Through a Different Viewfinder (#206) 02-02-13

Yes, the Nikon D90 has an optical viewfinder, like all DSLRs. But that means that the camera is thick and bulky, to make room for a mirror. After reading a few glowing reviews about mirrorless, smaller alternatives, I had to give it a try. So I rented an Olympus OM-D EL-5 for a week. Can you imagine a more cumbersome name? The model name, including dashes, has more characters than the word Olympus. Who gets paid to do this stuff? Anyway, I got the camera with 45mm f1.8 lens from I've used them before - nice service. See it HERE

The camera is remarkably complicated, and there is a learning curve. As there is no optical viewfinder, you essentially look at a smaller version of the LCD on the back of the camera. This too seems weird at first, but there are advantages, including a histogram in the viewfinder; you can evaluate exposure on the fly. Nice. Also, the LCD can be tilted upward, so you can compose a shot with the camera at waist height. Nice too, although not for portraiture. The thought of carrying a camera and three or four lenses in a lunchbox is very appealing.

My main concerns for street portraiture are twofold: 1. Can I get the eyes sharp enough? And 2. Will I be able to blur the background enough for my taste? The quick answers are yes to #1, and the jury is still out on #2.

So, here are two of my early shots. Danny is a waiter, working on St. Armand’s Key. He is Peruvian, and has a delightful don’t worry, be happy attitude.

     (click to enlarge)

Billy was sitting on the sidewalk outside of an art studio where he works.

     (click to enlarge)

I’ll post a few more Olympus images in the days ahead, but will get back to concentrating on the people, not the gear.