Olympus TG-3 First Shots

I’ve been in the market for a small point and shoot camera for several months now, and it’s been a difficult search. I wanted something that fell somewhere between my OMD and my iPhone, which isn’t hard to find. But since my iPhone is good enough for most of the images I’d use it for, I felt like I’d be wasting money by buying a new camera, so I decided to change my focus.

Instead of just getting another camera that was a little smaller, I decided to go after something that offered features that neither of my other cameras had. I ended up settling on the Olympus Tough TG-3. What led me to it is that it’s waterproof up to 50′, has incredible macro capabilities and comes with the ability to control it remotely through an iPad or iPhone. I’ve only had it for a few days, but so far I’m very happy with it. Here’s my first keeper from the camera:

Olympus BCL-15mm f/8.0 Body Cap Lens

I couldn’t help myself today. I had to go shopping! I’ve been in the market for an even bigger size reduction than I experienced when I moved from DSLR to Micro Four Thirds. Something that would fit in a jeans pocket.

Initially I went looking for a compact camera, when I stumbled on the Olympus BCL-15mm f8.0 Body Lens Cap. It’s an interesting piece of gear. It’s a fixed f/8 aperture manual focus lens… Kinda. You don’t really manually focus. Instead, you choose from close-up and infinity settings. For $49, I figured why not?

It’s a bit of a one-trick pony, and will fit in my bag the way I want it to, but I don’t see myself taking a lot of shots with it. It gets pretty soft once your eyes leave the center of the image. I’ll keep it on the E-P3 now and use it as a daily to-and-from-work just-in-case lens, but I think I’ll still pick up a smaller point and shoot when the one I want comes out in June.

Here are a few shots taken with this lens on the Olympus E-P3 body, edited exclusively from within Lightroom Mobile for iPad.

Look Who’s Switching to Mirrorless

I’m not about to call the widespread acceptance of mirrorless cameras a revolution. After all, there there are many reasons to hold onto your DSLR gear, but the number of high profile professional photographers that have either switched or added smaller, more portable, less expensive mirrorless cameras to their arsenal is growing by the day.

Below you’ll find links to some stories where these great photographers talk about their mirrorless gear. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I tried to find stories that represented multiple camera manufacturers. Enjoy.

So what does all this mean? Does this mean you should sell off your DSLR gear and buy a small mirrorless camera? Absolutely not! All I’m saying is that there is enough evidence out there to tell you not to judge these little books by their under-sized covers. Despite being small, they are definitely worth considering.

Micro 4/3 Switch Complete

So the story goes like this… In May and June of last year my wife and I spent two weeks in Greece and Turkey. We had a fantastic time and I got a lot of pictures I was very happy with, but boy was that DSLR gear heavy! I took a full-frame Canon 5D Mark III, a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, and the big 4 lb Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. After about the first few days I started thinking about the Micro 4/3 (MFT) cameras I had heard about on a few podcasts and I was intrigued. Intrigued enough that I found myself stopping by camera shops in Athens looking for the model I’d been hearing so much about (the Olympus E-P3). I didn’t find one, but I continued my quest when I got home.
A month or two later I took the plunge and bought that little Olympus, along with a few prime lenses. I was really impressed by the image quality. Particularly the sharpness of the Olympus and Panasonic prime lenses. I was looking for something smaller and lighter. I knew I’d sacrifice some image quality, but what I didn’t expect was to discover something that was very new to me: The fun factor. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but I’ve never particularly enjoyed using a camera. They were simply the tools I used to get the jobs done. But this little E-P3 brought new light to how much fun a camera can be.

Three to four months later I realized that the only time I had pulled my big Canon out of the cabinet was for portrait sessions. Anytime I was just out taking photos I took the Olympus. I started thinking that I might want to start building a decent collection of MFT gear. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t in my budget to build up a second collection of really nice stuff. So I decided I was going to think about selling off my DSLR gear to make way for MFT gear. This couldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision. I needed to make sure this is what I really wanted to do, as there would be no turning back. I couldn’t afford to buy all that fancy DSLR stuff again. So I decided to think it over for a while, to make sure I wasn’t just attracted to the latest shiny object that grabbed my attention. After 4 months of mulling, I finally decided it was time. I sold all my Canon DSLR stuff and bought an Olympus OMD E-M5 and a nice little stable of lenses. Fortunately, with the price difference between the two systems, I was able to replace all the focal lengths I previously had, and even add a few.

I just got my new stuff this week. I’ve done very little with it so far. But I did make some time to head up Big Cottonwood Canyon this morning and grab a few shots.

I can say with 100% confidence that I made the right move for my needs. This little thing is going to be an absolute blast to shoot with. I can’t wait to share some images with you.

DIY Variable Neutral Density Filter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Neutral density filters are what dreams are made of. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but they are often what long, flowing dreamy waterfall photos are made of. To get that soft water effect on your photos, you need to get the shutter to stay open for a while. At least a second. Sometimes up to 10 seconds, depending on the speed of the water and the effect you’re going for. Waterfalls are far from the only use for this technique, but it’s what many people think of when they think of long exposure photography.

The problem with simply programming your camera to leave the shutter speed open longer is that, on bright days, you let too much light in and your pictures come out overexposed. Enter the neutral density filter, which (in simple terms) is just a dark piece of glass that screws onto the end of your lens, making the scene darker so you can leave your camera’s shutter open longer.

The problem with using standard ND filters is that they come in fixed degrees of darkness. So you either need to buy (and probably carry) several different filters of different degrees of darkness. That’s why I’ve always preferred variable neutral density filters. These are dual-glass filters that you can rotate to gain access various degrees of darkness, even hitting all the points in between full stops.

The problem with variable neutral density filters is that they’re still somewhat of a novelty, therefore tend to be very expensive and difficult to find in less common sizes. For example, I searched and searched for one that would fit my little Olympus lenses and could only find one… And it got bad reviews. So what did I do? I made my own!

All you need is 2 circular polarizing filters and a small screwdriver. Take the glass out of one and flip it over, then screw the two together, putting the flipped one furthest from the camera body. Travis L. Patterson has an excellent video on his Vimeo channel of how this is done:

DIY Variable-ND filter from Travis L. Patterson Media on Vimeo.

Olympus E-P3 First Shots

I finally took a little time to take the Olympus E-P3 with the 45mm 1.8 lens for a spin. For a camera that’s so light I hardly know it’s there, I’m very pleased. It’s not the world’s greatest landscape camera, but for people it’s absolutely amazing for the size and price. This afternoon I took my favorite super model up Mill Creek Canyon and here are the results. Glamour effects courtesy of Portraiture plugin.

A Little Camera Shopping

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love my Canon 5D Mark III so much that I wish I had it with me everywhere I went. Unfortunately, I don’t. It’s simply way too much to carry around everywhere. So I’ve been in the market for a smaller camera for about 2 months. Two weeks ago I took a trip to Costco and bought a sexy little Nikon 1 J1. Ohhhhhhhh so cute with it’s little red body and little red lenses. I loved this little thing! The day after I bought it, it was time to test it. I took it up to Silver Lake near Brighton Ski Resort. Walked around the little path, taking random photos here and there. It was fun to use. It was great having a light camera for a change. While the aperture control was lacking, I was still able to blur some backgrounds using a long focal length and some distance. I really liked it… Liked it, until I got the pictures home and into Lightroom, that is. Quite frankly, they were horrible. There was absolutely no sharpness to anything. I thought I might be spoiled by my DSLR, and I am, so I played with them and played with them. I’d post some samples here, but I didn’t get a single image worth saving. So, back to Costco I went the next day to return it.

Then I decided to bite the bullet and get the camera I’ve been hearing so much about for months: The Olympus E-P3. It’s a little more expensive, and not quite as small, but wow! This thing is amazing, and it fits fine in the messenger bag (man purse) I take to work and back every day. Not Mark III amazing, but it really is a fantastic little camera. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a camera in that price range. I’ll post some photos from it in a few days. I gotta get out and really put it through the tests. Plus, I’m waiting for the portrait lens. It will arrive sometimes this week.