About a week or so give or take an hour, I purchased the Panasonic LX10 or LX15 depending on your market or location or whatever. I have been using FujiFilm gear for a few years and enjoying the cameras. Not so much the FujiFilm X-T2 which had the same problem happen twice to me around a sticky shutter button but the X100F I always thought was good until my second one became unusable due to problems with the LCD. I have to admit to getting a bit upset that the life of the FujiFilm cameras seemed pretty low to me. I took 5k frames with my last FujiFilm X100F and had it for less than a year. Good? Bad? Indifferent? I don’t know.
I do know I was not going to go out and spend another $1400 on a camera that had either a fixed lens or required a kit lens, prime lens, or whatever else added to cost and the discomfort of walking and taking the photographs of the moment. I stopped in at a smaller camera shop in George Town and looked at smaller travel cameras that were in the Sony, Canon, and Panasonic brands. Particularly I had read good things about the Sony RX100 V model for travel. Small, portable, lightweight with a good set of features. I had not read much about the Canon cameras that I would call compact. I had never read anything about the smaller Panasonix Lumix cameras other than they had great lens glass using Zeiss lens and had excellent touch screens yet some have and others do not have EVFs.
Some would say to buy a different camera for a use and travel around with a larger camera like a Nikon with its assortment of lens in some huge mega bag which just looking at some of the tourists around a temple yesterday would give me shoulder shock. Then the second camera is a smaller shooter you stick in your pocket or small over the shoulder bag. Now I would be with two cameras and I would carry an assortment of batteries, lens, etc for two different use cameras.
In the camera shop in Penang, I went over mentally my real needs. Here are a few of them and by defining them a bit, I was able to focus my discussion with the camera shop owner on a thing that would work for me:
- I wanted something light and that would fit in a pocket. Not a huge coat pocket because no one wears coats here but a small pocket of shorts or my over the shoulder bag I use to carry cash, a pen, and airbnb keys.
- I wanted something that had functionality. I wanted to have the different modes like program and aperture priority and I wanted a physical dial with a clunk for aperture since I like the tactile feel of the lens ring settling. I also wanted the functionality to quickly set sometimes and just forget and shoot the day on a program mode which would let me override when I wanted with different film settings. I like the functionality also to be able to quickly change settings and not hunt through menus of things which seem counter productive or made by someone testing my functionality needs.
- I wanted something that would shoot good JPEGs but little did I know at that point that would also have some features that I will want that extend that need. Things like stacking, post focus, burst modes. In other words a new camera that would deliver the known but also have some cool tricks up its lens cap.
- The camera had to have decent battery life. I should be able to leave for the day and not pack a second battery and shoot about 50 to 100 frames. I also should not worry incessantly about running out and just trust to the camera and its power management.
- In line with the functionality things above, I wanted automatic things that lessened the input of me and camera. Sometimes I just want to set and forget. I found on the LX10 the mode called Intelligent Auto which does this but you can also override and shot in Auto+ which gives you a different sets of menu controls.
- Finally, I wante something that was cost friendly and if it broke in a year or six months (which seems to be my current camera lifetime) I would shed a tear and go get something else because the cost was not like a FujiFilm Camera and lens at $1500 or so. Another finally moment was the fun factor. I like having fun with the camera, learning, trying different things so I want something that extends and enhances the fun feeling.
Findings and Faults
Everything has a finding and a fault folks. A camera, a smart phone, a laptop, a tablet. Each thing you purchase you do it either from gut feel because its something you just have to have or based perhaps on a need or desire. This camera, the Panasonic LX10 is no different. Its definitely a small and portable camera ideally suited for travel since it does fit in the pocket and easily so. But the camera is decidedly small. I believe that is a plus for travel because one of my points was not being worn down by trying to carry a number of almost perfect cameras or lens or other things in some huge bag. The LX10 is admirable in the findings category because it truly boils it all down to meet a number of my needs while not sacrificing the desire to shoot on aperture priority.
Each thing also has its faults. Living in Southeast Asia the way I do, I don’t have room nor desire to carry mountains of tech gadgetry. I want things which fulfill functions or numerous functions like my technology for charging devices. Multiple charge adapters are the rule that can hold two different AC plugs, three USB connectors, etc. A camera should meet this and not just add more to the mix. To get there though, the LX10 suffers a bit because of the very thing I want. The size requires some getting used to when carrying on the strap around your hand and perhaps its an argument for using the strap around the neck in the end. Its easy to brush against the lcd panel which is touch screen and touch an action area on the screen. Its not like you have to be careful each moment and when shooting bursts of photographs at a temple its all good but the gentle walking I enjoy with capturing the smaller things may mean a moment to make sure settings are okay on the camera.
A second thing which may or not be a fault is the physical carry size of the camera. Lets face it for me, I do not want a Nikon DSLR or a large FujiFilm Kit with the lens poking out. I want something that is sized for gentle movement and is not unduly noticed. I enjoy candid photography as well as street scenes, buildings, temples, parks and basically urban settings that mix and match contrasts, colors, shapes and sizes. This camera both does that and has faults around size and use.
Reaching the Zenith of Use
Here’s where we come to the moment of truth. Its a question or three.
- does it work for me?
- does it fit in with my lifestyle of living the way I do?
- do I find fun in using it?
Probably a bigger thing is what the cost of entry to the zenith of use. Happily the camera covers about 90% of my use cases and the cost is no barrier nor are the other costs of entry like size, use, function, ability and fun.
Will you like it? Hard to say so I won’t make recommendations. A few things though which leap out. This camera is small so if you are living a life out of hostels or hotels or airports or trains, this camera is nice. If you want something that can do a variety of things you are interested in now or may be tomorrow, the LX10 is nice. It will do 4k video and will shoot 4k photos and let you stack the photographs and choose. Is it enough and does it defeat what is called GAS or gear acquisition syndrome? Yes and no. I think photographer’s kits are full of exceptions and will often buy another camera in the view that it will do what the first one cannot. The truth is that the camera is just a piece of gear and you are the one manipulating it. One of the photographers I enjoy reading, Eric Kim, remarked on this a few times. Buying another or second camera will not make better photographs. Learning to use what you have, finding some fun and soul in it, enjoying the moments it gives you is what really matters. If you dig carrying around the DSLR camera on your world events, go for it. No blame here and I understand. For me, the goal is whether I had bought the Sony Rx100 V or this camera something that was small, mobile, fit in with my lifestyle and deal with the areas about or made it a reasonable level. I think 90% is pretty good!
I would never proselytize a camera or choice and say do this because I am this photographer of note. First thing is I am not a photographer of note and I would deny even calling me one at all. I am not a photographer nor want to be. I am someone who enjoys the capturing of moments, finding tools and things which extend that and fit well within the things I enjoy doing when living in Southeast Asian countries for extended or short times. The photographs I take are meant to share and remind me forever of a place I have been, sights seen, reasons to return.
Most of all, its the walking to me. Does it fit in the walking and lend itself to more fully experiencing the sights and sounds I uncover while on the move? I believe at 90% this camera does today. Tomorrow who knows. Perhaps I would do the Sony camera next time but from here on out I will not be buying into larger cameras that perhaps fulfill even less of my needs. I’ve posted a few pictures in collages of the camera. Here are some more to consider.
At the 90% threshold I feel the camera satisifies the itch I have. The remaining 10% could be something down the road I look at. Who really knows. The price point here also makes things easier to swallow for future choices but the technology of the small travel camera, fitting in a pocket, with decent battery life, fun to use and explore, means for me I meet that 90% head on.
Now for some more exploration in a bit around Bangkok today!