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Olympus E-400 E-400 specific discussion.

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Old 15th May 2011
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Is this as good as I will get?

I look in awe at the quality of some shots posted on here, I use an Olympus E400 have done now for about 4 years.

What I am concerned about is will the camera extract minute details.


Bee by Tim J Preston, on Flickr

For example, this Bee is what I would class as one of my better shots, but it is still lacking detail in the eyes and the hairs on the body.


Red Admiral by Tim J Preston, on Flickr

These are taken using the Zuiko 70-300mm with an EC14 fitted on the Bee shot.


P1010080 by Tim J Preston, on Flickr

Is it my technique or is the camera too old I am using? These are taken hand held using the Nature Macro settings on the camera.

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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

They look not bad. No. 3 I'd be happy with.
Although it does show the body of the butterfly is in focus and the focus goes off part way into the far wing.
Your problem seems to be depth of focus. Shooting at Macro levels gives a very tight depth of focus (a few millimetres) so you have to try for as small an aperture as possible. Then the speed goes to hell. So the ISO has to go up.
One tip I got from Laurie Campbell is to have the camera body parallel to the object you are trying to photograph. That way the depth of focus is as sm\ll as possible.
Keep trying. You'll get the hang of it.
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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

These are nice, Tim. But I would say you have even more potential. If you can do this, of course you can improve

I don't expect to stop 'improving' though the rate of improvement may vary wildly!

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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

You might need to look at a macro lens to eek out some more details using the E-400, in saying that the E-400 will certainly eek it out for you! Here are some of mine with the e-410 :







So I think if you want to get the best macro stuff, I'd get either the 35mm or 50mm zuiko lenses, sont worry a bout focus distance, everyone says its too close for bugs, this is nonsense if you know how to sneak up on them Check my flickr link in my sig and look at the macro set to see all the 35mm zuiko shots on various bodies e-410/620/e5

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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

Thanks for the comments, I was concerned I was flogging a dead horse. I have been looking at the 35mm and 50mm lenses. What are the main differences?

Danny, thankyou for taking the time to share those pictures, isn't the E410 a higher spec than the 400?
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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

Timmy, its not just what you got, but also how you use it ! Some of my best MACRO photos are taken with the old Olympus E-20P ! and I still love the macro setting and wcon lens for the best shots.





I now have an E-5 but not the same quality of macro photos, yet !
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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

Tim those aren't to bad as I guess you took them with natural light and handheld. As Duncan said DoF is pretty thin with the 70-300 and extension tube hence probably most of the trouble you've been having.
Danny has given us both something to aspire to. Those shots and the others on flickr are simply stunning Danny well done. I've recently bought a 35mm macro & didn't expect it to be capable of images like those. Let's hope I'm up to the challenge. Do you use some kind of flash lighting?
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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

I'd highly recommend the Zuiko 35mm macro lens...

I've had some stunning results with it.

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Old 15th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

Tim, don't beat yourself up, this type of photography is very hard to excel at, yet is made to look deceptively easy by some god-gifted superhumans who frequent this forum. Some, of course, have much better macro lenses such as the Zuiko 50mm f2 or the Sigma 150mm f2.8. However, I have also seen much better results from the 70-300mm than you are getting. Don't worry, though, I've also seen much worse - principally from myself!

The 70-300mm is amazingly versatile with astonishing IQ for its price, so that's not your problem. Neither is the camera. OK, you wouldn't expect it to be quite as good as an E-5 but then, neither is my E-3. Perhaps the biggest drawback of the E=400 is the lack of IS, but that just means you need to take a little more care, it's great to have but by no means essential.

The real problem with macro is even the tiniest shake of your hands is magnified, as is the almost imperceptible swaying of a flower or grass stem in the faintest of breeze that you havent really noticed. The result of you swaying and the insect's perch swaying is lack of sharpness through subject/camera movement and the subject drifting in and out of focus, due to the ridiculously narrow DOF at these magnifications, for the same reasons. Adding an EC14 to the mix will just increase your woe unless, photographically speaking, you walk on water.

So what are the solutions?

You could try a tripod, but it would have to be a sturdy one that doesn't wobble or vibrate. This would remove any movement of your hands from the equation. Also, it would allow precise framing and allow you to concentrate on focusing and judging the precise moment when the effect of the breeze is diminished and the subject is back in the plane of focus. This will also allow you to use smaller apertures and slower shutter speeds (within reason) whilst keeping the ISO down.

Unfortunately a tripod also make you less mobile and able to adapt quickly to an insect that keeps moving about or only visits a perch fleetingly. Many people who are successful at hand held macro have practised for years to perfect their technique and have developed an intimate knowledge of the habits of their subjects and how best to stalk and approach them. There is no shortcut to this, just the hard, repetitive work of research, watch, study, practice and learn.

One accessory that could be useful, though, is a decent flash unit, which will help freeze movement, allow a smaller aperture and/or lower ISO, and always seems to make macro subjects a little bit sharper - provided your other techniques are good.

Your pictures are OK, they are not the best but they are by no means rubbish either and many people would be pleased to be at this standard. Your framing, compositions and exposures are all fine, you just need to concentrate on movement, focus and DOF. All this can be done with your existing camera and lens, but it may pay to attend a macro photography workshop if you can afford it.
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

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Originally Posted by Phill D View Post
Tim those aren't to bad as I guess you took them with natural light and handheld. As Duncan said DoF is pretty thin with the 70-300 and extension tube hence probably most of the trouble you've been having.
Danny has given us both something to aspire to. Those shots and the others on flickr are simply stunning Danny well done. I've recently bought a 35mm macro & didn't expect it to be capable of images like those. Let's hope I'm up to the challenge. Do you use some kind of flash lighting?
Thankyou very much, I didnt mean to hijack the thread, but show what an e-4xx can do as far as macro is concerned Yes I use a combination of built-in flash, off-camera fl36r and on camera fl36r.
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Old 16th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

I use an FL50 or Metz 44 for most of my macro shots and it certainly helps. Notwithstanding you can get good macros with the 35mm the longer focal lengths certainly make life easier. I've owned both Olys and both Sigmas but now use only the 150mm. It's expensive and now not easy to find but you get what you pay for.
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Old 16th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by timmypreston View Post

Danny, thankyou for taking the time to share those pictures, isn't the E410 a higher spec than the 400?
Timmy the 410 has the Panasonic sensor compared to the E-400s Kodak sensor.

Saying that I still have a preference for the Kodak sensor which is why I probably still like to use my E-1 for low ISO shots.

I agree with Ian, has nice as your images are there is still room for improvement before you exceed the capabilities of your camera.

A couple taken with the E-500 which has exactly the same sensor and processing engine as the E-400.

The small butterfly which is as big as a man's thumbnail was taken with the lowly 40-150mm kit lens and a close up filter.



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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

Paul "Saying that I still have a preference for the Kodak sensor which is why I probably still like to use my E-1 for low ISO shots." Now THIS is interesting ! So far with the E-5 +50m Macro 1:2 I have NOT got anywhere near my old E20P macro shots; and I do prefer, so far, the E1 to the E5 It seems I am not alone ?
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

Hmmm, I am not totally convinced by the Kodak v Panasonic sensor debate. Sure, when I got my E-500 (my first DSLR) I was bowled over by the colours and I was happy to accept that this was due to the Kodak sensor. However, since then I have progressed through the E-510 to the E-3 (both Panasonic sensors) and, to me, the colour characteristics remain essentially the same. Having said that, I do not like the colours from my G1.

So what is different? I'm now inclined to think that the Olympus colours are more a product of the (Olympus) processors rather than the sensors, and this should be broadly maintained as long as Olympus keep the same colour profiles each time they upgrade the processor.

It's an interesting debate, maybe we need a seperate thread on it. When I have some spare time I might just dig the E-500 out of retirement (borrow it back from my daughter) and directly compare it with the E-3.
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Old 16th May 2011
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Re: Is this as good as I will get?

To be honest on the e-1 or e-5 for macro debate, there can only be one answer - the detail that the e-5 pulls from images that my 620 or 410 would have struggled with is npthing short of amazing!
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