Of course I have egg on my face about the Olympus XZ-1 and my initial perspective of letting ergonomics define everything. Turns out I just needed to retrain my left hand and part of my brain. Now I seem to carry it everywhere because, even with the EVF-2 on it, it's light as a feather and the quality of the files is very, very good. I like the metering and I like the colors. Noise? Sure. Why not. But not enough at 100, 200 or 400 to even register to me. Print them out and 800 works as well. Higher than that? Well, I had a $5,000 Nikon D2x that didn't look any better over 400 ISO, so I don't worry about it much. I like that it goes wide and I like that it's got a fast aperture. Is it worlds better than the Canon or Panasonic products. Not in its native form but when you add the finder it makes it worlds better. Say what you will about the extra expense, or the way the finder sits on top of the camera like a goiter, but that finder is magical and if you haven't actually looked through one and seen how much fun it makes the cameras it is attached to you should do that before you comment. Otherwise I'm just trying to describe how good steak tastes to someone who's been trapped and held captive by radical vegans since birth.
What's the story with the pink bike? Beats me. I was having lunch with a good friend/client and after we finished and said goodbye I walked past a little grocery store in Hyde Park and the bike just presented itself. I loved the fill light from the windshield of someone's restored BMW 2002 and I grabbed the XZ-1 dangling around my neck and snapped away.
Speaking of dangling things in front of me....I had coffee this morning with a fellow photographer friend and he had the audacity to bring along his brand new Olympus EP-3. He hypnotized me into actually handling it and playing with the menus and witnessing first hand how blazingly fast the autofocus was and now....I want one bad. He offered to let me borrow his until I told him about the video Ben and I made last year which entailed duct taping an EPL1 to Ben's skateboard....that made him rethink his kind offer. But, bottom line? One of the nicest cameras I've had the pleasure to caress and certainly on my list of stuff to pick up next time I'm in Precision Camera.
The photo above and the one below were both taken with the Olympus EP2 and one of the unsung lenses from forty some years ago: The Pen F 50mm-90mm f3.5 zoom lens. This is a manual focus zoom that is the equivalent of a 100 to 180mm lens on a 35mm camera. I don't know if you can tell from these small images but it has its own distinctive look. Sharp but not too sharp and a whole different color pallet than modern lenses. I put it on the camera for fun a couple of weeks ago and I kept it on because every time I looked through I was happy with what I saw.
If you shot the new Pens you should consider getting a Pen FT to m4:3rds adapter and some of the older lenses. The 40mm 1.4 is wonderfully sharp and the 60mm 1.5 is out of this world good. I have a big range of older Pen FT lenses and I'm continually amazed at the results I get when I use them with the new Olympus cameras. In addition to the lenses mentioned above I also really like the 20mm 3.5 and the 150mm. If you can only get your hands on one make sure it's either the very rare 42mm 1.1.2 or the 60mm 1.5. They redefine how much fun it is to play in the m4:3rds sandbox....
I've been shooting self portraits for years. I think we all do. I just can't pass up a big mirror or a big piece of reflective building glass without pointing the camera at my own image. I guess I'm always curious to see what I look like to everyone else.
We've broken a few records here in Texas and it's starting to take a toll on my usual habit of wandering the streets in my unbooked hours looking for fun things to photograph. It's been in the 100's for about 50 days in a row. Last night it was still near 100 (f) at 10 pm at night. Debilitatingly hot. Dangerously hot. And according to the weathermen there's no let up in sight. The power company spokespeople have been on the news begging people to conserve electricity and threatening black outs and brown outs if people don't or can't cut back on their energy use. It's getting kind of scary. The last five days have all been well over 105(f). In the Hill Country trees are starting to collapse and the danger of wild fires is everywhere.
I'll start working on my roadway annual report again in the next week or so and I'm using every heat defeating trick I can find. I've got a wide brimmed hat that breathes, I've got shirts made out of cloth that yields an SPF of 30-50, they wick moisture away quickly and they have vents all around to help cool. I've found a great product at REI that works amazingly well: It's a neck scarf that's filled with some miracle substance. When it's thoroughly dried it feels like the scarf tube is filled with just a small amount of something grainy. When you soak em in cold water for thirty minutes or so the miracle substance swells up, traps water and takes 24 hours to unswell. During that time there's a constant evaporative cooling against your carotid arteries. Here's one brand and a description of how it works: http://cobbercooler.com/content/7-how-it-works
I use the Rei version here: http://www.rei.com/product/691097/kafkas-kool-tie and I just found out I can get them at Amazon, Here. It doesnt hurt to keep a couple spray bottles of ice water in cooler in the car as well. You can never be too careful. I spent half an hour setting up a shot yesterday afternoon on the pedestrian bridge. The client zoomed in, we clicked twenty frames and they zoomed out. I broke the lights down and dragged them back to my car. When I got in and turned the AC on I looked at the car's exterior temperature reading and it was 115(f). You don't want to spend a lot of time in that kind of environment. Black top is the worst.
Stay cool and healthy and come out early in the morning to do your best shooting. At least at 6am it's mostly in the lower 80's. Coming to think of that as a nice, cool morning.