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Saturday, 20 June 2009


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"I feel a somewhat closer connection to the new E-P1 than I do to most cameras..."

I just wanted to note that between Wednesday and Saturday of this week Mike J. has posted almost 4,000 (often big, mostly well-chosen) words for the benefit of his readers. Considering how in these kinds of websites readers tend jump over the smallest misstatement or misstep, that's really stepping up to the plate and delivering in the face of a lot of pressure.

I know you're too humble to make this a featured comment, but nice job, Mike.

I did read your previous post on lens speed, but one thing that wasn't pointed out is that an f/2.8 lens on a 4/3 sensor will have a very different bokeh at that aperture than an f/2.8 lens on APS-C or full-frame camera (film or digital).

The DOF gets increasingly narrower with a larger sensor, so I suspect that f/2.8 on M4/3 is actually closer to f/4 or f/5.6 on my Canon 5D. Yes, you can still throw the background out of focus but you have to be close to the subject or using a long lens, or both.

As someone who shoots a lot of portraits, that aspect of a fast lens (the narrower DOF) is as or more important to me than the amount of light it lets in.

Seen'n as how tomorrow's Sunday, amen, brother, amen.


"The last time expectations rose to such a fever pitch was for the Canon 5D Mark II."

That was nine months ago...

Thanks Robert. But please do note that by no means all of the words were mine! I have Eamon and Vlatko to thank too.


Wow! An intelligent, sane discussion of the pluses and minuses of the E-P1. I'm obviously not reading the forums on DPReview...

I knew there was a reason I read your site.

Mike, I can't imagine that you're saying that we should go out and buy a camera and work with it for a few months before pontificating what we already knew? Humans can adapt to anything, even cameras, especially when there's money on the line, and I'd venture to say that most of us don't have the luxury of free test cameras. You simply have to be able to separate the wheat from the chafe before it's too late.

I'm happy that the LX3 I've been waiting for has been out-of-stock long enough to see the introduction of the EP-1. I think I can live with this camera and the 35mm equivalent prime with its matched OVF for a long time. And with what I realized on the sale of a Rollei 3.5f whiteface, it makes the Olympus an almost free camera!

Yes, believe me, I understand that problem, deeply. What I'm cautioning against is not the act of trying to find out all you can about a camera from one remove. That's what reviews, in magazines and now the internet, are for. (Well, as long as the reviewer is looking out for the reader first and foremost rather than the manufacturer and advertiser first and foremost. An all too hazy line these days.)

What I'm cautioning against is the intemperate adoption of conclusions based on insufficient real information.

In some ways, this is simply an innate human tendency...our great genius as a species is that we can communicate with each other, so knowledge becomes shared quickly and individuals don't have to learn everything over and over again. But we overdo the tendency once in a while...for instance in the direct aftermath of a disaster, when rumors typically spread out of control. In a sense, the flurry of information exchanges on the internet following a new product release model a more sedate version of the "flurry of rumors" problem--too many people reaching for usable information too quickly.

If our village were under attack or a new plant species were killing people who ate it, then that capacity to quickly determine a course of action based on the best available information--however scanty it might be--is a sensible adaptation.

Unfortunately we don't seem to be quite as good, collectively, at the opposite...reserving judgement until better information comes along, in cases where that's feasible. With a new product, the evolved tendency is to decide NOW whether we're going to buy it or not buy it--the courses of action are clear, we are adept at sorting through the available data seeking the best course of action, so we tend to want to decide that course of action as soon as possible. But of course in this case not only is the enemy not attacking, not only is there no immediate imperative to act, but we actually CAN'T act yet...because the camera's not even for sale yet. Time for the neo-cortex to step in and tell the lizard brain to calm down. [g]


Thanks Robert. But please do note that by no means all of the words were mine! I have Eamon and Vlatko to thank too."

True, and I appreciated their contributions too. But - not to nitpick! - I only counted your writing. Since Wednesday, before today's Damion Berger: Three Cheers (1200 words); Ahmadinejad (200); Fast Lens (1700); Finding View, Zooming Too (700); Streets of Berlin (500); total = 4300 words, plus your numerous comments not on the main page....

I don't have much experience with "proper" cameras but since I bought a pre-AI 24mm F2.8 lens for my D40 I have really enjoyed using it, the view feels "right" and it's nice and small

"But the reason I like cameras is because I like pictures."

Mike, I know you hold yourself to a very high standard of writing (and I appreciate that, believe me), but I've seen the grammatically incorrect phrase "the reason... is because..." one too many times. I guess it sort of rolls off the tongue, but it's redundant* as well as technically erroneous. One could say either "this is because..." or "the reason... is [that]...."

Now that I am done sweating over the minutest of details, I have to thank you for offering your opinion and, more importantly, a perspective on things that I sometimes miss in the biggest of camera launches. Please keep up the fine work on this blog.

* Speaking of errors in redundancy, I should point out the phrase "general consensus" that appears two posts down. Okay, this Nazi raid is officially over.

lol Mike, that's right, the camera isn't even for sale yet haha, but, "nip it in the bud" isn't a cliche for nothing haha.

Couldn't agree more Mike, especially on the 35mm lens.
I shot for years using a 50mm lens because it was normal and recommended by Time Life books.

When I got an Olympus clam shell (XP?), the compact 35mm film camera with a fixed 35mm lens, I was gobsmacked. Suddenly all my pictures were significantly better.
I realized, like you, that my 'eye" saw a 35mm lens view NOT a 50.

I have the alpha 900 and I'm not sure how hard it will be to go "back" to lower resolution. The big files are stunning. But I will give the Pen a shot.

Re the EP-1, it's the best looking digital camera I've ever seen. I like high modernism. It's too bad that Oly's marketing department doesn't seem to have the guts to back their design department -- they're trying to market a beautiful machine for photography as campy nostalgia. (There are marketing photos at I think DPReview, if not then at Imaging Resource. See also the retro-60s-look of the models at the Berlin launch.) If I could afford a $900 backup camera, I'd already have ordered an EP-1 with the 17/2.8. If I trusted Oly to produce the lenses I want -- primes -- I'd think seriously about ordering an EP-1 to be my primary camera. But I can't afford it, and I don't trust Oly -- and their cheesy marketing hasn't exactly increased my confidence.

Re the featured comment, why is a discussion of analog display options relevant to determining the focal length of a "sacred" normal lens on digital? If you assume the size of an APS-C sensor is 16mm * 24mm and round as you do the calculations, the sacred length is 29mm. If Mike likes 24mm, great; photographers should work with gear they like. But if we're going to do Kabalistic calculation of the sacred dimensions, let's at least do the calculations right, and not bring in irrelevant information about displaying analog photos.

Of course, if you use a lens with the sacred focal length, you can't crop one of your images without introducing sin into the world. I can see the point of discussing the results we get from different lenses and our reasons for preferring one or another. Is there a point to the present discussion?

Writing about the Panasonic G1 some time ago, a TOP commenter looked forward to the EP-1 announcement, preferring a camera more Olympus than Panasonic. After reading about both and seeing a G1 in person, I'm inclined towards Panasonic.

In past experience with a 2002 camera with a poor EVF and an articulating display, I favored the EVF for non-tripod use. More recently, on a compact camera with a poor OVF, I mainly used the non-articulating LCD. No trouble with bright sunlight, but I didn't enjoy taking pictures with it as much.

Here's why I love the EP-1: it has attractive features that I don't care about (e.g., better styling and video). It therefore depresses the G1's price even though the G1 has (for me) the superior feature set. The price of a G1 two kit lens package has dropped about $250 recently.

The Four Thirds standard cuts both ways for participants. On one hand, it helps establish a new camera ecosystem. On the other, the participants may end up splitting a limited market. So far, it's working great as Panasonic and Olympus have different takes on the m43 concept.

I also appreciate the opportunity to purchase lenses and adaptors from both. It's unfortunate that they went opposite directions on in-body IS as that will reduce the appeal of cross-manufacturer lens purchases.

"Of course, if you use a lens with the sacred focal length, you can't crop one of your images without introducing sin into the world."

But cropping itself is a sin.

[grin, duck, and run]


I'd take exception only on the "cutting corners" bit. Sorry, but, even as I'm readying my credit card for July, the 230K-screen is nothing but cutting an entire block, so to speak :) For the same price, remove the art filters an in-camera edits, and throw in a 960K one before launch, please God :)

As for looks, well, to each our own. I'm not fan, but as you said, the size is so perfect I don't care. The strap lugs are such a neat idea (even though no-one says neat anymore) but maybe a more apposite color would be better. (Tan? with black/silver? I don't think so :))

But eventually, the image files will speak louder than anything else for that camera, or so I hope.

What's a normal lens? Today the definition, focal length = format diagonal (43.3 mm-e), is widely accepted. And many photographers, namely Mike J., really like this definition, and also appreciate slightly shorter focal lengths (i. e. 35 - 40 mm-e) as normal.

However back at the times when negatives were still made of glass, a 'normal lens' was defined as anything between once and twice the format diagonal. That's 43.3 to 86.6 mm-e. And I think that was a very sensible definition. Remember the focal length of Nikon's first standard zoom from the '70s? It was a 43-86 mm lens.

I feel photographers fall into 10 categories---those who understand binary numbers and those who don't ... oops, sorry! Wrong joke. They fall into two categories: those who like 'short' normal lenses and those who prefer 'long' normal lenses. I, for example, have always preferred 55 mm or 58 mm lenses over 50 or 45 mm on 35-mm format, and I still do. Even a 85 mm portrait lens rather feels like a longish standard lens, not like a short telephoto. 50 mm and 35 mm lenses on an APS-C are just lovely as standard lenses! I simply cannot come to terms with the 28 mm lens on APS-C which here is 43 mm-e.

On the other hand, I do like, and often use, 35 mm lenses (on 35-mm format) and 24 mm lenses (on APS-C format)---but that's wide-angle for me, not standard.

-- Olaf

I always thought that the popularity of 35mm lenses was specifically that they provided an image that could be cropped. HCB used a 50mm, but photojournalists with less time just shot away with a 35mm and let their editors do the rest. Today, the 16-35mm zoom does the same thing, but with noticeable wide angle distortion in many shots. Why sneak up on someone to catch the decisive moment when you can just photograph them at 90 degrees without them knowing?

If the bag looks new, it means you haven't been shooting enough.

Also, I don't understand this whole deal about fitting cameras into pockets. I don't think I've seen a single camera aside from a cellphone camera that would fit in any of my pockets.

As for the E-P1, I have to say that I'm very tempted. Living in a small town where SLRs are relatively rare, I can't pull mine out without people stopping me and asking if I work for the local paper. That's cool and all, except when I'm talking to these people I'm not taking pictures. This camera seems just inconspicuous enough to put a stop to that.

(So you don't think a 230K screen is cutting corners somewhat? :))

Forgive me Father for I have sinned:
-I crop
-I zoom
-Sometimes I do not shoot raw
For penance I have pre-ordered an EP-1 with the 17mm.
Father, I pray you would proscribe appropriate acts of penitence.

"Forgive me Father for I have sinned:
-I crop
-I zoom
-Sometimes I do not shoot raw
For penance I have pre-ordered an EP-1 with the 17mm.
Father, I pray you would proscribe appropriate acts of penitence."

You've preordered an E-P1? All is forgiven!

--Father Zday

Hmm, maybe 35mm is the American decisive moment/streetshooter lens and 50mm is the European one? Or at least, they were, 50 years ago, in the time of Winograd and Cartier-Bresson?

I'm really interested in the EP1. Of course, money being a big factor, I'll wait for it to be available in shops so that I can take it for a test drive, but I'm nigh sure I'll get it.

I have the Panasonic G1, which I love dearly, and I have a few older lenses which I shoot with on the G1 (went as far as building my own adapter for one, 'cause I couldn't wait for it to arrive in the mail), and the idea of having a secondary camera compatible--in lenses and results--with the G1 is really intriguing.

I plan on buying it as a "present for my wife" and then borrowing it very often.

On a side note, the G1 holds a special place for me for one simple reason: My dad loves photography and collects cameras, but never made the step from SLR->DSLR because of many reasons, among which not being able to use his older lenses. He has had many P&S cameras, but still likes his old russian Leica clone better. Since he played with my G1, a couple of made-on-the-spot adapters, and his large amount of lenses, not only he has been more active, going out taking more photos, but him and I have been able to connect and talk more.

I'd have to agree with most of your comments, Mike. I was extremely gratified that Olympus chose a 34mm (35mm equiv.) lens to go with the E-P1. My bias of course, but 35mm ~ 40mm has always been my favorite focal range. I was also glad that Olympus eschewed the traditional DSLR hand grip, keeping the lines of the E-P1 closer to those of older film SLRs and compacts. I have problems holding camera with the 80's+ SLR handgrip, and seeing a small, high-quality compact that doesn't go this route is amazing.

I wish however, that the focus ring actually had stops on either end (instead of free wheeling forever), and that Olympus had some sort of focus aid in the viewfinder. Oh - and that it came in black :~)

In the end, I would look into the E-P1 as a complement to my existing film gear.

Bringing it all together:

I much enjoyed reading the Leica experiment a few weeks back but couldn't get myself to not stay digital. Now this E-P1 pops up which of course begs the question if not a "similar" experiment could be done using the E-P1 and some older / Semicompatible lens with full manual controls. Back to the viewfinder discussion, I have a newbie question: How do you focus using a manual lens with an OVF? One that isn't TTL of course. I understand this doesn't apply the the LCD on the E-P1, but this is a question that without an answer to, does not really let me have any valid fealings on the justification of an OVF over anything else and was also one of the reasons for not going and buying a Leica ;-)

I would really appreciate if one of you experienced (having used a camera for longer then 10 years ;-) people could tell me how anyone could actually take a photo with a viewfinder camera in a non lomo style?

Good assessment. Personally I'd want a 14mm f/2 and a 42mm f/1.4 to go with this body. With those two primes I could conquer the world.


Hmm, maybe 35mm is the American decisive moment/streetshooter lens and 50mm is the European one? Or at least, they were, 50 years ago, in the time of Winograd and Cartier-Bresson?

Makes sense. American streets are wider.

I think the Olympus E-P1 is the DMD - the "Divisive Miniature Digital": I cannot recall a single camera that has caused such vitriolic hate and passionate affirmation - and it has not even hit the shop shelves yet to show what it truely is!

@Christian Kurmann: A good explanation of how rangefinder triangulation (the method used by Leica and many other cameras with OVFs) works for focusing can be found at
I started trying to explain it, but that site does a much better job.

In practice, many people simply use the DoF marks on the lens - estimate the distance to your subject and as long as it falls inside those limits it will be in focus. Of course, that requires having a lens with comprehensive DoF scales covering the important apertures. This method allows very rapid focusing once you get it right.

I'm very enthused about this camera, and will probably have to have one. I like the focal length of the pancake lens, I like the hot shoe (and the lack of a built-in flash), and I'll probably be very happy with the optical viewfinder, as well.
I guess I'm most interested/concerned about AF performance. I'm used to using the Hexar AF, which is to say I'm used to really fast, really accurate AF. I doubt that the Hexar's AF performance can be equalled by a TTL AF system, but I'll be anxious to see how close Olympus comes to this benchmark.
One irksome feature of the Hexar that I hope won't be present in the E-P1 is the way it "parks" the AF at infinity after every exposure. This can be a real pain when you're shooting a long series at five feet, or so. I've never understood the purpose of this quirk.
I've really been waiting for a fixed lens camera, where the AF system wouldn't need to be TTL, but I suppose I'm in the minority on that issue.
Anyway, I too am psyched, and am hoping this will be the camera that finally makes me like digital photography. I've bought a whole bunch that haven't...

Concerning viewfinder and EVF, could this one work for EP-1 too :-)


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