By Eamon Hickey
About two years ago I wrote somewhere around my 125th magazine camera review, turned it in, deposited the (depressingly paltry) check, and made a firm resolution to give up the camera reviewing habit altogether. Mostly, I've made good on that resolution since then, but last fall, the nice folks at Olympus America—they really are nice—contacted me to ask if I was interested in testing an E-3 and reviewing it. They caught me in one of my periodic bouts of play-with-cameras-itis, and the upshot is that in three or four posts over the next couple of weeks I'll write up some of my impressions of Olympus's current flagship DSLR—not so much a review as a meander through various topics-of-interest (to me, at least) related in one way or another to the E-3.
But my first E-3 post, a kind of preface, is a short tale that touches on another topic-of-interest to me: the nature, changing and otherwise, of New York City, with the added bonus of a tiny bit of inside dope on the camera reviewing game.
Olympus wasn't able to get me an E-3 as soon as they had first implied they could. They were nicer than to tell me this directly, of course, but the main reason was that changing circumstances caused them to send the camera to a more important reviewer. I say this without the slightest ill feeling. It's completely right and proper. They have a limited number of review units to loan, and they must get the maximum marketing and public relations value out of them.
Fast forward three months to late February of this year, and Olympus now has a sample E-3 to send me. At this point, a miscommunication occurred, and let's just leave it at that. The package they sent to me—containing an E-3, a Digital Zuiko 12-60mm SWD lens, an FL-50R flash, an FL-36R flash, and a complete E-510 two-lens kit (about US$4,000 worth of stuff)—was left by the Fedex driver in front of the door to my apartment in New York city, where I live alone. But as fate would have it, I was not in New York. I was in California for several weeks and didn't know that the camera had even been shipped. Twelve, count 'em twelve days passed before Olympus and I realized that the box full of gear was sitting, all by its lonely lonesome, in an open hallway on the second floor of my busy six-floor apartment building in Manhattan's East Village. Incredibly, it was still sitting there—forlornly, I like to think—when I called a friend who lives in the neighborhood and sent him after it.
We can't know, of course, all that transpires in the life of a New York City apartment building over twelve days, but some things are certain. Neighbors from the eight other apartments on my floor and the floor above must've walked past that large-ish box two or three times a day, day after day, as it sat there, unmoving. (Did they absently wonder if I, their friendly, agreeable, not to say charming neighbor was in jeopardy inside my apartment, perhaps wasting away in the bathtub, paralyzed from an unlucky slip in the shower?) Oliver, the industrious building superintendent, would have mopped around that box twice on his regular Friday cleaning rounds. (Did he curse me, in his lovely Irish brogue, for leaving my junk in his way? Twice?) This being New York, at least twenty-five, but more likely as many as fifty, restaurant delivery guys, arms laden with Chinese food and pizza, must've stumbled past the package. (Did they pause and check over their shoulder for observers while they pondered what the box might contain and the odds of quietly carrying it away?). And that is not even to mention the legions of carpet layers and kitchen remodelers, UPS and Fedex delivery dudes, subletters and Parisian apartment-swappers, partygoers and neighbors' friends and friends of friends and their proverbial cousins from Staten Island, and God knows who else who passed within a foot or two of that apparently abandoned $4,000 box, and nobody touched it. For twelve days. What kind of weird New York City is this?
When I finally got back home and opened the box, I found, accidentally left inside, a shipping label from the camera's previous user—the more important reviewer, in other words. It was none other than David Pogue of The New York Times, recent participant in a minor contretemps with Mike J. on this very website. It's a small, odd world.
Olympus E-3 Review Part 1 (preface)
Olympus E-3 Review Part 2 (first impressions)
Olympus E-3 Review Part 3 (lenses and autofocus)
Olympus E-3 Review Part 4 (live view)
Olympus E-3 Review Part 5 (miscellanea)
Olympus E-3 Review Part 6 (conclusion)