Shooting the Lumix G9 at the Marin Civic Center
David Weitz, an avid photographer and staff member here at Looking Glass, recently had the opportunity to shoot the Panasonic Lumix G9 camera while out and about on one of his weekend escapades. He wanted to put the camera to the test at a location he’d never shot at before, giving him a true sense of adventure, as well as the basics of the G9. The G9, with it’s 20.3MP micro four-thirds sensor and a DSLR-like design (but in a much smaller body than most DSLR cameras), is an easy and intuitive to use camera with great image and video quality. Below we ask David about his adventure, and what his preliminary thoughts are on the Lumix G9. To read more about the camera, click here.
LGP: You recently when shooting at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael. What about that location inspired you to get over there and photograph it?
David: "I've been to San Rafael a couple of times in the last few years, and on more than one occasion, I noticed the rather unique building that seemed to be built as part of the hillside. A little research revealed that this building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect well known for creating buildings that bridged the gap between architecture and art."
LGP: What gear did you shoot with?
David: "I shot with a Lumix G9 and the Lumix Leica 12-60mm Lens; With in-body stabilization and a bright zoom lens (f2.8-4) it felt that I did not really have to worry about using the on-camera flash."
LGP: Panasonic Lumix is relatively new to Looking Glass as a brand offering. What are your thoughts on the Lumix system so far?
David: "The Lumix system as a whole has a lot to offer for still and video shooters; autofocus is fast and accurate while the mid to high end glass is very sharp. bodies and lenses are relatively lightweight. Also, the fact that there a large number of Lumix Cameras with microphone inputs plus touch screens that swivel is definitely a plus; The Lumix line has a number of very good still and video options for novices and professionals alike."
LGP: What did you like most about the G9 when shooting it?
David: "The light weight of the camera compared to a DSLR was a plus; even after having the camera in my hand for an hour, I didn't feel nearly as much strain on my wrist. I also felt less conspicuous shooting with a smaller system. Somewhere in the back of my head I felt less intrusive."
LGP: Did you have any issues/challenges with the camera?
David: "Only one. Although, I chalk this one up to my own user error: Some of my photos had more camera shake that I expected, as I am quite used to shooting a different camera that has an auto ISO feature that automatically increases shutter speed to help eliminate camera shake. I'm new to Lumix cameras, and perhaps there is a function I could have turned on. More to learn! Regardless, my best advice when shooting in low light with the Lumix G9 is the to set the camera to Shutter Priority mode, and keep your shutter speed above a certain minimum to reduce the impact of camera shake."
LGP: Any thoughts on the lens(es) you tried?
David: "The Lumix 12-60mm was a great walk around lens, very sharp, and good for the environment. However, I would advise anyone shooting at the Civic Center to get a wider lens if possible. The Center is filled with all kinds of lines and curves that lend itself quite well to super wide angle."
LGP: How did the gear you selected perform at the Civic Center?
David: "Besides the one issue with camera shake with some of my photos (my own inexperience with the Lumix line) it was fantastic. I especially liked being able to quickly switch from using the viewfinder to the swivel screen, depending on the type of shot. In my experience, using the viewfinder alone can be somewhat limiting. Using the screen, and using the reach of my arm as a composition tool, can be very liberating. Now, all of a sudden, I can compose above my head, shoot from the waist, looking down at the screen, get up close by extending my arm."
LGP: What did you enjoy the most about your experience visiting and photographing the Civic Center?
David: "Exploring all the little nooks and crannies at the Center. The place is several stories high, and not all of the floors extend all the way from beginning to end. The potential views of the place is astounding, but the main unifying element throughout the entire place is circles and curves. They are everywhere. Look around for them, whether on the stairs, in the main hallways, or even the outdoor patios."
LGP: How did the G9 contribute to this experience?
David: "By being much smaller and quieter than a DSLR. I could set the G9 to quiet mode if I wished and have no shutter click at all. I felt somewhat self conscious about taking photos in a space like that, as I was concerned that people might not appreciate a shutterbug at a government building. However, the people who worked there almost expected the occasional photographer, given the fame of the building and it's designer. So having a subtler camera emboldened me quite a bit."
LGP: Any advice or suggestions for others who might want to photograph the Marin Civic Center?
David: "Wide angle, wide angle, wide angle. I cannot emphasize this enough. My only regret is not bringing along a wider lens; This is a place that is just asking to be taken in wide angle. Distortion doesn't matter here. Giving all the curves that show up in the photos anyway, wide angle distortion could only help, not hinder you in this place."
LGP: Any parting thoughts you would like to share?
David: "For a real challenge, go there with a wide angle prime lens, no zoom, no other lens. Also, check out the Smart Train that runs through Marin County. I personally am very curious about riding it the entire length just to see what can I see."