A quick study in contrasts courtesy of the Whole Foods Market and the Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens. I dropped my parents off at the airport yesterday and decided to take a detour though downtown for some personal photography time. After parking in the cavernous underground lot at Whole Foods Market, I emerged ready to make some urban landscapes when I noticed a display of flora. There was a nice collection of spiky Texas type plants like cactus and agave, as well as the more traditional flowers — decidedly much softer. Both types of plants were on sales right next to each other in two separate rows. I pulled out my Olympus E-PL1 with the 45mm f1.8 that I’ve been playing with recently and decided make some images with my usual shallow depth of field. I really love the pointy agaves, they are so structural and architectural. I also like the subtle silver-grey coloration. The colorful red and white tulips, however, made for a nice striking color combination.
Make sure to click on a photograph to see a larger image. Hover over the photo to see the exposure details.
I’m still enjoying the E-PL1 with my new 45mm. It definitely takes more concentration and accuracy than my Lumix 20mm f1.7. The depth of field (DOF) is a lot shallower so the focusing has to be a lot more accurate. With the 20mm, I can usually, quickly compose and make the image. With the 45mm, I need to slow down and deliberately go though a mental check list to properly set focus. Because the DOF is so shallow, I move the focus point on the camera to the part of the fame that I want to focus. My usual method of the focus at the center point and recompose, which usually works on the 20mm, leads to softer slightly out of focus images with the 45. This is hardly unique to the Olympus 45mm, I use the same technique on my Canon DSLR with large aperture primes. The slight downside with the E-PL1 is that it takes a bit more fiddling with the controls to set the focus point compared to my Canon 7D. This, however is usually not a problem. Often times, while speed and getting the shot quickly is my objective with the 7D, my Olympus E-PL1 is my leisurely camera. Because of the speed (or lack there of) of the E-PL1, I get a chance to pace myself and think a bit more about each shot. It works particularly well when I’m in relaxation mode on a photowalk.
There in lies the difference between my Canon and Olympus cameras. While there is an obvious size and weight difference, the responsiveness of the camera effects the equation. My Canon 7D is a serious machine, built for responsiveness and speed. When I use it, my pace of photography increases. I look through the viewfinder like a hunter looks down the barrel of the gun. I look at my subjects and fire away like they are targets to hit. I think it is no accident that people refer to taking pictures as shooting pictures. This is a behavior I’ve noticed recently. Whether I’m shooting sports, doing event photography or even model shoots, I look though the “scope” of the 7D, quickly recompose and fire. What I have realized is, in addition to the lighter weight of the Olympus, because I compose using the back LCD screen and the camera is not as responsive, the way I shoot with the E-PL1 completely changes. I’m not in target acquisition or shooting mode, I’m in a more creative let’s think about the composition and see what happens frame of mind. That may be one reason, I really don’t enjoy using the EVF (Electronic View Finder) on these smaller cameras. I love to reposition the camera at odd angles and enjoy seeing what kind of images I can make. For these reasons, when I’m doing my photowalks, these smaller cameras are so enjoyable. Neither camera is better or worse, just different. Each is optimized for a slightly different task. And maybe for the same reason that there is different types of photography, it maybe good to have different types of cameras.