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torsdag 6. januar 2011

Living with the Limitations of the Olympus E450

Now I am not an Olympus fanboy by any means: I rather do not like the PEN direction and pricing.

And so I chose a camera to get a little system together and was happy to learn its limitations.

This was really the way it was in 35mm days, with "knowing the limitations" being many of the same as I find, but more centred around the film you used at the time. Re-spooling was a risky
business ( I lost a couple of half rolls in winding back and one film end caps failed!) , so multiple rolls just to "get the shot" with a higher or lower ISO, or FP4 was the
reserve of pro's and pseud's.

Technically, Olympus E system score poorly (DXO amongst others- However, they test only older and the basic 14.42 lenses and seem overly Nikon biased for an "independent". ) while in reality the E system continues to deliver very good images. Perhaps this says more about the type who choose Oly, and the quality of Olympus glass, the JPEG engine and the pre-RAW engine which does deliver improvements in red-RAW bitmaps apparently. Maybe most Oly owners are a little longer in the tooth, like me, with a love affair going back to OM2 to 10

So what are the limitations, or irritations of the E450?

1) Programme shift needed to speeden up P's shutter choice: the standard programme apertures and shutters are biased very oddly to slower, more shut down settings. You can twiddle the shutter speed up by using the wheel in "shift" Ps , but this is poor, I mean it should select for a reasonably fast shutter in the presumption it is a hand held shot.

Shutter priority is fine but it will just flash when the shot is over-under exposed, and not take the shot. mode relies on the very poor C-AF so is no get out of jail.

This has ruined many of my hosts in the poor winter light, whereas I found P with AE BKT to be so good in the strong summer and autumn light : see last point!

2) small ViewFinder; this gives me issues with perpendicular / horizon sighting and overall usability. However I prefer it over not having one! I did not see the big issue with the EVF on say the S1800. I will test a GH2 soon.

3) blown highlights : known on the 43 system; but in fact other DSLR do this. For that matter
fujichrome 200, my winter transparency favourite had often blown highlights or featureless skies too. Highlights as big blocky white areas are ugly, but using AE BKT can help get the best shot, or best combinaiton of layers if you are on a tripod and using PS / GIMP later.

4) FPS with Raw in combination with JPEG becomes quite slow, can be down at 1 ps.

5) No "in body image stabilisation" , purely jealousy, but even some tripod shots have been
blurry. The IBIS makes up for highlights and poor high ISO on the 520/620 cameras...which brings me to my next point......

6) poor mid to high ISO : this relates to being able to push the camera a little to get faster
shots or avoid using flash. Relative to newer cameras, like the D3100 and the 450D, this is a
decided weakness. If I had a 520 though, the IS makes up for it. Also, shooting in BW helps, because most of the noise is red specle, and this seems to be practically eliminated in BW for ISO800 and even 1600 "at first glance" ie normal viewing, not navel-gazing.

7) Mirror lock up is tempory, it should cover several shots with a choice. There is the
"antishock" ( lock up in Olympus' speak) over multiple exposures, but it flips down wasting time
inbetween shots.

8) focus can be slow, and C-AF is poor. Olympus are not known for their sports images these days, because both Nikon and Canon have superior focus systems which cope with fast moving objects across the frame.

9) NAGGING WORRY THAT THE S-AF IS OUT OF SYNC'. This is most likely because I can no longer enjoy 320th of a second in the weak mid winter light. I did test it with a tripod on a semi distant object, but the atmospherics weren't good enough actually. I always find a shot I am happy with, but so many are not keepers in the winter. A 12-60 or an f2 prime may well help my worries, and in the first place this may be cheaper than finding a service agent in another country.

I wander around test images on Flickr and DPreview ( which is mostly a tedious, untalented source or technical appreciation shots around the house, office, garden or "block") and I am suprised that some camera EXIF selections come up with a lot of rubbish, while others like say the Fuji S1800 super zoom, have a whole pile of really good images. If I'd had the budget I would have either got a PEN a GH2,. Even between olympus E cameras: the 450 is good, the 52o really very good while the 620 and E3 are suprisinly poorer composition and overall quality.

Understanding your camera's limits helps inform your overall skill and handling of cameras in different situations. Furthermore, it is invaluable when you choose accessories and expand lens systems or like me, come to buy a second, back up compact camera or move system.

Later when I do have a better camera, I will still understand the technical challenges of some subjects and scenes and take a little more thought into getting some good frames. Now I am more comfortable with the limitations of the E450 I can advance my concentration and ability in the true core of photographic art, composition.

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