Does f/22 have any uses with MFT cameras?

Started Oct 15, 2012 | Discussions thread
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FrankParis
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Does f/22 have any uses with MFT cameras?
Oct 15, 2012

This is really a rhetorical question, as I came to my own conclusions when I shot a long album entirely at f/22, using the Olympus 60mm macro lens on the E-M5 coupled with the Metz 15 MS-1 macro flash. The following is that album:

http://www.pbase.com/fjp/f22_2012_10_14

This album was meant to discover how useful MFT f/22 macro shots exposed by electronic flash are. In this case, the electronic flash is the Metz 15 MS-1 macro flash. I've heard over and over again that diffraction starts becoming noticeable in MFT lenses at f/11 and I've shot at f/16 without obvious image degradation, but this series demonstrated to me that f/22 is definitely pushing it too far. Resolution has sharply fallen off by then. But shooting at ISO200 doesn't produce much noticeable noise, just visible degradation of image resolution.

I could get away with shooting at ISO200 as long as I was shooting true macro or close to to it. But once I started shooting subjects of two or more feet away, the macro flash could not produce enough light for a good enough exposure when shooting at f/22, so I upped the ISO to 800 and then to 1280. Now noise was really high. But oddly, it was only obvious at full resolution. After reducing them to 1024x768 for this album and moderate sharpening, the noise was 90% processed away!

One thing I have to work on is capturing modeling at macro distances. All these images look very flat, even though I deliberately chose subjects with lots of depth, even the tree bark shots. You'd never know it looking at them.

To correct this problem, I could try using only one side of the macro flash. I haven't experimented with that much. Or I could use my Metz 58 hot-shoe flash, especially if the flash is off-camera, which I'll be able to do later this week because a flash shoe extension chord is coming in the mail. Unfortunately, it's going to be pouring rain all week starting now.

In my day, you could see images like this by taking psychedelic drugs. Today you probably have to take drugs to really appreciate these images. Or just like colorful and contrasty abstract patterns. I'm constantly amazed by the tremendous variety of patterns in the bark of the little woods I photographed.

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Frank Paris

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