Tagged: Olympus E-PL2
“Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
Will I get the Olympus E-PL5 and Return to Micro 4/3 System?
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.
Scenes of Ireland
I took these pictures with either a 17 or 20 mm micro 4/3 lens which is an effective 34 or 40 mm in 135 size film. I used Adobe Light Room 4 to convert them to B&W. I would like to go back with a narrower prime lens (maybe an effective 75 mm lens) and take a series of pictures with the express purpose of displaying them in B&W.
Finding my Vision in Simple B&W Scenes
I’m getting closer to finding the kinds of photographs I prefer to make. One approach I have taken to find the style I like has been to go back through older pictures that I took and then to crop and develop them differently. I took the above picture while traveling in Ireland, but it didn’t look like this at first. I took the picture through a heavily tinted van window as we drove along. I used a 20 mm prime lens on an Olympus E-PL2 camera. The original picture included more details in the foreground including a fence, gate, grass, weeds, and rocks. As taken, it wasn’t a very good picture, but fortunately, I had taken it as a raw file and thus I had a lot of room to recover this version using LR4. In this version I have cropped out all the extraneous stuff in the foreground and then converted it to B&W to eliminate all the weird colors.
The above is one of my favorite pictures in my new frame of mind. I like B&W since it helps to reduce the picture down to the essentials. In this case it is a scene of two riders along the shore on a breezy cool day with frequent showers.
In the coming days I’ll share a few more of my reworked scenes from Ireland, but I like the above best. My real challenge now is to go out and make new pictures that I really like. It was relatively easy to find simple pleasing scenes in Ireland. It is a lot harder to find uncluttered scenes close to home here in Hanover, PA.
Still Simplifying … Getting Prepared for Summer
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.
This is a picture of the steps within Blarney Castle in Ireland, the home of the Blarney Stone. To reach the stone you go up one set of steps and down the above steps to return to ground level. If you aren’t familiar with the Blarney Stone, at the top of the Castle, I suggest you click here and see what gyrations you have to go through to get the gift of eloquence.
One View but Far-Reaching
Shores of Ireland
“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.” Sivananda
I use the above quote to remind you that is why I have a blog. At least I can record and share a few pictures and thoughts about life on this earth with the hope that I can make at least one person’s day a little better … as Charlie so often reminds me.
I took the above picture in Ireland where Rhododendron seemingly grows wild over many portions of the country, but in Ireland it is an invasive species. It was introduced in the 1700s from its native Asian location.
“Invasive species are non-indigenous species, or “non-native”, plants or animals that adversely affect the habitats and bioregions they invade economically, environmentally, and/or ecologically. “
Hmmm, seems to me that definition also applies to mankind, especially when you think about what we have done … just a thought, think about it.
Where Does this Path Go?
6th century Clonmacnoise Monastery in Ireland
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.