|Secrets of Digital Photography
Pro dSLR Meets China! 6 / 6 / 2004
|Fast Load Version||S P E C I A L T R A V E L R E P O R T|
Working with the E-1
It was good to have the experience of a top-quality dSLR in hand for comparison to the Canon Digital Rebel.
Ergonimics like this are of vital importance to fast-working professionals, of course, but these qualities mean a lot to anybody who is able to see the moment, bring the camera up quickly and get the shot at the right instant.
Three Gorges Dam. It's huge and difficult to see in scale. But if you spot the tiny figure in the shot left, you may be able to see where he is in the full image at right. Like many images reproduced at this size on this page, opening the image in a new browser window will double the scale of the embedded image.
Photography is about time and light and in this case "time" doesn't mean shutter speed. If you wish to capture pictures of Emily with her back to the local impressive monument, then you don't need a camera that delivers fast response, but if you wish to catch that kid over there with her stretched yawn, your equipment better be as fast as your retina. And the E-1 is a no-excuse, professionally fast, absolutely reliable camera.
Internally, the E-1 has a supersonic wave image chip anti-dust feature and indeed, through the entire trip, no sensor dust blobs were detected even after testing for them, just good, clear shots.
Badaling Great Wall. Olympus E-1 / 200mm tele zoom.
In short, the E-1 was able to achieve that most desired of goals in a working camera: invisibility. To the photographer a camera needs to ultimately become as invisible to the image gathering process as a hammer is to a carpenter. The only time I ever had to think about the camera was if I decided to do something out of the mainstream.
Of all the dSLRs available today, the E-1 and Sigma are the only ones without an on-board flash, and being the sort of photographer I am, that never actually became a problem. My use of on-camera flash units is largely as an outdoor fill for contrasty lighting but when I worked with the E-1, the situation simply never came up.
While shooting a Chinese Historical Costume show (left), I attached the flexible, swiveling Olympus FL-50 flash unit to the camera hot shoe and kept on shooting. This unit swivels so you can bounce light off the ceiling while shooting vertical shots. Nice.
Originally $1700 for the body alone, price drops in this camera have occurred recently.
Today the body can be had for around $1000 and the short zoom sits about $400 MSRP through the Internet. The big tele zoom from similar places is around $800. Caveat emptor. These could very well be Gray Market prices and cameras purchased that way often enjoy support only when returned to the country of origin. Months later your camera may find its way back to you good as new if it ever must go out for repair.
One side benefit to the Three Gorges Dam has to do with power.
Somewhere between 10 and 15% of China's electricity will flow out of it.
The big advantage behind purchasing your camera from a live human in a town near you comes in terms of support should anything ever go wrong and your ability to pester the sales people endlessly when a new lens or hidden feature becomes the topic of interest.
Reprinting except for newsworthy mention and brief quotes are by permission only.