In deciding which film camera to take with me to Ireland, I’ve been auditioning some of the contenders in my collection. I’m taking the camera with me and pretending I’m on the trip, shooting the kinds of things I plan to shoot, to see how the camera feels and performs. First up: the Olympus Stylus.
I thought surely this would be The One, given how it slips easily into my jeans pocket, is dead simple to use, and packs a sharp 35mm f/3.5 lens.
Overall I had a great time shooting the Stylus, enough that I put two rolls through it: Kodak Gold 400 and an expired roll of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400. But a couple flaws, one fatal, caused it to fail the audition.
Readers with long memories will remember that my Stylus failed the last time I used it. It was so messed up I just dumped it into the trash and bought another. This one came with date imprint function. I left it off except for one trial shot in my living room.
Margaret and I have been taking a lot of walks lately to get into better shape for the trip. A favorite destination is the streets of Zionsville. Here’s a typical home in town.
Just dig the birdhouse built into the roof gable on this house.
Here’s a shot from Monument Circle in Indianapolis. The camera was performing so well, letting me get all the kinds of shots I expect to take in Ireland, landscapes and architectural shots leading the way.
I’m especially pleased with this dusk shot in Garfield Park in Indianapolis. I did have to bring this shot into Photoshop and boost shadows, however, to bring out the fountains.
But the camera is not without issues. First, a few shots had a strange light area in the upper-right corner.
Second, the Stylus seems to focus on whatever is at the center of the frame. The cars in the background of this photo are perfectly sharp, but the tree is a little fuzzy. You can see it at larger sizes.
Margaret was the intended subject here, but is so out of focus the shot isn’t usable. I’ll bet if I put the subject in the center of the frame, press halfway down to focus, and then reframe, I’d get the shot. But I’d always be anxious the camera would muff focus anyway.
But here’s the Stylus’s fatal flaw: every time you open the camera, the flash defaults to “auto” and fires in low light. I almost never want flash; every time it went off I muttered a bad word under my breath. There’s no way I’m going to remember to shut the flash off every time I open this camera.
So I’ve been auditioning other cameras. I put a roll through my Nikon N2000 SLR with a 35mm lens attached, just to see whether I’d find lugging an SLR around to be too much. (Answer: not as much as I thought.) Photos from that session on Monday. At the moment I have film in my Olympus XA, and that’s going well, too.
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