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I’m a photographer by vocation and avocation, and if I don’t have a camera with with I feel like I’ve left home without my driver’s license: not just vulnerable but somehow under-dressed and unprepared. I mentioned in an earlier post that my all-time favorite walking-around camera was a Leica M-6 with a 35mm Summicron. Unobtrusive, quiet, quick-focusing, capable of fabulous photos. Not real light, and not exactly pocketable, but manageable; and you can put it in a small backpack or briefcase. I got lots of mileage out of them for years. Ah, but that was back in the film days. Now what to do?

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None of the digital p&s cameras really moved me: slow start, slow to focus, slow lenses, not ready for prime-time photo quality. So for the past couple of years, I carried a Canon 5D around, with a lens that varied with my mood and my anticipated photo ops: 35mm, 50mm or 24-70mm. A heavy load, in hand or in a pack. And not exactly unobtrusive: to a lot of people they’re aimed at, they’re intimidating. So I’ve been biding my time, waiting to see what comes up.

The cameras that I recently thought might work best for me included the Canon G12, the Panasonic Lumix LX3, and the Olympus E-P2. I like to work up close, so wide-angle is good, 24 or 28mm. I’m less interested in the long end of the zoom range, so 70mm or so at that end is OK for me. In the end I decided the Olympus E-P2 would be worth a try, in part because of the recommendation of colleague David H Wells, who uses E-P2s and E-P1s extensively. (To see David Wells using with the Olympus, click here—you’ve to got register to see the video.)

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We’re going to be relocating world headquarters of ed Lefkowicz Photography soon, and have been on the road a lot, looking for communities and looking at housing and workplace options. (The shot above was a real estate agent’s son, with a wonderfully adult stance, in Brooklyn.) For the past week or 10 days, I’ve carried around an E-P2 with the kit 14-42mm lens (35mm equivalent 28-84mm) and here are some early impressions. Easy to carry. Unobtrusive. Quirky menu system. (Olympus? Please talk to some people at Apple about menus.) Manual, shutter, aperture as well as PhD exposure modes. Wish it had a viewfinder. (I plan to try the accessory viewfinders at some point.) Glad it has an LCD display (easy to get low and otherwise interesting points of view). Can be pre-focussed for street shooting. Wish it had a lens hood. Wish it had a faster, fixed-aperture lens. (I’ll probably try the 17mm f/2.8.) Not crazy about the native 4:3 format (but you can shoot in 3:2). More in a later post, after I’ve played with it some more.

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More photos of Brooklyn and Manhattan taken with the Olympus E-P2

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