Enough Is Enough!

NOTE: (This post is not intended for professionals who require different tool for different job. It is meant for end-users).

For all of you who have been following my blog, I have taken 2 days rest from my Daily Photo Series. Since the Olympus E-5 has been circulated around for reviews in Malaysia, I have also not spoken much about Olympus yet. (I requested to be the last to touch the E-5)

There are much rumors out there that the four-thirds system is dead/dying, that E-5 might be the last Olympus SLR, etc. and etc.  The Nikon and Canon fans never fail to bash Olympus through the years for it’s small four-thirds sensor.

Now, the mirrorless Micro Four-thirds PEN system is also under fierce competition from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and soon Nikon and Canon…

In the world of photographic gears, we love to compete. Who has the biggest sensor, who has the highest megapixels, who has the fastest frame rates, who has the quickest AF, who has the fastest lens, etc. and etc…

We seem to have let technology taken over us. We grew highly dependent on what technology can do for us.

Soon, we will have electronic shutters on high resolution digital cameras doing more than 100 frames per sec. The photography concept may evolve into the “Motion-Jpeg Concept”, where photographers literally sit down in front of their 60inch HD TV, pausing images for screen captures.

Photoshop already has auto-color, auto-tone, auto-contrast and soon we might have auto-crop since more 21MP 5Dmk2-alike DSLRs are likely to surface, when photographers can crop to a small part of the image and with 21MP, it’s still useable. And the auto-crop function might have the computer diagnose and crop the images for us…

With the amount of photographic software available today, it’s not difficult to see that a batch-processing program of “art filters” would probably surface too. Photographers don’t even have to spend much time thinking and doing what they want to their digital images as such software can diagnose and batch-process for you. Maybe you just need to do selective re-processing.

If you like bokeh, here is an excellent plug-in for you: BOKEH 2. (Now you save yourself some money buying L lenses…)

Now, can we just come back to photography, photography as a craft, photography as a D.I.Y. craft instead of letting technology take over our work?

The Olympus followers are a strange crowd. They do not follow the “Big Numbers Game”. Some of them might whine about the restrictions they face with Olympus gear at times but they come back to making images. I know of at least 2 fervent users who stick to their Olympus E-1.

The specs of Olympus’s AF and frame rate per sec may lose out to the big boys BUT the Olympus users carefully compose each shot, knowing that they can’t be overly dependent on the automation.

Having not more than 13MP on a small four-thirds sensor also means that Olympus users MUST compose each shot carefully, to avoid post-production cropping. I bet you see lotsa lame shooters firing away with their 21MP 5Dmk2. I know of those who proudly proclaim that they own a camera with “2-sensors”, a crop one and a full one literally, and they crop 90-95% of their shots at post-processing. This practice only produce sloppiness.

With the restriction of Olympus high ISO noise through the years (which has since been solved in the digital PEN series and the E-5), Olympus users are known to use tripods for their shoots, and that again trains our discipline in the whole composition process.

With it’s amazing in-body I.S., which also requires users to hand-hold the camera stably, Olympus users are trained to stop breathing for seconds. LOL…

See? Restrictions can be beneficial!

The following are some shots I have done at a birthday party with the Olympus PEN E-P1, mostly shot at ISO1600. I am still amazed at it’s sharpness and color rendition, it’s consistency in auto white balance, it’s IQ at handling mixed lighting and hotshoe flash. I can tell you, even the Leica M8/9 doesn’t quite have such IQ in AWB.

E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600.

E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600

E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600

E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO1600

A crop of the above. Look at the sharpness and detail at ISO1600, simply amazing!

Client's Sony Alpha "waxed". Shot with E-P1, 14-42mm kit lens, ISO 1600.

Shot with E-P1 with Olympus hotshoe FL36R Flash attached.

Enough Is Enough! Let’s get down to making images!

As I have quoted in my facebook sometime ago…

“Photography: there’s more than one way/tool/camera/lens to get what you want. Just choose one and start creating.”

Have you started yet? When was the last time you shared a really proud piece of work you did?

6 thoughts

  1. Nice article, I totally agree with you 😉

  2. HAHAHA… the alpha is GONE!

  3. So why don’t you go back to film cameras?

  4. May, if you read through my blog, you will find more film images than anything else.

    I use different tools for different tasks BUT film is my preference most of the time.

    The 4-3rd sensor is good enough for most situations unlike what many APS-C/FF sensor users claim. Olympus late designer once said, “A photographer’s duty is to improve and increase his techniques! For knowledge of technique is the only tool for ensuring that the camera may be used to its maximum capability. So many photographers overestimate the function of the camera by itself – but I’m afraid a cook who relies on nothing but a sharp knife has no guarantee of producing excellent dishes.”

    Film is definitely ONE good way to strip down the dependence on technology and automation to the bare bottom.

  5. David, like you said, let the final product do the talking but to me if the technology is there why not use it? A lack of it should not hinder you from taking beautiful photos but that does not mean having a camera that lacks the tech is better. If someone wants to start from scratch, would you recommend a 4-3rd system? If you do why? I don’t think saying that it would train them better can be used as a reason. If that was the case, they should start from film or even the old large formats?

  6. May,

    “You are as good as your last shot!” basically also means people don’t really care what camera you use when your images are stunning. I never believe that by getting someone to “start from scratch”, for example, use a film camera, that person will automatically become a better photographer. A crappy photographer is crappy whether he shoots film or digital, iphone or d3x.

    When I said “Enough is enough”, I mean different formats have different use. I meant to tell that the 4-3rd sensor is indeed sufficient for many situations, and the limitations of the 4-3rd system can be helpful as they create a different workflow from the Nikon/Canon users, for example. The lack of opportunity in doing major post-cropping is one restriction that forces 4-3rd users to compose carefully, and etc…

    Photography is a process from choosing your camera, holding it, using it, to seeing the results. The entire process before seeing the image plays a significant part (emotionally and technically) in the final results. But the process does not guarantee the results to be better or worse as it all depends on the photographer’s approach, attitude, his sharpness in observation, his “photographic eye”, his communication with subjects, etc.

    Again, I have witnessed digital photographers who claim to go back to film, saying that they have improved since moving back to film… still as crappy as they were shooting digital before… basically SAME, no difference… so it’s all emotional, the same crap or real improvement, it’s NOTHING to do with the camera type (even though the process plays a significant role), cause after all, it’s still user-dependent.

    But as digital technology advances, the 30 images you see from a digital shooter can be filtered from 60, and can also be filtered from 3000. You will never know his real capability, so the line gets blurrer and blurrer!

    To answer your question, for someone to start from scratch, he may start from anything he likes, film or digital, 4-3rd or FF. When you use a camera you like and are confident in, you are a happier person, and a happier person shoots better. (My belief) As for Olympus, I will recommend it to photographers who want minimum post-production work, beautiful out-of-camera jpegs, nice skin tones and deeper depth of field.

    It’s NOT that we do not wanna depend on technology, BUT we should NOT let technology turn us into SLOPPY photographers!

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