Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Silver lenses work on black camera bodies!

It's sad, but finding stores that have something other than Nikon, Canon (and possibly Sony) photographic equipment is difficult.  Finding (micro) Four-Thirds equipment is close to impossible outside of New York City.

Yesterday, I had the chance to try the Olympus E-M5 body, 12mm f/2.0, and 75mm f/1.8 in three different stores.  None of them had even two items.

First, I went to Cord Camera in the Kenwood section of Cincinnati.  I was told previously that this store had plenty of micro Four-Thirds equipment and I should go there, instead of the store on the west side.

I asked specifically about the 12mm f/2.0 and the 75mm f/1.8.  They didn't have them, but the salesperson made a call to the other store, and they had the 12mm f/2.0, so they held one for my inspection.  In the meantime, I asked to try the E-M5, since they obviously had one.

My impression: too small, though the grip made it less slippery than my OM-1N.  It felt reasonable with my Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens.  They only had the economy lenses, so I didn't bother with those.  I wanted to take a few shots but it didn't like my 32 GB San Disk Extreme Pro card from my Panasonic GH3.  I even tried to re-format it, and it didn't want to work with it at all.  Except for that, I found the body to be agreeable, even though the size is a problem for me.

After this, I spent a bit of time at the Kenwood Towne Centre mall and didn't find much interesting, even in the Apple store or the Microsoft store--at opposites, as the Apple store was difficult to navigate with all the people, the Microsoft store had five employees, and no one else to navigate.

As I left the mall, I happened upon a store I'd been trying to find: Dodd Camera.  In the state of Ohio, there are two of their stores with medium format equipment, and this was one of them.  Of course, I didn't ask, but they had a bit of everything, including the Fuji X-series cameras in a jewelry case.  They looked quite precious.

Here, I tried the 75mm f/1.8.  Even though it's very small, I found it agreeable and very sharp.  My micro Four-Thirds experience has been rough and the 75mm lens was a great surprise.  Whether it's worth the price, I'm not sure.  I can mount my Olympus ZD 35-100mm f/2.0 and get amazing results.  Would I spent close to US$1000 on a single focal length that has been covered multiple times in my equipment bags?

The people at both stores were very gracious and made no rude remarks about the format.  I'm so accustomed to brand fanatics, and their lack of discipline that I'm always pleased (and amazed) to find stores without them.  I suppose I could be considered a brand fanatic since I currently only have Olympus and Panasonic equipment, but I believe "the right tool for the job" is what you need to do the work.

As I had the west side Cord Camera store holding a lens (with no obligation!) for me, I went to see that one.  They moved the store--in the same strip mall.  It says "Don't Panic!" but as Douglas Adams knows, people panic first, ask questions later.

The rather friendly people at Cord Camera brought out the 12mm f/2.0.  Both this and the 75mm reminded me both of jewelry and scientific equipment.  They're also like 1950s photographic equipment, especially the German equipment.

The 12mm lens was quick to focus, but not quite as quickly as the 75mm on my GH3.  After a few shots, I removed it, and then, remembered the Clutch/Pull to enable manual focus functionality.  It immediately showed "MF" in the viewfinder as I enabled it.  As much as I've complained about using manual focus on the too short Panasonic 35-100mm lens I have, I had to make a special effort to focus the tiny 12mm lens.

One thing you'll be glad to know: silver lenses work on black camera bodies.  You can do it!  (The 12mm f/2.0 I tried was silver, not champagne color, as with one I tried years ago.  Why does Olympus have 3 variants of silver?)

My opinion stands that Olympus has a few good lenses: 12mm f/2.0, 45mm f/1.8, 75mm f/1.8, and Panasonic has the 7-14mm f/4.0 and 8mm f/3.5 fisheye.  If these focal lengths appeal to you, you'll get some really amazing shots, I'm sure.  (I could say that the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 are good lenses, but my 35-100mm f/2.8 makes me feel that I wasted my money on a lens that's only worth half the price.)

Update 2014.02.17: I was looking at recent combination deals and while they had a black 17mm f/1.8, a black 45mm f/1.8, and a black 75mm f/1.8, the company refuses to produce a non-limited edition 12mm f/2.0.  I saw it with a US$200 price reduction and it was still way too expensive.   After the Kowa announcement, I've seen people refer to the "panda" lenses as something they didn't want to put on their camera bodies because they weren't a single color.

Update 2015.08.15: The black 12mm f/2.0 lens is now standard, but of course, without an included lens hood.  Thankfully, the "PRO" lenses include lens hoods.   The 8mm f/1.8 fisheye has the built-in lens hood, as does the 7-14mm f/2.8.  Olympus has really improved their lens selection, and so has Panasonic.

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