My Love Affair with the Panasonic Lumix 14mm F2.5 Pancake Lens – Perfect for Landscapes!

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I want to share briefly my experience with the amazing, Panasonic Lumix 14mm F2.5 Pancake lens. It’s beautiful, ultra small and compact and a joy to shoot with. Combine it with the adventurous Olympus OM-D E-M5 and you have quite a professional and pocket-able mini-landscape combo! I’ve shot with this lens both on Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras; the G1, GF1 as well as the E-P2! The lens looks perfect on all these camera bodies and significantly smaller than the legendary Panasonic 20mm F1.7 Pancake.

My first impression of this lens, when I first got it in the mail, was how dinky it was in size and the feeling was somewhat bitter-sweet! However the lens quickly grew on me and I’ve began using it as my primary wide-angle because of the ease of use and it looks very streamlined with the Olympus cameras. I like it better than the Zuiko 17mm F2.8 Pancake that I have. BTW, the old Olympus 17mm got a really bad rap, but I really love the sharpness and quality of that lens. Maybe I’ll post another short review with image examples shot on the E-P2, since that lens has also created some superb landscapes with my talent, of course.

Yes, I did own the legendary super wide-angle Panasonic 7-14mm lens but it was real bulky and unable to accept screw-on filters which left something to be desired… It produced some stunning landscapes for me over a few years time and I loved it but ended up selling it on eBay while keeping the 14mm pancake! As a standard wideangle, it’s not super-wide, but it’s adequate for any landscape or architectural work. It is capable and adequate for professional work as well. I’m not the type of guy that buys into all the marketing hype and I’m definitely not a pixel-peeper either. The photo of my feet, wearing Chacos above the San Juan Goosenecks was captured with the same Pancake. This photo example was good enough to get accepted in a Santa Fe art gallery along with some of my other prints that will be on exhibition soon at the Jezebel Gallery in New Mexico. The great thing about the 14mm lens is that it’s a prime.  I prefer prime fixed focal length lenses versus zooms which is probably another reason why I chose to sell the Panasonic 7-14mm When I was shooting the Panasonic super-wide zoom, I was always shooting at the widest field of view; 7mm and I miss having that capability of course. What would be really cool is if Olympus or Panasonic could engineer a super-wide prime (not a fisheye) that could produce good outstanding results? I would invest money in such a lens especially at the 7mm focal length!

In this short post, I’ve included real world results of my work with this lens to demonstrate it’s characteristics and show you it’s capable of some serious work. I’m very happy with the results I have gotten so far and have taken many photos with it on my OM-D!

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For a pancake lens I was mesmerized by the quality of the glass. This is the San Juan Goose-necks near the Navajo (Diné) Reservation in the Four Corners region. This image was shot with a Panasonic GF1. The rest of the images below were shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M5. All the images were post-processed on an iPhone using Snapseed and Pixlr Express, and Instagram Filters. All photos were shot in Jpeg right off the OM-D with minimal processing except for using filters and lightening shadows in the dark areas of some of the photos.

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The following photos were below were during flash flood that took place in Zion National Park in July of 2013. while hiking with my best friend, Omar Hernandez. We got stuck in a massive cloudburst, and water started to come off the cliffs forming instant water falls. Back in 2008, I was stuck in a flood in Havasupai which gave me a lot of experiences under such dire circumstances and this definitely was not the first time I’ve been holed up by flash flooding. It was sure a beautiful day to take pics though out on the Angels Landing Trail.

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In conclusion, I would highly recommend this lens for any dedicated Micro Four Thirds user. It is a wonderful little lens at a dirt cheap price that you cannot beat being that it’s a prime. It’s perfect for adventurers and hikers who want to travel light. I got my lens on eBay, brand new for around $150 dollars. That’s unbeatable! You get excellent image quality in a compact package. It’s a joy to shoot and reinvigirates my excitement to do photography every time I shoot. I love the Micro Four Thirds camera system and the variety of lenses available for the format. I was first introduced to Micro Four Thirds while attending the 2008 PMA convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. It prompted me to sell off my Nikon equipment. Stay tuned for more interesting posts…

Winning a Leica M9 Monochrom & $20K!

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I did a crazy thing today and spent a measely $20 dollars on an incredible black and white photo contest in the hopes of winning an $8,000 dollar Leica M9 Monochrome and $20,000 in cash. This was a good deal. Mind you, this is the first time I have ever entered a photo contest of any sort, The fact that I love Leica so much is what pushed me over the edge. If there’s a snowballs chance in hell that I win, I would put some of that money towards a Leica Noctilux-m 50mm f/.95 lens. My brother tends to disagree on how good Leica is. He says they are a bunch of hype and I should know better but Leica isn’t just a Red Dot brand for rich yuppies, it is one of the oldest and most respected companies in the history of photography. I’ve done the research, frequented enough technical forums, and have always been impressed with the quality images that come from Leica users . So I plan on getting one someday. Until then, I’m stuck shooting the poor-man’s Leicas: My trusty Olympus E-P2 and OM-D E-M5.

The dead cow photo above is what I chose to submit, not in hopes of winning, but because it represents my vision. As an artist making an honest assessment, It’s my worldview when shooting Landscape Photography that not everything in nature is pristine. I’m chuckling as I write this because it’s a statement against some of the nature photographers in general that like everything untouched and undisturbed before they can compose a picture. It’s ludicrous when in reality, nothing is unscathed even in the national parks. What’s wrong with airplane trails and power-lines being apart of the intended wilderness? Embrace them. In my humble opinion human-kind is apart of the wild and cannot be removed from it. I wonder how this dead cow would have been rendered using Leica glass? Trust me, German glass is superior!

Of course, you don’t have to believe me. Everyone swears by certain brands but some are simply more endearing that others to use. Leica is my favorite company of choice because their whole system is dedicated to the advanced art of manual focusing and the red dot is simply amazing! I won’t go so far as to claim that only real photographers shoot Leica, but I will say some of the most serious street photographers and world famous photojournalists have used Leica since the early days. It’s a serious tradition. Life is short and you may as well go the whole nine yards! So cheers to my favorite brand.

 

Shooting for the Big Times: Kickstarter, Instagram and a Road Trip to New Mexico!

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This week, I travel to New Mexico with several opportunities to shoot photos of various landscapes using micro four thirds cameras. The photo above is one of my recent travels to Area 51 in the Nevada desert! Off in the distance is the little town of Rachel, Nevada on the border of a secret military base. The trip to New Mexico is one of many that I have planned for 2013 and this one will be a Kickstarter photo project that has yet to be made public. We are keeping it a secret because it is such a good idea! This is going to be great, because I’m taking nothing but a bunch of manual focus lenses and a few autofocus lenses for backup. I’ll clue you in, the photo project has something to do with zombies and their homeland. The bulk of the work will begin later this July. My brother, Joe already has a successful Kickstarter under his belt to mass produce indestructible ocarinas. They are also known as a flutes designed to fit perfectly into your pocket while withstanding the most rigorous abuse. A little over six months ago my brother, Joseph Cowlishaw quit his day job to follow this dream to become an entrepreneur and master flute-maker. He’s been doing clay and ceramics since high school but started making flutes back in 2003 and has never stopped. You can check out his startup company called Wowflutes.

For the last six months, we have been combining our creative efforts to form a collaborative. My company is Talking Tree Photo and we started networking and marketing on most of the major visual social networks. Instagram has worked very well for both of us, and my brother had one of his images featured on the main Instagram feed on Sunday, June 30th, 2013. Check out this last screen capture of his image at the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

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We were surprised that they chose his image and it gave him quite a bit exposure. We both have pretty good followings on there and we are working to reach out to those who have been showing support for our efforts. My feed got popular, because some of my photos reminded fellow instagrammers of the Coen Brother’s film; No Country for Old Men. Later, fans from the AMC TV shows; Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, began comparing my images to scenes from both shows. This prompted me to become familiar with both series and compare their styles with my own; the similarities were quite revealing. I really enjoy the specific cinematography of Breaking Bad by Michael Slovis.

New Mexico is definitely one of the most photogenic places in the Desert Southwest, and probably my favorite state right now. I’m looking forward to my trip there this week and will document the details of my trip here on the blog. My brother and I keep comparing notes about the Coen Brothers, and they are an inspiration to me. Their work has influenced my vision about the Desert Southwest as I create a portrait of what America is all about in the post-modern era. I look forward to the future and what these creative ventures will yield. Life is short but adventure is always out there, waiting. You’ve just gotta believe in yourself!

Some Dreams Die

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Some dreams are left unfulfilled and the people who built those dreams have passed on to the spirit world. This is all that’s left in the temporal world. So work hard to fulfill those goals because life is ever so short. Already, I’m caught in the bind of trying to figure out quickly what to do with my life because it passes by so fast. This is the abandoned dream house.