Noisy Neighbours

I got a few enquiries about corellas after my post Tales From The Riverbank part 2. Yes the Shire has previously culled the birds in the run up to Australia Day, but this year they didn’t. The reasons given are that they are noisy – I mean really noisy. To show how noisy I made a short film about them.

Tales From The River Bank – part 2

Summer in Pioneer Park by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Western Corellas (Cacatua pastinator). Pioneer Avon Park, York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/1250 sec f8 ISO 800.

 

Well we’re well and truly in summer now here in York. The mercury has hit 42℃ (107℉), the wheat crop is in and the water level in the River Avon is steadily dropping. This time of year brings the western corellas (Cacatua pastinator) in huge numbers. They migrate here to fatten up on the spilled wheat around the CBH grain handling facility and because of the water in the river. Being seed eaters they need quite large quantities of water to help digest their food. The corellas take up residence in the large gum trees that line

Summer in Pioneer Park by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Summer in Pioneer Park. Western Corellas (Cacatua pastinator). Pioneer Avon Park, York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/500 f7.1 ISO 200.

 

the banks of the river and that means lots of them can be found in the Pioneer Avon Park. Unfortunately for the corellas this all roughly coincides with Australia Day and this is a problem at the park because the town chooses to celebrate Australia Day there, lots of awards are handed out  and of course lots of speeches are made. Corellas are noisy – very noisy especially in their hundreds and they can easily drown out a PA system. One year our shire CEO had his wonderful speech (well he thought it was wonderful we the citizens of York thought otherwise) drowned out by raucous squawking and it made him more than a little cross to say the least. To prevent such a thing happening the next year he arranged for the birds to be culled just a few days before Australia Day. This is why York wakes up to the sound of gunfire in the days leading up to Australia Day.

 

Summer in Pioneer Park by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Little black cormorants (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) none too impressed with the antics of the corellas. Pioneer Avon Park, York, Western Australia. Exposure

 

Summer in Pioneer Park by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Pink and Grey Galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla) wishing the noisy visitors would bugger off and leave them in peace and quiet. Avon Pioneer Park, York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/800 sec, f6.7 ISO 800.

 

 

The Long And The Short Of It

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II mounted on an OMD EM-10.

 

The Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 mk ii (which shall now on referred to as the 75-300) is an updated version of their original super telephoto zoom for the micro four thirds format.Yes I said super telephoto zoom because that is what it is as it is equivalent to a 150-600mm lens in 35mm sensor terms.

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II mounted on an OMD EM-10.

 

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II compared with Canon EF 75-300 f4.5-5.6 IS for comparison. The Olympus gives an equivalent focal length of 150-600mm.

Keeping up with the m4/3s promise of smaller cameras and lenses this lens does not disappoint. It fits comfortably in the hand is quite a bit smaller than my Canon 75-300mm f3.5-5.6 IS which only covers half the focal range when mounted on my EOS5d. There are rumours on the various forums that the lens is designed and built by Sigma, but there is no evidence of that fact when looking at it. The 75-300 is largely constructed from engineering plastic and has a metal mount. There is no weather sealing. The lens extends while zoom, roughly doubling its length, there is no lens creep which is nice. While not heavy it feels reassuringly dense in the hand and not at all cheap and wobbly like some budget zoom lenses.The filter diameter is 58mm which it shares with the 40-150mm f4-5.6 and means that filters won’t be too pricey. Optically the lens has 18 elements in 13 groups, two of which are ED glass and one is Super ED (extra low dispersion). These exotic elements are there to minimise chromatic aberration throughout the zoom range. They certainly do the job for when I open up images shot with the 75-300 in Lightroom they are remarkably free of CA. The lenses elements are coated with Olympus propriety ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coatings and I’ve found the lens to be quite resistant to backlit flare, however flare can be induced by bright light sources just outside of the frame so I would heartily recommend the use of a lens hood. Unfortunately Olympus does not include one in the box.

 

Cracticus tibicen hypoleuca is a subspecies of white backed magpie found on Tasmania, King and Flinders Islands.

 

A pink and grey galah at our bird table.

 

Performance wise the 75-300 is remarkably good for a lens of this price and zoom range. The AF is quick and precise when shooting stills on both my EM-10 and EP-5, and quite a lot slower when shooting video. Optically the lens is very sharp up until the 200mm mark and then it does soften slightly, but this is not at all unusual with zoom lenses, which is unfortunate because this lens will be bought more for its uses at 300mm than 75mm. There is not a lot of love for this lens on the internet forums where it is harshly criticised for it performance at the long end, but from my experience with it it’s not as bad as people make out. I wonder whether camera shake is a contributing factor here. While Olympus bodies have In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) there is a limit to what it can achieve and we have to remember that this is the equivalent of a super telephoto 600mm lens in full frame terms and not many people would expect to handhold one of those and get tack sharp results. When using the lens on a tripod and monopod it certainly delivers the goods. When handholding I would certainly recommend not using a shutter speed of lower than 1/300th sec even when using IBIS.

 

Kite surfing off Park Beach in Tasmania.

 

Kite surfing off Park Beach in Tasmania.

Downsides of the 75-300. Well the slow maximum aperture will be a drawback for many, and I’ve read many threads where people have stated they would have preferred a constant f4. This all very well but lens design is a compromise and such a lens would be very large and heavy and cost considerably more. Personally I don’t mind using higher ISOs to keep the shutter speeds up as I’m happy to clean up my images with Niksoft’s Denoise. Another downside is when shooting video – this is not really a lens for run and gun style shooting, it is much to long to effectively control shooting handheld. Even on a tripod the lens showed up the failings of my fluid head for when panning there was quite a pronounced shudder when using it at its longest end.

Overall I feel that the few drawbacks are outweighed by the positives and I like this lens a lot. It is a very good lens when one considers the price. In Oz a full frame equivalent will cost at least double. I would recommend the 75-300 to anyone who was prepared to accept the trade offs involved i.e compact size and affordability versus the slow maximum aperture and the slight softening of the image at the long end. At the time of writing this there is only one other alternative, the Panasonic Lumix G.Vario 100-300mm f4-5.6 OS, which is at the same price point and has a similar performance. I would only consider the Panasonic over the Olympus if I was shooting on a Panasonic camera which has no IBIS. Both Olympus and Panasonic are introducing higher performance lenses at the 300mm focal length at some time in the near future, but I think we’ll find they are considerably bigger and more expensive.

 

Two black faced cormorants, a little black cormorant, and a little pied cormorant hang out while a silver gull watches on. Lewisham, Tasmania.

 

Frida giving me a cheeky grin while waiting for me to catch up.

So if you fancy doing a bit of sport or wildlife photography then I would thoroughly recommend this lens to all Olympus users.

Garden Life

Deep in the heart of a garden in suburban Tasmania lies an abundance of wildlife living unnoticed.

Gardens For Wildlife Tasmania

For the inquisitive camera nerds the clip was filmed with the following:

  • Sony ActionCam HDR-AS20
  • Olympus OMD EM-10
  • Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens
  • Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f4-5.6
  • Sigma 70-210mm f4-5.6 UC zoom in OM mount adapted to m4/3 with a cheap EBay adapter.
  • Zoom H2n Handy Recorder
  • RØDE VideoMic Pro

The Future Is Now

Over the last few months I have been sharing about some of the features that I have found interesting with the Olympus m4/3s system. To me personally the remote control of flash and the wireless control of the camera are exciting, not necessarily in the form that they’re in now but in what they herald for the future. I know I talk a lot about the old days but I think its important to know where we have come from in order to understand the potential of modern equipment. I am as I keep saying a very promiscuous photographer – I rarely stick to any genre for long and photograph what gives me pleasure and interest.  At the moment I’m taking photos of the wildlife we find in our garden to document it because my wife has joined gardens for wildlife and because I’m lazy and like taking photos close to home, The following are just some photos of birds that can be found in the garden.

Pink and Grey Galah
Pink and Grey Galah or Eolophus roseicapilla, the most common Australian cockatoo.

 

Noisy Miner Bird
The appropriately named the noisy miner bird, Manorina melanocephala leachi, is a vocal species with a large range of songs, calls, scoldings and alarms, and almost constant vocalizations particularly from young birds.

With the modern technology we have at our disposal taking these pics was straight forward. When we look at the work of pioneer ornithological photographer Eric Hosking and see the amount of kit he had to set up to take similar types of photos it is quite staggering. Examples of Hosking’s work can be seen here.

Eric Hoskins pioneer ornithological photographer and possibly the worlds first professional wildlife photographer.

Now an EM-10, a telephoto zoom, a couple of flash lights and an iPad takes the place of a van load of stuff. I decided to put the kit to the test and then Mother Nature sank my plans. Here in the island paradise of Tasmania we are in the middle of what is laughingly called summer. The last few days it has been sheeting down and blowing a gale. In fact the weather has been so bad that 120mm rain fell overnight and this morning on my daily perambulation I had to wear a fleece and a soft shell water proof. As you can imagine the local wildlife isn’t too keen at putting in an appearance and I doubt that any equipment setup outside would last long. So in place of the local wildlife you’ve got me showing you how to do a hi-tech selfie. My wife would probably say that there is no difference as I’m pretty feral!

OK having done this what have I learnt? Well first of all using WiFi and the RC function uses power like a trust fund baby spends money. Setting up is easy but the amount of control offered by the Olympus Image Share App is very basic. You can control the exposure but you can’t get access to the Olympus Super Control Panel and that means that you still have to access the camera itself if you want to change your lighting ratios or switch from TTL to manual or vice versa. Although the camera is connected to the iPad via WiFi you still have to physically touch the screen to trigger the camera. So in future what would I like to see, well to start I’d like to have access to the SCP via the app so I’ve got more control over the camera and lights. Secondly I’d like to have more options to trigger the camera. At the moment I can’t use the ioShutter™ as my Olympus cameras have a proprietary connection to allow the use of a remote cable, so I’d certainly welcome either Olympus or the makers of ioShutter to make a remote that allows me to trigger the camera via sound or with a light trigger. I really think that we’re just at the very start of connectivity when it comes to cameras. Back in August 2012 I wrote about shooting using my Canon EOS5d tethered via a USB cable to a laptop and using Lightroom. Now I can do the same and more but wirelessly using a mobile phone or tablet. I hoping that in 2 or 3 years time we’ll see the functions I’ve talked about here.

Location! Location!

Standing on the beach looking out to Mount Wellington.

Well with the help of a horde of minions Paul Amyes Photography (PAP), the global producer and purveyor of photo media par excellence, has relocated from the Wheatbelt of Western Australia to the Southern Beaches of Tasmania. Now as anyone with any kind of aspiration to any sort of global domination will know that one of the keys to success is a top-secret location, preferably hidden on a tropical island in an extinct volcano or a vast subterranean labyrinth of tunnels under a suitably gothic city scape. Well we’re no different, we have established our headquarters on a gargantuan private estate that is patrolled by a roving multitude of attack possums and killer quolls. We tried to get the more ferocious Tasmanian Devils, but the double whammy effect of Devil Facial Tumour and Tasmanian motorists decimating their numbers means that are too few in number and therefore they just won’t work for peanuts. However, there was a slight problem with the plan. Being top-secret and heavily guarded made setting up telecommunication links very difficult. The technicians either didn’t know where to find us or were put to flight by the packs of marauding marsupials. After four weeks with only dodgy mobile phone reception and non- existent 3G mobile internet we finally relented and gave out our address and told security to take the day off. With the arrival of the electric interwebs social intercourse can now resume and we can open for business again. Hoorah!

 

One of the deadly attack possums

 

A killer quoll

Seriously folks our move to Tassie went smoothly and we are now planning to re-launch the business. Consequently over the next couple of months the blog and website will be re-worked and refreshed. Blogging will continue, but I hope it will become a little more focussed on the launch of new projects, products and services. Shortly after arriving I was invited to The Mercury’s short film festival as my film had been short listed for an award. Alas I did not win anything (the competition was just too good) I have been emboldened to take my film making more seriously and will look at gaining more skills and then using them to produce a lot more work with aim of taking on editorial and commercial projects.

The neighbours are very friendly