My Rebel no longer has a cause

Grand Magazine - - CONTENTS - ALEX KIN­SELLA

Scents and smells have an amaz­ing way of trans­port­ing us back in time. The smells that bring me back to my child­hood in Florida are not what you might ex­pect. They are not fresh or­ange juice or salt air. In­stead, it’s the smell of pho­to­graphic chem­i­cals – de­vel­oper, fixer and stop­per – that re­ally re­mind me of home.

My fa­ther, Barry, has been a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher for more than 50 years. His dark­room was in our fam­ily home – tak­ing up half our kitchen space. I would spend hours in the dark learn­ing how to de­velop neg­a­tives and make prints. He gave me a 35-mil­lime­tre cam­era and I took it to school al­most ev­ery day. Even­tu­ally I was able to prep the dark­room by my­self and process my own prints to share with class­mates.

There is no dark­room in my home here in Kitch­ener. Sadly, the process of tak­ing a photograph – from cap­tur­ing the im­age, to pro­cess­ing the neg­a­tives and pro­duc­ing a print – has been re­placed. We have a Canon Rebel T3i that gath­ers dust in the closet be­cause, like most peo­ple, we end up tak­ing pho­to­graphs with our smart­phones.

Last April, my dad gave me a cam­era to try out and it’s changed the way I take pho­to­graphs. It’s part of a fam­ily of cam­eras called Mi­cro Four Thirds. They’re smaller and lighter than a stan­dard DSLR (dig­i­tal sin­gle lens re­flex) cam­era, such as the Canon Rebel se­ries, and pack an im­pres­sive set of fea­tures into a tiny pack­age. Hav­ing a smaller cam­era got me back to car­ry­ing it with me ev­ery­where I go.

The Mi­cro Four Thirds (MFT or M4/3) cam­era sys­tem was launched by Olym­pus and Pana­sonic back in 2008.

There are four main fea­tures of the MFT cam­era sys­tem. First, they are mir­ror­less, mean­ing there is no mov­ing mir­ror in the body. Sec­ond, MFT cam­eras do not have op­ti­cal viewfind­ers. In­stead, they have elec­tronic viewfind­ers and, in many cases, a LCD screen in the body.

Next, most have in­ter­change­able lenses like DSLR cam­eras, which gives you flex­i­bil­ity com­pared to fixed-lens cam­eras. Fi­nally, their sen­sors are smaller than those in DSLR cam­eras. The smaller sen­sor would nor­mally mean poor low-light per­for­mance. This mi­nor deficit can be over­come by pur­chas­ing a prime lens, such as a 15mm 1.7.

If you haven’t heard the term prime lens be­fore, don’t worry. Prime sim­ply means it’s a fixed fo­cal-length lens. Many cam­era kits in­clude a lens with vari­able fo­cus lengths, such as an 18-to-55 mm lens, but prime lenses are “faster” and can cap­ture more light in low-light set­tings.

Pa n a s o n i c G X 8 a n d G X 9

Let’s get back to that cam­era my dad lent me. Re­leased in 2015, the Pana­sonic GX8 has a 20-megapixel sen­sor, can shoot up to eight frames in a sin­gle burst and can record video in 4K. Like all MFT cam­eras, the GX8 has an elec­tronic viewfinder and also in­cludes a three-inch LCD screen.

What I re­ally like about the Pana­sonic GX8 is its com­pact size. We’ve had a num­ber of full-size DSLR cam­eras, the most re­cent be­ing the Canon Rebel T3i that’s gath­er­ing dust. The dif­fer­ence in size is sig­nif­i­cant, and it’s what de­ter­mines which cam­era I pick up.

As we were pack­ing the car to visit fam­ily at Easter, my wife re­minded me to grab the cam­era. Without think­ing, I packed the GX8 into my bag. When it came time for fam­ily pho­tos, I grabbed the GX8 and started snap­ping. My wife looked puz­zled and asked why I didn’t bring the Rebel. I showed her the pho­tos on the LCD screen and she was blown away. The Rebel hasn’t come out of the closet since.

Pana­sonic is re­leas­ing the GX9 this year, a newer model of the GX line. It will re­tail for about $1,299 in a kit with a 12-to-60 mm lens.

Pa n a s o n i c G H 5

Here in town, pho­tog­ra­pher and film­maker Ti­mothy Muza also has a MFT cam­era as part of his gear – the Pana­sonic GH5. The GH5 is a higher-end MFT cam­era sys­tem retailing for about $3,499 with a 12-to-60 mm Le­ica lens.

“Cam­eras are tools, and the GH5 is a good tool that suits the qual­ity of im­age I cap­ture,” Muza says.

Muza notes the GH5, like most MFT

cam­eras, doesn’t cap­ture pho­tos in low-light set­tings com­pared to cam­eras with larger sen­sors.

One of the unique fea­tures of the GH5 is Post Fo­cus. Post Fo­cus al­lows you to select and fine-tune the fo­cus point of a photograph af­ter you have cap­tured the im­age. This fea­ture is great for close-up por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy. The GH5 can also cap­ture video at 6K res­o­lu­tion at 30 frames per sec­ond or 4K res­o­lu­tion at 60 frames per sec­ond. You can even pick a frame from a 6K video and cre­ate an 18-megapixel im­age from it.

“I use the GH5 for both pho­tog­ra­phy and video. Mostly video pro­fes­sion­ally, and pho­tog­ra­phy when I’m bum­ming around trav­el­ling,” Muza says.

Fuji X-E2 and X-E3

Size when trav­el­ling was also a pur­chasede­ci­sion driver for pho­tog­ra­pher and mar­keter Caitlin McWil­liams. A long­time mem­ber of the Abe Erb team, McWil- liams de­scribes her job as “every­thing but brew­ing beer.” She splits her time be­tween Set­tle­ment Co cof­fee shops or Abe Erb brew­eries in both Kitch­ener and Water­loo, and her cam­era of choice is the Fuji X-E2.

“It’s a great cam­era for va­ca­tions and for work,” McWil­liams says. “Its size doesn’t make peo­ple self-con­science – so I’m able to cap­ture great can­did pho­tos.”

The X-E2 is not a true MFT cam­era. It uses the Fuji X lens mount sys­tem and a 16-megapixel APS-C sen­sor, sim­i­lar to sen­sors found in stan­dard DSLR cam­eras. Look­ing at the X-E2, you could eas­ily mis­take it for one of its Mi­cro Four Third cousins. It is mir­ror­less and has a sim­i­lar clas­sic – al­most retro – de­sign to it.

McWil­liams cap­tures pho­tos for so­cial media us­ing the XE-2. “Even though I have a newer iPhone, the pho­tos it takes are never as good as what I take with my cam­era,” McWil­liams says. “The phone doesn’t have the same dy­namic range.”

While both of the pre­vi­ously men­tioned Pana­sonic mod­els of­fer the abil­ity to trans­fer your pho­tos us­ing WiFi, the XE-2 and XE-3 let you trans­fer your pho­tos us­ing Blue­tooth. This means you don’t need ac­cess to a WiFi net­work to get your pho­tos from the cam­era to the phone.

The Fuji XE-3 comes in a kit with an 18-to-55 mm lens for $1,649.99.

No mat­ter what cam­era you choose, just re­mem­ber to bring it with you wher­ever you go so you’ll al­ways be ready to cap­ture ev­ery mo­ment in a way that’s unique to you.

Alex Kin­sella has been part of Water­loo Re­gion’s tech com­mu­nity since 2004 and is al­ways look­ing for the next great gad­get (or tacos, if it’s Tues­day). Find him on Twit­ter at @alexkin­sella

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