Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Using E-P2 Art Filters - Pop Art

Bimbo is not a good name for anything in English-speaking countries, not even for bread.

I'm continuing to (finally) explore the E-P2 art filters. Today it's the pop art (#1) art filter. I'd used that filter when I first got the E-P2 in December 2009, on a Christmas walk-about up International Drive. I discovered that with pop art, a little bit goes a long, long way. I didn't delete them, they're still buried on my Flickr account. You can look them up if you want. It was after that exposure that I decided to stick with using the E-P2 as a regular camera. This time, however, I decided to try out pop art to add some visual zing to a dark interior I knew was going to give me flat images.

In this example I took this photo inside a local Wal-Mart food section with the Zuiko Digital 50mm and the Panasonic adapter. I could have used the 17mm and the total package would have been a lot smaller (the 50mm looks positively huge mounted on the E-P2). But I'd used it for some macro work and I'd left the 50 on the E-P2.

The pop art filter works in this instance because it really pulls up the whites, and gives a nice saturated look to all the other colors. This counters the dull lighting I was working with in the store. I could have probably used the vibrant color setting, but vibrant doesn't even come close to pop art.

The one problem with pop art that I've seen is using ISOs at or greater than 800, and shadows. Pop art has a tendency to really pop up chroma noise in the shadows. The photo above was also taken at ISO 800, but the lighting, while dull, was even. If you examine the JPEG at 100%, and look at the lower right loaf of bread on the black stripe, you can see some noise. This example isn't really bad, but some of the examples I took, especially in scenes where there was a wide range of light levels, created a lot of noise that pop art enhanced and made more noticeable.

Another problem with pop art is how it handles reds. Reds are tough enough to capture digitally, but pop art pushes reds towards the orange end of the spectrum.

All in all the pop art filter is one of those filters that should be used in moderation. I actually find the grainy film art filter to be more generally useful than pop art. I wish that Olympus allowed the "stacking" of filters, where the output of one could be fed into another. For example, pin hole would be a nice effect to apply (or experiment with) after using either grainy film or pop art.

Equipment Issues

Back in March, while up in Boston, I wrote about how the front part of my M.Zuiko lens fell off and was lost in the street. I called Olympus, and found out I had to go on their site, fill out a form, and send it in to them (on my nickel). Even though it was under warranty. I went on the Olympus site and didn't find an entry in their drop-down menus for the M.Zuiko lens. The warranty runs out the end of June.

I've decided to just live with it. The lens still works, it just looks a bit crappy with the missing front cosmetic piece. But before I let this go I'm going to document this one more time.

E-P2 w/17mm mountedBusted 17mm
New hotnessOld and busted

I'm having a hard time 'loving' Olympus. It started with how they are handling their regular 4/3rds line. And now gear quality issues, not just with the 17mm, but my regular 4/3rds 9-18mm. It broke just out of warranty this time last year. That was a $600 lens, so I choked down my anger and paid another $135 to have it replaced.

In all the decades I've owned cameras, from all the various manufacturers, including Olympus film and early digital, I've never had gear, and especially lenses, either fall apart or just break under normal use. But I've had it happen to me twice now, once with a late-model regular 4/3rds lens and a µ4/3rds lens.

Why am I complaining about this? Why it it important? Because I owe another site a review on the M.Zuiko 9-18mm. When I write a review I like to give an unequivocal recommendation. And right now, I'm finding it very hard to do that. But I'm writing it and hope to have it finished and shipped off in a few days. I think I'll give a qualified recommendation, documenting my less-than-stellar experiences with other Olympus equipment I own and just let the chips fall where they may.

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