9.15.2011

EP3 tags along with a real camera. Shots for business and shots for fun.

I've been working on an annual report for a roadway authority for the better part of a month now.  A day here and a day there as it works out.  Fine with me.  It's nice to have a break between shoots to take care of other business and do good pre-production planning.  Today we were out at a location where several large construction companies are building a massive interchange.  Lots of steel and concrete and big machines.  We were shooting soaring construction images to use as backgrounds for executive photos.  Seemed like a good idea to me, especially when the execs were only really available on days when the temperatures soared....


So, for the most part I was shooting Velvia 100f in a Hasselblad 500 CM with an 80mm lens on the front of it.  The client and the engineers really dug the retro look and the amazing image in the viewfinder.  I bracketed each shot twice.  Once right on the money and once a half stop open.  Just to be safe.  Once we rolled up twelve different angles I wrapped up the big camera and walked around shooting some enterprise shots with our newest addition to the arsenal here at the world HQ of the Visual Science Lab:  A black Olympus EP3.  

I got the camera last night and boy do I have one major complaint.  The menu structure is more complex than ever before.  I read the manual and looked around on line and still couldn't figure out how to get the SCP (super control panel) to come up on the finder.  Seems you have to go thru and say "yes" to using the SCP with every set up but there's even another step.  You have to find that menu item that says, in regards to nothing in particular, "image only"  and click "off."  The most counterintuitive thing I've dealt with since I tried to order vodka martinis in Russia.  It's just crazy.  The SCP should be the ultimate default.  

As usual, I went through the menu step by step, just to make sure there were no other SCP-like foibles and I read every page of the manual.  No wonder they give users the option of shutting down large parts of the menu.  You can configure everything.  Makes me want to default to AWB, Raw, Single point AF and single frame and then do all the heavy lifting in post production.  But to be fair, a lot of the menu items are SOUO.  (set once, use often.)

The camera is wonderful in my hands and very well built.  Many on the forums are moaning about cost and comparing the camera to a Rebel but I think they are missing the point.  This is much more of niche product, is much more about design and elegance, and has really damn nice files in a very small package.

Of course you'd have to be insane to want to use one without the VF-2 electronic viewfinder, but that almost goes without saying.

I shot all of these images with the camera set to jpeg but I've shot fewer than 50 images so you're going to have to wait a bit for a full on review.  My intention is to review the EP3 along with six of the Pen legacy manual focus lenses (including the 40mm 1.4 and the 60mm 1.5.....) as well as one of the original Pen F zoom lenses, the 50 to 90mm.  I've been collecting them since the early 1980's and I'm thrilled to be able to use them again in such a handy implementation.

When I went to pick up the camera last night I arrived at the store with a freshly charged battery in my pocket, an 8 gig extreme SD card and a VF-2 finder at the ready.  But the real surprise to me is how configurable this camera is for video.  You can even change the file type from AVI to AVCHD to Motion Jpeg.  Your preference.  That's amazing. 

Things I already love:

1.  The new screen is great.  I turned off the touch option.  I'd deal with that once I've mastered everything else.

2.  The focus with the kit lens is rocket fast.  And many more focus points to boot.

3.  The evaluative metering did a great job on this bright construction scene.

4.  I love the addition of the pop-up flash.  I want to experiment to see if I can use it at fractional power to trigger studio flashes.  That way I get to keep the EVF in place and still use studio lights at will.

5.  I love that it handles almost exactly like the EP2 that I am already used to.

More to come.

Site Note:  The address:  visualsciencelab.com finally became available and I pounced on it. Don't know what I'll do with it yet but.........







11 comments:

Frank Grygier said...

Great images. I was wondering what color you ended up with. I have all the same issues with the menus. I am looking forward to hearing about how the studio flash thing works out. I have used the RC mode with FL50R speed lights with good results. I love my E-P3 and plan to use it for years to come. Well maybe until the E-P4 comes out.

kirk tuck said...

Frank, I've been using the flattest color setting (Neutral? Faithful?) and sRGB. I like being able to ramp up the color saturation, contrast and sharpness in post. It's such a fun camera. I had a blast using it today as the Yin to the Hasselblad Yang....

Dave Jenkins said...

Kirk wrote: "I bracketed each shot twice. Once right on the money and once a half stop open."

My own practice when shooting 120 transparency is to bracket one on and one a half-stop under. I find my scanner can dig out the detail from an underexposed transparency, but doesn't do so well with overexposure.

ginsbu said...

Looking forward to your E-P3 review. I had a chance to handle one in a shop and was blown away by the AF; it puts an end to my worries about AF speed on mirrorless cameras.

Please keep reporting on your experience with going back to film for paid work, and on how your clients are responding to it.

atmtx said...

Kirk, you gotta take Obiwan's advice and use the force. Turn off the targeting computer (the EVF) and feel the image with the back LCD ;-)

kirk tuck said...

No!!! I won't give in to the dark side. Never. You are not my father! Ben, why didn't you warn me?????

Bold Photography said...

LOL --

I'm really working to get the best out of the color film I've shot on the Hasselblad - it's got so much dynamic range that I'm having to HDR them...

D said...

One E-P3 surprise which may await is that if you do not turn off the touchscreen in the menu, when you have the VF-2 attached and accidentally touch the screen, it can freeze up the camera controls. Very confusing the first few times it happens, if it happens with yours.

As far as the menu, well if you can get it completely figured out and "logicalized", please let us know.

Otherwise, it is a nice little camera.

Anonymous said...

Told myself i didn't need digital cameras and stuck with my M6TTL but I'm almost afraid to read your coming review of the EP3. Don't think I'll be able to resist this
especially since I'll be able to keep using my M kenses with the Olympus. It's looking too good except for the menu nonsense. Typically japanese. Built in suffering.

Anonymous said...

Firmware upgrade will be coming to correct the VF-2 freeze up.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Cannot wait to hear / read the results of your tests with the reduced flash as a trigger. Tried that with my wife's E-PL1 with mixed results, sometimes 1/4 flash power wasn't enough to trigger the big one, so often I used some radio trigger instead of the VF-2.