The Influencer

If I might be allowed to blow my own trumpet for a minute, I’ve been a real ‘influencer’ of late. Convincing bloggers of the world to adopt Disqus, the commenting system, for one. Persuading photographers to plump for the Olympus E-PL1 as a second example. Pft. Who am I kidding. I just like gadgets and tend to evangelize.

What really gets people to go for these products is that they are, very simply, great products. It’s nice to know stuff I write at least gets read though! But influencer? I’m not convinced. Let’s experiment. Attractive ladies of Delegacion Coyoacan aged between 18 to 30….the fashion for 2011 is shorter skirts and more cleavage! Let’s see how that works out….

I did, however,  get an email some months ago from a chap in Bangalore, asking me for my recommendation as to what camera he should buy. How cool is that? Bangalore to Mexico City. In a flash. Viva la internet! Or le internet? Have the Frenchists made up their mind yet? But anyway, I sent back a few suggestions. Top of the pile was the Olympus E-PL1. Of course that would be my number one recommendation – I did buy one myself. He replied, thank me for my help, and telling me the E-PL1 it would be.

Yesterday I received another email. He’s actually bought one, on Christmas Eve. A new, proud owner of one of the finest cameras you can buy for around $500. He sent a couple of photos along with it for my comment. They were both great, but the one I posted below was awesome – great reflections. I played with it a little.

The original is the right hand image. I got rid of the leaf with the Clone tool in Photoshop and put a bit more light in the shot. Turned up the vibrance a little too much though. Looking at the two side by side below, I prefer the original. Although when viewed full screen it does need more light, and then I prefer my own manipulation.

Anyhow, he had a couple more questions – some of his shots were blurry and he was unsure how the Image Stabilisation settings work. He also wanted to know about getting news lenses. First thing I’d recommend to anyone with a new camera is to get themselves an account on Flickr and make use of the community. Firstly, I’d love to see more photos! And Flickr is an easy way to share.

Secondly, you can explore other E-PL1 photographers efforts and see what they are getting out of the camera. There are groups too, and it isn’t hard to find one or two dedicated to this camera. There are plenty of discussions going on, and helpful members who’ll give lots of opinions of what you’re doing right or wrong, and how you can get the most out of your camera. The important thing is to upload lots of photos and get chatting to other members. It’s hard for me to say why some shots have come out blurred without any more information.

It’s probably that the camera wasn’t focused properly when the shutter was clicked. I get that more often when the camera is set to Continuous Focus, so I now usually have it set to Single Focus. It’s also one of the Olympus’ few weak points – it’s not the fastest focuser. Macro shots also sometimes struggle to find focus – I’ll often switch to Manual Focus for that. I really don’t play around with the image stabilisation an awful lot, but I’m not convinced that that is the cause of any problems, especially in good light.

As for lenses. The kit lens that comes with the E-PL1 is decent. A kit lens is very rarely, if ever, anything more than ‘ok’. It does the job and I have no real complaints, but once I’m rich enough I will splash out on some new glass. Top of the list is the f1.7 pancake lens. That wouldn’t be at the top of everyone’s list, but I have a baggy pair of jeans with big pockets and with the pancake lens attached,

Lenses are not cheap though. I’d love the professional 14-35mm f2.0 SWD but at nearly $2,000….a bit out of my price range. I can dream though. An f2.8 lens is a little closer to any budget I might one day have, but it is still pricey. The lower the f number, of course, the more light you can get in, the better your low light photography will be, and the greater depth of field you can squeeze out.

I guess after the pancake lens my next purchase may well be a zoom lens, such as this one. It’s cheap, has a decent range, and produces reasonable results. I keep an eye out as well for new lenses hitting the market. But until my finances improve substantially, I’ll just continue having fun with the lens I have – it does the job nicely!


14 thoughts on “The Influencer

  1. Re: Disqus. How is it that I can post here without signing into Disqus, but on Felipe Zapata’s blog I have to?

    I really don’t want to have to sign up or even give my email address to yet another social network. (Picasa Web Albums just coerced me into doing so, but no harm done yet. I was already a PWA user and all I had to do was check a few things on my Google profile.)

    Don Cuevas


    • You can post here without signing into Disqus because I don’t use Disqus! I would if I could, but don’t allow it. Shame.

      You don’t have to sign up for Disqus to leave a comment. You can do it by entering name and email, like you do with any commenting system. Or connect via Facebook. But I have a Disqus account. I like to keep my comments in one place. They are my comments after all.


  2. Hey Gary,
    For what it’s worth I really miss the E-Pl1. I am hoping Olympus will bring out the same thing with an e.v.f.,two dials and a faster shutter speed. More of a pro body. If it looked like the Panasonic G2 / G10, that would be great. I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. They need some decent primes as well. Why the primes aren’t out by now is a mystery to me.


      • Yeah, I took it back. My camera will take stuff back full refund within two weeks. I don’t think they like me very much. I’ve done it twice now. I would like an E-Pl1 with a more pro body and an electronic view finder. I didn’t realize how much I use the viewfinder with the Fz35. So I did our last holiday with the Panny, not the Olympus. In fairness to the Panasonic, I got some great close up shots in the Everglades I never would have got (without extra lenses) with the Olympus. For some reason, I like the Olympus better.


        • Well there are other MFT models from Panny. I guess it does depend what is important to you in a camera. I, for example, never use the EVF. To be honest, with the Panny and Fuji HS10, I could barely see anything through them, although that is probably my eyesight! I’ve got a 20 year old glasses prescription…must go get ’em one day!

          The Panny FZ35 is a fine camera! It is what it is – a complete and flexible photographic device in one lightweight if not pocketable form factor! The E-PL1 is really the starting point. I bought it knowing that, and plan to make additions later on. Although for me, I’m happy with what it produces out of the box, especially in low light. But there are times I miss the zoom….

          Although I am looking at a camera that should be released soon, which I wouldn’t mind replacing the E-PL1 with. It is, drum roll….the E-PL2! The most significant addition as far as I’m concerned is a hi res 3″ screen.


    • Kim G says:

      Very nice shot! A monster flash used as a fill-in would have very nicely bridged the gap between what you sent and what Gary edited. But still a very elegant and beautiful shot. I am considering the same camera too. See my comment on the next post.


      Kim G
      DF, Mexico
      Where we are spending a few days around the holidays.


      • Anand says:

        hi Kim,

        it’s really nice of you for your feedback on the shot. thanks kim.

        I am happy that you are considering the same camera. all the best. looking forward for your comments.


    • No probs Anand! I had a look at the latest photos you sent me. The blurry one was taken in pretty low light conditions. That is the problem! There’s nothing wrong with the camera. Unless you’re willing to shell out $10,000 plus on top of the line DLSRs with new fast lenses, there is no way around a little blur when taking photos of moving objects in low light.

      You can increase ISO levels (yours is shot at ISO1600 and is actually a very good result – most cameras would destroy the image completely with noise) and decrease shutter speeds, but there will always be certain limitations.

      But there are things that can help. One is to carry a tripod, or even a small Gorillapod – small, light and easy to take around. Another thing would be to get people to stand still!

      A third solution is to take photos which are even better when blurred. You can bring down the ISO to 100, give it a long shutter speed and get a great result. Funfairs are great for these types of shots. People are not so great usually, I’m afraid!

      I’ve just done a post with an example of this sort of photography. I put the camera in S mode, set ISO at 100, pressed the camera up against a lamppost for some stability, and fired a 1 second long exposure. That kept the sky really black instead of noisy, the centre of the wheel more or less unblurred, and the lights a big circular trail of colour. I was really pleased with the results –

      Lastly, you can do what Kim suggests, and get a big flash to fill in closer objects.

      Definitely open up a Flickr account though. You can start off with a free account, and if you like it, it’s $25 a year for a Pro account. And add me when you do…


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