Zooming in: A great little telephoto lens for outdoor pix

Morro Bay sandspit, shot with Olympus 40-150mm micro four-thirds telephoto lens.
Morro Bay sandspit, shot with Olympus 40-150mm micro four-thirds telephoto lens.

Always seeking to lighten my load when hiking, backpacking or just traveling in general, I switched cameras from Panasonic Lumix (several over the years) to an Olympus OM-D E-M5 several years ago. The little Olympus is a mirrorless micro four thirds compact SLR that rivals full-size SLRs when it comes to image quality, and certainly beats them when it comes to weight. Although I loved my Lumix, I had a bad habit of breaking them, and was looking for something lightweight with interchangeable lenses.

Nearly two years later, I’m enjoying the Olympus, even though it’s not the most user-friendly camera in the world. I kind of don’t have the patience for all the dweeby programmable functions, so I end up mostly using the automatic settings. So far, I’m very pleased with the image quality and love the weather sealing (anticipating the next kayak dumping). It takes great landscape shots. The problem was the 12-50mm kit lens that came with the camera was just not enough magnification for wildlife and other outdoor subjects. Olympus with telephoto

Luckily, Santa/domestic partner gifted me with a kickin’ Olympus 40-150-mm telephoto for Christmas, and now that I’ve had several months to play with it, I’m very happy. The equivalent of 80-300mm in a 35mm, this little Olympus 40-150mm is small but mighty.

 

 

Pelican taken from a kayak on Morro Bay. Exposure 1/800 sec., f/8; ISO 200.
Pelican taken from a kayak on Morro Bay. Exposure: 1/800 sec., f/8, ISO 200.

The lens is fast and brings wildlife in close, capturing sharp images, and, at a compact 6.7 ounces, is super lightweight. I still can’t fit it in my pocket, like I could the Lumix, but I often keep it around my neck or slung across my shoulder, with very little added weight.

Not long after I got the camera, I bought a wide-angle 17mm Olympus pancake lens, which is great for landscapes, but doesn’t do much for zooming in on distant objects. I do love the landscape images I get with this wide-angle lens:

Cayucos pier, captured with Olympus 40-150mm micro four-thirds telephoto lens.
Cayucos pier, captured with Olympus 17mm micro four-thirds pancake lens. Exposure 1/640 sec., f/11, ISO 200.

Once I got the  little 40-150mm telephoto, it was time to start zooming in. I started with finches in my backyard:

Finches at feeder, taken from across the yard with the Olympic 40-150mm telephoto. Exposure: 1/450 sec., f 5.6, ISO 640.
Taken from across the yard with the Olympus 40-150mm telephoto. Exposure: 1/450 sec., f 5.6, ISO 640.

Then it was on to the Rose Parade:

Good detail of Rose Parade float.
Up close and personal Rose Parade float. Exposure: 1/640 sec., f/8, ISO 200.
Pretty sharp image of float.
Pretty sharp image of Disney Frozen float. Exposure: 1/500, f/8, ISO 200.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and I don't know who else, on L.A.'s float.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and I don’t know who else, on L.A.’s float. Exposure: 1/640 sec., f/9, ISO 200.
I think this was the always colorful and creative Trader Joe's float.
I think this was the always colorful and creative Trader Joe’s float. Exposure: 1/500 sec., f/8, ISO 200.

All in all, the Olympus OM-D M-5 is a great camera for shooting in the outdoors, and adding a compact telephoto lens provides sharp images without breaking (the compact) budget.

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Speaking of fires….brushfire in foothills of San Gabriels

See? Told you it was a bad fire season. That pretty pink sunset/smoke cloud is courtesy of a brushfire burning in the San Gabriel Mountains foothills above Azusa, CA, in the eastern San Gabriel Valley.photo

It’s burning in Fish Canyon, the site of another recent fire. This area is unbelievably dense with brush, so no surprise when a blaze starts.

Fish Canyon is also home to one of the gnarliest hikes in SoCal. The steep and nearly inaccessible trail leads to a waterfall that only flows (usually) in winter. It starts at a rock quarry (lovely, right?) and can be done as a long ass-kicking hike, or a shorter one that requires a shuttle from said quarry, but only on scheduled days, usually in the spring and early summer. You can read about it here.

Maybe the recent fires will clear some brush (and not harm any creatures human or otherwise) and make that hike a little less gnarly.