Archive for the 'Camera Reviews' Category

6 Non-Traditional ways to use a Panasonic Lumix LX3

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

As you probably know I love pinhole cameras, antiques, hacked and modified cameras, and pretty much anything except for flawless image making devices. I like the chaos and the chance of photography. That’s where the excitement is for me. I am not interested in perfectly exposed, perfectly boring photos. So it may come as a surprise to you that the newest camera in my collection is a digital point-and-shoot. I recently purchased a Panasonic Lumix LX3 and I really love it.

There are plenty of articles online praising the technical prowess of this camera praising it as a point-and-shoot that can compete with an SLR. The only other camera that might give the LX a run for its money is the Canon G10. So rather than rehash the technical specs of the Panasonic Lumix LX3 I thought I would throw out some ideas that might get you thinking how to “hack” this camera to create non-traditional digital photos. If you have some ideas of your own, please add them in the comments.

1. Long Exposures Switch the Panasonic Lumix LX3 over to manual mode and you can control the shutter speed. Try it at night, or in situations where a long exposure can give you unexpected results.

2. Multiple Exposures The Panasonic Lumix LX3 allows you to create multiple exposures in camera. You have to scroll through some menus to get to this setting, but it can give you some really fun and interesting results.

3. Street photography The LX3 is small and quiet so it is a great camera for street photography. Some times I like to “shoot from the hip” and take photos by just pointing the camera in someone’s general direction and snapping a shot. Every once in a while this technique can create some real gems.

4. Manual Focus You paid good money for the fancy focusing technology of the Panasonic Lumix LX3, but why not turn it off? The manual focus of this camera is another way to get back to basics with your camera. Or add some creative blur to your shots.

5. Macro It’s amazing how much things change when you get really close to them. The macro ability of the Panasonic LX3 is pretty impressive and opens a whole new world of possibilities.

6. Black and white I find that unless color really adds something to a photo, I typically prefer the image in black and white. Why not save yourself the trouble of converting to black and white in Photoshop later and shoot in black and white mode. Another advantage of shooting in b&w is that it puts you in a different mind set. I feel like I am looking at the world differently when I have black and white film in my camera.

I hope you found these ideas inspiring. As always, follow me on Flickr if you are curious about what my latest work.

Here are some of the auctions for Panasonic Lumix LX3 cameras and accessories on Ebay that you might be interested in:

Eye-Fi: The Wireless Memory Card

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

card-home-reflect.gifI am working on my review of my new Panasonic Lumix LX3 digital camera, but in the meantime I wanted to tell you about the Eye-Fi memory card. If you have never heard of it, it is your typical SD memory card with one amazing feature. It has the ability to wirelessly transfer your photos from your camera to your computer or websites like Flickr. Don’t ask me how it works, I have no idea how they pack a wireless transceiver into a card that small. All I know is it works like a champ and I love it.

After setting up my Eye-Fi card I have literally never had to plug my camera into my computer again. Just by turning my camera on the card will detect my wireless network and start transferring photos. I don’t have to carry cords around with me. I have it set to send photos to my Flickr account as well as iPhoto. You can set it up do that the photos are private when they go to Flickr which is nice so people never have to see your junk shots. Then you can go back into Flickr and name, tag, and organize your photos before making them “live.”

More than likely, the next round of digital cameras will all have wireless capabilities built it. If I had to make a guess I suspect wireless will probably be the next “buzz” feature for consumer cameras. With the Eye-Fi card you can turn your camera into a wireless machine instantly. Visit the Eye-Fi website to learn more.

Here are some of the Eye-Fi auctions on Ebay that you might be interested in:

Book Giveaway: Fundamentals of Photography by Tom Ang

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Fundamentals_of_photography.jpgThe endless debates about whether “film is dead” or “digital sucks” are fine for late night debates and chat room rants, but anyone really serious about making pictures isn’t served by picking sides in a pointless war. Fundamentals of Photography: The Essential Handbook for Both Digital and Film Cameras is a new book by Tom Ang that puts an emphasis on “digital and film cameras.” Rather than picking a side in the pointless battle between digital and film users, this book gives practical advice that any photographer can benefit from.

When it comes right down to it you need a practical manual if you want to take better pictures. You need a book that you can turn to when you want to know “how did they do that?” Whether you are learning the fundamentals for the first time or are just looking to expand on what you already know, a browse through this book can’t help but improve your photos. Your photos will improve when you understand light better. It will improve when you understand how your camera works. It will improve when you learn the history as well as the latest advancements. It will improve when you know what to do with your image after you take the picture. All these things are covered in this book and it is written in easy to understand language.

In many ways, this is a book that couldn’t have been written five years ago. The digital revolution has been a whirlwind and I think we are just finally starting to understand the implications. Digital isn’t something to rebel against, and film isn’t something to throw out the window.

Being the kind of person who would rather hack together pieces of old cameras than baby an expensive piece of machinery, you may be surprised that I would endorse a traditional kind of book that focuses on the fundamentals of photography. Actually, I find an easy-toiread manual really inspiring. A firm grasp of the basics is essential before you can improvise and dance. The Fundamentals of Photography is a welcome addition to my photo library and I recommend you pick it up. It’s available from Amazon for about $17.

Also, I have a copy of the book to give away. Leave your name in the comments of this post and I will randomly pick a winner at the end of November. Just make sure to put a real email address in the comment form and I will contact the winner at the end of December. To make it a little more interesting, tell us what kind of camera you are learning with or what camera you learned the fundamentals of photography with. Mine was a Pentax K1000. What was your’s?

UPDATE: Congratulations to Amod Rahatkar, winner of the drawing for this book!

Here are some of the auctions on Ebay for photography books that you might be interested in:

Argus Pinhole Modification

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

I don’t have a tutorial for this one, but I thought I would share with you the pinhole modification I made to my Argus. I already had the lens stripped away from my homemade tilt-shift lens experiment and realized that the small leftover body would make a nice pinhole camera. All I really had to do was attach my homemade pinhole shutter (remember the one made out of a floppy disk and a ballpoint pen?) which I modded to work with a cable release. Now I have a pretty decent pinhole camera that I can trigger with the cable rather than adding camera shake with a more traditional shutter mechanism (black tape). It isn’t my most beautiful camera, but it is small and it works! Here are some pictures of it:

Front of the camera with the shutter release cable: argus_pinhole_front.jpg

The back with the film loaded: argus_pinhole_back_closed.jpg

The back of the camera opened up: argus_pinhole_back.jpg

Here are the current auctions on Ebay for “Argus Cameras” that you might be interested in:

Build A Tilt-Shift Lens for Your SLR for Cheap

Saturday, February 16th, 2008


I haven’t posted a good camera modification in a while, so it feels good to present you with this new tutorial on how to build your own tilt-shift lens. Have you seen those photos where only a small part of the picture is in focus and the rest of the image gets dramatically blurred? If you ever wondered how this effect is created, chances are the picture was taken with a tilt-shift lens. Most lenses are fixed exactly parallel to your lens because that is the position that will distribute the light evenly and keep focus at a fixed distance. A tilt-shift lens is different because it allows you pivot the lens. By “tilting” and “shifting” the lens you can throw things out of focus in unconventional ways. Using a tilt-shift lens is a fun way to inject your photos with drama and controlled distortion. Here is a link to a good Flickr gallery full of examples of tilt-shift to give you an idea of what is possible with a tilt-shift lens.

If I have convinced you that a tilt-shift lens would be a nice addition to your photography arsenal, I have some bad news for you. Tilt-shift lenses are expensive. A quick Ebay search reveals that you will be lucky to secure a lens for under $500 with some lenses well over $1000. Yikes! A slightly less expensive option is something called a Lensbaby, which will run you between $100 to $400. Despite hearing good things about the lensbabies, I just can’t justify dropping a couple hundred dollars on a lens that’s main purpose is to degrade and distort my pictures. Luckily there is a third option. Here are some ideas that will help you create your own tilt-shift lens for next to nothing.


Pentax K1000

Sunday, February 10th, 2008


I finally got the camera I have always wanted. No, it wasn’t a Hasselblad or a Mamiya or a Leica. The camera that has been on my wish list longer than any other is the Pentax K1000. Sure, I could pick one up on Ebay for under $100 but I just figured that someday the classic camera would just find its way into my collection. That is pretty much what happened. I love having a story to go along with a camera and now I have one that I will probably be telling quite a few times in the future. Here is how the classic tank of a camera came into my collection…


Yashica Electro35

Saturday, July 7th, 2007


A recent addition to my camera collection that is quickly becoming a favorite is the Yashica Electro35. It is an old rangefinder with a fast lens, a quite shutter, and accurate auto exposure. If you are like me and can only dream about owning a Leica, this camera might be just what you are looking for. They are a bargain on Ebay going for $25 or less.


Canon AE1 Program

Monday, March 19th, 2007


The newest addition to my camera collection is the Canon AE1 Program. This is the automatic version of the AE1 which I reviewed a few months ago. It is just a coincidence that I got this camera at the same time as my Pentax Super Program becuase these cameras had to be competing against each other around 1984. I had to chuckle at the lens cap because it had “Official 35mm Camera of the 1984 Olympics” on it.



Agfa Chief 120 Film Conversion

Friday, March 9th, 2007


The Agfa Chief is an old metal box camera that takes 6×9 medium format negatives. I have watched other 6×9 cameras, the Agfa Clack, on Ebay in the past but it seems like they go for way more than they are worth. Needless to say I was pleasently surprised by the Agfa Chief and happy to add it to my collection. I couldn’t find much information about it, but the model I own was in good enough shape to motivate me to try and use it. With a couple very minor hacks I had the camera modified so it could shoot 120 film. If you ever come accross one of these at a thrift store I encourage you to pick it up because unlike some “bargain cameras” the Agfa Chief actually has plenty of life left. Here is what you need to know if you are going to convert it to a working camera…


Pentax Super Program

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007


I recently came into possession of a Pentax Super Program, a 35mm SLR made in the early Eighties. I have always wanted the completely manaul Pentax K1000, and since I already own the fantasticly automatic Pentax ZX5n, I wasn’t sure what I would think of the Super Program

While researching the Super Program I was impressed by the loyal following that this camera has earned over the years. People praise its reliability, exposure accuracy, small size, and sharp lenses.