11.25.2019

There's a powerful argument to be made that the most effective, minimal system would consist of just on Lumix S1 body and the 24-105mm f4.0 Lumix lens... It's pretty self-contained.

The buying philosophy I seem to adhere to...

Not really an oppressive package to haul around. The kit lens is lighter than it looks. 

Love being able to go from wide (above) to tight (below) without a lens change. 




Nothing really amazing but when I blow stuff up and become a pixel peeper in Photoshop I am impressed by the sharpness and resolution of the 24-105mm lens. Maybe I should have just stopped there?

Some samples from the Sigma 20mm f1.4 Art lens when used on the Panasonic Lumix S1. Nothing very formal. No tripod required.


I've been photographing as a career for decades, have written a number of books about technical aspects of photography and also do it as a hobby. But I'm still trying to learn how to use ultra-wide angle lenses better. I know, we're supposed to put stuff in the foreground, etc. but my brain just doesn't see the logical answers to the visual puzzle with so much going on in the frame. But I bought one of those lenses wide angle lenses anyway. And now I'm trying to learn enough tricks to rationalize working with one. It's by no means my first wide angle but regardless of pedigree or specs the wide view still leaves me cold. Tips always welcome. 

Anyway, here are the wide images I shot on my walk around the lake and through downtown today. Maybe we can salvage something?  It is sharp and I don't see any real issues.... but.....

















Not sure why but Studio Dog sure hates bath time!

I try to get her all dried off after a bath but she prefers to run to this chair and sink into 
the rear cushion for a while. Such a look. All over a twice monthly bath....

I have no idea why she's so averse to a bath. She's generally rolled around in something suspect nearly everyday but I resist the urge to clean her up unless she smells badly or the CFO or Junior creative director suggest that "now would be a good time."  Why this chore/privilege never falls to one of them continues to mystify me, even after 11 years of tenure with America's smartest and best canine (although I am certain that yours is very, very close behind...). 

We use the finest dog shampoo. Her bath water is precisely regulated for temperature, alkalinity and softness. Her Turkish bath towels are ultimately absorbent yet soft as a puppy's tongue. I turn up the heat in the house to 74 degrees. I try to schedule baths on warm afternoons, and yet, nothing seems to mollify her. She hides before the bath and then rampages up and down the long hallway for a while afterwards until finally settling down, grudgingly accepting a treat, and then spending the rest of the day vacillating between looking haughty and outraged or waif-ish and victimized. 

Doesn't matter. If the CFO says, "bathe the dog!" the dog gets bathed. I wonder who handles this when I'm out of town on a job?



So, What ended up in the camera bag (metaphorically speaking) when the dust settled?


Engagement scene from "Christmas Carol" at Zach Theatre.

If you've read the last two blog posts you've discovered that I capriciously purged all of my cameras and lenses, accumulated over the years, and replaced them with the new Lumix S system from Panasonic. By way of disclosure: I don't know anyone at Panasonic. I am not being paid or entertained or junketed by them, their agents or affiliates. I paid for the new gear in the most old fashioned way possible, at retail, at a local, bricks-and-mortar camera store, and for the full asking price. I did ask for a discount but was gently rebuffed.

I am not an Ambassador, a Visionary (although I reserve the right to think of myself as a visionary) Explorer of the Light or a professional hanger on of any sort. Nor am I enough of an influencer to qualify for open ended equipment "loans." Just a lone, professional photographer trying to hammer out a meek and meager existence taking photographs... That's enough legal mumbo-jumbo, now on to the fun stuff...

What's spread across the office desk in the aftermath of the cathartic gear recharge? (I already know the floor is cluttered with boxes and manuals, I've been "instructed" by the CFO to "neaten up the space...).

There are two Lumix S1 cameras, both upgraded with the V-Log firmware. I bought these as a pair because twenty years of shooting theater and event photos informs me that the most productive way to shoot time sensitive events is with a wide to standard zoom lens on one body and a standard to telephoto zoom on the other. Match the bodies for less post production color grading, and less operational resistance caused by having to know the different procedures and different menus in two different models or system cameras. 

There is one S1R camera (the 47 megapixel model) to satisfy my current idea of returning to the avid making of portraits in a cropped, square format. Mostly in black and white. The rampant, extra pixels give me the leeway to crop and still end up with a big, juicy file to play with. I'm currently trying to get my black and white look locked down just right but that's going to take some time and experimenting (which is part of the fun, not a "con.").

That's it for camera bodies. I did buy one battery grip for those times when you end up shooting all day and don't want to stop to change batteries. I also bought four extra batteries for... you know... just in case. 

Both the "video" bodies have a big V90 SD card in the top slot and a big XQD card in the bottom slot. They are fully ready for our first new video project!

The "big" camera (they are all the same camera body, I mean the one with the extra pixels...) just has two 128 Gb V90 SD cards in its slots. 

That's it for "real" cameras in the studio. It's the lowest number of cameras I have owned since starting in photography over forty five years ago. I'm cheating though; I still have a Canon G10 camera that I use when I need something small, light and retro but can't find my phone....

I've kept the lenses pretty simple as well. I have the three original Panasonic Lumix S lenses: the 24-105mm f4.0 (which I think every owner should have = it's pretty great) as well as the 70-200mm f4.0 Pro S lens (yes, it says, "Leica Certified" on the bottom of the lens barrel) and the ponderous but beautiful 50mm f1.4 Pro S.  I have supplemented these lenses with a few more lenses from Sigma's L-mount Art line. Just two. The 20mm f1.4 (for those times when I still imagine myself to be a generalist who will need to document the inside of someone's new office building or water treatment plant) and the 85mm f1.4 because it's probably the best portrait lens in the world and, according to ALL reviews, is better and higher performing than the Zeiss Otus 85mm, at about one quarter the price. I've already used it for several portraits and it delivers as advertised. ( it is the gateway lens for Sigma; if one is willing to take up a power lifting regimen to prepare for using the lens off tripod...). 

The final two lenses for the system are rather pedestrian but vital. The important one, at least for me, is the Sigma 45mm f2.8 "normal" lens which is one of the few L-mount lenses available that allows the S1 cameras to pose as "walk-around" cameras. The lens is small, light and more than sharp enough and it makes the whole package of camera and lens manageable for walks that last hours at a time. A perfect counterpoint to the 85mm f1.4 which might be the least "walk friendly" lens I've owned (outside of huge, fast lenses like the Nikon 300mm f2.8 I used to take to swim meets...). 

The final "arrow in the quiver" is the old (from the film days) 50mm f1.7 Contax lens that I use on the new cameras courtesy an L-mount to Contax Y/C adapter. It also makes the system package manageable for ambulation while delivering, at all rational apertures, a very nice image. Since I already owned the lens it's basically a free, normal back up for those times when I irrationally crave getting my hands all over the focusing ring and aperture ring.... Plus it's a reminder that even back in the film days much of the technology of imaging was already quite good. 

Finish off with a TTL proficient speedlight from Godox and that's the entirety of the system. Nothing wildly long, nothing too wide. Just a bunch of tried and true focal lengths backed up with some state of the art optical design work. And three bodies that work the way I like them to. 

We'll see how long I can keep the desire to add more lenses at bay. I give it about a month and a half. But I'll tell you right now, if a prosumer body with a lower price tag and lighter weight gets announced I reserve the right to pounce on it. 

So, when you add it all up it's not an outrageous amount of cameras and lenses. Just the right amount for work, and put together this time with more of an eye to some studio work and more thoughtful work from a big tripod. 

Just thought you'd want to know what's in-house. This is the first week of the new adventure. 

Also; re-launching the entire business. But that's another story. 

It's a beautiful day for a walk in Austin. I'm cancelling a meeting and putting on my walking shoes. Real life can wait.