This is the first snow for 2012 in Cologne. Sadly, it’s normally not cold enough here for snow and just melts away within two or three days. But these pictures were taken the day after snowfall and it was very nice. Also it was an opportunity for me to take out my OM Zuikos 135/2.8 and 200/4 and see what I can get under real time conditions. The majority of pictures was taken with the Panasonic 20/1.7 and Olympus 45/1.8, though.
I’m genereally not into photographing action or fast-moving subjects – lucky me, because with anything that moves, I’m pretty hopeless with these manual-focus lens classics. I added a few data about the lenses used on some of the pictures below – so for those who should happen to read my blog just to watch photos: Please just ignore all the techno babble below ;)
I just love how the small Panasonic 20/1.7 delivers at full-open aperture. It’s not my favourite lens closed down, because you have to add so much Lightroom corrections to make it work properly, but wide-open, it’s just amazing!
A double fortification ring was built all around Cologne from 1815 onwards. It was finally dismantled right after WW I due to the Treaty of Versailles. But already in 1922, Konrad Adenauer, then Lord Major of Cologne, had the whole fort areas turned into two big park rings that circumferent the whole Cologne city center until today. Only very few of the old fort buildings remain and this is one of them.
I love the 45 even more than the 20, because it delivers wide-open and gets just perfect at around f/2.8 to f/4. Also it gives you plenty control over depth-of-field. What an achievement for such a small and light-weight lens!
In practice, the OM Zuiko 135/2.8 beats, in my opinion, its bigger brother 200/4 regarding overall image quality and versatility. This one equals “only” a 270mm lens in classic 35mm film terms, and in general photography, I find it just easier to handle than a whopping 400mm lens.
Also, the 200/4’s colour fringes can be disturbing even at f/5.6 – while the 135/2.8 gets about perfect at f/5.6, even though never showing the biting sharpness of the 45/1.8. Anyway, both these classics beat my Panasonic 45-200 hands-down regarding image quality.
The Unicenter is one of the biggest residential buildings in Europe. It’s 134 metres tall, still making no.27 on the list of tallest buildings in Germany. I hear you Americans and Hong Kong residents laugh, but skyscrapers never played a major role here in Germany, and especially regarding Cologne, there’s a lot of restrictions for the construction of tall buildings as an effort to keep the visual impact of the famous Cologne Dome over the skyline of the city. (As a side note, the Cologne Dome itself was the world’s highest building from 1880-1884 with 157 metres.)
For this image, I prefer the super-flat perspective that the 200/4 delivers on the E-M5. The 135 would be too short to give this kind of view. But it’s hard to get critical focus when hand-holding the whole thing – I need 14x magnification to really nail focus, and even with the built-in body stabilisation it’s hard to keep the subject steady enough to adjust focus in the viewfinder at this focal length. Let’s just hope that the firmware update that Olympus announced for December 2012 or January 2013 will bring a focus peaking feature with it which would greatly help focusing these lenses!
YI was barely able to see the tiny gyrocopter with my eyes – that it was a gyrocopter, in fact, was just visible in the viewfinder for me. This is a 100% crop of the image, taken at 200mm focal length. It’s not really what I’d call a good photo, but it does give an idea of what the old 200mm lens still can deliver on the E-M5.
I also love this shot for the lighting, also I think it’s pretty amazing that this tree still had leaves falling down in mid-December. The funny thing is that this shot does not show any purple fringing around the contrast edges (e.g. the leave against the white snow behind it) even though the 200mm Zuiko normally is really prone to this at f/4, and to a lesser extent even at f/5.6.
I love classic cars, and this great 1980s BMW – complete with the beautiful stainless steel hubcaps – apparently is still in splendid condition. I hope it’ll continue to hit the roads for a long time!
That’s it for now. Just a short walk with a lot of camera gear – now that’s what we call shutter therapy, right? :)