6.09.2020

Just a note to say that I miss walking through the streets and being able to photograph interesting people without face masks...


I wear one. I busted a photographer last week who was about to head into a camera store without his mask. I think we all deserve to be safe. I think we all have a responsibility to keep other people safe.
I'm wearing one until the health authorities sound the "all clear."

But that doesn't mean I don't miss seeing beautiful, naked faces out in public places. And my cameras feel the same way...

Wandering around town with a point and shoot camera while I wait for another point and shoot camera to arrive tomorrow...


Photographers can be wacky. Many believe that they're destined to do only one sort of photography and think they need to find "the" perfect camera and then use it until it's all used up or until something new and plainly superior hits the market. I'm afraid that's not the way my brain got wired. In my wacky and non-linear career I've shot jobs for clients with 8x10 inch view cameras, 4x5 inch view cameras, scads of medium format cameras and more than a handful of 35mm cameras. I've owned (and used) more digital cameras than most people have owned different shirts.

I'd love to buy into the mindset of the "perfect" camera because it would probably save me no small bucket of money and time. But I more or less discard out of hand the mentality of "finding a groove and staying in it." I like to mix things up. When we swim in our masters workouts we don't pick just one stroke and one distance and then put our heads down and slog through the hour, we do practice as a series of sets. One set might be eight x fifty yard swims of butterfly stroke. The next set might be two hundred yards of kicking with a kick board. The next set might be eight X two hundred yards of freestyle on a specific time interval. Followed by some number of hundred yard swims of all four strokes. Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. We might choose to do drills in which we don't even do a recognized stroke. The mix keeps it fun. The constant movement shreds the time. Every muscle gets a workout.

I can't think I could ever be one of those guys who goes out into the wilderness year after year and lugs along a big, view camera and a monolithic tripod. Ducking under the dark cloth to focus my upside down image. Watching water slow down to mush. Sliding in film holders as the sun beats down or the snow swirls around. It's hard to catch an awkward flirty glance from a beautiful woman in a dusky coffee shop with that kind of rig. With that kind of rigor. With that amount to gear tunnel vision. More like rigor mortis.

We probably still need a big cameras with big sensors to shoot big projects; the ones that require massive files and lots of detail. But maybe that's not rational anymore either. Maybe most of the stuff we photograph that doesn't move could be handled with a $600 m4:3 camera --- if it comes with a high res mode/ or if we remember how to stack stuff in PhotoShop. 

I have a range of cameras and I have an iPhone. They handle different subject matter. That iPhone is darned handy when I'm standing on the deck of a pool at 5:55 in the morning and I'm just looking to prove "I was there." That Lumix S1R with the pricey glass? It's really great for those times when I want to make a big architectural print or play at being a detail oriented landscape shooter. 

All the cameras in between? They're like the four strokes in swimming, with a few drill tools tossed in to keep it all fresh. 

These photos were taken with that ancient Canon point and shoot camera, the G10. I took it along on a walk with me because it was the solution that presented itself (and looked like the best compromise) when I decided to do a seven mile walk around the lake. It's lightweight and highly portable but it's also robust and unflinching. Some people think it doesn't offer enough dynamic range but I think people who worry about dynamic range have just lost the thread when it comes to exposing  their shots correctly. 

On another day there might be another choice. Sometimes we bring out the Lumix GX8 for no other reason beyond my belief that it looks so cool. It's also a good tool and sometimes the camera gets chosen for its ability to work well with certain lenses. 

I'm tired of the idea that we have to defend our camera choices. I think that unless you have a specific use case in mind you might find pleasure in starting to treat cameras more like wardrobe and less like cars. We generally have only one or two very utilitarian cars but we have plenty of shirts and pants. And shoes. Grab the shorts and sandals that are most comfortable for that day in the sun you have planned and, while you are at it, grab a comfortable camera that makes your day more pleasant because of its compromises, not in spite of them. 

There seems to be a disconnecting that happens to photographers. They feel as though they must have a photographic purpose in everything that they do. They leave the house and head to a soccer field to catch a game so they feel they must have just the right camera with a long lens and must spend the time shooting (not watching) the soccer game. The serious street photographer must have a purpose so when they leave their apartments they have their Leica M cameras or their Fuji X-Pro cameras attached to their wrists with an exquisite wrist strap and they embark on the search for the perfect Vivian Maier Moment. Do they have an internal quota of images they feel they must fill?

I can't always be so.....linear. So organized. So regimented. When I leave the house sometimes it's to have coffee with a friend. Sometimes just coffee alone. While I'm out I might walk around the lake for more exercise. I might hang out on the streets in downtown just to soak up the vibe. But everything in life isn't tethered with a steel cable to photography. 

It's almost better to forget that you dragged a camera along and be in the moment right up until some Photo Satori smacks you in the head and demands that you change gears from some leisure activity to switch in the moment to decisive moment guy and get that one great image, after which you can put the camera back down, pick up that cup of tasty espresso and get back to that riveting conversation you were having with that beautiful woman at the next table. 

So, today is going to be really hot. I'm still going for a truncated walk in the downtown space. I want to see if the protest graffiti is still up. I want to see if Intelligensia really does make a good cup of cappuccino. I want to watch the clouds play around above me. But I don't want to carry around a giant Tenba bag or gruesome Tamrac bag filled with heavy cameras and every lens I own because that would put such an excruciating burden on something of leisure that should be much easier and more natural. A simple walk with an indifferent camera. One that doesn't impel me to keep chugging away at it and trying to help justify why it came along on a walk the core mission of which was not the life and death struggle of getting yet another image. 

Someone asked in the comments yesterday 'whatever happened to that poor, neglected GX85 camera?' Don't worry. It's in rotation. It'll resurface at some point. Right after I get through playing around with the G15 tomorrow. But maybe before I pull out the Sigma fp and use it for photographs again...

We're in the middle of a pandemic. I can't work for clients yet (in good conscience) and I'm not comfortable asking strangers to stop, take off their masks and trust me to make important art with their faces. So why all the angst about which camera is best? If we're just walking around looking, and sitting on a bench drinking take out coffee, then what the fuck does it matter? No, really. 


Do you pay attention to the U.S. stock market? What the heck is happening? Apple at $345 a share today. Amazing. 

6.08.2020

A study in tonality. Impromptu studio in NYC.

 ©2020 Kirk Tuck
  ©2020 Kirk Tuck
 ©2020 Kirk Tuck

Click on the photos to enlarge.

And just like that we're back. What a week. Glad to have time off to meditate about everything.

Last week was a great week to suspend blogging. There was too much raw emotion and too much happening outside the sphere of photography for me to concentrate at all on my favorite passion, pastime and career. Like many of you I spent the time reading the news and, from time to time, I attended some of the protests here in Austin to see with my own eyes the reality of the moment and how different it was from some of the television broadcasting. I reminded myself that the news media survives by finding outliers and the most "newsworthy" or salacious moments even if they don't accurately reflect the 99% of protesters who were peaceful, polite and truly impassioned to express their anguish. It was refreshing to bear witness to reality so I could insulate myself from the emotional responses that inevitably came from each end of the political spectrum. The protests are legitimate and a necessary part of much needed social change. 

Instead of letting the events of the week consume me I worked on getting things around the studio/office ready for an opening of the business in stages. After donating a bunch of gear to a local non-profit I spent a few hours further "editing" my almost random collection of lighting and photography gear into "keep" and "donate or toss" piles and I feel I've made real progress forward. Another couple months of lockdown and I'll be able to fit most of my gear in one camera bag. That would be novel...

But we're also getting direct mail cards ready to let clients know we're re-opening and ready to start bidding on jobs. We also want them to know that we are fully engaged and didn't have to sell off important gear or change our ways of billing, etc. 

I'm back on schedule with daily swim workouts, long, hot walks and intermittent napping. The process of getting back my swim endurance has been less protracted and painful than I imagined it might be which gives me a modicum of hope that I'll crest my 60s more or less intact. Since the beginning of the "stay at home" period I've logged about 168 miles of running and 28 swim days. Sadly (and hopefully, temporary) I've gained two pounds of body weight. Working on its swift removal.

One thing I rarely discuss here is financial planning and investing but it's an interesting time to take stock and re-balance our strategies for the future. I spent much of the last few months honing my basic understanding of finance and economics (both of which I did study at university) trying to understand the strategy of investing in a time when government bond returns hover around 0%, many state and muni bonds are flirting with negative yields and the marketplace has been flooded with trillions of dollars of stimulus money. I've also watched, with interest, as the dollar has declined in value by about 6% against an international basket of currencies. You'll have to draw your own conclusions but my play since March 23 is a weekly move into U.S. large cap equities and mutual funds to dollar cost average my per share purchases. So far the strategy is working well and my thought is that equities will be the one zone for profit and growth for at least the next two years. There will obviously be bumps and set backs but the longer term success seems probably. For the moment we're feeling good.

When I am able to compartmentalize the social unrest and the vagaries of the financial markets and think of other stuff I find I am still enjoying my time with photography. I keep working to better understand the Sigma fp and every time I take it out for a casual photography walk I feel I'm rewarded with files that are really, technically very good. 

It's such an interesting camera because at its heart the sensor and the color science are both state of the art and actually a step above the actual imaging potential of every digital camera I've shot with. Even the high ISO files are a step above the other 24 megapixel cameras. But, on the other hand, anything other than central zone, S-Af is less than stellar and I'm not even sure the camera actually does multi-zone C-AF at all. The body is obviously little more than a metal brick and the screen on the back, which, while lovely to look at, doesn't move, flip, rotate or otherwise add to overall usability. The camera, in one sense, is like a big litmus test for photographers. Which do you value? Absolute Image Quality? Or, All the operational niceties we've come to take for granted?

It's not a totally binary thing. Most fine arts photographers whose subjects are relatively stationary will be able to master the camera operation without issue. But if fast moving subjects, long lenses, and the requirement for quick and kinetic focusing are real considerations then the camera will present a lot of unwanted friction

Which brings me to my latest camera acquisition. 

After dragging a Panasonic S1R with the 50mm f1.4 Pro S lens around town, and then the Sigma fp with a finder magnifier and some big Sigma Art lenses, I was looking for some relief and I went through the gear cabinet looking for a "comfort" camera. Something I could bring along on a protracted, hot walk and not feel like I was carrying a house on my shoulder. I came across the Canon G10 and took it with me as I walked through downtown with my friend (an amazing actor and singer), Kenny. The real reason for the walk was just to catch up and check in with each other. I shot Kenny's portraits for his first album cover and we've know each other since my early days as Zach Theatre's photographer. 

I didn't want the fumbling around with a camera to take away from my time with my old friend so a Canon G10, set to "P" and locked in at 100 ISO was just right. It fit into my very smallest bag, along with my wallet, car keys, and an extra face mask. 

The G10 is a camera I loved, then sold, then in a moment of remorse bought another copy from my friend, Frank. The sensor is a 14.7 megapixel, 1:1.7 inch CCD Canon unit that does its best work at ISO 80 or 100. It's happy to shoot in bright sun but it's usable at up to 400 ISO, for the ultra-picky, and up to 800 ISO for the "content is more important than ultimate performance" crowd. The camera features a 28-140mm equivalent lens which isn't very fast but is very sharp and tech issue free. 

If you loved easy to use cameras that are not menu-driven you've come to the right instrument. There is an external ISO dial, concentric with the mode dial, on one side of the top plate and a +/- EV compensation dial on the other side. Pretty much all you need for actually taking photographs. 

There is a little, optical tunnel finder but I find the rear LCD bright enough even to use in solid daylight. Nice to have the optical finder, just in case. 

How good are the images if you do everything right? Hmmm. Really good. I illustrated a large portion of a book on lighting with this camera (on a good tripod and using ample light) and no one noticed that we weren't shooting on a bigger camera at the time. 

But...This camera already exists in my inventory and somewhere above I talked about ordering a newer camera. I ordered a second Canon G15 yesterday. The short answer to: Why? is that I bought one, used, about a year ago and loved it. Not as high a megapixel count as the G10 but much faster to focus and capable of yielding a much less noisy file for those times when a higher ISO is just plain necessary. The camera and I got along swimmingly and I was so impressed with it that I lent it to Belinda to take as her  main camera when we traveled up to Montreal last year. I never got the camera back. She liked it that much. In fact, I'll say that it's one of the very few cameras she's really enjoyed using since she bought her first real camera back in college: an Olympus OM-1 with the 50mm f1.8.

I'm exploring the two ends of modern photography. On one hand I've recently done a family portrait for our neighbors with a 47 megapixel, full frame S1R and then, almost as a reaction to the technical perfection of that solution, I'm out on the streets and the trails with a "last decade" point and shoot camera, blazing away in program mode. Somehow it all makes for a nice balance. 

I can hardly wait for my new (used) G15 and three batteries. I already know the G15 to be one of the very best compact digital cameras where price, performance and reliability is concerned. At less than $200 it's a steal. Belinda and I were kidding around about the compact Canons yesterday over dinner. I brashly stated that I was only going to take the G10 and G15 with me on our next vacation. She was quiet for a few seconds and then, with a very serious expression, she said, "I'm going to hold you to that..." 

In other news: Panasonic announced a new lens that I would like to buy. It's a weird focal length range. It's a 20mm to 60mm and it has a slow-ish fixed maximum aperture of f4.0. Why do I want one? It's supposed to be smaller, lighter and cheaper than anything Panasonic has yet introduced in the S1 system. A really nice, carry around solution. The pre-order retail price is set at $599 and the marketing hype points to it being a very good optical performer. If you use an S1 or Sigma fp the slower aperture should rarely, rarely be an impediment to good photography as both of those cameras can shoot at nose bleed ISOs --- but without the nose bleed. 

The one thing that keeps me from pre-ordering is my lack of excitement about wider angles of view and my trepidation about having a zoom that only goes to 60mm. I don't have any hesitation about optical quality but right now I think my shooting methods match up better with the 24-105mm Panasonic S lens I already own. And it's a darn good performer as well.

To recap: We spent the last two months staying in reasonable shape and then getting back into good shape. I spent (way too much) time learning about finance and economics and re-balancing my portfolios. So far, I've had surprising overall success which is partially a result of getting over any fear of the market collapsing and investing early and often. When it comes to cameras I've been playing with the Sigma fp and loving it for controlled shooting. The S1 cameras I consider to be the best compromise between performance, solid build and crazy good image quality (especially when using S1R and S1 cameras for their optimized strengths as an intermixed system) and I'm embracing the small and bullet proof Canon G10 and G15 cameras for just messing around, or working light and under duress. A G15 is, in many ways, a perfect protest documentation camera....

Happy to be back to work --- even if only marginally. Even happier to be back at the blog --- though everything is changing all the time. Let's look forward, not backward. We all still have a lot left to do.

Welcome back! Kirk

P.S. Just editing this and fielded four phone calls asking for bids. I guess the end of our extended "vacation" is now in sight.

fp skies are outrageous. 




I'm still wearing a mask whenever I leave the house. 
Better safe than sorry. I'm also starting to think of it as a fashion expression...

The big flagship J.W. Marriott still closed up tighter than a clamshell. 
The revenue loss at the bars must be staggering.



Most of the graffiti is gone now but my favorite piece is still up.





This is Charles Morgan. He is telling people about the epidemic of 
veteran suicide in the U.S. He asked me to take his photograph. 
I was happy to do so. I should have gotten about 18 inches lower.
I'll go back today and see if he's still at Congress Ave. and 6th Street.
Maybe he'll give me a second chance. 




The new mask chic.

5.31.2020

Taking a one week break from blogging. Wake me up if I miss some important new camera or lens launch. Otherwise I'll be at the pool and the trail. See you there/then.

Enchanted Rock. Outward Bound for Grown-ups.


Nothing fun to write about in photography right now. I think I'll just concentrate on swimming and eating instead. OT/OT/OT !!!

The Western Hills Athletic Club Pool at Six a.m. 

I shot this image before sunrise a couple of weeks ago. The pandemic had cut off swimming for our masters group entirely for about two months. When we finally got the chance to resume our heart-pounding and highly disciplined workouts the big problem was and continues to be the need for social distancing. When the club published a sign up for workouts I noticed that very few people were signing up for the 6am to 7am swim slots so I decided I'd take advantage of that time frame, three days a week, to get back in shape without having to struggle with finding the right balance of lane partners. I didn't want to discover that I'd forfeited all of my swim fitness and get lapped by younger, faster swimmers but I also didn't want to spend time in a lane with people much slower than me. 

For the first two weeks of six a.m. workouts attendance was low enough that I could have a lane all to myself. I worried I might not be disciplined without other people in the lane to push me but I soon learned that a good coach, a hard set, a set time interval and a pace clock provide their own disciplines. 

We're three weeks back in the pool now and I'm just starting to feel like I'm making up for the lost time. 

The first day back I noticed how beautiful the pool looked with just the underwater lights to illuminate it. I thought of bringing a camera into the pool area with me but I was trying to streamline my time on the deck. I wondered if my iPhone could take an image that would make me happy. I brought it to the next day's workout and shot photographs (including the one above) just before I hopped into the water and started swimming. I also took a shot of the the pool an hour later, when the sunrise was in progress. 

It can be daunting on some days to get up at 5:30 a.m. and rush to the pool. On cool mornings you know the water will also be colder and you hesitate to plunge in. But after the first few days you realize that your one hour slot is inflexible. With the new social distancing rules we need to leave a five minute time gap between our exiting of the pool and the next group's entry into the pool. That means every minute of that first 55 minutes of pool time is more valuable than it used to be. 

I find that I like editing photos I've taken on the phone in the phone's internal software. It's easy to get good tweaks into the files and it's actually cool to take a photo and then edit it with the actual subject right in front of you for reference. You match color by immediate comparison which is a strength of human perception. I feel like I'm getting pretty good at it. And sometimes, at least at Instagram size, the files from the phone look as good or better than stuff from my much bigger and more expensive cameras. 

It's enlightening to see how much more time there seems to be in a day on those three days I get up earlier. By 7:15 am I'm already home making coffee and eating breakfast. By 9 a.m. we're on task and ready; life has already been fired up and stuff has gotten done. The days seem much more productive.  By 10:30 pm I'm ready to sleep through the night.

There is a reason I swim or run or exercise everyday. I have a fear of getting fat as I age. Of losing mobility. Of having to buy bigger, uglier clothes. Many of the people around me appear to keep putting on weight over the years and along with the weight seems to come health problems galore. It seems that the best predictor of aging in a healthy way is to stay very active and get lots of good, hard, exercise. Hours, not minutes, every day. 

Many people would love to believe that changing their diet alone will be their fountain of youth but studies bear out that exercise is far more important a component in weight maintenance than exactly what you put in your mouth. 

I have a friend who created a vegan diet. It's so strict. It even eliminates nuts and pretty much anything with oils. On this diet you can only eat plants and you can't even cook with oils. I tried it, and sure, you can lose weight if you can stick to eating that way but the diet alone does absolutely nothing for your physical fitness. I define overall fitness as having good endurance, a low resting heart rate, perfect blood pressure and the ability to do hard, physical work = running, swimming, rowing, biking or vigorous, hill intensive walking. You also need good muscle tone and good flexibility. None of which any diet will provide. Your diet may help you cut out cholesterol and that might improve your cardiovascular system but... the science in that regard is still a moving target.

People who desperately want to believe in diet as a cure all point to my friend (the one who writes extensively about his vegan diet) and point out that he is in exemplary physical condition. He should be! He works out in the pool for at least an hour a day, and at a world class level. He bikes everywhere. He runs a lot. But there's even more to it than that. Some of it is genetics; his dad was an Olympic athlete. His parents are in great shape. He has a job he absolutely loves and believes in.

But here's what the diet addicted don't want to hear: my friend was a world class triathlete for at least a decade (think: Iron Man/Kona) and before that he was an NCAA championship swimmer. But those were both true long before he began his journey into the diet world. The secret of his fitness is something I think he would readily admit: He stays in great shape (mentally and physically) largely because he has never slowed down his exercise schedule or lost hthe discipline required to step up his performance. 

I'm certainly not suggesting that we can all go out and eat pizzas, burgers and french fries at every meal and stay healthy. Eating a sustainable and fun diet along the lines of the Mediterranean Diet, with lots of fish, vegetables, fruits and the like is a great start. Paired with vigorous exercise it's the basis for a healthy lifestyle. But the diet is only a partner with exercise; neither is a stand alone component of a healthy life. You really can't make one work for you without the other.

Swim, run, lift, bike, yoga, and eat well. Everything else is just a silly mess. And no, golf is not exercise. Neither is bowling. Those are games. Fun to play but meaningless when it comes to fitness. 

See you on the trail or see you in the pool. But probably not at that joint that serves BBQ wings...

The best time to start getting healthier was twenty years ago. The second best time is today.

Riots across America. Protests right here in Austin, Texas.


But then the classic response might just be: "What the hell? Let's go paddle boarding." 




5.30.2020

Another mini-review of a now "ancient" digital camera: the Panasonic GX8.

A liberal's BBQ placemat. 

The GX8 almost fell through the cracks. I bought it just after I started my process of really coming to grips with the Sigma fp camera and that seemed to overshadow any immediate interest I might had in the used and inexpensive Panasonic. But more and more lately, even after the recent re-purchase of a better spec'd G9, I reach for the GX8 when I'm heading out the door without a specific photographic intention. I wondered why that was.

If you want to know more about the nuts and bolts and specifications of the GX8 just head over to Digital Photography Review and read their review from three years ago. They liked it except for some stuff that's more or less been fixed in firmware. One big issue was what is called "shutter shock" in which vibrations from the mechanical shutter in this camera caused a degraded sharpness in files shot at certain (much used) shutter speeds. Panasonic incorporated an electronic shutter setting which eliminates the issue and also a EFC (electronic first curtain) shutter that also seems to deal with the problem.

What you are getting in the GX8 is a m4:3 camera with a good, 20 megapixel sensor, a rangefinder body design - with the evf over to the left side as you use the camera, and a big enough camera to hold onto without having to do some wacky compromise handhold. Add to that the fact that the finder can be rotated up by 90 degrees and you basically have a good idea of the whole package.

When it was introduced the whole delusional mania of the moment was that this particular model was too big. That, of course, was nonsense for normal, rational people. In fact, the camera is well proportioned and perfectly sized for people who actually go out and use cameras. It's much smaller and lighter than the G9, or the GH series cameras, and positively tiny and weightless when compared to the full frame, Panasonic S1 series cameras.

The camera features dual I.S. which uses the body I.S. and the lens I.S. together to leverage better stabilization performance than either could provide separately. It's not in the same league as the G9 with a dual I.S. enabled lens but it's very usable and, along with the electronic shutter setting it's quite enough for most applications.

I bought this camera, used, in 2020 but it was first released in 2015. It's currently holding its value well on the used markets. A cursory check today shows that it still commands a price of about $500 to $600 used and in excellent condition. About half its new price which is actually quite good for any digital product.

I bring this camera along with me when I'm not on some self-styled mission to get a particular kind of photograph because in a addition to being small and light it also has good high ISO performance, uses the same battery as my Sigma fp, and it very unobtrusive.

There are a few downsides that weren't deal killers in 2015 but might give one pause in 2020 if this is intended to be your sole camera and if you are ready to do some work in video. There is no built in flash, the buffer clearing can be a bit slow, and the camera has a single card slot (which is adjacent to the battery at the bottom of the camera body). In video there is no mechanical I.S. in 4K capture, there are no high data rate settings in 1080p and, for some insane reason, the microphone jack is an odd 2.5mm size which will require an adapter in order to use it with any consumer microphone or audio interface. There is also no headphone jack. I'm not interested in using the GX8 for video but I can see pressing it into use in a pinch because of the rotating rear screen (V-logger friendly) and the very decent 4K output. But I have cameras that are much, much better equipped and optimized for high quality video capture.

But I would say that this camera was clearly intended to be a pleasant and competent photography camera and that video was a familial afterthought on the part of Panasonic.

Since the camera uses Panasonic's previous (to the G9 and S1 series) Jpeg motor those files from the camera aren't quite as good as Jpegs from more recent Panasonic cameras. The G9 is generates some of the nicest files I've worked with of all the cameras I routinely shoot with. But! If you shoot raw so much of the heavy lifting (in terms of color science and file glorification) are done in post so if you are using the latest version of the Adobe products or even Luminar 4.1+ you'll get a lot of control with color and tonality from the GX8 files. It's a classic case of improvements in raw processors lifting all boats. Even those launched five years ago.

My take on the GX8? I was able to purchase my very clean model for around $350 a month or so ago and I keep my eyes on the market to see if I can acquire one more in the same price range. They are well made, weatherproof, fun to use and even more fun to carry around. All the dials and buttons seem to be perfectly placed and the menus are easy to learn. If I was shooting with these as my primary cameras I'd be reticent to upgrade. Seems like color performance (Jpeg) in newer cameras gets tweaked but not much has really advanced, sensor-wise, and some of the models following the GX8 have compromises (lesser EVFs, smaller, fiddly-er interfaces) that don't really make them "better" for my kinds of shooting.

And now, a quick and odd assessment of an overlooked lens: I've shot all of the attached photographs with one lens. It's a tiny, collapsible 12-32mm f3.5 to f5.6. I thought of it as a throw-away toy when I got it last year, bundled with a GX85 kit. On a lark, last week I put it on the GX8 and started shooting. I liked the focal length range and it gave me a finder image that was sharp and snappy. I saved judgement until I could view the results in PhotoShop on a 27 inch, 5K screen. While the lens has some obvious barrel distortion when used around 12mms I don't really find it objectionable, and with a little elbow grease in my Adobe products I can correct it, for the most part.

So, the lens is sharp, contrasty, yields detailed files and also provides the second dose of image stabilization when used in conjunction with the body stabilization. Counterintuitively I am really enjoying using this lens on the GX8 as my take anywhere lens. I also have the 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 Leica lens but I haven't felt compelled to put it on the GX8. Maybe that's because the little 12/32 is doing such a sweet job and it so small and light...

The rest of the review is totally visual. It's in all the images included with this post. Just scroll through, pop open in a bigger window. Click to enlarge and have a good look. I can't tell (except for the geometric distortion) that they weren't done with an expensive lens but maybe you have more refined visual perception than me. As essentially a free addition to a kit I'm certain the lens is a valuable keeper.

In conjunction with the GX8? A winning, relatively modern point-and-shoot configuration with all the needed bells and whistles for a street shooter or avid artist. Maybe not a sports camera... Most of these images were done in Program mode using Auto ISO. I tweaked where I felt necessary with the fabulous compensation dial that is concentric with the GX8's mode dial. Easy and fun.

In Texas, it isn't BBQ without some white bread to go with it. 
From the Salt Lick BBQ.

Wine for BBQ.


My chef/friend Emmett Fox. Curator of the BBQ dinner last Saturday.


Emmett at home in Dripping Springs, Texas.

The country roads around Dripping Springs are perfect for those
Socially Distanced walks. The GX8 and 12/32 are perfect for same.


Surprised by just how good the files shot at 1250 and 1600 ISO look. 









One message one week, an opposite message on another week...





Concave exhibitionist mirror.



This image really shows of the lens distortion.
I think it looks sweet.