which are small and sharp even in the corners and the 40-150mm telephoto lens makes for a small 10.7x combo that will fit in a very small camera bag. The E-510 also works with a pretty impressive array of high-quality optics that are small for their equivalent focal lengths, making for a good, robust wildlife camera kit.
I'm happy to report the Olympus E-510 had less trouble with shadows than the E-410, though its tone curve is still less than adequate at keeping detail in highlights and shadows. Turn down the contrast in the Natural Picture mode and these tendencies improve. Grass still comes out a little too blue in daylight shots, so be prepared to tweak your settings a bit or else shoot in Raw mode.
It's the E-510's special features that push it over the top. Live View mode, while easily misunderstood, is actually quite useful within its limitations. The same holds true for the E-510's sensor-shift image stabilization. Add the ability to manually focus on a 10x zoomed area via Live View and the E-510 is clearly a great idea.
Despite its foibles, the Olympus E-510 is a very good dSLR, one I'd recommend to photographers who want to travel light, anyone with a need for Live View on occasion and anyone wanting to learn more about photography with a dSLR. Add it all up and the Olympus E-510 is worthy of a Dave's Pick.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Olympus EVOLT E-510 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E510/E510A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ8/FZ8A.HTM)
At a banquet honoring a fellow who had served his community generously for 50 years, one tribute sounded the sharp ring of reality. Had the honoree been present at the Last Supper, his friend theorized, it would have been a fund raiser.
We all know someone like that.
Mikkel Aaland, the author of the just published Lightroom Adventure, is cut from a different cloth. He would have turned the Last Supper into a loaves and fishes miracle for all his photographer buddies. When he drops names, they fall on an invitation. And this time, he managed to invite 17 terrific professional photographers and a few Lightroom developers to Iceland last summer, where daylight doesn't know when to go home.
You may have heard of Bill Atkinson or Russell Brown. Maybe Peter Krogh, Michael Reichmann and Derrick Story ring a bell, too. They're just the tip of the Icelandic iceberg (http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/adventure). Mikkel shows off their work with a double spread at the chapter breaks and each image is itself worth studying. In the caption, Mikkel explains exactly what each artist did to the image in Lightroom -- and even what they didn't have to do.
There are (suddenly) a lot of Lightroom books. We thought of surveying them because despite the program's approachable nature, it's a different way to play the game and a little orientation goes a long way. But you don't get a little orientation from a menu-by-menu, command-by-command encyclopedia of the product. Particularly since it was just substantially revised in version 1.1.
Instead, Mikkel's approach -- the first to cover version 1.1 -- is hands on. He starts by explaining the workspace, whose virtue is that it's so configurable you may get disoriented. The next chapter explains how to import images, which is not as simple as it sounds since you can optionally build a database of your collection. Then he tours Lightroom's Library module with its quick global and batch editing features and the Develop module with its extensive image tuning options. Then he digs even deeper to explain how to develop your images, color tune them, convert them to black and white images and add special effects. Later chapters discuss exporting files, creating slideshows, printing and creating Web galleries. The whole enchilada (or whatever they eat in Iceland).
All of that is done in a visually-intensive way so you see what Lightroom is doing and get a nice paragraph explaining everything alongside it. Mikkel seems to be sitting next to you at the computer explaining just what he's doing as you go, step by step, through each feature.
That's pretty much what he and the other photographers did every evening in Iceland -- with the developers. The next morning, the photographers often found a new build of the program ready for them incorporating their suggestions. Developers tend to sleep during the day, fortunately.
My favorite part of the book is the Icelandic recipes. In this chapter, Mikkel shows you just how some of the adventurers developed their own special effects or look in Lightroom. You see step-by-step examples of Reichmann's Controlled Toning; Richard Morgenstein's Mixing Light; Angela Drury's High Drama, Cibachrome Look and Antique Look; Maggie Hallahan's High Key; Martin Sundberg's Velvia Look; Johann Guobjargarson's Bergman Look; and Mikkel's own Oz Colors.
In short, you get not just an inside look at the new version of Lightroom, but a peek at how some real pros manipulate their images with this new tool developed for and by photographers. Loaves and fishes for everyone.
Photoshop Lightroom Adventure by Mikkel Aaland, published by O'Reilly, 350 pages, $39.95 (or $26.39 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/059610099X/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read comments in the Nikon 'Friends of the 8800' discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee9b16a
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By some strange twist of fate, we found ourselves wandering the local modern art museum last weekend. A nephew who had the grace to turn 21 nearly simultaneously wandered around with us.
As we looked from one painting to another sculpture in the permanent exhibit, we thought of all the things we should be telling him. But you don't tell a 21 year old anything, we remembered in the nick of time. Fortunately, by some twist of fate, they know everything already. Imagine if it were otherwise!
Still, we couldn't help ourselves when we came across the one Giacometti sculpture on display: his 1957 Tete (http://collections.sfmoma.org/OBJ37625.htm). You could pass by without thinking it was anything more special than a hood ornament. So we pointed it out.
"He was obsessed," we whispered, "with trying to capture movement. Nothing is ever still in life but art has to freeze what it sees. So he would continuously sketch the same object in the same space, a wire of lines tripping over themselves, to represent a figure. And here in this head no surface is finished. The clay is all just put on and taken away, the dimensions flattened to those of a weather vane. North, South, East, West -- moving like the wind. The man never knew when he was done!"
"You're funny, Uncle Mike," he led us away by the arm to a relaxing Rothko.
Later, we found ourselves alone in an interesting exhibit called "Think While You Shoot" devoted to Martin Munkacsi, the Hungarian photographer famous for his candids in the 1920s and 1930s and his fashion photography later. A 1932 sequence of photos taken of spectators at a bullfight had an interesting caption. These candid shots, it explained, demonstrate the philosopher Walter Benjamin's concept of "the optical unconscious" of photography as "photography's special capacity to reveal aspects of the visible world that would otherwise elude human perception."
Life flying by so fast (we turned 21 only a few days ago) is stopped by the shutter. The sculptor danced with life; the photographer stopped the show. We can see in the photo what we missed when we blinked. We can return to the moment, if not the age.
Of course you'd know that if you were 21.
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RE: Infinity Splitting Review
Since reading your review of the Canon PowerShot S3 IS, I have felt compelled to write you and thank you for not only providing a thorough overview of the camera and its functions, but also for amusing me in the process.
In particular, your comment about the articulated LCD and those who love them, reminded me of an explanation in my Fowler's Modern English Usage regarding the split infinitive. I'm not sure to this day if I completely understand the split infinitive, but reading the explanation never ceases to make me laugh out loud. It divides the English speaking world into 1) Those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; 2) those who do not know but care very much; 3) those who know and condemn; 4) those who know and approve; and 5) those who know and distinguish. "Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, and are a happy folk, to be envied by most of the minority classes."
It is unexpected and refreshing to be so completely educated and entertained at the same time. I have since purchased the camera and expect it to arrive next week.
-- Shannon Monk(Thanks, Shannon. We're sorry we ever sent that S3 IS back. It took a great picture of our great niece that smiles down on me every day. -- Editor)
RE: Two Kinds of Blurry
I think there is a third kind of blurred image, depending on camera and distance that might apply to the cat -- you are closer than the camera can focus. Granted the worst offenders for this are the old 35mm disposables, but I think some digicams will have this problem with cat "head shots."
I thought of another kind of "blurry" that affects beginners and not-so-beginners!
When shooting macro subjects sometimes things are not as sharp as you think they should be. You may be too close to the subject for your camera to focus sharply. Take a quick look in the owners manual and look up "close focusing distance." You have to be that far away from the subject.
Also, a tripod will help. And for museum blurry photos set the timer on your camera for a hands-free exposure.
(Thanks, guys. We have no end to my grief with the review units because we never know when to shift into Macro and when to shift out of it. And if you can be in Macro at telephoto or just wide angle. Every camera is different. -- Editor)
RE: Crop Factor
I'm unclear about the 1.5 factor on my lenses for my dSLRs.
I realize if I put my 12-24mm Nikkor on one of my film cameras that it vignettes until it is to about 18mm focal length. And as I understand it, my old 70-300mm Tamron is actually 100-450mm on my dSLRs. But if I am using lenses manufactured specifically for dSLRs which use a smaller sensor than say a full frame does my 12-24mm actually start at 12mm or at 18mm?
What does this 1.5 factor really mean when using dSLRs with APS size sensors and digital lenses made for them?
-- Doug Wilson(Focal length is focal length, Doug. It doesn't change, no matter what camera it's mounted on. It's simply the distance from the rear nodal point of the lens to the plane where subjects at infinity come into focus. An APS sensor is smaller than a 35mm film frame, so lenses can be designed with a smaller image circle to save weight and size but the focal length designations on dSLR lenses are the actual focal lengths. The popular Nikon 18-200mm DX VR zoom is, on a 1.5x APS sensor, the equivalent crop of a 27-300mm lens but it's marked accurately as 18-200mm. At slrgear.com, we list both designations in the Specification tab for any lens. -- Editor)
Apple (http://www.apple.com/ilife) has released its $79 iLife '08 [M], updating iPhoto with Event image organization, new editing tools, a unified search, theme-based home printing and new calendars and books. iDVD has also been updated with better performance, 10 new animated themes, advanced menu customization and pro-quality encoding. An update to Aperture is required for compatibility with the new suite.
Pandigital (http://www.pandigital.net) has announced it has shipped its one millionth digital photo frame since it began selling the products in August 2006. Pandigital President Todd Ruhalter said, "It's important to note that digital photo frames were expected to be seasonal items purchased mainly during the holidays. It's now clear that Pandigital customers are buying frames for themselves and others virtually year-round."
Michael H. Reichmann and Jeff Schewe have collaborated on Luminous Landscape's $34.95 From Camera to Print (http://www.luminous-landscape.com), a six hour and forty minute downloadable video tutorial (well, 24 of them). According to Michael, the title explores "in-depth virtually every topic that needs to be covered -- from camera settings, to printer settings (both Windows and Mac), RIPs, paper types and choices, softproofing, current printer models, color management, profiling options, rendering intents, monochrome printing."
Richard Lynch just released his $39.95 The Adobe Photoshop Layers Book with Focal Press. The first book to focus exclusively on the use of layers, it's a mixture of theory and exercises that give readers "a 360 degree perspective on using layers for correction, organization and ultimate control of images," Richard said. Available for $26.37 via our Amazon discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0240520769/?tag=theimagingres-20").
Nikonians.org (http://www.nikonians.org) and Rocky Nook (http://www.rockynook.com) have partnered to launch Nikonians Press, which will publish titles covering Nikon equipment well beyond the scope of technical manuals. Nikonians Press titles will cut through the technical jargon to help readers understand not only their camera, but also the wealth of photographic advantages it can deliver, the companies said.
Camera Bits (http://www.camerabits.com) has released its $150 Photo Mechanic 4.5.2 [MW], adding support for new Olympus cameras, upload template support via Ruby scripts, new Find dialogs, ImageIO support for Raw images and more.
Intriguing Development (http://www.macscrapbook.com) has released its $39.95 iRemember 2.1 [M] scrapbooking application with layout tutorials, iPhoto Photo Book sizes in the Setup dialog, improved undo, improved JPEG output and more.
PictoColor (http://www.pictocolor.com) has released its $199.95 inCamera 4.5 for Photoshop CS3 [MW], a new version of its digital camera and scanner ICC profiling plug-in.
For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:
Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher