2.25.2017

impatience rewarded

The twice-lost GX7 has arrived. No gratitude for the USPS tracking site, which still cannot locate the camera.

image captured by my tablet - awful.
I am surprised by the fine match between the 12-60mm Lumix and 30mm gen-1 Sigma. Black with silver text and fine-ribbed rings look very similar. That's nice.

First images look nice, as expected. First handling impressions are great: this body is far easier to hold than the pinch-grip required by the GM1. My wife loves that size though, so we'll both be happy with our Lumix setup!

Now to mess with menus and make it truly mine!

2.18.2017

some times I surprise myself

I had a chance to pick up a Sigma 60mm for an excellent price.. and I didn't. A tempting 14-140 Lumix f/4-5.8 also was shunned, a lesser surprise but still: well done.

I'd been sure for quite some time that my new kit would include that 60. So why did I decline? The fact is I already have a nice little 50/1.7 Pentax-A that has not even been tried yet, and being 2/3 stop faster is no little thing. The Lumix bodies have focus peaking for such lenses so their occasional use is hardly painful. Both my zooms include 60mm (with less light grasp) so it's redundant three different ways.

And yet..  a few short hours later I bought the 30mm Sigma EX DN! (the Old One with a grip - shown here)

So why did I make this deal for a lens that must compete with the 4thirds 35mm 1:1 macro? Unlike the 60mm it's less redundant, faster than the 35/3.5 and the 12-60, and also creates a fine little 17/30/45-150 kit for days when the 12-60mm is less appropriate. I don't always need to reach 12mm after all, the 17 and 30mm lenses gather more light, and weather seals on the zoom are less useful on an unsealed body. The 12-60 is still a fine lens though and will get plenty of use!

The 35mm may still win out for image quality.. but with the adapter it becomes a lot larger than the Sigma, so it could win but still lose.

Note that the same arguments can be used for the Pentax 50 vs the Sigma 60mm! To that I suggest that the size difference is smaller between those two, and light penalty greater. 
We shall see if the 60mm eventually forces its way back into contention..

2.12.2017

a two-horse race.. and a winner

It appears that for a similar amount of money I could pick one of two µ43 cameras: the Lumix GX7 or Olympus EM5 'classic'. Which to choose?

Neither is a poor choice in any circumstance. Their common  strengths are many: lenses, battery life, two control dials, tilting touch-screens, decent e-viewfinders and many control options. In-body IS debuts in the Lumix line with the GX7, and it's less sophisticated than the EM5 - yet it works really well* in some tests.

However, the differences can drive one nuts! Many websites have comparison pages between these two. Quite convenient to have websites to consult, but each user must decide what is most important to their shooting style:
  • weather seals? choose the EM5
  • more sophisticated 5-axis stabilization = EM5*
  • longer and more versatile time exposures? definitely EM5!
  • feature set and imaging pipeline that matches my wife's GM1 = GX7
  • stabilized video with any lens= EM5; lens-IS only (but touchscreen AF) with GX7
  • WiFi, NFC, tilt EVF = GX7
  • focus peaking, also GX7
  • best implementation of touchscreen that I've tried = any Lumix, ergo GX7
  • Menu system and phraseology that gives me fewer headaches? GX7 for sure
Having tried both Lumix and Olympus in several forms I find that I'm partial to the Panasonic method of setting up a camera and taking pictures. Even with the cool live-bulb feature, I let go of my previous EM5. The ability to touch the screen for AF in videos is quite handy to me and I'd miss that; the WiFi is handy now and then but it isn't enough to sway me to GX7 by itself - same with the tilting EVF, which I don't doubt I would use but I cannot say it's a Big Deal.

Yes the ending has now been written. 
I found two very nice used bodies for the same price - and I chose the GX7.

I really wanted weather seals and would like to explore the Olympus live-bulb capabilities, but for 98% of what I do the GX7 feels like the better choice for me. I felt the same way once about the Pentax K-3ii and its Pixel Shift abilities.. but in the end the other controls for everyday shooting just weren't a great fit, and when a budget crises took it away (just like the EM5) I found I missed it less than I expected. I'd love to live in a world where I did not have to spend money to learn which camera is the Right One, but that isn't the case.

image from comparison page at
https://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-lumix-gx7-vs-olympus-om-d-e-m5-comparison-review-22646
* it should be noted that one website tested both and found to its surprise that the 2-axis stabilization on the GX7 often worked better!

2.06.2017

castaways (spousal considerations II)

With the recent appeal of the GM1, my wife and I decided the Samsung NX pair can go.
Easier said than done nowadays, as everyone knows it's an orphaned system - but it is still excellent gear capable of impressive images.  The NX300 has a 20Mpx APSc sensor with PDAF sensors within, so its hybrid CD+PD system focuses quickly. The touchscreen allows for quick selection of where to AF in stills and video. I had tried to sell my copy several times recently with no success.

Today it sold!
I shall miss the uniqueness of the NX system, and how it captured colors just a bit differently from any other system I've tried. Blues and browns were somehow stronger, and images of Duncan may never quite be the same.

So the New Kit XVII has surfaced:
  • Lumix / micro43 body (GM1 for now)
  • Lumix 12-60 sealed power-IS lens (24-120mme)
  • Lumix 45-150 tiny telephoto zoom (90-300mme)
  • Olympus 17mm/2.8 pancake prime

clockwise: usb charger, Oly 17, Zuiko 35 macro adapted,
45-150 on GM1 and Lumix 12-60
At some point a few more small lenses will drop in; hopefully the Sigma 60/2.8 and a fisheye type of some sort. The higher-end primes are quite amazing, but my wife isn't the only one here who prefers their gear to be small. Besides, I am not a big user of 50mme so I don't need one of the many 24/25mm lenses. I have fast Pentax primes at 100 and 200mme so indulging in µ43 telephoto primes with few additional features feels unreasonable.

I'd like a weather-sealed body to go with that 12-60 but the GX7 is a good choice for now. Images should match the GM1 but with advanced controls & features like a viewfinder, better grip and tip screen. No rush on a second body though -- going by my track record that means "within a month", sadly. Not sad to own: sad that I'm so predictable! 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Oh yes: the emergency-backup kit remains for now. These lenses can be adapted to micro cameras, but AF is dreadfully slow that way. Still, using in MF isn't all that bad, and it's nice to have a 1:1 macro now and then.. not to mention 400mme for distant critters!
Olympus e500 dSLR (4Thirds)
Zuiko 14-42 zoom gen.2 (28-84mme)
Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 1:1 macro (70mme)
Zuiko 18-180 superzoom (36-360mme)
Sigma 55-200 zoom (110-400mme)

Given the resale value of ten-year-old digital cameras, and that the E500 uses a Kodak CCD sensor, it's hard to find a reason to give it up. CCD sensors have a different 'look' from CMOS; not many can state what that difference is, but many prefer CCD when the ISO setting can be kept at its base setting. Why not have the option? I also plan for it to be my slide-duplication setup, as 8Mpx will be plenty of data without totally jamming up a few hard drives.

2.04.2017

spousal considerations

I was reluctantly attempting to sell the GM1 to get us through the last weeks before our refinancing - but my wife knocked over the box of sale items and inquired about the amazing little camera. When she saw its possibilities, she pronounced it superior to the NX300 I bought for her last year. With her bizarre health circumstances light weight is a major factor - and lighter lenses + GM1 = winner.

So we're back to selling off the fast-depreciating NX gear. It's great stuff but Samsung declared them orphans a year or two ago, so only those truly addicted to the system will seek backup bodies for future use. Perhaps I can find those users, but most likely I will barter them off to a used site for a second Lumix body. Thankfully I did not pay much for the NX setup so I cannot lose a large amount!

So this also streamlines the second-body question.
I think my best choice now becomes a nicely-used GX7, since the GM1 uses the same imaging components inside a smaller body. That way we can take 'identical' images, which is what my wife wants us to do while she learns the basics of imaging. For several different reasons I'd prefer a GX85 or GX8 - but a used GX7 will be easier to trade for at most used shops.
In theory.

Many GX7 users who updated to a higher level have complained that the feature set is better but the interface is not quite as good.  The GX8 has weather seals that I'd love to have, the GX85 has a new shutter that removes fear of 'shutter shock', a condition that causes far more worry than blurred photos.

No matter: for now the GX7 will do just fine.
Hopefully in silver..