Finding Out More On My GX1

As I use my Panasonic GX1 more and more, I’m REALLY liking what I’m seeing so far Smile  I haven shot near as many photos as I would like, but the ones I’m getting are pretty nice.  I’m planning to head out today and perhaps actually try to get some deliberate planned shots if I can.

Today you say – well, being in Calgary, I’m not able to go to work due to the flood from those rains we had last week.  Actually, I’ve been off since Thursday as downtown was one of the evacuation sites.  Estimated time back to work is this Wed/Thurs. – we’ll see if that happens.  Not that I mind – I needed the downtime but I’ve been busy on other “things” that needed catching up.  Yard work comes to mind…..

Some things I’m learning about my GX1:

Staying Out of IA

For starters, I’m trying to get out of using the Intelligent Auto Mode for the most part. I am, however, using the Programmed Auto  Mode more and more – in fact, that’s where I currently have it set..  Don’t get me wrong – IA does have it’s place and when I do use it, it works very well.  I just feel that slowly but surely, I need to start getting back into that manual mode – or at least Programmed Auto modeSmile   One of the interesting design changes that Panasonic did on the GX1, is that the IA mode is enabled away from where it is on the travel zooms and others that they have in their line.  It’s a button that you press and it lights up. 

P1000530

I still haven’t used the camera near as much as I should, but it’s just one of those things for the moment.  Again, this depends on circumstance as well.  My default setting for the moment is Programmed Auto which allows me to override settings.  What I’m after usually, is ISO more than anything.  This is one camera, from what I’m finding out, is that if I have to kick that ISO up past 800, it’s going to still get me a pretty good picture.  With the others, with the exception of the X10 and LX7, I do have to be a little more careful – depending on just how low the light is, the picture breaks up pretty bad.  With the zoom lenses, the don’t allow me to get into super low light stuff, but then, for the most part, I’m not in that situation enough that it mattsoers.  When I know I’m going into a low situation, I’ll usually have the X10 or LX7 along as well.

I’m sure you’ve seen all over the news about the flood in Calgary.  Well – I’m not near the flood zone, but at the same time, I’ve heeded the warnings about staying away, so I haven’t taken any pics or even tried to get close.  Tempting?  Absolutely, but I’m not going to be nosy about it either – just not there for that.  I’ll let someone else take those Smile  Sure it would be nice to do that, but still…..

Anyway – in the last little while, I’ve been taking some photos, but these were done on my X10 for my grandson’s birthday.

For close up work, the GX1 is “different” Smile  Not sure if this is different on other cameras in this class, but it doesn’t really have a macro mode in the sense of macro mode like the pointy shooties.  In reality, this sort of makes sense as you simply step away a bit anyway, but for certain things, the travel cams are better suited, or even the X10 or LX7.  Not that I don’t – I do, just go about it different – part of that creative process I guess…. 

For the more general shots I’m taking – I’m still in that “test” mode to see just what the camera is doing.  So far, I haven’t hit those situations where I need to fiddle too much, though I do see that day coming.

Versatility

It’s al little funny when you have multiple cameras, especially in my case about what to take when and where.  At the top end of things – I have the Panasonic GX1 and the Nikon 1 J1.  I have two zooms for both.  Next down the line, I have the Fuji X10 and the Panasonic LX7.  Then I have my travel cams – Fuji F800, Sony HX30 and Panasonic ZS25 and even further down – a Panasonic ZS1 and 15.  Yes, I’m “out there”  Taking lots of pics?  Sort of….

For weekends, the trend has been for me to take the GX1 and one other in my bag.  Usually one of the travel cams.  Sometimes, the Nikon, but not that often so far.  Family events – usually the X10 plus one of the travel cams.  Commuting and work – Panasonic LX7 and travel cams – usually one or two travel cams depending…. When I think about it, the LX7 is very rarely used on weekends. I should, but I’m simply more comfortable with the X10 – main reason – the manual zoom.

In one sense – the way I’ve got it set up at this stage – it works really well for me.  I’m bound and determined to stay on this portable mandate of mine and this combination so far has worked for me.  So far, anyway, I haven’t really required anything that in the world of DSLR but that option, of course, is till ultimately open – we’ll see how much pickier I get.

Picture quality for the things I’m doing so far – I have no complaints per se.  I am starting to hit the point where I’m starting to get what I “see” – so I”m happy about that.  For what I’m doing, I don’t do enough that sensor size  gets in the way that often.  I do however, shoot at max resolution for everything.

Color & Detail

From the color standpoint – compared to my other Panasonics, I would have to say that if you like how Panasonic does things, nothing is too much different Smile  One thing that I have noticed, though, and it may be simply sensor size, but the color is ever so slightly richer.  Because I”m doing a lot of flowers, scenery/landscapes, I do have the my default set to Vivid to get better greens, blues and reds.  One thing that I have noticed, though, is the multi metering mode does a better job of base dynamic range than my other cameras.  By that I mean, the rendering between say a blue sky with clouds or just blue sky, and the ground side of things – that vivid setting seems to stop that washout that can so easily happen.  Now, in saying that, I also haven’t used the camera in say a place like Hawaii either Smile  Each camera renders colors every slightly different as well. 

The GX1 does take a good picture, but when I look against say the X10 or Nikon J1, certaiand n types of shots tend to be every so slightly flat.  Not that it’s a necessarily a bad thing but just an observation.  The X10 and Nikon both tend to show colors perhaps ‘richer”.  My Sony HX30, again, depending on the shot, seems to be brighter – a noticeable “edge” perhaps?  In saying this, though, the average person wouldn’t care, and for the most part, neither do I – this is a “nitpicking” point.  The GX1 delivers a great shot, anyway you cut it from my standpoint.

Manual vs Automatic Zoom

Ever since I got back into this, I’ve always been a fan of manual zoom.  Just a throw back from the 35mm days, and there was no automatic zoom I guess Smile  When I looked at getting the GX1, I decided to get the kit zoom lens instead of a fixed focus lens.  I also added the 45-200 (90 to 400mm in 35 “talk”), so this gives me the 35mm equivalent of about 28mm to 400 mm – more than adequate for most things. In fact, I could probably gotten by with the 14-42.  Most of the things I do have so far fallen in that range.  In my 35mm days, the majority of the shots I did, were in the wide angle area and I tended to max out in that “portrait” area – 85mm to 100mm, depending.  Outdoor events tended to go beyond that.  

With digital, I’m finding that not that much has changed, but there’s not getting away from the fact that the base zoom lenses for both the GX1 and J1 make these units pretty versatile in their own right.  The one key thing though, is that for me, when I’m using these units, the manual zoom is simply easier to use.  I think that’s why I tend to use the X10 over the LX7.  The LX7 is better in low light, but the zoom isn’t manual.  Not that it doesn’t work well, just not as fast as a manual zoom. 

The other night, we had that big full moon and I tried my 45-200 to see what I could capture with it.  Gotta admit – I liked my travel zooms more here Smile  Not that the shots were bad, but 200/400mm just wasn’t enough.

Picture Quality

From a very general standpoint – the picture quality is not that noticeable if you don’t know where to look.  Where I see the big difference from the larger senor cameras, is resolution when you crop.  I do like both the Fuji’s and Panasonics colors for starters.  That’s one of the key reasons I’m using mostly Panasonic and Fuji.  My Sony HX30 is slightly brighter in some instances as is my J1 but for what I do and the amount of post processing I’m doing – more than adequate.  Again, this is me at this stage of the game, maybe one day, I’ll get a DSLR and I’ll see something different again Smile

The Tripod

Man… I fought with this in my head for a long time.  I do have a small Velbon from way back when and it was fine for the product home shots things I was doing with my home stuff, but with the GX1, it just wasn’t sturdy enough.  OK for product stuff where I could stay fairly low, but when a little height was involved.  PLUS, the GX1 with the  14-42 zoom, is not as light as you think – lighter than most DSLR’s but comparatively speaking to something like the X10 or LX7 – heavy.

Sooo… I started to look.  I wanted something that was light/portable, but strong enough to hold the 45-200 AND I wanted it small enough that I could attach it to my kit bag without adding weight.  On side of me wanted to stay a bit on the cheap side, but another side said I had to get into the “good stuff”.  Not having to get a tripod let alone using one for the last 20 years or so (or taking a lot of photos for that matter) was definitely an eye opener Surprised smile.  The realization that I did need one and a good one at that, I guess was a sign that I was progressing. 

Anyway, the one that I settled on, was the Promaster 2 with a Promaster ball head – it’s a 5 section one and one leg can taken out to be used as a monopod. The legs can be widened for those low shots.  Most important – it’s small and it’s carbon fibre (price one pays for lightness….)  It has twist locks – not fussy about these, but they are fast compared to lever locks.  So far, it works fine.  I have to be a little careful when I have the 45-200 on as the ball head isn’t large enough, but for the most part it’s nice.  I can set up very quickly and knock down very quickly, which is what I was looking for.   I’ve used it enough that the results I’m getting are worth the expense.  With the ball head, it was about $300 all said and one.  For me, that was steep to say the least, but in the long haul, I think it will pay for itself very quickly.  I COULD have ordered one online, yes, but then again, I’m also one that prefers to “touch and feel” first.  More in another entry later….

General Use

Up to this point, I haven’t used my GX1 near as much as I would like.  In reality, not totally unexpected either, as it was designed to be more of the “serious shoot” scenario to me.  I was hoping to get out more during my downtime, but it hasn’t worked out quite that way.  Despite the fact that I’m quite a bit north of the flood zones, the traffic is still nuts and even where I am, going out can be a chore.  PLUS we have this intermittent weather that makes it difficult to a certain degree. 

To add to all of this, of course, all the things that get backed up during the work times now have to get caught up Sad smile  Kudos to those who can stay organized or don’t have that “busy” lifestyle. I picked this this lifestyle, so I’ll have to make the best of it.

Onward….

The Future

For the next little while – perhaps to the end of the year even, I don’t have plans for adding equipment. I don’t foresee even needing a bigger flash, though it has occurred to me more than a few times now that it would be nice to have more “reach”, but again, not enough to justify.  More important, is that I have to take more pics……

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About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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