"You have cancer." No one wants to hear those three words. Especially not twice. To say Karen Norton was 'Overwhelmed' when she first heard she had breast cancer is an understatement. As a wife, a mom to two young girls, and a part-time music pastor supporting her family, she already had enough on her plate. But then came those three ominous words.
'Overwhelmed' is a journey of one woman's life of health issues that seemed would never end. Would her world ever be the same again? Would she survive? Could she ever be the person God wanted her to be in this life? Would she continue to struggle with health issues and the emotions related to the changes? Would she understand why God tested her with health issues?
In many countries exist is the phenomenon of photo clubs. Part time photographers who come together monthly or weekly and share experiences and their pictures. They are great centres of enthusiasm and social interaction. But the danger is that the photography within those clubs suffer of inbreeding. By focusing on each other?s work only, a wider view of what is made remains hidden. Resulting in the most dominant member of the club dictating the level of the quality.
Recently a president of a photo club in the Netherlands was met. And he had a small book with pictures of his members. They had the idea to ask regional poets to make poems available based upon which the members of the photo club made pictures. And that was in the book: on the left page a poem and on the right page the interpretation of the poem by the photographer through an image.
The president of the photo club explained it was a second book. In the first book they had a different approach. The photographers had made a picture and the poets had written a poem inspired by the image.
This made me think how interesting it would be to publish a third book in which the poet makes a picture and the photographer writes a poem.
As an experiment...
To see what comes out of that approach.
However, this idea did not fall on fertile grounds. The president of the photo club looked as if the devil was worshipped in the Pope's bedroom. His set of dogmas was so tight, it could not be stretched to propose a photographer of his club to try to write a poem.
Many inventions of humankind came to us by doing what was until then considered the wrong way. Often by accident, for example mixing the wrong liquids, a dramatic progress was made. Why not help progress and make mistakes on purpose? Why not be free and ask diehard photographers to write a poem? Why not ask poets to change their pen for an Olympus Pen? Mr. president, come out of your trench and become a guerilla!
Le Gorvello is a romantic little village in Bretagne in the west of France. It is not that far from Paris: a high speed train takes a person from Paris to the city of Vannes in less than three hours and then to Le Gorvello is not more than 15 minutes by car. But then one is in the heart of Bretagne with its lovely hills, apple trees and medieval statues.
This is the location where the Masterclass takes place that started this morning. A group of 9 participants coming together to be their own Masters of Photography for 5 days. Because that is the essence of this unorthodox Masterclass: there is no Master instructing the students how to make the right picture. Each participant is the own Master and everything circles around this central point.
There are 8 women and 1 man and this week they all from the Netherlands. What they share is a passion for photography and the intention to use it as a tool to grow and become more complete. Each participant has been choosing a particular subject to work on this week and the results of every day's work is shared in the evening by everybody.
However, it is not about being judgemental. Not about oneself nor about the others. One shows to share an experience. A step in a process. And that is beyond good or bad.
One other unusual aspect is that sophrology is part of the Masterclass. Each day 45 minutes is spend to do exercises that makes the consciousness more in harmony. It is a science that is developed by the neuropsychiater Alfonso Caycedo in 1960 and the method has spread worldwide. Sophrologist Lucie van der Werff works with the participants of the Masterclass and teaches them a deeper consciousness from where photography is practised.
And all this while at Le Gorvello the weather is beautiful too.
The Olympus "E-3Ti". An unfulfilled dream - TWICE!
The following is written by Khen Lim in response to a post in an Olympus message forum. The orginal poster asked the following question:
...I shoot with the E30 which I love. But - I have read recently that Olympus are only going to go the m4/3 direction now. So I am wondering - where does that leave us 4/3 users? Does this mean that we will get no new lenses to look at?
A pretty fair question, indeed! One which every Olympus user should be asking. Any regular reader of Zone-10 will know that I'm highly critical of some of the recent choices Olympus has made in product direction as well as marketing. I am less optimistic about Olympus fulfilling MY needs either now or in the future, but Khen is definitely more positive that Olympus will eventually find its way and is playing the "just wait and see" game. Honestly, I'm hoping that Khen is correct, but I'm also not holding my breath. Regardless, Olympus remains one of the best values in professional and advanced-photography today as it has been since the M-1 was introduced in 1972. My OM kit is evidence of that. - Ken Norton
Khen Lim writes:
Olympus' decision to go Micro FourThirds shouldn't be a source of discouragement. Your question, however, is not unique. Many before you have asked the same thing, have displayed much the same level of concern and have been (unfortunately) ripe for some scaring from others. I like to say this much to you and all others who have been through this trodden querying road:
*Fact 1: Olympus will one day stop FourThirds* While that sounds scary enough, it won't be happening anytime soon. When Olympus decides to hang up the FourThirds gloves, there will be certain things established in the market by then. And all these that will be established then will FULLY ENABLE FourThirds users to make the jump to the Pen system WITHOUT feeling like they are sacrificing anything technical or performance-wise.
*Fact 2: Olympus cannot afford to abandon FourThirds users* You know, the more Olympus says this, the more they get shot down. It's not like the company can ever try to do anything right. There are so many critics out there that I would be the first to applaud Olympus if they just give up saying anything at all these days. Seriously there is no point. The only thing left to do is just to continue doing what they believe and let their actions speak louder. Because one of these days, I'd love to see ALL these critics eat humble pie - especially those who believe they can run the company any better than the Japanese themselves. The long and short of this is, Olympus isn't abandoning FourThirds users. In other words the E-System continues to be available. Olympus continues to commit fresh stocks of all lenses, flash units and accessories to supply.
*Fact 3: Olympus does not own the retail stores* Funny one, this one. Many have said on this and other forums that Olympus' FourThirds offerings are very poorly represented. And with all the knives out in broad daylight, every known critic has laid criticism on Olympus. I don't often say very much these days (tired of the tirade, to be honest). Anyway I don't think what I say matters because I'm one against the whole tidal wave here. There are a few in this forum whom I have respect for what they say rationally (and loyally) but they number too few.
If the retail stores do not sell Olympus FourThirds, that's because the sales just aren't there to justify them keeping the cameras and lenses on the shelves. I don't believe, however, that there are none at all - just that by comparison to Nikon and Canon, they're really a very distant third in representation. How does Olympus' DSLR visibility fare compared to Sigma or Pentax or Sony? I don't profess to be smart here - I'm just asking. At any rate, it is always possible to get your Olympus wares online. It's probably easier and you don't face sub-standard and prejudicial salesmanship.
*Fact 4: Olympus won't be launching new lenses* Yes, this is true. The last bit of news to confirm this was some time ago by now. That was when Olympus mooted the impending arrival of its second purpose-designed macro lens, the 100mm macro that was supposedly going to be f2.8 or faster. Olympus had this one finalised to pre-production level. There were at least two different versions available in-house but the guillotine came and we didn't see it at all.
There will not be any new lenses beyond what we can see in the E-System range today. And frankly, there is no real need to go further because the current offerings cover a wide enough range. In FourThirds format, the range is between 7mm and 300mm. In film-speak, that's 14mm ultra-wide angle (rectilinear fisheye) to 600mm ultra-telephoto. Frankly for my full-time photography work, I'm a two lens man if at all. Give me a 14-54mm II and a 50-200mm SWD and I'm fine for the rest of my career. That doesn't mean I have only two lenses with me. I do have quite a few others but I really haven't found myself in a stage of pining for lenses that Olympus doesn't make and that the E-System doesn't feature.
Some might say that the E-System has a chronic shortage of prime (fixed focal length) lenses. That is true especially on the short tele to wide and super-wide range. So I'll tell you something here: Olympus' abandoned roadmap for FourThirds lenses had included a great deal of many of these lenses. To curtail its development means very little in the end for us because we learn to make do with what we have. It makes me feel stronger that I can gain confidence in using what I have instead of finding myself short-handed by what I don't have. So at the end of the day, I am actually a mono-lens user. The 14-54mm II is that classic piece of lens that lives forever for me. I can't afford the 14-35mm; so the 14-54mm will have to do.
*Fact 5: Olympus' future is not with FourThirds* Yes, as hard to swallow as this fact is, it is true eventually. FourThirds however does live in our consciousness courtesy of the fact that it offers its format to the smaller Micro FourThirds cameras. But the form factor will go the way of primeval beings. Just as much as medium-format gave way to the smaller 35mm film cameras, the same is happening today except that mirrorless cameras like the Pen are taking over from the bigger, clunkier and much heavier mirrored DLSRs. I think that in this eclipsing of one format by another, the full-frame DSLRs will move into a different segment in much the same fashion as medium-format did. The popularity of 35mm film cameras did not kill of medium-format and that point must be clear. Therefore mirrorless cameras won't extinguish mirrored DSLRs either.
However I can see a few things clearly from my crystal ball: Firstly full-frame DSLRs may get caught fighting it out with medium-format digital cameras. Secondly in this fight, no one really knows where APS-C DSLRs will be. They're neither here nor there. Low-end APS-C DSLRs will die; that's for sure. And that includes FourThirds DSLRs as a matter of fact. Olympus saw this well ahead of time. That is why it has moved so early; obviously way too early for some people to even give them credit for doing so.
*Fact 6: FourThirds users still have time* And I mean this one seriously. Currently in my photography business, I'm running exclusively FourThirds and I have time on my hands. I do have a replacement roadmap in place but it will be awhile before I put that into action. Right now, I run half a dozen DSLR camera bodies of which three are active and the other three are backups. The active ones are E-5, E-30 and an E-3 of late. The backups are E-620s and one E-510. Lens-wise I have a coverage from 9mm (EFL 18mm) to 200mm (EFL 400mm) and we're perfectly satiated.
Do I want to add more to these? No. Do I need to add more to these? No.
I'd rather do the best I can with what we have and save the money to prepare to execute my replacement plan when I need to. Like I say, I know I have time. I'm a little less than 2.5 years away starting from today to replace our E-DSLR cameras with the Pen. And when that happens here's what I will have in circa 2014:
1. Same level of quality, reliability, robustness and build integrity 2. Even better AF performance than you imagine 3. The much pined after multispot metering 4. Sensational LCD/LED development that you hadn't thought before 5. Better flash technology than we're seeing with the current FL 6. Beautiful beautiful AND SMALL but fast lenses to die for 7. Better system rationalisation for global application - something the E-System has somewhat failed to deliver 8. Unbelievable EVF quality and performance
In short, what we'll have in 2014 will be enough to get everyone to sit up and take notice. Olympus could be in the position to give those who lost their souls to Nikon/Canon to come back like the prodigal sons.
When a photographer is asked to make a picture of a flower, there should be no problem. Walk with the camera into the garden on a sunny day and plenty of flowers are there to be photographed.
But what when a photographer is asked to make a picture of loneliness? Or happiness? A picture could be made of a smiling person. But someone could see that image as a commercial picture for a dentist and unrelated to happiness. Or a picture could be made of a man sitting in the shadow of a single palm tree on a small island surrounded by the ocean. But someone could see that image as the illustration of the ideal holiday destination.
This issue came up yesterday when working for the photo project “What the world has never seen”. One of the candidates has a private issue nobody knows about that results in her being isolated and feeling alone. Now, how to express that in a picture? In a way that there can be no doubts? That anybody who sees the picture immediately knows and feels the person in the image is feeling alone.
There is no instruction manual available for these kinds of pictures. A book where under “Alone” is explained how to make an adequate picture representing that emotion. And also the photographer cannot know in advance how exactly to make a picture representing a specific abstraction like emotion.
A convincing picture can only be made when the photographer becomes an artist. Who is a person that explores, invents and creates. Who makes something from nothing. Who is able to overcome insecurity and who knows how to handle fears of failure. Who knows how to prepare a stage where magic likes to happen.
A flower close-up with the Olympus OM Zuiko 100mm F2.0 Lens
From an Olympus list group:
> Want something close to a full frame without paying the THOUSANDS of dollars. Currently shooting Nikons but if the cost is starting to rise and if the price of converting is reasonable I probably will switch.
Khen Lim writes: I'm not sure about the part that says, "Want something close to a full frame" let alone the other part, "...without paying the thousands of dollars."
FourThirds is NOWHERE near full-frame. APS-C is somewhat technically closer but I've got a saying that goes, 'near enough is not the same.' APS-C might be closer to full frame than FourThirds but it ain't full frame at any rate. Your statement there doesn't truly have a real answer or at least one I can understand. FourThirds as a photography proposition is not about cost. Detractors will tell you that the E-5 body, as an example, is near enough to APS-C camera bodies in price. As for the lenses, the cost thing also rears its head. Excellent Zuiko glasses aren't exactly cheap also. For that matter, you'll be looking at paying 'thousands of dollars' for some of those remarkable ultra-fast Zuiko lenses.
So when it comes to moving from Nikon to Olympus, is it about saving a quick buck here and there? Not for me, it isn't. Do you get to save 'thousands of dollars'? Definitely not. So what is it about? FourThirds is an expression of individuality that is characteristic of an Olympus tradition. If you know and understand this company, you'll learn that Olympus doesn't take kindly to following and therefore imitating others. When the industry dragged its lazy feet and came out with full-frame (a no-brainer but predictable move), Olympus stayed put. The industry then came out with APS-C. And Olympus didn't move either. Why? Because the philosophies of this company are somewhat so removed from the other companies.
Full frame isn't difficult to hop on to and create cameras from. If Olympus wanted to join Canon and Nikon, it was dead simple. They have enough 35mm full-frame film lenses to back them up. All they have to do is sub-contract sensors from Kodak or Sony and they'll have competing DSLRs. APS-C to Olympus was something of a limbo - neither here nor there. There were no real distinct advantages to go APS-C because the lenses weren't exactly much smaller or more compact. And these observations were the cornerstones for Olympus to think divergently.
Therefore when you decide to go Olympus, it is these philosophies and the real thinking behind the development of FourThirds that would form the true reasons. It's not the money you save.
From these cornerstones, Olympus developed leadership that cannot be argued. Inventiveness and creativity with an unimaginable breadth of original ideas are what differentiate Olympus to other camera makers. They've been like this since they hit the ground running in 1972 with the OM-1 and they've never given up any ground to its competitors.
FourThirds presented itself over the years with undeniable innovations that others have quietly picked up. Some manufacturers have the audacity to call these ideas theirs when a little homework is all that is needed to realize that Olympus trailblazed them. So when it comes to FourThirds, what do you have that money cannot seem to buy for you with other formats and brands? What in fact does FourThirds/Olympus offer that is worth beyond the 'thousands of dollars' you spend or don't spend?
The good folks here at My Olympus will tell you that Olympus colours are to die for. And it seems that the whole world is in agreement when it comes to out-of-camera (OOC) JPEG images. These have been a true Olympus hallmark whether you're looking at the older E-10/E-20 or their compact cameras or their recent E-System DSLRs or their current (controversial to some) breed of Pen Micro FourThirds models. In other words when it comes to JPEG colours, we are unbeatable.
How really good are they?
Well Steve Huff (www.stevehuff.com I think) did an insane comparison between the latest Pen E-P3 and the monstrously priced Leica M-9. You should head over there and look at the AWB-based JPEG colours. Don't be horrified with what you discover. Just thank your lucky stars that the world has a place - indeed a very special haloed place - for a company like Olympus. And stuff like JPEG colours can't be had whether or not you are prepared to pay those thousands of dollars because colours have nothing to do with dollars. You either have a camera that can produce them or you don't.
Built-in image stabilization. Maybe JPEG colours are an unfair thing to talk about because some might try for years and still can't crank out the colours. But when it comes to integrating I.S. into a camera, it's a simple decision of yes, we should or no, we don't. Olympus believes you gotta have it and they built on that decision to come up with in-camera I.S. that not only works but brings along with it, remarkable cost advantage in the longer term.
Just look at the numerous comparisons between any Olympus Pen model and other competing mirrorless propositions and you'll understand that built-in I.S. is one of the most important distinguishing features that gives the Pen (any Pen) a clear advantage. What I'm driving at is built-in I.S. is not an insignificant feature. The fact is Olympus FourThirds cameras all have this in recent times. Nikon doesn't. Canon doesn't. In their infinite wisdom not to provide one, you live with that and you make decisions purchasing new lenses with the need for I.S. in your mind (or otherwise). Whereas with Olympus, every lens you fix on to late model E-System body will have image stabilization. Period.
Very simple thinking indeed but obviously too simple for some of Olympus' competitors but Olympus users are always thankful for this little feature.
Other than JPEGs and built-in I.S., the next most legendary advantage for all Olympus users is the glass. Two names are what counts - one is ZUIKO and the other is TATSUNO. No other camera manufacturer offers the combination of optical excellence with (relative) affordability the way Olympus does.
Olympus' traditional strengths have always been in terms of optical quality plus... resolving power. The home of Olympus has always been microscopes. Since the year of its birth 1919, the company has been an undisputed world leader in optical quality that promises some of the most amazing resolving power. For those who own and use the Zuiko Digital 50mm f2.0 lens will not only understand but also enjoy a glimpse into the capabilities of this little maverick Japanese camera company.
It is this strong tradition that Olympus jealously guard. Therefore whenever the name Zuiko is used on a lens, it should not be taken for granted. Speaking of which, the compact giant-killer XZ-1 has a built-in zoom lens with the label Zuiko. You needn't ask...the answer is wow, yes, that's one damn fine lens. Little wonder the XZ-1 is rocking the world and scaring the living daylights out of Canon and Nikon with their counter offerings. It's about time Olympus returned to this arena and give them a deserved whacking I'd say.
The name is so revered that even when used on kit lenses, it stands out in the crowd. You can safely compare it to Panasonic's Leica-branded kit lens for FourThirds. Just don't be surprised that the Zuiko is better in almost every way. And yes, I'm referring to the current version Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 ED. That's one fine lens. Forget about crap talk about slow optical speeds - you get that because this is an inexpensive kit lens. The fact is with this lens, resolution is remarkable across most apertures. Considering how little it costs to own one, you wonder what it is about the name Zuiko.
I think I've said enough. My thoughts in answering your question are these:
Owning and using an Olympus is not about cost advantage. It's about appreciating the inner strengths of an Olympus product. It's about optical quality. It's about effortlessly wonderful JPEG images. It's about innovation, creativity and a sense of imagination that only bewilders the competition.
Package arrived via Fed-Ex. With shaking hands I carefully open it up and unwrap the goodies inside. One of the top items is an OM Zuiko 100 F2 - a lens I've been too afraid to even consider through the years. Any good? Well, my daughters kindly allowed me to do a quick lens test on them. Too close, I know, but... Both were taken wide-open (aperture of F2) on the Panasonic DMC-L1, which is a Four-Thirds crop-sensor camera. A keeper? To quote Sarah Palin: "You Betcha!"
It is one thing to make pictures, but it is another thing to get them under the eyes of a large audience. In fact, between a photographer and his pictures and the audience waiting to see them, is a group of people deciding what will be presented. They serve like a filter, a jury, the sons and daughters of God. Remarkable is that they decide what pictures are published or exhibited while they themselves never make pictures. They don't even know how to do it and to make an image of some significance while they sit in a position where they decide which picture is good and which picture is bad.
Now in New York, besides performing the photo project “What The World Has Never Seen”, several persons are met who are in between photographers and the audience. And let it be clear for those among us who don't know yet, in this world between the photographers and the audience we can see those who are true jerks and those who are open and helpful.
For example, a director of a photo gallery was met and we had a coffee in a coffee shop. The meeting took about two hours and of those two hours maybe five sentences could be spoken by the photographer. It was the director of the gallery who seemed to be on cocaine and spoke like he was the Niagara. Saying things like: “I have over one million contacts.” Such a meeting ends wondering what sense it all made. For the photographer but also for the audience. The director of the gallery probably feels sitting on top of the world but he makes himself the fool on the hill.
Another meeting took place in a photography gallery of high reputation in New York. This gallery is selling my work: they have for a potential value of over $700.000 of my work from the 70's and 80's in stock they purchased from another dealer several years ago. The director of this gallery had asked to present myself when visiting. And so we did. We heard the staff of the gallery in the office having a good time: laughing and talking vividly. The girl at the desk took the business card to them and the director of the gallery and his curator came quickly. They shook hands and said they were happy to finally see a face behind the images they were selling. And that was it. We were all standing there and they didn't ask anything. No invitation to come to the office and sit down. No offer of a cup of tea or even a glass of water. No interest in current activities or well being. Just standing there like zombies.
Again, like with the other director of the gallery, it made the question come up: what am I doing here? And the question: why are those people behaving in this way? Impolite and uninterested while making money off me.
But it can be different!
There was also a meeting with the director of a major photo agency. Who is by birth English, lived in different countries, speaks different languages, and is highly appreciated by many photographers. I know this man for over 35 years and when we meet he is warm, cordial and interested. He has an appreciation for my work and always tries to help in any way he can. He makes his worldwide network available when he believes in a good photo project. And his knowledge and marketing expertise he connects to, in this case, “What The World Has Never Seen”.
When meeting such a person it not only makes a photo project like “What The World Has Never Seen” grow and develop, but it is also a most pleasant encounter. It took place over lunch in an excellent Italian restaurant.
Question or comment? Contribute to this column by sending an e-mail to:
"What The World Has Never Seen" is currently in production with Michel and his team travelling around the world. To keep up with the latest from Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski and the project "What The World Has Never Seen", please visit his blog at:
ETTR is a subject of much gnashing of teeth, food fights and the occasional hunger fast. Does it work? Yes. But there are enough foibles and potential problems involved that it is not always practical. In fact, it is rarely practical. What most people don't realize is that it is an "unmanaged" form of the old Ansel Adams' "Zone System".
The advantages of ETTR are two-fold: Noise-reduction and tonal separation. Noise reduction because you will more often than not pull the exposure downward in the conversion. Tonal separation in that you are stretching downward more bits to cover the lower tonal zones.
Where things go hokey, though, is in the highlights. There is no free lunch and there are no free bits. If you are going to pull bits down into the lower zones, the upper zones are punished. We usually see this rear its ugly head in the form of color shifts in clouds and the reds, yellows and oranges becoming detached from reality. If you use ETTR, it is imperative that NO color channel is fully saturated on the sensor. With Olympus cameras, this is not as easy as it sounds. Due to the dual-colored greens and the specific method of demosiacing which is necessary for Olympus/Kodak/Panasonic sensors, you will get a fully saturated detector in one of the two greens, but the histograms will show that you still have some headroom. I use flashing highlights and they start kicking in about a stop below full saturation, but in reality, it turns out just about perfect because of the hidden saturation nature of the sensor.
Speaking of no free lunch and no free bits, the same is also true with Adobe RGB color space. It get all those extra colors, bits have to be taken from somewhere else. In the case of aRGB, those are taken mostly from the shadows. ETTR is extremely important if you are an aRGB person. Not so important if you are using sRGB. Shadow tones are much smoother in sRGB than aRGB.
OK, back to ETTR. If you are photographing your "Great Landscape Fine Art Photograph" which you know you are going to make millions of dollars from, then ETTR is great and does make a different--especially if the lighting is flat enough that the entire contrast of the scene fits well within the margins of the histogram. Push that histogram to the right. Maybe not all the way to the right, but gaining one stop of exposure does help. However, if the scene is high-contrast and you barely can fit the histogram within the goal posts, then ETTR serves little purpose other than to give you the heebie-jeebies that you aren't doing things the best way possible.
But, there is one other aspect to ETTR that we must consider. ETTR is intended for images which will get extensive tonal manipulation. If you are able to capture the scene in close to final form, then ETTR is actually a detriment. Not only does it force you into manhandling each and every photograph, but it also has the potential of screwing up your highlights. If you are able to capture the scene in close to final form, do not use ETTR. For most of us, and for most applications, it is always best to expose the image as close to perfect exposure as possible.
One big disadvantage to ETTR is that you are just as likely to underexpose the scene as overexpose the scene. In an effort to protect the highlights, you can end up with a radically underexposed image. This is where photographic triage kicks in during the shoot and you have to decide whether a certain highlight is worth saving at the expense of the shadows and midtones. An effort to save the highlight can end up killing your shadows. This is where people start to really go nuts and decide they need to take multiple exposures and use HDR to combine them. Patient lives, but has a bag for a bladder.
ETTR is a valid exposure method, just as the Zone System is for B&W film and for most of the same reasons. But it must be used selectively for applications it is best for. The metering system in my OM-4T and OM-3Ti have a really nifty ETTR function. I just spot-meter the highlight in the scene and press the "Hi-Lite" button. The resulting exposure will then be such that it puts the selected exposure up on the scale enough to be right up to the edge, but not over the edge, of possible exposure. It also has the equivalent ETTL (Expose To The Left) button (shadow) which moves the selected spot meter exposure far enough to the left that it keeps from going black. (An example of this method is when photographing snow-scapes. Just get my meter reading from the snow and press the "Hi-Lite" button. My snow ends up perfectly exposed).
So, how does ETTR compare in the real world with Olympus and Panasonic cameras? First of all, we must understand that the sensor array in the Olympus and Panasonic cameras is different than found in most cameras. Therefore, ETTR does present a problem if you push it too far. One green blows out before the other, but you don't know it by the histograms. When one of the greens blow out, the reds, yellows and oranges go nasty on you. Another thing is that ETTR is better for CMOS sensors than CCD sensors where CMOS has on-chip noise-reduction which greatly affects tonal separation. Highlights are smoother than the shadows. CCD sensors (especially the Kodak sensor found in the E-1) does shadows better than almost anything else out there. Olympus also uses a dithering algorithm which adds noise evenly over the image to mask the stair-stepping.
ETTR is potentially a real disaster when photographing people. DO NOTE THAT ETTR FANATICS RARELY SHOOT PORTRAITS! Sorry about the yelling, but this is an important point. ETTR promoters don't photograph people. They shoot nature shots where color accuracy is rarely sought or attained. Those who shoot portraits or products almost always use mid-tone metering. The sensors are optimized NOT for the highlights but for the midtones. Serious studio photographers expose for zero brightness correction and almost always use CCD cameras.
Overall, my best quality images are when I expose and control my scene so that in-camera the images are as close to end-result as necessary. This gives me a far improved workflow and in the case of the Panasonic DMC-L1, workable images. The L1 images are positively horrid when subjected to ETTR where I have to pull the exposure back by more than a stop.
As always, know your cameras and know your process. What works for one person may not work for you. Your subjects, working methods and work-flow may be substantially different than somebody else's.
And remember this: Ansel Adams' "Zone System" was neither universally used nor accepted. Of the "greats" of that era, he was one of the few practitioners of the method and it only worked because he maintained careful control of ALL of the steps from camera to print. Weston, for example, pretty much thought it was a kooky idea.