Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘lx3

She & Him at the Fox Theater

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I’ve had a major crush on Zooey Deschanel since first seeing her in the movie Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, and that’s when I thought that all she did was act. After discovering her musical talent, I flat out fell in love with her. Her style, her voice, her everything! So I was thrilled to be able to snag tickets to her concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland over the weekend.

We arrived early enough to get a spot up front, although off to the side of the stage. I brought my DSLR along, but I found out upon arriving at the venue that no cameras were allowed during the performance. I was so disappointed! Convinced that it would be the ultimate tragedy to not be able to photograph dear Zooey my first time seeing her in the flesh, I smuggled my little Canon S90 in and used it during the performance. Certainly not the most ideal equipment for the job, but its performance was impressive for a compact.

Shot between ISO800 and 1600 all night. Noise was definitely apparent in the photos, but it was a more pleasing grain than any compact I’ve had prior to the S90. Of course, running the images through Lightroom 3 Beta 2’s amazing noise reduction tools was a big help. Since I was further from Zooey than I expected to be, I appreciated the extra 45mm of reach the S90 gives me over my Panasonic LX3 as well.

Taking photos of the concert was a real challenge, however, as I had to spot meter (easier to do on the LX3), time my shots when lighting and subject placement were both ideal, AND keep an eye over my shoulder for Fox Theater staff. A few less careful photographers around me were scolded by security and forced to put their cameras away. I somehow never got noticed. Whew!

Once thing I really wish is that Zooey moved around the stage a little more. She sort of stayed in the same spot the whole time. Oh well. Maybe she’ll loosen up a little bit on She and Him’s next tour!

Ok enough of my babbling. Here are a few more images from the night (below). Enjoy!

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Canon Powershot S90

Top Image: S90 at 22.5mm f/6.3 ISO1600 1/60 Second

Thoughts on the Canon Powershot S90

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I realized, after posting the photo above to Flickr, that it’s very likely that Bridget was the one who actually took it! I was using my D300s with the Tokina 11-16 fitted when we arrived at this scene in the Maruyama area of Kyoto. She had the Canon S90 on her, and while I did ask her to hand it over a few times to get some shots in this area myself, I can’t remember for sure if I actually took this one. Oh well! This image was processed in-camera using the S90’s “Film” color mode, and I added a touch of vignette in Lightroom 3 beta. So Bridge, if you took this, good job!

Speaking of which, Bridget did take a lot of fantastic photos with the S90 during our trip. She really took to the camera because it’s such a joy to use. I would set up a white balance appropriate for the scene for her, set the camera to Program Auto (usually), and program the control ring around the S90’s barrel to adjust exposure compensation. Then I simply told her:

“If it’s too bright, twist the dial this way. If it’s too dark, twist it that way.”

That’s it!

With that awesome control ring allowing easy access to exposure comp adjustment, she was able to focus on composing, and the camera stayed out of her way (the control ring is that black bezel you see around the lens in the image above, and is the S90’s coolest feature). I often used the camera in the exact same way myself. The S90 tends to expose a little hotter than I prefer, so I’m usually dialing in at least -1/3 EV when I’m shooting with it (the above shot has a -4/3EV dialed in by either me or Bridget, can’t remember!). I also found that it was a lot of fun to use the S90 in full manual. The control ring around the lens would set aperture, and the control wheel on the back would set shutter speed. Wow! I felt like I was using a film camera again! The combination of seeing the live view preview, a live histogram, and a live EV read-out on the LCD while composing made it dead simple to nail the exposure I wanted every time. No compact camera has ever given me a control experience like this one!

Here are a couple sample photos that show how great the JPEGs produced straight from the camera look from the Canon S90 (neither of these were adjusted in post):

I finally feel like I have a true compact camera with the control and feature set that can be utilized and appreciated by both a beginner and a more advanced photographer. Good job Canon!

So anyway, we were heading up to this huge temple in Maruyama-cho. To get to it, you had to scale these ridiculously steep stairs. The first image was the view from the bottom. Here’s what it looks like from the top:

I’m not sure this image really tells you just how steep these stairs were, but they were STEEP. Worth the climb, however. =)

Top Image: Canon S90
Second Image: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC
Third and Forth Image: Canon S90
Fifth Image: Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

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

Japanese Taxi

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Panasonic DMC-LX3 at 12.8mm f/2.8 ISO100 1/125 Second

Panasonic DMC-LX3 at 12.8mm f/2.8 ISO100 1/125 Second

Saw this image while going through some of the older files in my library, and it brought back some memories of my visit to Japan this year. I took this shot of some taxi cabs in Ebina, Kanagawa Prefecture, where we spent the first three nights of our trip visiting friends. Taxi cabs, of course, are different over there than in the States. Don’t try to open that passenger door yourself, or you might have it swing out and hit you! The driver actually controls the opening and closing of the rear door.

But this image also reminded me of a strange incident I had in Shinjuku, a major district in Tokyo. We arrived at the train station in this area after traveling from the south, and upon exiting the station, we realized that we had no idea where our hotel was. Not typically a problem when I have cell phone reception, but we were without connectivity, so we had to find it the old fashioned way. My first instinct was to hail a cab. So I walked up to one in front of the station, and as the door swung open, I asked (in Japanese) “can you take me to this hotel please?” He replied by telling me he had no idea where it was, even though I was showing him the address and saying the hotel’s name over and over.

So I figured, uh oh, if the cabbie doesn’t know where it is, it must be far from here! After walking around for what seemed like forever, we finally found a koban (a small police box assigned to a specific area). I knew the officer would know the hotel if it was close. Sure enough, he gave us simple directions to the place, which we discovered was only about a 3 minute walk from the station where we started!!!!

What was up that cab driver?! Did he really not know where this hotel was? Oh well.

Written by Jonathan

October 21, 2009 at 1:35 am