Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to prepare for a photography trip?

I thought about this article after finding myself in a “wanting” situation while on the trip many a time . Let me explain what I mean by a wanting situation.

Sometime back we [Suni, Adi and I – the team :-)] went to NYC. On that trip, I had taken only one lens. My Zuiko 18-180mm. This is a general purpose lens and does its job for landscape and monument photography quite decently. However the 2 things I missed during that trip were

  1. Ability to shoot macro – I hadn’t expected that I would have so many macro opportunities in NYC. If you look closely in NYC, especially in summer, you would see that avenues and streets are adorned with beautiful flower pots. Some of the city squares are full of nice flower gardens. But since the 18-180 is not capable of shooting macro, I missed some beautiful opportunities that presented me.
  2. Ability to shoot wide – Although I knew I would be shooting Brooklyn bridge, I realized that my panoramas would have come out much better if I had a wider lens. The least I could go on the  lens was 18mm on a four-third, which is equivalent to 36mm on a 35mm format. This was not wide enough.

Apart from above mentioned issues, I would point out some common oversights that we make because of time constraint and pressure of planning a trip. We tend to overlook some of the pitfalls that could be pretty easy to avoid otherwise. This is my attempt to set basic rules for preparing for a trip. Hopefully,  this will help me in future.

RULE#1 – Research the destination: Before embarking on a trip, research on web on what you can expect might see during your trip. This should be good enough to give you an idea about the kind of lenses you will require. Also this can help you plan your daily excursions in such a way that you don't lug around with your entire gear everywhere you go. You would be able to select the gear you will absolutely need for each of your excursions while keeping other bulk back in the hotel. The lenses I rely upon are my Zuiko 12-60mm (decent wide angle and zoom), and Zuiko 70-300mm for macro & telephoto close-ups.  Both these lenses have great macro capability, which is good for me because I don’t need to change to a special macro lens whenever I see a macro opportunity.

RULE#2 – Research the weather: Ideally you should do this in the morning before you leave your hotel. This would give an idea on what your aperture should be for most times during the day. By doing this, you can preset your aperture before you leave the hotel. Follow the “Sunny 16” rule and improvise. For more details on the Sunny 16 rule, please follow the links below

For detailed manual exposure computation charts, this is the best reference

Other general references for knowledge

RULE#3 – Always have a backup media Card: Although, fortunately, I never had a mishap with my media cards for the camera, I would never trust just one card for any trip. Probabilistically -  its too dangerous, however reliable the card manufacturer is. You wouldn't want to find yourself card hunting in the middle of your trip :-)

RULE#4 – Always carry laptop and external backup drive : This is important because you can never predict how many pics you will take on a trip. I never erase any pic on my card unless I clicked while experimenting. And I do not erase/format my card unless my pics are backed up in my laptop and portable hard drive (2 backups). Idea is never to have a single point of failure.

RULE#5 – Carry Flashes: External flash is a essential accessory in any trip because you never know when you will need them, be it inside your hotel room or during your night time outings.

RULE#6 – Carry a good tripod: You may think you don’t need a tripod when most of your excursions are going to be during the day. However, you may be surprised on how much more creative you could have been with a tripod. Some of the examples are; fill in flash photography – slow sync needs a tripod during night time when you want the back ground to to appear in a photograph. Slowing motion – waterfalls, springs, fountains,  flowing water etc – these would need a very slow shutter speed, which means you will need tripod.

RULE#7 – Remember to Shoot in RAW: Although RAW takes up more than twice the space than a JPEG, shooting in RAW will allow you to be more creative in post processing.  From my experience I have found that, on a good day, I shoot about 125 to 200 pics. Which means I would need a card of capacity from 2GB to 4GB (a RAW on my E-30 is about 12MB). So I always carry 2 cards of these capacities so that I can shoot as much as I want to.

RULE#8 – Carry Extra Batteries: Its very easy to forget charging batteries. I have a vertical grip + battery holder which takes on extra battery (and provides me enough power for at least a 1000 pictures before I have to recharge batteries). I also carry extra batteries for my flashes.

RULE#9 – Remember UV filter: Have one UV filter for each lens you own. This will save you a lot of headache in the long run. It not only cleans out the UV haze, but also helps protect the front glass of your lens, which is very necessary as you will never know where you will get the scratches from. And if you do get the scratches, then you can say good bye to your lens as it will be pretty much an expensive  garbage.

RULE#10 – Carry Extra camera body (if possible) – If you have an extra camera body for your lens system, then you are probably the luckiest guy (or girl) around! This is because its a lot easy to switch cameras rather than change lenses. switching lenses also poses a danger of exposing your image sensor to dust and debris. So you could have your 2 most used lenses on each on your bodies and enjoy the taking pictures without a sweat! :-)

These are the 10 rules I try to follow to improve myself! :-)



Take Care

PS: I may go on  short hiatus again because my certification exams are coming up :-(. But will try to post 1 blog per week. Lets see how it goes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NEWS FLASH - Olympus Launches E-P1

Technorati Tags:

June 16th 2009 – Olympus has launched its first micro four-third interchangeable lens camera.

 Note: This is a first look preview - I will post more thoughts on this product when I have got a chance to handle it.

Olympus has launched their newest interchangeable lens camera - the E-P1. Now, why do I call it "interchangeable lens" camera rather than a DSLR? Its because it does not have any mirror! And so there is no mirror lock-up on shutter release. There is no need for a pentaprism to get the view back to the photographer behind the camera's view finder. What you see on the screen is actually what the image sensor is looking at! So its not a DSLR!

In fact it does not even have a viewfinder (too bad), instead it has a large 3" LCD screen which doubles as a view finder (not my favourite way, but saves space), which is what the LiveView is all about. But it promises to be as versatile as a any DSLR because of its ability to take on any Zuiko four-third lenses (with an adapter) and it will also have its own family of lenses (micro four-third lenses).

Which is a great news for Olympus E-System owners as they can take advantage of its small size for portability.

E-P1 based on micro four-third standard, which is an offshoot of four-third standard. This standard has already been adopted by Panasonic and E-P1 is Olympus' first foray in this standard.

E-P1 has a completely new image processor - the TruePic V. Which promises to reduce the noise at high ISOs that's the reason they could offer ISO up-to 6400

Its a given that I will own this one (or some later variant). However, the current price of $799 body only is, in my view, too exorbitant. I will wait for 6 months and see how it performs with the pros, who would no doubt be reviewing this new kid-on-the-block.

From what I have seen, here are the Pros and Cons


  1. Extremely small size with the power of SLR.
  2. Interchangeable lens - compatible with all Zuiko four-third Lenses (with an Adapter, sold separately)
  3. Completely new Image Processor
  4. HD video capability
  5. Has most features of any Olympus DLSR up to E-620
  6. Takes one SDHC Card (Olympus has finally done away with their unnecessary dual-card slot).
  7. High ISO up-to 6400 (it would be good to know the noise performance)
  8. A decent 3FPS continuous shooting
  9. Compatible with FL series flashes including FL-36R and FL-50R (not sure if it also supports wireless flash trigger though, if it does then it will be amazing!)
  10. Just 335 grams!!! for a power of armature grade DSLR - that's awesome!


  1. No Optical View finder – This will be much missed by serious photographer.  But then again, what’s the point ? It will only be any other DSLR!
  2. Although I don't really care about video capabilities in a still camera, but some may. So the HD quality of 720p and not 1080p may be an issue with some. When I buy one though, I wouldn’t care too much about the HD capabilities. Just the promise of small camera with power of SLR is sexy enough for me.
  3. No wireless remote support :-( (too bad!). This could be a major irritant, because if you consider the size of the camera and the lack of view finder, the photographer will be struggling to hold the camera with long and heavy tele-photo attached, for instance. Which is where the remote would come in handy with camera on a tripod. But to be fair, it does support remote cable release, same RM-UC1 which is supported by other Olympus DSLRs.

Here are some pics of the camera

EP1-1 EP1-Back
EP1-top Looks true Olympus baby -Simplicity in conception and design!

Image Source:

So, if you own an Olympus DSLR and lenses and want to augment that with a light weight interchangeable lens camera - then this sounds like great value for money.

Watch out for more!! Excited!!!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

What is my GEAR?

Many people ask me which camera, what lenses and accessories do I own. When they ask me that question, I am sure they are giving more credit to the gear than the photographer :-)

Its nice to see people taking interest in what I use for my photography, it shows they have not only looked through my pics, but also thought about what equipment were behind those pics. It is really encouraging for the photographer when you get such questions, because it not only gives the photographer an opportunity to show off his gear, but also makes him think (at least makes me think) more about his pics from the perspective of the equipment used to produce it. This is important - because as a photographer you have so many things on your mind that sometimes  you are wondering “how did I do that?” when you are trying to reproduce a particular effect which you already did in another pic. But thinking about what you have at your disposal and what you can do with those equipments, you can be pretty much sure about what results to expect. And this procedure has helped me tremendously in bettering myself each day.

Well here we go then


A Note: I am not a professional photographer, so nobody paid for this gear but me. I always wanted a decent equipment so that I can be more serious in the art of photography. I burned more than $6000 in building this gear.  But I am happy I did, because I seldom feel wanting anything now when I am on a photography trip.

olympus-e30-fr-800 Olympus E-30 four-thirds Image Stabilized Camera Body [I will write a blog on the four-third systems and how it is different from 35mm. That will be mostly a researched article than a original blog :-)]
Olympus Evolt-330 four-thirds Camera Body. This  product is now archived by Olympus, meaning they have discontinued it. I think this was the stepping stone to their successes.
Very simple, very basic and very versatile entry level SLR,  does its job very well.
I love it. And its very light too!
g_00034378 Zuiko 35mm macro lens for close up photography of flowers etc
3117303335_08a568f6ce Zuiko 25mm pancake lens (named so because of its flat as pancake). This is general purpose 25mm (50mm equivalent focal length of 35mm camera). This is good of portraits or general shooting. Two advantages of this lens are its very light weight and it is capable of large aperture f/2.8. So this can be used in low light condition where you need large aperture and light camera for steady hand held shots.
Look how thin it is.
12-60mm_01 Zuiko 12-60mm SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive for silent autofocus). This is high-end wide-angle to medium telephoto lens with 35mm equivalent of 24-120mm. Olympus claims that along with E-3 or E30 camera this provides the worlds fastest autofocus. And I can see why their claim is 100% accurate. With E-30 - you will never realize when the camera focused, as soon as you press the shutter half way your target is locked on. AMAZING! Fantastic construction and very very silent autofocus.
zuiko-9-18mm-lens Zuiko 9-18mm wide-angle – A wide-angle lens, has 35mm equivalent of 18mm wide-angle. I bought this mainly for landscape photography. Some may argue, that the 12-60mm almost covers entire swath of this lens then why I got it. I agree to that argument , even I feel so. However, I got this before I got 12-60mm and it has beautifully served my purpose, so I have no complaints.
But a note to audience – if you buy 12-60mm do not consider buying 9-18mm unless that extra 3mm is more to you than life.
415_olympus_70-300_1 Zuiko 70-300mm – I got this for telephoto shooting, but it has great macro capability as well with the shortest shooting distance at 97mm at all focal-lengths. Its a little slow, but its not a high-grade lens so that's expected. Lovely performance though in terms of quality of pics.
Serves my purpose for shooting telephoto and macro well. However I would use either 35mm or the 12-60mm (shooting distance 25mm) for macro, unless I want a very shallow DoF and I can’t reach close enough.
261054 Zuiko 18-180 – this is my general purpose lens which came with the Evolt-330 kit. Its good, I plan to use it on the 330 only.
e30-hld4_x HLD-4 vertical grip with battery holder for E-30. Its god sent for me. Now I can shoot like 1000 pics before I think of recharging my BLM-1 batteries. Its beautifully balanced for portrait shot, fits like a glove on E-30. I cannot live without this.  I have the extra BLM-1 battery for the grip.
This grip is designed for E-3 and E-30 cameras, I am not sure if it will fit other E-Bodies (like E-420, 450, 520, 620 etc). It will not fit the Evolt bodies definitely.
Here is how E-30 looks with HLD-4   on.
fl36 IOMFL50R FL36R and FL-50R external flashes. FL-36R servers most of flash needs. I use FL-50R as secondary flash or when I need more light.
I use this for my jewelry photography (A future blog!). Both these flashes are wireless, which means I can detach them from camera and use it without any connectors.
In combination with Gary Fong Lightsphere II, these are amazing.
LightsphereCloudy_02 Gary Fong Lightsphere II  cloud diffuser. In my view, if you are shooting portraits indoors, then you shouldn’t be shooting without this. Beautiful diffuser – Use it as Gary Fong suggests in his videos . Provides amazingly soft light.
WS-604 KATA WS-604 Waist and Shoulder  camera bag – A great bag (a little heavy) and fits almost all my gear. I love the stability in the waist combined with shoulder strap – which means there is less of shoulder and waist fatigue due to distribution of weight.
That’s my gear!
8d6e_1 Benro tripod with ball head (8KG load)  - beautiful pro tripod
WEPBRFK40_JPG Westcott 40 inch 5-in-1 Reflector with diffuser – I love this and absolutely need this in outdoor shooting either to diffuse or reflect light. I don’t agree to online reviews where people have complained about the zipper.  Mine works fantastic.
PSE7 For editing, I rely of Photoshop Elements 7
Noiseware For Noise reduction I use Imagenomic Noiseware standard. Together with PSE7, this forms very nice combo.

For memory I own 1 x 1GB, 1x4Gb, 1x8GB Compact Flash cards (both 4GB and 8GB are 300x Pro UDMA fast CF cards. I need them to be fast to take advantage of E-30) and 1x1GB XD card. I own various polarizers and UV filters for the lenses.

For backup – I carry my laptop and Transcend StoreJet 500GB external HDD. This is very compact, drop-tested , anti-shock covering and runs purely on USB, that’s one less cable to carry! what else you want?!

I carry my BLM-1 E-30 battery charger and 1 USB cable for E-30 and Evolt-330 and 1 mini USB cable for the external HDD.

I carry the AA batteries and  holder (which goes in HLD-4 for emergency use) and extra batteries for flashes

I also own 2 Canon Film SLR bodies EOS-30 (Elan-7 – This is a beautiful advanced-amateur SLR with eye control focusing point selection, which I miss in DSLRs) and EOS-300 (Rebel) bodies along with 3 lenses. I was once a canon fan, but somewhere along the way I felt alienated by them because of their confusing branding and exorbitant prices of Semi-pro SLRs and lenses. I switched to Olympus four-thirds after much research. I like their branding strategy. I love their technology roadmap and the direction they are headed. I truly feel they are the least confusing camera makers around. I am especially looking forward to their micro four-thirds SLRs (I wish they had their concept camera on sale!).

NOTE: I am not endorsing any of the products - as I said, I am not a professional– I am just writing about what I own and what I feel about them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bronx Zoo Visit [pictures don’t tell the whole story :-)]

The Saturday of last weekend was a wonderful day. Little bit of sun shine and little bit of cloud cover. If the photographer is decent, then he can make his visit to a zoo worth while.

Bronx Zoo – its a huge zoo, where animals are kept in their natural habitat – which is great news for animal lovers (I am one of them too, in case you are mistaken), but a nightmare if you are a photographer. I hadn’t realized this until I visited Bronx Zoo.

Troubles with keeping the animals in their natural habitat, if you are photographer are;

1. Its difficult to locate the animals

2. If you do, they are generally far off, which makes it difficult for you to shoot (I again thank my Zuiko 70-300mm, its God sent)

3. Once you locate them, every visitor to the zoo is on your toes to get a peek at the marvel (While I don’t have anything against the zoo visitors, but I do think they need to be given training on how to conduct themselves when they see an animal. Their reaction is like there is no tomorrow!)

4. And with the so many people literally on your toes, you can’t setup a tripod. (How dearly I missed my monopod? Well, only I  know!)

5. This is not a trouble for you as a photographer, but it does bother you when you see other photographers doing it– Why on earth would you buy a $700 (or more) SLR and have a pop-up flash on?! Its as if the pop-up flash is a magical light which will travel 100 meters away and perfectly illuminate your subject! Come-on! Read the manual before you use your SLR. Another thing – If you have your pop-up flash on, then it invariably means you are on Auto mode, if this is the case, then you are using your SLR as a point-and-shoot. Which means you are not fully utilizing the power of DSLR.

This taught me 2 big lessons, always carry monopod and ensure that you visit zoo on a week day  :-)

Now for the photography part-

Always remember the rule - of all the pics that you take, only 10 to 15 percent will come out good enough for “public display” (meaning the pics that you wont be ashamed of showing to people). And of these 10-15% only about 50% will be great pics. Out of 115 pics I took, 40 came out good, out of which about 15 I am really proud of.

This trip again reinforces 2 basic principles of getting great photograph

1. Shoot as much as your memory will allow – This will increase the number of good hits

2. Always shoot RAW – If I hadn't shot RAW, I would never have got the white balance (WB) right in any of the photography. So I had the white balance on Auto and left the WB adjustments to my editor, that's one less thing to worry about as a photographer. Apart from WB, there are number of adjustments you can make in a RAW editor. So shoot RAW.

Another important lesson I learnt was this – I always thought that visit to the zoo will be relaxing (as a photographer) as I can shoot the animals at my leisure. This myth was broken. The animals are so temperamental that most of the times you are in a blink-and-you-miss situation. So unless you have gone there as a professional photographer (and not as a normal visitor with family - like I had gone) with loads of time on your hand and someone paying your for being patient - you have very little time to change your camera settings  and remember the settings you are working with, as a result you will have pics which are not as you expected them to be. This is the reason why shooting in RAW and taking a lot of pics helps. As I always do and advice – shoot in Aperture mode, if you have Noiseware ( software or any other noise reduction software, go for higher ISO. You will not be hurt!

Now you know the reason behind the title “pictures don’t tell the whole story”!

For those who are keen on photography, I urge them to read Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography vol 1 & 2

Now for some action

The King
This guy would not budge from his place and he was either sleeping or looking elsewhere. I had a tough time getting his pic, I tried using the EC-20 teleconverter, but it was too shaky hand held. This is the best I could get. Zuiko 70-300mm @300 mm
This is the one @ 600 mm zoom (1200mm equivalent for 35 mm)  using the 2x teleconverter. Notice the shake. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
His girlfriend was more obliging though, she came and sat very near to where we were standing.
IS was kept ON on all pics. For me E-30 IS is always a life savior
The little one was really cute :-) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
He was the one who gave trouble in Turtleback Zoo. This time I nailed him! (I know its not a politically correct language, but I wanted to shoot this beauty. I love the colour combination!)  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This one I love, shot @ 1/250 f/5.6. I adjusted the bokeh in Photoshop Elements 7 [REF] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This guy was funny, he was sleeping peacefully… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
…and just when we thought he wouldn’t show, he got up and decided to take a bath!
Again RAW saved me, the dive picture was terribly over-exposed as I was not expecting him to take the plunge, but I could salvage in RAW editor.
Most elusive creature was the Tiger. He was in the pose for 5 seconds and then disappeared. Shot over the heads of people at 300mm zoom. Again E-30 IS save my day OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The SAMBA Village. The Bronx zoo is divided into animals habitats by country. The SAMBA Village is a replica of village in Africa. Again Save by RAW for the WB. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Giraffes. Shot @ 300mm @ 1/320 F5.6 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Lemur… native of Madagascar OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The mountain goat, This one is nice because this was shot from the mono rail and I ad like fraction of second to shoot it.
@1/400 sec the lens did a pretty good job of focusing it sharp and probably so did the E-30 IS.

Enjoy & take Care!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Which is Easier – Film or Digital SLR?

Or should the question be, which one would you prefer, given a choice. I think I know the answer – its got to be DSLR. But what exactly is the advantage of DLSR over film SLR that makes it better? I think I am getting way ahead in the story. Lets look at the fundamental differences and similarities between DSLR and film SLR

First lets look at the what are the things you need to be aware of in either camera in order to become a decently good photographer. [bear in mind that I am not going into the types of processing in film SLR as its way beyond this blog and my knowledge]

Basics you absolutely need to know

I am not going here in any sequence, I am just listing down things that I feel are important.


Film SLR








Depth-of-Field (DoF)















Distance from the subject



Composition (or framing)






I am by no means saying that this is the complete set, however, if you happen to master each of these aspects then you will be a pretty good photographer.  Lets discuss each one of these in more details

Aperture – This allows you to control the amount of light reaching the film (in film SLR) or the image sensor (in DLSR). Its basically an opening which allows light inside, the greater the opening more is the aperture and vice-versa. The aperture is inverse of the f-number. So if the f-number is small then the larger is the aperture and if the f-number is large, smaller is the aperture. For ex. 5.6 is large and 22 is the small aperture.

Shutter – The shutter speed can be either fast (for e.g. 1/1000 sec) for freezing the subject (useful in sports photography) or it can be slow to show movement (for ex if you want to show the flow of water in a waterfall. However the amount of fast shutter depends on the aperture and lighting conditions. The fundamental rule to follow is your shutter should not be less than the focal length you are shooting at. So if you are shooting at 300mm then you should shoot at at least 1/320 sec. If you would like to go slower then you have to very steady and a tripod is recommended for that.

DoF - The aperture and DoF are closely related. Aperture allows you to control the depth of field. So if the aperture is large (f-number is small) then you get a shallow DoF making the background blurred and the subject in focus sharp (useful for portraits and close-ups), and if aperture is small (high f-number) then you get an greater DoF (useful for landscape).

Exposure – This is a broadly used term to indicate how close your picture matches the actual lighting condition as you saw it with your eyes when shooting. So a good exposure means that you were able to get almost exact lighting condition in your picture as your eyes saw it. Unlike human eyes, the camera sensors are not very good at interpreting the various light sources (direct, reflected, shadows etc). That's why you need the image processor which know what to do with various areas of an image based on what sensor captured and what the camera adjustments were. A well exposed picture should not have areas where the details are  erased because of over exposure or areas of darkness due to under exposure, there should be a balance. Modern cameras have built in algorithm to average out these spikes and dips. That's what takes us to metering.

Metering – Simply put, this is a way to measure the brightness of the subject. At its basic, when you focus on the subject, the camera takes in the brightness information from the subject and other light sources surrounding the subject and calculates the best exposure to apply.

Focus/Zoom/Distance to the subject – Most people know about these. Focus is related to the subject of the picture, its always good to ensure that the subject is in focus – easy isn’t it?. The Zoom is the zoom that you need to use to get close to the subject. However in a more advanced world its not that simple. Sometimes you may deliberately increase the distance between you and the subject and use zoom lens just to enhance the effect.

Composition or Framing – This is critical in photography, more so in film world, this is not to say its not important in  digital world. In digital world you can get away with minor issues with composition if you have a decent editor. However its still critical. You screw you composition, you invariably screw you picture.

ISO – This is the sensitivity of the film or the image sensor to the light. Higher the ISO higher the sensitivity of film or the image sensor. This is useful if you have if you have a low light condition. Change to higher ISO and you can use faster shutter there by reducing the shake. However there is flip side – higher the ISO greater is the image noise. Image noise is the grainy-ness that you see sometimes in film. Sometimes this grainy-ness is used to provide artistic appearance. But most of the time image noise = bad picture. So be careful when you use high ISO.

Now, having discussed these fundamentals it seems both film and digital SLR shooting have same complexity. However Digital SLR have few more nuances that you need to be aware of – some of these are (in no particular order)

  • Saturation
  • Gradation
  • Contrast
  • Sharpness
  • Picture Mode ( and Picture Tone)
  • White Balance

Now I know what you are thinking! Why the heck do I need to worry about these when I have enough to worry about already? Cant the camera take care of it? Of course it can and it does – if it didn’t, probably all your pics will be a disaster. However as you progress in your photography, you do need to know and understand what these mean, otherwise you would be stuck using your DSLR as a point-and-shoot thingy.

I believe you always get a second life in the digital world (and if you shoot RAW, probably more lives). With a decent editor, you can get back most that you expected how your pic will look when you shot.

But in the film world, there are no second chances and there is no room for the mistake. If you make a mistake you are stuck with it. From my own experience, I was once shooting night scenes, and I completely forgot that I had a very slow (low ISO) slide film inside my camera. As was my habit, I under exposed half-stop than what my camera indicate was correct exposure, where as the film actually needed 1 stop over exposure at least. the result – badly under exposed slides – an expensive waste.

So, in conclusion,  although it is easier to use, the digital SLR will only be as good as your knowledge. And as far as the film SLR goes, its an art in itself.

I will put it this way, its harder to master and be consistent with film SLR than with digital SLR, however both of them are only as good as the photographer and the artist  in you.

So to answer the question – which is easier? Well the answer is neither. Both are as difficult (or as easy, based on your perception) to master. But film world is less forgiving. The digital SLR provides you the rope,  so you live to tell the story!

PS: Photography is an art as much as its fun. Only if you learn to enjoy it will you be able to appreciate it. One advice though, if you are not serious DO NOT buy Digital SLR, you will only be wasting money.



Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Turtleback Zoo Trip

Having got my new Zuiko 70-300mm telephoto lens, I was itching to put it to some good use. I wanted subjects which would look good close up. Apart from flowers, animals and birds are the few subjects which actually look good close-up without too much post processing :-)

So our team of 3 (Suni, Adi and me) headed for this assignment. Suni was the designated helper (for changing lenses etc) and Adi was the designated tripod carrier! :-) [before somebody cries “child-labour”, I want to clarify that it was his idea and he volunteered for it, a job which he handed over to Suni even before we reached the zoo!]

So, the Turtleback Zoo – I did not know what to expect from a zoo which in the middle of the city. Honestly, I didn't have too many expectations from this zoo. But I was really surprised by their Aviary section which, as you will see, alone made it all worth it!

Although I had carried all my gear, I knew my main gear of use will be my beautiful (albeit slow in focusing) 70-300mm lens. This lens has surpassed all my expectation of it (as you will soon see), with a 35mm equivalent of 140-600mm, I never found it wanting. As a backup, I did carry the EC-20 2x teleconverter, which would have made it 1200mm effective zoom! (this however makes the lens slower as the aperture is reduced by 2 stops at the widest angle, but its handy in a bright conditions for shooting still subjects), but it was not needed. 70-300 did a superb job.

Our first stop was the Penguins, however they were asleep, so I shot the outside of their lair OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA An Interesting Statue at the entrance!
An Alligator. It was probably taking a nap and Adi thought it was not real. He still thinks its rubber! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The parrot was a pretty site! And it was completely still as if it was meditating, which made my life easy!
Taken at full zoom max aperture (5.6) and 1/400
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But this guy made my life a hell, he would not keep still for a second. I had to switch to 5FPS to get a decent shot. Would you believe that this is one of 18 shots I took, and it still not properly focused?
The shade didn't help me either, otherwise I could have used a faster shutter. On 300mm I used 1/320 , the fastest I could to avoid shake.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The peacock was beautiful, but it refused to open up that day :-(
And it was perched either on top of a cage or the building, but still I could get some decent pics.
This one I love, because it had just got on to top of that foyer and I got almost a perfect shot (given the the time I had before it flew away!). The glass behind was very dirty but the Noiseware was more than up to its task! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The cats were cool, as usual. The shade did help in the end as the lighting became almost perfect! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This one was staring at Adi! probably found him yummy! :-)

300mm with IS @ 1/100 sec! HANDHELD @ ISO-200.
Now, the main show! The Aviary.
I took all most all of these at 300mm from about 1 to 2 meters max. Zuiko 70-300 has a beautiful macro capability which lets you go as close as 97mm with full 300mm zoom. I simply love this lens.
All these pics were take at Center-weighted average metering.
This one is 1/320 @ f/5.6
When shooting birds you need very fast shutter speed, because they are very restless creatures. However, some of these were as if posing for the camera. Must be used to them! :-)
The bokeh in the background is nice as I ensured max aperture.
The girl had an egg attached to her tummy!
Its obvious they were discussing the young one’s future, and as usual, they are not in agreement.
So, what’s the surprise?
This couple was in a shadow and I didn't have the time to change ISO or mode. shot @1/80 f/5.4 ISO 100. And if that was not bad enough, I had set the E-30 to underexpose but 1/3 stop for the previous shot. Only thing that saved my life was RAW!
The mountain wolf.
Shot through a dirty glass at 1/1000 @ f/4.5 ISO-400.
AF on E-30 did a fantastic job as the wolf was running toward me.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA How can any visit to the zoo be complete without this one!! George the Monkey! :-)
And some special effects! :-) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enjoy and take care!