Here’s a book title to get the pulse racing: Creative EVIL photography. What images does that conjure up? Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot cavorting naked at a midnight Black Mass on Friday 13th? You would certainly want to have your camera handy on that occasion, would you not?
Bad news. The meaning of the title is not quite so lurid. EVIL, in this case, stands for Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens, as applied to a category of camera. Still, not to be diverted, the author, Haje Jan Kamps (Thames and Hudson $29.95) indulges his whimsy with chapters on the Magic of EVIL and EVIL concepts.
In fact what he is doing is extolling the considerable virtues of this newish (if you overlook Leica) category of camera. These are the cameras that generally sit between compacts and DSLRs, offering better image quality than the littlies without the bulk and mass of the biggies.
Pentax, Nikon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and – stretching the definition a little – Leica make cameras in the EVIL category. Only Canon is holding out. We prefer the acronym MILC – mirrorless interchangeable lens camera – because it is more inclusive.
Kamps loves his Olympus E-P1, which is now superseded. We had one of these gems but we have replaced it with the more advanced (and cheaper!) E-P3.
Our experience is much the same as Kamps. Although we own two DSLRs with all the usual lenses and accessories we always reach for the Olympus when we are going out and about. Our E-P3 and several lenses fit easily into a small Crumpler that would scarcely hold our Canon DSLR body on its own.
Kamps’ book is a good introduction to the concept of the MILC category as well as being a useful tutorial in all aspects of photography from visualising the image to tweaking it in Photoshop and sharing it by print or on-line.
He assumes that people considering buying MILCs are moving up from compacts and are therefore ignorant of the basics, such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO. If this describes you then you will find the book useful.
Our observation is that – at least in Australia – the first adopters of MILCs are experienced photographers who are fascinated with the technology and capabilities of these little cameras and are weary of lugging their brutish DSLRs around the place.
Kamps admits that most of the time he leaves the mode selector on P and lets the camera work in pseudo-automatic mode. So do we. He mentions that when in P mode the aperture/shutter speed combination can be varied with the movement of a knob. Unfortunately he incorrectly describes what happens, so you can ignore that bit.
On one point he is absolutely right: the advantage of the MILC is in the interchangeable lens bit of the acronym. “The camera (body) is for Christmas. The lens is for life.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.