Monday, November 30, 2009
Two Years and a New Toy
Today marks the end of my second year of this blog! Two whole years of posting images of a large format camera. Whodathunkit?
Well in honor of that I dug through the images one of my favorite trips of the last year to bring you two images and also to talk about a new toy.
First the new toy might just be the perfect digital travel companion for a 4x5. It's the Panasonic LX-3. I have looked for sometime for the perfect camera as a travel companion for the Arca-Swiss and I think this is it.
When I started in large format I alternated my Mamiya 645 or Olympus OM-4Ti as my companion camera. The OM was a great companion but what I found was when shooting 4x5 that medium format and 35mm film paled in comparison. So I went without a backup for a while. Then after getting the DSLR it became the backup. Digital is a different way of thinking and working than a 4x5 so it became the backup.
But it meant a second bag.
After carrying two bags-and sometimes two tripods I decided to try to lighten the load.
Well after more thought and a great deal of research I decided the Panasonic LX-3 was a good bet. I waited and watch for several weeks earlier this year for one to be in stock (it is that popular). It was worth the wait.
I got it just in time for my trip to the Lost Mesa and it impressed me from the word go.
Small. Pocketable. Metal body. Fast f/2.0 24mm Leica lens. RAW capture. Great in-camera B+W. 720P movie mode. 1cm macro mode. Hot shoe. A feature set that was outstanding and a camera that was fun and easy to use in hand.
Start with the 24mm-60mm eq lens. This matches up closely with my large format lenses of 75mm, 125mm, ans 210mm-that's just about 24-60 after conversion. Make that 24mm an f/2.0 and a Leica and you got something special. I like wide and most cameras with their 35mm wide end are not wide enough. The only other cameras I seriously considered (Canon s90 and G10) were both 28mm on the wide end. True both were longer, but I gladly gave up reach for wider angle.
Then there were the little things such as the 1cm macro and 720P movie mode. I would probably never buy a video camera or macro lens, but I get both with this camera.
Let's talk in the field.
When you are carrying a large pack with 35 pounds of large format gear plus a tripod, you want a digital to be compact, and light. The LX-3 fits the bill. I can carry it in a jacket pocket, cargo pocket, in a small pouch, in a lens pocket in my pack, or most often- around my neck and tucked in a shirt pocket. Easy to grab. Plus the metal body made it feel like it could handle being out in the elements.
The camera was quick for a p+s. Maybe not quite as fast as a DSLR but fast enough for quick snaps and easy to use.
The results were impressive. The in camera b+w were really nice right out of the camera. Very little tweaking is needed. The image up top has a slight levels on it. That's it.
The bottom image was taken in RAW and processed minimally with Elements 6 (CS-3 Camera RAW does not support the LX-3 RAW format, but oddly Elements 6 does-go figure).
Both look great to me. Even at higher ISO's the noise has a look of film grain and a very "natural" look that I like. And getting an image you like is a must with any camera.
Call me impressed with image quality. But the story does not end there.
This camera is tough. Metal body. Real lens cap. I might be alone in liking that but they feel more solid to me than the self closing. Just a big enough grip that I feel I can hold it with gloves on
I really liked using the easily switchable formats of this camera. 3:4 to 2:3 to 16:9 made it possible to get something similar to a 4x5 (making it a great tool as a composition aid) or to go for the pano. Making that a switch in the body and not in the menus was a huge plus. As was going to macro, auto or manual focus modes on the camera too.
All in all the perfect package!
In a few short months it has become my constant travel companion. I cannot take my Arca-Swiss everywhere with me. I can and do take the LX-3. It is either in my pocket or in my bag where ever I go.
The perfect travel companion for me or when out with the 4x5!