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Cameras

My latest obsession is Cameras.  Photography has been on the backgound of my life for a long time.  The idea of capturing exceptional moments, people and places then share them with the world a captivating concept since I was a young child.  Long before anyone should have put a camera in my hands I badgered my parents into getting me a Poloroid 600 instant.  That was followed with a kodak 110 point and shoot when I was 11 or so.  When I was 17 I picked up a Pentax 35mm point and shoot.  The cost of film and developing photographs was alway a bit prohibitive,  In November 2005 I bought my first digital camera.
Currently in my camera bag I have: An Olympus E-3 dslr with three lenses; the 12-60 2.8 to 4 swd, the super telephoto 70-300 and the 35mm f3.5 1:1 macro.  I occasionally filters. I have 2: gradiated neutral and a 4 stop neutral and a circular polarizer filters.  Since I bought it cheap in Rabat’s medina, I’ve been carrying an E-410 body and a 14-42 kit lens as back-up my failing E-620… which I haven’t use much since purchasing the E-3.
For discreet shots, quick shots, In camera panoramas and water-proof moments I have A tg-860 that has been repaired and replaced under warranty and Samsung wb350f that thankfully I pick out of a discount bin in spain for 80€ and has kept me going while the waterproof camera was down.

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In the past  I’ve shot with in Chronological order: Olympus camedia 5500 sport zoom and an Olympus fe-310, Olympus E-620, Olympus E-410.  And  a bunch of water-proof cameras Olympus mu 850 sw, Olympus tough 6000, pentax w–90,  Fuji xp20 and an Olympus tg-820 plus a Nikon p310.

 

Compelling cameras

Here’s a list of currently available cameras that I find interesting. If I was to lose my current one of my current cameras I would consider purchasing to replace my lost camera. I’ll break it down into 2 categories: Primary shooter this is the camera that I’ll use to shoot most of my pictures. I am not a rich man so it cannot cost much over 1000$. I expect that the camera should be able to get me good photos of any type of subject (landscape, wild life, portrait, night scenes…) in any condition. For this category I normally look at low end dSLRs, ultrazooms bridge cameras and the mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Category 2 is my secondary camera for this I consider waterproof compact cameras and compact cameras for which I can get a waterproof case. More so the former than the latter based on my finances. I expect my secondary camera to do in-camera panoramic picture (until I get a primary shooter that can) as well as be compact so I can put it in a pocket for quick access and also I want it to take care of underwater pictures.

Primary Shooters:

Olympus  released the OMD EM1  in late 2013 it takes  all the best aspect of the pen line and the omd and brings the old esystem users(of which I am one) into the fold with on sensor phase detection focus (pioneered by Fuji I believe) .  this means I can now use the 12-60 1:2.8-4 lens, I just scored in Milan a couple months ago on the new camera and have auto focus… fast auto focus… fast tracking auto focus… and it has built in time lapse.  If  my Olympus  equipment makes it through Africa next year I might be upgrading to this when I stop to earn  some money on the other side.

Sony Slt a65- All the speed and bulk of an SLR and all the features of a compact camera Very cool- face detection, multishot HDR, panoramics… and faster than you can react focusing  all together in one pack age Brilliant. I think the a77ii offers the about the same number of control parameters as my Oly E-620. The 65 is more in my price range.

Panasonic GX8, Olympus E-P6, E-pl8 are current- they are compact, there are lots of lenses available and the image quality is great. If you can’t get a new one anything newer than the Ep3 I thing would be fine as was the first model that showed micro 4/3s could challenge dslrs- the sensors were always good now they’re better and their speed can match an entry dslr for focusing on still subjects. the cameras are more compact then DSLRs and have more features.

Panasonic FZ300- An big zoom bridge camera with all the right controls and features with a constant maximum apture 2.8 lens.

Olympus Stylus 1.  Simply amazing- a zoom rage equal to the TWO kit lenses that came with my e-620 (28-300 in terms of 35mm film) with a constant 2.8 max aperture and they optimized the slightly larger than super small sensor to produce printed images the same size as my E620 can produce(read the review on Imagingresource.com)  all in a package that can fit in a large pocket for less than 1000$…. and include full wifi control and time lapse and and and….

Pentax Has recently released the K-70.  This ticks all the right boxes for me- big bright view finder, ample buttons and dials to get the camera adjusted quickly with  an articulated screen plus wifi control/uploading and more.  All in a relatively small, light dslr with a collection of cheap and cheerful good quality lenses.  If I decide I need to leave Olympus 4/3 and stick with an optical view finder this is likely the next camera I’ll have.

The above cameras seem to be made with a ‘wow what can we add to our camera to make it and our company stand out’ attitude. While the Canon 80D, 760D and Nikon 5500, they all look like they can do the job they seem to be built to a price point. While they are competitive cameras ,the micro 4/3, Pentax and the sony offerings are more appealing to me.

Secondary shooter: waterproof compacts:

Sony tf1- Wow Sony sort of finally decided that as touchscreen isn’t such a great idea on a camera that will be used in the water(for those that don’t know most touch screens don’t work with wet fingers or gloved fingers for that matter) . So now I will consider a sony and possibly get a camera with their sweet sweep panorama, hdr and other tricks. Sadly I see quite a few leakers in internet user reviews of the tx series.  I want to see some reviews of this camera.  —It ends up that this camera is an entry level model and proabaly isnt’ as nice and it could have been – a bit slow, pictures are  bit soft.  I tried it at F64 in Bucharest the images are noise and grainy, it’s not particularly fast, but still better than a fuji xp-20… see my review below…. This is my choice if I felt totally pinched for money but there are better cameras out there for less than 50 Euros more.

Olympus TG-2,3,4-Olympus brings more photographic controls and better lenses into the waterproof camera game.  But it’s new so the price is a bit high for my liking.

Panasonic TS-5- Panasoncs added and incamera panoramic function and time lapse to their well rated TS? line up.  It’s also an out going model so the price is lower.  The new ts-5 will be considered when the price comes down.

Nikon 120 and 130 AW-  Nikon came to the game late and started with a leaker or two but now they seem to have it right and brought some faster lenses and better image quality to the game and added some of the features and tool i’d only expect from Olympus or Sony like panoramics and hdr so the last two models are worthy considerations.

Camera Reviews:

Tg 860 a review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Just  before Olympus cameras announced their new Stylus tough tg 860 to the world I jumped in the ocean at St Louis beach, Senegal with my beloved tough 820. I snapped a quick photo and as I was taking the next picture, I thought about the patch that I had put on the body after a drop in the road 10 months earlier as the camera’s functions started to fail. OK, yes it did drown but I can’t complain, before that it had an epic 17 month life and give me thousands of great pictures many of which I couldn’t have used my dSLR to take. As much as I consider a waterproof tough camera an essential piece of kit, It took me nearly 6 month to replace it… Unless you include the 3.5 weeks I used a Nikon P310 which I bought the Medina of Rabat, but that is a whole other story.

If it’s so important, why did it ake me so long to properly replace my beloved Tg-820 IHS: One, I am a man of mearger means, and I know If I’m patient the price of these things drop so normally I buy my stuff when it hits the discount bin. I was in Africa where it is tough to find cameras let alone a somewhat rare/unique/ popular/chic and useful- shock/water/dust / crush proof models. Surprisingly, Europe is not much better There are deals on cameras but waterproof cameras are not on that list. For instance the tough tg-860 that I’ve been shooting with for a couple months has a Manufatures Suggested Retail Price of 279$ in Canada but in Europe its well over 300 Euros. And don’t think you can save money by hunting for an older models. Here’s some low lights of what I found: a 2010 wp550 – the worst waterproof camera olympus ever made for 149 Euros in Spain at a specialty shop- I don’t think it costs that much when it was new. The Nikon AW100 for 200 Euros and it’s not just old but everyone knows it had a serious leaking problem. Fuji Xp series abounds ( for180-200 Euros) but I had a serious issue with the image quality with the xp20 and I’ve seen little to suggest that it has improved eventhough there are now up to the xp70. I did see a Sony tf1 it was the best of the lower tier waterproof cameras but that was 2 years ago, the store wanted 180 euros (I believe the MSRP was 169 euros) still and ontop of that I would have needed another good micro sd card to go with it. In Europe if you’re living on a low budget you won’t be buying a waterproof camera… except maybe an imitation go pro. Another reason it took me so long to get a replacement is one must be careful and research before you buy. Immediately after the 820 drowned, I almost got my sister to order me a refurbished stylus tg-850 but then I read the reviews on Amazon and 25% of the reviews were sad stories of leaky cameras. I though about how nice a tg 2 or 3 would be with their f2.0 lens, apture control, rave reviews but since I had 2 batteries for for the tg 860 and it’s 120 dollars cheaper-i set my mind on that… but also considered the Nikon Aw 120 and 130, as well as the Panasonic ft 5 and ft30 (170 euros in Spain) for a change. Fortunately for me the 860 went on a special price at bestbuy and I convinced my dad to pick one up in Canada and ship it to me in Spain where I was staying with some friends.

THE GOOD

What I like about the camera- feature after features. Olympus has a history of cramming more features (and better implemented than other companies) into their little camera boxes and the 860 is no exception. It has wifi connectivity, a tilt screen, a super wide 21mm equivalent lens and allows customization of a couple buttons. Most flagship tough camera don’t have those let alone the second tier cameras.

This is about the cleanest that this camera can capture.

This is about the cleanest that this camera can capture.

The wifi is very nicely implmented – download the app to your smart phone, scan a QR code with your phone camera to instantly connect. When connected, chose between fully automatic mode or programmed Auto for stills- adjust zoom, white balance exposure compensation and iso. There are even a couple feature that are enabled via the wifi connection that are not available in camera- touch focus for stills and timelapse video capture. The wifi connection is reasonablely resposive despite the live feed looking a bit choppy (betwen 8 and 15 frames /second) in the dark there is about a second of lag.- one caution don’t set the wifi and wander off too fast or it looses the signal. And of course with the wifi in the camera draw quite a bit of power…. and same on your smartphone.

 

Very wide angle lens- It’s very wide- 3.7mm focal length on the small sensor which is equivlent to 21mm in terms of 35mm film camera. It’s always handy to have a wider angle you can get more landscape, more cityscape, more water in your shot. It’s particularly useful for tigth places, group photos in tight places, and getting closer to that tourist attraction… laugh at all the people standing behind you with their 24, 28 or 35 mm wide angle– but be polite get out of the way quickly after you’ge got your shot. If you don’t want to be so wide zoom in. the 105 equilvent telephoto end won’t get you close to most wild animals but that range will cover almost everything else.

waterproof- after the failings of last year’s tg850 (judged by user reviews on Amazon- 25% of user reviews gave low rating and cited death by water) I assume Olympus re-did the seals- and now claim impermeable to 15m vs the 850’s 12m. I’ll never test the extremes of that aspect but I have taken it 3-4 m under while snorkeling in the medditeranean sea without a hitch. I’ve had few problems with other 4 olympus waterproof cameras that I have owned, the ones were only waterproof for 3m. (2 never made it to water and 2 died in the water but only after long hard lives.)

flip screen- When I first saw an articulated screen on a camera I though what a brilliant idea I want that on my next camera. I never thought they’d engineer an articulated screen into a waterproof camera having to seal up those hinges. Thank you, brilliant. Although it’s likely aimed at narscists taking selfies the filp screen is useful for low shots and overhead shots… bonus it could get that tourist taking his selfie out of my frame, quicker at that tourist attraction, because they can now frame their shot rather than guess, point shoot, repeat… camera companies put flip screens on more cameras…. but then again the tourist is probably taking that selfie with his cell phone on a stick.

Responsive and fast. On a full battery the TG 860 goes from off to taking a shot in 2 seconds. This is a camera you can put in your jersey pocket for a bicycle ride and when you see a flash rare car coming in the opposing lane if you can get the camera out of your pocket you’ll probably have a picture of the car. The ony time it seems to need time to write something to the class 10 sd card is after shooting a minute or longer of hd video. All the inputs to the controls are dealt with immediately.

quick draw- here's a rolling capture of an oncoming sports car.

quick draw- here’s a rolling capture of an oncoming sports car.

An extra button and assigning functions. While I was going nuts waiting for my package from my parents to clear customs I spent some time reading about the features on the camera to figure out what I can do with it beyond what i did with the TG-820 and I found out that it has a new extra button, and the new button and the red dot button by the thumb rest are now customizable. Sadly all the options for booth the buttons although useful are not for adjusting photographic parameters- I would have loved to use them for white balance and exposure compensation. Instead I ‘m using the front for macro focus and the rear for activating the led which is handy to aid the autofocus and to luminate close subjects but not blow out the picture as often happens when using a f lash. Recently I’ve been thinking I should use the red dot button for the video camera during the day and to activate the LED at night because otherwise there is no other way to record a movie besides the sportcam mode on the dial, which, under a second look seems a little limited- less frame rate and size options than using the camera in other modes.

The Bad

So far the camera probably sounds really good but i can’t whole heartedly recommend it because there is one big downfall. the image quality not nearly as good as the 820- which was the best waterproof camera I’ve owned- in terms of speed handling, screen resolution, and on computer viewed image quality. Probably not even as good as the Pentax w90. I am quite happy with the colours from the 860- auto white balance and exposure cover most stituations very well and between the presents and with the 1 touch white balance I can usually get fairly realistic and pleasing colours. But it falls down in terms of sharpness it’s hard to tell if 16 megapixels is too much for the 1/2.3″ sensor and it’s the noise, or if the lens isn’t so sharp or the lens is too wide and the sharpness is lost while processing out the distortion… it seems a fair step backwards from the 820 and maybe even the tough 6000 and Pentax w90 (tied for second best waterproof camera I’ve owned) but fortunately only the occasional photo is as bad as the Fuji xp20 (see review below).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA-Tg660

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA-Tg660

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA sytlus tough tg-860

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA sytlus tough tg-860

Panoramics are more disappointing than the regular 16megapixel stills. Inline with my complaint on the image quality. All of the panoramics I’ve shot with the TG 860 were dissappointing it didnt matter which of the 3 panoramic modes I was using- Automatic standard and full circle (similar to Nikons’ panoramics but you can stop) and the manual mode (similar to Pentaxs’) . All the details seem sudged and soft- check the greenery in all the samples I’ve included- like a watercolour painting… really it’s almost as bad as my LG L90ii phone. What happed to the old Olympus panoramic modes that made good panoramic pictures but wern’t as easy to use?

an example of a manual panoramic

an example of a manual panoramic

it slows down when the battery gets low. While it starts in less than 2 seconds when the battery is fully charged as it get to 2/3s of a charge startup starts taking a bit over 2 seconds and under 1/3 charge almsot 3 seconds. Write times are longer too but I have no way of even guessing what those times are.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA- tg 860

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA- tg 860

sadly missed from pervious models.

OK I never really used the tap control function but it was nice to have just incase you end up in a situation when you can only shake and hit your camera.. and for the novlety.

Slightly more missed is the abiliity to press a button and make your expensive waterproof camera into a simple flashlight… and likewise the ability to press another button and have the time show up on the screen… All the hardware is in the box already they should revisit these features.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA tg-860

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA tg-860

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA- tg-860

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA- tg-860

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know

Im not sure of the GPS implentation on the camera. But I haven’t really tried to inform myself or experimented with it. But it appears to just create a log of where you have been for geo tagging

I also don’t use many of the scene modes. there are 17 of them. thus far I’ve used the backlight hdr, night, timelapse… the rest don’t interest me too much . For me most of the time it is quicker to us the the programmed auto mode and if need be teak a couple settings for the conditions rather than sort through the scene mode to pick the most relevent mode.

Overall the Olympus Tough tg-860 is a pretty attractive package with an MSRP of 120 dollars less than the flagshp TG-4 one gets a lot of well implented goodies. But with the one major caveat that the images are a bit soft and  noisy when viewed pixel for pixel. And if you are a serious photographer you might mind it a bit point and shoot but if you can adapt you style and accept the draw backs it’s quite a satisfying camera to shoot and an effect of tool in many situations. Although its image quality falls short of my previous waterproof camera I have a feelin g that the 860 will make up for it by being more fun to use with all it’s tricks and hopefully more durable too.

I wrote this review just days before there was a problem with the screen and much of the camera followed.  A few months later I sent it to Olympus for repair.  When I got it back it worked for a month and died again, the later possible due to water entry… when dipped in a fish pond. I should have it back in my hands again soon- a new refurbished one, orange rather than blue.

The Fuji xp-20

Fuji xp-20

Fuji xp-20

 

In april 2012 I bought a Fuji xp20 in pinch when my Pentax w-90 drown in sea on the Adaman Coast of Thailand. I bought the xp-20 on price knowing full well that it is the lowest scoring camera ever reviewed on dpreview. But I was in Thailand on my world tour and desparately wanting a waterproof camera to take some pictures while snorkeling(the top thing on my list of ting to do in Thailand) while I get a much needed rest from riding cycling 120 km a day. The price had just dropped from 5000 Baht (160$) too 4000 Bhat (135$). I like having a waterproof compact to take quick ride by photos, photos in place you want to be more discrete than holding a small DSLR to your face and for in camera panoramic pictures, so I need something to replace the dead Pentax.

 

 

What do I like about this camera? It is waterproof. It has survived 3 sessions of snorkeling immediately after I bought it. One session of which was very close to if not over the 2 hour limit of the claimed waterproofness. And in lake Pokara a couple months later and in the Aegean sea off the coast of Andros island. And in the Thermos hot spring in Greece. Obviously it has shrugged off rain, my sweat and the occasional dunk in a pond or fish tank as well. Um besides that there is little else I like about this camera…oh wait it’s size… it’s colour… and the battery life are OK.

 

Negatives:

I’ll start at the start up. I have to hold the on button down for a few seconds before it starts. Then the LED light comes on. I can understand that Fuji didn’t put a fancy lit on button like Pentax which was twice as much money. But this has a high powered LED beside the flash similar to Olympus and other waterproof durable camera (with the exception of Pentax). With the previous 3 Olympus cameras and all the waterproof cameras I’ve read about the LED is used as a focus aid and for a light source for close up macro style photos. In the Fuji I turn on the LED in the menu The LED goes on. When I half press the shutter to get focus the light turns off… then it goes back on again to illuminate the subject that it cant’ focus on because it was too dark. And the light always turns on at the end of the startup to let me know I can take my finger off the on/off button. The xp-20 Has a sweep panoramic function but it’s not what you think. When I think sweep panorama I think Sony which takes many pictures as you swing your arm while pressing the shutter button. What fuji has is an almost as good version of Olympus’ 3 frame dot to box auto in camera panorama…. OK in terms of accuracy it does perform this better than the tough 6000 I had at low ISO and about the same as a stylus 850sw (no ISO control but better accuracy) but not as well as competing or current Olympus models I tried in stores.

Meteora Greece

Here’s a crunched panorama of Meteora Greece

 

Then there is the buttons and the handling.   Sometime in the first couple months of ownership while sitting in my cycling jersey pocket as I ride down the road something got into the key or a deaper problem that makes the OK button in the center of the 4 way ring extremely sensitive It still works but much of the time when I push the 4 way ring around the center button the center button goes as well and the camera takes into part of the menu you don’t want it to go. Very frustrating….strangely is more pronounced in play back mode than when taking photos. Then there is the fact that everything but the 4 controls (self-timer, exposure compensation, flash and macro)on the ring is in the full menu- there is no quick menu like Canon, Olympus or the programmable secondary menu of the pentax.

 

 

I did take this camera to Fuji in Athens Greece and they said I have something in my keypad and that it’s not under warranty because the camera is 2 years old eventhough I had my international warranty card that says 1 year from purchase. I also said that there was an electrical problem after I dropped it in Thessaloniki and the battery discharges in 24 hours whether I use the camera or not. They said the problems were related to the key pad problem: something is inside the camera and I should go to their repair shop 7 km away. I asked how did it get in if the camera is sealed against water and dust isn’t that a sealing problem and should be covered under warranty since it is a waterproof/dustproof camera. They persisted with there stance and showed me the door. While I was looking for the repair center I made a few wrong turns so it was getting late and it started pouring rain… so I skipped that….. I survived by taking the battery out when I’m not taking a picture but this all but killed taking ride by pictures. -Reach in to jersey pocket, grab camera and battery, install battery, turn on (5 second button hold)and take picture.- By the time all that is done your subject is usually long gone….unless you’re taking a picture of fellow cyclists……luckily or maybe unluckily when in my last couple days in Greece the electrical problem corrected itself.

 

 

On top of all that the photos are the worst of any camera that I’ve ever owned. The colours are seldom right. On close inspection the images from the 14 megapixel camera render less detail than my beloved first digital camera the Olympus camedia c-5500 zoom sport with 5 megapixels. The best example I can think of that illustrates how bad it is is I used it to take a candid photo of an Italian lady of the night sitting on a chair in the countryside of Italy during the middle of a cloudy afternoon.. Though I was reasonably close and using ISO 200 it’s difficult to make out any detail of the lady beyond a bag on the back of the chair, and she’s wearing stocking, knee high boots and has long dark hair. The hair has no texture. Her boots look fuzzy. What is that chair made of??? But even worse the lovely pink almond blossoms and the olive leaves on the surrounding trees look like it’s a water painting. The Stop sign is readable and the sign that says 18 km to Bari is fuzzy but understandable. Okay I admit that was a candid ride by photo but really f6.2 and a quick shuter speed; something should be in focus and clear. Here’s a 1:1 crop 1000×750 pixels from that picture:

 

I wish I could have put up the whole picture with exif but the connection/wordpress/server wouldn’t let me.

 

 

 

 So in summary the pictures are usually crap. The handling was bad to begin with and made worse by a keypad problem Fuji won’t fix for me. The shock proof nature is questionable. The LED light is programed to do weird things. The warranty isn’t worth the paper it’s written on (as usual). But on the bright side it is waterproof, the battery life is Okay(most of the time) and the colour of the camera body is nice.

 Some time ago I missed my jersey pocket after taking a picture of a fisherman in a stream at the side of the transalpina road.  But I didn’t hear it hit the ground, so I started looking about and found it on the rear pannier of my bicycle… as it slid off.  When I picked it up I found that a rivot/screw from the top panel had popped out in the fall—I highly suspect that it’s not waterproof anymore.

I have since replace the unloved fuji with a much loved but often dropped Olympus tg-820.  In the end after a few half hearted attempts to sell the fuji I just gave it to a cyclemessenger that let me stay with him over Chistmas 2013.

 Review 2: The Olympus E-620

 

my E-620 sporting my new used 12-60 f2.8-4 swd super awesome lens

my E-620 sporting my new used 12-60 f2.8-4 swd super awesome lens

Now to review a camera that I really like. My other current camera is a complete joy to shoot. It is the 4th digital camera I’ve had as a primary shooter… unless you include the 8 months I used my third waterproof camera as my primary shooter in Vietnam. During that time I thought long and hard about why my Olympus sp-560 was stolen(May 1 2010 in DaLat VietNam) and a lot of research and thought into what is a suitable replacement. First I made a list of what I was looking for in my next camera then searched for viable alternatives through reading any relevant camera review on the internet and I even went to some stores to see if I could see how they feel in hand and if possible shoot a couple picts on my own memory card to take home and give the images a good look. But you can never truly know how good or bad a camera is until you own it and use it for a few hundred pictures.

in 2010 my list of requirements for my next camera included- a faster auto focus system, a flip and tilt screen, good handling- easy access to quickly change photographic parameters and I though more dynamic range was one of the key secrets to better pictures. Basically if my sp560 was better in those areas I would have considered it the perfect camera.

In late October my parents offered to buy me my next camera as a Christmas present.. I wanted a surprise so I sent them a list of 5 cameras to pick from someone leaked that it was the E-620 becase the store was sold out of Sony slt a-55 and I told my parents to cancel the order at the camera store and buy it on the internet to save 200$ and get me a bag and an extra battery thrown in on the deal.. because I’d been watching that sort of stuff on the internet.

I was in VietNam at the time and My parents live in Toronto. No problem because my mom’s little brother goes to Asia almost every winter so they sent the camera with him. Knowing that it was waiting for me in Thailand I rushed out of Vietnam, across Laos and Northern Thailand on my bicycle saying to myself ‘gotta get my new camera gotta get my new camera sooner is better’ The E-620 is a very complex camera with an incredible number of options and parameters that can be adjusted to make your photos just right. And a few gimmicks- art filters, a in computer auto panoramic mode.

using the pin hole filter in the himalayas

using the pin hole filter in the himalayas

 It took me a week just to find out how to get the super high quality jpeg setting…well a week of being on the road, racing down to Indonesia to see the Komodo dragons before racing back north to China to use my visa. I’ve since been through 25 countries over mountain and dale mostly on a bicycle. It’s seen the afore mentioned dragons, river gorges, mountain peaks and passes, glorious buildings and the surrounding cities.. I’m guessing at least 60000 pictures have been taken with that camera.

a crushed auto panorama with some not so good stitching between photos

a crushed auto panorama with some not so good stitching between photos

Ok enough of how I got it and what I’ve done with it.

Handling: it’s great most parameters (white balace, expsure compensation, iso…)are changed by pushing a button and turning the dial. Failing that there is the super control panel a quick menu on the screen and it is pretty easy to navigate too but I’m greatful for each button that the camera has. Failing that there is the full menu… the only thing I’ve dug into that for, while shooting, on occasion is to modify the kelvin scale white balance with a the green and amber scale adjustment. On top of all the parameters being easy to access the camera responds quickly to every input is ready to take a picture in less time than it take to get the camera to your eye after flicking the on switch. All the button press, dial spin adjustments are instantaneous. And the buttons are well located. Sometimes I ride down the road and adjust the camera for pictures on the fly.

using manual white balance and shutter priority to maximze my aprature for the longest I can hold the camera steady- cant' do that with point and shoot

using manual white balance and shutter priority to maximze my aprature for the longest I can hold the camera steady- cant’ do that with point and shoot

 

Focusing: in good light with the 12-60 swd lens I bought in July 2013, it is stellar. And good with the kit lenses. Sadly my old tired eyes are not so good at manual focusing the small dim view finder doesn’t help. In the dark the auto focus is sometimes worse than my eyes. This improves significantly, in terms of accuracy with the the flash up… but still not great -one need to make sure a focus point is on a point of very high contrast and blinds your subjects while you’re focusing. Contrast detection in live view is the best it offers in the dark. Of late this is somewhat improved since I got the new lens in term of accuracy as well as just finding something on which to focus this is very lucky because the lens does not support liveview contrast detection focussing..

Picture quality. I’m very happy with picture that come out of this box. The colours are natural, The images are sharp where you want them sharp, you can get Bokeh if you want- the 12-60 and the 40-150 kit lenses are pretty good for that.

a little lizard and a lot of Bokeh with the 40-150 kit tele zoom lens

a little lizard and a lot of Bokeh with the 40-150 kit tele zoom lens

problem- I wore out and jammed up the apture ring of the kit lens after 25 months and the top board of the camera his failed a couple times which causes the camera to start in the wrong mode but seems to have no other ill effects. Sadly I had the later fixed in Bangkok and it failed again less than 5 months later but I wasn’t in a country where I could get it serviced under warranty.

I have a few mild disappointments- after looking through the viewfinder of a couple bigger Dslrs such as 60d, d7000, 5dmkII it’s tough to look though my little olympus view finder…. a second dial would be cool too but then again those might be a bit much to ask for in a sub 1000$ camera. Oh and I cant forget if you have a Canon or Nikon you can get lenses, service and accessories much more readily than for Olympus cameras. I picked up a square filter system to give me a little more dynamic range as it struggled with many landscapes containing dark green trees and bright blue skies…. but I think most cameras would. Also there is this nagging little feeling that Olympus E system is dead. No new lenses in 4 years and no new bodies in 3 years 🙁

Other things I like. I like the size (a few milliliters less volume than the new Canon Eos 100d- and that is just the body- plus I save weight and volume on the lenses). I like the flip and tilt screen for taking self portraits and pictures from different perspectives like overhead, on the ground or waist level- it’s got me a few pictures I would have without it. I like the fact that it’s survived a couple accidental run it with quite a bit of water. And the double card slots is pretty cool. I have a 4 gig compact flash card than runs 30 Mb/sec which is great for shoot silly amounts of pictures at 4 fps at sporting events.

So the E 620 is a great little all-rounder camera. It has a good useful screen. Sadly a couple reliability issues and not so great at focusing in the dark. But more than make up for it with great pictures and great handling. After 3.5 years and about 100000 photos, a couple accidents, more electrical problems it’s still clicking away strong. Good job Olympus.

rewview 3- the Olympus tg-820

In August 2013 I bought an Olympus tg-820 for 199 euros in Ulm Germany.  As noted in my compelling cameras the tg 820 is a bit of a polished gem in a part of the camera market characterised by the un polished and less favourable rough stones.

TBC

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Hello Keith, we just met here in Montpellier, France with my girlfriend and the tandem. Yur WebSite in great. Good journey.

    26/07/2015 at 12:06

  2. Quite an extensive history of cameras you own or have owned. I currently have 4 Olympus cameras plus a collection of lenses.
    Since you are partial to Olympus I assume you get their newsletters and e-mail notices.

    http://view.email.olympusamerica.com/?j=fe971570736c067c73&m=fe9c13707566057f72&ls=fe2915707162037c701278&l=ff3616707563&s=fe8c1173776103787d&jb=ffcf14&ju=fe5f137273650c787416&utm_campaign=em_icymiUS&utm_source=email_etprm&utm_medium=email&emid=kiddycar@verizon.net&r=0

    Here is a recent addition FYI.

    Enjoy your web site and following your travels. Take care of yourself. Hope to see you somewhere down the line.

    Everette

    19/09/2015 at 21:26

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