#1257. It’s Paris, Baby!

By Chris Stump | Travel Photography

Jan 03

So my son and I flew to Paris to meet up with my wife, who was there for work. What a wonderful week of restaurants, museums, and shops.


After a decades long career in photography and related endeavors I don’t shoot professionally anymore, or at all for that matter. But the upcoming trip gave me a kick to the creative head. After years using Canon gear I downsized to a Lumix micro 4/3 [MFT] system a while back. It’s a trade off, but the size and weight savings suited me at the time.


While not using it much I have of course kept my kit relatively intact and functional. I did sell the Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm f0.95 [e-21mm] manual focus lens recently. It was too specialized and slow in use to justify the weight and value. I’m sure the new owner is putting it to good use.


Of my two cameras I’ve always considered the Lumix G9 and the larger, faster Leica DG ASPH lenses to be for local landscape work and any unavoidable pro jobs; and the much smaller GX85 paired with a couple of cheaper, lighter, slower but very capable Lumix branded kit lenses to be for travel. The later is what I packed into a tiny Tamrac bag for our last [pre-covid] trip, to Canada, and it served me well. 


But this trip was different. It’s Paris, baby! I have a Manfrotto backpack which holds the entire G9 kit along with a small tripod and 15″ MacBook Pro. I decidedly did ‘not’ want to deal with that on an overseas trip. But I did find a nice sling bag that was more ergonomic and specifically made for DSLR gear, and still had a slot for my 11″ MacBook Air.  


I would never have designed a bag this…hybrid…but it was a wonderful find. The laptop pouch was taller enough than my MFT gear that a nice space was available up top for easy access to other travel stuff as necessary [gloves, scarf, snacks, etc.] The bag, an ‘Incase DSLR Sling Pack’ worked out very well. I really do wish the zippers were more robust, but I managed not to break anything hurriedly repacking whilst exiting Ubers, buses, and planes. 


Since the bag offered to accept larger gear, that’s what I brought along. The Lumix G9, Leica DG 8-18mm f2.8-4, 50-100mm f2.8-4, and 15mm f1.7 lenses [all focal lengths x2 for 35mm- equivalent, of course] made the trip along with the laptop, chargers, cables, filters, spare cards, reader, passports, itinerary, and car keys. 


Much of the above was offloaded to the hotel safe upon arrival, so weight when traipsing around for the day wasn’t ‘too’ noticeable. But later in the week, and in the evenings, I was just carrying the camera with the fast little 15mm around on a strap. 


What is interesting about this last thought is that I have been wondering what the perfect travel camera might be. I’ve considered the newer D-Lux 7 upgrade to my old Leica pocket zoom [Typ 109], and the Leica Q2 as well. That is an apple to oranges comparison though, since the Q has a fixed focal length lens as well as a full frame sensor.


And I did, I really have to admit, notice that the MFT files can be a bit noisy…lacking just a little at times. Full sun, tripod, remote release, and the MFT files are terrific. But take a lens extended to f4 length handheld, add a polarizer and occasional clouds, and the shutter speeds start heading down while ISO creeps up. Not a great combination with this sensor, especially when printing to A2.


I was reminded that you have to be very careful and intentional when shooting MFT. And that’s not always possible when you’re moving, jostling in the crowd, keeping up with other people in an unfamiliar place. And, concerning both other cameras, I did have an [admittedly few] very successful shots with the longer focal length lens that they simply can’t accommodate.


So the takeaway for me is that no future trips are on the horizon, therefore no decisions need be made soon. I’ll continue to mull over my impressions and the 1k+ files brought home from this trip, keep a more informed eye out for a better solution, and dream of my next fresh croissant and jam.


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  • PaulB says:


    You are stirring up a good case of wander lust for a lot of us. Your images reinforce my desire to visit sooner rather than later, and that you really are not giving up much with the smaller sensor, for comparable pixel counts.

    Also, welcome to the M43 wing of the Dear Susan crew. A Lumix G9 is my primary camera for traveling, particularly for air travel.

    Concerning the weakness’s of M43 images, I’ve found that processing software plays a big role in my ultimate satisfaction.

    Please travel and share with us again.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Paul, I couldn’t help reading that sentence about processing software! Any chance you’d send us a few lines and suggestions, for the rest of that M43 wing? 😉 Sprry to pounce on you, but it sounds useful and interesting. Cheers

      • PaulB says:

        Hi Pascal

        Sorry for the delay in replying. I wanted to look back to some recent images to make sure my thoughts were current and not comparing memories separated by several software generations.

        I found a few images made this past summer with my G9 in Montana and found some that were shot at ISO 6400 and 1/20 or 1/30 of a second. Looking at these images in iPhotos the noise is pretty pronounced; particularly in the JPGs. Processing in iPhotos (the iPad version) does a fair job of cleaning the JPG up to where I would call it acceptable for social media, but not quite “good”. I get much better results processing the images in Capture One 22 on my laptop; I typically only process the raw files, though the JPGs do start out better than the (iPad) iPhoto versions.

        Over time, I have noticed the same thing in general comparing raw images from my Leica M9 processed in Lightroom 4, and same generation versions of Aperture and Capture One. Aperture and Capture One gave cleaner and more detailed renditions of an image than Lightroom did.


    • Chris Stump says:

      Thanks Paul! I appreciate the welcome to the M43 community, and confirmation of the G9 as a worthy travel companion.

      After downsizing from Canon gear I went completely in the direction of ‘smallest kit possible’…mainly the Leica Typ 109 mentioned. [can you believe I used to haul a full Hasselblad system down to Mexico?!]

      So, the G9 seemed counter-productive…too much closer to the full-sized DSLR. But now I see it as a path forward …very much reduced bulk with actually pretty nice quality images. I just have to be a little more disciplined, and re-learn some craft.


  • jean pierre guaron says:

    Wonderful photos, Chris. Who says we can’t go to places that have been shot a million times already, and take better photos than anyone else has? I loved this selection – Pl Trocadero pretty well marked the start of our honeymoon, we married nearby and came here for a glass of champagne to start the celebrations!
    And until Pascal introduced me to his favourite hotel in Paris, we always stayed near here.
    Is that your kid, staring out the window of the plane? – that photo seems very cinematographic, to me – great shot.
    But sigh – so are all the others!

    • Chris Stump says:

      Hi Jean Pierre,

      Yes, that is my son in the window. He is 6 going on 16. He still recounts walks down the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, and the view of the tower from the Pl Trocadero was the absolute highlight of the trip for him.

      You must share with us your favorite hotel…We’ll certainly be back!


  • Pascal Ravach says:

    You clearly didn’t loose your craft, Chris 🙂
    For M43, your images have a beautiful color palette and a very good control of highlights…
    These Leica M43 lenses have always tempted me; on top, the Panasonic bodies have a subtle palette color that I don’t get from my Olys, who draw more on the « punchy » side… still miss my GH for that matter; but it might be simply my specific lenses… let’s say « just my two cents » 🙂

    • Chris Stump says:

      Thanks for your comments Pascal!

      I do love the Leica DG lenses in particular…they were certainly what attracted me to the system.

      Interesting that you should comment on the color palette. I think there was a wonderful serendipity to recent computer problems that may have ‘fixed’ my color issues with the Lumix system.

      Years ago I used the new-to-me Lumix cameras to photograph some yacht races. [I’m sure there’s a DS article or two on that]. What I didn’t focus on, but certainly noticed, was how differently the new system rendered color, blues and greens in particular, compared to my previous system.

      While I found the resulting images pleasing and even ‘painterly’…subtle as you say, I was a bit concerned whether I could get back to a more normal, traditional, palette if necessary [a pro job, wedding, etc].

      Fast-forward to now, when I recently had to replace a corrupted profile on my computer [long story involving hacking the OS and a ruined hard drive]. Having not used LightRoom for quite a while I didn’t bother to figure out how to move my multitude of old presets over, and just created new ones. Et voilà. Starting from scratch produced nice, clean, yet still nuanced images. Certainly different from my old system, but in a wonderful way.

      Thanks for your “two cents”!

  • PaulB says:

    OOPS! I over looked Pascal’s request for suggestions in my reply above. Here are a few for everyone, not just M43 users.

    Always shoot Raw and large/fine JPG formats. This will give you a better JPG file to review on your camera screen than the default imbedded JPG. It also reduces the compression applied to the JPG files, so we get more of the original data.

    If you have two card slots, save the Raw files to the fast slot and JPGs to the other one. This will give you one card to load to the computer and one for fast review, social media from a tablet or phone, and back up. Depending on the trip, I may not take my laptop and this prevents me from loading Raw files to my iPad. My iPad loads all the files on the card into iPhotos, but iPhotos does not differentiate Raw/JPG by thumbnail and won’t process the Raw files when selected. This saves me time, hassle, and iPad storage on a trip, and if I don’t want to load the JPGs to my computer they are on a separate card.

    In your camera, set noise reduction to low or off; I turn it off. This allows more noise into the original files, but keeps the capture data intact and I want everything to be available for my processing software. The smaller sensor sizes bring more noise due to the smaller pixels and the camera manufacturers can be pretty heavy handed with compression and noise reduction.

    If you are working between a tablet and a (desktop/laptop) computer, try the same software on the computer. For example, the computer version of iPhotos has a lot more capability than the tablet version, not to mention a lot more available processing power.

    If you are not happy with your processed images make sure you have the latest updates (i.e. V#.x.y vs 1.0) for your software.

    If you are still not happy try different/newer software. Some companies offer free trial periods. Though, before getting started, do spend some time on YouTube or the company’s website to see how the software works and how to get started. Some programs, like Capture One, have multiple ways of working and can do things differently than you might expect even though it looks like something you have seen before.

    An example of the above is how in how images are loaded into Capture One. Lightroom, Capture One, iPhotos, Aperture, and the Microsoft Photos App all load photos into a central location (in Capture One this is known as a “Catalog”), and the program will work with the images from there. Capture One also has the option to work with images kept in separate folders, which is known as working with “Sessions”, and each folder is adjusted and tracked separately. Capture One has very specific steps to follow to bring images from your card or starting file, into a Capture One folder. If you don’t follow this process, you may not know where your images are actually stored. Don’t ask me how I know. 😉 Fortunately, Capture One keeps track of where the images are and what is being done to them. So you can still function, even if you don’t know where they went.


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