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Wednesday, 15 October 2008

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Who said that none of the greatest images of the history of photography was taken with a tele lens?

I used the LX2. I was really deceived. The pictures I took with high ASAs on low light situations were ugly and unusable. Hope it has been corrected on the LX3.

Real creativity is demonstrated by how we take advantage of limitations rather than optimize within possibilities...

Reminds me of my favorite Leica (model AF-C1, actually a rebadged Minolta Tele-Freedom).
Auto focus, auto exposure, auto EI seting, auto film advance and shutter wind, just push the shutter button and you're ready for the next frame.
The lens was a f:2.8/40mm (with built-in lens cover which retracted when the camera was turned on), and there was also a built-in 2X tele extender which converted the lens to an f:5.6/80mm with the push of a button, and the optical viewfinder was converted to a 1:1 configuration.
Built-in flash, also activated by its own button. The only other control was the self timer.
Only 14 oz including film and battery. This was, for me, the closest to a perfect street shooter that I've ever used in 50+ years with every Leica RF made since the IIIf.

Mike, stop such posts! I don't need an LX-3, hear me, and you won't change my mind!

Seriously, you are so right about perspective. I am tired of always reading about zoom ranges and resulting limitations. Fast 24-60 is sweet enough.

But again, no, I DON'T NEED LX-3,...

JG, High sensitivity and low light is murder on any small-sensor camera. And yes, that includes the latest, greatest offerings from Canon, Nikon and the other usual suspects. They get rid of the excessive noise by heavy-handed noise removal, which smears out the image. They can't retain any fine detail since the information is not there.

And some of the most iconic images in the history of photography has been taken with tele lenses. I don't know where that myth comes from. The Earthrise images, for instance - http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap951225.html - where apparently taken with a 250mm lens (on medium format), and are about as iconic as you can get.

From some years of personal experience I know that while I can live with a 60mm equivalent top end (and do on some of my 120 cameras) I prefer something a little longer--75-85. And that I have a great deal of trouble using a 24mm wide. But I take your point that most people cannot say this sort of thing but dismiss the "limited" range of the zoom anyway.

For a lot of my recent work, I've gone back to fixed, moderate lenses. I have a 24mm on one camera, an 85mm on the other, and stick a 35mm in my bag. (On the 1-D series bodies I use, that's the equivalent of a 28, a 105, and a 50 in the bag.) While I sometimes wish for a wider lens, I rarely wish for a longer one. (And when I do, I can go grab them out of the locker.)

The zooms are nice. They still get plenty of work when I need them. But working with a fast fixed lens is fun. Now I'm shooting indoor classroom photos at ISO 100, and getting great stuff.

I have to admit that I was also surprised that they chose to limit the top end of the LX3 to 60mm. I like the LX2 -- and agree with JG about the noise -- but for me it was a compromise purchase between the desire for a "fine-art P&S" and the need for a snapshot camera. The 24mm wide end is really impressive, but with a 60mm long end, I wonder how well the LX3 will play to "the masses" who are looking for a similar compromise.

I have now been using a 35mm lens only(on 5D) for 2 years. First I thought it would not work but it has.

The focal lengths chosen by Mr. Salgado are evidently what suits his style and needs. Is there any doubt he bought the 60mm because he felt "limited" with a just a 35 and a 28? Personally, I would feel very limited if a 60mm was my longest lens, even though it's evidently long enough for Mr. Salgado. And I'm sure there are many others who would feel limited with my longest lens. Different strokes for different folks.

I have an LX-1. Bought it when they came out, have printed up to 12 x 18 images from it and will probably let it go soon. However, everyone knows it has crappy high ISO. So the solution is not to use high ISO. Once this concept is embraced you are ready to take as good an image as your expertise will allow.

I considered the limited zoom range of the LX3 a drawback. The 24mm wide end, the fast lens, the support for RAW format (rare in cameras this small), and, it turns out, the very sensible and usable control layout including even manual *focus* easily overcame that drawback.

I have, however, taken rather a lot of my best photos at equivalent focal lengths longer than 60mm, it turns out.

According to a recent issue of a French photo magazine (one of their collaborator is developping film for Salgado), in one of his current projects called "Genesis" he uses Pentax 645. No mention of the lens(es) though.

Bill M.,
I agree, I really liked that one. Wish the 80mm had been a bit faster, but oh well.

Mike J.

"But again, no, I DON'T NEED LX-3,..."

Andreas,
Oh, but you do. You know you do.

Mike J.

Well I sure want to pull seven figures from my pictures and become a niche icon, like Salgado so I'm going to order the LX3, the camera featuring Salgado-View! (Panny should market the camera with such a body sticker.)

I do salute Panny for restraining their probable temptation to cram more pixels onto that little sensor. It certainly must produce a cleaner low ISO image than much of the competition.

But I really think that we've reached the limits of what these tiny wholesale CCDs can produce. I've no plans to spend more on another 1/1.6" or 1/1.7" camera. They're as good as they're going to get. Unexpectedly, I find myself somewhat eager to see what the Sigma DP2 becomes.

Mr. Salgado does however use a viewfinder, sadly lacking from the LX3. But as has been said, each to his own.

Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Salgado was using the finest available lenses with the finest available sensors; neither of those things can be said of the Panasonic. It's a triumph of the handy over the good.

I know, the definition of "good" is infinitely malleable, and so maybe you have to go to some human, ad hoc definition: capable of producing, under excellent conditions, a 20x30 print that a designated guru -- Ctein, here -- would pronounce "impeccable."

None of the smaller-than-35 equivalents, save perhaps the Leica M8, could do that, and there's really little sign that they will be able to do that in the near future or maybe ever.

JC

Probably 'the' greatest living photographer. For involvement in the world, probably the greatest living or dead.

I still like Werner Bischof's poetry.

For me the LX-3 has the ideal zoom range. I don't use anything longer than 50 mm for street/documentary photography and I can barely remember the last time I've zoomed the FX-33 past that. It's very easy not to get noticed on the street with a compact digicam that small - that's why I'm using it, with all its "limitations".

For three years now I've been looking for a P&S camera that meets my "holy grail" specs that are very much in line with Mike's DMD concept. They are:

-Coat-pocketable, if not pants-pocketable, size
-Fast 24-85mm equivalent lens
-RAW shooting
-As big a 6 MP sensor (insanity, I know) as is possible, for maximum DR and IQ at high ISO
-Comfortable ergonomics for manual control
-Very low shutter lag

The LX3 seems to beat my previous choice, the Ricoh GX-100/200, in coming closest. I think the focal range is the right choice given the compromises, as I know far more people using digicams that feel that their lens is not wide enough than I do that use anything close to the maximum tele end of their camera's lens. While I think 85mm is the right place to stop, to get true portrait length, I think having 60mm with 24 is far better than having 87.5 with 35.

While I cannot applaud enough Panasonic's choice of not increasing the pixel count, I still think that 6 MP is all anyone using these cameras really needs. With the D3/D700, I think Nikon has shown that when you stay conservative with pixel count but are then able to knock IQ out of the park, people are very happy. That Nikon's newest P&S has more pixels than the D3 on a sensor that is vastly smaller is confusing and insane.

As for the LX-3, I'm intrigued and really curious to find out more about the ergonomics and shutter lag. I think it is a really interesting camera with alot of merit, and I hope Panasonic receives accolades and sales if the camera performs as well as some of the early reviews indicate.

And not for nothing, I think more people should take note of the very interesting sensor paradigm being used by the camera. In 16x9, the image dimensions are wider than they are at 4x3, where they are taller than they are at 16x9. 3x2 is somewhere in the middle in both dimensions. The different formats aren't just a crop of one of the other formats. That's smart design, and something I've secretly wished would happen in all digital cameras, including DSLRs. I'd love to have the ability to shoot in a square format that utilizes the full image circle of my lenses on the same camera that covers the 3x2 rectangle of the same circle. A pipe dream even more far-fetched than the 6MP digicam, I know, but a man can dream.

JC,
I'm just talking about the zoom range. Nothing more.

Mike J.

Will,

I had a Nikon 8400, which meets many of your requirements: 24-85mm lens, 2/3-inch 8 megapixel sensor, RAW files, good ergonomics. Okay, it wasn't really fast to handle or shoot, but it did okay. Upsides: swiveling LCD, full manual control, excellent image quality at low ISO, standard Nikon user interface. Downsides: EVF, large size (coat pocket only), very slow shot-to-shot times in RAW.

I sold it for a Canon G-7. Probably not a good trade, actually.

Michael Reichmann's review of the LX-3 is also very positive.

Panasonic should be loudly applauded for catering to serious small-camera users that want to shoot RAW.

While this sounds like a nice camera, I'd still prefer a physically larger sensor, so maybe the new 'micro four thirds' format will deliver something more to my liking.
A larger sensor, with just 6 MP, would be good enough for A3 (17") prints, and have a better S/N ratio, with less diffraction problems as well.

Everybody has his/her own way of seeing. My favourite focal length is 90mm, and so I want a zoom range from 35mm to 105mm.

I too, am hesitant to purchase again a camera with so small a chip.
But, I also like the zoom range on this one, as it mirrors my preferences.

The main concern I have though, is the lack of a viewfinder. The optional clip-on one, i assume, is in a fixed perspective for the wide zoom setting.

BTW: While I have not seen the article, there is supposedly a relatively recent German article wherein Salgado states he is using a digital camera now.

Funny, I went for a walk the other day with a 50mm on my Pentax K100D (75mm-e), and I just couldn't photograph. Every composition I had in my head asked for a shorter lens (and I couldn't take a step back on most of the situations). Horses for courses, they say, eh?

Even my 40mm Limited feels a bit constrained to me sometimes. I'm longing for 15mm Limited now.

I think I've mentioned before that 28-85 does it for me.

If I could have one lens it would be a 50; two lenses, a 35 and an 85; three lenses, a 28, 40, and 85. Wouldn't want, and don't need, more than 3.

I think of a 24 as a 28 for indoors....

A zoom that covers the range is a satisfactory substitute as long as it's fast enough enough and not too big.

All that's just me, not (!) a prescription for anybody else.

Mike J.

In the two weeks that I have been using my LX3, I have found that setting the zoom at a mid range (35-40?) seems to work best for taking "street" portraits. The full 60mm zoom feels really long. I love this thing. It makes my light weight 25 ounce D40 feel like I am carrying a brick.

The funny thing about these "limiting" zooms is that they tend to be compact, making them unobtrusive, easier to carry everywhere and shoot without attracting attention, and they tend to be fast, making it easier to shoot in low light, to capture action, and to get something resembling shallow DOF. About all they won't do is magnify much.

The LX3 has promising specs, but at this point, I'm holding out for the promise of a larger sensor compact. Either a fixed lens model or maybe a stabilized micro 4/3 Oly with Panasonics 20/1.7. (Hmmm, that review does make the LX3 look good though !)

Hi Mike,

I really like your lens "roadmap" above. I have one question though. If your manufacturer does not make a 40 mm would you choose to up-size to a 50 mm or down-size to a 35 mm?

I have been interested in the D-Lux 4 (Leica's version of the LX3) since it was announced at photokina. With the viewfinder and grip it looks very promising. That said, given the limitation to ISO 400 (according to Michael's review) I think I will wait for the Oly Micro Four Thirds camera.

Chris

Like Mike, I could work with the zoom range on the LX3. For me, the drawback isn’t the range, but the inability to conveniently pre-set focal lengths.

For the kind of shooting I would buy this camera for, I’d be looking to use an external viewfinder at intermediate focal lengths (28, 35, 50). So I’d really like the camera to give me the ability to get the lens quickly and easily to those focal lengths - either by allowing me to store focal lengths in the custom setting modes, or perhaps by giving me a step zoom which allows easy switching. And as I understand it, the LX3 doesn’t do either of these things (whereas the G9/10 and the Ricoh GX100/200 do). Seems like a bit of an oversight to me.

Sure, I could manually zoom in and out; but that’s fiddly and inconvenient. And I don’t want to have to fiddle with the zoom every time I power the camera up. But maybe I’m just being precious! In other respects, the LX3 looks pretty good to me.

That is a sweet range, forget for a moment all the modern mega range lens and go back to the wide angle zoom lens present on many 35mm SLR's. Do you have your mind there? Yes well the common range was something along the lines of the LX3, seems to me that in this fast market many people are losing the north. Forget it, there is no magic zoom range with ultrafast properties that can solve all our necessities.

In my case I get more creative and get better results when I'm limited in my lens choice, going out and about with my GR2 28mm equiv and a camera with a 50mm and I'm a happy chap.

I think we have some compelling choices in the small sensor compact market right now. For those who like to shoot a bit longer, the Canon G10 should do nicely. Personally, I'm happy enough with 24-60 equivalent. I'm looking forward to working with the wide end in 16:9 aspect.

I am concerned by samples showing that the lens suffers from marked barrel distortion and significant color fringing. While the in-camera processing and the packaged Silkypix each do a great job of addressing these apparent lens flaws, I'd much rather have a lens that gets it right in the first place.

Despite those concerns, I couldn't pass up the 30% cashback from Microsoft and ended up getting a "like new" black D-LUX 4 from a known, good Ebay seller for $550 after cashback.

Amin

I have got to stop reading the TOP comments...

*has just bought a Leica AF-C1 on eBay*

The sensor is too small.

That's a really exciting picture of Salgado in action, with the viewfinder against his forehead and his right eye pressed firmly up against the camera back. ;-)

With Micro 4/3 and Sigma DP2 on the way I don't know why anyone here would seriously consider this Panasonic - the most telling line in Michael Reichmann's review "We should be under no illusion that a camera like this is a replacement for even the lowliest DSLR when it comes to image quality though."

Here's another way to look at it:- A film Leica (or Voigtlander, Zeiss etc) 35mm rangefinder with a tiny lens can equal and mostly beat the image quality of any much larger 35mm SLR. So far the digital age has not offered us such a choice of smaller and better.

Cheers, Robin

I noticed one major point about the LX3 that seems to be overlooking in the comments so far. With everyone grousing about "too much noise with small sensors" everyone seems to be totally blind to lens speed when making comparisons.

Its one thing to compare performance at matching ISOs when dealing with interchangeable lens DSLRs but its totally differnt when dealing with the likes of the LX3. The LX3's lens is a full stop, at least at the wide end, faster than any equivalent lens on any DSLR and upwards onto 2 stops faster than the common lens of comparable field of view. ISO comparisons should be with the DSLR "crippled" with a 1-2 stop higher ISO to compare real world shooting with matching shutters speeds under matching lighting.

Also, the negative issues with the CP8400 (I shoot with one almost exclusively and love it, btw) and its EVF is very poorly worded. One, most P&S cameras now have EVFs, though not eyelevel EVFs (EEVF). EVFs are not the problem, in and of themselves, whether eyelever or backpanel. It's slow EVFs that are the issue. The forthcoming m4/3 G-1 promises to reduce or eliminate the lag seen in earlier designs.

I love my CP8400 and find the 24-85mm-e range very usable and not limiting. The LX-3's 24-60mm-e would only be a very slight limitation for me and I would love the additional one stop speed, provided image quality doesn't slip at the maximum aperture. I regularily get noise-free sharp 13x19 images from my CP8400. It does, though, have a larger sensor than the LX-3 along with fewer photsites (8mp), adding up to noticably larger photosites.

After reading reviews (well, not all of them) and all the comments, I am with Robin P, Chris Lane and others; I will wait for an m4/3 with RF characteristics and a set of fast primes. 28, 40, 50 & 75-100 are all I need.

In the meantime my Oly 5050 will suffice within its low ISO limitations. f1.8 on the wide end is pretty damn nice.

The point here is, I've often been disappointed with the "limitations" of many point and shoots. I love carrying one a lot because, I actually end up carrying it! But I've found most lacking - they don't open up wide enough and there isn't enough range at the wide end.

So I finally have one that suits me - there are PLENTY for those that don't share those needs...

If people would like to find out what their favourite existing focal length is, they might like to try Paul van Andel's clever utility, ExposurePlot (see http://www.cpr.demon.nl/prog_plotf.html ). It works on JPEGS only.

I've used it to analyse my Ricoh GX100 pictures and find that over half are at 24mm equivalent. That's no surprise, since its wide-angle ability is the main reason I chose it.

About a sixth of the pictures are at the longest extreme, 72 mm equivalent. There's an even spread among the intervening lengths, none of them accounting for even 4% of the total (of around 13,500 pictures).

These results suggest to me that I'd like more at each end of the range. I suppose that must make me a wet-behind-the-ears tyro. 8-)

Actually, I think I'd be happiest with pocketable compact that has a fixed and short focal-length, some form of eye-level viewfinder and a big sensor to get away from disfiguring noise. I'm watching the market.

Roger

I am mainly a tele person 80% of my shots are within the 70-200 range (2.8) which I use my DSLR for. For years now this is the only lens I have used.
I sometime miss the "shorter" range but never actually wanted buy a shorter lens for my DSLR, changing lenses and all that.
When the G9 arrived I decided to purchase it only to cover the shorter range and have a camera available 100% of the time. This setup pleased me. However my G9 was sucking in dust very much with the characteristics of a hoover, I sent it back the replacement was the same and I demanded a refund (Amazon) I didn't get the refund but a "check" with which I bought the LX3 at the moment it arrived in the market. I have been using it now for 2 months or so and shot over 10.000 images with it and am actually very please with the results, it definitely has a better IQ than the G9 and up to 400 the results are very reasonable, at 100/200 they are terrific, you can tweak the color rendition up to perfection. I am very pleased with the LX3 and would recommend it to anyone, of course it remains a digicam but within this range of cameras I am confident it's the best money can buy, and it's not all that expensive either.

As for the range, it's exactly what I need.

You can easily shoot 1/8th at 24mm, f2.0 and 200asa producing very nice results in very low light situations due to a stabilizier which works wonders of you set it to "mode2"

The only downside I can see is that the raw format is not yet supported by Aperture or lightroom, you get silkypix with it which I personally can't get use too.... but the images are easily transformed to DNG, and extra step in the workflow but ir does open up the possibility to take the DNG's into PS, lightroom or aperture.

All in all a great little camera, with the emphasis on little, for it is quite small.

Mike thanks for your perspective. :) I'm very pleased with my LX3. It is the only camera that meets my requirements for a compact. It fits in my pocket (snugly with jeans). It has a zoom lens which is wide enough to meet my needs (just). It has manual controls and it is fast enough for me to generally avoid using ISOs which have significant noise. Although I would not mind if it were a bit longer on the telephoto end, I would not be willing to sacrifice 1 mm on the wide end to get it, nor would I be willing to accept a slower lens or more weight/size.

The multi aspect ratio feature and depth of field information with manual focus are nice bonuses.

"With Micro 4/3 and Sigma DP2 on the way I don't know why anyone here would seriously consider this Panasonic"

Hi Robin,

I think it's pretty straight forward why some here would consider the Panasonic. The only way to get a large sensor camera like the DP2 or Micro 4/3 at or near the size of the LX3 is to use a fixed focal length lens. Some people want a zoom. Another reason is that some people don't want to pay $700-800 for a compact. A third reason is that the LX3 is here now, and the cameras you mentioned aren't.

Regards,
Amin

My favorite camera to shoot with is still my 4x5 view camera, which I tend to use only a normal 150mm lens. I can do close ups as well as large, sweeping landscapes all with the one lens, and with realtively no problems (as far as the limitations of the focal length go) I wouldn't mind owning a 90mm or a 120mm, but I do just fine with the one... Even with my 30D and its wide range zoom lens, I find my focal length tends to stay around 35-50mm. Just the way I see, I guess, but I don't see the need for a million lenses or a bunch of zooms. I either move closer, or back up. I know thereare situations where one can't do this, but I rarely find myself in them. To each his own

Salgado's preferred focal lengths work out to pretty close to the classic 17-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens (on the APS-size sensor DSLRs). I often use nothing but my Nikkor 17-55mm for days at a time.

Thinking about Salgado's classic images over the years, I'm surprised he didn't shoot wider -- some of those, at least in my memory, could have been 20mm.

I hear ya.
In fact I was just thinking about my SLR back in the seventies. I had a 28mm, a 50mm, and a 100mm. That range is covered, and more, with the kit lens on my D90, and I don't have to change lenses. And the kit lens and the camera is much sharper all over the range too. (Not to mention IS and 4.5 frames per second, 3200 ISO, etc etc etc.)
It's a brave new worruld.

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