Monday, November 25, 2013

can't get enough - olympus e-pl3

E-PL3, Lumix 14mm, and FL-FM1
Some men pass the time by chasing women. I did that and wound up married, and we all know how expensive that gets, especially when you add in some children. Some men pass the time with hobbies like fishing or golf, and wind up spending considerable sums on expensive boats, expensive fishing gear, or expensive golf equipment (some very expensive). Some men even have photography as a hobby, and we all know how expensive that can get.

I, on the other hand, with my limited budget, have a hobby collecting and using older cameras that have passed their prime (no pun intended). So I wait, usually several years, until all those former new hotness cameras become old and busted in the eyes of the market and they go on considerable markdown. The Olympus E-PL3 is one of those cameras.

Introduced the latter half of 2011, it was the last of the 12MP µ4:3rds cameras (the other two being the E-P3 and E-PM1). The next cameras to come out of the Olympus camera chute, in fact the very next camera, was the 16MP E-M5. And I have one of those.

I have this itch to collect still-new cameras in original packing that hit the $200 or less price point. The E-PL3 is the third such Olympus camera I've purchased like this, the other two being the E-PL1 ($140) and the E-PL2 ($200). I even purchased the Panasonic GX1 for $200. The E-PL3 is unique for two reasons:
  1. While I purchased all the other low-cost cameras body only, the E-PL3 came with the third generation 14-42mm kit lens, the II R. And the seller, Newegg, threw in a free Toshiba 8GB SDHC Class 10 flash card. How could I resist the E-PL3's siren call to my wallet?
  2. It's red. Very, very red. I like red. A lot. Much, much better than, say, yellow.
There are all sorts of oddments and perceived issues about this camera, and they're all pretty much true. I'd be concerned, except the low low price forgives all sins. I mean, if I wanted the perfect camera I'd get myself a perfect camera like the Nikon Df.

Kit zoom, 42mm
It took me no time to slap in a battery (it takes the BLS-1 and I have plenty of those), grab a cheap SDHC card, program the bits out I don't care about (such as the low-light focusing aid, an LED that shines annoyingly out of the front of the camera), and start clicking away like a tourist with a red compact camera.

Folks seem taken with the red camera. They certainly don't seem intimidated by a little red camera. So much for the commandment that thou shalt take thy street photographs with a black camera and have all the white bits taped up.

Kit zoom, 14mm
paparazzi cat - Lumix 14mm and FL-FM1 flash
The camera comes with a clip-on flash, the Olympus FL-FM1, the earlier version of the clip-on flash that ships with the E-M5, the FL-FM2. The FL-FM1 has a small push-in lock to help the flash stay clipped in place so it won't get knocked off. With the flash head popped down the E=PL3 looks a bit taller, but not nearly as tall if the VF-2 EVF were plugged in its place.

It's a fun camera, and it has a feature that makes it quite useful - the flippy LCD display on the back. It isn't a touch screen, but if there's anything the NEX 5N and the E-M5 have taught me, it's that a flippy display is something very nice indeed to have on the back of your camera. It makes it easy to hold at your waist, where nobody seems to notice that you're operating a camera. But then I'm sure when they spy my little Very Red camera, the thought immediately goes through their minds, "What self-respecting photographer does Artistic Street Photography with a Very Red camera?" Whom, indeed?

I will be rolling about the countryside with this camera, and I will be shooting fine JPEGs straight out of the camera. I need something light and light hearted that won't drive me to Lightroom and all the convoluted post processing "work flow" I've been chasing since 2009. I'd use my cell phone for that, but I can't stand the ergonomics nor the output of my Samsung S4. And I'm not all that crazy about the other giants of the cellphone camera field, especially the Apple iPhone.

I also refuse to review this camera. I did that with several of my earlier purchases, notably he E-P2 and GX1, and while it's fun, it also detracts from the real reason for owning any camera - to use the bloody things. There are too many reviews of cameras out there already, sucking the life and fun out of every one of them. If you want a formal review for this camera, you only have to google for them.

I'm out to have some fun. For the foreseeable future I intend to keep the 14mm stuck to the front of the E-PL3 and pretend it's a Ricoh GR. That's assuming Matthew doesn't burst my bubble.

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