This month I’m using a Panasonic Lumix XS1 as my only camera. You can read the first post here.
After using the little Lumix more, I have a few further observations.
First, did I mention it was tiny?
I don’t have a particularly large smartphone, but the XS1 is smaller, and feels lighter (I haven’t weighed them!).
Whilst cameras like the Ricoh GRD III and Lumix LX3 are pretty compact too, you know if they’re in your hand or squashed in your pocket. With the XS1 it’s about as small and slender as a camera can get, and still be very usable, ergonomically.
Second, the AF is great overall.
Sometimes though, for very close objects, if there’s not a very clear difference in contrast between the subject and the background, and/or the background is very busy and cluttered, it struggles to focus, and will default to the distance of the largest area of the composition.
This has only happened perhaps three times in a few hundred photos, so it’s nothing major at all, just something I’ve noticed.
Third, that Dynamic Monochrome mode is a joy.
This is what sets the XS1 apart from 95% of other digital compacts I’ve tried – the look it gives the photographs, without me then needing to further moody them using Snapseed afterwards.
Also, in this mode the camera is essentially shooting auto everything too.
So all I do in practice is compose, squeeze the shutter button to lock focus, recompose if necessary, then push the shutter button all the way to capture the shot.
Now and then, maybe 1 in 50 shots, I might use the exposure compensation to force it brighter or darker, but mostly I leave this at -1/3, just to take the edge off highlights.
This automated mode suits the tiny nature of the camera too, and emphasises that it’s meant to be a grab and go, fun to use camera, not something you endlessly tinker with.
Fourth, there only seem to be two apertures available in Dynamic Monochrome, at least without zooming.
The maximum, f/2.8, and the minimum, f/9.
Put simply, if I point the camera at bright sky, it goes with f/9, minimum ISO (100) and whatever shutter speed is required. For every other situation, the XS1 reverts to f/2.8, the lowest ISO it can without the shutter speed falling too low, and the required shutter speed.
Which suits me brilliantly, because it means, combined with the minimum focus of 0.05m (2″), I can force the camera into some pretty shallow depth of field shots with highly blurred backgrounds.
Fifth, and lastly, the focal length range of the lens.
At first I tried a simplified variation of the experiment I’ve done with previous zoom lens cameras like the Lumix TZ2, to work out how to know when the camera is at a focal length of 35mm.
For the XS1 it’s when the minimum aperture is a reasonably fast f/3.3.
But honestly I’ve shot so much with 35mm lenses, it’s actually a refreshing change to shoot at the XS1’s widest 24mm – the next natural step wider than the 28mm lens of last month’s Ricoh.
So I haven’t touched the zoom control (which is my preferred way of using zooms anyway!), and have enjoyed that, as detailed above, at this focal length, the maximum aperture is f/2.8 and minimum focus distance is 0.05m.
Overall, the XS1 is another Lumix triumph that’s greatly impressing me.
Aside from the excellent two Ricohs I have, the GX100 and GRD III, I would say my favourite compacts hands down are Panasonic Lumix, and my favourite DSLRs are Pentax.
If I could never venture from these two brands in these two formats for the rest of my shooting days, I’d be more than happy.
Back with the Lumix,XS1, if I had the choice, I probably would have preferred a black paint job. But since the camera only came in white, purple or red, I think my red example is the most anonymous and least flashy of those three colourways!
Oh, just finally, as you know I love a bargain.
I don’t think I mentioned this camera cost me £12.50, in good as new condition.
I did have to buy a Micro SD card, which set me back another £3.19, but for around £15 all in I consider this Lumix excellent value.
More in the coming days once I’ve made more images with the XS1.
Which camera of yours is the most fun to use, the one you just love to grab and go?
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).
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