My New Camera and Strap: Olympus PEN EPL-1 and Gordy’s Camera Strap
You guys may have noticed the recent surge in the quality of the photographs on here. Well, tomorrow is my birthday, and I received an early present jointly presented to me by my wife, parents, and in-laws of the camera you see above (Thanks guys!!).
It’s an Olympus PEN EPL-1, which comes with the much-enlarged micro 4/3 sensor (the same size that comes in the current enthusiast fave, the OM-D), which enables it to capture much higher quality photos than your average point and shoot. It came out in 2009, and is now available at fairly discounted prices (mine is from Amazon, where it’s been discounted from its MSRP of $500 to just under $300). Not cheap, but the quality of photos you can squeeze out of a micro 4/3 camera are pretty impressive (though I clearly have a lot of work to do before I’m the person behind the lens getting those photos…).
Another bonus is that this camera has the capability of having lenses swapped—though the current Olympus micro 4/3 lenses are not cheap. But the kit lens has been working fine, and though it’s sometimes hard to capture the de rigueur bokeh-heavy shallow depth of field shots that are the cornerstone of #menswear photography with the 14-42mm/f3.5-5.6 zoom lens, it’s not impossible—if that’s what you’re going for.
Though the micro 4/3 lenses come with a heavy price tag (the portrait lens is $500), older SLR lenses can be used if you have an adapter. My dad owned an Olympus OM-4 in the 80s, so I’ll be giving his old lenses a spin soon. The catch, however, is that with those lenses you have to use manual focus. But from the stuff I’ve read about folks who have used that set up, the images they’re getting once they dial in the ins and outs of manual focus are quite stunning. Also, even if you don’t know anyone who owned an Olympus SLR in the 80s or 90s, you can still find those lenses for a song on ebay.
The strap you see on the camera is from Gordy’s Camera Straps. It may look familiar to you…Fairly often, a picture of a Leica M8 or M9, or perhaps a Fuji X100, maybe even an Olympus OM-D, shows up on my dashboard with a luxurious looking leather strap attached to it. Clearly handmade, with nice contrast thread binding things together…Since those aforementioned cameras are not cheap, I always assumed the straps had a commensurate pricing structure. Even before I owned this camera I’d coveted those straps (I love a good leather accessory), but assumed that if I ever did get a camera one of those straps would be an unjustifiable expenditure.
Well, I’d never seen any mention of the strap manufacturer on those many tumblr shots, and so, on a whim, I decided I’d do a google search to see if I could suss out the maker and do some web stalking. It turns out that Gordon Coale, who’s based in Washington state, makes each of these straps by hand to order and sells them for $18 shipped anywhere in the world. That’s right, if you live in Seattle or Sydney, you can get this strap for $18 USD.
Needless to say I bought one. I chose the russet leather with black thread, but there are four leather colors to choose from, and a host of thread colors as well. In hindsight, I think I could have gotten away with red threading, since there’s that little red dot on the camera to help you know your lens is correctly locked into place.
Gordy also makes many other straps besides the wrist strap shown here. Over the shoulder, over the neck, wrist strap w/ wrist guard, tripod straps, etc. They cost a little more, but are all as reasonably priced relative to what you are getting as the $18 standard wrist strap shown here.
I reblogged this shot from Gordy’s tumblr, so if you want to see various combos of camera/strap that his customers have, just click through and check it out. I highly recommend these straps: made to order, simple and elegant, robust, and above all… affordable.
Olympus PEN EPL-1