A Busy Saturday

Below are a few images from my day yesterday.  I first took some family portraits for some friends.  I decided on an old historical house that is being fixed up and turned into a bed and breakfast.  The main living room has a mix of great antique furniture and newer pieces.  The woodworking around the house is phenomenal as well as the accent pieces displayed.

Next up was taking some pictures of a house that will be on the house tour in Scottdale.  It was decorated to be an old time diner. The room itself was rather tight and difficult to capture everything.

The amount of detail and the care taken to arrange everything was impressive.  Waiting for me at the counter was even a sandwich, donuts and a Coke!

This place will be on the Scottdale Historical Society House Tour coming up

The first days with the Olympus 45mm f/1.8

Having moved back into a micro 4/3 system for my carry everywhere camera, I was excited to test out some of the newer lenses that have come out since I last had the GF1.  One thing that I have wanted was a 85mm fast aperture prime lens for portraits.  Unfortunately, Nikon’s new version is around $1,700 and even Sigma’s is $900. The solution was to get Olympus’s relatively new 45mm f/1.8 prime for my G3.  This gives a 90mm (in 35mm terms) focal length on a m4/3 sensor.  It’s very small, lightweight and fast.  Just what I was looking for.  I’ve only had this lens for a few days, but I already love it. Below is the prerequisite cat picture that any true lens test has to have.Everything just looks so sharp with this lens.  This was shot wide open at f/1.8 so the background just melts away.The detail this lens captures is fantastic.  So far, the lens is performing as I hoped it would.  Now I can’t wait to actually shoot some portraits with it.  Once I do, I’ll post more examples.

Ice hockey shots

Last night had me shooting in the ice rink for my little brother’s hockey game.  There was nothing too special, but hockey is a hard sport to shoot and the lighting conditions are not the best.

The toughest part is working around the other players and the officials.  The action moves so quick and there are so many bodies flying around that getting a clean frame is difficult and requires some luck.

Having another body partially obstruct the subject can occasionally work out.  I like the above image and I think the left hand blurry player adds depth to the image.  A split second later and the that blurry player would have filled the frame and destroyed the image.

First trip with the Panasonic G3

My wife and I just spent 4 nights in Orlando, Florida so she could attend a conference.  I tagged along, as I usually do, since her company picks up her airfare and the room.  This time we stayed at the Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel next to Universal Studios.  It was a beautiful place modeled after an Italian town.

Hotel from across the bay.

Leaving my big kit at home, I packed light and brought the micro 4/3 setup.  That consisted of a Panasonic G3, 14-42mm kit zoom, a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 with adapter and a Nissin Di466 flash unit.  This little camera really impressed me with the images and what I was able to do with it.  It was great being able to carry a full kit in a small Domke bag (F-803).

Dayna had to attend roughly 5 hours or so of conference stuff a day.  So basically, for 3 days I was free to walk around for multiple hours at a time and take pictures.  No worrying about work, schedules or anything else.  The hotel complex itself is awesome and there is enough to keep a photo enthusiast like me busy for a few days.  Thankfully, the weather was about perfect.  The G3 performed wonderfully in many lighting conditions.  My hesitations with using this small system are almost totally gone now.  I would highly recommend someone buying into it if they want something a bit more serious than a point and shoot.

This is the second micro 4/3 camera I’ve owned.  The first was the Panasonic GF1, and while I liked it, there were just too many compromises for me to be able to rely on it instead of my Nikon D700.  The lack of a quality viewfinder and the sensor performance were the two things I could not get past.

Now that Panasonic has released the G3 that has a great built in EVF and a new sensor, I picked one up and found it to be the small camera that I was after.  While not as a stylish as the Olympus E-P3 Pen, it has more of the features I needed.

Overall, the camera is fairly quick to respond.  It takes only a second to turn it on and be ready for a shot and the autofocus is very quick and accurate.  It has enough manual controls to be able to tweak most settings easily enough, although some of the buttons are small and hard to find when using the EVF.

My biggest complaint with the GF1 was the lack of a usable electronic viewfinder.  The LVF1 that Panasonic marketed for the GF1 was only a 220k dot model.  You could see what was going on, but it was difficult to focus and truly see the image.  So, in looking for a small camera, I put a quality EVF at the top of my list.  My insistence on having one paid off.  The sun was very bright and the LCD on the back was barely viewable.  The viewfinder gave me all the information I needed to compose shots.

The most noticeable downsides to the camera is the write speed to the SD card.  After a shot is taken, there is a 2 second lag where it writes to the card and the image is unavailable for review until it is done.  Not a huge issue, but slightly annoying at times.

I really enjoyed the small camera though.  It was nice being able to carry a small bag and not be weighed down by my big Nikon.  This system will get much more use on travel and hikes.

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