The Four Greatest Cameras In The History Of The Known Universe*

So here they are, my beloved Gang Of Four, the greatest cameras in the history of the universe.*

(*Where “The Known Universe” means the extent of cameras I have actually used in the last decade so can form a reasoned, yet entirely subjective opinion about, and excludes the 17 million I haven’t.)

Panasonic Lumix DSC-LX3, Ricoh GRD III, Ricoh GX100 and Pentax Q

I’m not going to go into much depth (or indeed any depth!) about their specs, suffice to say I enjoy them all hugely and any one of them I could happily use as my only camera for the rest of my days.

The point of this post is, that based on my own unique experience of owning and using a couple of hundred cameras (film and digital) in the last seven years, these four have risen to the top.

The reasons why are personal to me, based largely around their size, handling, intuitive user interface, affordability and fantastic (but not too fantastic) lens and sensor performance.

Your favourite cameras will of course be different, which is to be celebrated! 

When we read a camera review – either the type that consists of dry technical specs, dull charts and staged photographs, or a real world user experience based on the kind of pictures you and I are actually likely to make – we can still only get a rough idea about a camera.

There have been a number in the past that I’ve got hold of after a glowing review, then been hugely disappointed with a feature that has been a complete “deal breaker” for me, like a poor viewfinder, awkward handling or illogical controls.

Conversely, sometimes a hidden gem emerges, not widely known or revered, but a delight and perhaps even more valuable a find because of this.


We’re each on our own special journey to find the photography experience(s) we enjoy most. 

And whilst the final image has a significant place and importance, the experience of using the camera(s) is also very important for most of us here.

If it was all about image and convenience, we’d all just be using the latest iPhone, Galaxy or Pixel with Hipstamatic or Snapseed and would have ditched everything else.

Despite my One Month, One Camera project this year, which I have greatly enjoyed, it’s just reminded me how lucky I’ve been to find the Gang Of Four above.

And that I really don’t need to keep looking at other options!

How about you? Where are you on your photographic journey, in terms of finding a set up that works well and you enjoy? What matters most to you on this journey? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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47 thoughts on “The Four Greatest Cameras In The History Of The Known Universe*”

  1. Although I can certainly mention a few personal “greatest” – LG KC550 phone, the first generation Leica D-Lux, and especially the Holga – I have found that my “best” camera is highly depending on the photography genre or style that I am shooting in at that moment. (And, I am easily bored by a genre or style). Loved to shoot “personal documentary” with a mobile or compact, but I lost interest in capturing daily life, so I no longer care for those cameras. The Holga is probably still my favorite camera, but my current mindset resists the hassle of film photography, so my Holga has been in a drawer for almost a year.

    It is one of the reasons why I went back to a dSLR (next to reliability): I am currently struggling with what kind of pictures I want to take, and a dSLR is versatile enough for any new genre I might embrace.

    1. Interesting Robert. I think the “one camera to do it all” goal has influenced me keeping my Lumix GF1 as long as I have – it’s compact-ish with a native lens, and gives me an option to use M42 lenses in a still more compact than a DSLR set up.

      But the needs of an M42 lens (or anything similar for 35mm cameras) seems to have diminished, so the GF1 has become far less useful. Plus although I don’t travel particularly far at all with a camera, somehow the bulk of even the GF1 or a small DSLR seems too much, and I’ve grown to see the cameras above as the definitive size for me – essentially a camera that fits in the palm of your hand.

      I relate with the Holga too, when I first got mine (my first film camera, in 2012) I probably shot a roll a week. I can’t remember when I last used it, it’s been years.

  2. Hi Dan, that is a nice “Gang of four”.(One of my favorite bands back in the day.) I have not used any of those, but I think my LX-7 is pretty similar. I keep trying to bond with mine, but it hasn’t happened yet. It interesting how personal cameras are (like bikes) I am trying to pick one system for film and it’s been very difficult for me. I like the Minolta lenses the best, but I’ve had a lot of malfunctions and they are pretty big. Also the bodies don’t do anything for me. I’ve used Olympus the longest, but again the track record of repairs, especially lenses doesn’t inspire confidence, and it’s getting hard to find service at prices mere mortals can afford. I’m leaning toward Pentax at the moment. I’ve been doing more of a “camera a week” thing to see which I like best.

    1. Thanks for your input Jon!

      I’m aware of Gang Of Four and blatantly pinched their name, but I’m not really aware of their music, other than they were punky and political.

      The LX7 is indeed the successor to the LX5, which itself was a minor increment over the LX3. I’ve been looking at the LX7 as a possible future camera, but I don’t think there’s much difference between it and the LX3, the most obvious being a slightly faster lens. Though I have no complaints about the lens on the LX3, it’s excellent.

      I have to agree about Minolta, many of the Rokkors are wonderful, as are the AF lenses from the mid-80s. My favourites of the both of these mounts have been as good as any lenses I’ve used. My favourite body was the X-300 but I went through three in as many weeks, and it put me right off them after that. In the AF mount the 7000i was very impressive, and was reliable all the time I had it.

      Pentax have to be the brand I’ve bonded with most over all the camera I’ve had. My favourite 35mm lenses are Takumars, my last remaining M42 film camera is a Spotmatic. I’ve had more K mount Pentax bodies than any other mount of body by far, maybe ten times more than the next closest mount/brand. The only DLSRs I’ve had (four) have been Pentax (well, two Pentax, two Samsung rebranded Pentax). The Espios were my favourite series of zoom 35mm compacts. Then of course there’s the amazing little Q, as mentioned above, which is essentially a super shrunk DSLR, and on some days my single favourite camera ever. Yep, I certainly love Pentax!

      A camera a week is a good plan, and something I’m considering, having proved my point(s) to myself with the One Camera, One Month project. Let is know how it goes with the Pentax adventures!

      1. Dan, I’ve been a devotee of the LX range right from day 1 and have owned the 1, 2, 3, and 7. I skipped the 5 as I didn’t think an upgrade was warranted. Whilst the visible obvious difference between the 3 and 7 is the latter’s f1.4 lens, the zoom range also extends from 60mm to 90mm (equivalent) but less obvious to the casual onlooker is it takes an accessory EVF. This of itself, wasn’t enough to me to warrant buying the 5 which also has this feature, but taking into account the cumulative improvements from the 3 to 7 on paper, it was an altogether better proposition.

        However, I’m left with a niggling doubt about the performance of the 7’s lens. The difference is subtle, to say the least, but in a direct side by side comparison the lens in the 3 has a slight edge in IQ. It’s difficult to put into words how they differ, but they do. Now it may be that in the 3 I have a lens performing to the top end of its design, or possibly, the 7 is at its bottom end. Or it could be that widening the aperture to f1.4 and combing this with a 50% increase in zoom range was a small step too far, perhaps. Seen in isolation, though, the 7 is still a nice performer.

        Although I have the EVF for the 7, my go to remains the 3, as I mainly utilise the w/a range of the lens, with little need for the 90mm reach of the 7’s.

      2. Hi Terry, many thanks for your LX experiences, very helpful.

        I’ve only had the LX3, but like you, the differences between 3 and 5 seem too minimal to “upgrade”. Also like you I hardly ever go to the full zoom, and most of the time I’m at 28 or 35mm. In the last three or four outings with my LX3 I’ve zoomed to 35mm and let the “zoom resume” remember it again after switching off, and never touched the zoom rocker switch.

        The LX7 interests me most for the lens, although the LX3’s is fantastic and I can’t say I’ve felt it lacking in speed.

        Very interesting to hear in your experience that you prefer the LX3 images.

        I don’t have any interest in an EVF, so it seems the reasons for spending £150-200 on an LX7 are almost non-existent.

    2. Jon, there is nothing inherently wrong with Minolta, bodies or lenses. In their day the lenses were highly regarded. Unfortunately, what your experience shows is that these items are getting on a bit now, and buying one, or any film camera of the same age, and older, is very much a gamble today. How they have been treated in their lifetime and service history (or lack of it) will largely be unknowns. Take an XD-7, a super camera in its own right, and you could be looking at one 43 years old. During its production lifespan it is possible that Minolta tweaked it, but we will never know unless we are certain we have a late production run unit. Minolta made some lovely cameras in their ST series, but many today will probably find them too large and heavy, and these will be even older.

      I started collecting cameras in the mid-1970’s and when cameras I was interested in would span an age range of 10 to 20 years old. Those cameras today will be 55 to 65 years old but, more importantly, in the latter years of their life, could easily not have been treated like when they were new, and will almost certainly have been neglected and probably went unserviced. Being poorly stored is another prime example. ebay is awash with these. The cameras in my collection will have aged virtually nothing since the day I purchased them owing to how I store them, but can all have issues nevertheless. The most common is caused by the oils and greases used and which over time can either dry up or the oil from a grease can separate and migrate.

      What I’ve been leading up to is that if you like Minolta lenses, persevere and I’d suggest buy from an established dealer. You may have to pay more but it can save you money in the long run. After all, it is the lens which determines your image. The body, however simple or complicated, is only there to help you.

      1. Hi Terry, I haven’t given up on them yet, and recently bought a few bodies from John Titterington who is known for servicing these cameras over here. You are so right about the dross on ebay, I sent a few back that were infested with mold,etc. I had a third serviced at my “local” camera shop (which is 100 miles away) and it works well enough, but I just haven’t warmed up to any of them for some reason. After thinking about it I realized I’ve actually had even more problems with my Pentax cameras. I have three Spotmatic F’s that all have cracked flash shoes and various other problems, and all seem lightly used. I put it down to age, as you say. I have access to a good Pentax repair tech who is not to expensive, so those are most likely to be repaired, I just got my MX back from him, and it’s like new. None of my Nikon cameras has needed repair except for occassional preventive maintenance. Unfortunately, of all my old cameras the Nikkor lenses are my least favorite. I am trying to simplify and rationalize my collection to just user cameras and one system for each type, one SLR kit, one R.F. and so on. It;s much harder than I thought it would be. I also have a Panasonic LX-7 and I agree, the lens is nothing to write home about. Also, it has really let me down focusing in poor light at social functions at work where I was required to get pictures. Embarrassing.Luckily I still have my old Canon 40D which I will use for work from now on. I only have one lens for the Canon, the 24mm which is superb, but the whole rig is pretty big, heavy, and obvious. Still looking for my perfect camera I guess.

      2. So true Dan, I was being a little silly there. My friend Tom told me once that the perfect bike is the one someone else has! I think I’m very spoiled by a wealth of perfect cameras.

      3. Hello, Jon, have you come across this?

        Have a look at the 4th on the list, the SRT-Super. As I mentioned, you would need to get used to the size of these things, but get a good example and you won’t go far wrong. I have one, and love it. These are manual metering, no auto of any kind. If you want this, you will need to look at the X range, the most well received of these is the XD7 (XD11 in the States). This is the closest to a Leica camera, due to the Leitz/Minolta collaboration. This one is collectible in its own right, being the first SLR to have both Aperture priority and shutter priority metering, as well as manual. This is a great camera, IMO, and has a big, bright focusing screen and which is easy to nail focus.

      4. The SRT series are built like tanks, I had a couple. If you don’t mind the bulk and weight, they’re a reliable option for those lovely old Rokkors. I had an SR-1S too, which was I think a little older and more elegant, less brutal in look and feel. No meter, I used my phone and a light meter app. A lovely elegant machine. The Minolta, not my phone. ; )

      5. Dan, this post reminded me that I did have an SR-1s, too. I’ve checked with my photographic record of cameras either still in my collection, or once owned, and there it is, coupled with the huge MC PG f1.2/58mm Rokkor, s/n 2599907. A guy in the office relieved me of the body, but I’ve no recollection of what I did with the lens. Most likely it ended up as a p/x for some other gear. It was too big and heavy for regular use, IMO, and I didn’t really need the f1.2 aperture. My later MD f1.4 is far more practical.

        So, something else we had in common!

      6. Wow, what a monster lens! That’d be worth a bit with today’s inflated lens prices! I sold a Rokkor 58/1.4 for about £85 I think a year or two back, an f/1.2 would go for significantly more I would expect.

        I had an MD 50/1.4 too, beautiful lens. As are the 50 and 55 f/1.7s though!

      7. Hello Terry, Thank you for the advice, I have indeed seen Anthony’s website, but not for a long time, it was fun to browse it again. That is an uncommon camera here, by any of it’s various names. I will be going to the largest flea market in the country next month, so I will keep my eyes open up there, there are always some camera dealers there. I have a couple XD’s here that I bought as a lot of spares and parts cameras but I haven’t gotten around to checking them out, they look pretty clean though. I have film loaded in my Srt 201 in hopes of taking some pictures if it ever stops raining here.

      8. I think there’s a great deal of luck with buying used cameras older than 10 years old. There are very few where you know the history, and even so, as with cars or anything else, sometimes those that have been regularly used but well looked after and maintained, are a better bet than something that looks brand new in box but is 20, 30+ years old and might have completed seized up and died – mechanically and electronically.

        Yes at least with a reputable dealer you have some assurance that the camera is working and has been restored and tested to a certain working standard.

        Personally the judgement comes down to money. Spending over a certain amount (perhaps £100) I’d go with a dealer. Below that (especially under £50), I might be happy to take a risk and in the worst case where the camera doesn’t work and is beyond economical repair I haven’t lost too much.

    1. Frank, I’ve never really looked at the MX1, or any other Pentax cameras really.

      The other day I was looking at the KS01 though, as a k mount option with just a screen (I struggle with using a viewfinder on a DSLR). Intriguing camera, but still pretty chunky and they seem expensive used still.

      I think the Q is on its own for compact size, interchangeable lenses and depth of control/options. They’re fantastic! I’m even considering a Q7 to complement my original Q…

      1. I, too, have a Pentax Q. Ridiculously priced upon its release, but I acquired a body, and standard/tele zooms from different sellers, and all in mint condition for very reasonable prices. I acquired them for collector interest as a pair for my Pentax 110 SLR which together are possibly the smallest interchangeable lens cameras available; and both from Pentax.

        So far I’ve managed to stave off buying a Q7. I can see the advantage here: larger sensor and which the image circle of the existing lenses still covers, so slightly w/a coverage.

      2. Terry, we have similar tastes again it seems, the Lumix LX3 and now the Pentax Q. I had a 110 a few years back, and whilst I never put any film through it, it was a marvellous feat of tiny engineering. The Q is definitely the spiritual successor to the 110.

        I love the original Q I have, with the 01 47/1.9 prime. I also have the 07 Mount Shield lens which is tremendous fun and makes the camera unbelievably compact, and with fixed focus and aperture, about as pure a point and shoot as it’s possible to have.

        The only options lacking is a wider angle lens, as my favourite usually with compacts is 28-35mm. In the absence of a wide prime in the range, the obvious option is the 02 zoom, which equates to 28-83mm on the original Q. They seem to be at least £130. For around £200 I could probably get a Q7 with the 02 lens, which seems much better value.

        I don’t need the Q7, but the larger sensor is interesting, and as you say, it widens all of the lenses. My 47mm prime becomes 40mm, and the 02 zoom would be 23-70mm I believe. Not radically different, but a tiny yet incredibly customisable camera with a 1/1.7″ sensor, 40/1.9 prime and 23-70mm zoom is very enticing.

        I’ve been out with the Q today and enjoyed it more than ever. Having Custom Image and Digital Filter as separate functions, then the range of customisation of each, is wonderful. In virtually every area, it has more to offer than my other three of the four above – the custom image and digital filter (and the further fine tuning of each setting with these, like today I found it has different filters you can apply to b/w, like yellow, red, even infra red), aspect ratios, interchangeable lenses and so on.

        And just simple things like today it was super sunny so I was having difficult seeing when it had locked focus, ie the red square had turned green. So I switched on the beep for AF confirm only (keeping everything else muted, as generally I like cameras to be silent!) and could rely on that to confirm focus when I couldn’t see so well.

        Anyway, glad to find a fellow Q (and Pentax) fan.

      3. Dan, back to the original post, I’ve been giving thought to what four I’d come up with. It’s not been easy to whittle it down; the moment I get four, another pops up. But here goes. I still own these. In no order of preference, only a timescale from, early to later ownership.

        Sony R1
        Panasonic LX-3
        Sony 5N.
        Fuji X-E1

        The R1 was the camera that, in hindsight, I should have bought instead of the Olympus E-500 with the Pro 18-54 lens. But everyone should buy an slr, right? Wrong! The E-500 scores as the only digital camera that I really din’t warm to. Some 17 months later, around May 2007 time, I saw an ad in a national photo magazine for an R1, new and boxed, being sold off for £499. By this time I’d read the great review on dpr and so jumped at the chance. Glad I did. Just 10mp, low by today’s standard, but the IQ is simply something to die for, as is the lovely Zeiss lens. I now have two R1’s. The second was acquired about three years ago from a dealer in Germany and came with the w/a lens attachment and the necessary lens support bracket. Absolutely mint (doesn’t look used) and boxed. I later added the tele attachment. In all honesty, adding these lens attachments and the bracket makes for a very heavy and unwieldy combination and not recommended if you have a bad back, or are puny, like me!

        I’ve already commented on the LX-3, so that brings me to the Sony 5N. A beautiful small camera with an APS-C sensor, and which has provision for an add-on EVF. I already had the standard zoom and w/a lens + w/a auxiliary lens from my Nex 5, but I’ve opted to use the 5N with a little Sigma f2.8/30mm lens, the one that compared extremely favourably against the Leica f1.4/50 Summilux, beating it in the MTF tests carried out by LensRentals at f2.8, and being virtually identical at f4. The 5N+Sigma makes for an extremely pocketable quality combination.

        Finally, the X-E1 makes the list, and I’ve opted for this instead of the Pro-1. This may seem a strange choice over the more versatile Pro-1, but as IQ is the same I’ve opted for the much higher resolution of the X-E1’s EVF, as i use the X-E1 with a zoom lens, whilst I prefer the Pro1 with a prime and set to optical v/f. And it doesn’t matter which I use as they both have the same X-Trans sensor, which I love.

      4. Terry, I wasn’t familiar with the Sony R1, but the spec looks very impressive with that sensor and lens combo. I’d like to try one. They seem very affordable and plentiful now (£100 or less).

        The LX3 of course I know about. I had a Nex 3N, predecessor to the 5N, which had lots of good points – tilting screen, exposure, adaptability (I must have used about 10 different vintage lens mounts!), focus peaking, image quality. But I never quite bonded with it due to the poor handling, disappointing colours and generally feeling that it was just a clever device and not a camera that had any chemistry or soul, like my favourites seem to have.

        The Fuji X series are a whole unknown world to me. I don’t think they’re naturally suited to my style of photographer, perhaps more for street or landscape. But I’ve never tried any of them. The original X100 seems to be hailed with increasing reverence over time. I have no idea where the XE1 fits in the Fuji timeline/range in comparison?

      5. Dan, I’m assuming you’ve read the dpr review? I’ve had a dekko at some of those sub-£100 listings, and would be just a little careful. You may turn up trumps, though. Try and ensure it comes with the original Sony charger. Separate chargers are widely available, but the Sony is designed to charge the battery in-camera. If you can pull my email address from your subscriber list and then send me your email, I’d be happy to send you some images shot with the R1. The focal length equivalent at the wide end is just up your street, starting at 24mm. What you may also like is the manual zoom control. What you may not like is the weight!

        I’m not familiar with the Nex 3N and which actually was released after the 5N. DPR liked the 5N, but didn’t seem too enamoured of the 3N. I’ve read the criticisms of the Sony colours but I’ve found the 5N no problems, although in cloudy conditions the colour palette can sometimes produce a somewhat flat result. Whether this is truer to life I don’t know, but otherwise they look fine.

        The Fuji X-E1 is a kind of little brother to the X-Pro 1. Fuji It shares the same sensor and processing engine as the Pro 1 and so should be identical to it as regards IQ. It was released in 2012, several months after the Pro 1.

      6. Thanks Terry.

        I haven’t looked in too much depth at the R1, don’t want to be too tempted, ha ha!

        I have a not radically dissimilar, but older, Fuji bridge type camera waiting for a few outings, amongst others, so the R1 might go on a future wishlist.

        With the NEX yes it was flat and kind of lifeless colours, but this was a time when I was shooting mostly film and enjoying quite saturated reds and greens.

        I have next to no experience with the Fuji X cameras, only what I’ve heard/read generally online, and as I said that original X100 seems to be mentioned with increasing reverence recently.

      7. Dan, the R1 could indeed be tempting. I’d forgotten just how good the IQ really is. I used the camera over a period of 18 months or so over 2007/08, but haven’t had any real cause to look at them for many years and not since getting my current computer. I’ve been looking at them now with the possibility that you’d like to see some images. Now I can see how much better they look on the new screen, I’m really starting to regret I didn’t use it more often.

      8. Terry, I just watched a review on YouTube, didn’t realise it was an APS-C sensor too! I like the screen that can be left flat on the top and used like a waist level finder, I sued my NEX flip out screen horizontally like this more often than not. Looks a really cool camera.

      9. Dan, there is so much to say about the R1, but when I do I’m in danger of it becoming a paean to it! Not that it wouldn’t deserved, mind you.

        It’s APS-C of sorts. It is slightly smaller at 21.5 x 14.4mm. So it fits in between m4/3 and a conventional APS-C sensor. The EVF is very versatile, but using it to view a la TLR isn’t practical outdoors, and the screen at 2″ is small. Considering the angles the screen can be pot in, I’ve never fully understood the reason for this option. Perhaps I’ve not tried hard enough. Even indoors where incident light would be less distracting, I still use the screen raised 45 degrees or so. I suppose the old pro’s trick of being able to look down onto the screen of a TLR with the lenses pointed at 90 degree to the direction he’s facing and not let on that the subject was being photographed may be an option.

  3. Hi Dan. Another excellent article – I love reading about the journey you’ve gone on with your photography. Have you read this article at all:

    I came across it last night when looking for info on pros shooting with smaller, simpler cameras. I’ve found that larger cameras and a bag of lenses are less likely to get taken out with me than a simple digital compact. I love my Coolpix S9900 (encouragingly similar to the small camera used by Moriyama on that short YouTube video) and though I have got a lot of enjoyment from film photography over the last couple of years, I have thinned my arsenal out massively recently.

    Basically I really liked my 35mm SLRs but more for the experience of using them rather than the pictures themselves. As a result of the long process time to go from shot to photograph, I found I wasn’t shooting with them at all. Likewise my Trip 35 – a lovely little camera but it just didn’t get used often enough.
    So I’ve banked a bit of cash in PayPal and kept just a 35mm compact for the fun of it during family parties and so on. I shot a load at Christmas with it and loved the old-school look of my festive pics.

    Other than that, based on the above article, I’ve forked out a tiny amount for a Leica-lensed Lumix DMX FX-150. Since parting with my Coolpix A300, I’ve missed having a “so small you don’t notice it” compact digital.

    The thing I like most about shooting with an unlikely digital (which to most people means anything not a Nikon/Canon DSLR, Fuji X series or Leica) is the surprise on people’s faces when they find out what you shot a nice image with!

    So compact digital cameras are the way forward for me for a bit as well I think.

    Keep up the good work – I really enjoy reading and being inspired by your blog.

    1. Richard, thank you, I always enjoy your thoughtful comments.

      Yes I read the Sofi Lee article a few months ago after William recommended it in a previous comment here. Very inspiring!

      I agree, and even my reasonably small Lumix GF1 felt too big when I was trying to use it for a month earlier in April. Going back to the Pentax Q felt like going back to a familiar old lover I should never have left.

      How are you getting on with the Lumix FX-150? I do generally really like the Lumix compacts, the very impressive LX3, and the more basic TZ2 I used in March.

      I just think many of us are so programmed by the consumer/advertising machines and feel there isn’t an option other than having a digital camera/phone/tv/car etc that is less than a couple of years old… I’ve always liked bucking the mainstream, and using such old (digitally speaking) and cheap cameras gives me extra satisfaction, aside from the money saving aspect.

      Thanks for reading and contributing.

      1. Oh and I have also located (in the bottom of storage box at home) my daughter’s old but pristine Fufi Finepix F650 and a very tiny (and very pink) Canon Ixus 105. Looks like I’ll be doing plenty of experimenting with small CCD sensored cameras too!

      2. Richard, a quick browse online reveals –

        Fuji F650 – 6MP CCD sensor, max f/2.8 aperture, min focus 0.03m, Aperture Priority.

        Canon IXUS 105 – 12MP CCD sensor, max f/2.8 aperture, min focus 0.03m, image stabilisation, custom picture settings (contrast, sharpness, saturation).

        Both sound like great fun to me!

        As dull as I find Canon as a brand, they have made an almost endless line of excellent compact cameras.

      3. Love it! I’ll put some pics on my blog afterwards, but I stumbled on a huge Sikh festival in Leicester yesterday. A street photography dream but not a day for B&W pictures at all! I need a bit more practice to avoid blown highlights to be honest. The bright but overcast skies yesterday were a nightmare. Maybe dropping the exposure a little when shooting and then brightening things up in post processing would work?

      4. Yes I imagine plenty of colour there!

        Re the blown highlights, it is probably the one “flaw” of small sensor cameras, or rather the main possible pitfall to watch out for.

        Virtually all of my digital compacts I have at -0.3 exposure comp, and some at -0.7. In certain conditions with bright sky I might notch it down to -1.0.

        Generally if you’re focusing on something with a brighter background/sky behind it, you can end up with a bright glowing amorphous blob. Which is distracting. I try to avoid having sky in the background if this is likely to happen, and reframe to crop it out before I take the shot.

        It’s just one of those quirks of certain cameras you have to workaround (and no camera is perfect!)

        I also use exposure lock a fair bit with the compact cameras that have it. Then you can point the camera at the sky, lock exposure (so you’re exposing for the brightest part of the frame) and recompose.

        With film I always leaned towards overexposing (colour negative film) as most had -1/+3 exposure latitude.

        With digital definitely lean towards underexposure, as you can’t do much with blown out highlights and they generally look ugly, unless you’re going for a specific blown out effect.

        I’m sure you’re Lumix will have exposure comp, so try at -0.3 to start with. It might even have exposure bracketing so you could try 0, -0.3, 0.7.

        Experiment, and enjoy!

      5. Cheers Dan, that’s very useful information. I shot a few pictures on the way to work this morning (very bright, early sunlight) with exposure comp wound down by 2/3 of a stop. No significant issues with blown out skies and I managed to lighten any dark shadows with a little tickle in post-processing. Like you, I try and keep it to a minimum and have a pretty simple workflow. I’ve also taken to shooting with the white balance set for a sunny day always as the colours come out warmer and more saturated. You’re right, great fun experimenting!

      6. Richard, I think because I like shadows to be dark anyway (I don’t really get conversations about bringing out shadow detail!) and don’t like overblown skies, I underexpose without hesitation by default.

        I realised I always use Auto WB by default too, I think I’ll try using a Sunny option on my Pentax Q in my colour experiments in the coming days and weeks. Warmer and more saturated sounds good!

      7. Yeah I’ve also defaulted to the auto WB setting for years, but found that the Lumix has quite a cold, blue “cast” to the pictures. The sunny setting is much warmer so will try it on my Nikon too.

      8. But the camera is lovely and small, very capable and at 1600iso makes some superb grainy B&W images too. I’m sticking to colour for a little bit but some monochrome goodness will eventually follow!

      9. Some digital cameras give ugly blocky backgrounds at higher ISOs, others give a far more film grain like noise, which can add to the character, especially in b/w. Sounds like your Lumix is more like the latter. Great news!

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