Electric eastern forests

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The conjunction of New Mexico sunshine with a temperate northern climate equal late-spring electricity in Northern New York forests.  Local residents, and flora, are equally excited at the passing of Memorial Day, which is referred to as the unofficial start of summer around here.  These images are imperfect on their own, yet in series they speak to the dramatic range of a short walk in the woods with my mom.  Some have been edited, other have not.

I purchased my first camera exactly a year ago– an Olympus E-PM1— and have learned greatly from the experience of shooting every day in diverse situations.  My skills do not yet exceed the capacity of the camera, although there are times where I wish the camera or the lens could do things a little differently.  I am looking to multiply my camera collection to give Lael a dedicated system, rather than to borrow mine.  I am mesmerized by the Olympus OM-D, and some modern Panasonic and Olympus prime lenses.  However, less expensive camera bodies are also exciting, leaving a lot more money to experiment with lenses.  I am coming to realize that there are a range of fully-manual legacy lenses that can be adapted to fit M4/3 camera bodies– great glass at a great price, or even decent glass for really cheap.  These days, I operate aperture and shutter speed manually, and use the auto-focus function on the camera with the manual focus engaged.  This allows me full imaging control, with the convenience to shoot one-handed while on the bike, or in other compromising positions, while focusing manually when both hands are free.  I use the zoom to compose images so that I almost never crop images in Lightroom, although much of the time I don’t touch the zoom at all.  Finally, I want something that performs better in low light.  My surroundings are constantly changing.

For anyone looking for an excellent camera and an inexpensive entrance into the popular Micro Four-Thirds format, the Olympus E-PM1 is now sold for under $300 with the 14-42mm kit lens.  For the price, it is a solid workhorse for an aspiring photographer.

Our walk encircled the Tug Hill State Forest along popular winter XC-skiing trails, and traced the rim of Inman Gulf before returning through the forest to the trailhead.  Deep riverine gulfs are common around here as streams downcut into the fractured sedimentary rock of the Tug Hill Plateau following the last Ice Age.  The plateau rises nearly 1000ft from the lowlands surrounding Lake Ontario, capturing over three hundred inches of snow annually.  Native hardwoods dominate these forests, and my memory, including sugar maple, American beech, black cherry, red oak, and hophornbeam.  Streams splash into the depths of Inman Gulf from all sides.

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17 thoughts on “Electric eastern forests

    • If I am simply multiplying the lot, I would be pleased with many of the current offerings including the GX1. The challenge is that I would really like to gain a substantial leap in performance if I am going to spend the money. The GX1 and OM-D are nowhere near each other in price, but it may save a future purchase to go for the OM-D now. The leading features pushing me towards the OM-D, in addition to the imaging, is the EVF and the two manual dials. I am constantly wasting time accessing digital menus. Still, money is always a consideration– $1000+ can buy a lot of wine and baguette.

      • Notably, I require that the other camera share lenses as Lael and I travel together by bike half the year. It would be even better if the other camera shared a better (the OM-D does not).

    • Nick, a few things to consider:

      1. It sounds like Olympus will be announcing a new OM-D (EM-6) in the next month or two. Even if you don’t want to hold out for the next model, EM-5 prices should drop as a result.

      2. I bought mine factory refurbished over the winter for ~$800.

      3. If prices come down a little on the EP-5, it could be a nice option too. A little smaller & lighter, same sensor & IBIS, and the option of an even nicer VF. No weather sealing though.

      • I had considered the possibility of a new model and the resultant price reduction of the EM-5. I am glad to know it will be coming soon. I’ll be back on plane to Europe within the month, we’ll see if I can wait. I’ve also looked at refurbished models. It looks like I can snag a body for about $900, or with a lens for about $1100. I certainly don’t need another 12-42mm lens, though. Also comes with the 12-50.

        Does the EP-5 have the same 2×2 controls as on the EM-5? If so, I may be interested. The weather sealing seems like a nice touch, especially after such a wet spring in Holland and Belgium.

  1. I don’t regret buying the OM-D and the lenses I added. I will be taking the OMD with 12mm f/2.0 prime and 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom with me on the Canning Stock Route. I’ll let you know how they perform.

    • OM-D images from you and Gnat introduced me to the OM-D. Research has proven this to be the best option considering what I am looking for. But, I am still too chicken to spend the money. We’ll see how this pans out.

      Btw, the Twenty2 looks great! What is the departure date? And where is the trailer?

      • I understand – it’s not a small amount of money, especially the lenses I mentioned.

        We leave Perth to drive North (3000km to the start) on 19th July.

        The trailer – still in construction… This may prove to be a problem if it carries on much longer:-(

        I’m enjoying your European travels – the use of the GR trails sounds fantastic.


    • Shawn, This is part of the Tug Hill State Forest in Lewis County, NY. You can think of the Tug Hill Plateau as the first foothills to the Adirondacks, rising from the elevation of Lake Ontario. On your cross-country tour you likely passed through Syracuse; this is about 50 miles north.

  2. If money is tight and there’s no pressing rush, I’d suggest hanging in there a little longer. The EM5 will probably keep dropping in price.

    However, if you have some spare greens and want to save up for the latest and greatest, I’d also think seriously about an EP-5 or eventual EM6. The shutter speed of the EP5 (and doubtless, EM6) is 1/8000 sec -just like a high end DLSR. The current generation, and most mirrorless cameras, is capped at 1/4000. If you invest in some nice, fast glass, this means you can actually get the most out of them in bright sunlight, without the need for fiddly ND filters and the like.

    • Money is not particularly tight, although I am tight with money. In the actual order of importance, I want: to double the number of cameras in the group so that Lael can have her own to enjoy, better access to manual controls, different lenses with which to experiment, and a more capable machine (last in importance, perhaps first in lust).

      I considered the OM-D, for a minute but the money was too much for now, especially since it deserves a decent lens. I then considered the inexpensive options including the GX1 and some from Olympus. I settled on the E-P3 for just over $300 with the 14-42 kit lens, then picked up a Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens for about $340. I figured I will gain experience with another camera body, including slightly more convenient manual access. I will gain the experience of working with another lens, and a quality lens which will remain an asset if I ever pick up an OM-D. And now Lael has a camera, which uses the same batteries and lenses (more photos of me!). I couldn’t add several new batteries and another charger to the mix right now.

      With the ‘extra’ money I picked up a Nexus 7 tablet for Lael and some drivetrain parts. I might go for an EM5 in the fall if I still feel unsatisfied. I can’t say anything bad about the E-PM1. It has been a good tutor.

  3. Sounds good. Sharing batteries makes sense too. And I love that 40mm lens.

    The Olympus 50mm 1.8 is a good start in terms of legacy lenses. Widely available and cheap, solidly made (like all the old stuff).

    At 1.8 it’s a little soft and there’s noticeable chromatic aberration (on my one, at least), but stop it down a bit and it’s awesome. Cheap adaptors can be picked up for peanuts on ebay. 100mm (with the crop) at 2.8 is delightful!

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