Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Firmware and Untried Features

Dark Green
After yesterday's mixed success with using the E-PL2 to remotely control the FL50R I downloaded the Olympus updating utility and checked the firmware versions on all the Pens and all the lenses, in the hope that perhaps my problem was due to technology and not expertise. Surprisingly all three bodies needed firmware upgrades, as well as two lenses; the M.Zuiko 14-42mm II and the Panasonic 14mm.

Nothing in the firmware upgrades had anything to do with remote flash control, but the 14-42mm upgrade was intriguing as it was supposed to speed up autofocus on the E-P3. After upgrading the 14-42mm I tried it on the E-PL2 and while I can't say for certain if it speed up autofocus on the E-PL2, it's certainly the fastest focusing lens I have in my current collection. The firmware upgrade for the 14mm was to help it focus more quietly.

Speaking of quiet autofocus, the E-PL2 is the quietest focusing Pen of the three that I have while the E-P2 is the noisiest. The E-P2 (and to a lesser extent the E-PL1) cause a lot of aperture change chatter. The E-PL2 only causes chatter with the Panasonic 20mm. When the MSC lenses are attached (14-42mm II, 40-150mm IIR, and the 45mm) the E-PL2 is totally quiet when changing exposure and in autofocus. Along with it's built-in eye focus detection, it's silence is another reason to reach for this camera over the other two.

Receipt of the E-PL2 has given me a new camera with features that aren't a part of the E-PL1 and certainly aren't a part of the E-P2. One of the new E-PL2 features is the Dramatic Tone art filter. I have for the most part ignored the art filters, and after playing a bit with the Dramatic Tone, the jury is still out over whether I'll use it for more than just fooling around. You can make some adjustments with these art filters and you can add an "artsy" border around the images as well. Whether this helps create photographs that will last the ages  only the ages can say for certain. But I wouldn't bet good money on that happening.
Stormy Sunset
What I noticed is that the E-PL2 creates both a Raw file as well as a JPEG file. I shoot Raw always, and I don't recall the E-P2 ever giving me two files like this. The E-P2 always remembered the effect and could produce a JPEG if I did in-camera conversion, but if I downloaded the Raws to LightRoom then all I got was a standard Raw image; the effect was lost. But then the E-P2 didn't have this particular art filter.

What I do like about the Dramatic Tone filter is its ability to render the clouds in the sky. With the wild weather we get down in Florida in the summer, I think I'm going to use this filter a bit more than the others. I also want to start playing with many of the other features. I'm seriously considering switching away from heavy post processing if I can get the camera to deliver the kind of look I'm now getting with LightRoom and Silver Efex Pro 2.

The more I work with the E-PL2 the more I'm taken with the idea of owning either the E-P3 or the E-M5. And for my wallet's sake that's a bad state to be in.


All photos taken with the E-PL2 and the M.Zuiko 14-42mm II after the firware upgrades. The Dramatic Tone art filter with border was used. Time of day was after the last major thunderstorm had come through, in  the late afternoon/very early evening time. All images SOOC.

This little E-PL2 is a lot of fun. And the fun factor is washing back over the E-PL1 and E-P2.

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