People watching and photography are always fun at crowded venues, such as theme parks. A perfect environment to put the newly acquired Olympus PEN-F through its paces. With its image stabilization and better high ISO performance over the E-M5 I was using, it should be great in low light. I was always happy with the E-M5, so the improvements are just icing on the cake. And I love the Pen-F form factor and handling.
I’ll present some of the images I’ve capture here, and talk about photography with the Olympus Pen-F.
Cinderellas Castle, always photogenic
True to Disneys character, the castle is well lighted and overall highly photographic. It was much darker than it appears, and I shot it handheld. I wanted to push the Pen-F to see how much I can get away with shooting handheld, even at night. So all the night images here, and in all the theme parks, were handheld.
The castle was shot at ISO3200, and pushed further in post processing. For it’s intended purpose of being displayed on the web as personal photography and not published, it works very well. I didn’t remove the gain and noise only because I find the gain less of an issue than the sharpness lose with noise removal.
Space Mountain. A unique building and can be seen easily in the distance as you reach the park.
This is an unprocessed image straight out of the camera. I always loved Olympus in-camera processing for its colors and pleasing exposures.
Monorail at Epcot. The Festival of Flowers was in progress throughout the month.
I actually waited about 10 minutes for the monorail to come into view. I just felt it was needed to complete this scene. Again, as captured in camera with no post processing.
I found this survey marker while roaming around Epcot.
While waiting for the monorail in the preceding image, I noticed this survey marker. I processed it for black and white, and then added a duotone feel to it. I love the gritty feel the pavement took, and the overall warm tones on the highlights.
I always say I’m going to make time to eat here one visit, but never seem to.
If you have ever been to this restaurant, you know how dark it is. Also shot handheld at high ISO, but it works well. For nearly all the photography I did at the theme parks, it was hand held, even in the low light environments. I use camera holding techniques I’ve found worked over the years to stabilize the camera as best as I can, and let the stabilizer do its thing. Between those two, I can shoot in low light as low as 1/4 of a second and get sharp usable results without a tripod. With that said, when shooting that slow it makes sense to shoot a couple frames, as some might have slight blur while others will be sharp.
Days of the Dead. A Mexican tradition to honor their past family members.
These Days of the Dead figures were for sale in the Mexico pavilion.
My daughter and son like dragons, so I grabbed this image for them.
I shot the above dragon on the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens at ISO 800. A beautifully small, compact, sharp, and nice rendering lens. One of my favorites for low light and interior shooting. The depth of field is very shallow and pleasing. The Days of the Dead images were also shot with this lens. The 20mm f1.7 is my favorite lens for low light photography indoors at family gatherings, parties, etc.
An typical altar honoring their family members.
The image above was shot through glass. The boy on the left is a figure as part of the display. Another low light situation that the Pen-F and 20mm f1.7 handled well.
Entrance to the American Adventure. A nice opening ceremony.
I shot some video with the Pen-F in this attraction while they were singing. The stabilization allowed me to move during the filming while still keeping a steady frame and reducing camera shake. While the Pen-F did very well with video, a dedicated video camera will always do a better job. But for quick video clips, it does very well.
Part of the opening scenes in the American Adventure show.
I needed to do quite a bit of post processing on this scene in the American Adventure due to the extreme contrast range. The highlights were overexposed on the subjects, or the background was far too dark. I exposed for the highlights and brought up the shadows in post.
Animatronics mixed with projection set and stage motion made for a very entertaining and historically informative presentation.
This scene was better balanced and didn’t require much in the way of post processing. But there was a large difference between the project and the subjects. The Pen-F handled this scene well.
A scene dropped from the ceiling with a projection background that matched the motion. Animatronic figures told the story back in the ‘early years’.
I love the look and feel of this scene, the warm tones contrasting with the cold, the overall lighting. The background fading off into the distance. Photography wise, everything was pretty well balanced easy for the Pen-F to handle.
Animatronics as used in a classic and long running Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
The above image in the Pirates of the Caribbean was really pushing the Pen-F and kit lens to its limits. It was shot at ISO6400, f3.5, 1/50th, while in motion on a floating boat during the ride. It shows the content well, but is on the edge of usable, even for personal use. There was probably too much motion during this image for the stabilization to cope with between me moving, the boats motion, and the scene itself.
I was elated to see how well my Olympus Pen-F held up in dark scenes and high ISO settings.
Surprisingly, this image fared much better under worse conditions. Also shot at ISO6400 with the kit lens, it was at f3.5 and 1/10 of a second, also handheld on a moving boat ride. The stabilization worked and the image is sharp and well exposed. Perhaps if I shot off a few extra frames of the Pirates of the Caribbean scene I would have had one that was much sharper. A good reason to fire off several frames in these conditions and keep the best.
The Mad Tea Party ride was a perfect time to use slow shutter and add some motion for effect.
In the above image, I panned on the subject while using a slow shutter speed. Shutter speed was around 1/3 to 1/2 of a second insuring lots of blur on the fast moving tea cups. The goal is to pan with the subject you want in focus to minimize the blur, leaving the rest of the image to blur due to motion.
Shoot several at different shutter speeds and panning motions for various effects.
Hand held, the Pen-F stabilization and high ISO worked well capturing this image.
Space Mountain building illuminated after dark.
Dancing and music in Tomorrow Land.
Another classic Disney ride, The Carousel of Progress.
The Carousel of Progress is one of my favorite go to spots when it’s very warm and muggy. Its air conditioned, comfortable seating, and lasts just over 20 minutes. Rarely a long line, so its great to get out of the heat for a while. And its entertaining.
The scenes are also very stable with regard to motion, so its easy to get a nice image even though its low light. The image stabilization also helps lower the ISO needed as well. I shot the above at 1/40th of a second, f4.0 at ISO3200.
A fitting ending image taken as I left the park for Fort Wilderness.
Another slow shutter speed, high ISO image, handheld, with the excellent stabilization of the Pen-F. 1/50th, f4, ISO 3200 and handheld.
I found that most of the park at night required 1/5th to 1/50th at ISO 1600 to ISO3200, with some darker areas requiring a slower shutter speed and ISO6400. Well lighted areas were much better at ISO1600 and 1/50th or higher.
For personal use, I found going hand held with the stabilization and ISO performance of the Pen-F to be a perfect way to travel light. With the use of a small table tripod, and stabilizing the camera against a stable object, there is no real need to carry a tripod around. Although for the absolute best image quality, nothing will beat a tripod and using a low ISO when possible.