Home > gear talk, manifesto, top ten lists > Religion and the Olympus E-P1 Digital Pen

Religion and the Olympus E-P1 Digital Pen

Click HERE for todays photos.

The recent solar eclipse was quite the sight to see here in Japan.  It was cloudy near Tokyo during the event, but thank to the power of the internet I was able to view it live via streaming video.   It did get spooky-dark during the eclipse, and it made me wonder about what people used to think way back in history when things like that would happen.

Were they scared?  Excited?  Did they care?

I have no idea, but what I do know for sure is that many thousands of years ago people were really about the same as people today.  They just lacked the scientific level of knowledge to help explain all of those inexplicable things that they experienced in their daily lives.  The rise and fall of the tides, solar (and lunar) eclipses, the changing of the seasons, and why Wayne Newton was such a popular entertainer.  Yes, the list of things not explainable was long, and varied.

And as people generally like to understand their world (or at least feel like they understand it) a group of enterprising individuals came up with a solution.


All of a sudden there was a cause and a reason for everything.  Nothing was random, and everything happened according t some grand plan.  But these people who created the gods and such had ulterior motives.  Yes, they did hand the general public an explination for all of the worlds unknowns, but they also used it as a manner to control those same people.

And they did it in a very interesting manner…

By making people feel important.

We were no longer insiginificant.  By George, we had an all knowing , all seeing individual (or group, depending on the local gospel) that took a vested interest in every little thing we do.

We mattered.  We were important.

The only catch was you had to be careful no to stray from the “rules”, otherwise instead of things being wonderful, you were slated to endure an eternal procession of misery and pain (like attending a Wayne Newton concert) .

Pretty clever actually.  Tell somebody that the reason behind everything is “X”.  With “X” being whatever religion developed in each region of the world.  People feel satisfied that they now “understand” things, and life can continue on, just so long as you continue to “believe” in something that nobody can prove.  (And they call those that believe in extra terrestrial life/intelligence nuts…)

I do have to give the Pope credit though.  He did state his believe that intelligent life on other panets is a possibility, even if he did add a disclaimer to the statement by saying that it will all have been part of Gods plan.

Personally I would like to think that there is intelligent life in the Universe, but before I have proof  cannot believe it as fact.  But I do sincerely hope that there is something else out there, becasue if that were true then there would be at least one intelligent planet in this vast cosmos.

But here we are in the 21’st(!) century, all smug in the satisfaction that we “understand”, that we somehow know better than those ignorant boobs from the past.  But I would argue that we are, in general,  are even more naive than our ancestors.   In our predecessors defense, they did not have the scientific method to help explain things to them, so they had no choice but to accept the only explination being offerd.

But we have started (and just barely started, there is so much more to learn) down the path of science, and have been able to explain so many of those past mysteries, using the scientific method, that we now know that many (if not all) of our prior “beliefs” were flat out wrong.

For example: Without a shadow of a doubt, we all now understand why solar eclipses happen.  We also understand why the seasons change, and why Wayne Newton is so painful to listen to (he is the Anti-Christ).

But so many of us still choose to be blinded by religion, and fail to accept the fact that we don’t matter.  The only rules are those that we and the society we live in place on us.  This is why things that seem so abhorent to some (like killing a girl that was raped  in order to save the “honor” of the family) are accepted as normal in other cultures.  But even then, many of these cultural differences are the result of divergent religous paths conflicting on basic ideological levels.

I can understand the siren song of religion, I just don’t buy it.   It would be nice to be able to accept a simplified explination for things, to feel important, and to be given some level of comfort that when my time on this earth is done it will not really be the end for me.

I hope you are not thinking that I am diametrically opposed to religion, as this is not the case.  Most religions have a very positive message, and if parts of this message are followed, the result can be a more harmonious existance.    It’s just that I for one have not yet bought the explinations for things that religion provides.

There are a few things that, if religion were able to explain them, I may become a believer.  Here is my top-ten list:

1. why are the wicked not punished in the here and now instead of some afterlife where nobody really knows if it happens or not?

2. Why do bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people?  Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of justice if there is an all powerful being orchestrating this silly show?

3. Why do so many people chose Adjustable Rate Mortgages?

4. Why is it that is you don’t believe in the same invisible person as me, you are “wrong”?  Isn’t religion supposed to be all about tolerance?

5. Where does that other sock go when you put it in the dryer?

6.Why doesn’t The Vattican publicly release ALL of the gospels?

7. Why is Wayne Newton so popular?  (See question 1: Maybe we are ALL already in hell)

8. How do Jehovahs Whitnesses ALWAYS know when I am at home?  (Even here in Japan!)

9. Why do whales and snakes have vestigial leg bones?

10. Why are top-ten lists so polular?


In other, less contoversial, news:  I recently bought an Olumpus E-P1.  It’s a micro 4/3rds mount camera, and as far as I can tell so far, goin got be a HUGE hit for olympus.

Click HERE for todays photos, all of them were taken with the E-P1 in 6×6 mode with the “pin hole” art filter.  Other than converting from Raw to jpeg, no post-processing work was done on my part, these are straight out of the camera.

The kit lenses (14-42mm, and 35mm f2.8 pancake) are great, but what makes this camera really exciting is the fact that it accepts darn near any other type of lens.  This is possible because the register distance, from the lens mount to the sensor plane is very short, thus you can use an adapter ring of the appropriate thickness to make up the difference for other makers lenses.

I’ve been shooting with it for about two weeks now, and while it is not perfect, it is one solid piece of equipment.  The only real gripe I have is the fact that there is a 2x crop factor on all lenses used, so finding a nice fgast normal or wide anle lens is a challenge.  My wonder normal zuiko 50mm f1.2 ends up “looking” like a 100mm f1.2.

It’s also got the best high-iso image quality I have seen from a 4/3rds camera.  Its good enough in fact that this has become my default street shoting camera, and my beloved Leica M8 will soon be hitting the auction block.  I like the M8, but I can’t justify keeping such an expensive camera if I won’t be using it.

Here is a quick list of the Pro’s and Con’s of the E-P1 after my brief experience with it:


  • Very compact build, yet still very solid
  • Great high ISO image quality
  • Very compact 17mm f2.8 pancake lens (35mm equivelant) , but I am really waiting for the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake
  • Kit zoom lens is tack sharp, and has a cool collapsing design to make it much smaller when closed
  • Built-in art filters and aspect ratios are fun
  • Nice array of external controls, easy to adjust exposure on the fly
  • I can use many different makes/types of  lenses on it


  • 2X crop factor (ouch!)
  • no built-in flash or viewfinder
  • low frame rate when using some of the art filters (especially my favorite, the pin hole)
  • auto-focus could be faster

So while it’s not perfect, it’s certainly close enough to make me a very happy shooter.   All cameras are a compromise between cost, size, weight, speed, etc…

With the E-P1, Olympus seems to have boiled that conflicting equation down to a very pallatable mix.

  1. Chris
    August 9, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Great post Jeff! The religious conversations ALWAYS cause trouble for me. Yesterday there was a lady on the street corner telling me to be good because I won’t go up in the rapture, I then explained to the lady that the word “rapture” does not appear in any books of the bible and it’s a man-made concept……Well that didn’t sit right with her and I got an earful LOL.

    That’s why I LOVE Japan, because religion doesn’t seem to be a big issue for me there, except from people coming to “convert” people in Japan (usually from the US 😦 ). I go back and forth with the religion theories, But in the end it just boils down to how you treat people and how you are treated.

  2. 2yen
    August 9, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Yes, there are three topics that seem to always bring out the Radical in everyone:

    1. Religion
    2. Politics
    3. Wayne Newton

  3. C
    August 9, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I havent read your post yet, but i just wanted to say, “welcome back”! Glad to know youre still out there on this island!

  4. 2yen
    August 9, 2009 at 10:45 am


    Yup, still here. 🙂 Just been busy as of late.

  5. August 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Wow, wow, wow, another post! I like, I like.
    It’s an interesting discussion actually. WIthout getting too philosophical:
    1) because they aren’t. It’s just a way for the churches to say you are evil whilst their, rather dubious, deeds, are divine…
    2) Simple: Crime does pay. If I would ever go so bankrupt that I’ll be homeless, jobless, etc (touch wood), I’ll commit a crime that’s so horrible, they will lock me up for life. That way (in Holland anyway) I will have my own room with stereo, lcd tv, bed, toilet, 3 square meals a day, socialising (group therapy), andf I get to study as well! Who can beat that?!?
    3) Because like with religion, people like to believe whatever they cannot explain.
    4) No, you got that wrong. religion is about domination and power. I don’t know about Shinto, but I like to consider Buddhism a way of life, rather than a religion (so it escapes my explanation. To explain: Buddhism is in my eyes the only “religion”/way of life that actually respect all forms of life and believes). All other religions are pure about power, money, domination, etc. Many people complain about Islam, but in earnest, the Christian religions haven’t been much better (if you have a pointy nose, or a black cat you get burned, drowned, hung, etc). And even now the roman catholic church keeps getting bad press about child abuse all over the world! Nice eh?
    5) It’s a conspiracy of dryer manufacturers. they sell those socks on ebay to pay for the development costs.
    6) A) There aren’t any other gospels. B) there is in fact such a thing as God and he did write them, but they would undermine the church’s preaching so badly that the group Rock Bitch would become plain and ordinary.
    7) Who is this Wayne Newton character anyway? Is he a cross bread between John Wayne and Isaac Newton? Both were quite popular in their days…
    8) Simple, its another conspiracy. This one involves ex-president Bush. Junior as some may know, is also a religious fanatic, hence his association with Jehovah’s. However, as (ex) president he had the capacity to actually bug your house, just like with everyone else. remember, junior is watching you (well, maybe not anymore)
    9) It allows them to spontaneously grow legs and run away if Wayne Newton starts singing again…
    10) It’s a conspiracy. No really it is!

    Now, on the camera, wow, wow, wow! I want one! Damn, my birthday has just passed…

  6. Zoichi
    August 9, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Well I totally agree, those are always delicate topics to discuss (LOL Im glad I don’t even know who Wayne Newtown is :D). I always have troubles with people telling me how I don’t believe in their “god” and thus Im gonna rot and whatever, I agree with 4. of your list

  7. C
    August 10, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    first 2 photos for this post are excellent. love the feeling of blue spiral.

  8. Chris
    August 16, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Hey Jeff (And anyone reading)

    Sorry for asking in your post Jeff, if this isn’t ok to do I understand

    I am taking my family back to Japan at the end of the month and I really need some help finding cool places, stores, stuff etc. I will be staying in Narita, But I will have a car so I’m not too bound by that area. I am really interested in second hand stores, game stores and fun stores like Don Quioxte. Friends in Japan talk about “Shop 99” all of the time, But I’ve never seen one before. I have a Japan GPS so that will be helpful (hopefully lol).

    Thank you for your time and any info!

  9. September 10, 2009 at 2:46 am

    I’ll leave with “religion” I’m responding from… but here it goes a somewhat serious response to the questions.

    1. why are the wicked not punished in the here and now instead of some afterlife where nobody really knows if it happens or not?

    The wicked are not punished now because life is a proving ground of sorts. Free will and the like with a bit of knowledge of true life.

    2. Why do bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people? Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of justice if there is an all powerful being orchestrating this silly show?

    Would people really want to live if it was a happy fun perfect (boring) world? Bad things happen because a choice was made to do things on our own. I like my free will, but I do try to keep some things in mind as I make choices. Why do people have a sense of right an wrong? I think “being good” is something that is learned, but the concept must have come from somewhere…

    3. Why do so many people chose Adjustable Rate Mortgages?

    Impulse buying without a down payment.

    4. Why is it that is you don’t believe in the same invisible person as me, you are “wrong”? Isn’t religion supposed to be all about tolerance?

    That judgmental viewpoint is a human one. If a person tells you are wrong outright, they are letting their personal ideas/feelings get in the way. I think trying to live as an example is the best method if demonstrating the “right” way.

    5. Where does that other sock go when you put it in the dryer?

    It burns up or warps to another dimension.

    6.Why doesn’t The Vatican publicly release ALL of the gospels?

    They are too busy practicing their chants.

    7. Why is Wayne Newton so popular? (See question 1: Maybe we are ALL already in hell)

    I don’t even know who that is.

    8. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses ALWAYS know when I am at home? (Even here in Japan!)

    video surveillance?

    9. Why do whales and snakes have vestigial leg bones?

    Evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive.

    10. Why are top-ten lists so popular?

    Thank social networking sites for that.

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