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Camera Geek Out - Factor 10 [Jan. 10th, 2010|01:14 pm]
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[music |wolfsheim: everyone who casts a shadow]

If you're not a photo geek just skip down to the pretty pixtures at the bottom and scroll on with your friends list assured that you missed no important news.

And you, my fellow camera nerds: walk this way.

I got a new camera which I'm enjoying a great deal. The Panasonic Lumix GF-1 with the 20mm f 1.7 lens. It is currently rocking my world, inhabiting in that big void that exists between my iPhone and my Nikon d700.

Like every other professional photographer on the planet, ever since I picked up my first digital camera in 1999 (Check out my first digital photography gallery and my crazy predictions about what digital was going to do to imaging) I'd been waiting for Leica Camera to make one. Leica's sort of the Rolls Royce of camera manufacturers -- their cameras are eccentric, at times difficult to use, but cultish and wonderful and beautiful in ways it's difficult to explain. I don't know if Leica thought digital was a fad or if they just didn't have the expertise, but they took their own sweet time in coming out with one. Eventually disgorging few attempts that were, for the most part: exceedingly ugly, two timesas expensive as a high end Canon or Nikon dslr and about two years behind in technology. Nobody was making anything like a digital Leica, not even Leica. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and all the others for the most part didn't care to try and make anything like that -- the market was too small and most people would probably rather have "sports" and "baby" modes on their Point and Shoot than full manual control. Lamentably, I stopped using my Leicas because of the convenience of digital and they took up a position as bookends, but I was always looking for the experience again.

Well, that all changed when Panasonic came out with the GF-1, a micro 4:3 format camera. It's got interchangeable lenses, the option of full manual control, and, like the Leica -- it's really small. I picked one up a few weeks back and it feels wonderful. It also shoots 1080i high definition video.


Years ago I read this sagacious truth on some photographer's web page: Camera collectors take pictures of their cameras. Photographers take pictures with their cameras.


clickenzee to embiggen to 1600 pixels



It's pricy and, at the moment, out of stock in a lot of places. I paid $799 for mine, and the price went up a hundred dollars about two days after I bought mine and I see it's on amazon for $1100 now -- which I suppose makes some sense if supply is limited and demand is high. But I'm loving mine. I got the external viewfinder which snaps on the top so that you don't have to compose via the LCD on the back -- I never could stand trying to take a photo with the camera held a foot from my face.

I really like leaving the house with a camera that fits into my pocket and so far, the images from it have been very impressive.


trillian_stars from a movie that only exists in your mind.


clickenzee to embiggen to 1600 pixels so you can check out the detail & tone




Here's a portrait of John Ennis the portrait artist. (Is this like metaportraiture?)
Having one camera and one lens seems to be getting back to simple basics -- and the lens, at f 1.7 is fast enough and sharp enough to be useful. A lot more useful for me, I think, than a slow midrange zoom on a DSLR.


clickenzee to embiggen to 1200 pixels



Camera geek party in the comments.




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[User Picture]From: pteppic
2010-01-10 06:27 pm (UTC)

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It's a Lumix without the word "Leica" on the lens... Awww, can't even get away with calling it a Leica because of that.

This and the Olympus PEN have both caught my interest. I've not really found anything that replaces an XD-7 with a 45mm pancake in my bag yet, this could be just about it.
[User Picture]From: mawz
2010-01-10 07:15 pm (UTC)

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The 45/2.8 OIS Macro is a Leica though. So you can have your Leica on your Lumix ;-)
[User Picture]From: anmorata
2010-01-10 06:28 pm (UTC)

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I really love that it comes with the option of an external viewfinder - that is one of the main reasons I've been sticking with my Canons, because they haven't taken that feature away yet on the Powershots/Elphs. I do not like framing a photo away from my face unless it's some random person in public asking me to snap a photo for them, then I'll give them the flattering MySpace angle (above head, to the right). They usually love those.

But the Lumix looks teeny, lightweight (how we can all appreciate THAT!), and from what you're showing, takes fantastic pictures. Looks like the 1.7 is coming with the body in that package you mentioned on Amazon, and that in and of itself would make it worth it. In my limited knowledge of lenses, that can't be cheap. I know I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $400+ for my Canon 85mm 1.8, and it's a beautiful lens.

So.. Squee! New camera! :D

Edited at 2010-01-10 06:28 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-10 11:14 pm (UTC)

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the image quality is freaking awesome.
[User Picture]From: maladroital
2010-01-10 06:34 pm (UTC)

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When I was working as a 911 Dispatcher I had my eye on a Lumix. Sadly, I got laid off and there went my camera fund. My eye is still on a Lumix, now that one, and it'll be something to work toward in the next few months. It's good to know that I can get an external view finder, I really dislike composing pictures with the LCD screen.
[User Picture]From: rcmckee
2010-01-10 06:38 pm (UTC)

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Still $899 (less finder) on Panasonic.com....
[User Picture]From: i
2010-01-10 07:10 pm (UTC)

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equivalent to (or better than?) the panasonic is the olympus EP1 and EP2 (i plan to own an EP2 very very soon.) i have been an olympus guy from my first DSLR because of the 4:3 format. the standard 2:3 just seems anemic to me now. i want some meat on my verticals!
[User Picture]From: mhaithaca
2010-01-10 07:13 pm (UTC)

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Cool, thanks for the camera review. I just added a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens to my stable (a Hanukkah gift from my parents) and I find it's got the same fast-and-sharp thing going for it that you're talking about here. Seriously considering using my tax refund to upgrade from my D40 to something shinier in their lineup. Suggestions?
[User Picture]From: lois2037
2010-01-10 11:07 pm (UTC)

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Don't know how big your refund is, but I found that the D300 was the camera of my dreams.
[User Picture]From: fullcontactmuse
2010-01-10 07:24 pm (UTC)

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Want. That's really all I can say to this. I can definately see this filling a very specific gap in my photography. It comes with a fast lens. I can put other lenses on it.

I'll say it again. Want.
[User Picture]From: karohemd
2010-01-10 07:53 pm (UTC)

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That looks pretty sweet.
I can't stand cameras that don't have an optical viewfinder, either, not least because you can't see anything on the LCD when it's sunny.
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-10 11:13 pm (UTC)

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it toally makes so much difference. without it, it would just be a point and shoot with nice image quality and interchangeable lenses.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: haleyluna
2010-01-10 08:53 pm (UTC)

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bitch, i don't need any more cameras. i have been looking for a replacement for the g9, which i bought so i'd have a smaller camera i could carry when i didn't feel like dragging around dslr stuff. however, i don't think mom's giving it back after i let her take it on a trip.
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-10 11:12 pm (UTC)

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you do need to replace the g9. the g11 kicks sand in its face in terms of low light performance.

though it was your iPhone photography which mislead me into thinking there was a good camera on that thing.
[User Picture]From: wens
2010-01-10 10:29 pm (UTC)

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most people would probably rather have "sports" and "baby" modes on their Point and Shoot than full manual control.

Seems like it. Canon, from what I see, have done away with full manual control on a good many of their Powershot models. I was lucky enough to get one of the ones that serves me well both as a compact that I can use for archival work and one where I can get used to using manual (else, I would've had to shell out more money than I have at the moment for one of the higher-end Canon compacts, or the Canon G10).
From: jenniferrodgers
2010-01-10 11:00 pm (UTC)

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John Ennis!

He was my teacher in a class once. :) Been a while!
[User Picture]From: lois2037
2010-01-10 11:06 pm (UTC)

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That is a sweet and impressive camera, just along those lines of "this is the perfect thing to carry along", and is now on my short, selective but ever growing WANT list. Having a viewfinder is essential to me. I just can't deal with holding the camera out, framing, and then taking the picture without my face pressed to the back of it, seeing through the finder. It is feels unnatural and wrong and confuses me. (I did like seeing Roswell on the screen, though) I get what you mean about the slow midrange zoom lens. I carry one around all the time, since it came along with the D300 in this amazing sale price deal, and I have a love-hate relationship with it. Lately I've been using my old auto focus 50mm 1.4, and liking it a whole lot.
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-10 11:11 pm (UTC)

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it took me a while to learn to love the 50. but i do. and especially the 1.4....
[User Picture]From: humanoid27
2010-01-11 01:15 am (UTC)

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"pricey and out of stock.." tell me about it...
i really like the view finder option with this camera. like the icing on a delicious cake... ;)
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-11 02:54 am (UTC)

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yeah, that's what pushed it over the top.
[User Picture]From: ranshire
2010-01-11 05:03 am (UTC)

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Damn, and here I went old school and bought myself a Diana Mini.

Your new toy takes stellar photographs, by the by. ^_^
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-11 05:50 am (UTC)

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it does ... take stellar photos ... and like many others, i've been searching for, first, a 35mm diana, and then a digital one -- and i think the answer is that there isn't one. the lensbaby isn't the answer, the argus 555p isn't the answer. there may be a photoshop action some day that does it, but it still won't be the same.

i think that school of photography can, probably, only be served by those actual cameras. this is not actually a sad thing, i think. buy a real diana, learn to love its ... oddities. it'll be expensive, but if done properly, you'll do wonderfully.
[User Picture]From: mouseworks
2010-01-11 01:15 pm (UTC)

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Film isn't dead. It's just waiting to be developed.
[User Picture]From: hartt_tommel
2010-01-12 01:54 am (UTC)

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Nice camera Kyle.... one of the review blogs suggested I get that instead og the Canon G11 that I wound up getting...

-Tom
[User Picture]From: rag_doll_stiche
2010-01-12 05:05 am (UTC)

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*double sigh* Leica. So beautiful. Every time I open a review magazine I see their camera bodies taunting me from the spread. Lovely purchase. :)
[User Picture]From: segue
2010-01-12 07:03 am (UTC)

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Jealous, but I do love my little/heavy TMZ-5!
Can't believe that camera costs more than the cheapest car I ever bought...

Waaaaaaant.
[User Picture]From: princessrica
2010-01-12 02:23 pm (UTC)

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20mm f/1.7
*guh*
It'd be worth it for that lens alone. The Canon f/2.8 equivalent is almost $500 new.
[User Picture]From: inkista_
2010-01-16 12:50 am (UTC)

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So, when are you getting a M -> µ4/3 adapter, already? :)
[User Picture]From: princessy
2010-01-16 07:28 pm (UTC)

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I'm not a photographer, but I sometimes dabble with portraits and stuff. I'm a poor college student who spends most of her money on sheet music and sustenance while practically living on campus, but I would love to do more photography. I have a Canon SX110 IS because it got favorable reviews compared to, say, the G10. I knew I wasn't serious enough to go ahead and get a Rebel or other SLR. I also wanted something a bit more compact, especially since I was upgrading from an old, heavy, large Olympus.

But you really make me, in all my inexperience and lack of knowledge, want this Lumix. One thing I don't like about the SX110 IS is that it doesn't have the viewfinder. Taking pictures/video of master classes for my fellow music students is sort of annoying with that bright screen in the audience, but I can't even hide it with my face because I have to SEE it.

Plus, I recently saw this: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/01/five-reasons-you-should-ditch-your-dslr/
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-17 12:02 am (UTC)

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The Wired.com review is spot on (imho) but what kind of crack were all the commenters smoking? what a bunch of grumpy malcontents.
From: phlatphrog
2010-01-17 04:33 am (UTC)

G1

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I've been using the panasonic G1 for 9+ (10, 11?) months. I bought it way before the 20mm/1.7 came out, but basically it was when I read that such a lens would come out someday that I decided to go m4/3. I can honestly say that this is the first digital camera that I actually really liked. Every other digital camera was either not good enough (all the P&S cams) or too big and bulky (all the DSLRs). I have a few voigtlander (leica screw/M mount) lenses that I thought I would use more, but I really tend to use the panasonic lenses all the time and have no complaints.

I pre-ordered the 20mm/1.7 almost as soon as I could, and it's basically always on my camera.

I handled a friends GF1 the other day. It is really nice. I'm still happy with my G1. Built in viewfinder, flip-out screen, etc. No video. :(

I guess I'm ranting a bit, but I really, really like these cameras. Seriously, I've been through many digital cameras, but the G1 was the first one that really convinced me to put away my Bessas (R, R3M).

I need to get a GF1 for wifey...

p.s. Awesome pix, Kyle! :)
From: (Anonymous)
2010-01-20 06:01 pm (UTC)

What about the 14-45mm lens?

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Hi Kyle,

Have you tried the 14-45mm lens? I realize that half the point of the GF-1 is having the small package that the 20mm affords, but I can only find the kit with the 14-45mm in stock right now. Have you tried it at all?

I realize it is slow and larger.

Thanks.
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-27 04:00 am (UTC)

Re: What about the 14-45mm lens?

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Haven't tried it. I suspect I might find it too big.
[User Picture]From: asongcalledhope
2010-01-30 12:43 am (UTC)

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so im curious how would you compare this up against a leica of similar price/size ie d-lux 4
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-01-30 11:52 am (UTC)

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The dlux doesn't have interchangeable lenses. You can put your leica lenses on your lumix, but not on your dlux.
[User Picture]From: dancinglights
2010-03-02 03:26 pm (UTC)

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Thank you so much for reviewing this thoroughly with tweaks and commentary and a variety of shiny pictures.

A couple of years ago, I considered myself a very serious hobbyist/amateur photographer, but as my running around in nature already carrying heavy equipment hobbies(say, rock climbing) have taken off, I have found myself increasingly unwilling to lug the giant bag with my (aging) DSLR and lenses everywhere I go. I have been seriously considering effectively replacing it with a Lumix, and in two livejournal posts you've pretty much sold me on it. Now for the budgeting.
[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-03-02 04:33 pm (UTC)

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Panasonic oughta pay me for all this pimpin i'm doing.

it's a great camera. thanks for taking the time to comment.
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