Sunday, January 15, 2012

Not a camera review - What I'm using right now, in case you're curious

Current camera inventory
The camera on the left is a Panasonic LUMIX LX3, the one on the right is a Canon 600D with a 50mm f/1.4 Canon lens. I bought the former about 2.5 years ago, after my Samsung NV10 died in the cool mountains of the Cameron Highlands (I remember exactly because I couldn't capture the historic event of me eating durian).

Taken with a Panasonic LX3 at Seema's
The Lumix was serving me okay, it had manual focus via the display, full manual mode when I could be bothered, f-stop goes down to 2.0 (restaurant photography means a lot of low-light situations), but it was actually pretty big and heavy for a compact camera, and I could never seem to get the white balance right (even after manual adjustment it never seemed quite right). But the final straw was skiing. It was too big to fit in my coat pocket, and the metal casing made it very sensitive to temperature changes.

Size doesn't seem to matter
With this in mind, there were two ways I could go. One, get a superslim compact camera that has similar specs to the Lumix (Canon S90/S95/S100), or go DSLR. I went big because I got jealous of all those great pics by the likes of Rita and Jason. Of course I know that good photos are about skill, not the camera, but both Rita and Jason let me play with their cameras and lenses, and I found that even with my complete lack of skills I was able to take decent looking photos.

Taken with Canon 600D with 50mm f/1.4 at Noma
For about the price of 2 compacts, I bought myself the 600D and the 50mm f/1.4 lens. I can't stop raving about the lens. It's called a "natural" lens because it's supposed to be closest to what your eyes see. It's pretty perfect for food photography - if you're getting a DSLR and mostly photograph food (I hardly have any photos of people), I can't recommend it enough.

Oops, reflections...
The only gripe is a bad autofocus, which in all honesty, I find Sony's entry-level DSLR does a lot better at. Before I got the Canon, I tried out my friend's (T, who you may remember from my US/CPH/AMS trip) Sony a300. That's the camera I took photos with on my Fukuoka trip, including my favourite one of the yatai.

Taken on a Sony a300 with 50mm f/1.4
It's an older Sony DSLR, but it was also really good (that's about as technical as I can get); I tried a newer one at the shops before I bought the Canon and that's where I got to compare autofocus speeds. But I chose the Canon, because of the prospect of borrowing lenses off people and having more people to consult if I have any problems. Ha, the benefits of a community!

Promo photos taken for ChomChom Pho Bar on Canon 600D with 50mm f/1.4
The compact part of the equation is now my iPhone 4, and the DSLR actually fits into my handbags pretty well, especially if it's the 50mm prime lens (I usually carry totes anyway and used to keep loads of crap in my bag, the DSLR has helped me get rid of some of it). Do I ever carry two lenses? Yeah, sometimes - the other one is a crappy kit 18-55mm - it came almost free with the body and I use it when I need to take non-food photos, like scenery and people, but usually no!

Look, it's not food! (Canon 500D with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6)
I'm probably not going to talk cameras on this blog ever again, but I do like the look of a nice photo, so here's to more eating and shooting. Practice makes perfect, right? Smile! (Don't you talk to your food? Oh, um, okay then.)


  1. There's really been a trend to better image quality on food blogs. I'm glad to see what gear you are using and also, that you haven't become gear obsessed.

    One thing that did interest me though, is that your preferred lens is a 50mm. FWIW, my favourite lens for shooting food (and street vendors) is a 24mm.

  2. very interesting.

    50mm x 1.6 = 80mm focal length, not very useful (IMHO) when sitting down at a restaurant, especially if not a macro lens. (I also used the 50mm f1.4 until recently. It's not macro, autofocus is bonkers)

    I've been using the full frame 5d, but it's just such a freakin' pain to carry.

    Looks like all the cool HK/Asian bloggers are carry Olympus/Panny micro4/3 cams now, and I'll probably go that way as well. Always thought the LX3 had better color/saturation than the S90/S95, and the S100 is just too expensive.

  3. Anonymous8:23 am

    The 50 mm is called a normal lens, if used with a full frame camera like the Canon 5D. The normal lens equivalent for the 600D would be something like a 28 or 35 mm.
    Great blog and pics! I'll be in HongKong in a couple of months and found your blog very useful

  4. I have just purchased a Canon 600D and I am loving it! The picture that you took with the boat looks cool. I think I need to get a 50mm f/1.4 lens too.