Category Archives: Rokinon

My FZ1000 at an Air Show.

Wow, I can’t believe how fast time flies!  The 2015 Planes of Fame Air Show has already come and gone.  It’s one of my favorite photo events of the year.  Well, there was one thing new about it, they had an afterburner after dark feature.  This part of the show is exactly what it sounds like, and the F-18 and F-22 really delivered!  It was a lot of fun and made the usual Friday routine much better!  Oh, there was one more thing, I used my new camera, the Panasonic FZ1000.

As usual, I’m not here to do an exhaustive scientific review, but rather share my impressions after having used the FZ1000 for 3 days straight and making several thousand photos.  I’m also not doing an in-depth air show review, sorry.  Let’s just say that if you are in the Southern California area in May and you love vintage aircraft, including WWII Warbirds, late model Korean/Vietnam War era planes, and even some modern high tech jets, than you owe it to yourself to check out the Planes of Fame Air Show and Museum!  If you do go, bring your camera, plenty of memory cards and batteries, a wide brimmed hat, chair, and sun screen.

I actually had 3 cameras set up for the air show this year.  My trusty Canon 60D with Tamron 200-500mm lens, and the Olympus E-M5 with 7.5mm Rokinon Fisheye, Olympus 17mm f/1.8, and Panasonic 45-200mm.  I also brought along my Red Dot Sight (RDS) for my E-M5.  The idea was to use it instead of the electronic viewfinder (EVF).  I could keep both eyes open, put the red dot on my target, follow it in the sky and snap away.  It didn’t quite work out for me, more than likely because I need more practice.  So the RDS went back in the bag and while I did use the E-M5 from time to time, it mostly stayed in the bag.

My 60D and big Tamron always work.  And I did start out using them.  That is until I got the FZ1000 out of the bag.  It felt perfect in my hands.  Larger in size than my E-M5, and maybe even a bit bigger than my 60D’s body, but much lighter.  It has a much better viewfinder than my E-M5 (in my opinion), and shoots faster than the 60D or E-M5 (12 fps vs 5.5 fps and 9 fps).  And the best thing is that it does very well with fast moving objects, especially in good light, which was very plentiful.  Although I’ve read many, many reviews and personal accounts on the FZ1000’s performance, I was still impressed when I experienced it in person.  Once I got the feel of the FZ1000 on the first day of the show, the 60D went back in the bag and stayed there.  I never used it again for the next 2 days of the air show.

The FZ1000 looked a little out of place compared to my photography friends Canon 1DX and other photographers equally large Canons and Nikons.  But I wasn’t there to impress anyone with my gear.  I was there to enjoy the show, and that meant not lugging around a heavy bag of stuff.  Yes, my 60D and Tamron 200-500mm offer a lot of reach but the FZ1000 can get out there too at 400mm.  And did I mention that it’s fast?  Wow (again), is it fast?!  As soon as I brought it up to my eye and half pressed the shutter, it would almost immediately lock on and I could fire off a burst at 12 fps.  There were plenty of misses, but also a lot more keepers.  In fact my keeper rate was so good that I came home with upwards of 4,000 frames to sift through.  I’ve been steadily reviewing my photos since the event last week and have deleted hundreds.  Having so many is allowing me to get very picky, which is a good thing.  There’s really no reason to have 4 or 5 near duplicates of virtually the same image.  Having such a fast burst rate can really fill up a memory card too.  Not complaining, just sharing.  One more thing to share is memory card write speed.  My Transcend 32 GB SD cards are not quite fast enough to keep up.  Looks like I’m going to need to upgrade them.  Good thing they don’t cost too much.

Getting back to the reach, the 60D and 200-500mm Tamron have an advantage over the FZ1000’s 400mm.  But as the show went on and I got more used to the FZ1000, I found 400mm to be quite enough.  The trick is to wait for the planes to come closer.  I noticed that everyone around me would start shooting when the planes were much too far away.  All you are going to get when you do that is a little dot on the screen with a bunch of sky.  All of the planes made plenty of passes and would usually come around for what’s known as a photo pass.  That means when they flew by they would bank and tilt their wings giving you a much better view.  They were also much closer than when they were grouping up and trying to get into a formation.  I also took advantage of takeoffs, landings, and the planes moving back and forth on the hot ramp.  This was another area that the FZ1000 worked perfectly.  I didn’t need to change lenses when I wanted a wide shot.  I just zoomed out and pressed the button!  If something changed, I could quickly zoom back in and grab a detail shot.

Are there any downsides to the FZ1000?  Sure!  Compared to my 60D the battery life is poor.  But the same can be said for my E-M5.  The remedy is to have extra batteries, no big deal.  For it’s size, the FZ1000 is fairly light weight.  It doesn’t have the build quality that my E-M5 does.  That doesn’t mean it’s a delicate little flower, you just need to be mindful not to get too rough with it.  No different than any other piece of electronic equipment.

And now for the results!













Something to note about the photos above, they’ve all been edited in one way or another. None of this is straight out of the camera. I shoot RAW with the express intention that the images will be post processed.

I have so many photos from this air show that I’m going to create a new gallery for them, so check back from time to time for that. And since I brought them with me, I am going to do a follow up on the air show and my 60D and E-M5.

That’s it for this post, I hope you enjoyed it! Until next time, Happy Shooting!

March Field Air Museum

It’s been a couple of years since my last visit to the March Field Air Museum (MFAM).  The reasons I had for making a return visit were first and foremost to see what was new.  Occasionally I pass by the museum which is located right off of the freeway in Riverside, and could see that some changes were being made.  My second reason was sort of a challenge.  MFAM has some strict rules about photography, such as no tripods, monopods, or camera bags.  I intended to follow those rules (although I never bring a tripod to air museums or air shows) and limit myself to minimal camera gear.  In this case, I brought my Olympus E-M5 with 45mm f/1.8 lens, Rokinon Fisheye lens, and my little Sony RX100.  Finally, the weather was changing and there were some fantastic clouds (not much rain), perfect dramatic backgrounds for airplane photos!

Walking up to the main building there are a couple of planes on display.  Just past those, you’ll notice several memorials.  They are all contained in what the museum calls the “Heritage Courtyard”.  The memorials include:

  • War Dog Memorial
  • P-38 Lightning Memorial
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) Memorial
  • 15th Air Force Wall
  • Freedom Wall

Be sure to take a little time and look over these memorials!


Once you’re inside the main building, you’ll see the SR-71.  You can’t help but see it since it dwarfs everything else inside the space.  There are an abundance of other displays along the walls surrounding the SR-71 that are worth spending some time visiting.  I spent some of my time walking around the SR-71.  There’s something about that plane that has intrigued me since I was a kid.  I just wish I was able to see one in the air.  I did learn something about the SR-71 from my Dad.  He mentioned to me recently that he worked at the Lockheed Skunkworks for several years, and during that time worked on the 1st SR-71.  My Dad had a long career in aircraft and retired from McDonnell Douglas with over 30 years.  I knew he worked for Lockheed before his time at McDonnell Douglas, but never gave it any thought that he worked in the Skunkworks or on the SR-71.  How cool is that!

When you’ve allowed enough time to explore indoors, it’s time to head outside.  Just beyond the doors leading out there are dozens of airplanes.  There’s a little bit of everything from WWII Warbirds to surprisingly modern age aircraft.  I won’t cover everything there is to see, you can do that on your own.  I do however, want to share some of the highlights, at least from my perspective.

  • The B-29 “Three Feathers III”.  I have a strange connection to this particular plane.  In fact, I felt compelled to head straight across the yard to see it and spent quite a bit of time with it.  In case you missed it, you can read about my connection to the wonderful plane and it’s history here:  Three Feathers Part 1, Three Feathers Part 2, and Three Feathers Part 3.
  • MIG Alley.  MFAM has an excellent collection of MIGs, from the MIG 15 to the MIG 23.
  • YF-14A Tomcat.  This is another plane that I haven’t seen in the air.  While I have seen several in different air museums, I haven’t been able to get a good shot (photo) of one.  Air museums tend to be packed pretty tight, and it can be tough to get a clean shot, and mine always leaves me disappointed.  But not this time!
  • The F-4 Phantom.  The Phantom is one of my favorites and luckily I have seen them in the air.  MFAM has several models of the F-4 on display!
  • The B-17G.  I have a lot of admiration for this plane and the brave souls that flew them.  I was able to take a tour inside of one and they are a whole lot smaller on the inside then they look on the outside.  You really had to be a skinny kid to move around inside one.  And although the B-17 looks formidable with guns sticking out all around it, that thin sheet metal didn’t provide much protection for those within.  I can’t imagine being inside one with flak bursting all around, slicing holes through that thin skin.

So far I’ve done nothing but talk about the planes.  Now I want to talk a little about photography.  One of things about the gear that I chose for this trip is that it is very light and easy to move around with.  I never felt bogged down by my gear and it didn’t get in the way of making photos.  My Sony RX100 is technically considered a point and shoot, and it looks the part.  What sets it apart is its 1 inch sensor (I know its not exactly 1″ for anyone wanting to scream at me, but its close enough).  Suffice it to say that it’s much larger than the typical point and shoot and the image quality in turn is much better.  It also allows me to shoot RAW and many other point and shoot cameras don’t.  I like it so much that I ended up using it a majority of the time.  In fact, I used it for panoramas, black and white, and HDR.  I probably could have left the E-M5 in the car and used the RX100 exclusively.  Yes, for some things I think it’s that good!

My E-M5 with 45mm f/1.8 performed perfectly.  Nothing at an air museum moves very fast so tracking autofocus wasn’t an issue.  The 45mm (90mm equivalent) was perfect for filling the frame and getting what I’d call more intimate shots.  And I did end up using the Rokinon Fisheye lens a little.  You need to be careful not to over use the fisheye and I was selective with my subject and composition.

What about the pictures?  Good question, here they are:







If you like Warbirds and other types of Military aircraft, you owe it to yourself to stop by March Field Air Museum. I just hit some of my favorites and highlights, so check it out for yourself!

That’s it for this post, until next time, Happy Shooting!

Old Camera, New Tricks!

Catchy title, don’t you think?  Actually the camera I’m referring to in this case is my Olympus E-P3.  While it may only be a few years old now, in the world of electronics (including cameras), this is almost ancient!

As time goes on all things electronic evolve.  In the never ending quest to keep people buying their products, camera manufacturers continue to up the ante.  The E-P3 had many things going for it, especially the retro look and feel.  The camera was built very solid and felt good in your hands.  And it looked very cool too!  One of the techie features that I liked was the in-body image stabilization.  The only complaints I remember reading about was that the E-P3’s image sensor (12mp) was getting old and could/should have been updated.  But even with a “dated” sensor there was plenty of praise for the image quality just the same.

I’ve had my E-P3 for a couple years now, and even though I’ve added a newer camera to my collection, I find myself drawn to the E-P3.  For our 3 week trip to the Eastern Sierra this year I brought my newer Olympus E-M5, Canon 60D, and E-P3.  The 60D stayed in the bag and in the motorhome for the entire trip.  My main shooter was the E-M5, but the E-P3 went everywhere that the E-M5 did.  At 1st I put the 14-42mm kit lens on the E-P3 and figured that I’d just keep it in the bag for backup.  I did end up taking some pictures with it and was pleased overall with what I ended up with.  It was then when I got to thinking that maybe I could use the E-P3 for more than backup.

One of the things I try to do when photographing a landscape scene is the look for something to help make it pop.  Clouds, beautiful golden light, or a unique perspective.  Not necessarily a gimmick, but rather something to help tell the story of my composition.  And it turns out that I had something in the camera bag that would help with this perfectly!  The Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye lens!

The fisheye is definitely unique.  It provides a very wide, and somewhat distorted point of view.  It’s not something that you want to use all time, but it is fun to experiment with.  And since I had my main camera setup for serious shooting, I could play with my E-P3 and Rokinon all I wanted.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the E-M5, but there was something hard to describe about picking up and using the E-P3 again.  It was fun!

My E-P3 has been with me for 2 years of shooting.  Sometimes it hasn’t been pleasant.  Not the camera, but what it has had to go though.  I’ve taken on hikes, in the rain, and snow.  It’s gotten soaked, and dropped twice.  I had some cuts and bruises but I healed.  My poor little E-P3 still has its battle scars.  There are a few nicks and dings on its body, and the pop-up flash doesn’t work anymore.  But it still fires up and takes pictures like a champ, and I think I love it even more now!

That’s enough of me singing the praises of the E-P3, here are some photos from its last outing:

That’s it for this post. Until next time, Happy Shooting!