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I ditched my SLR, my camera phone but not my lenses

Sigfrid Lundberg's Stuff 2010-08-29

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I have just recently bought a new digital camera, one of the new Electronic Viewfinder Interchangable Lens (EVIL) ones. Actually one that embodies all the 5 Reasons to Ditch Your Digital SLR. It is an Olympus PEN E-P 2, a second generation Micro Four Thirds camera.

Camera equipment

Figure 1. My two two cameras with accessories. The equipment on the image are:

  1. Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6
  2. Olympus PEN E-P 2 body
  3. Voigtländer Nikon F mount to Micro 4/3 adapter
  4. Nikon Macro Extension Tube
  5. Nikon F body with serial number in 656* number, implying that it was Aug 1964 to DEc 1964
  6. Nikon lens hood
  7. NIKKOR-O Auto 1:2 f=35mm
  8. NIKKOR-Q Auto 1:3.5 f=135mm
  9. Nikon Macro Fold Bellow
  10. Original package for the bellow

I also have an early Nikon Photomic viewfinder, but is lives somewhere in a cupboard together with my Gossen Variosix light meter. Nikon F, configured in the image, is capable of flash synchronization. That is the only electronics it has.

How I ditched my SLR

One could say that I've ditched my SLR, but that I did very long ago.

I've been interested in photography since I was a teenager. My father was a printer and he had a workshop where I worked during summer holidays. When I was thirteen or fourteen I used my savings together with some extra support from my parents to by a Nikon F single-lens reflex camera. This must have been 1969-70. I still keep this treasure, but the configuration has improved. The original 50 mm F1.4 lens was replaced with a 35mm wide angle and a 135m tele lens. My Nikon stuff are items number 4-10 in Figure 1.

During the mid eighties I lost my interest in photography, but it was (kind of) revitalized when our two children were born 1988-89. That lead to the acquisition of an easy to use 35mm compact camera, which could be carried a pocket and swiftly pulled out to document the various milestones in the kids development.

More recently my wife and myself decided, I'd say less than five years ago, that the time was ripe to buy a digital camera. A bit later still we acquired smarter phones. The digital camera was actually a really good one. I used it to take the snap shot in Figure 1. The phone caused a new development I hadn't expected.

Glumslöv & Alabodarna, Skåne, Sweden

Figure 2. A summer view. This is one of the really beautiful places along the Strait of Øresund. I think myself that this is a nice picture taken with my mobile phone. It is nice from almost all perspective except the technical ones. I blame on the digital zoom, but excuses cannot change the fact that the poor image quality masks all the other qualities of the image.

How I ditched my camera phone

Once I has a serious interest in photography. I lost that. I have still all darkroom equipment in a few cardboard boxes in the basement.

The phone changed everything. I continuously carried around (what I used to regard as a) decent camera. All the images I've recently put on this site are taken with my phone. I started to think of image composition rules again.

Now, web images are one thing. High resolution things you can print large copies to put on your wall is something else. Now, I copied some images to an USB stick had the local photo store enlarge them to 20x30cm. Figure 2 was one of the images. When I did this, I hadn't looked at the image in any other way than in the phone's viewer.

My Olympus PEN, equiped with the NIKKOR-O      Auto 1:2 f=35mm

Figure 3. My Olympus PEN, equiped with the NIKKOR-O Auto 1:2 f=35mm using the Voigtländer adapter. See Figure 1 for the details on the various items.

I just cannot tell how disappointed I was with the result. This, however, coincided with me something else. I brought all my photographical chemicals to the deposit for environmentally hazardous chemicals.

Micro four thirds

I felt that I somehow had lost a way to express myself. I became obsessed with the thought of a really good camera which I could carry around without any effort. I found the Olympus PEN in the local Photo Store. It is a real beauty, with the right feeling. I suppose it is all plastic, but it doesn't feel like it.

The decisive point was all the communities where people mentioned all the wonderful lenses they are able to put on these cameras. That is a virtue of standardization.

(a)

My Olympus PEN, equiped with the NIKKOR-O Auto 1:2 f=35mm

(b)

My Olympus PEN, equiped with the NIKKOR-O Auto 1:2 f=35mm

Figure 4. Now I have again controll. These two details are my Nikon F body photographed with the configuration you see in Figure 2. In (a) I have at least tried to focus on Nikon, whereas in (b) the focus is on 3.5 on the 135mm lens.

However, there are not that many different kinds of lenses available, but there are a large number of adapters. Leica, Nikon and all other kinds of lenses are now used successfully and there are people whose interest in photography seems to boil down to find obscure lenses to fit on their micro 4/3 shooters. For instance, there are a lot of C-mount video and cinematic lenses available. One example is the P. Angenieux 25mm/f0.95 from the early sixties and originally a professional cine lens.

Believe me, eBay has got an entirely new segment of lens collectors.

My NIKKOR lenses

I suppose that you've already realized that when you put a vintage SLR lens on a modern digital camera there are things you loose. You use them with fixed aperture and the camera choose the exposure. This is better than what I'm used to. I don't need to bring use my Gossen Variosix light meter. Also, you have to focus manually.

The interesting effect of the m4/3 architecture is that my NIKKOR-O 35mm, which used to be my wide angle lens back in the seventies, is now a short telephoto lens. It is the equivalent of a 70mm lens and ideal for landscapes and portraits.

In addition, its maximum aperture 2.0 is much better than what you get today in the kit zoom lens of an ordinary DSLR. With the wide aperture that lens gives me the possibilty to focus on a just a part of an image leave an unsharp back- or forground (Figure 4).

A fountain in Central Park, Lund, Sweden

Figure 5. A fountain in Central Park, Lund, Sweden. An early morning, taken with the Olympus PEN kit zoom Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6, which is really nice lens. The camera as it is delivered is really good, even without vintage equipment.

My NIKKOR-Q 135mm 1:3.5 is also capable collecting more light than most modern zoom lenses. When I bought it, this was regarded as a poor lens in this respect. On the other hand, I wouldn't even dream of a zoom at the time. The 135mm lens is more difficult to use than the 35mm one. It is heavier, naturally, than the other lenses and it is not that easy to focus. To increase the success rate, I'm considering to bring my tripod, but then the equipment isn't that portable anymore.

The Olympus lens

I don't have more than the original Zuiko Digital kit lens (See Figure 5). It is a very nice and light lense and with it, the e-p2 is almost as light as any compact camera.

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My name is Sigfrid Lundberg. The stuff I publish here may, or may not, be of interest for anyone else.

On this site there is material on photography, music, literature and other stuff I enjoy in life. However, most of it is related to my profession as an Internet programmer and software developer within the area of digital libraries at the Royal Library, Copenhagen (Denmark) and, before that, Lund university (Sweden).

The content here does not reflect the views of my past or present employers

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