GAS Dear Giary!

Graah. This is getting tiresome.

Ideas I've been bouncing off the wall today.

  1. The µ4/3 option with Panasonics
    • Dual GX80 cameras and a fistful of lenses
    • no WR but not a huge prob
    • Kit weight: 1.2 kg
    • The biggest con: that disc-shape flare with these primes that I have.
    • Huge pro: shared batteries, shared quality and behavior, dual body.
    • Pro: lower-fidelity gear allows for a more flexed attitude towards photography -- a good idea in cold January perhaps?
  2. Panasonic S5 kit from BF sales
    • Epic IQ[1]
    • +WR with those Panasonic S lenses
    • Kit weight 1.1 kg without tele option, 1.6 kg with one GX80 + 35-100 as tele pairing
    • The biggest con: weight will get on my shoulder.[2] A month is a long time.
    • The biggest pro: can possibly bring a selection of character lenses with me, shoot with good variety each day. One day pack a Panasonic 50, the other, only a vintage Pentax.
  3. Leica Q and Panasonic 35-100
    • Radically epic IQ[1]
    • No WR unless Q2
    • Kit weight: 1.2 kg
    • Pro: surgically sharp tools but still a hugely relaxed photography atmosphere because I only have the bare minimum to cover FLs from 28 to 200mm eqv.
  1. Nihon chan deserves the best!
  2. Based on how I imagine Tokyo to be, the big backpack might not the be most fluent tool to be carrying gear there. Imagine negotiating those tiny izakayas and crowded subway cars!
Ideas I've been bouncing off the wall today.
Based on how I imagine Tokyo to be, the big backpack might not the be most fluent tool to be carrying gear there. Imagine negotiating those tiny izakayas and crowded subway cars!

These ideas in that the previous post are built on the assumption that I'll on the move with the Billingham.

For a moment suppose I took the backpack with me? Weight would be a smaller issue all of a sudden. Not negligible but smaller. I could entertain new ideas altogether. Maybe even, pray, Nikon Df + Nikon Film setup? Gee whizzzz.

The film option is still something I have to study. The trouble is of course that because of airport scanners, I should buy the film and have it developed during my trip.

I may have to ask my Leica friend and put it to him straight. I am envisioning a Loaner whereby I will take care of the camera's any faults that come up during or after the loan, for 6 months. I'm trying to think if this is actually that good of a deal for myself.
Funny, I never registered that about M4/3, but now that you mention it, I have gotten that effect in the past.
I studied my photo library and made the breakthrough observation that this happens with my Panasonic GX80 cameras, not on Oly E-M1.2.

Made and posted my observations elsewhere.

Well, I guess this changes things. Is Panasonic GX80 then out, for good even? Let's not get hasty here.
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Summary: my resolve to go with what I already got took a knock with this whole flare thing.

It has been a long day. One more BF survived. Shame it's lasting until Monday night.

To retrospect and muse about this day, it started with the flare thingie and and now I don't know what direction to take my wallet. GX80 with compact primes would have been comfy way to capture good stuff with ease. The disc flare will not prohibit me from doing this, of course. But now that I am very aware of how it manifests and with what gear, I am having hard time justifying this setup. 30 long dark nights in very urban Japan, the flare will get old. Very old.

Then the whole S5 deal. No flare, offers a lot of new things. I will sigh out in relief if that particular deal dies this evening. Having a Panasonic FX seriously would do some damage there. Both IQ-wise and to my carrying back. I would naturally bring some Nikkors that I'd adapt and shoot and get sensational results.

I know S5 to be a stellar performer, because I have my S1. Sadly the S1 is not travelworthy because of the large grip that will most definitely introduce some RSI and inflammation to my wrist. Maybe during warm summer months.

From S5 and how heavy the tele options are, I started to rewarm the earlier dream about delving deeper into M4/3. Snatch the OM1, Oly 25/1.2 Pro, the 40-150/2.8 Pro. This will withstand some weather! (The S5 with Panasonic 50/1.8 S is the same size and weight as the E-M1.2 with 25 Pro. There's a 300-gram advantage towards the 40-150/2.8 Pro compared to Panasonic S 70-300 zoom.)

Then finally come back to the Question of Leica Q. Leica-certified Q 116 cameras can be had for around 2290 € which sounds good to me frankly. I am not interested in Q2 or Q3 even though they would have nominal weather sealing.
Status: browsing and asking around about Leica Q3's availability and delivery schedule.

Two days ago I was content with going towards the sunrise with GX80s.


I spent this day wisely outdoors and then cooking hamburgers.

I have been thinking about the S5 deal and the Leica Q. These are the top candidates, perhaps. At least this is my current thinking.

The Panasonic S5 (1489 € brand new with 2 lenses included) is something that does superbly in all conditions. It is a system camera body so taking this to Japan would mean a month of exploration with varied gear. For example I am envisioning that I'd take the Pentax 35-70 and 35/1.7 with me as they absolutely shine on the S1. I'd take some legendary Nikkors as well. I would always take a select few lenses for each day's travels.

The Leica Q (options start from 2300 € for Q116, 4k-4.5k for Q2, 5.6k for Q3 used) is the fine scalpel that on the box promises it does one thing well but in reality it lends itself to a multitude of application, excelling very well. With Q in bag you don't have choice but it doesn't matter. You have the best.

I really like Q116 for this. First, its asking price has bottomed for the time being so I can buy and sell it and not take a loss. Secondly, I have insider knowledge that it in fact takes superb photographs. It has some cons to be sure. The color is hard to grade sometimes to my taste. The red channel is just a bitch. The high-ISO is difficult with banding but then again, not as bad as my MP 240. Q2 and Q3 have that reassuring WR and better viewfinders and better high ISO performance. But they will also drop more in resale value and overall spending 6k on top of a 4k vacation while unemployed is a bit...
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Two days ago I was content with going towards the sunrise with GX80s.
It just hit me last (sleepless) night that one way to go would be to buy a GX9. A reasonable guess would be that its sensor stack is close to that of EM1.2 and wouldn't produce the halo effect.

But these bodies have always felt too pricey to me. At 600 € (mpb) they're just that. This would in all likelihood solve a few things and would allow me to travel light.

I have misgivings and doubts about each path I could be taking.
Behind these rationales I have layed an assumption that the weather will be cold, humid, with sleet or drizzle so that I don't really want to stop anywhere for long to fish for the best photograph, and more importantly, changing lenses outside will be a thing I wouldn't like to do.
  • GX80: the disc halo problem
    • a slight chance that a mist filter could help deal with this?
  • EM1.2 with existing lenses: excellent idea but the Panasonic lenses aren't perfectly at home, besides poor EVF
  • EM1.2 + 25 Pro: would give a great peace of mind but what about going wider? Could be a tad problematic.
  • S5 with the kit lenses: excellent quality, peace of mind, but with my experiences with G9 a couple of years back, I'm not too sure about the AF accuracy. Could be mightily disappointed, or worse, treat the camera as untrustworthy while there.
  • Leica Q2/3: ideal companion as the ultimate travel camera. Not too sure about the focus accuracy. Expensive cameras that will lose value by the hundreds, even thousands if I'm not being careful.
  • Leica Q 116: ideal companion but without WR. I'm such a 50mm devout now: will 28mm fit my vision at all?!
Goodbye Black Week, good morning ... Black Week part 2: Cyber Boogaloo?

I got a "no-news" news report from the consultancy in the morning. I believe it will be during this week when they finally decide. My hopes shot up by a good margin. Funnily enough, my purchase desires dropped like a dog's tail at the idea of employment. No travels to Japan, no "need" for exquisite new gear.

If I do get the gig and start to make mad stacks, I think I'll upgrade my hifi a bit, maybe some film gear, but no S5 or Leica Qs.
Going coo coo for Q

Q 116,
Ordinary black.
2600 €
6 months warranty
Q 116,
Super sexy silver.
2600 €
6 months warranty
Resale loss ~400 €
Q 116,
Somewhat sexy titanium,
2300 €
24mo warranty
Best deal.
Resale loss < ~200 €
Ordinary black.
3899 €
6 months warranty
Resale loss ~400 €
Ghost by Hodinkee,
The Very Definition of Sex
4950 € used (24mo warranty)
5950 € brand new
Resale loss, ~1000 € ?
Ordinary black,
long waiting times for new,
5590 € used,
24mo warranty
Resale loss, < 500 €?

The Ghost edition is something that could really be something. There's also the pure-white edition that is a rarity and totally out of budget, the same goes for the very, very stylish Panda edition.

The Titan gray makes so much sense (and is already much superior to the ordinary black one) but I am really liking the Silver.

The used and Leica-certified Q3 is only 400 € less than a brand new one. Say I got this and then immediately after the trip put it for sale, there's a good chance I'd get a lot back. The same sadly cannot be said for the blindingly beautiful Q2 Ghost.

You all know that the outside looks of a camera don't improve the photographs but when you're a weird gaijin in the big Japan, having a friendlier looking camera (the lighter variants even assuming a toyish look) will make a difference, even if just in the inner attitudes of the photographer.
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Looking at those Leica Q3 sample raw files makes me feel a bit funny. My goodness. The lens, wide open, performs so well in full 75mm-eqv crop mode, even with high-ish ISO thrown on top of that.

But to put things in perspective, even if I bought the camera and promptly sold it afterwards (may not be an easy thing to do if it's super good) we are looking at a 400-800 € resale loss I'm sure. This is equivalent to shooting 10-20 rolls of the most expensive film you can find, with expensive push development on top of that.

But I think I'll go digital with this trip anyway.

By the way, I asked MPB about sensor dust and they responded that it's not covered by warranty.


Good news. The used Certified Leica Q3 was snatched away so I won't be tempted by it anymore.
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Breathtaking, once again. I browsed my old Q photos and the IQ of the lens is nothing short of sensational.
Mono Lake: One sample, full rez file should be downloadable. The processing is old, nowadays I wouldn't do... well it's just harsh processing in many ways that I wouldn't do today.

But just look at them pixels.

One thing just lingers on my mind and that is: assuming that there are good copies and bad copies of the Q (softness, acuity, et al.) it's obvious that my old copy was one of the great copies. Can I be guaranteed a good one... this time?
Everything is set and sorted for a good Leica Q action. 24 months of warranty, a dust-free sensor, all mine for 2290 €. I only need to click the button.

But I'm once again (wisely) struck be the realization that I'm not employed and I should preserve my savings. (a) Leica Q will hold its value but a January in a city will be wet and cause risk of costly damage. The risk is low but it may be there, depending on the weather. I might be hesitant to take the best shots, if under adverse conditions. (b) The second reservation is that I don't know if I can be at home with the 28mm to be honest. There was a time when I was, but that was time when I totally disregarded 50mm as a FL and field of view. And today it is my main tool by a huge margin.


Instead of spending 2300 €, I can instead spend 1500 € or 800 € on the Panasonic S5 kit brand new, or a used S5 body, respectively.

What do I lose by going the S5 route:
  • The S5 and a lens will be weighing around 1 kg, as opposed to Leica Q's total package weight of 640 grams
  • Compact package
  • The black ugly camera looks less friendly
  • Simplicity of (the lack of) choice
  • The superiority of the Leica Q lens.
    • I searched for the most extreme Q shot I've taken and that seal picture must be one of them. Very dark shot, ISO 12500, lens wide open, exxxxtreme crop. And guess what, it looks magnificent to me, like a renaissance era oil painting.
  • Quiet shutter

What do I gain by going the S5 route:
  • Less money down
  • Versatility in terms of lens selection, focal lengths, weather sealing
  • Beatability. Put on a beater lens and shoot to your heart's content.
  • Better stabilization
    • Although I assume that with comparative FLs they come to about even
  • Better image quality
  • Better color gradability
  • Character lenses
    • Nikkor-Q 105mm f/2.5?
    • Pentax 17-28mm fisheye zoom
    • anything really...
  • Usability beyond travels

It is true that every time I check the reviews of Panasonic's native lenses for L mount (the kit lenses 20-60, 50mm f/1.8) I am bored to death about the absolute dead clinicality of those lenses. But nobody forces me to shoot those lenses, nor am I even forced to buy them!

Indeed, the top contender to challenge Leica Q and its fixed 28mm lens comes from an unexpected angle. It is the Pentax 35-70 f/3.5-4.5. This a most modest little zoom behaves sensationally on the Panasonic S1. If I fear that I can't live with the 28mm lens even with immense croppability then this approach offers an excellent character lens covering many useful angles of view.

The lens really does a lot of good for me. The slowness is compensated by being perfectly sharp wide open. These shots were taken with the S1 and Pentax 35-70 in January. The conditions were awful but I didn't flick an eye. I trusted the combination and didn't care if a 30€ zoom lens got wet.

2023-01-17 (Tue) 16-33-23.jpeg2023-01-17 (Tue) 16-35-04.jpeg2023-01-17 (Tue) 16-38-49.jpeg2023-01-17 (Tue) 17-09-34.jpeg2023-01-17 (Tue) 17-13-00.jpeg
Maaaan this was a difficult choice to make. But it is done now. I decided to be rational and go with the cheaper Q 116 with the better warranty, even though the silver one on MPB is just a sweet little thing.

I walked a bit yesterday with the S1 + Pentax 35-70 and it was obvious that it won't be the solution (nor the S5 with Pentax 35-70). The lens was harder to focus in dark than I'd remember. The ergonomics could be better.

During those moments when the S1 or S5 wasn't on the table for the trip, it was an internal battle between Q3, Q2 and Q 116. The weather sealing was the operative thing here. Now I have to maybe get a $5 umbrella to cover that scenario, gasp. The horrors!

When it was settled that Q116 is the one, there was just the final thing: a bland black, dull looking titan gray (I'm hoping it looks better in person) or a very pretty silver. But to choose between the silver and the gray, I had to choose also between better sales location (Leica Store Rome vs MPB) and better warranty (full certification, sensor dust inspection and 24 months of warranty vs whatever MPB does). On top of that, the silver one is 350 € more expensive. I am 100% certain that when I put this on sale after the trip the buyers will be glad to see a Leica Certified Q instead of something else.

And when it was settled that I'd go with the Titanium Gray Q typ 116, I was super duper hesitant to execute that chosen order. 2300€ is a lot of dough. Doubly so when you're going on a 4k€ holiday. Quadruply so when you have a IKEA Billy bookcase full of gear. To the power of two when you're unemployed and the cost of living will get even costlier at the turn of the new year.

But it's done now. In my mind's eye there's no better travel camera than Leica Q.
As expected, having some buyer's regret over Q. I think it gets delivered on the 7th. Our independence day will mess up the schedule a bit. Alternatively it is on my doorstep on Monday. You never know with these couriers.

I have regret that maybe the 28mm is just too damn wide. I have concerns that maybe I'm not that satisfied to crop these Q pics like I was 5 years ago.

I also have regret about the weather sealing, or in particular the lack of it on the Q116. I do know that I'm not exposing any camera of mine to a heavy rain but I do still worry that I am pamper this expensive camera too much. I will tape the microphone holes shut and use a lot of silica gel pouches, but still.

(I'm thinking of buying a 1/4 or 1/8 black mist filter for Q. It could give some extra protection but also soften the highlights. I just hate the idea of ruining the perfection that is the Q's optical formula.)

I regret that I don't go in there with film. I have so much great gear that works on film superbly. But the logistics can be an annoyance. I have a fridge full of film and yet to shoot it in Japan I will have to buy new rolls there or suffer the risk of fog going through the airport scanners.
The package couriered by DHL is in limbo somewhere in airfreight. Would be a pretty slow airplane to take 48 hours to fly from Germany to Finland otherwise...

I splurged on an Urth black mist filter. I am pessimistic about the filter on the Q but I've been wanting to try these filters for the longest time so here goes.

I am thinking, what if the package gets lost on the way? Would I still pursue Q for the trip or stick with what I own. Probably a strong sign to follow your wallet for once. I don't think the package is totally lost though. Shipments in December, one will have to expect delays.
The camera arrived yesterday. While it arrived safe and sound, I have to say it was sloppily packaged. My delivery address was also totally messed. But here it is, with certification and all.

The camera in hand, it is suddenly painfully obvious that the comparatively low price is explained by the worn body. The back screen and the EVF coverglass have scratch marks. With the 24mo warranty and certificate in hand, the resale of this unit should be easy but how much loss will I have to take?

At the same time, a battleworn camera fits better my intended use than a pristine sample.
A brisk walk in overcast winter with Q and the subsequent study of the files reveals that the camera is alright. Operating it with thick gloves is possible but I have some trouble with the shutter release. I'm sure it's something I can practice. Feels good in hand, lightweight and all that.

I do have to remark that there's a reason I migrated to M in 2018 and I don't think I will keep the camera longer than I have to. It's all good and fine. Tools are meant to be used and then sold if they have served their purpose.
Some panic is abrewin'.
I have some trouble with the shutter release. I'm sure it's something I can practice.
Just playing around with my new acquisition, I started to pay notice about the shutter trigger. There just might be some contact problem in there, even without any thick gloves. A gentle half-press won't keep the camera in its inteded state.

Is this how it is supposed to be? I don't remember such details from 2017, and even if I did, back then I operated cameras differently.

This flaw or effect causes a lot of things to happen. If it's a flaw in my sample it is 100% sensible to return it as soon as possible.
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I decided to do the smart thing and take my M and Q to a short stroll. M equipped with the 50 Summilux Asph that does not agree with rangefinder calibration fully (nor does it actually go to infinity even in LV) vs the Q (its handicap being heavy crop)

First pair, center crops from each. Q's 50 crop is much wider than what Summilux 50 produces, could be darktable or something else. Not a great difference.
Join to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
In the above picture Summilux is left and the Q right. Q focused where I wanted (the small "POLIISI" text) whereas M backfocused so that the upper right corner is more in focus. Shot wide open, the DOF still covers both images pretty well, my focusing distance being something around 20-23 meters. The extra resolution gives an edge to M, all things considered.

I'll spare you the rest of the pairs. The Summilux on the M backfocuses a little bit. Several of my M lenses won't currently go to infinity in RF at least. I know it's an expensive gig to send it all to Wetzlar so it is not happening right now.