Cameras for landscape.



Been away for a week now on a stock shooting trip to the South West of the UK. I left in good weather with a weather forecast that seemed to indicate that summer might be re-appearing, at least for a while. However the UK is never that simple. Things changed and a planned move to another part of the country was cancelled because of the weather. As indicated in the last two posts, low pressure systems have started moving in from the south west and the fine settled conditions that I started with have changed. There's more rain about, its slightly colder and I'm having to work round the weather. 


For a landscape photographer working in the UK this is not unusual and often with patience, low pressure systems can produce some of the best pictures.


This was a panoramic stitch taken in late evening light, in good weather.






Olympus E-P2 LEICA D VARIO-ELMAR 14-150mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ MEGA O.I.S

Location - Croyde Bay Devon
Equipment - Olympus E-P2 Leica Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6
Multi-image panoramic stitch

In terms of equipment, this is again an DSLR less trip. I have the Leica M9 & X1, Panasonic GH1 and Olympus E-P2 with me. The Vario-Elmar 14-150 is proving very useful as I thought it would on trips like this. An all in one zoom is incredibly useful. 

Another panoramic stitch.

PANASONIC GH1 LEICA D VARIO-ELMAR 14-150mm/F3.5-5.6

Location - Crow Point Peninsula Devon
Equipment - Panasonic Lumix GH1 Leica Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6
Multi-image panoramic stitch

With the quality of the 14-150mm zoom I have less reservations about single shots. Knowing that the images are going to be blown up to 48MB + files, I've always been inclined to shoot landscape images on m4/3 by the multi-image > combine in software method. This then produces high quality large files. However interpolating files shot with the Vario-Elmar zoom has produced very satisfactory results that, while not approaching M9, or even X1 quality, are nonetheless perfectly acceptable for magazine printing up to A3 double-page spreads. 

Below is an image that had a huge dynamic range. By bracketing and with some follow-up work in Photoshop I was able to produce an image I was happy with. The rocks in the foreground are very dark, but the high contrast works for me and concentrates on the important elements in the image. Whether m4/3 will ever come up with a better dynamic range remains to be seen. It would certainly make things a lot easier.

PANASONIC GH1 LEICA D VARIO-ELMAR 14-150mm/F3.5-5.6

Location - Lee Bay Devon
Equipment - Panasonic Lumix GH1 Leica Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6


The next image shows the excellent detail the lens is capable of. It also has a nice rendition of the out-of-focus areas. This can be somewhat unpleasant on superzooms, but the Panasonic/Leica does this very well.

PANASONIC GH1 LEICA D VARIO-ELMAR 14-150mm/F3.5-5.6

Location - Ilfracombe Harbour Devon
Equipment - Panasonic Lumix GH1 Leica Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6

On days with flatter light I have used the Olympus E-P2 with the Lumix 20mm f1.7. The following image was taken with that combination. This remote cottage has been used in films and TV programmes and is only reachable by a 3 mile round trip on foot. It is available for rent as a holiday cottage but only if you like truly getting away from everything. Because of the flat light, I boosted the contrast in Photoshop.

Olympus E-P2 Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7 pancake lens

Location - Blackpool Mill Cottage Devon
Equipment - Panasonic Lumix GH1 20mm f1.7 pancake lens.
Multi-image panoramic stitch

The image has a real remote isolated Scottish Highlands feel, though taken at the opposite end of the country.

I've used the Leica M9 somewhat sparingly. I did take it down to a beach on a windy day and even risked standing in the sea to take some pictures. Knowing the M9's lack of weather sealing I was careful not to get splashed. I shot a lot of pictures trying to get the waves with the wind blown spray on top of them. This was my most successful attempt and shooting into the light has produced a monochrome feel. It is a colour shot but doesn't look like it. There were lots of surfers about but this one is board free.

Leica M9 90mm f2.5 Summarit

Location - Putsborough Beach Devon
Equipment - Leica M9 90mm f2.5 Summarit-M

I've been taking the X1 along with me on most trips. Its so light and small it fits into my bag very easily. It really is a superb camera. 

The following image was difficult to create. I wanted a panorama with the red rock in the foreground and the headland behind. The foreground rock was very dark. I used the flash on the X1 for this and turned it off for the shots of the headland. I also focused on the rock firstly and then on the headland. I was hoping that photomerge in photoshop would be able to stitch all these images together. It did a great job, and even with an aperture of f5.6 everything is in focus.

Leica X1

Location - Lynmouth Devon
Equipment - Leica X1
Multi-image panoramic stitch

I used a similar technique for the following shot. The light was very different in the parts of the panorama that I wanted to create. The footpath was much darker than the field. I exposed "correctly" for the different elements and once again photomerge produced an excellent result. With some minor work in Photoshop I was able to produce this result which is very close to what I was seeing with my eyes. A single fixed exposure wouldn't have made this possible without having to lighten the footpath area. This would have resulted in a very noisy section of the image. This way the whole thing looks fine.

Leica X1

Location - Hartland Abbey Estate Devon
Equipment - Leica X1
Multi-image panoramic stitch

A final shot with the X1. No real problems with exposure. The original of this is 124MB and is superbly sharp and detailed. You would really be hard-pushed to tell the difference between that original and an image shot on medium format digital. 

Leica X1

Location - Hartland Quay Devon
Equipment - Leica X1
Multi-image panoramic stitch

So the trip is going well. The plan is for another 6 days as long as the weather remains workable. Its been a pleasure working with these small cameras, and the quality of the images they are producing is extremely high. I'm using the best lenses I have and the results speak for themselves. I'm certainly not missing a DSLR and these alternatives are doing the job just fine.

Words - D
Images - D & A