Recently I have been playing with large sensor mirror less compact cameras, more precisely the Panasonic Lumix GX1 and the Sony Alpha Nex-6.  I wanted a large sensor and a “punch” packed in a small camera.  With all the outdoor activities I do, I needed something I could carry around without having the bulk of a reflex camera but that could take pictures I could use professionally.  I often find myself running out the door for a hike or to do something outdoors that involves a little bit of physical pain and sweating and looking at the big and fat camera case and thinking “should I or should I not take it?”.  “Do I really want a sore neck?  Where would I put the camera if it rains?” so I pretend not to see the camera and run out the door with guilt.  Inevitably that amazing moment happens and I find myself cameraless cursing at my laziness.

There are some pretty nice little snapshot cameras that take good pictures but the biggest issue with them is the size of the sensor.  This could turn into a cheesy and expected joke but size does matter.  With a small sensor you can’t get the shallow depth of field that is possible with a full size 35mm sensor and the true resolution of capturing an image on a larger surface.  Is hard to pack much detailed information on a sensor smaller than a pinky nail.  Furthermore, many snap shot cameras are limited in manual functions and most of them don’t shoot RAW format.  Many snapshot cameras these days give you way more megapixels than you need but they don’t necessarily give you quality megapixels.   This is a selling gimmick.  People think, “Oh, a 20 megapixel snapshot camera must give you an unbelievably beautiful picture!” but in reality a 20 megapixel camera unnecessarily fills up your hard drive and only gives you the headaches of handing a large file in return.  Remember is really about the sensor size not the megapixels.
You may wonder why my title starts with “Does your camera really need to make you eggs benedict?”.  Initially I decided to write this blog because I was suffering from a severe headache caused by working with the Panasonic Lumix GX1.  The full manual for this camera is so thick that is only available on CD as the paper version would be too big for any reasonable non reinforced bookshelf.  I think at Panasonic they rounded up a bunch of smart nerds and told them.  “Let’s see how many functions and buttons we can possibly fit in the this camera, but make sure they are confusing and hidden so the OTHER normal and stupid people can’t find them!”.   And the Panasonic Lumix GX1 was created.   I happened to be one of the normal and stupid people to buy one.  Don’t get me wrong, this is great camera that takes great picture and has amazing reviews but if you want to buy it make sure you don’t have a job and you want to spend all your free time reading a manual that is too big to be carried around.  A good friend of mine and photographer Dusan Smetana loves to go to bed an read manuals; I don’t.  When you purchase a camera you need to make sure it fits you.  It has to fit in your hand but also has to fit your style of shooting.  Before digital, I was mostly shooting large format cameras that had a shutter and an aperture and that’s all you got to get the shot.  Things have changed but I still want a camera that allows me to easily access the basic commands without having to sort out all the other unnecessary functions like making eggs benedict.  The first time I took the GX1 out I was riding a single track trail on my bike with a friend of mine.  I found a beautiful stretch and wanted to shoot my friend zipping down the single track on his bike.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to turn the camera into high speed motor drive. I am no Einstein but I am pretty good at figuring out cameras.  I had to take it to the local camera store and had one of the smart guys help me out.  The function was hidden under a bunch of sub menus and not accessible under the obvious motor drive button.  When you buy a camera don’t make the mistake I made and just look at reviews and specs.  Go to a camera store and play with it.  Make sure the functions are reasonably intuitive and that working with the camera will become second nature.  After selling the GX1 for half the price of what I paid for 3 months ago that’s what I did.  To the store I went and the Sony Nex-6 became my new love.  With the Nex-6, SONY streamed lined the functions and came up with a lovely and friendly tool that you can pick up and start using without making a manual become your bedside reading material.  For you people who want to know about these cameras down below are the reviews by DPREVIEWS.  The first place I go to when I want to buy an new camera.
To learn more about sensor sizes read this article (Digital camera sensor sizes)
Here is the whole review of the Panasonic Lumix GX1 from DPREVIEW
 Here is the whole review of the SONY Alpha Nex-6 from DPREVIEW

4 Responses
  • Anonymous Reply

    I love the Nex-6 as well!

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