Category Archives: Olympus PEN

Using the GX-1 at an Air Museum

I have a Panasonic GX-1. It was purchased on a whim because of a “deal of the day” advertisement that I saw online. The deal was too good to pass up!  The GX-1 showed up in a few days and I immediately started using it.  And then, it stayed unused in a camera bag.

My thought on getting the GX-1 was as a back up camera to my Olympus E-P3.  Both of these cameras are in the same class, Micro Four Thirds (MFT) and are known as mirrorless cameras.  Neither one has an optical or electronic viewfinder and you must rely on the LCD on the back of the camera for picture taking.  While not really pocketable, they are both much smaller than my DSLR (Canon 60D), and produce very nice images.  This type of camera is generally not very good at any type of fast action photography, but do quite well for just about anything else.

I really loved my Olympus E-P3, from the moment I first picked it up.  It felt solid and has a nice retro look.  I’ve taken some very nice photos with it too!  The E-P3 is starting to show its age, especially with its older 12mp sensor.  Low light high ISO capability was not really one of its strengths.  To counter that and work within this limitation, I kept the ISO low and put the E-P3 on a tripod in low light.  The solid build has come into play for me personally.  While out hiking with the E-P3, I slipped and fell – twice!  I came away with some scrapes and bruises, and so did the E-P3.  Nothing too serious but there are a couple of battle scars on it.  Other than the pop-up flash not working very well, the rest of it is just fine.

As for the GX-1, it doesn’t have a very solid feel and is definitely not retro.  The body doesn’t look bad, it just seems like it has more plastic than the E-P3.  Both the GX-1 and E-P3 have plenty of external controls and touch screens.  I’m kind of funny in that I don’t really care for the touch screens and turned them off.  The GX-1 is a very capable camera, and has a newer 16mp sensor and better low light, high ISO performance than the E-P3, and when I used it, found that it too produced some very nice images.  The other plus of having the GX-1 is that being a MFT camera, it could use all of the lenses that I currently had for the E-P3.  I just never really warmed up to it and didn’t use it, especially after getting my Olympus E-M5.

A week or so ago, I was digging around in my camera bags and saw the GX-1.  I decided to get it out, dust it off, and give it another try.  One of the places that I enjoy walking around and using my cameras is the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California.  It’s fairly close, and always has interesting subjects.  What better place to get re-acquainted with the GX-1!

To my surprise, I enjoyed using the GX-1 more this time than I had when I first got it.  I used my Olympus 17mm f/1.8 and 45mm f1/8 lenses and tried to capture images in a variety of conditions.  Nothing that I want to get too technical about, suffice it to say that there was quite an extreme difference in the indoor lights of the hangars and the harsh mid-day sun.  Not the most ideal shooting conditions, but very realistic.  You can’t always have an epic sunrise or sunset with deliciously warm, golden light.  Sometimes you have to work with what you have!

Here are some of the pictures from that day.  I had the GX-1 in aperture priority mode, and changed the aperture (f/stop) and ISO according to the brightness of the light.  I also set the camera to shoot RAW for the express purpose of post processing.  I know there are some that don’t like post processing, and that’s just fine for them.  Personally, I enjoy working on my photos and finding new methods for creating an image.  Sometimes it’s black and white, sometimes HDR, and other times just a few minor tweaks.  Since I don’t consider myself a journalist or documentarian, I have no problem with post processing.  But to each his own, it’s all good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m very pleased with the GX-1, it was fun to use again.  It’s fairly small and easy to carry around.  I got used to changing settings and didn’t have to fumble around too much.  The RAW files provide good quality images with plenty of pixels for me to play with in post.  I think I’m going to keep it out and use it some more!  Unfortunately it has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but is still available if you look around.  I found it on Amazon – GX-1.

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!

Old Camera, New Tricks!

Catchy title, don’t you think?  Actually the camera I’m referring to in this case is my Olympus E-P3.  While it may only be a few years old now, in the world of electronics (including cameras), this is almost ancient!

As time goes on all things electronic evolve.  In the never ending quest to keep people buying their products, camera manufacturers continue to up the ante.  The E-P3 had many things going for it, especially the retro look and feel.  The camera was built very solid and felt good in your hands.  And it looked very cool too!  One of the techie features that I liked was the in-body image stabilization.  The only complaints I remember reading about was that the E-P3’s image sensor (12mp) was getting old and could/should have been updated.  But even with a “dated” sensor there was plenty of praise for the image quality just the same.

I’ve had my E-P3 for a couple years now, and even though I’ve added a newer camera to my collection, I find myself drawn to the E-P3.  For our 3 week trip to the Eastern Sierra this year I brought my newer Olympus E-M5, Canon 60D, and E-P3.  The 60D stayed in the bag and in the motorhome for the entire trip.  My main shooter was the E-M5, but the E-P3 went everywhere that the E-M5 did.  At 1st I put the 14-42mm kit lens on the E-P3 and figured that I’d just keep it in the bag for backup.  I did end up taking some pictures with it and was pleased overall with what I ended up with.  It was then when I got to thinking that maybe I could use the E-P3 for more than backup.

One of the things I try to do when photographing a landscape scene is the look for something to help make it pop.  Clouds, beautiful golden light, or a unique perspective.  Not necessarily a gimmick, but rather something to help tell the story of my composition.  And it turns out that I had something in the camera bag that would help with this perfectly!  The Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye lens!

The fisheye is definitely unique.  It provides a very wide, and somewhat distorted point of view.  It’s not something that you want to use all time, but it is fun to experiment with.  And since I had my main camera setup for serious shooting, I could play with my E-P3 and Rokinon all I wanted.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the E-M5, but there was something hard to describe about picking up and using the E-P3 again.  It was fun!

My E-P3 has been with me for 2 years of shooting.  Sometimes it hasn’t been pleasant.  Not the camera, but what it has had to go though.  I’ve taken on hikes, in the rain, and snow.  It’s gotten soaked, and dropped twice.  I had some cuts and bruises but I healed.  My poor little E-P3 still has its battle scars.  There are a few nicks and dings on its body, and the pop-up flash doesn’t work anymore.  But it still fires up and takes pictures like a champ, and I think I love it even more now!

That’s enough of me singing the praises of the E-P3, here are some photos from its last outing:

That’s it for this post. 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!