Review – Panasonic Lumix LX-100

When I want to review a camera but the manufacturer plays the “someone will contact you shortly” game… I buy the camera myself. The Panasonic Lumix LX-100 has been on my radar for some time. 4K video, 12.8mp micro four thirds sensor, fast Leica glass. All the ingredients for a great little camera. Do the specs add up? Let’s find out.

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This thing is a dust magnet…

Let’s start with 4K video. I’m not a video guy but this thing is seriously impressive given it’s small size. 30 frames per second might not be enough for the hardcore videographers out there but this camera isn’t aimed at them. Sadly my video skills are abysmal so I’ll post something dug up from YouTube in place of my kid playing indoor soccer.

Video = good, but how does the LX-100 fair as a still camera? It’s bigger than the Sony RX100 IV but it has a larger micro 4/3 sensor, larger than the Sony’s 1″ sensor. It fits in a coat pocket but it’s a bit big to tuck into your Levis. Full manual controls with dedicated dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation, and an aperture ring on the lens. The Lieca DC Vario-Summilux lens is fast and sharp. Its 10.9-34mm focal length (25-74mm full frame equivalent) and f/1.7-2.8 aperture are a good combo.

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Colour and contrast are are good in most light as long as you don’t push ISO above 1600. Higher ISO’s produce a strange yellow/orange hue. This is my first micro 4/3 experience and I was hoping for better ISO flexibility. That being said the built in image stabilization made hand holding longer shutter speeds a good option.

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Low light performance is just ok. Noise is controllable as long as you stay under ISO 1600, ISO 800 and under are strongly recommended. Auto-focus in low light is truly terrible (sorry Panasonic) and often results in complete failure. Manual focusing is a good alternative. It utilizes a zoomed in area and focus peaking in the center of the frame.

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The Leica glass is impressive. Edge to edge sharpness is good wide open and gets better as the lens is stopped down. At f/1.7 you can get acceptable shallow depth of field but the bokeh is kind of blah. It almost looks like smartphone bokeh.

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Macro shooting is good but again auto-focus drops the ball. To focus on close subjects you have to use manual focus. Pretty typical for close focusing though and not a bad thing.

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There are some creative filters you can shoot with but they’re mostly garbage. The only one I found useful was high contrast black and white. After shooting with Fujifilm’s film simulations other creative filters are always disappointing. Let this be a lesson, don’t shoot with filters because they suck.

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Long exposures look good aside from some weird lines in the starbursts around lights. Noise is well controlled and the menu and dials are easy to navigate to get the perfect long exposure.

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For all of you food instagrammers the LX-100 is a great choice. Small, discreet, good colour, rich detail, shallow depth of field wide open. Food photography is where this little camera shines.

The odd thing about the LX-100 is that it has a twin. The Leica D-Lux Type 109. It’s almost identical inside and out. The LX-100 has a nice grip and thumb rest where the D-Lux is smooth and minimalist but other than that? The LX-100 costs $800-$1000+ CAD where the Leica is $1599 CAD. I can’t imagine the Leica being worth the extra cash.

So who’s the Lumix LX-100 for? It’s perfect for the hobby/enthusiast photographer looking to take their images and video to the next level. It combines great video with good image quality and packs it into a small, well built camera with a premium feel and look that will appeal to the fashion conscious. It doesn’t quite hold up if you’re a serios shooter looking for a pocket/travel camera. It’s close but it’s not quite there.

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Scott.

 

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Retro Review – Minolta Hi-Matic AF2

Retro Reviews are something new for WFLBC.com. I love film, I love old cameras, this is something I’m very excited about. First up, the Minolta Hi-Matic AF2. A 35mm fixed lens point and shoot from 1981.

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Minolta Hi-Matic AF2

This camera is very much a film equivalent to the modern Fujifilm X100 series of rangefinder styled premium point and shoots. 39mm fixed f/2.8 lens, auto focus, auto exposure, the only thing manual on this camera is film loading and advance. It has a large, bright, parallax corrected viewfinder with bright frame lines. There are 2 LED’s. one that indicates the need for the built in flash (which beeps like crazy) and one that tells you if you’re focused on something near or far. It also beeps if you’re out of focus which is kind of cool/kind of annoying.

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Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400

Auto focus is very accurate and quite fast for a camera of this vintage. The lens gives fantastic contrast making it perfect for street photography and black and white film.

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Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400 – with flash.

The shutter is very quiet, another good feature for a street camera. The leaf shutter makes a weird sound best described as a tiny robot sneezing.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400 – with flash

The little pop-up flash is impressive. It does its job well even in bright sunlight. Ilford HP5 loves this camera and the camera loves it back. Dark blacks and bright whites that border on overexposed when the flash is used. I like that look.

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Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400 – with flash

Color reproduction is great, even with Fujifilm drugstore film loaded up. I’m blown away by the sharpness of the lens. This camera will probably see some travel miles logged this summer. Montreal, a road trip to Alberta, and a weekend in BC’s Cariboo region.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Unlike a lot of cameras from this era the AF2 takes AAA batteries. Anyone who’s tried to resurrect an old film camera knows the pain of finding extinct batteries or using a modern equivalent that isn’t quite right.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

The Hi-Matic line reaches back to the 60’s with some great manual rangefinders. I have a 7s I’ll be reviewing soon. The AF2 is kind of stuck between 2 eras. Rangefinders were all but gone in the late 70’s aside from Leica and a few others. The AF2 isn’t a rangefinder but it looks and feels like one. It adds some 80’s electronics but sticks to manual film advance. It’s a bit of an odd duck but that’s typical Minolta.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400
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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Prices for the AF2 are all over the place right now. As more street photographers rediscover this little gem the price will certainly go up. Right now they’re anywhere from $10 to $100+. There are wide and tele lens attachments, just like the X100. It’s like Fujifilm used this thing as a template.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

You may wonder why I bother with film. My digital Fuji X Series cameras offer exceptional image quality, the ease of automatic and digital everything along with great manual controls, and all the cool retro looks of film cameras. Megapixels, instant gratification, and the ability to shoot thousands of images just to pick a few good ones have dumbed down photography to the point where it is losing its artistic appeal. Film is magic to me. Film is the unknown in an age where Google makes you think you’re a genius. 24 or 36 chances to create art and you can’t be sure you’ve done anything until the roll is done.

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Stay tuned for more retro reviews!

Scott.

Nine O’Clock Gun Co. Pop Up Shop

 

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My pals at The Nine O’Clock Gun Company are having a one day pop up shop on May 7th (10am – 6pm) at 4368 Main St in Vancouver. There will be a limited number of Dugout VIP passes for sale that include a limited edition beer from Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks.

From their website –

On May 7 – we will be launching The Fielder’s Caps Collection in 4 styles including kids and performance mesh.

The Dugout VIP Pass entitles you see and reserve one of our Fielder’s Caps before anyone else even sees the new designs. You choose any hat and it will be packaged especially for you to pick up at the event.

Each VIP Pass comes with a limited edition bottle of Cannon IPA by Fuggles and Warlock Craftworks….

Plus one ticket to our annual night out at the Vancouver Canadians game on August 17th!

Available: 16.

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VIP passes go one sale today (April 2nd). Prebuys for pickup at the event go on sale May 1st. I’ll be on site snapping pictures and maybe drinking beer… Passes and prebuys can be found on the Nine O’clock Gun website.

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Me and my favourite N.O.G. bucket

I hope to see you at the event on May 7th!

Scott.