Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Olympus Pen

update: one video added to the end of this post. And here is the link to many of the recent ones.

As I mentioned awhile back, we got a new camera. As I've already lamented, I try to be a frugal person, but I have this photography monster inside that wants to get more equipment, regardless of the cost. However, this time, it was a good decision.

Our point and shoot went blind a year ago (the LCD screen broke), and I've been thus video taping the kids with no clue as to what I'm doing. But I had seen this new type of camera come out that is like a hybrid between an dslr and a point-and-shoot. It no longer has the mirror of the slr, but the sensor is way bigger than a point and shoot, so the image quality is better. It gives you fully manual controls if you want it, yet has the full auto mode like a p-and-s. The lenses are even interchangable like a dslr. And the Olympus and Panasonic are both operating on the micro 4/3rds scale, which means that with an adapter I can use all of our current Olympus lenses (with full auto focus, whoohooo!). It can even shoot raw.

However when the first of these kinds came out (the Panasonic GF1 and the Olympus Pen EP1 and EP2), the price tag was hefty ($1000+). And honestly, like all cameras, it's a new technology that is sure to get cheaper. Also, there isn't a large range of micro 4/3rds lenses yet. But there is one prime lens (the Panasonic 20mm) that would be nice someday...Oh, sorry, that's just the photography monster talking!

So anyhow, since about a year ago, I had been hanging on to my blind little camera, awaiting a price drop. And it's finally happened, beginning with a "consumer" version of the Olympus Pen. Olympus released a version where the main difference (to me at least) was an extra control dial, which didn't matter all that much given the much cheaper price tag. It's called the Pen EP L 1. It's currently running around $550 retail. It's more than you'd spend on a p-and-s camera, but cheaper than a dslr... and with video!

Here's a little commercial that explains it better than I could.

So we got it about a month ago. I have loved having something lightweight and small enough to fit in my purse. This doesn't replace the dslr, for sure. I still love having all the switches and dials on the Olympus E-3. But for on-the-go, this thing rocks!

I've heard that some pro photographers are keeping these in their bags as backup cameras. In fact, we met a guy at a tball game this morning that has a Canon 5D Mark II, but was using the EP2 (the more expensive version), and said that it was much easier to lug around...I think he was videoing/photographing the tball game of his grandson.

My one qualm so far is the continual auto focus when in video mode. It's gotten better with a patch that Olympus put out, and I may just have some learning to do, but it's not as simple as a point-and-shoot to get a good quality video (especially of 3 rowdy boys). I have taken a lot of video and when I get some uploaded I'll add that to this post. (see below)

But here are some of the still shots it's given us...

This is a pic of my sweet friend Jenny and her baby boy Graham. This was taken in fairly a dark room, on auto everything. ISO 1600 and the shutter speed was only 1/1oth of a second. So you know the image stabilization works!
Sleepy Graham

It comes with some fun art filters. This was taken by my brother last weekend in tilt shift mode.
tilt shift taken by Bubba

While the autofocus doesn't have the lightning speed of the E-3, I was impressed that it caught this of Charlie just before he ran off.
Aue Fiesta Fandango

Then there was this one that I had shown previously. Taken in a pitch dark cave. While a few of the shots didn't focus (understandably), I was highly impressed that this one did.
More from Garner!

Chuck got this shot. Stats - 1/20th of a second shutter speed, ISO 100, f5.3 (he may have had it in full manual mode).
Last from Garner

Chuck also took that big huge panorama with some great detail with it.
Garner State Park Panorama
If you want to see detail - click on this bigger size.

Another low light photo - one in which I marvel at the 2000 iso with little noise. But most of all, the incandescent lights were really orange, and I was proud of how well the white balance turned out in spite of that.
Sarah's Surprise

So, for those who want better quality photos without having to buy up to an slr, this would be my recommendation. I still LOVE the dslr, and won't be giving it up anytime soon. But this works so much better as my snapshot taker!


Ana said...

Wow, what a great little camera! It would be nice to have something more compact that still shoots great photos. Thanks for the review!

Kathy said...

Angie, Angie, Angie, you take phenomenal pictures my friend, no matter the camera! Seriously.! {Just kidding, kinda ;-)}
Enjoyed hearing about the new camera though, seriously. Always enjoy coming here and seeing your beautiful family. Much love.