Jack Howard looks for different angles with the Olympus E-3 and a bag full of fast Olympus Glass

Once again, Olympus extended their invitation to to test out their DSLRs and top of the line glass at the US Open, and once again, I accepted. (this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite end-of-summer traditions!) This year a small, select group of photography editors had all-over access with full-on photography credentials, meaning we had access to the photo dugouts and Olympus Photo Pit in Arthur Ashe Stadium, alongside sports photographers from all the major players—New York dailies, USAToday, AP, Getty, AFP, SI, and so on. And yes, shooting from the sidelines and photo wells behind the endlines is cool, no doubt about it.

And as we’ve reported previously, the Olympus Four Thirds system has really come into its own with the E-3. Autofocus was swift and accurate in the daylight conditions with the lenses I used including the 300mm f/2.8, 150mm f/2, 35-100 f/2, 14-35 f/2 to list just a few of our favorite Oly optics.

And the 2x lens factor at this level of competition—wow, we like it! A 150mm f/2 is a heck of a lot smaller and lighter than a Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 on a D3, but offers virtually identical framing. And that 300mm f/2.8 becomes an effective 600mm or a 1200mm f/5.7 with the 2x telextender—that’s some serious reach in a handholdable package! (Now if the next generation of the flagship Olympus SLR could crank the burst rate up to say, 9 or 10 frames per seconds, we’d be really, really, happy.)

Despite the exclusive access to the photo pits and sidelines and other areas the photo credential offered, I found myself gravitating to the upper decks and catwalks of the stadia—many of which are accessible to the general admission crowd—to exploit the long reach of the arsenal of Zuiko glass in my bag. These heights offer clean, crisp, and colorful geometric backgrounds free of distracting elements, which allowed me to focus on a portfolio-building self-assignment I’ve been thinking about without acting on for far too long:

Make the shadow an integral element of the sports action photograph.

Five of the selects (two with varied crops) follow on the jump.