Skip to main content

The Power of the Olympus E-1

When I traveled to El Paso this week I took two cameras with me; the Olympus E-P2 and E-1. I had planned to use both equally, and had brought the E-1 body in case I was going to be in something adverse, such as dust or blowing sand. Except for being a little on the chilly side, the weather in El Paso has been, for all practical purposes, perfect. For no good reason other than laziness I used the E-P2 for the majority of my photography. Today, however, after the conference I attended all this week had ended, I followed the El Paso Mission Trail and visited some of the historical Spanish missions on a mini-photo expedition. The weather was clear and bright with no clouds in the sky. I took the E-1 with me and gave it pride of place over the E-P2.

Mission Ysleta
"Mission Ysleta"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko Digital 50mm Macro
1/3200s, f/4.5, ISO 100, 

The first mission stop was the northern-most Mission Ysleta. The photo was taken with the E-1 and 50mm macro. All photographs were taken raw. Lightroom 3.3 converted the raw images straight to JPEG with no other adjustments other than to modify the size for the web. I have discovered I much prefer Adobe Lightroom's JPEG engine over the aging JPEG engine in the E-1. That shouldn't be surprising; there's an eight year gap between the E-1 and the current version of LR, so the state of the art in JPEG conversion and generation should have advanced a fair bit over that period of time. It has and it shows.

The detail is clear and sharp. The colors are superb. There is wonderful texture across many surfaces and a broad range of luminance from the roof at the upper left to the cast shadows. Over the course of the trip I took many other photos with the E-1. With very few exceptions, nearly all of the images came out of the camera and went through Lightroom with no post-processing manipulation except to resize. When I did play with them at all it was for personal tastes, not some flaw in the camera.

Do Not Forget Me - Mission Ysleta
"Do Not Forget Me"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko Digital 50mm Macro
1/2000s, f/4.5, ISO 100

Mission Ysleta
"Potted Cactus - Mission Ysleta"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko Digital 50mm Macro
1/1250s, f/4, ISO 100

Mission Ysleta
"Christ and the Virgin Mary - Mission Ysleta"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko Digital 50mm Macro
1/30s, f/2.2, ISO 100

The one key factor in all the photos shown is the use of a High Grade Zuiko Digital 50mm Macro lens as a regular taking lens. In order to make this camera's sensor really sing you need to put good glass in front of it, which means High Grade or Super High Grade if you can afford it. While I used fairly high shutter speeds on the first three images, the forth was taken hand-held at 1/30s with a camera that does not have in-body image stabilization.

What I appreciated more than anything else was the ability to capture the El Paso light and El Paso color I saw all around me, a color set that includes whites, blues, and earth-toned pastels. You don't see much of that in the city proper, but get away from El Paso and you begin to see these colors, and more. I'm certainly no master with the E-1 (or any other camera for that matter) but my confidence in the E-1 was boosted significantly today. And once again I have to say; not bad for an eight year old camera. Not bad at all.

Update 23 July 2011

One of my two E-1's with the Zuiko Digital 12-60mm and the SHLD-2 grip.

E-1 glamor shot #3


  1. Bill,

    thanks for posting - this is indeed very good. Maybe I should get one, and try that Kodak sensor for myself. Don't have any "backup" for my E-520 anyway...


  2. Very nice photos. I have two E1s as well as an E500, an E520 and a Pentax K20d. I like taking different cameras on hikes, much as you did on your recent outing, but the E1 is my favorite camera. I wish Olympus would merely tweak it into modernity. I haven't tried Lightroom yet. Your note makes it sound intriguing.

  3. Thanks Lawrence. But just to make sure you understand, I drove the mission trail in air-conditioned rental-car comfort.

    As for "tweaking" the E-1 into "modernity", there's one feature the E-1 doesn't have that's vital, and that's built-in flash. The built-in flash on the E-3 and E-5 can remotely control FL-50Rs, of which I now have two. Adding a flash would raise the pentaprism head higher. There's also the LCD on the back. I don't know how much larger you could make it before having to increase the body size, but Olympus could borrow the design of the extensible LCD from the old Camedia C-8080.

    I personally could live with the E-1 body using the latest 12mp Panasonic sensor, leaving everything else pretty much the way it is, but that may not be what the rest of the market would want.

  4. That's interesting - I would have said that the Kodak sensor in the E-1 was one of it's key characteristics. Maybe an E-1 with the E-400's 10Mp sensor, then ?

    The E-1 is without a doubt the nicest digital camera I've ever owned. But the E-3 is a better picture taking machine...


Post a Comment

All comments are checked. Comment SPAM will be blocked and deleted.

Popular posts from this blog

A Decade Long Religious Con Job

I rarely write inflammatory (what some might call trolling) titles to a post, but this building you see before you deserves it. I've been seeing this building next to I-4 just east of Altamonte/436 and Crane's Roost for nearly 12 years, and never knew who owned it. Today on a trip up to Lake Mary with my wife I saw it yet again. That's when I told her I wanted to stop by on the way back and poke around the property, and photograph any parts of it if I could.

What I discovered was this still unfinished eighteen story (I counted) white elephant, overgrown with weeds and yet still under slow-motion construction. It looks impressive with its exterior glass curtain walls, but that impression is quickly lost when you see the unfinished lower stories and look inside to the unfinished interior spaces.

A quick check via Google leads to an article written in 2010 by the Orlando Sentinel about the Majesty Tower. Based on what I read in the article it's owned by SuperChannel 55 WA…

first night for the gingersnaps

The first night has passed and the two have managed to survive, in spite of what their tiny hearts might have thought when first arriving. Greebo, the larger of the two, has been in hiding the entire time so far. Ponder has spent the time zipping in and out of hiding spots, checking things out, and learning just how comfortable pillows are for resting your head.

During the night I felt the tiny body of Ponder hitting the bed as he leaped up on the side, and then climbed to the top to run around on top of me. At least once he play-attacked my fingers. He might be small but his claws are still quite sharp.

When I got up in the morning the bowl of cat kitten food was fairly well depleted. It's been refilled and fresh water put in the big dish on the floor. I'm assuming that both Greebo and Ponder are feeding and drinking. I have seen Greebo under the furniture peeking out at me when I went looking for him. I'm leaving him alone while he continues to adjust.

So far the guys h…

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…