I’d reported that my Lumix LX7 coiled up (failed) during the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s fall tour earlier this month.
Excessive dampness contributed to the camera’s lifeless qualities.
For several days it was unresponsive.
On the advice of Eric Rosenthal, I placed the camera in a Ziplock back filled with rice and left it there for more than 72 hours. Then I gave it another couple of days.
Finally, with a freshly charged battery I turned it on. The lens hesitated, attempted to extend from the camera body, and then retracted, leading to an error message in the display.
I repeated this action, but on the second attempted, grabbed the front element of the lens and coaxed to the normal extended position. In so doing I freed it from some grit that had been impeding its progress.
I then turned the camera on-off several times to ensure that it was working.
Since that time it seems to have been performing as expected.
My zombie Lumix can’t be trusted though. Once a camera demonstrates failure, I never assume that it will perform flawlessly. So, I’ll still be seeking the LX7s inevitable replacement.
Below are some of the photos from the Zombie Lumix.
They are easy to use. It’s like stepping back in time. Sort of.
Panasonic’s new camera comes with a fantastic lens and sensor combination, but what if clarity seems too sterile? Perhaps, you want to get the effects (and defects) characteristic of old film cameras? No problem!
The LX100 has a button on top of the camera called ‘filters,’ which alters the color, contrast, exposure and sometimes the focus of digital files to emulate a variety of effects that were once characteristic of older camera-film combinations.
The advantage of the ‘filters’ feature is that the effects are done ‘in-camera’ without the need to fiddle around with photo-shop or other post-processing software. The button opens a menu and you simply select the desired filter. This shows you the treatment on screen and in the viewfinder.
In my early days of photography, I experimented with a variety of older cameras, and sampled various film types. My skills weren’t yet developed and my results were a bit random. The LX100’s filter mode allows me to step back to those early experimental times when any photographic result seemed like success.
The best part of filters is that you can easily switch from one mode to the next and back to normal again quickly. Below are some of the filter results. I’ve given these comparative names in ‘quotes’ that I felt were more appropriate than Panasonic’s, but put the camera-filter name in [brackets] for reference. Just so you know. Ok?
Do you have any favorites?
Funny, there didn’t seem to be a filter for ‘Kodachrome 25’.
It isn’t fair to judge a new camera after only a few hours of working with it. I find that it takes a while to get used to any new equipment.
In April 1990, I was given the loan of a Nikon F3 SLR. After a month of putting it through its paces, I knew I had to have one. Yet, I wasn’t fully comfortable with the camera for at least 6 months.
As mentioned in the previous post, last week Eric Rosenthal loaned me a brand new LX100. So I brought it out for some tests.
I found this to be a very powerful tool. It looks and feels much like a traditional rangefinder, yet has many electronic features.
While making a basic photo with the LX100 is straight forward, the camera’s multitude of buttons, dials and layers of menus needed to access the camera’s various modes, color profiles, filters, and features, plus video and panoramic options isn’t intuitive. In fact it’s intimidating.
To really give the LX100 a fair treatment, I’d need several weeks to properly figure it out and become comfortable with its operation.
However, I was able to make a variety of interesting photographs of which a few are presented here. Other than scaling the Jpgs, I’ve not altered the images in post processing in regards to color, contrast, gamma, or other visual effects.
So is the LX100 a good camera for railway photography?
If you desire the ability to manually control a digital camera, and prefer traditional dials over toggle switches, along with a built in view finder in addition to a rear screen, the LX100 is a great option.
The camera reacts quickly. It has a ‘burst’ feature that allows you to take three images in rapid succession. It can make RAW and JPG file simultaneously. The lens is fantastic and the sensor is amazing, so the images are exceptionally sharp.
On the downside, it uses a fixed lens that is limited to a 24-75mm range (in traditional 35mm film camera terms). Its menu navigation is counter-intuitive. For a small camera it is pretty heavy. And, it’s relatively expensive, B&H Photo in New York advertises it for nearly $900, which is three-times what I paid for my LX7 a few months ago.
My first digital Camera was a Panasonic LX3 that I bought in late 2009 on suggestion of my digital photography advisor, Eric Rosenthal.
At the time, I’d planned to use the camera as a light meter, to make supplemental photos, and to photograph in social situations where having an email ready photo quickly was an advantage.
In the first few months, I occasionally used this camera for railway action photos, but for the most part I continued to rely on my Canon EOS-3s for important situations.
I gradually concluded that the LX3 was a fantastic image-making tool. For the next five years I carried this camera everywhere. I exposed more than 64,000 images with it. I’d still be using it, except it broke! (Some observers suggest that I wore it out) The digital display at the back of the camera stopped functioning reliably.
My father lent me his LX7 for a few weeks, and I quickly concluded that I needed one.
Overall it is a much better camera.
On the downside, it is nominally larger.
On the plus side:
1) It is easier to use.
2) When set up properly there’s virtually no delay in making an image from the time the shutter is released.
3) It cycles much faster.
4) It has a better lens, which lets more light in and has a longer telephoto setting.
5) It offers a variety of features that allow for more creative images, including: a built in neutral density filter; an automatic High Dynamic Range mode that rapid blends three images in a sophisticated manner.
6) It has a traditional aperture ring.
7) It has a built in level that can be displayed on the screen.
8) It has the option of an external digital viewfinder.
Over coming weeks, I’ll continue to discuss the virtues (and drawbacks) of these various cameras. Incidentally, recently Panasonic announced another new camera, the LX100, which looks to be even better than the LX7.
At crew changes and other convenient points, Amtrak schedule’s ‘smoke breaks’ where passengers can get off the train, stretch their legs, enjoy the fresh air, and, in my case, make photos of the train.
I had about ten minutes at Raleigh, North Carolina this morning to make photos train 80, Carolinian during this momentary pause. By that time, I’d been on the train for more than 3 hours, with nearly another nine hours to go.
Rather than tow the whole camera kit, I just carried the Panasonic Lumix LX 7, which is light, easy to use, and is capable of making extremely sharp images.
Playing with the external Lumix Live View Finder, I adjusted this vertically, which allowed me to place the camera very close to the ground without the need for lying belly first on platform.
The low angle with a slightly telephoto view provides a clean dramatic perspective that minimizes unnecessary and visually distracting foreground.
Trenton Makes the World Takes—That’s what the sign says!
May 28, 2014. Three passenger railways, lots of trains and not much time.
I’m traveling with Pat Yough. We arrived at Trenton about 20 minutes before the arrival of Amtrak 79 Carolinian. [Posted from the train via Amtrak’s WiFi.]
I put the Panasonic LX-7 through its paces. Changing the ISO proved to be a bit different than I was used to with my old LX-3. One of the great advantages of digital photography is the ability to adjust the ISO (camera sensitivity) and color profile from frame to frame. Back when I was just shooting film, I’d routinely carry several camera bodies loaded with different film types.
It took me a while to figure out how to change the ISO, but it turns out that Panasonic had anticipated my need. Where the LX-3 required multi-tier menu navigation, the LX-7 has a special button labeled ‘ISO.’ This allows an easy change.
While at Trenton, I experimented with 400 and 80 ISO settings. The sensor on the LX-7 is much improved over the LX-3s.
With the LX-7, I found the 400 ISO setting to be very acceptable on the computer screen. While nominally less saturated and with more noise in the shadows than ISO 80, over all the result was really very good. I’d generally avoided using 400 ISO on the LX-3.
Last month (April 2104), my Panasonic Lumix LX-3 began performing erratically while I was photographing Irish Rail at Monasterevin.
Although annoying, this was only a minor setback of the day, because I had my Canon EOS 7D with me. I often travel with at least two cameras, just in case one develops problems.
The LX-3 suddenly suffered an electrical fault; specifically the rear display stopped working reliably. Sometimes it would flicker on, other times it was dark. I tried all the usual cures; I turned the camera off and then on, I removed the battery, I even tried the factory reset. No joy.
In the short term I found that if I pressed on the side of the camera body, the display would come on long enough to make adjustments. I continued to use the LX-3 for secondary services, while relying on the Canon EOS 7D and film cameras for more critical work.
I’ve had my LX-3 for almost five years and in that time I’ve carried it with me everywhere. It’s visited about a dozen countries, and more than a dozen US states. In addition to pictorial service, I’ve used it intensively to copy documents while in libraries. Using the in-camera file counter, I determined that I released the shutter more than 64,000 times.
Last November the camera took a very hard knock, which didn’t immediately affect its performance, but certainly didn’t do it any good. In April, the camera was subject to unusual dampness (it got wet) while I was making night shots in Porto, Portugal.
On May 24, 2014, my father lent me his Panasonic LX-7 to see if this newer Lumix model would offer a suitable replacement. This camera comes highly recommended to me by several people. Since it’s essentially the latest model kin to my LX-3, it may represent an ideal choice for my new ‘everywhere camera’.
I brought it to Palmer, Massachusetts where I exposed about 100 images in various conditions, both to get a feel for the cameras controls (which have several notable differences from the LX-3), and examine the quality of the images.
I found that the LX-7 had several positive points. In general it reacted quicker and cycled faster than the LX3. Its zoom lens has a wider range, and offers longer telephoto photo settings. The rear display seemed sharper and brighter.
On the downside, I was unfamiliar with the controls, so setting the camera proved challenging. Also, the camera is slightly larger.
In general I was happy with my results, and plan to experiment a bit more with the camera before I commit to buying one. There are a variety of excellent small cameras on the market these days, so I may wish to sample some of these too. More to come!
I was visiting Philadelphia for the holiday season. I’d just got my Lumix back from Panasonic following a warranty-repair and I was happy to make some photos with it.
A wander around Center City on December 30, 2010 with my family made for ample opportunities to exercise the shutter. Sometimes the ordinary scenes make for interesting photos, and over time these tend to age well; witness below.
This view was exposed on the platforms of SEPTA’s Market East station (the 1980s replacement for Philadelphia & Reading’s Victorian train-temple, Reading Terminal—today a convention center, sans tracks).
Here I found a pair of 1960s vintage Silverliners working the R3 service. These elegant classics were nearing the end of their working careers. After nearly five decades, the last of these machines were withdrawn in June 2012.
On the Morning of October 25, 2009, I brought my brand new Lumix LX3 out for a test run. I had just received my first digital camera and this was a trial to see if it was any good.
I’d bought it on the recommendation of Eric Rosenthal. My initial hope for the camera was to use as a light meter and to make photos of friends.
That morning I drove to East Brookfield and made this image of the old Boston & Albany station. Two eastward trains came by and I photographed those on film, not trusting the new purchase for anything important.
I later drove around making photos of local architecture in the autumn color. I soon found that the LX3 was an extremely powerful tool capable of very sharp images and useful for making a great variety of railway photos.
Approximately 11 months later, I received a phone call from Dennis LeBeau of the East Brookfield Historic Society: the station had been torched by vandals and gutted. For another year or so the skeletal remains of the building remained trackside as a sad reminder of what had been.
This Lumix image is exactly four years old today. In the interval, since I made this image I’ve released the LX3’s shutter more than 15,000 times.