Why MicroFourThird (Olympus, Panasonic etc.) at all?

S

Shadowfox

Hmm everyone seems to start from here, so here I am.
I don't know if this forum has been inactive for some time or has been abandoned, but boy, I enjoy reading just this thread alone.

My love affair with the Olympus cameras started when I plunked down my hard-earned money on the E-300. After 3 Kodak Digital P&S, I thought I was ready for the "real deal", an SLR. However I still use it as I would a P&S camera. Until one day I stumble upon Andrzej Wrotniak's website which piqued my interest in using the "ancient" OM Zuiko lenses on my brand new E-300.

After a painful parting with $100, I got the 4/3rd to OM adapter, I even asked the camera store assistant to put it on my E-300, and guess what, it hasn't left the camera since


But the rosy-tinted glass that I've been wearing was soon replaced with the realization that using the manual focus OM lenses means I now have to "work" to get a decent picture. I was forced to recognize that I am deeply entrenched in the beginner's level when it comes to "real" photography.

Strangely, even though my ego was severely bruised when I saw my pictures, I was challenged at the same time to "get on it" with understanding the basics of taking pictures.

20 Olympus cameras later, I am still fascinated whenever I get my hands on a new old Olympus that I haven't seen before, my amazement at the build quality, control placements, big and bright view/range-finders, incredible lenses, and the final quality of the pictures still hasn't faded one bit.

Accordingly, the quality of pictures that I took also improved as I gain understanding and familiarity with the cameras and the concepts. My current favorite is the 35 EC and XA2 which challenged me to learn zone focusing technique.

Other than that, I find no other camera comes even close to the level of satisfaction of using my trusty OM-2n.

This is why I chose Olympus over others.
 

weedram

Well-Known Member
Shadow: What a wonderful post, very well stated! Some would call Oly-love a sickness, I feel it's a blessing.

Do you have an LC?
 

mattinasi

Well-Known Member
> My personal favorite from the vintage shelf is the SPn, or if my pockets are particularly small that day, the Pen EED

The older Olys are incredible, and I love using them to this day. The Digitals are cool too...

Cheers! - marc
 

songura

Active Member
This is the year 2007, I still use my OM cameras. In past two years, for several times I was considering to buy an Oly digital SLR. But I dropped the idea every time when I was thinking the quality to the picture. Yes, film is much better than CCD.
 

predatek

Member
I love Olympus gear and I have OM1n, OM2n and OM4Ti. But, with respect, this is starting to sound like a thread in denial of progress. Sorry, I just can't agree that "film is much better than CCD". Better for what? My photography has improved out of sight since the freedom of digital made it more affordable to experiment with quick feedback. I could never forsake the digital darkroom to go back to film. My E-1 makes beautiful images and the ZD lenses are superb. I've sold a lot of 20x30" prints from my E-1 and people remark how clear and sharp they are (I res&le up using an interpolator plug-in). Certainly better than poster prints I have previously produced from my 35mm gear. I'm bracing myself for howls of derision for this post :)
 
A

Almo

I started with film in 2001, and used it exclusively until '03, and I have to agree. There are things that I believe one can only learn by using film, but in this day and age, to say it film better is either a sad attempt to cling to the past in the face of the unknown, or just plain blind ignorance. It's funny, but the people that seem to fight the hardest against digital are the people that have never really tried it.

I still believe that the best way to learn the art of photography, and to gain the skill of creating a good image is to begin by using a manual camera and slide film. But folks, it is 2007, eventually there comes a time when you need to step up and act like a citizen of this modern age. Digital cameras, the digital darkroom, digital work-flows, these are no longer odd futuristic concepts, this is the state of modern photography, and if you want to be a modern, competitive photographer, then you need to get with it. However, if you are happy in your acetate and silver halide world, well that is ok too, but don't disparage my world just because you are afraid to try living in it yourself.
 

weedram

Well-Known Member
Rob: I can't disagree with anything you say, and my own remarks were not to disparage digital in general, or Olympus digital in particular. I still shoot film almost exclusively, but the reasons have very little, if anything to do with the quality of digital ... see below. As a matter of curiosity, what interpolater do you use for up-rezzing?

John: "eventually there comes a time when you need to step up and act like a citizen of this modern age." Huh? Is this a matter of civic responsibility? Or religion? I don't think anyone disparaged "your world", someone just said "film is better", which is, of course a subjective opinion. In some ways I too think "film is better", but the real question is how (as Rob infers) someone defines better. If you find that a threat to your world, then hmmmm.

FWIW, my preference for film, and specifically for "vintage" Olympus gear is as follows:

1. Build. I really, really, really like and prefer the build quality and ergonomics of many of the Oly cameras. I won't go on about that, but as one point, the viewfinders of the OM and the 35SP are top notch. As a visual craft and art, I don't like using a tool that isn't at least as good in that department.

2. Lens selection. Fast primes, especially in the 4/3s world, are nearly non-existant unless I use an adapter with OM series primes, or other makes. Then we have the issues of metering and focus that come with that. I will argue the merits of ZD zooms, their quality, etc. The fact is, I just don't want to use zooms for the vast majority of my work. Horses for courses.

3. User Interface. I just don't like the UI of digital cameras. Based on what I've seen and read, the Epson R-D1 comes closest to what I would want, but probably the OM-4, but in a rangefinder format, would hit the nail right on the head for me. Leica has tried but has run into problems that, while perhaps solvable or "OK" with workarounds, it is currently a $5K investment for the body alone. For me, I'd want a digital RF (the 35SP chassis with OM-4 type exposure would be perfect) first, then a DSLR as a complement. Make the controls for 80% of what I use simple and analog, thank you.

4. Quality of Film. Note I did not say "film is better". Most shots I see from digital have a different look than film. In some cases I think digital is "better", in some cases I prefer film; it has a different look. Note that strong proponents of the Epson R-D1 and the Leica M8 like them because of the "film-like" results that are possible.

I realize I am in the minority (and a tiny one at that) of the market in many, many ways. But, it is who I am, and as long as I can enjoy photography with what I have, I think everyone should be cool with that, I know I am.

I am considering, at some point, an 8080 as a walkaround p&s type of digicam. I just have to look into the specs a bit more.prefer
 

zuikoholic

Active Member
I have a finger in both pies: I now shoot digital 100% of the time, but when doing so I'm using OM lenses 95% of the time. However, I don't think I would have learnt my photographic skills as well as I have done had I not started out with film and an OM-1n.

I agree that the OM-2n is superb - it's my favourite camera when shooting film, but digital is so cheap in a day-to-day sense that I just don't shoot film anymore (digital being cheap after the initial cost is what I mean here). I refuse to sell my old cameras though - if I ever set up a darkroom, I'll shoot film again (but this is one of those things I may never get around to doing...)
 

bdcolen

Well-Known Member
Collecting and shooting with 'antique' equipment can be challenging, fun, and rewarding. But those who shoot with old film equipment should at least recognize that that is what they are doing, as much as people who didn't want to accept the arrival of film were doing it. The capture of light images using lenses has, once again, evolved, this time from film to electronic capture, just as it evolved from copper through various metals, paper, glass, to film. The reality is that digital is in many ways now "better" than film. But if you want to shoot with film, enjoy - film has and will continue to capture great work.

By the way, though, the "build" quality on the E-1 far exceeds the build quality on the film Olys.
 
S

Shadowfox

Rob, John, B.D: I beg to differ.

I have participated in enough "film vs digital" discussions that I've compiled responses that I resonate with.

"Digital is better"

- Workflow-wise: Yes, of course, instant feedback, no trip to the lab or darkroom needed, custom white balance, no need to buy film, histograms, on the spot zoom to check for sharpness, etc.

- Image quality: Not always, mind you, I am a product of digital, I discovered digital *first* unlike most of you here. After I've taken my 12th clean-digital-soulless flower macro shots, I'm bored! Images captured by CCD's are clean and crisp (unless when you can see the digital noise)... that's it! It's perfect for clean spotless look, but you have to spend a lot of time to massage the file to achieve the artistic look produced by film. To put it succintly, some film grains are lovely to behold, but *all* digital noises are UGLY...

- Learning-wise: Not really, unless you have shot film before. I notice that people who cut their teeth on digital (myself included) tend to rely on quantity instead of understanding and methodical practice to get that "shot". Film has put a brake in my picture taking and slow it down enough for me to start making sense of things. Again, this argument may not apply for those of you who learn to take picture using film to begin with. For you guys, digital may be the liberating experience that you've been waiting for.

- Photography-wise: No. Digital has done a very bad thing for photography as an art. Photography as an art does not merely strive to reproduce reality, if that were true, we will not regard Ansel Adam's works as being great. If digital has completely replaced film, the art of photography has just have one of its wings clipped. CCD's as they currently stand, do not have the characteristics of film (see the Fun-factor below).

- Economy-wise: No. Digital has pushed the film industry to the brink of extinction (thanks to the throng of masses I mentioned above). This is not good, why? because until digital can emulate emulsion-based photography without hours of post-processing, it should not *replace* film. Unlike music CD's that can res&le whatever the tape can (including the noise), thus it legitimately replaces the cassette tape.

- Fun-factor: No. Digital sucks in this regard. I can play with all the permutations of film-type, film-speed, film-brand. All I need to do is to jam them into different camera/lens combination and different pictures with different "look" came up. How the heck do I do that with a single CCD stuck in my camera?

So to me, Digital is only better in regards with workflow and *some* image quality (thanks to its faithful rendition of the reality).
 

bdcolen

Well-Known Member
Did film strive to emulate glass plates? Did glass plates strive to emulate copper plates? Why in God's name should digital try to emulate film? And why should we bemoan the death of film? Are you mourning for glass plates? Buggy whips? Super Constellations? CPM?

By the way, you want a film-like look - shoot with an E-1 at 800 iso and convert to black and white.

Maybe the speed with which you've shot digital has to do with digital, but I suspect it has more to do with you. And what's slowed you down isn't film, it's a manual advance - try shooting film with an EOS 1v and see how slowly you shoot. I started with film, and have converted to digital, and I find I shoot virtually the same number of digital frames on a job that I shot with film.

As to digital 'sucking' in regard to fun, because, you say, you can't shoot with different types of film, different lens/camera combinations, etc. etc. Sorry, but BS. Want color - bingo - BW next frame? Bingo! Oh, want a film that's redder in tone? Done. Warmer? Cooler? Faster? Slower? Frame by frame by frame. And as to camera/lens combinations. The camera's a box - the lens makes the difference. If anybody tells you that they can tell from a photo which box the lens was attached to, I'll tell you you're talking to someone who's full of it.

The reality is that if you love film, shoot film. But don't rationalize your love of film with allot of, well, nonsense.
 
A

Almo

"As to digital 'sucking' in regard to fun, because, you say, you can't
shoot with different types of film, different lens/camera
combinations, etc. etc. Sorry, but BS. Want color - bingo - BW next
frame? Bingo! Oh, want a film that's redder in tone? Done. Warmer?
Cooler? Faster? Slower? Frame by frame by frame. And as to camera/lens
combinations. The camera's a box - the lens makes the difference. If
anybody tells you that they can tell from a photo which box the lens
was attached to, I'll tell you you're talking to someone who's full of
it."

I like you...
 
S

Shadowfox

--- Did film strive to emulate glass plates? Did glass plates strive to emulate copper plates? And why should we bemoan the death of film? Are you mourning for glass plates? Buggy whips? Super Constellations? CPM?

But are we talking about digital and film? or film and plates? I merely summarized what my (and a lot of others') experience with *film* and *digital*, I haven't get my hands on trying plates, if I did, maybe I'll like it, maybe I won't. Try to distinguish between a general statement (which I am not making) and sharing of experiences.

--- Why in God's name should digital try to emulate film?

Because a lot of people like the look of grain. Care to show one of your digital pictures that look as lovely as a well-taken b/w film with grain? Oh wait, I think you'll misread me as saying "digital can't take good b/w pictures"

--- And what's slowed you down isn't film, it's a manual advance - try shooting film with an EOS 1v and see how slowly you shoot.

Why, it's still slower than I can shoot with my E-300 because I don't have unlimited supply of film and I can't delete the film frame and reclaim the exposed chemical on it. See, with film, I am *forced* to see my bad shots later and think about it. With my E-300, I just delete it and not learn anything about why that shot just sucked.

--- I started with film, and have converted to digital, and I find I shoot virtually the same number of digital frames on a job that I shot with film

And... that's exactly my point, you shoot the same amount of frames because you're "trained" to shoot more carefully by film. Try to explain that to your friends who *started* with digital.

--- As to digital 'sucking' in regard to fun, because, you say, you can't shoot with different types of film, different lens/camera combinations, etc. etc. Sorry, but BS.

Really? so you're saying that digital can emulate a Fortepan or Tri-X grain look? how about a 5-years expired Ilford XP2 look? how about a Holga look without heavy post-processing? I'd like to see a s&le of that. Have you ever seen an Olympus XA shot? try to re-produce that subtle vignetting effect with your digital camera *without extreme post-processing*.

How about this? if *you* don't find experimenting with different films *fun*, that is fine by me


--- Want color - bingo - BW next frame? Bingo! Oh, want a film that's redder in tone? Done. Warmer? Cooler? Faster? Slower? Frame by frame by frame

You are arguing for the versatility of digital which I already addressed in my first point about workflow.

--- And as to camera/lens combinations. The camera's a box - the lens makes the difference. If anybody tells you that they can tell from a photo which box the lens was attached to, I'll tell you you're talking to someone who's full of it.

... As to camera/lens combinations, guess what!? I didn't make any comments on it because I'm comparing film and CCD, not lenses. Gosh, in how many ways can you misread my post? apparently a lot...

Maybe before you start throwing around the word "BS" you should read my post carefully without the intention to trash it just because I don't share the 100% digital-always-better soap-box as you do.

But... I'm pretty sure you'll misread my post again as saying:
"Digital sucks I won't use it bcoz... bcoz film rulz!!!"

There's just no way to share an experience with some people... <sigh>
 

bdcolen

Well-Known Member
Hey, kid, you just discovered film; I shot with it for about 40 years. I mention glass plates, and evolution of photography because each time photography has evolved, there have been people who bemoaned the death of the previous capture media. You're obviously far to young to remember - or apparently to have read - that 35 mm cameras were first rejected as toys by most newspaper photo editors, who believed that if it wasn't shot with a Speed Graphic, or at least a Rollei, it wasn't shot. I personally know one photographer who quietly shot with one of the new fangled F Nikons, cropped his images square, and turned them in to his editor.

I've also shot with most of the cameras you mention, and owned many, including an XA, which I loved - fabulous lens; the freaking little box didn't have a damn thing to do with why the image looked the way it did. And, yes, with digital one can produce images that look like virtually any kind of film, shot with any kind of camera. And you may be limited by the 36 images on a roll of film; allot of photographers weren't, and still aren't - they simply reload. (On a typical day's assignment I'd shoot anywhere from 15 to 30 rolls of film, and now I shoot about that number of digital images.

Again, you like film, shoot it. Just keep in mind that you didn't invent it. ;-)
 

predatek

Member
Earl - I'm using Fred Miranda's Stair Interpolation Pro for ups&ling. Have had it for a while and I'm comfortable with it. There may very well be more sopohisticated products out in the market now.
B.D. Colen - Maybe there are two on the planet that like you. I like you too! Checked out your site a few weeks back and it was inspiring B&W work. I also agree with you that the E-1 is beautifully built. Mine cops some hard treatment and has yet to let me down.
Will - Sorry but the more of your comments that I read the more bored I'm becoming: it's kind of like born-again-silver-halide-worshipper speak. On film grain Vs digital, Photoshop, in skilled hands, can emulate anything that film can do but film can't claim the reverse. And I'm not talking about using a filter effect to achieve film-like grain. Regardless, I don't think many, if any, people who really admire a beautiful digital print would think "if only the grain looked more like film grain". Digital ain't fun? I'm glad no-one told me. Ignorance is bliss.
 

weedram

Well-Known Member
Rob: Thanks for the info; I'll look into that.

FWIW, I like BD and his work as well.
So I guess that makes three?

As to the build quality question, I should have stated "build and/or feel in the hand" ... I've never doubted the build quality of the E-1 after first handling it. I don't have real experience with it to say how it feels in my hand with constant use, but BD and others assure me it's great in that respect. Since that's a personal thing, I take their word... for them. Again, the user interface is a big thing for me, so giving me an OM-4D and a 35 SP-D, implemented "correctly" will cure me of my analog curse ... mostly.

I'm a bit skeptical about the "in skilled hands, can emulate anything that film can do" claim. "Anything" is pretty broad. But assuming it's true, I'm not as skilled with PS as with film and darkroom, and so I choose to stay with analog for at least some of my work and leave the "transition" to digital capture/darkroom for another day. I really don't care to wrestle with bloatware to get a digital file to emulate the look of Tri-X @250 in Rodinal 1:100, etc., unless I have absolutely no choice.
 

bdcolen

Well-Known Member
Well thanks, guys. Now - fwiw, borrow, rent, or steal an E-1 and live with it for a few days. The handling and balance are really superb. In fact, I've found that the camera fits my hand and balances so well that I can literally curl my fingers and have it just hang from them by the hand grip. It is much more ergonomic than, say, an OM4 - which is a great film camera, no question.
 

predatek

Member
No worries, Earl. The curve with bloatware can be daunting. I've been using Photoshop and its ilk for over a decade now, though only for about 5 years on serious photo work. However, trying to emulate the look of film in my work is really not something I'm preoccupied with. I think the nuances attributed to film 'look' are often quite esoteric. The beauty, to me, of Photoshop is the ease of working on selected areas of an image to dodge and burn etc. (non-destructively to the underlying pixels), to work and re-work until I'm happy with it. I did my apprenticeship, so to speak, in B&W and the wet darkroom - starting over 30 years ago - and I do agree that it was useful experience to take forward into digital. I used to think wet darkroom was fun, but looking back it was a lot of hard work and painstaking, with slow progress. If you stuff up the dodge and burn under an enlarger it's a much lengthier exercise to have another go at it. And when you do get the perfect print there's no guarantee you can replicate it easily. And, as BDC mentioned, having the option of colour and B&W performances from the same digital capture is a blessing.

BDC, one of my fears is that when Oly release the E3 (or whatever it is) they'll lose the feel of the E-1. I'm only saying this because the mockups I've seen of the new camera (from last year's Photokina) look like a significant departure from the E-1 ergonomics. Yes, I love that I can carry the E-1 in the hook of my fingers, too. It's built like a little tank and I can work all the essential controls with my eye to the viewfinder. And I also love that I can save 4 sets of customised settings to be retrieved quickly with a couple of simultaneous button presses and a twirl of a dial. I just wish I could name them! 1,2,3 & 4 are not that intuitive to me!
 
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