Selling E-300 by the pound

So my Olympus E-300 was (almost) broken and could not be fixed by the official service. What was left to me was to check what I could do with the gear and see if it could be sold individually as parts. Here’s the list and price for each item or set of items:

Set 1 (40 euros):

  • Non-functioning E-300 body in almost mint condition
  • 2GB in CF cards (2 X 512MB + 1 X 1GB)
  • original packaging, including manuals
  • CD with the Olympus Master software
  • Original body cap
  • original neck strap (really worn)
  • USB cable
  • AV cable
  • Remote control (not the original, but still working ok with the camera)

Set 2 (105 euros):

and the following items:

So in total everything was given for 180 euros roughly, out of which 140 euros went directly for purchasing a second-hand Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens for my new E-PM1 and another 10 for the Flipbac Camera Grip G2.


Olympus E-PM1: Wish/Shopping list

It looks like I will have to create a list of accessories that I would like to add to my brand-new Olympus E-PM1.

  • Aki Asahi custom leather kit: Have I mentioned that I hate the white color of my E-PM1? This nice accessory will not only partly hide the color but will also change the touch and feel of the camera. Not really expensive, so it is within my budget.
  • Olympus VF-3 Electronic viewfinder: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks and you cannot make me shoot by framing using the LCD screen after 10 years of using an optical viewfinder. VF-3 is not cheap (even though cheaper than VF-2), but it seems that it will significantly enhance my shooting experience.
  • Olympus BCL-15mm f8.0 Body Lens Cap: It’s simple, cheap and provides interesting photos. On top of that it makes an E-PM1 really portable and also acts as a body cap! Now that I got my Panasonic 14 mm/f2.5, I cannot find a use for this apparently inferior lens…
  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN: A relatively cheap, wide and fast lens, it could turn into my first prime. I could also take advantage of the large aperture for low-light situations, where the use of flash would spoil the photo. However, I realized that it is rather bulky and after the purchase of the Panasonic 14 mm/f2.5, I find it rather impossible to go for the specific lens in the near future.

In the meantime, I have already bought the following stuff for my Olympus:

  • Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm/F2.5 ASPH: It is one of the cheapest pancake lenses for the m4/3 system and excellent quality at the same time. Looks pretty nice for street photography and landscapes, and is fast enough for indoor, low-light use. Alternatives could be the more expensive Olympus 17mm/F2.8 (less wide and less fast) & Panasonic 20mm/F1.7 (faster but less wide).
  • Green.L 37mm Haze UV Ultra-Violet Filter Lens Protector: Just a cheap UV filter to protect my 14-42mm lens
  • BLS-5 Battery For Olympus EP-L2 E-PL2 BLS5+Cleaning Pen: Rated at 1250mAh but not an original one, as it was way too expensive. This one costed GBP 5,50, including shipping costs.
  • Flipbac Camera Grip G2: Adding a grip to the camera is always more than welcome, especially when it comes to using bigger lenses. I really miss a nice grip on my E-PM1 and I hope that this grip will be the one I need for holding the camera steady, while at the same time it will provide a feeling closer to a dSLR.

The list is expected to be revised every now and then, but I guess that this is a good start.

Edit 04/04/2013: I just received the replacement battery with the cleaning pen. They arrived really quickly and well-packaged. I tried the battery really quickly; it came fully charged and of course the camera switched on with this battery. Now I will only have to see if it lasts for at least some dozens of shots before it depletes!

Edit 12/04/2013: I just received the Green.L UV filter. It looks ok for protecting the lens from finger-prints and dust but I am not sure about its quality as a UV filter! 😛

Edit 13/04/2013: I just ordered the Flipbac Camera Grip G2 in order to make the feel of the camera closer to a dSLR one. It costed about 10 euros including the registered post.

Edit 24/04/2013: I just received the Flipback camera Grip, which fits really nice to my Pen Mini. After a couple of tries, I found the optimal spot for it on the camera and now things are much better.

Edit 25/04/2013: I just bought a second-hand but in mint condition Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm/F2.5 ASPH for 140 euros, which was a rather quick move.

Olympus E-PM1: How will it stand up against my E-300?

So after the sudden death of my Olympus E-300, I ended up with an Olympus E-PM1 double zoom kit (M.ZUIKO Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R and M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R). It came in white color (body), with silver lenses, a combination that I don’t find really attractive; however, I didn’t have the choice since it was the only available model…

I have only spent about a week with the E-PM1 and I get to like it. It was not easy to compare it with E-300, as the latter was bulkier and had the style of a dSLR; on the other hand, the Pen Mini looks like a compact with interchangeable lenses! I tried to compile a list of things I like in Pen Mini and things I miss, compared to the E-300:

What I like:

  • It is more portable, so I suppose I will start taking it with me in my business trips (it has been a long time since the last time I took E-300 with me, due to the weight and volume needed)
  • It looks more fun to use, due to the interesting “artistic” effects and small size; I don’t look like a professional photographer now!
  • These filters will minimize the time for post-processing; I used to do the same with my mobile phone (shoot and then process photos with filters and effects), now I will do it in a higher-quality manner. With my mobile phone I used to shoot first and apply the filters later; with E-PM1 I can shoot using the filters in advance!
  • It shoots HD video, which is really appreciated. I already have a cheap but good HD camcorder but using one camera for both photos and videos is a plus.
  • It uses the widely used SD memory cards and not the obsolete CF ones.

What I miss:

  • Optical viewfinder: After almost 10 years of shooting through an optical viewfinder, I find it hard to get used to frame photos through the LCD screen.
  • Menu dial on top: Even though I usually do not mess with settings (Aperture/Shutter etc), I was using the top menu dial switch for changing between different functions. I find that doing that through the menu is more time consuming and confusing
  • The commands assigned to the dial on the back of the camera are not adjustable, so I am stuck with the predefined ones, which are not really convenient to me. I would like e.g. to have either a dedicated ISO button or at least a way to program one of the existing buttons to do so
  • There is no hand grip on the body of the camera (front/back), which makes it rather awkward to hold with my fat fingers. E-300 had an excellent grip which was really convenient for holding the camera either way.
  • Flash is not built-in, so I found myself looking for it in some cases (e.g. strong back light), when it was left in my camera bag.

That’s all for now. I guess that I will get used to it with time and I may get for once more into digital photography, a hobby that I have almost given up for many years now…

E-300: Dead for good

It must have been 2005 when I got my Olympus E-300, my first dSLR. I was an amateur photographer back then (well, I still am!), with previous experience only with small compact cameras.

E-300 was bulky but sturdy; it felt like a rock in my hands. Excellent construction and finishing, excellent quality of photos, wealth of settings and options. It came as a kit with the ZD 14-45mm f3.5-5.6, which was paired with a Sigma 55-200mm f4-5.6; however, I hardly used the latter, as I was shooting mostly landscapes. E-300 was a trusty companion in several trips, both inside and outside Greece and had been through some difficult situations but never showed up any sign of wear.

It was only during an event organized by the company I am working for back in December 2012, that was misused by a colleague and then stopped functioning properly; everything was working fine with no CF card in the slot but when a card was used, the camera would not even turn on… a visit to the official service in Greece proved that the camera could not be repaired, due to the lack of spare parts.

Even though I got a nice offer from the service (and I feel grateful for that), I have to admit that I am going to miss E-300. It was a workhorse which one was not afraid to use under hard conditions and in any case. I have thousands of photos taken with my E-300, kept as a legacy and proof of the quality images that were captured with my poor skills.

So long, E-300 and thank you for being here for me during all these years!

Gadgets of the past

During the last years I have bought a number of gadgets, not all of them successful cases, for various reasons. Here are a few words about each one of them:

1. Digital Cameras

Agfa CL-18: This was my first digital camera. I was really anxious to get it in my hands and I was willing to pay the 40,000 Greek drachmas (about 135 euros) back in 2000 (if I can recall correctly) to buy it second hand. Its specs look really poor today (0.3 MP = 640×480, 2MB internal memory/no expansion slot for memory cards, no LCD display, fixed lens=no zoom). It could be used as a webcam with a workaround and it had a USB cable included. The photos were pretty awful, no matter if they were taken indoors or outdoors, and they looked more like pastel paintings! I managed to get rid of it at a lower price after some months, packing it with a charger and a set of AA rechargeable batteries.

Kodak DC-3200: My second digital camera. It was priced 82,000 Greek drachmas (about 240 euros) and it seemed to worth it back then. 1 MP resolution (1152×864), 1.6’’ color LCD screen, 2MB internal storage, CompactFlash expansion slot, 4x digital zoom (pretty useless), serial (!!) connection with PC and a number of image settings. I used it for quite a while and it was a nice update of its ancestor (Agfa CL-18). The photos were a little bit grainy but they could surely be considered as photos. Its main drawback was its power consumption (it used 4 AA batteries which they didn’t last long…).

Olympus Camedia C-720UZ: A really impressive camera, successor to the Kodak DC-3200 in my series of cameras. Boasting a 8x optical zoom (even though without a stabilizer of any kind (really useful for that big zoom!), 3MP CCD sensor and all-manual functions, it still produces excellent photos. I never decided to sell it, as I wanted it for a back-up camera. However, it seems that my sister was really excited to use it, so it was a nice present for her. I am really glad to know that this camera is still useful and functioning!


2. MP3 players


Aiptek MP3 –310: My first MP3 player, purchased in 2002 for 110,000 Greek drachmas (more than 330 euros) to keep me company during my army service. It had 128MB internal storage, LCD backlit display, some basic settings and voice recording. It used an AAA battery which lasted for some hours. Due to its memory limit, I had to re-encode my mp3 files to a lower bitrate. Radio was only available using the earphones included in the package. It is still functional after ten years in rain, dust and many falls!

3. Mobile phones

Ericsson GF-768: My first mobile phone. Small, elegant and really tough. Once it fell into a pool of rain water for 20 minutes and it survived! I t was really easy to use, having only the basic features as well as a screen of one line! It never stopped working but I sold it as soon as the battery started dying. Apart from that, I was really pleased with that phone!


4. PDAs

Palm IIIxe: My first attempt to buy a PDA. I cannot recall the exact cost or the date of the purchase (second hand) but I was never satisfied with it. It was really portable, I had downloaded a wealth of free programs (most of which I never even installed) and I kept it with me as a calculator, dictionary, expense diary, downloaded news to read on the road, car fuel consumption tracking etc. Its major drawback was its lack of flash memory, which I learned the hard way: After using it as a diary/expense tracking log during my summer holidays, it ran out of batteries and I lost everything (!!) on my way back home… I was so disappointed after that, that I never used it again.

Psion 5mx: Much better than my Palm in terms of usability and appearance, featured a nice sliding keyboard, CompactFlash expansion slot, 8MB RAM (more than enough for its applications. It was fully-featured, including an office suite and a wide variety of free programs. Bought second hand as well, it served me for some months before I decided to sell it because I was afraid that the ribbon connecting the screen with the rest of the unit would wear off and warranty/service/spare parts were not easy to do/find at that time… Despite that fact, it was really fun to use it and it was the first device (apart from a desktop) that I used to write my homework (it was really useful during some blackouts).

Mio P350: I wanted to buy a GPS device for along time before I decided to go for the Mio P350, suggested by by friend Nikant. It was rather cheap for its features (also bought second-hand), including one of the best and nicely fine-tuned GPS receivers, a very good screen, SD-card expansion slot and enough free space to install WM5 (and later WM6) applications. It lacked the really useful for me WiFi card but I purchased one SD-WiFi card so it worked miracles. For several months it was used intensively for internet purposes (e-mail, surfing, chatting), while it was also used for keeping track of expenses, watching videos and various other applications, apart from the GPS function. I always carried it with me, until my car was robbed and P350 was in it… even though my bag and other stuff were found by the police, the GPS was gone. I was really sad to lose this partner.


5. Smartphones

Eten Glofiish X600: After my P350 was stolen, I decided to carry only one device with me, so I had to find a cheap smartphone with GPS receiver. I couldn’t find a cheap one in the Greek market and the used ones were also either “crummy” or expensive… I was lucky enough to find Eten X600 on sale in Expansys. A true all-in-one device, with nice phone reception, good GPS and a WiFi adapter, nice 2,8-inch screen, SD card expansion slot, nice grip but with limited RAM (64MB). I decided to sell it almost brand-new, a couple of months later as in the meantime I read about problems with the speaker among others, and there was no Greek service support for Eten. In addition, Eten was acquired by Asus back then so its future and support for its devices would be problematic…

HTC Touch Cruise: The second-hand replacement of Eten and one of my favourite gadgets. A tough device, with a lovely 2,8-inch screen, GPS receiver and WiFi adapter, WM6.1 and a lot of software. I loved its looks and grip and it almost replaced my laptop in a number of cases. Email, calendar, expenses, browsing, watching episodes of my favorite series, anything I could imagine. I thought it was going to die in my hands due to excessive usage; however, it was stolen one morning from inside my backpack while commuting by bus to work… not much more to say, but I still miss it sometimes, a great tool!

Don’t anything online for granted

…I just thought when I tried after a long time to access my digital collection of photos (in a nicely presented portfolio) that I had created online using the free online fotopic service. In fact I had taken some nice (?) photos and I thought to update my collection there by adding new stuff. However, when I tried to access fotopic I got the following screen:

End_of_fotopic I was really sad to see this message. I have been a user of fotopic for quite a long time and I really liked its interface. It provided an easy way to organize photos using a lot of different options available even for the free accounts. I also kept receiving some emails about subscription offers (larger space provided, lower subscription, paraphernalia etc.) during this time. However, it seems that in this time of financial problems, crisis and abundance of similar free options, fotopic did not make it…

I had a number of photos there, nicely organized and most of them described with metadata. I suppose they will also be somewhere in my hard disk or backup disk or my backup dvds. However, it will be hard for me (if not impossible) to reorganize these photos and upload them somewhere else. I really hope that fotopic will provide us with a way to move/migrate them to another similar service, to save what it can be saved.

It seems that it is a good thing that I have my photos scattered in various portfolios all over internet. This is not good for organizing photos but it seems that it will save me time when facing situations like this. After all, I had created these different portfolios with different usage in mind for each case, so they served rather different purposes.

A missed photographic opportunity…

I went for a walk with my girlfriend at the center of Athens on Saturday evening. The weather was pretty nice, despite the wind and the rather low temperature… at least it was sunny!

On my way to the metro station I was wondering whether I should have taken my Olympus with me (Ε-300, in its bag along with my lenses and paraphernalia) . “Never mind” I though, “that bag is rather heavy… and my girlfriend will complain if I don’t concentrate on her, enjoy our time together and take photos instead”. So I kept walking, took the metro, we met at the center just before sunset and we started walking towards the Syntagma square.

Unfortunately, Murphy’s law found a cozy place in my life for once more! I could see the magnificent colors of the sky at Klafthmonos square, the impressive shadows of the statues, people walking up and down the street full of bags, so I almost regret not taking my Olympus with me!

It started drizzling… we found shelter at a bus stop for a while, waiting for the drizzle to stop. I was watching people rushing now, holding their umbrellas, the pools next to the sidewalk: Ideal subjects for photography but my dSLR was at home, in its bag…

After a while we got bored waiting at the same spot, so we decided to rush toward Syntagma square since the rain was getting stronger and stronger. We sat at the McDonald’s to eat something and to wait until the rains stopped. I was watching people outside the glass, some foreigners picking up the bags they were selling from the sidewalks, people running up and down the street, the open umbrellas, beautiful subjects for photography, but my dSLR was at home, in its bag…

Finally the rain stopped, so we walked to the metro station without having enjoyed our walk and without me having taken a single photo! I was mad at everyone at that time:

  • At Olympus, for making my E-300 thick as a brick an not slim as Ε-410!
  • At Olympus for not producing a pancake lens as Pentax, so as to reduce the volume and weight of the Ε-300!
  • At the Digital Photography industry for producing just one digital TLR (telemetric/rangefinder – the Epson R-D1 Digital RangeFinder) , which may be slim and light but it costs a lot…
  • At me for being lazy and not willing to learn the basics about analog cameras.
  • At society, for not giving me the chance to buy a decent compact for such occasions or even to afford developing films

The only good thing that happened that day was Tassos’s Pagonis photography exhibition at Syntagma metro station, titled Shapes, Colors, Earth“: Simple and beautiful photos, familiar subjects and interesting point of view. That was enough to made my day!

Μια χαμένη (φωτογραφικά) βόλτα στην Αθήνα

Κατέβηκα το Σάββατο το απόγευμα μια βόλτα στην Αθήνα με την κοπέλα μου. Ο καιρός ήταν καλός παρά το αεράκι που φυσούσε και το κρύο που είχε πιάσει…τουλάχιστον είχε ήλιο!

Στο δρόμο προς το μετρό σκεφτόμουν αν έκανα καλά που δεν είχα πάρει μαζί μου την Olympus μου (Ε-300, στην τσαντούλα της μαζί με τους φακούς και τα λοιπά παρελκόμενα) . “Δεν πειράζει” σκέφτηκα, “πού να κουβαλάω την τσάντα τώρα, είναι βαριά… Θα γκρινιάζει και η κοπέλα μου που την παραμελώ και φωτογραφίζω αντί να χαρώ την ώρα που είμαστε μαζί”. Συνέχισα λοιπόν τον δρόμο μου, συναντηθήκαμε στο κέντρο λίγο πριν σουρουπώσει και αρχίσαμε να περπατάμε στη Σταδίου προς το Σύνταγμα.

Ο νόμος του Murphy βρήκε για άλλη μια φορά εφαρμογή στη ζωή μου όμως! Κάτι ωραία χρώματα του ουρανού στην Κλαυθμώνος, κάτι σκιές τα αγάλματα, κάτι ο κόσμος που πηγαινοερχόταν φορτωμένος με τα ψώνια του , το ψιλομετάνοιωσα που δεν την πήρα μαζί μου!

Άρχισε να ψιχαλίζει…σταθήκαμε για λίγο κάτω από ένα στέγαστρο περιμένοντας να κόψει το ψιλόβροχο. Χάζευα τον κόσμο που περπατούσε βιαστικός πλέον, τις ομπρέλες που άνοιγαν σιγά-σιγά, τις λιμνούλες δίπλα στο πεζοδρόμιο: Ιδανικά θέματα για φωτογραφία αλλά η μηχανή στο σπίτι, μέσα στην τσάντα της…

Αφού βαρεθήκαμε να περιμένουμε στο ίδιο σημείο, φύγαμε κι εμείς βιαστικά προς το Σύνταγμα αφού η βροχή όλο και δυνάμωνε. Κάτσαμε για λίγο στα McDonald’s να τσιμπήσουμε κάτι και να περιμένουμε μήπως κόψει η βροχή. Χάζευα τον κόσμο έξω από την τζαμαρία, τους αλλοδαπούς να μαζεύουν την πραμάτεια τους από τα πεζοδρόμια, τους βιαστικούς περαστικούς, τις ανοιχτές ομπρέλες, όμορφα θέματα για φωτογραφία, αλλά η μηχανή στο σπίτι, μέσα στην τσάντα της…

Τελικά έκοψε η βροχή, μπήκαμε στο μετρό χωρίς να έχουμε ευχαριστηθεί τη βόλτα μας και χωρίς να έχω βγάλει ούτε μία φωτογραφία! Όλα μου έφταιγαν μετά:

  • Η Olympus που δεν είχε κάνει πιο μικρή και ελαφριά την E-300 (όπως έκανε αργότερα την Ε-410!)
  • Η Olympus που δεν έχει βγάλει έναν pancake φακό όπως η Pentax, ώστε να μειωθεί κάπως το μέγεθος και το βάρος της Ε-300!
  • Η βιομηχανία των ψηφιακών φωτογραφικών μηχανών που έβγαλε μόλις μια TLR (τηλεμετρική – την Epson R-D1 Digital RangeFinder) , η οποία είναι μεν μικρή αλλά και πανάκριβη…
  • Η τεμπελιά μου που με κρατά μακρυά από τις αναλογικές μηχανές (βαριέμαι να μάθω τα βασικά…)
  • Η κοινωνία, που δεν μου δίνει την δυνατότητα να αγοράσω έστω μια αξιοπρεπή compact για τέτοιες περιπτώσεις ή έστω να ασχοληθώ με τις φιλμάτες (θέλει λεφτά η εμφάνιση των φιλμ…)

Το μόνο καλό της υπόθεσης ήταν η έκθεση φωτογραφίας του Τάσσου Παγώνη στο σταθμό μετρό του Συντάγματος, με τίτλο Σχήματα, Χρώματα, Χώματα“: Απλές και όμορφες φωτογραφίες, με εικόνες οικείες και ενδιαφέρουσα οπτική γωνία.

Αυτό και μόνο ήταν αρκετό για να μου φτιάξει τη διάθεση!