We’re going to Paris!
Well, next year, and probably in the Fall…so it’s a ways off. But we’re planning. What fun. ‘Trip of a lifetime’ to be sure. However, this will not be a photo-safari a la Pascal and his pals. I will not be photographing when and where I want, but will instead be led like a pack mule by my wife and young son. [That’s not fair, we’re going to be very relaxed and just immerse ourselves, but still…]
This means that expectations from a photographic point of view will have to be dialed down a tad. Just the same, you know I’m already picking out my kit. Heck, this is half the fun…so let’s get started. We all know how a new lens can jump-start our photography, all I can say is ‘try a trip to Paris!’ This has me considering a complete overhaul. In fact, the changeover has already begun.
I started out asking myself the question ‘If price was no object, what would you take?’ This is a fun exercise, not because it’s true [it most definitely is not], but because it gets you to really evaluate your priorities. I realized that size and weight were the primary concerns here. Size not only because there will be lots of other stuff to haul around, but also since I don’t want to advertise to would-be thieves. And weight for obvious reasons. Image quality still important, but again, this will be mainly a snapshot trip, so it had to move down one peg on the list.
First decision made. As surprising as it is to hear me say it, the gorgeous 5DS and bevy of L lenses will be staying home. My only other camera is a compact Leica D-Lux Typ 109. With size and weight as primary considerations I next turned to this camera for the trip, but immediately knew I wasn’t fully enamored of the choice.
It’s a great camera which actually took three photos that won awards for me last year, as well as all the pics in this story. However I do find it fiddly to use with tiny, plastic controls; and my 60yr old eyes just don’t work well with the viewfinder. It also has only a 12mp m4/3 sensor. A modern 20mp 4/3 sensor may well offer resolution ‘as good as medium format film’ used to, as I often read, but this sensor is not quite there.
Having said that, the Typ 109 would no doubt do a fine job, but this is the trip of a lifetime so let’s look around. First thought was the new version of this same camera [‘better the devil you know…’]. The new D-Lux 7 sports 40% more pixels, which is huge. I also read that the zoom-by-wire functionality has been improved…one of those ‘fiddly’ things that bugged me. I don’t know that the viewfinder is any better, and the tiny, pointy, plasticy controls will not have changed, but I could more realistically get on board with this option now that the resolution is reasonable.
So decision #2 made. With all the above in mind I listed the Typ 109 for sale. They still command a decent price, and whether it was to take on the trip or not, I could always upgrade to the new version if no other small cameras prove themselves to me first.
Meanwhile, decision #3 made itself for me. You see, I realized that unless I was willing to travel with one fixed lens, say a Leica Q or some flavor of Sony RX, I was going to have to go with a smaller sensor size.
The less than FF landscape is so jumbled and fragmented, at least to me, that I’ve avoided really looking into it. I just can’t get on board with APS-C. The DSLRs are almost as big, and expensive, as FF, and not worth the trade off to me. I do admit to concerns with how small 4/3 is, but anything smaller is a no-go zone for me as well. I mean, honestly, the Leica Vario has a 1” sensor. For $3,000. Are you kidding me? Absolutely not happening.
Likewise the Sony A series and Fuji cameras. I just don’t feel them, as obviously competent as they may be. This is a good thing. Too many choices is exhausting. By eliminating these options I’m saved a lot of work.
I had long wondered about the Panasonic Lumix G series. My Typ 109 was really a re-badged Panasonic after all, so it’s not that much of a leap. I like that there is a full system of larger and smaller bodies, with lots of Leica glass available as primes, but also in my preferred zoom configuration. [I know what you’re saying ‘he values Leica glass but then buys (often plastic barreled) zoom versions?’ What can I say…juggling prime lenses ten times a day in dusty back alleys while keeping an eye on a kid and dodging pick-pockets?…just not my idea of a good time. Call me crazy.
I read up on the Lumix series, and thought I’d pick up an old GX7 and a lens just to see what it was all about. Then I read Mike Johnston’s article where he switched over to the Lumix. Huh. Concept validated.
I surfed over to Amazon to look for a used 7, and for not much more found an 85 bundled with two zooms. The lenses aren’t the Leica variants, but they were very well regarded, small and light, and practically free. Done and done. They’ll be here this week, and I have a year to learn the format and pick up some Leica glass well ahead of the trip if I like what I see [or the D-Lux 7 if I don’t!].
So there you have it. My ‘Camera for Paris’ journey in 5 minutes. I’m going to be surprised if a compact Lumix and a couple of Pana-Leica zooms don’t accompany me on the trip. 🙂
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