Photography using a Pocket Camera

Sometimes it is worth having a small camera in your pocket, and I have been wondering whether I should look for a better small camera.  At the moment I have been using a Panasonic LF1 which has been excellent for its size.  It only has a 1/1.7” size sensor so it is limited, but makes up for it with an excellent zoom lens and the ability to shoot in raw format.

But, the above images pushed it to its limits.  The sunlight breaking through a cloud was difficult to get because of the light extremes.  I had to dial the exposure back to keep from burning the highlights too much and then I still had to work on the image with LightRoom.  It worked OK, but it isn’t the fastest camera to use.  The zoom is slow and the exposure adjustment is done with the small dial on the back.  It works fine when you have time, but I would like something easier and quicker to adjust.  The other picture was taken in the restaurant which was on the dark side.  I took this image at ISO 1600 and then had to use a lot of noise reduction using LightRoom.

The LF1 is better than a camera-phone but the phones are catching up quickly.  Some of my thoughts recently have been to just keep using my LF1 and wait until the phone cameras improve some more.  If I go somewhere and don’t wish to take my larger heavy Pentax K-3 and lenses, I can take my Olympus E-PL5 and a prime lens or two to keep the size & weight down … but it still needs a large jacket pocket or a small bag for carrying.  It would be nice to have a camera-lens combination smaller than my E-PL5 that is easier to quickly take out of a pocket and take a few pictures in raw format with quick exposure and zoom adjustments … with better image quality than the LF1 or a camera-phone.  I’m still looking, but my K-3 continues to spoil me.  I love the controls and ease of making fast changes with the ability to get great images.

The new Canon G7 X looks promising.  It has a 1” 20 MP sensor, 24 – 100 mm equivalent zoom, tilting touchscreen LCD, takes raw format pictures, is about the same size as my LF1, etc.   But, a larger sensor would be even better.  The major disadvantage of a larger sensor, like APS-C size, is that the lenses are a lot larger and heavier.  The only way around them is to go with a built-in, fixed, prime lens like on the Leica X2.  The X2 is a lot faster to turn on, make adjustments, etc. and is only slightly larger and 13% heavier than the G7 X but a lot more expensive.  The similar Fujifilm X100T is larger and 45% heavier than the Canon G7 X, is similar in quality to, or better than the Leica X2, and is less expensive than the X2.

But, I decided the best compromise based on size, weight, image quality, and cost is using my Olympus E-PL5 with a prime lens as a jacket pocket, or small bag camera.  I have the Panasonic 14 mm f/2.5 pancake lens but is a little on the wide and slow side.   It has an effective 28 mm focal length and is great for many uses but I decided to get the Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7 lens (effective 40 mm) to supplement it.  My only decisions left are to decide whether to carry it on a neck strap under a jacket or to use a wrist strap and carry it in a jacket pocket this fall and winter, and when to take it rather than my K-3 or my LF1.

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