Martin Giddings is a Norwich wedding photographer offering candids, natural and dramatic wedding photographs. He supplies with a beautiful set of images that will bring back all the memories from the wedding day.
I have to admit that I was never that interested in photographing landscapes but recently I’ve been inspired to explore this genre of photography. As odd as it may seem, I was sat at home and it suddenly dawned on me where I live. I was a real Blackadder moment “hang on, I live in Norfolk”. It’s true, we rarely see what’s in front of our face. It means I’ve:
The North Norfolk coast.
Those massive Norfolk skies.
Some people come here on holiday just to photograph where I live! Some will drive three hours just to create one image at dawn. Hence, I’m determined to take advantage and photograph Norfolk and show off the beauty of our county.
Happisburgh Beach at Dusk
From early morning (we’ll see naturally an owl, not a lark) to the last thing at night and maybe beyond. I’m going to create a new gallery and blog about each image and location.
To be honest, there isn’t a lot that hasn’t been photographed in Norfolk. But that is the challenge. Being at a location in the right light, different angles and the editing.
Do Landscape Photographers Have a Sense of Humour?
I thought I would share with you the top two most common photographs taken in Norfolk of a decaying boat. All comments welcome.
Now the second most photographed image of a decaying boat in Norfolk in black and white.
Today is Sunday the 21st June 2019. I begin today!
I’m a real photographer and I shoot in manual mode. But it doesn’t stop there. I also shoot in aperture priority mode. Sometimes I also shoot in shutter speed mode. The mode I shoot in depends on what I’m doing and how much time I have.
Modern cameras are great. They are easy to change shooting mode so why not use them all? But on top of that, we also have custom modes we can set!
So when do I shoot in manual mode? Mostly for weddings when I’m in one spot and the light isn’t changing much. So during the wedding ceremony, the speeches, the formals and when using a flash. Now the only reason I do that is that it’s easier to edit a whole batch of photographs that have all been taken at the same exposure. I simply edit the first image to my own personal tastes and then batch edit all the others in one go. Takes seconds. I shoot manual to save me time in editing. It goes without saying that I choose my ISO.
I’ll change the mode to aperture priority (which is my custom mode 1 which is also set to auto ISO) when the bride and groom are about to walk outside the church on a summers day. At this point, I just want the shot and am happy to let the camera choose the shutter speed. Incidentally, the camera is set to take any image in this custom setting at 1/125s at least. In the bright sun that will easily go to 1/1000s. This is my default setting if I see something and don’t have time to think I go to custom mode 1 and I’m good to go.
If I see a shot with for example of children playing and running I will change to shutter speed mode and select a shutter speed that will freeze them without blurring.
When I am out the shooting mode I choose if often just instinctive and depends on the lens I have on the camera and what’s in the frame that I intend to photograph. So as an example:
Inside a building – aperture priority if nothing moving and auto ISO.
Inside a building and something moving – shutter speed priority and auto ISO.
Shooting landscapes – manual or aperture priority depending on mood.
The fact is it doesn’t matter if you shoot in manual or not. It doesn’t make you professional. Just use the mode you prefer and have a system in place that you autonomously use. Until I wrote this I was not fully aware of what I did and why. It was a system I have built myself and just use without even thinking about it. There is my second truth in this paragraph. Don’t overthink photography!
I can quote numerous well know professional photographers who shot in all different modes (including P-Mode). I’ve never had a customer ask what mode I shoot in. Only other photographers!
With photography what you get is more important than how you got it.
The above image was taken in manual mode in Lincoln Cathedral. I was doing so as I was testing a camera with an electronic viewfinder. If you want to improve your photography go and visit a local cathedral. They are a hidden gem for photographers learning to find the light. If I ever want to test a new lens or a camera I go straight the Norwich Cathedral!
I’ve always wanted to have a “pure” camera and lens kit to play with. I found that in the form of the Panasonic GX9 and a three prime lens kit. The lenses I went with are the Panasonic 15mm, 25mm and 42.5mm lenses. To give you a visual reference as to what they see on the camera, I took three images with these lenses.
Proof that an image speaks a thousand words. All taken at f2.8 from exactly the same position.
I thought I’d share how much it cost to buy the Panasonic GX9 and a three prime lens kit.
The first purchased was the Panasonic GX9 from Jessops for £499 with the Panasonic 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II Lumix G VARIO ASPH Mega O.I.S as a kit. This lens immediately was put onto EBay for £70 and sold in 24 hours. After fees and postage my GX9 cost me £445.
Three Prime Lens Kit the Panasonic 15, 25 and 42.5
Second purchase was the Panasonic 15mm f1.7 Leica DG Summilux ASPH (second hand) from WEX in Norwich for £325. The lens was marked with a condition of 9+. I purchase a lot of secondhand kit when I can. MY advice, stick the the kit that is marked as 9+ only. It come with a 12 month warranty from WEX and the lens looks and feel brand new. It was pristine. That was a saving of £124 on the new list price.
Third purchase, again from WEX was the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 LUMIX G ASPH Power OIS. Again marked as 9+. It was £216. Once again, it was pristine.
Lastly, the Panasonic 25mm f1.7 LUMIX G ASPH is such a cheap lens, I bought new for £148.00.
Total cost £1134.
Not an insignificant sum but in relation to other cameras it’s peanuts. I have three prime lenses that can all be used wide open at f1.7. Best of all, there’s no weight to this kit to speak of and I don’t look like a photographer when using the camera.
I could easily shoot a whole wedding with those three lenses.
The test image above is inside Norwich Cathedral and taken with the Panasonic GX9 and a Panasonic 25 f1.7 (at f1.7). Processed in Adobe ACR using the L Monochrome D profile.
All information regarding the costs of each item is correct as of the 6th March 2019.
Maybe calling it “micro” wasn’t such a great idea.
Getting back to the question, yes you can. You don’t have to use a 35mm camera sensor to photograph weddings. You can use APH, APS and micro43 camera sensors very successfully. If you read the photography forums and the threads on them, you’ll find lots of armchair wedding photographers happy to give their advice to anyone willing to listen.
I strongly suspect some of these experts have never actually photographed a wedding professionally.
They go crazy if you’re not using a 35mm camera to capture weddings. In the next breath they’ll talk about digital noise and depth of field.
Not that long ago, anyone photographing weddings, not using a medium format film camera, wasn’t considered a real wedding photographer.
Who to Blame!
Modern day marketing has a big part to play in this misconception. Full frame is the term you’ll see written down not 35mm. Well psychologically “full frame” must be better than cropped or micro43 sensors. I mean it’s full! Full is full you can’t get better than full can you? It’s all very clever. You’re being conditioned you before you even think about it.
To be balanced and fair 35mm will give a shallower depth of field. With regards to that, who cares. As a wedding photographer, having that two times depth of field is an advantage.
For example if I’m taking a photograph on a 35mm camera and my shutter is at 1/125, aperture at f4 and ISO set to 3200. On my micro43 camera I’m at 1/125, aperture set to f2 and my ISO is at 800. Same depth of field, same exposure.
Photography is always about compromise, what you take from one setting you have to give back in another.
A bigger sensor will give you less digital noise than a smaller sensor at higher ISOs. Eight years ago, that was quite a big difference. In 2019 that difference isn’t as big anymore but it’s an undeniable fact.
Real Micro 43 Wedding Photographs
The following wedding photographs were shot by me at real weddings around Norfolk.
Yes there’s noise in photographs at 6400 and 12800 ISO when viewed at 100% on my computer screen (that would be the same for 35mm sensors). But what I see on my computer screen doesn’t translate into prints. As a plug for the EM1, it has the best auto white balance I’ve have ever used.
Here’s my true fact for this post.
Using a 35mm (full frame camera) camera doesn’t make you a professional wedding photographer, nor does using micro43 make you an unprofessional one.
Any dSLR or CSC camera can be used by a professional wedding photographer today to get great results at weddings. The choice of camera sensor will not have any part in the measure of your success.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying micro43 is the best camera for weddings. There isn’t a best. all I’m saying is you can use them, hold your head up high and be confident in your choice if that’s the one you make. The photographer makes the image not the camera. Be a photographer not a camera collector.
Olympus EM5 Mk2
Gary Simpson has using micro 43 cameras as a professional wedding photographer for years.
You can see more of Gary’s wedding photography on his website at Gary Simpson Photography. What may surprise you even more is that Gary doesn’t shoot in RAW. He shoots in jpeg only.
Haven’t you heard micro four thirds is dead! Tony Northrup said so! He could be right. But who cares.
Going on from my about page and the secret of photography that took me years to realise, is this. No matter what camera I had, my photographs would always be the same. Some years ago a relative of mine was using a Canon 7D with a crop sensor quite happily. One day, he bought a Canon 5D Mk3 and announced it on Facebook.
He had arrived at the full frame nirvana that many photographers aspire to.
Sometime later, I was talking to him on Facebook and I asked how it was going with the new camera. He seemed pretty disappointed and told me his photographs looked the same. Snap! I’d the exact same thought when I went from a Canon 50D to a Canon 5d Mk2. Nothing was different. I suspect there are millions out there who’ve gone through the same.
It’s Not the Camera It’s the Person Behind the Camera
If you stop and think about it, it was always going to be the case. It’s not the camera that takes the picture. The person who’s holding the camera does. They’re the same, hence the same photographs. Yet that simple obvious fact is ignored. If I buy a Phase One IQ4 camera tomorrow for the bargain price of £29,620 (not including VAT or a lens) do you think my photographs will be different tomorrow than they’re today?
The opposite is also true. If I buy tomorrow a micro 43 camera compared to a Nikon D850, will there be a huge difference? The answer is no.
If you’re screaming at the screen now that I’m crazy, then you’re just the sort of person the large camera marketing teams love.
Bigger sensor cameras really only have three advantages over smaller sensor cameras:
Less digital noise at higher ISOs (if you really care about that, I don’t).
Larger natural print sizes due to more megapixels (if you really care about that, I don’t).
Less depth of field (if you really care about that, I don’t).
But they also have two big disadvantages:
They cost more (I really care about that).
They weight more (I really care about that).
Please note, these are general rules and there are alway exceptions. The Canon full frame RP is £1399 where’s the Olympus OM-D E-M1X
is £2700. Things get blurred again however when you start adding lenses into the cost. Most full frame L lenses are expensive.
Panasonic Lumix GX9
I digress, back to the Panasonic Lumix GX9. Full frame cameras are big. They’re also heavy. Those two things stopped me from going out with a dSLR most of the time. Although I was a professional photographer, I wanted to enjoy my photography as a hobby as well. Over the years I have learnt that the simpler you can make the process the better it is. I wanted something small that was a real camera. By that I mean a camera that I can fully control manually. Shutter, aperture, ISO and white balance.
It had to be small so I could be in the background and not scream photographer. I want people to think what I’m holding, isn’t really a proper camera. That allows me to be ignored in places where someone with a dSLR would stand out and be told “no photography”. Have you ever stood next to someone taking a photograph with a Nikon D700. The earth shakes.
I also wanted a camera that had in body stabilisation that would negate the need for a tripod and allow slower shutter speeds. It had to have great colour.
Where could such a camera be found? For me I found all that in the Panasonic GX9. That and three small prime lenses are all I need to create great photographs. These three prime lenses are sharp wide open. I only need to close my aperture down to gain a greater depth of field. Being a contrast detect autofocus system with the Panasonic DFD technology, I’m not sure I’ve ever missed focus with this camera, yet.
There’s no such thing as a perfect camera. For the GX9, forme, it’s main disadvantages are:
EVF is poor.
I don’t like having to charge the battery in camera.
As I’ve been posting other micro 4/3 photographs, I thought I would add some taken with the Panasonic 25 1.4 Leica. Compared to the Panasonic 25 1.7, I’d save my money and get that one to be honest. I found the aperture would chatter a bit and was never truly silent. But if you have to have that 1.4 aperture at this focal length on a Panasonic, this is the one to get, by virtue, there isn’t any other.
So back to Norwich Cathedral, my favourite place to test cameras and lenses.
I’ve always been fascinated at the thought having one camera and using a couple of quality small prime lenses. This brings me to my purchase of the Olympus 25 f1.2 Pro. The biggest enemy of micro 4/3 cameras is low light. So the bigger the aperture of your lens the better. Yet most lenses at their widest aperture aren’t that sharp. Additionally wide aperture lenses don’t auto focus well below f2.8 on traditional dSLRs.
But the good news is that with using contrast auto focus mixed with phase detect actually on the sensor makes for very accurate auto focus. Tracking in lower light is another thing. So off I went to Norwich Cathedral to test the lens on an Olympus EM5 Mkii (as an aside this camera make’s really great black and white images). The following are the results.
1/80, f1.4, 1250 ISO
1/60, f1.4, 1000 ISO
1/80, f1.2, 1000 ISO
1/60, f1.2, 250 ISO
1/80, f1.2, 800 ISO
1/25, f1.2, 400 ISO
So How Sharp at f1.2?
1/60, f1.2, 800 ISO
f1.2 at 100% Crop
This is one of the first lenses I’ve owned that I would be happy using wide open at f1.2. Not a tiny lens by any stretch of the imagination but not so huge. Silent and fast to focus. This is the best Olympus 25mm lens.
Compared the the tiny Olympus 25 1.8 however, it’s much bigger, but that’s the price of the big aperture. The f1.8 is also a great lens and more discrete on smaller cameras.