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My go to lens

There are situations when we can't afford to change lenses or we just do not want to do it. Skiing, ski tours, climbing, glacier hiking in a team with ropes, when nobody waits you reach your backpack to get your lens and switch it.

We are in a hurry, the day is short, time is pressing, the team gets nervous at each stop, and let's face it: we are not just taking outdoor photography, but we're in the mountains having a plan to implement.
So far, in such situations, I decided to use a lens with a large focal length range, ie 14-150, but it is a budget lens with some flaws and far from the PRO series. Of course it is better to take a picture with a worse lens than not to take it at all. That's why when I reached for this lens I decided to make a compromise - worse quality than in PRO lenses at the expense of the possibility of taking
a picture.

The compromise is not needed when we have a lens with a wide focal range from the PRO series. Fortunately, we have a lens of great quality in the system with a very universal focal length range.

E-M1 MIII • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO • 17mm • 1/60s • F4.0 • ISO320

Personally, I have always been very skeptical about lenses with a large focal range. I never thought that the M.Zuiko 12-100mm would become a lens that is so often present in my bag, and I even go on trips where I do not detach this lens from the body.

I can take photos of the events right in front of me as well as those at a greater distance at the same time. It was enough for me to work the lens for a few days to make all my doubts disappear. Now I do not leave without it when going for taking photos. When, for example, I was photographing dalmatian pelicans, I could use one lens for taking pictures of birds in flight as well as those just right next to their beaks.

Another strong point of this lens is that it is another one in Micro Four Third system with stabilization.

Like others: M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 300mm f / 4 IS PRO, M.Zuiko 150-400mm F / 4.5 TC 1.25x IS PRO. Previously, all system lenses lacked stabilization because it took place at the camera level thanks to a movable matrix.

 E-M1 MII • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO • 100mm • 1/1250s • F5.6 • ISO200

For some time stabilization in lenses has been cooperating with matrix stabilization in IS SYNC mode and such a solution gives amazing results. One stabilization gets along with the other, giving opportunities that are not provided by any of them separately. Of course even good stabilization will not solve all our problems, because if we have a fast moving object in the frame, even if the photo is possible to take handheld for half a second, a running animal, a flying bird or a whale jumping over the water surface will be unsharp and blurry. Then we have no choice but to use short exposure times.

However, if there are no such objects in the frame and we cannot afford to take a tripod with us, stabilization with this set allows us to do a lot. After attaching the lens to the EM-1X or EM 1III camera, with a little practice, we can take sharp handheld  photos times longer than one second at a focal length of 100 mm.

 E-M1 MX • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO • 12mm • 124s • F4.5 • ISO64

When we shoot with a camera without image stabilization, according to the generally accepted rule, the exposure time should not exceed the reciprocal of the focal length which is the equivalent for 35mm film. What does it mean? Well, it just means that with a lens with the equivalent focal length of 200 mm, we should not set the time longer than 1/200s. This, of course, depends on our skills too. Like the ability to press the shutter button or maintaining a stable position. But, the possibility of reducing this needed time is rather small.

It is worth answering the question whether it is better to take a photo with a longer time and lower sensitivity using image stabilization (e.g. 1/4 s at ISO sensitivity of 200 at a focal length of 200 mm equivalent) or maybe chasing larger image sensors that give the possibility of improving ISO. For example, if we decide to use a camera without stabilization in the same lighting conditions with a lens equivalent to 200 mm, we should set the ISO 12800 sensitivity so that the photo is not moved.

 E-M1 MII • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO • 57mm • 1/60s • F4.0 • ISO200

As we know, with the same aperture, a two-fold reduction in the exposure time requires a two-fold increase in sensitivity. The table below shows the times and sensitivities. On the left – time, and on the right – the sensitivity we use at a given aperture.

Exposure ISO sensitivy
1/4 s ISO 200
1/8 s ISO 400
1/16 s ISO 800
1/32 s ISO 1600
1/64 s ISO 3200
1/128 s ISO 6400
1/256 s ISO 12800

As you can see, when using double stabilization, in many cases I am able to get sharp photos at much longer times and thanks to this I do not need to use high sensitivity, thanks to which the quality of the photo is higher and the noise is significantly weaker.

 E-M1 MIII • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO • 70mm • 1/125s • F9.0 • ISO800

The lens itself is made very carefully and as soon as we take it in our hand we can feel the quality of workmanship known from the PRO series lenses. The focus ring works with a pleasant resistance and the focusing ring is equipped with a clutch known from other PRO lenses. After moving it towards you, the distance scale appears and you can quickly switch from S-AF or C-AF to MF mode without the need to press any buttons on the camera body. Additionally, we have a stabilization switch on the body and the L-Fn function button to which we can assign a function of our choice.

The seals are great, as I have seen many times when photographing in difficult weather conditions or even during the Holi Festival in India, where microscopic colored dust was ubiquitous and I found it even in closed containers for memory cards. I have never been disappointed with the seals and I personally think that the lens will withstand much tougher conditions than described in the manual.

 E-M1 MII • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO • 17mm • 1/1250s • F4.0 • ISO200

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