Leica C-Lux First Impressions

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll probably know I’m a sucker for compact cameras. Many of you probably found me because of a compact camera of some sort. In fact, for my general street photography I have always preferred compact cameras. I haven’t used many lately, but the above generally holds true.

Iksan, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

So let me get the disclaimers out of the way before I continue:

  1. I work for the Leica Akademie here in Korea as organizer and head teacher.
  2. I am well aware there is a cheaper Panasonic version of this camera. In my humble opinion (work bias aside) I think the extra warranty, resale value (the Leica versions hold their value much better whether you think this is justified or not) and subjectively better looks are well worth the price difference.

Okay, now that that is out of the way let us continue with my Leica C-Lux 2019 first impressions.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I think it is cute the handsome camera. I very much like the blue tones and leatherette grip. I also generally love a silver lens on a black body. Of course, the lens isn’t silver but the multifunction ring is. I quite dig it.

The camera itself has a bit of a weird lens for my normal tastes. It’s a 24-360 that is only f3.3 at the widest. I find the former a positive. First, as this will be a travel / video camera for me I appreciate the range more than I might on a dedicated street camera. Second, the f3.3 doesn’t make much of a difference to me as I wouldn’t buy a compact camera for “bokeh.” That said, bokeh can be had because of the zoom range if you don’t mind using your feet a bit.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

As a street camera, it performs great. Even with the crazy zoom range there is little to no distortion or what happens to be there is well controlled with the software. I love the fact that Panasonic and Leica always include the ability to zoom their lenses in steps. I find 24 a little wide these days so I have the camera set to turn on at 28mm. It is very fast to turn on and shoot.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

There are some convenience features I quite like as well. The camera uses a low powered bluetooth mode to send photos to my smartphone as I walk around shooting. This it makes quite easy to sit down and edit in a coffee shop when I need a break. All the photos here were edited in Snapseed. They might be a bit much for you, I just try to keep all my photos looking somewhat similar these days. This is as close as I can get to my film photos.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.
Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I included the normal version of the photo above for your reference. I like this photo. I asked the woman to look more into the light and then we got talking. She grew up very close to where I live now.

Another feature I love about the C-Lux is its ability to charge via USB. I can charge it on the go with my laptop or a battery bank. I really, really wish it were USB-C but I guess we are a ways off of that on cameras yet. Maybe next year.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I didn’t find myself using the zoom very much during the first day of shooting. I did take a portrait of my wife with it later at night that I am saving for the full review. Much like the need for a viewfinder I find the need for a prime lens when shooting street photography to be a bunch of hipster nonsense. The only actual reason I see for this is size. With a camera like this it matters very little.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

One thing I won’t really talk about a lot until the main review is the flash. It is a bounce type flash that is similar to that on the RX100 series. Because of the zoom range the flash on the C-Lux is quite strong for its size. This is important if you want that Daido Moriyama high constrast blow out the highlights kinda look. I didn’t do much testing of this yet aside from a couple of shots around my house. Expect more in the review.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I think the reason I like compact cameras so much is they so perfectly match the “moment” of capture to me. The photos I take with a compact camera almost always seem to be closer to my mind’s eye. I don’t think this is exclusive to any particular compact camera just those cameras in general.

So, surely I am not saying you go and buy this camera. I will say it ticks all the boxes I want in a modern compact camera. It has a 1 inch sensor, viewfinder, strong flash, nice looks, touch screen(also in the menus) self contained lens cap, bluetooth, and usb charging. The video is a big bonus since I have started to do a lot more of that.

Anyway, that is all for my first impression of the Leica C-Lux. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Upcoming reviews include the C-lux, the Leica MP (film), the Wotancraft Trooper, and the Pixel 3.

Much love from Korea,

Josh.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

So Long Friend: Death of a Sony DSC-W100

The first photo, my baby cousin. Sony DSC-W100.
The first photo, my baby cousin. Sony DSC-W100.

This may seem a repost. Might seem a bit of dejavu. It feels that way for me too.

You know when you pull off a band aid or jump into a cold pool? Better to do it in one shot. It hurts less. This brings me to the death of a friend: my Sony DSC-W100. It has teased me with its death for months. Dying on several occasions only to spring back into life with a cleaning or with some tender care. Sadly, this seems to really be the end.

In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.
In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.

In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.
In Newfoundland, the first day. Sony DSC-W100.

Why do I care about a 9 year old consumer compact camera? It is a long story and one that I will get into more later. Before I go further into the cameras harrowing tale, I would like to just talk a little about this cameras merits as a camera.

Sony DSC-W100.
Sony DSC-W100.

First, it has a rather larger (by compact camera standards) sensor. In fact, the same 8.1 megapixel CCD sensor – or so I’ve heard – as the famed Ricoh GRD1. I don’t know about all that, or don’t really care. I do care about the fact that it doesn’t have a stupid pop up flash. I love the fact that it has a viewfinder. I love that if I turn off the screen, I can still change all the settings with one click and the screen turns on for confirmation of this and then goes off on its own. My new Ricoh GR doesn’t do any of that and honestly the Sony reacts so much more like the Ricoh film cameras that I loved it is slightly comical. Did I mention it has snap focus that goes down to .5 of a meter?

On the way back to Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
On the way back to Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

These things are all great, but lets be fair, the Sony DSC-W100 will never be looked at as a classic camera. It will never have the cult following of a Ricoh compact. Nobody will ever look for one. It is destined to be forgotten.

One of the first days back in Korea after being away. Sony DSC-W100.
One of the first days back in Korea after being away. Sony DSC-W100.

I can say, without a doubt, that this is the most film compact camera like digital compact camera I have used and I have used a lot of them. But again, I’m not sure how much it matters.

On the train to Busan. Sony DSC-W100.
On the train to Busan. Sony DSC-W100.

A toilet in Korea. Not the strangest place we've been. Sony DSC-W100.
A toilet in Korea. Not the strangest place we’ve been. Sony DSC-W100.

Because the fact of the matter is, the camera has become more than some electronic device.

First month in Seoul. Portrait of a guy in Hongdae. Sony DSC-W100.
First month in Seoul. Portrait of a guy in Hongdae. Sony DSC-W100.

Here’s what I wrote about it on my instagram today:

“I always bought a lot of cameras. I could never decide what I liked, could never decide what I wanted or needed. Sad really, I’ve wasted so much money on cameras it almost isn’t funny. It definitely isn’t funny. I at one time would carry two Leica M9s with different lenses so I wouldn’t ‘miss’ anything. 20k of kit and did it make me a better photographer? No. My photos weren’t better. It was ridiculous…

On the ground in Hongdae, Seoul. Sony DSC-W100.
On the ground in Hongdae, Seoul. Sony DSC-W100.

Near Hongdae, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
Near Hongdae, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

A couple of summers ago, I was starting to get out of this. Mostly because I had sold off my expensive Leica gear to pay for going back to school. That summer, I traveled back to my home province of ‪‎Newfoundland‬. Drove halfway across Canada. I didn’t even take that many photos on the way. I didn’t really like photography much anymore even though it was supposed to be a project.

On a wall in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
On a wall in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

After being there for a couple of weeks, I was going somewhere with my aunt and she asked me to look for her keys under the seat of her car. Next to the keys was this old digital camera. I pulled it out. To my surprise it turned on, ha. My aunt joked that it had been there for a winter, or two. It kept me occupied for the 15 minute trip. I don’t know what I loved, I just loved how it worked. It reminded me of the old Ricoh film cameras I had once used. Simple settings, one click for everything. Viewfinder. The first photo I took of my cousin next to me (I’ll post it next- the last fish photo was from this as well) is a very important one for me. I started to take photos again. I took photos of everything for the next two weeks. I took the Artisan and Artist strap off my Leica and jimmy rigged it to work on this one. Strap surely cost more than the camera. Cameras really don’t matter. At least ‘good’ ones don’t.

In a Starbucks in Yongin, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
In a Starbucks in Yongin, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Myeongdong, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
Myeongdong, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

During the last two years, I’ve learned more from this camera than any other. It allows me to not think, which is the way photography should be. I should take photos as I feel like it and it has taught me to try and take good ones without thinking too much. The camera died for good (I believe), and it is a sad day. I don’t talk about gear much, but I sure loved this camera. And owe it one. It got me back into loving photography.”

Yeah, I was sad. I am still sad. I almost wish it had died the first time for good and not teased me with more life. I prefer to pull off my band aides quickly.

A portrait of an earring, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
A portrait of an earring, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Because while this camera will never be a classic or have any monetary value, it has something much more.

A walk in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
A walk in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

On the subway in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
On the subway in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

It had been something much more.

At a show, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
At a show, in Seoul, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

A good friend.

In Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
In Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Spotting some smiles, in Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
Spotting some smiles, in Suwon, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

RIP little dude, you’ll always have a place in my pocket.

On the ground in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
On the ground in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

Some more ground, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
Some more ground, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

And while you may never be remembered for being a great camera, or talked about on forums like your more classic brethren.

Some food, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.
Some food, in Busan, South Korea. Sony DSC-W100.

I’ll never for get you for the memories we had.

RIP little dude.
RIP little dude.

And more importantly, for the ones you helped me capture.

A white flower. Somewhere in Korea. Sony DSC-W100..
A white flower. Somewhere in Korea. Sony DSC-W100..

In Busan

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

I was packing for a one night trip to Busan on Friday and I had a problem that I hadn’t had in a while. I couldn’t figure out what camera to take with me. To travel, or to take photos, ha. It is a difficult question as I feel like too many people can’t distinguish between the two or spend too much time doing so.

Should I take a “real” camera or just a small one? What am I going to be taking photos of? What am I going to be doing?

All okay questions.

Continue reading “In Busan”

Copies

Newfoundland, Canada.
Newfoundland, Canada.

A shitty, rainy day in Seoul. Still reminded of home with the rain sliding across the cafe window. I don’t often miss home, not really.

That said, sometimes I feel like Newfoundland is a kind of oasis for Newfoundlanders. A trip back is needed every so often to cleanse the mind. The Soul.

Continue reading “Copies”

A Question of Style

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

A question of style.

Sitting around with a group of non-photography friends the other day one of them all of a sudden asked me why I posted a “‘normal” colour photo of them on Facebook. I thought it was a weird fucking question, considering the photo was just taken while they were just standing in a stairwell after playing a local gig. I took a photo with a small camera I had and one with my phone. I posted the one with my phone as I thought it would be something they would like more considering it was more “normal” as he said.

Continue reading “A Question of Style”

For no one

Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea.
Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea.

For no one.

I do this for no one. The battle is all internal.

As is the gratification.

I used to care about opinion. I used to give a fuck. Used to wait on flickr favorites and facebook likes. Superficial bullshit.

I don’t do this for anyone else. I’m looking for something deeper than the instant buzz of social media.

I needn’t look anything further than the face in the mirror. It’s not about anyone else.

We all have a story to tell. A musician writes a song. A writer pens a poem or a novella.

I take pictures.

No apologies, just telling my story. What I see while I walk is no one’s story but my own. Nothing more or less.

Copies of copies of copies.To me a photograph immortalizes nothing more than a memory. Nothing more than a moment I once experienced. I’m not to judge where reality begins and ends.

I’m just walking

________________________________________

The reason for the change in style of my blog is that I want my blog to become more of a diary than a place to post photos. I have a portfolio where my projects get posted and post my photos in a plethora of places. I want this to be a place I come to write. My tumblr also gets updated at the same time and has a similar style. A journal of my time in Korea and otherwise.

Kickstarted

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

In the process of starting a project in Seoul following a group of musicians as they tour the underground clubs of Asia. Just a couple of days into shooting, I can already feel the vibe coming together. It’s seeping into what I’m doing.

It’s a fucking great feeling.

The inspiration for the project was jump-started with a quote from Magnum photographer Jacob Aue Sobol:

“I made a decision that to me, photography had to be something that I could feel. I could feel in my stomach. I could not take pictures that were not connected to my own inner life.”

It will be so.

Just me, a compact camera like the one your grandparents use, and some crazy dudes.

A big thank you also to one of my best childhood friends for getting me access.

www.jtwhitephotography.com/projects-hatch-seoul

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

Hatch

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

Was great today to meet one of my oldest and dearest friends after a couple of years. Got to spend a half and hour listening to his band jam in a cool little studio in Hongdae. Thanks buddy!

It will also be the start of a new project. I’ll spend some time following this group of musicians through their touring the Asian club scene.

You can check out his stuff.

The project will be on my portfolio.