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Field Review: Olympus EPL-2 (Day 3)

by Chris Gampat on 02/27/2011

In Day 1 of our Olympus EPL-2 Field review, we started to get used to the camera and really begin to like it. Then in Day 2, we went around shooting in nothing else but JPEG and were quite pleased with the results. Today is the day that I write about the EPL-2 and realize that the vast majority of the images that I’ve been shooting for a while were in RAW and that Adobe Lightroom 3 doesn’t support the file at the time of writing this posting. Keep in mind though that this review is being done from the viewpoint of a professional that wants a small camera to use. With this said, most professionals wouldn’t want to go ahead and install the bundled Olympus software—they’d much rather just use what they have already. So here’s a demonstration of the camera’s video mode instead coupled with more commentary on the ergonomics and use over time and why I love it as a street photography camera.

Street Photography (and Dating)


Since starting to use the Olympus EPL-2, the 17mm F/2.8 pancake lens and VF-2 viewfinder have lived on the camera. I haven’t used the zoom lenses at all. To be quite honest, I don’t care for them. When you’re a professional and want a small camera, you want it to be the smallest it can be. On top of this, you often have no problem shooting with primes all day and night. If this sounds like you, this camera is something you may rave over.

Want to know the really awesome part (and I’m not kidding)? I’m 24 years old: and I love dating. Oftentimes, women will tell me to bring a camera with me.

This is also usually the point in the conversation/text where I say, “Really? Seriously?” But I digress.

In that case, I’ll either end up bringing one of my Canon DSLRs and something stylish like the M-Classics Compact to protect them. There are times though where I’ll flat out say no and not bring a camera at all: and those are the times I often regret not doing it. I don’t like the image quality that my phone gives me in most situations because I’m a picky guy about different factors.

With all this said the EPL-2 has become the perfect date camera for me. It’s small, light, has a long strap that can go across my body, can fit perfectly under a pea coat (or a leather jacket or sports blazer), and it is very simple to use if you don’t want to shoot in manual mode (aperture priority is highly recommended.) Plus, if the girl I’m dating isn’t camera savvy (and most aren’t) I can take the viewfinder off an hand it to them for them to use it like a point and shoot.

And for the most part, the pictures are still pretty damned good. It’s quite nice to have something like it around.

Now when I’m not on a date, I often like going around and shooting street photography as I stated in the Olympus E-5 review. Since this little camera is so tiny, most people aren’t intimidated by it. Additionally, no one ever has any idea that I’m framing an image when pointing the viewfinder upwards and looking into it.

Because of this, the EPL-2 so far wins my recommendation for camera of choice for street photography—beating out both the Canon S95 and Leica D-LUX 5 in my previous battle.

Professionals can consider this camera to be a, “point-and-shoot” for them. Factor in the fact that at the moment of writing this posting, RAW images can’t be processed in Lightroom 3. However, keep in mind that the JPEG quality is actually quite solid.

Even cooler: if we happen to stop by at a cafe at night (with wifi), the camera will upload images to the Eye-Fi servers.

Autofocus

The autofocus performance is very fast and very solid. In the video below, you’ll see just how quick and smart it really is.

When shooting stills, it will often immediately detect whatever I want to shoot based on the composition of my image. While this should make sense, many cameras don’t often do this.

Video

Every office has their awkward moments. This video of me was shot by a co-worker: an older and rather respectable gentleman from Europe. It was Valentine’s Day, and I was chatting with my boss who had just come back from vacation and used some of my equipment.

As you can also tell, the microphone is better for when the subject is very close to the camera.

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