Like many bloggers, I have other interests aside from my passion for vintage bicycles (shock!). Photography has always been an avocation for me. I was introduced, early on, to my father’s 1953 Leica IIIf camera, and since then, have nurtured my passion for film and digital photography. At one point, before the digital revolution, I housed a darkroom in a spare bathroom. But, those days are gone.
Photographing bicycles, however, is a very difficult task. Visually speaking, bicycles are nothing more than narrow tubes and shiny parts. They are hard to photograph, and especially difficult to capture in natural settings without the aid of studio lighting. In bright sunlight, the metal parts will send photons into a camera’s light meter, and throw off your exposure. And, visually conveying the shape of the bicycle’s frame and individual components usually means using a very open lens aperture for close up shots, to limit the depth of field to the image you want to portray, as in the photo above.
For most of the photographs on this site, I have used a Leica Digilux 2, which is now over 10 years old and therefore considered obsolete in the world of digital photography. Nonetheless, it still has a loyal following as an “affordable” Leica, made so by the existence of its fixed, non interchangeable Summicron lens. But, what a good lens it is, with a 28-90mm focal length and an aperture which opens up to f 2. If you have used film rangefinder cameras, it’s hard to go back to the slow acting shutter of an SLR. Film rangefinders have notoriously excellent focusing capability, so long as you adjust for parallax when using long lenses. The Leica Digilux 2 has a frustrating manual focus, but I prefer to use it over the unreliable autofocus found in this early technology camera. And, of course, this camera is too big and bulky to safely bring with me on a bike ride, so my iPhone camera has had to suffice for on the road photos. Hence, I have pined for a smaller rangefinder camera that would satisfy my artistic senses and at the same time be affordable and reasonably portable.
After doing some research, I became convinced that I needed this Panasonic Lumix G rangefinder (Model DMC-GM1K). It is tiny, pretty, and was made to look and feel like a Leica, with its quirky manual dials, and sexy black and silver case.
It comes standard with a 12-32 mm (equivalent to a 24-64 mm lens for a 35 mm camera) f3.5 lens, pictured first, above, and with its 4/3 size, there are many other lens options available. I also purchased the Olympus M.Zuiko 45 mm (equivalent to a 90 mm lens for a 35 mm camera) f1.8 lens, after reading some reviews, which is pictured second. Amazingly, this camera can also accept Leica lenses by using an optional adapter.
You can see just how small it really is – it fits easily into the palm of my hand. The only downside to its tiny size is the equally paltry-sized dials which are too easy to accidentally press when handling the camera. It also does not have a viewfinder, but the quality of the LED screen and the ability to add a manual focus aid to the set up made it relatively effortless to use right out of the box. It is very light and feels delicate, so when I do take it with my on my bike travels, I will be carefully packing it to insure that it is protected from road shock.
Toward that end, I purchased an accessory case which will help to protect it when in use, which is also very Leica-like, as the top piece can be unsnapped and removed, but with the body still in its case.
All of the images in this post were taken with the new camera, except those of the camera itself (taken with the Leica), and the photo of both cameras together (taken with the iPhone). And, while there is much to learn and master with this new little camera, I have a feeling that the Lumix G might become the main camera I use for just about everything. It’s got Wi-Fi connectivity, and too many features to fathom. With today’s miserable weather (the Portland rains have begun), I seem to now have no choice but to actually read the owner’s manual.