Tagged: Olympus E-PL5

Simplifying my Photography Gear

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 Start

I accumulated too many cameras and lenses.  I primarily did that while trying to cover many different photographic situations and trying to figure out what I wanted or needed.  The above are what I had when I started my recent purging, and you will note that I had a lot of overlapping systems.  It doesn’t include all the other cameras I tried and sold previously.  Lately, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I want to do, can do, and will do, in my future photography so that I can simplify.  By-the-way, there are a lot of differences between “want to do, can do, and will do”.

The unmarked camera in the picture at the top on your left is the Canon SL1.  At the time I took the picture I had black tape over the lettering.  I had one other camera in addition to the above cameras that I used to take the picture.  It was the Ricoh GR.

I have given up on reducing down to one camera for the time being, but I am reducing the number of different systems that I have and selling off some of the above with the goal to end up with fewer options.  While trying to decide which way to go, I cycled through each of the above cameras and used them to remind myself of their individual characteristics and why I got them in the first place.  Each has a particular strength and capability so my decision process came down to deciding what, or how, I will not be photographing in the future.

I have tried to pick a subject to concentrate on.  I first thought it would be Hanover streets and buildings, and it might still be; but I have concerns.  In some of my trials I have had minor confrontations which I have been able to walk away from so far; but I am concerned that the confrontations might increase, especially if I use a DSLR camera with a long zoom lens.

I would like to do something with a rangefinder style camera with a focal length of 35 or 50 (e) mm; but that usually means photographing people, and is not likely … in town or within Homewood.  But, that doesn’t rule out such a camera for buildings, landscapes, etc.

What about other possibilities?  The big one is travel photography but for several reasons, that is not likely for me.  Another possibility would be nature, wildlife, etc.  We have limited wildlife but it is still a possibility.  There are also weather, clouds, etc. but that is limiting from an opportunity perspective.  I can’t photograph the weather effects when I wish since it is dependent upon the whims of the weather.

I am still trying to decide what it is that I mainly hope to photograph, but in the meantime I am going to concentrate on what is most likely.  The picture below shows what cameras and lenses I am currently using after going through my initial simplification and concentrating on what will most likely be available for me to photograph.

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Interim

The Pentax gear and the Lumix LX7 have been sold.  The rest have been boxed up for sale or storage.  I haven’t sold the micro 4/3 gear yet since I haven’t yet decided to give up on micro 4/3.  I like my micro 4/3 gear but I can’t do everything (especially in low light) that I would like as well with it.   You will also see my latest acquisition, the Canon 70D with the 18 – 135 mm lens attached that I am trying for 30 days.  Yes, the Canon is heavy (just slightly lighter than the K-3) but it has advantages and uses that I would rather not give up.  I really like the articulated LCD and fast live-view focusing.  In order to deal with the weight, I might not carry it far or often, and if necessary, I could get a 50 mm lens for it and back off using the longer, heavier focal length lenses.  Currently I am trying the Canon 70D for certain uses like clouds, wildlife, some internal Homewood projects, etc., and using the Ricoh GR for my pocket camera while walking about as well as for several projects close to people, etc. where all I need is an effective 28 mm focal length.

My objective is to just use the Canon 70D and the Ricoh GR for a while as I continue to evolve my future photography over time, and later replace one or both with a camera that is better for a more limited style of photography when, or if, I decide or find I need or want to reduce further.

Sell This?

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I have been thinking about selling several of my cameras, including the camera and lens I used to take this picture earlier today.  I used my micro 4/3 Olympus E-PL5 to take this picture with the Olympus 17 mm lens.  The camera was resting on the ground and I used the tilted LCD to compose the picture.

I couldn’t have taken this picture in this manner with any of my other cameras nor any that I have thought about getting to replace what I’m selling.  I am now rethinking about what to sell and buy.

Hanover Pictures

I hope to go back to the streets of Hanover, PA to get some pictures when it warms up.  I took lots of pictures on the streets a couple of years ago but I hope to do something different this time.  I just haven’t decided what.

I also haven’t decided on which camera(s) will work best since it is dependent on what and how I photograph … or maybe I will go the opposite route and get a camera I like and shoot what I can with it.  One thing I would like to do is get some more night pictures and that will take a camera that does fairly well at higher ISO settings so I can keep my shutter fast enough to hand-hold the camera.  I also plan to get some more store window and door shots.  Other than that, I haven’t decided.  Some people are encouraging me to photograph the nicer restored buildings, etc.; i.e. the pretty shots.

I took the above two pictures the other day while I took a quick walk to try a few things … mainly how long a focal length I might need.  I used my Olympus E-PL5 and the 14 – 42 mm kit lens for these pictures.  My only decision camera-lens wise so far is that it needs to be small and light-weight and discreet.

At the moment I am also thinking about spreading out to the outer residential and industrial areas and getting street scenes.  The final decision will most likely be to photograph whatever I see in the manner I desire under the circumstances; but, I haven’t decided with what camera and lens.

Winter Morning Thoughts

I am considering slipping into two different modes for much of my photography.  One mode tends to be sharp, clear, and documentary.  I will use this mode for my Homewood and Hanover related projects.  These types of images will probably be primarily made with both my Canon SL1 using the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens and my Ricoh GR with its effective 18.3 mm lens.

Another mode that I like is similar to the images shown above.  These types are limited, collapsed perspective images made with long focal length lenses like the above made with an effective 300 mm lens.  Due to the necessity of a long focal length lens while at the same time desiring to keep weight and size to a minimum, I am considering using a micro 4/3 system.  I used my Olympus E-PL5 with the Olympus 40 – 150 mm lens for the above images.  My problem is that the camera I used, the E-PL5, doesn’t have a viewfinder and that is a limiting factor for long focal length lenses since it is hard to hold the camera-lens combination steady enough.  In addition, I tend to accidentally hit buttons when I use it vertically, especially when shooting quickly.

My other option is to expand my use of the Canon camera and get a longer lens for it.  The advantage is primarily using one Canon system; the disadvantage is the increased weight and size.  In addition, if I found a lens I liked and could handle with the SL1 camera, I could potentially sell all of my micro 4/3 gear and Pentax gear.

And then there is the “big option” … my Pentax K-3 with the 55 – 300 mm lens.  The advantage of it is that I have it and the lens is better and longer (effective 450 mm at the long end).  Other advantages are that I also have a vertical grip for it and I prefer the vertical/portrait orientation with this style of image, and it a weather resistant system.  The disadvantage is that the K-3 and lens and vertical grip is large and heavy.

Not Alone

I haven’t just been using the Canon SL1 while I have been learning, and deciding, how to best use it.  For the above pictures I used my Pentax K-3 and made these images at a focal length of 300 mm, or effective 450 mm.  I am still concerned about not being able to take such images if I mainly use my prime 24 mm lens on the Canon SL1.  I have decided that I really don’t wish to carry the heavier K-3 and 55 – 300 mm zoom lens, but that I still would like to be able to make such pictures in the manner of the above.  My indecision is what to do about it.

I may give up long focal length photography or I might compromise and look for a lens to use on the SL1 that is lighter.  Another choice might be to use my micro 4/3 Olympus EPL-5 with a long lens.  For some reason, I keep “walking away” from my micro 4/3 imagery.  I liked using it for my most recent long-term project of photographing the model railroaders here at Homewood, but my primary outlet for those pictures will be a video/slide show made with shorter focal lengths.  My problem is that I would like a higher quality longer focal length lens.  I have been using my low-quality 40 – 150 mm f/4 – 5.6 lens.  If cost was not a concern, I could try the new Olympus E-M5 II and the Pro 40 – 150 mm lens; but I don’t wish to spend that much money for such limited use.

Another “discomfort” that I have, is switching back and forth between cameras with totally different control and menu set-ups.  That and the need for multiple lens collections for different systems is a drag on my photography and finances.  Resolving these issues requires owning just one system; but, which one?  I now have Pentax, Canon, and micro 4/3 systems.  I would prefer to use one.  Should I replace the non-Canons with another Canon DSLR with some longer lenses to supplement my SL1?

I would like to consider my next system as my last one … one that will serve my needs into the future.  I doubt that I am alone relative to this issue.  Does anyone out there have any recommendations?

Which Camera, Depends on What I Do

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Which cameras I keep and use depends upon what type of pictures I plan to make and how I use them.  As much as possible, I would like to downsize relative to weight and number of cameras, but I don’t want to go too far down relative to image quality.  The question is, how far is too far.  As an example I was out walking Misty early on a cloudy day and had the Lumix LF1 in my pocket which I used for the above image.  It was at an effective 200 mm and then cropped severely and resized up to this full size.  I then worked with the raw image to create this painterly effect using Light Room.

The LF1 might work for images like above, but it doesn’t work to get good, quick pictures of events around here.  I also don’t use it on the streets.  It is certainly small, easy to carry, and discreet, but it isn’t easy to change settings and shoot quickly.  It takes too long to zoom the lens.   For most events and on the street and for better quality landscapes I hope to use the Canon SL1 with both the 24 and the 40 mm prime pancake lenses.  I won’t know for sure until the weather improves and I take a lot more pictures with it.

I still have my Olympus E-PL5 with many micro 4/3 lenses which I think work OK for travel since they pack small and are light for international travel.  Since I am not doing that kind of travel anymore I am not sure how I will use them or even if I will keep them.  I did use it a lot for my most resent indoor project here at Homewood, but that was before I got the Canon SL1.

I also still have my Pentax K-3 along with three lenses.  At the moment it is the most unused of the lot.  I might keep it and use it with a smaller but still weather resistant lens for photography in bad weather.  Since I find it too heavy to use but for short periods with long focal length lenses, I might just give up that type of photography.  As an alternative, I might try a long zoom on the Canon SL1.  I don’t think it is a good camera for such use due to its size but it might work better than I think.  It also depends upon how good I get at using the controls on the Canon SL1 to get the effects I desire.  I might also just use a micro 4/3 camera with a long lens for long-range photography.

One of the least costly ways for me to downsize is to limit what I photograph and use the cameras and lenses I have.  If I stop photographing with long zoom lenses, and outdoors in rain or snow, I could possibly shrink down to just three cameras, or maybe even less.  At the moment I am considering using only my Lumix LF1, my Ricoh GR, and my Canon SL1 (with both pancake lenses).  But I still entertain thoughts about limiting what I photograph to what I can make with one camera and one lens.

All of my trials are to determine what I want to photograph with what type of camera and focal length lens, and then, if necessary, buy a higher quality camera-lens combination and sell the rest.

You Can Get the Idea

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This image gives you an idea of the conditions here as the Mallards stand on the ice, but the quality of the image isn’t the greatest.  I used my Olympus 40 – 150 mm lens on my Olympus E-PL5 held on a monopod while zoomed all the way out to 150 mm (effective 300 mm) from my back porch.  In addition to using that very inexpensive lens zoomed all the way out to take this picture; I also cropped it quite a bit and then resized it up.

I do wish I had a better, longer lens; but that would be going back on my decision to try to become a bottom feeder in photography; i.e. see what I can accomplish with the entry-level cameras and lenses.  There has been so much hype on the web about all the latest and greatest and most expensive photography gear that I am rebelling.  I am tired of being told that I need the latest “bells and whistles”.  I am of the opinion that most folks don’t need the latest and greatest and most expensive gear considering how we display our images.  That is why you are seeing this picture as well as the ones in my previous posts taken with the entry-level Canon DSRL.

I am not yet ready to claim that these are all that I am going to use.  I may still go back to a top line, latest and greatest mirror-less camera, but I doubt it based on what I am learning now.  So far I have tentatively decided to sell my heavy Pentax K-3 and all the lenses and rely upon micro 4/3 for my long focal length images, like above.   I may get a longer lens than the 40 – 150 mm lens, but maybe not.  I am also considering just shooting with my effective prime focal lengths of 28, 38, or 64 mm.   I may decide to not photograph the long stuff (effective 300 mm like above), or with zoom lenses.

PS, you can get an idea the difference an effective 300 mm lens makes when cropped by comparing the above with the following picture made from the same location but with the effective 38 mm lens on the Canon SL1.  If you look carefully in the center of the picture below you might recognize the ice pattern of the above picture.

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Dreary Rainy Cold Morning

I was walking yesterday before the rain started with the E-PL5 and the 20 mm lens in my pocket when I noticed these reflections.

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Later after the rain started I took the following from the comfort of our rear porch using the K-3 with the 18 – 135 mm lens zoomed out to 135 mm.  The shutter speed was 1/200 sec. but if you look carefully you can still see the rain coming down.

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Evening Sky with E-PL5 and 20 mm Lens

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You are probably getting tired of seeing my test shots, but this is another one of my exploratory images to see what I can do with a micro 4/3 camera and a 20 mm prime lens.  So far I’m managing and they are fair images as long as you don’t pixel peep.

I am also finding that my new bifocal glasses help since I don’t have to keep taking my glasses off to see the LCD better.  I only acquired the bifocals to use when outdoors with a camera, but they are going to take some getting accustomed to since looking down, the ground now isn’t in focus when walking.  Getting old is such a pain.

Model Railroads Open House … with Micro 4/3 Gear

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The Model Railroaders had an open house here at Homewood the day after Thanksgiving so that the residents and family members could come and see the displays.  It was well attended but they will have other open houses in Dec. if you missed it; but, that isn’t what I want to write about here.  As you read in previous postings, I am trying to decide on whether or not my micro 4/3 gear, along with my Ricoh GR, is good enough for the majority of my photography.

So far it seems to be working OK for me as long as I’m careful with the processing of the raw files.  The above picture was taken when the room lights were turned off with the Olympus E-PL5 camera and the Panasonic 20 mm f/1.8 lens.  The settings for this picture were f/1.8, 1/60 sec., and ISO 5000.  I held the camera up high and used the tilted LCD to compose the image.  I also cropped the image some to cut out a few people who were facing the camera and used the LR WB dropper to select a different white balance.

So far, the biggest thing I miss with my E-PL5 is the lack of control dials.  I wish it had a thumb wheel since it is a pain to make adjustments of aperture and shutter and exposure with the rear wheel.

Since I do not wish to spend any more money on currently available cameras at this time, I am thinking that I will concentrate on using prime lenses on my E-PL5 and GR cameras for the majority of my photography for a while.  I enjoy the element of challenge in seeing what I can do with just my prime lenses with these two cameras.