Damn, these are some old photographs.
They’ve been on my hard drive for far too long.
It’s also been far too long since I shot with the F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8.
It’s a fantastic little thing for street photography. Fast (more on that later), small, and with great image quality.
Ideal for when you’re travelling to a place like Ciqikou in Chongqing, China.
Ideal for when you’re travelling to anywhere and want to do some street photography.
Manual focus on the F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8
I’m writing a paragraph on manually focusing with the 38mm F.Zuiko because it’s only fair to talk about the shots you’ll miss with it.
If you’re new to photography, you will.
If you’ve been shooting for a while with auto focus, you also will.
I’ve been shooting with manual focus for years and, even with the Sony NEX’s focus peaking feature, I still do.
It’s annoying when it happens, but it feels fantastic when you nail a shot.
You want examples?
I’ll give you examples.
I really liked the look of the shots I was getting of this violin player while I was taking them.
I liked how the lady behind him – who I think was trying to hide her face from me – was mirroring the bow with her own posture.
It looked good on the camera screen.
And then you get it onto your computer and see the focus is of off.
The Vintage Film preset I’ve used to process it has masked that a touch, but it is still off.
I don’t mind out-of-focus shots if that was the aim. I don’t even mind them if it wasn’t the aim but everything is out of focus and you just claim it was anyway.
But when the guy’s hand is in focus, you can’t claim anything other than a missed shot.
And then you get Mickey Mouse with his thumbs up.
Not a particularly special shot, but the focus is bang on and is brought out in the monochrome contrast of his face.
Playing with shallow depth of field at f2.8
If you weren’t sure what I meant when I called the F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8 a fast lens earlier, it’s to do with the f1.8 part of the name.
That number means you can open the aperture very wide, which lets in a lot of light, meaning you can shoot with a fast shutter speed.
Another effect of shooting with a wide aperture is a shallow depth of field. Typically the shots you see with a blurred background behind a well-focused subject.
It’s not recommended you shoot a lens wide open – at f1.8 – as your images tend to lose sharpness if you do.
The 38mm F.Zuiko can go to f1.8 but I don’t go past 2.8 with it. You still get a depth of field shallow enough to play around with.
I will say I prefer shooting with most things in the photograph in focus these days, but it can be a lot of fun to mess around and experiment with blurring things in your shot.
Just… don’t overdo it. And don’t think you have to do it because the lens can. And don’t think it can turn a bad shot good.
If you don’t like either of these images, consider it evidence of that last point.
Shooting Ciqikou with the 38mm F.Zuiko
I suppose there’s half a chance you landed here looking for information on Ciqikou.
So I’ll say this. If you’re in Chongqing and have nothing else to do, it’s worth a trip.
If you’ve been to a lot of tourist streets in China before, don’t expect anything different to those.
You can certainly shoot some street photography there. You can even shoot some travel photography if that’s your thing.
Whether you do so with a vintage lens or not is up to you.
But if you decide to, you could do a lot worse than the F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8.