|William Tecumseh Sherman: |
American Civil War Hero
Commanding Gerneral of the
U.S. Army (1869-1883)
For all those who were wondering what the portrait reference was from Olympus last week, the secret can now be revealed as they have announced the M. ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f/1.8 ‘Prime Portrait’ lens.
This lens offers not only stunning optical quality, but also has been designed to match the retro-styled OM-D and PEN series of compact system cameras.
The large F/1.8 aperture of this lens will be ideal for shooting in low light situations or high-speed photography. Combined with a long focal length, this will help generate a shallow depth of field that is required to highlight subjects again an intentionally blurred background – ideal for shooting portraits. Clear and sharp images with edge-to-edge high contrast and resolution are ensured by ZUIKO’s ultra-high assembling and polishing technology.
Lightweight and compact, the full-metal housing that this lens has, matches its impressive specifications and spotless optical performance. It can be a pleasure to work with in manual mode with a reassuringly premium feel and fine-tuned focus ring.
The 75mm f/1.8 also features Zuiko’s extra-low reflection optical coating. This is designed to reduce the effect of ghosting and flaring which can be common when shooting in bright light and is twice as effective as conventional coatings, giving you more confidence to take photos in a range of varying situations. What’s more, this lens also delivers reliable circular bokeh without the dreaded vignetting or off-axis aberration.
This lens is due to arrive at Park Cameras at some stage in July. For full details and to place a pre-order to ensure you receive one of the first lenses in the UK, visit us instore, online at www.ParkCameras.com or call a member of our team on 01444 23 70 70.
But what’s this got to do with William Tecumseh Sherman I hear you say!?
Portrait photography became truly popular in the middle of the 19th Century, in part thanks to the relatively low cost of the daguerreotype. The first dedicated portrait lens was the Petzval, developed in 1840 by Joseph Petzval. It was considered to be very fast at the time with an aperture in the f/3.3-3.7 range. It boasted a narrow field of view of 30 degrees and a focal length of 150mm. Early portraiture would typically involve long exposure times with subjects seated against plain backgrounds and lit with the soft light of a large window where possible.
As to why people in images of this period tend to look a little glum, popular theory has it that it was simply too difficult to keep smiling for longer than a few seconds. In some cases it may have been because Sherman had burnt your town down, as that was his preferred way of dealing with recalcitrant Confederates. After all, he did have a tank named after him.
Things have changed somewhat since 1840, Film sizes have reduced and faster lenses are preferred for shallow depth of field. Smaller prime lenses on an Olympus Four Thirds body make natural portraits a whole lot easier in available light thanks to a myriad of technological advances, but it is still the lens that is at the heart of a good picture.
Mark Thackara (National Marketing Manager at Olympus UK) said “If Joseph Petzval were alive today he would have loved the new 75mm Olympus Micro Four Thirds lens. Everything an enthusiast photographer would want, in a classic 150mm* focal length that can deliver a flattering film effect.”