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Not only have I been working with a new Olympus E-M1 Mark II and a trio of PRO prime lenses, I've also been introduced to a new backpack to house them in: the The Wandrd 21-Liter PRVKE Photography Backpack. I wasn't familiar with Wandrd products before, so it's been fun to learn about their carrying solution.

wandrd-front-2.jpg Front view of the backpack. You can see the side access reflected in the mirror, and the water bottle pocket on the foreground side. Notice the weather-resistant zipper for the large front pocket. And of course, there's the rolltop style that stays compact or expands as needed.

In many ways, the Wandrd PRVKE looks and feels like an adventure bag. It has an excellent harness system that's very comfortable. The bag is designed with durable, water resistant Tarpaulin and Ballistic 1680 D Nylon with robust zippers. And the rolltop opening allows you to add an extra 5 liters of storage if you need it.

wandrd-back.jpg The harness system is well-designed and quite comfortable.

But I've also been impressed with what a good travel bag it is. The Wandrd PRVKE has a slim profile that slides easily under the seat in front of you on the plane, multiple access points for camera gear and laptop, and pockets in all the right places. The top handle is large enough to serve as a trolly sleve on your roller suitcase as well.

wandrd-inside.jpg The removable camera cube plus an additional storage pocket for accessories.

Inside, there's a removable camera cube that's large enough to hold a mirrorless or DSLR kit. You can access the gear inside the camera cube by opening up the back of the bag, or through a side pocket, which is more convenient when you're in the field shooting. I found it easier to load the bag through the back, and use it through the side and top access.

Then there are the nice touches: Fleece-lined cell phone pocket, secure passport pocket, lens cap holder, expandable water bottle/tripod pocket, large outside front pocket that I use for my jacket, dedicated rain cover storage, and separate storage for both laptop and tablet computers. This is a very well thought out backpack.

Now that I'm back in the city, the Wandrd PRVKE seems at home here as well. I can carry my everyday gear, grab the top handles, and go. It feels comfortable over one shoulder too.

There's a larger version, the 31 liter, but I like the 21 liter. It's big enough for what I need to transport without being bulky. I recommend the Photography Bundle that includes the backpack, rainfly, accessory straps, camera cube, and waist band. That kit costs $264.

After a few weeks of use, I have to admit that I'm hooked on this backpack. I'm already planning on using it for my next trip in January. Looks like we're going to be spending the Winter together.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Iceland-2006.jpg

In August 2006 I was in Iceland with a dozen comrades testing a beta version of Adobe's latest photo application: Lightroom. The days were 23 hours long, and we would shoot well into "the night." Then we'd gather in our makeshift lab to learn how to process and post the images using this new software.

Even though Apple had released Aperture a few months earlier, many predicted that Adobe's product would eventually be the most popular. And they were right. Lightroom has had a beautiful run since that summer in Iceland.

Now, just over a decade later, Adobe announces that it has released the final standalone version of Lightroom.

DP Review reports: Adobe has released the final standalone Lightroom, version 6.14, adding some bug fixes and camera and lens compatibility, but otherwise using the opportunity to encourage users to jump on the subscription bandwagon.

lightroom6_1.jpg

To their credit, Adobe isn't hiding this fact. They announced that this final update was coming all the way back in October, and today's update announcement notes state the facts plainly:

Lightroom 6.14 is the last perpetual, standalone version of Lightroom.

While you may continue to purchase and use Lightroom 6 with a perpetual license, Adobe will no longer provide updates to the software. Consider upgrading to the Creative Cloud Photography plan to get the latest updates in Lightroom Classic CC and the all-new Lightroom CC, and ensure that the software works with raw files from the newest cameras.

As of today, Lightroom 6 becomes an 'unsupported product.'

Everything changes, and especially our software. The next step for Adobe customers is renting. I'm not saying that this is good or bad. But it is the end of an era - and one worth noting.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #614, Dec. 19, 2017. Today's theme is "The Roadmap for 2018." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming year. I've put together some terrific workshops and have a number of online classes planned as well. And then there are some new goodies, such as portfolio reviews. And of course we have to take care of our Inner Circle members. So I thought that this would be a good time to lay out the entire plan. Let's get ready for 2018!

The Roadmap for 2018

Next year's events will fall into 3 basic categories: Physical Workshops, Nimble Classrooms (online), and 1-on-1, which will be portfolio reviews. Those will also be available online for those who are not in the Northern California area.

Flames.jpg Big flames make hot air as a balloon lifts off into the sky over Kaiser Park. Photo by Aaron Hockley.

The Physical Workshops

In April you'll be immersed in an urban adventure with Derrick Story and Mike Boening for the San Francisco Street Photography event. Then in June, we're flying high by combining coverage of the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Festival combined with our first ever drone photography workshop. We wrap up the season in late September by exploring the magical Lassen Volcanic National Park and the lyrical Burney Falls. Plus, we have special surprises planned for each event.

The Nimble Classrooms

For those who plan on staying home this year, we've also launched the second season of our Nimble Classroom Series with online classes for Luminar, Capture One Pro 11, and Photos for macOS High Sierra. Just like with all of our workshops, we limit the number of participants to ensure a quality experience.

Portfolio Reviews

For those who want one-on-one feedback for a collection of a dozen of their images, I'm offering portfolio reviews in 2018 as well. They can be scheduled in person when you may be in town or we're attending the same conference, or you're already attending one of the TDS workshops. Or we can conduct them online as well.

I'll be in Las Vegas on Jan. 8th and 9th. And online appointments will be available starting in February 2018. If you're interested in a portfolio review, just use the Contact Form on The Nimble Photographer site.

Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training Available

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on lynda.com. Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

3 Libraries, 1 Low Price

So I've been talking about all of the royalty free content I can download via my videoblocks account. They help expand your horizons by constantly introducing you to new items in their library. This week, however, I want to talk about the special offer for TDS Listeners: 3 Libraries, 1 Low Price - $149 for the entire year provides you with unlimited access to 615,000+ Videos, Audio Tracks, and Images.

The Patreon Mea Culpa

Here's what I received from my friends at Patreon last week:

Dear Creators,
From the bottom of our hearts, we're truly sorry. Last week's service fee announcement caused a tough week for you, your patrons, and your teams. We were trying to solve a problem for creators and, in turn, caused more problems for you and your patrons.
You've spoken loud and clear. We're not going to rollout the changes to our payments system that we announced last week, and are currently assessing other options.

So, even though we're back to our original agreement, I'm going to stick to the offer that I made last week. For January 2018, I will post 3 training movies instead of the scheduled two. The software will be Capture One Pro, Photos for macOS High Sierra, and for Luminar. Thanks so much for your support!

To become an Inner Circle Member, simple pledge $5 or more a month through the TDS Patreon program.

We have more benefits coming in 2018 for our Inner Circle Members. Join today and become part of the TDS Elite.

Updates and Such

Big thanks to all of our Patreon members!

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

Texas-based Red River Paper recently announced a new fine art paper, Palo Duro Etching. The new paper is a 100 percent cotton rag paper and is free of optical brightener additives. The paper is designed to offer warm white tones, deep blacks and a subtle texture to accurately recreate traditional darkroom fine art prints.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Videoblocks - Go to videoblocks.com/digitalstory to get all the stock video, audio, and images that you can imagine for just $149. Save on millions of studio-quality clips, tracks, and graphics.

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

With the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 PRO mounted on my PEN-F or the flagship OM-D E-M1 Mark II, I now feel like I can shoot anything, anywhere, at any time of day.

PC060514.jpg "The Charleston Club" - I started working with the 17mm PRO just like I would any street lens, during the day exploring the world. And it worked great in this environment. (Nice background BTW.)

Working with this lens is when I realized that f/1.2 really is different. Yes, you can better control the background with the wider aperture (as shown above). I had fallen in love with this feature using the 45mm PRO. But the 17mm version of the lens, with its wider, more versatile field of view (34mm equivalent) was confidence-inspiring in another way. It wasn't as much about the background as it was being able to shoot wide open and capture shots that I would normally have to bypass.

Dinner at Prohibition, SC "Dinner at Prohibition" - Olympus PEN-F with 17mm f/1.2, ISO 3200, f/1.2, 1/40th - Photo by Derrick Story.

One night in South Carolina, I decided to take the 17mm PRO mounted on my PEN-F instead of the E-M1. It was a nice looking tandem, and was reasonably portable. There was one point in the evening as we were waiting for our meals to arrive that I noticed a moment that seemed to capture the feeling of the night.

I held the PEN-F over my head and composed with the LCD. Even in this dimly-lit room at an awkward shooting angle, I was able to record the shot that was in my mind. This is when I began to feel that I could tackle any situation with this kit.

Night Ride "Night Ride" - Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 17mm f/1.2, ISO 800, f/1.2, 1/250th - Photo by Derrick Story.

I really pushed the envelope on a dark street in Charleston walking back to the hotel one night. We were admiring this bike shop and right on cue a cyclist came peddling down the street. I didn't really have time to configure my camera, so I just raised it to my eye and shot. I had no expectation for success. Yet, the image is what I hoped it would be.

There are many uses for the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 PRO. But as a street lens, you can mount it on your camera and shoot indoors, outdoors, and well into the night. It is the desert island lens for street photography.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

How often do you get to hang out with others who share your passion for photography, visit interesting places, learn new techniques, and enjoy good food all along the way? Probably not often enough. We can help you with that. The 2018 TDS Workshop Season is ready for your review. And we think you're going to like what you see.

Bay Bridge from Pier 14, San Francisco

Great Locations

In April you'll be immersed in an urban adventure with Derrick Story and Mike Boening for the San Francisco Street Photography event. Then in June, we're flying high by combining coverage of the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Festival combined with our first ever drone photography workshop. We wrap up the season in late September by exploring the magical Lassen Volcanic National Park and the lyrical Burney Falls. Plus, we have special surprises planned for each event.

Online Classes Too!

For those who plan on staying home this year, we've also launched the second season of our Nimble Classroom Series with online classes for Luminar, Capture One Pro 11, and Photos for macOS High Sierra. Just like with all of our workshops, we limit the number of participants to ensure a quality experience.

Reserve Your Spot Now

By getting on the reserve list via the TDS Workshops page, you can save your place at the front of the line. Those on the reserve list have the opportunity (but not the obligation) to secure a seat for the event of their choice. Using the Send Me Info form on the workshops page, simply choose the workshop you're interested in from the popup menu, then enter your name and email. Click on the Submit button. That's all there is to it.

reserve-list.png

I'll send you a confirmation letter to let you know you're on the list. At that time, you can respond with any questions you have about the event of your choice. Reservation forms with itineraries typically go out 90-120 days before the event. At that point you can sign up for the workshop and pay the course fees.

We specialize in personal service. So we're here to answer any questions you have. Use the Send Me Info form to get the ball rolling.

Hope to work with you in 2018!

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

For those projects that require that you use Photoshop or another specialized imaging application, you can summon the Edit With command in Photos for macOS High Sierra.

Edit-with-command-2.jpg

By doing so, you can continue to use Photos as your organizing library, but take advantage of the extensive toolset in Photoshop. The trick is to apply Edit With outside of the normal editing mode in Photos. Here's a video that walks you through all of the steps.

Edit With for external editors from Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training by Derrick Story

In my testing, Edit With worked great with Photoshop. But performance varied with other applications. So some trial and error will be required. But when everything falls into line, this adds helpful roundtripping to your Photos app. And sometimes that's just what you need.

New Photos for macOS High Sierra Training!

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on lynda.com. Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

The Top 5 Photography Products of 2017

This is The Digital Story Podcast #613, Dec. 12, 2017. Today's theme is "The Top 5 Photography Products of 2017." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

It's been a good year for photography announcements. Across the board we've seen both innovations and refinements. But at the end of the day, what were the five that really stood out? I'm going to share mine, in no particular order, on today's TDS podcast.

The Top 5 Photography Products of 2017

dji-spark-flight-1024.jpg The DJI Spark is one of my top photography picks for 2017.

The DJI Spark ($349) - This compact quadcopter features an integrated camera with motorized stabilization to capture 12MP photos, 1080p Full HD videos, and even aerial selfies. The drone's compact size, 31 mph top speed, and up to 16 minutes of flight time will appeal to a variety of users, from FPV enthusiasts to racers to those just looking for more dynamic shots than are possible with simply a smartphone or camcorder. The drone features GPS- and vision-based navigation for outdoor or indoor use, a variety of flight modes, and a 3D obstacle-detection system.

Nikon D850 ($3,297) - Revolving around a newly designed 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor and proven EXPEED 5 image processor, the D850 is clearly distinguished by its high resolution for recording detailed imagery. The back-illuminated design of the sensor is able to acquire greater detail and clarity when working in low-light conditions, and the sensor also forgoes an optical low-pass filter for improved sharpness. Working in conjunction with the sensor is the EXPEED 5 image processor, which together afford a 7 fps continuous shooting rate for up to 51 consecutive frames, an expandable sensitivity range from ISO 32 to 102400, and 4K UHD video recording using either a DX crop or the entire area of the full-frame sensor.

Sony Alpha a7R III ($3,198) - Revolving around a full-frame 42.4MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor and updated BIONZ X image processor, the a7R III affords an impressive 10 fps continuous shooting rate along with improved autofocus performance for faster, more reliable subject tracking along with wide frame coverage. This updated Fast Hybrid AF System employs a combination of 399 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection areas for quicker acquirement of focus in a variety of lighting conditions, and also maintains focus on subjects more effectively. In addition to speed and AF, the processing improvements also help to realize greater image clarity throughout the sensitivity range from ISO 100-32000, which can further be expanded to ISO 50-102400. Video recording capabilities have also been extended for enhanced quality when recording UHD 4K video with the full width of the full-frame sensor, or when using a Super35 area and 5K oversampling to minimize moiré and aliasing. Additionally, benefitting both stills and video operation, the a7R III retains the 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE sensor-shift image stabilization, which is now effective to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to 5.5 stops.

Apple iPhone X ($999) - A larger and faster 12MP sensor. A new color filter. Deeper pixels. And a new telephoto camera with OIS.

Olympus TG-5 ($399) - Utilizing a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor and TruePic VIII image processor, the TG-5 offers notable image clarity and low-light performance, to ISO 12800, along with fast 20 fps continuous shooting, 4K/30p video recording, and high-speed Full HD 1080p shooting at 120 fps. Balancing the imaging capabilities is a versatile 4x optical zoom lens, which spans a 25-100mm equivalent range, and has an f/2 maximum aperture to benefit working in low-light conditions. Additionally, the Variable Macro System also positions this lens for close-up shooting with subjects just one centimeter away for true macro photography.

Comparing the Olympus 45mm Primes - f/1.2 vs f/1.8

The Olympus 45mm f/1.8 actually fared quite well in my field tests. It rendered pleasing bokeh, excellent sharpness, and fast performance. It's no wonder that I carry this lens with me all the time. In fact, I have two of them, one black and one silver, to match the camera that I'm packing.

The new Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO takes this performance to a higher level, however. First, the feather bokeh is different than any of my other optics. For lack of a better term, I would call it very artistic. The backgrounds have a painterly feel to them.

When I look at the f/1.2 images, the thought of bokeh doesn't jump out at me. Rather, I'm thinking more about an overall pleasing composition with outstanding subject sharpness and beautifully rendered background. In many ways, I feel like this is an optic for grownups (with grownup resources).

The sharpness is downright amazing. The portraits are crisp in all the right places, and softened where they should be. I honestly feel like the lens is doing most of the work for me. All I have to do is compose and focus on the eyes, and everything else just falls into place.

The improvements of the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 do come at a price, however. The lens weighs over 14 ounces compared to 4 ounces for the f/1.8 version. Plus the price is 3 times as much at $1,200, compared to $400 for its baby brother. And I think if you're really going to reap the benefits of the f/1.2, you need one of Olympus' Pro bodies, such as the E-M1 Mark II. Those are all real considerations.

So, is the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 PRO a must-have lens for you? It could be. If you're shooting with the E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, or E-M5 Mark II; regularly shoot portraits for hire or art, and have the budget for a $1,200 optic that is unlike any in its class, then I would say yes. It's magically impressive.

Most Downloaded Motion Backgrounds of 2017

So I've been talking about all of the royalty free content I can download via my videoblocks account. They help expand your horizons by constantly introducing you to new items in their library. This week, it was: Most Downloaded Motion Backgrounds of 2017. Here are just a few of the winners.

  • Fly through outer space nebula and stars
  • Abstract 1217
  • Worship 1017

Over the next few weeks, I'll be your tour guide for this site. But if you need content right now, you can join Videoblocks for $149 a year and gain access to great video, stills, and audio content. This is really a great idea...

A Patreon Change

A new service fee of 2.9 percent + $0.35 will be paid by patrons for each individual pledge starting on December 18th. This streamlines fees for both creators and patrons to ensure that you pay no more than 5 percent. That works out to an extra 50 cents per month for our members.

Since that wasn't the original agreement that we made, I'm going to make it up to you. For January 2018, I will post 3 training movies instead of the scheduled two. The software will be Capture One Pro, Photos for macOS High Sierra, and for Luminar. My hope is that the extra movie will make up for the additional 50 cents per month. Thanks so much for your support!

To become an Inner Circle Member, simple pledge $5 or more a month through the TDS Patreon program.

We have more benefits coming in 2018 for our Inner Circle Members. Join today and become part of the TDS Elite.

Updates and Such

Big thanks to all of our Patreon members!

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

Texas-based Red River Paper recently announced a new fine art paper, Palo Duro Etching. The new paper is a 100 percent cotton rag paper and is free of optical brightener additives. The paper is designed to offer warm white tones, deep blacks and a subtle texture to accurately recreate traditional darkroom fine art prints.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Videoblocks - Go to videoblocks.com/digitalstory to get all the stock video, audio, and images that you can imagine for just $149. Save on millions of studio-quality clips, tracks, and graphics.

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

kim-sc-45mm.jpg

One of my favorite Olympus optics is the 45mm f/1.8. It's sharp, compact, and it sports a wide aperture. It also looks great on my PEN-F. So I was anxious to get my hands on the newly announced Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO. It promises even better sharpness and smoother bokeh. My wish came true this week in Charleston, South Carolina.

I spent some time there with the Olympus team and a small group of journalists. We had at our disposal an E-M1 Mark II, and the family of PRO prime lenses: 17mm, 25mm, and 45mm f/1.2s. Even though I did a lot of work with the 17mm as well, I'm going to focus on the 45mm for this post.

I also packed my own kit that included the f/1.8 versions of both lenses, and the Olympus PEN-F. So I was able to field test both 45mm optics side by side. This is a hands-on test, so I just shot as I normally would with both optics to I can give you a feel for their differences in the field. This isn't a lab test. Here's how things stacked up.

A Look at Bokeh

There were three categories that I used for comparison: type of bokeh, sharpness, and focusing speed. During our technical briefings, Olympus talked about 3 categories of bokeh that most optics fall into: ring, solid, and feather.

The new Olympus 45mm f/1.2 employs the feather style bokeh while the f/1.8 optic displays solid style bokeh. Here's a bokeh comparison of the two lenses. Notice the difference in how the background is rendered.

Olympus 45mm f/1.2 PRO Feather bokeh with the 45mm f/1.2 at f/1.2

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Solid bokeh with the 45mm f/1.8 at f/1.8

Impressive Sharpness

Even though it's very difficult to achieve, bokeh style is really an artistic preference. Sharpness, on the other hand, is much more analytical. The trick for a portrait lens is to provide sharpness, especially for the eyes, without rendering the skin with too much texture.

Of all the categories for comparison with the f/1.2, its sharpness is what impressed me the most. Not only was I able to capture a very sharp eye with the aperture wide open, the other eye was also rendered clearly. So I didn't have to battle the unforgiving minimal depth of field challenge that I typically face when shooting portraits at f/1.2.

Olympus 45mm f/1.2 PRO Eye sharpness with the 45mm f/1.2 at f/1.2. Click on the image to view the full-sized version on Flickr where you can zoom in.

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Eye sharpness with the 45mm f/1.8 at f/1.8. Click on the image to view the full-sized version on Flickr where you can zoom in.

With the 45mm f/1.2, when focusing on the eyes for a straight-on portrait, they were both extremely sharp, as well as the lashes, brows, and lips. Yet the nose had a slight softening (desired) and falloff was apparent with the hair around the face, mild to very soft, moving from front to back.

I didn't do anything special to achieve this effect. I simply set the E-M1 Mark II to ISO 200, Aperture Priority at f/1.2, and went about my shooting as I normally would. I tried both "focus hold and recompose" as well as "eye detection" modes. Both worked great.

The images shown here were opened as RAW files in Lightroom, then exported as full-sized Jpegs without any processing - no enhancements of any type other than Lightroom's RAW decoding algorithms. You can download the full-sized Jpegs from my Flickr site.

45mm-f-1pt2-cutaway.jpg

Swift Focusing

When you look at the cross-section for the 45mm f/1.2, note that the focusing mechanism is at the back of the lens. The front element doesn't move. The focusing elements only have to travel a short distance from close-up to infinity. This allows for very fast focusing speeds, which was also quite accurate.

Bottom Line

The Olympus 45mm f/1.8 actually fared quite well in my field tests. It rendered pleasing bokeh, excellent sharpness, and fast performance. It's no wonder that I carry this lens with me all the time. In fact, I have two of them, one black and one silver, to match the camera that I'm packing.

Olympus 45mm f/1.2 PRO Object sharpness with the 45mm f/1.2 at f/1.2. Click on the image to view the full-sized version on Flickr where you can zoom in.

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Object sharpness with the 45mm f/1.8 at f/1.8. Click on the image to view the full-sized version on Flickr where you can zoom in.

The new Olympus 45mm f/1.2 PRO takes this performance to a higher level, however. First, the feather bokeh is different than any of my other optics. For lack of a better term, I would call it very artistic. The backgrounds have a painterly feel to them.

When I look at the f/1.2 images, the thought of bokeh doesn't jump out at me. Rather, I'm thinking more about an overall pleasing composition with outstanding subject sharpness and beautifully rendered background. In many ways, I feel like this is an optic for grownups (with grownup resources).

The sharpness is downright amazing. The portraits are crisp in all the right places, and softened where they should be. I honestly feel like the lens is doing most of the work for me. All I have to do is compose and focus on the eyes, and everything else just falls into place.

The improvements of the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 do come at a price, however. The lens weighs over 14 ounces compared to 4 ounces for the f/1.8 version. Plus the price is 3 times as much at $1,200, compared to $400 for its baby brother. And I think if you're really going to reap the benefits of the f/1.2, you need one of Olympus' Pro bodies, such as the E-M1 Mark II. Those are all real considerations.

So, is the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 PRO a must-have lens for you? It could be. If you're shooting with the E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, or E-M5 Mark II; regularly shoot portraits for hire or art, and have the budget for a $1,200 optic that is unlike any in its class, then I would say yes. It's magically impressive.

Specs Comparison

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8

  • Minimum Focus Distance 1.64' (50 cm)
  • Elements/Groups 9/8
  • Diaphragm Blades 7, Rounded
  • Dimensions Approx. 2.20" x 1.81" (56 x 46 mm)
  • Weight 4.09 oz (116 g)
  • Price $399

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO

  • Minimum Focus Distance 1.64' (50 cm)
  • Elements/Groups 14/10
  • Diaphragm Blades 9, Rounded
  • Dimensions Approx. 2.76 x 3.34" (70 x 84.9 mm)
  • Weight 14.46 oz (410 g)
  • Price $1,199

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Live View on an iPhone is fun, but the Long Exposure mode that you can tap afterward is even better.

To create dreamy water effects, just make sure that Live Photo is on with your iPhone. Hold the camera very steady during exposure, and keep your position for a few seconds afterward. This ensures that the stationary objects in the composition will be sharp.

live-view-mode.jpg Choose your "view" of Live View in Photos for macOS. Image by Derrick Story.

llong-exposure-applied.png Water is far more interesting after Long Exposure is applied.

Then, open the image in Photos for macOS High Sierra. Go to Edit mode (press the Return key to do so), and edit the image as your normally would. Adjust color, contrast, etc. Once you're finished, click on the Live popup menu in the lower right corner and choose Long Exposure. Then just sit back and admire.

The combination of Live Photo and Long Exposure enables you to capture flowing water shots without a tripod. It's really something.

New Photos for macOS High Sierra Training!

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on lynda.com. Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Changing Portrait Mode on the Fly

The last thing that photo subjects want when we're taking their picture is for us to waste a lot of time fooling with our camera. If you're using Portrait Mode on a recent model iPhone, you may be tempted to scroll through the options at the point of capture. There's really no need to... that is if you're using Photos for macOS High Sierra to manage your images.

portrait-mode.jpg

When you open your Portrait Mode image in Photos, and go to editing mode, you'll see all of the same options that were available at capture. So if you recorded in Natural, but decided later that you wanted Studio, you can make that change in Photos. No pressure, no problem.

So, just make sure you're in any Portrait mode, then fire away. Your photo subjects will thank you.

New Photos for macOS High Sierra Training!

Is it time for you to learn the ins and outs of the latest version of Photos? Take a look at Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning, or on lynda.com. Maximize your iPhone photography and complement the work you do with your mirrorless cameras as well. You'll love your cameras even more...

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.