1620 – Tell Me Why

This marks the start of a new review series, and of course it’s about the LX5. I’ll do it like I always do, I may put in some technical stuff, but mostly it’s about what really matters: How does it feel, how is it to use such a camera when you are accustomed to a DSLR, what are the advantages, what are the compromises.

Why did I do this at all? There are many reasons:

Well, you know, I’m a man and men need toys. Some may need more, some less, but hardly anyone of us is innocent.

I’m curious. I follow Juha’s fantastic blog and I am always amazed to see what he can do with his LX3. Thus I am curious what I can do, and the best way to find out, is just to try it.

I don’t do it because I want to stop using my D300. There are plenty of things that you can’t do with anything but a beefy DSLR.

Cost is also not a consideration. I currently own 21 lenses, thus much of the damage is already done. To the contrary: the LX5 is not a cheap camera, especially when you add the electronic viewfinder and a spare battery, as I did yesterday. This all added up to 650€. For 529€ (all current Austrian street prices) you get a latest generation Nikon D3100 (14 megapixels, gorgeous high-ISO) with the second generation of the stabilized 18-55 kit lens, or if you shell out 688€, you already get the D3100 with stabilized 18-55 + 55-200 lenses. You get slower lenses, much less noise at high-ISO, higher resolution, higher speed, more flexibility, a big system of lenses from multiple manufacturers, etc, etc. Cost is not a consideration 🙂

Weight is not a consideration. I always hold my D300 in the right hand, slinging the original camera strap around my wrist, holding the incredibly comfortable grip with my fingers, and I don’t get tired. It just works. My hands are big and are made for that, the weight is not a problem and carrying the camera this way allows me to respond to what I see almost immediately. Weight is not a consideration.

I like to use the square format. Having a switch on the LX5 that gives me an aspect ratio of 1:1 (and 2:3, 4:3 as well as 16:9) is very convenient. I’ve looked at other cameras that can be switched to square, but they are either in the same category (Olympus ZX-1) or Micro Four Thirds, and the even the one that interested me most, the new Olympus PEN E-PL2, is a bit heavy and a camera with interchangeable lenses. I already have a camera with interchangeable lenses and some weight. I didn’t want another one.

Btw: I’ve caught myself yesterday trying to take an image in portrait format while the camera was on 1:1 🙂

I have switched off the autofocus assist light (we’ll see how well this works in low light, but I can always turn it back on), turned all sounds off, and when I use the electronic viewfinder, this camera is absolutely unobtrusive. No sound, no light, you can use it everywhere without disturbing people. This is a stealth camera, this is a church camera, this is a chamber concert camera (although it does not have much reach).

Any more reasons? Follow this ongoing series of posts and find out 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Tell Me Why” by the great Dinah Washington. Oh how I love her voice! I have it on “The Complete Dinah Washington On Mercury Vol.7 1961”, the collection that I’ve linked to, and YouTube has another, different, Mercury recording from 1952.

8 thoughts on “1620 – Tell Me Why”

  1. “I have switched off the autofocus assist light (we’ll see how well this works in low light, but I can always turn it back on), turned all sounds off, and when I use the electronic viewfinder, this camera is absolutely unobtrusive.”

    In low light I usually switch to manual focus and put the LX3 to hyperfocal setting – the helpful display on screen is great for this. And the camera remembers the setting when you next need to use manual focus.

    What may be good for low-light work is a mini-tripod, the smaller the better. Mine is from Dealextreme and the price was about 3 euro including postage. This allows to put the camera on the ground, on various objects, to benefit from longer exposures.

    1. Hmm … I have yet to try manual focus. As regards manual focus, there is nothing better than a good old Nikon AI-S lens, but we’ll see 😛

  2. I forgot to note that it took a short while for the photograph to click, and then it clicked strongly indeed.

    A bit of clarification to my comment about manual focus… I didn’t mean that one should try to focus on a subject through the LCD – I have done a couple of times when the LX3 has been on a tripod, and it is not really a pleasure. What I meant is to use the DOF range which is shown on the LCD to set up the desired range.

    This of course works well only if you use aperture priority (I don’t use anything else on the LX3). For example, you may set the focus range from 2 meters to infinity – a good setting for general street photography. Or set it to 1…3 meters and take photographs of subjects in this range.

    I have used this mainly in night photography, and also with motion blur: set the desired focus range and take photographs of subjects while walking/skiing/in a car etc. As a bonus, there is no focus lag so the camera responds instantly.

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