Category Archives: California

Latest Addition to the Family, the Olympus E-P3

Here I go again!  I got a new camera!  This time it is the Olympus Pen E-P3.  The E-P3 is one of the Micro 4/3’s line of ILC’s (Interchangeable Lens, Compact) from Olympus.  It’s got a retro design that I just love, and it feels like a million bucks in your hand!

I’m not going to get geeky and try to explain the Micro 4/3’s (MFT) system to you, but rather point you to where there’s a very detailed explaination – Wikipedia.  The short version is that the MFT’s sensor is 9 times larger that those in typical Point & Shoot camera’s but 40% smaller that the APS-C you’d find in most DSLR’s.

If you’ve followed my previous posts, you know that I’m more and more interested in portability and shrinking my camera equipment footprint.  Call it lazy, or getting old, there are just days when I want to get out and take some pictures, but don’t want to lug around my DSLR.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my Canon 60D, but compared to my new E-P3, it’s a pig!

I do carry another ILC, the Sony NEX3.  There’s nothing wrong with my NEX3, in fact it’s another favorite.  It has the small footprint, and very good image quality with its APS-C sensor.  Sometimes the menu system can be clunky because there’s not much in the way of external controls.  You have to fiddle around with the various levels of the menu to change settings.  Not too big a deal, mostly because I’ve used it so much, but it can still be a pain.  My only other nit-pik is the noisy shutter.  Not exactly stealth.  But the image quality is very, very good!

So, what’s the big deal about the Olympus E-P3?  It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I was intrigued after reading a review on Steve Huff’s website – Steve Huff Photo.  Steve has an excellent website with a section devoted to ILC that he calls “Mirrorless Roundup”.  If you’re interested in this type of camera, I encourage you to check out Steve’s site, mainly because of his real world reviews (no lab testing).

One last plug before I get into my short and sweet report.  Adorama  is where I got my
E-P3.  This deal was a little different.  Instead of buying the E-P3 outright, I did a little horse (camera) trading.  Adorama has an offer to buy used equipment, so I sent them an email with the gear I wanted to sell/trade, and they promptly got back to me with a preliminary offer.  The offer sounded good, and Adorama sent me a prepaid shipping label and my items were sent out via UPS the next day.  One of the things I traded was my Canon 40D.  The 40D is a good camera, I just haven’t been using it since I got the 60D.  Bottom line – I was treated fairly, and got the deal I wanted.  My new E-P3 arrived in 4 days.  Thanks Adorama!!

I’ve had a couple of days that I could try out the E-P3.  The opportunities were short, but enjoyable.  After reading about the Art Filters I could hardly wait to try a couple of them out.  Here are a couple of photos from my visit to Oak Glen (in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California).  Click on the link and read about Oak Glen.  It’s a hidden gem in Southern California and worth the short drive in the mountains if you’re in the area.

Above – HDR Image from 3 bracketed photos, processed in Photomatix and CS6

Above – Out of the Camera (except for resizing), black and white filter 

Above – Out of the Camera (except for resizing), Grainy Film Filter

My next outing wasn’t as much fun.  I spent a little time in Seal Beach on and around the pier, and there was an ugly, overcast sky.  There was also a leftover haze from the morning fog, so beautiful sweeping seascapes were out of the question.  Not to big a problem, as I would work with what I had.  It was just a little disappointing.

Above – HDR Image from 3 bracketed exposures, processed in Photomatix and CS6

The next image is something different for me.  I’ve read a lot about “Street Photography”, and was always bashful about trying it out.  What Street Photography means is to be able to grab shots of people while you’re out walking the streets.  It also means being stealthy, something I was not comfortable doing with my Sony NEX3, due to its noisy shutter.  The E-P3 on the other hand is very quiet.  While the NEX3 feels slightly smaller, the E-P3 focuses quickly, and is very stealthy.  Here’s one of my 1st “Street” shots:

Above, Out of the Camera (except for resizing), Grainy Film Filter, F9, 1/500, ISO200

I had a lot of fun with the E-P3 over the weekend.  It looks great, feels great, and so far, I’m pleased with it’s performance.  I’ll need to test it more to see what it’s strong and weak points are, but so far I really like it.  The external controls make changing settings quick and easy.  My opinion is that this little camera is a winner!

That’s it for now.  If you have an opinion on ILC’s or Sony or Olympus, share it!  Until next time – Happy Shooting!

Fall Colors, Eastern Sierra Style

It seems like forever since I’ve been able to do anything on my website.  Unfortunately, I have to make my living in the conventional way and sometimes it takes priority.  Having just spent several days in the desert, I really miss being in the Eastern Sierra.

While the desert is ok, it’s not my first choice of places to be.  For one thing, there were no Fall colors, or at least nothing like what I experienced in the Eastern Sierra.  Now, if anyone is reading this from the East Coast, I do understand that nature puts on a magnificent show.  But the Eastern Sierra provides a very worthy display as well.

If you’ve never seen it for yourself, then perhaps it’s time to change that.  There are Yahoo groups and various other sources of information available online, you just have to do a little research.  Enthusiastic color chasers provide up-to-the hour reports with all of the detail anyone could want or need.  I participate in one group – Calphoto, and shared some day-to-day details for those interested.

It’s too late this year, since most of the color is past prime or is gone completely.  Having made quite a few trips just for the turning of the trees, I’d say that the last couple of weeks in September, and the first 2 to 3 weeks of October are your best bet.

Where to start is a good question.  I happened to be in about the middle of the area, camped at Silver Lake on the June Lake Loop.  It wasn’t too much trouble to head south to the Bishop Creek area or go north as far as Bridgeport.

What kind of gear to bring is also a good question.  I overdid it this year, and brought 5 cameras, 3 tripods, and all of the other associated crap.  Yes, I did say crap!  In the end, I would have been better off with 2 cameras, with one as my main and the other as backup.

Thinking more about carrying my heavier DSLR’s made me appreciate my little Sony NEX3 even more.  If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know how much I enjoy using the NEX3.  It’s small, has the same size sensor as my DSLR and excellent picture quality (in my opinion).  And going for a hike is some much more enjoyable when I take the NEX3, rather than it feeling like a chore when lugging around my DSLR.

Back to the fall colors!  They were simply amazing in some areas, and just ok in others.  One of my favorite places for color is the Bishop Creek area, above the little town of Bishop, California.  As you head up Line St. towards either South Lake or Sabrina and get to the 7000 foot marker, you start to notice the trees.  It was subtle at first, then became more and more striking the further I went.  All of sudden there are trees that are yellow, gold, orange, and even red!  You want to pull over every 10 feet.  ‘Had to be careful not to get hit by other photographers also looking everywhere but where they are supposed to while driving.  There are so many photo possibilities everywhere you look that I had to slow down, take a breath, and just take it all in.

Once I started composing and shooting I lost track of time.  A couple of hours can go by so fast and you may not even notice.  I ended up with memory cards full and about 75 miles to drive back to camp.

Here are some of the photos from the Bishop Creek area.  Maybe next year you’ll consider heading up yourself and see what I mean.  The Eastern Sierra in the Fall shouldn’t be missed!

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Old Camera, New Fun!

I’m writing this from the McDonald’s in Mammoth Lakes California, half way through my month long vacation in the Eastern Sierra.

So far I’ve had some interesting and fun experiences with my cameras.  Especially my new Sony F707 (ok, new to me. It’s really over 10 years old).  It’s been fun stepping back in time and using the camera.  So far I’m very pleased with the results.

Since my time is limited, I’ll just leave you with a couple of photos from the F707.  When I  get back from vacation I’ll go into more detail on how it compared to my Sony NEX3.

Until next time, Happy Shooting!