PHOTOSAFARI GROUP TEST E-3 IN YORK, UK

feedback from photographers at a field test in York.

York Minster Rose window.

INTRODUCTION:

Building on the success of previous events, organiser of the UK's PhotoSafari Group Brian Mosley arranged another day where Olympus owners could meet up and share a day of challenging photography. Brian also 'borrowed' the first SWD50-200mm lens in the UK from Olympus to undertake some field trials.

This article sets out individual photographers narrative about the day or the equipment with a selection of their work throughout their comments. At the bottom of the article is a SLIDESHOW that illustrates all the images from the York shoot.

Brian is championing the PhotoSafari concept in the UK and abroad and invites all Olympus owners to join the fun. You can register you interest or find out the schedule of forthcoming events by contacting Brian here.


YORK PHOTOGRAPHERS COMMENTS:

Brian Mosley:

This event was always going to be a gamble to pull off successfully, being so close to Christmas many people would have crowded schedules, the weather would be impossible to predict, and we'd only just finished the write-up and publishing of our last report from the V&A Launch. Attendance would be a good measure of the enthusiasm for regular UK Photo Safari's for Olympus shooters.

York shoppers.

I needn't have worried, the day was a tremendous success! the key was to have the backbone of our group committed to come along, Rich Simpson, Andrew Parsons and Andrew Swan, Stephen Elliott - and then I knew that we'd at least have a great day out and get some cracking shots regardless, it was a bonus to have new people join our group in person; welcome to Tom Heslop and his wife Marie, and also to local photographer Peter Elven!

The preparation for this event had gone very well, I'd had a scouting trip the previous Saturday to meet in person with the organiser of The Festival of The Angels, Sally Marshall of the El Pianno restaurant. The street shooting conditions looked set to be superb.

Ice sculptures in the city centre.

The weather had been classically perfect, with winter clear blue skies, allowing me to post samples to the groups for encouragement.

I also opened up the chance for our group to have exclusive access to Fairfax House, on condition that the quality of images would be acceptable to the director, Peter Brown. This would give us an excellent choice in case the weather was too challenging.

As for eating arrangements, we had a local recommendation for a great, cosy English pub from a friend of mine in York; ah, the power of good referrals you can trust!

Finally, I was able to secure an exclusive 50-200mm SWD lens from Olympus; lots of people would be keen to read our impressions of this new piece of kit, weeks or months before it reaches the market place.

Breakfast room, Fairfax House.

All I can say, is that the preparation made the day run as smoothly as we could have wished, everyone had a great time and the weather conditions simply added a further dimension to the shooting opportunities!

I particularly enjoyed the camaraderie we're building up as friends, and the chance to be inspired and learn from real world Olympus shooters who are gifted, talented and passionate about their photography. The biggest pleasure for me, shooting with the E-3 is the flexibility; to be able to go from low light church interiors, to shooting through drenching rain, to fine art interiors, all hand held was absolutely fantastic!

Andrew Parsons (front) and Andrew Swan enjoying the interior of Fairfax House.

We used the 50-200mm SWD lens for street shooting in York, but to give it a more serious workout, I made a further trip before dawn the following morning to Donna Nook, where it proved to be an incredibly powerful and relatively lightweight combination compared to the Canon bazooka's which were being touted along on monopods by many other photographers. I was shooting hand held at 200mm with ease. Also, the focus tracking of birds in flight with this lens is unbelievable and I'm hoping to organise another event soon to allow people with the old 50-200mm lens to compare performance.

Mother seal and pup at Donna Nook. With SWD 50-200mm.

We're perfectly set for some explosive growth over the next 12 months, with 30 people already registered covering the whole of the UK and internationally. Our next projects will be to build a photographic calender and to develop a calendar of events all over the UK. I hope you will decide to get involved, this is not a club it's an active movement of people who want to get out and use their Olympus camera in new situations, with new friends they can learn from and with!

Please email me here if you would like to be included in our planning and announcements for future events.


Andrew Parsons, ASWPP ARPS:

Saturday started at 7.40am, being picked up for a car share by Andrew Swan. We arrived at York Minster by 9.25am to be greeted by Brian Mosley, Chris & Keith Chamberlain, Tom & Marie Heslop and Pete Elven, a local York lad.

The weather was fine but dull with low cloud. After checking the location of the Ice Sculptures which were just being unloaded, we went into York Minster. The light levels had fallen, so we decided to go to photograph the Ice Sculptures. By this time it was raining quite heavily. Just the sort of weather for the E1's & E3's.

This was the first time I'd ever seen ice sculptures, and I was amazed at the fine detail. I think the wet weather helped them to stand out.

The set pieces in Fairfax House are astonishing.

Next, we went to Fairfax House to photograph some interior images. This was one of the highlights of the day for me. I have a big Metz flash gun, and with the Olympus module it works really well. I use a big soft box, cut out of a plastic milk bottle and this gives beautiful soft light. After lunch Andrew Swan and I went to the Railway Museum, by this time it had got quite dark. However, they have built a New Big Hall which is a lot lighter to take pictures. Unfortunately, this was closed due to water getting into the fire alarm system.

Drssing room, Fairfax House.

To say the weather could have been a lot better I am very pleased with the way my E3 worked through it. The lenses used during the day were ZD7mm-14mm and ZD14mm-54mm. The colours on the E3 are equally as good as my E1 if not better.


Rich Simpson:

I think we all hoped for reasonable weather when planning a full day's shooting with new equipment but our group arrived in York under overcast skies. But the streets were dry and the Christmas decorations were there in abundance as ever to provide a welcoming atmosphere. Within a couple of hours though, the rain started and never stopped! Those of us with the E1 and E3 were fortunate, and we were able to continue shooting throughout the day, a testament to the weather sealing of these cameras and lenses. We did have a respite inside Fairfax House, the finest Georgian Townhouse in England, where Brian had negotiated an agreement that gave us a unique opportunity to photograph the interior.

Out on the streets on this wet occasion, instead of being drawn to the abundance of stunning streetscape and historic buildings, I decided concentrate on the tourists and shoppers sheltering under umbrellas as they dodged around the streets in the pouring rain and sheltering in doorways and shop fronts. I used the ZD12-60 and ZD50-200 lenses on my E3. It is a weighty package with either of these lenses I have to say, but it is an incredibly well balanced and solid camera, and gave great confidence in what were truly atrocious conditions.

One of the many street food vendors. You can see how dismal it was!

Lighting was always poor and the E3 was set at mainly 800 ISO or above. My other settings were Auto WB, IS 1, single AF point, Auto Grad, Muted, contrast -1, Sharpness -1, Saturation +1, rear wheel on +-, front wheel on aperture control. Looking back over the images, most had something between - 0.3 and -1.00 EV compensation applied; not surprising really with the sombre conditions. Being used to using Mode A LV on the E330 for street shooting I decided to go for using the swivel / twist screen for the majority of shots and I found this to be very successful. I also particularly liked the way that the buttons are easy to distinguish and locate.

These poor folks sheltering from the rain. Thank goodness for an E-3.

Changing the single AF point position soon became second nature, and very quick to use. Shutter response speed was really very acceptable, and I switched methods depending on the subject. If a street scene, and relatively calm, I tended to use the shutter release button to focus and shoot. For a moving subject I used the AEL/AFL button to pre-focus, then shoot, which is a very quick working method. With these two methods I really didn't have any complaints about the E3's speed of operation in Live View at all. Another major benefit was the speed and accuracy of focusing, very fast and very accurate. Almost without exception the images had perfect focus. The E3 also gave great confidence in exposure accuracy. The Live View screen in crowded streets also gave huge flexibility in use, whether shooting at waist level, high level or sideways. Although the camera provides many routes to achieve a particular setting or adjustment, it felt right for me to stay with the method of operation I have successfully used on the E510.

Head of stairwell, Fiarfax House.

I used ESP metering with EV compensation to suit the subject, and this worked faultlessly. I try and avoid switching between metering modes, rather endeavouring to get consistent results using ESP, which works for me. Most surprising on review was seeing the consistent histograms, shot after shot. In such contrasty conditions (reflecting pavements and shop windows and the like) this was a real bonus.

Inside Fairfax House, it was an entirely different situation of course. Very low lighting to protect the fabrics and furniture. Four of the group used tripod and flash, but I wanted to travel light and so decided to put my faith in the E3 high ISO ability and Image Stabilization. Most of my shots were taken at between 1250 and 1600 ISO with the occasional brightly lit subject dropping to 800 or 400 for the main staircase and picture window. In the results up to ISO 800 I see no obvious noise and above ISO 800 where there is some light noise it is easy enough to remove using Noiseware.

Main dining table, Fiarfax House.

To summarise, the E3 gave a faultless performance in very trying conditions. It is a complex camera, and needs time to become used to its methods and idiosyncrasies, but ultimately it inspires confidence.


Tom Heslop:

I bought my first film SLR, an Olympus OM-1n with 50mm F1.4, in the early eighties and from then on was hooked. That camera was my constant companion for several years until I upgraded to an OM2-SP and both cameras operated faultlessly over that period. In the early to mid nighties I drifted away from photography all together until 2004 when I bought my first digital camera, an Olympus C-5050 which was a fantastic little camera. It was this camera that reignited my passion for photography.

Bustle in the wet York streets.

Following that I bought an Olympus C-8080 which was another superb camera but that only whetted my appetite for more and I eventually purchased an E-1 with ZD14-54mm and FL36 flash. My kit now includes the excellent ZD50mm F2 macro, ZD50-200mm zoom and the EC14 teleconverter.

But, as they say, time never stands still and having had the experience on Saturday of using an E-3 niether does technology. What a fantastic piece of kit; from the super fast focusing to the LiveView screen and image stabilization plus all the other features.

Staircase, Fairfax House.

The E-3 is definitely high on my list of priorities and can't wait to have one of my own. Of my shots from Saturday my favourite is the street scene which summed up the day perfectly; from the fabulous Minster in the background to the Christmas decorations and the people dashing around shopping trying to dodge the rain (which wasn't very easy). The rest are from inside Fairfax House which I must say was a fantastic choice of venue, and very well chosen.


Marie Predki:

I really enjoyed the day out in York (despite the weather). I am a complete beginner when it comes to photography. It was my first photographic outing with anyone other than my husband. A great group of people, really friendly and I look forward to developing my skills as a photographer with the help of so many more experienced new found friends. The arrangements made to enable us to take photographs in Fairfax House were very impressive. A great venue and a real opportunity to get some much needed practice not too busy and nice and warm and dry superb huge old fashioned radiators on which to warm ones nether regions after freezing in the cold and rain outside. The ice sculptures were beautiful but because of the horrible weather I was a bit nervous about using my camera (E-500) in the rain. The E-3 is obviously very useful in these conditions. However, I was very impressed with the shots other people managed to take of the ice sculptures. Lunch was very good too.

Close-up of wonderful table display at Fairfax House.

I have taken photographs for many years on a point and shoot basis, mainly to capture friends and family on holiday with no great interest in the camera or quality of the photographs. I became more interested in photography when my husband bought his first digital SLR and I could see the difference in the quality of the pictures. I bought an Olympus mju 500 and caught the bug. I realised I could be more creative with something a bit more advanced. Then, my lovely husband bought me an Olympus E-500 twin lens pack for Christmas last year and I really look forward to finding and visiting many different venues to take photographs. I find you see much more of the world when you are looking around to find interesting things to photograph.

Four Poster bed with contemporary linen.

I didn't take that many photographs on the day but have attached a few. Hopefully, you will see some improvement as and when we get to join in with future outings.


SLIDESHOW:


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Posted November 2007 Copyright © 2007 John Foster & Brian Mosley