Case for the Panasonic G3 - More on the current state of digital cameras.

There is unfortunately no Gariz or Toma leather case for the Panasonic G3. Panasonic have nothing either. However for £18, only slightly more than the cost of a Gariz wrist strap, I got myself a full case for the camera from ebay, including the half case in the pictures (which is the only bit I'll use). The kit even included a leather strap!
You do get what you pay for however, and the case isn't real leather and for some reason best known to the manufacturer, the back of the case prevents the screen coming out, which considering its a moveable one is a bit of design flaw! However it does what I want it to do, which is provide more grip for the G3. 
Strange design the G3. This peculiar neither one thing or the other grip has always puzzled me and made it one of the least comfortable cameras I've ever used. The case does however make it more comfortable to hold and of course gives it more protection. At £18 I'm not complaining.

Yesterday I went out with the camera plus the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom and Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 m-mount lenses.

Now whatever its design shortcomings, the G3 takes a great picture. I must also say that the more I use the 12-35mm f/2.8 X zoom, the more I like it. It really is a top class lens.
Going out with it yesterday, a couple of things I encountered made me think about the current state of digital cameras and how we use them. If you read the previous post, the start of my Nikon D3200 review, you will have seen a long section about how that camera, an "entry-level" model, is still a formidable picture-taking device.

This was sparked off by my observations yesterday. I was in a tourist area of the English Cotwolds and there were a lot of visitors about on a hot sunny day. I first saw a family from the U.S. and the mother had a Nikon D5100 slung over her shoulder. Later on at the heritage railway pictured above I saw firstly two photographers waiting to photograph the train both with DSLR's (too far away to spot which make) Then another family arrived next to me and the father pulled out a Canon 60D and proceeded to get his toddler to stand on the platform so he could photograph his child looking at the arriving steam train.

Several things occurred to me. Firstly, that the only cameras I ever see people using are mobile phones, small point and shoot compacts and DSLR's (virtually all Canon and Nikon) And secondly people are using these extremely well-specified DSLR's to document their own and their families lives. This lead me on to thoughts, which I wrote about in the last post, about how far digital cameras have come and the "democratisation" of photography that it has brought about. 

Just like synthesisers and computers enabled musicians to create high quality recordings in theier homes and for a fraction of the price this cost before, the cameras that we can buy for relatively modest amounts are capable of producing images that would stand reproduction in the most demanding of circumstances. The fact that it now takes something like a Nikon D800 to get a significant improvement over these "run of the mill" average consumer targeted cameras is, when I thought about it, a real revolution.

I make the point, over and over again, that there is much less difference between cameras than internet forums and review sites would have us believe. In terms of the images that come out of them and their subsequent print or electronic publication it is very difficult to find something that might be described as a "bad" camera to be avoided at all costs. True, there are some things that certain cameras do better than others, but this is usually only viewable at high levels of magnification. 

My piece in the last post about the D3200 wasn't some kind of gushing love poem about the camera but about just how far things have come since digital cameras have dominated the photographic world. Considering that I paid £4500 for a Kodak Pro14 DSLR in 2003 and I've just paid about £500 for the D3200, a camera that is superior to the Kodak in almost every way imaginable, a few days ago, is something to applaud. Without giving anything away, there are things I like about the D3200 and things I don't, but there is no denying that you get a hell of a lot for your money these days.

Going back to the lack of visibility of CSC / Mirrorless / E.V.I.L cameras, you might think from the photographic internet that these are everywhere. However despite the sales figures, I'm wondering where they are. I'm not alone in noticing this. There have been threads on forums that are interested in these cameras, who have said much the same thing.

Ultimately of course, it really doesn't matter. Whether we use a CSC or a DSLR, these days we are getting pretty sophisticated cameras no matter what our choices may be. It may of course be of interest to us to endlessly obsess about whether the Olympus OM-D is a "better" camera than a Canon 600D, but in the end they are both actually pretty wonderful devices for taking pictures. So our discussions have become focused at the margins and we exaggerate the small differences. OK its fun, I freely admit that, and my nerdery seems in no danger of abating, but I do think its important to stop and think once in a while about what we have available to us and just how pretty damn wonderful most of it is.

I'm can't be 100% sure, but I suspect the people I saw out photographing yesterday won't have spent part of their evening, as I did, blowing up images to 100% and checking the fine detail. I assume that most of them will have been more interested in whether they "got the shot". And thats surely what the essence of the photographic experience is about. The fact that I enjoy checking out my camera / lens performance and comparing one model against another is one thing, but getting all hot and bothered about small differences is another and ultimately a waste of time. 

As indicated in recent posts, I'm much more inclined these days to use what I feel like than out of some notion that I'm using the "best" I have available. Within the various options I have available to me there is one thing that remains true throughout. None of them will let me down in terms of quality of image and none of them have (so far) let me down in terms of reliability and function. Tomorrow I'll be going back to the margins and back to 100% blowups, but I thought it appropriate to take this "time out" just to put everything in perspective. And thats no bad thing.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
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