Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cheap awesome camera - the EPL1 with manual lens.

The EPL1 was the first cheap micro four-thirds camera from Olympus. At the time, the sensor wasn't new - It was in the e620 DSLR before it, however it was in a much smaller form factor, and decently priced (~$550). I sold my 25mm Leica for the e620 to buy this camera and the 20mm F1.7. While the 25mm four-thirds Leica was a better lens, the e620 did not focus with it that well. I ended up using CDAF focusing in low light, since while slow, it would still focus when regular PDAF would give up.

What the EPL1 gave me, wasn't just a smaller formfactor - but a camera mount that because of the low flange distance, would be able to adapt nearly any other camera's lenses. As a result I've a stash of canon-fd, Nikon-F, Contax Yashica, Konica and c-mount lenses.

Today, the EPL1 can be found for $100 in decent condition. In addition to being able to take cheap old lenses, it can also project it's flash upwards for a nice soft bounce effect. The result is a cheap camera, capable of using cheap manual lenses, and adding light to a subject through bounce.

This isn't going to be an ISO test - there's too many done. Every major EPL1 review would have done that, so instead, here's how you can get nicely lit pictures with a very cheap camera, using the "free" indirect flash bounce. Note the color, the Exposure, and the details - the lens was used at F2, so pretty wide. The toughest part of using a manual lens, is focusing. Learning to focus is crucial, but not too difficult.




Here's a closeup showing details. You can see the hair's around the horse's eye, the stiches around the zipper and the grain of the wood on the car. Note, the wheel is behind focus, the bumper is in the plane.





Here's how the camera looks with the Canon 50mm F1.4 FD. Looks are subjective, but I think it's pretty decent looking ;)

Here's the spring loaded flash being pulled back. This is all that's needed to bounce the flash off the ceiling and get a nice soft diffused lighting on the subject.


EPL1 - $100 used (keh, ebay)
50mm F1.4 - $50 (keh, ebay)
adapter FD-m43 - $20 (Amazon.com)
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$170 - make it $200 in case you can't find a good deal on the camera, or need batteries/charger after.

Of course you're also getting fair ISO 1600 capability with F1.4 so it's also decent without the flash, and shoots 720p Video. This camera was used in the Coke commercial "One bottle for all" chosen for it's weight, and "good enough" HD video. Link below.
http://vimeo.com/20834329

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