August 2, 2013

iPhone Photographer, Teri Lou, uses Olympus Pen E-P5 on recent photo trip - images still to come

Morning at an Unnamed Sawtooth Wilderness Lake - iPhone capture and process

iPhoneographer Teri Lou decides to venture out beyond iPhone Photography on a recent backpacking trip - this image is from her iPhone

I waited weeks for my new toy, the Olympus E-P5 with two lenses: 17mm 1:1.8 and 45mm 1:1.8, and the attachable eyepiece. When it arrived I opened each box marveling at its many buttons and dials. The lenses are incredibly small and light – a perfect addition to my iPhone for my photography needs on an upcoming backpacking trip and every day needs.

There were three main reasons I had decided to purchase the 4:3 camera after 3 years of being an exclusive iPhone Photographer.

1.     Sharpness – when looking at images from the 4:3 cameras they had a crisp quality that the iPhone could not give me.
2.     Zoom/Compression – I have used my feet to zoom many times over the past 3 years, however, I can’t capture the compression of a telephoto lens no matter how many miles I walk.
3.     Stability/Anti-Shake – The only way for me to capture many of my photos with the iPhone is on a tripod. (I have an essential tremor) Therefore I wanted a camera that had stability built in and the Pen had great reviews on such a feature.

The reason I chose the Olympus Pen:

1.     Harry Sandler and Dan Burkholder raved about the Olympus OM-D. The Pen E-P5 is Olympus latest updated cousin to the OM-D and many of its improvements made it a favorite of mine.
2.     The weight and size.
3.     The reviews.
4.     The touch screen
5.     The Wi-Fi connection capability to the iPad

The Learning Curve
I am like many others; I don’t want to read the manual. However I decided it was best so I sat down with my camera and manual hoping to go item-by-item, feature-by-feature, and dial-by-dial to really become familiar with it all. Shortly into the process I discovered that only the basics were included in the small printed manual while the rest I had to read/print from a CD on my computer. This was not only frustrating but stopped me from proceeding due to the fact that I needed to now find where I put the CD. So instead I just started moving the dials and going through the menus trying to become familiar with the features.

One of the main things I wanted to learn was how to wirelessly have the images on the Olympus transfer to the iPad. I think those instruction are on page 109 on the CD. To be honest I still haven’t found the time to figure it out. So currently all the incredible – I hope incredible – photos I captured with the Pen are still in the camera, unviewed, unprocessed and not posted.

Backpacking with the Pen
I did print about 50 pages of the manual before I left on my backpacking trip to read on the way in the car. However, I only read about 10 of them as I drove most of the way. So during my first photo op high in the Sawtooth Wilderness, I sat down and taught myself how to use the manual setting on the camera. Manual has always been my favorite setting because I can capture the image the way I want and not the way the camera wants.

Next I learned how to use the automatic bracketing settings for HDR, the manual focus, set the timer and the change the ISO setting.

While backpacking I wanted the camera easily accessible so I could capture all the moments I wanted along my 40-mile journey. I used a small waist pack to store my camera, extra lens and eyepiece.  I put each in a Ziploc bag to protect them from scratching and moisture. (Question: Does anyone know how scratch resistance the touch screen on the back of the camera is?) The first thing I noticed is that every time, I mean every time I went to get my camera out of the bag the flash was popped up. The button was too easily pushed, I am afraid this is going to cause the flash to break eventually. Also every time, I forgot to take the lens cap off. Duh! – iPhones don’t have lens caps!

My favorite landscape images are those that are stitched together. Sometime in a 1x3 to 1x5 panoramic but many times I prefer the 2x6 or 3x3 stitched fashion. While I totally appreciated the auto HDR feature and the stabilization my Pen provided I found that I still wanted my tripod.

I needed the tripod for two main reasons: First when capturing an HDR there isn’t the option of having a 2 sec delay, so I found that no matter how hard I tried to steady the camera I would move it when pressing down the button and then tremor through the second and third images. Secondly, I needed it to make sure I captured all the needed overlap to stitch the image together.

However what I really missed is the app Autostitch that allows me to stitch the images together onsite. Without that option I am left hoping I didn’t miss a corner and hoping I can tell where the stitch begins and ends. (Yes, I know the trick of putting your hand in front of the camera with the number of images that you captured for the stitch but I don’t always remember to do to it, does anyone?)

I loved the option of flipping out the screen and getting close to the ground to capture some of the images. The option of this angle is appealing to me.

I changed lens from the 17mm to the 45 mm a few times but seemed to prefer the 17mm in my landscapes.

I never used the eyepiece. I found it too bulky and awkward to leave on in my waist pack.

I like how much you can zoom into the image when viewing up to 14x to see how sharp it is.

Since returning home I still have not seen one of the images except on the back of the camera. I have not processed or posting one from the Pen because I still need to learn how to wirelessly transfer to the iPad. As with many trips I came home to “every day life” with no time for photography. Therefore I still wonder how great the images turned out.

I have always stressed that one of the many reasons I LOVE the iPhone for photography is that you can capture, process and post all from the device. No additional equipment needed. You don’t wait until you get home to download, process and finally post. I have enjoyed the simplicity of my digital darkroom immensely over the years. Sure it has its drawbacks but it has never stopped me from being a wonderful passionate artist immediately after capture.

I will continue to learn and use the Pen as I still want the 3 main reasons I purchased it in the first place.  I will say that once the iPhone is sharper, has true zoom and includes a stability feature I will sell the Pen and go back to the exclusive use of my iPhone – the device that I am so passionate about.

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