With the recent announcement of the third PEN in this series from Olympus, which is now in Shutterbug test, the not yet discontinued E-PL2 has dropped in price to $599 (from Olympus, with 14-42mm kit lens), about $200 less than when it was first introduced and to me a good deal for what you get while you can get it. The 12MP (effective pixels) Live CMOS sensor Olympus E-PL2 adds to the charms of the first in the “PEN” digital series, the P1. (See Joe Farace’s excellent review of that camera at http://www.shutterbug.com/content/olympus-e-p1in our Jan, 2010 issue) The PL2 adds a larger and higher resolution viewing screen, expanded accessories using the special plug-in adapter, an enhanced control setup and expanded Scene and Art filter modes.
Perhaps the most versatile of all moderate tele zoom focal lengths, the 70-200mm or thereabouts range is a hallmark and standard-bearer for many optical companies. Being a constant aperture (fast) zoom, this lens opens up numerous focusing, depth of field and perhaps as important low light shooting possibilities that make it a lens most Canon photographers aspire to own. Introduced last year, we got a chance to work with one and were so impressed we thought we’d revisit it with a quick review.
The Samsung NX11 is the follower of the NX10. Like the NX10 it is a compact system camera with an APS-C-sized sensor and a nominal resolution of 14.6 MP. The most important difference to the NX11 is the “i-Function” technology, which allows the user to set up image parameters very quickly and intuitively. The NX11 offers this technology right out of the box; the NX10 now offers “i-Function” via a firmware update.
For the past few months I have been slowly cataloging prints I’ve made over the past years. This entails signing, dating and numbering the prints and then making an Index. I decided the easiest way to maintain and expand the list as I continued cataloging would be a blog. That was only the beginning of the project, it turns out.
I took on this review assignment because I’ve had considerable history with printing, both silver and digital, and printing with Epson printers. Over the past few years this interest has led me on an odyssey through various printers, profiling, and a considerable amount of (early) frustration. My emphasis has been on monochrome printing and those who share in this interest and who have attempted black-and-white printing in the past understand the numerous obstacles it can present. Those include, but are not limited to, unwanted color casts, gloss differential in deep black areas and some tonal borders, poor deep black reproduction (accompanied by equally poor highlight repro), a lot of poor paper surfaces, and the hassle and waste of switching from matte black to photo glossy inks. Color printers face these as well, plus the challenges of color balance, casts, skin tone reproduction, highlight bias, green shadows, and more. Of late I have printed with the Epson Stylus Pro 3800, 3880, and 4800 models, the 3800 being my studio workhorse for years and the 3880 the model that many photo schools and workshops at which I’ve taught use as a mainstay student and production printer.
I remember a story Fred Picker once told about showing his portfolio to a curator at a museum in New England. Fred photographed in the British Isles, near his home in Vermont and places far and wide, and trained his eye and lens on natural forms and man-made totems in nature. His favorite photographer was Paul Strand, though his photo collection ranged as far as his travels. In any case, in goes Fred to this curator, who quickly breezes through the images and dismisses the lot, saying, “We don’t need any more rocks and trees.”
The Pentax WG-1 GPS is a compact camera with a 5x zoom lens (28-140mm) and a robust body, which is water proved to 33 ft, shock proof (5 ft drop down) and an integrated GPS system. The camera offers 14 MP resolution and some extraordinary features like “Digital Microscope” mode.
Inkjet printmakers have nothing to complain about when it comes to paper choices. There are glossy, semigloss, and matte surface papers galore, each with their own charm and cachet. Regarding the latter aspect, Somerset is no slouch, having
established a reputation in both inkjet and other art papers many years back.
Their latest entry into the inkjet market is Somerset Museum Rag, distributed by Moab. This 100 percent cotton, 300 gsm paper displays a smooth matte surface, a considerable, but not yellowish warm tone, and while strong and fairly thick, is actually quite supple. The paper is single-sided, which means the tooth is on one side only, and telling the printable from the backing side is not something that will be immediately apparent. For that reason the packaging comes with a stick-on label that says “printable THIS SIDE.” You would do well to keep the original cellophane packaging until you get a good feel for the surfaces. I found that if you rub your thumb along the surface the differences become clear, with the printable surface evoking somewhat of a higher pitch.
Feeling very much in hand like a pro camera, with magnesium alloy top and rear body construction, the Nikon D7000 (list: $1199, body only) has all the bells and whistles of a modern D-SLR, including a high megapixel count CMOS sensor, a new image processor to handle all the data it can capture, including 14-bit NEF, a high ISO 6400 “normal” (expandable two stops), and the currently requisite 1080p HD movie capability. This DX (APS-C) format camera also features dual SD card slots, with spillover or format sort capability, a nice and speedy 6 frames-per-second (fps) shooting capability for up to a 100 frame burst (JPEG), and full-time AF with video and Live View. The monitor is bright and highly readable in just about every lighting condition. Unfortunately, it is fixed and does not articulate, but the penta-prism finder makes one pray that Nikon will never go EVF (electronic viewfinder), yielding 100 percent coverage and being a pleasure to view through, especially after suffering some recent EVF obscuring experiences.
Photography and travel have always been intertwined. Ever since photography was invented photographers have been exploring the world, both locally and globally, with images. The camera becomes motivator and instigator, witness and commentator, of the social, natural, and wondrous sites that surround us. And while many of the articles and images in this issue deal with particular projects undertaken by a wide range of photographers, there’s no reason to think you have to travel far and wide to discover what that magical combination of camera and travel can do for you.