M. Zuiko 12-40, 2,8, pro

My newest lens arrived, the fabulous M. Zuiko 12-40, 2,8 pro. This beast made of glass seemingly turns the advantages of the 4/3rd system upside down, as it heftily unbalances my tiny E-PL3, but makes photography so much more fun.

I used it immediately to capture early autumn colours, which came out in a vibrant and tack-sharp way. – Actually the last bit is probably not true, as I used HDR, which comes with a lot of ghosting in the twigs and branches of trees, so absolute sharpness is not yet there. But I’m getting there, and more and more I am trying to hone my technical skills in order to arrive at sharp images.

My next goal will probably be to remember to set auto-stabilization to off when using my tripod, so … I’ve got a lot to learn.

Botanischer Garten Herbst

Olympus E-PL3 with Kit Lens

In 2012 I bought my first digital camera, the Olympus E-Pl 3, a small mirror-less compact camera with exchangeable lenses. I use the kit-lenses M.Zuiko 14 – 42mm and 42-150mm. I do also use a macro-converter lens and the VF-3 electronic viewfinder. As is obvious, this is beginner’s gear and that’s exactly what I am.

As the images show, the camera/lens-combination is better in some situations and challenged in others. The small MFT-sensor has its problems in low-light situations, which start well before sundown or in almost all indoor situations. Here, a tripod would be helpful, but don’t expect the camera to perform well as a birthday-party shooter late at night, at least not with my lenses. Cranking up the ISO-levels helps, but starting with ISO 1600 the noise level becomes distracting, at least for me.

Luckily for me, I am not interested in framing birthday parties, so moving on.

I like the camera because it travels well. It’s been to dusty national parks in Tanzania and it performs beautifully in daylight, the autofocus is responsive and usually on-spot in those light situations and if you don’t mistreat the camera too badly by exchanging lenses while driving with the hard-top down, it shows no ill effects from road bumps and heat.

In Italy I used it for street photography and landscape shots and usually did not run into problems there, but the small, shadowed alleys sometimes made it harder to get the shots you want and the autofocus finds a middle ground between the object of desire and myself and the results are only mildly sharp and grainy.

I actually like the camera quite a bit when using it with its tack-on macro converter for the telephoto lens; as a novice in this field I managed to get some remarkable shots for that kind of inexpensive gear. The nice creamy bokeh adds to my delight.

When shooting animals with the telephoto lens I sometimes feel too little educated in technical matters, i.e. the autofocus will work or not and it’s hard for me to work out whether I did something wrong or the camera is just not interested in the shot. Anyway, there is a high ration of bad images and I need to work harder at my skills.

Manual focus is hard with the on-board display and the VF-3 has a low resolution, so I almost exclusively rely on autofocus.

All in all, while I do enjoy the PL-3 for its lightness and compactness and the fact that it enjoys daylight as much as I do, I think that it might be time to upgrade my gear, especially as I would like my images to be crisper than they are today. Moreover, my next camera should be able to capture low-light situations better than the PL-3. Enjoy!