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I’m an enthusiast, not a professional and I embrace that. My abilities with a camera are limited- not false modesty as there are things I’m good at – this just isn’t one of them. I’m completely fine with that though, the pleasure and peace holding a camera and taking a photograph gives me is reward enough. I’d always had film cameras as a kid, my dad had one and I used them for a while when I left home but I never learned to develop film and I stopped using them during the late 90s.
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Seeing a blurry family photo from years ago is still a powerful thing for me: the emotional experience far outweighs any technical limitations.
An alpha and an omega got me back into cameras and photography. The alpha: I had children and a phone just never documented them quite the way I wanted them to be documented. The omega – my mother passed away and I realized we did not have a recent photographic portrait of her – never again, I decided.
And so I bought ‘the wirecutter’ recommended Olympus OMD EM10 M2. (That’s not my favorite camera by the way, though I still love and use it.) I read lots of other reviews before buying, including this one.
I loved the images and I wanted to take the Olympus everywhere and use it all the time. But England… so rain… lots of rain. The OMD EM5 M2 and OMD EM1 Mk2 were too expensive.
Around this time I read this review I got the whiff of damnation with faint praise. Let’s face it; the site usually picks Olympus in the Micro 4/3 round-ups and for some very good reasons I’ll admit.
Everyone seemed to like this camera – no one seemed to love it apart from Dave Thorpe. Which was good because it was then discounted heavily and it was weather sealed.
So when it rained or I was outdoors/overseas that’s what I took.
Years passed, YouTube was watched, I read about photographers and photographic techniques, and collected photo books. Meyerowitz, HCB, Newman, Heisler, Gampat, Perello, Salgado, Souza, Gorman, Winters, Sontag, Carter, etc. The shelves groaned – my wife groaned louder.
I always have the Lumix 35-100mm f2.8 and the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8, a Nissin i40, and I mix in the Lumix 15mm f1.7, Olympus 25mm f1.2, or Lumix 25mm f1.4 as required (all of which I picked up very reasonably second hand and fit into a 10L sling bag with an iPad). I bought other cameras (Fuji! Leica! Medium Format! GAS!), dabbled in film, and tried to learn. But when I traveled, when I was just about being in the moment not trying to learn a new technique, I reach for the GX8. I use Olympus and Panasonic lenses and have never felt I’ve paid an undue penalty for mixing manufacturers.
The menu was logical and intuitive to me. Even the feature that many seemed perplexed by, the tilting eyepiece, came to be something I relied on. I still use it and bought a second one when prices hit rock bottom post Panasonic’s full-frame announcement, but prices are slowly creeping back up I notice.
The camera seemed so discrete, it wasn’t perfect, but the more I used it, it seemed so ‘sensible’. Every time I used another camera, I would think, “This or that ‘works better on that gx8,” and that, I guess, is when I realized it was my favorite.
I’d love another range-finder style Panasonic M4/3 flagship (and yes I know the audience is suggesting I should probably see elephants fly first), and while I’m in wishful thinking territory, perhaps some phase-detect autofocus points. The contrast-detect focus needs help.
Thanks for putting up with the ramblings.
My current project: I’m doing socially distanced portraits in my neighborhood for anyone who wants one, particularly focused on the elderly/families so that they have something for posterity.
All words and images by Sanjay Vijayanathan. Used with permission.