Friday, 21 October 2011

Stage Sets

Since the start of the new academic year, I've begun doing two "old" things again: walking to work, and carrying the Panasonic LX3. These are not unconnected, obviously -- even compared to a GF1, the LX3 is so light I can forget it's round my neck, but it's right there when the bright, low autumn light transforms the scene at around 8:00 am into a stage set.

The LX3 also has a way with colour and tone in contrasty scenes that is quite special and can sometimes seem a little supernatural. The camera does have a Leica lens, of course. It's certainly not my impeccable technical mastery that is capturing that full range of tones from deep shadow to bright highlight -- I'm simply underexposing a bit, and taking my reading from the brighter part of the scene. Simple stuff.

I also like the way three different image aspect ratios can be selected by a simple twist of a switch on the lens barrel. A curiosity of the LX3 is that all three ratios are crops of the "full" image sensor: you get your 10-ish megapixel image cut out of an 11-ish megapixel sensor ( 3968 x 2232 pixels at 16:9, 3648 x 2736 pixels at 4:3, and 3776 x 2520 pixels at 3:2). The idea is that the same angle of view is maintained, with each ratio getting a much more similar overall pixel count than you'd get from a crop of a "full sensor" image. Brilliantly eccentric. You just have to wonder how they got it past the marketing guys ("Um, explain that bit about the angle to me again?").


Graham Dew said...


As ever, nice images!

If you care to install firmware V2.1 or V2.2 you also get the 1:1 ratio format, although that is a crop (making the 24mm focal length 28mm, according to Lightroom). I love this feature of the LX3, and often find myself flipping between my favourite 1:1 (which I set quickly through the custom C1 mode) and all the other ratios. I rarely need to crop post-exposure these days because of this. I don’t know why this is not a more common feature – AFAIK only the LX3/LX5 and Panasonic GH1/GH2 have this multi-aspect sensor – everyone else offers cropped images. You’re right – how did something so useful and so unconventional make it to a final product?

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Graham -- I did update my firmware, but have never used the 1:1, I much prefer to use 4:3 and crop square.

One of these days someone will really break the mould and make a square sensor camera, so that the 1:1 is the optimum "full sensor" image, and the others are crops of it! Be good to hear them pitch that to their bosses...