Category Archives: Favorite Faves

My Favorite Faves: Olympus Stylus Epic

The Olympus Stylus Epic. It’s an old friend of mine. Blogging about it has been a long time coming.

You can see that it’s an “old friend” of mine by how worn out it is. This is actually my SECOND Stylus Epic. The previous one was just as scuffed up as this one though.

First things first, here is some information about the Olympus Stylus Epic (aka Olympus Mju-II elsewhere in the world):

  • Compact, “clamshell” design
  • Weather-resistant design (not water-submersible, but safe for use in rain, snow, beach, etc.)
  • 35mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 (!!!)
  • Spot metering available
  • Flash modes: auto, fill flash, off (!!!), red eye reduction, night mode, red eye reduction night mode
  • Focusing as close as 1.1ft/.35m
  • Shutter speed range of 1/1000s-4s (that’s more than some SLRs give you!)

I’ve been having a difficult time writing this post. In fact, I first drafted this blog in January 2014, but I got no further than writing the title. This is the first time I’ve set “pen to paper” (keyboard to text box?) in order to complete this post. The reason I’ve been having a hard time getting this post together is that I have looked at the photos which would be included in it, and I’ve thought, “These are just the same old pictures that I’ve seen a million times.” I think that I’ve gotten to the bottom of that way of thinking though: They seem like “the same old pictures that I’ve seen a million times” because they are some true classics when it comes to memories I’ve captured on film.

Stretch Arm Strong in Augusta, Georgia. 2001.

Stretch Arm Strong. Augusta, Georgia. 2001.

This is actually the same photo as the one above it, but I printed it on black and white paper in the darkroom for the photo class I was taking at the time.

For some reason, my friends started jumping into each others’ arms one night. 2001.

Kayla, watching a band in the basement of of The Map Room. 2001.

A band playing in The Map Room basement. 2001.

Upstairs at The Map Room. 2001.

Downtown Memphis. 2001.

Underoath in Birminham, Alabama – January 2002

My niece was about to cry…2002.

Cody and Mel. 2002.

Never Cry Wolf at the Map Room. 2002.

twothirtyeight. 2002.

My niece on my brother-in-law’s lap at The Apple Barn. Sevierville, Tennessee. 2002.

An abandoned heart. 2003.

An 80s party at our DIY venue, The Caravan. 2003.

Annie and Carrie at Valentine’s dinner. 2004.

Nathalie at Huey’s. 2004.

Jason’s birthday party. 2004 (not pictured: Jason)

Nathalie’s apartment, before the girls and I went to see a play. 2004.

Monica, after our shared birthday dinner at Pho Hoa Bihn. 2004.

My niece outside their new house the first night they moved in. 2004.

Valentine’s Day at a Mexican restaurant. 2005.

My niece drawing in church. Late 2005.

My belongings. 2006.

Meredith. Food Not Bombs. 2006.

JayBay at Food Not Bombs. 2006.

Food Not Bombs. 2006.

Kesley with a giant strawberry. Food Not Bombs. 2006.

My niece and mom being lovey dove. 2006.

My niece’s car. 2006.

My bag and buttons. 2006.

Nathalie and Elizabeth at Rally Point. 2006.

Java Cabana. 2006.

Java Cabana. 2006.

Kelsey at Java Cabana. 2006.

My niece, dancing outside the FedEx Forum. 2006.

My niece at a wishing fountain. 2006.

My niece at the Orpheum. 2006.

The Orpheum. 2006.

My first time on a train, after a sleepless overnight flight to London. 2006.

A book I bought off a £1 sale shelf at a small London bookshop. 2006.

The door to the hostel where I stayed. London. 2006.

Trafalgar Square. London. 2006.

My first time seeing Big Ben. 2006.

Selfridges. Birmingham, England. 2006.

Birmingham, England. 2006.

Birmingham, England. 2006.

Vintage shop. Birmingham, England. 2006.

Champs. 2008.

Lunch at Garibaldi’s. 2008.

My mom’s fabulous shoes. 2009.

Curtains. 2009.

A very silly picture of my niece on her back stoop. Never-before-seen. 2009. 

I’ve included a lot of snapshots taken at parties, dinners with friends, and random nights on the town. They’re not great artistic masterpieces or anything, but I did want to showcase what a great tool the Stylus Epic is for situations like that. It’s honestly got the most balanced built-in flash I’ve ever experienced on a point-and-shoot camera. I used to have the Stylus Epic with me at all times, which is one reason I have so many casual photos of time I spent with my niece when she was younger. It’s one of the cameras that saved my bacon when I went to England for the first time and my primary camera, an SLR, kept malfunctioning! I won’t tell you that it’s the perfect camera (I have yet to encounter that,) but the Olympus Stylus Epic has a lot to offer in a cute little package.

Side note: For a camera I love so much, I haven’t used it much in recent years. I think that’s because I began using the Olympus XA in the Epic’s place. Which is quite alright. They are both great cameras which have seen heavy rotation in my photographic life. I suffer from a problem called “so many cameras, so little time!” But I’ve now loaded my Stylus Epic with film and tossed it into my purse to see if I can recapture the magic *fingers crossed*

My Favorite Faves: Yashica Electro 35 GSN/GT

I’m going to group these two cameras together, since they’re essentially the same – the GT just doesn’t have a hot shoe for a flash. They’re the same operationally, and I believe they have the same lens.

A picture of my niece with my GSN,  from 2005

A photo of my Yashica GT, taken last year

The Yashica Electro 35 GSN and GT are 35mm film rangefinder cameras. Have I ever told you about rangefinders before? They are cameras that are focused thusly: you look through the viewfinder and turn the focusing ring until the double image you see there is aligned. Just a little portion of the viewfinder is dedicated to this double image. These Yashica rangefinders each have a little sideways diamond shape that you align in order focus correctly. I actually think this way of focusing can be easier than what you have in a manual focus SLR, especially in lower light. That’s  because, with a rangefinder, as long as you can even see the outline of your subject, you can line up the double viewfinder image and have an in-focus picture.

My best attempt at photographing the viewfinder of my Yashica GT. See the little diamond in the middle? That’s how you get your image in focus. The double image is not aligned here, so that’s why the yellow area doesn’t quite look like a diamond.

The Yashicas are aperture priority cameras. That means the user chooses the aperture (f/1.7-16) and the camera chooses the shutter speed. It doesn’t tell you what the shutter speed will be. The only indication you have comes in the form of red and orange arrows on top of the camera and in the viewfinder that light up when you press the shutter release button halfway:  if you need to make the aperture smaller to avoid overexposure, you get the red arrow;  the orange arrow indicates a shutter speed of less than 1/30 second (hand holding shutter speeds slower than that will likely result in a blurry photo.) At this point,  you can a) steady the camera on a tripod or stable surface and go ahead with the photo  or b) try to set a larger aperture to see if the orange arrow disappears.  Either way, when the orange arrow lights up, the exposure will be correct, you just shouldn’t hand-hold the camera during the exposure. No lighted arrow means your chosen aperture will result in the proper exposure and hand-holdable shutter speed.

Warning arrows

Enough shop talk! Time to look at some pictures!

Yashica GSN

I believe I’ve had two of these cameras over the past 12 years or so. Perhaps three. I’ve lost count!

Yashica GT

After the demise of my second (or third) chrome GSN, I wanted to get a black version of that camera. That would be a Yashica GTN. I ended up with a GT instead. As I said earlier in this post, the difference between the GSN/GTN and the GT is that the accessory shoe on top of the GT is “cold” – meaning you have to use a flash with a sync cord instead of just being able to attach the flash to a GSN’s hot shoe. Otherwise it’s the same!


I’ve obviously loved these Yashica rangefinders for people photography and just about everything else, too! Also obvious is that I LOVE the way black and white photos look from these cameras. If I could change something about the GSN/GT, it would their minimum focusing distance: they don’t focus any closer than 2 feet 6 inches. Otherwise, I enjoy the sharp lenses, quite leaf shutters, and the simplicity of using Yashica Electro 35 rangefinders.

My Favorite Faves: The Sears 55mm/1.4 lens

I just decided that I will begin a new series here on the SWP blog, about equipment or photos I love the best but which haven’t been written about on the blog yet. I have only had this blog since 2009, so there’s equipment I’ve used in the past or photos that were never shown here. Today, I begin with one of my all-time favorite lenses…


This is a lens that was made to fit cameras with a lens mount called m42 screw mount  – or universal screw mount or Pentax screw mount. My first 35m SLR was an m42 mount, and I continued to use various m42 cameras for the first several years of foray into photography. I had a couple of favorite m42 lenses, but I think my absolute fave is the Sears 55mm/1.4. Yes, that Sears, though their lenses were reportedly made by Mamiya-Sekor.

The Sears lens came to me via my long-time pen pal, Mike, who was trying out a variety of equipment several years ago and allowed me to try some of it out. He let me keep this one instead of sending it to him in Australia! I love this lens so much that, not only have I shot it on actual m42 cameras, but I got an adapter so it’d work on my Nikon 35mm auto focus cameras, Nikon 35mm manual focus cameras, and a Nikon dSLR I used to have. What makes me so ga-go over the Sears 55mm/1.4? THE BOKEH (<—— that term is something I did my best to explain in a post or two in the early part of my SWP blogging career.)  I especially  love using it with a macro extension tube attached – it really emphasizes that dreamy, creamy, swirly bokeh that makes my heart go pitter-patter. Perfect for my style of food photography! And when it came to using this lens on my Nikon digital SLR, I actually even felt as if it gave my photos a more film-like appearance.  SO GOOD!

Difficult to cull my absolute favorite photos taken with this lens, but here’s my best attempt:

Nikon D50 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Praktica VLC3 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Praktica VLC 3 + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Praktica VLC3 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Praktica VLC3 + 55mm/1.4

Praktica VLC3 + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Praktica VLC3 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Praktica VLC3 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Yashica TL Electro-X + Sears 55mm/1.4

Nikon N50 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Nikon D50 + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon D50 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Nikon D50 + Sears 55mm/1.4

Nikon N8008 + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon FE  + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon FE + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon FE + Sears 55mm/1.4

Nikon FE + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon FE +Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon FE + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon FE + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Nikon FE + Sears 55mm/1.4 + macro extension tubes

Now that I’ve looked at all these pictures, I think it’s high time I attach that Sears lens to one of my Nikons and take advantage of that beautiful bokeh again!