Long Live The Legends Of Lumix

It’s funny how we have certain concepts and beliefs around particular brands.

Perhaps 10 years ago, before I’d seriously got into photography – and cameras – I was vaguely aware of a few different manufacturers, and had formed opinions of them based on the very little information and experience I had.

Panasonic Lumix seemed to be a higher end and more interesting contemporary brand than the mainstream likes of Canon, Nikon and Olympus.

They also gave the impression of being more of a photographer’s brand than those coming from more of an electronics background, like Sony (whose TVs, hi-fi separates, headphones and of course PlayStations I’d greatly enjoyed, right back from my first Sony Walkman, probably around 1988) or Samsung, who seemed to be more at home making phones and fridges.

Of course this partly illustrates how wrong these opinions can be, because Panasonic also originated in electronics and have less of a pedigree in cameras than Sony, especially since Sony bought the rich photography mine of experience and technology in the guise of Konica Minolta, in 2006.

My first direct experience of a Panasonic Lumix camera came some years later, a very modest old compact.

It was fun, but didn’t particularly wow me, and the only memorable feature was the heart icon on the mode dial that was a kind of easy auto setting for beginners that simplified the remaining options on the camera radically.

Nothing special really, I just liked that the icon was a red heart rather than a green camera, like virtually all other brands.

Since then I’ve had at least half a dozen Lumix, and enjoyed them all in their own way.

Common themes are a very decent build quality, a sensible user interface (buttons and switches, and menus) and excellent lenses.

They also often seem to include key features I rely on and wish other cameras had, such as high contrast black and white modes, and zoom resume, which zooms the lens to the same position it was in when the camera was switched off – excellent for setting your zoom lens camera up as if it has a prime lens.

Three of the cameras in my remaining arsenal of less than a dozen are Lumix.

The magnificent LX3, the tiny yet very charming XS1, and the highly likeable all rounder, the FZ38.

I can’t see myself parting with any of these, especially as my camera buying has slowed to a virtually halt these days.

But I’ve also had others, that I’ve donated or sold not because I haven’t like them, but because they were not quite as great as the ones I’ve kept.

Whilst I’d say my heart was with Pentax more than any other brand, I’d be lying if I said Panasonic’s Lumix line hadn’t made a very strong impression on me, and especially considering their relatively short brand lifespan compared with Pentax, of which I’ve owned cameras going back to the early 1960s.

So in my collection, I say long live the Legends of Lumix!

Which is your favourite camera brand, and why? Or do you have no interest or allegiance to any brands and just appreciate and enjoy each camera for what it can do?

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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13 thoughts on “Long Live The Legends Of Lumix”

  1. I had only 3 cameras in my life, 3 different brands. So I probably do not have any inclination towards a particular brand. If I had to buy a new one, I would look at the specifications I want, at opinions from photographers in my field of interest, but the brand itself would have little weight in my decision.

  2. No favourite brand, but I do have a related observation:
    Back in the ‘film days’ Canon and Nikon were top-end, along with Leica (which is practically a mythological marque now). Pentax and Olympus were “entry level” 35mm SLRs. Now in the digital age it seems Canon and Nikon have become the brands “for everyone” with their respectable low-price entry cameras, whereas Pentax has gone strictly pro. Olympus, such as remains of them, still muddles along in the “mid-range” as it were. Fuji used to be there, but now has become the esoteric make of champions. Or something. Meanwhile Leica remains legend.

    1. Brands inevitably have to evolve to stay alive. I’ve read many articles in recent years about how evolved phones are now and the days of the “proper camera” are numbered. Certainly sales of compact digital cameras have plummeted, but I think there will always be those who favour the feel of a proper contoured camera body in their hands, and of course a range of lenses beyond what a phone camera can ever offer. But who knows, five years from now Nikon and Canon might be really struggling, whilst Apple, Google etc dominate the camera market even more.

  3. Hah! You asked the wrong questions!

    I bought a Fujifilm X-T2 and the Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lens in 2018. The switch was not because of technical specs but because of the way the Fujifilm cameras feel when operated. My choice of camera is about how I prefer to interact with my camera. The Fujifilm X-T2 is mostly all metal, and it has real, dedicated single-purpose individually marked dials for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. The aperture is set via the lens. It feels great in hand to have a real metal camera with real dials rather than a plastic thingy with one dial and a stack of menus to work through. With the controls/knobs being just at my fingertips, the Fujifilm feels “right”. I like the layout of the controls, the retro-styled knobs and such, that allow me to make quick changes without jumping through menus.

    As for 35mm film SLR, I’m smitten by Minolta.

    1. Over time I realised how that feel of a camera that you describe is more important than spec, as most cameras take a decent picture. Things like handling, build quality, how intuitive they are to use and so on influence how much we bond with them, far more than raw image capability.

  4. Well, you know I like my Pentax cameras…
    But it probably has more to do with “bang-for-your-buck”, along with the fact that the image quality is superb (but so is everyone else’s).
    While I find your love for point and shoots quite fascinating, I just can’t bring myself to using them anymore… and I can’t really get used to phone photography. So I guess I’ll have to continue carrying my DSLRs 🙂

    1. Pentax offer tremendous value for money I agree. And there’s just something about them that feels right, where other cameras have felt bland, without soul or personality.

      Have you ever had any of the Pentax bridge cameras, like the X series? I haven’t myself, but given my recent enjoyment of my Lumix FX38, I probably would!

      1. I haven’t had one of the bridge cameras but I have had (and still have, mostly broken) something that is almost an equivalent… the Optio RZ18. It has a 1/2.3″ CCD sensor and a 18x zoom, so in many ways it’s very similar in ability to the bridge cameras of about a decade ago.
        The image quality is very good, I was actually pretty happy with it. I gave it to my oldest son and he managed to break the LCD display but it was working despite that. Then the battery won’t charge anymore and I didn’t end up buying a new battery because of the LCD problem…
        If you can find one cheap with a good battery I’d recommend it. It’s probably the last good Pentax point and shoot (the VS20 that came after it had a pretty bad lens).
        The one Pentax point and shoot that has my curiosity is the S12… a relatively bright lens (f2.8) with a larger than normal CCD (1/1.63″ I think)….

      2. That RZ18 looks a neat little camera, not unlike the Sony RX100 in shape and size. Wonder how much they can be picked up for these days… We talked about the Optio S12 before, and I found one on eBay, and won the auction. The guy messed me about though, saying he’d lost the SD card (I didn’t care) then refunded me before he sent anything. I suspect he didn’t get as much money for it as he hoped so was trying to back out. One of only a tiny handful of dodgy dealings I’ve experienced on eBay in hundreds of exchanges.

  5. Actually, the FZ38 was my first camera, which I extensively used while in India some years ago. It was a great camera at the time, and I enjoyed using it a lot.

    However, as I became more experienced and started using manual mode exclusively, I switched to Sony Nex 6, then A6000 and now own an A7III. The image quality is superb, the handling is very good (though I know some hate the ergonomics of Sony bodies). The lenses I have a nothing short of stunning. Yet, it never really gets close to how I felt with the FZ38.

    Maybe because the FZ38 could do almost anything. Maybe because I hadn’t so much knowledge about bokeh, sharpness, composition and so on. The FZ38 was the simplest tool I had to create images. Now, with all the gear I own, I can create even more stunning pictures, but somehow, gear has become very important in the process: I need to think about the focal lengths I want to bring with me, about how close I can focus, about field curvature on wide-angle lenses to get max sharpness, etc. The tool, somehow, has become prominent in the way I capture pictures, while I remember, when I had the FZ38, just going out with one camera and trying to take a picture of almost everything I could come across.

    I’ve tried an Olympus camera lately, and it reminded me of that feeling. These tiny cameras, with their small sensors, can do almost anything. With a 40-150f2.8, you’ve got a great macro lens, a good telephoto, a nice portrait lens, etc. And it’s not too big. It felt like I could take almost as many pictures as I wanted. I didn’t think for one second about the aperture to use, the shutter speed, the focal length and so on. It reminded me of the days when I knew little about cameras and lenses, and focused on pictures.

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