Ultimate Travel Camera - That Almost Was LUMIX LX10

This is the promised follow up about a camera that I purchased, sort of liked and then sold in short order. After much toiling I purchased the Panasonic LUMIX LX10 last year and initially really [sort of] liked it. It’s a small, sleek (errr...slick), functional and well appointed carry-everywhere-with-you camera. Yet, it wasn’t ultimately what I was hoping for. Let’s break it down and I’ll share a few images from my short journey with the LUMIX to see why it didn’t make the cut.

One of the bright spots of the LX10 was the macro capability. Here we see  Photo Lego Dude  committing for the shot in Hawaii.

One of the bright spots of the LX10 was the macro capability. Here we see Photo Lego Dude committing for the shot in Hawaii.

Form Factor & Reliability

One of the major factors in deciding on an everyday carry is the size & how it fits in your hand. The LX10 nailed both of those well enough, but it was almost too small without the addition of some sort of grip as it was a very slick camera to hold onto. Thankfully I never dropped it but came close a few times (love that wrist strap). The much lauded Sony RX100 series suffers from the same design flaw as well. A bit of grippiness could have gone a long way in keeping this thing around. The on/off switch was also unfortunately very easy to activate and I’d sometimes reach into my bag only to find the battery was drained. Clearly not a good thing if time is of the essence for a particular scene.

After a short time of use the lens closure (automatic cover) developed an annoying issue. It wouldn’t fully close or open when turning the camera on/off. This of course didn’t affect the way it captured photos per se, but was a pain as I needed to pay attention so as to not miss a photo opportunity with the closure stuck half open (assuming the battery wasn’t dead). I ultimately sent it back for warranty twice for this issue and it worked great after the second fix. Nonetheless, I wasn’t overly impressed and lost weeks of time without the camera while it was being repaired.

Mt. Rainier looking formidable above the clouds. I believe big zooms on compact cameras are in the gimmicky range but occasionally they are useful.

What I Liked

For a small body and 1” sensor the LX10 actually captured pretty decent photos.  The Leica f/1.4-f/2.8 lens is an excellent addition that I felt without the camera would have been pure ‘meh’. It is decently sharp with a useful 24-72mm optical zoom range and a slightly useful digital zoom for a touch more reach.

The articulating screen while fairly standard on cameras these days is a welcome & useful addition for low angle shooting. I’ve really adapted and gotten used to having an articulating screen and fully believe they belong on modern cameras.

The macro capability was actually quite good for such a small sensor and the focusing range nearly down to an inch it makes for easy floral shots or of course Lego Photograhers.

Gimmicks

Though technically most cameras come with what are better known as ‘features’ I like to call them ‘gimmicks’ depending on their usefulness. Things such as the aforementioned articulating screen and 4K focus stacking are arguably useless if they are not well executed. The 4K focus unfortunately stacking falls in the gimmicky range. I was looking forward to this feature for shots of Photo Lego Dude’s adventures, but in the end the results always left something to be desired. Better to manually stack images in Photoshop for truly sharp results.

How about that touch screen you say? Actually yes, it was useful and I enjoyed being able to select focal points with it and navigating the less than stellar menu system with relative ease. Seems everything is touch screen these days and that isn’t always a bad thing. So not quite gimmicky.

Low light/indoor shooting was mildly effective with the LX10, if you bumped up the ISO image quality was quickly lost. At the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Low light/indoor shooting was mildly effective with the LX10, if you bumped up the ISO image quality was quickly lost. At the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Chicago at night. One of the few favorite images that I captured with the LX10, for those that like natural star bursts f/8 worked perfect in this case.

Chicago at night. One of the few favorite images that I captured with the LX10, for those that like natural star bursts f/8 worked perfect in this case.

What else does one do in Tokyo but visit a cat cafe? LX10 had the occasional great natural tones with good enough light.

What else does one do in Tokyo but visit a cat cafe? LX10 had the occasional great natural tones with good enough light.

The LX10’s portability was one of it’s best features, small & lightweight makes it great for coming along on the ride or in the backcountry.

The LX10’s portability was one of it’s best features, small & lightweight makes it great for coming along on the ride or in the backcountry.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately I found the LX10 uninspring and at times frustrating to shoot with but also occasionally useful and fun. I’ll probably miss it at times, but it wasn’t a camera that I felt I could get repeatable results with or print with confidence if I did capture a good moment. Would I recommend it as a general point & shoot for vacation memories or backpacking camera? Certainly. But for the discerning pro or enthusiast who needs a little more from their everyday carry looks elsewhere. Something like say...oh a Fuji X100 series.

Sleeklens Presets Review

I was recently given the opportunity to test & review some handy Lightroom presets from the nice folks over at Sleeklens. If you use Lightroom much you are probably familiar with the usefulness of presets. Though it's nice to have handy one-click editing at your fingertips, I always consider presets to be a starting point and not a finishing point. This is where presets such as those offered by Sleeklens can come in handy.

How I Create & Edit Images

Before we delve into the before & afters, a quick primer on how I shoot & edit might be handy. I'm of the school of thought that getting the image right in the first place is the best starting point in making good images. Though the camera's sensor and human eye never see the same scene as it was. Digital images often need updated [edited] to do the scene justice as your eye saw it.

So when I do use presets they are 'primers' or 'starters' then I fine tune the image with Lightroom's individual controls as I go along. The nice thing about Sleeklens' offering is that it is built as a 'layered' system to editing in Lightroom that others don't accomplish. So there can be less 'right panel' editing and quicker 'left panel' edits to achieve a similar result. 

Not Just Another Preset

As I mentioned above, Sleeklens presets use a sort of building block or layering method. While their presets also come with 'all-in-one' clicks that you might be used to the stackable options are a different approach. I won't explain how that works in detail as they have put together a short video on exactly how it works, but you can see some examples I used below.

The other handy thing I really enjoyed using are the brush presets, which handily also function in the gradient tool. While you can always customize your brush settings to your heart's content having quick presets in the brush & gradient menu can speed up your workflow. 

Alright, enough chatter - let's get into some before & after images to see what these presets are all about.

Before/After #1 - This was an image from McWay Falls in Big Sur, California. The image on the left was SOOC from my Fuji X-T1 as a JPEG with a 10 second exposure. For this edit I decided to show what the all-in-one preset can do with no further touches. This was the Calm Sunset preset from the Through the Woods landscape collection. I really like the warm tones and clarity the preset gave the image.

Before/After #2 - This image is from Glacier National Park in Montana. Taken with my old Nikon D300 the original file was a RAW file (NEF) with good exposure. Though I thought it might look better as a black & white image with a few adjustments. So I used the layering/stacking method with the following presets in this order:  (1) Base - Monochrome Fantasy (2) Exposure - Less Highlights (5) Polish - Less Contrast (6) Vignette - Subtle Black.

Before/After #3 - The final image was taken from our balcony in Innsbruck, Austria while on holiday. Once again, the first image was well exposed from my Fuji X-T1 and another SOOC JPEG. I utilized the entire suite of options from the 'Through the Woods' landscape preset offering to include local brush adjustment presets. (1) Base - Cinematic (2) Exposure - Less Highlights (3) Color Correct - Reduce Yellows (4) Tone/Tint - Warm (5) Polish - Sharpen (6) Vignette - Subtle Black + Bright Shadows Adjustment Brush on the ballon and Darken Shadows Brush on the mountains. 

Conclusion - Presets Worth the Investment?

So in the end are presets like what Sleeklens offer worth your hard earned money? Absolutely, but with a few caveats you should consider.

Preset packages tend to come with lots of looks/options some of which are superfluous or overkill for some photographer's editing needs, this package included. With so much at your fingertips it is easy to over-edit your images or just get lost in the editing process. If you know your way around Lightroom and have your own style chances are flooding your presets menu with more options isn't for you.

That said, presets tend to help photographers develop their style, help work through editing mental blocks and can be useful in learning how to edit as you can see the changes that happen.

While presets can be a dime a dozen the Sleeklens offering is different enough in the building block/layering methodology to offer something unique. While I'll remove certain presets & brush/gradient options I'll definitely keep a lot of it around for future use. If you are in the market for presets I'd definitely give them a solid look. 

https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets/

https://sleeklens.com/lightroom-tutorials/

*disclaimer - I did receive the presets free in exchange for an honest review.