Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Best Travel Camera - Leica D-Lux Typ 109


Above: Leica D-Lux Typ 109 - The Best Travel Camera Ever

I recently took a much needed 30-day vacation, known as "leave" in the Army and traveled back home to New Mexico to spend time with my dad and my awesome dog Oliver. Within those 30 vacation days, I also planned a short trip to Palm Springs, California to visit a few of my life long friends. I wanted to travel light but still wanted to get outstanding quality images, after all, my best buddy Matt was driving a brand new Tesla 3 Performance model, of which, I definitely wanted to grab a few snap shots and the Coachella Valley itself is so picturesque. I knew I needed a small, compact travel camera that could also deliver the goods.

Enter the Leica D-Lux Typ 109. I've owned this camera for a few years and although Leica has released a newer version (D-Lux 7), I just can justify the upgrade as the Typ 109 does everything well and that legendary Leica image quality never fails me.

The Leica D-Lux Typ 109 features a highly versatile lens with a 35mm equivalent focal range of 24-75mm, which is perfect for travel. You can capture moderately wide angle shots and a bit of telephoto zoom as well. The lens features a large, variable aperture from f/1.7 (at 24mm) to f/2.8 (at 75mm) which handles low-light situations with ease (see sample images below).

The sensor is a 4/3 (known as micro 4/3) which is the same size found in most Panasonic Lumix branded cameras such as the superb GH6. This sensor, while slightly smaller than APS-C sensors, does not leave you wanting in detail, sharpness or resolution. It's 13 megapixels are more than enough to deliver quality images even for prints of all sizes. The resolution is 4112 x 3088 pixels, so that's pretty big.

So when it comes to travel cameras, what probably most important is size. On my trip to Palm Springs I took along only a small backpack, and did not want to lug my interchangeable lens camera and lens kit around. I just wanted to focus on spending time with my friends. But a compact camera like this also let's you capture great images, and that's a wonderful convenience. It weighs less than one pound, .89 lbs to be exact and its small dimensions (4.65 inches x 2.6 x 2.17) allow it to fit in a jacket pocket or in my case, a side pocket in my cargo shorts. 

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

The trip from El Paso, Texas to Palm Springs, California requires a change at Phoenix because there are very few direct flights from El Paso to anywhere other than Phoenix, Dallas or Denver, or so it seems. But, both legs of the flight are shot and before I knew it, bam! I was in the scenic valley of the Coachella... with my Leica D-Lux Typ 109 in my shorts pocket. Ready to be whipped out at a moments notice.

I just love how Leica lenses capture the light and the colors and tones are ultra-realistic.

El Paseo is known as the Rodeo Drive of the Coachella Valley. The palm tree lined streets are dotted with art and sculptures. The weather is nearly perfect this time of year and the local mountains still have a bit of snow, the scene is picturesque.

Matt's cousin Kerri is definitely the artistic type and I had a feeling, after she showed me some of her art on her cell phone, that I would love to see and photograph her eclectic style, art and knick-knacks at her home and I was not disappointed. There were little pieces of her mixed media art pieces about the house and little positive-thinking reminders just about every where you looked.

You can tell a lot about a person by the books they keep.

Stay positive.

And finally, I got a chance to show off the low-light capabilities of this fast (1.7 - 2.8) lens when Matt and I attended a night session at the BNP Paribas Open. We got to enjoy the tennis match from a luxury suite, thanks to some of Matt's highly placed connections. 

As you can see, the Leica D-Lux Typ 109 is a fantastic compact travel camera. The little red dot on the front of the camera body exudes respect and will turn some heads for those "in the know" of cameras. The bottom line is that it is small and discreet and pretty much guarantees you'll be going home with memorable photos worth printing and keeping in your travel scrap book.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Photographing Recreational Golf - Sony vs Fujifilm


Sony A77II with Minolta 135mm f/2.8 and Sony A99 with Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8

My coworker called me up (last minute) this past Saturday to ask if I would hop on down to the base golf course and take photos of him and his cronies on the back 9 of their 18. He called during their lunch break on the turn, which just so happened to coincide with my afternoon nap time. He offered to pay me but I never charge fellow soldiers for my photography services, it's an absolute policy of mine not to accept money from soldiers, friends or family.

I slowly made my way out of bed onto the floor one foot at a time and got dressed, with the urgency of a sloth. The next task was to put a camera kit together suitable for shooting amateur golfers. I wanted to travel relatively light, so I opted to leave the hefty Sony G 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (weight 3.3 lbs) in my bag and took only the Minolta 135mm f/2.8 (12.8 ounces) mounted on my Sony A77II, the APS-C sensor giving it a 35mm full frame equivalent of 202.5mm. This made for a perfect, light-weight telephoto lens. I was already carrying one heavy lens on my other body, the Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 (2.1 lbs) so I wanted to keep things as light as possible. Also, I decided to hit the course without my camera bag, only my two bodies on a double shoulder harness and two extra batteries in my pocket.

@sebhustian with his Fujifilm XT-3 and Fujinon 16-80mm f/4 lens (24-120mm full frame equivalent)

I invited my good friend and shooting buddy Sebastion @sebhustian to join me out on the course and he met up with us on the 15th hole, just in time to show off the high frames per second capabilities of his awesome Fujifilm X-T3. I have to say, the X-T3 is an outstanding camera for photographing sports and with it's 20 frames per second burst shooting, it totally outperforms my Sony A99 at 6 FPS and the A77II at 12 FPS.

Gorgeous burst mode from the Fujifilm X-T3 equals super cool gifs!

The Sony A99 is starting to age. Although it takes wonderful, rich images with tons of depth and character, it simply isn't cut out for sports photography / burst shooting. It's not so much the 6 frames per second, that I can deal with, it's the absurdly small buffer. I can only manage about 15 jpg shots before the camera needs to catch up. The A77II on the other hand is much more capable capturing around 50 jpgs. But neither come close to the much newer Fujifilm X-T3 which can store a whopping 187 jpgs before needed to catch up. 

I left my Sony A6500 at home, which would have been my go to sports / burst shooting camera body. But since my main focus in Korea isn't sports (I'm shooting primarily reportage and documentary) my A99 and A77II are just fine.

Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon 16-80mm f/4 lens.

Enjoy the photos... the following images were capture with either the Sony A99 or A77II.