Forest shooters – advice please;

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Clicka, May 5, 2014.

  1. Clicka

    Clicka Mu-43 Regular

    143
    Jan 28, 2014
    Vancouver
    Peter Campbell
    My back yard is the Pacific North-West rain forest and that’s where I spend most of my leisure time; lately with the EM-5/ 12-50 kit I bought a few months back. I want to upgrade the lens to get better results in the dank low light/ mottled light environment.
    I’d like to get the most bang for around $800.

    I’ve broken down my options to the following;
    a) Sell my 12-50 and buy a 12-40 2.8. My big hesitation is that the 2.8 still won’t give great results in the gloom. Pluses: zoom versatility, weather sealed (we get a lot of rain, fog, mist).
    b) Keep my 12-50 and buy one of the 1.8 lenses leaning to the 75mm. Here my hesitation is no weather sealing and being limited to one focal length. I don’t know – maybe the 75 is too long in the gloom and I should be considering a 25 or 45mm @ 1.8 instead.

    I’d like to be able to capture moving targets in the environment such as mountain biking buddies, the dogs etc. Again; I keep going back and forth from the reported sharpness/performance of the 75 vs the versatility/weather sealing of the 12-40.

    I’d really appreciate advice that any of you can throw to help guide a rookie.
     
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    The 12-40mm should give you much better results at the longer end, I don't know how quickly the 12-50 goes to f6.3, but if it's like most such lenses, it's probably before you're less than halfway through the zoom range. Remember, that if you're shooting mountain bike riders etc in these conditions, you'll really be wanting to stop down anyway, as at f1.8 or the like, you're going to be struggling to get in-focus shots. The 12-40mm is supposed to be a very fast focussing lens and should be able to help get shots a lot better than the 12-50mm, and you won't have to use as high an ISO.
     
  3. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    481
    Oct 18, 2012
    Dublin
    Ciaran Reilly
    I'd say the 45mm 1.8 would be a very useful lens for what you want. At the necessary working distance, I'd say 1.8 would be fine - I've shot soccer from the sidelines with a 50mm 1.8 (manual focus, that's another story :smile: ) and hadn't much trouble getting enough in focus at 50mm and 1.8. Actually, maybe a legacy 50mm 1.8 would be worth thinking about, the slightly "different" look (I won't say soft or I'll start a war!!) of many of the legacy lenses might suit the subject well, and you could use a well-known hack to get sort of focus peaking on the E-M5.
     
  4. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I would say that the zoom will give you far more scope for interesting and varied shots and being just a little more than a stop difference, still fast enough for low light conditions. The zoom will allow you dramatic close shots at 12mm and anything in-between up to 40mm. In forest conditions, you might not be able to stand back far enough without trees/scrub getting in the way, especially if there are twists and turns in the tracks. Once again, the zoom will allow you far greater flexibility in choosing vantage points. Even a manual zoom would provide this flexibility over a prime.
     
  5. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    481
    Oct 18, 2012
    Dublin
    Ciaran Reilly
    True that, not much difference in speed but much more flexibility. Have seen lots of really cool forest MTB shots done with off-camera flash, if you're going down that route I guess 2.8 would be lots fast enough.
     
  6. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Have you considered using a flash?

    --Ken
     
  7. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Tripod

    Best solution for the gloom, surely, is a tripod. So we have option (c) keep the 12-50 and use a tripod. Advantages: you can shoot at lower ISO; smaller apertures are an option when DOF is desired; no need for IS and its risk of some shots ruined with blur; not very expensive. Disadvantages: a bit of weight; a degree of inconvenience; makes you think. (!)
     
  8. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    You live in a great area. If you don't shoot RAW, start there. The rainforest in the NW can have a lot of dynamic range with the play of light and shadows. You can bring up the shadows a LOT more in RAW than JPEG, so shoot RAW expose for the highs and try and bring up the shadows in post (or let the highs blow out for effect if its just a few spots through the trees). If you already shoot RAW, then better glass for sure. It sounds like a midrange fast zoom would fit your needs better than a prime. The faster speed of the primes are good, but you also get less DOF, so if you are shooting mountain bikers and dogs, and you are really a rookie (and not just being humble) you will probably get more rejects with a fast lens wide open than with a good midrange zoom.

    You are shooting in a challenging environment for sure. Maybe look online for exposure tips.
     
  9. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Not if the subject is moving, like mountain bikers or dogs...

    There's no substitute for lens speed in that case. Moving subjects unfortunately also rule out 4/3 lenses, which can be an inexpensive way to get a faster aperture zoom. But before buying anything, figure out just how much more light is needed, compared to the 12-50. The 12-40/2.8 is only getting you 2 1/3 stops. That may be enough, but if not, other adjustments will be necessary too (flash, compromising on a higher ISO, etc.).
     
  10. Clicka

    Clicka Mu-43 Regular

    143
    Jan 28, 2014
    Vancouver
    Peter Campbell
    thanks for the replies so far. I'm leaning toward the 12-40 but still swaying.

    I'm definitely a rookie, but been shooting tons in the last 4 months. so seeing lots of improvement and soaking up all the good advice read on this web site (which is amazing by the way).

    I just upgraded my computer and bought Lightroom. So I want to learn that and start shooting RAW. I did try with the Olympus raw program but got frustrated with it and gave up. So far I've been really happy with the jpegs tweaked on the windows photo gallery program. So yes, definitely plan to upgrade my processing skills along with my shooting skills. Just want to make sure I invest wisely in the kit.

    Thanks
     
  11. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    You will see a HUGE upgrade in your dynamic range with RAW. You will be surprised at the latitude you get bringing up dark shadows with your EM5. If you have an iPad or iPhone, check out Serge Ramellis Lightroom videos in the app store. I think he even has some free ones, and they will give you a fast basic understanding of what the different sliders do.
     
  12. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    691
    Nov 18, 2013
    I live in the NW, and a powerful flash can be useful as well as high ISO's. I can tell you that anything slower than 2.8 won't work and a 1.8 or faster prime if you can position yourself to fill the frame will be better. Its so dark that my trail cam never takes a color picture not even in the daylight hours (I live near Portland and have forest for my backyard). I often find my self at ISO 6400 on my D7100 even at 2.8, and result to the SB800. Don't underestimate how dark the forest of the Coast Range and Cascades are.Take your current lens at maximum aperture to a shooting location, dial up the ISO and see what your shutter speed is, then interpolate to 2.8 and 1.8 - what shutter speed can you live with?
     
  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    One thing that hasn't been pointed out is that pre-focussing is often pretty important with this sort of photography. You're not really following the subject to a large extent (mountain bikes in particular), but waiting for them to appear at the right spot, a jump, sharp curve etc, where you want to take the photo. This is how all the great shots are generally taken, because it ensures that you will catch the best action and maximise your chances of everything 'necessary' being in focus. A flash can certainly assist, but be aware of how it's used so as not to distract the riders etc.
     
  14. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    328
    Jan 28, 2012
    To me it really depends on just how much or little light you have to work with. Especially if you're trying to take action shots of mountain bikers, dogs, etc. Constant trade off between shutter speeds that are too slow, large apertures giving little depth of field, and using unacceptably high isos. The 75 is a wonderful lens but for moving subjects you're going to need pretty high shutter speeds and at f/1.8 your depth of field will be very thin. Trying to use apertures smaller than 2.8 for moving subjects requires good technique. So my view is the f/2.8 aperture of the 12-40 is not that limiting. A 25 is probably going to be the easiest to work with but will it get you close enough? I'd suggest going back out in typical light and really thinking about what exposure values the light allows. That would let you decide on some limits. If you're at iso 3200, 1/100, and f/2.8 you probably need a faster aperture to have any reasonable chance of stopping action. If you're close enough I think trying to use a strobe would be very worth investigating.
     
  15. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I think I'd choose the 12-40, mostly because I think it would be more fun, more different shots to try. And the quality of the 12-40 is not that far from the 75. With your current lens do you find yourself always shooting at 50mm and wishing for more reach? You can set the lens to 37mm and activate the digital teleconverter to try a couple of shots (I would use it with any lens if needed(*)) or limit yourself al 40mm, etc.

    One stop and something of difference is something, twice the speed, but not that much unless during the day you are often to the limit of the speed you need (wide open and like iso 3200).
    At dusk the sunset the light is going to go down quickly anyway.

    I never used a flash, but I'd like to learn it because it can make great effects too.


    (*) it's just an in camera crop but with the exposure metering done on the cropped area only.
     
  16. cdecurtis

    cdecurtis Mu-43 Regular

    45
    Sep 6, 2012
    Marietta, Georgia, USA
    Charles
    I would go with the zoom and the 45. The 45 gives you a little more reach (yes, negligible) and is faster. That said, as has already been mentioned, I doubt you will be shooting at 1.8 unless you are sure of your focus points (as in pre-focus planning). The zoom offers you so much more in flexibility. The 75 is nice but not as flexible for the type of shooting you describe.
     
  17. Clicka

    Clicka Mu-43 Regular

    143
    Jan 28, 2014
    Vancouver
    Peter Campbell
    Doh! Got it. The 1.8 would be useless to me on moving targets in the woods because the depth of field would be too narrow to catch them. Thanks all.

    another rookie question for you. Given 2 lenses. I set the camera in A mode at say f4, ISO 200. Given the exact same lighting conditions, will the same shutter speed be selected for both lenses?

    In other words, when I read of a 'fast lens'; are there lenses whose optics are somehow engineered better to allow their shutter to operate faster under identical conditions. Or does it just mean they have a bigger max ap thus allowing a faster shutter speed when wide open?
     
  18. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    The latter.

    The former would be a fast-AF lens.