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Panasonic LX7 Long-Long Exposure Test

Discussion in 'Panasonic/Leica Forum' started by entropic remnants, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Just got my LX7 today and boy do I love it already.

    But my intention is to carry it everywhere and a "what if" scenario came to mind: What if I get a sudden opportunity to shoot an old factory somewhere and I don't have my wonderful E-M5 or E-PL5? What if all I have is the LX7 and the tripod that's always in the trunk.

    Since long exposures in near darkness are a normal challenge in urbex, how would the LX7 do? Here's some things I discovered:

    • I had not read the specs but I discovered that the LX7 can do exposures up to 250 seconds without bulb! That's 4 minutes and 10 seconds! That's unprecedented as most of my higher level cameras don't go there.
    • The LX7 does do "dark frame subtraction" where an exposure with the shutter closed of equal length to the subject exposure is done. Then any "hot pixel" information is subtracted from the subject exposure to remove hot pixels.
    • The camera does not seem to heat up during the process.
    • The entire long exposure counts down on the display, then the dark frame does the same thing in a "pop up box". You always know where you are in the cycle.

    That's nothing short of some very good thought on the part of Panasonic. Here's the conditions of my test:

    • Turned off my workshop lights and it was very dim, lit only by light trickling in from the main house.
    • Mounted the camera on a tripod
    • I left the image stabilizer on to see what would happen. I would redo the test if it interfered... but it didn't.
    • Put the mode dial in Manual, left the camera at 24mm
    • Switched in the ND filter on (another nice touch, the built in ND filter) to further diminish the light for the test.
    • I kept cranking the shutter time until it topped out at 250 seconds, then adjusted the aperture until the exposure graph showed zero (f/2.5). This means the metering was working in this dim situation.
    • I had the AF illuminator off and AF could not lock. I used a flashlight to get AF lock (something I often do when shooting in old factories as well).
    • Triggered the shutter

    After the informative count downs I took the RAW file into Lightroom 4.4RC (my normal process, well, was 4.3 before) and I did almost no adjustments. First of all here's something: the metering was right on. Perfect even when working is such dim light.

    I did some sharpening and added a little contrast and that's about it. I didn't try to really edit this down like I might one of my art shots.

    Here's the resulting shot, followed by a 100% crop of the focus area (click for larger view):

    20130306-P1000038.

    20130306-P1000038-2.

    Notice you can actually see aliasing in the cloth of the left puppet. That's sharp.

    To me this looks excellent and shows me I could use the little LX7 in a pinch for something like that. I used to shoot 10mp urbex with my D60, D80 and D200 cameras with no problems. This is clean enough that used with care I could reproduce that work with this little camera.

    I do indeed like the LX7.
     
    • Like Like x 7
  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Impressive!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    There's a New York photographer named Dez Santana who's done a lot of long exposure night shots of various parts of the city - I think more with the LX5 but probably some with the LX7 as well now. Some really impressive stuff - I think you can find his website with a google search. I almost never shoot with a tripod - it's just not part of my mindset, but it's nice to know how much capability is there. The LX series never fails to impress me with just how incredibly well thought out it is. The only weakness I've ever found is high ISO work, where the sensor's limits are fairly apparent. And, of course, narrow DOF, where there's that physics thing to contend with. :smile:

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Thanks, Ray -- I'll look Dez up.

    I think my test may be marred by the awful banality and lack of composition in my photo, lol. But I just wanted to know and it's raining so there you go...
     
  5. pictogramax

    pictogramax SC Top Veteran

    978
    Aug 18, 2011
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Impressive indeed! Thanks!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. lcsolla

    lcsolla SC Regular

    109
    Sep 5, 2011
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Luis Castro e Solla
    The wonderful LX7

    Although I have a Nikon D7000 and a Panasonic GF2, since I bought the LX7 I have been leaving the other two cameras at home. Its apertures allow me to take most pictures below ISO 400-800, I do not dislike its noise pattern, and if I want I can remove it in Lightroom. I always carry a pocket tripod with me, which is an advantage of compacts (together with cheaper underwater cases) which does not get mentioned often. I mostly use the tripod for video, only occasionally for photography.

    Examples of photos:

     
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  7. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I don't use a tripod except for urbex stuff generally where you are often in very dark places. Modern stabilizers have mostly made them unnecessary.
     
  8. lcsolla

    lcsolla SC Regular

    109
    Sep 5, 2011
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Luis Castro e Solla
    It is true that stabilizers help, but as I said I use the tripods mainly for video - where stabilizers do not help enough. And stabilizers can sometimes be useful, when you want a very precise composition. By the way, the three pictures I submitted were all taken handheld, in spite of being dark or very dark.
    And I went to your entropic remnants side. Congratulations!
     
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  9. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Oh, and by the way -- those photos you posted are awesome. I can't wait to do some real photography with this thing. I may experiment around the steel mill tomorrow and see what I can get with it.
     
  10. lcsolla

    lcsolla SC Regular

    109
    Sep 5, 2011
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Luis Castro e Solla
    Thanks for the compliment. The LX7 can do good photography, it certainly will in your hands.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Splendid images, Icsolla. :clap2:
     
  12. lcsolla

    lcsolla SC Regular

    109
    Sep 5, 2011
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Luis Castro e Solla
    Thanks again. I shall post two more LX7 pictures, again taken in the dark. In the first one I came down to ISO 80 in order to get the full detail of the tiles in the buildings, and at the same time blurr the tramway moving in the foregroung. The stabilizer would not do it, but the top of a garbage bin did, much better. With a little help from Lightroom I was able to save most of the highlights, without blocking the shadows.

    P1000973_sc.

    The second picture was taken handheld, in a dimly lit restaurant. To fix the expression in my cousin's face I was at ISO 1600. Does the picture have any grain? Yes, in spades. Do I care? No, I even like it - and it would probably work very well if correctly converted to black and white.

    P1010537_sc.

    The LX7 is now almost always with me, and I have a renewed pleasure in photography. But obviously, it is horses for courses. I print at 20 x 30 cm (8" x 12") in a professional printer. The LX7 pictures come out wonderful, much better than seen at 100% in a monitor - something which is intended for working, or for pixel-peeping, but definitely not the way to enjoy a picture. Go to a Cartier-Bresson exhibition, the grain and the missed focus shall surprise you. Yet the Leica was easy to carry, and quick (another LX7 advantage). I would probably use medium format, which I cannot afford, for very well-defined posters.
     
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  13. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Some sensors have what you might call a "nice" grain pattern and fixable color noise and some don't. So far, this one does in fact still have a nice look even when noisy. I have it with me today doing a bunch of shots around the steel mill and I'll likely put some up tonight.

    Good stuff, Icsolla.
     
  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I seem to have an allergy to tripods, so my low light shooting is all handheld - I've only used tripods for group shots that I'm in, as far as I can remember. But I've been pleasantly surprised by the LX7 in low light too. I've mostly limited its use to ISO 800, finding 1600 a step too far (although lcsolla's photo above might make me rethink), but with such a fast lens, you can do a LOT with ISO 800. And the image stabilization is quite good too, so that buys you a bit more if the subject isn't moving. I have an X-Pro and OMD that I'll always pull out when I've got some low light specific shooting to do, but for a camera I might have with me when I encounter some low light shooting situation, the LX7 isn't half bad. Here are a couple of examples. You can click through to see 'em full size if you want to pixel peep...

    [​IMG]
    Baltimore-37-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Wilmington-15-Edit-2 by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Wilmington-21-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Here's one at 1250 that started getting sketchy and lost some detail... Might have been mostly missed focus though...


    Philly Street - LX7 by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    -Ray
     
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  15. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Very nicely done, Ray. In some of the dark, boarded up buildings I shoot in a tripod is a necessity, lol. I don't use one unless I have to, but like most tools they have their purposes. To minimize potential alignment issues, I often shoot my photorealistic HDR on a tripod but I also shoot it handheld when the light is good.

    What I DON'T get is the guys I see with top notch stabilized lenses taking landscapes in a botanical garden on a tripod -- usually a $500 carbon fiber one, lol.
     
  16. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    John, I fully GET tripods and see their benefits and like and respect a lot of work done with them. I just don't enjoy USING them or hauling them around, probably to my detriment. I feel the same way about flash these days too, although I used flash more in the old film days when low light capabilities were far more limited... I took a tripod down to Longwood one night for some longer exposures during the holiday light displays in 2011, but that's literally the only time I can remember using it for anything other than a few family group shots that I was in. I got results I liked that night, but its just not a type of shooting I enjoy enough to really explore...

    I have a reasonable OK Slick tripod my wife gave me as a gift when I was first getting back into photography - not a great one (I'm thinking $70 or so?) but more than adequate for anything I'd ever consider using it for. When I never took it anywhere, I bought a small gorilla-pod thinking that might come in handy and get some use. I've used the Silk a few times - I'm not sure I've EVER used the gorilla-pod. Its just about me, not the gear!

    -Ray
     
  17. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Ha ha! Didn't mean to imply you didn't grok tripods, Ray! Just stating my position sorry if that came across that way. My internet voice is fatally flawed at times.

    I'm looking at those little MeFoto tripods to keep in the car. With micro four thirds and the LX7 I certainly don't need my "legacy" tripods anymore. The stuff I have now weighs nothing, lol.
     
  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Not at all John - I just had the impression you might think I was somehow opposed to the little three legged creatures and I'm not at all. Except for my own use, which I seem to be by experience, if not intent! :smile:

    -Ray
     
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