Eiffel

It’s been photographed more times that one could possibly count and many times by myself. Still, the Eiffel Tower always impresses during a stroll around Paris. This particular sunny day the clouds & sky made for a dramatic setting that caught my eye. As usual, my walk-around camera of choice was the Fuji X100T, always a solid go-to camera.

Beijing

A city over more than 21 million people full of mystery, intrigue, the ultra rich, the ultra poor and surprisingly fine coffee & beer. I’ve been fortunate to be flying here a lot lately with some long layovers to explore and begin to get to know the city. While my company puts us up in a very nice hotel in expat central a stones throw from Tiananmen Square, I’ve tried to venture from the worn path and get to know Beijing properly. Branching out on the subway lines one at a time has proved rewarding. It’s slow going but I’m learning to listen to the rhythm of the city and embrace its offerings.

Exploring the Forbidden City at sunrise | Fuji X100T

If I had any preconceived notions of the city they are long gone. The people are friendly, the beer is tasty, the coffee is proper and the place is downright photogenic. I’ve had to work at finding the local places, finding the small moments of peace & zen, coming out of my amateur street photographer shell and get used to the ‘big brother’ is watching you mentality but embracing it all is wonderful. Beijing offers everything a modern metropolis does and doesn’t. The smells (pleasant & not), the sights (same), the dynastic history and the people make for a photo rich environment.

Everyone is watching in Beijing | Fuji X100T

I’ve found my everyday walk around camera (Fuji X100T) to be a perfect fit for blending in on the streets and making friends with its minimal intrusiveness. Though even its minimalist form has attracted the ire of security personnel a time or two already, a friendly smile and shrug of ‘sorry’ seems to accommodate them well enough. Certainly a different environment than taking photos in western countries though not insurmountable by any means. Just be sure to ask before taking photos any military/police or for that matter any seemingly sensitive locations.

It’s a jungle out there | Fuji X100T

The Forbidden City theatre with a bit of smog from Jingshan Park | Fuji X100T

Land of the Selfie, not sure Mao would approve | Fuji X100T

Getting lost on the side & back streets offer a relaxed version of Beijing | Fuji X100T

Approaching people in Beijing has proved fun & challenging | Fuji X100T

Checking out the offerings on the busy ‘Ghost Street’ | Fuji X100T

I’ll keep exploring and finding what Bejing has to offer. Stay tuned for more stories & photos from here and around Asia as I dig in deeper & work on my street photographer mojo.

Lisbon + Zurich

Perhaps an odd couple for cities, but my first trip on my new plane fortunately took me to Portugal and Switzerland. Managed a couple of quick walkabouts to put the Fuji X100T through the paces since I've been busy with training the last six weeks. Nice to get out & shoot again!

The Vasco da Gama Bridge - long exposure X100T

Of course Photo Lego Dude needed his shot of the bridge - X100T

A little exploring of Old Town Lisbon was of course in order - X100T, edit in Snapseed

Street scenes in Lisbon - X100T

Then 24 hours in Zurich - X100T

Lake Zurich - X100T

Evening Falls - X100T

G'night Zurich - X100T

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.