Skip to main content

My Trip to Atlanta ‒ Some Camera Lessons Learned

The Travel Kit
Clockwise from the top, the M.Zuiko 40-150mm 'R', M.Zuiko 45mm, and M.Zuiko 17mm
At the center, the Olympus E-P2 with Panasonic 20mm

I traveled by Greyhound bus from Orlando to Atlanta to visit my parents over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. I carried two pieces of luggage with me, a wheeled bag for all my spare clothing and a Kata DR-467 digital rucksack that carried my Dell notebook, my Nook Tablet, and my Olympus E-P2 with a small collection of lenses. Along with the primary devices I took chargers, spare batteries for the E-P2, and an FL-50R flash that never once came out and did nothing but waste in the rucksack. I put it in there on the irrational fear that I might need it. I never did.

The E-P2 lens collection consisted of the M.Zuiko 17mm, the Panasonic 20mm, the M.Zuiko 45mm, and the M.Zuiko 40-150mm 'R' zoom. The lenses used most to least were the 20mm, the 45mm, the 17mm, and the 40-150mm zoom, in that order. If you twisted my arm I could have whittled it down to the three primes. If you'd strung me up by my thumbs, maybe down to the 20mm and the 45mm.

The surprising realization (at least for me) is how fickle I am with regards to the 20mm vs. the 17mm. I've taken quite a few photographs with the 17mm on the E-P2. Based on my personal statistics, it's been the most used focal length on that camera, and for good reason. When mounted on the E-P2 the 17mm is diminutive, so much so that it seems to almost blend into the E-P2 body. The 20mm, by comparison, appears subjectively larger, at times much larger. But its darker color helps it to blend in as well with the black-bodied E-P2. But that's just the way it looks on the camera.

The real reason I've favored the 20mm is because the 20m 1:1.7 is nearly a stop-and-a-half faster than the 17mm 1:2.8. And that's a difference I've found quite useful. I have discovered that with the 20mm mounted I can set the E-P2 to auto-ISO mode, limited to an ISO range of 200 to 800, aperture priority mode (usually wide open to f/1.7), and be able to capture anything I care to point the camera at.

Based on experience so far, the camera has produced exposures from f/1.7, 1/8sec, at ISO 800 to f/5.6, 1/4000sec, at ISO 200. This is an EV range of (roughly) 0 to 16, or dim ambient artificial light to full sunlight on bare concrete or sand. The only limitation is autofocus, not exposure. I've gotten enough correctly exposed blurry photos to prove to myself that the E-P2 with the Panasonic lens is more than capable of properly exposing a shot with the 20mm even though at certain times it can't lock focus to save its diminutive soul.

The same holds true for the M.Zuiko 45mm. I can use the same body control settings for the 45mm with equally good effect. As much as I'd like to follow Kirk Tuck with regards to artificial lighting, I have to admit I really force myself to use my two flashes. Like I wrote earlier, the one FL-50R I carried with me sat in the rucksack the whole time, wasting space, while I was out carrying the camera and lenses in my jacket pockets where-ever I traveled around Lilburn and the general vicinity of north-east Atlanta. Broad daylight or late evening, I was always ready.

I no longer carry any adapted lenses. I'm glad I had the opportunity to try out that style of photography with the E-P2, but I've come to discover that native ยต4/3rds lenses are far faster to focus with than adapted regular 4/3rds lenses, and blazingly easier to use than manual focus lenses such as the G.Zuiko 50mm 1:1.4. The 20mm is a fraction of the size and weight of the three types of 50mm lenses I currently have, and so much easier and faster to focus and use.

If there is a real limitation with the E-P2, it has to do with autofocus. Not so much the ability to lock autofocus, but the ability to quickly set an autofocus point without having to go through a menu. The E-P2 doesn't have the touch-screen-focus ability of the E-P3. After fumbling and bumbling with the camera menu to set the focus square for the umptempth time to the section of the composition where I really needed it, it suddenly dawned on me how nice it would be to just touch the section of the screen where I wanted focus to be, and oh, have the shutter trip right after. You know, like the E-P3. (face-palm)

With the E-P3 I could have had my E-P2's sensor (which I still love) along with some key features the E-P2 lacks (easier, faster autofocus plus touch-select focus point and built-in flash to remotely trip those FL-50Rs I own (another face-palm)) that would have made my style of photography (no comments from the peanut gallery) a lot easier and faster. By making the brash comment I made last year about how the E-P3 was "too little, too late", I let emotion and personal bias deprive me of a camera with key capabilities I actually needed, that in turn made it more difficult (if not impossible) to capture the kind of moments the E-P3 could have easily enabled me to capture.

So, yes. I have to eat some crow.

Regardless, the current kit with the E-P2 is still a hell of a lot of fun to use and very lightweight to carry. The only lens I might add to the mix is the M.Zuiko 12mm in place of the 17mm. It's dropped down enough in price that it makes purchasing a copy acceptable, and I can only imagine how well it would work, even in my thick-fingered clumsy hands.

Right now is an exciting point in Olympus Camera's history. No, I'm not talking about the fiduciary shenanigans of upper management. I'm talking about the rumors circulating about a Pro Pen that is supposed to be designed similarly to the OM film camera. I'm now poised to either purchase an E-P3 or the OM-D (as rumor would name it). I'm leaning heavily to put in an advanced order as soon as advanced orders are opened. If the OM-D carries all the key features the E-P3 has, even if it still has the same sensor, I'm going to buy it. And if I can't get one, I'll go ahead and pick up an E-P3 body. I've become excited about using Olympus again, more than I've been for quite some time.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Bill. I can confirm the fiddly autofocus from our E-PL1 cameras, tho once you've got it right, that sensor-based focusing is much more precise than the focus-and-recomposing on my SLR.

    Concerning lenses: since that 20mm is practically glued to my wife's camera since she got it, I'm thinking about what to get for myself. I have the 50mm macro also glued to my E-520, so 17mm would be great - if only it would be a stop or two faster...

    So I'm contemplating about a second 20mm, and even the PL 1.4 25mm lenses, tho I'd really prefer something a bit wider.


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…

Be Careful of Capital One Mailings

Capitol One ("What's in your wallet?") sent me a bit of deceptive snail mail today. I felt sure it was a credit card offer, and sure enough, it was. I open all credit card offers and shred them before putting them in the trash. Normally I just scan the front to make sure I don't miss anything; the Capital One offer made me stop for a moment and strike a bit of fear into my heart.

The letter's opening sentence read:
Our records as of December 30, 2009 indicate your Capital One Platinum MasterCard offer is currently valid and active.Not paying close attention during the first reading, I quickly developed this irrational worry that I was actually on the hook for something important, but I wasn't quite sure what. The letter listed "three ways to reply" at the bottom; via phone, the internet, and regular snail mail. I elected to call.

Once I reached the automated phone response system, the first entry offered was '1', to "activate my Capital …

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…