Okay - I Am Now Officially Out Of Control

So, do you remember my last post from about 3 hours ago where I said that a Panasonic 20mm f 1.7 micro 4/3 lens was showing up tomorrow? It happens to be attached to a Panasonic GF1 camera that is pretty much free as we established from that entry level lesson on rationalizing gear money. Okay - you do remember that, good. Well, I got to thinking about all that philanthropic work that I was going to do for all my fellow photo-oriented mankind and give you my take on the ups and downs of the Panasonic compact micro 4/3 versus the Olympus micro 4/3 systems. All that thinking lead me to believe that grabbing the 14-42 Panasonic lens was a must do so I could compare the two.

Believe it or not I didn't order the 14-42. You see, thinking some more about it lead me to the conclusion that my fellow mankind would be served much better by ordering a Panasonic LX5 instead. I'll walk through how I got there so it makes any sense. There are slightly more advanced rationalization techniques in use here so pay close attention so you can put them to good use in your photographic endeavors as well. This is really important stuff for all of you just starting out in acquiring just the right combination of gear.

  • The Panasonic LX5 is almost the same price as the 14-42 lens as long as you are using the right rounding techniques.
  • Using that same advanced mathematics it's about the same size as well. So it's exactly the same thing from a cost and size standpoint. In fact in any way you want to measure it as long as you are using the same kind of round numbers they are exactly the same purchase.
  • Now when you factor in that I already have the Olympus 14-42 micro 4/3 lens that I have deemed perfectly fine, it makes the LX5 make much more sense.
  • Not only much more sense but common sense tells you it's actually better because the zoom range is better and the maximum aperture is better.
  • So there is nothing that is not better about this idea. You see?
  • Add on the good Karma from pointing out all the ups and downs of a true high-end compact vs the leading micro 4/3 systems and wow. I mean who out there doesn't want to know this from being able to shoot them side by side?

All that rationale aside - I have been grumbling about this really nice, really small, really good image quality, good performance camera thing for a long time. To be fair I have played with it before. I really have. My conclusion was that the category was still lacking in a big way. This was probably 2 years ago with minor dabbles along the way.

When I say lacking. I really don't mean in some stupid comparison say between a GF1 or a Canon G10, or an LX3 or LX5 compared to say… A Nikon D3s. That's ridiculous and probably will be depending on how you measure for quite some time to come. What I mean is lacking compared to what my personal minimum performance requirements have been for a picture taking device where I wouldn't be constantly wishing I had my other camera because of real limitations for what I like to shoot - how I like to shoot it, and basic image quality that I will not find wanting.

Even with the announcements of the micro 4/3 when it looked pretty good the initial pricing was such that I didn't want to bother with it. I didn't want to bother with it because it was at least twice the cost of a similar or better performing DSLR from Nikon or Canon. I could easily just forgo the 17 lenses and go with one prime on say a D5000 for five hundred bucks. Over the last couple months the pricing of micro 4/3 in both the Panasonic and Olympus lines as come down to the same price points. Now we are cooking with gas so to speak.

So where does the LX5 come in. Well let me explain. The LX3 was a fantastic camera from a lot of perspectives except one. Handling and speed. The LX5 makes a couple of very big leaps in both categories that puts it in the running. I did also play with the G9 and G10 - I found them lacking in too areas for me to take the plunge. The G11 is a little too big - I rather have the GF1, but I cannot comment on it's other characteristics as I have not used it first hand. So what the heck I figured the LX5 was a good jumping off point for me to compare with my new found fondness for micro 4/3. If the G11 is as good so be it. Doesn't matter. I just wanted to know.

As I make my journey forward with my small camera bag I am going to share my experience with all of you that may have had the same set of things rattling around in your head for a while as well. I hope that my first hand observations will help those that really want to know how to choose between the emerging performance of the super-compacts and micro 4.3 for their small gear aspirations. I hope to be able to answer that given that in the past this was an easy answer for me - Leica M and never look back. That's what I wanted and now there is not only that solution available but a few others that cost a little bit less.

RB

Ps. See what happens when I start with the gear? Holy crap. This is worse than looking at a Hasselblad catalog. At least that smacks you so hard in the face with heavy price tag that you think twice about hitting the buy button.

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