Getting to black and white. From a raw file out of the Pentax K-1.

My formative photography years were spent learning to shoot, develop and print black and white images. Color was too expensive, too complex to do on my own. I still spend time trying to make conversions from color digital raw files to monochrome to see if I can get close to the feel of the images we used to make on some of the premium papers (loved graded Ilfobrom paper) back in the days of the wet darkroom. 

These two images are the same file but imagined in two different ways. I like the black and white better.  But I think a propensity for liking one or the other is generational. And even within my generation there were those who were confirmed Kodachrome (color slide) shooters and the contingent of black and white shooters so there's also a divide there. 

Curious how it breaks down amongst VSL readers. Anybody want to chime in? Which do you prefer and why?

The more "colorful" side of downtown San Antonio. Assisted by the original Pentax K-1 and the HD 28-105mm zoom lens.

Who doesn't want a flaming scull to decorate their home with?

I've traveled a fair bit over the years and seen lots of amazing places, mostly with a camera over one shoulder. I've been in and out of Paris and Rome at least a dozen times each. Lived in Turkey for two years. Did a two week long project in St. Petersburg, Russia in the dead of winter back in 1995. Back packed through "classic" Europe for months and months back in the 1970's; slept in tents and hostels, cooked eggs nearly every day with a small frying pan that hung off my pack and a little Blue Gas burner. But over the last few years travel has become more crowded, more frenetic, more....mundane. I traveled 22 times out of Texas on business last year. Not much of the actual travel was fun... 

That's what I love about having San Antonio close at hand. If I feel the need for a break from the  "exhausting excitement" of being in Austin, Texas I can hop in my car and more or less reliably be in San Antonio in about an hour and fifteen minutes. 

What I love about San Antonio is that it has not (yet) been destroyed by a steely-eyed core of highly entitled groups hell bent on making it into the next Yuppie Paradise. There are many more working people and solid, middle class families than there are denizens of fortified enclaves of flashy wealth. Which means that the downtown area hasn't been made over as a hipster vacation spot, replete with avocado toast and an Aston Martin (or two) on every block. Which further means that the city has retained some authenticity and some of its historic vibe. Which means more street festivals, more diversity in public, less expensive attractions and dining and, a more welcoming disposition. 

Sure, you can find expensive hotel rooms and pricey restaurants in The River City but you'll have to try a bit harder than you would in Austin. San Antonio depends on a different kind of tourism. Instead of executives flying in from some place chic to sit in posh hotels and plan the next disruption in their industry, or the pampered children of the upper middle class flying in from around the country for a three day ($$$$) concert in the park you get many less affluent people who drive in to San Antonio from towns and cities across Texas to see the Alamo, buy giant margaritas and take selfies in front of the giant dinosaur at Ripley's Believe-it-or-not. For the most part these tourists are: not big spenders, not obnoxious, not destroying as much nature (flying = massive carbon footprint) and, seemingly, more likely to be having fun. Not a gritted teeth, latest Patagonia outerwear, Let's run a marathon across the glacier and then have a bottle of Cristal at the lobby bar to loudly celebrate sort of fun but just casual, walking around, looking at stuff, eating gorditas and churros, hanging out in Tex-Mex restaurants, listening to mariachis, and buying Bart Simpson piƱatas kind of fun. 

All of which makes it a great city to visit if you just want to walk around taking photographs with a big, little, or phone camera. 

Yesterday I posted images of mostly buildings from my time there last Saturday but I also wanted to show the silly, fun, zany, weird stuff that just seems to crop up when walking from the Alamo to the Mercado and back. All shot with a Pentax K1 and the 28-70mm zoom. No muss, no fuss. And home in time for dinner...

Make up your own caption...

Above and below, the Ripley's Believe it or Not across the street from the  Alamo. 

The workers depicted are also part of the mural. The car is the car.

One above and two below: Altars at the entrance to one of the most popular, 
24 hour operating Mexican food restaurants in the center of the city. 
I should have gone in to look and see if the big altar to singer, 
Selena is still there.

After all these decades I still love taking photographs of the ticket office
at the Majestic Theater on Houston St. 

And they've done such a nice job keeping it maintained. 


Walking with a camera in downtown San Antonio. Part 1. What interesting buildings!

Flowers at a fountain in the old courtyard of the McNay Museum.

I spent a lot of time in San Antonio over the last year and a half taking care of my father, who passed away at the end of May. I had not been back to San Antonio since then but I woke up yesterday with the idea that I needed to revisit the city to keep from having those recent days of responsibility and sadness harden into my lasting impression of the city in which I grew up. There is so much I like about San Antonio and its vibrant downtown is part of that. I needed to feel welcome again.

So I decided to give downtown Austin a day off from my Paparazzi abuse and, after early morning swim practice, I grabbed the camera that keeps resurfacing as an odd but highly attractive choice, and headed out the door. I stopped by the Goodwill store to donate an old scanner, then hit Starbucks and was on the road by 10 a.m. Traffic was light heading down IH-35 to the River City. I pulled up to a parking meter just a few blocks from the Alamo and laughed for a few seconds when I saw the parking rates. San Antonio still charges 30 cents an hour in the very center of their downtown!!! About a quarter of the usual parking fee charged at meters in Austin....

I was dressed for comfort and a bit of protection from the sun and, to lighten my load, I only carried one camera and one lens. My choice for the day was a Pentax K-1 and the small, elegant and dense-packed 28-105mm lens. In my mind it was the perfect choice for an afternoon of random rambling. Beautiful files, lots and lots of resolution, and enough dynamic range to keep even the wizards of DXO moderately happy. Yes, the camera is chunky and a bit heavy but it's bits of friction that keep us paying attention to our process.

As is my habit, I kept an extra, charged battery in my pants pocket, along with a wad of cash and my wallet. No camera bag. No sling thing. No backpack. Nothing to make the process physically arduous. 

The Pentax K-1 has a sharper, brighter look than the Fujis I normally use and it just begged to be unleashed on some architecture. I'm not an architectural photographer but I love photographing urban "landscapes" when I'm walking with no purpose other than to walk and look. I did find myself waiting in front of old buildings, like the ones below, waiting for people to either enter the scene or to move on, or for clouds to blow over, so I could harness the hard edge of bright sunlight. I also found myself (uncharacteristically) stopping just to look at a building facade for a while as though by doing so I might unlock some secret to making a better image. 

Of course, I was just shooting for myself so I wasn't feeling compelled to shoot in a certain way or to come home with images that look like all the other "perfect" images of buildings, which I tend to see a lot. I felt as though I was doing "snapshots" of old friends because these are buildings (for the most part) that existed long before I started heading into downtown S.A. in the 1970's with a little film camera in my hand. I've seen the fronts in disrepair, seen them renovated and smelled the fresh paint, and then seen them decline again. It's like a special season that follows the economic conditions of the city. 

I like the look of strong, stark blue skies dotted with puffy clouds. I like hard edges on most architecture. I try to look for compositions and color pairings that are bold and contrasting. I'm rarely trying for subtlety, and even more rarely trying to make a "classic" image of a structure in which all the blinds are drawn to the same measure in each window and all the edges of the building are parallel and straight up and down. I'm more in the mode of trying to coax out the character of the old storefront or apartment house. 

I walked around in the heat on my usual route. I start near the Alamo and then walk across downtown via Commerce St. (passing by the St. Fernando Cathedral) until I get to the Mercado; mecca for all tourists to The Alamo City. After mingling with the other tourists and becoming overwhelmed with all the insane and tacky souvenirs, I resist getting a temporary tattoo, or having my face painted, and I head back in the  direction from which I came but I do so on Houston St., just for the visual variety.  I laughed to myself when I thought about this route I've constructed because the family of my beautiful girlfriend in high school owned a clothing store on Commerce St. while the family of my best guy friend owned a tonier men's wear store on Houston St. Both stores have long been sold off by the respective families and it's always interesting to me to see what kinds of businesses are in the spaces now...

I'd been walking since 11:30 and by 2:00 p.m. it was really hot and the air was sticky and moist, like steam from a kettle, whistling on a burner. It was time to find some air conditioning, a cool drink and a calm lunch. I didn't want to go to a regular restaurant with table service, wasn't in the mood for Tex-Mex, and not of a mind to try something exotic and new either. I looked around as I walked and was happy to find a shop called, The Royal Blue Grocery. It's a small, small chain of stores that started in Austin as little deli/grocers for people who lived in the big, high rise condominiums that dot our downtown. They serve great, hot sandwiches, make killer coffee and have a better selection of wines that one might imagine. The one on Houston St. in San Antonio is new and is their first one in that city, and maybe the first one outside of the magnetic pull of Austin. 

I parked my camera on a table, grabbed a (glass) bottled water and order a Cuban sandwich. Pulled pork, some ham, delicious pickles and onions, some melted provolone cheese, and just the right amount of a picante sauce. It was exactly what I wanted in the moment. Absolute comfort food and nothing budget straining.

I shot and walked for another hour before heading to the McNay Museum which is one of my favorite art museums in the world. By the time the museum closed I'd shot a couple hundred images, had a great lunch, made a modicum of peace with the city and its ghosts, and felt like I'd accomplished something I have a hard time putting into words; not actually relaxation but maybe re-integration. 

I knew the images I'd shot on the K-1 looked nice on the back screen of the camera but I've been fooled by LCDs so many times before. Because of that I was especially happy to sit in front of my computer today and find so many that I liked so much; most of which were good right out the camera and great with just the tiniest bit of Adobe-coaxing. Always just a little brighter. Always just a bit more shadow detail. 

I have more stuff to show but it's far more quirky than these buildings. I thought that instead of mixing them in one post I'd get two days of posting joy from one afternoon's adventure. So, if you "hate the buildings" stay tuned and I'll get some non-building stuff up in your face tomorrow. 

So, how was the Pentax? Vexing! I never expected that camera and that lens to be so good or so comfortable to use. Now I'll never be able to make up my mind about which camera to take with me to Montreal next weekend. A very nice problem to have. Thank you very much.

Commerce St. 
Commerce St.
Commerce St.

Commerce St.
Commerce St.
Commerce St.
 Commerce St.
 Commerce St.
 The Signage for the historic Aztec Theater.
 The Robert E. Lee Hotel as seen from Houston St.
Don't know if you can read it all but the sign underneath the name says, 
"Air Conditioned." 
 Houston St.
  Houston St.
  Houston St. The old Bromley Communications Bldg. 
One of SA's big advertising agencies. Now headquartered in
some other part of the city. 
 A Pillar at the McNay Museum.
 The McNay Museum.
 Entrance to the sculpture gardens at the McNay. 
 And no trip to S.A. is complete without at least a view or two of the Alamo.

A beefy camera and a moderate zoom lens. What more could you need?
Well, at least for walking around a city...


I've been playing with a Panasonic Lumix S1 this week and thought I'd share a few thoughts.

I was intrigued when Panasonic first announced it's full frame line up of the S1 and S1R cameras. But I was in the middle of managing my dad's declining health, my mother's estate and lots of other un-fun stuff so I didn't pay the announcement much attention at all. I figured it would take a while for the cameras to hit the store shelves and a bit longer after that for actual user reviews to hit the web. Plus, I was very satisfied with the images (and the handling!) of the Fuji cameras on which I had been stocking up. 

The Panasonic  S cameras are pitted against a couple of strong mirrorless adversaries, such as the A7III and the A7R4 as well as the Nikon Z6&7, and since the Lumix FF cams are the new additions on the menu they seem to currently be an acquired taste. I decided to take an afternoon to do a bit of reading about the cameras and then make the trek up to the local camera store to play with actual cameras in my real hands.

Most of the stuff people have written (or spoken) about the Lumix s1 is true; the camera is by far the largest and heaviest of the batch. The EVF is far and away the best finder I've ever had the pleasure to use and makes the EVF in the Sony A7III look.....sad, lame. The construction feel of the S1 is the best in the class with second place going to Nikon and last place to Sony. 

While playing with the S1 I had a sense of deja vu, the menus and basic buttons and controls are very close to those on the smaller format Panasonic G9 and I felt right at home after twenty minutes or so of menu diving.

I shot at the theater with the camera for a dress rehearsal/marketing shoot on Tuesday evening and photographed Jaston Williams (Actor/Playwright and co-originator of the hit play, "Tuna Texas") in the studio this morning. In both situations; one using the camera handheld at ISO 3200 with a fast moving live production, the other using the camera on a tripod, lighting with big flashes and shooting at ISO 160, the camera performed perfectly and returned files that are as good as anything I've seen from any camera, short of a medium format Phase One. 

In full length, full body shots in the studio the eye detection AF never missed a beat, not in over 200 photographs. The focus in the theater was very good when considering that I was using a fairly slow (f4.0) lens and shooting sometimes under very little light. 

I haven't had the camera long enough to test out the video performance but from everything I've read I'll  go into those tests with high expectations. 

Since most reviewers are reviewing cameras with the hope of getting people to click on links to vendors in the initial reviews in order to get them to buy, or at least pre-order the product, they have a vested interest in getting their reviews "to market" as quickly as possible so they can be the first in line to offer up the affiliate links. This means that cameras get reviewed very quickly and very early on. Which means that they are working with cameras that have mostly 1.0 firmware. 

Camera makers, well at least Panasonic and Fuji, are really good at continually fine-tuning their products and adding features but you'll never know about it if all you read are the initial reviews. A case in point is the Fuji X-Pro2. When the camera was first delivered it featured 1080p video but later on Fuji added 4K video to all XP2's (and a host of other improvements) via new firmware update, but if you read the initial reviews you would never know this as few reviewers go back and update early reviews. You might read that a certain camera has laggy C-AF but never read about how the maker fixed the issue.

In the case of the Lumix S1 Panasonic announced at launch that they would be adding support for a Log profile for video in a "soon to arrive" firmware update (1.2) which arrived in the Summer and added a host of additional features which made the camera more responsive and quick as well as adding waveform metering for video and allowing for a (paid) Log upgrade.

Everything I read in early reviews of the camera had little to no bearing on the camera I now have in hand. I updated the firmware to the current version before I shot my first frame.

The most amazing thing about this (more or less) bulletproof camera (shutter rated for 400K actuations!!!), after the amazing EVF is the image stabilization. With a stabilized lens like the 24-105mm f4.0 that I paired with this camera you are getting stabilization performance that rivals what you get from Olympus OMD cameras. Somewhere near 6 stops of steadiness improvement! 

My interest in the camera and in the system is largely a result of having played around with the Pentax K1, mixed with my excellent experiences with the Panasonic G9 cameras and lenses. My memories of the G9 (and evidence of ten thousand or so photographs) caused me to imagine that this camera, with a big sensor, could be even better.  The time spent with the Pentax K1 made me nostalgic for the look of a full frame sensor. While my video experiences with the GH5 and GH5S lead me to believe that the video from this camera might be equally amazing. 

On the other hand the lenses that are currently available are expensive and big. They are very much positioning this camera as a professional solution and not giving much priority to people whose main desired features are smaller size and lower weight. Since there are few fast primes available currently under $2,000 I'll be keeping and using my Fuji lenses and cameras for most contemporary work. That is, unless there is a specific project (most likely video) that can really leverage the strengths of the S1. 

So, here we are back again three systems deep and with no real game plan in mind. The Pentax might be on the block but like an ugly but affectionate puppy there is something about the K1 cameras that is so endearing I might just keep them around and watch their rate of depreciation accelerate.... The images from the K1 are different than those from all my other cameras and I've just about convinced myself that they have a role to play in my tool box just like the other cameras. But I will make a clear statement about one thing: Neither the Pentax nor the Lumix are "travel" cameras and I will definitely be taking a couple of X-Pro2s with me to Montreal and beyond. Just say the phrase: "you have to fly there!"  and I can pretty much assure you that I'll be arriving with some combination of Fuji camera bodies and lenses. I have lots of different shoes in my closet. I don't run the trails in the Summer in waterproof hiking boots and I don't walk on glaciers with a pair of Cole Hahn oxfords, or flipflops. Kinda the same thing with cameras. 

More to come as soon as I find some fun video work on which to test the Lumix S1. Now, where's that equipment bag with wheels? This is a heavy camera (kidding, just kidding). 

A Wild Mix of Cameras during Several Pre-Opening Rehearsals. Pentax, Fuji, Lumix.

We're heading into October so, of course, Zach Theatre is about to open our Fall, main stage production of "Dracula", directed by Stephen Dietz. The stage set is pretty magnificent and the lighting design is dramatic, wonderful, and filled with nerve racking (for the photographer) extremes between light and dark. The two rehearsal shoots I did were a text book experiment in using the shadow slider in Lightroom post production to bring detail into areas that read as mostly black in the camera previews. Definitely a play for which you'll want to use raw files, if for no other reason than to lift shadows with less noise...

As an additional experiment I used three different cameras during the two days of shooting. On the first day I used the Pentax K-1 and my small handful of lenses for just about everything. I did bring along a Fuji X-H1 with the 56mm f1.2 APD but it stayed mostly in the bag. Midday on Tuesday I found myself over at Precision Camera picking up a different full frame camera that I've been interested in trying out for both video and still photography work; the Panasonic Lumix s1, along with its companion 24-105mm f4.0 lens. I thought it would be interesting to see how the files from the actual stage show compared when all three cameras were confronted with the same lighting and scenery.

The Panasonic s1 is the newest of the three cameras and uses a new 24 megapixel, full frame (24x36mm) sensor. The Pentax uses a very well regarded, 36 megapixel, full frame sensor, while the Fuji is an APS-C format camera that uses a sensor that's about one generation back from the current state of the art. I literally had no idea which camera would emerge as the best, as far as image quality was concerned, and I had some idea of how much of a difference the lenses would play in the whole drama of photographing drama with different systems. 

I guess I could just read all the reviews of the different cameras on the web and become somewhat vaguely expert on the subject but that seems a bit like cheating so I really did want to put the rubber on the road and hit the gas with all three candidates.

Each camera had its own set of advantages: the Fuji X-H1 was well served by lenses that were picked from the outset to be highly useful and selected for theater photography. The go to lenses for that system were the incredibly sharp and well balanced 50-140mm f2.8, and the really good all-arounder, the 16-55mm f2.8. Since both lenses are well corrected, even wide open, I found myself leaving them at, or around, their widest apertures. In this way I could get a one stop (at least) advantage over the other systems which would translate into a welcome drop in ISO, giving the Fuji a fighting chance at matching up with the other two. In fact, I shot the Fuji at 1600 ISO while I kept the other two cameras at 3200 ISO.

The Lumix was at the most disadvantage; I had never used the camera before and barely had the battery charged before I headed out the door to get to the theater in time. I even stuck the (thick and well composed) owner's manual in my camera bag; not that I'd have time to reference it in the darkened theater, but I might have consulted it during halftime (excuse me theater people, I meant intermission). The lens on the Lumix was good and I ended up sticking close to f4.0 (max. aperture) with that one as well. Several  things about that camera were the absolutely amazing, the dual image stabilization that is purported to give nearly six stops of steadiness. It's about as close as I've seen to the benchmark Olympus OMD cameras! And that's very high praise. The second thing that worked in the s1's favor is that the (very rational) menus are much the same in style and layout as the ones in my beloved G9's. Getting up to speed in the half hour before the curtains went up was not nearly as taxing as I thought it might be. Finally, while the Lumix doesn't have the full on LED lighting prowess of exterior buttons and dials that the Pentax K1 features, the Lumix does have a function that lights up the most used buttons and controls on the back of the camera. A nice touch. 

And then we come to the last camera in the mix, the full frame Pentax. I thought it would stumble on some issues like focusing since I'm mostly using older AF lenses that still rely on the less elegant whirling screwdriver method of auto focusing. A method given to a bit of hunting and sometimes, imprecision. I used two lenses for nearly all of the Pentax shots: the newest 28-105mm f3.5-5.6 zoom (latest FA - HD version) and the current 100mm f2.8 macro lens. The Pentax only got to play during the first, tech rehearsal because, as a traditional DSLR, it isn't very quiet and the second rehearsal included a "friends and family" audience and a few media guests. Not a good idea to blaze away with an old style mirror thrashing camera if the theatre is trying to be customer focused....

I won't keep you in suspense. While the Pentax and the Lumix would definitely outshine the Fuji at low ISOs and in typical use scenes where dynamic range and overall resolution are crucial, having good lenses for low light is critical for a holistic performance. The X-H1 with the 50-140mm f2.8 was by far the fastest and most assured at autofocusing all the scenes; from bright to stygian. It locked on quickly and, looking through the take from that camera there are NO missed focus shots. The Fuji zooms are bright and sharp, and easy to work with. The capper for me was the ability, during post processing, to insert the Eterna profile into the mix when developing the raw files. It added a much needed boost to the shadows and imparts a very well controlled highlight rendering to the files. Since I was able to shoot at a one stop (at least) advantage over the full frame cameras the noise rendering between all three cameras was more or less a toss up. I'm sure if I had to use all three at ISO 6400 the Lumix would have been the least noisy, followed by the Pentax and then the X-H1 in last place. But I will say that the "difference" between first place and third place would be, at the most, 5-10% different. 

By rationalizing my technique over the three cameras, and by also setting up white balance identically between the three cameras, I was able to use all of the resulting photographs more or less interchangeably. You'd be hard pressed to tell which files came from which camera if you are not cued by the look/character of the lens and the way the backgrounds are rendered. But, again, the difference in f-stops closed that gap somewhat, as well. 

To be quite honest I entered into the test with a small preference for the Lumix s1. I wanted it to win by a wide margin. It's a wonderful hunk of camera with one of the nicest sounding/feeling shutters I have ever experienced. I also had high hopes for it because of the many reviews I've read which lauded the noise performance and dynamic range of the shutter over and over again. And, in a fair test, it may actually be a better sensor than the rest of the 24 megapixel, full frame sensors on the market now. But in the end it all comes down to system performance. In a month or so Panasonic is supposed to introduce their 70-200mm f2.8 zoom and then maybe the entire theater shooting calculus will change and it may be the preferred system. Maybe.

I could say the same things about the Pentax K-1. In this test it was hobbled by lenses that were not optimum for the shooting task. But, surprisingly, the files look quite good. I could rush out and buy the currently available 70-200mm f2.8 for that system and do competent work but I'm not so sure it would be a good long term investment. The noise of the shutter and kinetic mirror already mitigate against the camera for use in the kind of theatrical assignments I find myself and, well, let's just say that system support for Pentax right now is a bit less than transparent. I'd hate to splash out nearly $1,800 for a lens, in a secondary system, which may or may not have continued camera support for full frame.

My takeaway? Familiarity breeds fluidity and control. The X-H1 has one of the softest shutter sounds of any camera I've used and that's important because you can't always default to electronic shutters when shooting under light sources that can cause flicker and uneven illumination of the photographic frames. I've done a good job selecting just the right lenses to make my jobs photographing live theater as perfect as I can get it. 

There are still come challenges to theatrical photography that even the newest and best sensors can't overcome. The difference in light intensity between an actor standing in a bright spot light, and the much less bright accents lights on much darker parts of the set or the background, is too much for any sensor to bridge. Since blown highlights are irrevocably lost the faustian bargain is to expose for the highlights and then try to lift the shadows as much as you can without the resulting noise becoming excessive. One would like to think that a bigger, newer sensor would make child's play of this issue, compared to a smaller sensor, one generation removed, but my "real world" tests show me that the difference in shadow performance is not that great. When comparing all three cameras with a three stop shadow boost I found that all of them started to generate small, white speckles randomly throughout the darkest areas of the images. 

And while we talk about this I want to make sure readers understand that these artifacts are not coming from long exposure noise since all the samples compared were shot somewhere between 1/125th of a second and 1/320th. It's just pure shadow noise. 

I've seen tests from websites that review cameras showing pushes of up to five stops which look much better than the samples I was able to pull from my tests. I can only conjecture that the tests are making full use of additional noise reduction somewhere in the process. After I compared all of the files I too turned to noise reduction techniques offered by Adobe Lightroom in order to deliver a better product to the clients. But it's always a compromise between overall detail and lower noise.... 

I'm sure there are advanced programs that would help me fine tune my noise reduction results but most are not compatible with the big batch processing routines that I normally need to use for quick turnaround of hundreds and hundreds of images. 

That the Fuji camera was right there in the race with the two full frame cameras is interesting; and refreshing. We spend so much of our time accepting what we read on sites that seem authoritative but we never really spend time vetting the information we seem to take for granted. As I said, I headed into this "experiment" with the prejudice of wanting the Lumix camera to be "head and shoulders" better than its two competitors but wasn't the case. 

Sure, if I fine-tuned all of the Lumix camera's advantages and coupled the camera with lenses costing $3,000+ each I am certain that the advantages of the sensor would become more obvious, less clouded by the deficiencies of smaller aperture and lens quality. The same goes for the Pentax camera. But it's nice to see that an optimized APS-C approach to a job can deliver really good, competent and competitive results. And with lenses that are less expensive than the ones I would need for either other system. 

In the end all three cameras have their charms and all three are fun to shoot with. I'm pretty sure that for my live performance work I'll keep using the Fuji cameras, for now. The Panasonic seems like it would be the optimum studio camera but we're working on comparing the s1 to the Pentax K-1 using flash for a studio project today. I have a sinking feeling that the one area in which the Pentax will be a clear winner is in the studio --- because of the direct viewing of the finder. But, having drunk the mirrorless Kool-Aid(tm) I am equally certain that I'll miss stuff like pre-chimp previews with all imaging parameters baked in as well as good face detection AF. But again, that's what the testing is for.