Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘leica

The One Reason Why I’m a Morning Person

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Fuji X100 | 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 1250

This is definitely what I call starting the morning right. Waking up extra early for the sole purpose of chilling at Four Barrel over a cappuccino? Worth it:

For me, coming here during the week means coming when the shop opens. People trickle in here and there, but it’s certainly not busy.

Later in the morning, however, Four Barrel is bustling. The pour-over coffee station opens up, and people pile in to get their fill of individually brewed cups of coffee. After grabbing my own cup, I head out side to hang out with Suki and Bridge at the public “parklet.” We sip away while watching the Valencia street traffic whiz by.

I’m not a morning person at all actually. I just really, really love coffee.


Early Morning Images: Fuji X100 | Film Sim: ASTIA (JPEG output)
Late Morning Images: Fuji X100 | Film Sim: Provia (JPEG output)

Written by Jonathan

August 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Review: Think Tank Retrospective 5 Camera Bag

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Fuji X100 | 1/125 sec, f/2.2, ISO 2000

The Think Tank Retrospective 5 bag: Photographer tested, Shiba approved.  Ever since I started regularly heading out with smaller, lighter gear like my EPL2, X100, and even Nikon FM, I’ve been yearning for an appropriate bag. I have a “carry everything bag” already,  so what I need here is a bag that will carry just what I need for a particular outing. The requirements were pretty simple: durable, comfortable, portable yet efficient, and most importantly, inconspicuous.

I realized something about the design of this bag while eating dinner at a restaurant over the weekend. A family with baby in tow sat down at the table next to us, and I noticed that the father had a bag that looked just like mine, only a bit bigger and with cartoon designs all over it…and it was filled with diapers. But hey, that’s nothing to be ashamed about! Like a good diaper bag, the Retrospective 5 has a very minimalist but efficient design.

Made of highly durable cotton canvas and available in Pinestone (mine) or Black, you certainly wouldn’t confuse it for a diaper bag, but you wouldn’t necessarily think it was a camera bag either, and that’s what I love most about the Retrospective 5. I carry it around with me everywhere, so the last thing I want is for it to scream “I have thousands of dollars of camera gear in me!” According to Think Tank, the minimalist design was intentional in order to help photographers inconspicuously blend into different environments.

Fuji X100 | 1/480 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Under the main flap there’s a clear pocket for your business card along with a really cool hook-and-loop strip system equipped with what Think Tank calls “sound silencers.” Again, the design of the bag is purposefully minimal and inconspicuous, so how inconspicuous is opening a hook-and-loop strip sealed bag in a quiet environment? Not very.

The image on the left shows one of the hook-and-loop strips in “silent mode.” In this configuration, the flap just falls over the bag instead of attaching at the strip, and hence makes no noise. This is how I leave the bag most of the time. On the far right the strip is active, and noisy. =)

Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | 1/50 sec, f/1.7, ISO 400

The strap is awesome. The strips of highly grippy rubber (feels like silicone) along the strap’s padding are extremely effective at keeping the  strap from sliding, allowing me to  hang the bag on the edge of my shoulder and move around with confidence while the bag stays put. Thoughtful little details like this add up to make this bag great.

On the left is an included, seam-sealed rain cover. It covers the entire bag with the exception of the straps to protect your gear in the rain. You can see it deployed here.

Fuji X100 | 1/40 sec, f/2, ISO 1000

Even though the Retrospective 5 was designed with rangefinder or micro 4/3 systems in mind, it will still happily carry a big DSLR (though your shoulder may not be quite as happy).  In the bag above is a D700 with Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G mounted (that’s a big chunk of glass), and in the side pocket a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, stacked on top of a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens. There’s still plenty of room to the left of the 50mm, so a bigger lens could definitely take its place. I could mount my 24-120mm f/4 VRII and put it in the bag with my 70-300 VR and have a really wide range in a very small bag.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35mm f1.4G | 1/30 sec, f/2, ISO 400

This is my most common setup when I head out onto the street, walk the dog, or for travel. In one compartment is my Fuji X100, and in the other, my Olympus EPL2 with Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 mounted, effectively giving me a wide and a telephoto in two cameras. This setup is extremely light. The bag also comes with plenty of removable compartments that allow you to customize the interior any way you like. Think Tank says it can easily take a Micro 4/3 system with 3-6 lenses plus accessories. I believe it!

Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 |  1/20 sec, f/1.7, ISO 400

See that front pocket in the image above? It’s expandable, so much so in fact that it can swallow my D700 body with ease:

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35mm f1.4G | 1/30 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400

Of course, it has no problem carrying my X100 all by itself. If I want to travel as light as possible, I just slip the one camera in the bag, and the rest of the bag easily holds chargers, batteries, and other accessories.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35mm f1.4G | 1/50 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400

Finally, a removable carry handle. Sounds simple, but it’s extremely convenient in practice.

This post doesn’t even cover every single feature, just my favorite ones. There are many little purpose-made pockets and compartments in the bag that I didn’t mention here, but the bottom line is that if you’re a micro 4/3 or rangefinder system user, or even a DSLR user who wants a more compact and inconspicuous solution for carrying a camera and one or two lenses, the Retrospective 5 is a great choice.

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

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



Panasonic has just re-released the latest software update for the Lumix DMC-LX3 as version 2.1 as promised. Go download it!

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

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.


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…


Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3