Monday, February 20, 2012

The Local Photo Shop

Colonial Photo and Hobby

There's a camera store on Mills, on the south side of the intersection of Mills and Colonial in Orlando. Colonial Photo and Hobby has been in business at that spot since 1954.

Colonial Photo was one of the first stores I learned about (after groceries and gas, so you know where my priorities were) when I moved down to Orlando in 1984. At that time I was shooting film with my OM-4 and I went to Colonial to buy film and get it processed and printed. Over the years I found other spots to get my film processed, but I always went to Colonial to "do it right", and to pick up the odd but always important accessory that nobody else in town seems to have.

It was at Colonial that I purchased my Nikon N90, and it was Colonial where I took it to get it repaired when I fell into a North Carolina river with the camera around my neck one summer while on vacation. I had no intention that day of tripping over a tree root, rolling down the bank with $2,000 worth of camera and lens dearly clutched to my chest to protect it from damage, over the bank and into the water. But shit, as they say, happens. And the idea I should buy a "baggie" to cover the camera for those wet moments I need to use it means I'd have to keep the damn camera wrapped 24/7. I already look goofy enough as it is. That's the act that planted the seed in my mind to buy a waterproof camera, and why I eventually purchased the E-3 and later, the three E-1s I have lying about. And why I'll get the E-M5. So laugh all you want about my insistence on water and dust resistant bodies and lenses, but I've got a few real-world stories that illustrate my reasons why.


While I was there to pick up a Skooba camera strap I rounded a corner and into an isle filled with camera books. And what should I see but at least three titles from a certain Austin author who occasionally does a bit of professional work. I was glad to see his work there (at least three of his titles are showing), but it was also a sobering reminder that he faces some pretty stiff competition in this area from other writers.

The No. 3 Olympus E-1

I got my third E-1 from the same author sometime back in August of last year, and he warned me it had an odd little quirk. Turn it on, take a photo with it, and it would lock up. Pull the battery (the BLL1 out of the grip), put the battery back, and then start shooting again and the quirk magically corrected itself. The quirk was intermittent, in that sometimes it would show up, and sometimes it wouldn't. So after it started to show up repeatedly I packed the body up and sent it into Olympus service up in Hauppauge, NY. It took about three weeks (I was in no hurry with all my other bodies lying about), but when it finally came back it had a brand new shutter with zero actuations and a new main board. It's got the Skooba strap on it and the Zuiko Digital 50mm, ready to head out tomorrow for some test exposures.

It cost a total of $254 to get it serviced, but I am a techie, and I will not let an instrument sit around in a malfunctioning state. Besides, if somebody gives you something like an E-1, the least you can do is take good care of it. The only camera in this house I won't fix is my 40 year old Minolta XE-7 because I can't get parts for it any more. It managed to work long enough for my youngest daughter to use in a film photography class in 2007, but after she finished the class the XE-7 finally gave up the ghost. That's when I gave her the Nikon. And then later an E-300 and one of the E-1s.

Lightroom 4

I have a confession to make. I've been using LR4 beta. And I love it. I've gotten much better results out of all my cameras with LR4 than with LR3. I don't know what it is, but I don't think I'll ever go back to just JPEG. I'm now completely and totally a post-processing raw file junkie, all thanks to LR4. I just hope that Adobe finishes LR4 so that it's at least as good as it is right now.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The post processing software keeps advancing, producing better and better results from the same (current) sensors out in the world. I'm curious to see how LR4 processes raw images from the E-1. We'll find out tomorrow.


  1. Hey, I also see three titles of that author, one even double, and I have them all.

    About LR: good enough to convince a die-hard Linux-only user (with a small virtual Win7 in a VirtualBox) to try it? Do you have any comparisons with programs which are available for native Linux, like Bibble/AfterShot Pro, or like RawTherapee? And could you even show an example of where it's better than these?

  2. My only exposure to Raw Therapee was under Fedora, and it crashed consistently when I tried to open E-P2 JPEGs. I have never tried Bibble, so I can't offer a comparison there. But I can compare it to Olympus' tool, and there is no comparison there either. I can also compare it to OOC JPEGs of all the Olympus cameras, and I much prefer how LR produces JPEGs to the vaunted Olympus in-camera JPEG engine.

  3. I had my E-1 do something very similar. I'd take a few photos, change a few settings, and the camera would randomly lock up. Pulling the battery reset it, but it would lose all of the settings – iso, frame rate, aperture, white balance, everything - that I had changed during that session. Not reset to defaults, mind you, but to the original state as when I first turned it on.

    It wasn't a constant problem, but would happen often enough that it became part of the drill of using the camera.

    Olympus replaced the main board under warranty. It made no difference at all.

    The I learned to habitually reformat the memory card. It never locked up again.

    (And I was using several different CF cards, so it isn't a brand-specific incompatibility, but just one of those things. A quirk.)

  4. Matthew, I tried reformatting the card, and tried several brands of card as well. It made no difference in my case. I was out with it today, and having a fairly good time, at least with the camera.


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