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Yesterday I took this image of these sad old fishing boats on the outskirts of Salen on the Isle of Mull. I have often passed them and wanted to photograph them, but the light has never been nice or I haven’t had the time. The light yesterday was OK, but not wonderful, and I had the time. Oddly I left my SLR in the car and took the little LX3 with me and tried a few compositions in RAW format. For those of you interested in the “Panny’s” performance, I spent 5 minutes in Lightroom using the graduated filter to lighten the foreground and darken the skies as well as pushing the colour saturation of the foreground greens and the blue in the skies. All in all I tweaked the exposure to a ridiculous extent and I’m happy to report that the LX3 raw files have a lot of latitude. I’m very impressed and I certainly think a landscape photographer wanting to travel light could take the LX3 and a portable tripod like a Gorillapod or similar, and produce great results. The original picture was at ISO 80, so in summary, keep the ISO low and you’ll have immense latitude in post processing.

I have to retract what I said in my first impressions posting about the RAW files not being worth the bother for most people; frankly they are worth the bother, they are an excellent way to control your image making.

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My dear friend Alison allowed me to do a portrait while staying on Mull. This is my first portrait since finishing my 100-portraits project and it felt great to be doing people pictures again. Alison’s expression is wonderfully enigmatic…

alison2

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Today while walking with friends near Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, I took this picture of the Tobermory Lighthouse. It was interesting as sunset was approaching and the light would only strike the lighthouse directly in the morning. Behind me there were steep hills that ensured the lighthouse had no exciting light. This was made even more difficult as the light was hitting the distant Ardnamurchan peninsula and emphasising the contrast between the foreground and the background. I still liked the angle on the lighthouse and the background was nice so I fell back on the last refuge of a photographic scoundrel – HDR!

For those who care, High Dynamic Rnge photography lets you combine more than one picture with an exposure taken for the foreground to add life and light to it as well as exposures for the background to optimise the sky. My favourite software to do this is “Photomatix” although I believe Photoship does it as well. Anyway, the result is a nice and even lighting, even if it is an artificial look. Still, “needs must when the devil vomits in your kettle.”

From a Mull tourism site: The lighthouse, Rubha nan Gall (the gaelic for Stranger’s Point), was built in 1857 by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson and became automated in 1960. It flashes every three seconds, can be seen for 15 miles and marks the end of the Sound of Mull.

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And here is a view the honest way of the entrance to Tobermory bay. Again the light was coming the wrong way to give a warm winter sunset, it was slightly in shadow, so I put on my trusty 70-300 IS f4-5.6 and picked out a detail of the island at the entrance to Tobermory Bay. A friend let me use his shoulder to help with the slow speed as I wasn’t keen to go over ISO 400. I know, I should have had a tripod with me, Canon’s Image Stabilisation is impressive though! (Colour slightly warmed in Lightroom.)

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ISO 400, 135mm, f6.3, 1/15th sec handheld.

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  • Nice blog. I’ll definitely be back. All the best, Rory

I was travelling today and so didn’t really get a chance to take pictures and wasn’t too worried about it. A friend was cooking for us tonight though, and when she placed the freshly cut peppers under the filament spotlights, I leapt for my LX3 like a colour obsessive. ActuallyI am a colour obsessive!

LX3 on Macro and wide. Iso 400, f2, 1/30th of a second. I checked the white balance using lightroom’s dropper tool on the white surface and it was perfect, my Canon 40D usually needs tweaking on auto white balance. Score for the LX3!

peppers1

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I have treated myself to a new camera this Yule. I recently bought a little Nikon S210 to use as a carry around camera. I persisted with it for a while but really hated the lack of responsiveness and also hated the shockingly poor menu system. It therefore went on ebay and with it now sold the decks were clear to choose another small carry around camera. I narrowed it down to two favourite choices, the Canon G10 with 28mm wide lens and 5x zoom, or the Panasonic LX3 with 24mm wide angle lens and only 2.5x zoom. I already have regular access to a Canon G7 which is like the G10 but with no RAW file capability and with no wide angle capability; it is otherwise a very nice camera and really easy to use. As you can imagine then I was disposed to like the G10 when I picked one up in Jessops. My first impression was that it felt fast and very responsive with a great screeen. My second impreession however was, oh no, its too big. And there’s the problem, the G10 seems to have got fatter as they have added features, and so it would take a large pocket indeed to have it with you as a carry-round camera.

Here are some comparisons with a Canon Ixus 850

So what of the LX3? It is a little smaller than the Canon G10, but still a little larger than a true compact due to its permanently protruding lens. The bottom line is that it won’t be comfortable in an inside pocket, but most jacket pockets will be fine with it. It is small enough for most of us, but if it must slip into an inside pocket, look elsewhere.

Features:

24mm to 60mm zoom

720p HD video

RAW files

Full manual control possible

Flash hotshoe

The next thing I have strong feelings about are the the controls on the Panasonic. They are a mixture of tiny switches and a little fiddly joystick and they are just north of horrible. The camera feels like it is cast in solid steel and feels like a quality mini-rangefinder, but the controls are pure “Toys’R’Us”. You get used to them, and although you can mis-hit the joystick even after practice, they generally don’t get in the way, they just don’t inspire confidence. This is a problem for Panasonic because the user interface with its rotary dial on the G10 deserves awards, it’s brilliant, simple and solid. Overall though, it is a pleasant camera in the hands mainly due to a really good clear screen and a really solid weighty feel. The menus are simple enough, clearly laid out and won’t cause any of us any great problems.

In use, the Panny is pleasant and fairly responsive (quick to respond to controls like the shutter), but it’s not capable of instant response; as a reviewer said elsewhere, it never feels like a problem; I would go with that, it would not be a choice for sport photography, it would be too slow, but for other uses, street, landscape, portraiture it feels fine. At ISO 80 and 100 it gives gorgeous results with real detail and no noise, by ISO 400 there is noise but in my view it’s totally useable, but by 800, you are hitting the buffers, you will get some useable shots, but it’ll depend on them not having a lot of black areas and low light patches that tend to show noise. When you look closely at ISO 800 in jpegs, the noise reduction has taken a sledgehammer to the fine detail, but from a more normal viewing distance it looks OK. 1600 ISO is as poor as you would expect on a compact camera with a little sensor.

The wide lens is really nice, it is surprisingly wide in use, and would certainly delight landscape and street photographers. It could have done with a little more at the telephoto end but again you buy the Panasonic to indulge wide to normal angle photography like landscape and street, and for this it is a great camera. Now that Adobe have released a compatible camera raw version and Lightroom 2.2 also supports it, I have tried RAW files with it. It is certainly a luxury and they do give a little more latitude for adjustments than the jpegs, but for many users of the little panny it won’t be worth the bother, the exposure and internal adjustments of the jpeg make the pictures really nice straight out of the camera. I am using RAW and Jpeg together because I don’t need the speed and I never want to be stuck with a picture that I can’t adjust as much as I want in Lightroom. So as A DSLR user’s carry about camera, this ticks the right boxes and is nice below 800 iso.

So my first impressions: I have had this for about 2 weeks, and have carried it with me a lot and it has been easy to have in a pocket or my work bag So it scores well for it’s primary purpose, always being handy. It is pleasant to use and has decent noise performance for a small sensor camera if you don’t have unrealistic expectations. Overall I’m happy with it, but I’m always aware that you need to live with a camera for a whiloe to really know for sure, so I’ll post an update or two as I go along.

Some pics:

ISO 80. Wemyss Bay Victorian Station

ISO 800 Rothesay Ferry Leaving in Darkness

ISO 800: An Eagle Owl from the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre

An unidentified Shark-Like fish lying on the viewing tunnel of the Loch Lomond Sea Life centre. Very low light!

ISO 80: And finally an HDR of the foredeck of the Gourock-Dunoon ferry in good light.

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  • Interesting that you should post this this week. I’ve just bought a Canon G9 (the G10 was out of my price range and the G9 has just halved in price) and also small Panasonic Lumix FX37 for a friend. The burning issue for her was size and weight (she is disabled). I’ve been most impressed with the G9 so far but we’ll see if I actually carry about the extra bulk. She seems chuffed with the Lumix but she only got it yesterday so we’ll see how that one pans out.

  • Matthew Boyle

    I agree dick, Amazon have it for just over 200 pounds. If the wide angle lens isn’t an important feature then that looks like a bargain. The optical viewfinder while basic, can be an absolute lifesaver in bright light. I have used the non-raw version the 10Mp G7 and have to say I loved it. Don’t you love the rotary dial.

  • Yes. I was particularly impressed by the amount you could do ‘in camera’. Have a look at this http://www.flickr.com/photos/dickedie/3131134269/ This has not been post processed in any way and is still ‘as shot’. I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with this over the next few weeks. I’m off to Jura tomorrow – have a great New Year.