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M 4/3 for school photography classes?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Dede, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Hey,

    I got a couple questions about M 4/3 and school photography. I just bought a Olympus E-PM1, and plan using this camera for the photography class in my junior and senior year and also in my college photography class (yes, we bring our own cameras!). I still have a couple questions, and hope you guys got some replies:

    1. Do you think M 4/3 is adequate for this task? I mean I'm sure it is, because some people just bring P&Ss, but still, do you think a Oly E-PM1 can compete with a entry-level DSLR like the Nikon D3100 in perfect light? (I know it also depends on the lens, but let's just say kit lens vs. kit lens)

    2. What lenses would you suggest me to buy next? I mean I haven't had this class yet, so maybe some of you guys took photography classes in school (and maybe even used their M 4/3 camera) and can suggest some focal lengths they used a lot?

    3. Is the E-PM1's autofocus fast enough to capture pictures for the yearbook (in ideal light), and I'm not just talking about static pictures. I mean I don't want to take crazy impressive sports pics, but some non-static pics would be nice. So is the difference between Oly E-PM1 and a DSLR (again, entry-level like Nikon D3100) noticable?

    4. Are there any accessoires which you guys would consider neccesary for a task like that? (I got a grip, although I plan on removing this for a skin, and I got a screen protector)

    Thanks in advance for all replies

    P.S. I wasn't sure about which section to post this in, but this one seems adequate ...
     
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I would think the only thing that would really matter is having the full control over aperture and shutter speed, which it does, so you should be fine for class. In terms of image quality, the m43 cameras easily hold their own against entry level DSLRs

    As for lenses, I would definitely recommend getting a "fast" (note this term applies to the aperture, not the autofocus speed!) prime lens, either the 20/1.7, 25/1.4, or 45/1.8. Try those focal lengths with your kit lens and see which you like best. The 20/1.7 will go best with the small size of the EPM1.

    For your AF speed question, yes it's fast enough, depending on lens. Note the 20/1.7 is not one of the speedier AF lenses in the catalog.

    I would highly recommend making an investment in a GOOD tripod. Note you will have to save up a bit - they are a bit spendy!
     
  3. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX
    i didnt need a tripod for photo class back when i took classes, but that was awhile ago
    also, id say the kit lens should be fine for everything for class

    if anything, id get a fast aperture lens for low light work
    so either the 20/1.7, or the 45/1.8(use kit lens to figure out which youd like better for focal length)

    heck, the 20/1.7 might be all you need for class, period.

    if you get the 20, you may wanna get the vf1... then you could turn off the lcd screen and frame with vf1, it saves battery by a good bit

    also, look for wasabi power battery replacements
    cheap, comes with smaller charger, a car charger, and 2 batteries, for like $25? i think it was

    and i use a wrist strap for my ep3... so id definately get one for a smaller camera. i cant imagine wearing a neck strap with the tiny epm1

    hmm
    i guess thats all my wisdom, lol
     
  4. capodave

    capodave Mu-43 Top Veteran

    514
    Jul 4, 2010
    Southern Cal
    Dave
    +1 on the wrist strap.
    I like the Gordy straps.
    Gordys.com I think.
     
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    1. As you say, the lens is the defining factor to a camera's performance (not just in quality, but also speed and ability). However, kit lens to kit lens the E-PM1 will only deliver better image quality than the D3100, so yes I would say it's up to the task. ;)

    2. tc gave some very good suggestion on picking your next lens.

    3. The new Olympus PENs, mounted with MSC lenses, test faster than DSLRs for AF speed. So is this really in question? ;) Of course the difference is negligible, but sufficeit to say that both systems are now on par. They each handle things slightly different with advantages and disadvantages to each.


    4. Your other investment should be lighting. Ameras capture light, and control of that light will help define a professional quality photo.
     
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    You'll get a nod of respect from your teacher if you show up with a 30 year old 50mm/F1.4 or F1.7 from Pentax or Minolta!

    You can then talk to him/her about strategies for shooting a manual lens, i.e., pre-focusing, scale focusing, hyperfocal distance, etc. These are good fundamental skills that will serve you well your whole life.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    ignore everything anybody says...

    I have no idea how American schooling works... but I am guessing that any photography class will give you a pass if you turn in some photos

    There are only 2 things that are important about photography...

    1) the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO
    2) Composition

    Display an understanding of those and you will pass... the camera and the lens is totally irrelevant


    K
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Get a VF-2 and you're set. I find with the VF-2 and E-PM1, handling is not too far off from an entry DSLR.
     
  9. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    +1
    Manual focus film bodies & manual focus primes can be found for dirt cheap these days.

    And you'll learn a whole lot! :2thumbs:
     
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I so agree with this!
    My lenses of choice though would be the Konica Hexanon 50mm/1.4 (sharpest) or the OM Zuiko 50mm/1.4 (richest colors). But if you showed up with a Pentax or Minolta lens, there'd be a better chance that the prof had one of the same. ;)
     
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    guys.. the OP is doing a photography class... not a gear collection class.... please stop this forum becoming a DPreview clone

    people take pictures... not cameras


    different lenses and different cameras might offer more opportunities... but more toys don't make a better photographer

    K
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    My opinion is as useless/valuable as every one else's. Take it for what you paid for it.

    1. Yes.
    2. Buy your next lens based on your interests. If it's close ups, then a macro lens. if it's low light then a fast lens. If it's portraits then the 45 1.8. If I had to pick only one then it would be the 20mm 1.7. It does most things well.
    3. Yes. Newer lenses will focus faster than older ones though.
    4. A VF2 for out door use and the fact that it's generally easier to work with. And then, as Ned says, lighting stuff. Maybe a FL50R if your budget allows.

    As for the 30 year old camera thing, I'll respectfully disagree. Waiting days to process and print images will only slow down the learning process. You can pre-focus just as easily with digital and AF as with manual film cameras and while the examples cited are certainly useful you can learn the same things with the 12mm f2 Olympus lens on your current camera. Digital cameras have distinct advantages in an educational context. feed back is nearly instant. Critical viewing is easy on a computer screen. Every shot contains all your shooting data in the exif. Any half decent digital camera is a better and faster way to learn than dragging around an antiquated camera just to impress an antiquated educator.

    Gordon
     
  13. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    144
    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    I agree with this. If you want to spend your beer & pizza money on camera gear, knock yourself out. But your photography class isn't the reason why you should buy more gear.

    Maybe introductory college photography classes have changed in last 30 years (geez, has it been 30 years?), but in all likelihood, your assignments will all be available-light photography using your camera's manual settings. Your E-PM1 and kit lens are more than up to the task. Sure the fast fifties of that bygone era would allow in a few stops more light than your kit zoom, but your camera's image stabilization compensates for that.

    You've chosen an excellent camera (and system). Enjoy the class.
     
  14. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Alright, thank you so much for all the replies, they helped me a lot! So if I would buy this lens Pentax M 50mm f1.4 lens | eBay, I could attach it to my E-PM1 with this adapter http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Adapter-Minolta-Olympus-Panasonic/dp/B003EAVULQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t, right?

    Aside from that, can anyone suggest me a book that has general tips for cameras in it? (It'd be nice, if it would be specially for M 4/3 cameras, but a general one would be alright too, I guess)

    The question whether I should get a wrist strap is pretty difficult, I mean does anyone use a wrist strap on such a small camera with a pretty big lens like the 40-150mm? If yes, how does it feel like?

    Thanks in advance

    Edit: You guys just wrote three more awnsers, while I was thinking about mine and typing it! Thanks so much, I really love this forum! :

    I know, that this doesn't have anything to do with the topic, but does anyone know, how to adjust the settings to make the camera not show the picture I just took automatically?
     
  15. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I agree with kevinparis, photography class is not about the camera you have. The photography classes at the university I work at recommend a Pentax K1000 and 50mm lens. I have always felt that the most important aspect about a camera for your class is the ability to shoot in full manual mode. Will your E-PM1 work? Sure. Will it be a good tool for learning...well that depends on you I suppose. As for buying a VF2 and this lens or that. I'd say hold off and learn to use the camera first. After you've done that you'll probably have a much better idea of what you want/need.

    It's never about the gear. Gear doesn't take photos.
     
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    1. Do you think M 4/3 is adequate for this task? I mean I'm sure it is, because some people just bring P&Ss, but still, do you think a Oly E-PM1 can compete with a entry-level DSLR like the Nikon D3100 in perfect light? (I know it also depends on the lens, but let's just say kit lens vs. kit lens)


    YES

    2. What lenses would you suggest me to buy next? I mean I haven't had this class yet, so maybe some of you guys took photography classes in school (and maybe even used their M 4/3 camera) and can suggest some focal lengths they used a lot?

    None until you decide what kind of photos you want to take. Personally the Panasonic 20/1.7 would be my 'If I could have only one lens'

    3. Is the E-PM1's autofocus fast enough to capture pictures for the yearbook (in ideal light), and I'm not just talking about static pictures. I mean I don't want to take crazy impressive sports pics, but some non-static pics would be nice. So is the difference between Oly E-PM1 and a DSLR (again, entry-level like Nikon D3100) noticeable?


    Probably not... fast AF.. like Hi ISO has become the marketing mantra for cameras... truth is sometimes its too dark and things move to fast.... live with it and learn to work around it..

    bottom line is I reckon no matter how much you spend no camera/lens it will never capture a running kid in a dim living room or give you that sports illustrated touchdown shot when you are in the 10th row


    4. Are there any accessoires which you guys would consider neccesary for a task like that? (I got a grip, although I plan on removing this for a skin, and I got a screen protector)

    forget the screen protector... just a con... Maybe uv filter for the lens, spare battery and a tripod might be better

    Thanks in advance for all replies

    P.S. I wasn't sure about which section to post this in, but this one seems adequate ...[/quote]


    K
     
  17. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Why even mention the K1000 then? - The OP is already "good" with what he's got then (E-PM1)....:wink::wink::wink:
     
  18. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    I would qualify this by saying that the teacher will expect the student to at least have a camera with controls over aperture, shutter speed and ISO. When I took Photography 101 some 35+ years ago, I only had my father's fully-automatic Pen EE. I soon purchased an AE-1 so that I could demonstrate to the teacher my understanding of the interaction between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and the resulting control over each.

    To the OP, you've got complete control (including exposure compensation) of camera functions with the E-PM1, so this camera should be plenty sufficient for your class.

    Edit: As Gordon and Kevin have recommended, the 20mm pancake lens would be the best lens to learn on. Unless you are short on funds, I don't see the point of using a manual focus lens, nor does it make sense to get just a short telephoto (50mm lens). Did you get the kit lens with your camera? If so, you have everything you need. Spend the money saved on this book instead: Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) (9780817463007): Bryan Peterson: Books
     
  19. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    AFAIK, many intro photo classes still require manual film cameras. Even in this digital age they are useful, because they deliberately slow someone down and force them to stop and think and analyze a scene.

    This is the most important skill to develop - to learn how to see before pressing the shutter - and probably more valuable than ever in this hypersonic digital age.

    That said, I did not recommend an old camera, just an older lens for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are cheaper - an important consideration for a student. Second, most modern lenses do not have aperture rings, distance scales, and DOF markings. The 12/2 may have some of these features, but it's wicked expensive even for a working bloke let alone a student.

    IMO, an older lens with a digital camera is the best of both worlds. The lens slows the learner down, gives them breathing room to think before mindlessly clicking away. The rear LCD gives them instant feedback. If I were teaching, I'd go one step further and give them 512Mb cards to shoot with, to make them more deliberate and considered in their shot-taking and force them to learn the importance of being their own first filter in the photo selection process.
     
  20. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    The 50mm F1.4 is nice. You'll be just as happy with the F1.7, which should be cheaper. I'd also add to my recommendation a 28mm F2.8. They are cheap as well. When I recommended the 50, I neglected to consider the 2x crop factor of M43. The 28mm will give you a nice normal focal length and the 50 will give you a nice lens for portraits and mid distance.

    Best of luck! Post some pictures when you start shooting! We'll help you with your homework.