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Thursday, 13 April 2017


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I still have a Nikon D700 which I love to death. Its color rendering matches any Fuji to my mind. But I am looking at five weeks vacation in Europe soon (I know, tough life) and was considering lighter options for the trip. Given how much I like Nikon colors, I have been testing a V1 and V3 which I have access to, and I have to say, despite the tepid consumer response and lukewarm reviews, I am pleasantly surprised at how good black and white is on these cameras. Actually, I am shocked how good it is. Perhaps George DeWolfe was onto something: http://reddognews.com/tool-reviews/the-nikon-1-v3-the-greatest-small-camera-in-the-world/.

Interesting self-portrait. Are you doing what I think you might be in the loo?

The GX8 unexpectedly inspires attachment.

Consider a OC/OL/OY with an Oly 25/1.2 on the mount.

His opinion was that experts aren't the ones who most need fitted clubs—beginners are. But, of course, beginners are the players least likely to invest in them.

That's true. But beginners are also not able to give feedback to the person fitting them for clubs. They just don't have the experience. I'm not a golfer, but I've been through this process with custom bicycles, skis (AT and resort), snowboards, bespoke clothes, etc.

A beginner should really just buy something, use it, figure out what they like, and don't like, then get a set of custom clubs for their second set.

Looking at your photo using the tilting gx8 finder suggests to me that using it that way may help with your twitches just because it's a slightly different stance.

You may have been the last of the TOP readers to realize that you were ultimately going to buy the GX8. You seemed to take a shine to it long ago. (Any camera comfy enough to take to the crapper has to be a keeper!)

Hi Mike,
I understand your appreciation of Fuji B&W files. Have you tried Tonality, by MacPhun, for B&W conversion? Might make the decision on that GX8 a little easier.

I too have been shooting Fuji (XE-1 and XT-1) for about four years. I prefer to shoot just jpeg and have been using Tonality for two years for B&W conversion. I get color straight-out-of-camera jpegs (without RAW) and easily convert to finely-tuned B&W. The "MacPhun" name put me off at first (is this a serious tool?). For my taste in B&W it's the fastest workflow, most flexible tool with extremely fine controls (you can pick a preset, or make and save your own with its many controls, and then set a slider to increase or decrease the degree of application. IMHO much easier and faster than PS or LR presets. Free trial, and pretty reasonable as a $70 one-time purchase (Macphun sometimes offers discounts). https://macphun.com/tonality

(P.S. All the images at my site - motospecta.com - are Tonality B&W conversions.)

I figured out something similar about wine -- not enjoying it, but learning to analyze the tastes. While the expensive wines do tend towards complexity (which, sadly, I like -- my wine tastes definitely exceed my budget), they also show some of the characteristics that are highly valued in their clearest forms, and hence are the easiest place to learn what those characteristics taste like.

I was being reminded again last night how the high ISO and autofocus speed on my EM5 (not mark II) were nowhere near competitive with my D700, and were nibbling away at my image quality and, for the AF speed, even which images I managed to get. I work around it better than most people, since I've spent my whole life fighting those issues (not AF my whole life, but manual focus at wide apertures in dim light was also an issue), but it still reduces the quality of the work I can produce.

So, since times have changed, do you allow an exception in the OC/OL/OY exercise to allow for iPhone snaps?

I.e., when you see something that just begs to be photographed and you only have the iPhone, will you pass it by?

[An excellent doctrinal question. :-) I'd have to think about that. --Mike]

Don't forget, IBIS plus the lens's Power OIS provides an extra dollop of shake-reduction.

My brief foray into golfing was shorter than yours. Bought the "game improving" clubs. Could never get a round under a hundred. Got all my good shots out of my system on the driving range. Cleaned out the entire kit at a yard sale when we moved.

Good choice. Can't speak about the camera, but I used to own the Panasonic 12-35 lens and have several thousand pictures from it in my LightRoom catalog, taken with my OM-D EM-5. It is a truly excellent lens. However I replaced it with the Olympus 12-40 Pro which has very similar capability. My rationale was that the zoom rings rotate in different directions on Panasonic and Olympus zooms – I had a mixture – and I wanted my main zooms to be consistent in use, and I chose the Olympus route. This of course marks me out among non-photographers (like my family) as a bit eccentric or even slightly insane. But to some of us these details matter!

I hope you don't think that the 12-35mm qualifies for OC/OL/OY. That'd be cheating bigtime!


[It would be, yes. Better to do a "one camera, TWO lenses, one year" project...if both the lenses are primes. Part of the point is learning to see like the lens sees, and that requires getting used to a prime. --Mike]

I didn't comment on that post because there were so many comments, but I didn't have to think for more than a second: you should go with Panasonic because you enjoy their stuff. Given that all the cameras are technically adequate, that's all that really matters.

That is a nice looking piece of kit. On beginners versus enthusiasts, that's an interesting twist ... I'd suggest that the more time a person spends with a camera, the more they want a camera that's carefully chosen to be functional and enjoyable, but I think beginners can be influenced by a camera - a fun camera makes them want to shoot (which in turn helps them improve) while a poorly chosen camera sits in a closet.

So long as you keep talking about everything else, I don't think anyone will mind some Panasonic praise. It seems that most other brands have one (or many) blogger/advocates. (Many of those are affiliated somehow with those companies - artisans, ambassadors, whatever). I'll look forward to hearing more about the system (I currently shoot Nikon and Sony).

Glad you found out which camera you really want, but now I found out you have far less grey hair than I do (at 13 years your junior). At least I know what camera I want...

The catch with starting with high end equipment is that the beginner gets spoiled with the good stuff right from the start. Much like I went from a Minolta X370 as my 1st film camera, then added the Maxxum 9000 a couple years later. Quite a step up at the time. Back when I was more involved in the shooting sports, the two most common hardware topics for improvement were fit of the gun to the shooter, and quality of the trigger. It was pointed out that those two things were especially beneficial to a new shooter, as an experienced one could adapt.

As for golf, a friend and I decided to try a round during our first year in college to see what the hubub was all about. We selected a par 3, 18 hole course. I shot a 72 my very first time up, but did a little better on the second hole. No more golf.

I would second the recommendation above for Tonality. It might also be that virtually all of Tonality is rolled into Luminar. I use both, and they are very good.

Nik of course is good, but what I'm loving about these Macphun offerings is:
1) they are supported and actively developed
2) they have mask-able layers within the plugin. So you can layer the edits in various areas of the print. A little more hydroquinone in the developer just for this corner, maybe some amidol over there, and grade 1 paper for the skin tones.

Are gX8 sales going to skyrocket now that it has the TOP stamp of approval. It is on my wish list, but I don't know when I'll be able to afford it.

See if you can find a used 20mm 1.7 II to go along for the ride. If I only can or want to carry one lens, the 20 is the winner.

I think you can take analogies too far. I wouldn't put a learner driver in a Porsche...

But a SH Honda Civic or VW Golf rather than a beaten up old Chevvy, then yes. Simple, well mannered, safe and forgiving, reliable and designed for anyone to drive.

I wouldn't recommend a D810 or A7Rii as a first camera either. I seldom recommend Fujis for beginners, despite the great JPEGs, as they need a bit of old-timer patience. Oly's are hopelessly complicated for beginners and Sony's are fiddly and have every feature imaginable bar a field kitchen and a chemical toilet.

But a camera that is relatively simple, well mannered, has simple controls and good defaults (metering, JPEG output, AF), and can let you grow into the other stuff in your own time, is good.

Panasonic seems to fit the bill. I have fixed up five friends and relations with various models, and all are delighted. 5/5

I hope they keep going with the G line, but you do realise that now you have come out as a confirmed Pannyfan, they are almost certain to quit the business ;-)

Okay Mike, on behalf of the TOP readers we allow you to buy yourselves a GX8, but only a black one.

Something I wish I had said the other day. Why not the excellent 18-55mm IS Fuji lens? It is not the IBIS option, but ends up effectively Similar to the GX8+12-35 f2.8 combo for a lot less and keeping the Fuji mono. I once owned it and have to admit, as a zoom sceptic, it delivered in spades.

Hi Mike
Nice choice, I own the GX8 for about a year now, with the 20mm 1.7 the best photographic tool I have owned so far.

I'd be a little concerned about Panasonic's decision to move their cameras into the appliance division. If cameras don't sell as well as refrigerators and microwave ovens, that could mean the end of the Lumix brand.

But the clincher for me is your own statement: "The point is the pics, in the end!" The formula is simple - X-Trans APS-C > M4/3. I bought a M4/3 camera for the very reasons you mentioned, shot it simultaneously with a Fuji, and sold the M4/3 camera the next day. For me it's the images that matter most, and IBIS wasn't enough to blind me to the difference. I'd hang on to that X-T1 for a while, so you can go back when the IBIS honeymoon is over.

I recommend you make room in your budget for Huelight camera profiles for Lightroom. They cost all of $15.00! :-)


I doubt they will be as good as the Fuji camera profiles included with Lightroom, but it's good to have options other than Adobe Standard, which is all you get with most Panasonic cameras.

Personally I enjoy making my own camera profiles. Sometimes I make camera profiles before I buy a camera as part of the shopping process.

The fitted clubs comment for beginners makes some sense, because in most cases you're really not talking about custom clubs -- you're just ordering a set, that costs the same as other sets in the store, but comes to your specs. You just have to wait a couple of weeks. I play with a former teaching pro, and when he comes out to NM, he plays with an extra set of my club, and usually scores within a couple of strokes of what he scores at home.

The thing about putting -- I don't know exactly how this applies to photography, but as a golf freak I'll say it anyway -- is that what counts with putting is the precision of the strike. Sometimes, when I'm having a mediocre round and I've pitched out of a sand trap and don't feel like walking all the way over to the cart to get my putter, I'll putt with my sand wedge. Several people have noted that I seem to putt better with the sand wedge than with my putter. That's because to putt with a sand wedge you have to be extremely precise -- you can't just walk up and take a whack at the ball. If you ARE extremely precise, you can putt quite well with a sand wedge.

As for the GX8, I have two, and they are exceptional cameras. I think if I were doing other kinds of photography I'd stay with FF Nikons (I have a D800 that I haven't used in a while) but the Nikons are just too much size and weight and are too visible...and you can't shoot sideways with them. When you get your GX8, practice shooting sideways. Works particularly well with a compact black lens...I've got a black 14-45 Mega OIS that is brilliant in sideways shooting. But then, you may not be a sneaky shooter. 8-)

I do understand your Panasonic love. I enjoyed my GF1 and my daughter still uses it daily, with the wonderful little 20mm. They lost me as a customer when I gave the camera to my daughter and the cameras after the GF1 became smaller and had less and less direct control. They have reversed that now, somehow deciding once again to serve photographers rather than feature lists and recent iterations are good.

I've moved on to another brand, and am beyond delighted. I hope you find the low-mileage model you want.

I notice you had the left-handed GX8 there. Pretty rare.

"His opinion was that experts aren't the ones who most need fitted clubs—beginners are."
Sometimes you read something that makes you want to bounce around and go yes, yes, yes and this is one of them.
Not just golf, any decent tool (camera with snappy af and better lowlight capability) will have to help a beginner better than something sub par (haha).

Clever of you to include the roll of TP in the shot, to use in setting correct WB

Your brother is right :-)

Again with all the interest your last post generated and so many people trowing their $ .3 into discussion ... my wild guess is that plenty people would happily help right now with your next camera purchase. You have done that before. Choose a nice picture of yours (B&W?)... put in on sale with reasonable price and things should align very quickly. I would still wait for GX9 though!

Regardless of the camera, that's a fine crop of hair for a 60 year old, Mike. And not a grey hair to be seen. It must be the camera.

Glad to hear your going to help talk more about Panasonic. What I want to see and hope you might talk about is a Panasonic retro camera. Does not have to be called that. But a camera from Panasonic that has an ISO dial and Shutter speed dial with A markings just like the Fuji Xt-1/2. When released it should have an updated 25mm f1.4 lens with an Aperture ring. This for me would be a perfect camera. Panasonic already has 12mm f1.4, 15mm f1.7, and 42.5mm f1.2 with aperture rings which would work great this way. All that is needed is an updated 25mm f1.4 with aperture ring and a brand new 17mm f1.4 with aperture ring and the kit would be complete. They could even update the 45mm Leica macro with an aperture ring to really make a system.
I am surprised this has not come to market yet. As even being branded Leica would make them a ton of money. The four thirds L1, lacking the ISO dial was still popular.

I'm with Kenneth-- I think any of your readers who pay even the least bit of attention to your blog could've predicted which camera you'd settle on. Seriously, you've raved about that particular camera so much you almost convinced ME to dump my Fuji kit for it (which is not bloody likely, as I've got waaaaay too much invested in lenses alone, but one can dream, eh?). Good luck with the Panny and have fun!

I have the 'yeoman' version of your Fuji/Panasonic dilemma. Should I let go of my XT10 now that I've been using a GX7 for the past year or so?

My main reason for hanging on to the Fuji are different to yours though. I find the XT10 slower (which is sometimes o.k) and ergomically less comfortable, but like to try and get things right in camera - and find Fuji's OOC JPEG's hard to beat.

While grappling with this fortunate quandry I'll look forward to hearing about your GX8 adventure.

"His opinion was that experts aren't the ones who most need fitted clubs—beginners are. But, of course, beginners are the players least likely to invest in them.

That's true. But beginners are also not able to give feedback to the person fitting them for clubs. They just don't have the experience. I'm not a golfer, but I've been through this process with custom bicycles, skis (AT and resort), snowboards, bespoke clothes, etc.

A beginner should really just buy something, use it, figure out what they like, and don't like, then get a set of custom clubs for their second set."

This part, both Mike's and HD's, is so so true. An expert can make anything work. Beginners and consumers are more likely to need the better gear to cover up their technical deficiencies (I've always liked to say that consumers benefit the most from full-frame, after all, they tend to take photos in crappy lighting situations the most).

However, it's also true they also don't really know what they want. I've told many newcomer to just play with the kit lens that comes with the camera to get an idea of what focal lengths they want to use, and think about what part of their current camera they hate the most and like the most before they upgrade.

Well, no doubt the lens is good. But if you are gonna do the OC/OL/OY and you are going to go full Panasonic with a prime lens, then you gotta go with the Panasonic-Leica 25mm 1.4. If there is a magic lens with character in the digital era, it has to be that lens.

But I bet you'll go with the 20mm.

Dagnabit! I had never considered the GX8. Now, since these posts of yours I've researched it, and it has caught my interest.

Maybe this site should be sub-titled "The Online Photographer's GAS Station".

In my opinion, your decision to love the GX8 is the right one, but at a thousand bucks for the body, I can understand your reluctance to take the plunge. I had the same problem - I knew I wanted and needed the GX8, knew that it was the camera/sensor/system for me but I also knew that it would be a cold day in a warm place before I would plunk out that kind of moneyj. So, I found a used, like new product on the Amazon site, warehoused and shipped by Amazon for a paltry $582.50 that I could order, inspect, play with for 2 weeks and make sure that this was the one. I ordered it and found that it was, in fact, the one and I've been happy about my purchase ever since. The camera was in essentially brand new condition - the box had a blemish on the bottom, I think - and it felt like I was getting a new product. Plus, I saved over $400!

...as far as selling your Fuji XT-1, you might hang onto it and your favorite lens. I've finally realized there's no shame in having different cameras for different moods. I rebought an X100 classic just to reconnect with an old friend when the mood strikes.

I have been using Exposure 2 (from Alien Skin) for raw processing of XTrans files and it does film emulations plus has some editing tools. It integrates with PHotoshop. I'm pretty sure it would do an excellent job with Panasonic files.

Their b&w conversions cover just about every film you can imagine (similar with colour - they even have Autochrome presets!) and like Tonality you can use their presets, tweak them and save them, or create your own from scratch.

All the editing is non-destructive, i.e. all steps are saved and you can go back in time to recover from a botched step or steps.

The company seems to be serious and their upgrade policy is liberal. It's not expensive, but when it went on sale for something like 25% off, I bit and within a month or so was able to upgrade at no charge to then next major release. It's reasonable fast on my 8GB iMac 27" 5K - down the road I'm looking forward to maxing out the RAM, I'm sure Exposure will fly then.

"Seriously, if I were to get the itch to do an OC/OL/OY project with an x, y or z, I'd probably have just as much fun with any of the three. I'd simply figure out what I could and couldn't do, what the strengths and weaknesses of each camera are, and then just do with each camera the kinds of things each is best at."

I suppose I'll never understand the idea of OC/OL/OY, or of doing only what a particular camera and/or prime lens is good at.

I approach photography the other way 'round. I have at least an idea, often something more specific, about what sort of images I want to be able to create, and look for equipment with which I can accomplish that.

Some of those image creation desires have remained unsatisfied for over 50 years, but fewer and fewer as digital matured. Fewer yet more with recent developments including in camera focus stacking/bracketing.

Even the serendipitous image that arises out of nowhere, is more likely to be captured properly with a broad ranging kit than OC/OL.

As I have a broad range of interests, and wish to create various kinds of images, I have various cameras, lenses and software.

As I travel, sometimes perhaps to places I won't see again, I find that the most photogenic places also have wide ranges of potential images to be captured. I can't imagine why I would want to have my photography shackled by one camera and one prime lens.

I suppose I may be an imagistic hedonist who can't see the value in ascetic practice.

. . .

"The point is the pics, in the end!"

Exactly! So why not use the gear most effective in capturing the pic?

You have written before that a photographer needs to find a style at which he/she is particularly adept and focus on that. Assuming that's not some sort of moral imperative, I assume it's about making money as a photographer.

But I don't want or need to make $ at it. I want to have fun and make images that please myself, and with any luck, others who see them.

So far, I am managing both. I would not with even OC/OPL/Oday.

Chacun à son goût

View From the Other Side Moose

Your column worked for me as well. On the way to the Phoenix Airport to pick up family for a long Easter weekend, I stopped by the last real Camera Store in Arizona (as far as I can determine). Stopped by the Fuji counter and with the help of a willing and knowledgeable sales guy, walked out with a new Xpro-2 and a pristine 23mm f2 which got me out of there for essentially the same price as online when I included sales tax. At one point I hadn't decided but then thought "what would Mike do?"

Did I just read 1200 words saying 'I bought a lens'?

[I think there was a little more to it than that, but okay. --Mike]

The bad decision is to borrow one for review.

The GX8 is really sublime. I recently sold mine and went FF Nikon, and now really regret it. I don't feel that FF is night and day better than m4/3. Image quality with the Nikon is only slightly better, and only in certain circumstances and with high end glass. Some of it comes down to how one defines "better." There is no denying that continuous tracking focus is actually usable on the Nikon (if you use such things) and DSLR battery life far exceeds any mirrorless body. I used the GX8 in rain, snow, bitter cold, a hurricane, a flood, and a couple of burning buildings... it always delivered nice images and still looked brand new when I sold it! All that is to say the GX8 is a very good choice.

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