22 – gear ramblings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe benefit of being a late adopter is that I get to take advantage of first adopters and their willingness to quickly offload their gear in order to get the latest and greatest. Anyway, my E-1 on eBay is actually going to sell so I decided to use the remainder of the funds I had freed up from the sale of a Panasonic GF-1 and lens and put it towards an Olympus E-3. I’ve always wanted an E-3 and now that I’ve officially switched from m4/3 back to 4/3, I know what the pros and cons of each format are. The biggest pro, in my opinion, is having an optical viewfinder. The E-410 that we still have is nice and small, but unfortunately, the viewfinder is tiny too…and with my aging eyes, I just have a very difficult time with composition and adjusting my eyes from near-focus to infinity after looking through the tunnel-like viewfinder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy eyes are getting bad…so either a tiny viewfinder at eye-level or a small LCD at arms-reach (which is what m4/3 would utilize) are both equally compromising. The E-3, however, has the biggest viewfinder for a 4/3-format camera and looking through the E-3 viewfinder is worth it.

Worth what though? The list price of the camera, per Amazon, is $1,399 new. I paid 15% of that for my E-3 with approximately 3,000 shutter actuations. Sure, it’s not new, but it still takes great pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had forgotten how beneficial in-body image stabilization is – I can easily limit max ISO to 1600 and still get vibration-free shots with a shutter speed that goes against the 1/2x rule for the 4/3 format. Additionally, the E-3 is weather-sealed, so if I use my 14-54/2.8-3.5 lens, I can shoot in the rain and the elements again – not that there’s ever much of that here in Southern California.

With that said though, my EPM1 still performs better at high ISO and in turn, has better automatic white balance indoors, so I decided to keep it for those times when I know I’ll be taking pictures indoors without a flash. The EPM1 also has my favorite “Grainy B&W” Art Filter, which is a feature I’ll sorely miss having on the E-3. Also, my m4/3 kit (EPM1, Sigma 19/2.8, and Samyang 7.5/3.5) makes an ideal travel companion, but to be honest, I hardly used it when I was on travel earlier this week – though I did manage a few shots both inside and outside of my hotel room (the pics below are SOOC JPEG – but resized for upload).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Anyway, I go through gear catharsis like this every so often. I scored big-time with the E-3 – I would have never bought it since the cost of entry was always too prohibitive, but luckily, the seller really wanted ‘out’ of the system. I think the only downside: the E-3 is HEAVY. It’s a pro-body camera that is fully weather-sealed…so I went from having the smallest m4/3 kit to the BIGGEST 4/3 body. My camera bag that holds all of my kit now is potentially a back-breaker…so I use my Crumpler 3MDH like a dinghy – it can shuttle the E-3 back and forth from the bigger Lowepro bag. I really have no idea when I’d take all my camera kit with me, but if that occasion ever arrives, I’ll be ready…with three camera bodies, four lenses, four flashes, and a tripod.

Yeah, I think that getting an intervention for gear acquisition syndrome (GAS, for the uninitiated) is probably warranted in my case.

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