Daily Inspiration #300 by Ben Miller



I have been following your site daily as if it were ritual.  It has become part of my daily routine and I look forward to it every day.  I have fond memories of attending your Chicago workshop this year. Like most of your readers I dream of owning an M9.  Like many though I cannot justify the purchase due to the enormous cost.  I have set financial goals for myself and part of the reward will be one……  someday.  I still love my Panasonic GF1.  With the release of the GX1 I find myself once again trying to justify an upgrade.  Over and over in my mind I’m thinking of the benefits of a new body…. GX1? used M8? E-P3?

I read all the reviews online.  I look at all the comparisons.  Full frame? micro four-thirds? a second hand M8?   I look at Flickr and I still find fantastic photos captured with the GF1. My current travel kit consists of a GF1 and lvf1 with the Panny 14mm, 20mm and a legacy Pentax 50mm that came with my dad’s Pentax K1000 that he purchased from a pawn shop in the early 80’s.  Along with a ZipShot Mini tripod, lens pen, and my iPad 2 with the Snapseed photo app my kit is complete.  I do not use a traditional camera bag.  I have purchased several Domke inserts and I use what ever size I need at the time.  The inserts fit well into a small dry bag.  Everything fits in my laptop messenger bag or a day pack depending if I’m on the street or the trail.  I’ve attached three captures from my travels this month.  The first two were taken in Nassau, Bahamas.  The third photo was taken on Christmas morning during a hike at my parents home.  All photos were taken with my GF1 and processed on my iPad 2 using the Snapseed app.  I have used Lightroom 3 to re-size the photos only.


My twin brother has moved away.  We are separated for the first time in 36 years.  My mother had a pretty big health scare this fall and luckily she is okay.


I’m going to concentrate on what’s important,  not that I don’t have all the photo equipment I desire.


To everyone that cannot obtain an M9 or the camera of their choice…….  Not once have I ever looked at a photo and said “man…. that would have been a good shot if only it were taken with a better camera.”  Composition and light is everything not sensor size or camera value.  My $30 Yashica TLR and FP4+ can hold its own to any full frame camera.  There is a place for every sensor size and every camera.  I’ve heard over and over and I believe that the best camera is the one you have with you.


I currently have an exhibit of my street photography hung in the local public library.  The shots from my GF1 stand up to the ones taken with my 7D.  No one can tell the difference.


You can view more of my work at:




Thank you for your consideration and keeping such a wonderful website,
Ben Miller


(From Steve: Thanks Ben! Loved the story and the photos and you do just fine with your GF-1 and great lenses, keep it up)!


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  1. I enjoyed your post and the photos. As many others have observed, there is a tendency to obsess over camera models…However (for example), I’ve heard brilliant guitarists perform beautifully on cheap guitars, and awful guitarists perform horribly on expensive guitars. Take that as you will.

    A fast, high quality (usually prime) lens is important for the low-light capability you desire. The rest is talent.

    Remember, the arrow doesn’t hit the target, the archer hits the target.

    • Kenneth, thanks for the comments. I do make money playing guitar part-time. I have nice guitars and it is justified. Now I need to start making more money with my cameras. 🙂

  2. .
    Why would you want an M9..? It’s bigger, heavier and ‘clunkier’ than the GF1.

    The GF1 offers you manual focus, and – if you want it – autofocus (manual only with the M9).
    The GF1 offers higher maximum ISO than the M9.
    The GF1 offers the versatility of all sorts of lenses (via adapters), like your “legacy Pentax 50mm”.
    The GF1 is smaller, quieter and less obtrusive.
    The GF1 lets you check exposure adjustments BEFORE you shoot (the M9 shows your pics only AFTER you’ve shot them).
    The GF1 is a wonderful camera.
    The GF1 is made by Panasonic. Every one of those Leica compacts (V-Lux this, C-Lux that, D-Lux the other, the old Digiluxes) is made by Panasonic. Most Leicas ARE Panasonics. The GF1 is, essentially, a ‘Leica’ with a Panasonic label on it instead of a Leica label.

    Enjoy what you have! ..You’ve a terrific talent!

    • Damn it David…my wife says the same thing all the time. 🙂 I agree. The low light quality from an M9 seems to blow the GF1 out of the water. That’s why I want it. Also, the idea of buying quality lenses and using them for a lifetime also seems like a good idea. I’m hoping that the rumors of the new Fuji X Pro 1 are true and that the new sensor is going to be better than current FF cameras. I also hope that the glass is good. Everything I see from the X100 is fantastic. The only drawback for me is the slow focusing. When I’ve played with the X100 the manual focus seems to take forever. This has prevented me from upgrading. Thanks for the comment!

      • .
        “..The low light quality from an M9..” ..ah, so it’s low light capability..

        You could try, as an ‘in-between’ measure, a Voigtländer 25mm f0.95 for your GF1. That’ll give you great low light shots (equivalent to using a 50mm f1.8 on an M9) ..but still won’t bear the same enlargement as an M9 would (with its big sensor).

        However, it’ll let you focus far CLOSER than would any lens (except an old collapsible Summicron plus adaptor) on an M9. But if closeness doesn’t matter, then the Voigt won’t behave differently from any 50mm f1.8 on an M9.

        If you don’t mind the size and clatter, a 5DMkII works GREAT in lower light than an M9. But maybe you don’t want the size and noise.

        The forthcoming interchangeable-lens Fuji does seem to promise great results with assorted lenses. The main difference between that and the M9 apparently being, though, not quite such shallow depth as the bigger M9 sensor offers. But you seem to go for DEEP d-o-f (judging by your pics above) so maybe shallow d-o-f doesn’t interest you anyway. (And you could always use your Yashica with XP2 if it does!)

        Whatever your choice ..you shoot great pictures!

  3. Big fan of Snapseed here as well. Just curious to know why you didn’t use it for cropping and used LR instead?

    Loved your first two images. Thanks for sharing!

    • I do use Snapseed for cropping. I had to resize the images for submission to Steve’s website. That’s all. I’m glad you’re on the iPad Snapseed band wagon. I hope they release an update soon which includes batch processing.

      • Thanks, I figured out your intention when I re-read ‘resizing’ instead of cropping. My bad. Snapseed for me has paid for itself many times over with the amount of use it’s getting. Ditto on the batch processing.

  4. I really like the first image.

    If I get upgrade fever, I buy some old glass for my Oly, and that keeps me happy for a while.

  5. Nice shots on the first two frames! Whether it is a GF1 or a M9, it is only a tool at the end. The ability to take great shots rest on the eyes and the skill of the photographer.
    Nice work!

  6. It’s as good as the almost leica could be. It’s not the matter of what gear you chooes, but the matter of people who shoots.

  7. Very nice article.
    I just wish I was less impulsive as you are regarding photo gear…. :-S
    I do have a GF-1 with EVF and the Panny 20mm 1.7, but could not resist and got the G3 and an X100… now I need to decide which ones I will sell.
    Your article is very helpful in this regard showing clearly that not necessarily new gear will help you getting better pics.

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