Day of the Dead in Austin. Flailing around with a Lumix S1 and the kit lens, trying to stay out of operational confusion.

It was  perfect day for a parade and festival. Saturday the 26th. Cool in the morning and comfortable by noon when the hour long parade started heading west from IH-35, on Sixth St. I got into downtown just ten minutes before the start of the parade and hadn't done a logistics/parking analysis before I got there. I didn't waste time, I just parked at the Fairmont Hotel and hustled in to the heart of downtown. 

I went in heavy/lite; one camera and one lens, but a bulky combination of Lumix S1 and the overwhelming 24-105mm kit lens. I roamed around and shot stuff at random. I didn't really have much of a plan to my shooting but I did want to get my hands all over this camera and lens and start getting comfortable with it.

Halfway through the afternoon I got a call from a photographer friend who was in town. I took a break to meet him for coffee over at the Hilton Hotel and then headed back to the Fairmont to grab my car. I've been keeping an eye on one homeless guy and his (incredibly great) dog who hang out at Sixth St. and Brazos, and when I checked in with them on Friday I asked if they needed anything. The answer was an umbrella and a warm blanket. I needed to drop those by. 

Since fate provided me with a good, new parking place right in the center of town I finished my delivery and headed back into the afternoon-long festival for the Day of the Dead. Loved the face painting, the altar assemblages and the general warm, happy tenor of the crowds. Everyone was just enjoying a perfect day in Austin.

What did I learn, camera-wise, from my four hours weaving around downtown?  I learned that the Lumix S1 is the heaviest camera I've owned in a while; more so with the 24-105mm f4.0 on the front. I learned that you really have two less than perfect choices when it comes to power management with that camera: You can set the camera to shut down within seconds of removing your eye from the eyepiece, or your finger from the shutter release button, which then requires you to "wake up" your camera every time you want to take a photograph or....you can use it in a more regular mode where the camera eventually goes to sleep but gives you minutes of "ready" time instead of seconds. And if you choose the second option you can have the added excitement of watching the indicator of charge in your battery drain faster than most modern cameras. This, in spite of having an extra big (comparatively) battery. 

I learned that I really like the flexibility of having a wide range of focal lengths at my disposal but that I like even better the restraint and concentration that's a result of just having one focal length at a time to shoot with. Give me a zoom for work. Give me a prime if I'm pretending to do ART.

The camera focuses quickly. I used the AF-C and it worked well. I used the AF-S and it worked even better. A strength of the camera not mentioned before is the way it consistently nails exposure. I had few frames I needed to massage, the exposure was right on the money in a way that allowed me a lot of leeway in post. No blown highlights nothing approaching the dark vacuum of space detail-less black. 

The camera files have a smoothness to them that I like and I'm crediting to the long dynamic range. I used the standard zoom lens mostly at f4.0 so I'm happy with the way the focus falls off in the backgrounds but equally happy when I punch in to 100% and see nice details and well delineated eyelashes. Tossing a bit of shade at the idea that lenses can't be useably sharp wide open....

Still not sure why I bought this camera and have a passion to learn it. Boredom? Grass is greener on the other system? Nostalgia for my Panasonic G9s? Good advertising on the part of Panasonic? The Lure of being able to use Leica lenses on it? I'm not sure I know yet. I'm not sure I'll ever know. But there you are. 

I didn't shoot nearly as much as I usually do but that had less to do with the camera and lens and much more to do with my state of mind yesterday. I worked hard in the pool that morning; we clocked nearly 5,000 yards in our hour and a half. By afternoon I was tired but happy. I think my motivation in going downtown was less to test a camera than it was going down to enjoy the event and just be....outside with people. 

There was a person at the event shooting with a 4x5 view camera.
That takes commitment. More about him in a later post.

Loving the theatrical contact lenses.

No Costume. All spirit.

Lumix does red roses well. 

Leafy Greens.

Did they make Frida Kahlo into a saint when I wasn't paying attention?

The cutest thing I saw all day long. 

What's a parade without spectators?

Love the background. That's nice bokeh. 


Fred said...

Very interesting photos. They made me think of some of the photos that you have taken at the Zack. It looks like it was a fun day. I look forward to hearing about the guy with the view camera.

Frank Grygier said...

Definitely like the images the S1 produces. I'm never sure if it is you or the camera.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Thanks to Frank and to Fred. Loved taking these images. The one of the little girl and the dog in the dress was worth all the shots I took yesterday. So much fun...

Len said...

Isn’t the viewfinder gorgeous. How will ever go back to anything else?

What a lovely day you had... fascinating subjects

Roy Benson said...

Excellent set. One of your best. Thanks for sharing. It ain't the camera/lens, it's the eye.

Roy Benson

Anonymous said...

some of your best pix i believe.... fascinated with your Pan S1 experiences. Though i will save $ and stick to my Sony A7rii, i too LOVE the G9 & am sure I'd love Lumix FF; but not up for the size and prices. Go Kirk!

G. Butler said...

As a G9 owner I'm interested in your thoughts comparing the G9 with the S1.

amolitor said...

I plan to die in Austin. They have the best looking dead people there.

Unknown said...

Surely you meant Hobson's rather than Hobbesian choices? Thomas Hobbes was the philosopher, author of Leviathan, Thomas Hobson was the one who offered a non-choice choice.
Regards, and thank you for an instructive and entertaining blog.

Anthony Bridges said...

I really dig these photos Kirk. Well done.

dinksdad said...

Beautiful photos. I used to think you were going to find the perfect camera and live happily ever after with it, but I see that's not the gestalt here.