Good clean fun with a cheap normal lens. The Panasonic 25mm f1.7.

Le Politique on Second St. tries hard to emulate a Parisian café.
Hanger steaks and frites with a bottle on wine while sitting on
the sidewalk in the valley of modern office buildings?
Mixed metaphor, for sure....

Whether you own a full frame DSLR, a mighty APS-C camera or one of the whimsical micro four thirds cameras there's one thing that's more or less a constant; and that's how great the inexpensive 50mm (equivalent) lenses are for each system. I've always been a big fan of "normal" lenses and it's probably because the first two cameras I owned had variations of normal lenses before anything else. 

I spent my morning creating estimates for project bids, ordering new audio machinery and getting my car serviced. I'd put in some extra time doing post production last week and felt as though I deserved some free time to walk around the downtown area with a camera. So I did. (Don't tell my boss --- he thinks I was doing "research"). 

If the day had been bright and sunny I would have taken the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm lens with me, mounted on a GH5, but it was cloudy and flat outside so I opted for the normal lens instead. Bright afternoon sun would have made for good sample shots at various wide settings with the zoom but when it gets "wintery" I'm alway in the mood for black and white images taken at an elegant focal length. 

I ate lunch at Whole Foods where the sushi is a right good bargain, and then I headed over to the new, six story, $130 million library which just opened in the heart of downtown. It was packed with the homeless, the hipsters and a huge swarm of young, eager corporate types, armed with phones and laptops, who were obviously glad to have a new venue with free meeting space. They tried to look casual and cool and give off the impression that they emoji candidates they were busily debating would be mission critical to client X. Everyone in the corporate clique had coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Want to see a cross section of Austin's new arrivals? Go skim through the six floors and the rooftop gardens of our new library. Don't miss the bicycle garage in the basement; my triathlete friends seem to talk of nothing else.... (Library - Austin - so, of course, a bike garage. Might even be a bike valet...).

I had my camera set up to use "filters" which are the same as presets or looks. I chose "dynamic monotone" and I must say I am pretty happy with the look. Like most 50mm equivalent lenses the 25mm f1.7 is bright and sharp. Even wide open it's pretty darn good. Stopped down to f5.6 it becomes almost analytical. While the lens usually sells for around $250 it sometimes goes on sale for $149. I was in the market for the lens but my sales person at the local camera store counseled me to wait a week or two. I did. He called to tell me the price had dropped again and that he'd put one aside for me. Nice.

Stay tuned, the 25mm price usually drops right around the time Panasonic announces a new body...

I did a circuit through the city's downtown and for some reason it was packed with people today. Mostly people walking down the sidewalk in little groups of two, three or four, all walking side by side, all staring at their own phones held, almost prayer-like, just in front of them at chest level. Here's an observation after watching this phenomenon for nearly two hours: Men cannot simultaneously look at their phones, walk down the sidewalk and also talk to other people in their groups. Women can and do all three things simultaneously. Almost as though it's mandatory.  It's interesting. 

I wonder what the next trend will be. I'm presuming everyone will get phone implants so that the physical handling of the phones becomes unnecessary. Just walking through the chattering hordes made me feel like an anachronism. There are no dedicated use cameras left in public anymore. None. They are all gone. Well, that's not exactly true. There was one guy with a Nikon or Canon slung around his neck. He was even older than me..... 

Ancient Trees. Just hanging on for dear life...


  1. If you've never seen it, try to get The President's Analyst, with James Coburn. That implanted phone idea? So last millennium.

  2. Yes Panasonic G9 and 200mm f/2.8 out real soon now

  3. Mike, that's one of my favorite movies. It's hilarious. Thanks for reminding me.

  4. Yesterday during lunch break (exactly 1h), I also walked with the 25mm/1.4 Panny on my camera. Also b&w, but this time I de-contrasted and de-sharpened the photos (to -2, which is exactly what you can do in-camera when you use Olympus Viewer 3). That 'opened up the shadows' and gave me more 'tones' I think. Anyway, it differed from the usual (over-) contrasty b&w loook which I usually have.

    No downtown Austin, just some outskirts of Frankfurt, or beginnings of Eschborn (where businesses are going because of almost no tax there) - see http://wolfgang.lonien.de/2017/11/a-low-contrast-de-sharpened-black-and-white-lunch-walk/ in case you're interested. More nature than hipster crowd - trying to get away from these more often than not, at least for an hour or so.

  5. “There are no dedicated use cameras left in public anymore. None. They are all gone”

    Shirley and I were in Venice at the beginning of October for ‘La Bienalle di Venezia’, which is a major arts exhibition on two permanent sites, Gardini and Arsenale.

    I made note of what imaging devices people were using, particularly since visitors came from a particular demographic.

    Most popular, iPhone, followed by Samsung Galaxy etc..
    Most popular camera, Canon DSLRs, APS-C, although there were a few Canon FF with big f2.8 zooms.
    Quite a few Nikon D850s and D800s, also with shoulder cracking ‘pro’ zooms. I didn’t see any Nikon APS-C DSLRs.
    Mirrorless, one or two Sony, one or two Olympus, but not many at all.
    No compact cameras of any description.
    No Leicas, film or digital.
    One girl was carrying two Canonet film cameras, maybe one for colour, the other black and white.

    For the record, I had my Ricoh GR with converter lens, giving it either 28mm or 21mm wide angle coverage, which was perfect for the exhibition spaces.

  6. I use 25/1.7 on my EM10.2, and found it to have focus shift at f4. I was a bit disapponted, but as it was only one aperture value, and the effect is not significant, and the lens is not expensive, I decided to keep it. Wondering what experience do other have. Other than that, it's a really great lens.

    In general, I am not getting why everyone (including Kirk, in a post, I think, about some Canon or Sony lens) are saying that cameras with contrast detect AF cannot suffer from focus shift. They focus wide open just like phase detect cameras do, so what's the difference? I can avoid the problem only in MF mode, when I use DOF preview when focusing.

  7. Let's face it. Virtually any camera available today is quite capable of doing everything, except the most specialized shooting. Pick the size, sensor and the style you want and you're pretty much set.


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