Category Archives: Sony Cybershot DSC F707

It’s New Camera Time!

Uh-Oh!  I did it again!  Another new camera is on the way.  This time I’m adding the Panasonic GX-1, Micro Four Thirds (M 4/3) to the stable.

Panasonic GX-1

I know, I really didn’t need another camera.  And I actually wasn’t in the market for one, well at least not actively in the market (I’m always looking at camera-porn).  The problem is that this one kept popping up on various websites and in Twitter as the “Deal of the Day”.  It seemed like the price kept dropping every day.  I’ve seen this before, a camera company will work to clear out all of the old model prior to the introduction of the latest and greatest.  This is usually the time to score, and that’s why I went for it!

This Panasonic will work well with my existing M 4/3 gear.  I already have the wonderful Olympus E-P3, and an Olympus 14-42mm lens, along with a Panasonic 45-200mm lens.  Olympus and Panasonic M 4/3 lenses are interchangeable, without the need for an adaptor.  So, I’ll be able to use either one of my current lenses with this GX-1 body.

The GX-1 is considered one of the “Premium” cameras in Panasonic’s lineup.  There are quite a few features that have really got me interested including:

  • 16-mp sensor
  • High speed signal processing with 3 CPU’s and Venus Engine
  • 12800 High ISO capability
  • Built in flash
  • Touch control
  • Lots of button customizing

I got the camera from one of my favorite camera stores – Adorama.  When I saw the original “Deal of the Day”, it was $249.  I picked mine up for $239, and when I just checked it was back up to $249.  This is for the body only, it’s $399 if you want it with a lens.

Are there any negatives to this type of camera (interchangeable lens compact, M 4/3)?  To be honest – yes!  I wouldn’t want to be mis-leading, and as much as I love my Sony NEX3, and Olympus E-P3 they aren’t for everyone.  The biggest problem I have with them is the fact that they are definitely not for anything that moves fast!  That could be race cars, airplanes, or kids running up and down the soccer field.  Are the exceptions, yes!  But you have to work harder at setting the camera, and the conditions need to be just right.  You can’t just put it on automatic and start shooting.  If fast action is your thing, do yourself a favor, bite the bullet and buy a DSLR like the Canon T5i or the Nikon D5200.If you want something smaller and lighter, with great picture quality then go for a camera like the Panasonic GX-1 or the Olympus.  Fuji also makes some wonderful cameras in this category as does Sony.  While I’ll always have my big Canon gear, it will see much less use than my M 4/3 gear.  

That’s it for now.  I’ve already got my next post in mind.  It will be my review of the Panasonic GX-1.  Maybe I’ll compare it to my Olympus E-P3.  It might even be fun to compare it to my Sony F-707.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!

Getting to Know You!

One of the things I love about the Eastern Sierra is how familiar it has become.  In some ways, it almost feels like I’m going home every time my wife and I head out and up.

Silver Lake Reflections

The scene above was taken during my month long vacation last September/October.  During that time I was able to walk along the lake every day.

Although I’ve been to the Eastern Sierra many, many times, it was during my last visit that I really began to feel connected to the area.  There were patterns that I began to notice, such as when the sun would rise above the tall mountain peaks and bathe the lake with beautiful golden light.  Another pattern was the mist that would rise on the water shortly after sunrise, every morning.  I found this knowledge very helpful when planning my photo outings.

Every morning I would walk along the lake with my 2 Cairn Terriers.  They were always eager companions, and we had a lot of fun.  I always had a camera with me, and they were very patient when we stopped for a picture.

Silver Lake Sunrise

The photo above was just after sunrise, and except for the dogs, I had this scene all to myself.

Silver Lake, Blue Skies

The photo above was taken on one of my many walks along the lake.  This one was taken mid-morning, an hour or so after sunrise.  In addition to the beautiful scenery, fishermen were out on the lake, adding an interesting element.

Stormy Skies, Silver Lake

The scene above shows how the trees turned into their Fall Colors.  There is also an early Eastern Sierra snow storm brewing.

Getting to know this small piece of the Eastern Sierra allowed me to begin to understand what a wonderful place it is.  Although I had always thought I knew that, I really paid more attention to the details this time.  Maybe it was because I had enough time and wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere.  I was already there!  When I was out on my walks, I would really try to stop and take it all in, trying to live in the moment.

As for cameras, I did mention that I always had one with me.  I brought 5 cameras with me, and it really didn’t matter which one I used for my daily walks.  Sometimes I would bring my Canon 60D, other times it would be my 10 + year old Sony F707.  It wasn’t about the camera, and I really didn’t care if I had 16 mega-pixels available or just 5.  My intent was to simply capture the moment, and if I was lucky, maybe even a little of the emotion that I felt.

My hope in sharing this with you is to get you to slow down, take it in (wherever you may be), and live the moment.  If you have a camera with you, use it.  Try to capture the feelings you have for that special place and if you’re lucky, others with feel it too when you share your images with them.

That’s it for now.  If you’d like, share that special place with us here.  Tell us why it was special and what you were feeling when you tried to capture that moment.

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

The SLR Magic Lens

While I was browsing the goodies for my Sony NEX3 at Adorama (one of my favorite online Camera stores) I came across a lens called the SLR Magic.  There were a couple of them, but the one that caught my eye was the 35mm F1.7.

I was very curious about this lens that I’ve never heard of.  So, I started searching online for some information.  One of the websites that popped up in my google search was Steve Huff Photo, and he had done a review of the NEX5 with the SLR Magic 35!  After reading Steve’s review I was hooked and went back to Adorama and pushed the button.

After a few short days my package arrived, and I was surprised at how small it was (it actually fit in our small mailbox!  After opening it, I could see why.  The box containing the lens was small, and so was the lens itself.  Small yes, but it had a solid feel to it.  I quickly mounted it on my NEX3 and went into the menus to get it set up for a test.

The SLR Magic Lens is completely manual, no autofocus, no auto anything!  I had to set the camera to be able to fire without a lens attached since it didn’t recognize the SLR Magic.  The NEX3 also has a feature called Manual Focus Assist.  This will enlarge the picture on the LCD and make it easier to get the focus just right.  I assigned the MF Assist to one of my 3 soft buttons making it very simple to use when needed.

Here’s what the SLR Magic looks like mounted to my NEX3:

Here’s what the SLR Magic looks like compared to the Sony 18-55mm lens:

Just to give you another a different view and sense of the size of the NEX3 with SLR Magic, I placed it next to my Sony F707:

One of the questions you may be asking is why go back to a manual focus lens when I have all of this technology at my fingertips?  Good question, maybe I’m starting to go soft in the head!  Actually I was looking to shrink my photo equipment footprint, and stumbled upon the SLR Magic.  Using it was like stepping back in time, when there were no autofocus cameras, no image stabilizers, no auto exposure, no auto anything!  You actually had to stop and think about how you wanted to capture the scene, and how to set the camera to make it happen.  Having to manually focus and set the aperture gave me a taste of that simpler time, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed it!

Before I show you more samples from the NEX3 and SLR Magic 35mm I want to touch the subject of a smaller footprint again.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe I’m getting a little lazy, but whatever the reason, I’m very interested in shrinking the size of my photo equipment.  It really hit me in the back of the head during my month long vacation to the Eastern Sierra.  I had 5 cameras with me, and all of the bags and other crap to go along with them.  This takes up quite a bit of space in the motorhome.  And then when I actually used my larger DSLR Canon’s, I started to resent them a little.  At 7,500 feet, carrying anything for any length of time starts to become a chore.  When I started hiking (up to about 8,500 feet), I really started to dislike my heavy, bulky DSLR!  Small, quick, easy to carry; that’s what I’m interested in now!  The Sony NEX3 meets those requirements nicely!  I’ll talk more about shrinking equipment in another post.

Back to the NEX3 and SLR Magic 35mm.  Overall, I’m pleased!  The SLR Magic 35mm gives me another option that I didn’t have before (specifically F1.7).  Using F1.7 really blows out the background, something that isn’t as easy to do with my Sony 18-55mm lens.

Here are a few more photos.  These are from an outing to the Los Angeles Arboretum.

Orchids, Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F1.7

Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F1.7

Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F16

Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F2.8

Time to wrap this up!  My final thoughts on the SLR Magic are positive.  No, it’s not a perfect lens.  While it does feel pretty solid overall, the fit and finish are just ok.  The focusing ring has a rubber ridged grip that is crooked.  It doesn’t affect operation but looks sloppy.  Trying to nail the focus down even with the MF Assist feature of the NEX3 can be a bit tedious at times.  That’s not the lens fault, but some may not enjoy the challenge.  And even when it is properly focused, it will probably not be as sharp as other high end lenses such as Canons L series.  But the cost of SLR Magic is a whole lot less (only $139), so I’m ok with it’s imperfections.  If you’re looking for a simple, light weight lens with a big aperture, then the SLR Magic may be for you!  Check out Adorama and see if they have one for your camera!

Until next time, Happy Shooting!