Before I get into how the MkII performs, I’d like to note some differences between the E-M1 MkI and MkII, and what were immediately noticeable. On unboxing the camera, the first thing that was obvious was that the MkII was slightly larger than the MkI and that was mainly in the height, making it more comfortable in the hand than the MkI, which required a camera plate to make it comfortable for me to hold. The other thing that is significantly larger is the battery, to provide much greater longevity, an issue that has plagued many mirrorless cameras, though I never really had a problem with the MkI batteries (I’ve been able to take 1400+ photographs on one battery). The MkII no longer sports an accessory port on the electronic viewfinder (EVF) hump, making that part slightly trimmer but, in other respects, the overall differences are mainly cosmetic with all the dials, buttons and levers pretty much as they are on the MkI. The MkII does differ in one other physical aspect, in that it has a fold out LCD screen rather than one that just lifts up and down, a source of constant angst and debate on forums.
In Part 1, I wrote how a government department (a local council) had used one of my photographs without permission and, after alerting them to the issue, they decided to remove the photo rather than giving a simple attribution of ownership. It’s somewhat disappointing how people assume that because a photograph is on the internet, it can be used freely and especially without any attribution. The hardware store chain where I work part-time, held a competition this month seeking photographs that depicted the local area. The store submitted some of mine and, at the end of the competition, the organisers sent out requests to confirm that photographs submitted were authorised, as many were simply taken from the internet (Google images), with no permission evidently sought.
I don’t generally discuss my cameras, as I don’t believe that the camera one uses is that big a deal, but anyone that has read my posts and is interested in photography would have realised that my system is Olympus digital. I started using Olympus digital SLRs in 2004 after attending an expo where I watched a salesman at a camera stall put the very first Olympus digital SLR, an E-1, repeatedly under a indoor waterfall, wipe it off with a towel and take shots. I was intrigued by this waterproof marvel and ended up buying one. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite Olympus cameras often lagging the major brands in some aspects of technology, I just loved how the cameras performed, especially the wonderful colours, and have stayed with Olympus through all of its trials and tribulations. I still have that very first E-1, and it still works as well as the day that I bought it, even though it’s pretty much gone through the wars and looks rather tatty on the outside.
One of the most discussed, debated and often heated arguments on photography websites and forums revolves around the use, or not, of protective filters on lenses. On one side of the camp are those that believe filters are useful and beneficial additions to expensive lenses and do not affect image quality and, on the other side are those that believe any filter degrades the quality of any lens. To be up front, I have always used high quality filters on all of my lenses from day one and believe that the benefits far outweigh any minor issues that they may cause. There’s a reason for that and I’m going to explain why. While at the end of the day you might not agree with me, I will at least have provided my side of the argument for the use of filters.
Last year I made some hesitant steps towards giving film a try once again, after not using it for more than 15+ years. I certainly can’t remember having touched film since around 2000, even though I have plenty of film cameras, so that recent nostalgia hit was interesting in many ways. It brought into focus (pun intended) what film was all about and why I’d lost interest in using it and, to a large extent, photography as well for what seemed a very long time. After those first rolls of film that I put through the old Kodak Retina and Olympus Trip 35 cameras, I was really keen on taking it further until reality, or perhaps pragmatism, hit home. I realised after a while that film, for me, was no longer relevant in any shape or form and it really didn’t bring back the ‘good old days‘ or any resurgence of potentially lost creativity.
An old axiom goes along the lines of: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘. That axiom has some history behind it but I don’t fully subscribe to it in the way that it’s often interpreted. However, I feel much more comfortable with a related one that says ‘Every picture tells a story‘ (not the Rod Stewart one). While the two may sound similar, I think there are some fundamental differences between what they mean or how they can be interpreted. The former suggests, to me, that a picture is proof or evidence of something, while the latter suggests that a picture evokes questions, emotions or one’s imagination. So what is my story all about? Well, it’s a bit of navel gazing as I’ve been giving thought to the things that I write and photograph for this blog, why I do so and where it might lead or what else I might do to keep it relevant (for me anyway).
One of the things that I’ve been trying to do lately on our Cruises is take a bit of video rather than just still photographs and, while I have fairly good video capabilities with my camera, it’s difficult to combine video and still photography at the same time. I’ve been using my dash cam while on the move and it’s proven to be a reasonably good video camera, providing quality results, even though YouTube doesn’t quite show that quality. However, the dash cam is poorly designed for general use, even though I did do some experimenting earlier on. The major issues are the lack of standard mounting points and protective housing. To that end, I finally decided that a cheap action cam was what I really needed so that I’d have a bit more versatility than what I could get with the dash cam.
Spring and early Summer this year presented us with about one of the wettest, as well as hottest and most humid for some time. For almost a week, we had temperatures close to and above 30C and humidity that was approaching 100% (at one point it reached 95%). The farmers are naturally happy as they have have had a bumper season and have been able to harvest several times in the last few months so that their silage supplies are well and truly sorted out. The hot and humid weather has also meant that other things have been in large supply as well and, in this case, it’s the number of spiders throughout our home. Fortunately the vast majority have taken up residence outside, but the numbers are far in excess of anything we’ve seen in the last five years.
When we do our High Country Cruises, taking photographs of where we go and what we experience is part and parcel of the trip, notwithstanding some gaps over the years. One of the things that sometimes causes a bit of head scratching and thought, is pondering where a photograph was taken. It’s been quite a challenge at times and errors have been made. I keep track of where we go (or have been of late) using the Memory Map mapping program (note, I’ve removed the link to the Memory Map site, as it’s been reported to have malicious code, it appears OK, but be wary), linked to a GPS receiver, so track recording is pretty simple nowadays. It wasn’t so easy in the paper map days, but things improved dramatically when hand held GPS units became available and track records could be transferred to a PC. Though that didn’t make identifying the location of photographs any easier (especially when you were still using film). Continue reading
As the world becomes ever smaller, due to the ease of travel and the ever pervasive internet, I’ve sometimes wondered whether there are any ‘relatively’ accessible places that have yet to be done to death by photography. Other than some extremely remote and distant places, where it may be very expensive, difficult or risky to venture, there would hardly be a unique place on earth today that hasn’t been photographed to such an extent that the scenes have effectively become clichés. Antelope Canyon in the US, Iceland (one of the newly saturated photography destinations), African Safari Parks, Ayers Rock in Australia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Cambodia, the Antarctic and many other places all come to mind. While these locations are naturally wonderful places to visit, I’m not sure that they offer as much for a photographer looking for something new, as they did decades ago.