Published Jun 30, 2012

Last weekend was my birthday! Happy Birthday me, indeed, for I got a new camera! It was well time — my trusty Canon Rebel XTi was getting long-in-the-tooth. From the broken flash to what I was starting to fear was a decline in the quality of the sensor — to say nothing of things like the poor low-light performance the camera always had — this year was going to be the year for a new camera.

That just left the question of which camera to get. With a couple of lenses I loved, sticking with the system I had, and just upgrading to a newer body, sure was alluring. But, there was the issue of size.

Back when I was a swingin’ single traveling the world alone, it didn’t matter if I had some gigantic camera hanging around my neck. But now I’m grown up and also go to social events with my beautiful wife — events at which it would be great to have a camera. Yet I’m stuck with my iPhone, which is handy and all but leaves me without exposure and depth-of-field control, plus takes forever to get to the “shutter clicks” state. Something smaller would be appealing.

Enter the blandly-named Compact System Cameras. A bunch of manufacturers decided to build a DSLR equivalent that did more in digital and less through old-fashioned glass. If I chose one of these, I’d have to step away from my beloved Canon interface (what I learned to shoot on in High School!) and those lenses, but I could potentially get something both fully controllable and easily pocketable!

OK, I was sold. I went to Samy’s down the street and tried some stuff out. And the Panasonic GX-1 handled like a dream. There are so many cool things on this camera that I haven’t even scratched the surface. Interaction design is great, with smart touches like one wheel easily switching between aperture/shutter/exposure, so your finger’s always on the right spot and you’re not having to do crazy hand gymnastics to push two buttons at the same time you spin a wheel; and the video viewfinder zooming on the center of focus when you switch to manual focus, so it’s easy to focus just right, which might even work better than a split-focus screen!

Oh, and it’s small, did I mention? This is the new GX-1 compared to the Rebel XTi, both with the lens I’d carry on an ordinary tourist day, walking around a new city (GX-1 on the right):photo

Yeah, that’s small. Heck, the new GX-1’s even shorter:photo

I’ve already tried it, and that 14-40 lens is totally pocketable. And, for when I want to go really small, I got an Olympus pancake lens:photoPractically as flat as any compact camera out there!

I’ve only taken about 40 photos, but some of them look pretty nice, like this one:P1000010

I’m optimistic and excited. What a birthday present — I can’t wait to get out and shoot!