LX2 Diary blog migration..

July 30, 2008

I have been delaying this decision for a while, but finally it had to be:



Reasons why:

  • WordPress has got restrictions and limitations regarding publishing media such as Flash and virtual tours (when hosting with them) that make it impossible to add this kind of stuff to the site. I have decided to host the blog in my own server in order to be able to include all the new stuff I am working on..
  • With the arrival of the GX100-and whatever may come in the future… 😉 – this is not a LX2 Diary exclusively any more..
  • For quite a while I have felt really curious about self-hosting the blog and what kind of experience that would be so I guess this is a moment as good as any!!
  • It is amazing the amount of new possiblities it opens..I have imported the whole LX2 diary into the new “smallsensordiary” so it will be contained in it.

I hope you will understand and will excuse me for any inconveniences, I believe it will be worth it. I hope to see you all soon “on the other side”

Best wishes,  Erik Ahrend


Times, oh, they do change..

July 28, 2008


Ricoh GX100, f2.5, 1/26, 5.1mm, ISO400, B&W JPEG Unprocessed

Ricoh GX100, f2.5, 1/26, 5.1mm, ISO400, B&W JPEG Unprocessed



July 26, 2008


Have had a couple issues on hold for a few days, they are coming all togheter today in a multipost..


Defective Hoya R72 Infrared filter

The Ricoh compacts are legendary for it´s IR capabilities. I once had a IR converted 20D. It was fun, but I thought that having a camera for IR shooting exclusiveley was not worth it so I sold it. Have missed IR a lot. Now with the arrival of my GX100 it´s the perfect moment to get back to some IR shooting. The R72 is probably the most popular IR filter, because it allows not only B&W IR but also allows to produce great “False Colour” images. So I went and bought an Hoya R72 IR filter from a reputable dealer on Ebay on the states to a great price. The IR filter arrived last week and since then I have been trying it out with very weird results. I have not been pleased with it at all. I blamed my lack of IR skills and went to read some tutorials and tryed it out some more, but still no success. Suddenly, after watching some of the pictures I noticed that one portion of the filter was producing a blur. If you rotate the filter the blur rotates with it. Funny that the surface of the filter is flawless, not a single sign of damage.

You can see the blur caused in the area surounded by the red elipse. Not being able to see any damage signs I decided to have a look against a strong light source and..there it was!! The filter has an internal scratch that is clearly underneath the coating:

I have contacted the dealer and after providing some pictures they were very surprised becaused aparently after many years representing HOYA filters they have never seen anything similar. To be honest neither have I..They inmediately took care of the issue and kindly asked for me to return the filter so they can proceed to inspection and replacement. They have taken care of the return shipping costs, something not very common I believe. So my IR photography is on hold untill I receive my replacement filter..Oh well!


Panasonic LX2 VS. Ricoh GX100

This is probably useless as both replacement models (GX200 and LX3) have been announced, but I wanted to see a few things with my own eyes..So I went and shot a scene with both cameras to see the real world differences. You can click on the images to view (and download if you wish and could be of any interest to you) a bigger version.

Panasonic LX2, f5.6, 0.625Sec, 6.3mm, ISO 100


Ricoh GX100, f5.4, 0.625Sec, 6mm, ISO 80

Ricoh GX100, f5.4, 0.625Sec, 6mm, ISO 80

 Considering the differences inherent to this two cameras(the panasonic is a 16:9 native sensor camera with a 28mm lens and the Ricoh is a 4:3 native sensor one with a 24mm lens.) this is what I decided to do: Shot both cameras at 3:2 aspect ratio. the LX2 at it´s widest zoom setting and the Ricoh at 28mm. This is going to give the most similar output, in pixel size and FOV. I shot both cameras in their lowest ISO setting, 100 for the Panny and 80 for the Ricoh. All other setting are standard in both models. Both lenses stopped down to 5.4/5.6, which should be close to their sweet spot. Both cameras shot with self-timer, sitting on the table and with image stabilisation turned off. Both in auto focus. This is not a high ISO comparative study, I thought it would be of more interest to see both cameras at their native ISO and in JPEG in order to see the different noise strategies both machines have. Two things are evident this far:

  1. The Ricoh has a much more effective auto white balance that as I mentioned in a previous entry “nails” it every time even in mixed/difficult conditions. I am really liking the Ricoh colours. The Pany´s Auto WB can be all around the place, but it gets much better if you use the specific white balance output. Obviously all this is irrelevant for a RAW shooter..
  2. The Ricoh has a slightly wider FOV (with the 28mm setting in 3:2) , but nothing really relevant .

I thought this high contrast image could be a good candidate, plus it´s all I was willing to shoot last night..Next you will find 100% crops from both cameras in two different areas of the image.

Panasonic LX2, crop1

Panasonic LX2, crop1


Ricoh GX100, crop1

Ricoh GX100, crop1



LX2, crop2

Panasonic LX2, crop2


Ricoh GX100, crop2

Ricoh GX100, crop2

Just in case you believe an ISO100 image of the GX100 could be of interest or a more fair comparisson, here I enclose a ISO 100 crop of the most relevant portion of the image, the shadowed area where noise and the processor´s job are going to be more critical.


Ricoh GX100, crop2 @ ISO100

Ricoh GX100, crop2 @ ISO100

There seems to be, at least to my eyes, a slight difference in noise between the ISO 80 & 100 files of the GX100. I encourage you to see and download bigger versions of each file. I believe this images pretty much tell the story about noise, noise reduction and smearing..I believe commenting about sharpness is dificult. Both lenses are plenty sharp and capable of resolving great detail, though the Leica lens seems a tad sharper (and seems to suffer from a bit more CA). This conclution is not scientific though..I am starting to have a clear idea of how the output of each machine is but I would like you to reach your own conclutions, and It would be of most interest to have them shared here..


Two GX100 images from today


Sometimes it´s difficult to believe..

Ricoh GX100, f2.5, 1/5Sec, 5,1mm, ISO400, B&W JPEG Processed in PS

Ricoh GX100, f2.5, 1/5, 5,1mm, ISO400, B&W JPEG Processed in PS


Highkey “Micromachines”

Ricoh GX100, f2.5, 1/760, 5,1mm, ISO400, B&W JPEG Processed in PS

Ricoh GX100, f2.5, 1/760, 5,1mm, ISO400, B&W JPEG Processed in PS


Interesting essay in Serious Compacts

July 23, 2008

On my previous entry I wrote about how Panasonic is making use of the sensor area of the LX3 for the different aspect ratio formats and how interestingly the sensor doesn´t seem to have a “native format”. Björn Utpott, a contributor and member of Serious Compacts has posted a very interesting and enlightening essay that explains the maths behind it. Short, clear and elegant he manages to explain this point in a way my childish babbling would have never  😉 …Worth a read. He also has two very interesting diagrams in his PBase gallery, showing how the camera uses the image circle here and comparing the sensor areas used by the LX3 oposed to the LX2 here.


LX3, (personal) first thoughts.

July 22, 2008

It´s finally here, and it caused, yesterday, quite a shake with it´s anouncement. I believe Panasonic has managed to present one of the most interesting cameras in quite a while, they seem to have understood the exact place this RAW shooting “serious compacts” have in the market.

It is interesting that multimillionaire leading companies such as Canon, that produce some of the best photographic tools in the world, manage to fail, generation after generation of their products, to provide exactly what their customers demand, relying in marketing bullshit and just for the sake of profit. Crippling products by not enabling functions that are just a matter of software implementation, in order to create clear market segments and force the sales has been the  strategy of companies like Canon and Sony. Remember the fiasco when they decided to produce a G7 with no RAW capability? Talk about dumb decisions..Those of us who shoot with DSLR´s have been asking for quite a while now for little changes that would make our shooting experience a much more pleasant and succesfull one. For example, ISO changing. Come on, ISO is one of the most important parameters in today´s digital shooting, it can´t be burried in a menu in a PRO or SEMI/PRO camera. For ages we have been asking for a mirror-lockup button to avoid us going deep into the menus, but still they managed to produce a high-end camera like the 5D with a “direct print button”!!!  Who the X”@%$ wants a bloody direct print button in a Pro body??



But then it is refreshing to find little commited companies like Ricoh, that actually seem to care about what a photographer needs when operating a camera, and that time after time seem to surprise gladly including features that people had actually been asking for and that do make their little gems very capable cameras indeed.

Well, Panasonic seems to have joined the little group of manufacturers who actually managed, somehow, to “connect” with their potential buyers. Congratulations! A couple months ago I started in this blog a post tittled “LX3 Wishlist”. Many of you kindly contributed and wrote down your wishes for the new machine. Those wishes seemed to be more or less the same in every other blog or forum that discussed the posibility of an LX3. I allways thought that it would be very easy (and cheap) for big manufacturers to have a little team devoted to surf the web and actually read forums and blogs, because I believe it would be the most effective way of knowing the feeling and demands of photographers. Probably cheaper than complex market studies done by expensive companies with difficult, long and snobish names that believe they know what the people want in the street level…It looks like Panasonic did their homework (or they hired a market study company that actually has their feet in the groud..) because you will find that nearly every point in the wishlist was addressed..

RAW shooting serious compacts are not simply easy holiday snapping machines, they are often the first or second choice for people that take their photography very seriously. In that direction I believe the first great success of the LX3 is that it has become not a camera, but a whole outfit with a number or interesting accesories that conform a nice kit. Have a look at this picture:


I was a Leica rangefinder shooter for a while. This Panasonic kit resembles my Leica outfit in a way that no other compact has ever. I remember reading yesterday in another forum how similar someone found it to his Voightlander-Bessa kit. It does look very cool and “retro”.

The external optical viewfinder is a smart move in the right direction, but aparently they will only comercialise one, a 24mm. Interesting but not enough. I am personaly more of a 35-50 shooter. True that other manufacturers build  finders for the rest of the focal lengths, but if Panasonic has not implemented a step-zoom option the use of other external finders will be more than impossible.

Now that half case is the sexiest thing..The filter and converter adapter is a godsend. It will allow expanding the kit and it´s photographic capabilities in a very wellcome way. As much as I like the adapter I currently use for my LX2, it only stays in place by preassure, and even when it has never failed/fallen I hope the Lumix adapter will be a threaded one for maximum security and reliability. ND filters, yes, cool, but unfortunately the longest shutter speed is still 60 seconds..

The wide converter is wellcome, but not to rain in Panasonic´s parade, using the Nikon WC-E68 wide converter I currently use with my LX2 will allow a FOV of about 16mm, and is also 46mm threaded (like Panasonic´s). Quality may be another issue..Werther the Nikon converter will vignette in the new LX3 remains to be seen..



The lens, is obviously one of the greates strengths of this camera. Interestig that the focal length has been reduced in the tele end. A 2.5x zoom will obviously allow a much higher quality lens, plus making a fast lens so small requires some compromises. I just wish they had made it a 24-70. On the other hand, I could see a tele-converter coming from Panasonic in the near future..Fast (very) at both wide and tele ends  makes it a very capable low-light shooter. If the sensor´s high ISO capabilities are up to it..Good that Panasonic decided to keep it to 10Mp. Brave and clever decision. Another strike for Panasonic.

But stating that this camera´s resolution has remained the same may be arguable. Let me elaborate..In the first place Panasonic has opted for a very curios option: The camera´s sensor doesn´t seem to have a native aspect ratio. This are the pixel sizes at the different formats:

                                               16:9  =    3.968 x 2.232                 
                                                 3:2  =    3.776 x 2.520                
                                                 4:3  =    3.648 x 2.736

None of the formats makes use of the whole sensor! So the camera is no more a 16:9 native aspect camera. Actually the resolution has dropped for this format to about 8Mp. But the pixel count has actually increased in the 4:3 and 3:2 aspects to around 9.5-10 Mp. In the LX2 this two formats were actual crops of the sensor, (8.5Mp for 3:2 and 7.5Mp for 4:3) so if you shoot in one of this formats you will actually end up with a higher resolution. Even when the sensor is actually slightly bigger and they claim to have developed bigger photosites I believe the difference is not so dramatic and it will all come , noise-wise, to the improvements Panasonic has managed to make in the lasts years in the sensor area. The major part of the effort will have to come from the Venus IV engine, so let´s wait and see how if fares..

A side effect of all this seems to be that the screen is no more a 16:9 one, but a 3:2. Pitty, I liked my “panoramic” screen. But with 3 inches and 460.000 dots, if I ever get this camera my prediction is that it will take me about 45 seconds to get over it.. 😉

All in all there is so little, nothing actually, not to like about this camera. The design is in my opinion beautiful, very classy, specially in it´s black version  (I personally don´t care for the silver one..). I just can´t wait for the first “real” reviews..

Gosh, could anybody read that far??  😦

Best, Erik.




It´s oficial now..!!

July 21, 2008


I received the link to the LX3 picture on saturday but left for the weekend and couldn´t post before. It seems like it is official now!! 

I appalude Panasonic for keeping the 10Mp resolution sensor. apparently they have worked hard on a new sensor which is not only bigger (bigger photosites) but also accompanied of their new Venus IV engine. There are plenty of reviews on the net now, and a very interesting feature: They have finally decided to comercialise a lumix branded filter and converter adapter!!

Toghether with this they will comercialise a wideangle converter bringing 18mm FOV, some filters, a leather case and an external (attached via the hotshoe) optical viewfinder!! Mr. Sean Reid, it seems like Panasonic has a subscription to your review site..



Oh, and finally, 1cm macro!!

WOW, now this is an exciting camera!!



LX3 is here!!??

July 21, 2008

A fellow visitor, smiserg, kindly linked me to the following picture posted in a russian forum dedicated to Lumix users (click image to view large).



In the picture you can see the originall LX1 besides the LX2 and..the LX3!! You will have to judge for yourself how credible this is..If this is a mockup or a photoshopped image I ignore, but it looks pretty real to me. Now if the image is real, I get the feeling from the the few things we can conclude from it that Panasonic has been closely observing the success of the latest Ricoh compacts:


  • New 24mm wide lens (something a lot of people had been asking for) with “Summicron” designation. For those not familiarized with Leica´s lens naming, Summicron is the name their f 2 lenses receive. Some of Leica´s most venerable and legendary lenses have been Summicrons..So the lens is no longer an f2.8/f4.9 but f2/f2.8!! A faster lens indeed in both the wide and specially the tele end, but with a tradeoff: It seems like the lens is now a 24-60, so it has lost some reach in the tele end.
  • The camera now has a hot-shoe presumably to mount a specific flash..?? (and also one of the most requested features for the LX3).
  • In the most “Ricoh” style, in the mode dial you can see two new modes: C1 & C2. I assume those would be “custom1” and “custom2”, two customizable modes in the style of Ricoh´s My1 and My2 settings. Cool!!
  • Body slightly bigger and with a vertical grip in the right end that I bet will improve the ergonomics/holdability of the camera..
  • The camera keeps one of it´s coolest features and probably one of it´s main marketing strenghts: the native 16:9 aspect ratio I am so in love with..


What is hidden in the back and inside the machine remains a mystery..I bet we will have to suffer with one of the new generation  12Mp sensors. I asume a new 2.7 inch screen in the back. A new focusing feature maybe? (You can read “focus” in the right top of the camera, so maybe there is a wheel located in the back to allow quick/precise focusing..). And the rest we will have to wait and see..

The topic on the russian Lumix user´s forum is here  . If anybody speaks russian and wants to keep an eye and give us some hints.. 

Isn´t gossip fun?    😉

Best, Erik.


LX2 and VR photography…Part 1

July 18, 2008

I have mentioned in a few ocasions now that I was about to reveal a new gadget that would allow me to use the LX2 in a new way, complimentary to my work, and that I believe will provide great fun…Well, I am ready, after a little burden, to write about it..  🙂

I think I might have mentioned before that I do some web designing and mainly virtual reality (virtual tours) for companies and multimedia products, basically for the turistic industry as well as real estate agents, museums and the likes..I thought it would be fun to try and produce virtual tours and panoramic photography with the LX2 as well, so I started doing some research to find out what kind of stuff would be compatible to allow me using it in such a way. And only after some sleepless nights and plenty of “forum-lurking” I opted for this setup:

The lens is a Nikon FC-E8 fisheye providing a FOV over 180º and originally designed for the 5xxx Coolpix series. It is curently out of production, but can be found in the used market relatively easy. 

When producing panoramic images or virtual tours from several stitched images, the key is to have a panoramic head that allows you to rotate the lens over it´s entrance pupil or “no paralax point”. This will reduce the stitching errors and will avoid some serious headaches. The head chosen in this ocasion is the “MrotatorA” from Agnos, an italian manufacturer of very high quality hardware for panoramic photography. This Panohead is specificly designed to be used with the Nikon FC-E8, regardless of the camera make, so any future upgrades wouldn´t affect the setup (I actually plan using the setup with my new RicohGX100 as well). The panohead is designed with the shape of the lens so when this one is attached it fits there perfectly and starts rotating over it´s entrance pupil. Once mounted on the head it can remain there and there is no need to remove it any more, so the kit is like one piece that is after attached to the camera. This is what the fisheye  looks like once “craddled” in the head:

The panohead and the Fisheye lens arrived a couple of weeks ago, but I haven´t been able to use them due to the fact that the Nikon fisheye has a mount thread of 28mm. Those that know about the lens adapter I use on my LX2 allready know that it has a 52mm filter thread!! This extreme step-down rings are not easy to find and I finally had to purchase mine in China. It only took a month to arrive, so the rest of the setup has been here sitting bored and teasing me day after long day…The infamous ring:

And finally..My beautifull and trusty LX2 attached to the dream-combo!!

Up untill now I have been using my Canon30D and EFs 10-22 lens with a 360precision custom panoead. This head is specificly designed for a certain camera/lens combo and will not fit any other. This might sound rather restrictive, but the head is designed so precisely that it produces flawless batchable results from day one without the need of any calibration for the setup. There are many other great “modular” panoheads in the market (360Precision also makes such products) that adapt to any camera/lens, but they are not for me, I prefer the “scientific” precision of this custom heads (reason why I went for the Agnos panohead as well, no calibration or fooling trying to find the “slippery” entrance pupil of your lens). But the 360Precision “Absolute” panohead is not only a very expensive piece of equipment, it is also a big and heavy one. It is built to the highest quality standards, with a fantastic finish and is definetely buit to last for ever…Here you can see my 360Precision panohead compared to the LX2 setup:

The panohead alone is bigger and heavier than the whole LX2 setup!! It will also need a good sturdy tripod to be used once the camera is mounted. Here a couple of snaps of both complete setups, draw your own conclutions…

Need words? You need to take 14 shots to complete a “sphere” with the Canon/360Precision combo: 6 around at +30º, 6 around at -30º, a Zenith shot (roof) and a Nadir shot (floor). The resulting equirectangular image will be something around 10.000×5.000 pixels. Very high quality indeed that would satisfy the most demanding client and that allows displaying stunning high resolution panos fullscreen. But 14 images makes it impossible to make a pano of an event with moving people and takes quite a bit of postprocessing time, specially if you are dealing with HDR images of interiors with big windows and the such. Not the sort of price everybody is willing to pay…The setup, including the tripod will weigh a few good kilos, definetely not a “take everywhere” kit…

You need as little as 3 images to complete a sphere with the PanasonicLX2/Agnos/Nikon FC-E8 combo!! Make it four(Nadir floor picture) if you want to avoid making a cap to cover the panohead under the camera.. The resulting equirectangular image will be roughly 4.200×2.100 pixels. A full spherical panorama can be done in seconds!! The postprocessing times are reduced dramatically and the setup can be carried in a small bag. But what is more interesting, in good light conditions, the panos can be made with a monopod. With a bit more than a kilo your are allready producing panoramas!! 

There is an obvois trade-off in quality terms. The results from this setup won´t come even close to the ones done with the DSLR, but they can be acceptable for a lower budget market or simply for having fun and doing panos that other way would have never been done..That is the spirit of a compact camera in the first place!! Higher quality panoramas can be achieved with this setup by zooming in a bit due to the fact that the image circle produced by the fisheye is consderably smaller than the sensor:

But this, toghether with some further explanation of the operation of this setup and the arrival of the Ricoh GX100 to the play are things that will be  commented on the second part that will be up soon…

Here, to finish this post, a quick & dirty pano I did today in the corssroad of four streets with the monopod handheld two meters above my head…





Shoot square!

July 15, 2008

One of the cool features of the GX100, the square format, a format of masters, and a difficult one to master..Here is my weekend attempt


Ricog GX100, f7.1, 15.3mm, 1/64, iso80, B&W JPEG, Slightly processed in PS

Ricoh GX100, f3.8, 6mm, 1/440, iso80, Colour JPEG, Unprocessed

As an interesting note, and not having done enough shooting yet I have to say I am liking the GX100´s colour JPEG´s very much, specially with mixed light and for portraits, very pleasing natural tones as long as you keep the setting to “normal”. In the following picture I was in an artifitialy illuminated Café with a big window right behing my back allowing in plenty of natural light. This image is unprocessed and I believe the camera did a wonderful job..By the way, portraits at 24mm might not be the most flattering..

Ricoh GX100, f3.8, 5.1mm, 1/24, iso100, Colour JPEG, Unprocessed

Lovely little camera!! Doing plenty of testing and comparing at the moment, not much time for writting but something will be published soon.. 



Ricoh GX100 arrival, couple of snap-shots..

July 11, 2008

The Ricoh GX100 arrived yesterday after some struggle with the spanish customs, but it´s finally here. Haven´t had much time to play with it, but after only 24 hours toghether I allready have strong feelings..


RicohGX100, f2.5, 1/9, 5,1mm, iso200, B&W JPEG Processed in PS

RicohGX100, f2.5, 1/9, 5,1mm, iso200, B&W JPEG Processed in PS

 The GX100 is a bit bigger than the LX2, and ergonomically it is a charm. It is fairly better to handle and fits (my) hand like a glove. The overall construction and finish of the camera is of very high quality and the control layout is as clever as it could be..Much had I read about this camera, but as good as I knew the controls were, one thing is reading about them and another thing is to actually use tha camera..


RicohGX100, f3.6, 1/540, 5,1mm, iso80, B&W JPEG unprocessed

RicohGX100, f3,6, 1/540, 5,1mm, iso80, B&W JPEG Unprocessed

 The camera has a number of highly customizable buttons and controls that make shooting with it real joy. There is one button in particular, the “function” button, that you can personalize and assign any custom option you want. I inmediately assigned exposure lock to it. The GX100 has a feature that I really like and find really usefull for street shooting in difficult light conditions:spot-metering. Using the spot meter in aperture priority toghether with the exposure lock button makes this camera as easy and fast to use as it could be..This is actually the way I have allways used my DSLR´s..Fun!!


RicohGX100, f5.7, 1/1410, 5.1mm, iso80, B&W JPEG, Unprocessed

RicohGX100, f5.7, 1/1410, 5,1mm, iso80, B&W JPEG Unprocessed

Having 24mm on the wide end is something to wellcome but it will take a bit to get used to the 4:3 aspect ratio, I´m spoiled by 16:9 😉



RicohGX100, f4.6, 1/760, 5,1mm, iso80, B&W JPEG Unprocessed

 Just a couple of quick snaps-shots frm the GX100 today, nearly all unprocessed..hope this puts me back in track and I can start being a bit more constant!!