So What do I use and Why ?
The What is easy
The pictures on the blog are taken with my Olympus e-series equipment. Below there's a brief description of the kit I have, why and when I got it and what I see as the positives and maybe some limitations of some of it.
As I'm into technology I like to think that I know how this stuff works, but I am not a "Pixel Peeper" or "Analysis Junkie" I like to know how it works so I can use it and when it will stop working so I need to move to another solution . If you are looking for loads of facts and figures I recommend you start with the excellent Biofos website. If you are looking for set-up guidance take a look at Andrzej Wrotniak's excellent site
I can say in my own mind that this was a difficult decision having had (and been very happy with) Pentax cameras and optics for more years than I'll admit to here. If you're in that situation then potentially causing all of your glass to be put to one side because you've changed formats is a huge cost. The sense of depression was further deepened when I say a range of film kit very similar to mine went on ebay the week I ordered my Oly with “no reserve”
In my case the reasons were manyfold
I was a Pentax user… Back when I'd decided that I wanted to move from Film to Digital I scouted all the forums, bought loads of magazines and read everything I could get my hands on, and at the time I could not convince myself that there was a Pentax camera for me. That was very painful but I was time limited in when I needed to do the move. Like many amateurs a key personal event like a holiday or wedding can be a deciding factor. IMHO since then Pentax have launched very credible and well reviewed DSLRs. But I’ve made my investment now and am happy.
Key point – go with what makes sense to you – opinions are that and they differ.
2. Perceived Quality.
And I mean perceived. Was it good enough for me,.for what I wanted to do? Previously I’d shot velvia and was very happy. Olympus was the 1st camera that I could afford that met the criteria I’d set for me. In My (now very) Humble Opinion I was a snob and waited for “enough” Mp I was in hindsight wrong, as I’ve wished I moved to digital earlier 6 would have been fine - I didn’t need to wait for 8.
Key point – there will always be more coming. When it’s enough for what you want it’s enough.
The dust proofing system (I believe the only one on the market at the time) was a factor as I want to be able to take my cameras just about anywhere. I can manage waterproofing just about anywhere, but there are some things taht are hard to do. A road test on the Gadget show was the killer for me. Only the Olympus survived. Since then I've been to the desert.. Only the Olympus surviced that as well
Key decision features – decide for yourself what they are & look for them
Where is the supplier going / Do they have a system
One of the main reasons I stopped waiting for Pentax at the time the new camera was coming out as a Samsung in Europe and I didn’t know what that meant.Yes Canon & Nikon seemed to be putting out cameras like nobodies business, but mostly aimed at upping the market and I was at the time concerned re whether their pro/am ranges would be diverging.
Key decision maker – it’s hard – you never know – I never expected Pentax to be sold off to Hoya, but has it mattered yet?
5. Market Share.
Do you need everything 1st We all like having the latest. I loved my E500 when I got it and having my E510 when it was the newest thing on the block was a buzz for a few months. Point is I still do. The E-30 is great, and one day I may want an E-5
Key Point - it just doesn't matter 99.99% of the time internet shopping makes everything available
6. Does it work?.
I have sold some pictures to newspapers and magazines, but am by no means a pro. I was concerned that I “should” be buying a Canon or Nikon because that’s all the magazines seemed to talk about in hindsight I had some faith in a major manufacturer and it's paid off.
Key point – all of the DSLR systems are now fairly established. Yes Olympus can be said to being late in a few areas. But it took me 18 months from first Oly to a system that I’m happy with, and am happy using. Olympus marketing is C**p. their camera's are not
This was my first Olympus DSLR and I still use it for caving where the conditions are quite harsh at times. I did wonder whether I had done the right thing when I got it because to be honest I wasn't sure whether the pictures were as clear as I had been getting using Fuji Velvia on my Pentax cameras.
As I learned about the differences between film and digital photography and the post processing that was possible I rapidly realised that I could in fact produce much better pictures and that the lenses were better than those I had used previously. It's a cracking 8 Mp camera which is renowned for it's wonderful colour rendition on the Kodak sensor, a bit prone to high ISO noise, but nothing that is not easily processed away. I had picturez I took when I first got it that I've reprocessed and look wonderful - so good one was selected as Picture of the Day on DP Now in November 2010
This was a real treat. I rarely purchase new equipment when it is just out because you pay such a premium. However on this occasion I was going to New York within a couple of weeks of the launch of this camera and I really wanted the Image Stablization capability that was it's big new feature.
Lucky for me the camera was the same number of dollars as in pounds and the dollar was 2 to the pound so I could afford it. Add to that the 11-22mm lens was available and I had a wonderful holiday in New York
I really had decided to give this a miss because I was considing waiting for the next BIG upgrade having decided that the E-3 wasn't for me and just 2 more Megapixels wasn't going to make any difference to me. Then jessops did a massive price cut the same week as Olympus offered a new flasgun with every e-30 camera purchased so it was a "No Brainer". I got the 2nd to last in the store. I think they sold 11 in a day!
I have to say since getting it my opinions have changed and I'm still glad I didn't get the E-3 because it would have been too large for my needs, but the ergonomics and performance of this camera have enabled me to take some pictures I would not have got with the E-510/500. Of the key features I don't use the flip out screen as much as I thought I would. I just prefer using a viewfinder ven if it does mean muddy knees.
Not actually mine, but Rhian's. She came to realise that I had loads of spare lenses and every time she borrowed a camera I had left it on a different setting so we sought out a hardly used 2nd hand one from a member of the e-group and she's loving it.
The same sensor as the e-30, but in a smaller package. For her small hands it's perfect, but I would find it too small. It's a superb camera for the size and price
If there is one feature that gets universal acclamation from users of all brands it is the excellent Olympus Zuiko lenses. Thet come in three ranges Standard (read very good), Pro (read excellent) and Top Pro (read superb!). I've got somethign in each range and I have to say that I intend to keep moving upwards as finances allow
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm 1:4.0 - Top Pro
Superwide Angle - a real mind your feet lens (I've had mine in one picture I took already). I believe this is currently the widest angle zoom lens in production 114° angle of view and it's ability to get in a lot of sky is immense. I've actually had a lot of fun using it as a silly portrait lens as well with its minimum working distance of just 10 cm, allowing exaggerated perspectives. You do have to watch out for flares and the domed front element is a constant worry as you can't put a filter on it. I've not had mine for long, but an learning to love it already
ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm 1:2.8-3.5 (Pro)
Before I got my 14-54mm lens this was probably my favorite Zuiko lens. With a wide angle of 22mm (35mm equivalent) it's got superb range and has hardly any vignetting at that extreme. Coupled with the fact it takes filters and it's a lot less likely to flare than the 7-14 and it's still a wonderful lens
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 (Standard)
With 35mm equivalent focal length: 28-84mm this is a classic mid range lens and it performs well right across that range with an excellent close focus. For a kit lens it's superb, and unless you plan quite a bit of low light work or want to work wit hvery short depths of field it's absoloutely superb
ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-54mm 1:2.8-3.5 (Pro)
Having praised the 14-42mm lens it's logical sucessor and undoubted better is the absolutely superb 14-54mm lens. It gives a little more reach and a lot more capability for short depth of field. It's my favorite lens. I have a Mark 1 lens, but don't feel any the less for that. it's the default lens that is on my camera at all times
ZUIKO DIGITAL 17.5-45mm 1:3.5-5.6 (Standard)
Not in my opinion as good as any of the others, but to be honest it is still a very reasonable lens
ZUIKO DIGITAL 40-150mm 1:3.5-4.5 (aka Mark I - Standard)
Not a bad lens at all, but overshadowed by some of it's close rivals ( see Mark II and 50-200). It's not got a wonderful close focus, but apart from that it's a reasonably good alrounder if you can't get the alternatives. It is a bit brighter than the Mark II, but I think the other advantages of the mark II outweigh this factor
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 (aka Mark II - Standard)
The Mark I had a close focus of 1.5m this one 0.9m which if you're wanting to get an insect or or flower close up makes a massive difference to what you seein the viewfinder and get on the sensor. It's light, compact and inobtrusive. The perfect travel telephoto lens IMO
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50mm 1:2.0 Macro (Pro)
The one prime lens in my kit, and what a lens ! It offers a magnification of 1:2 (half life size), which has an image magnification size equivalent to life size (1:1) in a 35mm film photo. I've found that it partners with the EC-14 teleconverter very well indeed
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD (Pro)
THE choice for mid to long angle zoom. A bit heavy if you have small hands, but it has a lens mountable trpod collar which partnered with a monopod makes for an impressive, accurate, fast and bright lens to be able to get close up in inferior light. I did a shoot of rapidly moving horses for a local company and would not have been able to get the shots with anything less capable
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 70-300mm 1:4.0-5.6(Standard)
Compared to the lens above it's not as bright and it's not as fast at autofocus so in low light it can hunt somewhat, bu tin bright conditions it's a super lens and I would have no hezitation in recommending it ( I recently did). It's better close focus than the 50-200 gives almost the same capabilitiy as the 50mm macro unless you want that small DOF you get with the specialist lens. I'm keeping mine even though there is an overlap because the extra facilities are superb
Non Olympus additional kit
Velbon Mini Tripod
Cactus Flash Triggers