My wife and I just finished a somewhat rigorous two weeks in Italy on a Rick Steves hosted tour of Venice, Florence and Rome. Because of all the walking, standing and lugging of luggage involved, we decided to limit the camera gear to a Fujifilm X100 and a Lumix LX-3.
Both are quite capable cameras, but in the weeks preceding the trip I really concentrated on the X100. It turned out to be all the camera I hoped it would be. The sensor and lens make this camera special. We used the zoom capabilities of the LX-3 to add some interest to the portfolio. The fact that the X100 does not sport a zoom adds significantly to it's imaging capability and footprint convenience. That is if you put some premium on having a completely useful viewfinder.
I could spew a lot of hyperbole, but I thought that I'd let the camera talk for itself. My D700 would have delivered better images in many instances, but I would have had to bear up under it's load for a very intensive (for us) walking tour of Renaissance art in the heart of Italy. There are images in this gallery that were taken stealthy in venues where photography was not permitted and there are images here where even the D700 could not have done better (e.g. 1/7s f/2 ISO3200) - you can identify those because the combination of hand-hold only and too many cappuccinos have resulted in some motion blur. However these are our memorable travel photos and I think somewhat indicative of what others might expect under these circumstances.
The library of these images can be found at http://snappix.smugmug.com/Travel/2011-Venice-Florence-Rome
All the following images were hand-held and RAW. Processing was with LR3. The EXIF data in included. The first image one of the few that were not taken under photon-challenged situations.
The images even survive operator error pretty well. This one was mistakenly taken at ISO1600
One of the clandestine images. Again a bit of operator error - I apparently bumped the aperture (e.g. f/5.6 in this very dim church) and the resultant shutter speed was 1/8 second. I typically shot at f/2 if conditions demanded it although there is a bit better lens performance at f/2.8 or smaller. I was being jostled by a large crowd here and that may have been part of the reason I twisted the dial wrong. I was also trying not to look at the camera in these situations just so I could grab an image to help us remember what we saw where. I used the camera strap around my neck to help stabilize the camera (aiming in the general direction of the subject) and found an old Leica soft release that helped squeeze off the shutter.
This is a portion of a tapestry hanging in the Vatican museum. The crowds were so dense here you were literally trapped in a sea of humanity. Stopping to take any kind of image was almost impossible. Of course flash photography was verboten here. Shutter speed was 1/17 second. The lens stabilization is excellent. You really don't know it's operating just that you can do this kind of stuff.
Sadly this masterpiece is now behind glass. Getting a reasonable image is a challenge and the very fast shutter of a DSLR might help because you have to shoot between other folk's strobes. I set the camera here for manual focus to minimize any delays. Another versatile aspect of the camera.
The X100 has a built in Pano mode. This is an example of a 120 degree image. Pano images revert to jpg, but in general the jpg engine is really all that's needed.
A little bit of night magic at the forum. Guess I need to do some work in PS5 to take out the fence.
We were there too, but they didn't notice. Fun.
At the edge of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Rome at night is a wonderful training ground for learning to use this camera.
I started over a year ago planning my photographic attack for this trip. Originally we planned to take a D700, 24-120mm f/4 and 17-35mm f/4 plus the LX3. After many test drives in US urban situations, we decided that the DSLR was just too much of an addition for a trip that required that we travel light and be able to carry all of our own luggage, manage everything in hotels without elevators and on public transportation. This alternative x100 and LX3 kit was nearly perfect. We missed a lot of opportunities, but I've very happy with the memories and this record.
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#1. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 0snegron Nikonian since 05th May 2007Mon 03-Oct-11 10:22 AM
Beautiful images! Thanks for sharing! That ISO 1600 shot looks fantastic!
I think you definitely made the right camera choices for this trip. While a D700 would have been nice, many of those stealth shots would have been impossible. Also, every pound counts; lugging around a heavy DSLR system would have felt more like a workout than a vacation!
#4. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 1Mon 03-Oct-11 11:05 PM
Thanks for looking. The X100 really does give you a chance to do your job. Most of the images I posted could have been technically better in some respect. I found that I messed up even with several weeks of pre-trip practice. However, the sensor does provide a reasonable dynamic range and especially when shooting RAW, you get some recovery headroom.
Just for fun I took my D700 out a few days ago with just my 24mm f/2.8 AFD. Fall colors are just starting and I'm back in the Nikon saddle again.
#2. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 0
Thanks for the report, Roger. I'm just starting to use the x100 and I agree, all that matters are the images. I can live with the control and menu quirks.
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#6. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 3Mon 03-Oct-11 11:27 PM
I wish this camera were more available and affordable. It's a wonderful tool. One of the posted images (the Vatican tapestry) reveals detail that given the lighting conditions, you couldn't see in the real. It would also be nice if Nikon made it and then it would have BSS which would make this even more amazing.
The 35mm equiv lens is perfect for me for travel. The ability to reliably hand hold this in low light levels makes other opportunities possible.l
This is a three shot panorama (not the built in x100 function). Each image was 1/5s, f/2.8, ISO1600.
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#5. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 2
If you like optical VFs, I think you will really like this camera. Most of the camera responds to classic FE2 like controls right off the bat. In particular I'd like the buried AutoISO control a bit more accessible. A Nikon MyMenu would be ideal .
I added a knockoff lens hood and it is quite functional and offers great lens protection. A camera this small is easily lost in your hands and an accidental lens touch is inevitable - the hood prevents that. I don't know if this is also the case with the OEM hood, but it does cause some shadowing in the lower left of the image when trying to use the strobe illumination - even in fill flash.
Enjoy your camera the results are worth the tune-up time.
#8. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 0
Thanks for posting this, Roger! Very nice images.
I'm off to Boston next week, and am currently debating what camera(s) to take - x100 only, x100/GF1, x100/D7000+50mm, etc. It's not a easy decision, but it seems the more I bring, the more distracted I am, so only having one camera might be best for my photography.
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#9. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 8francine Nikonian since 06th Jun 2007Thu 06-Oct-11 10:47 AM
I was thinking of getting the Lumix LX5 which is the newer version of what you have. I was thinking on it because it would be easier to use to get pictures of my grandchildren when I go to see them. There house is on the dark side and the lens is 2.0. How did your Lumix stand up to low light situations. I am tired of fighting the kids with the D90.
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#10. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 9Thu 06-Oct-11 12:02 PM
Perhaps you can check out a LX5 in the dark corner of a camera store? My wife uses "my" LX3 almost exclusively now - her major subjects are community groups, friends, family and our grandkids. She prefers the camera to her D70s and 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G AFS lens. She does notice a difference and for those really active times prefers the "crisper" shutter release on the DSLR. When required we will use a strobe, sometimes a big one on the DSLR.
We both think the LX3 was a good choice for the majority of our P&S activities. I see you have a 17-55mm f/2.8 lens so you know the advantage of faster glass in those indoor situations - especially when the kids get active. The great AF capabilities of the DSLR also buy you a lot of capability for when the toddlers get toddling.
My LX3 is practically limited to ISO1600, f/2-2.8 at the near wide end of the zoom and hand-held shutter speeds of about 1/15s. The AF speed is pretty good and it does have an AF assist light. As much as I hate those things (I think they are intrusive to candid photography), there are situations with the P&S cameras where you just need that feature.
The LX3 is a highly configurable piece of photo equipment. I really like mine. The features seem to me to have had a lot of photographer input. It's not a Nikon in terms of menu convenience or button function selection, but it can function quite well in low light. But it does have P&S limitations of AF speed in low light and some shutter delay that I generally just try to get around by panning.
#12. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 0
#13. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 12Sat 08-Oct-11 03:58 PM | edited Sat 08-Oct-11 04:03 PM by Drbee
The x100 can deliver some rewarding images. During my trip I used mine exclusively for about 2000 pictures over two weeks. On returning and picking up my D700, I found again the source of my original frustration over the x100 menus and controls. The Nikon product seem intuitive to me, I don't know who designed the x100, but with minimal firmware support from Fuji, it is somewhat of a risky venture. In my case, traveling with something small was mandatory, but in the first jet-lagged moments after a continuous 28hour travel day, my wife had to take the first images with our LX3 because the x100 had been bumped into a funky state and even with my several weeks of pre-work with the camera, I just couldn't get it to function. A few calm moments in a bus seat between airport and train station worked that out, but my emphasis is on just how different it is than what we are used to.
I found to my surprise that setting the camera hyperfocal and manual focusing was very useful when the lighting conditions were uniform. I found that spot metering often worked more to my expectations that multi-pattern. When using multi-pattern, I frequently used a -2/3 compensation which is totally foreign coming from a Nikon product. All my images were in RAW as my confidence for only jpg images is not there yet. Although for fall foliage I'm finding the all the above plus "Velvia" in camera processing for jpgs can be quite pleasing.
#14. "RE: Traveling without my DSLR" | In response to Reply # 0
Thank you for posting these -- nice to see such effective use of the X100 as a travel camera. I'm hoping to spend most of December in Paris and plan to rely on the X100 a lot, although I will certainly have the D300 and a few lenses -- but I won't be jumping from tour bus to hotel and such, so the weight is less of a factor.
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