mike was right about the sharpness of lenses

It’s a funny old world. Today Mike Johnston over at The Online Photographer published two old posts that have pulled me in opposite directions. The first, “Give That Cat the Boot,” annoyed me no end, and I’ve written about that already. Then he redeemed himself in my eyes as it were by re-publishing “On the Sharpness of Lenses.” I’ll let you mosey on over and read this 1999 post. Needless to say I agree with a lot of his points.

Here’s another point about lenses I’ve slowly learned over the years.

I’ve vacillated quite a bit about whether it’s a good idea to use prior generation lenses on digital cameras, specifically Olympus OM lenses on current generation Olympus FourThirds and µFourThirds digital bodies and a Sony E-mount body, a NEX 5N. I’ve used any number of OM lenses on those bodies. Many times I’ve staunchly asserted that the only way to get quality photographs was to use native lenses for a given digital camera system, only to back slide after a time and sneak an old film prime back on one of my digital cameras.

What I have slowly come to appreciate is that the OM film lenses have an almost understated visual beauty I find missing in today’s pure digital lenses. I attribute their “look” to having been designed for film, not digital sensors. In an age when nearly everyone over obsesses with resolution, contrast, and acutance, the OM film lenses dial that back a smidge and deliver images that look like the optics worked with the light, rather than beat it into submission. Images created with the OM lenses on digital bodies seem to have a touch of romanticism.

The post before this used the OM G.Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 with a pair of adapters on an Olympus E-M5 body. I find that using either the back screen or the eyepiece, I can focus just fine with that lens on that body. Unfortunately, they are the only photos from that body using any OM lens, and more’s the pity. What follows is a smattering of some of the photos I’ve taken, usually with the older 12MP bodies such as the E-P2, E-PL1 and E-PL2. There’s even a few with the NEX 5N. I’ll let you dig deeper into those photos if you want.
Plumbago LabDr. Phillips HospitalRosesMandevilla Bokeh Experiment 2OccupupSycamore BokehSeeding purple glassesSeeding Holly. GladiolaBacklit Orchid Tree BloomDowntown Orlando Orange Ave - test shot OM 65-200mmAs I wrote above these photographs were created using a motley collection of digital bodies mated to 30 year old OM film lenses. If you want the details you can click through. Otherwise, just enjoy them for what they are, various OM film lenses on various 12MP and 16MP bodies. Oh, and if you think you can, try to guess which body was responsible for which photo before you look. As a hint, one of those photographs was taken with an Olympus E-1 (5MP sensor) and an OM 300mm telephoto. As Mike says at the end of the article:

Don’t sweat it too much. The search for the perfect lens is a fool’s errand; it’s like searching for the best-tasting coffee. No matter how good it is, it’s just a cuppa. Enjoy it and get on with your morning. (Analogously: get on with your photography.)

because i can

A conflating of inspiration sources; some from atmtx, some from Tammy Lee Bradley, and perversely, some from The Online Photographer and his reprint of ‘Give That Cat the Boot‘, which I first read on Luminous Landscape. Perhaps Mike is trying to be helpful, but I have always taken it the wrong way, the nattering of the “I know better than you” photographer that drives me up the wall. And more’s the pity I should get so wound up over this article, because Mike writes very well (well enough I consider him a Writing Standard) and his photography selections are at times stellar. But this particular article is like waving a red flag in front of a bull; it just makes me want to charge the idiot that’s slewing it around, like showing this article. So I go grab my camera and look for the cats, which just annoys them as well. But then I tell them about this article and they commiserate with me. Perhaps one day I will self-analyze why I feel the way I feel. Sounds like a blog post subject…

First the cat photos. One of Lucy and one of Lulu.

eye see youdeep in slumberAnd then a couple of freebees. They’re here because I happen to like the way they look.

rain and leafabstract signageI haven’t post processed anything substantive from my Olympus cameras since late December. I also haven’t done much with any of my OM lenses. I grabbed the old silver snoot OM G.Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 and starting just playing around. Nothin highfalutin. Just me out with a manual focus lens set wide open (or slightly closed in broad daylight to avoid over exposing). The upper cat photos were post processed in Silver Efex Pro (I like the tones of black and white sometimes), while the two lower color photos are JPEGs straight out of the camera. All of them taken with the E-M5.