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I’m no good at waiting. I have a Panasonic LX100 on order, and I am as twitchy as a kid in the weeks before Christmas about it. Every day, I check Amazon to see if they have announced ship date, and every day I check what’s new in reviewland concerning the LX100.
An aside: this daily search for what’s new about the LX100 usually turns up some comments on the forums. It fascinates me that the folks who have absolutely zero experience with the camera – they have never handled it, never shot with it, never seen it in real life – are most often the ones who most vehemently hold their opinions: “Why, if you gave me one of these, I wouldn’t shovel (potential mulch) with it . . .” and so forth. Whereas the folks with actual experience with the camera tend to be much more circumspect with their remarks. This reminds me of a great quote I saw the other day: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They are not entitled to their own facts.”
We’ve had about a week of rain here at El Rancho Elliott, which has meant no strolls with the better half and the two dachshunds, no jaunts with camera in hand. It came into my fevered brain that maybe a good camera that could shoot with impunity in the drizzle would be a good idea, and wouldn’t you know, Crutchfield had an Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 12-50 weather resistant lens at a brilliant price and a special deal on the 75-300 lens. I wave some plastic at them, and presently the camera and lenses arrive. Hold that thought for a moment.
Most mornings, I arise before sunup, attend to some Necessary Stuff, and then read, check camera stuff on the Internet, and mess around with my cameras. This often involves attempting to take images in extremely iffy light – something that both my Canon G12 and Panasonic FZ200 are actually pretty good at, although noise can be a problem.
So the OMD arrives, and I mess with it in the daylight hours, and it acquits itself pretty well. I am impressed with the build quality, its overall small size, the swift autofocus, and the colors that it produces. I knew that the lenses were not fast, but I had read on the Internet about the so-called “T” measurement. It stands for something like “total light throughput” I think, and the idea was that a slow lens on a bigger sensor camera would let in more total light than fast lens on a small sensor camera (like my Canon and Panasonic).
The next morning I take a run at a very dark scene with the OMD. The display says something like “2 seconds at f/6.3 at ISO 1600.” I think: “f/6.3? You’re kidding, right?”
The camera affirms that it is not kidding. f/6.3 is wide open with the 12-50 zoomed in all the way. I command: “Give me ISO 3200.” The camera says, “Okay, 1 second at f/6.3.” That’s still way too slow, even with the Olympus’ well-regarded image stabilization kicked in.
Just then an epiphany hits me like a thunderclap: it’s all about the lens. Elliott, you moron, you should be thinking about the lens first! Figure out what lens you need, then all the other considerations can fall in behind that. A lot of my shooting is done at the margins of the day, hunting for images that float my boat in the dawn or the dusk. Whatever camera I buy and keep next should have a righteously fast lens.
I am reminded of my father-in-law (now passed). He was fairly meticulous about maintaining his cars, but he would buy the cheapest tires he could find: recaps, used tires, I mean cheap. One day I said to him: you realize that your car only touches the ground in four places. Does it really make sense to economize there?
Note to self: in the image making process, before anything else happens, the light has to pass through the lens; pay attention to that.