Hand-held Hi Res Macro Flower Images

My Olympus camera equipment arrived a couple of days ago. One of the things that I was really looking forward to trying out was the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens. I had been wondering for a while whether it would be possible to create some Hand-held Hi Res macro flower images. This article shares a selection of photographs which illustrate my initial attempts.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 30 mm, efov 81 mm, f/3.8, 1/25, ISO-3200

The first thing that one can’t but help notice is how the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro looks when mounted on an Olympus OM-D E-M1X. Like some strange Lilliputian technological coupling. Picking up this combination is an eye-opening experience. One immediately notices how light and maneuverable the combination feels. My optimism about being able to create some Hand-held Hi Res macro flower images immediately increased as soon as I picked up the camera/lens combination. So, I headed off to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory as I knew there were plenty of pint-sized flowers in the facility.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-5000, subject distance 270 mm

This article shares a selection of 12 Hand-held Hi Res macro flower images, along with 100% crops of each photograph. I didn’t want readers to think that capturing Hand-held Hi Res macro flower images is just a fluke by only featuring one or two images in this posting. This type of hand-held photography can be done on a consistent basis when using the OM-D E-M1X and the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens. Here is a 100% crop of the above image.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-5000, subject distance 270 mm, 100% crop

You will notice when you review the EXIF data that many of the images featured in this article were captured at high ISO values.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-4000, subject distance 250 mm

I wasn’t worried at all about noise when capturing these images at higher ISO values. I learned from earlier experimentation that when the 16 images the E-M1X captures during Hand-held Hi Res mode are combined in camera, it tends to reduce the appearance of noise.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-4000, subject distance 250 mm, 100% crop

All of the full view flower images shown in this article are 100% captures, without any cropping.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 260 mm

I certainly won’t misrepresent anything to readers in this article. Capturing these types of images isn’t as easy as ‘falling off a log’. There is both some technique and speed required.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 260 mm, 100% crop

It may sound odd that I mention speed. In my limited experience creating this type of image I found my results were far better when I worked very quickly.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800, subject distance 215 mm

Selecting subject flowers took some time, as did determining the best shooting angle.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800, subject distance 215 mm, 100% crop

When it came time to actually capture my images I found that it worked best when I decided immediately upon acquiring auto-focus whether I was going to fully depress the shutter release or not.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO-1250, subject distance 225 mm

If I hesitated at all I often found my body wavered slightly which affected my image captures. This was especially true when using the camera’s viewfinder.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO-1250, subject distance 225 mm, 100% crop

I often acquired auto-focus multiple times before making the decision to create a particular image. I wanted to make sure that my single auto-focus point was on the exact spot on the subject flower.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 240 mm

You’ll notice that my shutter speed varies from image to image. I adjusted shutter speed based on what I was seeing through the viewfinder or on the rear screen. If I detected too much movement on my part… I increased shutter speed to help compensate. It is important to use a shutter speed that is fast enough to allow the E-M1X to create, then combine, 16 images.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 240 mm. 100% crop

It may sound odd, but I found that I often got better results when I held the camera away from my body and used the rear screen to compose my images. Perhaps holding the camera in this manner allowed the IBIS to function more effectively when shooting in Hand-held Hi Res mode. When using the Hand-held Hi Res mode, the E-M1X senses a photographer’s movements between each of the 16 images it captures, and makes adjustments between each photograph.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/500, ISO-800, subject distance 295 mm

I often used an aperture of f/8 to get the depth-of-field that I desired. I did adjust aperture based on the focal plane of the subject. You can see I selected f/2.8 for the image above.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/500, ISO-800, subject distance 295 mm, 100% crop

When using the Hand-held Hi Res mode it is important to pick subjects that are as stationary as possible. Movements by either the subject or the photographer can create artifacts in photographs.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 230 mm

I had my Olympus OM-D E-M1X set to Manual mode and let my ISO float, depending on the lighting conditions. I watched for the ISO warning to flash when photographing in dark conditions. At times I ignored the warning and purposely underexposed images. I knew that noise wouldn’t likely be a problem when brightening images in post. The E-M1X will not allow ISO values higher than ISO-6400 when using Hand-held Hi Res mode.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 230 mm, 100% crop

Unlike many photographers, I hate using a tripod and only do so when absolutely necessary. The Olympus OM-D E-M1X is ideally suited to my style of photography.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-6400, subject distance 265 mm

Being able to go out and leave my tripods and other camera supports at home is a very liberating experience.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-6400, subject distance 265 mm, 100% crop

Some of the subject matter that I chose to photograph was not particularly beautiful. It was selected as I felt it would demonstrate the capability of the Hand-held Hi Res mode. The photograph below is a good example.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-1000, subject distance 220 mm

I played around with various metering modes, eventually deciding that spot metering gave me the best control and results.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-1000, subject distance 220 mm, 100% crop

I’m confident that as I experiment more with Hand-held Hi Res macro flower images, that fine tuning my technique will improve results. One of the things I will do in the future is use a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 for this type of photography. I don’t think 1/320 and some of the other speeds I used in my initial attempt were quite fast enough and image sharpness suffered a bit.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, subject distance 260 mm

Some of the 100% crops are not as sharp as I would have liked. We do need to remember that they are 1200 x 900 pixels lifted from an image file that measures 8160 x 6120 pixels. The crops would represent an area 4″ x 3″ out of a 27.2″ x 20.4″ print. We are also dealing with the high levels of magnification that happen when using a macro lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, subject distance 260 mm, 100% crop.

I appreciate that a camera like the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is not everyone’s cup of tea. It does have a small 20 MP micro four thirds sensor. The body is ‘big’ by micro four thirds standards. And, it is also the most expensive micro four thirds body currently available.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-640, subject distance 300 mm

It really comes down to the needs of an individual photographer and how much value they see in the capabilities of the OM-D E-M1X.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/.2.8, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-640, subject distance 300 mm, 100% crop

For my specific needs in terms of my industrial client video projects, and my personal photographic interests, being able to do my work totally hand-held is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Technical Note:
All of the photographs in this article were captured hand-held in available light using camera equipment noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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2 thoughts on “Hand-held Hi Res Macro Flower Images”

  1. Tom,
    I follow a number of Olympus photographer blogs and YouTube channels because I may buy either the E-M1 Mk2 or the E-M1X. I am unaware of any Olympus photographer that has more effectively shown the potential of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X than you. Your photos taken with this camera are amazing. You should really contact Olympus about the possibility of becoming an Olympus Visionary.
    Jack

    1. Hi Jack,

      Thank you for your comment… much appreciated! Given that I am very much a ‘newbie’ when it comes to using my Olympus gear your words are very generous. I have no idea how the Olympus Visionary program works in terms of how photographers are selected.

      If you decide to check out the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the E-M1X… I’d suggest renting them for a few days so you can really get a feeling for each camera. I initially was looking at the E-M1 Mark II, but found the E-M1X far more comfortable and efficient to use, and for the work I do definitely worth the additional investment.

      Tom

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