When I first started going out photographing the Western Australian landscape and the wild orchids found here the above kit was what I took.Three bodies, seven lenses, two flashes, flash meter, filters, cables, flash triggers, and reflectors. It is a hernia inducing load. This made proper exploration of a location near impossible and so I tended to work from the back of the car.
When I was commissioned to write and illustrate a walking guide-book a couple of years ago I had an epiphany and decided to slim down the kit.The now discontinued Lowepro Outback 300AW offered an efficient method of carrying my equipment. Less hernia inducing than the Full Monty, but still coming in at 7Kg including filters and batteries it is anything but light weight.
Coming in at under 2Kg complete with batteries, filters, microphone and assorted cables for video. This kit still gives me coverage from 24emm to 300emm with 1:1 macro and a smallish prime. All that’s missing is flash.The recent acquisition of the Olympus Zuiko m4/3 60mm f2.8 macro lens led to me having a Goldilocks moment – “Ah! Just right”. This outfit fits in a couple of Lowepro Street & Field pouches that can be carried on a shoulder strap or mounted on a belt. I’ll add the flash a bit later, but still it won’t add much weight and this means I should be able to cover more ground looking for those elusive little buggers, er I mean orchids.
So how does the new lens fare. Well first off I can’t get over the size, it’s the size and shape of a medium-sized glue stick, and about the same weight. Despite that it gives the impression of being well made and it is supposedly weather resistant.
The above image is the closest I get to a test chart, it is what I use to test all new lenses. I bung the camera on the tripod, set the ISO to base and shoot at every aperture using aperture priority. It tells me the lens performs well in the corners from f4 and down, that the field of focus is flat, that diffraction isn’t a major issue even at f22, and that the lens doesn’t suffer badly from chromatic aberration. So far so good. Since frequenting a certain popular photography forum I’ve ascertained that the best way to test lenses is to take pictures of cats. Tricky as I don’t own a cat. So I made do with some other animals that inhabit this house.
Exposure 1/40, f4 at ISO 3200. At f4 the lens exhibits a nice fall off in sharpness and is capable of produce nice bokeh balls as evidenced by the round specular highlight. The banding in the bottom left corner is nothing to with the lens its a product of the Olympus EP-2 being crap at high ISOs.
Exposure 1/50th sec, f4 at ISO 3200. The lens renders very well and will make a very nice longish portrait lens.
Primarily I bought the lens for photographing orchids so I’ve managed to do a couple of flower studies to see how it does. The above rose bud shot shows just how smoothly and delicately the focus transitions from in focus to out of focus at f4.
The close up of the Bougainvillea at f8 shows the lens shows good sharpness into the corners and still has smooth out of focus areas. The bokeh is certainly nice and smooth on this lens.
Nice colour rendition, good levels of contrast, sharp but not clinically so. This lens is going to get some serious use this winter and coming spring and my long-suffering back is going to appreciate the lighter load that micro four thirds brings.