Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘lumix

Camera Shopping in Japan

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While in Kumatori, Osaka, Bridget and I went shopping at a local Aeon center, where I got a chance to take a look at some yummy camera equipment. One of my favorite reasons to come to Japan is to get my hands on Japan-exclusive gear, like this white Lumix GF-1 (above), which I absolutely fell in love with. It controls very similarly to the Lumix LX-3, so it felt right as soon as I started using it, although I simply can’t imagine using a compact camera that doesn’t have dual control rings like the Canon S90 anymore (control freak!). What impressed me most about the GF1 was its very speedy performance for a mirrorless camera. The auto-focus speed, in particular, is incredibly snappy for this class of camera.

The store also carried the very newly released Olympus EP-L1 (above). I liked the size of the camera, but found the controls to be a little awkward to use. The rear LCD is also kind of…meh.

On the other hand, I liked the GF-1 so much that I had a very difficult time resisting the temptation to walk out of the store with the 20mm f/1.7 and the “storm trooper white” body, Japanese menu system and all. Reason, however, prevailed over gadget-lust in the end. I can’t really see a place for this camera in my bag right now. Sure is a nice piece of gear though!

Top Image: Canon S90 at 10mm f/2.8 ISO400 1/400 second

Bottom Image: Canon S90 at 6mm f/4 ISO80 1/30 Second

Written by Jonathan

April 4, 2010 at 1:22 am

Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X 535 PRO DX

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(Taken with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3)

My wife is keenly aware of my equipment wish list, and came home from work yesterday with several photographic goodies for me, including this fast telephoto from Tokina. My fast zoom kit is now complete, with three constant aperture lenses covering an 11-135mm (16.5-200mm full-frame equivalent) range.

What I love about my three-lens system is how compact the optics are compared to their full-frame counterparts. This 50-135mm f/2.8, for instance, is a lot smaller than I thought it would be at 5.32 inches in length, weighing 1.86 lbs. To get similar focal length coverage with a constant aperture on a full-frame Nikon camera, you’d need a lens like the $2400 Nikkor 70-200mm VRII, which is a whopping 8.1 inches long at a hefty 3.2 lbs. To me, this is a big advantage of the DX system: smaller, lighter optics that make for better mobility and portability. Not to mention affordability: I picked up all three of my third-party constant aperture zooms for less than the price of the new Nikkor 70-200 VRII alone (Tokina 11-16, Tamron 17-50 VC, Tokina 50-135).

I shot a bunch of images last night to make sure I had a good copy of the Tokina 50-135, and am astounded at the results so far. This is one sharp optic! It relies on my camera’s focus motor to drive focus, so it doesn’t focus as fast or as quiet as an AF-S lens. I find the focus motor in my D300s to be pretty fast, however, and had no problems tracking my dog around the house in low light.

(Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 at 85mm f/5 ISO400 1/60 Second)

Like my Tokina 11-16, this lens features very high quality construction, with a rugged all-metal casing and exceptional fit and finish. The zoom and focus rings are well-damped and move with buttery-smooth precision, and the included (but not removable) tripod collar is also a plus for me. What’s missing? VR and AF-S, but at the price I (er…the wife) paid, I think I can live without those features for now. I really hope Nikon releases some DX lenses in this range, but I’m not holding my breath!

There’s relatively little information on this Tokina on the internet incidentally, which I find strange since it’s so excellent. In fact, from the research I did before receiving it as a gift, it appears that Tokina discontinued this lens.

Update:

Want to see more images taken with the Tokina 50-135mm? Head on over to my Flickr page. I just got back from a trip to Japan, where I used this lens extensively. You can view my Japan set by clicking here. Enjoy!

Suki’s Favorite Spot

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Welcome to Suki’s favorite spot in the whole house. She spends so much time looking out the window, ever fascinated by what’s going on outside. It is here that she watches me come and go from the house, observes neighbors and passerby, and basks in sunlight throughout the day. I was watching TV this afternoon when she perched by the window. I grabbed my Nikon, but the battery had run out. Whoops! Good thing my Lumix LX3 was handy.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 5.1mm f/2.5 ISO80 1/4 Second

Suki has finally stopped shedding (for now), and has grown her full winter coat. She looks a tad bigger as a result, but she’s much more snuggly and huggable now!

Written by Jonathan

November 26, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Metric Concert, San Francisco

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Panasonic DMC-LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

I’m a big fan of the group Metric, a really cool Canadian indie rock group. Last night, my wife scored some last-minute tickets to go to a secret show in San Francisco where they played some of my favorite songs from their latest albums. The lead singer Emily Haines is really cute, and put on a very electrifying and energetic performance.Unfortunately, while I had my Lumix LX3 with me, I had left my memory card in the car, and I only figured it out when I started taking pictures as the show started! Fortunately, the LX3 has a small amount of built in memory that let me take about 10 pictures, but it meant I had to keep deleting photos during the performance as I continued shooting! The lighting was pretty dim on the stage (they played at the famous Bimbo’s in North Beach), making sharp shots difficult, even at the camera’s maximum f/2.0 aperture.

I kinda like the shot above, despite the awkward crop. I think it really gives a sense of the energy that was on stage during the performance.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Here’s a blurry, grainy image that I really love for some reason. I think it’s the lighting and the sense of movement in her hair. I would have loved to be in the front row, but I got to the venue a little later than I wanted to. Oh well!

Metric 3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Being behind other people meant having to lift the camera into the air to get a straight shot of the stage….not the most steady way to hold  a camera! After shooting for about 10 minutes, I decided I didn’t want to keep deleting photos to make room for more. I grabbed a drink, and enjoyed the rest of the performance without the camera.

Written by Jonathan

November 8, 2009 at 6:48 am

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Version 2.0

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 Micro at f/8 ISO 200 1/200 SEcond

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 Micro at f/8 ISO 200 1/200 Second

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UPDATE:

Panasonic has just re-released the latest software update for the Lumix DMC-LX3 as version 2.1 as promised. Go download it!
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Towards the end of last month Panasonic released a firmware update to my beloved Panasonic LX3. Some highlight features provided in the update include a bump in autofocus speed, improved white balance (including a white balance bracket mode), highlight warning display in playback mode, lens focal length resume after a power cycle, a new 1:1 aspect ratio, and a really cool “high dynamic” scene mode.

Shortly after announcing the update, Panasonic suspended it due to bugs in the firmware that are causing issues including loss of custom settings under certain circumstances.  I haven’t run into these issues yet myself, but one thing’s for sure, I’m glad I snuck in a download before they suspended it. I love these new features! According to Panasonic’s website, the revised v2.0 software should be ready any day now.

The high dynamic mode is one of my favorite features. I had a little time to put it to the test over the weekend. Available processing modes within High Dynamic are Normal, Art, and Black and White. The camera processes the images to really pull detail out of shadow areas and pump up the color, with really interesting results:

I took the image below in the LX3’s intelligent auto mode.

Panasonic DMC-LX3 - Ai auto mode - 6.3mm f/7.1 ISO80 1/1000 Second

Panasonic DMC-LX3 - Ai auto mode - 6.3mm f/7.1 ISO80 1/1000 Second

Ok, so not the most interesting shot in the world, but there’s a lot of dynamic range here, right? Harsh, mid-day light mixed with dark shadow areas.

I took the same scene using High Dynamic Art mode:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 -High Dynamic Art- 6.3mm f/7.1 ISO400 1/1000 Second
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 -High Dynamic Art- 6.3mm f/7.1 ISO400 1/1000 Second

Here we have a much more balanced exposure, and a scene that looks much closer to what I was actually seeing here with my own eyes. Check out the details in the tires, the shadow on the lower right of the frame, and the trees and sky to the upper left. With some post processing in Lightroom, I probably could have achieved a similar effect, but I tend to use my Lumix as a fun, jpeg processing, take everywhere with me camera, so this added feature is a big plus. One thing to note is that ISO is fixed at 400 in High Dynamic mode.

I’m really happy that Panasonic is still seeking to make improvements to a camera that is now over a year old. I absolutely loved my Lx3 already, and now I love it even more!

Written by Jonathan

October 21, 2009 at 5:46 am

Finally! Nikon D300s

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 at 11.1mm, f/8, 1/1250 Second, ISO 80

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 at 11.1mm, f/8, 1/1250 Second, ISO 80

I’ve been dreaming of a having a professional grade dSLR for a long time, and finally today, after selling some old stuff I don’t use, acquired a n D300s. I haven’t had a chance to shoot anything interesting with with it just yet. I got home late today, and had a moment to take the shot above with my Lumix Lx3 of my new camera. It doesn’t feel that much heavier than the D90, but there’s definitely a difference in size and weight. The ergonomics are blowing me away though. It feels perfect in my hand.

I’ve pre-ordered a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC that I’m thrilled about receiving. I loved my non-VC Tamron, which I sold to my cousin to fund the upgrade to the VC version. I look forward to the extra flexibility and shooting options I’ll have with the new Tamron, although waiting for it has been a pain. Patience!

I’m itching to get going with the D300s though. Come on weekend!

Written by Jonathan

September 9, 2009 at 6:53 am

Jenny Lewis at the House of Blues, New Orleans LA

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

I don’t think I’d ever buy plane tickets only weeks before flying out for a one night stay halfway across the country where temperatures easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, only to spend hours in various airports along the way because cheap tickets mean many connecting flights. Unless of course, I’m going to see Jenny Lewis.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

My wife orchestrated this whirlwind trip after we missed seeing Jenny in concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco (it was my fault, but that’s another story).  Jenny performed on June 26th 2009 at the House of Blues in the French Quarter area of New Orleans. Yes, this is old news, but hey, I just started this blog! We landed in Louisiana at dinnertime, had dinner at the venue’s own restaurant, enjoyed the concert, which ended around 11pm, woke up at 5am the next day and flew back home. That was it!

No cameras were technically allowed in the venue, which ruled out bringing my D90 to the event. But stealthy use of

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

my Lumix LX3 allowed me to grab some decent shots of the performance. Most of them I recorded in black and white, processed by the camera. There seemed to be too much of a mixture of color on the stage from multiple light sources, and so I felt that black and white captures were much more pleasing to the eye.

One thing I wish I could have done was do a photo walk through the French Quarter. But I had absolutely no time to do so unfortunately. One day I’ll have to return to gorge on some real southern cooking, and capture some great images of this interesting area. But NOT during the summer!

I couldn’t remember all of the songs that Jenny sang, but my wife remembered the following, in no particular order:  See Fernando, Jack Killed Mom, Pretty Bird, Rise Up with Fists!!!, Happy (a slow version), The Charging Sky, You Are What You Love, Handle With Care, Trying My Best To Love You, Carpetbaggers, The Next Messiah,  and an acoustic solo version of Silver Lining. The Encore was three (or 3.5) songs: a brief “Man in the Mirror” acapella tribute to Michael Jackson (RIP), Acid Tongue, a new song (didn’t catch the title), and Born Secular.

P1030595

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Though we were exhausted after our return home, and sick of airports (there were TWO connections on the way back), the experience was worth it. Life needs crazy spontaneity  sometimes, and Jenny’s performance was stellar and unforgettable. She has an incredible stage presence, a great personality, and of course, a beautiful and unique voice.

You know what else was unforgettable? Losing my $500 dollar earphones somewhere along the trip. Ouch…

P1030616

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3