Goa Carnival, mirrorless cameras & the audiovisual medium

I set out to photograph the Goa Carnival in 2015. I had never been to this carnival before, in fact I had never been to any carnival. This is a write-up about the equipment that I used and the audiovisual medium. But you can skip straight to the video (please do leave me a comment especially if this video buffered fast enough):

18 months or so before the carnival, I had done some extensive online research on mirrorless and m4/3 camera technologies and I had a look at sample images and sharpness test results of different cameras on dpreview before leaning towards the Olympus PEN E-P3. (Here’s a quick tip. Whenever you’re considering a new lens, log-on to dpreview.com and rush straight to the results of the sharpness tests)

I didn’t use this camera until some months later when I got the opportunity at a friend’s wedding and the trip to Agra that followed. I was impressed with what this small camera and its kit lens could accomplish. I remember thinking back then that the M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R has got to be the sharpest kit lens that I had come upon!

Yet, simply put, this setup does not compare to DSLR cameras. Nevertheless, I set out for the Goa Carnival with my Olympus PEN E-P3 and GoPro (I love the GoPro brand and everything these cameras can accomplish).

Handling the E-P3 (or even the OM-D cameras for that matter) is a lot more tedious that DSLR cameras when it comes to changing focus points on the fly. Their optional external electronic viewfinder VF-3 is lousy (I don’t know why they even bother to manufacture these). The resolution is poor and utterly useless when photographing backlit subjects.

If Olympus comes up with hybrid (optical) viewfinders for its PEN series like in the case of the Fujifilm X-Pro1, it will be difficult for any consumer whether amateur or professional to look past them.

Olympus have the M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm f/1.8 lens in their arsenal. I think that this is one of the best lenses ever made for m4/3 camera systems.

Coming back to my trip to Goa, the bus journey took 13 long hours and at the end of it, I was sick and it took me another eight weeks to recover. But that’s a different story and no excuse for not paying attention to my camera settings at the carnival that afternoon.

The auto-focus mode was set to Continuous AF (C-AF) resulting in the camera failing to lock focus on hastily moving subjects. It continued to search for accurate focus during which time, the shutter release button refused to cooperate. I missed a lot of good photos due to this.

Had I switched the autofocus mode to Single AF (S-AF), this camera would have demonstrated the ‘world’s fastest autofocus’ that it boasts of. Indeed, this is one of the fastest autofocus systems that I have come upon.

I should have also activated face detection. This way, I would have ensured that my primary subjects were always in focus.

The lesson here is that despite making photographs professionally since 12 years, it can take a significant amount of practice to get used to a new camera system, especially its autofocus mechanism.

At the end of the day, I conclude that the gap between m4/3 and DSLR cameras is big. Nevertheless, a photographer needs to keep the end product in mind. If I’m photographing an assignment where the final resting place of my images is the Internet then m4/3 cameras can do the job for me. And I’ll be lugging a much lighter camera bag on the filed (if any).
However, even the Olympus PEN E-P3 with the M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm f/1.8 lens is not good enough to produce large archival prints (8 x 10 inch inkjet family photos is the most you can get out of this, I reckon).

I was not entirely happy with my efforts at the carnival. I struggled with my timing and a lot of the photos cannot stand on their own.

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This is a photo of me at the carnival in Panjim. I thank Anne CK for the photo and her company during my four days in Goa.
I screwed in an L-bracket to the base of my Olympus camera and fitted a GoPro camera where the flash is intended to go. The L-bracket is equipped with a tripod thread to which I screwed in the flexible portion of the JOBY Action Clamp & GorillaPod Arm. The other end of the arm was screwed in to a Zoom H1 for recording audio. I can probably connect the Zoom H1 straight to the GoPro with the help of the necessary attachments. If that’s possible then this will prove to be a spectacular kit to produce audiovisuals such as travel documentaries and corporate events etc.
Since I recorded the audio and video separately, I did not bother to overlay the audio from the Zoom H1 in this video.

I always use my GoPro in the Protune mode with the White Balance set to Camera RAW. I wish that the GoPro can do better when filming backlit subjects. When you watch the video, you might realise that at certain times, the video quality isn’t as good. That’s because I stretched the frame in the editing software to see how it rendered out, well not so well!

Am I right is saying that only a very small percentage of the photographs that we make end up printed?

Online photo galleries (even with captions) are boring but the audiovisual medium can bring photos to life. A successful audiovisual encapsulates tiny fractions-of-seconds exposing people’s interactions and expressions. A photographic composition no longer needs to stand on its own. A photographer needs to have great timing in order to seize the moment that offers maximum emotion and editorial value.

Light is still the common factor between the two mediums. An artist can include only a small but interesting portion of an otherwise poor photo in an audiovisual along with visual effects and relevant audio making it look ‘larger than life’ but no amount of embellishments can compensate for poor exposure, tonality and lighting.

I’m not sure what can be the ultimate platform for creative audiovisuals but the Internet, I believe is rather inadequate.

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