Home Accessories My L-Alliance: What’s in the bag?

My L-Alliance: What’s in the bag?

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There’s a lot of hype in photoland at the moment about mirrorless full-frame cameras in general. And for a few of us, the interest revolves mainly around the new Panasonic S1 series.

The recent release by Sigma of several new lenses for the L-Mount Alliance (as the syndicate between Panasonic, Leica and Sigma is known) also piqued my interest. This was particularly because of Jono Slack’s adventures with the S1, and Thomas Berger’s compelling first impressions of the new Sigma 45mm f/2.8. This lens appeals to me a lot, as it adds a compact and affordable option to a system that is (by requirement) large and (by choice) very expensive.

Budget finds

Recently, what little time I’ve had for photography has been spent playing around with budget finds in thrift shops, and attempting to see what I can get from them. But the Macfilos articles on the L-Mount Alliance provided a kick in the pants to open my “pro” bag and spend a couple of days with some rather ignored photography kit.

For I, too, have an “L Alliance”, including two of the brands involved in the consortium. In my case, it’s the micro-four-thirds Lumix cameras and the co-branded Leica lenses. The third party in my LMA triumvirate is the range of beautifully crafted LuckyStraps camera accessories. A local company in central Victoria, Australia, they manufacture neck and wrist straps from the finest-quality leather, and I now use them on all of my strapped cameras. Safe to say that I strongly recommend them.

Taking the grip-equipped G9 from the bag, I was immediately reacquainted with its feeling of pro-level build and rugged quality. The four Leica DG lenses (the wonderful 15mm Summilux, the astounding 42.5mm Nocticron and the two Vario-Elmar zooms, the 8-18mm and 12-60mm) scream pure photographic prestige, though they originate from Japan rather than Wetzlar. It took all of about 30 seconds to fall back in love and resolve to find some time to exercise them.

Unplanned

In common with most of us these days — especially those with three children — I often find myself somewhat timepoor, with few opportunities for dedicated photography journeys

But I decided to finish work early one day and seek out some unvisited locales near my home in Melbourne. The following day, glimpsing a wet and atmospheric woodland, I stopped for an hour on the way to work, confidence boosted by the fact that the G9 and zooms are weather sealed.

I took some shots on the building site I’m working on and, when I received an unexpected service callout into the city (I’m an electrician by profession), the G9 was pressed into service as a street camera for a few minutes.

In short, I simply took the camera wherever I went and had some fun, quite happy with a few impromptu shots and less pleased with others, as is the way of things for me.

I didn’t really have time for planned or considered photography, but here was a reminder that any chance to use good gear — particularly if it’s well laid out — is a joy to undertake.

Handling joy versus image quality

I find that in real-world use, the features, handling and layout of a camera system are more important to me than outright image quality. The G9 strikes a very delicate balance of size and capability. The image stabilisation — up to six stops when combined with the Leica DG 12-60mm — is quite remarkable.

The joystick for moving the focus point with the camera still at the eye is indispensable for how I like to shoot. The buttons all fall where I wish them to be, and having three control wheels, plus aperture rings on some lenses, means there is little requirement to delve into complex menus to find simple changes. For me, this expands the joy of using this camera considerably.

Sure, it’s not full-frame standards when it comes to image quality, particularly for ISO performance and dynamic range. But I’ve printed micro four-thirds shots at 24x18in and they look great. I’ve shot a candid wedding for friends with the Lumix GX8 and Olympus Pen F, and (to my inexpressible relief) everyone who has seen the photos was very happy with the results.

Dipping me lid

Not least me. I dips me lid to professional wedding photogs, it’s a nerve-racking experience. But suffice to say, no one asked if the shots were from a small-sensor camera. I remind myself of this every time I start to consider a change to full-frame mirrorless. Although, I do have an affordable option to get back into full-frame DSLRs that I’m weighing up. But we can perhaps leave that story for another day.

Above and below: Two examples from the 42.5mm Nokticron on the Panasonic Lumix G9

See: Sensor size is not the answer says Olympus

So, about that S1 and pairing it to the 45mm Sigma f/2.8? I’m honest enough with myself to know that I’ll hanker after it. ​It makes a lot of sense for me, with a familiar build on the camera body, and aperture ring control​ ​on the lens. ​But it seems a good session with the G9, the Leica DG 15mm and Panasonic-Leica cohorts is just the tonic for an itchy wallet. The big brother ​to the G9​ will just have to wait. For now…..

In the bag — Lumix G9 and grip, Lucky Strap. Lenses, left to right: 42.5mm Leica DG Nokton, 15mm Summilux (on camera), 12-60mm Leica DG Vario-Elmar and 8-18mm Vario Elmar

Read more from Jason Hannigan here

17 COMMENTS

  1. Really interesting and your enjoyment comes out in the photos. I have often been tempted to drop down (if that is the right expression – probably not!) from APS-C to MFT because of the likeable camera design and the Leica lenses available. You’ve scratched the itch again, but when I have so much pleasure from Sony a6000 + Zeiss and the Leica X-Vario, I haven’t succeeded in persuading myself yet! But I note what you say……..

    • Thanks for the compliment, john. It was indeed enjoyable to just go and shoot random things.

      I’m constantly pondering trying new things. I should probably focus on becoming a better photographer instead, but its fun to seek out camera’s that are a bit different from what we have. I’ve never used a Sony 6000 series, they’ve always seemed a bit too close to my GX8 in design and the IQ improvement from aps-c over MFT has seemed real but fairly minimal in most situations.

    • Thanks Kevin,

      They do indeed. And there’s a tactile feel to having an aperture ring that makes it outright fun and inspiring to use too, which helps. The 15mm Summilux is similar, a great little lens.

  2. Lovely article and very nice images. I love the 2nd image of the barn. It looks so peaceful and the output of the nokticron is really impressive. Are you considering the summilux 12mm as future purchase? Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you, jean. The lighting was quite nice for the barn shot, which helps a lot!

      There is something quite addictive about the Nok, particularly with Panasonics L.Mono-D jpeg filter (which isnt on display in any of these shots from what i recall). There’s some secret herbs and spices going on with how it renders scenes, and i am often quite surprised when i open straight jpegs at how good they can look.

      I’ve considered the 12mm several times, but because the 15mm is my favourite all-purpose lens, and the fact that the 8-18 has 12mm covered (albeit in a slower aperture) i’ve held off on buying it. I have a few other photography things tempting my wallet atm!

      The other MFT lens that i’d love to have is Panasonics 200/2.8 Elmarit. But its $3000 in australia……

      • The pana sell at 2500 Australian $ here in France; that’s the cheapest price you may find on the web. There are more expensive options of course. I’ve read some reviews of the 100-400mm which is way cheaper here in France but what I consider reliable reviews weren’t that good. I’ve seen a secondhand ricoh GXR at my local camera dealer that sells at $325 with the 28mm. Tempting if I could find a used M module and adapt leica, zeiss zm, 7artisans or voigtlander glass and build a system as I only own the X2 + 3 various ricoh gr and grd. my wife has a gxr and it’s a really decent camera and I could use her 50mm which she rarely uses.

        • Yes, The GXR is another interesting option. The M module gets very good reviews, even to the point of some saying it produces colour similar to the M8/M9 sensors. Being aps-c probably helps too, as its not using the really far reaches of the optic field. I’d have to find a viewfinder for it though, i’m not much good with just a rear screen.

  3. Lovely images and something I can relate to. I love my M10, but occasionally having a zoom, electronic shutter, autofocus or video abilities are right for the occasion. My GAS makes me want to move to the L, but I see no reason. Five years ago, I might have gone for it.

    If I had an L camera & lens now would I sling it around as I do with the M, m4/3 or my classic screw cameras? It wouldn’t feel right. It’s not what I’ve become.

    • Cheers Dan.

      I tell myself that if i had an M10, i’d be content. But i know i probably wouldnt be! I’d still be looking other formats to try. Perhaps when my kids have grown up i’ll be able to consider an M10 purchase, but can i wait that long or will i end up with an M8 or M9 at some stage? Ha! Probably.

  4. Hi Jason,

    We all to some extent hanker after different pieces of kit. For me regardless of the Df outings, and the Leica X I still have a little heart flutter at the thought of owning an M10, and a 35mm summicron. I am not pushing to save for it though, as a little piece of me wonders that if I buy one, will I then hanker after the next thing, and then the next, until I am locked in to GAS, and surrounded by unused kit.

    I will confess, that I like the low light capabilities of a full frame camera, over my Dx Nikon, and the X in low light. And hence I will stick with the Df for the time being.

    Thank you for sharing this batch of images, I love the Wallaby – or Kangaroo (yep I can never tell the two truly apart in photos. You have captured the eyes perfectly, it has that knowing look on it.

    Dave

    • Hi Dave,

      The kangaroo’s are in a smallish wildlife reservation and as such are fairly used to human presence, you can get quite close to them. It was somewhat comical to sneak in behind this one though, and the look on its face seems to be one of “where the heck did you come from”.

      I’m not bothered too much by GAS, for me its acceptable to try lots of differing camera’s, life is short and i find it fun. But it’s a difficult juggling act to balance finance with value. I’m considering selling a Fuji at the moment, and using that to try an X series Leica, or a Sigma Foveon. Simply because i’ve never had either! I’m constantly evaluating what i have, what isnt getting used and what i’d like to try. Its just what i am, ha!

      • I get the juggling act on finances, its part of the fun of hobbying on a budget.

        I have written a lot about my X, its an X typ 113. And I am sure a couple of other Aussies will extol the X2, or X1. I am of the view you cannot go wrong with any of them. The Foveon is meant to be interesting but can be challenging in some circumstances. I will look forward to reading about which you fall in the purchase department.

        • Thanks Dave.

          Yes, the Foveon’s are uniquely placed. Very slow operating speeds, terrible noise characteristics above about ISO200 (!!), painful processing requirements but amazing colour and detail resolution.

          Right now, in melbourne, I’ve seen 2nd hand samples of the Vario, the X1 and X2.

          Making a decision is the tricky bit!

  5. Well you did it! Unlike Jean I can not make up my mind which I like best. You have a great eye and probably a great time with what ever you use! Just keep em coming! Thanks for sharing pictures and opinion!

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