Panasonic Lumix G3 M4/3 Camera – My Latest Creative Tool!
My first serious camera was a Panasonic Lumix G1 M43 camera back in 2010. It was on that camera that I taught myself photography from scratch. The best ‘accessory’ that I ever bought for the G1 was a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens. There started my love for ‘proper’ metal and glass manual focus lenses. My favourite style of photography back in 2010 was colourful macro photography using the Lumix G1. Seeing A3 prints now from photos taken in 2010 still blow me away in terms of sharpness and colour considering the sensor size.
Here are a few of my favourite Lumix G1 + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4 photos:
Why even consider buying a Lumix G3 now when I own a Nikon D800 and some amazing Nikon mount prime lenses and a Leica M9 with again some of the best Leica M mount and arguably best any camera lenses ever made?
Good question! I was toying with the idea of a second Leica camera body (Leica M9 or Leica M240) as a backup camera for my Leica wedding photography. The problem is I cannot use two cameras at once and Leica digital camera bodies depreciate fastest than my 1 litre little car. I don’t mind buying lenses as many hold their value but I would hate to literally thrown money down the drain on expensive digital camera bodies that do not hold their value and are not being used.
Advantages (to me) of getting a Panasonic Lumix G3?
1) Lumix G3 and Leica lenses – A Leica M – M4/3 adapter would let me use all my Leica M mount lenses on a second digital body. The EVF (viewfinder) of the G3 will in effect let me see through the lens like a DSLR. This is a big advantage vs. The Leica rangefinder system as any lens that did not quite calibrate with my Leica M9 rangefinder system will now be sharp and useable on the G3. A good example is my Russian Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5 Zeiss Sonnar clone lens. A second advantage is focusing telephoto lenses such as my new Leica Summicron 90mm f2 lens and Leica Elmar 135mm f4 as I will be able to use the EVF to focus rather than the tiny RF patch where with a telephoto lens a magnifier is sometimes recommended to aid focusing.
2) Leica M – M42 adapter – Similar advantage to #1 but it means I can use some of my favourite M42 mount lenses that I cannot use on the Leica M9, the Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 and the Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8. Both are amazing for portrait photography.
3) Leica backup camera – As I can use my Leica M mount lenses on the Lumix G3 the G3 would become my backup camera for emergencies (in addition to my Nikon D800).
4) Lumix G3 Size – The G3 is pretty much perfect for my needs. I want a reasonably priced small lightweight ‘lightbox’ with a usable sensor quality and an EVF to mount my Leica M mount lenses to. Many of the small M4/3 cameras lack an EVF so to me are not a real camera. The G3 is smaller than my old G1 yet still has the EVF so perfect for my needs. The small size also means it will fit nicely into my compact Leica camera bag. This is a must for future overseas weddings where I need to be able to travel light yet have all my ‘essential’ equipment with me. I recently got booked for a wedding photography gig in Barbados. 12 months ago I would have had my Nikon D800 + Nikon D700 plus lenses such as the massive Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s. Flying that lot across would have resulted in additional baggage fees. For Leica weddings I can now get everything in my hand luggage with ease.
5) G3 as Creative tool – I still enjoy macro photography although I no longer currently ‘practise’ it. I had macro lenses, extension tubes and magnifying lenses for the Nikon D800 but I still think some of my best photos were with the G1. The Leica M9 is not designed for serious macro photography and the RF system only focuses as close as 0.7M. For wedding photography it is nice to include some detail shots. With the Lumix G3 I can now include some amazing close up photos into the wedding album such as ring shots and photos of the wedding bouquet.
6) “Good photographers can use any camera and get good results” – The most important aspect of any photo is light. I enjoy my lighting in my photography. At the moment I currently have cameras and lenses that some people may see as exotic or in basic terms just expensive. My challenge to myself is to get the same quality portrait photos using a Lumix G3 and my existing lenses as I get from the Nikon D800, Leica M9 or any of my 35mm or medium format film cameras.
7) Testing the Leica, Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses on a M4/3 body – There are many forum discussions debating whether the Leica ‘look’ I get from my Leica M9 is due to the lenses or the Leica Kodak CCD sensor. By using my lenses on a non-Leica body it will be interesting to see the results from some of the best lenses ever made such as the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 on a non-Leica camera body.
8) Times have changed – When I had my Lumix G1 back in 2010 my most expensive and treasured lens was the CV Nokton 40mm f1.4. Photography was new for me then and I was not sure if it would just be another fad hobby. I also did not have much money to spend on expensive lenses that I knew nothing about. Four years on I now teach photography and have my own studio. I earn money from my cameras so I never mind reinvesting the cash into more cameras and camera equipment. As a result I now have a range of nice Leica M mount lenses at my disposal. I also have a pretty good understanding of camera formats, lens types and limitations of each so may be in a better position to pair lenses and camera bodies for different uses.
9) Micro four third system crop factor – Some of you may or may not know that different cameras have different ‘crop’ factors. Traditional 35mm film cameras are the basis for what focal length is written on your cameras lens. If you have a 50mm lens on a 35mm film camera 50mm = 50mm. If you use a ‘full frame’ (“FX”) professional digital camera body such as the Nikon D800 or Leica M9 again a 50mm lens = 50mm. If you use a cropped sensor (“DX”) entry level or mid range camera such as a Nikon D90, it has a crop of 1.5x so a 50mm lens gives an equivalent 75mm view on that camera body. Micro four third cameras (“M4/3”) have a 2x crop factor so a 50mm lens such as my Leica Lux’ 50/1.4 gives a 100mm lens view on the M4/3 Lumix G3. As a result depending what camera I use a lens on I can now get two different equivalent lens lengths and potential lens uses from each lens. Because of the 2x crop factor many common focal lengths become too long or in better terms you do not have a wide lens option when using legacy non-m4/3 lenses.
10) Lenses I don’t currently use a great deal will now get a new lease of life – The Lumix G3 arrival really does excite me. I am already planning in my head which of my existing Leica M mount lenses I will use on the G3. The G3 is a compact lightweight camera so I want to select lenses to complement this. My current Lumix G3 lens trio is – Voigtlander Colour Skopar 21mm f4 lens (=42mm)(my smallest lens), Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 (=80mm)(small and lightweight with a proven track record) and the Leica Elmar 135mm f4 (=270mm yet a 39mm filter thread)(a thin light lens with great range). Another option that makes great sense is pairing my Lumix G3 and the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 (=30mm). This super sharp pancake style lens would give me a 30mm wide documentary style street photographer dream lens as everything at roughly a distance of 2m to infinity would be in focus so you can literally run and gun and get in amongst the action without really being seen. Perfect for weddings. I would not need to focus the lens if set it to infinity so could shoot with the camera a arms length above my head, between my legs or on the floor. The creative options are limitless. It is quite possible that the G3 may steal this lens for a super slimline lightweight setup giving super sharp images. Excited!
Shots of the Lumix G3 that was originally released in 2011:
See if you can spot the first G3 photos entering my Flickr stream. Will a photo from the low cost Lumix G3 be noticeably different from those taken with an expensive Leica M9!? We shall see!
MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer