Improve Your Macro Photography with Micro Four Thirds Cameras

Improve Your Macro Photography with Micro Four Thirds Cameras

The world of macro photography has been an interest for me ever since I got my first camera. That camera was a little Casio point and shoot that was maybe 2 or 3 megapixels. I was out shooting that first day with it and noticed on the mode dial a little flower icon and thought I’d set it to that and go shoot some flowers. I was several feet back from some Clematis (yes, I remember the exact flower) and the camera would not focus. After some trial and error I realized I needed to be closer to get focus…a LOT closer.

Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – August Edition

Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – August Edition

Nikon’s old 500mm and 600mm f/4 lenses were excellent bits of glass (though calling them “bits” is an understatement). But what’s good can always be improved and Nikon has done just that with this pair. By incorporating flourite elements into the design, they’ve made them between 20% and 25% lighter, which makes these two the lightest lenses in their focal length/aperture in the world.

Leverage Multiple Camera Platforms with Adapters

Leverage Multiple Camera Platforms with Adapters

Recently, I completed a shoot for an article written by our own Alex Huff for 500px’s ISO blog. For it, I returned to my trusty old 5D Mark II and an even older lens: a Nikon 100mm f/2.8 AiS lens that’s at least 30 years old. For me, the results were well past what I’d expected from the setup. To marry that Nikon lens to my 5D Mark II, I used this Nikon G lens to Canon adapter. I added a lens hood I own to the setup to avoid some glare I was getting off an overhead light and this is what it looked like: As I said, the results were well past what I’d expected. Turns out, that lens was superb on my 5D and the shot of model Xela Gaerlan (below) that ended up on the blog is one of my favorites. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve used a Nikon lens on my 5D. In fact, I wrote about this a couple of years ago. Moreover, I’ve also written in the past about using multiple lens types on Micro 4/3 cameras too. When I looked at my shooting kit now, however, I felt like it was time to visit the topic once more, especially given how much the adapter market has evolved. I own a 5D Mark II and a Sony a7S. When it comes to lenses, however, I own one Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (which I never use) and five Nikon-mount lenses. I had a Canon 24–70 at some point, but it’s lying at the bottom of the San Francisco Bay near the...
Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – May Edition

Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – May Edition

The pace of gear releases in our industry seems to be constantly increasing these days. Every month, we have new photo or video gear coming into our offices so we thought we’d start putting together a roundup of everything new we have available to rent. Here’s what’s come in during the last month or so: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit   Profoto gear just keeps getting better and better. The guys over at Resource Mag Online have put up a nice video review that you can check out here, but here’s the short and sweet: It’s Profoto’s legendary quality meets portability meets TTL metering for Canon and Nikon shooters. You can, of course, also hook up your standard PocketWizards for manual triggering as well. This is a fantastic light for location shooting when you want a bit more power than a standard speedlight. Elinchrom 800W/s D-Lite RX4 Monolight Kit   Since we’re on the subject of lighting, the guys at Elinchrom haven’t been standing still either. We now have one of their newest lights in stock, and it’s available as a kit that comes with light stands, small softboxes, and the Skyport SPEED transmitter for triggering these flashes. We love these lights, and you can pair them with Elinchrom’s legendary Deep Octa or 6′ Light Bank for some incredible lighting. Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens Fuji keeps making waves with their incredible line of X-series cameras and lenses, but this particular one is really the one Fuji shooters have been waiting for. The equivalent of a 24-82.5mm lens on a full-frame camera, this zoom is weather-sealed...
The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

Of all the things that photographers argue about in our secret monthly meetings, sensor size and its impact on our work is perhaps one of the most heated topics that can come up. From the true “bigger is better” snobs (“Sensors? Bah! 8X10 film is where it’s at!”) to the ones who prize portability above all (“Micro-Four-Thirds rules!”), the debate between advocates of MFT, APS-C, and full-frame sensors often reaches religious fervor. Contentious topics related to sensor size include resolution, high-ISO performance, and dynamic range, but the quality and characteristic of bokeh, or out-of-focus backgrounds, is perhaps the most fiercely contentious. While there’s no contest that the bigger sensors can clearly produce much smoother and, well, blurier (not a word, I know), it’s also an unfair statement that the smaller sensors like the ones in Olympus and Panasonic Micro-Four-Thirds cameras can’t produce good bokeh. The Prerequisites Now, before you get into this article, if you have questions about what crop sensors are, how they work, etc., you want to read a few of these articles: Tip of the Week: Understanding Sensor Crop Factors, Part 1 Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors Best Wide Angle for a Crop Sensor Camera These articles will give you a good understanding of what crop sensors are, and what using a crop sensor camera implies, for the most part. In this article, we’re going to drill down to one specific thing. We will take a look at just how the size of your camera’s sensor affects the bokeh characteristics of your image. To do this, we devised a pretty...
Intro to Light Painting with Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald

Intro to Light Painting with Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald

Jamie MacDonald is an Olympus Trailblazer who shoots nature and wildlife in the Mid-Michigan area exclusively with the Olympus Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds camera systems. He is also a contributor for Small Camera Big Picture. Light painted photography is one of his passions. Check out his tips below for creating a successful light painted photo. Intro to Light Painting by Jamie MacDonald As photographers we know that our craft is all about light. We long for the golden hours of morning and evening, the blue hour of twilight, and some of us make our own with strobes and Speedlights. But there is a subset of photographers out there who choose not use light to highlight our subjects but, rather, to make light the subject itself. This is what happens when light becomes the scene. What does it take to start light painting? It really takes nothing more than your camera, a source of light, and your imagination. Let’s start off with the gear. Below is a general recommendation for the gear needed to begin light painting: A camera capable of shooting in manual mode. If you’re an extreme beginner, don’t worry – shooting in manual is easy for this! A tripod or some other way to make sure your camera is stable during the exposure. A cable release for your camera. If you do NOT have one, don’t worry. I have a trick for you to use that will work just fine. A light source. What kind? Pretty much anything that makes light can be used! Some examples of what I have used are LED flashlights, iPhone, sparklers, glow sticks...
The Five Best Lenses For the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

The Five Best Lenses For the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

I’ve been playing with the BMPCC (Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera) for a few weeks now, and have, after much experimentation, finally narrowed the massive selection available for this camera (especially via adapters of various sorts) down to my 5 essential picks. Here they are, in no particular order… Best General-Purpose Lens: Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 This is one of those lenses that isn’t just good for the BMPCC; it’s awesome for just about any Micro 4/3 camera. Featuring a focal length of 24-70mm on a standard Micro 4/3 camera like the Olympus OM-D EM-1, a fast f/2.8 aperture, and optical image stabilization, this lens lends itself perfectly for BMPCC shooters. Given the Blackmagic’s 3x crop factor, this lens becomes a still-slightly-wide 36-105mm. Moreover, given the fact that the BMPCC has an active M4/3 mount, the image stabilization works just fine. In short, this is your desert island lens; it’ll work for almost every common scenario you might come across. Best Compact Lens: Olympus 12mm f/2.0   You’d think I’d pick one of the pancake lenses available from Panasonic or Olympus, like the 20mm f/1.7 from Panasonic. To be sure, that’s a solid performer, but I chose the 12mm for 2 key reasons. The first is that it’s still a pretty compact lens, and has a nice, fast f/2.0 aperture with the equivalent of a 36mm focal length. The second is that it’s a lens that lends itself a bit better for the BMPCC in terms of focus. Although the Blackmagic Pocket Camera does have a basic autofocus feature, most video shooters will find themselves using manual focus to nail things...
Sample Images: Benefits of Shooting Olympus and Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds

Sample Images: Benefits of Shooting Olympus and Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds

Mirrorless cameras and the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system are gaining in popularity. From Panasonic’s GH3 to the Blackmagic, more and more cameras are coming out in MFT mount. Olympus originally pioneered the Four Thirds system and, along with Panasonic, announced a new Micro Four Thirds standard in 2008. This new system increased in quality while decreasing in bulk. Olympus Micro Four Thirds Cameras and Lens Variety Olympus carries three main breeds of camera: Digital SLR, OM-D, and the Pen. Their DSLRs are Four Thirds Mount and the OM-D and Pens are Micro Four Thirds. While Four Thirds and MFT lenses cannot be used interchangeably, what is nice about  MFT is that it aims to be a universal mounting system for mirrorless cameras. There are several brands outside of Olympus that make MFT lenses that mount well on the OM-D and Pen cameras. This opens up your lens experimentation options. For instance, while manual-focus only, the Voigtlander Nokton 25mm and 17.5mm lenses for MFT open up to a very wide 0.95 f/stop, a rare feature. You can also use extremely low-profile pancake lenses, such as the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 for MFT. For reach, there is the Panasonic 45-200mm Mega Optical Image Stabilization lens or Olympus’ own fast 75mm  f/1.8, whose 9-blade diaphragm produces excellent bokeh. If you are into experimenting with many lenses at once without being married to 1 particular brand and without killing yourself trying to carry them all, then give the MFT system a shot. Keep in mind when choosing your MFT lens that MFT sensors have a crop factor of 2.0 (as opposed to...
Small Cameras with Big Impact: Traveling Light without Compromising Quality

Small Cameras with Big Impact: Traveling Light without Compromising Quality

Don’t get us wrong – we LOVE our big cameras, especially those pro bodies with huge, high-quality glass. Lugging it around, however, is not so ideal – especially while on vacation or during situations where there just isn’t a lot of room to shoot. High-quality sensors are coming in smaller and smaller form factors, which is good news for globe-trekking photographers or for those who simply need to pack lightly. These small cameras are perfect for: Hiking to get that great sunrise/sunset shot from a high vantage. Inconspicuously taking candids out on the street. Using auto or fully-manual settings on a simplified system. Here are 5 recommended small cameras with incredible image quality: Sony RX1 & Sony RX1R These full frame cameras sport 24 MP sensors and fixed 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss lenses. They shoot full HD 1080p video and have incredible low-light performance. The “R” version lacks an optical low-pass filter, which is ideal for catching extra detail in landscape shooting. The only bummer about these? You’re stuck with that lens. However, on the full frame sensor the 35mm is a great walking-around focal length and the all-metal Zeiss construction is top notch. Another great small-form-factor offering from Sony is their NEX series of mirrorless cameras (with some sample images here). Olympus E-P5 This retro-looking, handsomely-built micro four thirds camera does full HD 1080p video and shoots stills up to 9 FPS on its 16MP sensor. It is very slim and yet still accepts interchangeable lenses, like the fast 17mm f/1.8 M.ZUIKO. Many of our street photographers extol the virtues of this camera. Fuji X100s Another retro beauty, the X100s comes equipped with...