D-300 and EPL-2 Shootout

So which camera won the Toronto 2011 Beaches Jazz Festival shoot out?

Was it the diminutive Olympus EPL-2 with its accompanying tiny lenses and video capability or was it the big bruising D-300 with big fast glass and matching SB-900 flashes?

The answer is, like all things in photography, it depends. πŸ™‚

Thursday evening there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I kept shooting in available light with the EPL-2 until 9:30 pm or so.

Friday evening it was overcast and by 8 pm it was dark enough that even with fast glass the flash started to come out of the bag.

The D-300 with the 105mm VR macro lens is a bitch to carry and then add an SB-900 and you’ve got your work cut out for you. Add a Crumpler bag of lens and accessories and a 30 degree night and it’s no country for old men πŸ™‚ But the images are sensationally sharp and almost no depth of field.

In the other corner at less than a third the weight and a fifth the size comes the EPL-2 which can be carried effortless around the neck all night long and the lenses can fit easily and lightly into a photo vest. Cool…and light….and cheaper too.

But what about when it came to shooting?

Well the EPL-2 does have video capabilities that the D-300 doesn’t have (and I could have taken my D-90) and the EPL-2 images look just as good as the Nikon’s IMHO. I was shooting in RAW both nights and Lightroom 3 with a whole whack of plug-ins made short work of editing the images. The grunge settings might not be to everyone’s liking but I’m not shooting for everyone. I’m shooting for myself and I like the look just fine.

Okay already get to the point: Which camera?

When it comes to shooting in lots of light the EPL-2 shoots just fine. It’s fast, light and focuses is fine even in very dim situations. The controls are a little weird as I tend to dial in exposure compensation without realizing it and this is just operator error (RFM – read the flipping’ manual or words to that effect) and I could never get the SB-28 to work consistently (see previous point) so I relied on the pop-up flash for fill which worked pretty well. And the video is amazing especially with the plug-in external microphone.

But and there’s always a but…when it comes to really pushing the equipment to deliver performance using flash and multiple exposures shot just about as fast as I can push the button it’s the D-300 all the way baby. This is an amazing camera and consistently yields fabulous images taken in less than ideal circumstances.

So I’m off to shoot a special event this afternoon that’s outdoors. Guess which camera system I’m taking?

It’s the Olympus! If it was a cloudy day the D-300 or D-90 would be a better choice.

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