May 14th, 2012, 02:38 AM
Jr. High School Theatre - The E-3 and E-P2 Duke It Out On Stage
So, the call comes about 2 hours before show time: "Uh, Dad? Ms. Nelnor wants to know if you can shoot the show tonight and tomorrow."
I'd seen this coming and had the E-P2 on charge, the memory card formatted, the 45/1.8 on the camera and the 20/1.7 and the OM 100/2.8 ready to go.
Trundle off to the school and found a nice shooting location just off to stage left and about 20 feet away from centre front. The sets were minimal with all black curtains at the back lit by floods from above. Pre show I connived with the instructor to have the show lighting turned on to let me meter the stage.
I metered centre-weighted and using the histogram dialed in a -2.0EV compensation as I knew the lighting plan was pretty simple (it's only Jr. High and the instructor told me that it wouldn't change.) I shot AWB and AutoISO.
I ended up not using the 20, and would switch back and forth between the 45 and the 100. The 45 nailed the focus every time relatively quickly. Qualitatively I'd put it around the same speed as my old 300, good but not hyper-speedy. Manual focus wasn't too hard to do, I'd zone focus more often than not and to give me a fighting chance, I stopped down 1 stop to f/4.
I did curse the P2 and the 45 a few times as the shutter lag was sometimes annoying.
The next night, I parked the E-P2 (had it as a backup) and shot with the E-3 and the 50-200 nonSWD; Same metering, AWB and ISO setup as the night before. From a pure performance standpoint this combination rocked the P2. Zero shutter lag, almost instant focus and bang, bang bang. Note that the AF was set to single, center point small while on the P2 it was set to single, center area. Both were set to only fire when focus was confirmed.
So, what about the images, which of course was the object of the shoot? I'd like to post samples, but privacy rules for these minors preclude me doing such so you'll have to trust me on this.
Here, the P2 outperformed the E3. Noise was much more amenable to cleaning up and only a light touch was needed. What noise remained was on par with film grain that you'd find in a 200ISO film which, to my old film mind, is more than reasonable. The E3, especially in the shadows needed a heavy hand, just like I experienced when I used this combination to shoot hockey. What noise remained tended to be much blotchier.
Both the 45 and the 50/200 images where wonderfully sharp. The 100 was a bit more problematic: I had dialed in the diopter adjust on the EVF and even then I had to really nail the focus to get something sharp. When you nailed it, the images are sublime, not as sharp but very pleasing.
So, if I had to shoot again what would I use? It's a tough call. Truly, for the end use, it's a draw. Each platform has it's strengths. The P2 wins out on image noise and overall feel of the image, the E3 wins on mechanical performance. The P2 is quieter and more discrete. For the end purpose of these shots (yearbook, school website, kids' personal 5x6's) I'm scoring it a draw.
If I to do it over again, I'd leave the E-3 at home and just deal with the niggly shutter lag issues of the P2 and just resolve to get better at manual focus with the 100. It's quieter and more discrete.
In a perfect world I'd like the image quality of the E-P2 and the AF performance of the E-3 in a m43 form factor with a nice 100mm prime. Oh yeah, that camera exists and it's called the EM-5. The lens, well maybe that 35-100 Pany concept lens would do the trick. Itís time to start thinking about how to raise the dosh for that combo.