I just retired my first mirrorless camera – the ‘ancient’ Olympus E-PL5 – after nearly 3-1/2 years of loyal service to my continued education in photography. Purchased way back in 2012, it was the bee’s knees of tiny cameras, sporting a gargantuan 16 megapixel sensor (largest available, at that time) on an impossibly small body (there are now smaller ones), with a touch-screen for ‘wysywyg’ (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) composing and shooting, and a dizzying choice of equally diminutive – and powerful – lenses offering pretty much the same choices as the big boys at Nikon and Canon (bird photographers would have to wait for the 300mm f/4 – which has just hit the shelves – but, well, they are a different kind of bird, aren’t they?)
My metadata tells me I took over 6,000 photos with the camera – but those were only the ones that I kept. In celebration, here are a few things that I really liked (and still like) about this camera.
Fun for street photography
Because the camera is small and unassuming, it was pretty easy to get kids to smile. Ok, these ones would probably act up for a Hasselblad.
Works well in a studioI used my D700 for much of the photography in the book Yoga: The Practice of Myth and Sacred Geometry but because I always keep the E-PL5 handy, I was saved when the Nikon’s battery needed charging! Using the flip-up LCD it was easy to take eye-level shots and because of IBIS, there was no need for a tripod.
Not too shabby at portraits
I shot this for Bainbridge Magazine on a last minute assignment. No lighting, just hand-held. Ok I had my Nikon gear as well and they chose a wide angle shot for the publication, but I still prefer this one.
Gets into tight spaces
I suppose I could have lay down in the grass or crunched down like the fellow on the left. Instead, I just held the camera above my shoes, looked down from a safe distance, and touched the screen. I think the reason perky here posed for me was, he thought I was offering up the camera as his next meal.
Takes VHR* shots also
*VHR. You know, ‘very high resolution’, like the big guys. This photo is 22.5 megapixels, not 16. How did I achieve that? Simple. Snap two pics and stitch them together. Here, I took two in landscape aspect, one above the other. This has the added advantage of dual points of focus, one on the yucca plant in the lower right for the lower photo, and one on the background mountain for the upper photo.
Speaking of Stitching…
The E-PL5 also can take a reasonable panorama shot. John Wayne’s ghost was with me on this one. 34 megapixels, for anyone who is counting…
An eye for detail
I snapped this indoors – again, without a tripod and without any lighting other than the overhead incandescent, only because I don’t really understand lighting and tripods are for the most part too fiddly for my fat fingers.
Fun for travel snapshots
The bus was screaming down the hairpins of the north side of Hai Van Pass when I saw this. Luckily, “STOP!!” is pretty much a universally understood word. Particularly when it is shouted frantically. Not because I felt the need to get out of the bus of course.
Can reach some pretty far off places
Sadly, I’ve retired the E-PL5, but now it’s in the very capable hands of my daughter Josephine, who promptly took it on a photo safari to Assam!
After the fact: as you know, photos can be taken with any camera. There’s nothing in these photos that shouts “mirrorless” or “iPhone” or “medium format Velvia” but the point is, with such a small camera – and a few chosen lenses – oh and yes, some pp in the dark- or light-room – it’s possible to capture pretty much what you want.