Monday, August 25, 2014

Photography Today by Mark Durden



This review is contributed by Robin Benson.

Light players

I thought perhaps that the title referred to contemporary photography rather than, as it turns out, creativity from 1960 onwards. Mark Durden considers the work of 164 photographers, each getting between one and four images (some get more if a spread from one of their photobooks is included) but I thought the strength of the book is the way he looks at their work, not an A to Z of names or a strict historical survey but eleven themed essays. The titles will give you an idea of the book's scope: The copy; The face; Colour; The street; Landscapes; History; The body; Documentary; Self; Constructions; Photography tomorrow.

Each of these essays has a short introduction followed by a photographer getting a several hundred word analyses and samples of their work. I suppose one could query the way Durden slots various people together. For example part of Landscapes is further divided into Sublime: Thomas Struth; Andreas Gursky. New topographics: Robert Adama; Lewis Baltz. Romantic: Thomas Joshua Cooper; Roni Horn; Jem Southam. Documentary landscapes: Joel Sternfeld; Richard Misrach; Edward Burtynsky. Throughout the book these chapter sub-divisions seem to make perfect sense and nicely Durden's writing style is jargon and elitist free making his photographer essays well worth reading. Because there are so many photographers considered it's a pleasure to come across names I had never heard of and discover new works.

This 464 page book, with over 500 images is a handsome print production with plenty of large size photos (in 200 screen) though being a Phaidon book means that the layout has its quirky moments. Here the two columns per page of the photographer essays have several of the first lines indented and the number varies for each name, pure design whimsy in my view as it contributes nothing for the reader. Similarly the short biographies are in the back pages rather than placing them with each photographer's page.

Mark Durden has written an interesting and worthwhile book looking at several recent decades of visual creativity.

Photography Today is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today

Photography Today


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Voigtlander 42.5mm on GX7 1080P MP4 video test

The video quality is just not good enough, in fact quite bad, with the Panasonic GX7 1080P MP4 setting when it comes to a scene with lots of moving details. Just look at all the visual artifacts and lossy compression.

You can download the original file to see it for yourself:
Google+ download


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Squirrel eating a nut. Video test with Voigtlander 42.5mm

This was shot on a short tripod on a bench that I was sitting on. That's why there's still some shaking. It was shot on GX7, 1080P MP4 at f/0.95.

Original file: Google+

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bokeh & DOF Test: Olympus 45mm f/1.8 vs Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95

Since the 50mm bokeh text between the Panasonic 25mm and Fuji 35mm lens is quite popular, I've created another bokeh test.

Today, I pit the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens and the crazy-heavy-built-like-a-tank Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95.

This should be interesting. Actually all tests and photos from any of the Micro Four Thirds Voigtlander lens are interesting. Alright, my bias is pretty obvious, but just look at the photos and compare for yourself.

All the photos below are adjusted for exposure, and sometimes white balance, and even so I am unable to match the exposure, so this is definitely not a scientific test.

An ND filter is used for all shots taken outdoors. Not all shots are from the tripod, but those that should be quite obvious. And I moved a bit closer with the Voigtlander lens because it's 85mm equivalent vs 90mm.

All images below are 640px wide. You can click on them to view them larger. Control+Click to open each image in a new window.


Voigtlander at f/0.95. Focus is on the word "Sharpie" at the bottom.


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8




Voigtlander at f/0.95. Focus is on the letter S


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4




Voigtlander at f/0.95


Voigtlander at f/1.7


Olympus at f/1.8


Voigtlander at f/2.8


Olympus at f/2.8


Voigtlander at f/4


Olympus at f/4

Conclusion

While shooting outdoors, I found that, unless you're shooting really small objects, the amount of depth of field between the Voigtlander 42.5mm at f/0.95 and Olympus 45mm at f/1.8 is not significantly different even though the difference is by slightly more than 1.5 stops.

Just look at the bronze turtle on the rock, and the colourful tricycles. If you compare them side by side, I'm sure you will notice that the Voigtlander lens has slightly shallower depth of field. But to me, it's not worth it the shoulder ache lugging that 571g lens out as compared to Olympus' 116g lens.

If you're shooting a faraway subject with a faraway background, such as the last set of photos of the stone statues, it's even more difficult to tell the difference between the depth of field.

The difference really comes in when you're shooting near small objects, such as the bald porcelain monks. In that case, that 1+ stop of depth of field does make the background more blur. But at f/0.95, the photo is quite soft, and because of the strong vignetting of the Voigtlander lens, you have to add a 0.5 exposure adjustment.

As for bokeh, both are creamy around f/1.7 and f/1.8 respectively.

For the Voigtlander lens, at f/0.95, there really is something special about the bokeh, and the way the lens renders the image. By special, I mean the combination of softness, that extra bit of shallow depth of field and the corresponding bokeh. And then there's that extra vignetting that focuses your eyes to the centre, and provides the mood. The key characteristics of the Voigtlander would be the vignetting, some people might call it a flaw though. The difference is clearer if you view the photos big — the effect is not that strong with all those 640px wide photos above, but you view them larger to see the difference for yourself.

By the way, the Voigtlander has a minimal focus distance of 23mm while the Olympus need 50cm. So you can get a shallower depth of field with the Voigtlander lens by getting even close. The closer you get, the more noticeable is the depth of field.

And about the colours. I notice that the Olympus lens tend to produce images that are warmer. The greens are more yellow. The Voigtlander is more neutral.

Anyway, the bokeh is just one aspect of the lens. An f/0.95 lens is not there for nothing but I'll talk about that another time when the f/0.95 is actually useful.

Availability

Check out more reviews on Amazon: Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens | Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95