The liberated camera

John Kennerdell wrote for The Online Photographer a two part essay called “The Liberated Camera” about freestyle photography.

Part 1 is making a strong case for the back LCD as a camera viewfinder. Here is how John introduce it:

I’d like to talk about another approach: the handheld camera as an extension of the hand, or simply as an unobtrusive device off to the side as we engage directly with the scene before us, both eyes wide open.

And he is damn right. It is just a different shooting style. Not a replacement, albeit most camera force you to view that what.

I have issues with LCD as viewfinder. Maybe most of them are unfounded and linked to the fact I taught myself to shoot with a SLR and therefor with a camera brought to the eye… which was the case of every film camera. Habits die hard, and using my E-P1 actually made me change my mind despite not being in my total zone of comfort.

“No serious photographer,” announced one online guru at the time, “would ever compose on a screen held out in front of him.” Er, why not? The biggest criticism seemed to be that it didn’t “look professional.” That of course immediately suggested a fine reason to try it.

Also the discretion: most modern compact digital camera don’t have a viewfinder, thus when shooting, people use the back LCD as a viewfinder. This makes you look like a tourist, instead of the person with the obnoxious camera.

This is not without ignoring other complaints like steadiness when holding close to the body, or the useability in full sunlight.

The second part is about another gadget: face detection.

It sound like a gadget, but it actually is a useful tool for freestyle photography, where you can’t control the focus precisely or have the time to do so.

In a word, it was a slam dunk. OK, that’s two words, but seriously: I got hundreds of shots that I probably wouldn’t have without it. By the end I was attempting things I wouldn’t have even considered without it, and a lot of those worked out too. It wasn’t perfect of course, but it raised my percentage. Ultimately, what more do you want?

You get it. It is a tool that helps the chances of getting a good a picture. It does not frame or compose for you but it helps the auto focus system to determine what your subject is: people. Off course it might be convenient to disable it, and I can on my E-P1.

Ricoh GRDIII for everyday street shooting

Josh White wrote Ricoh GRDIII: walking to work, or how he feels with using the GRDIII as a street shooter when he walks to work. The GRD is one of these small P&S camera that advanced camera user seems to appreciate. Full control and fast prime lens.

Josh preferred camera seems to be a Leica M9. Here is his conclusion on the Ricoh:

Honestly, I wouldn’t trade my M9 for anything. It’s a beautiful, beautiful camera and it’s easily the best camera I’ve ever used. However, for 90% of the photography I do the GRDIII would be enough. If you’re a street photographer who doesn’t want to break the bank I highly recommend this little Ricoh. Needless to say I’m a big fan.

I personally have a GRDII which is not much different – older sensor, a bit more noise, basically. I have used it a couple of times for street shooting. Honestly I think I should give it more love ; it is time I give it a real ride in that field.

Don’t forget to check Josh’s set on Flickr.

New Olympus Pens

Olympus announced new Olympus Pens and lenses in the micro Four-Third format. Three models and four lenses:

  • E-P3: the successor of the E-P1 and E-P2. Gain a flash.
  • E-PL3: the successor of the E-PL2, with a slimmer design and flip out screen. But it lost the flash. DPReview has a preview.
  • E-PM1: an even smaller Pen camera, even more simplified.

All three cameras feature a new UI, a new sensor, a new engine that should solve most of the slowness criticism, better noise management, 1080p video in AVCHD with Dolby Digital™ sound, etc. Not much changes in the number of pixels and this is actually good news for the image quality.

  • M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f2: a wide angle prime lens.
  • M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f1.8: a short telephoto.
  • M. Zuiko Digital 14-42 f3.5-5.6 II R: A slight restyling of the second version of the kit zoom.
  • M. Zuiko Digital 40-150 II R f4.0-5.6.

All the lenses come as MSC “Movie & Stills Compatible” (ie very smooth and silent autofocus).