Street Walking

Prayer Behind Bars
Prayer Behind Bars by I Nancy, on Flickr

Although my photo stream has been chock-full of nature photography for the past year, my heart is on the street. This month I took my first step into the further development of my street vision. (Oh, I just know that this next sentence will sound all wrong, but here goes.) I bought a new camera.

Now before we all go screaming off quoting David DuChemin’s mantra “Gear is good, but vision is better”, let me quickly explain. I bought an Olympus PEN E-PL2 micro-four-thirds, or I like the term EVIL, camera. EVIL, which stands for Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lenses, is a class of mirror-less cameras which aim at bringing the lens closer to the sensor plane by removing the prism box and displaying the image directly on either the LCD on the back of the camera or through an electronic viewfinder. The advantage is that for the same image quality and lens-speed (size of aperture), the lens can be much, much smaller. Typically, these cameras have been in the “4/3rds” form factor which is named for the size, in inches, of the video-sensing tube diameter that was originally used in video cameras. (If I understand it correctly, and I may not, these = 4/3″ tubes projected onto an image area approximately 17.3×13.0 mm (21.63 mm diagonal) – which is now the 4/3rds standard.)

No matter how the system got its name, the sensor size is a 2x crop from a full-frame 35mm. This is about 1/3 smaller than a typical ASP-C sensor (1.6 crop for Canon, 1.5 crop for Nikon) but 9-times larger than a typical compact camera. The result, a much higher image quality than a compact for a camera coming in at just about the same size.

Ok, this explanation went on way too long. What I am trying to get at is that I bought less gear (now that’s an oxymoron). The idea was to get a small, light-weight camera that I could use on the street but which still had high image quality and flexibility which will allow me to flex my creative spirit. Ok, ok, ok – I want the freedom I get with my iPhone with good image quality and potential for shallow depth of field. Is that so hard to ask?

My first set of “Street Walking” images are up on flickr and, although in comparison to my beloved Canon 5dMkII, the camera is a little quirky, I couldn’t be happier with the image quality and flexibility of this new friend.

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