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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

It’s a coincidence, of course: just days after I publish my story about the Panasonic cameras, the company announces a new version of their Lumix LX100. The “LX100 II”, as it is called, certainly comes with fine credentials and a promising lens: a 24-75mm equivalent F1.7-2.8 lens. DPReview already has a “first impressions review” about this new model.

The biggest mirrorless announcement came from Nikon, of course, and I’m certain the brand-new Z6 and Z7 camera’s will be great. But speaking for myself: those are not the camera’s I was (am) looking for. They’re way too expensive for me, to start with. The lens line-up is fine for pro photographers to start with, but not for me. Besides, those lenses are still rather bulky – as they have to be, considering the size of the full-frame sensor.

The Nikon announcement does make it clear that “mirrorless” is most likely the way of the future. Not that I needed any confirmation, but it seems to prove that I made the right choice when switching to MFT.

Did you also note that the DPReview TV video titled “Nikon Z7 hands-on first impressions” was recorded on a Panasonic GH5 ? That’s not a coincidence!

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According to DPReview, the Micro Four Thirds format was introduced 10 years ago. DPReview calls it the start of a revolution, because it enabled Panasonic and Olympus to offer serious, even professional, system cameras without a mirror-based viewfinder, thus entering a market previously reserved for Nikon and Canon.

In 2008 I was already committed to the Nikon SLR format. I had been using an F50 film camera for more than a decade, and I had just replaced my D70 of 2006 with a second-hand D80. So I did not really care about the MFT announcement, what I wanted was an affordable full-frame Nikon DSLR (still waiting, by the way).

When my Fujifilm X20 started to show its age a year ago, I started looking around for a possible replacement. I went looking for an affordable small camera with a decent viewfinder, a usable zoom lens, a hot shoe and serious controls. After a lot of searching an pondering I decided that the Panasonic DMC-LX100 could be what I was looking for. But it was still a bit too expensive for me at that time: I looking for a second all-in-one camera, not for a replacement of the Nikon D5600 I considered to be my main workhorse ;-) Some of the MFT cameras that were presented to the public the past 10 years did catch my attention, but the really interesting ones are system cameras, and they would have “forced” me to build up a second collection of lenses – and I did not want to do that, for financial reasons as well as lack of space in my photo cabinet.

At the beginning of this year, just by accident, I found out that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 with its standard 12-32 zoom was offered for (substantially) less money than the LX100.  So I bought the GX80… and that was the start of an unexpected experience.

You see, the GX80 showed me that the MFT platform has matured so much that the image quality rivals that of APS-C, at least for my purposes. No, the viewfinder is not as large as the viewfinder of a Nikon DSLR like the D7500, but it will do for me. In fact, I prefer it because the electronic display is capable of displaying the complete menu system of the camera, meaning that I don’t have to get my reading glasses to change a setting during a shoot! At the same time, the GX80 and its lenses are so much smaller and lighter than the corresponding Nikon material – I admit to having bought a cheap 45-150mm telezoom for the GX80, contrary to my plans for this camera . And the results, in terms of image quality, are good enough for me even now (and I know I still have to learn more about them in order to use their full capabilities).

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80
with the excellent 12-60mm zoom lens

To cut a long story short: I am replacing my Nikon material with Panasonic cameras and lenses. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80 body weighs a bit more than the D5600, but the lenses are much smaller and lighter – and the whole system is weatherproof as well. The ergonomics of the camera are great as well: you need the manual to come to grips with the many capabilities and options of the camera, not with its use. I have added the Panasonic G Vario 12-60 lens to my collection. That means I now have a camera and lens that can do almost everything I want to do while on holiday without having to change lenses, while weighing less than 800g.

I know that an expert or professional full-frame DSLR with premium lenses will deliver better images, even if it’s just me using it. But these products are way too expensive for me, and I don’t want to haul them around a whole day while I’m supposed to enjoy my surroundings – so I have put the dream of owning those to rest.

Having a smaller range-finder-like camera like the GX80 or the GX9, that can use the same lens collection, is another plus. In fact, in combination with the standard 12-32mm lens these cameras are not that much bigger than the Fuji X20, just heavier – they still fit in the supple Nikon camera case I bought a long, long time ago for an L35AW. I don’t see Nikon (or Canon) offer me the same capabilities in the same small package. Unless Nikon or Canon are ready to embrace the MFT platform as well – that would be interesting, don’t you think?

For another view on the MFT platform and its place in recent camera history, check out the DPReview video:

 

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Macro Photography Is Hard

I got lucky last weekend: one of the macro photographs I made turned out very well, if I may say so. For a larger version, go to Flickr by clicking on the image…

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The “family business” mentioned in yesterday’s post included some repositioning of plants in our garden – weekend with an extra holiday thrown in are good for those chores. While watering the newcomers, I spotted a few brightly coloured dragonflies on the wet plants. Pictures of both species can be found on my Flickr photostream. By the way, I call them “new” visitors to our garden, because I have often seen dragonflies in there before – but these last few were significantly smaller than earlier specimen. These red and blue dragonflies measured no more than 5cm at the most.

Clicking on the images will take to a larger version of the photos. Now if someone could tell me which species I saw (just leave a comment on the corresponding picture on Flickr, of here, of course)…

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Last Sunday, I covered almost 200 km on a good half day. Sunny but not too warm: the ideal weather for a ride and some photographs!

More and bigger photos can be found in my Flickr stream – just click to go there

I hope the photos convey some of the pleasure I had during this trip.

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The EPSRC writes: “An image of a single positively-charged strontium atom, held near motionless by electric fields, has won the overall prize in a national science photography competition, organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).”

‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’ - a photo by David Nadlinger

‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’, by David Nadlinger (University of Oxford)
The photo shows the atom held by the fields emanating
from the metal electrodes surrounding it.
The distance between the small needle tips is about two millimetres.

Just head over there, it’s a great image – even if you have to enlarge it quite a bit to see the strontium atom. Well done, David Nadlinger!

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A year ago, I thought my Samsung S7 was going to replace the Fujifilm X20 camera as my permanent companion. But if I have a bag with me, or when we go for a walk, or when I’m out with my bike, then the X20 trumps any smartphone – perhaps not in picture quality, but certainly in functionality. The flash, for example, is quite good. And the zoom is highly appreciated as well. In short, the X20 is used a lot. Unfortunately, that usage also leaves its mark on the camera.

Here’s proof of that usage: when returning from a motorcycle day trip, I noticed that the rubber thumb rest had disappeared, leaving a bare spot and a single screw head on the backside of the camera. Nothing disastrous, to be sure, but… Well, it got really annoying when my camera dealer told me that I was the second person in a few days time to report the issue, and that Fujifilm – at least here in Belgium – does not offer said thumb rest as a spare part! I find that a letdown for a camera company that prides itself on building sturdy and long-lasting cameras.

It took a bit of googling (sorry: actually, I’m using DuckDuckGo) to find out that we two Belgians weren’t the only victims. And with a lack of spares I had no choice but to follow the suggestion on the DPReview forum: use duct tape. Not that there are many alternatives, other than to replace the X20. But that would be silly, it’s still much too convenient and good a machine to carry about all day. On the other hand, you never know what Santa wil bring ;-)

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