I bought my first micro 4/3 system when I was having difficulty walking and carrying anything. My Pentax K-7 (my primary camera at the time) was too heavy. I was planning on a trip to Tunisia and was trying to travel as light as possible. I also needed a camera that was easy to use for those occasions when I had to use a cane. To meet these challenges I purchased an Olympus E-P1 and took it to Tunisia. The pictures from that trip are on this blog. Later I purchased an E-PL2 and took it to Ireland. Those pictures are also on this blog … and now I have replaced the E-P1 and the E-PL2 with the E-P3.
I bought the Olympus E-P3 camera since it is the best all-around compromise for my uses. I wanted a camera that had good image quality and was light enough and small enough that I could take it most anywhere without causing any additional strain on my back; and I like the look and feel of it. It is a tool that I enjoy using.
Most of my photography falls into the category normally referred to as travel photography. I need a camera that is light and easy to travel with, no matter whether that is on a plane or just taking a walk around the block. I like to capture the scenes around me and that includes everything from vast landscapes to people going about their daily life. I have also found that the smaller the camera-lens setup, the less threatened people feel, making it easier to get candid environmental portraits.
I chose the E-P3 for a variety of reasons. It makes a small, light system because it has a micro 4/3 size sensor. They are slightly smaller than APS size sensors; but vastly larger than the sensors in pocket point & shoot cameras. Being slightly smaller than APS size sensor, along with it being a mirror-less camera, means that the lenses are a lot smaller than those on DSLR cameras with APS size sensors.
I chose the Olympus micro 4/3 system rather than the Panasonic system because Olympus has Image Stabilization (IS) built into the body while Panasonic has it in each lens, but not in their small pancake lenses. IS shouldn’t be necessary in the wider pancakes, but given my advancing age and problems, I felt that I could use all the help I could get. This is especially true since I often shoot with one hand. This also meant that I needed a camera that focuses quickly and reliably and the E-P3 is fast.
I primarily use my E-P3 as my walk-about camera, taking pictures as I see them. My normal mode of carry is on a Domke strap around my neck. When the weather requires a jacket I hang the camera from around my neck under the jacket so that it is protected from the weather and is out of sight. Sometimes I use a wrist strap and just carry the camera with a pancake lens on it in my jacket pocket. Rarely do I take a camera bag with me when out walking. My preferred mode is to just take one lens on the camera and an extra memory card and battery in my pocket.
I usually transport my camera and lenses in a Domke 803 satchel style bag. Occasionally I will carry the bag on my shoulder with the camera in the bag if I’m not expecting to be shooting often.
When I’m traveling with a tour group I need to be able to take my pictures quickly. This means that I usually shoot in auto ISO mode (200-3200) and in the program “P” mode so that the camera makes the decisions for me; but, when I have the time I need to be able to change the settings to suit the scene. With the E-P3 I can do this quickly and easily with just a roll of the thumb. I have often found that when traveling and using the aperture “A” mode that I would adjust it for one scene and then forget to change it for the next scene if I was in a hurry. Since I turn the camera off between scenes, it always comes up quickly with an appropriate compromise setting if I leave it in “P” mode. I also find that the flash comes in handy as a fill flash occasionally.
In order to keep the camera weight to a minimum, and facilitate carrying it as I described above, I have become accustomed to shooting with prime lenses. I tried this while touring in Ireland and found that it served me well, and have continued to shoot that way ever since. I also appreciate the faster primes when in low light situations since it enables me to shoot at lower ISOs.
Here is a picture of my system. It gives me a range from 28 to 300 mm in 35 mm effectiveness. Most of the time I leave the 20 mm Panasonic lens on the camera … that is a 40 mm equivalent in a 35 mm system.