Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fan-Boys and other Photographic Considerations

[Warning, some people (including my wife and sister) have complained to me privately that they have no idea what I'm talking about when I get off on one of my photographic tangents. Anyone who is in that category should delete this note at once :-)]

In following the photographic forums I have learned about the term "Fan Boy." Fan-boys are the people who will praise a particular camera brand no matter what. They want to hear only about a camera's virtues and criticize those who want to discuss its problems and short-comings. Everyone wants to be considered objective. No one wants to be called a "Fan Boy," but Fan Boys can't help themselves.

Not wishing to be considered a Fan Boy, I will remind anyone that is interested that before I bought my Olympus E-520 I planned to buy an equivalent Canon on Amazon, but someone bought it moments before I tried to. The E-520 was my second choice. I later learned that one doesn't just buy a camera, one buys a camera system. If one buys a Canon, only Canon lenses will fit it -- except for a few made by outfits (such as Sigma) that build lenses for the various camera lines. But Olympus was a good choice for me -- at least in theory. Olympus seems to have always aimed at the smallest camera, the one easiest to take along. As a hiker that appealed to me.

Their "smaller" system is known as "4/3." Leica and Panasonic also have cameras based on the 4/3 system. But in reality, the 4/3 cameras weren't that much lighter than full-frame cameras. The E-1, a Pro camera, is heavier than many full-frame cameras. So perhaps I was moving in the wrong direction in getting an E-1 as backup for my E-520, but I don't regret it. Though I spent a bit more than I should have, I have what amounts to a factory refurbished E-1. Also, my son has become intrigued by all my camera talk; so I bought him two E-1s in somewhat questionable condition and he plans to do his own refurbishing.

But to prove that I am no Fan Boy I have started reading other photographic forums. I've started with Pentax because I have been very happy with the old "legacy" 50mm Pentax Lens I have used on several occasions, the one that leans toward sepia, given half a chance. I was surprised at how good some of these Pentax cameras seemed. Take the K-20 for example. This was produced at about the same time as the E-520, in June of 2008. It was more expensive then and the K-20 eBay offerings are more expensive now (than equivalent E-520 offerings), but it is very impressive when I read its specifications. Also, it is dust-proof and weather resistant. I vaguely recall reading Olympus Fan-Boys denigrating other camera manufacturer's token efforts at weather-proofing, but in reading what Pentax actually did in building the K-20, it is probably all I would need in sunny California. I don't actually plan to do any photographing in the rain, even with the E-1. But a camera would get a bit damp if I was out some place and it started coming down. I would have to put it in a case and zip it up, and it might get a bit wet before I did. The K-20 water resistance would seem adequate (if I can believe those words) for my area's weather conditions.

Also, the K-20 has a feature I could have used more than once with my E-520 and even more often with my E-1. If I had the K-20 set on manual, which is about all I use with the E-520 & E-1, and was guessing about light and aperture, and Duffy did something definitely photo-worthy, and hope for the best. When I checked the results later on I often had to delete the photo, usually because the shutter speed wasn't fast enough. The K-20 has a magic button one can push under those circumstances. If one is in doubt, and the wonderful photo is out there to be taken, one can chicken out and push this button. The camera will then take itself out of Manual and put itself in "auto" mode and take the photo in accordance with how it "feels" it out to be taken. Of course the Auto mode might not get it right either, but it sounds awfully good.

My E-520 has a very good reputation, but with its three digits it is classed as a beginner's camera. Pentax may use the same digit identification system. It's two-digit, K-20 is classed as "semi-pro." In reading the Pentax-owner's comments on their forum, the K-20 people seem as happy with their cameras as the E-520, E-1, etc. Olympus people do with theirs.

I don't plan to buy any more cameras for the foreseeable future -- unless I utterly lose my mind. In fact the next purchase ought to be a "semi-pro" or "pro" lens. It is all well and good to have a weather-proofed E-1, but I don't at present have any weather-proofed lenses. I ought to get at least one, one would think; so that should be my next major purchase, but one could buy a mighty fine camera for the cost of some of these semi-Pro and especially Pro lenses.

The Olympus Fan Boys are fearful that Olympus might discontinue their 4/3 line. The just-produced E-5 is an excellent Pro Camera and many are fearful that it has taken the 4/3 line about as far as it can go. If Olympus stops making DSLRs, many (not Fan Boys, of course. They plan to get E-5s and go down with the ship) are ready to sell their cameras and lenses and switch to another manufacturer -- not Canon nor Nikon probably (known by Olympus Fan Boys as "Canikon"), but perhaps Sony or Pentax.

If Olympus announced the end of their 4/3 line before I bought my weather-proofed lens, I might buy something like the K-20 with a lens, for not much more than the cost of a weather-proofed Olympus lens. The Pentax lens that came with the K-20 might be "weather-resistant" like the camera, and that would sound pretty good.

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