« What I Bought | Main | Don't 'Should' All Over Me »

Saturday, 16 June 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It certainly is good enough, and maybe a bit better than that. I wonder if "pixel-peeping" is really a leftover from film days, when good darkroom guys could always squeeze more out of a negative than, say, average darkroom guys, and great darkroom guys were few and far between? Back then, "good enough" was a rare thing, because it almost always could be a bit better, if you had the right guy doing the squeezing. Now, "better IQ" usually comes down to the machine you're using (giving a reasonable level of facility with it), not your abilities. If you're a real Photoshop ninja, you might be able to do some weird things with a digital file, but for simple, straight photography, where you're going for fidelity rather than special effects, I'm not sure how much real judgment (or "technique") is really needed. I suspect a semester's PS course would get you about as good as you're ever going to get, but with a darkroom, that relative level of facility might take years to reach...if you can ever reach it. PS work seems more like engineering; darkroom more like "art."

I loved the story of the farmer and his tractor. That is all I had to say!


"As for the picture? It's not perfect. But it's good enough."

No Mike, No - it IS perfect!

Great story! Would love to hear your thoughts on 3:2 vs. 4:3 aspect ratios. The difference drives me nuts, and I know it's not rational.

Delighted to read that you've gotten the right camera for you, and that you're enjoying it immensely.

I sold-out of the Micro 4/3 system two years ago but then bought right back into it a year later when I needed the form factor of the Lumix GX85 for an excursion. Today I'm having some fun with the new little GX9 which touches most of the features I most need in that type of camera. It's an excellent compromise between, say, a 1" and a full-framer.

Summer's here and the time is right for shootin' in the streets, Mike!

Mike, you are one great storyteller. Thanks.

Now that's a nice story.

I like the photo of the farmer and the tractor but I like it even more with the story attached to it, especially the quotes of the farmer. That's not a criticism of the picture but an appreciation of the the strength of the writing when applied to it. Bravo.

Since he went with Mopar power...a Superbird rear wing seems in order. It would be the perfect size!

Wikipedia says that the height of the Superbird wing was at the optimum level for maximum down-force but also says that a retired Chrysler project engineer (falsely) claimed that the height was designed to provide clearance for the trunk lid to open freely. No matter the reason, the Farmall "M" could use the wing up front for those 50 MPH runs to the local feed store.

Dear Mike and all,

The world is evermore falling into antagonism. If we would, or could hear and read more stories of simple people
all over the world, we might have a better understanding of each other. Lately I was emotionally moved by
two elderly American Ladies. At an exotic place, they pointed out a bird I longed to photograph. I thanked them, and they simply said: one has to share.
I am a European.


Glad to hear you're enjoying the GX8. Its always fun to shoot hot rods. No issues with shutter shock on this unit, hopefully.

Regarding your test shot and holding detail across the SBR, one idea would be to shoot two or three consecutive frames in continuous high-speed mode or a ±0 EV bracket mode, and merge them as layers in PS. As noise is randomly distributed in an individual frame, you should be able to recover some shadow detail. This also works well in low-light scenes.

Not that I'm encouraging pixel-peeping, mind. ;-)

I second Beuler’s suggestion of a post on the difference between the 3:2 and 4:3 ratios (beyond the obvious.) Now that I have a firm presence in the 4/3 format with the new GX9, the 3:2 aspect seems oddly stretched, and that after having used it for 40 years.

54 great-grandchildren. Well... those long winter nights.

Just to say, grew up on a small farm in Ohio, driving (after I was allowed) a Farmall Cub. Didn't have the crop row wheels, and just a 4 cyl. as I recall, but how I learned to drive. Your story brought back some memories.

I like the 3:2 ratio for landscapes but for candids and street and portraits the 4:3 seems much better to me.

Just to say the 16 mp old sensor once it lost its filter as in the G80 is very nice too!

Your hearing is usually the third thing to go.

Your hearing sounds excellent, all things considered.

A friend of mine, about our age, is both an audiophile and music lover. (The former obsesses over HiFi hardware. The latter obsesses over music.) He has a resume of decades of writing about both. He recently visited an audiologist and learned that he no longer hears anything above 6 KHz. This is not unusual.

It is, alas, a part of the human aging process that we all loose some of our ability to hear high frequencies. To loose just the highest tone is, relative to the rest of us, quite good. I'm betting you didn't listen to Rock&Roll at lease-breaking levels as a kid, and haven't done much gun shooting without hearing protectors -- these are the kinds of things that accelerate hearing loss.

I love tractors. Learned to drive on a Farmall cub. I want a rusty old tractor with metal wheels to park by my driveway. Nothing says "rural" like one of those.

Okay, I feel dumb: what is "SBR?"
Wikipedia suggests:
Saturable Bragg reflector
Sequencing batch reactor
Signal to Background ratio
Spectral band replication
Sea-based radar
Short-barreled rifle
Space-based radar
Shanghai Business Review
Skills based routing
Standard business reporting
Serum Bilirubin
Specialized bulk rail

And btw, at 76, my "golden ears" is the cost of my hearing aids. Here's a musical analogy: when I turn them on, it's like suddenly the violins and flutes magically appear. Or, the birds start singing. I'd love to have your hearing.

All right, I feel stupid asking and will feel stupider, probably, when I get the answer. What does SBR stand for, please?
I googled it and got a result with about 30 answers, none of which was remotely connected with photography.

Is it just me who finds the 4:3 aspect ratio in landscape mode ugly, plain wrong? I had an Oly E-1 and never bonded with it, the aspect ratio being one factor. Out of curiosity re its dual IS, I recently bought a GX85. The IS is impressive. But the 4:3 still disturbs.

I have used ACR or LR to process raws since 2006. Starting in 2012 Adobe created the new 2012 process which handles blown highlights well. Compared to a few other raw processors I have tried the Adobe 2012 process handles them better. With current FF sensors that is less important, but for smaller than FF, such as m4/3, it is very helpful sometimes.


The trouble with testing this and testing that is, at some point, one of the tests fail. That makes people depressed.

Test your ticker by all means, but why on earth would anyone want to pay money to confirm something that will happen as we grow older?

Presacusis is here to stay. Enjoy the HiFi as usual because you won't really notice the high frequency deafness.

Dan K.

Well, I just recently moved to Panasonic mft - from, perhaps surprisingly, a Sony A7riii that I had for six months. Why, when the Sony certainly has greater resolution, more dynamic range, and is better in low light? I thnk the basic reason is that I just never felt comfortable with the camera as a tool. That, and the fact that at 69 I do not like to carry much weight, whereas the lens I used the most, the new 24-105, was just too heavy to hold comfortably for very long -it’s not, for me, so much the carry weight in a bag on my shoulder but the weight in hand since I always use a wrist strap.

A short while ago I picked up a Panasonic Gx9, intending to use it pretty much only around town with its 12-60 kit lens. After a month I began to use it exclusively, not least because of the camera’s wonderful image stablization, at keast with the dual IS lens I had, which seemed to me a good deal better than what I was getting with the Sony and the 24-105 lens.

Keeping the gx9 on auto ISO under 3200, and comparing with the A7riii I found it hard to tell the difference even at 1:I (I shoot RAW and process in Lightroom). These days I mostly have images showing on a large Memento 4K digital screen in the living room, but I do print occasionally up to 13x19. So a couple of weeks ago I shot the same scene of the garden late in the day at the same EV, just looking for dynamic range and noise when shown on the Memento and when printed at 13x19. Neither I nor anyone else could discern much difference between the two in those respects - the gx9 was at f/4 while the Sony was set to f/8.

So two weeks ago I decided to try a g9 with the Leica 12-60 and found that I liked it even more. The g9 weighs about the same as the Sony, but the lens sure is lighter and smaller, while the feel, to me, is just vastly better. So the Sony and lens went on Ebay, and I kept both the gx9 and its big brother. And then I also picked up a Panasonic zs200, which I carry around when I want to go as light and inconspicuously as possible. It’s possible to set all three cameras to quite similar custom configurations so I don’t forget what to push when, even given the button and dial differnces between them - a bit of time thinkng through the settings works very well.

Recently I tried the high res mode for a landscape in calm weather. Processd carefuly in Lightroom yields astoishing detail and color - though, frankly, not to such an extent that I’ld use it overmuch given my needs.

"Essentially a "black box" test like we used to do with B&W film.) I found that on the exposure with the sunlit white cladding barely holding, the interior still dipped too far into ugly noise—and with the interior just barely holding, I couldn't recover quite enough highlight detail."

Taken with the earlier sensor and processor in a GX7:


"So I agree that the proper exposure is important with the GX8, and when the subject brightness range (SBR) is as high as you'll encounter in daylight, a single exposure won't quite hold all parts of the range."

The degree to which this is true is quite dependent on the digital darkroom software and operator. The second and third images above are indeed the first, processed.

The white in the left windows and just above the water on the right are not blown. The fine mist/fog of the Pacific marine layer diffuse the light of the sun, which is just out of frame, top left.

The subject is not ideal for showing noise, as it can be easily confused with the surface texture of the fresco and the way the paint interacted with the wet surface when applied. Whatever combo it is, it's perfect for a print.

Glad to see New York still proudly declaring itself THE EMPIRE STATE on its license plates. Here in California we lost THE GOLDEN STATE on our plates to the URL of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Aside from being rather tacky looking, it's a bit insulting. Does the DMV really think residents couldn't find their site otherwise?

So many thoughts as I sit here reading this. I’m so glad I bought your LUMIX 12-35 lens because a) it produces some beautiful images with my GX85, and b) it allowed you to get that camera and write this wonderful column. I bought my GX85 about a year ago based primarily on the write-ups in your blog by a contributor that raved about its handling and interface. It hasn’t disappointed in the least, especially with the small nearly-pancake zoom that comes in the kit. But my “new” 12-35 produces a lovely image; I’ve used it at family gatherings and out hiking in New Hampshire, and I couldn’t be happier.

But, more than anything, what makes me happy about my purchase is that you are so happy with your camera, and the happiness comes through in your writing, loud and clear. In reading the comments (which are such a big part of TOP), it’s apparent that I’m not the only one to pick up on how tickled you are. We all benefit when you have the energy to write and share your life with us, photography-focused (hahahaha) or not.

Keep up the great work, Mike.

I have age-related hearing loss, losing high-frequency hearing, and wear hearing aids now. I thought it would bother me but it doesn't. The truth is that at some point, you've heard it all before anyway.

"subject brightness range (SBR)"

Am I crazy? Did I just miss it the first half dozen times I scanned the text, or did you sneak it in under the cover of darkness?

[It's the nice thing about the Internet. Nothing is ever set in stone. Sometimes, just being perfectionistic, I'll make corrections to posts for days after they're first published. The downside is that viewing of older post falls off rapidly, so after a few days it's much less worthwhile to make corrections; after four or five days, if I still make any changes that late, I'm more or less resigned to the fact that I'm just doing it for my own satisfaction.

There's a similar issue with comments. Sometimes I'll get absolutely fantastic comments that I would have loved to "Feature," but they'll come in six days after the post went up, meaning, if I featured it, few people would see it. In those cases, I often don't bother. Which is a shame, but what are ya gonna do? --MJ]

I got my first hearing aids two years ago at age 54.

Life changing.

Most people on average wait 7 years too long before getting them. When I showed up to have my hearing test the response was: you're too young. They were surprised at the test result, but I wasn't. I had been suffering with it for about 5 years.

Mike's film/darkroom legacy is showing in his use of the term "SBR"...it stands for Subject Brightness Range, and was generally a reference guidance for using spot meters when shooting, notably with the Zone System.

Here is a nice one-page link that describes it:

Cheers, TOP gang!

Question: is there much post-processing on the cloud photo? I ask because there is a pretty clear dark halo effect (not sure that's the technical term; I mean how the sky is darker around the white cloud than in the rest of the image), such as you see when the "clarity" or "Ambience" setting is high. I'm wondering if the camera is doing that or if it came from post.

[I should have mentioned that that's an iPhone photo. Sometimes I've noticed that in the software that blends the images from the two sensors, that hot-spotting is visible in areas of even tone. The contrast with the white cloud (the light tone making areas adjacent to it look darker) probably makes it a bit worse. --Mike]

My dear wife manages to break mine all the time without the use of earmuffs. What a wuss!

Mike, there used to be an event called the "Pageant of Steam" held near Canadaigua every summer. I went once, 30 or so years back, and had a great time. If you go you'll see some interesting sights and meet some interesting people. Just out your hearing protectors on before they sound the ship's foghorns.

Am I the only one that finds 54 grandchildren a little disturbing when only 4 is sustainable?


Please consider adding a note about the cloud picture being an iPhone one somewhere in its vicinity in your article.

It now reads as though you mean that to be an example of a deficient GX8 picture. Only a reader perusing all the comments will learn more about it.

[Added. You're right, that was confusing, as I immediately began talking about exposure tests. It was just meant to illustrate the comment about the weather being clear. (Irony there?) --Mike]

I'm very glad you bought the GX8. A sensible choice indeed, at a time when a lot of buyers are running after later models. PANASONIC Lumix M43 cameras are somewhat overshadowed by Olympus, possibly due to the latter's more aggressive marketing, but they are top-notch photographic tools that -- in the right hands -- can hold their own just about anywhere. The IQ in your sample pictures is marvellous and just what I expected you to get from the GX8. BTW -- you can get even better results if you underexpose up to a stop and process the Raw files in Silkypix. The X-T2 is no doubt a great tool but the Panasonics produce Raw files that are (to pinch a word from Gordon Laing's review of the GX1) "exquisite."

Your comment about ISO 1600 struck a chord with me. I have tons of photos of my kids' indoor sports shot on ISO 800 film pushed to 1600. The grain is gigantic, and the color isn't all that great. But in the early 1990s, it was the only game in town.Now I routinely use ISO 1600 in low light, and the noise is minimal.

On the subject of your “post processing” articles and comments, you sometimes do a “partial” featured comment but the full comment is lost. Example: Kenneth Tanaka on 13th June.
Comments that are too late to be featured could be highlighted in some way.

I think perhaps your stylist was so astute that they worked out that a little of the object in the middle of the frame would help enhance the visceral response of the viewer, the bird poop being a nudge in the way of connecting the red to blood as well as tractors and reminding us subconsciously of the life and death that goes on in the rural landscape behind the facade of shiny red and green tractors.

If there happens to be a "tractor pull " event in your area, you must give it a try, at least once.

... that is, go see it. You don't have to drive the tractor.

I work in a school, not as a teacher, and the little blighters can create quite a high pitched racket. 80db is mothing to write home about, the max I ever suffered was 113db. That hurts a lot and my left ear has never been that good anyway.
So I always carry and use these
They very much take away the pain from too much noise and I can still hear enough to get along with the job. For sale since 1907, these are IMO a must-have in todays noisy environments.

The most intriguing part of this post is the 2000 acre, 240 cow farm for which the farmer used the tractor. Seems no one today can farm more than 200 acres without use of at least three 200hp 4 wheel Drive John Deere tractors and a small fleet of 1 ton dually pickups.

Looks good; From that 100% crop of the headlight I'm guessing that you're happy with the vibration reduction on the GX8 / 12-35 "mark two" combo.

"The 85-year-old guy in the tractor picture used that Farmall "M" to farm 2,000 acres. He had 240 milk cows. Even with eight kids—four boys and four girls—he worked 20 hours a day for years." (Ed.)
"Seems no one today can farm more than 200 acres without use of at least three 200hp 4 wheel Drive John Deere tractors..." (Comment)
Wow! Looks like the Americans born in the 20's and 30's were men of a different breed. Really tough guys. How about Bruce Willis? Big Arnie? Naaaah. Lorne Greene? Maybe. Al Oerter? Charles Bronson? Charlton Heston? Yes.

Re: "You occasionally see evidence of idiots (and I use the term advisedly here) playing a "joke" by sneaking up on their friends and giving them a blast right in the ear with one of those compressed-air horns. I've wondered how many peoples' hearing has been permanently damaged by that asinine "prank." In my (yes, liberal, regulation- and big-government-approving) opinion, those compressed air horns should be vigorously banned and that particular kind of attack should be classified a felony assault and battery."

Substitute "flash" for "air horn", "eye" for "ear" and "sight" for "hearing" ..and you have 'celebrated' photographer Bruce Gilden's modus operandi for how many years? That particular kind of attack, too, should be classified a felony assault and battery.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007