Pushing the Envelope

This article discusses the importance of pushing the envelope with how we approach our photography… and shares some recent insect images captured handheld at 800 mm (efov 1600 mm).

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-640, cropped to 3377 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.9 metres

There is a truth in nature that is evident each and every time that we go out with our cameras. Once growth stops… the process of death and decay begins.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1250, ISO-1000, cropped to 3008 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.3 metres

As photographers we can become complacent. We can take our camera equipment for granted. We may have been told… and we may believe… that it has certain limitations. Even if we have not challenged those supposed limitations with the rigors of a personal test.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1250, ISO-1000, cropped to 3390 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.8 metres

Pushing the envelope with our camera gear allows us to get the maximum amount of utility from it. In business terms, pushing the envelope enables us to increase the ROI (return on investment) we are able to achieve. Does anyone not want to get full value for the money they spend?

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-2500, cropped to 2755 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.9 metres

If we are intent on wasting our money when buying camera gear, one sure fire way of doing that is not pushing ourselves to improve our skill set when using that new equipment.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1250, cropped to 3823 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.8 metres

Buying new gear… then following our staid, habitual approach using it… is a tacit acknowledgement that we are expecting our camera equipment to magically make us a better photographer. The reality is that all magic is based on illusion.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-800, cropped to 3153 pixels on the width, subject distance 2 metres

It is true that the camera we bought may provide some new technology and/or capabilities not found in our current gear.¬† Those advantages will remain underutilized if we don’t push the envelope when using it.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, cropped to 3300 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.8 metres

The proof of that is easily found in the chatrooms of various photography websites. How many times have your read comments from people who have recently bought a new camera and/or lens and are complaining that the equipment is not meeting their expectations?

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, cropped to 3583 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.7 metres

Precious few will admit that they have not put in a sufficient amount of time, effort and practice to learn how to use it effectively.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1250, cropped to 2732 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.4 metres

Pushing the envelope with our camera gear… and ourselves… comes with a responsibility. That is to fully understand the context we are operating within… and to set appropriate expectations.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1250, cropped to 3181 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.8 metres

For example, would it be realistic for me to have an expectation that when I’m photographing a bee handheld from 1.8 metres away (~6 feet) using a 100-400 mm lens fully extended, with a 2X teleconverter, at f/13… that the resulting image will be as detailed and as sharp as a photograph of a bee taken with a macro lens at a distance of 15 cm (~6 inches)?

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, cropped to 3285 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.3 metres

The answer may seem obvious, but many folks fail to consider the context and practical realities of what they are doing. Sometimes performance comparisons are based on completely different parameters. An apple will never be an orange.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, cropped to 2932 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.5 metres

The biggest benefits of pushing the envelope is learning how to effectively use our camera equipment in less than Ideal conditions… or in ways that are well outside of our normal parameters. That learning and those skills, make us far more flexible and creative.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-800, cropped to 3322 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.9 metres

Unless a photographer is completely inept, virtually anyone who can depress a shutter release can create an acceptable image under ideal conditions. It is what we are able to do under very difficult and challenging conditions that separates the wheat from the chaff. Continually pushing the envelope helps us prepare for those eventualities.

 Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. This is the 1,313 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1250, ISO-1000, cropped to 3312 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.4 metres

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