Wednesday, July 04, 2012
A Means to an End
I'm writing this entry because I've gotten so tired of reading about the superiority of any given camera model or brand over any other, which indirectly implies that great sums of money must be spent to achieve some creative edge. They're all good, both digital and film. The limiting factor has been and always will be the guy or gal behind the camera. If you think my work is bad, it's not due to any limitation of my gear. I could sell it all and buy Canon or Nikon or Sony to take its place and my work would still be as good or as bad is it is right now.
I don't use these particular cameras to impress anybody. I don't care if you're impressed or not. I use these cameras because I like them. If you don't like your tools then your work will suffer as a consequence. Why you like or dislike a given camera or system is personal, and only effects you one way or the other. That's why, in a way, it does absolutely no good to publicly praise or condemn a camera or system. The best you can do is write a personal lucid post documenting your observations and experiences in order to offer a data point that others might use to make an informed decision to purchase a given camera or system. And that, on occasion, is what I do.
The biggest reason I like these Pens is because of their small size vs the high quality images they produce. I walk around now with a Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller camera bag. It holds both Pens and six lenses along with the two lenses on the body (six primes and two zooms) along with a pair of battery chargers, extra batteries, SDHC cards, a Color Checker Passport, and various odds and ends. When I really want to go all out I bungee a small tripod to the outside of the bag.
When I'm out using the Pens I put a lens on each body and carry an extra in my shirt pocket, and leave the Domke in the trunk of the car. I'll carry either the 14mm or the 17mm on one body, the 45mm on the second, and either the 20mm or the 14-42mm in my shirt pocket. And maybe an extra battery. At 6'4" and 250lbs, those cameras disappear rather nicely against that much bulk. When I pull them up to use them I look like some overweight tourist with a point and shoot, somebody to be ignored. In broad daylight or shade or indoors they focus just fine. When I want to get all "artsy" I'll mount the OM50mm or OM28mm and manually focus. Manual focusing, counterintuitively, is actually faster than autofocusing with the µ4/3rds lenses. That's because once you set the focus the camera fires as quickly as possible, not having to run a lens through its focus regimen.
Right now those cameras are getting pretty darn cheap. The E-PL1 is going for $150, body only, while the E-P2 and the E-PL2 are selling for $250, body only. You can find a lot of M.Zuiko kit lenses for dirt cheap to go on those cheap bodies. The only really expensive item is the VF-2 finder, and yes, I have a finder for both bodies. If you're really strapped for funds you can buy just one and use it on whatever body you fell is necessary.
For "development" I use LightRoom 4.1 to get the kind of final image I like. I could use direct JPEG but I've reached a point were I can quickly run raws through LightRoom. Frankly I like the way LightRoom converts the raws.
I like these cameras. I like them a lot. Unless there's a massive drop in price with another brand similar to what I see right now with these Pens, I'll continue to use them until they break down or somebody makes an offer I can't refuse, like the Nikon D3200 for, say, $150 body only. They're tools, a means to an end, and so far they're doing just fine.
The setup was taken with an Olympus E-3 and 12-60mm zoom. I had an FL50R flash, remotely controlled, off to the side on its stand and a Rogue Flashbender attached to the snoot, shaped to bounce the flash onto the two Pens. The Pens sat on a large piece of white poster board, which was itself shaped to help bounce some of the light back into the shadows. Simple and sweet for small devices. Post processed in LightRoom 4.1.