In Search of the Holy Grail

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
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The Smoking Camera
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In Search of the Holy Grail
4 months ago

While reading the cheetah post and focusing speed and frame rate comparison of the V3 and EM1 I couldn’t help but think of Monty Python’s In Search of the Holy Grail and the fight scene between Arthur and the Black Knight. When the Black Knight’s arm is cut off he claims otherwise - tis only a scratch. When he loses the second arm he denies it and calls it a flesh wound. And finally when both legs are cut off the Black Knight begrudgingly calls the fight a draw. Hilarious.

On a serious note, at the beginning of this year I tested the EM1 for about a month. Based on rave reviews I considered it as a replacement to the V1 and as a backup to events including New York Fashion Week. The EM1 is a very nice feature rich camera and I used it with the acclaimed pro level zoom lens 12-40 f2.8 (24-80 full frame equivalent). Everything is relatively small and lightweight and there are plenty of lens options including some with good reach.

First of all the EM1 is quite customizable and the menu system so involved it took two full readings of the manual cover to cover and several hours of additional research to learn and get settings right.

In good light the camera was quite responsive and the IQ was better than the V1 - but not enough to wow me. I did appreciate the 16MP versus 10 of the V1, the tillable LCD and the weather resistance of the camera and lens. Again, nice features, nice handling but not quite enough to overcome the V1 and its speed, responsiveness and adaptability with the FT1.

I then used the EM1 at two events. At the first event I tried off camera flash and the flash (600r) wouldn’t stop blinking. Very annoying and disruptive to the audience. Gaffer tape helped. I also had difficulty making quick changes to the camera and flash while shooting. I attributed this more to my inexperience with the Oly so after the event I was back to the manual, online research and practiced a bit more with the camera. The second event was a performance and the lighting was much worse than expected. As much as I tried, the EM1 really struggled with focus and I had to resort to my DSLR. At this point I realized the EM1 would not be a camera I could rely on at low light events. This was not entirely unexpected but it was useful to get a real world try. If the EM1 had performed really well in low light I might be shooting with it today. Also, if I only used one system and didn't need the speed of the V1, I would probably be quite happy with the EM1. But oh the speed of the V1 is so damn addictive.

Eventually, I sold off the EM1 and soon thereafter the V3 was announced. For me, the V3 has been a worthy upgrade to the V1 and is now my official fun daytime camera. I even use it in low light in a pinch (e.g. floating lanterns).

As much as I wish for the Holy Grail of cameras, I know it will never exist. So as long as I have a camera, any camera, in my hands - I am happy.

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Nikon 1 V1 Nikon 1 V3 Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 (Lumix DMC-FT1)
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