Unfortunately the GM5 has been discontinued, but they are still around… I consider three levels of camera grades: Consumer, photographer and professional. The Lumix GM5 is a consumer grade camera. I just want to make this clear beforehand. After losing my Fuji X100S and Olympus OM-D E-M5 to a boating mishap I needed to buy something quickly, discreet and cheap but good enough for street photography. The new Olympus Pen-F would have been my choice, or an APS-C sensor camera, but you don’t get much for around $600.

Panasonic Lumix GM5

Panasonic Lumix GM5

The GM5 is small, very small. It means everything on it is small as well, including the viewfinder. Its size is an advantage in street and candid photography. Nobody is going to take you seriously with something that small (that’s what she says!). The mechanical shutter up to 1/500 is very quiet, and the electronic shutter beyond is silent. So as far as being discreet, the GM5 is awesome. The battery is small as well, so do not expect to take hundreds of photos without a spare. Since I rarely take more than a dozen per outing I couldn’t care less.

Quality wise, I am still on the fence, mostly because of the 12-32 kit lens, which isn’t much better than the bottom of a coke bottle. Well, I may be a bit harsh, but at f8 and darker the lens looses a lot of sharpness. Combine that with high ISO and you get unusable images. I set the aperture to 5.6 and leave it there with auto ISO in aperture priority mode. Kit zooms suck, and this one is no exception. With good light and the correct aperture though, you can get nice images.

P1000102-2
A couple quirks with the body have left me wondering if I am missing some settings in the menus. The first is the impossibility to take a flash photo with a software filter set. I don’t seem to be able to make make the flash fire while in Dynamic B&W mode. The camera needs to be in no-filter mode for the flash to work. Correct me if I’m wrong.. The worst thing however is not being able to lock the exposure with the focus when the shutter button is slightly depressed. I have never seen a camera not able to do so. Again, I wonder if there is some hidden function or trick to do it. Someone help!

I plan on buying the Panasonic Leica Summilux 15mm f1.7. It should be head and shoulders above the 12-32 kit lens. Only then will I be able to decide if the Micro-4/3 sensor size is good enough for my type of photography. Should you get a GM5? If you need something small that you can carry in a vest pocket, then yes. The ability to change lenses and the viewfinder are good arguments in favor as well. Just do not expect high quality images with the kit lens. My review of the GM5 with the Leica lens will come later.

We all have a number of things we like to carry around wherever we go. For me it’s a folding knife, a small flashlight and a lighter. My items are for safety concerns, but others might carry objects for different uses, like a pen, lipstick or a lucky coin. Most people carry a cell phone. We carry them because they make us feel better or we use them often. One item I am thinking of adding to my EDC kit is a simple wooden wedge.

Wedge

Wedge

Now why would I carry one of those? With the recent active shooter and terrorist events everywhere, you might one day find yourself needing to lock a door for which there is no lock or you don’t have the key. Very unlikely, I know, but a wedge has many uses. It can help crack open a locked door or window, fix an uneven table leg at a nice outside cafe terrace or prevent a wheelchair from rolling down a slope; the list is long… We have all at some point looked ariund for some object to be used as a wedge, so why not carry one to start with?

A recent Facebook post on an accidental death prompts me to set things straight on gun control. Gun related deaths are relatively few compared to other causes like hammers or swimming pools, the list goes on. So why the hype? What is so scary about guns? One can be killed as easily by a car or baseball bat, not to mention smoking and eating fatty foods. Yet, you don’t see many posts about hammer control. The answer is simple: Guns are a threat to the left, so they use fear and brainwashing to push their agenda. Are socialists afraid of being shot? Do they have a special sensitivity to gun deaths? No. They couldn’t care any more if someone died of a gunshot, accidental or not, or got fatally hit by a bus. Why would anyone? Both are preventable and accidents happen, especially around stupid or careless people, that will never change. The left is about taxation, and it is much harder to tax an armed population. What happened to the British in 1775 is a prime example. The only reason for gun control is the support of taxation and population control. It has nothing to do with reducing accidental gun deaths or shootings, nothing! If it was about saving lives, there are numerous more important causes that need support.

Keep Kids Safe

Keep Kids Safe

If you support gun control, ask yourself why. I mean, really, aren’t other things more important and more urgent? Why don’t you make a list of pressing issues with more victims than gun related ones? I suggest you make yourself a sandwich, get some water and go to the bathroom before you start, because it will take you a while before you get to guns. The truth is that by promoting gun control online you are promoting taxation and control, your taxation and the control of your life. While it might not be a noticeable issue yet in the United States, your future might be at stake. Don’t fall for the brainwashing and peer pressure, think for yourself. If you want to save lives, donate money to the NRA, they have wonderful gun safety programs. The solution is education, not control. Don’t be a sheep.
Self Defense is Baaad!

Self Defense is Baaad!

There is nothing you can do about guns. The cat is out of the bag. Guns exist and are not going away. Criminals have them and can always find them. The only people affected by gun laws are honest citizens. Many are your friends, even family members. They have children, love their wives. They go to family picnics with their kids, pay taxes and respect the speed limits. They just like shooting as a hobby, hunting or want to be able to protect their families and communities, you included.
1984

1984

If you have an irrational fear of guns, the best way to cure it is not by preventing others to own one. It won’t reduce your chances of being shot, on the contrary. You should go to a range and take a class. You will meet the nicest people imaginable, friendly and family oriented. They will be glad to help you discover a fun activity that might one day save your life. What more could you ask for?
Manhood

Manhood

The United States is still ahead of all others when it comes to freedom, and the best measure of it is the ability of honest citizens to own weapons. There is no better barometer of freedom, none.
Gun Monopoly.

Gun Monopoly.

I’ve owned quite a few cameras, film and digital. Some were used for newspaper work, most for artistic purposes or personal memories. Lately I have been drawn to candid photography trending between street and documentary. Not all cameras are created equal for the purpose and I will explain my choices here pertaining to digital cameras.

Film cameras are not the focus of this post, but anyone wanting one can check out used Leicas on Ebay. I particularly like the M2. You can find a lot of cheaper older IIIc models, but they might need some work. My M4-P was also a great camera. Leicas are the Rolls Royces of film cameras and have been documenting life in the hands of the greatest photographers since before World War II. So no contest there, they are built like Swiss vaults. Their digital cameras, I wouldn’t bother unless I was rich and would consider them disposable.

A street camera should be discreet, meaning small. When a subject sees you take their photograph they change. It’s like quantum mechanics! The observer changes the state of the subject. You do not want people to see you take their photo. You don’t see actors looking straight at the camera in movies, there are good reasons for this. There are exceptions of course and street portraits can be beautiful, but generally, you want to be a ninja photographer. This practically eliminates DSLRs which today are huge with large lenses. That leaves mirrorless cameras.

Panasonic Lumix GM5

Panasonic Lumix GM5

The first feature I find necessary is a viewfinder. Taking a photo with the back screen is an exercise I don’t want to get used to. I can’t understand why anyone would buy a camera without one. I find it much more natural and easier to frame an image through a viewfinder, and I like it to be in the corner, not in the middle where it forces you to hide your face behind the camera. If your subject sees you, better have a smile on your face, it might avoid you some trouble, looking like some pervert taking snapshots for dubious reasons.

Size matters, as far as sensors are concerned. Though image quality isn’t the primary focus in Street and documentary photography, a minimum of resolution is necessary. I consider three sizes of sensors to be large enough for the task: Full frame, APS-C and Micro-4/3rd. Bigger is better, but larger sensors mean a larger and sometimes more expensive camera. I used a Fuji X100S with an APS-C sensor producing unbelievable images, but it always felt flimsy and indeed died after 5K shots. I now have opted for Micro-4/3rd (Lumix GM5) which are smaller and just good enough with quality prime lenses (fixed focal, not zooms). Forget megapixels, today they are meaningless. Anything with 10mp or above is plenty. Spend money on good glass, not more megapixels.

Depending on where you live and the type of photography you like, you might want to get a weather sealed camera and lenses. You will pay a premium but if you don’t mind working in the rain, more power to you. If you hope to work for a newspaper of press agency, it is a must. Cameras like the Fuji X-Pro2 or Sony a6300 would be prime examples, though Sony has few lenses available and fewer bright ones even. Fuji, I am suspicious about now. Olympus has great OM-D models but with the viewfinder in the wrong place (for me). I wish their new Pen-F model was weather-sealed. I am now in the North of France and ordered a Lumix GM5 which is not weather sealed. That will limit my time outside quite a bit, given that it rains an average of 220 days a year here, which is why I don’t plan on staying too long! My next camera might be an Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII, too bad for the viewfinder position, but it is a pretty rugged camera.

That is pretty much it. Again, the lenses are where you should spend your money. Get a 35mm equivalent: 23mm for APS-C and 17mm for Micro-4/3rd. A 35mm is always a 35mm on Full frame of course, and be done with it. Avoid zooms, there are just too many optical elements in them and quality suffers. Try to get a lens with an aperture of 2.8 or brighter (2.0, 1.8, 1.4…) if you can afford one. Get a spare battery and memory card. I also like to get a UV filter to protect my lenses, and a small metal lens hood.

I will review the Panasonic Lumix GM5 as soon as I get it (Monday) and take a couple hundred shots. They have been discontinued unfortunately, and there are a few remaining in stock, so if you want one, hurry up if you don’t want to have to buy a used one. They are also fairly cheap for a Micro-4/3rd. camera with a kit lens included. The GM5 is small and has all the features I want in a street camera but the weather sealing, including price.

I finally got to finish the book with the Big-Es coffee shop regulars and sunset at Indian Beach in Sarasota Florida. Film photos were taken with Leicas (M2, M4-P, IIIc) and a Pentax 6×7. Digital shots are from a Fuji X100S and Olympus OM-D E-M5. The project lasted two years.

I will miss Sarasota and my friends dearly, until I come back, soon or later. Everyone seems to come back to Sarasota.