I think this site has three main elements; Travel, Motorcycling and Photography. The later I have not posted so much about. (maybe poor grammar is the fourth element ha-ha, I need a sub editor)
After a 30 year hiatus I am again a Canon user. Last Canon I owned was the EOS 650 back in 1988. That was the first EOS camera. The beginning of EF autofocus lenses and the camera used to take the first photo uploaded to the internet. Far too much for my first proper camera. From film I moved to video around 1992 where I stayed for the next ten years.
With a background in video it’s perhaps odd in this YouTube era I don’t videoblog. For me video ended up being contrived, made to please others. Photography is just for myself. I drifted back to photography around 2002 with the arrival of digicams.
The Nikon Coolpix 2100 had 2 megapixel sensor and a optical viewfinder. Image quality was not very good. My first digital camera jumped ship, literally, while riding 100+ kph in the New England region never to be seen again. I replaced it with a Coolpix 3200 which had 3.2 megapixels and slightly better images. That slipped from hands whilst being passed to someone in Canada and stopped working.
Having lost two cameras I looked for something cheap and got a Sony Cybershot DSC-U for half price. But it had poor image quality. I sold that and got a Panasonic Lumix compact with 4.0 megapixels around 2006. This was the first digital camera I had that took an acceptable photo. I got a few years from that camera before it too slipped from hands. At the Timmelsjoch pass Austria breaking the lens.
Olympus released their M4/3 sensor Pen camera in 2009 and this was a jump in image quality for a compact size camera. I struggled with it because the rear screen was terrible in sunlight and I was often guessing what was in frame. I sold it and moved to a Pentax DSLR. This had great image quality but of course a DSLR is big. Really big. I had not fully thought that through. I got a tank bag to carry it on my bike but never took it with me to any social events so it was the wrong choice.
Ebay let me change cameras without losing much money. It was before they raised their fees to exorbitant levels. I went back to Olympus with their Pen Mini that had a new electronic viewfinder accessory. This was a really nice setup for awhile. Alas it was broken on my ride in Thailand. Sigh. Well least I didn’t drop it.
I used my phone few years and pondered if wanting to buy another camera. There isn’t a big gap from today’s smartphones to cameras but the user experience is very different. Couple of years ago I got the Panasonic Lumix LX100. It produced some lovely images on my ride to the Goto islands – when it worked. It had a fault that affected many LX100’s causing it to front focus which means the camera does not want to focus to infinity. I persisted with manual focus but I could not be sure the shot was pin sharp until reviewed on a bigger screen and then it was too late.
I sold it and last year got the Lumix GX85 which seemed the ideal replacement. Incredibly – more focus problems. On my ride in India many photos were slightly out. The camera and lenses passed a focus test but would sometimes produce fuzzy photos.
No more Lumix cameras for me, not ever. Panasonic you have quality control problems. The GX85 gathered dust this year until I found I could trade my gear at Map Camera who confirmed it had focus issue. (they refurbish before selling) What’s more they had some Canon G1XMIII cameras already traded, in mint condition checked with warranty so the changeover was reasonable.
Seems a long road from the Canon EOS 650 to the Canon G1XMIII. This is a camera somewhat maligned online. Reviewers say not having a wide aperture who can it possible suit. But hang on, you get a Canon DLSR sensor and a Canon DSLR kit spec lens, a combo millions of people produce good results with, packed into a compact camera … but that’s no good?
The lens, a 24mm-72mm f2.8-5.6 is fine for all my travel photography. Reading between the lines it seems a lot of anti Canon sentiment came bubbling to the surface. I shoot scenery, wide aperture doesn’t concern me much but if seeking control over background defocus for portraits or street photography then compact consumer cameras are not your best choice. The often recommended Sony RX series with a one inch sensor when lens is at portrait length shows f2.8, but with a sensor crop of 2.7 times it’s only the 35mm equivalent of around f8.0 of background defocus. You need a big sensor, fast lens of standard or telephoto length. You can read more about circle of confusion online, its a lengthy subject not understood by many but if you want big blur in small device for social media buy a new smartphone. You will be surprised at how good the latest computational photography effects are.
Back to the G1XMIII. I made a few trips to my local shop to play with the camera before buying and first thing I noticed is how good the OLED viewfinder is. Panasonic use a field sequential type screen for their EVF’s which show colours sequentially. The OLED offers so much more clarity and I suspect some of not being able to tell images were out of focus were due to the field sequential display viewfinders. Canon provides their advanced dual pixel focusing in this camera so I probably need not worry about out of focus images going forward but nice to know my eyesight isn’t as bad as I thought.
It has a quality feel and is made in Japan. It has a built in ND filter but can accept any 37mm filter also. Water and dust sealing is good feature when you have a non detachable lens and sensor cleaning is not easy. It weighs much less so my jacket doesn’t feel like it has a half a brick inside anymore and with a collapsible lens is thinner like the LX100 was.
A big deal for me is finally a camera that has working panorama mode that produces a large detailed image. The GX85 panorama mode rarely worked. I always aim to get panorama photos done on the spot rather than wait until back to my computer only to find the images are not going to stitch well for various reasons. So I have been relying on my phone since no camera so far could manage this task. Looking forward to shifting this to the Canon with its superior dynamic range. The video is 1080 and this was also attacked in reviews. With a device made for video, GoPro or camcorder, the still image capability will be glossed over. But every still camera gets roasted if not offering pro video features, no off camera mic, no 4K. Kind of like “journalists” reviewing a ADV bike and moaning because it doesn’t suit track days or have 200hp. Objective review is an oxymoron but bias on the internet is ten fold what an editor of a print magazine would have permitted to be published. But I digress.
It is Obon holiday season next week in Japan, after this and typhoon number two for 2018 have passed I shall weather permitting visit Sado island and give an honest update on the camera’s strengths and weaknesses.
Initial follow up. Well I am happy so far. I used it on my South Africa and Oman rides and the photos from those rides are excellent quality despite only shooting Jpeg as my post edit software had no lens correction for the camera. Now it hopefully does so I expect to see even more from it going into this year shooting raw format.
Update April 2019. I am impressed with how much more dynamic range the larger sensor has compared to Micro 4/3rds and the focusing is vastly superior. The lens is mostly bright enough for me but not as sharp as I would like. That is hard task coming from the 20mm f1.7 prime I used a lot before. My software Luminar does not do a good job of correcting the lens barrel distortion or otherwise developing raw images so I am still mostly stuck with jpeg.