Appreciating Camera Technology

Fully appreciating camera technology is something that we sometimes forget to do as we take our camera gear for granted on occasion. I visited the Royal Botanical Gardens yesterday for about an hour and 45 minutes. During that short time I successfully captured 127 handheld in-camera focus stacked macro images of various flowers and foliage. I did miss 7 attempts.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/25, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 295 mm

As I was creating these handheld macro images it dawned on me how absolutely incredible the technology was that I was holding in my hands.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/40, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 230 mm

Here I was creating macro images of flowers without any kind of camera support. I paused and thought about that for a moment. Handheld macro images of flowers using shutter speeds as slow as 1/25. I had to give my head a shake.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 440 mm

Not only that, I was using in-camera focusing stacking. My E-M1X was actually capturing 10 consecutive images of each subject flower at different focusing distances… then combining them in-camera into a completed jpeg. More head shaking.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/30, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 255 mm

It wasn’t that many years ago when I was using a full frame camera system, that I wouldn’t even attempt to create any macro images unless I was using a solid tripod and a very sturdy tripod head. Or shooting handheld at pretty fast shutter speeds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/320, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, cropped to 4891 pixels on the width, subject distance 365 mm

Setting up each shot with a tripod was agonizingly slow… and bored the heck out of me. Plus, some images that I had in my mind simply weren’t possible because I couldn’t get my cumbersome camera supports and gear in tight enough to the potential subject.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/50, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 275 mm

I contrasted that with the complete freedom I now enjoy, composing handheld images from my camera’s articulating rear screen. This allows me to get my camera gear into tights spots. Or to shoot at difficult angles that were basically impossible for me in the past.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/40, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 265 mm

The IBIS performance of my camera, coupled with its in-camera focusing stacking, allowed me to use apertures from f/2.8 to f/5.6 and still achieve my desired depth-of-field.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 275 mm

Since I didn’t have to stop my lens down to f/11 or higher to get the depth-of-field I needed on the subject flower, I could achieve good subject separation from the background.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/80, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 285 mm

Another benefit was being able to shoot at my camera’s base ISO of ISO-200 throughout my visit. This helped maintain dynamic range, colour depth, and keep noise under control.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/25, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 290 mm

Regardless of the equipment we may own, taking time and appreciating camera technology is a worthwhile endeavor.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/100, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, cropped to 4567 pixels on the width, subject distance 550 mm

It serves as a confirmation about how much camera gear has improved over the years. It is true that cameras cost more… but they also do a lot more than they did in the past.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/50, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 250 mm

Appreciating camera technology can also remind us of all the capabilities that our current camera equipment has available. This can be important as we sometimes fail to use all of the functionality that our cameras have to offer.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/60, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 285 mm

Many of us suffer from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) from time to time. Appreciating camera technology that we already own can sometimes help keep those GAS urges under control. Or, at least temper them to some degree.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, cropped to 4108 pixels on the width, subject distance 285 mm

There is a flip side of course. We may become aware of technologies that our current camera gear does not have. This added functionality could enhance our photographic capabilities to a significant degree and may fuel our GAS temptations. In these situations it is prudent to sit down with a pen and paper and calculate how often we would actually use that technology.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, cropped to 4390 pixels on the width, subject distance 300 mm

When the OM-1 was introduced it did not represent any kind of temptation for me. Not because it’s not a wonderfully capable camera, but because it only offered incremental improvements over what I already own… and love to use.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 300 mm

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from out-of-camera jpeg files using my standard approach in post. In-camera focusing stacking was set to 10 images with a focus differential of 3. A single, small auto-focus point was used. Crops are noted where appropriate. Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,177 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5, 1/160, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 280 mm

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4 thoughts on “Appreciating Camera Technology”

  1. Fabulous images, would be interesting to know the distance factor and how many images are in a focus stack.
    On my EM 1 mk2 I found to my cost that if you shoot raw alone you only get a small JPEG, I now shot RAW and super fine for the very best results.
    Keep up the incredible work you are doing educating us all.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for the supportive comment.

      My apologies for forgetting to include in-camera focus stacking details. I have added these to the technical note. I used 10 frames with a focus differential of 3. Auto focus was done with a single, small AF point. I also shoot with RAW + Jpeg fine.

      Tom

  2. And there it is… camera tech we already own helps keep G.A.S. urges under control! Use your stuff first then look to other devices. Took me a long time to implement this piece of advice myself. Nothing wrong with something new if it helps out.
    I’m guessing that many folks don’t really know what their equipment is capable of.

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