47 – cameraless

I had no camera to call my own this week, so the picture above was actually taken almost two years ago with an Olympus E-1. Let me explain.

All of my camera gear was on sale this week. Why? I realized that I don’t take portraits. I don’t do landscapes. I don’t do action shots. I don’t do extreme macro – ok, well sometimes, I do macro. Basically, I don’t really need an SLR or the gear that goes with owning an SLR.

I want a camera that can be instantaneous and spontaneous. Something that’s deliberate. Something that just lets me capture small snippets of life. It didn’t even need to capture in color or have clean high ISO – I like post-processing in black and white and adding grain.

So, everything went on sale.

I sold my E-620 body and some accessories. I replaced it with a good used Ricoh GRDIII, thinking that I’d be done. Why the GRDIII? I scoured review sites and finally, this review did it for me. I think based on what and how I shoot, the GRDIII should be sufficient. Sure, it’s a small-sensor camera, but I think it will work out.

I thought I was done. I thought I’d put everything else up for sale and just cash out. I was wrong.

The ZD 11-22/2.8-3.5 got no hits at my asking price and even when reduced $50. The ZD 25/2.8 pancake got no hits either. My Lowepro backpack got no hits either.

I don’t think many people are buying into the 4/3 system anymore. With no future in the system, there’s no growth or upgrade potential anymore for most people. It’s definitely a buyer’s market if the buyer wants to stay in 4/3. I thought I wanted to get out of 4/3. I wanted to stop buying lenses. I wanted to have a single camera and a single lens and no room for system expansion. I thought that with the GRDIII, I could be free of the G.A.S.

Again I was wrong. With my gear not selling online and my refusal to put things up on eBay, I decided that instead of selling outright, I’d be open to trades for my gear.

Finally, the 11-22 lens got a hit, but for a trade! So, I traded the 11-22 for an E-1 and 14-54/2.8-3.5 combo.

I’ve owned an E-1 before. It’s a wonderful camera with a great viewfinder, excellent OOC jpegs, and pro build. However, I sold the first E-1 I owned because it felt like too much camera for me but at the same time, not enough. I was also looking for resolution and sharpness and gadgets. When I had my E-1, I didn’t think 5MP was enough, but I also didn’t need the weathersealing or the rugged build or the handling. I was using the E-1 as the replacement family camera.

But now, I’m convinced. I think I made the right choice with the E-1 supplemented with the GRDIII. I’m not replacing Shannon’s E-410 and 14-54 combo. She takes way better pictures of the kids. I take pictures of rooflines. Trees. Corners of buildings. Feet. Pictures that only matter to me.

I take pictures for the joy of it. Of all the cameras I’ve owned, the E-1 has the best handling so far. It felt ‘right’. I knew where all the buttons were and I could adjust them by touch. I liked the heft.

I do lose my favorite grainy black and white art filter from the E-620, but I gain the E-1’s ISO 3200 noise pattern which readily converts to a look similar to the art filter. This week’s picture was an ISO 3200 B&W conversion, and to my eyes, it looks pretty damn good. No banding. Excellent contrast. Enough resolution. Captures the moment – kind of like the picture above.

Is the E-1 outdated by today’s standards? You bet. Will it be sufficient for my online Project52 and Flickr uploads. Definitely.

So, I’m still in 4/3, which is good because I still have a body for my favorite lens – my ZD 35/3.5 macro. I’m thinking of getting the SHLD-2 for the E-1 so I can get a significant improvement in focusing speed. E-1 accessories are really cheap, and I’m a cheap bastard. The SHLD-2 will turn the E-1 into a gargantuan beast, but that’s ok. I’ll still have an SLR and all the tchotchke that goes with it, but I’ve gained the miniscule GRDIII, so I’ll always have a good camera on my person now. I can use the big SLR for when I want to be artistic, and I can use the GRDIII when I want to capture moments. Or vice versa…

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