Re: [OM] Zeiss Luminar Lenses

Subject: Re: [OM] Zeiss Luminar Lenses
From: Moose <olymoose@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 9 May 2017 16:22:20 -0700
On 5/7/2017 10:43 AM, Jan Steinman wrote:
From: Moose <olymoose@xxxxxxxxx>

On 5/6/2017 11:41 AM, Maggie wrote:
I am planning... a photographic record of 600 or so of the major flowering 
plants of New Zealand.
I agree with Moose, for the most part.

However, I am having great fun these days with a OM Zuiko 135/4.5 Macro on a 
Telescoping Extension Tube. You can go from infinity to better than life-size 
easily, without changing lenses or extension tubes or changing close-up 
filters, and without a tripod, if you have Olympus IBIS. The new Olympus OM-D 
E-M1 Mark II claims 5.5 stops of image stabilization, which I believe, based on 
my experience.

In my OM-4T days, I would often neglect opportunistic macro, because I just didn’t 
want to carry a tripod. Now the 135/4,5 lives in the bag, ready at a moment’s notice, 
thanks to IBIS.

Ah, memories. I recall prowling the garden with 135/4.5 on bellows, shooting hand held. Got some excellent results. Now, I would also use the Auto Tube, but I didn't have one then.

It's just a lens on a camera, not as large or heavy as the Pleica 100-400 or Oly 300/4 Pro. If I could use it without tripod in film days, it should, as you say, work very well with IBIS.

For prime macros, the Oly 60/2.8 Macro is an excellent lens. 
The time and trouble saving over an old MF lens is huge.

Agree fully. It seems this macro is the modern lens to beat. With the E-M1.2 (at least, 
possibly others), you can do in-camera “focus stacking,” the camera 
automagically takes a number of shots at slightly different focus points, and then combines 
them, giving you true in-focus over a much larger range than could normally be achieved.

The in-camera Focus Stacking is very limited. From the manual "The focus position is automatically shifted to capture 8 shots which are then composited for a single JPEG image that is in focus all the way from the foreground to background."

Based on my fairly extensive experience with Focus Bracketing, the last part is a lie, or the distance between slices must be set large, leading to 'waves' of focus - below.

Oly defines "Focus Stacking" as this very limited, in-camera, blending of 8 exposures into a JPEG. What everyone else in the world has called focus stacking, they call "Focus Bracketing". Their terminology makes perfect sense, but is nonetheless easily confusing.

Focus Bracketing, on E-M5 II and both E-M1s takes a series of exposures at different focal distances and dumps them all on you, as Raw and/or JPEG, to align and blend.

Focus Stacking only works with a relatively few lenses:

 M.Zuiko ED 7-14mm f:2.8 PRO
   M.Zuiko ED 12-40 f;2.8 PRO
   M.Zuiko ED 40-150 f2.8 PRO
   M.Zuiko ED 300mm f:4 IS PRO
   M.Zuiko ED 8mm f:1.8 Fisheye PRO
   M.Zuiko ED 30mm f:3.5 Macro
   M.Zuiko ED 60mm f:2.8 Macro

Note that it does not (as yet?) include 12-100 or 25/1.2

Note that this is truly in-focus, not merely smaller “circles of confusion,” 
which is what stopping down gives you.

As a practical matter - IF "focus differential" is set to "1", that's mostly true. As a matter of theory, it can only be true if you take an infinite number of slices, or some such number, as mediated by Zeno.

Also, the algorithm that drives it is based on DoF/CoC. "focus differential" interacts with aperture. Someone at Oly decided what the minimum necessary CoC is for the appearance of what you call "truly in focus" @ 100%. It bases the distance between slices on this CoC. If you shoot at f2.0, and any given "focus differential", the slices are much closer together than @ f8, because of the difference in DoF. The camera reads the characteristics from the lens.

So, as a purely hypothetical example, because I don't care to do a lot of testing to find the correct numbers, shooting for a particular depth of focus might take 3-4x the number of slices @ f2.0 as @ f8.

The problem with any focus differential setting above one is that the allowable CoC gets large enough to have visible what I call 'waves of focus' at 100%. Mike's recent lovely orchid stack is a case in point. At the default display size, even larger it's all in lovely focus. Look at the original size, and you will see how focus varies with subject depth. Five slices isn't enough for "truly in-focus" for a subject this deep at this aperture.

For a reasonable size screen or print size, it's perfect. But I'm not going for that. One 11x14 print I have that tends to cause jaws to drop and/or involuntary noises to be made by first time viewers is a rather large crop of a focus slice. I want that sort of possibility. For the kind of work Brian is contemplating, standards can be more relaxed.

  (Focus stacking requires a tripod, and no subject motion for several seconds, 
and so is not suitable for windy days.)

Well, maybe, sorta. Speaking to Focus Bracketing, I've taken many, many successful stacks hand held, and a fair number when there's a breeze. With a max. stack depth set to about 12 to maybe 17, decent light/fastish shutter speed, and a fast card, the whole thing can go into the buffer on my E-M5 II, so it takes just a second or two.

From what I've read, the buffer on your E-M1 II is much larger. A few days ago, I was shooting with both camera bodies, and wondered why one was handling more images before going to the buffer and clearing the buffer faster than the other. A quick look showed that I had put a slower card in one. The difference between UHS-I cards with speed ratings of U1 and U3 was considerable. I imagine a non UHS card, even class 10, would be much worse. These camera bodies support UHS II (in only one of the slots on the E-M1 II), which should be roughly twice as fast again as UHS I, U3.

 From samples I’ve seen, the result appears to be incredible and stunning… but my 
budget won’t tolerate any more lenses for a while, so I force myself to be happy with my old 
Zuiko macros.

If you really need a short FL, bellows macro lens... The Oly 38/2.8 is 
outstanding for 2-8x (4-16 eq.). On the
Oly bellows with a cable release, it's semi auto diaphragm, too.
In my experience, you’ll need a tripod for the 38/2.8, and again, I heartily recommend the 
Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube for convenience in the field over using a bellows. I have had 
mediocre results with IBIS with this lens. The high magnification factor seems to blow IBIS’s 
mind. I might try dialing-in other focal lengths to see if I can tame IBIS, because the camera seems 
to think that 38mm doesn’t need much stabilization. I suspect the effective focal length (for 
IBIS purposes) is probably closer to 500mm than 38mm.

I confess to only using the 38/2.8 on the Macro Photo Stand. I find it hard to imagine how/why I would like to use it in the field.

I am usually a social photographer away from home, walking with Carol and often friends. They are pretty forgiving of my occasional slowness, but photography that involves any elaborate set-up in generally not practical. Setting up a tent of sheet over a tripod and crawling under to set up and take real macros would mean I have to be sure I'm the only one with keys to the car, and be prepared to buy everyone a nice dinner (well, I like to do that last part anyway.) BobW and Joan and MikeG and Marnie can testify to my travel speed in photogenic territory, for good or ill. Fortunately, Mike is slow, too ;-)

Also, the more esoteric OM Zukio macros have become collectors’ items, and are 
way more expensive that what I paid for them used, 30 years ago.

One thing Moose didn’t mention is the establishing shots. I love the new Zuiko Digital 
7-14/2.8. It is every bit as incredible as its 4/3rds cousin, only faster, smaller, and 
lighter! Having a super wide angle zoom can be important in a crowded woodland or cliff, 
where you can’t simply step back to get the whole tree in the frame.

I certainly agree about the usefulness of a super wide. But, as I've switched to stitched panos for wide landscapes, my need for a super WA lens has decreased a lot, to only those close-in, can't step back situations. I'm willing to carry the tiny, 155 g. 9-18, but not the larger, twice as heavy Panny 7-14/4, let alone the even larger, 3.5x heavier Oly. If I weren't in serious LUV with the PLeica 100-400, priorities might be different. Goodness! I see it weighs less than twice the Oly 7-14/2.8. :-)

I’m a huge fan of ring lights for even lighting. . .
Other than that, I wouldn’t listen to anything “No-Flash Moose” has to say about 
flashes… :-)

You are sure right there! I have and have used the T8 and T10 back in my film days, and they are indeed awesome. Just don't need 'em these days.

But I am quite partial to using a white bedsheet draped over a tripod, both for 
wind control, and to provide flat, low-contrast light on a sunny day that would 
give delicate macro subjects too much contrast.

Nice idea!
Camera support:
This is where IBIS pays off. If you can afford the new OM-D E1.2, go for it. The IBIS 
is simply incredible, and from what I’ve read, better than the rest of the 
Olympus Digital line, although the E5.2 may do as well.

Yep, it's actually amazing. I would not have intentionally taken this shot , 300 mm @ 1/20 sec., but one may learn from errors. 1/20 was too slow for the Robin's head motion, but fine for its body. <http://www.moosemystic.net/Gallery/tech/E-M5II_IBIS/Robin.htm>

Get the best IBIS you can afford, and leave your tripod home.

Absolutely! There are so many more possibilities. I dutifully carry one in our Turtle RV and haul a light one for our Fall month trips to New England, but almost never use them.

Or bring it and a white bedsheets along so you can crawl under it and get both 
low-contrast natural light, and more importantly, wind control - - they haven’t 
invented an IBIS to control subject motion yet. :-)

E-M1 V ;-)

... the IBIS on the E-M5 II is spectacularly good. (Oly claims the even better 
on the E-M1 II is limited in some circumstances by the rotation of the Earth.)
I haven’t shot the E-M5.2 yet, but I am blown away by the IBIS on the E-M1.2. I 
routinely shoot hand-held at several seconds!

Depth of Field

Here again, tech has changed the possible dramatically. The project you are 
contemplating is primarily documentation,
not art. Focus stacking (which Oly, correctly, but confusingly, calls Focus 
Bracketing) changes the whole process. It's
possible to have the sexual organs of a Hibiscus, for example, AND the front 
part of the petals, AND the bent back tips
of the petals, ALL in focus at once, in one "shot”.
Not having a compatible lens, I have no experience with this, but I see it a 
lot on mu-43.com, and it is mind-blowing! I agree that this feature alone make 
the E-M1.2 in combo with the ZD 60/2.8 macro look like the winner.

One problem for this is... it requires software to merge the slices of the 
stack, and likely more computer power.
My understanding is the E-M1.2 (at least) does this in-camera; no computer 
needed. But I could be wrong.

Yes, but, as discussed above, very limited. Focus Bracketing opens up the 
possibilities to virtually all µ4/3 AF lenses

Another aspect of this is that one is stuck with what the camera blending has done. When shooting flowers like Bearded Irises and Matilda Poppies, even the slightest air movement can move a petal and cause ghosting in the stack/blend process. With a focus bracket set of slice images, it's often possible to eliminate the ghosting.

This one, for example, was shot with quite a breeze, the flowers literally moving several inches with gusts. <http://zone-10.com/tope2/main.php?g2_itemId=20508>

I waited for relative lulls in the wind and shot; this one worked. An in-camera Focus Stacked image would have been toast, with ghostly artifacts. Fine tuning the blend in PS, I got what I wanted. I love these flowers, have taken way too many pix of them, but this and other recent stacks have finally captured what I never could before.

As I've said before, I find the working distance of the 60/2.8 often short for 
my preferences. It's in the kit . . .

I should also mention that fancy equipment and technique isn't necessary for some focus stacking. The two sets of flowers here were too different in focal distance to get both in focus using DoF, but I liked the composition. So I simply took two shots, using point AF on each, and blended them in PS. <http://galleries.moosemystic.net/MooseFoto/index.php?gallery=California/Henry_Cowell_Redwoods&image=_1160116-17e.jpg>

I've actually done quite a lot of this, two to maybe five hand chosen shots. This is another simple double shot. <http://zone-10.com/tope2/main.php?g2_itemId=20499> Some work, some not, but when it works, it's sometimes magic.

I’ve been working with an ethnobotanist, documenting native food trees in our 
region. This is not as demanding as what you are contemplating, and I am finding the 
OM 135/4.5 macro with the telescoping tubes to be a winner, and at least as capable as 
I imagine Zeiss Luminar lenses would be. The ability to not have to constantly change 
extension tubes really helps.

But the new macro technology blows all that away, and should be carefully 
considered, should you have the budget.

Depends on what budget is being considered. Money is only one part; time and 
energy is another.

Windy Moose

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