User report on Panasonic GX7 and Panasonic 14-140 Zoom By Cláudio Franco

User report on Panasonic GX7  and Panasonic 14-140 Zoom

By Cláudio Franco

Konichiwa, Steve and Brandon,

I love sushi, always read many mangas (Japanese comics), seen a lot of Japanese TV series, read stories about samurai’s, played as a ninja when I was a kid. Visiting Japan was a dream. After some years of insistence, I convinced my wife to go on vacation to the land of the morning sun. Yay! We visited Tokyo, Nikko, Kamakura, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo once again during a 22 days’ vacation.

When on vacation my wife takes care of the logistics (hotel, transportation, what to do, maps) and I learn the language, register the expenses, photograph the tours, and I like to think that I make sure we do what she suggests we should do. We never hire an aboriginal or a tour and in Japan, it was not different. Lonely Planet’s guides, Triposo mobile app, TripAdvisor, City Maps to Go mobile app and local maps are our source of information.

We live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To reach Japan we took a 14h flight to Dubai, United Emirates, had an “airport tea” for 4h, then we took another 12h flight. In total, it was a 30h trip to get to the other side of the world. Until last year, I was a Canon shooter. I had a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT and some Canon f2.8 lenses (24-70mm, 70-200mm and 40mm). Due to the heavy weight (approximately 3.8kg), that was hurting my back and taking away the fun of photographing, before this trip I sold everything. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to buy a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 and a Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

There is not much to say about Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7. It is a little marvel. It is sexy, has a built-in tiltable EVF that I use whenever I need a waist or lower level picture. The autofocus is one of the best in its category. The IQ is very good and the RAW files are very forgiving. I just do not like the time it takes to write the files to the memory card (mine is a Lexar Professional SDHC 32GB 400x).

Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 is a very good travel lens. It covers a long focal length, it is light and small, the anti-shake system is quite effective, it is faster than most lenses of similar and shorter focal lengths and it produces satisfyingly sharp images. The autofocus is fast and almost never misses a spot. The only problems are that in low light situations, you have to use higher ISOs or lower speeds and the bokeh is not that creamy for portraiture. Panasonic GX7 does not have a 0 sec anti-shock feature so when needed I had set the timer to 1sec. This has shown to be quite effective.

Daibutsuden, Todai-ji, Nara

Lumix G Vario 14-140/f3.5-5.6 @ 34mm F4.5 1/10s ISO 200

FOTO 1

 

Ok, let us get back to the trip.

Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. There is an awful lot of people living there, but everything is very clean and organized. I do not know how they manage it because trashcans are a rare product to find. Due to the dry climate, they do not dry their hands after washing. So no trash cans in the restrooms either. Go figure… There are many shinto temples all over the city. The temples provides water for washing the hands and rinsing the mouth before approaching the shrine. The altar is off limits unless you are getting married there or mourning for a deceased parent whose ashes are being deposited there or something of the sort. Around every temple, you will find shops selling all kinds of religious trinkets.

To ask your favor, you should deposit a coin in a wooden box placed in front of the altar, ring a bell, bow twice, clap your hands twice, ask the favor, bow once and leave it for the next supplicant.

 The temple store, Todai-ji, Nara

Lumix G Vario 14-140/f3.5-5.6 @ 69mm F5.4 1/160s ISO 200

FOTO 2

Reading the news on 43rumors I found out that I could buy the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens (a mouthful indeed) in Japan. So one night I told my wife I would like to buy it and we settled that I would go to the closest shop and try to buy it there. If they did not have the lens, I would leave it for other opportunity. I said to myself: “yeah, right”. When I got to the nearest Bic Camera, after a lot of mimic and poor English communication I found out that the lens was vanishing from the shops and that I had to go to a bigger branch to find it. So there I went to Bic Camera in Shibuya where there are the most crowded street corner of the world and the statue of Hachiko. Yodobashi did not have the lens.

 “Where do all these people come from?”, Shibuya

Lumix G Vario 14-140/f3.5-5.6 @ 28mm F4.3 1/6s ISO 200

FOTO 3

Again, after a lot of mimic the attendant told me I would find the lens only in the Bic Camera shop on the other side of the railway station. Shibuya Station is no ordinary station, it has a shopping mall with floors over and under the level of the street and many people coming and going as well. I knew crossing the station was not an easy task, we tried to do it before and it was confusing. However, this time it would be different, I was alone, I was focused, I was blessed by the divine spirits of ancient photographers.

I entered the station and started to follow the signs. Straight ahead. Left. That way. Right. Straight ahead. After what seemed like forever, I went out of the station. Hooray! I was in the same place I have entered… Oh, man… It was already late and the shop was about to close. I thought to myself that it was it. I would not buy the lens. I had failed. Therefore, there I went strolling around the block searching for another big shop to buy this elusive lens. Of course, it was nowhere to be found. When I was almost giving up, I saw the passage to the other side.

How stupid of me, it was outside the station to the right in plain sight. I was time for another try out. After neverending 5 minutes, I reached the shop where I met a laughing sales clerk that was awaiting for my arrival. He sold what was probably the last Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 of Tokyo. Mission accomplished! It was almost 10PM, I was hungry but I was happy beyond measure. The lens is awesome! It is a little heavy but nothing like a DSLR cousin. It is sharp even fully open at f1.2, has a creamy bokeh, and I love the colors it produces. I did not like it being made of metal, because it is heavier than plastic and less resistant to scratches and bumps.

 A Japanese guy studying at a Starbucks, Tokyo

Leica DG Noctitron 42.5/f1.2 @ f1.2 1/100s ISO 400

FOTO 4

From Tokyo we visited Nikko and Kamakura,then we spent a week in Osaka from where we visited both Nara and Kyoto. Except for the food, that we did not like that much, this trip was the realization of a dream.

The highlights of this trip were:

1) The Daibutsu, a huge bronze statue of Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple, in Kamakura;

2) The Todai-ji temple, in Nara, a temple listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site;

3) The wild dears living freely in the gardens and parks of Nara;

4) Seeing mount Fuji from the Shinkansen, high-speed rail line; and

5) Watching sumo wrestling tournament in Ryogoku Kokugikan.

 

Feeding the dears, Nara

Lumix G Vario 14-140/f3.5-5.6 @ 46mm f4.9 1/320s ISO 200

FOTO 5

Sumo at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo

Lumix G Vario 14-140/f3.5-5.6 @ 140mm f5.6 1/250s ISO 1600

FOTO 6

When we returned to Tokyo, Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 was already on sale on the shops and already fading. It would be unwise to revive another adventure searching for this grail, so I bought it on the first opportunity. The 15mm is indeed a great street photo lens, fast autofocus, very sharp, and almost no distortion, considering even though the sensor has a 2x crop factor, it is still a 15mm. The rubber lens cap is very good and easier to remove and replace than the plastic cap.

 Tokyo Station, Tokyo

Leica DG Summilux 15/f1.7 @ f1.7 1/125s ISO 800

FOTO 7

Well, that was pretty much it. If Japan were not so far away from Brazil I would consider going there more often. It was really worth it.

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Sayonara gozaimasu!

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12 Comments

  1. Japanese food is the best in the world and worth trying to Japan just to eat – so am surprised you didnt like it. Regarding buying lenses in Japan, last time I was there, I found them expensive so didn’t buy. The photoslook nice. Although made by Panasonic, they do have a Leica look to them.

    • Hi, Jonny, it’s not that I didn’t like Japanese food, I liked the taste, but the amount of food was not enough to feed the little tiger that inhabits my stomach. 😀

      I always wanted to have a Leica, but due to its price, I realized that Panasonic would be the closest I would get to it. I’m happy with my Panasonic, but reading such a compliment just made my day. Thank you very much! Or, in this case, domo arigato, gozaimasu!

      I had the opportunity of trying many cameras and many lenses and I’ve compared their prices to the ones in B&H Photo Video. Some lenses/cameras had the same price, others were 50% pricey.

      Most Canon and Nikon had the same prices. Sony depended on where it was produced (outside or inside Japan). Panasonic, Fuji and Olympus had the same price. Leica, I don’t know, but I believe it was pricey.

      Bic Camera and Yodobashi are the biggest shops for camera gear. I liked Bic Camera better. And there a small camera shop in Tokyo Station where analog camera gear can be found.

  2. I really enjoyed your writing and your way of documenting what you experienced, it almost felt like I was there. Seems like you really enjoyed yourself and you got some great lenses on the trip. Hopefully you saved as opposed to buying them locally in Brazil. Next time you plan a trip to Japan just convince your wife that you’re saving money on the gear purchase.

  3. I quote what Tom wrote! 🙂 BTW, I prefer Nocticron metal construction: I also own a MZuiko45mm and it got scratched after 1 week of use (and I treat my gear with care).

    • I loved Japan (except for the food), but most of the stories I have to tell are common tourist stories. Visiting, seeing, photographying, enjoying… This one about the lens shopping was one that not everybody has the opportunity to live. If the Japanese did not like to help I would be lost for real.

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