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!


Rick said...


happened across your blog while looking at "old" posts on peoples' LF cameras on LFPF, and a great find. Really like your including the 4x5 in most of the pictures- a distinctive touch. And the pictures are no slouches either. Your comments are well-done. All-in-all, a great blog. I've bookmarked it to keep an eye on your travels.


Rick Floyd said...

Darren: Congrats on the helpful companion but most of all, on two full years for a first class blog.
You are one of my photographic heroes right next to Q-Tuan, Andy Cook, and Danny Burk. I know how tough it is to keep a quality blog going and I hope you know your experiences and journeys and every detail you share are fully and highly appreciated. Thank you for every moment you share...It keeps me on the edge of my chair in anticipation of your next capture.

Rick Floyd

Darren Huski said...

Thanks fellas.

I never thought I would keep this going this long and you never know how many people even see it. Thanks for finding it!