Spring flowers

It is that time of the year now. Blossoms and flowers. Click on any photo for larger sizes at Flickr.

Nikon 1 V2, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm lens. Outside the public library building.

Blossoms outside the library

 

 

Nikon 1 V2, Minolta 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/4.0. Outside the public library building.

Spring time blossoms

 

Lumix GH-2, Minolta 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/2.0.  This photo taken during summer of 2014, outside city hall.Flowers at City Hall, Summer 2014

 

Lumix GH-2, Olympus 9-18mm wide angle lens. Photo taken at Zion National Park in April of 2014.Flowers #2, Zion National Park, Utah

Nikon 1 J1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm lens. Taken March 12, 2015, in my front yard.Close up of spring flowers

The Lumix 45-200mm lens is not so sharp – at the long end

A week ago, I shot several photos using a Lumix GH-4 and the Lumix 45-200mm lens, and then shot the same photos using a Nikon 1 J1 with the 1 Nikkor 30-110mm lens. Much to my surprise, the Nikon 1 photos were consistently sharper and better looking! That’s a surprise because the Nikon 1 has a 10.1 megapixel Super16mm film sized sensor while the Lumix GH-4 is 14-16 megapixels on a 4/3ds sensor!

I did some testing and the Lumix 45-200mm lens is not so sharp at the long end (but see the update below!). When I replaced that lens with the Lumix 20mm f/1.7  – or even an ancient Vivitar 135mm Minolta MD/MC mount lens – I obtained sharper results in my test photos. I also found my old Sigma 28-70mm Minolta mount lens, and the Minolta 50mm f/1.4 lens (at f/4) were sharper.

The Lumix 45-200mm is  inexpensive and its optical image stabilization is quite good. The GH-4 has a far better auto focus mechanism than did the GH-2 and does a great job of auto focus with the 45-200mm lens.

Update: Early version of the lens firmware had a soft focus problem at the long end; this was fixed with a subsequent firmware upgrade. I also observed, now, that the lens is sharp, but just not as much at the 200mm end. Based on comments from others, good suggestions are to:

  • Avoid using the full 200mm, unless you have to. Backing off to 150-175mm significantly improves sharpness.
  • Use a tripod. The 200mm image stabilized lens is equivalent to a 400mm full frame lens. That’s a lot of magnification for a handheld shot.
  • Possibly use manual focus to avoid any auto focus issues.

Here’s a photo I took at the shorter end of the lens, using a Lumix GH-4. If you click through the image to Flickr, you can see the full size image – and the sharpness is excellent. It seems the best step to take is, if possible, back off a bit from the 200mm end to improve sharpness.

A clear winter day at Lake Union, Seattle, Washington

 

The next photo was taken at 200 mm and the sharpness is decent, albeit softer than the above. I did have to increase contrast and add image sharpening in Lightroom for this photo, but that had more to do with the conditions at the time the shot was made.

Wooden Shoe Tulip  Festival

I have other photos were the sharpness is less than the above – and I think it may be due to either a handheld shot or that the auto focus was not nailing the focus perfectly.

The Nikon 1 cameras and the 1 Nikkor lenses are amazingly sharp with excellent contrast. Like most camera and lens combinations, it is up to us to figure out the characteristics of the pair and learn to optimize those for best results.

Will VR be the next step beyond 3D?

The need for special, sometimes-expensive, glasses to view TV in 3D is the most-often-cited reason for its failure in the market. Lack of source material has also been a major issue. Ironically, the companies pouring billions of dollars into various not-quite-ready or on-the-drawing-board VR products have doubled down on the need for glasses — their solutions all require even more onerous and expensive goggles. Beyond hard-core gamers, many of whom will put up with ungainly VR headsets to get the benefit of immersive gaming, it’s not clear how many users will put up with the inconvenience of headgear — although much like the IMAX franchise, there will be a niche market in immersive experiences using those same headsets.

via Can the VR craze and new display technologies save 3D TV? | ExtremeTech.

Emphasis added by me. The same reporters babbling about the alleged inconvenience of 3D “goggles” for 3D TVs at CES went into hyperdrive of excitement over virtual reality (VR) helmets.

Glasses were not the problem: the problem was lack of compelling 3D content. I am guessing that glasses free displays delivering 3D gaming content on phones and tablets might make a resurgence. Games provide immediately available 3D content.

How important is lens sharpness?

Perhaps not as much as we’ve been led to believe: Lens Sharpness.

Ken Rockwell points out that in most real world scenarios, lens sharpness is just fine. Today we pixel peep to the absurd dimension, finding limitations that may not matter. And once we find the limits, there are often simple work arounds – such as stopping down the lens by a stop.

He also notes that sharpness tests are too often done by photographing a flat test chart, which bears little resemblance to our 3D world where everything is not always in perfect focus. There is a lot of interesting info in the above linked article.