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Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Olympus E-P2, and Why I Ended Up with the S90

A lot of buzz has been happening this week regarding the launch of E-P2. Well, it turned out to be a minor tweak to the E-P1. Looking at the specs, I strongly suspect this was what the E-P1 should be. And, knowing that being the fastest to market is key in this new "compact-size, big-sensor" segment, I believe Oly rushed the E-P1 out of the oven. Nothing wrong there, but it may anger a few E-P1 owners especially it's only five months back.

I am for now still not satisfied with what Olympus is putting on the plate. For one, I somehow still want a built-in flash on it, a-la Panasonic's offering with the GF-1! Simply because I want my E-P1/2 to have a wireless-flash commander on it. I have two FL-s, and it's a waste not being able to use it with any E-P1/2 camera!

Enter the Canon S90.

Well, actually to be frank, I did not know about this camera's existence until yesterday. I was merely talking to my regular camera shop guy about the Panasonic LX-3 and it's cool retro looks. You see, I was looking for a photographer's camera that fits in a pocket. And the E-P2 was also in the list until I saw it still lacked the flash!!

He pulled out another LX-3 competitor, the Canon S90. I was not impressed, actually. I am quite hesitant with any Canon's offering except for calculators, printers, scanners and copiers. Then, he showed me the ultra-cool retro aspect of the S90; there's a Control Ring at the lens!!


This little contraption allows many functions that include Zoom steps of 28-35-50-85-105mm (in ancient 135 terms), Manual Focus, ISO selection, Exposure Compensation, and many other stuff. It literally won me over!!! The ease of use, akin to my E-3 and E-30 ability to allow quick access to key photographic controls meant that this the compact that I have been looking for! For many years now I have been dreaming of such a camera.

To top it off, the lens is an F2.0 at least at the wide end!!... And you guys know how am I a sucker for F2.0 lenses. I already have two F2.0 zoom lenses in my Digital Zuiko stable: the pro grades 14-35mm F2.0 and 35-100mm F2.0! With the S90's classic 28-105mm (again in ancient 135 terms) coverage, it is just perfect for nearly 80% of my typical shooting range!

And, the flash is so cool, too!!.... It's tucked nicely hidden to left of the body, which is perfect for some wireless flash action!!! (albeit only with Auto mode slave setting). Then again, the beauty of using compact P&S is the modern leaf shutter design. This means that I can sync up to maximum 1/1600s for outdoor fill-flash; not like the ancient DSLR's focal plane shutter that usually stuck at 1/250s!!!

And here it is, from Canon; which I didn't expect it to be! (pun intended, ;p) That explained why I didn't know about S90's existence until yesterday. Bummer!!!

A few haggles, and the deal was done. I am now a proud owner of a legend-in-the-making camera, similar to the E-P1!!

Here are a couple of shots with it.

Canon S90 with 6-22.5mm f2.0-4.9 lens
6mm (14mm equiv.), f/8.0, 1/1600s, ISO80, -2ev

Canon S90 with 6-22.5mm f2.0-4.9 lens
6mm (14mm equiv.), f/2.0, 1/25s, ISO800

Canon S90 with 6-22.5mm f2.0-4.9 lens
6mm (14mm equiv.), f/2.0, 1/60s, ISO200

These three pictures show the high quality of the images the S90 produce; flare control is good in strong sunlight, high ISO noise at 800 is acceptable, and the wide open bokeh just melts with goodness!

This is one camera that really elevated the standards of pocketable compacts to come.

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