Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Waterbury, Connecticut

Naugatuck, Connecticut

Naugatuck, Connecticut

I guess nobody really wants to sit outside in this weather.


Edd Fuller said...

Carl, back in the summer you began shooting with a micro 4/3 camera. I feel sure that I am not the only reader who would be interested in your thoughts on using this type of camera and format.

Don't really want a camera review, just some insight into how working with a small camera has been for you. Thanks

lyle said...

wonderful horizontals in this image (Waterbury)..

Carl Weese said...

Edd, finally a break from shoveling snow.

The GF1 has exceeded my expectations in just about all ways. While the handling isn't as sleek as a Leica M6, it's slick enough for effective street shooting. The quality of the files is astounding. Native size--uninterpolated--prints are 12.333" wide at 300ppi, and are as detailed and smooth as medium format film. 20.5" wide prints sized up with ACR lose almost nothing, and have astonished a number of photographers I've showed them to. This is all with the 20mm f/1.7 short-normal lens. I've just finally gotten the long-awaited 14mm f/2.8 and on-screen the files seem to have nearly as much resolution. Haven't had a chance to make prints yet of good pictures made with it.

So purely from the question of what potential picture quality you can get from a micro 4/3s system, there should be no hesitation. If this type of camera appeals to you, the file quality will not frustrate you.

The weak point is the poor quality of the view through the EVF. It shows framing with 100% accuracy, and you can call up a live-view histogram, but focusing manually with it is out of the question. Luckily, the AF is wonderful--far better than my Pentax K10/20D equipment (AF is an enormous weak point for Pentax), though I'm told not quite up with flagship N/C bodies.

I "grew up" shooting M Leicas, where there's nothing special about the view through the finder, so you learn to spend most of your time staring directly at the subject and only use the finder, briefly, for framing and focus. Those habits (which are very helpful for large format shooting, where you really want to get your position and framing right ahead of time, in your head, before setting up the tripod and camera) make me quite tolerant of the crummy EVF. In auto-select, the finder throws up little rectangles showing where the AF is settling. Since you can rely on the system actually *getting* good focus where it's trying to (a welcome change from Pentax) that reference works. If you see that it's choosing the wrong place, you do something--change the aim, switch to center-only, etc.--to get it to focus where you want.

I could go on forever about other quirks, like a very strange "program" setting, but the point is that micro 4/3s looks like a concept that has arrived, and will continue to improve. The fact that it is a platform supported by multiple manufacturers strikes me as a real plus. I'll leave it at that for now.

Edd Fuller said...

Carl, I have been thinking lately of upgrading my K10D to the new K5. Actually, auto-focus is a big concern for me because of my eyes, and you are right, auto-focus does not seem to be one of Pentax's strong suits.

At any rate, I have been attracted to the idea of the micro 4/3 camera as an alternative to another DSLR, and your comments are most helpful.

Thanks, and you can go back to shoveling snow now.

Dennis Allshouse said...

A while back, I tried to entice Mike Johnston into doing a review/conversation with you about the GF1 and Pentax since he has a GF1 and apparently is moving to a Pentax, while you are headed the other way. Recall you two did such a thing regarding the Pentax 35 mm lens. As far as I know he didn't take me up on it. Maybe you might approach him from your end. I hope this doesn't come off as pushy, I think it might be interesting.

I'm also guessing you weren't interested in the Panny GH models since you're coming from the rangefinder paradigm. I've read the evf is better is all.

Very much enjoy your blog. Thanks!!

Carl Weese said...

Dennis, that's a perfectly reasonable suggestion from the reader's standpoint. But that discussion of the 35 macro was in a different online venue, and was just about a single lens. How two photographers found it performed in their day to day use. The epistolary format, (which was genuine, we really did create the text as a series of emails which Mike then lightly edited) was a very interesting exercise and I'd like to do it again. But I think it would become very unwieldy for a subject as complex as cross-format, cross-system comparisons.

What's more likely is that I might do some sort of "working with micro 4/3s" user-report sort of article for TOP. It wouldn't be fair to single out Pentax as the APS-C 'big dog' having his lunch eaten by m4/3s. And I don't have the resources or time to broaden the basis of comparison.

DennisAllshouse said...

I'm more interested in your thought process than dissing Pentax or any other vendor. And maybe the contrast in thought process would be interesting ie between you and Mike.

You've made a couple of posts about this so, I can deduce some points I think; but that's not the same as hearing it straight. Your idea for an article would be fantastic and could certainly cover the issues.