Yesterday I wrote about a Sigma lens; today we've got something totally different: The Meike 25mm T2.2 Cine lens. WHAT??

A used Meike 25mm cinema lens on a Panasonic GX8. 
On a wall in front of Zach Theatre.

Sometimes lens bargains come in pairs. I left the house Sunday with the intention of picking up this Meike cinema lens that I saw on the used shelf at the camera store and the Sigma 16mm f1.4 lens just seemed to follow us home like a lost puppy. That's okay. We've got lots of room here...

Do you remember a few years back when a company called "Veydra" made a small splash in the hybrid production market (video+photo gear) with a line of cinema lenses that were intended for APS-C, and smaller sensor cameras? They got some good press and everyone I know who bought one, or two, or the full set had nothing but good things to say about them. The only hesitation people had in buying them was the fact that they didn't cover a full 35mm sensor format at a time when people were single-mindedly pursuing full frame. They are also only available for mirrorless cameras. Like the m4:3.

The lenses were actually designed for film and video and were not just re-badged and re-mounted still photography lenses like most of the inexpensive Rokinon Cine lens line. The Veydras were more complex optical designs which used industry standard gearing for focus follow equipment, were optically computed to minimze focus breathing, and were capable of focusing nice and close. The de-clicked aperture rings were smooth as butter and the focusing ring (manual only) had a nice big throw of 270 degrees which made for smoother and more accurate focus pulling in video. I was interested in trying the Veydras out but could never justify splashing out the cash for a new one; especially since I usually find myself drowning in a sea of other lenses around here. 

The Veydra line is no longer at B&H and when you search for it on Amazon.com the website takes you directly to the Meike line of cinema lenses which look to be identical (except for logos and graphics). It looks like Meike and Veydra either shared a common supplier or that Meike was the OEM for Veydra. Now that Veydra stuff has disappeared from retail channels it seems that Meike is offering largely the same line of lenses at about half the price. 

When I found a used copy of the Meike 25mm T2.2 at Precision Camera here in Austin I negotiated a nice, low price ($269) and whisked it off their shelves and into my camera bag (metaphorically). 

Right off the bat I'll say that it's the worst sports and follow small children as they run around the yard lens that you'll even use. Why? Because it's fully manual, there's no electronic correspondence with your camera, there are no click stops for aperture, and the incredibly wide/long throw of the focus ring would make quick focusing for sports a stand up comic's new material...if audiences knew anything about focus ring throw. 

But, for a careful photographic worker who makes photographs of things that don't move much, like people, art, street scenes, buildings, signage, landscapes and well rehearsed film making, the lens makes a lot of sense and delivers really nice results. The optical formula includes ten elements in eight groups and is nicely corrected and sharp even at its widest aperture and closest focusing distance of 9.8 inches. 

There is a filter ring at the front of the lens and it takes a 77mm filter. Nice for me since I just bought a set of individual ND filters, extra polarizing filters and a variable ND for the Panasonic 24-105mm f4.0 lens for the S1 system. It also takes a 77mm filter. The Meike lens I bought is made for the m4:3 lens mount but it's available in most of the mirrorless mounts and covers up to an APS-C format sensor. 

The lens seems to be very well made and is dense and all metal. The rings all turn wonderfully and are well damped. I'm happy to add this lens to my collection and anticipate getting much use from it, in conjunction with the Panasonic G9, for making fun, personal video movies. Even though I keep attempting to love all things wider angle my vision seems irrevocably stuck at a 50mm equivalent so in buying this lens I convinced myself that I continue leaning into my strengths. 

I must say that when it comes to film making I'm out of sync with current styles. Most of my director and camera op friends are hell bent on figuring out how to keep the camera constantly moving. It's either on a slider or mounted on a gimbal and the camera is flying all over the place. I like stationary cameras that follow the action from their anchor point on a nice tripod. 

I think the movie that made the biggest technical impression on me in the last 20 years was Jim Jarmusch's little movie, "Stranger than Paradise." He set up a stationary camera and the scenes unfolded in front of it. When the scene is done the camera cuts and moves to the next set. It doesn't move during most of the scenes. I like it. It's a less confusing and kinetic way of telling a story. We'll see how my vision evolves when impacted by reality. 

Which is a nice side point to make right now. All the projects I'm working on a have an initial audience of one. That's me. I don't have the responsibility of "bending" my way of seeing to accommodate the different viewpoint of a client. I guess that's good and bad. Since I'm not currently motivated to move quickly on anything. 

At any rate I used this lens on a Panasonic GX8 today to make images so you can see the way the lens handles stuff for yourself. The GX8 doesn't make as pretty Jpeg files as the G9 but when I shoot in raw it really doesn't matter. So I did. Enjoy. 

By the way...I'm loving that articulating EVF. It's wonderful.

Near the close focusing distance of 9.8 inches. At f4.0.

Focused on the second stud from the bottom. At f5.6. Very sharp!

These images are from a protest at the state capitol. Attended by 50 or 60 people.
They are protesting the re-closing of bars and clubs in Austin. They think the 
government has "over-reached." I nodded as I listened and laughed and then cried 
all the way back to my car. Still trying to wrap my head around serving 
people alcohol in a Sixth St. bar as an essential service. 

But the group was very peaceful and very polite. I appreciated that. 

Souped up with a different look from Luminar 4.0

I do have to agree that our governor, Greg Abbott, is not a good steward for the state.

Another day wasted testing gear and then writing about it. 

That's what happens when all the swim workouts are over by 8 a.m.

The Saharan Dust is still everywhere in Austin. That's why the usually brilliant skies look 
so glum. Hope you are doing well wherever you happen to be. And if you are in 
Europe and have been cleaning and preparing for my visit I'm sorry to say that
we'll probably not see each other in person till sometime in 2021.

In the meantime we can stay in touch via the comments. Please leave one. 


Portrait on a maintenance bridge. Using small format cameras for big projects. 2018.

Panasonic G9 + Olympus 12-100mm Pro.

I got tired of posting graffiti and buildings and coffee so I'm starting to reach back to recent projects that featured actual people. This from a shoot in North Carolina that we did back in 2018. The client is a large, national infrastructure construction company. They make stuff like dams and lakes. This is from a quiet shoot early in the morning.

On Assignment in North Carolina with a Panasonic G9 and the Olympus 12-100mm. Right place/right time; 2018.

When I come across photos we took on assignment and in Iceland in 2018 I wonder why I ever sold off my first set of G9s. I'm glad I bought another one...

Now, about that lens....

The announcement by Olympus of their divestiture of their camera division seems to have stirred up my appreciation of the M4:3rds format and its gear. This comes at a cost...

Lumix GX8 with the Sigma Contemporary 16mm f1.4 DC DN for m4:3.

I've had an on again, off again love affair with the mirrorless, m4:3 cameras since I bought an Olympus EP-2 with its clever, detachable EVF, back in late 2009. My original rationale for buying that camera was to experiment using vintage Olympus Pen F film lenses on a digital camera. It was, for the most part, a successful and fun adventure. If I was always only a devoted amateur/lover of photography instead of someone splitting my attention between the "pleasure of" and the "business of" photography I'm fairly sure I would have dug into the m4:3 systems only, and stayed there. It's a system that checks nearly all the boxes I'd be interested in if I shot photographs only because of my own passion for the art. 

But like most insecure commercial photographers I vacillated between believing the system was enough and wanting to hedge my bets with clients by showing up with bigger format equipment. Over the past twelve years I've bought into m4:3 systems, with the intention of using them for everything, at least five times, only to retreat the instant a goose-y client questioned whether full frame might be...better. 

But my appreciation for the jewel-like cameras that Olympus kept introducing, and the sheer usability and wide ranging prowess of Panasonic's cameras, stays with me throughout. 

Before the Olympus announcement I was at Precision Camera buying a tilt base for a video head I was putting on top of a big, Benro tripod. Reflexively, I looked through their collection of used gear, concentrating on the m4:3 stuff to see if there was anything that was absolutely irresistible. I found one lens that was interesting but decided the money might be better spent elsewhere. I found the tilt base, bought it and moved on. Until yesterday. 

Boredom will bankrupt us all... I finished all my domestic chores and was hesitant to leave the house and studio because of the air quality warnings about the Saharan Dust storm. After lunch I gave in to the relentless ennui, grabbed a handful of face masks, and headed off to take a quick stroll through the camera store. You know, just to see what's new. 

In the Olympus/Panasonic used case I came across a couple of the Olympus 25mm f1.2 Pro lenses, one of the 45mm Pros, and one of the 17mms. All in nice condition but none seemed to tweak my desire gland in the moment. I searched around a bit more and came across a lens that was counter-intuitive for me. It's the Sigma Contemporary 16mm f1.4, DC DN with an m4:3 mount. It's a lens that's usually in high demand and sometimes out of stock but I'd never thought of owning it because it's a bit wide and the focal length is also covered by my Leica/Panasonic 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 zoom lens.

This particular lens is in really good condition and I decided to negotiate a bit and see if I could take it off their hands at a better price than what they marked on the attached price tag. I imagined that it might be fun to play with. I might even train myself to like a lens closer to 30-35mm as much as my usual 50mm range. The tipping point spec was the fast max. aperture... and a number of very solid reviews.

I took the lens home with me, put it on my GX8 body and headed to Zilker Park for a lone walk through the trees. I'm trying to be careful to always wear a mask now, even when outdoors and socially distancing because I do want to model ethical behavior for all those other people... But, damn! It's hotter walking in high heat and humidity with your mouth and nose covered. The sacrifices we make to test out new lenses... (being sarcastic as I know the mask is good and walking through the park, testing a lens is not an essential duty!)

I like this lens very much. It focuses closer than I expected and once you find out the sweet spot for the aperture it's insanely sharp and contrasty. Wide open the center is sharp enough and and I don't care about the far edges and corners. F2.8 is the optimum setting for me. It's the point where the center section of the image becomes wildly sharp and contrasty while the far edges have become "good" to "excellent." If your image absolutely MUST be sharp across the frame then the best compromise is probably f5.6 which gives you slightly lower performance in the central quadrant but brings up the edge and corner sharpness and contrast firmly into the excellent zone. 

For walking around outside I stuck with f3.5 and found it a perfect combination of overall image quality bundled with enough depth of field for the kind of photographs I'd normally take with a lens with this angle of view. I presume that once you get past f8.0 you'll start seeing more and more sharpness robbing diffraction so I don't even bother to play around with the smaller apertures. 

While the lens is big on the GX8 it's not too heavy and doesn't feel like it's out of balance or overly weighted to the front. At $265 for a mint-y example I think it's a nice addition to my little collection of m4:3 cameras and lenses. I'm itching to try it for environmental portraits in lower light. Ah, the promise of the future.

I am impressed by just about every lens from Sigma's Contemporary and Art lines. This one is no different. In a pinch it's competent used wide open and, when you suss out its strengths, it's a very, very nice lens at smaller apertures (up to f5.6). I think I'll keep this one. 

Here are some "FIRST DAY SAMPLES!!!!!!!" More to come soon. 

I always thought a 50mm equivalent lens would be my favorite on a GX8 or G9 but I'm slowly (very slowly) coming around to the wider perspective. Curious to take a casual poll of VSL readers: What's your favorite single focal length for m4:3? Let me know in the comments. 

Have a great and non-dusty day. KT

The city of Austin is limiting attendance to the pools. At Barton Springs Pool you have to make an online reservation days in advance to sign up for a two hour slot during the day. When you arrive for your swim they do the public health questioning (have you been out of the country? Do you know if anyone in your household has tested positive? etc.) and they use a I.R. thermometer to take your temperature. You also need to wear a mask any time you are not in the water....

As a result, there's hardly anyone in the 1/8th mile long pool. 

The picnic table where I go to write notes in my little notebook. 
Sometimes the notes grow into blog posts. Sometimes into books, 
but mostly into pieces of scrap paper with which to wrap up used chewing
gum before tossing into the trash.

No health checks at the spillway just to the N.E. of the Barton Springs Pool. 
It's jammed with people, none of whom are masked...


We came for the Corona Virus. We stayed for the Saharan Dust Cloud. Some much fun in Austin right now....NOT.

The last of the blue skies for days....

That movie, "A Perfect Storm" seems to have had one of the most prescient titles. The whole point of the movie is about when everything goes wrong at once --- making everything worse. 

Austin, and Travis County are now among the four areas in the state of Texas that are experiencing explosive, near exponential increases in Covid-19 cases this week. Seems we opened up the bars and dens of iniquity way too early which sent a signal to everyone under 50 years old that we've entered the "ALL CLEAR" period of the pandemic which would allow them to sit inches away from each other, guzzling down White Claw and tequila while shouting in each other's faces to be heard over the loud music. Now they're all coming down with nasty symptoms and positive tests... So much for flattening the curve.

I think the "careful re-opening" was all a secret I.Q. test and I hope we get a prize for being in the group that kept our masks on outside our homes, made infrequent, quick and careful runs for groceries and spent the rest of the time either writing photo blogs or reading books. 

Of course, spending time at home or in my private and secluded office means more time to watch on the web as the U.S. economy continues to collapse and to listen to commentators discuss what might happen when all the unemployment money starts running out. Or when the evictions of renters will begin. Which can't be good for my mental health. 

So, on top of all this we're being visited by a giant, miles thick cloud of dust that's blown over from storms across the Saharan Desert. According to my local weather service we're experiencing very unhealthy air quality --- right now. The air quality index is normally 10 here in Austin. It's why we're usually outside running and swimming and taking deep breaths. Right now the air quality index stands at 166 and the advisories are warning people at risk of respiratory problems not to leave their homes, and for the rest of us to limit/curtail our outdoor activities. Bummer. 

The ominous cloud presence been here since yesterday (Friday the 26th) and should be hanging around tormenting us until past Wednesday. I probably won't go to swim practice tomorrow morning since I think the tiny particulates being sucked into my lungs will probably offset any aerobic benefit. Hoping by Tuesday that we have some relief...

The crappy (or good) thing about this particular hardship is that there is no one in government or on the other side of the political divide that can be blamed. Ah, the dust storm that united us...

I've got electrostatic filters and HEPA filters in the A/C system and I'm wearing a mask while I'm sitting here typing in my less rigorously pollution-controlled office. Can't remember if dust storms call for drinking more red wine or more white wine, or just defaulting to that bottle of Ben Milam Whiskey in the pantry...

One thing I've figured out though is that this is not the time to take a long stroll with an expensive and adored camera and lens. Dust is probably the second most pernicious thing for photo gear. I think I'll give all the optical stuff the week off and let them sit in their dust free storage areas. It's the least I can do for good gear. 

Reminds me of Biblical stories. Book of Job anyone?

Just a housekeeping note: I added more writing to today's earlier blog post about the future of Micro 4:3. Circle back and see for yourself.

Here's the link: https://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2020/06/panasonic-continues-on-with-micro-four.html

Panasonic continues on with micro four thirds. Why? And for how long? Note that all predictions based on "data-free" research are suspect....

Panasonic Lumix G9. Ready to photograph or make video with its 12-60mm Pana/Leica lens and a Zomei variable neutral density filter. Don't count m4:3 out just yet. Now it's a one horse race....

Right off the bat I should mention that I don't research Japanese business websites or magazines and I'm not privy at all to the private conversations of camera makers. This is all just off hand prediction larded with some wishful thinking --- but I would be sad if the m4:3 format got abandoned altogether. It's got a lot on the plus side of the ledger, not least of which is the portability and the deep selection of lenses that work on it.

Reading across the web and especially over at Bythom.com the consensus seems to be that Olympus might survive in some form but it won't be anything that we've been accustomed to. The worst case scenario is that the venerable camera company is spun off and a new generation of Japanese vulture capitalists pick through the carcass and sell off the parts (patents?) that will generate the best return. Thom Hogan suspects that the new owners will preserve some sort of down market camera presence mostly for the Japanese home market and geographically adjacent markets but that the products will be mostly one step up from point and shoot models, at least in terms of functionality and appeal.

Many Olympus owners and users, myself included, are seeing this announcement of Olympus's divestment of the camera division as an apocalyptic moment.

While I am disappointed that I won't continue to have as wide a range of choices I am taking much consolation in the fact that, for now, Panasonic will continue to be widely available and, if press chatter from the company recently is believable, very committed to continue innovating and producing cameras and lenses in the m4:3 space alongside their full frame, S1 line of cameras and lenses.

I've been a user of the smaller sensor, m4:3 cameras since their introduction and have owned a wide selection of both Panasonic and Olympus cameras and lenses. But in recent years, especially since Panasonic got their color science figured out in the G9 and later cameras, I've consistently voted with my dollars in the Panasonic camp; at least when it comes to bodies. Here's why:

I find the larger body size of cameras like the GH5 and the G9 to be easier to handle and operate while being better balanced for use with longer lenses. I suspect that this is one of the biggest difference in the selection process between the two companies offerings. Olympus muddied the waters with the EM-1X but that came so late in the game it wasn't a tipping point consideration for most of us who already invested one way or the other. The feeling of a camera in one's hands is one of the most subjective appraisals in selecting a camera model but perhaps one of the most important.

While I owned pre- m4:3 Olympus 4:3 cameras as well as just about every generation their mirrorless cameras I have to say that I've never experienced worse menus. Reviewers and all but the most rabid fans have begged Olympus for nearly a decade to fix their menus but to no avail. Yes, yes, I know that once you've sat down with a slide rule, the Rosetta Stone and a hieroglyphic translator you might, for a fleeting moment, gain enough insight to quickly set up a SCP (super control panel?) selection of settings which might prevent having to make too many more journeys into the writhing and labyrinth, deeper menus to find a special setting.... But life is too short and as I grow older I find my tolerance for having to continually decipher information from a poorly assembled series of illogical menus frustrating. "Over my shoulder I do hear times winged chariot drawing near...."

While the Panasonic menus are not perfect they do offer a straightforward and understandable journey.
To be clear, I was able to effectively use my Olympus cameras  in spite of their menus. Once you have your finger on the shutter release it doesn't matter as much...

The other avenue that pushed me to prefer spending money on the Lumix/Panasonic cameras over the Olympus cameras is Panasonic's dogged and effective pursuit of all things video. The GH4, GH5, GH5S and now the G9 have all been exemplary video cameras for me. In fact, my recent re-purchase of the G9 was specifically to serve as a quick to shoot and highly reliable video camera solution after I donated the FZ2500 I'd been using for the same purpose to the theater.

My belief is that this concentration on video is what will provide a bit more longevity in the format for Panasonic. Unlike photographers videographers aren't always pursuing ever increasing sensor resolution or super thin depth of field. Their priorities are about keeping the images in focus and having enough depth of field to cover whole scenes instead of individual subjects. The m4:3 cameras represent a great entry point for new filmmakers but the Panasonic cameras also deliver a level of video quality and control that can be used well by much more advanced users. System buyers should be able to use their cameras well beyond their neophyte years and still get sellable, credible results. And, with 4K video any resolution beyond 8 megapixels on the sensor is irrelevant.

Panasonic has also taken pains in their cameras targeted to semi-pro video users to provide not only a good image but also good sound and the ability to plug in both headphones and microphones. When I used the Olympus EM-5ii cameras for a restaurant video we selected them for two reasons: 1. the really nice 1080p files (color, low noise, great tonality) and, 2. for their incredible image stabilization, even when using older, legacy, manual focus lenses. But we were less impressed that we had to buy and add a battery grip to each body in order to add a headphone jack.

When I recommend hybrid cameras to younger artists who want both a good video and photo solution the G9 is always my first choice. It's a great blend of beautiful color and great video capability in an affordable package.

But....while I may not miss the Olympus bodies I will definitely miss their lenses. It's funny; when I went to Iceland in Fall of 2018 I took along two G9 bodies (shooting just photographs) and a collection of lenses but my "go-to" lens was (by a massive margin) the Olympus 12-100mm Pro series lens. Just phenomenal. Even better than the Leica badged Panasonic Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4 I have now.

In the same time period, when I used the G9s to successfully shoot stage shows at Zach Theatre my "perfect" lens for that application was (again, by a massive margin) the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 lens. And the images from that combination still stand up well to all the full format cameras and lenses I've pressed into the same applications...

While I'm reticent to spend too much money in the middle of what might be a year long adventure without income I do have a strong desire to try the Olympus 25mm f1.2 Pro lens because I can only imagine how great it might be. That one and the 45mm Pro. I'll be looking for them before the market dries up.

So, for now I count all of us in the m4:3 camp as lucky. While my friends who are Olympus camera users will no doubt be miffed by the turn of events they will also be consoled by the fact that Panasonic has finally gotten to the point where their cameras are close to the Oly cameras for color science and, in the latest generation, the image stabilization is 95-98% as good. Far better than the I.S. in larger format systems.

Yes, it's true that it might be hard to find replacement Olympus bodies in the future but being able to keep the lenses you own and not have your investment be orphaned is comforting.

I think there are a number of reasons still to have m4:3 cameras and lenses even in this age of full frame market dominance. They create files that have a different look and feel to them that works in many applications. They are great travel cameras. There are great video cameras in the system and the reach-for-the-size-and-weight ratio is unmatched at the telephoto end.

Were Olympus the sole maker of their camera mount and lens mount last week's new would have been traumatic for users. But with an open standard and a strong competitor in the system it's best to look on the bright side and continue to enjoy what we have.

Just a thought as I played around with a G9 over coffee this morning. I see some fun lens shopping in my very near future. Now scrounging through the couch pillows for lost change.....

Added: I forgot to talk about why Panasonic might want to persevere with the m4:3rds cameras even after having launched the full frame S system.  Here goes: 

Panasonic has had quite a few successes in the m4:3rds space. Their stated rationale for continuing on with the format was to be able to offer photographers a choice of tools, depending on their use. I think they see the bigger, heavier, full frame cameras as working tools for more traditional photographers for whom heavy cameras are just a small part of the overall equipment package for assignment work.

If one is already transporting light stands, lights, modifiers, props, assistants and wardrobe then the added weight of a larger camera system is really not felt. Most working professionals and serious, serious hobbyists are more inclined to say that "ultimate image quality" is their most important consideration.

While I have the bigger cameras because I want to provide commercial clients with great results I also know that for most of what we do for clients all the major formats (all the way down to 1 inch sensor cameras) will provide high quality photographs, when used correctly. The larger formats and higher resolutions provide me with an iron clad argument, to picky clients, that I have fulfilled and exceeded the unwritten standards of the industry, from a technical point of view, even if their projects are not all as demanding as they might think. Still, the larger camera sensors take away points of hesitation and friction.

But Panasonic stated in an interview with editors at DPReview.com that they are intent on keeping the micro four thirds camera line specifically for all the times when portability and handling take precedent over that last 5% or so of image quality. One might have the big cameras for the kind of day-to-day advertising work we do while also maintaining the smaller, lighter system to press into service on all those budget jobs that require one to: a) work without assistants. Which means carrying everything myself. b) work on multiple, remote locations which requires packing down cameras and lenses to fit on even the smallest regional jets without having to check the valuable gear. Which means a complete system in a small backpack that fits under the seat in front of me! c) For location work like the projects I did in the Everglades and in the California wildfire areas back in 2018 which required high mobility and the ability to carry all the needed in a backpack while walking for miles in oppressive heat and humidity.

I think the real value of these smaller, high image quality systems is in being able to make wonderful and fully competitive images in most conditions, where making prints of up to 13 by 19 inches shows no real advantage for full frame, while being portable enough to take almost anywhere.

When I selected cameras for the trip to Iceland I wanted tools that were sturdy, reliable, weather resistant and which would give me a wide range of focal lengths in a small package. My entire kit with two bodies and four lenses, plus extra batteries fit into one smaller photo backpack and was manageable even in driving rain and snow. All the while a lens like the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 gave me a hand holdable full frame equivalent of 24-200mm which also delivered great (in lens) image stabilization. This meant no lens changes needed for almost everything I shot. My working method was to use the 12-100mm one one body and the Panasonic 8-18mm lens on a second body. Since both bodies were identical everything was interchangeable. Which is exactly what you want in a back-up body.

Finally, I think Panasonic will continue on for the foreseeable future with m4:3 because they've established a great reputation and good marketplace for smaller cameras that offer incredibly good 4K video which, in some vital respects, out performs the larger and more expensive cameras. They were first to market with workable and high quality 60fps 4K while the smaller sensors add two valuable performance benefits: Much better heat handling in video (longer run times, less noise, longer life) and also better image stabilization performance than is currently available in even the best FF cameras when performing video.

An afterthought: Panasonic stayed in the market along with a good competitor who produced great products. They split the market for small sensor/mirrorless cameras while sharing an open lens mount standard between them. With Olympus exiting the area they now inherit potentially the entire other half of the m4:3 market. They will have gone from a marketplace that was tough and so competitive that it was hard for either entity to make a big (or any) profit to a point where they will have no direct competitor in their market niche. And enviable position to find oneself in and one that's ripe for maximization.

If Panasonic's marketers were savvy then the minute the transaction with Olympus and NewCo goes through they should reiterate their key value propositions, re-state their m4:3 features and benefits and start a full court press on the advantages of the smaller, highly capable and decidedly less expensive system. They have a fan base. They should spend some time and $$$ exploiting it and locking it in.

Just a thought.


Kirk Changes Camera Systems (AGAIN!!!) but without selling anything off. "You mean this is actually a mobile telephone too?"

Another day with an empty downtown. Might be the safest place to 
walk in all of Austin, Texas. 

On Wednesday I found out about the Adobe "Photo Shop Camera" app for the iPhone and downloaded it. I played around with the goofy filters and posted a few things to Instagram and then I got tired of it. But yesterday, when I decided to go for a walk I thought long and hard about cameras I could bring along. 

I had just downloaded the firmware update for the Sigma fp so that might have been a logical choice there hasn't been enough time to play with the new upgrades so I took that one off the list. I'd been mulling over trying out the video in the G9 now that its firmware has also been updated so I took that camera, along with the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm lens and a variable neutral density filter. My brain designated that camera as a "video" camera so when I got to the bridge there was some inertia that led me to hesitate putting it back into "photo" mode just to get a quick shot of downtown. A shot I've made many times before. 

Instead I just grabbed my iPhone. It's an XR. It has one lens. And it's a wide angle one at that. But it's quick and easy to use and the automatic HDR capabilities are really great. The XR makes sunlit landscape shots that have wonderful tones and colors. And they never get too contrasty. But I do want to emphasize that these were all done with the native "Photo" app and to the new Adobe one. 

After I took and evaluated my first shot (above) I was hooked. The G9 hung by my side for the rest of the early evening walk and I embraced the XR as my sole photography device for the rest of the time. 
It was the right day/time for it; the clouds were being dramatic and expressive and I preferred to break the shooting into two distinct parts. I would select the subjects and compositions and I would let the camera do all the grunt work of getting exposure, color balance and focus right. A nice division of labor. 

When I got home I looked at all the photos on the phone and started pulling them, mostly untouched by the heavy hands of post production, into this blog post. Now that I've seen for myself how good the camera in the XR is I'm using it more and more when I need wide/fast shots, and when the end product will be shared on the web. It's easier to get the right tonal balance with contrasty landscapes than it is with a conventional camera like the G9 or S1, mostly because I would have to spend time and energy trying to get everything just right after the shoot. With the iPhone I can just depend on the results of a couple hundred scientists with Phd.'s working their butts off at Apple to make just the right algorithms and machine brainiac-ism to make sure the little machine gets a higher hit ratio than I would. 

So, in a sense, I've done my instant conversion to a new system. My phone. But in this case no other cameras were sold off and nothing new was purchased. In fact, the total cost was the half hour I finally spent figuring out the camera software on the phone. But be forewarned, I will be diving into the latest and most advanced iPhone I can find as soon as it is announced and available. These cameras are great. 

And the black and white conversions are......perfect. 

Masked for the walk in open air. Trader Joe's Grapefruit and Lemon spray hand sanitizer in my pocket. 

"Bat" bridge in the background...

Blog Note: Please don't advise me that a Samsung or Google phone has a better camera. I won't believe that Fake News and I've drunk so much of the Apple Kool-Aide that all my dress shirts are stained and my teeth are Apple colored.