A new body, hurrah!

Tuesday, April 22nd 2014

I mentioned on Saturday that a little mishap occurred, resulting in my lens cap sinking into the Floating Harbour in Bristol. This was unfortunate because, having used my camera with and without a lens hood, I know by experience just how important a piece of equipment it is. I would have to acquire a new one as soon as possible but, this being a bank holiday weekend, I would have to wait until Tuesday.

Accordingly, this morning I rang my favourite camera shop, London Camera Exchange in the Strand, and asked two questions. You can probably guess the first. The second question was the result of making a decision that I had been mulling over for some time.

I bought my present camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, in November 2008 (see A new picture box), and this proved to be a good purchase, being a very capable camera but also reasonably small in size. However, nothing lasts forever, and for a while now the camera has been showing increasing signs of age and wear. For example, I have to jiggle the control knob to get it to stay on the chosen setting, and even once this have been selected, it may slide off. The extremely useful pull-out and rotatable preview screen is also beginning to fail: I can pull it out only a little way before the screen goes dark. Should I have the camera repaired or should I upgrade?

If I upgrade, what should I buy instead? There is plenty of choice at a range of prices and little to choose between the leading contenders. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G range, however, has a couple of important advantages. The first is size. They are very compact cameras owing to the fact that they are not true SLRs and therefore do not have to find room for the retracting mirror. (The viewfinder and preview screen both show the scene through the sensor, giving a virtual 100% coverage of the field of view – as good or better than the average SLR.) I can comfortably carry the camera, with the standard 14-42mm lens (and lens hood) fitted, in a pouch attached to a belt. I can whip it out, take a photo and put it away again, almost without anyone noticing. The second advantage in upgrading to a later version of the same series is that I already have the lenses and would need the body only.

So I called the London Camera Exchange and enquired, first, whether they had a petal lens hood for a G1 14-42 lens. The answer, disappointingly, was no. I then asked whether they had a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 body-only, to which the answer was yes. So off I went to the Strand as to a meeting with destiny.

The camera came with a battery but, of course, no lens hood, as there was no lens. Having committed myself to the purchase I asked whether they were sure they didn’t have a lens hood. It turned out that they did, but that it was on a camera. No matter, they were happy to sell it to me.

A third reason for sticking with a known brand is that I assumed the learning curve involved in getting to know the camera would be less steep than with a different make. In fact, I find there are quite a few differences between the G1 and the G6. For example, I used to use my G1 as a telescope. If I turned a small knob on the top to manual focus, I could then twiddle the focussing ring and the camera would magnify the view. This was intended as an aid to focussing but it was also useful for reading dates high up on tall buildings! With G6, sadly, it isn’t so easy. To change to manual focus, you have to go into the settings, travel down several layers and then set and save. Then you have to do the same thing in again to set it back to auto-focus. This is a definite minus.

I am quite pleased with the picture quality. The sensor on the G1 is 12meg and on the G6 this has been increased to 16meg. Sensor sizes are increasing all the time and there are cameras in roughly the same price bracket with 24meg or more, but 16 is already quite meaty. With the G1, I found that to get a maximum of detail in the image I needed to take photos in RAW (RW2) mode, convert these to Tiff with the supplied software, and edit them as necessary. Having experimented with the formats in the G6, I have found that the Jpeg is actually better than the RAW. Converting the RAW image to another format using the included SilkyPix software produces a result that looks pale and a bit misty compared with the sharp nicely coloured Jpeg version.

The camera has a few bells and whistles not present on the G6. I am particularly interested in one of these: panorama mode. How often have you admired a landscape knowing that you have no chance of capturing it in its entirety with your camera? You could of course acquire stitching software and attempt to join several photos together but the result is often less than perfect. Being able to capture a panoramic view in the camera is a definite plus. I look forward to trying it.

I have taken a few test pictures, of course (I have some lovely views of our kitchen sink!), but my first chance to try out the camera properly will be on Saturday when we make a trip to… well, you’ll have to wait and see! The proof of the pudding is in the taking of pictures!

Copyright © 2014 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
This entry was posted in Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A new body, hurrah!

  1. From a camera collector, very interesting. Yes, I collect digitals, specially early ones. I’ve a couple of digital SLRs, both with only around 6MP, and I’ve only ever used one of them once. I make do with a 7MB Ricoh which is small and very versatile, though now of course ‘out of date’. I’m never entirely convinced that the race for more MP is necessary. I still cherish, and use, a tiny Sony 2MB camera which comes up with stunning results. Having a non-zoom lens may help.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I agree that sensor size alone should not be the only criterion. You will take your best photos with the camera that best suits the way you like to work. For example, a viewfinder is essential for me and I wouldn’t buy a camera without one but others are content with the preview screen.

      Zoom is another selling point but large zooms have the disadvantage that they magnify the unavoidable shaking of the photographer’s hand. With a big zoom, you need a tripod.

      That’s one argument for a large capacity sensor: the resolution it gives to means you can “zoom” by cropping your photo. I call it “pseudo-zoom”.

      As long as a camera gives pleasing results, there’s no reason not to go on enjoying using it.

      • Many thanks for your prompt response. I agree about what you call ‘pseudo-zoom’. I imagine the pixellation on the Sony 2MB would rule this out, utterly and completely, though some time I must try it. It’s remarkably good at NOT coming up with the blurred patches which often crop up even with better-endowed cameras when you have (for example) tiled roofs or trees in your pix. You’ll gather that I don’t go in for fancy photography, and certainly not manipulation, which I detest, and use cameras mainly for recording the ever-changing scene in my locality.
        And, as I’ve said before, I think your pix are splendid. Many should be in a picture library somewhere, though whether you could be bothered with the bureaucracy I don’t know.
        Best wishes

        • SilverTiger says:

          In our rapidly changing world, taking photos of daily life is, I think, a worthy and valuable project of historical record-keeping.

          The “finish” on a photo depends partly on the photo itself but also on the medium or channel through which it is viewed. Most photos these days are, if viewed at their “natural” size, much bigger than the average PC screen. The viewing software therefore has to reduce them. This leads to the sorts of effects you mention, such as false patterning or smooth straight lines appearing jagged. If you use a good photo editor just to reduce the size of the picture to the size of the screen, these artefacts disappear. The size of your Sony pictures will already be quite small and therefore display better on a PC screen than a big picture would if left unreduced. So, if you want to put your pictures on the Web but don’t want to edit them, your small Sony will give you better results than a much more expensive camera.

          Thank you very much for your kind remarks on my photos. I do appreciate them and they encourage me to continue. I haven’t mounted any exhibitions though I have “placed” the odd photo here and there. If any of my photos would be of use to you, perhaps for exhibitions about Faversham, please don’t hesitate to ask.

          • Thanks again for your helpful comments. As an experiment I’ve just cropped one of my favourite Sony 2MP photographs to half its original size and printed it out to A4. Viewed closely, there are some jagged edges and a bit of ‘grain’ on white limewashed plasterwork, but held at a distance of 15″ it doesn’t look at all bad. I have a Flickr account but can’t remember how to use it, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

            Many thanks for the offer on your Faversham photographs, which I remember were splendid. It never ceases to amaze me how everyone has a different eye. I wouldn’t know how to retrieve them – perhaps some time you could refer me to the appropriate archive month?
            Best wishes


            • SilverTiger says:

              I too find Flickr a nightmare and so does Tigger, who uses it far more than I do. Recent changes have caused a lot of annoyance even among seasoned users.

              What I was thinking off was reducing the size of the whole photo. Reducing it to, say, 800 X 600px is about the right size to display on the average PC screen. A software such as FastStone (free, and very simple to use) is ideal for this. (It’s billed as an image viewer but it also has a few, very useful, editing functions.)

              The blog’s search function offers a good way to find things. I agree it wasn’t easy to find when it was at the bottom of the side bar but I have now moved it to near the top, beneath the copyright notice. Typing in “Faversham” and clicking Search would bring up the posts. They are these: Accidentally in Faversham and To Faversham on purpose.

  2. WOL says:

    As you mention, the proof of the pudding . . . I’ll be interested to see the pictures.

Genuine comments are welcome. Spam and comments with commercial URLs will be deleted.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.