Close up

A closeup, a detailed portrait of an item be it small large near or distant. I decided, this last Saturday, to pull out a piece of kit that I’m not especially proud of but which needs a little bit of back story. So here we go.

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I graduated in early 2000 from HS in north west Ohio (sorta far from where I am now, I suppose some day I will tell you that tale as well) and happily marched off to college with dreams of a life in photography dancing in my head. I was going to get in to National Geographic if it was the last thing I did, and I’d be damned if anyone or anything was going to stop me! At the time I was rocking a decent setup for an Olympus OM-1 film camera, and the college that I was attending helped solidify my true addiction to black and white film photography. To this day I still refuse to convert digital images to B&W, call me a snob if you will but it is truly not the same. But on the digital end, I was using an Olympus E500, which at the time was a relatively new camera using the then new 4/3’s mount. I was young, and stupid. I didn’t understand the concepts of crop factor, sensor noise, etc. etc. I was very good with my film gear, and continually trying to apply that training to my poor poor Olympus. At some point my not quite right brain said to me “you know what would make our pictures better? A MASSIVE telephoto!”… Sigh. I’m not proud of this.

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We all have thoughts like this, or you know… GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) at some point. This led to me finally looking for new lenses for my E-500 system which, not understanding crop factor, I could not make sense of the options for focal length (I was comparing them to what I knew of my film gear, which doesn’t really work). It did not help that, at the time, the mount was still relatively new and frankly quite expensive. All of this led me to Ebay/Amazon, a very very dangerous place for a young overly confident photographer to be. I don’t know why the number 500 was so lodged in my brain, but there it was right in front of me “Opteka 500mm F8 only $100.00” – dear lord where had you been all my life?!

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As I keep saying, this is one of my photography purchases I’m not proud of. Did I need a 500mm lens? No, of course not. Now understanding crop factor, the angle of view of a 500mm lens on a 4/3’s sensor is in fact 1000mm… Once you break that down, a 1000mm F8 (yes, I know equivocally the DOF is around F16) becomes… ridiculous. But since I did not know that then, my order couldn’t get here soon enough! Oh, and bonus of bonus, it used a “T-Mount” so I got the mount ring not only for my E-500 but also for my OM-1n!

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To cut this whole thread down a little in size, it’s terrible. The contrast of the lens is MISERABLE, even if you manage to get something in focus (which, surprisingly, the focus ring is actually quite pleasant) it never really looks in focus. I could dig you out over a decade of hopeful shots that looked like they should be oh so good, and were oh so bad! In around 2012, I put this lens into storage, finally admitting defeat.

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Fast forward to the current incarnation of my camera kit (I’ve been through… a couple) and the advent of IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) and that old hopeful voice in  my brain said again “Hey, you should see how that works with that 500”. Well, the answer is… Still pretty terrible. Focusing (hand held) is still nearly impossible. Obviously, mounting on some form of tripod/mono-pod helps, but the contrast is still terrible, and in general the lens is just a little soft. Surprisingly though, I managed to capture a few images that I don’t hate!

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This last weekend was spent trying to get closeups, either of things that are normally too far away or things that are normally too small to do so. As I’m sure you can see from above, there’s not many of the first and more of the latter (my Macro gear far surpasses my telephoto gear) but the concepts are surprisingly similar

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I love macro work, for many reasons. It’s one of my mates favorite forms (he’s a bit more devoted than me, purchasing the Lowa 60mm 2:1 beast of a lens) so it’s always fun to get him out to shoot that. It is also one of the few ways to make what is normally a rather bleak landscape here in winter locked Kansas into something that’s actually worth looking at!

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Getting lost in a world of landscapes and closeups that would otherwise be impossible to capture is truly a great way to spend a weekend (or in this case a Sunday). Thanks for tagging along, next weekend I’m shooting an event for work and then hopefully something fun as well! If you like what I’ve got to say you can follow me with the link down below, or leave a comment or criticism.

Thanks,

~Wes

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