It's Not About the Camera (OK: Sometimes It's About the Camera) :: Illinois Portrait Photographer


Baby Trap
Olympus E-P3, 14mm f/2.5, 1/60 @ ISO 1000

Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong famously titled his autobiography, It's Not About the Bike. And it's true: you can buy the same bike Lance Armstrong rides but you can't ride like Lance Armstrong.

The same can be said about photographers and camera gear: you can buy the same camera/lens/lights that Famous Photo Guy uses but all that stuff won't help you make photographs that look like his. It's the mind behind the camera that visualizes the image and then, with the alchemy of craft, technique, and equipment, the photographer creates the photograph. It's not about the camera.


Sometimes the right tool can help you create in new ways. The problem with this is that it can send a guy (or gal) on a never-ending quest for The Right Camera. Which doesn't exist. And this is a very expensive and time-consuming quest.

That said, I've recently acquired a little tool that is quickly becoming my favorite "carry around" camera. I use a Nikon D700, several lenses, and a few lights for most of my image-making. The D700 is a terrific tool but it's kind of a pain to drag around all the time: it's too big and bulky. More often than not, it gets left home when I'm with the family or out and about. I use my iPhone sometimes and I have a Canon S95 "point and shoot" but I rarely use it. The S95 will fit in a pocket and is good for snapshots but not "serious photographs."

Enter the Olympus PEN E-P3.

I recently acquired an Olympus E-P3 and three fast prime lenses (Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, and Olympus mZuiko 45mm f/1.8). The E-P3 is a Micro Four Thirds camera body: it has a sensor that's half the size of a 35mm frame (as found in the Nikon D700) and no mirror. The bodies and lenses are significantly smaller than comparable 35mm "full frame" equipment but are still capable of producing very nice images. The autofocus on the E-P3 is snappy (much better than that of the Panasonic GF1, another Micro Four Thirds body that I owned for a time then sold) and the handling is adequate.

Besides any of the technical details, what I like best about this camera is that I like to use it. It's enjoyable to make pictures with the E-P3, and any tool that brings enjoyment is more likely to be used than one that doesn't. For me, the tradeoffs in image quality, size, and handling all come together well in the E-P3. I'm making a habit of carrying the E-P3 and at least one lens with me nearly every time I go out the door. And I'm making more pictures at home--and that's a good. The cobbler's kids need shoes and the photographer's kids need pictures.


Olympus E-P3, 20mm f/2.2, 1/640 @ ISO 200


Liam vs. Zombies
Olympus E-P3, 45mm f/1.8, 1/100 @ ISO 1600


Line 'Em Up
Olympus E-P3, 45mm f/2.8, 1/1250 @ ISO 200 


Baby Trap
Olympus E-P3, 20mm f/1.7, 1/80 @ ISO 640 


Olympus E-P3, 45mm f/4.0, 1/400 @ ISO 200 


Olympus E-P3, 20mm f/2.5, 1/400 @ ISO 200 


Eva's Bike
Olympus E-P3, 20mm f/2.5, 1/1250 @ ISO 200