A Love Affair

3, March, 2014

It's been a long time since I had a love affair and fell in love at first sight. I am talking photography here of course and not the cupid's arrow and love heart variety!!!!

Like a good many pro photographers my love affair with photography started as a hobby. In the really early of my photography days I was as eager as the next man, or woman, to buy the latest camera, lens or anything else photographic that was shiny and bling! As time went on and business grew I actually looked forward to days without a camera in my hand, I had the attitude, why should I photograph that for fun if I'm not going to be able to pay bills from it. I hold my hands up and admit it is a poor attitude, but I often  hear similar sentiments from so many of my fellow photographers. Yesterday that all changed.

For some time now I have heard murmurings of fellow photographers moving to smaller 4 thirds cameras and away from DSLRs. Like many I  am of the view that  my clients will have the attitude that if I don't turn up with a large camera and lens then I won't be perceived as a professional photographer. That aside, I have been undertaking work that has been a little out of my comfort zone and have been commissioned of late for food, and in particular architectural photography for a large Hotel chain. Couple that fact with I the fact that I have been dabbling a wee bit with some HDR landscapes, their has once again been a stirring in my photographic loins, and a sign of a returning photographic mojo for me. 

Last week I spotted the announcement of the new Fujifilm X series camera, the X-T1. I have need to replace one of my Canon bodies and have been scanning prices. With price tags of upwards of £3500 it is a huge wrench on the purse girders of my company coffers. You can probably imagine my surprise upon reading the spec on the X-T1, and thinking that maybe it is time for a change. I thought that maybe a smaller, lighter camera would be a better investment particularly with the prospect of more landscape work on the horizon. I already have bad elbows and knees as a legacy from my days as an overhead linesman, and lugging huge cameras and long lenses around at weddings and sporting events hasn't improved my elbows one little bit.

As I wasn't presenting on a stand at this year's Photography Show at the NEC I had decided that I was not going to go this year, and would probably work. I had never bought anything from Focus On Imaging and hadn't considered buying from the Photography Show until a colleague mentioned that I may get a good deal on the Fuji camera at the show if I was interested. With a couple of hours spare I dashed up the A45 to the NEC and immediately (once I got in!!) started my hunt for the best deal I could find.

And so my love at first sight began when I bought my new camera.......The Olympus OMD M-E1!!!!

I'm sure reading this you were expecting me to wax lyrical about the Fuji, but unfortunately for my uses the X-T1 has two or three things that I felt let it down.

1. No tethering capabilities. When I demo and present I often tether my camera for ease and speed.
2. Poor Wi-Fi option. Although a Wi-Fi connection can be established it does not work while you are working. By that I mean as I am shooting at an event each picture does not transmit as they are being taken.
3. Although I can't personally confirm this, one techie guy also thought that the Eye-Fi card for image transmitting was not and option. 

Many of you reading this will be thinking, well the Olympus isn't too much different (it is compatible with the Eye-Fi cards). This is true, but in my opinion the worse mistake Fuji has made was the real deal breaker for me! Changing the Aperture is done via the aperture ring on the lenses, and not in camera. That's like turning the clock back 20 years! I want to be looking through the view finder and change shutter speed and aperture settings without moving the camera away from my eye, and the OMD E-1 does this.

So why the love affair? 

Like most children on Christmas morning I couldn't wait to open the packaging and play with my new toy. It was small, light and compact and came with a 12-40mm constant 2.8 lens. Within minutes of opening and insetting the battery, the surprises started, and they just kept coming! Those of you with these cameras will probably be what, you should have bought one sooner! Listed below are some of the features I liked in particular.

1. looking at the rear screen and adjusting settings, but being able to view what the image would look like before hitting the shutter button. This may sound a little thing, but to a seasoned DSLR man, this came as quite nice a surprise!
2. Great iPad and iPhone APP for loading up images, operating the camera via Live View and geotagging.
3. Bright luminous view finder.
4. Did I mention that it is light and compact?

These are nice features, but it wasn't until today when I used the camera in anger on a real commissioned job that I got the true character of the camera. The job was to shoot meeting rooms at the Kensington Hilton in London. 

Armed with the OMD and my tripod I began work! The rooms I was shooting did not have windows, or if they did, there were only 2 small ones. The weather was overcast, so there were not shards of harsh light streaming through windows, so I chose to go down the HDR route to record my images. Th E-1 has 2 HDR functions built in and I opted for the 3 images bracketing option. In this setting the camera took 3 images (one under exposed, one correct exposure, and one over) and blended them together to record one single HDR image. This is all done IN CAMERA, so no need to run HDR merging software. It wasn't until I was about 6 shots into the shoot that I spotted that once I set my shutter speed and aperture in the HDR setting, the view finder was actually displaying how the image would look once the 3 shots had been merged in camera. Obviously this gave me a huge advantage when setting my exposures.

When  you are as old as me, and your knees aren't as good as they once were, using a tripod and constantly kneeling down, crouching, standing, kneeling again etc etc, then the old knees get a bit stiff and sore. I can tell you now happy reader, kneeling down is a thing of the past in my jobs!! The Olympus has a retractable and tilting rear viewing screen! So I could lower the legs of the tripod down below waist level, tilt the screen upwards, and no kneeling!!

So only a couple of nice features mention in this blogpost, but ones never the less that will change the way I photograph in the future. The future is bright and the future, for me anyway, is looking Olympus.

And the big thing I love??.....One touch White Balance. I carry a small grey card in my pocket and I have never seen a system where customisable WB is sooooo easy! 

Like all love affairs, not everything is perfect! The shoot lasted 2 hours and the battery died as I was taking my last shot. My next purchase will be another battery and/or grip. 

A quick shot I took of the Atrium as I was passing. ISO200 1/50th sec F2.8

Thank you for reading


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