Brian's Photo Blog — Article 143
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It's a Small World After All!
Sunday 5 August 2012   —   Category: Shooting

Although I took quite a few photos with a macro lens last year — see the Macro Magic 2011 and Flowers Close-up 2011 photo albums — I haven’t really done much macro work this year. But yesterday, while I was barbecuing in the backyard, I decided to try out the macro lens I recently bought for my new Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera.

Over the past couple of months, I had noticed some itsy-bitsy yellow wildflowers growing in a section of gravel in my backyard. I really enjoy seeing them, so I thought it would be nice to try to take their portrait. In the glaring, hot afternoon sun, I knelt down on some bricks and attempted my shot. I was kind of hard, because I wasn’t really able to put my eye that low to the viewfinder, and the LCD screen was hard to see in the sun.

I took only two photos, and one came out pretty good — as you can see to the right. You have to realize that the flower is only about 3/16 of an inch in diameter, and I could not see the white hairs on the leaves with my naked eye! In the photo, you can even see individuals grains of pollen dusting the petals of the flower!

Next, I turned my attention to the bees buzzing around the dense blazing star flowers. I had taken some bee photos last week — see Bees Make a Buzz In the Backyard! — with my 100-​300​mm telephoto lens, but this time I wanted to give the macro lens a try. As with the yellow flower, I didn’t take too many pictures, but one of a bee in mid-flight came out pretty good — you can see it here.

Later, I noticed an itsy-bitsy spider hanging out under the large thermometer hanging on the back wall of our house. Although you can’t tell from the photo, it was in deep shade when I took the picture, and the body of the spider is only 3/16 of an inch long!

Because of the low light, I had to bump the camera’s ISO setting up to 640, which results in more image noise, but the E-M5 performs pretty well in this area. I had to take quite a number of pictures until I got one with good focus — the inherently-shallow depth-of-field in close-up photography always makes this a challenge.

There are a LOT of awesome things about the Olympus OM-D E-M5, but the focusing system is not one of them. It uses the lower-performance contrast detection method rather than the higher-performance phase detection. This issue with the E-M5 has been discussed in an article on the Digital Photography Review Web site (scroll down to the “Autofocus speed / accuracy” section).

Well, every camera is a set of trade-offs and compromises. The pluses of the E-M5 easily outweigh the minuses! With some skill and adaptation, I can probably work around the limits of its focusing system in most situations. As you can see from the three good shots I got today, this camera is definitly capable of taking wonderful photos. And with a macro lens, I discovered afresh that it’s a small world after all!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 143
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