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Foundations of Photography: Lenses

Lens notes for Micro Four Thirds


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Foundations of Photography: Lenses

with Ben Long

Video: Lens notes for Micro Four Thirds

SLRs are great for their exceptional image quality, thanks to their very large sensors, the ability to interchange lenses for more shooting flexibility, their professional level of controls, their exceptional viewfinders. All in all, if you're serious about taking a good picture an SLR is very often the way to go. The problem is very often you don't want to take your SLR with you just because it's so big. It doesn't fit in a pocket. Maybe it's going to be drag if you're carrying other things. That's what we have point-and-shoot cameras. Smaller sensors that make for a smaller camera but still today's point-and-shoot cameras can deliver excellent image quality.

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Foundations of Photography: Lenses
2h 32m Beginner Feb 11, 2011

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Many of the creative options available to a photographer hinge on an in-depth understanding of lenses. In Foundations of Photography: Lenses, Ben Long shows how to choose lenses and take full advantage of their creative options. The course covers fundamental concepts that apply to any camera, such as focal length and camera position, and shows how to evaluate and shop for DSLR lenses. The second half of the course focuses on shooting techniques: controlling autofocus, working with different focal lengths, and managing distortion and flare. The course also examines various filters and contains tips on cleaning and maintaining lenses.

Topics include:
  • Understanding field of view and camera position
  • Depth of field and lens choice
  • How to choose a lens
  • Examining lens features
  • Using specialized lenses such as fisheye and tilt/shift lenses
  • Focusing techniques
  • Using filters
  • Camera maintenance
Subjects:
Photography Cameras + Gear Photography Foundations
Author:
Ben Long

Lens notes for Micro Four Thirds

SLRs are great for their exceptional image quality, thanks to their very large sensors, the ability to interchange lenses for more shooting flexibility, their professional level of controls, their exceptional viewfinders. All in all, if you're serious about taking a good picture an SLR is very often the way to go. The problem is very often you don't want to take your SLR with you just because it's so big. It doesn't fit in a pocket. Maybe it's going to be drag if you're carrying other things. That's what we have point-and-shoot cameras. Smaller sensors that make for a smaller camera but still today's point-and-shoot cameras can deliver excellent image quality.

They're really small and easy to work with, very pocketable. But they're lack of certain flexibility. They can't change lenses. You don't have a real viewfinder. A few years ago some camera manufacturers got together, recognized this problem and created something called the Four Thirds Standard, which specified a image sensor that's larger than a point-and- shoot camera. And the reason we care about sensor sizes that as your image sensor gets larger, you gain the ability to shoot with more shallow depth of field and you lower the amount of noise, those little speckly colored patterns that can appear in an image.

So you'll get a larger image sensor with a four thirds camera and you'll get removable lenses. A little bit after that, they came up with the Micro Four Thirds specification, which is what I have here. this is a micro four thirds camera. So it's smaller than an SLR. It's a little bit bigger than a point-and-shoot. It really does sit between these two cameras. What's nice about it is it is still small enough that I can put in a coat pocket, or even if I just have it hanging up my shoulder it doesn't weigh very much. It's got an image sensor that's larger than a point-and-shoot, not quite as large as an SLR. So I can still have depth of field control, I still get really low noise and I get removable lenses.

So I get a lot of flexibility of an SLR and a lot of the convenience of a point-and-shoot. The downside to a micro four thirds camera is that the specification dictates that the lens has to be pretty close to the image sensor. So close that there's no room inside for a mirror. That means I can't have an actual optical viewfinder of high-quality like I can with an SLR. So it kind of a small price to pay if you're tired of carrying a heavy camera. So, Panasonic, Olympus, a couple of other vendors are all signed on to the Micro Four Third standards and making micro four thirds cameras and lenses. Because it's a standard I can change lenses from any micro four thirds camera.

For example, what I have on here right now is a 20mm Panasonic lens with a maximum aperture depth 1.7. Micro four thirds cameras all have a multiplication factor of 2x, so this ends up being the equipped on 40mm lens on a 35 mm camera, and so that makes this almost a normal lens. With an aperture depth of 1.7. So this is a really nice walk-around fast lens. As you can see it is very thin. It is referred to as a pancake lens. But I got another fine selection of lenses from a couple of different vendors.

I actually also like this Olympus lens. This is not a Panasonic lens but it still fits on my Panasonic GF-1 here just fine, because again this is the Micro Four Thirds standard. This is the A-1.4 to 42, which makes it a 24 to 84 mm lens. So at the time that we're shooting, there's a nice assortment of micro dour thirds lenses out there. Here is a 7 to 14 that gives me the equivalent of a 14 to 28. One thing I hope you're noticing about these lenses, this is a very wide angle lens and it's pretty fast.

It's an F4 all the way across. So a 14 to 28mm equivalent lens and it's only this big. Again it's not just the cameras that are small, but the lenses themselves are small. I can carry a whole kit of lenses in very little space. But another really cool thing about micro four thirds cameras is not long after they were released, people started making gobs of adapters for attaching just about any other type of lens that you can imagine. What I have here is a Canon adapter. This lets me attached Canon lenses to my micro four thirds camera. It's the bayonet mount adapter, just like all these lenses. This type of mount where I don't have to completely unscrew the lens, but I can just turn it a little bit. That's called a bayonet mount.

So I can just pop this on my camera and now I got a Canon mount right there. Here is the Canon 15mm fisheye and now it just pops right onto my micro four thirds camera. The same adapter would work on any other micro four thirds camera. Some caveats though. These days aperture control and auto- focus is all managed by electronics that pass electronic connections from the camera to the lens. This adapter does not pass any of that stuff, so my lenses are going to completely manual now. There is no auto-focus, nor is there any aperture control. The lens is always stuck at its widest aperture.

So this is fortunately an F2.8. So I have to put my camera into manual mode. I have no aperture control. I can just play with the shutter speed until I get a good exposure. Something else to bear in mind. This is a 15mm fisheye, which means lots and lots of wide-angle distortion. But because of that 2x multiplication factor, the 2x crop factor, I'm only taking the very center of the lens and the part that I'm taking is not that distorted. So I'm not getting a great fisheye effect on this. Still, I'm getting a pretty wide angle lens and if may be you buy a micro four thirds camera and you just buy the kit lens, but you got a nice wide-angle already for your SLR and it's not too big, a little $25 adapter like this can immediately get you another lens.

A nice thing about that multiplication factor though, one thing about this adapter-- this particular one it's hard to get off of lenses. One nice thing about that multiplication factor though is when you're working with-- when you want a long focal length lens, if you're really into shooting telephoto having that 2x multiplier can be a good thing for your other lenses. For example, let's say I really wanted to go shoot something that was far away and I thought, "Oh, I know, I've got just the thing in the back of my closet. That old Sigma 100mm." I can now just pop my camera right onto this.

Noticed I don't say pop the lens onto the camera, because when you're working with the lens of this size, it's more that you put the camera on the lens not the lens on the camera. But nevertheless, though it's a little ridiculous, I now have an 800mm lens on my tiny little micro four thirds camera. 2x multiplier means this is actually the equivalent of a 1600mm lens, which is great, but I had some really serious surveillance in mind. So now I might add a 2x multiplier. That gets me up to a 3200mm lens. That would go around in here. Oh and why not just stack that 1.4x multiplier on top of it? This would make this a 4480mm equivalent lens.

That's said, I should point out that this is just about impossible to use on this camera, because you don't have auto-focus, it's very hard to hold it steady, and as you add those teleconverters you lose f-stops. Anyway these adapters are great and you can get them for all sorts of things. What's cool as people starting to adapt not just camera lenses but film camera lenses. If you have old Bolex 16mm lenses, you can put those on here and those are often very, very, very fast. If you have a collection of nice old Leica lenses, those are already very small and fit on this kind of camera very, very well.

So if you've been frustrated by the size of your SLR for certain occasions but you don't want to give up a certain level of flexibility and quality, definitely check into micro four thirds cameras.?

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