Looking for Good Outdoor Lens for Panasonic LUMIX G3 (example photos)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by rocketcityman, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. rocketcityman

    rocketcityman TPF Noob!

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    Hello all,

    A few months ago I went hiking at the Walls of Jericho (on the Alabama/Tennessee border) and took my Panasonic LUMIX G3 with me to snap some photos. Along the way I saw some neat flora I wanted some close-ups of, but had mixed results and was disappointed that some of the results weren't crisper.

    I used (and only have) the stock lens (manual zoom) and am wondering before upgrading to a new camera what options I might have for upgrading to better lenses that might look crisper, and maybe include more viewing area (assuming that helps) with a wider angle - unless you actually want the opposite and want narrow angle for close ups.

    The camera is 16MP, so that obviously is not going to change, but I want to maximize what this camera can do even with 16MP. I'm still an amateur at photography so I have no idea what I need to do to get better photos. Obviously some of the photos which were out of focus were my fault, but for some reason (maybe because of the various backgrounds) some shots from the particular angle I was at wouldn't focus much clearer than what I already got them to do. I was tapping on my flipout screen to focus it to a particular area I wanted it though.

    I uploaded my photos to Flickr which conveniently puts all your photo info (very detailed!) below each picture. You can view it here: Walls of Jericho (Alabama) Flora. Could someone with more photography experience than myself take a look at those photos and offer some thoughts or pointers?

    Thanks,
    Rocket


     
  2. rocketcityman

    rocketcityman TPF Noob!

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    For example, this shot had potential for much more "pop" and focus against the blurred background but ended up a bit fuzzy and missed out on some potential extra sharpness: RedFlowers

    I rarely mess with the internal settings of my camera. Should I be playing with the ISO features on my camera or other specific important internal settings (I think I did have it set to outdoors mode for color/contrast at least) before shooting?

    But also I need a lens with more zoom. The lack of much magnification means I have to get the lens very close.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well...these are close-up shots. Not macro shots, but close-ups. And close-up shots are challenging when shot hand-held, and not tripod-mounted. There is simply not much depth of field at these distances, so the camera's depth of field (DOF) band and the subject need to be in alignment as much as is possible, OR else there will be areas that are outside the DOF band. On modern-era solution is to shoot three or four shots of the same subject, with the focus being moved a bit between frames, in a technique called focus stacking. The images are later combined using software, to achieve a deep DOF, crisp shot. Doing focus stack work like this almost requires a tripod, to keep things in good alignment.

    Ehhhh...pointers...this might not sound like what you want to hear, but you need more fundamentals skills: practice on how to frame, how to alignh the camera with the subject, how to separate the subject from the background, and so on. The needed "pointers" are more broad, more along the lines of, "practice,practice,practice", a lot, and then the shots would be good, no matter what lens as used.

    Still...if you want some advice: get a TTL-capable flash unit and an 8x8 inch softbox and a 1-meter pigtail off-camera flash connecting cord, and start learning how to pair those accessories with a telephoto macro lens, something like a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro, or a Panasonic-branded macro lens of 60mm to 100mm in length. The reason for this as a pointer is that it will allow you to shoot narrow-angle shots, with flash, and the hard-wired cord will be in the camera hotshoe, thus preventing you from ever using the flash on-camera to shoot these macros...

    This type of setup, a tele-macro, a speedlight, and an 8x8 inch softbox placed off-axis, and connected to the camera via a cable, can create nice flower shots, AND has the power to allow you to stop the lens down to f/16 to f/32, which many macro lenses offer, and many macro lenses are pretty good at.

    YES, you could substitute a wireless, remote-connected flash,. but the old-school, hard-wired 1-meter pigtail TTL remote connecting cord is a great tool,and as mentioned, FORCES you to move the flash way from the camera's hotshoe/

    My tip: study close-up technique articles in books, or on the web. Read,learn,practice. You will get better and better! Getting a tele-macro lens will allow you to shoot these types of shots from 3 to 4 feet away,and the light from the flash will be relatively easy to work with at that distance.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  4. rocketcityman

    rocketcityman TPF Noob!

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    Hi Derrel,

    Thanks for the reply!

    Hmm... that's a fancy trick.

    Well, which one did you think had the best focus? I didn't think they all were terrible, unless I just had incredible bad luck. The non-flower one turned out well I think, and also the lighter blue flower shot (though still had some soft edges). I wonder if the crispness I'm thinking of literally is a megaixel thing though, or whatever the resolution is. LUMIX cameras are Micro Four Thirds. I'm not sure how that affects DPI (perhaps wrong terminology in the photography world... but I'm thinking in editing terms) based on whether it's full frame or not.

    NEWB ALERT: You're going to have to explain just about every term you used here. TTL? Softbox? Pigtail? :-D

    Why would I use flash in broad daylight? That would never have occurred to me.

    I will have to investigate what tele-macro lenses are. Any known good ones for Micro 4/3 that will fit a LUMIX?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  5. Sportrunner

    Sportrunner TPF Noob!

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    I agree with Derrel, it looks like there is some camera shake and focusing issues. You are working with a narrow depth of field which means you have to stay really steady and also nail the focus. Adding light in the form of a flash or reflector can help by allowing you to speed up the shutter.

    The purple joy photo looks like the focus was on the stem of the flower. The blue flower cluster is focusing on the middle layer of the flowers. The red flowers are blurred because of movement. It looks to me like you have a good lens, just work on the technique first. Calculate your depth of field so you know what distance you have to work with. Also, contrasting backgrounds help flowers pop and have crisp edges.
     
  6. rocketcityman

    rocketcityman TPF Noob!

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    Good information. I was watching a tutorial (this video @2:45) that said to increase the focal length for depth of field. Does that sound right?

    Also another person recommended a lens with a faster shutter speed and that would let more light in, like this: Panasonic Lumix G 25mm F1.7 ASPH Lens Review and Specs . Any thoughts on that lens?

    Thanks,
    Rocket
     
  7. Sportrunner

    Sportrunner TPF Noob!

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    Yes. Here is a video that explains depth of field as well as I've ever seen:


    Along with that video, I recommend getting a DOF calculator app for your phone. I personally use DOF Calculator for Android. Fill in the numbers from your camera like the camera version, aperture, focal length and subject distance. It will tell you what your near and far focus lengths are plus the distance of the depth. Then you can practice at home by changing values and seeing what depths your camera is able to focus on. This will be a great thing to know as you push your limits. Typically in landscape you want a huge DOF and when shooting flowers or portraits you want to narrow that up. Also look at learning as much as possible about exposure.

    For the lens, it's faster because of the max available aperture (f1.7). Running at 1.7 will let in more light which will allow you to speed up the shutter. But, there is a trade off to doing that, your depth of field will get really small and you may have trouble getting everything in focus. This is fun part of photography for me, trying to weigh the pluses and minuses of exposure. You should really try to see what your current lens can do first before jumping to a new lens.
     
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  8. Cortian

    Cortian No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Warning: I'm a newbie, myself, so take it FWIW ;)

    On most of them you could've gone up a full stop to increase your DOF if your hand was steady enough. (You want a minimum of 1/125 to minimize the effects of shake with a non-image-stablizing lens.)

    On 6-8 there just wasn't enough light to make the colour "pop" in a photo, IMHO.

    The very last one I suspect was all camera shake, even though your shutter was 1/125.

    I've found flowers and plants challenging, regardless of the light. My camera often simply does not see what my eye sees. I usually take multiple shots--from varying angles and distances, perhaps with different apertures and shutter speeds, in hopes one of them yields something interesting.
     
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  9. rocketcityman

    rocketcityman TPF Noob!

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    Thanks. I actually ran into that same video independently a week or so ago. I spent an entire afternoon watching videos about depth of field and took three pages of notes and now I think I have a good grasp of the relationship between the aperture size and depth of field, and I even discovered some new settings on my camera which stupidly I had never investigated (I had changed shutter speed before but never the aperture in the digital settings - but only used manual zoom). All excited about my new understanding of DOF and how to achieve a blurred background I shot a video in my kitchen area for a computer unboxing but was disappointed that I never achieved any real noticeable blur and the far background (the kitchen is probably only 30 ft from end to end).

    The stock lens is a 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6, but I could only get the aperture down to 4.5 with indoor lighting on my Panasonic LUMIX G3, and the equipment on my table was tap-focused from my camera viewscreen (crisply I might add), and was a good 12-15ft from the wall behind it, but the back wall seemed almost as clear as the objects in the foreground with the f-stop as low (wide aperture) as I could make it. I cannot seem to achieve the shallow depth of field I want with that lens. What other lens could I buy for a micro 4/3 camera that would lower my f-stop? Unless I'm still doing something wrong it looks like my current lens can't give me much more than it already is.

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  10. rocketcityman

    rocketcityman TPF Noob!

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    Thanks. Yeah, I've been learning about playing with the ISO and manually adjusting the shutter speed to help counteract the shake of handheld shots, even though you sacrifice some quality. I either need to do that or bring a tripod along, but I was about 40 minutes into a hike and in that circumstance carrying a tripod deep in the middle of the woods wasn't something that was in my mind when I opportunistically brought my camera along that day.

    Thanks for the tips!
     
  11. rocketcityman

    rocketcityman TPF Noob!

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    Any takers on this particular question about a lens for achieving a shallower DOF than the lens I listed? I know I'm meandering slightly from the OP by talking about video now, but it all comes down to the same issue of lens, focus, and DOF (even if I eliminate the handheld aspect by mounting it on a tripod).
     
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You've run into one of the areas where a smaller-sensored camera is a poor tool for achieving _shallow_ DOF! The smaller the sensor used, the MORE depth of field there is! And you're right...with the 14-42mm lens and f/4.5, you're hitting the zone where there is actually pretty deep depth of field on "regular, indoor" type photos, such as you at a desk, with a room behind you...the distance the camera is from you and the desk,and the distance to the wall behind...those longer, non-close-up distances, at f/4.5? You're gonna likely have plenty of depth of field on ANY shot that shows you, and something as big as a computer box. On a close-up type shot, that covers something SMALL, like say a Pepsi 12-ounce can? The camera would be close to the can, and thus there would be shallower DOF behind the can. Buuuut, as you found...f/4.5, small sensor, a sow-aperture 14-42mm zoom lens...not a setup that's going to produce shallow DOF on "regular, indoor" type subjects, such as a person doing a computer unboxing.

    Here is a GOOD primer on getting shallow DOF with an m4/3 sensor camera, using something like a 50mm f/1.8 lens, or an adapted legacy lens.

    A shallow depth of field with a Micro 4/3s camera? Yes, it is possible! - MirrorLessons
     
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