Saturday, 19 June 2010

A Little Light Geometry

I'm in the early stages of evaluating whether some combination of "micro four thirds" lenses and bodies might be a possible (and possibly ideal) camera system for me -- more soon. If you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about, cover your ears, look away now, and look to your wallet. I don't suppose you need any more ways to spend money.

These "white wall" pictures were taken with an Olympus EP-1 fitted with the 17mm "pancake" lens. It feels good, but -- contrary to what I said in some earlier comments -- I think I'm revising my opinion of the Panasonic G1. As the prices of these early micro four thirds cameras have crashed -- because they are discontinued models and, good grief, at least a couple of years old -- it's a good moment to move in and have a little behind-the-curve consumer fun.


Kent Wiley said...

Yee gads, I'm hesitant to do it, but here goes anyway (the dreaded tech talk): don't you currently work w/ a LX3 as well? What is it about the micro 4/3 that is attractive?

Mike C. said...

Well, if I'm honest, it's the very success of the LX3 that has prompted this move. I find, increasingly, it's my camera of first resort -- not least because it's always there in my bag. But:

1. It's a small sensor camera that, under certain conditions, gives poor results. It can be very "noisy" in moderately low light, for example, even at base ISO.

2. I like to use a long lens, and the LX3 has a 60mm (equivalent) lens at its longest reach. This means I quite often end up carrying a Canon DSLR with a 70-300 zoom as a supplementary camera!

3. I really miss using a viewfinder, and dislike using the classic compact camera "two-hands out front" stance.

4. We're going to be flying to Europe this summer, rather than driving. This means radically cutting down on weight. Only taking the LX3 was a possibility, but not an inspiring one.

Micro 4/3 seems a potentially good compromise: light, large sensor, interchangeable lenses, and the prices have come way down. I took a chunk of my "funny money", and decided to get as much bargain m4/3 kit as I could for it. With a bit of careful shopping, for the price of one of the newer models you can get a couple of the older bodies and several lenses.

I'm going to look at the EP-1 and the G1, primarily, with the Olympus 17mm, 14-42mm and Panasonic 14-45mm "kit" lenses. If it doesn't work out, I'll put them all on commission sale at an irresistible price in a local shop. I'll be down a couple of hundred pounds -- cheap fun!

I should probably add

5. I find the Olympus and Panasonic "look" (the pictures, not the cameras) very attractive. Since using the LX3, I find I also like multi-aspect ratio cameras.


Kent Wiley said...

Hmmm... "baby steps" would probably be adviseable for a medium & large format photographer (who uses a TRIPOD) such as myself. I've heard such wonderful things about the LX3, from you included, and the m4/3 combos don't seem (never used one) that much smaller than the full sized dslrs. I like being able to carry a camera in a pocket or in hand (w/ the Linhof++++ on my back), as I 've become accustomed to w/ an old (2006) Canon P&S pea shooter. Sigh... so many choices.

Mike C. said...


If you're looking for a supplementary pocket camera, the LX3 is certainly to be recommended, though I've heard good thing about the Samsung EX1/TL500 and Canon S90, too. Bear in mind that it is not *that* small itself.

My problem is that I hate complicating things, I'm not particularly keen on having choices, and I like to work within the limits of what comes readily to hand -- I'm a classic example of the proverb that "to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail". So I end up using the LX3 for everything, and it's just not designed for that.

What I need (I doubt this is what you need) is something versatile and moderately small that can combine the strengths of both the LX3 and the Canon DSLR -- micro-4/3 may not be it, but I've decided to find out.

For a hammer/nail person, there's also nothing like an unfamiliar camera for pushing you into new ways of taking pictures. But if it's advice on buying cameras you want, you've probably come to the wrong place...


Kent Wiley said...

Of course, one gadget that does it all. I've been looking for a lifetime for a single piece of clothing/footwear that works in all weather conditions - and is stylish, to boot. Guess what?

But thanks for your thoughts. I did actually purchase a Canon S90 at the beginning of the year, but it went back unopened because I wanted a hot shoe, or some means to fire a flash, hence the alternate interest in the LX3. And now it's an obsessive desire for video. But naturally it can't be the cheesy output from pocket cams, or probably even the LX3. Which means adding even more tools to the arsenal. Oh those Japanese are so very clever.

Mike C. said...

Cross out "stylish", and you'll be a lot closer to your goal... I have a very small wardrobe, indeed ;)


Kent Wiley said...

But at least you've got the shirt.