Category Archives: ILC

It’s New Camera Time!

Uh-Oh!  I did it again!  Another new camera is on the way.  This time I’m adding the Panasonic GX-1, Micro Four Thirds (M 4/3) to the stable.

Panasonic GX-1

I know, I really didn’t need another camera.  And I actually wasn’t in the market for one, well at least not actively in the market (I’m always looking at camera-porn).  The problem is that this one kept popping up on various websites and in Twitter as the “Deal of the Day”.  It seemed like the price kept dropping every day.  I’ve seen this before, a camera company will work to clear out all of the old model prior to the introduction of the latest and greatest.  This is usually the time to score, and that’s why I went for it!

This Panasonic will work well with my existing M 4/3 gear.  I already have the wonderful Olympus E-P3, and an Olympus 14-42mm lens, along with a Panasonic 45-200mm lens.  Olympus and Panasonic M 4/3 lenses are interchangeable, without the need for an adaptor.  So, I’ll be able to use either one of my current lenses with this GX-1 body.

The GX-1 is considered one of the “Premium” cameras in Panasonic’s lineup.  There are quite a few features that have really got me interested including:

  • 16-mp sensor
  • High speed signal processing with 3 CPU’s and Venus Engine
  • 12800 High ISO capability
  • Built in flash
  • Touch control
  • Lots of button customizing

I got the camera from one of my favorite camera stores – Adorama.  When I saw the original “Deal of the Day”, it was $249.  I picked mine up for $239, and when I just checked it was back up to $249.  This is for the body only, it’s $399 if you want it with a lens.

Are there any negatives to this type of camera (interchangeable lens compact, M 4/3)?  To be honest – yes!  I wouldn’t want to be mis-leading, and as much as I love my Sony NEX3, and Olympus E-P3 they aren’t for everyone.  The biggest problem I have with them is the fact that they are definitely not for anything that moves fast!  That could be race cars, airplanes, or kids running up and down the soccer field.  Are the exceptions, yes!  But you have to work harder at setting the camera, and the conditions need to be just right.  You can’t just put it on automatic and start shooting.  If fast action is your thing, do yourself a favor, bite the bullet and buy a DSLR like the Canon T5i or the Nikon D5200.If you want something smaller and lighter, with great picture quality then go for a camera like the Panasonic GX-1 or the Olympus.  Fuji also makes some wonderful cameras in this category as does Sony.  While I’ll always have my big Canon gear, it will see much less use than my M 4/3 gear.  

That’s it for now.  I’ve already got my next post in mind.  It will be my review of the Panasonic GX-1.  Maybe I’ll compare it to my Olympus E-P3.  It might even be fun to compare it to my Sony F-707.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!

Out of the Ordinary

Having a new camera in the bag really has me itching to get out and do some shooting!  Today I went to the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California.  Since it’s been almost a year since my last visit, this seemed like the perfect time to go!

The Planes of Fame also puts on a fantastic air show every May.  If you love air shows, and especially want to see rare World War II aircraft in the sky, this is the place to be.

One of the nice things about the Planes of Fame Museum is most of the planes from the annual air show are on display.  There are also other displays of equipment, clothing, vehicles, and other “stuff” from the World War II era.

As usual, I set up my Olympus E-P3 to bracket 3 shots (normal, +1, -1 stop), and make RAW files rather than jpegs.  I set the camera to AE (aperture priority) and ISO 400.  Just for fun I also brought my Sony NEX3.  That’s what I love about these ILC’s (interchangeable lens, compact) cameras.  They are so small and light, (but have larger sensors than typical Point & Shoot camera’s) that I can carry 2 of them in my bag and not be bothered at all!

I got to work once I got into the 1st hanger.  While I was enjoying framing each shot, and looking for new and different points of view, I noticed something.  Even though it had been almost 1 year since I last visited the Museum, if felt like I was taking the same pictures as the last time.  There wasn’t a feeling of creating something new and exciting, just a sense of doing the same old thing.

It was because of that feeling that I started to look around.  Instead of looking at the planes on display and trying to capture them, I began to look around the hanger at some of the other displays.  And in those displays, I looked deeper trying to find something different, out of the ordinary.

I guess it was then that my eyes really opened to new photo possibilities.  Different scenes started popping up.  It seemed as though I had blinders on before.  There were all sorts of neat little scenes with wonderful texture and detail waiting for me to discover.  Here are just a few of those scenes:

Flight Gear

Above – World War II Flight Gear, Olympus E-P3, 3 shot HDR image from RAW files.

Sherman Tank Track

Above – WWII Sherman Tank Track, Sony NEX3, Single RAW file converted to B&W in Photoshop.

Aircraft Workshop

Above – Mig 17 Fuselage, Olympus E-P3, 3 shot HDR image from RAW files, processed in Photomatix and Photoshop.

I’m very pleased with what I was able to create.  Now don’t get me wrong, I did take plenty of shots of the airplanes on display, I just can’t help myself.  I’m glad I took scenes out of the ordinary, to make images that I felt reflected my vision as a photographer, not just shooting the same old thing.

One of the things that sets a photographer apart from a snap-shooter is inner vision.  It’s that inner vision that takes time to develop.  It doesn’t always come easy (at least to me). It takes work to try and create new and fresh images.  But I think it’s worth it!  When you really nail that one image, it’s hard to put into words how satisfying it can be.  You may never get rich selling you photos, but that’s ok (again, at least for me).  It’s a labor of love and getting that special wall hanger makes it all worth while!

That’s it for this post.  My advice, get out there and start looking for those out of the ordinary scenes;  those behind the scenes places, hidden from the casual viewer, waiting for you to discover them!

Until next time – Happy Shooting!

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!