28 September 2016

once more on the merry-go-round

Today the K-3ii left the building, a week after the 20-40 Limited zoom. The debt-reduction strategies were not quite sufficient to change our financial situation. The original plan of buying a new camera at Christmas-time was correct, and buying early to catch the silver model was unwise. It hurts on several levels: poor budgeting, buying too much too soon, and going back to institutions for restructuring of debts. A refinance will happen soon which will 'finally' put us right - but we must watch things more closely.

So the GM1 with its simple looks and talented insides will take charge for a while, with the NX300 on deck. More Pentax lenses will go and a bargain 35-100 or 45-150mm Lumix lens will complete that kit at some point. Depending on circumstances the NX300 team might leave as well; funds outpoint gear right now to ensure no last-minute surprises interfere with the home-refinance process. And that will be fine, for now.

HOW COULD I let go of the K-3ii?
While I was sure the top-level APSc body would serve me well, several factors caught me off guard; combined with another financial crunch, this was easier to decide than I expected.

For one thing, the GM1 has multi-exposure and time-lapse stills & video. I have always liked having those items available but did not expect to see them in the minuscule Lumix. While I believe the K-3 series has more versatile options in the combining of multiple exposures that I could use, that use would not be all that frequent.

Another is the overhead that Pixel-Shifting brings to the table. I have no doubt that it can be used to great effect in many places I like to be (e.g. above timberline where few things move), the truth is I haven't been in those places recently. Also the time expense to get my software in line to accurately massage and motion-correct any issues then deal with other image factors.. well those really aren't my photographic 'thing'. Pretending that I want to do that will not fool me for long.

Finally: 24 megapixels. I find 16 to be more than enough, and usually too big to put online. When I print I feel that's sufficient, but again that's not something I have done in a few years. Having the capability to do things that don't greatly interest me is the wrong path right now. Perhaps in a few years I'll take a road less traveled, but as a homebound caregiver for the past several years it's not a time to overextend my gear. I need to accept that reality.

So 16Mpix, micro4:3, and simplicity will do - for now! And if I must carry something larger I can still pull out the E500 and its chunky 18-180mm zoom and look more like a pro. A pro visiting from 2007 yes, but still..

10 September 2016

the 'simple' GM1

The GM1 and K-3ii are both excellent cameras with numerous features that add to their capabilities. Both have intervalometers for stop-action video or time-lapse imaging, sensor sizes are similar (4Thirds / APSc) so enlargements are of high quality, and each is pretty compact for its type. The Pentax adds weather seals, the larger sensor with more resolution, an optical viewfinder and really long battery life; the GM1 is essentially pocket size, can use its own or Pentax lenses, makes great videos with minimal fuss, and its touch-screen allows for precise AF and other rapid adjustments.

The 4Thirds sensor in the GM1 does very nice work; I tested it to iso20k and found it 'acceptable', meaning it looks rather like a phone capture except it's basically shooting in the dark. Studies like those at dXomark show the K-3ii wins for all sensor specs, but how often will I notice the dynamic range is narrower (especially when iA modes or shadow adjustments are enabled)?

The best news is really that the GM1 is so small that it can come along pretty much any time! However I must admit that for over a week the tiny Olympus 9mm fisheye had gone missing - that lens is so small and light that it was found in a day-pack pocket that I had already checked!

04 September 2016

Mirrorless options

My greatest challenge with the GM1 is that it wants its own lenses! Such small wonders as the 35-100 would be a great match to my Lumix' 14-42ii (e.g. they both use 46mm filters) and in-lens stabilization would lead to improved telephoto images.

The problem is that I have a Pentax smc-M 100/2.8 that is really small and takes excellent images that are 2 stops faster than the Lumix zoom. The smc-A 50/1.7 can make that same claim. The GM1 has focus peaking so these small prime lenses are easy to adapt and focus with that little body.

So the temptation to buy µ43 lenses must be tempered for now; maybe at a future time I will add a Lumix lens or two. In reality the 12-60mm Lumix is the greater threat with its extended range on each end!

The other mirrorless kit is the Samsung NX300 team. The white one now has the 16/2.4 prime and matching white 20-50mm lens, both quite talented but with no IS. The brown body comes with 16-50/OIS, and a 50-200/OIS is available for both. Since all are interchangeable this is an arbitrary alignment.

Lumix 14-42ii and Pentax DAL 50-200wr w/o adapter
taken by the Sigma 28-80 1:2
Pentax lenses are also adaptable for either mirrorless mount. The Lumix 14-42ii is an excellent and absurdly compact lens, and its 35-100mm counterpart is equally so.  However, the Pentax 50-200 that I own has more range, the same f/4-5.6 range (so it's brighter than the tiny Lumix tele at 100mm) and is reasonably small and light since it's built for the APSc sensor size. My other nice option is the Sigma 28-80 (also f/3.5-5.6) with 1:2 macro. It's very similar to the Pentax lens in bulk but going close up to 1:2 'macro' is very nice to have!

While the AF and especially OIS will be missed for a while (especially for telephoto shots!) these options are good ones. Indoor shot here was at iso8000 which works decently on the GM1.