Thursday, January 31, 2013

Could the Ricoh GR Digital V Be Another Runner in the Large Sensor Compact Market?

My wife has been using my Panasonic DMC-LX5 a lot recently. Given her record with damaging cameras, I'm starting to look for a replacement. Honestly, I probably should have taken advantage of the holiday deals on the DMC-LX7. It was available for $275. Now, it's back over $400.
New Ricoh Digital with APS-C Sensor Coming?
Image Source:
In any case, it's a good time to look again and see what's out there. I would like a larger sensor than the LX7 offers. That brings up some excellent new cameras, all with large sensors and compact designs. Namely, I'm thinking of the new Sony RX1, Leica X2, and Fujifilm X100s. All of these are fixed-lens designs, without zooms. For my purposes, I think I want a zoom. This will be my pocket camera - the backup when needed, or sometimes the only camera I'll carry on a short trip. The Panasonic DMC-LX7 would be perfect, if it just had a little larger sensor.
Anyway, I read this short post about the possibility of a new Ricoh compact that may have an APS-C (larger than most other compact cameras) sensor.
(Click Here) to read the post on PetaPixel.
I think this one will likely have a fixed focal length lens as well. The GR IV does. But, I'll keep my eyes open.
Right now, the Fuji X20 seems like a possible good upgrade from the LX5. But, while it's sensor is bigger than the LX5 (and LX7), it's still much smaller than APS-C. Another potential is the Sony RX100, but it doesn't have a viewfinder of any type, so that's not going to work for me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fabien Penso's Tour Through India, With Leica

By Fabien Penso
Image Source:
On the Leica blog, there's a great story of Fabien Penso, who traveled India with a Leica M9.
Fabien shoots up close to people, and focuses pretty much exclusively on photographing people. The shot above exemplifies what I think of when I think candids shot with a Leica.
Fabien typically shoots a 35mm lens, sometimes a 50. To him, a 50mm lens feels a little telephoto. Interesting.
Fabien also feels that you should not have to make equipment choices when traveling, so usually carries a single lens, maybe two.
I like this approach. I need to learn from it.
(Click Here) to read Fabien's full story on the Leica blog.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Image That Sticks in My Mind

Sunset Approaching, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
iso 400, f4, 1/640 sec
For various reasons, I've had very little time to get out and shoot much in the past week or so. So, I'm going back through some old images, looking for the ones that make me think "Hey, I remember that one!" The shot above is an example.
I shot this one right before sunset on the boardwalk in Sacramento, California. To me, it says something about aging, the passage of time. I love the texture in the wood on the boardwalk, and the paddlewheel boat in the distance.
Perhaps I also remember this shot because I was in Sacramento that evening to meet with some good friends that I hadn't seen in a while at that point. I spent part of our dinner time explaining why I was so pleased with the GF1.
I still have my GF1, even though it's multiple generations old now. The form factor is so attractive. The image quality was quite good. I find that I don't use it much anymore, but with the price of used digital gear, I'd rather keep it as my in-car camera than sell it for a little over $100. The GF1 was a ground-breaking design, in my opinion. I'm waiting for the announcement of the GX2, which should bring me back to that form factor, yet with the very latest sensor technology.
Maybe I'm not done with Micro 4/3 yet.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer Shares His Composition Exercises Made With Lumix DMC-GX1

Blood Spatter, by Mike Johnston
I have to see it often, learn it over and over again. The most important thing about making art is to make art. In a post of "exercises" that Mike Johnston has taken, I see again how you can make interesting photos without going somewhere exotic, or worrying about spectacular subject matter.
(Click Here) to see Mike's post on The Online Photographer.
I selected "Blood Spatter," because I think it really exemplifies what I'm talking about. I mean, come on. A picture of a toilet paper roll? Yes! And I think it evokes a feeling or emotion - that is the goal of art.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Olympus Doggy Chew - the 12mm f2 Lens

Lens-Eating Dog
Image Source:
I've just come across Tom Collins, a fellow photographer and blogger. Today he told a story of his dog, Eli (pictured above), chewing up his several hundred dollar Olympus 12mm f2 lens.
(Click Here) to read the story on Tom's blog.
Well, even though Eli ruined the cosmetic condition of the lens, it is still completely functional. Lucky for Tom. I guess it's just now a "keeper." Tom took this all much better than I would have.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Miroslav Mosko Gives In-Depth Analysis of His Experience With Fujifilm X100 on Steve Huff Photo

As I've mentioned, I'm intrigued by the line of Fujifilm cameras, mostly the X100 (and the newly-announced X100S). As DMC-365 is all about the interface between equipment and creativity, I thoroughly enjoyed a post by Miroslav Mosko, posted on
Fujifilm X100, by Miroslav Mosko
Miroslav also shoots a Nikon D700. We both agree on the spectacular features of that camera. He wanted something smaller, simpler. Miroslav purchased a classic Nikon FM2 and 50mm lens, another of my favorites. While he does not mind waiting for film processing, he found that it was not a practical everyday camera, and really didn't like handing over control of processing to someone else.
Interested in the X100, Miroslav downloaded raw files from the web and processed them himself. Overall, he was not impressed. This fact, coupled with all of the nitpicking on online blogs about shortcomings of the X100 nearly convinced him to give up on the X100.
Miroslav was very impressed by the work of a Canadian photographer, on the blog LaROQUE.
(Click Here) to see LaROQUE - beautiful!
Based on LaROQUE alone, Miroslav decided to go for it. He bought an X100. Miroslav gives a well-balanced evaluation, including critical analysis of many features. His X100 had to go back to the factory as the sensor wasn't clean right out of the box. Completely unacceptable, especially on a fixed lens camera!
In the end, however, Miroslav just plain loved using the X100. He reports that digital noise, while present, is very film-like, as is the color.
I really enjoyed Miroslav's piece, because it does demonstrate how equipment affects the creative process. It also illustrates how there are some intangible things, things that can't be written into a specification table or analyzed by taking pictures of focus targets and brick walls at iso 3200, that have a huge impact on how we enjoy our craft.
(Click Here) to read Miroslav's entry on

Friday, January 25, 2013

So, Where Am I on Micro 4/3 These Days?

Travel Shot From Barcelona, Not Shot On Micro 4/3
Leica CL, Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm f2, Kodak Tmax 400 Film
Having started DMC-365 last year with a focus on Panasonic Lumix cameras, with specific emphasis on Micro 4/3 format, you may wonder where it fits in with my new, broader focus of the blog on the overall interface between equipment and creativity.
Let me be honest with you - I'm wondering the same thing. I had an enormous amount of fun with my twin Lumix DMC-G3s last year. I remember being amazed at how much progress had been made in image quality, specifically in low light, between the G1 and G3. I shot a lot of nice images with the G3 last year, if I may say so.
However, I also had a lot of fun with other cameras last year, and now tend to pick up either my Nikon DSLR for low light situations or nature, or my Leica M9 for street and people photography. And, in a couple of instances, shooting with film gave me pleasure and results not available to me with Micro 4/3. In fact, I've got an article soon to be published in a journal (don't want to break any confidences until it's ready), specifically about shooting film on my trip to Barcelona last fall. I shot probably 1/8 as many images on film as on digital, but actually had more "winners" by my own definition. In fact, at the moment, the G3s are not what I'd grab on the way off to another great international vacation.
So, I must admit, my G3s and incredible set of Micro 4/3 lenses have been idle for the last few weeks. Part of the reason is that I just don't have enough time to shoot. With more free time, I'm sure I'd still be using them. However, there's more to the story. I'm waiting on the next level of image quality in Micro 4/3 sensors.
What is not clear to me is whether the newest sensors in Micro 4/3 are the answer. The Lumix DMC-G5 clearly was not. It was an incremental, small step, as far as I can tell, above the G3. The Olympus OM-D looks like it really could be the next justifiable step for me, to keep using all of those wonderful compact, fast prime lenses. I honestly can't tell if the GH3 is as good an option for me. I don't like the idea of such a large form factor for a Micro 4/3 camera. And, from what I've read (you have to be careful what you read), the GH3 is perhaps as good, not better, than the OM-D. I hesitate to switch from the familiar menus of Lumix to a new set in Olympus. As I've said before, what may be convincing is a new compact GX2, with the GH3 sensor and a smaller form factor, which is a major attraction to Micro 4/3 for me.
So, for now, I'm thoroughly enjoying shooting other systems. I'm not ready to abandon Micro 4/3, but mainly because I have such an attraction to the size and great lenses. While I'm waiting for the next phase of sensors, I'll enjoy my other gear, and share the results with you. I hope you're enjoying the new format. I am having a great time shooting for my new regular features - Skeletons from the Closet (using old film cameras from my collection) and Whole Lotta Leica (pairing a wide range of Leica mount lenses with my M9). First results posts for both features coming soon!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gorgeous Shot - Magnolia Gardens Bridge by Jon Oman - 8x10 Pinhole Camera

Magnolia Gardens Bridge by Jon Oman
8x10 Film, Pinhole Camera
I've been thinking about low tech imaging techniques more lately, and even playing around with some plastic fantastic cameras, like the new Lomography Sprocket Rocket that I received as a Christmas present. I also have a nice wooden 4x5 pinhole camera that needs to be used.
I found this wonderful shot by Jon Oman, which he posted on Rangefinder Forum.
(Click Here) to see Jon's post.
I'd love to see a contact print of that giant negative in person. At an exposure time of 5 1/2 minutes, I'm sure the water has a dreamy blurred look to it.
(Click Here) to check out Jon's main website.
Here's one that I did shoot not too long ago, with a 35mm pinhole camera, which my daughter and I constructed from a cardboard kit. Not nearly the quality of the enormous 8x10 shot above, I still think it's pretty cool.
Reindeer, by Reed A. George
Cardboard 35mm Pinhole Camera

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Never Be Afraid to Look Back Down that Stairway - Our Personal Photographic Roots

National Portrait Gallery Stairs, by Reed A. George
Pentax K1000, Pentax 50mm f1.7 Lens, Kodak Tmax 400 Film
I was reading a post on the blog EXP entitled "Photography and Self Discovery," which made me happy that I'm pursuing my "Skeletons from the Closet" project, shooting a different old camera each month, beginning with my first real camera - the Pentax K1000 used to make the shot above.
(Click Here) to read N. Rosales' post on EXP blog.
So, don't forget that my first results from Skeletons from the Closet are coming up soon. I've been shooting the K1000 this month, and have some things to share, but will post them in a few weeks, around mid February. It takes a little while to get film back... By the time you see those, I'll be well into shooting the next month's camera - a Super Ricohmat twin lens reflex medium format camera.
And, my first "Whole Lotta Leica" results, using the Leica M9 with a 1938 Elmar 5cm f3.5 lens, will be out before then, around February 1.
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Legacy Normal Lens Makes Nice Portrait Lens on Micro 4/3

I love to see shots made with older lenses adapted to Micro 4/3 cameras. This one, by muzza on was made with a Panasonic Lumix GF3 and a Russian Helios 44, which is a 58mm f2 lens. On the smaller sensor of the Micro 4/3 Lumix, it makes a very nice, if slightly long focal length portrait lens, with a fast f2 aperture.
I very much like muzza's composition in this shot. The triangle of her left arm is an important element, and is just out of focus enough to be creamy in texture. The pen tip in her right hand is a nice focal point, in addition to her eye. The way her hair falls over her face also reinforces the feeling that she's intensely focused on her work.
With the great native Micro 4/3 portrait lenses out there now (for example the Olympus 75mm f1.8), it's easy to neglect those old classic lenses in your closet. Grab one and make a memory, like muzza has here!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Including People in Your Landscapes? It Can Work.

Kauai Beach, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 Lens at 100mm
iso 400, f7.1, 1/1250 sec
Many times, when we think of a landscape image, we picture an untouched wilderness. One of the old rules of landscape photography is to include a strong foreground element, a focal point of some type, to anchor the scene. I can admit that I find myself trying to accomplish the untouched look, and have to search hard to find something interesting to put in the foreground.
Including a person is an easy way to achieve the necessary foreground element and focal point. It also has the nice feature of adding scale to a landscape, by letting the viewer see something that they know the size of. In the picture above, what I was trying to show was the steep mountains of Kauai, jutting straight up from the seashore. Yes, the trees would have given some idea of scale, but the two people on the beach do a better job of that. And, the trees were just a "layer" in the composition. They would not have provided a focal point. Without the people, this shot would not have a focal point in the lower 2/3 of the image at all.
There is a nice brief article by Matt Dutile on this concept on the Digital Photography School's blog.
(Click Here) to read Matt's article and see some nice example shots.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shanghai's Yuyuan Garden Tea House at Night by Adam Allegro

Shanghai's Yuyuan Garden Tea House by Adam Allegro
Image Source:
I'm on the hunt for new and inspiring photography blogs. There are a lot out there. I just found Adam Allegro's "Catch the Jiffy" blog, with amazing travel photography.
(Click Here) to go to Catch the Jiffy
Adam is a Nikon shooter, and explains his equipment choice on his blog (link above). He has a real talent for night photography, and uses the awesome Nikon D800 to great advantage.
This guy gets around a lot. So, he may be a source for more of my "travel photos from places I've never been" in the future.
Enjoy his site!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snow Flakes - Nice Winter Theme - No Excuses

I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration. Sometimes, winter, even a relatively mild one, makes me feel devoid of good outdoor subject material for photography.
I found this great blog, "Draw and Shoot," run by Karen McRae of Ottawa, Canada that makes me feel like a whiner.
(Click Here) to go to Karen's blog.
If she can find so much inspiration in the Great White North (where they have real cold winters), then I have no excuses. Sometimes that message alone is enough to get me out searching again.
The moon and stars come out, even in winter...
The Moon and Stars, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF 28mm f2.8 Lens
iso 3200, f4, 1/15 sec.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Creative Process, or How I Got the Shot

First off, I want to let you know that I'm very proud of the first picture below. I understand that it's not going to win the Pulitzer, but it's exactly the type of image that I strive for, and is pretty elusive. For me, it brings together a lot about my project in the local music scene and why I enjoy it. It was taken during a recording session for the local band "Jake and the Burtones," at Shepherd's Ford studio in Berryville, Virginia.
Jack Pugh of Jake and the Burtones, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
Now, I want to analyze what went into the process for me, and how I ended up getting this shot. There were many preparations that allowed this to happen, including a lot of getting to know people and being around at music events, which eventually allowed me to get an invitation to the recording session. Let's leave that important part aside for now, and focus on the photographic approach that I took.
The first thing that struck me when I walked into Shepherd's Ford was how the musicians were walled off from each other, in separate little cubes. The second thing, which probably should have been first, was the light. It was a beautiful, promising challenge. Dynamic range was surely going to be part of it. At the north side of the room were big, un-cluttered windows, with dramatic sunlight pouring in at the low angle of winter. Diffused by snow on the ground, it made an enormous, gorgeous warm softbox to light the scene. The first five feet of the room were bathed in this awesome light. Ten feet in, the shadows took over - long, dramatic, every scene full of contrast. But, shooting while facing those windows required overexposing the outdoor light, in order to get any detail on the darker side, like in peoples' faces. This exposure adjustment was a technique learned from the books - sometimes you must compromise exposure in peripheral areas to get it right on your main subject. One approach is to spot meter your main subject, and make exposure decisions from there. The Leica M9 that I was shooting doesn't have a spot meter, so I just metered a characteristically-lit portion of the floor, took a few test shots, and adjusted from there.
In trying to capture the true feel of the whole scene, I started with an ultra wide angle lens, the Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 Heliar, and shot to include the cube walls separating the musicians. This is a lens that I don't use often, as it's just amazingly wide, I find composition to be very challenging. The ultra-wide approach was only moderately successful. However, I found that the lens allowed me to include a lot of details from the studio, including the Dolly Parton pin-up on the back wall. I also really liked how the lines of the rafters reached out from the distance to this lens. So, I used the ultra-wide lens and exposure compensation technique to capture the whole band, including lots of information about the studio setting. This was critical for me. I get to shoot these musicians under excellent stage lighting all the time. Just portraits, without environment, could be shot anywhere, at any show. I wanted images that could only be shot here, in the studio, which is a unique and priveleged situation.
Studio Walls, by Reed A. George

Leica M9, Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 LTM Lens

Jake and the Burtones in the Studio, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 LTM Lens
Once I had these shots, I could then begin to work on individuals. I would say that I need more work on this type of shooting. The subject photo of this piece (the first picture above) was my one "aha" interaction. Once again using the huge softbox effect of the external windows, I'm sure that it was the light that attracted me to shoot from this particular angle, in front of the bass player, Jack Pugh. I chose the Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.5 C Sonnar lens, both because I needed the wide aperture for the low light shots, and because it has just the right balance of character and sharpness to produce the look I wanted.
This was when the magic happened. At first, Jack played it cool, like I wasn't bothering him standing there shooting away while he played. Then I saw him start to sniff and move his face in a funny way. Smirking from behind the camera,I guessed that his nose was itching. Making a series of expressions I chose not to capture out of courtesy, he started to smile. We both cracked up. I thought maybe it was over, time to move on, but decided to hang in and keep shooting. Then I saw the shot develop. We had just been through a tiny shared moment together. His urge to sneeze now abated and he really relaxed, with me still there. It was not the moment of connection when we laughed together that turned out to be the best shot, but the moment after, when it felt like normal again, even with my lens pointed at him. Magic.
While I typically shoot my Nikon D700 at live music shows, mainly due to its supreme handling of low light situations, I can honestly say I don't think I could've pulled this shot off with a DSLR. The Leica is just a less threatening thing to have pointed at you.
Once the pressure was really off, I shoot a couple of really risky images, using a new toy plastic camera I got for Christmas, the Sprocket Rocket (!) camera by Lomography. This beast shoots 35mm film panoramas, with the image going out and over the sprocket holes in the film.
Break Time, by Reed A. George
Lomography Sprocket Rocket Camera, Lomography iso800 Color Print Film
If you're interested in the Sprocket Rocket, click on my Amazon link at the bottom of this post to learn more, and maybe even buy one.
Finally, to round out my coverage of the day, I walked with the band down to the banks of the Shenandoah River and got a quick group shot.
Jake and the Burtones (and Brian), by Reed A. George

Leica M9, Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens

I had a great time at this shoot. The Leica M9 was a great choice for shooting in the studio. I also enjoyed playing around with the Sprocket Rocket.
Oh yeah. If you want to hear Jake and the Burtones (Click Here)! I can tell you from first hand experience - their new album is going to be great!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Breathtaking Photos of Switzerland

As you know, I scour the internet daily for interesting things to report about the world of photography. I frequently post others' work from places I've never visited. Occasionally, rarely actually, I find an image that blows my mind. This one does.
sumi41 has posted this and one other image of their native Switzerland on
(Click Here) to see the full post.
Being that it's posted on mu-43, I must conclude that this image was taken with a Micro 4/3 camera. No other details were provided.
I find this picture absolutely sublime. It's the orange sunlight on that top peak, contrasting with the blue cast everywhere else, that does it for me. sumi41 promises more images - I look forward to them.
That image needs to be printed and hung real big, somewhere.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Find Ultra Wide Angle Lenses Difficult to Shoot With

Image Source:
I have one of these lenses - an ultra wide 12mm f5.6 in Leica Thread Mount (LTM). This lens has an unbelievably wide field of view, especially for a non-fisheye.
I have written many times about how wide angle shooting in general challenges me. This lens takes it to another level. The challenge is in composition, mainly. Focus is easy. In fact, the depth of field is so large on this lens (due to the short focal length and small aperture) that you don't need to focus. Everything from 2 feet to infinity is in focus, even at the widest aperture of f5.6.
I recently used the 12mm on my Leica M9 while shooting a recording session for my friends in the band "Jake and the Burtones."
(Click Here) to see all of the pics from the recording session.
Why did I choose this lens? Well, I will admit that I rarely shoot this lens at all. However, I had a hunch that there would be some tight quarters in the studio. The wide angle perspective allowed me to shoot much of what was in the room at very close quarters. In the shot below, I'm literally about two feet from the tables in the foreground, and maybe six feet from the band members. Looks a little further away, doesn't it?
Ultra wide angle lenses are great for shooting interiors. However, the relatively slow f5.6 aperture means high iso and relatively slow shutter speeds. In the case below, I shot at f5.6 handheld. It was a stretch.
Recording Session, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Cosina Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 LTM Lens
As I said, composition is a real challenge with this lens. In the shot above, the white paper on the right was not my subject. But, it was close enough to become a major portion of the image. The rafters above are pretty distorted by the optics, but I think they look interesting. So, they're an important part of the composition for me. I love seeing Sam, the mandolin player, up in the extreme top left corner. Isn't that cool? And how about Dolly Parton on the back wall? Some features remain big even with ultra wide angle...
As you can see, in order to get any light on the band members, I had to completely overexpose the light coming through the windows behind them. Again, I think this adds to the composition, rather than taking away. I love how the shadows are cast across the floor - thank you winter sunlight.
I have considered selling this lens many times, as I don't use it much at all. I think the maximum aperture of f5.6 limits how and where it can be used. And, it's just plain difficult to use well. The hood that came with it vignettes terribly if you don't have it perfectly aligned. If I wasn't lazy, it already would have been sold.
This past weekend was the most I've ever used this lens. Now that I'm shooting more musical performances, and especially backstage, I think I'll keep it and use it more. It's not something you want to use all the time, but it does add a unique perspective to shots at close quarters. And it works pretty well on the M9.
Because the camera rangefinder is not meant for such wide imaging, you have to use an accessory finder to frame with this lens. Again, however, it's almost true that anything you see in front of the camera will be in the image.
There's also a newer version of this lens, with the Leica M mount (see the Amazon link below). Mine requires an LTM to M adapter, but that works just fine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

gotak from Shares a Cold Toronto Winter Morning member gotak has posted some images taken in Toronto this winter, all between the hours of 5:00-9:00 am. These were shot on the Olympus OM-D.
(Click Here) to see them all on, including the iced-over docks at Toronto Harbor.
gotak tells us that the OM-D was a lightweight selection, and that it was good, since the icy docks come with some danger of slipping into the water.
These pictures make me feel cold just looking at them. Slide into that water, and it's all over, I'm afraid.
It's nice to see some images from so early in the morning - definitely not your average tourist shots. The OM-D seems to do quite well with long exposures.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It May Be a Good Time to Buy a Used Fuji X100

Fujifilm X100S
I have been very interested in some of the innovative and high quality products that Fujifilm has brought to market recently. Truly an innovative company, they have brought the world's first (and only?) hybrid viewfinder, which allows you to switch between an optical and electronic viewfinder, and also an innovative color filter design for their Xtrans sensors, which reportedly obviate the need for a low-pass filter. This has the effect of increasing image sharpness.
Fuji has a long history of building first-class lenses, as well. Their medium format lenses are spectacular. I once has a Fuji GS645 medium format rangefinder camera, with 60mm f4 lens. It was an amazingly light, high quality camera, perfect for landscape photography, especially good for hiking. I carried mine on a three day trek through the Grand Canyon, and was duly impressed with the results.
The Fujifilm X100 camera has been out for a while now (about two years), and has created quite a stir. The hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder seems to be well-received, and the sensor in the X100 reportedly does quite well at high iso. The X100 also has beautiful styling, reminiscent of Leica, for sure.
There were some initial problems with the X100 - namely slow autofocus (reportedly completely fixed by a firmware update) and an issue with sticky aperture blades. This also seems to have been fixed by Fuji.
By the way, Fujifilm has an excellent site online featuring lots of information about the design philosophy and implementation in the X100.
(Click Here) to see Fuji's informative site focused on the X100.
Well, now the X100S has been announced.
(Click Here) to see the full announcement.
Apparently, the S version offers a new sensor, using the Xtrans filter arrangement, and some new fast autofocus technology. It also has a higher resolution electronic finder in the hybrid arrangement.
It may be a good time to pick up a used X100 for a good price. However, the Xtrans sensor makes the X100S sound very attractive, too. That should make the X100 used prices drop significantly.
I've never used the X100, but a nice fixed lens (23mm f2) rangefinder-style with all manual controls seems great. It is not truly a rangefinder camera, but I'm sure the handling is very similar.
For me, the competition in this market consists of the Leica X2, and the Sony RX1. The X2 is very attractive, but as with the Panasonic X series cameras, if you add the accessory viewfinder, the nice clean and compact lines of the camera are lost. Same goes for the RX1. Not to mention that the accessory finders are quite expensive. I'd prefer the X100 design, with the finder built into the camera's body lines.
Keep the innovations coming, Fujifilm! I may have to try either the X100 or X100S (when it's available).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Foreground Items Out of Focus - Is It Acceptable?

One of the the oft-repeated recommendations for newcomers to photography is "learn all of the rules, and then forget them." I don't know who said this first, but it gets repeated in just about every photography workshop; it has become a cliche' statement. That said, I think it's true, especially as it relates to composition.
In the image below, which I took at Great Falls, Virginia on an extremely cold day (I think it was about 12 degrees F), the rocks at the very bottom, in the foreground, are a little out of focus. When I posted this shot, which I personally love, that came back as a criticism. It got me thinking.
Great Falls, Virginia, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex Camera
We all take pictures where the background is out of focus, which helps to emphasize our subject, typically a person, as in a portrait. So why do some people think it's not okay to have a blurred foreground? I haven't found an answer. Personally, I think it helps to focus attention elsewhere in the image, just as a blurred background does.
Image Source:
The image above uses the same effect. I find it very attractive.
(Click Here) to read the original post on MUTE, and the comments. Most people seem to agree that it's a great shot.
Anyone out there have an opinion to share about this?
I haven't read this book, but maybe I should...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Studying Color - The Color Wheel and Complementary Colors

The Color Wheel
Image Source:
Reading a new series of posts about on JPG Magazine's blog has me remembering middle school art class, and thinking about color schemes.
(Click Here) to read about the complementary colors red and green (for the holidays) on JPG Magazine's blog.
Complementary colors are defined as those that will make gray when combined. In a simpler sense, they are colors that lie opposite (or near opposite) one another on the color wheel. Use of complementary colors can make for dramatic images.
There are some very nice examples in the blog link above.
So do I have any examples of using complementary colors in my own work? Here's one:
Koi and Lily, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, Lumix 45-200mm f4-5.6 at 97mm
iso 100, f5.6, 1/60 sec
And here's one you may have seen posted here before.
Beautiful Obsolesence, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux
iso 160, f5.6, 1/160 sec
I like the JPG blog. There is already a follow-up post on other complementary colors. I don't think that I consciously picked this color combination in the shots above, but they must have caught my eye.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bhupinder2002 at Shoots Olympus 45mm f1.8 With 10-Stop Neutral Density Filter for Motion Effect

I've posted about using neutral density filters in the past. For me, the most common uses are to:
  1. Reduce the light coming into the lens to allow me to shoot at wide apertures (for shallow depth of field) in bright light
  2. Reduce light to allow the use of longer shutter speeds, which provides the ability to blur motion.
I usually carry a 3-stop filter, which allows me to move from say f8 in daylight, as some reasonable shutter speed, to f2.8. That makes a real difference in depth of field, for instance if I want to take a portrait in bright light, and blur the background.
Bhupinder2002 has posted some shots using a 10-stop neutral density filter on a 45mm f1.8 lens with the Olympus OM-D. This provides for a much larger change in settings, including allowing very long shutter speeds in broad daylight. Hence the moody motion of the water in the image above. It's a cool effect.
(Click Here) to see all of the images Bhupinder2002 posted.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Family Tradition - Oseichi Ryori - Japanese New Year's Breakfast

Japanese Oseichi Ryori, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
iso 160, f2.2, 1/60 sec.
My wife is Japanese. Living in Northern Virginia, we don't get all that many chances to celebrate Japanese culture. One opportunity we take every year is on New Year's morning. We order out traditional Japanese food, oseichi ryori. Now I'm kind of a conservative eater, especially at breakfast. But, I thoroughly enjoy welcoming the new year in with fresh seafood and Japanese sencha (green tea) one day per year.
I also always grab a camera and take a shot of this year's selection. That tends to be the DMC-LX5. For these shots, I used iAuto, where the camera sets EVERYTHING for you. Obviously, I also used macro focus. Not bad for complete point and shoot automation.
Japanese Oseichi Ryori, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
iso 200, f2.2, 1/60 sec.

Ohashi (chop sticks), by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
iso 80, f2, 1/100 sec.
I almost sprung for an upgrade to the LX5 over the holidays - the LX7 was obscenely cheap at less than $300. But, the additional nearly $200 to upgrade the accessory finder from the DMW-LVF1 to DMW-LVF2, necessary with the LX7, was just a little too much. I've got no complaints about the LX5, and the LX7 has a faster (f2) lens, but no advantage in sensor size. So, I held off.
Happy 2013!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Another New Feature Column on DMC-365 - Whole Lotta Leica

If you've been following this blog, you'll already know that I'm working on reformatting it for 2013, and adding some new features. If you're a Leica fan, you're going to like this one.
Last year, I purchased the most expensive piece of equipment in my photographic history - a used Leica M9. I did get a nice deal on it, but wow, that was a big buy.
I also have a nice collection of "normal" focal length Leica (or Leica mount) lenses. I'm including anything from say 35-55mm in that group.
So here's the plan. Each month (or so), I'll match up a lens from my collection with the M9 body. The lenses range from being made in the 1930s (!) to modern. I think it will be exciting and informative to see how the old lenses as well as new work on my most modern digital Leica body.
I'm starting this one off with an old standard - a Leica Elmar 5cm (50mm) f3.5 collapsible lens. It came in Leica Thread Mount (LTM), and mounts up just fine with an M adapter to the Leica M9.
My 1938 Leica Elmar 5cm f3.5 LTM Collapsible Lens
This lens was the standard for Leica screwmount cameras for many years. The LTM Elmar 5cm f3.5 was produced from 1930-1950, with over 36,000 units produced. For details about the lens, and links to reviews, please
(Click Here) to go to
This particular copy is pretty beat up. In fact, it's the worst condition Leica lens that I own. You can see the scratches on the front face of the lens. The front element also has some scratches (sometimes referred to as "cleaning marks," these are really just scratches). There is also a little haze in this lens, but not too bad.
The little lever for selecting f-stop (note the old standard f numbers, no f5.6, 8, etc. on this old version) is a fingernail breaker. Mine binds just a little, and is hard to push. The focus movement is also far from smooth. All that said, I have shot with this lens on a film body, and the results were pretty darned good.
Let's see how it does on the M9. Results due in a couple of weeks.
Welcome to the new column - Whole Lotta Leica!
When this gets you motivated, please buy your M9 (or your $7 LTM-M converter, or anything else you buy from Amazon) HERE!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Luminous Landscape's "Best and Worst of 2012"

Luminous Landscape has posted their annual "Best and Worst of ..." results for camera equipment introduced in 2012.
(Click Here) to read the full story on Luminous Landscape.
In their "Best" category, they include two new DSLR models from Nikon, the D800/E and the D600. Nikon is really on a roll with great full-frame (24x36mm) digital cameras. Personally, I'm still shooting my D700, and am completely satisfied, no, actually amazed, with it's performance. It's nice to know that Nikon's still pushing the technology even further.
Nikon D800
Image Source:
Also under "Best," they include the new Sigma DP2 Merrill, which uses the sensor originally designed for a $7,000 SLR (see "Worst"), stuffed into a very compact pocket-sized camera. I am very interested in this camera.
Also in the compact camera market, they like the Sony RX-100. This 20MP little wonder includes a Zeiss lens. For me, however, the lack of any type of finder, relegating me to only shooting from the LCD, is a major drawback. Otherwise, I would probaly already be shooting one. My experience with Sony digital cameras in the past has been excellent, including one of my first digital cameras, many years ago.
Finally, the new Sony RX-1 is being considered as a contender for next year, since it was just released in December 2012.
What does Luminous Landscape think of Micro 4/3 developments in 2012? They put them in the middle. First, they like the technical improvements in sensors, but feel that Panasonic is pushing camera body size outside what Micro 4/3 is known for - compact, lightweight equipment - with the DMC-GH3. They are more positive about the Olympus OM-D, which is certainly a hit with users. I agree that the GH3 seems a little bulky - if I can live with larger size, Nikon wins hands-down. So, I'm looking forward to a Lumix DMC-GX2 with the same sensor, in a more compact body. Everything I hear about the Olympus OM-D is positive, and I'm tempted to give it a try.
They also place the new Fuji mirrorless cameras in the middle. I'm very impressed with Fuji's product designs and lens quality. Once they iron out any peculiarities with their unique sensors (and the software needed to best use them), I predict Fujifilm will be a powerhouse.
Finally, the "Worst." That doomed $7,000 Sigma DSLR that I mentioned above. Hard to imagine buying a Sigma body for the price of two Nikon D800s.
The remaining two cameras in this category were not even on my radar screen this year - the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, which is reported to be failing due to small company problems rather than technical capabilities, and the Hasselblad Lunar, which is a trumped-up Sony NEX7. Neither of these interests me, personally.
My only question - what about the Lytro? This new camera technology that allows multiple focus areas was supposed to be revolutionary (and maybe it is?). Personally, I have not heard much other than the initial announcements.

Anyone out there tried one? Please let me know your thoughts if you've use a Lytro.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Leica M Digital - No Longer Just a "Dentist's Camera?"

Photographer Sarah Lee from the UK's Guardian has started using a Leica M-E, the camera that's nearly identical to the M9 (missing only the frameline preview lever and USB connection), yet significantly less expensive.
The Leica M-E Digital Rangefinder
Image Source:
(Click Here) to read Sarah's thoughts on the Leica M-E on the Guardian's blog
Sarah discusses how the Leica M9 was not well-adopted by professional photojournalists because of price. In fact, she says that the pros refer to it as the "dentist's camera." I suspect a little of this is also involved in her decision to tape over the red dot on her M-E.
Like the M9, the useful iso is limited at about 1250, and it shares the slow write speed and small image buffer of the M9. Otherwise, her comments are quite positive, and par for the course as other photographers have reported. For Sarah, it has taken her back to shooting for fun, and to the reasons she became a photographer in the first place. It even has her printing images again.
Sarah Lee with her gaffer-taped Leica

Sarah Lee with her gaffer-taped Leica. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Image Source:
Another comment by Sarah is interesting to me - it has to do with her Pentax K1000 (my featured "Skeletons from the Closet" camera for January), and how she still appreciates it. That's cool.
You should read the whole article if you're interested in Leica digital rangefinders. But, to sum up, she says that once you can afford this type of camera, "it changes everything."
I would venture to add that going back and shooting the K1000 for a while may change everything as well. Don't get me wrong - I'm no dentist, but I do own an M9, so am certainly not a detractor of Leica. I just think that shooting with the basics, whether it be an M9 or a manual film SLR, changes the way you look at photography.
Buy your "inexpensive" Leica through my link below :).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sometimes You Don't Have to Leave Home to Make Interesting Photos

Backlit Spider, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit Lens
iso 1600, f2.8, 1/25 sec
I'm as bad as the next photographer about being at home, wishing I was out in the field in some exotic location, shooting pictures. However, when you're in a creative mood, it may not be necessary to travel at all.
John Gravett of Lakeland Photographic Holidays has written a nice article about photographing common household items on ePhotoZine.
(Click Here) to read John's piece on ePhotoZine
John describes using cross-polarization to photograph transparent or translucent plastic items. The approach is to put a sheet of polarizing film on a lightbox (like the ones we used to use to view photographic slides). Next, you put the plastic item on top of the polarizing sheet. Using a second polarizer, this time a filter on your lens, you can rotate the one on the camera until it achieves an orientation of 90 degrees from the one on the light box. At that point, all polarized light coming from the lightbox will be cancelled, giving a nice black background, while light that is being bent by going through the plastic will still appear in your pictures. If you use the link above to ePhotoZine, you'll see some interesting examples.
Beyond that, John raids his kid's toybox for subjects. I've done the same before. In fact, I made a nice little photo book for my daughter, made up of closeups of her action figure toys. Those little guys look pretty badass up close!
So, don't sit and feel sorry for yourself. Get creative, and shoot what's around your home!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

On Equipment, Resolution, Detail, and Mood

I just took this picture with my iPad camera (which is so bad, I rarely use it).
Through A Low Resolution Blind, by Reed A. George
iPad Camera
I noticed yesterday, looking through this same blind, that the weave of plastic making up the blind results in a pixelated view of what's outside, sort of like a low resolution digital sensor.
To me, this is a picture of a crow. In fact, the crow in the picture is literally represented by just two completely black, square "pixels." Do you see it, on top of the closest streetlight? Two pixels out of about 12,000 by my quick estimation. Completely black - no color or even gray level information.
I know that the crow was there. To me, it's a picture of a crow. To anyone else, it is certainly not a picture of a crow.
I am using the left side, the descriptive side, of my brain when I say it's a crow in the picture. I label those two pixels "crow." But, the feeling I get when looking at the image (from the right side of my brain) is definitely affected by a crow being there. This feeling would not be transmitted to other viewers with this low resolution image.
Ospreys in Flight, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor P 500mm f4 Lens
On the other hand, if I am photographing birds in flight, the shape and orientation of each feather adds to the experience of seeing it first hand. If I can't capture that, I've lost something in the process.
Mystery in a Street Scene, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, M-Rokkor 40mm f2 Lens
But, then there's mystery. Sometimes I want to obfuscate some details, specifically to allow me to share the feeling of a scene, rather than all of the details. This image makes me think "Woah. What's going on there?" even though I took the picture.
To me, this is why all of the technical terms associated with equipment, and the techniques that we share with each other, matter at all. But, matter they do. I hope this helps to explain why I believe that equipment and technique are important, and illustrates a little of what I mean by "Exploring the Interface Between Equipment and Creativity in Photography."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mesmerizing Tree Photo by Andy Bell

Blue Tree in Fog, by Andy Bell
I find this image, well as I said above, mesmerizing. I have always been partial to tree photographs. I think for me it's got something to do with scale - from a trunk whose diameter can be measured in feet to tiny branch ends, as small as you care to measure, and spread all across the field of view. There's sort of a built-in mystery in a picture like this, even without the fog.
This one just wraps it all together so well. No distractions, significant vignetting, but in a way that adds to the composition.
Andy made this shot with a Panasonic DMC-GF2 and Lumix 45-200 f4-5.6 lens.
(Click Here) to go to Andy's site for more.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Foggy Morning Over the Potomac

View From the Bridge, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Sonnar C 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 200, f8, 1/30 sec
I had a meeting get cancelled at work this morning. So, I took a quick walk around the property. Here's one of the three shots I got, the one that I like.
I recently read something about rhythm and tension in composition. I like the rhythm of the trees along the shore, the round little island, and the triangular patch of light reflected on the water. The white tree and leaves leaning over, and reflected in, the river give some tension, in my opinion. The foggy atmosphere made for a low contrast image, which I also like.
I'm glad I got a chance to walk out and see this scene.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Regular Column On DMC-365: "Skeletons from the Closet" - Using and Reviewing Cameras From My Collection

Now that I've officially completed my first year running DMC-365, it's time to freshen it up a bit. I'm still working on a list of ideas, but have one or two that I want to get started right away.
This one will be called "Skeletons from the Closet," meaning that I'll pull out some old favorite cameras from my collection (which literally is stored in a closet) over the coming year. In fact, my plan is to feature a different camera each month. I will write at least two posts on each camera - one introducing the camera of the month, and a follow-up, showing some of the images that I captured, and reviewing my thoughts on using the camera. Since these are film cameras, and I like to mail my film to The Darkroom ( for processing, the follow-up will normally come out mid month, the month after I use the camera. So, you can expect the first results around February 15.
To kick it off, for the month of January, I'm going back to where it all started. The Pentax K1000. Not just any K1000, this specific one. My parents bought it for me when I was in sixth grade, which must have been 1977. The K1000 came out in 1976. This camera moved across the country with me multiple times, and finally ended up with an old friend of mine during my 20 year hiatus from serious photography.
A couple of years back, my daughter asked about my first camera. The K1000 was my first serious camera, after a Kodak 126 Instamatic. On a whim, I called up my friend to see if he still had it. Not only did he have it, he was still using it. The meter was not working, but otherwise it was fully functional. I had him send it to me, and sent him an old Ricoh to use instead.
As soon as I got it back, I sent it off to Eric Hendrickson, Pentax Guru, for a CLA. Now it works as well as new. By the way, Eric is a great guy, and if you need a Pentax SLR serviced, you should contact him at
Anyway, here's my first skeleton from the closet for 2013:
My normal lens back in the day was a 50mm f1.7 like that one shown above. I had to buy this one to replace the cheapo zoom that had made its way onto the camera over the years. The 50/1.7 is an amazingly good lens.
I may also shoot with another lens or two, most likely the 135mm f2.5 that I recently picked up for next to nothing.
So, wish me luck on this project! I have some real old beauties in store for the coming months.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Well! The First 365 Days Has Passed. Happy New Year - and Where DMC-365 Is Going This Year

Image Source:
I made a commitment to focus on Panasonic Lumix cameras in 2012. That was fun, but I found it limiting to try to focus on one camera maker, or even on Micro 4/3. At this point, I have not dropped any of my other formats (which include Nikon DSLR, Leica rangefinder, Micro 4/3, and various film cameras), have added a Leica M9 to my list of favorites, and still enjoy writing my blog every day. So, I think I'll shift gears a little, still including Micro 4/3 to a large extent, but not excluding anything. In fact, what I want to write about is the interface between equipment and creativity. I don't believe they're independent, and know for a fact that certain equipment choices work best for specific applications. I'd hate to try to shoot eagles in flight with my rangefinder camera.
So, I thought I'd explain my direction for 2013 with an analogy.
Let's say I'm working on building an enormous boat. There are lots of other people out there building their own boats, so I don't have to worry about making mine fit every usage. I will use the skills and tools that I have to make exactly the boat that I think I want to build.
Now here's the deal. It is not clear that this boat of mine will be a success, or that it will set sail during my lifetime. Some of that depends on how good a job I do. The job ahead is so big, possible assignments on any given day are numerous.
One way of determining what I'll do to build the boat on a given day is to head to a particular section that needs work. If for example, I wander over to work in the engine room, I will need a particular set of tools. If instead, I decide to finish the woodwork in the captain's quarters, I'll need another. So, I choose the right tools for the job at hand that day.
The Engine Room, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, 50mm Summicron f2 Dual Range Lens
There is also another way to decide. Rather than picking an area or duty, I can pick up the tools I feel like using that day and wander around until I find a section that needs work that I can do with them. Sometimes this may mean that I take my most flexible tools, in order to increase the probability of finding a productive assignment. On other days, I may pick a tool that I really want to work with and search until I find an assignment. Each appraoch is different in efficiency (how much work I complete in a given time) and effectiveness (how important and beautiful that work is).
One thing is for sure. I will not be finishing work on this boat for a very long time. There's plenty of work to do. I don't have to take every assignment. I do have to go do good work on any assignment I take on.
So. That brings me to what my second year of building DMC-365 will consist of. I will use a broader set of tools than in my first year. I have used the first year to get my feet wet, and I've made at least somewhat of a name for myself on the job. I've also bought some lovely specialist tools during the year, and plan to increase my skill in using them. Taking the approach that I don't have to do it all (no wedding photography here, most likely), and that effectiveness - making sure that what I do take on is done to the very best of my ability - is more important than efficiency, I will share the tools, processes, and results with my readers. I will certainly focus on specific tools, cameras, techniques, and types of photography. My goal will not be to get every possible good image, but to ensure that those I do get are very well-done.

Tools that I know I'll use include Leica, Lumix, other Micro 4/3 gear, film cameras of the past, and even a few toy cameras, which I believe allow me to focus on technique, rather than the quality of the equipment. I want to be like the ping pong champion who wins his matches, even if he's forced to use a heavy iron skillet instead of a paddle (I know someone who can actually do this).
During the first year, I began a couple of projects; the one that grew legs is photographing live music performances. I will continue that project in 2013, as well as pursuing my other photographic interests, which include wildlife, field science, travel, and street photography.
So, I hope you'll enjoy watching me continue to build my boat. I'm sure that I'll make some mistakes along the way, and that my goals (the boat design) will change as we move forward. Of course, I also hope to meet some of the other people out there building their own boats of their own designs. We can compare notes.
Happy New Year!