We often get asked about the cameras we use to take pictures for the blog and our instagram account, so today we thought it would be fun to do a series of posts where we each talk about our equipment and how we use it. This won’t be a lesson in photography, rather just a discussion about what we use and why it’s worked for us.
Katie here :
I use the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7. And sometimes my iPhone 6s.
In the best of ways, I sort of fell into my camera. Calder gave it to me for a gift about five years ago (maybe longer!), and once I started using it, I’ve never wanted anything else. Below I’m listing some of the selling points for me, together these may not seem worth the ticket price for this camera, but what I’ve left out is that this camera is just f’ing amazing for its size. It’s packed with features, and I’m only highlighting a handful.
- It’s practical. I strongly believe in the old adage that the best camera is the one you have with you, and I LOVE to have a camera with me at all times. Long before we started blogging, I was taking pictures of everything and anything, whether it was a beautiful building in the city or macro shots of the moss while out on a walk. If it caught my attention, I took a picture. I’ve always found it impractical to carry a big DSLR with me, but loved having a little point and shoot in my pocket. Of course, I want to be taking excellent pictures, I just know that if I relied on a DSLR, I would actually take fewer pics because I wouldn’t want to carry it around and would always be terrified of breaking it (in all honesty, I still have that worry with my current camera).
- Well-made camera body. The camera body is made from metal and I think it feels really solid in your hand. I haven’t actively tested it, but have spent years carrying two of them around with me nearly every day and they’ve held up really well… although, I had to replace my first one because it did take a big fall when a toddler (who will remain unnamed) pulled it off of a high table.
- Low-light photo quality. Admittedly, I feel like an imposter trying to boast about the camera I use because I haven’t used all of the others out there, but I will tell you some of the features I appreciate, and you can read a detailed review here. Something I noticed right away is the camera’s ability to shoot in low-light conditions. From what I understand this is because the camera’s lens lets in a lot of light, allowing the camera to use faster shutter speeds in low light conditions, thereby taking a crisper photograph than if it required slower shutter speed in the same conditions. (Sarah here: you are understanding it correctly – the lower the aperture (F number) the faster the lens.)
- Manual focus! This was a HUGE selling-point for me. Even though I didn’t want all of the freedom of a DSLR, I did want the ability to shoot some manual photos, and in particular, I wanted more freedom when telling the camera where to focus. With previous point and shoot cameras, I often felt like I had a hard time taking artistic or informative photos when I wanted the camera to focus on a specific point, but couldn’t get it to agree. This camera allows you to put it into manual mode and then control all aspects of the shot, including focal point.
- Quality auto mode. If you just put this camera into Intelligent Auto mode and start shooting, it’s going to take awesome photos (reviewers agree). I think this is a true test of a point and shoot camera, and I’ve never experienced anything better than this camera’s on-the-fly photographs.
Before I give you a little insight into how I use the camera (you’ll laugh at my basic level of use), I wanted to mention that I feel like I’m not using this camera to its highest potentional. This camera has so many features, even while preparing for this post I learned new things about what it can do. I’m saying that not to necessarily highlight what a simple photographer I am, but also to encourage someone who may think that they need “more” in the form of a DSLR to take a look at the Lumix DMC LX7.
- Intelligent Auto. 95% of the time I have the camera in Intelligent Auto mode. I’m letting it make all of the decisions about aperture, shutter speed, etc. While in this mode, I always have the camera displaying all of its settings on the LCD screen. This allows me to see what modes the camera is operating in. For example, if it’s picked up on the fact that I’m trying to take a macro shot or if it’s noticed that I’m taking a photo at night, thereby adjusting its settings accordingly (it’s smart!).
- Use the horizontal display line! With full display on, the camera has a horizontal line across the screen, it’s yellow when you aren’t holding the camera perfectly level with the horizon and green when you are level – a great help when you’re taking photos and don’t want to end up with the background horizon at a 45 degree angle!
- Auto Focus Lock. While in Intelligent Auto, I’ll often use the AF Lock feature. This puts a box on the LCD screen, you use it to identify the area you want to be in focus and then you can move the camera to the frame the photo as you wish. This is particularly helpful if you want an area of the photograph that’s not in the center to be in focus.
- Macro Focus. It’s absurd how often I’m taking macro photos. I just love the detail. The camera has an “Auto Focus Macro” setting, which is slightly different than just Auto Focus in that it tells the camera to prioritize macro focus opportunities, assuming that that’s what you want. In this mode, you can still take non-macro photos, so luckily you don’t have to constantly switch in and out of macro mode.
- Manual Focus. To use manual focus, you can’t be in Intelligent Auto mode, and basically this is the only time I leave IA. When I am going to use manual focus, I put it into Aperture Priority model (the “A” on the dial), set my aperture to something that looks good (sometimes I’ll take a couple of photos with different aperture levels to test the situation), and then I’m free to use the camera’s manual focus.
I can’t say it enough, this is just an amazing point and shoot camera. I definitely keep my use to the more basic and automatic settings, but it has the potential for much more advanced work if that’s what you’re looking to do. It’s a small, durable, and powerful camera that can go anywhere with you and take fantastic photos, and really if you’re going to spend the money, that’s what you want, something you will actually use everyday.
A quick note from Sarah:
Speaking as a professional photographer, the Lumix LX7 is an amazing camera for anyone looking to take professional looking photos without having to spend thousands of dollars and attend classes just to figure out how to work the camera itself. Really. I’ve recommended this camera to over a half dozen people in the last two years (and they all bought and love it) and I’ve personally been so tempted to buy one myself! While the size of this baby says ‘point and shoot’ the capabilities and control say so much more. It’s an awesome camera for all the reasons Kate mentioned. This camera gives you ample control, but also lets you put it in auto drive if you so desire. The lens is extremely fast and made of the best glass on the market (those Germans!), which means indoor photos will come out crisp, which is huge! Think about Christmas morning, birthdays, sweet little nap candids? You need great lens performance in those situations and this tiny camera takes better photos than the lenses that are included in DSLR (big professional cameras like the one I have) kit packages. This camera is flipping awesome. I could not recommend it enough, you’d think I was a company rep. Maybe I should be? Sorry Nikon! Check in this afternoon to see what I shoot with, but if you’re not taking photos for money, buy this guy. We love it.
If you have any questions about the camera and/or how I use it, ask away! xo