Ronno Tramper Photography


23 oktober 2010, Indian summer on Schiermonnikoog

Sea aster (Aster tripolium), Schiermonnikoog Island, The Netherlands
Canon S90, 1/400 sec. at f4 (-2/3) and 6mm (28mm equiv.), handheld

In autumn (this was two weeks ago) the Sea Aster flower heads change into a fluffy, cotton like bunch of seeds. The "kwelder" areas (the salt marshes that are flooded regularly by the sea) on the Islands in the Wadden Sea are full of them. The red stuff is Glasswort or Pickleweed (Salicornia europaea). A larger version is my october covershot.

I used the Canon S90 for this particular shot because of the almost unlimited depth of field that you get with this camera's small sensor. I chose for a backlit scene in order to emphasize the colors. But such scenes are difficult to expose (the sun was about 40 degrees above the horizon in the same direction as the image was taken). Apart from using a neutral density grad filter with a very acute transition from bright to very dark, there is no way you are going to prevent the sky from being overexposed. I took a photo of the blue sky in the opposite direction and used that blue sky to create an artificial neutral density grad afterwards (in software). I opened the blue sky as a new layer on top of the image, added a layer mask and then used a black to white gradation to get the effect of a neutral density grad filter (you will have to experiment a little with the length of the transition from black to white). You can then further finetune the effect by adjusting the transparancy of the layer. It is not perfect, but I wanted the sky in this image and I think it's a lot better than a white sky.


20 oktober 2010, Vizcacha

Southern Vizcacha(Lagidium viscacia)
Lauca National Park, Chile

I photographed the Southern Vizcacha in the above image back in 1994 in Lauca National Park in the Chilean Andes (4500m above sealevel). It has a tail that would make a red squirrel jealous. A pity you cannot see it here, but just look at the size of its whiskers! I used a Nikon F3 body, a 2.8/80-200 Nikkor and a Sigma 1.4x converter. The original image on Kodachrome 200 slide film is easily sharp enough to make a 16 x 24 inches cibachrome print in the lab.

In 1995 I entered the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and this was one of the images I sent to London. To my surprise it received a "highly commended" award in the category Animal Portrait. It has been selling very well ever since.

I recently received a request from my stock agency. A magazine wanted to use the image and they wanted a large file. So I retrieved the original slide from my archives and scanned it with the Nikon Coolscan LS-50 using Vuescan software on the Mac (I am sorry Nikon, the scanner is great but your scanning software sucks). The most amazing thing is that the slide after all those years showed no deterioration at all. Ken Rockwell has called film RealRaw™. He has a point. But nonetheless, I will carefully save and backup a copy of the 16 bit scan on my harddisks. Just in case the slide does not survive the next 16 years of solitude in a steel cabinet.


28 september 2010, More decay

Honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae)
Panasonic G1, Lumix G vario f4/7-14mm wide-angle zoom at 8mm, f5.6 and 1/20 sec. tripod (exif in file)
the image links to a larger version (1280 x 960, 450Kb).

There were literally thousands of them (notice the ones in the background) eating away at this beach tree and its roots. I spent a large part of the afternoon trying to get interesting shots of this phenomenon. But somehow it kept eluding me. You want to convey the massiveness of it, but how should you do that if every individual mushroom threatens to end up as a hardly distinguishable clutter of only a few pixels. So you start circling the subject, trying a long lens, isolating a few individual mushrooms and suggesting there a lot more of them in the unsharp background. Or you use a wide angle, lots of small but still distinguishable ones in the foreground and suggesting that the pixelclutters in the background are more of the same. This is one of my favorites (for now, I sometimes change my mind after a few days). The mushrooms fit it in the landscape. The image shows the tree at the edge of the pond where it has been standing since the middle of the nineteenth century. And now these mushrooms are slowly eating away at it. Every year the tree becomes a little weaker and not so many years from now it will succumb to the tiny mushrooms. Decay is beautiful (as longs as it doesn't happen to me).


25 september 2010, Colors of decay

Fly agaric or Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria)
Canon S90, at 6mm (28mm equiv.), 1/10 sec. and f4, handheld, IS on.
This one is all about composition and the subject jumping at you, as it were.
The slight underexposure emphasizes the red colors of the main subject.

I think buying my Canon S90 was one of the best decisions ever. You can take it anywhere you go, forget all about it and then, when you see an interesting subject, you suddenly remember it's in your pocket. Despite the fact that Canon was aiming at professionals and serious amateurs with this camera, it is in some ways a typical consumer compact camera. Knowing how small its sensor is, Canon must have been so afraid of being caught with noise in the shadow areas (even at iso 80). Under circumstances like these the S90 grossly overexposes the highlights, hoping that the shadows will be noise free. And they are, but the white stems of the mushrooms will be pure white and the red channel will be overexposed too. I had to underexpose by 1.3 stops to get a decent picture. I shoot RAW exclusively, so I don't know what Canon's JPGs would have looked like (although the LCD on the back of the camera does give you an idea of that; they are overexposed too!).

Anyway, underexposing this camera for -0.6 to -1.3 stops will often give you nice saturated colors and deep shadows. Noise is not really a problem at iso 80, unless you are into pixel peeping. The reds may seem exaggerated, but if you look at the greens and the browns in the rest of the image you will realize that the colors are quite natural. If this is the color of decay, then decay can not be such a bad thing. Give me some more, I'd say.

We've had lots of rain in august and september. It has caused an explosion of huge mushrooms. I cannot remember ever seeing so many of them, and so big!

The mushrooms were in the shadow of some trees, the sky was partly clouded, with a little bit of a blue cast in the shadows. Converting the raw images in Bibblepro5 I set the color temperature to "cloudy" (setting it to "shady" was a bit too much) and only slightly raised the saturation. As a default Bibblepro5 turns out rather bright images when converting the raw files of the Canon S90 and the Panasonic G1. It is as if it overrules your decision to underexpose. So I also set the exposure slider to about -0.5 to get the result that you see here. If you really overexpose the bright parts in the S90 images then using that slider to try and correct the overexposure is useless. The white areas will just turn into an ugly magenta. The S90 has very little headroom in the RAW files if you overexpose your shots. In tricky circumstances slightly underexposing them really is your best bet.

Fly agaric or Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria)
Canon S90, at 6mm (28mm equiv.), 1/40 sec. and f3.2, handheld, IS on.


21 september 2010, Kangaroo Island

Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea), Kangaroo Island, Australia
Nikon D100, Nikkor AF D 4.5-5.6/80-400mm VR (exif in file)

In november 2005 I visited Sydney for a conference. Since you won't get too many chances to visit Australia if you live in Europe I decided to stay for an extra week after the conference. Before going there I realized that the biggest mistake I could probably make was to try and see all of Australia in just one week. I don't know if Kangaroo Island is one of the highlights of Australia, but I still think that the decision I made to concentrate myself on one relatively small piece of Australia was sound. It saved me a lot of miles in cars and airplanes when I could have been taking photos.

Kangaroo Island is just a bit south of Adelaide in the cold ocean between Australia and the Antarctic. It is rich in wildlife. So rich in fact that it is not a good idea to drive faster than 25 miles in the dark. Your chances of hitting a kangaroo or wallaby are very, very high if you drive any faster than that. My rental car didn't have a bull bar, so I was extremely careful. Damage as a result of collisions with animals was explicitly excluded from the insurance.

Back in 2005 I owned a Nikon D100 and the Nikkor 80-400 VR zoom. The Nikon D200 became available only a few months later. Seeing the images I shot there I am still a bit frustrated about not having a D200 or D2X in my bag at the time.

The Australian Sea Lions inhabit a few of the southern beaches of the Island. The beaches are their breeding grounds and consequently they are closed to the public when the seals are there. You will have to be either Art Wolfe or Frans Lanting or you can join the guided tours. Those tours offer plenty of opportunity to shoot photos, but the light can be a bit harsh beacause of the time of the day those tours are organized. The sea lions only breed every 18 months. If you want to see young sea lions you have to plan ahead. I have to admit that I didn't. I just got lucky.

The images have a link to a google slideshow (±20 images, 1000 x 665 pixels, approx. 150kb each).

Tammar Wallaby (Macropus eugenii), Kangaroo Island, Australia
Nikon D100, Nikkor AF D 4.5-5.6/80-400mm VR, slow shutterspeed, panned on a monopod (exif in file)


16 september 2010, landscapes from my favorite island (updated with larger images)

I haven't been writing as much here lately as I would like to. Having your own practice as consultant in biomedical ethics (that's what I do for a living) swallows up your time. Throw a short vacation into the equation and before you even realize it another month or so has passed.

About ten days ago I had the opportunity to spend some time on my favorite island that happens to be almost on my doorstep: Schiermonnikoog. The Wadden Sea is a very dynamic area. Seasons, vegetation, skies and weather are changing rapidly all the time. In periods of extremely high tides the sea floods parts of the the island locally known as "kwelders", strongly influencing the unique vegetation and birdlife that flourishes in those areas. In the second half of the summer some parts of these "kwelders" change into fields of flowers, an explosion of mainly purple and red. One day colors can be harsh and satured and the other day they are suddenly more like pastels. If you have visited this blog before you may have seen images from another time of year.

It is a very challenging landscape for landscape photographers. Despite the fact that it changes constantly, it is very featureless. Colors, wide open spaces, harsh winds and the omnipresent sound of the surf all work together, evoking emotions that are not easily captured on a two dimensional digital sensor. Not everything that makes a lasting impression the moment you experience it is therefore a subject for good photography. But I keep trying. Some of the images should definitely be viewed a bit bigger than I can show them to you in the present format of this blog. The images contain a link to a larger version for those of you with large (24" or more) screens and fast internet access. I uploaded the larger images to a Google Picasa Web Album and figured out how to link to their location on the Google server. Very convenient, it saves me a lot of traffic and space on the server of my own provider (who is going to bill me for the space and the traffic). Most of the exif information still ought to be there. But I noticed that the IPTC is gone. Please respect my copyright: no commercial use of the images without my consent. Never remove my name or the exif information from the images.

View a slideshow (11 images, 1280 x 960, approx. 400kb each).

Northern Beach, Schiermonnikoog, Canon S90 (exif in file)
Lots of depth of field because of the relatively small sensor in the Canon compact

Northern Beach, Schiermonnikoog, Canon S90 (exif in file)
I didn't use a polarizer (there seems to be an adapter for the S90/S95, but I don' t have one)
I was quite surprised when I saw the blue sky on this shot, although I must say
I exposed for the sky here because I didn't want the white clouds to become pure white.

The "Kwelders", Schiermonnikoog, Panasonic G1, 14-45mm, polarizer (exif in file)

The "Kwelders", Schiermonnikoog, Panasonic G1, 45-200mm, polarizer (exif in file)
I used the lens at 100mm and f5.6 (the equivalent of 200mm and f11). Depth of field is rather shallow.
The wind was very strong and I was afraid that using f11 and a polarizer would lead to such slow
shutterspeeds that the flowers and grasses would become completely blurred.

The "Kwelders", Schiermonnikoog, Panasonic G1, 7-14mm, polarizer (exif in file)
I have a self made piece of equipment that enables me to attach a 77mm Ø polarizer
to the 7-14 (it starts vignetting at 10mm though).

The "Kwelders", Schiermonnikoog, Panasonic G1, 7-14mm, polarizer (exif in file)


5 august 2010, Switching to Mac OSX entirely

Until recently I used Ubuntu Linux for my desktop and Mac OSX on my old Macbook Pro notebook. I like and support the idea that knowledge and technology should be open source, meaning open for everyone to improve or modify according to his or her needs. Open source is not necessarily the same as "free". The idea is that you share what you know (or have made) with others, hoping that it will inspire them to make other things that they in turn will share with you, or hoping that they will further improve what you have made (that is why it is almost mandatory that scientists publish the results of their work).

The open source approach substantially differs from the traditional idea among economists that the forces on the marketplace ("supply and demand") will eventually lead to the best products. I think that the omnipresence of Microsoft Windows shows that the marketplace does not always do the job it is supposed to do. Windows and Microsoft Office are flawed products. Moreover, once you've bought them (paid for them!) you are not allowed to improve them. Imagine buying a car and not being allowed to put better tires under it. Worse, you are not even allowed to see what is under the hood. You will just have to trust Microsoft (sure!).

I simply do not understand what is happening there. Ubuntu Linux and Open Office offer very high quality on a very stable and very secure OS-platform and you can freely use it without the restrictions that Microsoft and (to a lesser extent) Apple impose on you. So why are so few people using it? Because Microsoft and quite a few hardware manufacturers go out of their way to make it extremely difficult to use it. They refuse to share source code, refuse to make Linux drivers for their hardware and refuse to make information available that allows others to write those drivers. It's obvious that they think they will benefit from it. But it is just as obvious that the consumers (you) are not benefiting from it al all. You get less than optimal products for monopolist prices. And I have to admit that it is not easy to vote with your feet (simply ignore products form manufacturers who engage in such practices) if you are the only one. It is still a wide spread idea that Linux is difficult to use. Allegedly you would have to be a computer geek. Well, that is not true. It is different and you have to get used to it, but if you managed to get used to windows, then there is absolutely no reason to worry. Download the latest version of Ubuntu, burn it to a cd and install it on a four or five year old computer stashed away in a corner of your attic. It works just like that and most of your hardware will be compatible without installing any of the manufacturers drivers. Yes, that includes most scanners and printers! And who cares about virus scanners if you use Linux. Compare that to installing Windows. On the other hand, if you absolutely need Photoshop or some other piece of software that is only available foor Windows and Mac, then you do not have any choice. Open Office, by the way, is also available for Windows. Who wants an illegal version of Microsoft Office if you can get that legally?

Apple Macbook Pro 15 inch, i5 processor, 4Gb RAM (and I love the "magic mouse")
24 inch additional screen and 2Tb Iomega External Hard Disk (Mac Mini Look)
No overheated rocket silo with noisy fans sitting under the desk

So why the switch to Mac OSX?

Using two operating systems (and two computers) next to eachother is a bit of a pain. The new Macbook Pro with i5 Intel processor and 4 Gb of Ram is just as fast as my quad core (Q6600) desktop. It is much quieter than the "rocket silo" under my desk, uses less power and it also just works (even a little more reliable than Linux so far). If I need a computer on another location I simply disconnect a few cables. Reconnecting it afterwards is a matter of seconds only. And, as a bonus, I can work on two screens simultaneously as you can see on the photo above. The graphics chip in the new Macbook Pro has no trouble at all with normal software and the use of two screens. I am not into the latest high end video games, so I cannot judge about that.


15 june 2010, Art in public spaces

Images shot with the Canon Powershot S90.

who's afraid of black and white?
(Red Ant by Henk Hofstra, Drachten, May 2010)

To be demolished
(Artist unknown, Drachten, May 2010)

where's my bicycle?
(Artist unknown, Drachten, May 2010)


15 june 2010, Trying not to look back

Not looking back is difficult sometimes. I sold all my Nikons just about 10 days ago (see my 7 june entry here for an explanation). But I cheated, a little. I kept the Sigma 3.5/180 Apo Macro (for Nikon). That is not really a Nikkor, is it? Also, my wife still owns a Nikon D5000.

I do a lot of macro photography using a long focal length. Panasonic and Olympus have a very limited collection of dedicated macrolenses for four thirds and micro four thirds: Panasonic has a 45mm m4/3 and Olympus a 50mm 4/3. The Olympus f2/50mm is supposed to be very (!) good, but it is a bit too short for my taste. Not enough working distance.

So I started using a close-up lens that had been in the closet for years. A Nikon 4T close-up lens with a 52mm filter thread that fits on the Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm telephoto zoom. A few weeks ago I bought the Olympus f2.8-3.5/50-200mm SWD. A great lens. I tried it with the Canon 500D close up-lens (77mm thread) that I still own. It seems like a very good combination, but having to use a 67-77mm step up ring to be able to use it means that I can no longer use the lens hood. So I ordered a couple of B&W close-up lenses with a 67mm filter thread. Although B&W has a very good reputation I decided to test them before I started to use them. I am glad that I did. The B&W NL-2 and NL-4 (NL stands for “nah Linze” or close-up lens) are horrible! I sent them straight back to where they came from.

If I am going to use a close-up lens in the future it has to be as good the Sigma 180mm Macro, or close to that. The test images and results are here. You can skip most of the text there and go straight on to the specifications and the conclusion.

comparing close-up lenses


12 June 2010, Stitching Panoramas in Ubuntu Linux

One of the drawbacks of using Linux on your desktop is that there is a limited number of programs availbale for image editing. Also, if a manufacturer supplies you with additional software for their cameras, like raw converters and programs for printing and stitching files, this software hardly ever works under Linux. The Panorama below was made using Hugin Panorama Creator under Ubuntu Linux. I had never tried anything like this before. But I must say that the version that I used (apparently version 0.8.0) worked very well and seemed user friendly enough to me. I certainly didn't need a manual for it. It is free (open source) and it is available for Mac and Windows too.

I used to simply crop images if I wanted a panorama. But of course there is a limit to the maximum print size that way. Using two or more images stitched together will get you larger files. In the proces of stitching the image will lose some height. The less overlap there is, the more height the resulting image will lose. So more overlap leads to a better pano.

Mandefjild, Bakkeveen, Friesland, The Netherlands
Olympus E620 and Olympus f2.8-4/12-60mm at 24mm, polarizer and tripod
Panorama stitched using 2 images.


8 June 2010, Yellow water-lily

I went to the Deelen Nature Reserve today and used the opportunity to test my new Olympus f2.8-3.5/50-200 on the Olympus E620 body. The Olympus telephoto zoom focuses very close. The equivalent of a 400mm at just 1.20 meters means that you get 1:3 (full frame equivalent). Using the Olympus body side by side with the Panasonic G1 is a bit difficult when it comes to exposure, I noticed. Where the Panasonic tends to overexpose when using matrix metering (2/3), the Olympus is very conservative and seems to underexpose by 2/3 of a stop in similar situations. I have to be very aware of the camera body that I am using when I make exposure decisions. By the way, all the images here are RAW images converted in Bibble 5 Pro. I Noticed that with the Olympus E620 body there is not much to gain in terms of resolution if you shoot raw. A lot of people like the colours of the Olympus out of camera jpgs, apparently. That may be true for portrait and skin colours, but I can't say that it is the same for nature and landscape. The yellow in the jpgs looks a bit "bleached" I would say, even if I use the vivid setting. The product setting in Bibble 5 Pro gives me much better colours for subjects like the Yellow water-lily.

Spatterdock, yellow water-lily, cow lily, or yellow pond-lily, Nuphar lutea
Olympus E620 and Olympus f2.8-3.5/50-200mm, tripod (exif in file)

Olympus E620 and Olympus f2.8-3.5/50-200mm AF SWD
Product shot made with my Canon Powershot S90 (exif in file)


7 June 2010, Why I sold my Nikons

I already hinted in the direction of the reasons several times in the past few months. Some people will not like me for what I am about to write here. But you have to realize, I am not just overnight going to sell a system that I have been using for more than twenty years. I did give it some thought. More and more I was experiencing the Nikons as unnecessarily heavy and bulky, while not being any better than the much lighter micro four thirds equipment. I hardly ever used the Nikons anymore. When I started using a Nikon FE and a 1.8/50mm E-series lens back in 1990, that combination had approximately the size and the weight of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 and the 14-45 kit lens that I am using today. Cameras were simple and photography was much less about equipment and much more about the images. Using the Panasonic brings back some of the feel of those days. For my kind of photography I don't need a Nikon D300 at all. I need a good tripod (the Gitzo Mountaineer is my most important piece of gear), superb lenses and a reliable camera with a sensor that gives me the image quality that I am looking for. If you go off the beaten track a lot and work slowly and methodically, a Panasonic G1 will do the job just as well.

Performance, price and availability

No DX camera body made by Nikon today outperforms the Panasonic G1 in terms of the resolution that the sensor can deliver (using a high quality lens). On the contrary, the Panasonic G1 outperforms the Nikon D300 in that respect. In addition, Nikon only has a few lenses that are capable of outresolving the D300 sensor (among others the new 1.8/35mm, the 1.4/50mm G and the 2.8/70-200 VR II). Most of their other lenses, however, do not even come close. Their 18-55 kit lens is pathetic in that respect across most of its range, no matter what Ken Rockwell has to say about it. So, if Nikon launches a D400 with 18 megapixels, who cares. They hardly have any lenses capable of getting you all the resolution such a sensor has to offer.

Panasonic on the other hand, has a great, stabilized 14-45mm kit lens that is just as good as the Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm VR. For less than the price of the Nikon 16-85 you will get not just the Panasonic 14-45 kitlens but a G1 camera body as well (390 euros at the moment). If you are a landscape photographer and therefore perhaps willing to give up on autofocus you can buy an Olympus f2.8-4/12-60mm that outresolves (and by quite a margin too!) the 4/3 sensor of the Panasonic between 12 and 35mm. The amount of detail I get from it in landscape photography is simply amazing. Panasonics f4/7-14mm wide-angle zoom is better than anything Nikon makes. Their 45-200 zoom is just OK, but Olympus has a very good, fast lens in that range. It can be used with an adapter.

When it comes to long telephoto zooms in the price range below as much as 7000 euros Nikon has nothing with a decent autofocus. The 80-400 VR is optically OK but its AF (not AF-S) is agonizingly slow and practically useless for anything but stationary subjects. For years now just about everybody is hoping they will replace it with an AF-S lens with a better performance at 400mm. Their 70-300 VR does have good autofocus but is no good at 300mm. Oh yes, and we still have a 10 years old f4/300mm (optically good, but no VR). So that leaves us with the relatively short 2.8/70-200 VR (out of stock!). I have given up. Nikon wants me to buy an f2.8/70-200 VR plus an f4/200-400mm VR for almost 10.000 euros. But fortunately they are continuously out of stock. Even if they could deliver, I would not bill out 10.000 euros for 5 kilos of lenses, one of which (the 200-400) I will use 10 times a year at the most. I am willing to bet that when they replace the 80-400 VR with something better, it will cost over 2000 euros and will be extremely difficult to get in the first year or so. Nikons good stuff is as a rule out of stock.

So I bought myself an Olympus f2.8-3.5/50-200mm plus an E620 camerabody, sold off the Nikons and kept the change. Just like that. The Olympus lens is very sharp and offers blazing AF-speed. It's a little shorter than the Nikkor 80-400 (the equivalent of 400mm vs 600mm for the Nikon), but who cares. The Nikon is not a great performer towards its long end anyway. Fair enough, an Olympus E620 camera body is not a D300(s). But for 1300 euros, the price of a D300s alone, you get a fast telephoto zoom that is much better than the Nikkor plus a very able and light weight camera body that makes the most of the Olympus SWD autofocus. With an adapter I can use the lens on my Panasonic DMC-G1 micro four thirds as well.

Nikon bashing?

Mind you, I am not saying that the Nikons are bad and that the Panasonic micro four thirds equipment is better in all respects. That would be nonsense. If you shoot indoor sports or theater you should buy a D300s (or even better: a D700) and a 70-200VR II, 2.8/24-70mm and so on. If you pride yourself in mistreating your equipment (a pro does that, right? After all you do not want it to work when you really need it), a Nikon D300 or D3s is a better option than a Panasonic G1. If you regularly need 7 frames per second (really?), buy a D300s or a D3s. There is no doubt the Nikons perform better at high isos, have a little bit more dynamic range and are very sturdy. But I shoot mainly landscapes and macro's, almost always on a tripod, often focusing manually, and sometimes even using long shutterspeeds deliberately (I hardly ever use anything over 200 iso). I walk for miles with my equipment. Of course I could buy a D3X and the very high quality full frame lenses that you need to fully profit from the sensors resolution. Go to a camera store and ask if you may hold a D3X and a 2.8/24-70mm in your hands. Tremendous feeling, like driving a Mercedes or a Volvo. But it is a huge investment and just try carrying those 15 kilos of equipment everywhere you go. A D3X is nice for in the studio, for shooting landscapes no more than a hundred meters away from your car or for shooting birds from a hide. The F4/600mm and converters that you will need for shooting birdes from a hide, by the way, will cost you 9000 euros. But of course it is out of stock. F2.8/400mm then (7500 euros)? Sorry, not available!

More about resolution and printing

A Panasonic G1 gets me 4000 x 3000 pixels, a D3X 6000 x 4000. It may seem like a huge difference, but if you shoot raw the D3X will give you a theoretical maximum resolution (the Nyquist limit) of 2000 line pairs per picture height and the Panasonic 1500 lp/ph. But that is only theory. In real life, taking into account he effect of the optical low pass filter in front of the sensor, the Panasonic will get you 1350 lp/ph (it has a very weak low pass filter), the Nikon D3X perhaps 1800 lp/ph, assuming you have lenses that outperform the sensor.

So, at the end of the day for 20 times the money and twice the number of pixels you get 1.4 times the resolution (the square root of 2; this is simple mathematics), or approximately the difference between a very good 18 x 24 print and a 24 x 36 print. Personally I would dare to stretch some of the Panasonic files quite a bit further than 18 x 24 inches.


7 June 2010, Misty morning

I got out of bed very early last friday (4.30 am) and ran into this. I like some mist for my landscape photography. But this was a little much and it just got worse as the sun rose.

Misty morning
Merskenheide, Friesland, The Netherlands
Panasonic G1 and Olympus 2.8-3.5/50-200mm, tripod


There were not all that many other subjects to photograph either. So far it is a bad year for butterflies and dragonflies. After quite a while I saw this guy(?), trying to hide. If you walk to the right, he will go to the left and vice versa, always staying behind the grass stem. They are quite small, so depth of field is very limited. This was the highest magnification I could get using the zoom with Nikon 4T diopter at 200mm and a working distance of 25cm from the front of the lens (must be about 1.5:1 or one and a half times life size on the sensor!).

Damselfly, trying to hide
Merskenheide, Friesland, The Netherlands
Panasonic G1 and Lumix Vario f4-f5.6/45-200mm + Nikon 4T close-up lens, tripod
Vertical crop from a horizontal image (about 50%)


6 June 2010, The Wadden Sea

It's been a while since I wrote my last entry in this blog. In the meantime I haven't exactly been sitting still when it comes to photography. For one thing, I decided to sell of my Nikons and go on with my Panasonics. Most of the Nikkors are already gone. The D300 body is still here, waiting for someone willing to pay a reasonable price for it. More about my reasons later.

I visited quite a few nature reserves in the past week. Friday night I went to the Wadden Sea, a Unesco World Heritage area (estuary) only 30 miles to the north from where I live. The sun sets at 10.30 pm this time of year, so I had plenty of time for a meal in a good fish restaurant on the way there. I went over the sea dyke in a place called Paesens and Moddergat and started shooting at about nine going on until way after sunset. It was low tide. Almost the entire Wadden Sea is a mud flat at low tide. You can walk (only with an experienced guide!) to the off shore islands. Beyond those islands lies the North Sea. I used just the Panasonic and the 14-45 and 45-200 kit lenses (exif in the files).

Remains of attempts to win land on the sea
Paesens and Moddergat, Wadden Sea, The Netherlands
Panasonic G1 and Lumix G Vario f4-5.6/14-45mm, handheld

Sunset at low tide
Paesens and Moddergat, Wadden Sea, The Netherlands
Panasonic G1 and Lumix G Vario f4-5.6/14-45mm, tripod

It is just amazing how much depth of field and sharpness you get from this 14-45 kit lens at 26mm and f8 (the equivalent of a 50mm at f16!) using a tripod. It is sharp all the way from the mud in the foreground to the poles in the background. Just have a look at a larger version (50%, please respect my copyright!). The Panasonic 4/3 sensor resolves detail all the way to the level of the individual pixels. The structure on the horizon is a platform on wooden poles with a small wooden cabin built on it and stairs on the outside leading to the platform. I enlarged it to 400% of the original file just to give you an idea of the amount of detail that can be achieved with the Panasonic sensor. If, that is, you use a good tripod and the 2 seconds selftimer! Handholding the camera with the image stabilizer on is not going to give you this amount of detail. And this is only with the 14-45mm kit lens. You ain't seen the Olympus f2.8-4/12-60mm yet! It outperforms this sensor by quite a margin. That is really jaw dropping.

Oil Rig in the North Sea (about 5 to 10 miles away)
Panasonic G1 and Lumix G Vario f4-5.6/45-200mm, tripod