Note: I am gradually catching up after my mom passed away. I had started this before that happened, but never posted it, so this makes it easy to do now. I have actually used the camera described quite a lot and find it fits an important niche for me.
I am really excited about this picture. This is of a bunch of giant coreopsis flowers in bloom on Pt. Dume near Malibu, California about a week ago (actually end of February). This gives me a perspective I have been trying to achieve for a while now.
I love wide-angle close-ups and have loved doing them for a long time. I have liked a number of things about my gear now for wide close-ups:
- My 12-35mm focuses to just under 10 inches, not bad (especially at 35mm which acts like a 70mm for 35mm-full-frame), but not super close. I can add an achromatic close-up lens which helps, but still doesn't get me right in to a flower or up to a tolerant insect.
- My 9-18mm also focuses to just under 10 inches, which gives a great wide view up close, but still not close enough for me.
- My 7.5mm fisheye gets to four inches (one reason I bought it), which is very close, but still, I wanted to be closer with a very wide angle lens.
So I struggled to find a really good solution for a really wide super close-up kit. For some reason, this made me think back about my work with the old Canon G-series cameras. I loved those cameras. They were my first digital cameras. They all allowed very close work at the wide setting, closer than anything I was getting now. Hmmm.
So I started looking at compact digital cameras, including point-and-shoots. These typically focus super close at the widest setting of their zooms. The Panasonic LX7 caught my eye for its price and features. It had the equivalent of 24mm with a fast aperture and focusing to less than two inches.
But then I found the Panasonic LX100. This is a compact Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera with a built-in lens equivalent to 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8. And it focuses to 3 cm, a little over an inch, at that 24mm equivalant (and focusing from infinity) – it is like a wide-angle macro. It was more than I wanted to spend, but it really offered a lot:
- Super close focusing at wide focal length
- Fast f/1.7-2.8 lens
- Larger sensor (MFT)
- Very small and compact
I looked hard at my budget and decided to sell some gear, plus I recently got a good check for some work I had done, so I bought a Panasonic LX100. When I went out and shot with it, I loved it, plus the camera is set up to be really easy to use. The way the controls are a bit retro in some ways, yet totally modern in others. But it was so cool to finally have a camera/lens of 24mm perspective that can focus from infinity to 3 cm. You just can’t get those perspectives any other way.
I have long loved shooting 24mm up close. I shot many years ago (in the film days) with Nikon and a 24mm Nikkor lens with the thinnest extension tube Nikon offered (8mm, not automatic). 24mm gives a distinctly different focal length than 28mm and I love its perspective. I was really happy with the way the images looked. I did find a little chromatic aberration showing on some pink flowers (prickly phlox from the chaparral), though none on the yellow flowers (giant coreopsis blooming along coast), even when f-stops were the same. Not sure why that would be (maybe having something to do with wavelengths of color).
But the effect of getting close like this, plus the ease and overall image quality, is so great that I am not too worried about that.
Added note: I took the camera to Maine and it was fun and easy to use shooting in the winter conditions there. Everyone in Maine is sick of all of the snow they have had and still have. I went out shooting Monday of this week there when it was a beautiful sunny day – for January! It was 10 degrees with wind and very cold. The camera did not like it either and "failed" when it got really cold. That is not unusual because the batteries don't work well when cold. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get a second battery from my camera store yet (they are having trouble getting them), so I was not able to replace the battery with a warm one as I usually do. But I was getting very cold, too, so I didn't mind stopping.