Panasonic GX850 Review

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I recently decided to switch cameras (again). This is something I do every few years, out of boredom, mostly, and it always inspires me as a photographer.

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I usually end up switching between Leica and Fujifilm cameras, but this time is different — I decided to pick up my first Micro–Four–Thirds camera — the smallest one on the market. One that’s so small, it even lacks a viewfinder.

I opted for the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens, which is the closest thing to my preference of 35mm f/2.0 (on full frame).  

Size Beats All & Inspiration

For me, size is king right now. I want the smallest camera reasonably possible, as I want to carry the body with me everywhere, and every millimeter counts a lot towards the feel of the camera on your body.

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I was very happy with the superior quality and size of the Fujifilm x100F, which I highly recommend to anyone — and while this camera is absolutely a step back in terms of image quality, it holds a candle, and, most importantly, it inspires me — something that, after several years, the Fujifilm no longer was doing.

Creative inspiration is the most important quality a camera can have, and I’m finding it in this novelishly–small Panasonic camera.

Overall Impressions

The 3:4 aspect ratio is a serious downside to this sensor size. Luckily, the camera offers 2:3 cropping for JPEGs, and when importing images from JPEG+RAW mode, Lightroom CC (even on the iPad) automatically applies the crop to the RAW image. So, my GX850 is effectively a 2:3 camera, with some extra vertical pixels to play with if I ever need them.

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I’m impressed with the image quality, given the size and price of the camera. The camera pales in comparison to the Fujifilm x100F, which was to be expected, especially when it comes to things like getting white balance just right, but overall I’m quite happy with its quirks.

The dynamic range of the resulting images are “good enough” to work with, far from excessive, and is taking some getting used to, for more creative work.

The form factor is worth these tradeoffs, in my opinion. There’s also something comforting/humbling about shooting with what’s considered an “entry level” camera when you’re a professional–level shooter.

Life Without a Viewfinder

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So far, life without a viewfinder is quite okay. I was very apprehensive about this, but the portability of the camera (meaning I always have it on me), is easily worth the trade–off of not having a viewfinder. Plus, I have experience with a viewfinder–less system from the Ricoh GR, so I knew what I was getting myself into.

Shooting with a screen has a few unexpected benefits:

  • You’re less noticeable on the street.
  • People don’t consider you a professional when they do notice you, so they don’t mind you snapping a photo, and mostly ignore you.

Most importantly, the screen articulates 180 degrees upwards, for selfies or shooting 4K video of yourself. This is a very fun aspect of the camera that I don’t expect to use often, but I expect that when I need it, it’ll be considered quite useful.

Final Thoughts

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I love this camera. It’s inspiring me to shoot.

That’s something that the fantstic Fujifilm X100F was no longer doing, hence me getting rid of it. I miss it dearly already, but there’s no need to hold on to things that are no longer serving you.

I expect myself to pick up the next iteration of the X100, once it’s released. It’ll likely be time to be re–inspired then :)

New Album, Messengers Rising Available

I have a (somewhat) new album available, called Messengers Rising.

It was mostly inspired by a previous relationship of mine, as well as coping with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

You can stream it for free on all major services.

If anyone wants a lossless copy of the album, feel free to email me, and I'll send you a link in your preferred format. 

I hope you enjoy it!

Fish as Default Shell on Windows 10

Step 1: Install Fish

Because the Linux Subsystem for Windows 10 is a full Ubuntu operating system, all software packages available for Ubuntu are installable on your Windows machine now! Here's some simple steps to install the latest stable release of fish, the world's greatest shell:

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:fish-shell/release-2
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install fish

Step 2: Make it your default shell

Everything in the Linux Subsystem for Windows 10 is oriented around Bash, so you have to tell bash to automatically launch fish at startup, by placing the following in your ~/.bashrc:

# Launch Fish
if [ -t 1 ]; then
  exec fish
fi

That's it!

Unix-style Windows Development Environment Adventures

Things I've learned thus far, while developing on Windows:

  • Cmder is an excellent terminal emulator, and the best one I've found for Windows. Highly recommended.
  • The Ubuntu Subsystem for Windows 10 is really quite stellar -- It's a full-blown Ubuntu operating system running along-side your Windows stuff.

Development:

  • I built Python 2.7.13 from source, after apt-get installing 'build-essential' and friends.
  • The Linux home directory resides at C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Lxss\home\USERNAME.
  • The C:\ filesystem is available at /mnt/c.
  • It's much better to symlink from Linux into Windows filepaths, if you plan to edit your code in both environments. If you go the other way around, lots of strange permission errors occur.

Overall, things are going pretty well! I managed to develop and ship a release of Pipenv today on this machine, and while things weren't nearly as smooth as they are for me on a Mac, they were certianly workable!

So, I Bought a Surface Book

So, I decided to buy myself a Surface Book today. It's a surprisingly high quality device that easily competes with my MacBook Pro in terms of build and design.

I decided to buy it for a number of reasons:

  • I've been a little bit depressed lately, and new toys always help me get out of a funk.
  • There are a plethora of games available for Windows.
  • I enjoy the challenge of setting up a proper development environment on this platform.

So far, it's been a rather enjoyable experience. The new Unix Subsystem for Windows 10 is surprisingly enjoyable, and was able to produce a build of Python 2.7.13 without any problems. 

So far, I'd say there's only a 25% chance that I'll return the device. Fingers crossed!

Sublime Text 3 Heaven

I decided to revisit my editor configuration the other night, and experimented with every possible editor I could think of / imagine. I heavily configured vim (neovim), PyCharm, Eclipse, Emacs (Spacemacs), VSCode, Atom, Textual, and more. I knew I was going to stay put with my choice of Sublime Text 3 (which I have been using for 5+ years), but it's nice to have validation.

So, I decided to rebuild that configuration from scratch as well. I ended up with a very happy setup that I wanted to share with you. Here's a screencast of myself writing a little bit of code and pushing it to GitHub with this setup. 

 

Sublime UI Theme: Material

Sublime Text Extensions:

  • Anaconda — fantastic Python "IDE" support for Sublime Text. Just works, does everything you'd want it to do, including code completion and PEP8 checking. 
  • Color Highlighter — highlights colors present in code as the value provided (great for css).
  • Emmet  fantastic HTML shortcut utility. 
  • Package Control — (obviously)
  • SideBarEnhancements enhances the sidebar context menu options. Easily create new files and folders, etc. 
  • Themr — easily switch between themes.

 

Version Control:

  • GitGutter — display git diff information in the gutter of Sublime Text — extremely useful! Keeps track of added/removed lines. 
  • GitSavvy — very useful tool for committing/pushing with Git right from Sublime! 
  • GitStatusBar — shows git repo status in the bottom bar of Sublime Text. 

 

 

Syntax Packages:

  • Tomorrow Night Italics Color Scheme — italics for code comments, for Operator Mono
  • fish-shell — syntax highlighting for fish scripts. 
  • Jinja2 — syntax hilighting and snippets for jinjia2 templates.
  • RestructuredText Improved —syntax highlighting for RST files. 
  • requirementstxt — syntax highlighting for requirements.txt files. 
  • TOML — syntax highlighting for TOML. 
  • VimL — syntax highlighting for VimL. 

Fun Toys:

  • ASCII Decorator — right click on text, and turn it into ASCII art. 
  • Glue — terminal instance within Sublime. 
  • GitAutoCommit — a nifty little plugin that lets you set certian repos to automatically commit on save (useful for notes, etc). 
  • SublimeXiki — get the power of Xiki (shown in the screencast above, at the end) in Sublime!

User Key Bindings

[
    { "keys": ["super+2"], "command": "next_bookmark" },
    { "keys": ["super+1"], "command": "prev_bookmark" },
    { "keys": ["super+3"], "command": "toggle_bookmark" },
    { "keys": ["super+shift+3"], "command": "clear_bookmarks" },
    {"keys": ["super+g"], "command": "git_status"},
    {
        "keys": ["super+d"],
        "command": "set_layout",
        "args":
        {
            "cols": [0.0, 0.5, 1.0],
            "rows": [0.0, 1.0],
            "cells": [[0, 0, 1, 1], [1, 0, 2, 1]]
        }
    },
]

User Settings

{
    "auto_complete": false,
    "close_windows_when_empty": true,
    "color_scheme": "Packages/User/SublimeLinter/Tomorrow-Night-Italics (SL).tmTheme",
    "draw_white_space": "all",
    "find_selected_text": true,
    "fold_buttons": false,
    "folder_exclude_patterns":
    [
        ".svn",
        ".git",
        ".hg",
        "CVS",
        "_build",
        "dist",
        "build",
        "site"
    ],
    "font_face": "Operator Mono SSm Light",
    "font_options":
    [
        "subpixel_antialias"
    ],
    "font_size": 12.0,
    "highlight_line": true,
    "hot_exit": false,
    "ignored_packages":
    [
        "Git",
        "GitSavvy",
        "RestructuredText",
        "SublimeLinter-flake8",
        "Vintage"
    ],
    "material_theme_accent_orange": true,
    "material_theme_accent_scrollbars": true,
    "material_theme_appbar_orange": true,
    "material_theme_arrow_folders": true,
    "material_theme_bullet_tree_indicator": true,
    "material_theme_compact_sidebar": true,
    "material_theme_contrast_mode": true,
    "material_theme_small_statusbar": true,
    "material_theme_small_tab": true,
    "material_theme_tree_headings": false,
    "remember_open_files": false,
    "rulers":
    [
        72,
        79,
        100
    ],
    "theme": "Material-Theme-Darker.sublime-theme",
    "translate_tabs_to_spaces": true,
    "trim_trailing_white_space_on_save": true
}

That's it! Enjoy :)