Yes, I like the extra real estate that a grip gives, even though I don't have particularly big hands. And yes, I appreciate the extra vertical shutter button and second battery option that these grips accommodate.
But over and above all that, I really like the extra weight you get with a grip attached - and the added 'coolness' - the extra professionalism if you will - that a grip offers. I love em!
Which is why I've struggled over the years to come up with a 'compact' camera system to carry around and use when I'm not in an SLR mood. Compact just isn't in my DNA. And believe me, I've tried.
The closest I've come to enjoying using a compact camera was way back when I first got into digital - about ten years ago, with a Canon G3. Not that you could call any of the Canon G series cameras 'compact'. And I guess that's what I liked about them. They weren't all that compact - but compact enough so that there was an obvious difference between them and a DSLR.
But that was ten years ago, and a lot has happened in the digital world since then.
Over the last couple of years, my interest has definitely been peeked by the introduction of the mirrorless EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) cameras - especially the micro 4/3rds range from Panasonic and Olympus. I LOVE the look of the Olympus Pen range, but never felt that it had matured to the point where I was ready to jump in. The autofocus has always been suspect - especially on the original Pen EP-1, so I held off and waited... and waited... and waited...
|Pohutakawa Flower - NZ Native. Olympus EP-3 and 14-42mm kit lens|
With the EP-3 it seems that Olympus have a real winner on their hands. Not only does it continue the sexy retro Pen look, but it is also claiming the fastest autofocus of any camera - period! Don't know about that, but at least now we are in the right ball park as far as autofocus is concerned. I'm interested.
|Rusty Lock. EP-3 and 14-42mm lens|
|All Tied Up. EP-3 with Grainy B&W Art filter. 1:1 Aspect ratio|
|Emily. EP-3, Diorama Art Filter and 40-150mm lens|
The menu system is incredibly extensive, and takes a bit of getting used to. The flip side of this, however, is that the Pen EP-3 is incredibly customisable. You can set it up exactly for your style of shooting. Nothing is really there for good if you don't want it to be. It is a small form factor, so the buttons and dials are a little fiddly. But not so fiddly to be unusable (although I wouldn't want to try it with gloves on!?), and it's the price we pay for smaller cameras I guess? The body itself is constructed of magnesium alloy, so it has a good heft to it - which can't really be said for the kit lenses. They are very plasticky, and incredibly light - but having said that, I can't complain about their image quality. And Olympus/Panasonic are releasing some 'serious' prime lenses with all metal construction if you've got the need (and the deep pockets) for such lenses.
What didn't I like? Well, outside in the harsh daylight, the lcd screen that you have to use to compose with (the Pen's have no built-in viewfinder) is almost unuseable! Aaargghh!!! They do sell a very good electronic viewfinder that fits on to the cameras hotshoe and clips into the back of the camera - but you pay for it! If/when I get the EP-3, the electronic viewfinder will be a necessity, and not an option!