Wet dream for photographers
the whole thing was a bit disappointing.
But let us start in the beginning. In 2014 Olympus first came to Berlin with their concept of a photography playgound (I’ve written about it here), They took over a whole building of workshops and open spaces and invited artists to build photo settings that enable pros and hobbysts alike to create exciting and surprising pictures using perspective, light and movement. Back then they just started selling their new OM-D mirrorless cameras and this was a cool way to let people try them. After registring they set you up with one of their cameras, gave you short intro and at the end you just kept the storage card (2 GB at the time). It was raging success, people tweeted, instagrammed and facebooked the event by the 1000s.
So in 2017 they revived the concept. This time they chose an old powerstation in Berlin Mitte as their venue and added a little twist to it. So this time it is not the photography but the perspective playground. While the venue was truly impressive and it had some really cool and thankful motives set up, the ‘perspective’ theme was not well executed. Maybe my expectations were too high or maybe our idea of what constitutes a special perspective is a bit too grandiose. To be honest I expected at least one or two installations with forced perspective. Might be, we’re just not creative enough to see the opportunities but most of the exhibits had a small explanation posted alongside and none of them said something like that.
Some pieces of this years Olympus Photography Playground were variations on things they did 3 years ago, like the giant snake of glitzy fringes that started to move when you activated fans. Parts of the equipment has obviously been in use for quite some time and were completely scratched and just as in 2014 there was one lightpainting box with a line waiting. Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing is still great and you can easily spend 2 hours there, get some great shots and try out new tech – all for free. And to be fair, some pieces are truly awesome and worth the trip alone.
And the cameras, you ask? Well, with new tech you always spend more time on learning the ropes of the tools instead of focussing on your creativity. I had the E-M5 to fool around with, a medium priced machine with some nice creative features. For my personal taste the Olympus was a little too light-weight, I’m a clumsy oaf so I prefer my tech a bit more sturdy. The whole camera and lens just felt so and light plasticky that I feared to break it, by just handling it. The size and overall ergonomy was ok, but I have pretty small hands for a guy, so the cam is probably not for you if you have proper paws. Sadly the autofocus was neither particularly fast nor accurate in the low-light ambience of the playground. Another drawback; once you use one of their creative modes, everything else goes full-auto. Last but not least, when switching to video, you don’t use the normal shutter-trigger anymore but a different smaller trigger to the side of the big one. Super annoying.
[Tl;DR] If you like fooling around with a camera and friends the playground offers some exciting easy shots in a really cool venue
Info Olympus Perspective Playground
Kraftwerk Berlin / Köpenicker Straße 70 / Berlin (Subway Heinrich-Heine)
open till September 24th
Sun-Wed 11:00 – 21:00 h
Thu-Sat 11:00 – 23:00 h