The Ritual of Checking Out Each New Camera Body. This Time a Lumix S1R.

I bought an "open box" camera from B&H Photo/Video last week and it arrived on Tuesday (a day before it was scheduled). But I had stuff to do on Tuesday, like painting a fence, so I didn't have time to put the camera through its paces. By Thursday I'd carved out some free time and decided to take the camera and the 50mm S Pro lens to the Blanton Museum to test. I shot a few frames in the studio to make sure there were no gross problems with the camera before I headed out. So, my first test shot is of a flash and its umbrella taken in the studio. My focus was on the product logo on the side of the flash and, when blown up to 1:1 the lettering is sharp and pretty much noise free. It was shot with the lens at its widest aperture.

Seeing no obvious defects I moved on to the museum and shot there under available light and also at f 1.4. While you won't be able to see it on the blog because of compression and file size reduction, in the image below I can zoom in to 1:1 with the full 47.5 megapixel frame and clearly see the texture/weave of the woman's sweater in the adjacent gallery. It's a very impressive performance. 

I spent the better part of the afternoon inside and outside the museum making images. I looked for any defects or dirt on the sensor. I shot sky images at f11 as that's a surefire way to show up dust spots, if they exist. And I shot white walls with the lens wide open to see how much vignetting the camera and lens combination would produce. When shot in Jpeg or converted via Lightroom software takes care of vignetting for the most part. 

Testing cameras is important. You need to know if there are any faults or glitches before you show up for a paying job and only discover some glaring fault after the fact. Part of that testing is also involves just cycling through hundreds of frames to see if you can elicit any untoward camera behavior that might indicated an intermittent problem with a particular unit. 

After shooting the newest arrival, Lumix S1R on both Thursday and then again today I feel confident that I got a good copy. There's no dirt, no focus inaccuracies with the three lenses I tested in conjunction with the camera, and there were no shutdowns or needed reboots. 

I wondered why B&H would sell a like new, current camera, sealed in the original box, for about half the retail price or MAP price (Minimum Advertised Price) of this camera. I asked friends who had been in the camera sales business and all declined to make a public guess but the various presumptions were that it may be a way to skirt MAP pricing for a short term, Prime the Pump promotion. The promotion may have been made necessary because the store misjudged the sales potential of the camera and ordered too many, or they were given all, or the majority of, the factory reburbished units to date and nudged to get them on the market to help spur sales of the system lenses and accessories. 

Most of the people who e-mailed me to discuss their purchases of the same camera from the same dealer via this open box special had pretty much the same story: the camera came quickly. It was sealed in the original (and very nice) presentation box. They were offered a rebate in the form of a warranty extension from one year to four years by the manufacturer. I don't understand retail deeply enough to make any sort of definitive guess but I can say that I feel I was well served by the open box sale and the cost savings. Putting the camera through its paces assuaged any hesitation I may have felt about the provenance of the unit. 

But my field tests are not limited only to used or "open box" camera purchases. Everything that comes into the studio is suspect until we've gotten through the first 500 or so exposures. Most electronic devices will either fail very early on or at the very end of a long cycle. My gut feeling is that most cameras that are perfect for the first 500 to 1,000 shots are generally going to be fine right up until you hit some sort of astronomical shutter count, or until the camera has spent many, many months riding on the floorboard of your work pickup truck as you bounce around on ranch roads and occasionally brush the dust and mud off the camera's exterior. 

As a general rule I handle my cameras like precision tools that are inherently delicate. Why? Because I want them always to work and I want them to look more or less pristine when the time comes to sell them or trade them in. 

If you happen to know why "open box" and "white box" sales happen can you let me know? This is  actually the second time I've bought an "open box" product. The first was a Nikon 24-120mm G lens a few years ago. It was perfect and worked well. It's all a mystery to me....

I knew of Lawrence Ferlinghetti as a poet and publisher but not as a painter.
This painting is hanging in the modern gallery in honor of
the artist's 100th birthday.

No dust blobs in the sky. Be still my beating heart (but not too still, please!)

O.T. Observation.

I recently read an article by a physiologist whose research showed that only 5% of Americans over the age of 65 could be categorized as "physically fit." About 45% of the older population is still ambulatory and able to fend for themselves but are in decline or "accelerated decline", physically, while nearly half of older Americans require assistance of some sort with daily living. Of that half many are obese, morbidly obese, diabetic and largely sedentary. 

The differentiator, more impactful than diet, was the amount of vigorous exercise the 5% pursued. While there are some conditions with genetic dispositions that may account for some decline the reality is that most of the decline cited could be reversed or at least slowed down profoundly by increased and regular exercise. The greater the level of exercise the more likely the various demographics were to be in good to excellent health regardless of age. 

The bottom line is that people give up too soon. I can't fathom not wanting to be healthy to the extent that I would not spend at least an hour a day exercising. Even if it's just to put on a pair of comfortable shoes and walk briskly for an hour. 

Perhaps the real benefit of camera ownership is that it gives some of us an excuse to get out and walk. The heck with whether or not any photography actually gets done. The much more important thing is just getting the exercise.


I stumbled into a big Photo Expo at Precision Camera today. I just dropped by for some ink. I forgot the ink....

From the downtown "Day of the Dead" parade, earlier this Fall. 
Lumix S1 + 24-105mm lens

Holiday traffic all over Austin is horrible this afternoon. You'd think Christmas was tomorrow! Around 11 a.m. I headed up to my favorite camera store intent on buying some more ink for my ever thirsty ink jet printer and I was amazed to see the parking lot at the shopping center filled with cars. I walked into Precision Camera and immediately understood; they were having one of their Photo Expos. It's an event wherein the representatives from all the major camera makers, and most of the big accessory suppliers come and set up their displays of all their current product so customers can drop by, ask questions, and potentially buy stuff, with a 10% savings. 

I had ink on my shopping list but I had "lens" on my mind. I wanted to purchase one of the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lenses for my L-mount cameras. I had seen them on sale at both B&H's website and also on Amazon.com but I didn't need one right away and thought I'd rather spend the money locally. While my sales person quickly matched the (outrageously great) price of $629 he then burst my bubble of excitement by letting know that they had ordered a passel of the 35mms back in late September and still were waiting for them. Low price = universal shortage? Fortuneately, we had the Sigma rep in our sights and we grilled him about the store's order status. He got right on the phone, called H.Q. and broke the log jam. 

The store should get their inventory in by Monday or Tuesday and I'm pretty certain my lens will get delivered into my hot hands only minutes later. I spent some extra time today at the Lumix booth and at the Sigma booth so I could play with product I've been too busy to fondle before. 

The Sigma 35mm Art lens isn't nearly as big as I remembered it when I first played with one a while back. It's probably just a change in perception since I've been walking around with the massive Lumix S Pro 50mm f1.4 lens lately. I can't wait to get mine on a camera body and spend some time shooting with it... (Hidden rationale: wouldn't the 35mm and 85mm Art lenses make a great set to travel with? Yes, together they take up space and are heavy but it would mean reducing down to two lenses and that would mean less brain weight required to make choices. One camera for each lens and then you'd get to switch from wide to tight with fluidity and aplomb).

I got to play with the new Sigma 105mm f1.4. It looks bigger in photos because it's usually shown with the lens hood attached. If the lens hood were a coffee cup it would look to be about 32 ounces or better. Take the hood off and the lens seems more manageable. It's still huge for a 105mm but how much convincing would it take for someone who already bought the remarkably dense 85mm Art lens to add one more big lens without too much debate about weight? I hope people don't start body shaming my lens collection....

All the Sigma Art lenses still seem beautifully made to me and well worth their asking price. More so when they go on sale. 

I'm interested to see the new Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 Art lens that's supposed to come out on the 17th of December. Why? Because it's supposed to be really good and it's about half the price of the already available 24-70mm f2.8 lens from Lumix. I spoke at length about the Lumix 24-70mm with Jack from Panasonic. "What makes it $1,000 better than the Sigma?" I asked. He said, honestly, that the optical performance of the Lumix might not be significantly better than that of the Sigma but that the Lumix adds the manual focusing clutch (nice for both video and for manual focusing, when you want to do that...) and a dual motor focusing system that's optimized for the Panasonic DFD auto focusing which should make the Lumix S Pro variant lightning fast to focus. The 24-70mm Lumix feels very nice in the hand and does focus incredibly quickly. It's also weather sealed and Leica certified. Interesting system in which a 24-70mm f2.8 premium zoom actually weighs quite a bit less than their "reference" 50mm f1.4 lens!!!

Apparently there is one lens that Panasonic over-engineered and it's actually creating some problems for the company. Nearly everyone who buys an S1 or S1R is also buying the (extremely sharp and overall great) 24-105mm f4.0. I have one and I think it's the best standard zoom I've owned yet. But the company never figured (or didn't count on???) the S1H being in such strong demand, coupled with the fact that just about everyone who is buying that camera is also pairing it with the 24-105mm. They are finding it a bit tough to create enough kits because of the paucity of the standard zooms; their only available "kit" lens! I would say that it's a nice problem to have but I understand the power of being able to deliver into demand. They need to get as many systems into people's hands in order to build the momentum needed to drive the system while it's fresh.  I shoot mine at f4.0 all day long and I love the results (see image at the top of the blog). I can't wait to see it at f5.6 or f8.0. Maybe some day I shoot some stuff with it there...

Jack, from Panasonic, and I did have one discussion about a technical issue I had questions about. It seems that all the technical review sites like DXO concur that the S1R has a very high dynamic range when used in raw mode but some other (more emotional, less informational) sites have dinged the flagship camera for having "one stop less dynamic range" than their two closest competitors ( Sony A7RIV and Nikon Z7 ). It seems, according to Jack, that the S1R has a different characteristic curve applied automatically in post than the other two cameras. It's part of the distinctive look of the files from that camera. Ostensibly, when working with a raw file you can ignore the applied curve and create your own look in post processing which should allow you to exploit the full dynamic range of the file with no DR loss. I've shot the camera a lot in the last week and haven't noticed any differential in DR, personally. But it may be that I am less sensitive to the difference in look between some of the competing cameras to have pegged DR as a variant. In real world comparisons I think cameras with lots of dynamic range expression can look a bit muddy....but all three that are mentioned here seem pretty stellar right out of camera. 

The camera that's in shortest supply for Panasonic right now is the S1H. Apparently it's selling like gangbusters but it's a complex camera to make and test and, currently, the company can only churn out so many of them per month. Far fewer than the number of video producers waiting to get their hands on them around the globe... I've also heard, anecdotally, that of all three cameras the S1H has the nicest skin tones for still photography when the ISO starts heading for the stratosphere. I went into my own camera buying spree knowing that a high resolution camera like the S1R (47 megapixels) would be better in higher light environments (like studios, sets and outdoors) and less advantageous in low light with higher ISOs. In my mind that makes 24 megapixels still the sweet spot for an all around, full frame stills camera. And I'd expect the S1H to be in that same ballpark. 

One thing I did note was how nice the top screen on the S1H camera is. It's very clean and visually neutral and you can see all the information with ease. It's a nice touch. Do I really need an S1H? No, not really. Not until a client with a monster budget for video comes knocking on the door....

One more Lumix note: the next lens up on the roadmap that I think we'll see will be an 85mm f1.8. I don't expect it to be dainty and feather-light but I do expect that it will be much smaller than the Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art lens. There's an argument that having both is reasonable. One for serious, serious, serious work and the smaller lens for walking around shooting without having to attach an extra carrying strap just for your lens. We'll check in on the price. Good to always remember that there's a nice, lightweight 85mm f4.0 hidden in the middle of that 24-105mm lens!!!

Speaking of video, I did get to play with the Sigma FP camera and while I like the minimalist amount of exterior buttons and controls I found it to be a much less "sticky" product than I thought I would. By "sticky" I mean that there was really nothing about its handling, menus, operation or function that made me even think about reaching for a credit card and grabbing one. It just seems too focused on video and not quite focused enough on still imaging. The fully electronic shutter is a stumbler for me. I get that it's standard/needed for video but the lack of a mechanical option means more rolling shutter artifacts in fast moving still captures and more chance of image banding under less than perfect, non-continuous lighting. It may be the antithesis of a theater camera. I put it back down and thanked myself for not pre-ordering one earlier in the year. Yes, it looks darling with the Sigma 45mm f2.8 on the front of it but....what camera wouldn't?

Well represented at the Photo Expo at Precision Camera were: Sony, Olympus, Sigma, Panasonic, Nikon, Canon, Fuji and many other photography suppliers. ou could also play to your heart's content with all three Fuji medium format models and all the associated lenses. I was at the store midday and it was packed with customers. There were demos happening in every corner of the store, and the two that were ongoing while I was there was a photography workshop with Tony Corbell and a lighting workshop with Profoto. 

I guess the traditional photography industry is not quite dead yet. Not by a long shot. Well done Precision Camera!

And, yes. I really did forget the ink. I was just having so much fun playing with the big toys...

Sorry, no affiliate links. If you want to work on impoverishing yourself via photo gear you'll just have to hunt for the stuff you want. But that's half the fun.

If you need a good store you might consider Precision Camera. They match the prices of the big, national firms and they have a wonderful bricks-and-mortar store you can actually visit. Take a look at their website: www.precision-cameral.com Ask for Ian or Ron. Tell them I sent you. I might get a free ballpoint pen.


A day in the life of a specific photographer. More stuff. Slow accomplishments.

When last we corresponded I was about to paint a fence and I was on pins and needles to see just what I'd get from B&H re: their "open box" S1R mega-sale. I am back to report on both. So, here's a run down of the day: 

First things first. Swim practice! I swam with two dedicated people in my lane today. Matt, who is relentless about plowing through every last morsel of workout that the coach puts up on the white board, and Ed who is fast, fun and enthusiastic. Altogether we plowed through about 3700 yards in our allotted hour and fifteen minutes. Everyone seemed to be right in the middle of a good flow. All synced for the same speed and downright gracious about lane-sharing etiquette. Crisp flip turns at every wall and nice streamlines off the wall. As I've said before, the push off from a good turn, and then a streamlined glide, is the closest we'll ever come to the feeling of flying.

After workout I headed to the Benjamin Moore paint shop in the neighborhood to pick up the green paint for my fence. I wanted two gallons but because of a communication jumble they only had one gallon ready. I took it and headed home.

Let's get this out of the way right now, while it's top of mind for me, painting fences sucks. It just sucks. But the weather was nice and the fence just seemed painfully ready to be painted and so I forged ahead, sporadically. Knowing that I'm a sloppy painter I changed into an old pair of shorts (complete with paint stains from some previous project) a shirt I no longer liked and a pair of Crocs that will look better with splotches of paint than without. I took off my new dive watch and my favorite eyeglasses because I've ruined earlier models handily with misguided painting dynamics. 

I cranked and cranked on the fence and I think I did a wonderful job... right up until I ran out of paint. Belinda thought a gallon might cover it but, NO. I'll need to head back to the paint store in the morning if I want to finish the project. I need to finish the project because the neighbors are having a holiday party next week and we'd like to be good neighbors and have the fence look acceptable. Maybe we'll even take a couple of the refrigerators off the front porch and get the pick-up off the blocks.... Oh wait, we live in a nice part of Austin. The most I can ever get away with is a partially unpainted fence. 

At some point I took a break for a yeoman-like lunch of Greek Yogurt, blueberries, walnuts and grains. I cheated a bit and mixed in some honey. I hope the vegans don't picket my kitchen. 

I went into the office to call the paint company and order more paint. Then I checked e-mail and saw a good opportunity to procrastinate a bit. There was a message from Fedex that my package from B&H was on hold at the local Fedex shop; it's in the same shopping center as my favorite coffee shop (which I did not visit!!!). 

I'd taken advantage of the B&H "open box" sale on Lumix S1Rs. I mean, who (among those already owning a bunch of cool L-mount lenses) would willingly pass up a half price sale on a 50 megapixel masterpiece of a camera? But after I ordered it I found a few comments about open box sales including one from a photographer who had purchased one of the open box S1Rs from B&H only to find some smudge or other stuff on the sensor of the camera. To B&H's credit he was able to swap the camera right then and there (he was at the store). I was anxious to inspect my new treasure and make sure I hadn't bought a flawed pig-in-a-poke. 

I needn't have worried. The camera came packed as new and every surface (including the sensor) was spotless. The accessories looked untouched, the battery uncharged. I strapped up the camera with one of my older Tamrac straps and popped in a newly charged battery. Everything was in its default setting and the camera had no gotchas. 

I upgraded the firmware to 1.3, put on the 50mm f1.4 S Pro and I've been walking around with it ever since. The price of $1829 for a brand new $3700 body is crazy. Absolutely crazy. But then so is actually buying a second one.

I've yet to construct a perfect rationale for owning the second S1R and the 4th Lumix S series camera extant but I'm still working on it. Right now my best response is: "because I wanted to." 

Tomorrow? More early swimming. More post swim paint purchasing. More painting. And finally I might just get around to doing some marketing. Certainly there's got to be a better way to spend my time than taking two days to paint a small section of fence. 

My neighbor's handyman came over to see what I was doing re: painting the fence. He took a long look at the fence, and then at me, and he said, "You know, you could have borrowed my paint sprayer and you could have had this done in about twenty, twenty five minutes..." Made me feel so wise. Next time.

Here you will find random photos from a big space and also of housewares. Why? I have no idea.


The Canon G10 meets my newest daily walk around camera and lens, the Lumix S1R + the Sigma 45mm f2.8. Also, I passed the 4300 mark for blog posts. Hooray for me!

I'm having a lot of fun incorporating the Lumix S series cameras into the way I do photography. I have the two S1s that are tasked with day-to-day commercial work. They handle the video and the theatrical documentation and all the regular portrait work that's destined for some company's website. They work well and the lenses are probably the best I've ever owned. The only caveat so far is just the weight and bulk of each piece in the system. But I feel spry enough to cart them around for now. When I finally hit middle age I'll trade everything in for a couple more G10s. They are small and light.

I've more or less settled on the S1R, the high resolution version of the Ss, for my daily, personal shooter camera. I use it with either the Sigma 45mm f2.8 lens but when I'm hungry for a bit of manual focus nostalgia I like to put the 50mm f1.7 Carl Zeiss lens on the camera and focus slowly and carefully. Sometimes just to make other photographers cringe... And lately I've been using it in the Monochrome L mode.

Today I was walking around the house with the dog making photographs with a tripod mounted G10 and I came across this camera sitting on the dining room table. Just a big package of potential abandoned for an ancient point and shoot. I pulled the tripod over and took a few shots down around a full second of exposure. Hey look! The big camera is totally in focus!!! Miracle!!!!

There's room on the studio desk for both. It's fun to play with new cameras. Just as much fun to re-play with the older ones.

Click on the S1R to see just how good a still life camera the G10 is...

The G10 rears its lovely head and goes on a black and white binge. This fella loves a tripod and a lot of light.

Why my sudden fascination with old, small camera tech?
Because we get slammed with all the new tech all the time.
And who wants to read yet another article about the "best mirrorless full frame cameras of 2019."
A "buyers" guide. As if.......

All images done with the Canon G10 set to B&W. 

What am I reading right now? It's a book by Chase Jarvis. I'm actually recommending it.

I've always been wary of people who are too overtly positive and forthright. I was leery of the "Chase Phenomenon" when he was shooting all the silly Kung Fu action shots and putting them up on YouTube, but you know what? He's actually written a great book for people who need a good shove in the direction of either starting out or re-embracing their creative self. Getting projects started. And finished.

Most of what he writes is, in some ways, similar to the work of Stephen Pressfield (and just how many times have I recommended "The War of Art"??? -fixed 12/4, thank you kind reader!) but he leavens it with enough very practical advice to kickstart a tired old pro back onto the path or to energize a young wannabe pro who's having trouble getting out the door and into the mix. He's also a good story teller.

I was feeling a bit depressed on Saturday. I felt as though I'd lost my personal, creative energy. My reason to photograph. My inspiration. I went for a walk and ended up at a book store called, Book People. It's a store I've been patronizing for decades. I rummaged around for a while. I looked at photo books. I looked at novels and finally I ended up in a dark corner on the second floor; the kind of place that hipsters and artists relegate business books to. I saw the word "Creative" on a spine and pulled the book from the shelf. It was by Chase Jarvis. I thought I'd take a chance.

This is no thin volume. It's about 300 pages and it's actually packed with inspiration, stories and practical advice for overcoming resistance, figuring out what you really want to be doing and laying out good plans to get to your destination. This book is about finding your way, not setting up shots. There are no photographs, no gear discussions, no lighting diagrams. It's not that kind of book!!!

I need to let go of my prejudices...turns out Chase is a better writer than he is a photographer. And that's  saying something because he's a pretty darn good photographer.

If you are happy and on the right path you probably don't need this book. If you're stuck and you need both a pathway forward and a good kick in the seat of the pants, well, this one might be just what the doctor ordered. As soon as I finish reading my (paid full price and don't know Chase personally) copy I'm handing it off to Ben...

If you've retired and now have some time on your hands and you feel like you're just not getting stuff done... pony up and read.

Work slows down in the holidays. Might be busy for the "family portrait" pros but the corporate world goes missing quickly after Thanksgiving. I have a sure fire promotion you can try....

I've looked back over the billing for the last decade and I'm here to tell you that the trend amongst big, corporate clients, is to disappear right after Thanksgiving and to re-appear a bit after the first week of January. Predictable. Like clockwork. Off the radar and not spending a dime...

We've tried to goose up the last month of year (each year) by increasing promotions, sending out more e-mails, popping up on LinkedIn with outstanding creative content, and even calling people for lunches.  Not virtual lunches; actual lunches. It never works. But I think I've got it figured out this year; it's not about them, it's all about me.

In our business when you get too busy to handle new work, or you have dramas of a personal nature, that's when clients emerge from hibernation and show up in herds and hordes, ready to collaborate with you. If you are too busy with existing work, or too occupied with helping your parents or relatives, you'll have to decline the new work and hope the disappointed clients will call again, later. So there is a correlation between being busy and having the clients call you. It's almost scientific. It's called, "The Law of Unwanted Attraction." 

This week I'm going to try and spoof the law of unwanted attraction by getting to a task that I've been procrastinating on for too long....That will make me "too busy" and serve to attract the multitudes.

Part of my fence had seen better days and needed to be replaced. I hired our yard guy/handyman to do the job. His part of the job did not include painting the new fencing once constructed. I assured him that I would take care of it, thinking I would hire a painting company to spray of a few coats of paint that matches the existing fence and quickly be done with it. But now that I've come up with a way to potentially fool the universe into flooding me with business I've decided that I'll paint it myself. With old fashioned brushes...

I'm heading to the paint store as soon as I finish writing this blog. I've got a sample of the last paint drying on a board on the floor so I can match it all up. I'll order two gallons to start. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be perfect painting days = dawn-to-dusk sunshine and temperatures up near 70 for highs.

I've checked Studio Dog's schedule and she's clear to help out by keeping pesky squirrels at bay. 

But don't get too excited. I know exactly what will happen when I have on my new Armani painter's outfit and my Cole Hahn painting shoes are just right. I'll dip the brush into the first can of paint and then the phone will go nuts with texts, e-mails and direct phone calls begging and cajoling me to do "emergency" photo assignments. It's as predictable as washing the studio Bentley then leaving the top down in order to summon rain...

How can you help? Well, if you've read, "Tom Sawyer" you know just how much fun fence painting can be. Right? It's a blast. And, for a small donation to my Patreon page you too can share in the fun and games of painting Kirk's fence. The cost? Marginal. I would normally charge myself $100 an hour to paint the fence but.....if you come over with a brush and some cold beer to share I could let you enjoy painting with me for only $50 an hour. And, bonus!!!! I'll buy the paint. Sound good? Let's start in the morning around 10 a.m. Okay? See you then! 


Camera reality check. Go back 10 years and see what a point and shoot camera of that era can do. Even with a CCD sensor.....

The steps to the Topfer Theatre at Zach Theatre campus.

I gave myself a Sunday afternoon challenge....

I've been buying state-of-the-art cameras lately as if my photographic existence depended upon them. Just a few days ago I went over the top (even by my standards) and ordered a second Lumix S1R body. Can you blame me? If you've been shooting with one (along with the Lumix S Pro lenses....) you know just how good that camera can be, and it's that good without having to wait for all the stars to line up correctly. But do you really need to hemorrhage money to get decent photographs? Is it mandatory or just pathological? Yes, I know what the financially prudent among my readers will say.... no mystery there. 

But is it all about the gear?  Naw. While it's fun to buy cool stuff, and to see stuff come out of the camera files onto your computer screen that only a year or two ago would have taken your breath away I started to wonder just how far cameras have really come. Or do we just remember our older cameras in a pessimistic and dismissive way as a adaptation of our new camera rationalizations?

So, here was my Sunday challenge for today: I hunted through the studio to find my oldest and crappiest(?) digital camera still remaining in inventory. I would take that camera out for a walk through part of downtown and see just how many decent shots I could get in one hour. I would use no tripod, no filter, no fancy (first aid) post processing and no attachments of any sort. I would use the camera only in its Jpeg setting but I'd give it a fighting chance to do okay by using the camera's highest quality Jpeg setting. 

The only extra help I gave the camera was to intercede on white balance and to step in an adjust overall exposure with exposure compensation when I disagreed with what I was seeing on the small and primitive rear screen. 

I did not pick a ten year old, full frame DSLR with some esoteric lens. Nor did I pick some (for that time period) state of the art APS-C camera with a cherry-picked optic either. Nope, with the exception of the S1s and the S1Rs, the only other digital camera I have left in the entire office/studio/or house is a Canon G10. It was introduced in 2008. It has a very small, CCD sensor and it coughs up files of about 14.7 megapixels. It did not achieve parity with the most recent VSL acquisition; the Lumix S1R. 

I charged the battery for the G10 about a month ago and was happily surprised to see that the camera still registered a full charge. I outfitted it with a 16 megabyte, class 10 SD card and set the ISO for 80. My experience informed me that going much about 100 ISO would make the camera work that much harder....

I parked at Zach Theatre and headed across the beautiful pedestrian bridge and into downtown proper. If I shot in full sun I changed the WB to the sun icon. If something was in open shade I chose to shoot in "cloudy" and if I was inside in mixed light I just punted and went with AWB. I chose (as I almost always do with every camera...) to use the center focusing point and to use S-AF. 

It's important with these smaller sensor cameras to be a bit sensitive to diffraction effects caused by stopping down too much so I tried to stay as close to wide open as I could with the 28-140mm equivalent lens. When I got back to the studio and looked at my take on the computer monitor I was a bit shocked to see just how nice I thought the files were. The two major fixes I did use in Lightroom's develop panel were the camera profile (which corrects for vignetting and lens distortion) and the check box that fixes chromatic aberrations. 

I shot for one hour, took a break for one of my favorite downtown lunches (grilled Cuban sandwich and Iggy Pop coffee at the Royal Blue Grocery, right across the street from Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop (owned by Lance Armstrong...) and then headed back home the same way I came. 

While the G10 won't compete when it comes to dropping backgrounds out of focus or making huge files or giving me noise free files at high ISOs it certainly does a great job when you use it in the envelope of  opportunity in which it excels. Shoot these small cameras in great light and with good operational technique and you'll be a bit surprised that your newest Sony, Nikon or Panasonic camera isn't really that much better. And then you'll remember that you dropped twelve grand or so on your new system but you bought the G10 from a friend for a couple hundred bucks.... Sobering, no?

Anyway, you'll have your own opinion about the quality of the files but I won't hesitate to bring the G10 out with me if I'm on task with something secondary to photography but not comfortable leaving the home base camera naked. It's always fun to shock oneself with a bit of reality therapy. We'll see how long that lasts...

The one thing I have to admit is that I find it fun to challenge myself by using a very old, low spec, used camera to take images. You really do have to tighten up any sloppy technique if you want the machine to shine. Maybe the extra care and concentration on optimization I apply to the G10 will transfer to my work with the cameras that aren't on the edge.....  Kind of like doing a closed fist drill in swimming and then being amazed when you can go back to swimming with your open hands.....

Click on the images to see them bigger!

The red and green are perfect, color-wise. CCD? 

 A menu simple enough that even I can handle it...

I think the dynamic range is just fine!