Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘example

Tych Panel 2: Creating Image Layouts Just Got More Awesome

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I’ve been using the first version of Tych Panel to create all of the custom image layouts I display here on my blog, and it has been such a huge time saver for me. So I was thrilled to get an email today from the developer, Reimund Trost, letting me know that he has finally released Tych Panel 2, an extensive update to the Photoshop CS5 extension I’ve come to love so much.

Tych Panel 2 has a ton of new features and enhancements, starting with a brand new compositing algorithm that lets you add both rows and columns, which means you can be much more creative with your layouts than ever before. It also gives you the ability to reorder images as you compose your ntych (a feature you’ll love if you’ve been using the first version), the ability to maintain a custom width and height as you add pictures (very helpful in blogging applications), integration with Adobe Bridge, smart objects and layer masks (you can re-crop your panels even after they’ve been laid out!), actions, and even more output options.

You can also play with background color, outer borders, and even have the extension automatically create rounded corners for you. I had a little fun with this today using some images from my first post about Tych Panel.

(Yes I know, wonderfully random to end this string of images with a goofy picture of Suki)

Reimund has put together a great video explaining how to make the most out of Tych Panel 2, so check it out and download the new extension at http://lumens.se/tychpanel/

It’s free. What are you waiting for? =)

Written by Jonathan

March 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Olympus PEN E-PL2: First Impression

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My entry into digital photography began with a high-end compact camera (Lumix LX3). I still have one in fact: The excellent Canon S90. I love it, but there’s no way around that tiny sensor. You have very limited control over depth of field, and detail suffers at higher ISOs in even the most advanced point and shoots. Naturally, I progressed to a DSLR, with a D700 as my main weapon of choice these days. There’s only one problem with the otherwise wonderful imaging machine that is the D700, however: It’s huge!

I’m the kind of person that carries my camera everywhere I go, and in many cases, especially if I’m going out with the purpose of photography, the D700’s mass doesn’t really bug me. On all day outings, simple trips to the store or on other errands, or just grabbing some dinner with friends, however, it can start to feel like a burdensome anchor over my shoulder after a while. I’ve been wanting something smaller for such occasions.

Ever since Micro Four Thirds cameras started appearing on the market, I’ve been pretty intrigued by the concept of a small, lightweight, large sensor (compared to a compact), interchangeable lens camera system. The technology has matured somewhat now, and these little cameras have become quite popular.  For me, the appeal is simple: compact body, DSLR-like image quality. A camera that I can grab when the size of my DSLR may not practical for a given situation, but that at the same time gives me more than my point-and-shoot does as far as image quality. Recently, I met up with a friend who let me take a look at her Panasonic GF-1. After playing with the camera for a few minutes, I was sold on the m4/3 system.

Enter the Olympus PEN E-PL2

I ordered the E-PL2 together with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens, which gives me a 40mm full-frame equivalent angle of view through the viewfi—uh, LCD. I must say, the lens looks pretty slick on the camera’s silver body.

This little “first impression” review will cover a few of my thoughts about the camera since I received it last week. This is not a review unit. I carefully considered which camera I wanted to acquire to fill the gap between my point and shoot and my DSLR, and finally added the E-PL2 to my gear bag. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the camera continually in future blog posts.

The EPL2 is a modest update to the recently released E-PL1, a camera that seemed to bring mirrorless interchangable lens cameras to the masses by offering a model at a much lower price point than the flagship E-P2. From what I’ve read, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the E-PL2 and E-PL1. I won’t bore you with an exhaustive list, but there are some key updates that do matter to me:

One difference is the rear LCD screen. Size and resolution have been bumped up to 3 inches, 420k dots. Can’t hold a candle to the 920k dot screen on the back of my D700, but it still looks great and I have no problems using the LCD for manual focus. The AP2 port (covered by the hot shoe cover above) accepts some pretty neat accessories, most notably a high-resolution electronic viewfinder that I didn’t order just yet for myself. I’m not one of those “I must have an eye-level viewfinder or I can’t take pictures” photographers. Maybe all my iphoneography has weened me off of the concept =)

Another change is the addition of a clickable command dial around the OK button on the back of the camera. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of the camera I’m not entirely thrilled about. For such a critical control point, the command dial feels a little fiddly. Likely to make room for the larger LCD, the dial is placed very close to the edge of the camera body, making it somewhat awkward and cramped to use at times. Not a deal breaker by any means, but rather a design quirk that takes some getting used to.

The E-PL2 comes kitted with an updated standard zoom, the Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MSC (Movie and Still Compatible) lens. I have a feeling I won’t be using the zoom all that much. The 20mm f/1.7 is faster, more fun to use, and is more compact.

However, the kit lens does seem to perform pretty well optically, and focuses surprisingly fast. Zoom and focus ring action, as well as internal focus mechanisms, are smooth and silent in operation, preventing lens sounds from finding their way into the audio track of your videos.

This is my first Olympus camera since my film days! I’m actually planning on purchasing the Olympus OM to m4/3 mount adapter, which will allow me to use the F. Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 (shown right) on my E-PL2. Pretty exciting to be able to use legacy lenses on this new camera.

I didn’t want to spend all day on these product shots, but here’s a quick photo of the E-PL2 between my Canon S90 and Nikon D40. The E-PL2 is certainly not pocketable like the S90 is, but its size and weight make it perfect for either a large coat pocket or small bag.  With the 20mm pancake mounted, the size and weight of the E-PL2 feels similar to that of a high-end compact like the Panasonic LX3/5 or Canon G12. I keep mine in a little messenger bag, and walking around town I can’t even tell it’s in there.

The built in pop-up can remote-command off-camera flash guns. The strobist in me is very intrigued by this feature…

A slightly fiddly command dial aside,  the E-PL2 operates very well ergonomically. The grip is comfortable, and the camera feels solid and very well made. Performance is also very snappy, making the camera a joy to use overall. Ok, enough about the camera itself. I didn’t spend all weekend staring at it, I was out taking pictures! Below are a few samples. Enjoy!


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/4, 1/400 second, ISO200

Note that as of the writing of this post, Adobe Camera Raw does not support the E-PL2’s raw image files, so I don’t have the ability to process the raw image data from the camera in Lightroom 3 just yet. I guess it’s good that I did my recent JPEG experiment! All of these images are therefore processed in-camera. I’ve heard great things about the Olympus JPEG engine, and I must say, the E-PL2’s JPEG output does not disappoint. I love the way it renders colors, particularly blue skies:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/3.5, 1/320 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/4.5, 1/500 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/9, 1/400 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/8, 1/320 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/10, 1/620 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200

Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 21mm, f/10, 1/400 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/3.5, 1/320 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5, 1/500 second, ISO200

Metering is very dependable, consistent, and accurate. I very rarely have to nudge the camera with any exposure compensation.

Some Closeups:


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 42mm, f/11, 1/100 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/2500 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/500 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/250 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200 (Monotone)

ART FILTERS:

Since I’ve never really shot with an Olympus digital camera, this is my first experience with in-camera Art Filters. You could dismiss this feature as a gimmick I suppose, but I found the filters to be incredibly fun to use.

The filter effects are overlayed onto the view screen in real-time as you compose, giving you a preview of the Art Filter’s effect before you take the shot, and multiple filters can be stacked. It’s really cool!

I found myself gravitating towards the Pin Hole Filter:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole, -0.7EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/25 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/8, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole, -0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 27mm, f/11, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/9, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/9, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/8, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)

Another neat Art Filter is Diorama, which gives your images that tilt-shifted, miniaturized look:


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/10, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Diorama, -0.7EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/3.2, 1/250 second, ISO200 (Diorama)

Perhaps my favorite would be Grainy Film. This filter gives you that high-speed, black and white film look:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/1250 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film, -0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2.8, 1/200 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/4, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 33mm, f/5.6, 1/100 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2.5, 1/800 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/6.3, 1/250 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)

I haven’t used this one that much yet, but here’s a couple snaps using the Pop Art filter, which boosts color and contrast to almost ridiculous levels:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200 (Pop Art)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/4000 second, ISO200 (Pop Art)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pop Art)

One new filter that I haven’t shown here is Dramatic Tone. I have yet to take a picture using this filter that doesn’t look positively ghastly. I’ll keep trying ;)

Low Light Shooting

Over the weekend, someone asked me why I chose the E-PL2 over the Panasonic GF2, or even the highly regarded GF1. Indeed, it was the GF1 that got me hooked on the idea of a m4/3 system in the first place, so what gives? For me, there is one critical feature missing in the Panasonic GFs that is built into all of the Olympus digital Pen cameras: in-camera, sensor-shift image stabilization.

With a stabilized body, any lens you stick on the E-PL2, from a modern zoom to an old manual prime, gets the added benefit of stabilization. Combining a stabilized body, therefore, with a fast prime like the 20mm f/1.7, allows you shoot at wide apertures while using impossible-to-hand-hold shutter speeds. To get a better idea of what this can mean for low-light photography, check out some samples below, all taken hand-held. Note the shutter speeds as well as the ISO settings on each image:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/20 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/10 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/10 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/30, second ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/10 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/4 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/8 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/20 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/20 second, ISO200

Notice that I’m hand-holding the camera at shutter speeds down to 1/4 second and getting getting clean, detailed night shots without having to boost ISO beyond base level.  I don’t expect the high ISO abilities of the E-PL2 to be anywhere near what my D700 is capable of, so the extra help I get from the sensor-shift stabilizer to keep my ISO as low as possible when hand-holding in low light is really appreciated.

Shots of Suki

Of course, no post would be complete with out some shots of Suki. The E-PL2’s continuous auto focus is not quite fast enough to keep up with Suki if she’s moving erratically, but you can still get shots of your pet with this camera.


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200

Can a fox become man’s best friend? Of course! My best friend is a fox =P


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/1000 second, ISO200

She IS a fox. =)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/1250 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/80 second, ISO200

I absolutely love this camera so far. I find the image quality to be excellent, and the size and weight are refreshing. The E-PL2 is easy to carry around all day, it’s inconspicuous, and best of all, it’s downright fun to use. I can see myself traveling with just this camera and one lens and be completely satisfied. Stay tuned for more images, and some video testing as well! I’m off to do more shooting with the E-PL2.

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Product Shots: Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 24mm f/1.4G | Nikkor AFS 24-120mm f/4 VR II

Now That’s True Vintage

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

This is Desirae. She’s a friend, a fellow blogger, and an expert on all things vintage. Met her today out among the rolling hills of San Francisco to do a brief one-hour photo shoot. Seeing her step out of her front door immediately blasted me straight into the 1950’s. With perfect afternoon weather and a gorgeous model to work with, I was feeling pretty good about the shoot right from the start.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

Desirae’s outfit is remarkable, not only because of its 1950’s styling, but because everything she has on is truly vintage, as in made 60+ years ago. Even her stockings are true vintage. Seriously, she’s that good!


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

We originally planned to head to some specific and well known places in the city, but since we only had an hour to work with, we decided to just explore her own neighborhood on foot and make images along the way. Since I JUST finished this shoot only hours ago, I’ll need some time to process the images, but here’s a brief sampling from the time we spent together. Enjoy!


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

On a side note, I used my new 24-120 f/4 VR for most of the shoot and was so very impressed by its performance. The images from it have such great contrast and the range was perfect for both wide and tight portraiture.

As I mentioned, Desirae is an avid blogger with a truly interesting site called Ruby’s Rose. The blog is a fictitious diary of a girl living in the 1950s, and it strictly adheres to events that occurred during that decade in real time. It’s really fascinating, so check it out at rubysrose.blogspot.com

Also, see more images from the shoot on my gallery page at www.jonathanflemingphotography.com!

Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VR: The “Street Sweeper”

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Last week I spent a very busy few days in New York, shooting a wedding for a friend and hanging out with friends in Manhattan. Because of the wedding, I had a bag full of gear and lenses, including my new go-to utility zoom for travel and event photography: the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII. I wrote a small post on my first impressions of the lens a little while back, but last week I really got a chance to leisurely shoot with it mounted on my D700 and get a better impression of how it performs in various circumstances. After taking it everywhere with me during the trip, I can say for sure that I love the 24-120. In short, it’s sharp, focuses fast, and has a focal range that keeps you ready for just about anything. While I did use many of my other lenses during the trip, I’ll keep a small sampling of images in this particular post focused on the 24-120 f/4.

At 24mm, you’re pretty wide on an FX camera. Great for shooting cityscapes:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/9, 1/320 second ISO200


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/8, 1/640 second ISO200


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/7.1, 1/200 second ISO200


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/10, 1/250 second ISO200


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/4, 1/60 second ISO1600


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/10, 1/60 second ISO400


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/6.3, 1/160 second ISO200

Images from the 24-120 have great contrast and depth.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/9, 1/320 second ISO200

Added vignetting in the image above. The lens does vignette at 24mm, but it’s easily correctable in post. I tend to add it anyway, so it doesn’t bug me a bit.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/5.6, 1/25 second ISO800


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/4, 1/160 second ISO800


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/4, 1/1250 second ISO1600


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/4.5, 1/100 second ISO800


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/5.6, 1/40 second ISO800

Can you tell I love that 24mm on the wide end? Probably why I keep begging the wife to let me pick up at 24mm f/1.4. In due time…. =)

Of course, it’s also nice to have that range all the way through 120mm in one constant aperture lens:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 55mm f/4, 1/25 second ISO2000

Shooting static subjects at 1/25 or even lower throughout the range is no problem at all with VRII on board.

Taken blocks away from where I used to live in Brooklyn Heights. Wouldn’t you love to live on Love Lane?

Now for a few shots of people taken with the 24-120mm to further demonstrate its versatility as a mid-range zoom:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 40mm f/4, 1/1000 second ISO1600


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 85mm f/4, 1/160 second ISO6400

The maximum aperture of f/4 is plenty fast for most instances, especially with the ridiculous ISO capability of the D700.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 120mm f/4, 1/500 second ISO1600

Racking the lens out to 120mm gives you a good focal length for tighter portraits. Took the image above in our hotel room while the wife applied some makeup by the window.

The longer end also helps in catching fun expressions and moments at an event. Here’s an example from the wedding reception last weekend:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 92mm f/4, 1/200 second ISO2000

I already wrote a post on the wedding, so head here if you want to check out a few more, or see some hi res images on my website.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/4, 1/40 second ISO2500

My cousin Josh, on the right, is out of focus here, but I wanted to use this shot to show how much environment you can show around your subjects with that 24mm wide end of the lens. Here are a couple more:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/4, 1/500 second ISO6400


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/4.5, 1/80 second ISO1600

At f/4 your depth of field is still pretty shallow. Check out this shot my wife took of me in my favorite store ever, the B&H super store. I never go to NY without paying a visit there! Here I am playing with the incredible Nikon D3s (below). Not too randomize this post too much, but you can see that at f/4, the front element of that fat 24-70 is the only thing in the frame that’s in focus. Could be because the 24-70 is so stinking long =D


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 62mm f/4, 1/50 second ISO1600


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 110mm f/4, 1/80 second ISO800

Back out into the street. Again, the focal range is very flexible for dynamic environments like the streets of New York.

Alright, I only posted this image because if you go to New York, you MUST have a burger at Shake Shack. You MUST!!!

That’s all for now. Still rummaging through images I’ve taken with this lens and others, as well as all the wedding photos I took last week. Stay tuned for more!