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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Comments

People seem so opposed to looking at an LCD, as if pressing your eye against something is a prerequisite for "real" photography.

Well, when I'm shooting 8x10, I love stepping back and seeing the whole image with both eyes. Sure, I press my eye to a loupe to focus, but if I could stay stepped back and press a button to zoom in 10X, I would do that instead.

Besides, what about the 17mm viewfinder? Haven't die hard Leica users been using external viewfinders for decades?

I am for one really excited about the prospects of the Digital Pen camera. It is exactly what I was looking to buy as a second camera.
However, the price will most likely be where things will go wrong. With my existing investment in glass for my DSLR, I cannot justify spending so much on a small point and shoot, where I can get a perfectly good NEW body for almost the same price.

In my opinion, this kind of camera will have to cost at least half as much as an entry DSLR for anyone to consider it seriously as an option for a first or second camera.

"I should think that most photographers would use a Micro 4/3 camera like a sports car in the garage—not as their everyday driver, but as a second camera used to complement a DSLR"

I disagree.

I am about to take a 3 week holiday with the family and I have decided to leave at home:-
Leica R & M (digital and film)
Mamiya 67
Bronica GS1
canon EOS650


Instead, I am taking:
Pansonic G1 with kit lens
My Nikon F1 is already in England and should be serviced and I will pick it up with its 50mm so that will be used at the sea side, but the Pany will be used for everything else.

I will not sell my others, but the Pany is so quick and useful and the results are more than acceptable

Kind regards

Ravi

The strength of the negative reaction to the lack of a EVF seems pretty surprising to me. People on all the forums I frequent have a overwhelmingly negative response to the camera due to the missing viewfinder. Personally I can't wait to get one.

I'm expecting the E-P1 to replace the Point and Shoot for many enthusiasts. I notice that it is about the size of a Canon G10, so it would fit in my small camera bag where I could carry it and a CL or other compact film camera.

"peregrinations"? "incunabulist"? Seriously, where do you pick up your vocabulary, dude?

Oddly, I haven't seen any predictions about availability of the Pen, anybody know anything?

"...because I feel starved for an injection of creativity into the current state of camera design."

...is something I very much agree with. The Panasonic and Olympus micro 4/3rds and Sigma DP-x cameras are, to me, quite promising signs. The thing they don't do for me, though, is make me want to buy them (or, at least, not enough to make me part with actual money). That's because of the lack of an optical viewfinder which, for me, is not negotiable (others' preferences might be different, of course). I have owned and used an EVF-based camera and while I tried to like it I just couldn't. I know they're much improved now (I've looked at a Panasonic G-1 in-store) but not in any way enough to suit me. I may be a dinosaur, but I just can't work well composing on the rear LCD hand-held (on tripod is different). Use of an external finder may be workable (and I'm glad the option is available) but I'm yet to be convinced.

It seems to me that it shouldn't be beyond human wit to devise a workable integrated optical viewfinder for this type of camera. In fact I know it isn't: just looking at my Olympus Stylus Zoom, or Contax T2, or Konica Hexar or Contax G2 system tells me that adequate to good solutions can be devised, at least for a restricted range of focal lengths.

I like black-blob wunderplastik SLRs. One is always going to be my primary shooter for most circumstances. But I'd like a smaller, easy to pack and light to carry, more discrete alternative without the level of compromise that small-sensor digital entails (yes, I have one of those as well). But, for the moment, that secondary camera is going to be one of my old film cameras until or unless someone can come up with something as good (for me) in digital.

People, please! It should be possible to produce an expensive digital camera that matches what my $80 Olympus Stylus Epic can do for me. But so far it hasn't been done.

...Mike F

I should think that most photographers would use a Micro 4/3 camera like a sports car in the garage...

My hope for this format is the other way around, I hope the DSLR becomes the sports car in the garage: you only resort to it when you want or need extreme performance and speed.

One wonders how painters manage to create with the paper or canvas out in front of them like that.

Anyway, the DMD is getting pricey for my post-apocalyptic budget. I wouldn't mind having a Wrangler in the driveway to go along with my sensible commuter car, but it's not likely. I might think the Nikon D40 or the Rebel is a better buy. But they are so heavy and obtrusive...

"'peregrinations'? 'incunabulist'? Seriously, where do you pick up your vocabulary, dude?"

The first is from Smollett. You would like it--Commodore Hawser Trunnion, Cadwallader Crabtree, and the rest. I actually knew a girl in photography school whose father's name was Cadwallader, which I thought was hilariously funny when I first heard it, on account of good old Peregrine Pickle. Turns out it's a real name--Welsh--and I was being a bit rude.

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4084

The second, well, haven't I ever told you that, if it weren't for Ronald Reagan, I would have spent my life in the field of rare books?

--Pleonastic Mike

P.S. Don't let young people read Peregrine. I think it might have had an adverse effect on the course of my life.

I've never really done any photographing with the rear LCD live view model, so maybe I'm missing something, but I can't for the life of me understand what people are objecting to. I thought relying just on that was the whole point of an ultracompact mirrorless camera. Does making an LCD really tiny and putting a little rubber cup around it give it magical powers? If it's really impossible to compose pictures off the rear LCD, then how do people with point-and-shoots take as many perfectly respectable photos as they do?

I have two guesses:
1. People who moved from digital point-and-shoots to DSLRs had to justify the purchases to themselves (and in some cases their friends or family) and in the process they convinced themselves that viewfinders are not just really cool (which they are), but that they're infinitely superior to all conceivable alternatives. Now they feel compelled to complain whenever a camera doesn't have one.

2. They rightly notice that there are cases where a viewfinder is preferable to rear LCD live view, and conclude that every camera must have a viewfinder so you can have both options. Given infinite money and carrying capacity, I would understand the "include every option in case it comes in handy" attitude, but it's pretty clear that the whole point of this design is about carrying capacity not being infinite - the point is giving up some functionality in exchange for a lighter and more compact camera that will have the enhanced functionality of being the camera you have with you.

I don't know if I'll buy an E-P1. I don't know if the E-P1 is an even vaguely good or useful camera, but I'm sad to see so many people who haven't even tried the thing criticizing Olympus for making the commendable decision to try something new in hopes of getting us the compactness we've been asking for.

I can't wait for your friend's impressions. The new Pen is the camera I've been waiting for a very long time. It's not perfect, it does have a few shortcomings (lack of OVF, low-res LCD, possibly slow AF, no integrated flash) but those are minor compared to its strengths.

This is the first camera that has created a huge positive impression on me from the first moment I read about it. The design is truly beautiful as well. One of the things that awed me is that finally a pocketable camera can produce images of a quality similar to DSLRs.

Though I have a DSLR with good quality lenses and other accessories, I haven't used it in a long time. I simply cannot be bothered anymore to take it with me for a walk or even a trip. The digital Pen should fix this problem.

Still, I'm not sure I'll buy it immediately. I'm gonna wait for a few authoritative reviews first and I'll also wait for the rumored Panasonic 20mm 1.7 pancake. All I need on such a camera is a fast 40-50mm prime (35mm equivalent). I'm also thinking that if I'm patient, they'll release the second version with (hopefully) a high-res LCD.

Incunabulist has a much nicer ring to it than book collector, doesn't it? Artists expand our vocabulary and imaginations. Somehow, in my higher education and 25 years or so of professional writing, I'd never heard of Synedoche -- until the Charlie Kaufman film. Now that I've looked it up and used it in a sentence, I can move on.

"matches what my $80 Olympus Stylus Epic"

A very good camera.

The Pen isn't pushing my buttons; I know the viewfinders are like a shotgun, but I know where it is, and how to use the crop tool. In theatres, I turn off everything, cover what I can't turn off, so others can view the performance, with out being disturbed, and I can take pictures.

Sticking with the G9, slightly askew OVF, but some tele reach, quiet, faster than a racing turtle, dark, and it will, lumpily fit in a coat pocket.

I curmudge, in another "rip-off" of Mike Johnston, who does need to eschew obsfucation. Pleonastic? I did look it up.

Hah, just downloaded the "Adventures of Peregrine Pickle" to wonder gadget, my iPhone. Sorry, not a rare book, but....

I have an LCD-only camera, the Leica D-Lux 3, and I don't like it. I thought I would, for a lot of reasons expressed here by people who I suspect don't have one. The basic reason is, it just isn't as fast or as instinctive as a optical viewfinder or even a good EVF; that's not only my opinion, and some fairly extensive experience, but it's also common sense.

1. When I'm really working with a camera, (and I believe this is true for most people with some experience) I rarely have the sense of putting it to my eye. I'm looking, looking, looking, and then the camera is between my eye and the subject and I take the shot. I never break contact with the subject -- with the LCD, you *must* break contact. You're looking at one thing, then another. That takes time.

2. When the camera is in your hands, it has to be held some distance away from your body. The reason for this is, the closer it's held to your body, the longer it takes your eyes to change focus from a scene thirty feet away to one that's a foot away. Try it. The time it takes your eyes to change is equivalent to the lag in a slow P&S. Older people sometimes can't even make the change -- they need one kind of glasses to focus at one distance, another kind to focus at the other.

3. From the time we are infants, we're trained to scan with our eyes. We're not trained to point with our fingers as we're scanning -- the scanning is independent. So our eyes may be scanning at one place, while our hands point somewhere else. With an viewfinder, you don't really have to align things -- you put the viewfinder in front of your eyes and shoot. With the LCD, you have to get your hands pointed perfectly. It's not too hard -- but even after working with it for a while, it's not nearly as quick as looking and firing.

4. Some people *really* like rangefinder cameras for the reason that the frame space within the finder lines actually makes up only a part of the view. The space around the "window" that defines the shot can be used to instantly re-evaluate the composition of the shot, because you can not only see what's inside the shot, but also what's outside. Because an optical viewfinder or a fast EVF are so natural, instinctive and quick, you can do a little of that reevaluation by twitching the camera around. But and LCD is much slower simply because you have to move your hands and your arms to scan, and you're looking at a small LCD panel rather than the subject.

The G1, IMHO, has the best of both worlds -- a viewfinders AND a twistable LCD (all LCDs should be twistable. It's an extremely useful feature for things like taking shots over your head, or sideways.)

People who say an LCD as a finder is just as useful as an OVF or EVF are simply wrong, IMHO. Viewfinders are better in most circumstances. I will concede that there are times and cameras when LCD-only may be a good choice, but not on a pro camera.

When I first read the details of the Oly a few days ago, I was pretty high on it; but then some problems began to occur to me. I would suggest that anyone who thinks about buying one take the old fashioned LCD (why did they do that?) out into the sunlight and try to focus and compose. If it's like what seems to be a similar LCD on my D-Lux 3, there'll be times when you can't.

Well, here's a statement I never thought I'd make.

Thank goodness for Ronald Reagan.

Speaking of "creativity into the current state of camera design", doesn't it seem like everyone is using the same oval shaped array of autofocus sensors that Canon uses? The number of sensors may be different, but the new Canons, Nikons, and the Sony A900 all seem to have that same overall shape.
Why can't someone put the autofocus points at the 'Rule of Third' points in the viewfinder? I think I'd be happy with just those 4 spots and a central sensor. Contax had this arrangement in their SLRs before and I wish someone would copy them.

"Incunabulist has a much nicer ring to it than book collector, doesn't it?"

Yes, but it doesn't mean quite the same thing. "Incunable" (plural, incunabulum) means "from the cradle" more or less (if I'm remembering correctly), and it refers to books printed before A.D. 1500 (Gutenberg having come along about 1440). At one time virtually every incunable was considered interesting from a book collecting standpoint, just because it was an early example of printing. Now they're mostly in museums. Memory on *really* shaky ground here, but I think there is only one Gutenberg 42-line Bible left in private hands...maybe two? In any event it's the ultimate incunable.

Mike

On the contrary, I think the pricing of the Olympus is a pleasant surprise. After hearing rumors of a $1,000+ MSRP, it's good to see you can get the pancake lens kit relatively cheaply, plus the OVF thrown in (OVF's being a frequent opportunity for price gouging).

Personally, though, I think out-of-the-box creative camera design ended after the last Coolpix swivel-cam. If I could just have a 990 or 995 with today's sensor technology, I'd be set for life.

John Camp: Forgive me if I sound a bit stiff; I'm trying to remain moderate.

I've been photographing somewhat seriously for 40 years, and casually for perhaps 7 years before that. I've owned and used film SLRs (Miranda, Pentax, Nikon, and Olympus), a Leica M3, film autofocus P&S, digital P&S, and DSLRs (three; currently a D700 and a D200); also some minor medium format gear and a monorail 4x5. I've done semi-pro work off and on during that period (weddings and events, portraits, journalism, product photography).

And I wish to respond to your assertions point by point.

1) That's not how it seems to me at all. (It was your "people with some experience" which brought on the long recitation of mine.) Bringing the camera up is usually the start of a shooting sequence, but it's a very specific step. And then it stays up for a while, for a number of shots if things are going at all well.

2) The physical distance to the LCD is about the same as the virtual distance to the focusing screen in an SLR (D or otherwise); the same glasses work fine for me for both.

3) For me it's the opposite; it's much easier to bring the camera up on a line between my eyes and the subject than it is to get the camera up to my eye and pointed right. It requires less fine alignment, and I can see what I'm doing. (I suppose this could be somewhat influenced by some practice bringing a pistol up in line between me and the target, and aligning the sights; but I'd been photographing for more than 10 years before I got at all involved in shooting.)

4) I find it just as easy to twitch my hands out in front of me as when they're up to my face. But I can see around and past the camera without having to do that mostly, when it's a little one out in front of me.

I think you and a number of other people here need to accept that there are lots of adequate ways to get the job done in photography, and that there isn't just one right way to do things, and stop trying to explain why your way is the best or only way.

Having already placed my pre-order (this time, I even remembered to use TOP's link to Amazon!), I finally got around to taking a closer look at the E-P1's specs. While I have no problem using the LCD to compose and focus, I was a bit dismayed to realize the E-P1's LCD has only half the "dots" -- that's what Panasonic calls 'em! -- of the G1's same-size LCD, which is the first LCD that I consider adequate to the purpose. Hmmm.... :-/

John Camp,

Best explanation I've heard for why I like some sort of viewfinder, for any thing that is moving, and why I'm quite comfortable using the big LCD when the camera is on a tripod.

And why I take the time to figure out just where the viewfinder is actually looking; fortunately on my current G9, just a little to the NW when the camera is looking N, within cropping territory.

Incunabulist: Latin, neuter plural. Swaddling clothes.

I think I'll go rest.

In response to Eric re: putting the AF points at the rule of thirds positions, if memory serves, Contax did that on their N1 AF camera, and gave the photographer a covered joystick to move the selection around with the thumb while looking through the eyepiece. I can't recall if it was on the NX or N1 Digital.

Patrick

Don't forget, the Samsung NX should be out soon too. Maybe not as small as the E-P1, but interesting..

Interesting all the posts re LCD vs Viewfinder (EVF or OVF).

Having used digitals with no finder, and with a bad OVF, i would prefer even a bad OVF (or a good EVF :) for HAND HELD use. I think it comes down to your own preferences, what you are comfortable with, used to, eye sight characteristics, etc. Even my old TLR's are not really comfortable (for me), handheld.

But, when i got a digital camera, the first one was a bridge camera with an adjustable angle LCD and an EVF. When i used it on a tripod, i used the LCD with a little shade. It reminded me of (with a smaller view of course) when i used to use my RB67 or view cameras.

My "fantasy" digital camera, is an affordable digital rolleiflex or Yashicas-mat type digital, with a high-res liveview LCD (and say hmmm a 60mmx60mm sensor with about 40 mp. I did say it was a fantasy :)

But for handheld use my definite preference is a viewfinder, of some kind.

OVF or not the thing I'd truly love to have is some form of manual focus confirmation. Honk a horn, wiggle an LED, I don't care but looking at a magnified chunk of a scene on an LCD isn't a reasonable analog of manual focus on a (D)SLR or any decent rangefinder. I can't recall any of my digital P&S cameras that have any such function.

"...an injection of creativity into the current state of camera design."

How about: "...current state of some camera designs where injected plastic is the main material" :)

Compare DP1, DP2, G10 or DMC-LX3 body design with plastic on plastic with plastic (OK, and a little bit of metal here and there plus thin metal external skin) as seen in the E-P1. See for example here: http://photorumors.com/

Curb your enthusiasm, people. Yes, this construction is used in US$749 body, not in a budget camera. And whatever you do, be careful how you hold E-P1 with a longer and heavier lens: remember, there are only four screws holding the lens flange to the plastic body.

OK, I know, not all plastics are the same, and this is probably 70-30 glass fiber-filled polycarbonate. But some, like myself, still believe that critical alignment between the sensor plane and the lens mounting flange would be better trusted to precision machined all metal structure.

E-P1 is supposed to become available about 2 weeks later (end of june) - according to a local dealer.

sebastian

A pedant speaks:

Incunable=incunabulum, plural incunabula.

That's the second time I've corrected your neuter noun plurals, sir. The next time there'll be detention.

"Don't let young people read Peregrine. I think it might have had an adverse effect on the course of my life."

For me it was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, especially "Psychology of the Esoteric." I'm still reeling.

Mike, you still haven't told us if YOU think this qualifies as a DMD? Reading the original DMD article, you seem to be ok with a shoe-finder, and the 17mm fits your description as well (although a stop too slow). Even the size is nearly right. Have you ordered yet?

Personally, I'm really liking this one, not in the least because of the styling. But seeing how I just bought an M3, and am trying out some different B&W films, I have this feeling I won't be using any digital cameras for say, the coming year?

Bernard

Regarding the LCD v Viewfinder issue, I think John Camp's post is spot on. He's right. Discussion over, that's it :)

Although I love a good viewfinder I also love the way composing on a lcd screen makes me think back of my view camera's.
Now take it just one step further and make it possible to turn the image on the lcd upside-down. Just like the view camera.
Most painters turn there work upside-down for evaluating the composition and most users of a view camera have always talked about the benefits of this inverted world.
I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of those things that every art school teaches there students.

There is no downside to the upside-down button
One small step in programming the digital camera, a big step for all camera users.

Hello,

the more i read about the EP-1, for me, the DP-2 becomes a little bit more interesting. (D.igital P.en)

Regards, titus

Yep. Incunabula are books from the earliest days of printing from moveable type. They're prized by (very wealthy) collectors not just because they're old, but because they're artistically spectacular and diverse. Nowadays books are unimaginatively uniform in their typographic conventions, choosing from an extremely narrow stylistic range of 'roman' text fonts. But in the earliest books you see a wide range of typography, from heavy blackletter (think Gutenberg) to the astonishingly graceful early roman types of Nicholas Jensen to a wide range of intermediate designs and imitations of hand lettering. Moreover, the early printers were competing for the attention of wealthy patrons with traditional hand-lettered manuscripts. Consequently the standard of craftsmanship is astonishingly high. It's almost like the first automobiles ever built turned out to be high-end Lexus & BMW's.

What John Camp said.

I'm just a peasant. I'd even be ecstatic over an updated version of my old Nikon E8700, with a decent sensor and lens, image stabilisation and (a lot) less shutter lag. There's no way you'll sell me a non-SLR camera if it doesn't have a viewfinder (real or electronic, I have no shame) and a twisty-outy LCD. Particularly the twisty-outy LCD.

Smollett is great, just skip past a Lady of Quality.

Regarding the "low res" LCD I have been primarily a videographer and have spent my life looking through viewfinders that always disappoint. If I can see the framelines and focus accurately, I'm happy. Plus it's such a nice surprise to see your work later and realize it is much better than you thought!

The digital Pen looks like a real winner to me. Let's see, what can I sell on Craigslist...

My personal "viewfinder" preference would be a separate head mounted device for displaying the camera's sensor/lens current view. See recent Kopin whitepaper - http://www.kopin.com/data/File/Golden-i/Microsoft-White-Paper-Golden-i.pdf.

I have the impression, from reading several photography blogs, that peoples main interest in the EP-1 is first, style, second, the feature set, and a distant third, the IQ. Interesting. I would have thought that this would be a camera for people who were stuck with an advanced compact such as an LX3 or G10 and now can get a much bigger sensor and interchangable lens capability is a package not much bigger.


I don't think it has to be cheaper than an entry DSLR. In my mind, that's valid only if I'm trying to decide between the two. If my "with me everywhere" camera might be an entry DSLR, I would have already purchased one. I'm waiting for the DMD, and this just might be it. We'll see how the IQ turns out, and whether the autofocus speed is really so bad. If Oly offers an external viewfinder for each prime focal length, that's fine with me. I'd also play with using the LCD to compose. The only thing that I KNOW is missing right now is a fast near normal prime, meaning f2 or better. Or maybe I'd just buy an adapter and use my old Canon FD lenses in the dark.

My wife has an LCD p&s and I don't like using it at all. I have a Canon A610 (couple years old 5MP model with no IS at all) that I won't give up ... even though the LCD is small, it swivels up & down and lets me shoot with the camera held low, up high, held up a window with the camera turned 90 degrees or most any way you can imagine. If that sounds like something that's only useful for silly stuff, it isn't - in fact, most of the time, the LCD is oriented some way other than parallel to the camera body. I shoot it a lot from low angles; from a table or counter top, in my lap, but also from up high. Even if I crouch down to get low for a shot, odds are I want to hold the camera a little higher or a little lower to get the perspective I want and a parallel LCD would be hard to view.

Part of the appeal of an EVIL camera to me is to be less conspicuous when shooting people. At parties or other events the size of my DSLR with a portrait lens or zoom is attention-grabbing and at quiet events, the sound of the mirror & shutter draws looks. I can tell that people are conscious of me photographing them. If you can avoid a straight line from your eyes through the camera to the subject by having the camera down lower, basically so you're not looking "at" your subject, people relax - they're aware that you're there, shooting, but aren't constantly conscious of the fact that you're shooting at any point in time. It's not being sneaky, it's about avoiding that "hey, don't mind me and this big, black camera and lens that I've got mashed up to my face - just pretend I'm not here" situation. And finally, when shooting kids, I find that kids are much more likely to engage you in what you're doing if you're looking at them and not through the camera. My DSLR does not have live view, so I sometimes resort to a quick peek to frame/focus, then try to hold the camera steady with my face away from the camera, looking at the child.

All of these things would be best served by a camera like the E-P1, but with an articulating LCD that I can acutally see at high & low angles.

I still think an EVF would be useful for shooting in bright sun, particularly when you want to do more than just frame the shot (like precise focus or DOF preview), but I could live without that. I could probably even live without the articulating LCD, but as of right now, the camera doesn't hold $700+ worth of appeal. With the right viewing system, I could see using the E-P1 with wide-normal and portrait primes most of the time, and using my DSLR with its zooms occasionally.

I am curious what impact film point and shoots had on the SLR category? Does anyone know? Although this category of camera is certainly in its infancy, film point and shoots seem to be a reasoanble comparison. If I had to guess, and assuming other manufacturers follow suit, I would guess that the growth of DSLR sales will be absolutley stymied by this category of camera. DSLR growth was already starting to hit a wall without the competition. I base this conclusion on the belief that camera sales are not driven by people who think of themsleves as photograhers but by people who are passionate about making a record of their life (I stole that from Mike.) In that regard, I think the Pen is a better tool, and it won't take people long to figure this out. Right now, its a bit pricey, but only becuase can be, with very little competition, but when the price comes down, I don't think the masses will give a second thought to letting their DSLR's gather dust. The lynch pin, performance wise, will be no shutter lag,and lighting quick autofocus, the two features that drove people away from digital p&s's and towards dslr's.
If Olympus contiunes to develop this camera, it could well be its salvation. ch

To which demographics, in terms of age of the photographer, does the DMD speak to? Those of us raised on the cult of Leica and B&W film saw the rangefinder as the natural camera to use, while having a adjunct SLR for the 180mm lens that was sometimes required, or for the really weird among us who felt like they needed to focus closer than 3 feet.

Do younger photographers feel the same need for the DMD as older photographers do? Or is it a cultural thing? The irony here is that older photographers need an optical finder, due to failing eyesight while being less able to take decisive moment pictures since they are now "past their prime" in all senses of the phrase.

I'm thinking that any DMD camera without a good, integrated optical finder is a non starter, based on the age of the photographers to whom such a camera would appeal.

Take care,
Tom

Maybe it's just me, but I'm having a hard time understanding why so many people are complaining about the Oly E-P1 lacking an optical viewfinder. The photo Mike has posted on TOP clearly shows a high-quality optical viewfinder mounted to the hot shoe. Granted, this viewfinder only works with the matching 17mm prime lens and not the zoom, but what more do you want for your stinkin' $900? Hundreds if not thousands of Leica RF shooters managed to take great photos with hot shoe-mounted viewfinders. Why can't we?

I have nothing against using a rear LCD except that I can't see what's being displayed in bright sun light. Period. I end up guessing hoping that the framing is right and that the camera is level and that the subject is in focus. I don't see how other people get around this. And external VF requires another level of guessing. It's a real problem for me.

"Mike, you still haven't told us if YOU think this qualifies as a DMD?"

I haven't seen it or used it yet. I try not to reach closure before the opening. [g]

Mike

I have taken many fine photos with my Ricoh GRD even with all its limitations and slow performance. If I cant make it with that thing this Olympus will be very welcome as my carry everywhere camera. One nit pick though...no on board flash...though I dont use it that much there is no substitute for that moment where having one is the difference between getting the shot and not.

A couple of notes:

An older Olympus OM 50mm f1.8 stuck on the E-P1 with the OM adaptor is surprisingly easy to focus. It's just like manual focus in a viewfinder, but on a big screen. It actually seems to work better than the auto focus with the 14-42. The screen gives a bit of the micro-prism effect of a real viewfinder. It's really very satisfying. The aperture is totally manual, though.

The shutter sound is sweet: a smooth, subdued tick-zip. Also very satisfying.

And the Lumix 7-14 is very, very nice. Here's my new vacation/hiking setup. Bye-bye G9.

With all of the discussions of the pros and cons of LCD only cameras, I am surprised that nobody has raised the issue they present to those of us who need reading glasses, progressives, bifocals, etc. I find that with my digital p&s I am always looking over my glasses, or through the bottom of the lenses with my head tipped way back. This is a pain, and makes it harder to create a good photograph. This is never a problem with any SLR, or DSLR, or rangefinder that I have ever used. Plus, anti-shake or not, it seems to me that the sturdier the camera holding position, the better. With a viewfinder, you get three points of contact: your head and two hands. Much sturdier. Plus, in my experience it is less likely that depressing the shutter release will move the camera downward when you are shooting with three points of contact.

"I have nothing against using a rear LCD except that I can't see what's being displayed in bright sun light. Period."

So you've already tried the E-P1, then? Lucky.

Mike

I wholeheartedly agree with you re: the lack of imagination in camera design. I still wonder why no-one pursued, for instance, the quirky but oh-so-useful design of the Sony R1, with EVF shooting and top-mounted articulated LCD, which allowed for easy waist-level shooting. I *loved* that camera.

How about a camera with a small LCD screen built in on top for waist-level viewing (in addition to the regular LCD screen at the back)? It may be too small for many people, but it would work for me. You could do some fast shooting that way. A swivel-screen is just too much trouble for lazy people like me.

In my opinion, this kind of camera will have to cost at least half as much as an entry DSLR for anyone to consider it seriously as an option for a first or second camera

Why? I'm not sure it's really competing directly against entry level DSLRs. It's largely irrelevant that the pricing is similar, since it is aimed at different usage/user requirements.

Minox 35GTs, Contax Ts, Rolleis, etc. all cost as much if not more than even some mid level SLRs in the film days, but they weren't in direct competition with them.

I practically gave up on SLRs after getting a Minox 35 - I could carry it at all times, and it had a wonderful lens.

In terms of the enlarged view for focusing, I find it somewhat awkward with the implementations I've tried so far (including a Minolta A1) - they magnify the central portion (or selected portion) and take up the whole LCD screen. What I'd like is for it to take up a central portion of the screen, with the outside of the screen being left for shot framing - this would make the manual focus much quicker.

Overall, I like the looks of the E-P1 (and DP2). Everything has compromises, be it size, weight, speed, quality. You just have to pick what is really important for your circumstances.

"I'm thinking that any DMD camera without a good, integrated optical finder is a non starter, based on the age of the photographers to whom such a camera would appeal."

The younger you are, the less likely you are to have ever held a camera up to your eye. Everyone shoots from an LCD now. The only appeal of OVFs to the young is the differentiation between "normal" casual shooting and "serious" shooting, which means bringing a camera up to your eye.

I wouldn't be surprised if that same shibboleth function is what's bothering a lot of the more vocal pro-OVF folks about this camera.

(Me, I'm more worried by the noisy low-ISO pictures. ISO 200 should not look like that!)

"After the all-too-brief Renaissance of creativity in camera design that accompanied the incunabulist years of digital, I've been dismayed that camera design has largely settled back into that very same rut."

I sort of felt the same way - but then thinking about it, why should there be a radical change? After all the SLR was refined over many years of real use - you can tinker with this and that, but in general, surely the overall design was honed to perfection.

What has really changed in digital (at least with large sensor models)? You still need something roughly the size of a 35mm frame positioned behind some glass. The laws of physics and practical ergonomics dictate the rest.

I suspect the only thing you CAN do which is in anyway radical is to eliminate the viewfinder.

Personally I want a viewfinder (and unless the technology improves significantly) I want a bright optical one. There are various practical reasons for this which have been mentioned, but for me it comes down to involvement.

Holding a camera at arms length is (for me) like distancing myself from the subject - the camera becomes almost a barrier between me and the subject. Looking through my viewfinder, I feel much more involved with the subject - I feel a part of what is going on, not a detached onlooker. Of course this is a personal view, and I'm all for choice.

I would love the new Olympus, but it would be for those times when the "full size" kit is inconvenient. I've yet to use a digicam which didn't make me feel a little bit like a voyeur instead of a photographer - for me the viewfinder is essential to establish an emotional connection with the subject.

Cheers,

Colin

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