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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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Panasonic LX2

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 11:54:17 -0300 (CLST)

We just bought a camera - a Panasonic LX2.  We chose it because

- currently it's a very good price (we're in the USA on holiday,
  which halves the price relative to Chile, where it's reduced
  because it's an old model)
- Paulina wanted something fairly small and easy to use
- I wanted something with manual controls

The alternatives were the Canon M9, which is larger and doesn't go to
28mm, and a Ricoh (can't remember the model number) which was much more
expensive and perhaps not as good as a "point and shoot".

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with it (some photos soon).  It's bigger than I
expected, though (even after seeing it in a shop - the lens cap makes it
even fatter), and everything you read online about noise / smoothing seems
to be true.  On the other hand, the optical image stabilisation is really
impressive.

I thought I would explain how I seem to be using it, because online
reviews don't give you this information, and it turns out to be quite an
easy camera to use.

First, general settings via the menus:

- Always use 16:9 format (can cut it smaller later), maximum resolution,
  minimum processing, ISO 100.
- Don't use RAW mode.  The high quality JPEG with minimal processing
  seems to be good enough for what I want, and exposure bracketing isn't
  available with RAW.
- Use program mode, with a histogram of pixel values displayed (really
  useful).  To change aperture, use "program shift" which allows you
  to keep the same exposure, but shift to different shutter speeds /
  apertures.
- The AE/AF-L button is set to do exposure lock (focus lock can then
  be done with the main button).
- Automatic bracketing takes an additional exposure either side.
- Use the 2s self timer with long (1s) expsoures.

The back has two "joystick-like" switches.  One is like an IBM laptop
"nipple" and is used to adjust basic parameters (left/right typically
selects what to adjust while up/down changes the value - this is how
manual mode works, for example, which is a  bit disappointing as I was
hoping one direction would be shutter speed while the other was aperture).

The other is a collection of four buttons, and they often operate as
distinct buttons (each has a function embossed on the key) for flash,
timer, etc.

Together, that means you don't go into menu mode when taking a picture,
which makes the camera easy to use.  For example, shifting the exposure a
stop darker is done by moving the "nipple" left to select EV, then down to
select -1.

I haven't used the flash (you have to manually turn it on, which is good,
because for me auto flash is normally a nuisance although I imagine
Paulina will miss it), but 1/4s expsoures are often OK, and I have taken
relatively successful 1s exposures (1 or 2 ok out of 9 frames (ie 3 shots
+ 1/3 stop bracketing)).

Finally, photo review is pretty natural, using the zoom control
intuitively, and manual focus is usable (the AF is pretty good, even with
the helper light turned off).

Andrew

Do Use Raw

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2008 22:29:39 -0300 (CLST)

In my previous post I said don't use Raw with the LX2.  That was a
mistake.  It turns out that (1) there's a plugin for Gimp that makes it
easy to import Raw files and (2) the difference in detail and dynamic
range is impressive.  In fact, I now don't bother with exposure bracketing
because the Raw file contains enough "extra" range for slightly-off
exposures (and often the conversion from Raw replaces what I was doing
with HDR).

Andrew

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