4.23.2011

Sorry Olympus. No big review on this one.

I hope people don't shorthand this article into a blanket denouncement of what might, for some people, be a good product.  But even though I've always been an Olympus fan this one's going back into the box and heading back to Olympus on Monday.  And in a way it makes me sad.  See, the images are really pretty good.  At least as good as the Canon G12 and the Panasonic LX 5 when shot at the base ISO.  And the built-in, pop-up flash really does a nice job.  The icing on the cake and the thing that tipped the product into the small circle of things I wanted to do a hands on test of was the ability to use the electronic finder from the Pen cameras.  I just knew I was going to love it.  But I didn't.

And most of it boils down to this.  The camera is too small for me to hold comfortably in my hands.  It's just to thin, front to back, and try as I might (an evening out and three days of trudging around downtown shooting as much as I could for hours at a time.....) I never warmed up to this little camera.  I'm only five foot, eight inches tall and I wish I had bigger hands so I could swim faster but if I did have bigger hands it would only exacerbate the problem at hand.......too little camera to hold on to.

With one of the thicker cameras you could quickly adapt a holding position that would allow you to walk down the street holding the camera in your right hand and pulling it up to your eye for a quick snap before pulling it back down and walking on.  It might be training but I feel like the G cameras and even the old, film Canonets had the grip ergonomics just right.

The menus, as usual, take time and mental energy to master and the dials and buttons are too small.  I hate the lens cap that pops off when I turn the camera on.  I lost it for about half an hour and so finally tethered it like a rank amateur at a Disney park.

I know a lot of people who profess to love their Canon s95's.  I'm sure they pull them out once or twice a night and take a quick photo of their friends and then throw the camera back into a pants pocket or purse.  If you are going to buy this camera you'll probably do the same thing.  Because even with the electronic viewfinder the whole thing is just out of balance with the way serious people shoot (maybe just me).

I know I'm going to get a lot of mail on this one so I'm going to defuse some of it right now.  No!  I'm not going to go out and shoot hundreds of test frames and tell you what I like and what I don't like about the images.  If I don't like handling it I'm not going to take the time to shoot it.

I'm not going to parse micro differences and split hairs in a comparison with competitors.  I'm just not going to review the camera.  If you like Olympus and you like micro dinky cameras this might be just what you're looking for.  I love the feel of the EP-2 and the EPL and I feel like the "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" routine just went way too far on this one.

At the very least, if you buy this camera, you must buy some sort of aftermarket grip in order to use it with any comfort at all.

Several preachy posts in a row should be broken up with something less serious.


The nature of writing blogs for me is to have frank discussions about serious issues that face photographers and creative people in a tenuous time.  But sometimes even I get overwhelmed with my gloomy mein.  So I thought I'd dredge up a delightful memory I have from a different time in my photographic career.

I was on a week long assignment for a tour company that represented a large chain of "all inclusive" resorts in the Caribbean.  My favorite resort in their inventory was the property in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  The main building of the hotel complex was originally built as an estate for Prince Edward just before the second world war.  It was an amazing, solid place with a wonderful open air restaurant and a large swath of white sand beach.  I've been back on vacation with Belinda several times and we've always had a wonderful and relaxing time.  We even took turns (unintentionally) flipping over a little Sunfish sailboat in the bay.

The photo above was taken on my first working visit to the island.  This was one of our four models, hired in Dallas, who flew down to the property with my small crew in a chartered plane.  She was standing on the dock, getting ready to hop on a catamaran for a sunset cruise and I snapped this with one of the original EOS-1 cameras sporting a 70-200mm early L lens.  All of the film from this particular assignment seems to be Fujichrome 100.

We worked hard on this trip and got images all over the resort.  We even took a trip to climb the falls at Ocho Rios.  We worked hard, played hard and generally had a good time.  No one broke the rules.  No one went on a "diva" fit.  The client was pleased enough with take to assign us to five more island adventures over the course of the next year.

We worked from a shot list.  We kept our film cool and dry.  We kept the cameras and lenses out of the air conditioning so they wouldn't be affected by condensation.  We wore hats.  We used sunscreen.  I learned to scuba dive.  

The check came in the mail.  It was good.  

Now that was a boring blog.......



      




Inspiration. Intention.


I was photographed recently.  I'm not sure what the intention of the photographer was.  He wasn't being paid.  It seemed almost perfunctory.  I didn't look good, or gallant or brilliant.  More a deer caught in the headlights for 30 frames or so.

I took the photograph of Belinda, above, because her beauty inspired me.  I saw a mix of expression, grace and beauty, along with a light filled, rich and kinetic environment, the sum of which inspired me to grab the camera ever dangling from the side of my chair and softly, slowly and with great care, to enlist Belinda into a collaborative dance of photography.

Like most entanglements in life there was give and take.  Expressions lost to the vagaries of timing and bad technique.  Nuance gained by trying to overlay my emotional response to the physical reality in front of me.  To mix the subjective with the objective.  In the end it might only be a portrait that speaks to me. And that's okay because I am its primary audience.  But at its outset it was inspired by an overwhelming desire to capture the beauty I saw in front of me....

Note:  in keeping with our new philosophy of "Goodness and Light" this post has been edited severely.  It was more detailed.  Keep that in mind as you read the comments.