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Sunday, February 01, 2009

My Camera

And here it is, the post I promised to do about my photo equipment! I have answered the "What camera do you use" question countless times, so I'm trying to give a more detailed insight into how I take my pics. The camera I use almost exclusively for my eye shots is an Olympus E-410 DSLR:

In this picture, the lens attached to it is my macro lens, a Zuiko 35mm lens which is capable of taking 1:1 macro shots. For those unfamiliar with the term "macro photography", I recomment the Wikipedia article for a start which can be found here. Usually the focal length of macro lenses is around 50-150mm, but the advante of the 35mm one I have is that I can take pictures of my own eyes easily, because I don't have to keep a very large distance between the lens and my eye. As you can see here, it is only about 15 cm:

This lens is simply fabulous because it takes incredibly crips and clear images with very authentic colours. And in terms of lenses, it's dirt cheap: for 200 € it's all yours!

A typical feature of macro photography is a shallow depth of field, meaning that only a small part of the image is in focus, and the rest is blurry. It's not always easy to get the focus just right, but the further you hold this lens away from the object you want to photograph, the sharper it will come out. Here is an example of very shallow depth of field:

Especially when you are taking pictures of your eyes by yourself, it can be very hard to get the focus completely right - in this case, the only things that help is a. get someone to take your pics or b. keep shooting until you get one picture you love. You can always delete the rest!

Another bonus of the Zuiko 35mm lens is that it does not only have a high performance at macro level, but it works very well for taking shots of objects at regular distances. This shot, for example, was taken with the same lens (but not by me, this time):

Although I prefer shooting without flash, for this pictures I used an external flash attached to the camera:

I usually try to avoid shooting with flash because it makes pictures look flatter, but if the shadows without flash would be too hard, it is a good option. The external flash can be tilted anywhere you want it, allowing you to use indirect flash which is less harsh than straight-on flash.

For face shots which I do myself my favourite compact camera is a Fuji Finepix F10:

It takes great pictures without flash as it's very sensitive to light. I know that holding a camera in front of you in order to take a picture of yourself is one of the big no-nos of portrait photography, but I resort to it mostly for lack of time to put up a more complicated setting involving a tripod and stuff... Here is an example of a Fuji shot without flash, indirect daylight:

For processing my pics, I use Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop CS2 or Photoshop Elements, although I do more work on nature shots usually. For other shots, I usually choose to shoot in RAW format, to give me greater freedom in processing them, but my make-up shots are usually done in super high quality jpg.

I hoped this has answered most of your questions. If there is anything else you would like to know, please comment!


jojoba said...

i also use an olympus but a very old and compact one. i used to carry heavy SLR camera equipments when i was in uni taking pictures for the school newspapers but now that digicam is so in and no one uses SLR anymore, i stored the OLD stuff away. what a bunch of antiques!

i love new technologies as we no longer need lots of stuff to take great pictures!

i love your eye pic!!!

Charlene said...

great post!! i learnt so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post!! Very informative!

Azra said...

How great! Thank you for taking the time to make this post - I know so many people are going to benefit and love you for it.

Okay. *If* you had the opportunity and the choice... would you stick with your Olympus E-410, or would you rather have the Canon EOS Rebel 300D with the same Zuiko lens and an adapter? (I have that very difficult choice to make, and was hoping you could lend some wisdom! ^_~)

Hetike said...

Would the 35mm lens also work on the Olympus E-420? I assume so, I mean... I don't see why not, but I'm sure you have more experience than I do.

Autumnal Frost said...

Awesome post!! What Aperture do you use on your macro shots?

Padmita said...

@jojoba: I always carry my equipment with me when I'm traveling, and it tends to get quite heavy but I will always put up with it when I have hopes of getting some good shots (:!

@Azra: As I myself decided for the Olympus over the Canon EOS 400D, I would probably stick with it :)! But they're all good, the Canon has a better built-in flash though, and it's a perfect camera for portraits. BUT afaik there is no adapter for putting a four-third lens on a Canon, and there is no 35mm macro lens for Canons out here, the shorts focal length I've seen is 50mm...

@Hetike: Yes - as it's a four thirds camera, it works with four thirds lenses such as the Zuikos.

@Autumnal Frost: When I take pics of my eyes, I have the camera on auto, and therefore the aperture is adjusted automatically. If I shoot in manual mode, I adjust if according to the desired depth of field and lighting conditions.

gio said...

Thanks for this post, it's very helpful.

wannabelyn said...

do you ever use a tripod to take your pictures?

MissChievous said...

Great post, I usually use my point&shoot for pics because I'm just too lazy to get out my DSLR but I should try it with my 50mm lens I think it would have some good results too. The problem is that if there is insufficient light, it looks bad with a flash if you're so close up, but for daytime photography it's fine.

Padmita said...

@wannabelyn: Not for eye macros, but otherwise sure :)!

@MissChievous: I use my compact cam for face shots but the quality of DSLR macros is just way better than that of my compact cams! You're right about the flash though, that's why I almost never take pictures when the light is not good!

Analia Gomez Lima said...

Hi!! sorru for my english, is not good you know where can i buy an Olympus E410 DSLR on line ? ..or which camera can i buy for short shoots?.. thank you so much !! your blog is wonderfull!! best wishes!!

Analia Gomez Lima said...

it's sorry, not sorru jaja ..

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