Monday, December 31, 2012

Trevor Saylor on Starting Projects

Door on Antietam Farm Building, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 100, f3.5, 1/200 sec
Trevor Saylor has posted a piece on Japan Camera Hunter about how to think about and start photo projects.
(Click Here) to read Trevor's thoughts on Japan Camera Hunter
Here are the major points, and my thoughts on them (in italics):
  • One approach is to prospectively define the scope of your project, then go out and shoot it. Trevor believes that this can be limiting, causing you to miss some great off-topic shots. I can understand what Trevor means here. For example, if you're out shooting about the plight of our natural places, it may be hard to feel and capture a beautiful landscape. On the other hand, if you don't get in the mood (positive or negative) about your topic, how can you capture anything great? I guess this goes to my current thinking, which is that I don't have to catch every shot; I have to make the ones I do catch great.
  • Another approach is just to shoot what you like. We've all done this. The challenge is to find a way to make something cohesive out of it.
  • Constraints are good. Trevor shares the example of a summer job project, with a limit of 100 days. I couldn't agree more. A time limit is great, as is an equipment limit, number of shots limit, or just about any other limit. I think this also applies to the first point above. A scope limit or constraint is helpful in focusing the mind.
  • Making a project end is hard. Totally. They don't all have to end. Some can go on for a lifetime. But, some of them must end, or you never get anything finished, done, completed.
  • Trevor talks a little about equipment. He makes the point that it's usually good to stick with one equipment set or approach. Otherwise, the mix of styles can be confusing to viewers. Well, I fail in this regard, epically, as my daughter would say. I know he didn't mean it as a hard and fast rule. Shooting the same project with a range of equipment sometimes brings the topic back to life for me. However, as I said above, limiting your equipment can be a good constraint for a project. So, I understand and respect the concept, but don't always put it into practice.
  • You must cull your images, keeping (or at least showing) only the very best. Agreed. And it's hard to do.
  • Don't fall in love with an image. Trevor's point here is that your favorite image may just simply not fit the scope of the project. Don't force it in. Again, I understand Trevor's point. But, if I didn't fall in love with an image here and there, I wouldn't bother to shoot. For example, the shot above was taken in the course of my Civil War project. Yes, it's from Antietam, site of a major battle in the war, and is a period-style building, but it really has little else to do with the war. But, I love it. I'll drag it out every chance I get. That's what photography is about for me. Much of the rest of life has to be cold and calculating, not my photography.
  • Get critique from others. Yes. I don't always do this. It can make that image culling much easier when another person says "eh, not so much." I find that sometimes my own experience and memories surrounding the capture of an image influence how much I like it. Viewers can't share that with you. The images have to stand on their own, unless you have the chance to supply some words with them.
So, Trevor's article is a good thought-provoker. As we near the end of 2012 (oh, and Merry Christmas, by the way), it's worthwhile to think again about the process of pursuing photo projects. My big one this year has been live music, and it's been great. I've made a lot of good friends this year in the course of attending and shooting shows, and hopefully made a few great images. That particular project will go on for a long time. I enjoy every part of it, and see no reason to end it. However, I should challenge myselft to take on and FINISH some smaller projects.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

GF1 Love

Member "red" on posted this awesome collage of images taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1.
(Click Here) to see the comments and original post on
My friend James McKearney just purchased a used GF1 as a back-up to his Olympus OM-D. I still have a GF1, as well. I love the form factor of the GF1, even though it's imperfect in some ways. In order to keep to the clean lines and shape, you must shoot from the LCD. Adding the LVF-1 accessory finder, which I think of as required, significantly changes the outline. But, all in life is compromise.
The cool thing is that the LVF-1 works on both the GF1, and the more compact DMC-LX5.
I'm looking forward to the announcement of a DMC-GX2, which should have the same basic shape as the GF1, yet also have the latest in sensor technology.
In any case, the GF1 is a great little camera, and I need to drag mine out.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cosina Voigtlander Factory Video

Video Source:
by Terry Sham Studio
Before I became interested in working in biomedical research, I was a manufacturing geek. I also lived and worked in a factory in Japan for a year, as part of a US Department of Commerce fellowship. So, naturally, I was interested in seeing a video about the factory that makes Cosina Voigtlander lenses.
This video on YouTube, by Terry Sham Studio, shows much of the lens manufacturing process, as well as some assembly of camera lenses. The audio is in Japanese. My Japanese is rusty (and was not that strong to begin with), but I can get a few of the points. They talk about how actual manufacturing of lenses in Japan (as opposed to China or Malaysia) is pretty rare at this point. They also talk about making OEM lenses for other companies. You can see from this video that Cosina's expertise is in mechanical and optical manufacturing, as opposed to electronics, which helps one to understand why they offer manual focus lenses. You can also see that they produce pretty large numbers of lenses in this factory, with batch processing of components. As always in modern Japanese factories, inspection and testing are an important part of the process.
I found this to be an interesting video. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another Lens Option for Focusing on Composition With Micro 4/3

Olympus 15mm f8 "Body Cap" Lens
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I've posted some images that I've taken with the Holga 25mm f8 lens for Micro 4/3 recently. Today, I read a nice post by Ray_S on, where he shared several pictures he took in Philadelphia, using the new Olympus 15mm f8 "Body Cap" lens. Ray_S has listed copyright protection on his images, so I didn't repost any here (too bad, I'd say it's limiting his exposure, but that's not my call).
So, (Click Here) to see his images.
I really like the composition and look of some of these pictures. There's clearly some processing going on here that makes them look like HDR to me. A bit artificial looking, again in my opinion, but the lens clearly works pretty well.
The Olympus lens is a 15mm (30mm field of view equivalent on full-frame 35mm sensors), fixed aperture f8 lens. Just like the Holga, it is a slow lens (f8 requires quite a lot of light), and has a little bit of focus adjustment capability, but it's only rough. At 15mm focal length, focus is not much of an issue anyway - the depth of field is enormous. The Olympus lens is wider angle than the Holga, and I'd venture to say the optics are higher quality than the Holga (not a high bar). The other cool thing about the Olympus lens is that it's tiny. In fact, as the name indicates, you can use it as a body cap for your extra Micro 4/3 camera body; it's only 9mm (~1/3 of an inch) thick. It can also focus close-up, to a minimum distance of 30cm (12 inches).
The Olympus lens is more "expensive" than the $25 Holga, but at ~$55, it's hardly going to break the bank for anyone who can afford a Micro 4/3 camera body. My conclusion is that the Olympus Body Cap lens adds nicely to the goal of Micro 4/3 gear overall - compact, easy to use, good (not extraordinary) image quality. Maybe I'll try one.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Now Here's An Amazing Deal - Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 Micro 4/3 Camera for $249.95! Please Buy Yours Through My Link to Amazon!

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Amazing. Right now (who knows for how long?), you can get the great Lumix G3 for $249.95. That's 58% off of list price.
I've been shooting a pair of G3s this year, with results that make me quite happy. That includes some low-light shots of live music, etc.
Get it now, at Amazon. Please use the link below to get yours. It costs you nothing to use my link, and helps support my blog.

Dear Nikon - Please Bring This To Market!

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I still have a lot of old fim cameras. Included in that bunch are two Nikon FM2s. The FM2 is a gorgeous workhorse of a camera, and just gets the job done.
According to nikonrumors, Nikon has patented the invention of a self-contained digital back for film SLRs. This would transform your old film camera into a digital one.
(Click Here) to read about it on
Maybe electronic miniaturization has finally gotten to the point that this could work. I know that a battery the size of a 35mm film cassette (and fitting in where the film used to go) could give a reasonable number of shots on a single charge. I would even consider buying one of these if it didn't come with an LCD display. I'd love to be able to go shoot my FM2, come home and upload my images, even if I couldn't see them in the field. Having a display would be even better.
Of course, filing a patent, which itself could be a rumor, is far from bringing a product to market. But, I'm not selling my FM2s just yet. Actually, I'll never sell them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Street Portraits by airfrogusmc on Rangefinder Forum - Leica M Monochrom, 35mm f1.4 Summilux FLE

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Rangefinder Forum member airfrogusmc has posted a very nice series of street portraits, all made with Leica's new "black and white only" M Monochrom rangefinder. The idea of this camera is that by removing the color filters used to make a color image from their sensor, they make an exquisitely sensitive black and white imaging system. For people who aren't obsessive about black and white images, an $8,000 camera that doesn't shoot color seems crazy; maybe it is. But, there you have it.
(Click Here) to see all of the great images posted on the Rangefinder Forum post.
The photographer shot all of these using a Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 FLE (which means "floating lens element") lens. This is one of Leica's crowning achievements in lens design. The floating lens element helps to solve a classic problem in lens design, which is the fact that the focus point shifts depending on how far you are from your subject. Most lenses are optimized to focus at a certain distance. The FLE is accurate at all distances, or very nearly so.
I always go back and forth on which lens is best for street use. Certainly, if I were going out to do street portraits, I would choose a 50mm over a 35mm focal length. On the other hand, if portraits were not my main objective, but just street scenes, I may choose the 35mm. This post shows the flexibility of the 35mm focal length for any type of street photography.
Great equipment, great shots! Thanks, airfrogusmc.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Time in the City

Skating Rink, Washington, DC, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Sonnar C 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 640, f1.5, 1/125 sec
A couple of days ago (on December 23), I took advantage of the nicest weather we will have over the holiday break and drove into DC to spend some time in the city. The ice skaters were out in full force. As the sun set on the horizon, I was waiting for the lights to come on around the rink. Very soon after, I caught this moment. I love the lines of the lights and the hand rail, and the wistful look on the young lady's face. It's Christmas Time in the City.
It occurs to me that my M9 has achieved what my M8 never did. Not only is it as capable as my other Leicas (and more capable in many ways), it is just as fun to use. I suppose that the crop factor math always in my head, UV/IR filters, and necessity of lens coding were just enough to keep the M8 from getting there with me. The M8 is also a very capable camera, and the image quality is great. It just never felt as good as my M4-P, for example. The M9 does.

Monday, December 24, 2012

White Christmas in Virginia

White Christmas in Virginia, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3
iso 100, f5.9, 1/8 sec
It's Christmas Eve, and we are getting a nice dusting of snow here in Virginia. So, I grabbed the weather-proof Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 and a tripod, and ran out for a few photographs. I think this one shares the feeling nicely.

Here's an Example of Something I'm Considering for DMC-365

Olympus mju 2
Well, here's what happens when you write posts ahead of time. Two days ago, I posted a follow-up to this post, which I had meant to go up earlier. So, they're out of order.
If you've been reading my blog lately, you'll know that I'm exploring some changes to the format of DMC-365. One of the things I'm considering is highlighting some favorite cameras, including using them and sharing the results.
Steve Huff's site has hosted a very nice little post about the Olympus mju, written by Ilya Reddy.
(Click Here) to read Ilya's post about love for the mju on Steve Huff's site.
The post includes a nice description of why Ilya enjoys the mju so much, some critical review of some of the drawbacks (including the need to reset center focus and exposure, and turn off the flash, every time you turn the camera on), and several nice example images.
Way to go, Ilya and Steve. I hope to use a similar format to share some of my photographic favorites.
My wife has an old Olympus Stylus in a drawer. Maybe I'll drag it out for a weekend.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Beautiful Series of Street Photos from Morocco - Daniel Belenguer

Copyright Daniel Belenguer (Used by Permission From the Artist)
Leica M6
Leica M6
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I love a post that I can learn from. Photographer Daniel Belenguer gives a very nice written description of a holiday he recently took to Morocco. He went extremely light on equipment - a single Leica M6, 35mm lens, light meter (his in-camera meter is busted), and 25 rolls of film. He got some amazing images, in my opinion.
(Click Here) to read Daniel's post and see all of his pictures from the trip.
I envy those who can go so light on equipment and come back with so many successful images. For myself, if I went somewhere like Morocco, I would not be able to live without having at least one backup camera with me. Nowadays, that could be a very small camera, like the Lumix DMC-LX7. But, I'd need at least that.
Then I think about lenses. If I had to pick one lens for a trip like this, it may well be a 35mm, as Daniel did. However, I am really better oriented to the 50mm focal length. I've limited myself to one lens many times. If I picked the 35, I usually longed for a 50. If I chose a 50, there were moments when I wished it was a 35. Perhaps this is why the 40mm Rokkor is such a beloved lens on my Leica CL. I guess I'm saying that if I have to pick one lens, the 40mm Rokkor f2 (manufactured in a partnership between Leica and Minolta in the 70s) might be it.
In fact, on my recent trip to Barcelona, the only non-Lumix gear I took was the Leica CL and 40mm Rokkor. I've got my processed film back from The Darkroom (great mail-in film processing service,, and need to get to work on a post from those rolls. I'm quite happy with what I see in the scans. You'll see a post of those very soon.
When I look at Daniel's images, I see that 35mm was the appropriate focal length for him. There are a few cases where I would want to be a little tighter in composition, which the 50mm would have done perfectly. Overall, though, I would say more of his images fit the 35mm field of view. So, he made the right choice in my humble opinion.
Nice job, Daniel. Thanks for sharing your results with the world. And thanks for giving permission to use a photo or two.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Outstanding Follow-Up to the Olympus mju Post On Steve Huff's Site

A few days ago, on December 18, I reposted a very nice piece from Steve Huff's site, featuring some beautiful images from the Olympus mju 2, a moderately-priced point and shoot camera. Today I share another piece from Steve's great site, a follow-up by Steve Barnes, who shoots a Yashica T5 (T4 in the US).
(Click Here) to see all of the pics on Steve's blog.
These are outstanding images, in my opinion. And made with quite modest gear. The Yashica T5 is a fully-plastic point and shoot, yet features a nice Zeiss Tessar lens. I have two of these in my camera closet, acquired as part of a package of other cameras way back when. I have not used either, as both have battery terminal corrosion problems. I'm not sure how to address those problems, without risking breakage in dismantling the outer cases. Maybe I'll give it a try with one of them.
These two posts on Steve Huff's site remind me of the recent fun I've had with the Holga lens on my Lumix G3. Simple photography can be really fun. As you can see above in Steve Barnes' shot with the T5, you can focus on the essential design elements of a great photo - composition, color, light. Very cool.
I'm not selling my M9, but there is certainly plenty to learn with inexpensive equipment.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Diptych - Barcelona

Barcelona Couple, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Holga 25mm f8 Plastic Lens
iso 400, f8, 1/100 sec
You may have already seen my previous post of shots taken with the Holga plastic lens for Micro 4/3 cameras. The two above give me fond memories of walking "La Rambla," a major pedestrian thoroughfare in Barcelona. I shot these two shots seconds apart, as I walked past this couple at the subway station.
I pay attention to the pace of my shooting. Sometimes, I really enjoy taking a lot of time, setting up a shot, attempting perfection. I find that style of shooting relaxing and rewarding. On the opposite end, another of my favorite styles is street shooting, where I typically set the camera up with manual range focusing (no autofocus), preset exposure (sometimes I'll use Aperture priority, but use Manual more often than not), and use the camera to capture extremely brief little moments. This is a real challenge, and there's no time for fiddling with the camera. The result is just that - captured moments. Imperfect, spontaneous. Sometimes the imperfections add to the image, sometimes not.
In the case above, the imperfections are clear - thanks to using a $20 plastic lens with fixed f-stop and only very rough focus control. Personally, I love the result. It is very close to the level of detail in my memories of that morning, walking down La Rambla.
Thanks again to Andrea Costa for pointing me towards this great creative tool (the Holga lens).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On Crows and Urban Naturalists

This is the absolute perfect image for me today. I found it on Diane Varner's Daily Walk blog. There's a little prose to go along with it.
(Click Here) to see the post on Diane's blog.
Why does this fit my thoughts today? Well, I just finished reading a great book about urban naturalists and crows last night. It's called Crow Planet, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (see the link below). This is a great book. It centers discussion around crows and how they thrive in urban environments, but is really about how to be a naturalist without living the true wilderness. Haupt does a good job of helping us to be realists about the "highly disturbed" nature of our greenspaces and yards, yet study nature for what it is today. She carries binoculars and a magnifier with her every day in her life in Seattle, Washington. She welcomes spiders into her home. My kind of gal.
So, you can see why I was drawn to Diane Varner's picture above, I think.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Steve Huff Tells Us of A Cool Development (Pun Intended)

New Ilford B&W Disposable Cameras (Processing Included!)
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Ilford has announced that it is now selling instant cameras with black and white film - either XP2 for regular C41 (drug store) color processing that results in B&W images, or XP5, which requires standard black and white developing chemistry.
(Click Here) to read the announcement from Ilford.
This announcement was targeted to the UK. Apparently, they'll also be available in the US.
I think this is a great development. Even though color conversion to B&W has become easy in the digital world, it's fun to shoot directly in monochrome. This is evidenced by the interest in Leica's new Monochrom rangefinder, which does not shoot in color at all.
I recently shot a few rolls of Kodak Tmax400 in Barcelona, and loved so many of the shots. Great fun. As soon as I get a few minutes at home, I'll post some.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Interesting Photo Challenge - Simplify, Focus on Framing and Timing

Here's a challenge, presented on the facebook page of Next Cameras (
"...Hmmm. So here's a simple technique to try: shoot like a Reuter's PJ next time you head out. Bring a wide angle zoom and start with it at the widest focal length. Set aperture priority with your fastest aperture. Change only one camera setting: ISO value to keep your shutter speed in a range you're comfortable that you'll get sharp images from (and if
you're really following the rules, set your Nikon body to one-stop increments for ISO ;~). Spend all your remaining energy on just three things: framing, focus, and timing. Note that "framing" may mean moving forward, backward, and sideways! You, not the zoom. (For those that think landscape photography can't be done this way, think again. It's actually very close to the way I learned from Galen Rowell and still practice, only we don't usually set maximum aperture, but rather something like f/8.

I'll make a small wager: you get better images by concentrating this way. PJs do, so why should you be any different? ;~)
Thanks to Thom Hogan for the idea."
I like this. It reminds me of the shooting I recently did with my new Holga lens on the Lumix DMC-G3.

Shot With Holga 25mm f8 Lens on Lumix DMC-G3
Sometimes it's just plain good to narrow the variables. I will try Thom's suggestion above.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Barcelona's Placa De Sant Felip Neri

Placa De Sant Felip Neri, Barcelona, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
iso 1600, f5, 1/320 sec
Placa De Sant Felip Neri, located in the Barri Gotic neighborhood of Barcelona, is a special place with a deep history. Originally the site of a Jewish cemetery, a baroque church was built here in the mid 1700s and still stands.
On January 30, 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, a bomb fell on the square, killing 42 civilians, including 20 children who were taking shelter in the basement of the church. In the images below, you can see the significant damage that the bomb did to the stone walls of the square.
While the shot above was taken with the Lumix DMC-G3, the remaining pictures in this post were taken at night with my Leica CL, Minolta Rokkor 40mm f2 lens, and Kodak Tmax 400 film. I did not use a tripod, and most were shot at 1/15 second exposure.
My goal was to capture the feeling that the place gave me as darkness fell. It is not a sinister place, but certainly has a dark history.
There is still an elementary school in the square. The children in these pictures were meeting their parents, and playing before walking home. While the pictures look dark and threatening (which was my intention), the kids were quite happily running around the square.
If the soul exists, many have flown skyward from this place. Remnants of those flights persist. Like a tidepool that stays intact after the tide has receded, this place holds memories for those old enough to remember, only vague shadows and moods for those too young.
I thoroughly enjoyed trying to capture the impression Placa De Sant Felip Neri made on me. The Leica CL was the perfect tool for it, even though I had to work carefully with iso 400 film and low light levels.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

So, Where Am I Going With This Blog?

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I am nearing the one year mark with DMC-365. That was my initial commitment to blogging - 365 days. I've done very well at keeping up with daily posts. I'm proud of that. Now I find myself asking whether to continue on into the new year.
I enjoy blogging very much, and feel that it helps keep me up to date with what's going on in my chosen hobby. It's hard to imagine not continuing. However, sometimes, I feel like I need to give myself a break. Every single morning, I have an assignment - to write a blog entry, and to write three pages in a journal, all before most of us get to work.
I've been journaling much longer than blogging, and really can't imagine living without writing. It's been three and a half years, and I've written nearly every day in that period - with the only exceptions being a few days of extreme illness or other disruptive situations.
So, I enjoy writing and blogging. But am I achieving my personal goals with it? What were my goals again? I suppose that I wanted to continue to develop my expertise and knowledge in photography. I also wanted to develop my own creativity. At this point, I feel that I've put far more effort into understanding the latest equipment, software, and techniques than I have into developing creatively. That's not all bad. My ebook about how to set up the Lumix DMC-G3 camera helped me to be more prepared when using that camera; it is also by far the most popular thing I've produced, with thousands of downloads. However, I know that equipment and technology are the opposite side of the coin from creativity. Creativity is harder. It doesn't come every day.
And on that subject, the blog does have to come every day. If not, readers have no reason to keep checking back. And a blog without readers is just another journal - I already do that.
Another factor is that my blog has lost a little of its initial focus. According to the Blogger's Boot Camp, a book that helped immensely in getting my blog up and running (see Amazon link below), a blog should be razor-focused. Never, ever, start a photography blog - pick an area of photography, then go at least one step narrower, is the advice. That's what initially led me to run a blog about Panasonic Lumix gear. I have found that focus too narrow, as you will have seen. I enjoy using many different cameras and systems, and won't limit that just to match my blog.
So, where to go from here, if anywhere? As you may have guessed, this is a question for myself. What I'm thinking right now is that I may find a way to focus more on creativity, but will not likely lose some equipment and technology emphasis; they are nearly inseparable.
Some ideas that I've had include:
  • Spending more time on my active photography projects (principally Live Music, and to a smaller extent, the Civil War Sesquicentenial)
  • Creative writing, specifically related to my photographs
  • Regular periodic columns - for example, description of and results from cameras in my collection. Maybe a monthly classic camera profile, which will necessarily include using the camera and sharing results. I have a lot of nice old cameras that I love to use.
  • Photo challenges - we did one, and I think it turned out pretty well. I now know how to facilitate a little competition here, and it's fun.
  • Exploration of creative techniques in photography. I did post a presentation of my own exploration of "Contemplative Photography," which I think helped develop my own skills, and hopefully was useful to others.
  • I have a vague idea of a theme of "What's Gear Got to Do With It?" By this, I mean that technology and gear are largely inseparable from photographic pursuits, and I know a lot about gear. I could write about how and why I use specific gear for specific tasks, and experiment with new solutions.
  • Along these lines, I also really love limiting my equipment options for specific shooting sessions, and seeing what I can produce. I imagine I could connect this exercise with some challenges, getting some of you to submit images as well.
So, how does this fit into the concept of a narrowly-focused subject? I'm not sure I know yet. If I was convinced that I could frequently find information on developing more creativity in my photography, that is where I'd focus. Maybe the interaction of technology and creativity in photography is focused enough.
Anyway, thanks for following my musings. If you have opinions, I'm quite open to them as always.
I do think I'll keep blogging. But, I may try some different approaches this coming year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sony RX1 Sample Pics

Sony RX1
The new Sony RX1 is really interesting. A full-frame, 24MP Sony sensor, permanently matched to a non-interchangeable Carl Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f2 lens. Nearly $3,000 price tag. Wow.
Pocket Lint has posted a brief introduction, and more importantly, some sample images from this camera, including using it at iso 25,600. Not bad. Not bad at all.
(Click Here) to see the post on Pocket Lint.
What are my thoughts on this camera? Well, first off, you have to shoot it at arm's length, if you use the LCD to compose. On the positive side, since it's a fixed-lens, fixed focal length, you can use an optical finder mounted in the flash shoe. I don't know how easy it is to set hyperfocal distance on the RX1, but that could be a good solution for street photography. Otherwise, there's an accessory electronic finder. In either case, it really takes away from the nice size and shape of the camera.
If I were looking for a smaller back-up to my Leica M9, the RX1 would be interesting. The Leica X2 is as well. The X2 has an APS-C sized sensor, smaller than the full-frame sensor in the RX1. I'm sure the Leica can't do nearly as well at high iso.
Right now, my answer to this is the nice little Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Not in the same league of image quality, for sure. The LX5 is okay at iso 400, can be used up to 800 or maybe 1600, if you're not going to get hung up on noise. But, that's really pushing it. Otherwise, it's an amazingly well-equipped little camera, and with zoom and focus memory, hyperfocal settings, and silent shutter, it's an awesome street shooter.
I think I'll always need an eye-level finder, as opposed to composing on the LCD. I highly prefer an optical finder to electronic view finder (EVF), yet have used the EVF on my Micro 4/3 cameras extensively. With an optical finder, autofocus is a real problem; you don't know what you're focusing on. With either an optical or EVF, these compact cameras become signficantly less compact and streamlined.
So, for me, the perfect compact companion to the M9 does not yet exist. The RX1 is close. I probably shouldn't try one. If I found that manual and hyperfocus settings were easy, I may fall in love.
In any case, I'm happy to see new cameras that put supreme image quality at the top of their features. Nice job, Sony (and Zeiss).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Just a Little Humor This Morning

I'm on a business trip, and have a meeting in 20 minutes. I wanted to get a post in for the day, and this is was what came to my attention :).
(Click Here) to see the post on rangefinderforum.
Some of the comments are worth reading as well.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

After A Night of Shooting Nikon At A Concert - A Night of Shooting Leica At A Concert

The Acoustic Burgoo, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 1250, f2, 1/125 sec
Well, the night before this shot was taken, I photographed Larry Keel and Natural Bridge with my
most trusted high iso camera - the Nikon D700 (see yesterday's post). On this night, I chose to shoot the Leica M9. There is so much focus on high iso perfection these days, the M9 is considered weaker in this area, and I was concerned about noise. I decided not to push it over iso 1600 in any case, and tried to stay at 1250 most of the night. This meant shooting wide open, or very nearly wide open, with my lovely Zeiss Sonnar C 50mm f1.5 lens.
So how did the experiences compare, shooting Nikon DSLR and Leica M9 on subsequent nights, at live music concerts in the exact same venue? First, I shot a lot more with the Nikon. Shooting mostly with the 28mm f2.8 AF Nikkor and 85mm f1.8 AF-D Nikkor lenses, I felt fine shooting at iso 3200. I only used the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D for a few shots.
I picked 32 images from the Nikon night to include in my set on flickr.

(Click Here) to see those selections.
On the second night, shooting the Leica, I relied almost exclusively on the Zeiss 50mm f1.5 Sonnar C. Because I had to shoot at a lower iso than the night before, I had to rely on the fast f-stop of the Sonnar. I did shoot a couple with my Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8, but not many at all. At iso 1250 or 1600, f2.8 was just not fast enough.
I picked 20 images from the Leica night:
(Click Here) to see my Leica selections
The Grand Finale, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 1250, f2, 1/125 sec
I can say that I had more perfectly focused shots using the Nikon. Maybe this is obvious, since I was able to use autofocus with the D700. Also, high iso noise is definitely lower than the M9. Having a fast f1.8 telephoto was very nice for use with the D700. I was pleased with a fair proportion of shots.
On the second night, the Leica was a blast to use. First, I got to go backstage with the band for a little while, and the M9 was the perfect camera for that. Small, unobtrusive, quick to use. I would not have felt nearly as comfortable with the Nikon DSLR. Also, I love the feel of the M9, and enjoy manual focusing, even though that affects the number of sharp images negatively - especially shooting moving subjects in low light. The noise at iso 1250 is quite acceptable in my opinion. I did feel limited to the 50mm lens, as neither my wide (25mm f2.8) or telephoto (90mm f2.8) was fast enough at iso 1250.
So, when shooting concernts in the future, if I'm going for great stage shots in low light, I'll lean toward the D700. However, if I'm looking for more relaxed shots of performers and fans, and the light permits it, I'll always favor the M9. As usual with me, no clear decision to limit my equipment choices. Both cameras are excellent, but in very different ways.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Larry Keel - One of My New Musical Favorites!

Larry Keel, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-D 85mm f1.8
iso 3200, f2, 1/350 sec
Larry Keel and Natural Bridge played at the Shepherdstown, West Virginia Opera House on November 30, 2012. It was a special show. It was my first show at this venue, which is really great. A renovated movie house, it now has a nice dance floor, and is a great intimate place for a show.
Larry and his band are a Virginia-based alternative bluegrass band.
(Click Here) to go to Larry's web page.
Larry's lovely wife, Jenny, plays bass:
Jenny Keel, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-D 85mm f1.8
iso 3200, f2, 1/350 sec
Banjoist Will and mandolinist Mark round it out.
Mark and Will, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF 28mm f2.8
iso 3200, f2.8, 1/180 sec
This is one fine band. Lots of fun.
(Click Here) see the rest of my pics from the show.
A Little Refreshment, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-D 85mm f1.8
iso 3200, f2.4, 1/250 sec

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

First Report I've Seen on the New Lumix DMC-GH3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3
Digital Versus has posted a short review of the new flagship Lumix DMC-GH3 camera.
(Click Here) to read the whole report on Digital Versus.
This is not a in-depth investigation of the camera, as you may find on dpreview. I also question whether they have a production model, since they mention some pretty strange software / firmware traits, saying that they should be fixable in later versions.
In any case, one thing I learned is that the GH3 has a wireless connection built-in, allowing you to look at images on your cell phone, and trigger the shutter from the phone. Kind of cool. I wonder if it also allows automatic backup to and image display on the Apple iPad?
Amazon is listing this camera for $1299 right now, even though it's not yet in stock.
If the rumor about an upcoming DMC-GX2 having the same sensor is true, I'm likely to wait for the GX2. I still like my Micro 4/3 cameras to be as small as possible, while incorporating the features I desire. Of course, that will mean an auxiliary electronic viewfinder on the GX2, but I can live with that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Deeper Look at the New Olympus 17mm f1.8 Micro 4/3 Lens

Ming Thein ( has done a very nice write-up on the new Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens. I covered the announcement of this exciting new lens a few days ago.
Unfortunately, Ming copyright protects all of his images, so rather than using one of his excellent images, I grabbed this one (also nice) from
Shot With Olympus 17mm f1.8 Lens
Image Source:
Ming compares the new lens to two existing ones: the Olympus 17mm f2.8 and the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7. I have the 20mm f1.7, and it's an amazing little lens. However, Ming's article brings out one very important feature of the new Olympus lens that really has me interested - a real depth of field scale! More on that later.
Ming says that the Olympus 17mm f1.8 is built similarly to the new Olympus 75mm f1.8, that is, it's one of their premium lenses, with no plastic construction. I can say that the 75mm is built very nicely, and feels great in the hand. Ming also says the expensive Olympus accessory hood is poorly designed, and makes it hard to remove the lens cap.
Focus is reportedly "very, very fast," even when compared to the Lumix 20mm lens. I have never felt that the 20mm is slow to focus, but I have read it in other places. Focus speed is not enough to interest me in the new lens
The new Olympus lens focuses to a minimum of 25 cm.
Ming reports that the field of view difference between the Lumix 20mm and Olympus 17mm f1.8 is nearly negligible; from that standpoint it makes me think that it's not worth adding the Olympus lens to my kit.
However, as I mentioned above, the fact that the 17mm has a depth of field scale may change all that. You see, none of my Micro 4/3 lenses have any type of focus scale or depth of field indicator on the lens body. Importantly, you also cannot trust the scale on lenses adapted to Micro 4/3 from other mounts; they are usually not correct. This means that doing zone focus manually (where I use a set f-stop and manual focus to allow for very quick shooting on the street) is impossible, other than a trick for setting hyperfocal distance. This is a major drawback, as I love to use a small aperture (usually f8), and manually focus to get a very large range of distances in focus. I also like to use the depth of field scale to tell me how far away the minimum point of clear focus will be. With my Leica, for example, I can look down and tell myself mentally "anything beyond 8 feet is mine." This new Olympus lens will make that possible on a Micro 4/3 body. Therefore, I've got to give this lens a try.
The new lens is reportedly going to be priced at around $500, and should be available in the US in December.
(Click Here) to read Ming's full review.
The new Oly lens is not yet on Amazon. Here's a link to the very nice Lumix 20mm f1.7:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Felix at efix:photography: "Goodbye M8, hello CL!"

Leica CL and Zeiss Biogon 28mm f2.8 ZM Lens
I just found a new (to me) blog, called efix:photography. The operator, Felix, has just sold his beloved Leica M8, as did I.
I was lucky enough to replace mine with an M9. Felix, for reasons of his own, went a different and I think very productive way - he purchased a Leica CL film camera.
(Click Here) to read the post on efix:photography
The Leica CL, which was produced through a collaboration of Leica and Minolta, is an excellent camera. It has a slightly shorter rangefinder base than the other Leica M bodies, which means that theoretically it is harder to focus to high accuracy. I have never had any problem with this in real experience. The CL is the most compact Leica rangefinder camera, and will mount any Leica M lens. Back in the day, it came with a 40mm f2 Summicron (sometimes labeled as a 40mm Rokkor by Minolta). That's what I have attached to mine. The 40mm lens is just plain spectacular. The finder on the CL has lines for 40mm, 50mm, and 90mm lenses. There is also a CL-matching 90mm f4 that is tiny and super sharp. I don't have that one. Another important feature of the CL is a built-in exposure meter. This makes it a very self-contained, easy to use camera.
The 40mm Summicron, by the way, is a wonderful "normal" lens for the M8, with it's 1.33X crop factor. This gives it a field of view equivalent to ~53mm on a full frame 35mm camera when used on the M8. The 40mm Rokkor f2 was my most-used lens on the M8.
How much do I like the CL? Well, I'm leaving soon for a trip to Barcelona (I'll be back by the time this posts), and am relying on Lumix Micro 4/3 cameras for the trip. However, I do have the CL and 40mm Rokkor in my bag as well. It's the only non-Panasonic camera going with me on this trip. I have a few rolls of Tmax 400 in the bag as well. I know I'll use the CL while I'm there.
So, check out Felix's blog, and watch for what he's going to produce with his new camera - the Leica CL!
Here's a sample shot from my CL:
Chinese New Year Antics, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, exposure unrecorded

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spanish Girl on Train

I took these two shots on a train, on the way to the Spanish coastal city of Sitges. Individually, I don't think they say much. Together, they remind me of some of the details of the day - the weather, the sounds of the train on the tracks, the day we had exploring the Mediterranean beach and sights.
Spanish Girl on Train, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Processed with Snapseed
I'm in the process of working out how to use my iPad for photo backup on travel. I'm not quite there yet. As a result, these pictures don't have metadata associated with them (a problem I think I know how to fix), so I can't say the exposure details at this point. Not that they matter much - it's the feeling and details of these shots that mean something to me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Those Blasted Pop-Up Flashes

Shot With Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 by nonnit on
Anyone who's used one knows the limitations of those little pop-up flashes that are built into your cameras. Nearly every photography seminar I've attended tells you to leave them down, rip them off, whatever, don't use them. On a few exceptions, I've been told to use them the opposite of your first thought: turn them off inside or in low light, use them outside or in bright light for fill-in flash.
Those little flashes have a few major problems. First, they're small. That means they have low light output, and are only good close up to your subject, if you're relying on them as the main light in picture. Second, they are built-in. That means that they're optimally placed to give you "red eyes" in your subject, as the light coming from the flash reflects directly back into your lens. Finally, they give very harsh light. This is a result of them being very small sources (nearly point sources) of light, and being directly aimed at the subject. They can really make a nice-looking person ugly.
So, what are they good for? If you can dial down the intensity, they're fine for fill-in flash in otherwise good lighting. For example, if you're taking outdoor pictures in strong midday light, that little flash can fill in those deep black shadows under your subject's eyes, and provide a little catch-light at the same time.
They can also be used to trigger other flashes wirelessly.
nonnit on demonstrated both in his recent post of images shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3.
(Click Here) to see nonnit's post on
So, don't literally rip that little flash off of your camera; just use it very carefully.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Getting That Film Look From Digital - Theme Presents a Nice Summary of Software Options

Black and White Conversion Done in Lightroom
It's pretty interesting how there seems to be a persistent interest in shooting film, or at least getting results that look like film. I started this morning's blog story search with an article on Theme about how some photographers (I won't say "many"), including some pros, are sticking with film.
(Click Here) to read how some pros are continuing to shoot with film.
That led me to another article on Theme, about using software to make your digital images look like film. In this piece, they cover five optional add-ons to your normal photo editing software (Adobe Lightroom in my case):
  1. DxO FilmPack
  2. Alien Skin Exposure 4
  3. Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (for black and white)
  4. Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (for color)
  5. TrueGrain (specifically for grain effects)
(Click Here) to read the whole piece on Theme.
The article describes how Sebastiao Salgado refused to switch to digital until he could recreate the look he's always gotten with black and white film (Kodak TriX 400). Now that he's switched, he processes his images with DxO FilmPack, and even transfers them to a film base digitally.
Both DxO and Nik have free evaluation versions. Theme suggests that DxO is less expensive, and does the job very well.
Personally, I don't like spending time editing images, but do a fair amount of conversion to black and white. I have been doing it all within Lightroom, which allows me to save presets. However, I'm interested in finding out what I've been missing with one of these other packages.
I'm tempted to try DxO. However, I already have Nik's excellent HDR Pro software for high dynamic range imaging, so I may try Silver Efex. Maybe I'll try to do this over the holidays. I'll report back after I've had a chance to play a little.
Of course, I continue to shoot film as well. I see no reason to be exclusive in my approaches.