Tagged: Panasonic 100 – 300 mm

Keeping the K-5 … Dropped Micro 4/3 Camera


I decided to keep the Pentax K-5 and I sold all of my remaining micro 4/3 gear: the Panasonic Lumix  G3 along with the Panasonic  100 – 300 mm, 45 – 175 mm, 14 – 42 mm, 14 mm, and 20 mm lenses.  I had sold all of my Olympus micro 4/3 cameras & lenses earlier.  For a while (I hope a long while) I am going to be using my K-5 and my Fuji X100 cameras.  In the final decision, the better ergonomics and speed and IQ of the K-5 trumped the lighter weight of the micro 4/3 system.

I plan to keep and use my X100 for inside buildings, low-light events, walking the street, and lightweight travel by airplane … situations where the equivalent fixed 35 mm focal length is sufficient and/or less weight is necessary.  I primarily plan to use my K-5 for wildlife, during bad weather, car trips, and other (haven’t decided) uses.  The other uses depend upon which lenses I get and whether I have to carry the camera far or for a long time.

The above picture of the Killdeer was taken last evening at a focal length of 300 (effective 450) mm at an ISO of 1600, f/8, 1/400 sec.  I ended up cropping the picture quite a bit and I really could have used the effective 600 mm lens that I sold, but I have decided to stick with the maximum effective 450 mm focal length of the Pentax lens that I have.  In addition to the Pentax 55 – 300 mm lens, I also have the weather resistant 18 – 55 mm lens.

I plan on taking some lower light pictures with the 18 – 55 mm lens before I decide on whether I need some additional lenses.  One major advantage of the Pentax system is the availability of nice small, lightweight, prime lenses.  At the moment I am somewhat conflicted whether I need additional lenses for the K-5.  I prefer to use one camera and as few lenses as I can, and the K-5 could serve that desire except for the weight issue.  I am still afraid that I will have problems with carrying and holding the K-5 with its heavier lenses, and that is why I have and intend to keep a Fuji X100.

I prefer to use the X100 if I’m walking for a long time.  If I didn’t have the X100 I could reduce the weight of the K-5 system by putting a prime lens on it, but it would still be around twice as heavy as the X100.  The X100 is also a better system when I’m among people and wish to be a little more discreet … and I just love that camera and the hybrid viewfinder.  For now I tend to leave the 55 – 300 mm lens on the K-5 and use the X100 if I need a shorter focal length, unless there is a chance of rain.  By working that way, I can grab either camera quickly to shoot.  I can carry both in a bag but haven’t so far.  I just pick up one or the other camera depending on what I expect to be shooting and go bag-less while walking.

Leave Micro 4/3 and Go Back to APS Cameras ?

And the saga continues.  The new K-5 that I ordered arrived.  As I have discussed earlier, I have had problems with accidentally pushing the buttons on the rear of the micro 4/3 Panasonic G3 camera.  The reasons for this are two-fold.  First, as you can see in the photo below, there is no room on the right side of the rear of the G3.  Second, I have arthritis in my right hand, especially the thumb joint, and I no longer have as much gripping power with my extended thumb.  To compensate for that loss, I have used the base of my thumb, or the palm, to hold the camera while only resting the tip of the thumb lightly against the camera in conjunction with the hand grip on the front of the camera.  Unfortunately, this results in my occasionally “mashing” the controls on the lower, right – rear of the G3.

While seeking another camera with better ergonomics, I found that the above control situation is prevalent on all smaller micro 4/3 cameras.  The only cameras with sufficient “real estate” for my situation are the larger DSLRs.  I tried both Canon and Nikon DSLRs but found that the Pentax K-5 fit my hand better, so I decided to give it another try.  As you can see below, it has just enough space for me to use my palm to support the camera, but it weights quite a bit more.  So much more, that I thought that the G3 would serve me better … until I found the ergonomics to be frustrating.

Panasonic G3 …. Pentax K-5

Since my primary use for the G3 has been for shooting wildlife with the Panasonic 100 – 300 mm lens, I also ordered the Pentax 55 – 300 mm lens for my comparison studies.  As you can see below, these are of comparable size mounted on their respective cameras … but not equal in their range.  With the G3, the end of the zoom at 300 mm is effectively equal to 600 mm while 300 mm on the K-5 is only effectively 450 mm.  You can see the differences below.  (You can also see that the K-5 has a better grip on the front.)

Panasonic G3 …. Pentax K-5

G-3 and 300 mm

K-5 and 300 mm

While gaining better ergonomics with the K-5, I would be giving up focal range and gaining weight.  The G-3 with the 100 – 300 mm lens weighs a total of 925 gm.  The K-5 with the 55 – 300 mm lens weights 1210 gm.  Both of those weights include the batteries and memory cards.

I’m now faced with trying to decide whether the change is worth it.  With the K-5 I gain a rugged weather resistant camera along with faster focusing, faster shooting, better sensor, and better ergonomics at the expense of added weight to lug around and a shorter focal range.

I need to comment that having this added weight would not be practical for me if I didn’t also have a lighter weight better camera … the Fujifilm X100.  It has a fixed effective 35 mm lens.  I sold my Olympus E-P3 and replaced it with the Fujifilm X100 … thus I have already made a partial move from micro 4/3 to APS size sensor.  The X100 is, and will be, my preferred choice for a walk-about, travel, etc. camera when the primary use is not shooting wildlife and the ruggedness, weather resistance, zoom ability, etc. features of the K-5 are not needed.  The weight of the X100 is only 470 gm and the size is more suitable for taking pictures in crowds of people.  You can see the differences in physical size below.

Fuji X100 … K-5 with 55 – 300 mm lens

470 gm vs. 1210 gm

My problem now is to decide whether the added weight of the K-5 warrants replacing the G3 and lenses with the K-5.  I do have another option which is weighing on my decision … give up heavy cameras and heavy long zooms and give up shooting wildlife; i.e. become a one camera — one lens photographer.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron … with a Panasonic 100 – 300 mm Lens

I took these pictures of the Black-Crowned Night Heron at a little past seven in the evening at our local pond a few days ago.  If you are interested in reading about this Heron you can click here.

The following picture is our local alligator (not).  From a distance it looked like something was floating on top of the water and it looked a little like an alligator.  I have included the picture below just because I liked the color and ripples of the water.

I used my micro 4/3 Panasonic G3 with the Panasonic 100 – 300 mm lens to get the above pictures.  It really is an excellent camera and lens but I will probably be selling them shortly.  If you have read earlier articles you know that I have had trouble accidentally hitting the buttons on the camera.  Almost every time I pick it up and look through the viewfinder I find that I’m in the menu system or have changed some of the settings.

I replaced my earlier Pentax K-5 with the Panasonic G3 and micro 4/3 lenses a while back to attempt to find a better solution for dealing with the arthritis in my hands and back.  I thought that a smaller and lighter camera system would be the answer, but it wasn’t.  Smaller and lighter meant that the controls were more crowded on the back of the camera and they left little space for my hand.  I have tried various ways of carrying and holding the camera but my problems still exist.  I have fond memories of the excellent, although heavier Pentax K-5 so I’m going back to it.  I think that I can deal with the extra weight and better ergonomics better than I can deal with the frustration of changed settings; but the final answer will have to wait until I try the K-5 again for a week or so while carrying it and using it on my walks.

Unfortunately, it means another change.  In order to keep the weight of the K-5 and lenses down, it means that I’m going to have to give up some focal length.  Pictures like the above may become a thing of the past.  With the G3 and its’ lenses, I had a maximum effective focal length of 600 mm.  That lets me reach out and grab shots of wildlife from a distance.  With the K-5 and the 55 – 300 mm lens that I have ordered, I will only have an effective focal reach of 450 mm.  If I find that I can handle the weight of the K-5 I will just have to try to get a little closer. 🙂

Seeing Some Light

This is an interim report on my sojourn in seeking a better camera … a better camera relative to ergonomics and my problems with holding and carrying it due to arthritis.  As I stated earlier, I have gone through a number of ideas and trials relative to different cameras.  My latest approach is as follows.

I have found that I can minimize the accidental button pushing on the Panasonic G3 camera, with the resulting change in settings, if I only use it with longer, heavier zoom lenses.  What I did was take the neck/shoulder strap off and replace it with a wrist strap on the left side of the camera (facing the back of camera).  I then put the strap around my left wrist as a safety measure if I lose my grip.  I then hold/carry the camera in my left hand by gripping the lens rather than the camera.  This keeps me from hitting the buttons while I carry it and raise it up to my eye when shooting.  It doesn’t eliminate the problem since I still occasionally hit the buttons with my right hand while shooting, but I notice it immediately since I have my eye to the view finder and can quickly hit the delete button to cancel the unwanted action.

The above partial solution still leaves me with frequent problems while using the camera with prime pancake lenses since I can’t hold it by the short lenses.  Since I primarily experience this problem when using my fast prime lenses indoors under poor lighting conditions, I decided to see if I could find a better camera for those conditions.  I’m looking for better in two ways: no accidental button pushing while being easy to hold, and better low light capability.  At the moment I think I may have found the solution.  I ordered a Fuji X100 camera.  It has a range-finder profile … small, thinner, control dials, and not too heavy as well as an APS size sensor along with one of the best view finders available.  The APS sensor is larger than the micro 4/3 sensors in the G3 and E-P3 and does better at high ISO settings with less noise.  In addition it has a non-zoom, single 35 mm (effective) f/2 lens.  I have been using my Olympus E-P3 with either the 14 mm f/2.5 or the 20 mm f/1.7 lenses (effective 28 or 40 mm).  The Fuji X100 with its lens is a perfect compromise in focal length, with better low light capability, better image quality, and hopefully with better ergonomics and easier to change dial controls.

I won’t know how well this approach works until after I get my X100 and try it for a while.  If it solves my problems, I’ll primarily only use the G3 with my Panasonic 45 – 175 mm and 100 – 300 mm lenses while taking short walks with the primary aim of taking wildlife shots.  I’ll use the X100 for my indoor photography and as a walk-about camera while traveling, walking city streets, shooting landscapes, etc.  It has a smaller profile, is easier to take with me, and has the advantage of being silent and more discreet when taking pictures in crowds of people.

Ducklings, Porch, Cameras, and Lenses

The above is a picture of ducklings wading in Plum Creek.  I used my Panasonic G3 with the 100 – 300 mm lens.  This picture was taken at the 300 mm focal length (which on the G3 equates to an effective 600 mm) while hand holding it.  I’m showing this as an example of one end of my photography … wildlife pictures taken with a long focal length lens.

At the other extreme, I often take pictures with my 14 mm lens, which is the widest lens that I have.  Since some of you have been interested in the status of our porch construction, I’m using pictures of the porch to illustrate that extreme of my photography.

These pictures are a few days old.  They have since seeded and spread straw over the bare area.  We are now waiting for the final power washing, a bit of painting, and installation of the ceiling light.

I used my Olympus E-P3 with the Panasonic 14 mm lens for the porch pictures.  That combination is my favorite walk-about photography set-up since it is my smallest, discreet combination.  It is a very good camera/lens combo for landscape and street scenes with good lighting … and I even sometimes use it when shooting inside in not so well-lit rooms; but I often switch to my 20 mm lens since it is faster and handles low light settings better.

As I have stated in earlier posts, I have had problems with accidentally punching buttons and changing my settings on the G3; but, after researching alternatives, I have decided to continue using my G3 with my long lenses.  When I use the longer lenses I tend to carry & hold the camera by the lens with my left hand and don’t end up changing settings as frequently as I do with shorter lenses.  That leaves me with the decision as to what works best for me when using shorter focal length lenses.

I have decided that I would rather look for a better walk-about camera/lens combo that can also handle low light situations better than the E-P3.  I would also prefer having an integral view finder rather than having to rely upon using the LCD to compose pictures, especially in bright sun light.  I have thus reduced the alternatives down to a few cameras with APS size sensors (for better low light, high ISO shots) which have built-in view finders, and which are discreet in size but easy to hold and handle with dials for changing settings.  Oh, I forgot to add, and that are cheaper than a Leica M9!

5 May 2012 : Early to Late

The following are a few pictures taken on 5 May from soon after I got up until before I went to bed.  The day started out foggy.

The following are a few pictures of flowers and scenes from throughout the day.  They are in the order that I shot them.

The following is a picture of the setting sun taken from our back porch.

And this one is a picture of the rising moon as seen from our front porch.

It was one of those rare days when the moon was full and closest to the earth and thus it was big and bright.

And thus ends another quiet day in Homewood at Plum Creek.

Evening Colors with a 300 mm Lens

300 mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/400 sec.

300 mm, ISO 1250, f/9.0, 1/500 sec. … and cropped!

I acquired a new lens … a Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300 mm F/4.0-5.6 OIS Lens.  I decided to get it after finding that most of my opportunities for taking pictures while out walking around the neighborhood required a long lens.  With this lens on my Panasonic G3 I have an effective, in 35 mm terms, 600 mm lens.  It will take me some time to master it since it is a challenge to balance the shutter, aperture, depth-of-field (DoF), ISO, and focusing when zoomed all the way out to 300 mm (effective 600 mm).  You should note in the picture of the bird that I focused on the bird house and that an effective 600 mm focal length was still not enough and I still had to crop the image significantly. 😦

I have learned in the short time I have had it that if I shoot in aperture mode that the camera will keep the shutter speed at 1/500 sec or faster.  With that fast a speed in addition to the image stabilization system I have not experienced any major problems with motion blur caused by me while hand holding.  If I shoot with ISO set to auto with a maximum ISO of 3200 I have found that I can generally shoot hand-held at an aperture of f/9 in bright light without the need to worry about settings.  It is only in lower light that I start to have problems and have to open the aperture with concerns about DoF and noise from higher ISOs.

Focus is a different issue.  The lens focuses quite fast and well on the G3 but it takes a lot of careful holding without a tripod to keep the small focus point where I want it.  This is especially a problem in low light when the DoF is quite small.  The lens will focus on objects as close as 5 ft., but at that distance the DoF is only about +/- 0.01 ft. and often at even greater distances and smaller apertures it is still only about +/- 4 or 5 ft.

Another adjustment that I find to be helpful is changing the way I carry the camera and lens.  I find it easier to hold the lens-camera combination by the lens in my left hand.  This enables me to bring it up to my eye quickly as well as rotating the lens to zoom quickly after I have grabbed the camera with my right hand and initially focused.  In addition, while the lens has no creep now … it is stiff, I expect that it will eventually tend to creep and carrying it by the lens prevents that from happening.