New to Micro Four Thirds - from London

Discussion in 'Welcomes and introductions' started by jamespetts, May 21, 2011.

  1. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Hello. I am just about to take the plunge into the wonderful world of Micro Four Thirds, having ordered the Olympus E-PL2, which I expect to be with me at the end of the month.

    I started in photography when I was about 15, in 1995. My father had been clearing his wardrobe, and had happened upon an old Praktica 35mm SLR with a 50mm f/1.8 lens which had been given to him at around the time that I was born, and which he had kept for me until I was old enough - and then forgotten about. He himself had an old Kodak Retinette from the mid 1950s with a fixed 45mm lens and separate rangefinder, which he tells me was second only to Leica in quality at the time. He taught me about the basics of photography, shutter speed, aperture and film speed, and I soon became quite enthusiastic, especially when I realised that I could detach the lens and attach a completely different one! That old camera had an M42 screw mount for the lens, and the first lens that I ever bought to go with it was a lovely 135mm f3.5 Pentax lens from the London Camera Exchange on the Strand (second-hand, of course).

    I remained enthusiastic, and slowly built up a range of equipment (gradually moving from the M42 screw mount to a Canon FD system, with the very first Canon FL camera from 1964, the all mechanical Canon FX, and later the all-electronic T70 from the 1980s, which I would often carry together, with a different sort of film in each). I progressed from using the little exposure guides that came inside boxes of film (which worked well enough for print film) to using a hand-held selenium cell light meter with grey card and colour slide film, and eventually ended up with a (very heavy) bag full of equipment, with two bodies and six lenses, from 24mm to 500mm.

    When I started working full-time, I had less time for photography, especially the sort of photography that involved going out with a large and heavy bag of kit plus another large bag for a tripod, setting up the camera on the tripod for each shot, metering with a hand-held meter and grey card, levelling the camera with a spirit level and eventually taking a photograph with a remote release, then packing everything up, moving on, and repeating the whole process for the next photograph, and the equipment was used increasingly infrequently. That happened to coincide with the rise of digital at the beginning of this century.

    I didn't take to the DSLR - I always thought it absurd that a sensor of one size was being used with lenses designed for film of another size, and never understood why the heavy and bulky mirror and pentaprism, necessary in film cameras to get an accurate through the lens view (I always avoided film compacts and rangefinders because I disliked not being able to compose and focus the shot exactly through the lens) was necessary any longer when it was possible to show the image through the lens digitally. I also grew tired of optical viewfinders, finding that they strained my eyes.

    In 2006, I bought my first digital camera: a compact Canon A630, and took it on holiday to the Isle of Man. I found it a rather liberating experience, and took a great many photographs. Instead of taking minutes to set up a shot, I could take a photograph in a few seconds, and immediately see the result, make adjustments, and take another one. I went out with a 1Gb memory card, and, on the second day, bought a further 2Gb memory card, both of which I had more or less filled by the end of the four day holiday.

    In 2008, I upgraded to the Canon G10, the best digital non-SLR camera available at the time (my mother was glad to have the A630 to replace an older broken Canon digital compact), with an 8Gb memory card to go with it, and I have been using it ever since. The G10, however, was still resolutely a compact camera; I always wished for something that was the best of both worlds: a digital camera with interchangeable lenses and a large sensor, but without the redundant mirror and pentaprism arrangement or excessive lens size. I read about the Micro Four Thirds system in 2009 when it was new, but my G10 was new at the time and the system immature, so I resolved to wait a few years.

    Then, a few months ago, I happened into an acquaintance with whom I had worked in 2003, and shared an interest in photography; I remember then him showing me a brand new Contax 35mm rangefinder that he had bought at the time. When I met him recently, he told me that he had since sold the Contax and gone entirely digital, using the Micro Four Thirds system. I cannot remember now exactly what equipment that he said that he had, but I think that he had a Panasonic GF1 and the 20mm f/1.7, of which he spoke in glowing terms.

    I looked into the system again, and decided that it was probably mature enough now to warrant investment, and, after reading many reviews and trying a few different types in a shop, settled on the Olympus E-PL2 with the 14-40 and 40-150 lenses (also in a kit with a 32Gb memory card, a bag and a spare battery). I have also ordered adapters to enable me to use my M42 (principally the Pentax 135mm) and Canon FD lenses with it, but still covet the pancakes, of which many good things are written.

    I am looking forward to trying my new camera when it arrives (the G10 being destined for my father, to replace his EOS 1000Fn, which itself replaced the Retinette, as he finds film increasingly difficult to obtain and process) and rekindle the enthusiasm for photography that once I had.
     
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  2. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

    Welcome to the forum James and thanks for sharing your story. The new Pen will add another chapter. All the best and be sure to post some photos and your thoughts about the E-PL 2.
     
  3. timallenphoto

    timallenphoto Mu-43 Veteran

    266
    May 20, 2011
    Kent, England
    Hi James, I'm new here myself and had my first proper day out with my E-P1 yesterday and really enjoyed it. A nice change from lugging my 5D around with me.
     
  4. Alf

    Alf Mu-43 Top Veteran

    846
    Mar 23, 2010
    Northeastern Tuscany
    Welcome!
     
  5. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Thank you all very much for your kind welcomes :)
     
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Welcome James! I think you came into Micro Four-Thirds at a good time with the E-PL2. I had held out on upgrading my original E-P1 to an E-P2 (the E-PL1 was immediately dismissed as inadequate), and I'm glad I did now that the E-PL2 has come out. It's mostly the best of both PEN worlds, the durable build and full functionality of the E-P2 with the sharper image quality, extra features (like the built-in Remote Flash Commander), and smarter grip design of the E-PL1. Good choice. :)
     
  7. timallenphoto

    timallenphoto Mu-43 Veteran

    266
    May 20, 2011
    Kent, England
    My favourite feature on my E-P1 is the spirit level option on the display when shooting, such a great idea. Used it a lot yesterday!
     
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, I love the digital level too! Unfortunately though, the E-PL series has no orientation sensor and is missing the level function. :(
     
  9. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Ah. I do have an actual accessory shoe mounted spirit level, however, from my old film days!
     
  10. Toonman

    Toonman Mu-43 Regular

    99
    Jul 19, 2010
    Welcome James from a Geordie. :)

    Of course you have built in image stabilisation as well!