Tagged: Olympus E-PL5

Minimalist Travel with a Camera


As part of my concerns about what I might be shooting in the future, I started thinking about traveling while I was staring at my electric tea kettle which you see a portion of in the above picture.  With my back I would have to really travel light.  I figure I could do that if I went to the right locations at the right time of the year.  As an example, I’m thinking of Hawaii.

If I traveled to Hawaii I wouldn’t need to take much and could probably travel with just a very light bag.   If I stayed in a condo with a washer and dryer it would be easy … just a pair of shorts, a few tee-shirts, a few changes of underwear in addition to what I wore while traveling, along with my medicines.  Every couple of nights I could wash clothes when necessary and I could buy a few things there if necessary.  I don’t think I would have much weight in clothing, etc.; but what about a camera?

At the moment I think I could manage to just take the Ricoh GR and carry it in a pocket; but, would that be suitable?  The GR has good enough image quality if an effective 28 mm focal length works.  While wondering about the focal length, I looked back at my pictures that I took on my last trip to Hawaii in 2011 and looked to see what my most used focal length was.  At that time I used a Pentax K-5 with the 18 – 55 mm kit lens.  [You can see some of my pictures in this blog.  Just go to category at the top right and select Hawaii.]  In looking through my pictures I found that the majority were taken at an effective 28 mm focal length, but not all of them.

My question is, could I get enough pictures with only an effective focal length of 28 mm?  Given the tremendous weight savings by taking only the Ricoh GR with one spare battery and a charger I think the answer is yes; but I would have to think some more about it.  Maybe it would be worth taking a slightly heavier system like the Olympus E-PL5 along with one to three prime lenses, the 14 mm, the 20 mm, and/or the 45 mm.  Another option I would need to think about would be finding a camera with a zoom lens … maybe something like the Panasonic LX100.  The choice would come down to balancing the image quality, convenience, and focal length against the total system weight for camera, lenses, batteries, charger, and bag.

My choice might not be what you would do but I am intrigued with the idea of seeing what kind of pictures I could get while traveling extremely light.  If it came down to travel or no travel or camera or no camera I could “make-do” with just the Ricoh GR or with just the 20 mm lens on the E-PL5.

Thinking More than Shooting


I have been thinking about what has changed and what it means for my photography.  Some of the changes are:  1) Winter has arrived and it is cold and often windy.  2) My back got worse but I have learned that if I don’t stand too long, don’t lift much, don’t bend too far, and especially don’t twist even a little, and do my exercises with the help of some new medicine, that I can continue to function with little discomfort.  But that is a big “if” and so far, I have occasionally been doing too much and paying for it.   3) I have been taking more pictures of people and things here that I can’t put on my web.

As far as my cameras are concerned, I have found that I should use my Pentax K-3 and lenses less due to the weight, size, and focusing and shutter noise around people.  When I go out anywhere I usually just take the GR in a pocket and mostly just use the K-3 as a grab camera to run out the door to take pictures of clouds like above.  I don’t walk much anymore with the K-3 or shoot for long periods with it due to its weight, and I don’t use it around people due to its lack of discreetness.

I can use the GR with its effective 28 mm focal length along with the E-PL5 with the effective 40 mm or 90 mm focal length lenses for most of my indoor pictures around people, but I sometimes miss having a zoom lens.  I need to use prime lenses to handle the lower light and shutter speed requirements and achieve suitable image quality while indoors.  I will continue to carry the GR with me in my pocket whenever I’m out as my “just-in-case” camera.  It has been a big improvement over using my E-PL5 and 14 mm lens for that purpose.  The GR is lighter, fits in a pocket better, and has better image quality.

Another concern at the moment is what to use outdoors if I can’t carry the K-3.  I might eventually replace the Pentax gear with another micro 4/3 camera, and finally leave the big DSLR camera behind and make the switch to mirror-less cameras.  I tried to do that once before and reverted back to the Pentax DSLR, but I think I am now about ready to make the final switch to mirror-less cameras.  I like to keep a wide-to-normal lens on one camera and a longer zoom on another camera so that I don’t have to change lenses as often.   Having two micro 4/3 cameras would enable me to make better use of my micro 4/3 lens collection, but I’ll have to think some more about it.

Another option would be to get an APS-C size sensor camera with one good normal range zoom lens and use it for all of my indoor work as well as shorter range outdoor shooting and use my 40 – 150 mm micro 4/3 lens on the E-PL5 for long-range shooting outdoors.  The advantage of going this route is that I would have better image quality than I can get with micro 4/3 camera for my indoor work and I would have a better all-around single camera.  That was what I was thinking about when I had the Fujifilm X-E1 with the 18 – 55 mm lens, but it was early in the process before they made some significant upgrades in the software, etc.  Or, if I replaced the K-3 with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the 18 – 135 mm lens it would weight around 930 g. vs. the 1205 g. of the K-3 and the 18 – 135 mm lens, but I’m not sure if that weight savings is enough.

Other questions:   Will I really be shooting much with zoom lenses, and if not, which prime focal length will I use most of the time?  Would I rather have an APS-C sensor camera with an effective 35 mm focal length lens for better image quality or is my Panasonic 20 mm lens (effective 40 mm) good enough with a micro 4/3 sensor?

My main concern is how I am going to photograph scenes that are suitable for my blog, and more importantly, make pictures that I really like.  The camera and lenses are not the main problem.  I need to figure out what and where I will be shooting.

28 mm Focal Length

I have been researching cameras and lenses looking for the best pocket camera for my needs.  I obviously would like the largest sensor I can afford as long as the camera fits in a jacket pocket.  The issue that I am exploring with the above pictures is lens focal length.  Lots of street photographers use an effective 28 mm focal length lens since it is wide and small and more discreet on a camera.  But how would it work for me around here?

I had to walk down to another building this morning with some papers so I stuck my Olympus E-PL5 with the 14 mm (effective 28 mm) lens in a brief case along with other lenses.  As I was walking back I took the above pictures.  I tried to cover a range of subjects to see how it performed in good light.

Long ago, well it seems long to me, I primarily used long focal length zoom lenses with an effective 300 mm being a much-used focal length.  It was not until I traveled to Ireland that I found that I preferred wider, faster, prime lenses for those conditions; but for walking around places where I live I still preferred longer focal lengths.  In the last couple of years I have noticed that my most used focal lengths have continued to drop … mostly to 40 – 75 mm effective focal lengths.  Lately I have been primarily using an effective 35 mm focal length for my indoor projects.  The issue I am exploring now is could I get-by with 28 mm for a walk-about pocket camera.

Based on what I have found so far, I am thinking about the Ricoh GR camera for a pocket camera.  It is the smallest, most pocket-able APS-C, effective 28 mm camera.  I had the Fujifilm X100 when it first came out.  It is an effective 35 mm and at that time I was worried that it wasn’t long enough.  In addition it is a much heavier and larger camera than the 28 mm Ricoh GR.  The GR also slides in and out of pockets easier than my E-PL5 with the 14 mm lens … it projects only 35 mm vs. 67 mm, and is lighter, 245 g vs. 425 g … and it has an APS-C size sensor vs. the micro 4/3 in the E-PL5.

Blustery Day



Our power was out for about an hour so I took a walk to check out my latest ideas for walking with a camera.  I decided to post these pictures if for no other reason than to document the kind of day it was.  These kind of posts may become the norm for me just to document the weather, etc.

It wasn’t a quiet day around the main buildings since the emergency generators were all running to generate some power for them.  Those of us living in the independent Villas don’t benefit from them.  We have no backup systems.  I heard a few neighbors talking about the power outage.  I wonder what we would do if the power goes out for a week in the cold of winter.  At least then we could put the food from our freezers outside to keep them frozen, but we might be as frozen as the food since we wouldn’t have any heat.

Photography using a Pocket Camera

Sometimes it is worth having a small camera in your pocket, and I have been wondering whether I should look for a better small camera.  At the moment I have been using a Panasonic LF1 which has been excellent for its size.  It only has a 1/1.7” size sensor so it is limited, but makes up for it with an excellent zoom lens and the ability to shoot in raw format.

But, the above images pushed it to its limits.  The sunlight breaking through a cloud was difficult to get because of the light extremes.  I had to dial the exposure back to keep from burning the highlights too much and then I still had to work on the image with LightRoom.  It worked OK, but it isn’t the fastest camera to use.  The zoom is slow and the exposure adjustment is done with the small dial on the back.  It works fine when you have time, but I would like something easier and quicker to adjust.  The other picture was taken in the restaurant which was on the dark side.  I took this image at ISO 1600 and then had to use a lot of noise reduction using LightRoom.

The LF1 is better than a camera-phone but the phones are catching up quickly.  Some of my thoughts recently have been to just keep using my LF1 and wait until the phone cameras improve some more.  If I go somewhere and don’t wish to take my larger heavy Pentax K-3 and lenses, I can take my Olympus E-PL5 and a prime lens or two to keep the size & weight down … but it still needs a large jacket pocket or a small bag for carrying.  It would be nice to have a camera-lens combination smaller than my E-PL5 that is easier to quickly take out of a pocket and take a few pictures in raw format with quick exposure and zoom adjustments … with better image quality than the LF1 or a camera-phone.  I’m still looking, but my K-3 continues to spoil me.  I love the controls and ease of making fast changes with the ability to get great images.

The new Canon G7 X looks promising.  It has a 1” 20 MP sensor, 24 – 100 mm equivalent zoom, tilting touchscreen LCD, takes raw format pictures, is about the same size as my LF1, etc.   But, a larger sensor would be even better.  The major disadvantage of a larger sensor, like APS-C size, is that the lenses are a lot larger and heavier.  The only way around them is to go with a built-in, fixed, prime lens like on the Leica X2.  The X2 is a lot faster to turn on, make adjustments, etc. and is only slightly larger and 13% heavier than the G7 X but a lot more expensive.  The similar Fujifilm X100T is larger and 45% heavier than the Canon G7 X, is similar in quality to, or better than the Leica X2, and is less expensive than the X2.

But, I decided the best compromise based on size, weight, image quality, and cost is using my Olympus E-PL5 with a prime lens as a jacket pocket, or small bag camera.  I have the Panasonic 14 mm f/2.5 pancake lens but is a little on the wide and slow side.   It has an effective 28 mm focal length and is great for many uses but I decided to get the Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7 lens (effective 40 mm) to supplement it.  My only decisions left are to decide whether to carry it on a neck strap under a jacket or to use a wrist strap and carry it in a jacket pocket this fall and winter, and when to take it rather than my K-3 or my LF1.

Another Reason for having a Pentax K-3


Another primary reason that I want to have the Pentax K-3 is to be able to get quick pictures of the unexpected flights of birds and ducks.  I took the above picture while walking for the first time with the K-3 and the 55 – 300 mm lens hanging from a sling strap.  It is heavier than I like, but I will just walk shorter distances and less often with it.  A few of our neighbors will be glad to see me walking with my camera again since they like to see my images of wildlife, etc.

I am still in the trial stage with the K-3, but I think I will keep it just to get a few shots like the above and for inclement weather photography this winter.  I can also use it for some of my photography for Homewood publications.  I would really need to get some wider, faster lenses for greater use indoors; but in the interim, I can use my Olympus E-PL5 with fast prime lenses for my indoor projects.

Should I Go Back?


No, I’m not proposing redecorating the bus.  I’m just using this image of reflections to illustrate this post about some conflicts I have and some changes I am considering.  The above is a picture of the Homewood bus which was on my monitor with the morning light showing my reflection on the monitor.  I took a picture of my monitor.

I basically use my blog to show whatever kind of photos I make and to write about anything I want.  The end result is a blog that is of mixed content.  It is more of a journal of whatever I see as I go through life.  One day it might only be clouds or sunrise or sunset, and another day it might be about a local tour that I took with others here at Homewood, or pictures of an event here.

In addition I sometimes write about my views.  Mostly I try to limit my views and opinions to photography but I sometimes slip into other opinions.   Many of my viewers are from outside the United States.  I don’t take pictures or write things of specific interest to them but I try to keep them in mind when I write anything.

The variance in types of pictures creates problems relative to what cameras or lenses I use or might have with me at any particular time.  There are certain cameras and lenses that do better for taking pictures inside some poorly lit buildings.  There are also cameras that I like for other reasons but they don’t do as well for Homewood pictures.  This dilemma has caused me to compromise relative to which cameras and lenses I own.  I have sometimes drifted one way or the other in trying out different cameras and that meant that I often changed my gear and purchased something else.  When I did that, I sometimes wrote about what worked or didn’t work for me.

I also prefer to make B&W or other types of pictures which aren’t the type that some prefer.  Some like to see themselves active in tours, etc. and like to see “nice color” documentary type pictures of events here that are suitable for our local publications.  Those aren’t my favorite styles of pictures so I try to mix in others that I prefer.

One problem is that I’m getting tired of photographing the same area around where I live.  I have tried to photograph with different focal lengths and from different directions and during different seasons of the year, but I have about exhausted my opportunities.   One thing I am doing is trying to photograph some longer term projects but that doesn’t create frequent daily images for display.   All of this means that my blogging is slowing down.  I use to take many pictures each day.  Now sometimes I may only take pictures a few days a week.

All of the above is just to explain the differences.  What you see is what you get and it might vary or stray more in one direction or the other depending on what I photograph.  I know that this isn’t a good style for a blog and that it doesn’t generate fateful followers or viewers of everything on my blog; but that isn’t the purpose of this blog.  My purpose is to take pictures of whatever, and enjoy myself in getting and making and writing about them.  I put them into my blog to share them … some for some, and others for others.

But, I am currently facing a dilemma … continue this type of blog and photography as they have drifted or make some course changes.  My pictures of the “Sadie” play in the previous post have brought another dimension of my dilemma to the front … the quality as well as style of my pictures.  Should I continue to post pictures of this quality and type, or should I buy some better gear, or should I refrain from taking and/or publishing these types of pictures?

I had to resort to using my worst lens to get the Sadie pictures due to the distance involved.  I don’t think I will use that 40 – 150 mm lens indoors again.  This means that I will have to use just my prime lenses if I continue using the Olympus E-PL5 camera indoors and either get up closer or not take the pictures.  I think I will use my 14, 17, and 45 mm micro 4/3 prime lenses with an emphasis on the 17 mm which is an effective 35 mm lens on the Olympus micro 4/3 system.

Another change, or alternative, that I am exploring is going back to a better low light weather resistant camera with a larger sensor for my photography even though it will be larger and heavier.  I’ll be writing about what I try and how it works for me.  Since I had problems in the past with heavy cameras, if I go back to such cameras, I may have to make other adjustments.