It’s Here!

The Olympus EP-2 has finally landed! I spent the entire night playing around with the camera, and I have some initial thoughts. This is in no way a review. First off, I didn’t get home until after dark, and by the time the battery was charged, there was no way to test anything in daylight. That means that my 14-42mm zoom lens didn’t really get much use tonight, as its aperture numbers are not low enough to be used without a tripod or a lot steadier hand than I have. And besides, why play with the mediocre stock zoom, when you have a gorgeous 20mm prime lens to try, with an aperture of 1.7? Nuf said on that.

Then… I shot everything in RAW+Jpeg format. RAW, for the uninitiated, is essentially all the unprocessed light info taken in by the camera when you press the shutter. The photographer then takes the files into a digital darkroom (in my case, Photoshop Camera Raw), and “develops” them by playing around with all that pixel info.

Now, I am a digital darkroom freak. I LOVE editing my photos in Photoshop. Every single photo I take gets edited in some way. Many folks don’t like editing, or don’t know how, so RAW is not for them. RAW, as I quickly discovered tonight, is for me. I was in editing heaven.

As for the photos? Well, I took well over 100 of them. And I kept about 10. That’s not my usual ratio. I have a big learning curve here, on what lens works best for what, and when, and why. I took many nice shots, but for every nice shot I took, I managed to shoot another nine or so that stank. I didn’t just grab the camera and start producing gorgeous shots, that’s for sure. But I think I’m getting the hang of it, and the ones I kept are beautiful.

So here we go…

This first image is a jpeg, direct from the camera. I edited nothing. I didn’t change the levels, colors… I simply shrank it down a bit, and here it is.

I like the incredible detail and almost wax-doll appearance of my son’s face.

This next one has been edited in RAW format and converted to a Jpeg. Here I find the skin tones more realistic, and I like the depth of field. Keep in mind that all these photos were taken in “natural” light (in my house with the lights on), as I don’t have a flash for this camera. I fiddled with the ISO and other settings, but these were all taken in my relatively-dark living room.

This one was technically my “Photo of the Day” and will be added to my Flickr feed for my 365 Project. I like the depth of field here, too, and the rich colors. This was also shot in RAW.

The photos vary in the amount of “noise” produced, as I was playing around with the ISO levels. This camera can do higher ISOs than my old one, but yes, there’s noise beyond about 300, unless I edit it out. Which I don’t know how to do yet! I mean I do, but not in Camera Raw. Anyway… speaking of high ISOs… this shot is at 800, and has a lot of noise, I think.

This one, taken early in my adventure tonight, was hampered by an over-exposed creamy pillow in the foreground. I had to crop it out, which meant I lost the cat’s adorable paws. I have never had to worry about over-exposing a shot like this before!

Who knew I could so overexpose my son sitting in the middle of the room playing cards, five feet from any light source?

But on that note… this photo isn’t that impressive at first glance. It’s a somewhat grainy, blurry gerbil. But it was a moving gerbil in a corner of the room about 20 feet from a light source. That impressed me!

Macro shots are favorites of mine, but uh… not so much anymore. I’ll need to get a macro lens! These two shots of my new camera bag (I’ll review it more later) are as macro as I could get with either lens. The first one is using auto focus, the second is using manual, which got me a bit closer, but is a bit blurrier.

 

Finally, here’s the only shot I took with that 14-42mm zoom that actually came out. It has a lovely wide angle and seems pretty sharp, but I won’t get to try it out much until I get outside in the light. It’s lowest aperture is 3.6, which is what I had on the Canon, but it really doesn’t do as much, probably due to the mm-ness of it (I don’t understand these things, really).

So far… am I dazzled? Yes and no. I feel like I’m not really using this camera to its best advantage yet. I want more lenses, more! I really like the Panasonic 20mm for portraits, but its shallow depth of field isn’t practical for everything. It also needs to go outside and get tested in other contexts. In the end, I can get a macro adapter for just $50 that will let me go macro again, but mostly I just need to go shoot stuff. With my camera, of course.

I’ll write more about the camera itself as I use it more. I don’t think it’s fair to really “review” it after just a few hours with little neophyte me. So far, I like what I can do, but I’m also perplexed by some of the things I can’t do. More on that as I go, since some of that may disappear with use and education.

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