Pancake Too Thick? Hands-On with the Olympus BCL-1580 “Crêpe” Lens

As much as I love my Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens, I wish it was even smaller. This is the story of modern photo gear: we’ve got amazing cameras built into our mobile phones, now we just need amazing lenses that are somehow miraculously compact. Recently, the Olympus BCL-1580 came to my attention. It’s compatible with my trusty (and discontinued) Panasonic GH2, and it’s only $50. Plus, it’s drastically smaller than my 20mm f/1.7. Game on! I needed to try this thing. Pancake schmancake. I’ve been wanting a “crêpe” lens, and it seemed like it was finally here.

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Hands-On Review of the Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens for NEX

I recently had the opportunity to try out the Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens on a NEX 5 mirrorless camera. I only had access to this camera and lens for a short period of time, but it was long enough to get a basic feel for it. I figured I’d share my thoughts and a few pictures I snapped.

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Hands-On Review of the Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter

To kick off this review, I’d first like to provide a quick lesson about ND filters. Basically, an ND filter acts like tinted sunglasses for your lens. They dim the amount of light that comes in, so you can open up your aperture when shooting in bright sunlight. Shooting with a maxed out f-stop in a bright environment lets you achieve creamy, blurred backgrounds by selectively focusing on your subject. You can also shoot longer exposures than you would have otherwise. Without the tinted filter in front of your lens, employing these techniques would leave you with overexposed images. That’s why ND filters are a great creative tool for both video and stills.

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Respecting the Lumix 20mm f/1.7

Several months before I purchased my Lumix GH2, I eagerly handed over a pile of money for a 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens. Buying a lens before you have a compatible camera is torturous. Opening the box is a cruel tease. I cracked the factory seal, whiffed the intoxicating scent of virgin hardware, freed the gloriously diminutive little lens from its protective wrappings, removed the caps and stared. Moments later I packed it all back together, and stashed it away in my gear locker. Pretty dull stuff when there’s no camera to attach.