Thursday, March 01, 2012
New Month, New Gear
Yes, you're looking at my latest acquisition, the Panasonic 14mm 1:2.5. I purchased it along with two CN-160 LED lights. The lens' price is now about about the same as the current price of the M.Zuiko 17mm. I've been in a slow boil since the front cosmetic ring fell off the 17mm a year ago while I was traveling up in Boston to a SISO conference. To this day I have no idea why the ring fell off. Sending it into Olympus to get it fixed would have cost me enough in combined shipping and depot charges that I could just buy another. But I didn't because I found it unbelievable that anything like that would happen to a lens little more than nine months old. And I didn't feel like hunting up the receipt to prove when I'd bought it, even though I'd entered the serial number into the Olympus on-line system when I bought it.
And then I thought about getting the Panasonic 14mm to replace the 17mm. It was wider (28mm equivalent vs 35mm equivalent) and 1/3 stop faster (big whoop). It also appears to be sharper, at least if you believe Steve Huff's review. It's not that I don't like Steve's reviews, but Steve always seems overly positive. I don't think there's a piece of camera gear that Steve's handled that he didn't like. But this time I have to concur with Steve's conclusion that the 14mm is better than the 17mm, especially with regards to image quality.
I'll have a full-up review of the 14mm on Matthew's Reviews in a few weeks.
If you've been visiting Kirk Tuck's site, then you should know that Kirk's published another of his excellent books (LED Lighting: Professional Techniques for Digital Photographers), this one on lighting with LED-based lights. I've got a gratis copy for review. As part of that review I purchased a pair of CN-160 lights (they have 160 LEDs in the fixture). I probably need several more to help balance out the light a bit more, but two are enough for a tyro like me. I've lived with a pair of FL-50Rs (one in a soft box, one in an umbrella) for a while now and managed to produce passable work with them. But I'm going to need at least one more, if not two more. But at $40/light, it's not much to spend.
There is one characteristic Kirk mentioned about these lights, and that's a strong green tint. He was right about that. When I pulled these up in Lightroom 4 they were green as the hills of Fujiyama. A quick custom light balance with the eyedropper brought things back to (near) normal. Of course that's the lazy photographer's way out. Kirk has better advice in his book; buy the book if you want to find out what it is, and a whole lot more.
One other characteristic I didn't see in the book, and that's power consumption. The CN-160s I got use a variety of batteries, including AAs. I picked up a pack of 20 AAs at a local Office Depot, and it looks like after messing around for the evening I've hit the batteries pretty hard. These lights are going to eat up AAs like candy, so I will probably pick up one of the rechargeable battery packs recommended on the side of the box the CN-160s came in. Oh, and I will have a long review of Kirk's book up, probably around the weekend. I wanted to at least try my hand at some of the techniques in the book, rather than just say "I just read the book."
I am still strongly enamored with the Panasonic 20mm. Even though the 20mm is small, the 14mm is diminutive. Sitting next to the 20mm it makes the 20mm look bloated. The diameter of the 14mm is the same as the outer diameter of the lens mount on the E-P2.
It won't win any awards, but this is first light through the lens. Late afternoon. A maple in my back yard which has quite a bit of new growth on it, early even for Florida. Shot wide open at f/2.5. Center bits look nice and sharp, and there's quite a bit of "bokeh" (bleck!) in the photo. No the lens isn't right up in the leaves, but it's close, about a foot to a foot-and-a-half (I had to reach up for this). I'll have more worthy photos when I write my formal review on Matthew's Reviews. Until then it's out and about trying out the new lens.