This post starts with the confession that I have sold my lovely Panasonic LX3, written about in an earlier post. The LX3 is compact, has a decent sensor for a compact camera, slightly larger than average, and a sensible 10 megapixel file to achieve decent noise performance. Additionally the Leica badged lens, is well regarded and has a great focal range for quality in the very wide to slightly telephoto range. Why then did I sell the LX3? The answer is that I barely used it. As I write this, I am looking at one of my favourite landscapes, it is on my wall, and I love it. It was taken with the LX3 in my first month of using it. The trouble is that I have only learned now that it wasn’t the camera for me.
The problem may seem odd, but when I lived with it for a while I realised it was simply too big to carry around casually. The excellent lens doesn’t retract into the body, so you couldn’t slip it into a pocket. In effect for me it was a smaller lighter version of carrying my DSLR, and I thought I was buying it as compact. It had a nice compact leather case, and I occasionally slung that over my shoulder, but that wasn’t much more convenient for me than my DSLR with a single 17-85 lens in a basic bag, so I tended to carry a DSLR instead. Great as the LX3 is, it still has a small sensor, and so as a portrait photographer, it doesn’t give the magical Depth of Field control that my large sensor DSLR does, hence another reason why the reduction in size wasn’t enough to tempt me; if I was a landscape photographer then it would be more worthwhile. (The amazing landscape photographer, Charlie Waite sang it’s praises as a compact walkaround tool in a recent edition of Amateur Photographer.)
So the result of this thinking is that I have bought a new compact camera. The Canon S95 is genuinely compact, and even fits in a jeans pocket. It has a 28 to 105 (I think) equivalent lens, the same larger but still small sensor, RAW files like the LX3, the sensible 10 megapixel files and a bucketload of fun toys like HDR and arty filter programmes that I’ll probably never use. This is simply about first impressions, but they are very good. This camera travels with me; I’m not going to be too precious about protective cases. Fine for storage, or for putting in a bag, but if I’m out for a meal or a stroll around town, then this will slip in a pocket and be a useful tool. I’ll say more about it once I’ve had more time with it.
This is a casual snap outside Glasgow’s Central Station using streetlights only. (ISO1600 f2 1/10th sec)
I also have the Sony Nex 5, and I hope it will take a place in my collection of cameras, and I’ll say more about that shortly, but at least, I now think I could be happy with my S95 for casual carrying, and my DSLR for the most of my photography.