Dark, Gritty, Noisy. Sometimes it works. Teen boxing at the AZ State Fair and the Olympus E-P3

Dark, Gritty, Noisy. Sometimes it works. 

I was out this week with my trusty Olympus E-P3 and 12mm SLR Magic lens as well as the 14-42 kit zoom that comes with the camera. I took a visit to the state fair in AZ and mostly shot with the NEX-7 because I am still testing it out and am trying to get as much use out of it as possible to see how it really performs in the real world. I already know what to expect from the E-P3 and while it may not excel in areas like low light color and big fat smooth files it does do one thing extremely well and that is AUTO FOCUS, and it works so well with the touch screen. Just touch where you want focus and it instantly focuses and fires! It’s fast and seems to always hits the mark.

So last night I was shooting in lower light at an indoor teen boxing match at the AZ State fair. The lighting was causing havoc with the AWB (with the E-P3, X100 and NEX-7) so I decided to crank up the ISO and use B&W to make  these feel gritty and real. In a couple of the boxing images below you will see right from the camera images using the Grainy B&W filter and in a few others they were converted from RAW and converted to B&W. I don’t know why but sometimes I am a fan of big fat GRAIN, even in digital, but only when shot in B&W. Maybe it reminds me of when I shot Delta 3200 or maybe it reminds me of the vintage photos I see from past when most photos were B&W and grainy. I also used this approach when I shot Seal in Belgium and they are some of my fave shots from the tour AND a couple of them were used inside his new CD booklet. Goes to show that images do not always have to be perfect, even for pro use. IN fact, I think emotion trumps technical perfection any day of the week.

One of the shots that made it inside the new Seal “Soul 2” CD Booklet from Belgium where I went dark and grainy and went for EMOTION instead of PERFECTION.

So I decided to shoot grainy again last night with the E-P3. Now these are not the best boxing shots in the world but I was shooting with a 12mm and the kit zoom in LOW light. I was just shooting to see how they would come out. An experiment. I was not allowed to get close up so I had to get creative with the angle and the ropes 🙂 Would these have been more exciting with a DSLR and 70-200 zoom? Maybe, but there is something about just shooting a wider angle and not worrying about perfection, zoom or super sharp details. Besides, thats what everyone else does every day as most are always searching for that perfectly smooth file. I think it is sometimes it is fun to go outside of the norm and see what you can come up with when being a bit different. You may just surprise yourself!

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  1. I do like the look of that filter, though on my E-P1 I get rather more contrast. However, the main reason I don’t use it is that (on mine) the art filters slow down the write speed to “painful”. I couldn’t think of using it in the situations pictured above. Are the later models faster? Meanwhile, I just use monochrome setting to see the screen representations and convert everything later from RAW…time consuming indeed.

  2. Looks very great Steve, I just got my ep3 a few days ago and I really like the grainy b+w filter. And especially when Im shooting raw, the filter automatically converts it to raw+jpeg! A few samples are on my blog, I ended up purchasing the 12mm, 20mm and also the 45mm!

  3. Photos two and four are classic shots Steve and could have come from the 30’s. You should print these.

  4. The second picture is really great sport photography and not even a tele lens is involved! That is exactly what I do to get around the shortcomings in low light on my E-P1/ 17mm 2,8 combo as well! Crank up the iso and use b/w with really nice and interesting results. I really love that little lens. (can not understand why it has such a bad reputation, it render the colors exceptionally well) I have not even tried the zoom on since I bought the camera last summer. I believe that I have developed a lot as a photographer, thanks to this combo and the fact that I have restrict myself to only one lens.

  5. Steve, i was wondering if you were planning to review the next Ricoh GRD IV? the (great) style you’re having in these shots made me think of the Ricoh rendering. the e-p3 noise isn’t looking that bad.

  6. Steve, I’ve heard rave reviews from you and others about the how fast and accurate the auto focus is with the e-p3 using the touch screen approach and select lenses – Can you chime regarding it’s performance regarding auto focus speed and accuracy when using either the vf-2 or vf-3?

    • Auto focus is the same wether looking at the LCD or using the EVF. Obviously you do not use the touch feature when using the EVF but the AF of the E-P3 is lightning when used with the new lenses, and much faster with even the older ones.

  7. Perfect way to get around the shortcoming of increased noise at higher ISO settings. I like those photos a lot! Actually I like the B&W art filter a lot, it works perfect and I always like the results because they look very “real” compared to Kodak TMAX 3200 stuff I used decades before the E-P3.
    Good Work!

  8. I have the EP-3 with 12, 14-42 & 40-150 and X100 and a little Nikon P300 which is very good for in the pocket. Should I add the Nex 7 to the lot? Going to Asia in two weeks and trying to decide to go small or lug D700 or even D7000 with 18-200. Thoughts?

      • Maol, That’s exactly what my son said. He ditched the D3 and took the X100 to Europe. Results were excellent. I am indeed thinking about too many toys.

    • My travel bag: EP3 with Oly 12 and 45mm and X100. Swiss army knife EP3 and razor blade X100 in a small bag, all one needs to travel the world. Wide, fast, short tele, low light, fun and outstanding IQ with the Fuji, all in a small bag. And don’t forget a couple of spare batteries.

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