Olympus Evolt 620 Macro

Back and weary from four horribly hot days guiding at the Gunks. Clients were great; a few other details (weather being one of them) were aggravating. With today’s rainy weather, along with my need to rest and take stock of a few important items, I figured this was a good time to veer off tangent and play with photography awhile.

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A bit fancified via software, but this shows the detail at 1 to 1.

Robin bought me our first digital SLR, an Olympus Evolt 620. The kit we purchased comes with two lenses: a 14-42mm and a 40-150mm one. Being a “Four-thirds” image sensor, that translates to 28-84mm and 80-300mm, “traditional” 35mm equivalent set, which spans a lot of optimal usages. I would have preferred a bit wider angle at the low end, something closer to a 24mm equivalent lens, but pretty much every company out there uses this cutoff point for their “stock” and “kit” lenses.

While down in the Gunks, I had spare time every morning to walk around and take some pictures – but no way to review them until I got home. I love macro shots of flowers and such, and wanted to see what rig could do. The camera has a macro setting, which modifies the output image by sharpening it slightly as well as a few other slight changes. I took a few flower pictures to have a look.

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Extending the 14-42mm lens to its longest focal length, I can get pretty close (<3″) to a flower and take decent shots. Much closer and my shadow gets in the way, and focusing maxes out at about 2″. This chickory blossom photo is taken near that minimum distance. The sun was already up too high for best color rendition, but the camera does a decent job nonetheless. Of course, this image is highly downsampled; below is a close-up with as little of that as I could supply without sacrificing my life to uploading images. I’ve cropped a 720×540 chunk out of the original, 12 megapixel image.

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 Not bad. I would’ve liked greater depth of field, but until/unless I purchase a lens made specifically for macro shots, this will have to do.

I use the camera mostly for nature stills, scenics, and occasional climbing photos, and in these regards I’m very happy with it. Indoors, I’ve yet to figure out the flash settings. In that environment, I’m somewhat flabbergasted with its flash-assist focus system. The flash strobes in a jarringly distracting and irritating way whenever the focusing system cannot handle the job without it; which makes it a risky tool for any formal or ceremonial shots. More than once, I’ve had to forego using it in these situations. Unfortunately, my eyesight is bad enough that often, I can’t focus manually any better!

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