Years ago I had different Olympus PEN cameras and liked them very much when traveling. I managed to own, at one time or the other, the Olympus E-P1, the E-PL2, and then the E-P3 camera. I found that the PEN cameras were lightweight, small, and worked well with prime lenses when traveling in Ireland and Tunisia, but I eventually replaced them to increase the quality of my images. I decided that the image quality (IQ) of the micro 4/3 system just wasn’t what I desired, especially at higher ISOs, so I replaced my Olympus E-P3 with a Fuji X100.
This year, Olympus came out with a new version of the PEN series, the E-PL5. It has the same Sony sensor and processor that they use in the more expensive OM-D E-M5 camera. That new 16 MP sensor has shown in reviews to have far better IQ than the older 12 MP sensors that were in my previous PEN cameras. Based on the reported quality of that sensor, I decided to try an Olympus PEN camera again. The question: “Is it now good enough to replace my Fuji X100 and my Canon S95 cameras?” According to the literature, the IQ of the E-PL5 is almost as good as the X100 and the camera is smaller and lighter and has a wide choice of good lenses available for it. The E-PL5 is larger but has far superior IQ than my Canon S95, and thus the E-PL5 fits nicely in between the two cameras that I have. My Canon S95 is a very small pocket camera but I have stopped carrying it due to its’ relatively poor IQ.
If warranted, my intentions would be to use the E-PL5, mostly with the Panasonic 20 mm lens, as my jacket pocket camera and when I want a more discreet camera than my Pentax K-5. I would miss the hybrid viewfinder of the X100 but the tilt-able LCD of the E-PL5 would probably compensate for it. It also has the advantage of being able to use it to take pictures down low to the ground. I have a very stiff back and can’t bend down low like I use to so I expect this to be a very useful feature. The E-PL5 would also enable me to take occasional movies for insertion into my video shows. I also imagine that I would use the E-PL5 when traveling, especially when flying when I keep the weight as light as possible.
In order to check it out, I ordered the E-PL5 with the 14 – 42 mm zoom lens. I doubted that the kit lens would be useable from my perspective but since they include it for only $50 more than the body alone I got it. So far I have only used the E-PL5 with the 14 – 42 mm zoom lens and I don’t like the lens. It is a little too large for my use (carry in a jacket pocket), is too slow for low light photography, and is not sharp enough to allow for significant cropping. The pictures at the top illustrate the limits of sharpness and low light capabilities for an optimum aperture and zoom for the lens. These pictures were all taken hand-held with no flash at the 20 mm zoom range, ISO = 5000, f/4.0, and 1/25 or 1/40 sec. I was surprised at the low noise levels at this high of an ISO … they cleaned up reasonably well using LR4 on the raw files of such a small sensor. This shows that the sensor and processor of this latest PEN camera are far superior to the earlier ones. My biggest complaint is the lack of sharpness at all zoom ranges, and this is due to the lens. I have the Panasonic 20 mm lens on order and I’ll let you know how the E-PL5 performs with it when I get it. There are newer and better lenses available for the micro 4/3 system but they are more expensive and larger.
I love my Fuji X100 and it would be a difficult decision to sell it if I decide to keep the E-PL5. I definitely wouldn’t sell it if I didn’t have the Pentax K-5. While I have had problems in the past carrying the weight of the K-5 with heavy lenses, I am managing it now and I have enjoyed its excellent IQ and other features. My K-5 will remain as my go-to, preferred camera when its’ quality and features are desired and I can handle the weight and size.
Basically I am still a conflicted photographer. I enjoy photography but find that I really have no particular style or preferred subject. If I did, my camera of choice would be an easier decision. I have always believed that having and using just one camera would be preferable for me. Since I don’t have a particular preference in type of photography, and since I have had various physical limitations that have changed over the years, I have tried different cameras with the hope of finding “the one” for me. What I have found is that there doesn’t seem to be “one camera”; therefore, I’m hoping to use the K-5 as my preferred camera and something like the E-PL5 as my discreet carry with me camera when among people.
I believe that my camera capabilities exceed my capabilities and that I need to focus more on getting out and about and taking pictures. I still need to practice and try more things and I’m hoping that having the small E-PL5 with a prime lens on it in my jacket pocket or a small bag will enable me to do that. Some may think that I have taken two steps forward and then one back with this latest choice of camera, but I’m going for more portability with a more discreet choice as part of my plan to be a better opportunistic photographer. As Ming Thein would say, I’m going more for sufficiency than quality.
The above was taken in my front yard with the Panasonic G3 camera and the Panasonic 45 – 175 mm lens at a focal length of 107 mm.
As mentioned in earlier articles, I have been simplifying my photography gear. My desire has always been to be able to get down to one camera that is small, lightweight and does all I need. My Panasonic G3 almost does it. I have sold my K-5 and all the Pentax lenses as well as my Olympus E-P1 and E-PL2 cameras, and all of my Olympus lenses other than for the 14 – 42 mm kit lens for the E-P3. The only reason I have kept that lens is for when I eventually sell my E-P3. I also plan to sell my Canon S95.
While I initially preferred the Olympus micro 4/3 cameras over the Panasonic ones since the Olympus cameras have in-body image stabilization, I have switched to Panasonic cameras. I did that since 1) Panasonic was quicker to switch to a refined, better sensor, 2) Panasonic had a built-in viewfinder, and 3) the Panasonic cameras were more reasonably priced.
The one shortfall that I experience with the G3 is the ability to carry it in a pocket or a very small bag; therefore, for the near term, I am keeping my Olympus E-P3 to cover that need. Eventually I hope to replace it with a micro 4/3 camera that is easier to carry in a jacket or vest pocket. Until that happens, I will use the E-P3 with either the 14 or 20mm Panasonic lens on it when I don’t think I will need the G3, or at least don’t wish to take it with me.
As of now (I know I keep buying and selling cameras :-)), I plan to use the Panasonic G3 with either the 14, 20, 14 – 42, or 45 – 175 mm lens on it, depending on where I’m going and what I’m photographing. I’m finding that I really like the Panasonic 45 – 175 mm lens for when I’m walking outside in the more open areas, and generally only switch to one of the wider angle, faster lens when I’m in town or inside a building.
The next lens that I’m thinking about getting is the Panasonic 25 mm lens to use on the G3. I’m thinking that I will keep the 20 mm lens to use on the E-P3, and then, hopefully on another micro 4/3 camera … probably a future generation of a small micro 4/3 Panasonic camera. If I proceed with this plan I will then have redundancy between the two cameras and all of the lenses and will be photographing exclusively with micro 4/3 cameras. Eventually I hope to be down to primarily one camera, but it would have to be a small lightweight micro 4/3 camera with a built-in viewfinder.
Now, if only I could reduce the number of my camera bags. I have acquired many bags for many cameras and different uses over the last few years, and while you can never have too many bags :-), I do have some larger ones that I will probably never use again.
We often miss a lot as we go through life. This applies to almost everything we do as well as in our photography. Often, especially when touring with a group we only look for, and take, what I’ll call “postcard” pictures. The pictures that everyone seems to take; the same views recorded over and over by almost everyone carrying a camera. We don’t take the time to look around, including behind us, for the often more interesting views.
We need to think as we compose our views. It works two ways. We need to take the time to compose our shots and ensure that we don’t end up with features we didn’t want, like the classic pole appearing to stick out of someone’s head or some other distracting element at the edge of the scene. Take the time to review the extremities of your picture before you push the shutter. The same care needs to be taken to ensure that we do include the local color, or those things which help establish what makes the view different from all the other pictures. Often when touring highly visited tourist sites our biggest concern is trying to get a picture without people in the shot, when including them can enhance the picture.
How well did you look at the above picture? Did you see the baby in the lower left portion of the frame? Click on the picture and then click on the 1200 x 1600 size above it and look more closely. I think that it adds to the overall image by adding a human element to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin Ireland, the largest Church in Ireland. This building was built in 1200 – 1270 and later fell into disrepair. Between 1860 and 1900 a full-scale restoration was carried out by the Guinness family, and we still get to admire the architecture today. How many views have this human element to help offset the cold, dark, but impressive architecture?
All that I have mentioned above also applies to life in general. Take time, slow down, look around, take it easy, enjoy yourself, and make sure you don’t miss the finer details in life.
Here are a few more pictures from inside the Cathedral. They were all a challenge to take due to the low light levels.
PS, for those inquiring minds, these pictures were taken with the Olympus E-P1 camera with the Panasonic 14 mm lens at a wide open aperture of f/2.5 and ISOs varying between 400 and 1600. They were taken as raw files and then developed with Adobe Lightroom.
When I look at this picture I have three different thoughts about where this path goes. The first is about life in general, the second is about the economy, and the third is about my photography. Since I have readers interested in all three areas and I couldn’t make up my mind about which to write about, I have decided to make this a three-part article.
Life in General
The first thing that this picture reminds me is that all life follows a very short path and the end is always the same. All life dies in its due time and the only unknown is how soon; but, others will remember us. It is our responsibility to make sure that we are remembered for making the best contributions that we can to the long-term evolution of humanity in the short time that we are here.
This path reminds me that eventually we will probably have to take a step backwards in time to achieve a sustainable, stable system. If the correct decisions are made in time, we will essentially hold steady in a very low, to no-growth economy and we won’t need to change much; but, I don’t see that happening. As I noted in previous articles, I don’t think that the necessary minor changes will be made in time and that we will put off making any major corrections to our economic system and way of life until big changes are needed. The world has no choice but to step back and recover from its’ debts and make the adjustments to continue in a sustainable way. The only uncertainty is how soon and thus how big of a change.
My Camera Path
Those of you who have followed this website have seen me go from small sensor P&S pocket cameras to small sensor travel zooms, to the Pentax K-7 DSLR, to the micro 4/3 Olympus Pen cameras, the E-P1, E-PL2, and the E-P3 and the Pentax K-5 DSLR, along with a side excursion to the Canon S95. In this last year or two I have oscillated back and forth between the K-5, the Pen cameras, and the S95 while seeking a one camera solution. I have been on a path towards finding & choosing a single light-weight, smaller all-purpose camera with adequate image quality that I can carry with me wherever I go. At the moment, I have paused along the path and settled upon my Olympus E-P3 along with the Panasonic 14 mm and 20 mm lenses, the Olympus 14 – 42 mm zoom, and the Olympus 14 – 150 mm zoom, but I have kept the Canon S95 for use as a small shirt pocket camera and the Pentax K-5 with the 18 – 55 mm zoom for inclement weather and with the 50 – 300 mm zoom for wildlife shooting.
I’m still on a path towards having one camera along with a simplified choice of lenses. I’m still trying to decide on whether I wish to use zoom lenses on my E-P3 or to just use faster prime lenses such as the 14 mm, the 20 mm, and a 45 mm. At the moment I’m leaning toward using the 14 – 150 mm, f/4 – 5.6 zoom most of the time along with the 20 mm, f/1.7 prime for when I need low light capability or to keep the camera under my jacket or in a vest pocket and/or for when I wish to be a little more discreet. Ultimately, the choice will probably be driven by how fast a lens I need.
I have paused on my path to find my one-camera solution until I learn whether I can get along with just the E-P3 and until I see if there is another new camera coming out that will be worth the cost for my single camera; but I’m thinking at the moment that I will settle for a while with just the micro 4/3 system as it seems to be an excellent compromise on flexibility, quality, size, weight, and cost as the best camera for recording my views along my path through life.
I have gone through some major changes this past year. I’m not even going to address the physical changes or the move from Bowie, MD where we lived for 45 years, or the move to Homewood at Plum Creek in Hanover, PA. While those events were quite remarkable in themselves, in this article I’m only going to write about the changes with my photography and cameras.
Some will probably think that I have gone in a complete circle, or series of circles, but I believe that I am making progress … it just hasn’t been in a straight line. It’s more like I’m spiraling in towards my more minimal set of cameras … or camera.
I started off the year with the Pentax K-7 DSLR and Olympus E-P1 cameras. When I traveled to Tunisia the previous year, I had taken the E-P1 rather than the K-7 due to weight restrictions, and the results firmed up my feelings about the benefits of the mirror-less micro 4/3 camera-lens systems. In fact I was so pleased with the E-P1 that I added the Olympus E-PL2 to my collection of cameras and took both it and the E-P1 to Ireland in May of this year. The E-P1 became my backup camera.
To further reduce the weight and size of my gear, I tried shooting primarily with prime lenses while in Ireland and found that they worked quite well. I determined that the Lumix 14 and 20 mm lenses on the E-PL2 made a great travel system, but I began to think that carrying two Olympus Pen cameras (one for backup) was heavier than necessary, so I bought a Canon S95 to use for backup and as a true pocket camera for other times.
But, while the two Pen cameras performed OK in the hot, dusty climate of Tunisia and the wet, windy climate of Ireland, I still had some doubts about using them in even harsher climates, so I purchased a Pentax K-5. My intent was to use the K-5 in future trips to places like the Amazon rain forest or the wet tropical areas of Costa Rica. I then took the K-5 to Hawaii for a couple of weeks so that I could get more accustomed to using it and to see how well I liked it. The bottom line is that I liked it a lot, but I could have gotten along just as well with the E-PL2. For now, I’m keeping the K-5 in case I make any future trips back to the rain forests and/or need an effective 450 mm reach for wild life.
Since the E-P1 and the E-PL2 performed so well and since I have fallen in love with the Olympus Pen system, I decided to replace both of them with the E-P3. The more I use the E-P3 the better I like it. If all continues to go as I expect, I will be using it as my primary camera with the S95 and K-5 relegated to collect dust sitting on the shelf.
There have been other changes relative to photography in the past year, but they have been more subtle. I have come to realize the photographer is much more important than the camera and that having a smaller, lighter weight camera with me is more important than having a DSLR APS camera at home sitting on the shelf. A continual search for my next camera is an endless pursuit with limited benefits, and I’m tired of reading web sites that compare the minute changes in image quality, etc. for each and every new camera that comes out. I would be a lot better off devoting more time to getting out and about and taking pictures and perfecting the use of what I have. Finally, I have embraced shooting all of my pictures in the raw format and using Lightroom (LR) to develop all of my pictures.
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.
Finally, my new camera arrived and I charged up the battery, put my Lumix 20 mm lens on it, and headed out to take a few pictures. I do like the handling of it better, the quicker focusing, etc. as compared to my E-P1 and E-PL2. It will take me a while to use it enough to see if there are any other changes. I don’t expect to notice much in the way of differences in image quality, but I will see.
It was cloudy this morning when I headed out and took the following pictures. We have had a lot of rain and the creek was high. One feature that I did notice, and don’t remember having before, was that I noticed that the white balance was different in several of the pictures, and this made the colors different, but this didn’t present any problems since I was shooting raw files.
I’ll try and get some better pictures when the weather improves, but we are approaching the time of the year when I don’t get out to take many pictures. 😦
Those who have followed my blog know that I’m seeking to find the best travel camera while also reducing the weight of my bags. I have had no trouble keeping the weight of my carry-on bag to around 18 pounds, but am always seeking to lower that more. My problem is that doesn’t include my cameras. On my recent trip to Hawaii I took an additional bag that weighed 10.5 pounds. That was mostly camera gear but did include a light rain jacket and a few medicines. My preference would be to get down to one or two carry-on bags whose combined weight is no more than 20 pounds … I know, I’m probably dreaming but it makes a nice goal to strive for.
My indecision on which camera to travel with is similar to the above picture. In the above picture I couldn’t decide whether to place the emphasis on the sky or the foreground. At the moment I have split the view. This might go against most recommendations about composition, but it works for now.
Deciding on a camera isn’t that easy; i.e. deciding on whether to place the emphasis on weight reduction or image quality at high ISOs. When I went to Tunisia and Ireland I used Olympus Pen cameras. In Tunisia I mostly used a small zoom and in Ireland I mostly used a couple of prime lenses. For the trip to Hawaii I took my Pentax K-5 DSLR and the short zoom. The advantage of this system was that it was weather resistant and had good high ISO image quality. The irony is that I needed that capability more in Ireland than in Hawaii. I could also have used the weather resistant capability in Tunisia due to the blowing sand which got into everything.
If weight were not a factor, the decision would be easy … take the Pentax K-5 with the weather resistant 18 – 55 mm zoom. It is more rugged, has very good battery life, and has excellent high ISO image quality. Keeping in mind that I don’t have any immediate plans for trips by air at the moment, I will travel to environmentally challenging locations with my K-5, while I keep waiting for someone to manufacture an equally capable camera that weighs less. If I were to travel anywhere before I find a better camera and need to travel lighter, I will compromise on image quality and travel with my Olympus E-PL2. In the meantime, I’m hoping that someone will build a camera as capable as the K-5 that is smaller and weighs less. I’ll keep looking.
In addition, I’m looking to reduce my collection of cameras down to one camera. At the moment I’m focusing my “camera dreaming” on finding a small, easy to carry camera suitable for always having with me … my just-in-case I see something camera. It would be nice if it filled the above travel needs, but in the meanwhile since I don’t see any such camera on the horizon, I’ll continue to keep the K-5 and look for another camera to replace my Canon S95, and the Olympus E-P1, and the Olympus E-PL2. Like in the picture above, I’m splitting my views.
In an earlier post I told how I sold my Pentax K-7 DSLR and replaced it with a micro 4/3 camera … and now I have decided to expand my camera systems by getting another Pentax DSLR. Before I tell you why, I think I had better first explain why I sold my K-7 in the first place.
A year ago I was having a lot of pain in my right knee, leg, and lower back and was only able to walk for short distances. It got progressively worse and got to the point where I couldn’t carry my K-7 and often had to use a cane. In fact it got to the point where I was wobbling and had trouble walking even a little. After seeing various doctors and having an MRI of my back, etc., I learned that my second and third lumbar vertebrae were making bone on bone contact and crushing a nerve. This resulted in my having a lumbar fusion … which was quite successful. Immediately after the surgery all of my knee & leg pains and problems walking disappeared. Then just as I was starting to think about getting back to adventure travel, I learned that I had prostate cancer. This resulted in my having my prostate removed … and I’m happy to report that it appears that this was also quite successful and that the cancer was confined to the prostate. Finally, I can now think about adventure travel again, even though I still have a torn meniscus and some arthritis in my right knee.
Over the years I have developed a photography philosophy that there is no such thing as the perfect camera, but I must admit that searching for it is still a lot of fun. As a result, I have managed to acquire a number of cameras over the years and now have three basic systems. I have a Canon S95 as my pocket camera to use when I don’t have one of the other cameras with me. In addition, I have the micro 4/3 Olympus E-P1 & E-PL2 cameras with numerous lenses ( I used the E-P1 to take the above picture). I use them when I don’t wish to carry a bigger camera, when I need a discreet, but capable system, and when I travel by airplane and need to travel light with only a carry-on bag. For example I used micro 4/3 cameras in Tunisia and Ireland. I also always take more than one camera with me when I travel and the above give me various options for a backup camera (I haven’t been on a trip yet where someone didn’t have a camera problem). And now I have expanded my systems by adding a bigger DSLR. I wanted a camera that was more rugged, more weather resistant, with longer zoom lenses that I could use for taking pictures of wildlife, that I could use for car trips, and that I could use while traveling in more adventurous areas like in the Amazon rain forest, etc.
I’ll be sharing some of my reasons for why I got this particular camera, how/when I will be using it, etc. in future postings after I have a chance to use it some … so stay tuned.
Low tide, Ireland: Olympus E-PL2, 20mm Panasonic lens, converted to B&W using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2
During my last trip, which was to Ireland, I experimented with using prime lenses to keep the weight and volume to a minimum while still hopefully getting good pictures. From my perspective it was a resounding success. I only used a zoom a couple of days just for reference. I have waited for my fellow travelers to review my pictures ( the 12 previous postings) to see how they reacted before I finally wrote this posting. Since all the comments and e-mails were very favorable, I’m now ready to deem the experiment a complete success.
For the experiment, I was using a micro 4/3 camera, the Olympus E-PL2, along with two fast prime lenses: the Panasonic 14 mm, f/2.5 and the 20 mm, f/1.7. My primary choice was the 20 mm, f/1.7. It was great for shooting inside dark castles and churches and has great resolution which enabled zoom-cropping if necessary. I generally used one lens per outing and did not change lenses in the field. I labeled each day’s shootings with the lens combination that I used on the cover slide of each video so you can evaluate any differences.
The micro 4/3 camera-prime lens combination is quite light and small, and I never had any problems always carrying it. Since these lenses and the camera were not weather resistant, I was able to carry the camera on a strap around my neck and keep it under my rain jacket for protection … and whip it out and take pictures quickly when it wasn’t raining or blowing too hard. It also enabled me to discreetly take many pictures using just one hand.
My only concern was the limited dynamic range of the micro 4/3 camera. My first reaction when I looked at the pictures was that they were better than from a smaller sensor camera but not as good as many DSLR’s produced; but, this was before I worked on them with LightRoom 3.4.1. After I started working on “developing” the pictures, and learned how to best “fine-tune” them I was quite pleased. I did not take jpeg pictures. I took all the pictures in the RAW format and thus had greater range to develop and adjust the images. It takes a little longer than allowing the camera to make the decisions for you, but the quality of the final pictures is greater when you have the time to individually “fine-tune” each shot. This turned out to be a blessing while taking pictures in Ireland under the widely varying lighting and weather conditions. But, if you prefer to take your pictures as jpeg files it still works quite well under good lighting conditions. To check this out, take a look at my Tunisia pictures where I took all of them as jpegs using the Olympus E-P1 camera.
From now on I will probably travel with just a micro 4/3 camera with the 14 and 20 mm Panasonic lenses whenever I need to travel light and am touring towns and country sides with lots of cities, churches, markets, castles, etc. Basically this is whenever I’m traveling internationally with just my carry-on bag, don’t plan on taking any wildlife pictures, and don’t have room for a larger DSLR camera.