Monday, 8 February 2016

Maybe part 4 of my Olympus PEN-F personal narrative

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 precede this article.

There we were huddled over beef noodles in the KL coffee shop (doh, I don't even know the name of the establishment). And each of us was coming up with brief impressions when seeing and handling the PEN-F. As always, a diversity of opinion.

The Ideal Camera. The Only One.

Why don't camera companies make the Ideal Camera? Just The One? Instead of teasing buyers with incomplete product after incomplete product? Isn't there a conspiracy to draw out our #GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and grab our money? Well how about the 100 MP back of a Phase One back, in the finesse of a true Hasselblad body but in a package size of the Sony RX100 Mark IV at a price of a Chinese Android handset?  Oh, chuck in the weather resistance of a Nikon 1AW and the low light performance of a Sony A7S whilst shooting video in 4K with the AF tracking performance of a Canon 1DX Mark IV. What do you mean it can't be done? People have gone to the moon and back! Oh, I see, you're in the conspiracy too?

The Urbex that is not Urbex - packed up during the day, this must be a functioning night stall

There are so many cameras now, all slightly imperfect. Why can't they make the perfect one?

Part 2 of the Conspiracy Theory. Or Part 1 of the theory that these camera companies have numnuts as designers. What's the difference between the OM-D E-M1, the E-M5 Mark 2, the E-M10 Mark 2 and the PEN-F? Really? Why can't they just make one model from the parts of all? The Phase Detect of the E-M1, the hand holdeable 64MP hires mode of the E-M1 Mark 2, the long exposure performance of the E-M5 Mark 2, the cool of the PEN-F (enhanced with weatherproofing, sans that front knob, with flip LCD instead of twist flip). Oh, add the global shutter of the E-M1 Mark 2 and the 123db dynamic range and noise reduction. And when the heck are they going to release the E-M1 Mark 2 instead of messing around with an expensive PEN? 

If there was THE ONE motorbike used for personal transport, trading and carriage of goods, this must be it. And it still works. Weather resistant. Tough. Low Maintenance.

This model was designed that way because... YOU asked for it

I was looking for a design process caricature I used to see when I was a student. I found this- it's a serious flowchart for US Dept of Energy. These guys seem to take their committees way seriously. Finally found something like what I remember at the University of Oregon - for those who don't come from that generation or do not. More specifically for the PEN-F
  • The EV Comp dial is there because people looked at the Fuji X series and said that would be a good idea.
  • The PASM dial has C1, C2, C3, C4 positions because engineers thought that assigning Myset 1 to iAuto seemed a silly workaround.
  • The flip and twist LCD mechanism is there because people like me said we wanted the flip and twist LCD on the OM-D
  • The Depth of Field Preview button at the bottom right front face of the camera is there because people like me complained that the two tiny nub buttons on the OM-D E-M1 were too indistinguishable and tiny to press.
  • The burgeoning finesse of JPEG controls - Color Wheel, Shadow, Midtone, Highlight Curve, Faux Vignette, Faux Film Grain - they're all progressive advancements of the Studio in the Field concept that I championed.
  • The LCD touch to change AF point with your eye on the EVF was something that owners of Panasonic cameras said would be "a really good thing"
  • The EVF is off centre because we said we wanted to keep one eye open while shooting and be more rangefinder like when we saw the Fuji X series
  • That distressed, no screws at the bottom finish is a nod to how the Leica crowd said would be stylish.
  • Someone from the film PEN-F owner's association (I don't think there is one, you have to ask Oly 35mm) said it would be nice to make a film rewind knob on the top left and a film shutter speed knob on the right front vertical face. Either that or the famous Olympus creature who loves moving On/Off switches all over the back of the camera found a new place to put the On/Off switch. And that knob that does Color Profile / Mono Profile / CRT (Color CreaTor) / Normal - you reckon it's not an often adjusted parameter? In 10 minutes, I adjusted it several times because I saw a mono scene, missed the oppurtunity, then saw a color scene, missed that and then went to mono. (Shush! don't interrupt me when I'm speaking).
Would Robin Wong's bag be better rendered in Monochrome or Color? Dunno, Can't make up my mind. Don't worry about it, help him find his 50 sen, he's emptying his pockets now...

On to Part 5

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