Oh my pretteh (Panasonic Lumix GF2)


Panasonic Lumix GF2 (taken with Instagram)

Once upon a time

Around the latter half of last year, I started to seriously look into upgrading to a digital SLR camera. I’ve been playing with my dad’s DSLR whenever I was home, and while I didn’t know what I was doing half the time, I loved the feel and I loved what I could do with it. Oh the pretty blurry backgrounds! <3

In truth, I’d been thinking of upgrading on and off for a long time now; but the biggest roadblock was the size and weight. I’d bring it out like, what, once a month? Take out the big guns when there are special occasions? I didn’t want to buy an expensive DSLR that I’d bring out once a month; no matter how shiny the tech and how cheap DSLRs are becoming, it’s still far too expensive.

So how?

I started looking into micro four-thirds. More and more of my colleagues started sporting it, especially the ones who actually had DSLRs and shot wonderful photos, and it felt to me like a nice compromise between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR. I couldn’t decide between the Olympus E-PL1 and the Panasonic Lumix GF1. But when I saw the pink GF1, I was in love. Why? Face it, when they make pink tech gadgets, they use hot pink most of the time. But why?! I dislike the color–it’s too strong for my taste. The “sakura pink” GF1, however, came in a light, pretty shade.

It was love at first sight.

This was around September, when rumors of the GF2 came out. Plus, I had no money budgeted for this, having just moved houses. I had to wait. January, they said. The GF2 will be out January 2011.

The impulse buy that wasn’t really an impulse buy

I wasn’t really expecting to get the GF2 until end of January. When we asked a local shop, they said it would be two weeks for stocks to arrive. The day after that, on an impromptu trip with friends to Funan, a spur-of-the-moment query at another photography shop led to the GF2 being available. Available! It was available, people!!

And so it felt like an impulse buy even though it wasn’t due to my months-long wait and research. I don’t really remember my thoughts or what I felt when I was getting it; everything felt surreal. I’ve read the reviews, I’ve done my weighing. All I needed to make sure of was the handling, and it was then actually in my hands, and in my more experienced friends’ hands. It was definitely a good thing I had done all my reading on the model before, and that my friends were actually there for support, because I might have just walked out of there in a daze.

Oh my precious

So there is is, my pretty GF2. I didn’t mind that there was no mode dial; I did not have any habits connected with the mode dial. I’m actually doing a lot of setting changes and the like via the various buttons at the back, as I’m used to that coming from my Ixus, but the touch screen is wonderful for manual focusing, and it’s very intuitive. I love the aperture of the prime lens that came with the GF1 (the 20mm f1.7 pancake), but the 14mm f2.5 that came with the GF2 is good–and size-wise, it is definitely smaller than the previous. I prefer my prime lens over the zoom, but I may just need more practice with the latter.

It feels solid in my hands, not too small and not too big. It won’t fit in any of my pants pockets (well, maybe it will fit in my cargo pants), but it’s just nice for tucking into my handbag (where my kikay kit has been delegated to the back portion). Carrying the camera diagonally across my chest, the weight is negligible, although I’m still too conscious of its presence for now (oh! I might hit it! oh! it might hit that thing! oh! what if it falls?? *hugs it protectively*).

For all you QQ-no-mode-dial-ers

All I can say is: this camera is not for you. Stick to your GF1. I actually had one shop owner try to dissuade me from the GF2, saying that the E-PL1 and the GF1 is better than the GF2; I could almost see the disdain wafting from him as he urged me to get either earlier models, rather than the GF2. I told him I wasn’t a DSLR user, I told him I liked the colors of the GF2 better (hey I’m not going to shoot in raw all the time), but he was distracted and I doubt he was listening to me. (Obviously, I did not get from him.)

I don’t mind that the GF2 is not a “serious” camera, that it lacks street cred (for what, not having a mode dial? orly?). What I care about is that it’s easy to use, light (it is lighter than the GF1), small (it is smaller than the GF1), and that I enjoy using it (it’s pink, fer cryin’ out loud!). I care about actually feeling excited about using it, and liking it enough to bring it along on ordinary days and possibly catch opportunities along the way. I care about taking photos, not what I look like taking photos.

And now the slow trek away from noob-dom

I have much to learn. I still need to stop and think about apertures and shutter speeds. I’m trying to figure out what “kind” of photographer I am; I know I love macro photography and still life (and uh, food photography), as most of my previous “hobby” photos fall under that–but I just don’t have enough experience with portraiture and landscape photography for me to rule that out: maybe it’s just that I suck at portraiture right now but I will like it later on, yes?

I am learning. I finally, finally know how to read all those numbers and letters on a lens name, and actually know what it means (well, maybe not all the letters). I’m not completely useless trying to work out manual settings. I am learning those little things that photographers do, like changing the lens with the image sensor down to keep the dust out.

Of course, I need to stop feeling a little too self-conscious about my camera and my noob-dom. I went out with a friend to run our new cameras through their paces, and I felt like a plodding turtle; but then, so what? It will take time to get used to my new shiny toy, and my GF2-created photos certainly aren’t award-winning, but more than half the joy is in the finding and the doing than the end itself.

Here’s to many photos to come!

This post is also part of the 30 before 30 challenge: a list of things that I want to do and accomplish before I turn 30 years old.