If you read my January newsletter you will have seen the various photography New Year Resolutions I committed to. One of these was to carry a camera and use it more often. Whilst my NEX-5 is highly portable and a great camera, it doesn’t really fit in my pocket easily (although it’s much better for this than my 5D for this). I have therefore purchased a Panasonic Lumix LX5 and I have begun to carry this with me when possible. My first impression is that it is an excellent camera and is both easy to use and enjoyable.
This is my second new camera in less than a year and I started to think about the time you need to invest to learn a new camera. There is actually a substantial investment of time required and much of which will be hidden. If you are familiar with operating an SLR then a camera such as the LX5 will be very easy for you to use and control without even referring to the manual. What you won’t understand are the capabilities of this camera which will take time. By capabilities I am referring to such vagaries as:
- The level of chromatic aberration and distortion the lens suffers from through its zoom range
- What f stop gives the sharpest images and at which f stops does diffraction start to become a problem
- How much dynamic range is available in the unprocessed RAW file
- Does the cameras meter over or under expose and how does it react to different lighting conditions
- Does AWB give a good white balance or is it out. How does it react in different lighting conditions
- Do the in camera JPG’s hold detail or are they lost in the noise reduction processing
- At what ISO does noise become a problem but are there any other times that unwanted noise shows up
- What level of enlargement can be made from the RAW file
- How much sharpening is required and how much will the image stand
There are many more questions that you need to answer before you can say with confidence that you know your equipment. It also seems the more experienced you become, the more questions you will probably want to answer when picking up a new camera. The solution to this is get time with the camera, take some shots to experiment and then examine the results to see what you can determine.
For those of you just starting out in photography this may help explain why a pro can pick up and use virtually any camera but claim they don’t understand the equipment. The answer for you is to just forget about these things and enjoy taking pictures; as many as you can. The day will soon come when you are worrying about all of these questions.