in praise of RESET

I had changed nearly every GX7 setting possible, and 'fixing' it was beyond my skill. Thankfully there's a menu setting just for times like this: RESET. It asks two questions, for basic and custom settings - I said Yes to both and the camera is back to its happy original self. 

I can now dive back into my guide-books and menu settings and take my sweet time fiddling with things that really don't need my intervention. For example - I found the Q.Menu could be customized so I did that immediately, without any thought as to what had been set up automatically! This time I'll try what the GX7 offers first, then toy with it as seems best.

I shall need to reset my Custom C1-5 settings - but those were not as I thought I had set them in any case!

I downloaded an e-copy of David Thorpe's 'GX7 menus simplified' book. It definitely helps to have a translation of the Lumix system (any system, really - even for a US product) so with that in mind perhaps I'll walk myself into fewer times where the camera's actions completely mystify me!


small shifts

I like my small primes.
The Oly 17/2.8 and Sigma 30 are both small f/2.8 lenses that do great work. Being f/2.8 keeps them small and I like it that way; the 12-60mm zoom can handle the tasks when versatility beats speed and best-possible image quality.

However.. the appeal of the newer Sigma 30/1.4 was beginning to get to me! Events that really could use faster glass have come and gone, forcing me into the higher reaches of ISO to pull off. The Sigma small-30 has been a great fit for many reasons, so seeing it under such pressure is sad - but it was a good candidate for replacement with a faster lens. The Sigma f/1.4 is still pretty new and in demand, so used deals are not likely at all - and it adds more cubic inches and 100g to the bulk of my kit. Not unreasonable, but still less convenient than the little f/2.8 version.

The pressure has now been relieved - but not in the way I had expected. 

A couple of deals on used Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lenses appeared online, and I ordered one of those instead.
This is perhaps the original 'must-have' lens for the µ43 system, with compactness and great image quality offset only mildly by a 'slow' AF system. I've offered up a few other spare parts in exchange so the final expense for it should be quite small.

One of those 'spares' is the Olympus 17. I'd be very hard pressed to differentiate between times when the 17 or 20 would take precedence, so better to skip that part. Thankfully the odd 46mm filter size on the 20mm matches the Sigma 30 (and their 60/2.8 for that matter) so a new pile of filters will not be needed. And on the GX7 the little primes are stabilized!

I plan to seek out a Lumix 14/2.5 in the future* for wider shots. That one is another early model semi-fast pancake that I've owned before and felt good about. That leads to 14-20-30 and 45-150 for the tiny kit, with the 12-60 for handy wide zoom. Turning the 14mm vertically and stitching 2-3 images would cover to perhaps 9mm for those rare times when that would be of value.
Here's a 'blog post from someone who looks over the Lumix pancakes and has enjoyed them for a while!

* some slight risk that a fisheye will appear instead for the wider shots.. we shall see..


phone follies

Our relationship with CenturyLink was strained big-time when our move was not handled properly. I sent them a note on their website that we were moving, but we still received a bill. Two calls and six months later we were finally disconnected - only to get a collections call several months later, and a ding on our credit just as our home loan closed. Strained indeed.

We've been using two cell phones plus a cell-based home number for a year or so.. but this past winter our signal has been really poor. To my chagrin we chose to return to a land-line for our home number; given no real choice, we had kept our internet with CLink. We shifted our home/cell # to a SIM card, picked a new home number, and it was 'installed' last month. An internet+home phone offer online offered a $100 gift card as inducement, but to my infinite lack of surprise our install was a change not new service = no gift card for us.

For about five days all went well - but then our internet flaked out And our new phone stopped working. A service call placed the blame squarely inside our home, meaning that without their monthly extortion / LineBacker coverage the expense to us would be a Big Deal. We said Hake NO, disconnected our new service and went with VoIP instead. PhonePower accepted the new number and ported it over, and all was well.

For about three days.

Apparently CLink pulled the number after PPower made it work, but before the 'official' install date! How it functioned for several days without being installed, I'll never know - but nothing about this surprises me any more.

So we now have three cell numbers + a new phone number that vanished* + a VoIP home number. 
For three people, that's just silly.. but for now we'll see how it goes. The newly-ported cell number is hooked to different cell towers than the other two (T-mobile not ATT) so it could conceivably capture a better signal than the other two. That might lead to new SIM cards all around - or just as likely I toss the whole bunch and go Luddite after I go bald from tearing out my hair.

*Update - I just called someone with caller ID, and the fully-operational voIP number is the 'vanished' one! AAAaaarrRRGH!

2nd update - c-Link turned us off for non payment the same day pPower was "installing" our new phone. We have contacted Hughes Net and will cut the clink cord next week. Good Riddance.

We also ordered a WeBoost 3g signal-plucker to assist our cell phones. 
One or more of these will bring us back into contact with the connected world; whether it's worth doing will wait to be seen!

18Apr updates. The VoIP phone calls out but would not be reached from Elsewhere by either of the two numbers; it finally worked (once at least) this morning. The WeBoost system is working well in test mode i.e. cables everywhere and lashed to an outside post with a bungee cord. A more permanent fix will follow soon.


spring cleaning

In the very near future I shall commit an act of Organization. Those often scare me, and in this case it's a big one: sorting all my images from a plethora of folders into a set sorted by year/date. Several programs can do this dirty work now, and I have a poly-terabyte backup drive to send this to. Once that looks sane I can do a boat-load of deletions, reformat my Imaging hard drive, and pull the de-chaos-ed data back there. Perhaps I can reset my cameras to monthly folders as well to make this process more fluid in the future.

I don't know it the automation of it makes this more or less spooky. So many of these images are truly junk (e.g. comparing shots taken with two or three lenses which I haven't owned in years) or just bad (taken after dark from a moving vehicle).

I've now gone a decade or more by simply making up a folder name as I go. Picasa made such decisions too easy for me - and now I'm firmly entrapped by my laziness. For example: I have a Pentax folder in the images area, with several subfolders for lenses and cameras I have used. I also have Pentax gear that is not under the Pentax folder. And other shots with Pentax cameras on the 'Pictures' folder of the c: drive! And why do I need to know it's a Pentax image by stuffing it into a specific folder, if the image data already has that label embedded within it? Plenty of thinking needs to go along with the new storage technique.

And yes, I can add labels within these sorting programs later; even Windows can do that. I can even add stars! I've always found that to be a bit odd, as why exactly would I keep 1-star images at all?

Better late than never.. maybe!


learning the GX7

After a few weeks and too little use, the GX7 still feels unusual to me. I'm hoping to change that, and also change a few settings to make it more precisely mine!

Once the basics were fleshed out (date & time, focus preference, image size/quality and such) it was time to toy with the function buttons. I've tried a few choices already but time needs to be spent before deciding which items stay or go. I've set the eye-sensor to High in the hopes that the main screen will go blank less often when my thumb passes near the viewfinder, and that custom button has returned to its original spot rather than shifting WiFi there. My custom Q-Menu is now mostly set as well. With four hard buttons and five more on the touchscreen, plus Q-Menu and 4-way pad presets, it's incredible how many settings can be accessed!

from review at cameralabs.com
I've discovered one new interactive item that I like very much - I can pop into and out of spot metering at the touch of a button! It's a touchscreen feature that you can select to change the exposure point for an image. Point to a bright object and watch the screen darken, then point elsewhere (or turn off) to return to matrix or center-weight metering. Very cool!
On is set to Fn2, reset at Fn3!

And finally - at last! - on to the Custom settings. Three positions on the mode dial can be preset to however you choose. I've owned many cameras with this feature, but have almost never put them in play - so it's time, and well past time, to make sensible use of them!

again from cameralabs
For now at least, here are my settings:
  1. Aperture priority, auto ISO to 3200, AF via rear button not shutter, standard image type
  2. Shutter priority, auto ISO 800-6400, AF on shutter (birds and other action setting)
  3. Aperture setup similar to #1, shoots RAW plus jpeg monochrome
The third position actually has two other options that are accessed via C3+touchscreen; I'll contemplate the possibilities later on those.

So far I'm holding strong on the 2-zoom, 2-prime kit. It fits quite snugly in my Tamrac Jazz 36 bag, though any additions will put me over the top. That might not stop me from buying more, but it does provide some incentive at least!
It has two compartments plus the center section for cam+attached lens; when a prime is attached the 2nd prime goes below it, otherwise the primes stack in one of the side compartments. The side pockets hold lens hoods while the front pocket has extension tube and spare batteries with a USB charger. I need to determine which filters need to come along; if many are needed I'll have to reassess my pocket uses for a safe place. 

Fun fact: GX7 plus the four lenses rounds nicely to 1 kilogram!