Why I like my sleek Sony A6000 more than my awesome Olympus E-M1 (Part 1: Look and Feel)

Well, I first have to admit my title is a bit sensational.  The fact of the matter is that I could also write a blog post (and am planning to!) in which I state just the opposite:  why I like my Oly more than my Sony.

Let me also disclose up front that if I could have only one system, it would be the Olympus.  With a few notable exceptions the Olympus is a more seriously featured camera.  And, oh, the lenses! But that's a story for another blog post.

But since I have both systems, I find that my preference is to pick up the smaller, lighter and bigger-sensored Sony. I think the preference is due to the "look" and "feel" more than the features. In exchange for the pleasing look and feel (ergonomics?  haptics?), I make do with a smaller selection of lenses, knowing that the Olympus is close at hand.  (Physically these are small enough cameras that I find it easy to carry both in a small day pack while traveling.)

The look:

I absolutely love the rangefinder look of the camera.  And it is so small for an APS-C sensored camera with interchangeable lens.  Growing up I had a love affair with my dad's German-made Kodak Retina IIIc, a rangefinder style camera with a collapsible 50mm F2.8 Schneider lens. As a kid I could only shoot black and white on my little brownie camera because color slide film was too expensive to buy and develop.  I loved the Kodachromes my dad took and likely I assumed the beautiful slides with the beautiful blue skies were because of the camera. I think the most influential part of this old psychology is the use of small cameras to make (hopefully) great images.

Sony A6000 with Sigma 30mm F2.8 and c.1955 Kodak Retina IIIC
with fixed Schneider 50mm F2.8. 
The similarities: size, flat top plate, and
viewfinder in the upper left corner.

The feel:

Sony has come up with a really compelling form factor, at least in my opinion. The A6000 simply feels great in my hand.  It feels even better with the cheap Chinese (via eBay for about $20) Arca-Swiss compatible base plate I have attached.  It adds approximately 10mm to the height of the camera, translating into 10mm of additional grip.  This easily allows me to grip the camera with all four fingers, rather than with three fingers with the pinky curled up under the camera.

The $20 Arca-Swiss compatible bottom plate/grip via eBay

Access to battery and memory card

I'm a big fan of the extra 10mm of height/grip.

I wish I'd taken my can of compressed air to blow off the pollen (it's everywhere!)
before taking this picture.

Part of the nice "feel" IMO is the viewfinder in the upper left corner, rangefinder style.  I love this.  I am right eye dominant, so this means my big greasy nose is not pressed against the display.

The lesson learned:

What this tells me is how important the look and feel can be.  These are things that are very subjective... and, perhaps, more important than features.

There will be a Part 2  !


Our granddaughter. I'm really pleased with this photo

First, let me say I am not a professional photographer, and people photography is something I need a ton of work on.  That being said....

What a great weekend we had.  It was our granddaughter's first "sleep over" and it couldn't have been more fun. When the kids are around, out comes my camera(s).  In this case it was an Olympus E-M1 with the Panasonic 35-100mm zoom at 35mm (FF=70mm).

Nearly all the family images I have are what would be called "candid's". But this one is an exception, and I am very pleased.  For some reason I smiled and called her name, and she looked at me, hugged the kangaroo tighter and posed.  What a delightful result!

Some technical comments.

First, as far as light goes, it was awful.  The family room was lit by three incandescent table and floor lamps. But at least it was consistent light.  I was using AWB, and upon review I needed to make an adjustment in Lightroom to reduce the yellow tint.  I was shooting raw, and this helps when adjusting WB in post processing.

I like the composition, though I felt it would only work as a square crop.  Also, with a little time it would improve things if I cloned out the window frame in the background... though some might not find it distracting.

I like the exposure.  But it was a challenge because of the natural light coming through the windows in the background.  As I recall, I accepted the center weighted metering and then added +1 EV.  The result was the following exposure details:

No Flash
ISO 2000 (I almost always use autoISO when not using a flash)
1/25sec (I love image stabilization!)
F2.8 (I'd shoot at F2 if I could have it in a mFT zoom)

If I had a willing subject (who could sit still for more than a few seconds haha) I would have loved to have tried the same shot with a flash, bouncing behind and to the left of me.  At the very least I could have mixed it (50%) with the ambient light (50%) thereby bringing the ISO down to 1000.

But I am not complaining. Not too many years ago I'd have been shocked if I'd been told that one day I would be satisfied with images shot at ISO 2000.