Apparently I never got the memo about the world now revolving around the photograph. To this day I still hate having my picture taken and haven’t ever really had the overwhelming urge to take anybody else’s either. My partner is the same. To the extent that there are only about 3 photos of us together, spanning a 15 year relationship. However, the arrival of my children made me re-evaluate my photo-phobia somewhat. That’s not to say I want to endlessly shove a camera into my kids face’s and record every mundane thing they do and I sure as hell don’t want one pointed in my direction repeatedly. I do however want to capture the sweet moments in my kid’s lives and I think it will be nice for them, and us actually, to have some family photos to reminisce over in years to come. Quality over quantity is what I want to aim for. With the camera on my smartphone definitely being geared towards the reverse, that being quantity over quality, it was time for an upgrade.
Despite my own aversion to being subject matter, I do actually quite like photography with an alternative focus of attention, ranging from candid street to landscapes and nature. I love imagery that is creative, artistic and inspiring, and photography is a good companion for my graphic design work. I therefore not only wanted a camera capable of producing high quality portraits of my family, but also one I could grow artistically with as I learnt more about the technicalities of photography. I needed an easily portable camera that was capable of excellent “point and shoot” images, particularly of fast and erratically moving subjects (toddlers), but also gave me the ability to experiment artistically with manual settings as my photography knowledge improved. Armed with these requirements, I identified a CSC (compact system camera) as being the most appropriate weapon of choice for my needs (A CSC camera provides a full range of automatic, manual and creative controls, along with automatic ones, all in a small camera body. It has interchangeable lenses and a high quality DSLR-sized sensor so is capable of producing great images, without the bulk of a DSLR to lug around with you).
I had originally considered going for a premium compact camera with a large sensor such as the Panasonic Lumix 100 or the Sony RX100 iii. However, if I wanted to eventually have full creative control and achieve great bokeh or give maybe macro photography a go in the future I would need interchangeable lenses, so a CSC seemed a more future-proof choice. After a lot of research I settled on the Olympus Pen E-PL7. Here’s a breakdown of why:
- It takes great pictures. That should probably go without saying, but also happens to be the most important requirement in a camera!
- It has a varied range of interchangeable lenses, whilst still expensive, still cheaper than a lot of the DSLR lenses. Along with the standard 14-42mm pancake lens (good general purpose lens) I also purchased the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 lens, which is a fantastic shallow depth of field lens that produces beautiful bokeh (blurred background) for portraits of the kids.
- The screen can be touch operated for both focus and taking the picture, meaning there is very little lag between focus and shooting, which is great for capturing unpredictable mini people!
- The screen tilts, in quite a cleverly engineered way, so not only up and down but can also be flipped around. The idea behind this “flipping” makes it ideal for selfies. Now listing this as a personal selling point might seem like a bit of a contradiction given my disinclination towards being captured on camera, but my daughter thinks it’s great that we can take silly face photos together, and the titling screen is perfect when your subject matter is only a couple of feet tall. Saves kneeling on the floor.
- Can be operated via my smartphone. This is great for taking family portraits and is less hit and miss than a timer.
- Has a really good range of automatic settings, including 14 art filters, 9 art effects. This means there is plenty to play with whilst I’m learning the more advanced manual techniques.
- It’s a beautiful, retro inspired design of camera with amazing build quality. I loved both the silver and white colourways but settled on the white in the end for being more unusual. I think it looks particularly fetching with the natural leather strap, that comes from Sail Handmade, if you were wondering!
I’m not going to do a full review as I don’t think my limited photographic knowledge justifies it, but I will say I am extremely happy with my new toy and it fully fulfils the brief of my requirements. I’m sure you will see the results of my photographic pursuits here on the blog in the future!