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The independent source for study and review of camera ergonomics.

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    The G1X3 can render very large amounts of fine detail at all focal lengths


    The G1X3 comes with a very useful “Getting Started”  guide in the box. I recommend this to any new user.


    There is also an online 231 page PDF “User Guide”  which can be downloaded from any Canon website by following the prompts under the “Support” tab for the product.


    May I suggest this is essential reading for any G1X3 owner as the camera has many functions. The operation of some of these is not evident from the displays in camera.


    The layout of the Guide is not altogether coherent making some items difficult to locate. Hence this little post.


    Modified lens cap with enhanced lugs. Filter in place on the lens.


    Preliminaries


    * Lens cap. In my view the perpetrators of this thing need to be set homework to remove and replace it 1000 times, then re-design it.


    The problems:


    First, the edge lugs for getting a finger grip are too shallow and smooth.


    Second when the cap is engaged in the filter thread on either the front of the lens or a filter if fitted, it is difficult to remove. The serrations on the edge of the cap are sharp and grippy and do not want to let go.


    I fixed the first problem by adding a little ridge of polyester filler at the front of each finger grip. You can see this in the photo.


    The second problem remains. I hope the cap will get easier to fit and remove with time.


    An option would be to get one of the generic lens caps sold on eBay about which I have had good reports.


    NOTE The Getting Started booklet advises on Page 16 …”Always remove the lens cap before turning the camera on”. To which I would add …”and don’t replace it until the lens is retracted”.


    Why ? Because the process of getting the lens cap on and off requires some pushing and jiggling. The lens is of the power zooming  double inner barrel type which I suspect could be subject to damage from pushing and pulling on the outer end.


    Apparently Canon thinks so anyway.


    Oh yes… And I don’t fit the lens cap retaining string. When attached by the string the cap dangles about in a most irritating fashion. Well it irritates the heck out of me anyway. Maybe I am just a grumpy old man.


    * Filter.  The lens has a 37mm filter thread which takes standard 37mm filters. Strangely this gets no mention at all (not that I could see anyway) in any of the G1X3 documentation and a filter is not listed as an accessory. Odd that.


    Anyway I fit one. My preference is for B+W XS Pro clear MRC nano filters. I find the multi resist coating actually works and the filter is much easier to keep clean than the lens front element with no risk of damaging the lens. My tests show no detectable loss of lens performance from the filter.


    A lens hood is listed as an accessory but I will not be bothering with one. It appears to be a screw in type, non reversible so would be a nuisance for general photographic use. I just use my left hand to shield the lens from the sun as required.


    * Battery.  Buy at least one spare battery at the time of purchase, preferably two if you plan on all day outings with the camera. The NB-13L is very small and runs out of power quickly.


    * Wrist strap.  The camera comes with a neck strap. My suggestion : Leave that in the box. Invest in an el cheapo, no name basic wrist strap. See the photo for how I carry the camera when out and about.


    G1X3 in Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 5 bag.


    * Carry bag.  Some users say they carry the camera in a large pocket. Fine but make sure you slip it into a plastic sleeve first or it will pick up loads of that dust and junk and other stuff which accumulates in pockets.


    It will fit into a Lowe Pro Portland 30 pouch with the red inner divider cut out but a bit of a wiggle is required to get the camera in and out.


    I mostly carry it in a Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 5. This bag is a fraction larger than absolutely necessary but it allows the camera to be inserted and removed easily and there is plenty of room for 2 spare batteries, microfiber cloth and SD cards.


    Holding the camera.


    * Holding the camera. Every camera user guide I have ever read tells you to place the left hand beneath the lens. This is the classic position and in the good old days of all manual cameras with an aperture ring and manual focus ring on the lens barrel was pretty much the only serviceable way to hold the camera.


    However modern cameras do not require the left hand to be in the classic position.


    I personally find I am much more comfortable with the “left hand over”  position particularly with a light compact like the G1X3.


    I find this position allows me to keep the left wrist straight and gives me a secure left hand grip on the camera (see photo) when I need to release grip with the right hand to change the AF frame position.


    Basic decisions


    * Touch screen operation.  The G1X3 has a well implemented touch screen capability, with many functions.


    Go to Menu>Wrench4> Touch Operation>Standard.  (The Guide suggests using the Sensitive option if a screen protector is fitted). But you don’t need a screen protector as the monitor can be turned inwards for protection. 


    I have no idea why this basic Touch option is on the Wrench4 Menu when all the rest of the touch options are on the Camera2 Menu. Unfortunately all the camera makers have menus like this with like items scattered about and unlike items grouped together. Go figure.


    Now go to Menu>Camera2>Touch shutter>Enable/Disable.  I suggest you give touch shutter a try. It might suit some users to work this way. When you touch the screen the camera focusses ( at the touch point if AF Frame Pos’n is set to Touch point), sets the exposure then fires the shutter. The camera feels like a smart phone when set up this way.


    Let’s assume you bought a camera expecting it to work like a camera.  In that case disable touch shutter.


    The next tab below on Camera2 is Touch & drag AF settings. 


    The first sub tab is Enable/Disable. Select Enable.


    Next down is Pos’n method. Choices are absolute and relative. I suggest relative, see below.


    Next down is Active touch area.  There are 6 options !


    I suggest Right for right eye viewers and Left for left eye viewers.


    Now how does all this work ?


    When you are viewing using just the monitor screen, the AF frame appears wherever you touch and/or drag a finger on the screen. AF is initiated by a half press on the shutter button.


    When viewing on the monitor the whole screen is used regardless of the Active touch area  setting.


    When viewing through the EVF, touch operates in a different fashion, similar to the Touch Pad AF function on a Panasonic camera.


    If you have the absolutesetting then when viewing through the EVF the AF frame just goes where you touch.


    If you have the Relativesetting the AF frame goes nowhere if you just touch. It must be moved by dragging on the screen.


    It is inconvenient to use the whole screen with one’s eye  to the EVF eyepiece, hence the part screen options provided. With one of these in effect you can drag and/or nudge the AF frame anywhere.

    (actually not quite anywhere, the AF frame cannot be set right at the edge of the frame, but why would you want it there, anyway?)


    Note you can still press and hold the [AF Frame selector] button anytime to recenter the AF frame.


    You can still move the AF frame the old fashioned way using the [AF Frame selector] button to activate the AF frame (see it go orange) then move it with the left/right/up/down buttons on the control dial on the control panel.


    Advantages of the old fashioned way: 


    * Monitor can be turned inwards for protection, lower power consumption and freedom from finger/nose grease smudges.

    * No accidental bumping of the AF frame position.

    * Left eye viewers are not so well served by the touch screen method although I find that if I use the left hand over hold I can work the touch screen with my left index finger reasonably well.


    Advantages of the touch screen method:

    * Faster, fewer actions required.


    Fortunately you can have both set up and available all the time so take your pick.


    * My Menu    The G1X3 has a well implemented My Menu which is well explained on Page 109 of the User Guide.


    The main thing to decide is which items you want there.


    Some suggestions:


    Check out what’s in the Q Set menu and don’t duplicate those items in the My Menu.


    There is no need to duplicate items accessed via the up and left buttons on the control dial.


    You can actually allocate 5 x 6  items to the My Menu however it makes more sense to me to think carefully about the items I really want there and just populate one set of 6 options.


    For the record I have: IS Settings, Touch Operation, Touch and drag AF settings, Bracketing and Mute on the My Menu.


    I expect most users will go through a process of trial and refinement to settle on a population of items for the My Menu.


    * Custom Modes   The Mode Dial has two custom Mode positions available, cunningly labelled C1 and C2.


    The method for setting up a Custom Mode is well described on Page 108 of the User Guide. This also describes what settings can be allocated to a Custom Mode.


    As with the My Menu, the main thing is to decide which settings to allocate to a Custom Mode.


    For the record I put my “camera on tripod” settings on C1 and my “action” settings on C2.


    The “camera on tripod” settings include Av Mode, f5.6, RAW+JPG, Single shot, Timer 2 sec, ISO 100 and Auto Lighting optimiser high. These settings anticipate landscape or interior architectural types of subject.


    The “action” settings include Auto ISO, Tv 1/250, JPG quality, Drive Low speed continuous.

    Individuals will have their own ideas about all of this.















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    The G1X3 is a very good street camera. Unobtrusive with fast accurate AF and good picture quality.


    The User Guide doesn’t work through the menus as they appear in the camera. There is plenty of guidance for selecting options but it can be difficult to find. Hence this post.


    The Setting Menu (wrench 1-5) is well enough described on pages 170-178 of the User Guide.

    Move from one top level menu tab to the next with the zoom lever.


    The Shooting menu (camera 1-8).

    I will run through the camera symbol menus with reference to details only where I think the nature of the options available requires some clarification. If I fail to mention an item assume I recommend the default setting.


    Camera1


    * Shooting information display. There are several submenus.

    Under [Screen info/toggle settings]  and [VF info/toggle settings] I recommend checking all three of the display options available. You can then easily cycle between each of these with the Down/Info button when getting ready to make pictures.


    * VF vertical display. See how the viewfinder looks with this On and Off. Take your pick. I prefer it Off which leaves the camera data on one side of the preview image with the camera in portrait orientation. I find the data easier to read this way than overlaid on the lower part of the image which happens when On is set.


    * Expo. Simulation. Set [Enable] The preview image in monitor and EVF will change lightness with exposure compensation setting and with aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting adjustments in Manual exposure mode.

    Set this Off in the perhaps unlikely event you are using the camera for a studio flash shoot when exposure will be determined by external flashes, separately metered.


    * Reverse display.  Every menu system I have used in the last few years seems to have a few mystery items, this being one. I finally figured out what it does, no thanks to the User Guide. If you are making a selfie photo with the monitor swung out and facing the same way as the lens, Reverse display determines whether the preview image will be flipped horizontally or not.

    Reverse display ON flips the preview image.

    Reverse display OFF presents the image as the sensor sees it.

    The resulting photo is the same in either case and the same as that given with Reverse display OFF.


    * Display mode. This is another mystery item. It refers to the refresh rate of the display, presumably in this case the monitor although it is not clear if the EVF is also affected by this setting.

    Faster refresh gives smoother panning but uses more power.

    I find that for general photography there is no noticeable difference between the Power Savingand Smooth settings so I set Power Saving to eke out a bit more life from the tiny battery.


    Camera2


    * VF display format. This applies to the EVF not the monitor screen.

    You have two options:

    Display 1 gives a larger image area but camera settings icons encroach on the left side of the image preview.

    Display 2 gives a smaller image area but only the level gauge and the AF frame are superimposed on the image area.

    Take your pick.


    * Image review. You can have this on just to check that your camera made a picture. But doing so markedly slows shot to shot times.

    Those coming from the DSLR world habitually chimp their shots because you get so little feedback from a DSLR viewfinder about the appearance of the output image.

    I set Image review Off. Don’t worry, the camera makes pictures just fine. There is no need to habitually check. If you do want to review a shot for focus or exposure just press the Playback button.


    * I dealt with touch settings in the previous post.


    * Function Assignment is dealt with in the next post.


    * Quick setting Menu (Q Set) layout.    You can allocate any of 12 items to the Q Set menu for quick access. This works like the Q menu in a Panasonic camera or the Fn button on a Sony compact.

    You can also select the order of listing.

    You can limit the number of items if you are sure there are some you will not want to use in Prepare Phase of use.


    Camera3  


    * AF operation.  This would usually be accessed via the Q Set menu.

    One shot is what it says, Servo is for when you want to follow focus on a moving subject.


    * AF Method. The choices are Face detect/tracking, Smooth zone AF and 1 Point AF.


    Face detect/tracking is no doubt designed to make the photographer’s life easier with a fairly automated type of AF function. If it does what you want then all is well. But the camera cannot read your mind so there is considerable opportunity for the focussing algorithms to lock onto  something other than that which you wanted or to fail to lock onto anything which you would interpret as the subject.


    Smooth zone AF creates a very large AF frame which can be moved about,  then the camera decides where to focus within that frame.


    I use and recommend 1 Point AF. This makes the photographer work a bit harder to specify the exact position of the AF frame but the reward is an extremely high level of accuracy and reliability.

    As I write this I have made 1500 photos with the G1X3. For those pictures where the subject was reasonably static (in other words when I was not trying to follow focus on a moving subject) I used 1 Point AF.


    The resulting pictures reveal a focus accuracy rate of 100% at the location of the AF frame.

    That is the most consistently accurate single shot AF performance of any camera which I have ever used.


    A side note on AF accuracy… For many years I used Canon DSLRs. I had the EOS20D, 40D,  450D and 60D. Before that I had several EOS film SLRs. Every one of them suffered from inconsistent and inaccurate autofocus. I gave up Canon DSLRs in disgust mainly because of this problem.

    So it is a pleasant change to find a Canon camera which delivers reliably accurate autofocus.

    It would appear that Canon has gotten their dual pixel AF system working well.


    * AF Frame size. On any modern Panasonic camera even at the budget end of the price scale, you get a plethora of choices at about this point in the setup process, from pinpoint through multiple AF frame sizes to custom AF patterns.

    But on the G1X3 you only get two choices small (which Canon calls Normal) and smaller (which Canon calls small).   Actually having used the Canon system for a while now I think that the two AF frame sizes is enough and the Panasonic approach is a bit of overkill.

    Anyway, set Normal.

    If you activate the AF frame (it goes orange) by pressing the AF Frame selector button you can toggle between the two  AF frame sizes with the lens ring.


    * Continuous AF.  Disable this. When enabled the AF system constantly hunts for focus. This will exhaust the little battery real fast for no useful purpose.


    * AF+MF.  When ON, you can half press and hold the shutter button to acquire focus then turn the lens ring which will jump the camera into manual focus so you can check on the focus manually. The camera will do this even if the lens ring is not set for MF in the Function Assignment submenu.


    * AF–assist beam firing.  Set this OFF. The AF system focusses just fine without it and the light will irritate anybody facing the camera.


    Camera4


    * MF-Point Zoom. I set this to 5x but the amount is easily changed when in MF with the > (Flash) button with which you can toggle between nil, 5x and 10x.


    * Peaking settings.  The G1X3 does have peaking but I am not yet sold on the benefits as implemented in this camera. I have seen much more “peaky” examples in other cameras. In the G1X3 I find it difficult to estimate the exact point of best focus.

    Anyway I set the level to high and the color to blue. Take your pick.


    * IS settings. You can have Off, Continuous or Shoot Only. On cameras with a long lens the Continuous setting is essential to keep the viewfinder preview steady. But that is not such an issue with this camera.

     I set Continuous out of habit but Shoot Only is probably fine.


    Camera5


    * Bracketing. I put this item on My Menu for ready access if required. You can have no bracketing, exposure bracketing or focus bracketing. With either focus or exposure bracketing you can set the EV step with the AF frame selector button (there is an on screen prompt).


    * ISO Speed.  Access this via the Q Set button.

    Scroll to the ISO Auto box and set either Auto (most often used for general hand held photography) or a set level (most useful for tripod work).

    Then press the Menu button to bring up the next submenu.

    Set a maximum ISO speed. I set 6400 as the level where luminance noise becomes objectionable to me. Some users have a much lower tolerance to noise than me so would set a lower maximum ISO speed.


    Now we come to the mysterious “Rate of Change”. This option only appears in P and Av shooting modes, not Tv or M.

    What exactly Rate of change is supposed to do remains unclear to me. It has been a feature of Canon Powershots for years. I never understood it way back then and I still don’t.


    Here is what I have discovered:


    If  rate of change is set at Fast the camera usually sets a shutter speed of 1/1000 even indoors requiring a very high ISO setting to compensate. The purpose of this eludes me.


    If rate of change is set to Slow, the camera sometimes sets a shutter speed which is too slow for safe handholding.


    If  rate of change is set to Standard, the camera often selects a shutter speed, aperture and ISO which appear appropriate for hand held photos in the current  conditions.

    BUT rather more frequently than I like,  in P mode the ISO setting goes haywire. In successive shots of exactly the same scene the ISO can vary from 100 to 800 for no reason apparent to me. The firing solution (shutter speed/aperture/ISO combination) is not stable.


    I am in the process of trying to understand what is going on here without much success. I have not encountered this strange auto ISO behaviour in any other (not Canon) camera and I have used a great many of them.  


    At the moment I find that if I use P Mode which is my preference with other cameras I have to keep a very close eye on the  shutter speed and ISO to pick up when/if they go off piste so to speak.


    An alternative might be to use Tv Mode more often. This at least appears to provide a more stable auto ISO firing solution.



    Av Mode also provides a more predictable and stable firing solution.  If light levels permit then with [Rate of change] Standard, the camera aims for a shutter speed of 1/60 at the wide end and 1/160 at the long end of the zoom range.   The shutter speed is focal length responsive and the exposure algorithm usually sets a suitable level for general purpose hand held photography.

    * Highlight tone priority. Watch out for this one. It can sometimes decide to set ISO 800 in bright sunlight presumably in the service of underexposing the highlights to protect them from blowing out.

    But I find standard exposures are not especially prone to highlight blowout (unlike the G1X1 and G1X2) and a bit of judicious exposure compensation will suffice if subject brightness range is very high.


    * Auto lighting optimiser. This is also aimed at preserving highlights while maintaining mid tone brightness. I set it to High which is giving me good looking JPGs in the often harsh light which prevails in Sydney and elsewhere in Australia.


    * Metering Mode and ND filter are on the Q Set button. I always use Evaluative metering for highest reliability in a wide range of conditions.  The ND filter can be useful with video in bright light. For stills leave it off or you get some weird exposure settings in bright light.


    * Flash Control.   The built in flash can be handy for fill flash outdoors (you can flash sync up to the fastest speed which is 1/2000 sec with the leaf shutter) and as an adjunct to available light indoors.

    I set Flash Mode to Auto and Flash Exp. Comp to -1 stop and the red eye lamp to off to avoid annoying subjects.


    Camera6


    * White Balance.  Find this more easily on the Q Set button. There are many options well described on Pages 83-85 of the User Guide.


    * Picture Style. This where you decide what settings to apply to JPG files. You can choose between the listed presets such as Auto, Standard, Portrait….etcetera. Or you can create a custom list of settings in each of the preset tabs. Press the AF Frame button to enter the submenu.

    This is a work in progress for me but my initial findings with the default settings were that my JPGs lost fine detail especially in green foliage.

    So here is a little table giving my current settings. By slightly increasing the Amount slider and reducing the Fineness and Threshold settings my pictures have regained fine foliage detail without apparent loss of quality in other aspects of the images.



    My current setting

    Default

    Maximum

    Sharpness Amount

    6

    5

    7

    Sharpness Fineness

    1

    2

    5

    Sharpness Threshold

    1

    4

    5

    Contrast

    0

    0

    +/- 4

    Saturation

    0

    0

    +/- 4

    Color tone

    0

    0

    +/- 4


    * High ISO speed Noise Reduction.  I set this to the lowest level available. In my experience the default settings for most cameras including this one deliver excessively aggressive noise reduction in JPGs to the detriment of sharpness, resolution and overall picture quality.


    * Setup for movie and Wi-Fi and wireless functions are well described in the User Guide.















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    I rested the G1X3 against one of the vertical columns for stability. Extreme subject brightness range prevails in this cathedral . Direct sun was shining on the stained glass windows above the altar. I could see little in the pews in front of the camera. The color version looks weird. Monochrome suites this subject better. Original RAW file converted in DPP4 and further worked in Adobe Camera Raw.


    I have given a separate post to this as there are many options and the opportunity cost of each function assignment is not always readily apparent and not clearly revealed in the User Guide.


    Canon is pricing the G1X3 only $50 less than an EOS80D with 18-55mm kit lens and with the current cashback deal running in Australia $320 morethan the EOS M5 with  15-45mm kit lens.

    My point is that the G1X is priced to appeal to enthusiast photographers who are going to expect a comprehensive, well considered set of controls for their money.


    No longer can Canon expect buyers to be content with limited controls on a camera just because it bears the “Powershot” label.

    In some respects the G1X3 does deliver but in others it comes up short of my expectations and I suspect those of a user who hoped it would match the ergonomics and controls of the EOS80D.


    For example: Function assignment.


    Menu>Camera2>Function Assignment>


    The discussion below is relevant to Mode Dial settings P, Tv, Av, M. Limited options apply in other Mode Dial settings.


    This is where things get a bit complicated.  Canon gives you lots of options for user assignment of function to the shutter button, * button, dials, video button and AF frame selector button.

    There are so many options that making a selection might be a bit daunting.


    I approach this problem by thinking first about what I want the camera to do and how I want it to operate.


    A key requirement for me is ready availability of back button focus/focus lock. I want to be able to lock focus on a part of the subject so the focussed distance is fixed over a series of shots. This way people or other subject elements moving about within the frame will not cause the AF system to go hunting on every shot.


    Now as it happens Canon describes a method of achieving focus lock on Page 95 of the User Guide.

    The process described is:


    1. Half press the shutter button, get the double beep and see the AF frame go green. Focus is achieved.


    2. While keeping the shutter button half pressed, press the < button (MF/Macro) Now release the shutter button and see the green MF symbol top right and the vertical MF analogue scale beneath it together with various prompt symbols and zoomed in view of the focus area..


    The camera is now in Manual Focus mode. Focus will not change when the shutter button is pressed.

    You can make a series of pictures with focus locked.


    Press Menu to ready for focus bracketing.  Press  the AF frame selector button to move the AF frame around.  Press the Flash (>) button to change zoom level.  There are on screen prompts about all this.


    3. Repeat 1 and 2 to unlock focus and return to normal operation.


    OR  press the < button twice. First time brings up the Macro/Normal/MF dialogue, the second selects Normal.


    Right, so all this works as advertised. BUT:


    The double-button-with-half-press business is slow, awkward and half the time I accidentally fully press the shutter in the process.


    That’s not what I want.  I want a single button which I can press to achieve and lock focus separately from the shutter button such that a second press on this button will deactivate the focus lock and return to normal operation.


    But try as I might, I cannot locate a way of achieving this on the G1X3.


    I did however find some alternatives which might suffice.


    Back button focus option 1  


    Go to Menu>Camera2>Function Assignment>Shutter/AE Lock> second option down, AE lock/AF.

    This means the shutter button does AE lock (and image capture)  and the * button does AF (and AF lock although the tab label doesn’t mention this).


    Now when you press the * button you get a double beep and the AF frame goes green to indicate focus achieved. Focus is also locked even though the AF frame returns to white as soon as you release the * button.


    Now you can take a series of photos with the focus locked.


    Every time you press the * button, focus acquires and locks again.


    Problem is the only way to return to normal function (meaning focus is achieved with the shutter button) is to re-enter the menu and set [Shutter/AE Lock] function back to the default which is the first option which is [AF/AE Lock]. This means the shutter button does AF (and AF lock if half pressed) and the * button does AE Lock.


    This is all a bit convoluted to put it mildly. I put [Function Assignment] on My Menu to speed up access a bit.


    Another approach is to allocate the [AF lock-by-*-button] settings to one of the Custom modes. This works well and provides a quick way to enter and exit the settings. I put those settings on Custom2.


    Note:  All the buttons other than those on the rear dial,  including the * button are small and recessed and difficult to locate by feel. I used a toothpick to put a small dab of epoxy resin on the * button, making it easier to locate by feel with the right thumb.


    Back button focus option 2


    Go to Menu>Camera2>Function Assignment>Movie button>select AFL.

    Position the AF frame as desired.


    Press the Movie button. Hear the double beep, see the AF frame go green briefly then disappear, see the AFL symbol upper right on the screen. AF is acquired and locked.


    Press the shutter button to set the exposure and make the shot.

    This also cancels the AFL setting.


    So this option is good for only one shot not for a series of shots at the same focus setting.


    AND it takes movie off the Movie button.


    So what is the best option for back button focus/focus lock ?


    In the absence of a dedicated AF-ON button none is altogether satisfactory.


    Each works after a fashion but the opportunity cost of each is significant.


    Option 3  Manual focus/scale focus


    Menu>Camera2>Function Assignment>Dials>  Note that functions can be assigned to the lens ring (Continuous ring in Canospeak), Control dial and Front dial in each of P, Tv, Av, M and Movie Modes separately.

    So if you want to confuse yourself completely you can have each of the dials doing something different in each of the shooting modes.


    Anyway for the purposes of this exercise set the function of the lens ring to MF (Manual Focus) in each of the shooting modes. I think that is the default.

    Now press the < (MF/Macro) button and select MF


    OR  just start turning the lens ring.


    Follow the instructions on Pages 89-90 of the User Guide to acquire manual focus.  The camera has peaking but after experimenting with the various options for peaking I am finding it much less useful than the same feature on other cameras which I have used. The peaking is not peaky enough so to speak.


    To exit manual focus press the < (MF/Macro) key on the rear dial.


    Scale focus  The G1X3 has an analogue manual focus scale which is useful for pre-setting a focus distance. There are markings for 1, 2 and 5 meters and infinity on the main scale and 10, 20 50 cm on the secondary scale.


    I find the 5 meter mark useful for street photography and the infinity mark (which by the way is not at the very top of the scale) useful for general scenic work.  


    Note: If you want to use manual focus but have the lens (continuous) ring set to some other function you can enter manual focus mode  by pressing the < button then focus with the up and down buttons. There are on screen prompts about this.


    Press the < button again to exit MF mode.


    A side note: while experimenting with  manual focus operation I found that the lens appears to stay in focus when zoomed, raising the possibility that it might be a parfocal, something unusual in this type of lens.


    Menu>Camera2>Function Assignment>Dials


    As noted above you can set what function will be accessed by each of the lens ring, front dial and rear(control) dials and a different set of options can be used in each of the P, Tv, Av, M and Movie Modes. There must be some reason Canon offers such a potentially confusing wealth of options.


    I try to keep things simple on principle although anyone who has read this far will be starting to appreciate that simplicity can be elusive.


    Anyway I leave the function of the front dial and rear dial at default settings.


    As for the lens ring (Continuous ring) I have been experimenting with step zoom which I like to use and manual focus. However I am finding manual focus in general photography to be less than useful. 
    The AF is so reliable and accurate that I find there is rarely any need for manual focus which not very precise anyway.


    Menu>Camera2>Function Assignment>Movie Button (the red button) and  

    AF Frame Selector button


    Canon gives you 23 options for the movie button but of course you lose [Movies] for 22 of those.

    If you do allocate something other than [Movies] to the Movie button it is still possible to make movies but not in P, Tv, Av or M Modes, by turning the Mode Dial to the Movie icon which provides [Movie Standard] settings and allows you to initiate movie capture with the Movie button.


    There are 22 options for the AF Frame selector button.


    If you change position of the AF frame with the touch screen the default function of this button may not be required.


    If you do decide to set a function other than the default for either of these buttons  think about allocating a function you will want in Prepare Phase of use.


    Items for adjustment in Setup Phase can stay in the main menu.


    Items already available on the Q Set button need not be duplicated on another button.


    Items which require adjustment in Capture Phase of use are best managed with the lens ring, front dial and rear dial.










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    The G1X3 can get close enough for large flowers like these Actinotus helianthi.


    The G1X3 gives the user lots of  choice for shooting mode with 10 positions on the Mode Dial.

    Let’s run through them:


    Auto  This is the default mode and one which I never use and do not recommend for the enthusiast user who I think will be the likely buyer of this camera.

    Auto is snapshooter’s mode in which the camera decides just about everything except zoom and framing. The user has very little control over focus point or exposure.

    I see little point in using this expensive camera in Auto mode when a smartphone or budget compact will suffice for this type of photography.


    Hybrid Auto  This is a special purpose mode to “create a digest movie when shooting still images”. I have to confess I have not used this mode yet.


    P (Program auto exposure) This is my preferred shooting mode with most cameras but not the G1X3.

    The reasons are a bit complex and have to do with the way the auto ISO algorithm works, or fails to work, with the mysterious [Rate of change] function.


    In P Mode with [Rate of change] Fast,  the camera will set a shutter speed of 1/1000 (light levels permitting and depending on the maximum ISO set). It will do this even when such a shutter speed makes no photographic sense.


    With [Rate of change] Slow the camera will try to set a shutter speed of 1/15 second indoors even if that is too slow for safe hand held work. On my tests this appears not to be focal length responsive.


    With [Rate of change] Standard the auto ISO algorithm has trouble deciding what ISO, shutter speed and aperture to select. I found over many hundreds of frames that the ISO setting changes from 100 to 800 for no reason apparent to me, producing  frequently inappropriate aperture settings and shutter speeds.  Note that the exposure is correct in each case. It is just that, for instance, 1/1000 at f2.8 and ISO 800 is not a suitable exposure for a well lit scene.


    I suspect this represents a fault in the camera’s programming which should be rectified with a firmware update.

    As far as I am concerned this glitch makes P Mode pretty much unusable.


    Tv (Time value, a.k.a. Shutter priority auto exposure)  [Rate of change] is not available in this mode.

    The firing solution (aperture/shutter speed/ISO)  in  Tv appears to be stable on my tests, Making this a recommended Mode setting. You might, for instance, be photographing grandchildren running around as they do and want  a shutter speed of say, 1/250 second to minimise blur due to subject motion. Then Tv is your friend.


    Av(Aperture value, a.k.a. Aperture priority auto exposure).  [Rate of change] is available in this mode. I use Standard for the reasons given above. This works well. Light levels permitting, the camera seeks a shutter speed of 1/60 sec at the wide end of the zoom and 1/160 sec at the long end. 

    The shutter speed is focal length responsive.


    The shutter speeds noted represent approximately the reciprocal of equivalent focal length x 2.2. This gives shutter speeds appropriate for most kinds of general purpose hand held photography.


    It is early days yet but I suspect I will be using Av for most of my general photographic work with this camera.



    The lens gives a good account of itself right from the widest aperture at every focal length. There is no need to stop down the aperture to get sharp pictures including the corners.

    Depth of field is considerable even with the lens wide open.

    At 15mm f2.8 and a focussed distance of 5 meters, depth of field extends from 2.3meters to infinity.

    At 45mm f5.6 and a focussed distance of 10 meters, depth of field extends from 6.5 to 21 meters.

    M (Manual exposure mode)    Auto ISO does operate in M mode. I use this mode infrequently as it slows down picture taking proceedings considerably. However it can be useful in some situations.


    C1 and C2  are custom modes which are very useful for memorising and retrieving groups of settings useful for particular subject or shooting circumstances.


    Standard Movie  (movie camera symbol)  This is the movie equivalent of Auto for stills. It is the snapshooters movie mode with the camera making most of the exposure and focus decisions.


    Scene    I use this exclusively for gaining access to panorama mode. I will publish a separate post about this.






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    G1X3 original JPG adjusted in Adobe Camera Raw.


    This is a summary of my main review findings of the G1X3.


    Target user  Based on the price point and the feature set I would say this camera is intended to appeal to enthusiast/expert photographers who enjoy the process of using an advanced camera for taking pictures and anticipate results which will benefit from considerable enlargement and display.


    Specifications and features  This is the advanced compact with almost everything. Fixed, good quality EVF well positioned over the lens axis, fully articulated monitor, good quality sensor and lens, good touch screen function  and a comprehensive set of controls.


    It has most of  the features you might expect on an advanced camera.


    Missing are 4K video and zebras.


    But finally a Canon has fitted one of its models with sweep panorama which is welcome.


    The camera can follow focus on a moving subject with good accuracy and consistency.


    Picture Quality 

    The sensor is the now well known Canon APS-C (27mm diagonal, 3:2 aspect ratio) model with Canon’s dual pixel autofocus which works well in this model.


    The sensor scores 77 (in the EOS 5M) and 79 (in the EOS 80D) at DXO Mark. This is a good but not class leading score for an APS-C size sensor. In fact it scores about the same as the latest Micro Four thirds sensors, although with a few more pixels to work with (24 vs 20).


    It makes good pictures in a wide variety of conditions.


    Previous iterations of the G1X theme (the Mk1 and 2) suffered from problematic highlight clipping but the G1X3 is not prone to this. Indeed highlight and shadow detail are good. Considerable information can be retrieved from RAW highlights.


    The lens is all new, never been seen before in any camera. Some people including me were disappointed with the aperture range. I was hoping for f2.0-4. Canon went for compact size over aperture so the lens is f2.8-5.6.


    I have tested the lens on a static chart, a set piece outdoors subject and about 1500 photos in general photography.


    My verdict is that the lens is very good to excellent at all focal lengths and apertures. It can be used at the widest aperture at every focal length with no impairment to image quality.


    The lens works well against the light with minimal flare.


    Chromatic aberration and purple fringing are minimal and easily corrected when present.


    Distortion is negligible.


    On my tests the lens appears it could be a parfocal, unusual in this type of camera. It appears to stay in focus when zoomed.


    The processor    JPGs offer a good balance between sharpness and smoothness.  Image appearance overall is natural with no serious problems.  Photo style parameters need some adjustment from default to reveal fine subject details.


    Performance   The camera generally responds promptly to all user inputs. It does not impede the picture taking process.


    Shot to shot time with RAW+JPG output is 0.6 seconds.


    That is good but just by way of comparison it is 50% slower than the LX100 which gives a shot to shot time with RAW+JPG output of 0.4 seconds.


    Write to card times are noticeably slow even with a fast card.

    EVF blackout time after each single shot is short. I guesstimate it at about 0.2 seconds, not enough to impede the picture taking process.


    With Servo AF and Low speed Continuous drive:


    With RAW+JPG output the camera shot 17 frames to slowdown at 3.5 fps. Time to write the images to the card was a tediously slow 35 seconds. Most camera functions lock up during this time.


    These times are markedly slower than the LX100 or any modern Panasonic camera.


    With JPG fine output the camera shot 27 frames to slowdown at 4 fps.


    Write to card time was 13 seconds.


    The message: For continuous shooting use JPG output.


    Note: during continuous shooting what you see in the viewfinder is a playback of a frame already captured, NOT a preview of the next frame.


    This means if you are trying to photograph a subject moving across the frame what you see all the time is a picture of where the subject WAS about a quarter of a second ago not where the subject is right now. This leads to framing inaccuracies. This issue is less of a problem if the subject is coming straight at or moving away from the camera.


    Single AF using 1 Point AF is very accurate and consistent in a wide variety of conditions and with different types of subject. My pictures indicate a near 100% accuracy for single AF as long as I place the AF frame over an appropriate part of the subject.


    As with many other models from other makers the G1X3 will not focus on a subject having only horizontal lines (in landscape orientation). It requires texture or vertical or diagonal lines.

    Single AF speed is very good even in low light. Perhaps not quite as super fast as the latest Panasonic and Sony models but very good nevertheless and plenty good enough for a camera of this type.


    Exposures are reliably accurate with good highlight and shadow detail.


    I will discuss Ergonomicsin a separate post.


    Summary:


    Best features 

    * DSLR/MILC level  picture quality in a small compact body.

    * Very accurate, reliable single shot autofocus using 1 Point AF.


    Not so appealing features

    * Strange, inconsistent auto ISO behaviour in P Mode with [Rate of change] Standard.

    * No dedicated back button focus.

    * Design appears to favour style (mini DSLR shape) over functionality.










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    You don't need an expensive camera to make decent pictures. I used a budget travel zoom Panasonic TZ80 for this. One of the latest smartphones would also do a good job.


    By ‘compact camera” I mean a small fixed lens modelnot the larger type usually known as “bridge camera”.

    When I Google “death of the compact camera”   up pops a profusion of opinion pieces predicting the imminent demise of this class of camera driven by the rise of computational imaging technologies in smartphones.


    Here is a quote from the 18 November 2017 Digital Photography Review analysis of the photographic capability of the Google Pixel 2 smartphone:


    Few would argue that in 2017 the mobile device industry is a major driver of imaging hardware innovation. Long gone are the days when the size of the image sensor and the aperture were the major determining factors for image quality. Instead, phone manufacturers have turned to software and computational imaging methods to achieve better detail, wider dynamic range and lower noise levels, as well as high-quality zooming and DSLR-like bokeh effects.

    High-powered chipsets with built-in image signal processors and sensors with very fast read-out times make it possible to combine image data that is captured by dual-lenses, or several frames recorded in quick succession, within milliseconds. These methods produce image quality that would have been unthinkable on a smartphone only a few years ago and often surpasses basic compact cameras.

    Thanks to those advances in software, but also new hardware concepts, such as dual-cameras, hybrid AF-systems and more powerful image signal processors, current smartphone cameras are better than ever before.”


    Actually most of the opinionistas writing about compact cameras are not predicting anything.




    They are just looking at the charts of year-on–year production figures for fixed lens cameras, showing a steep decline over the last few years.  Extend the chart line down and you hit the bottom somewhere around 2020.


    Compact cameras gone, smartphones win.


    Is that the way it will be ?


    Maybe, but maybe compact cameras will survive as niche products which might appeal to two kinds of buyers.


    One is the premium/prestige group who want something really expensive to show off to their friends.


    The other is the camera enthusiast/traditionalist/geeky mob who persist in wanting to take photos with a “real camera”.


    Consider the following:  film and film cameras, vinyl records and turntables, analogue watches and prestige motor cars.


    * Film and film cameras are dead, right ?

    Well…..not quite. Rumors of the death of film have been slightly exaggerated.  There is in fact a mini revival of film within the niche market of retro camera enthusiasts, with new film cameras being announced recently. 


    Oh and by the way just in case we should forget, one of the most popular cameras on the market today is the Fuji Instax which uses instant film and produces tiny little prints in a few seconds.

    The Instax range of cameras are cheap, cheerful and easy for children to use.


    * Vinyl records and turntables.  These things died out years ago, right ?

    Not quite. They remain popular with an enthusiast user group who support a small market for turntables and vinyl records.


    * Mechanical analogue watches. When digital watches arrived I well remember many confident predictions that the end of the mechanical watch was nigh and the death of the Swiss watch making industry was imminent. This was many years ago.


    It did not happen. Mechanical analogue watches moved upmarket and became prestige items.


    I was recently conversing with a gentleman who sells these things. He told me that he might agree to sell me one if his management approved my application to purchase (seriously, he said that) and if I was able to meet the price which started at $10,000 for an entry level model.

    My Casio basic waterproof digital watch cost $60. It keeps perfect time and runs for years on a single battery. I could buy 166 of these for the price of an “entry level”  prestige mechanical model.


    * Luxury cars. If people bought stuff based on logic and practicality and value for money the luxury/prestige car industry would not exist. I live in Sydney. In some parts of the city you can see lots of  very expensive Range Rovers driving about in congested suburbs with perpetual stop-start traffic. These vehicles with a high level of off road ability never get out of the suburbs.  You could buy a whole fleet of small cars like my very capable, practical Honda Jazz for the same money as one Range Rover.


    What do film cameras, vinyl records, mechanical watches and prestige motor cars have in common ?


    * They are (with the exception of the Fuji Instax which is completely rational) totally irrational.


    * But people want them and buy them at sometimes ridiculously inflated prices because they are “special” in some way significant to the buyer.


    The nature of that special quality is not the same for each of these things.


    Vinyl records and film cameras appeal to the enthusiast/counter technology/nerdy mob.


    Fancy analogue watches and prestige cars appeal to those seeking status symbols.


    So, where does the compact camera, or indeed any kind of camera fit into this scenario ?


    Readers of this blog will be aware that I have recently been testing and reviewing the Canon G1X3 compact camera.


    It makes good pictures, fine. But so do most of the other cameras I have tested in the last few years.

    In fact once photos are printed up or output on the web I find it very difficult to tell which camera made which picture and that includes cameras which use the very small 7.67mm diagonal sensor up to those which use the much larger 27mm diagonal (APS-C) sensor.


    When I think about the G1X3 it comes to me that there is nothing “special” about it. It is competent within its design limitations but is not particularly interesting or exciting, either to behold or to use.


    Its best feature is the reliable autofocus, but that should be a given, a necessary but not sufficient capability for a camera that anybody would want to buy.


    Digital Photography Review is currently running readers choice awards for various categories of photo device. In the “Best high end compact” section readers gave top billing to the Fujifilm X100F which attracted almost three times as many votes as the Canon G1X3.


    I have used one of these X100 cameras (I think it was the original version) and found it to be verging on ridiculous from an ergonomic point of view. The handle and thumb support are rudimentary, the controls a confusing mix of arcane and modern, the monitor is fixed and the lens does not zoom. 

    There are odd little dials here and there to fill in the functional gaps left by the traditional controls. 

    The clumsy system for changing ISO setting is borrowed from mechanical SLRs of the 1960s and is absurdly anachronistic on a modern electronic camera.

    I could go on but in terms of the user experience this is one very compromised, not-so-little compact. It is also expensive for what you get.


    So what’s the appeal ?

    It doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest so at this point I must guess.

    I think it has that “special” factor for some buyers. I suspect the main attraction for enthusiast camera buyers is the style of the X100 cameras. Within the camera genre the X100 models do in fact have a classical rangefinder  style.


    By comparison the G1X3 is just an oddly shaped little black blob of no recognisable style at all.

    I doubt the G1X3 will engender much pride of ownership in buyers.


    Functionally the G1X3 is a much better, more versatile, more capable camera but it is not getting the love from camera enthusiasts, at least not those on DPR.   


    G1X3 on the left with Mockup 15 on the right


    Can the compact camera survive ?


    I think it can but camera makers have to step up with the right products. Ideally they would produce something which can appeal to all the potential buyer groups, the fashionistas, the gear snobs and the geeky mob  (the ones who actually like using cameras)  who value capability, performance and ergonomics.


    As it happens I have already designed this camera for them.

    This is my Mockup 15 which I built two years ago as an exercise to see how much camera I could get into a small camera pouch.


    I think that if properly implemented a camera built to this design could  make lots of users happy and make really good pictures into the bargain.


    Purely by chance Mockup 15 has about the same box volume (width x height x depth) as the G1X3 although the proportions are slightly different.


    It looks larger than the G1X3 in the photos (although it is actually slightly smaller)  because


    a) it is silver so it stands out more and


    b) it “fills the box”. The width, height and depth are carried right through almost to the corners.

    It has a distinct style derived entirely from its ergonomic development. Compared to the G1X3 it has a much greater lens diameter and a much larger, fully anatomical handle with quad control set and twin dial on top and a thumb stick on the back.


    It looks like something special and if built properly would provide a really special user experience.


    Canon once made cameras in this “fat handle, fill the box” style. For example the well regarded G6 of 2004 which also had a very similar box volume to the G1X3.


    I want to see Canon regain the courage it once showed and return to this basic concept, with better implementation of course, the G6 had some weird control locations.


    I want Canon to stop its current cautious, conservative, focus group driven, design-by-committee approach to product development and go all out for the best camera that any maker could  possibly produce.


    Lots of buyers might really like that.


    As for Mockup 15, any of the mainstream camera makers could turn this into a production model right now.


    Do they dare ? probably not.




















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    Camera ergonomic score summaries


    Updated 15 December 2017 with Canon G1X3



    Camera

    Setup Phase

    Max 15

    Prepare Phase Max 15

                  Capture Phase

    Review Phase Max 5

    Total Max 100

    Holding Max 20

    Viewing Max 20

    Operating Max 25

    Sony A3500


    5

    5

    12

    7

    8

    2

    39

    Nikon 1 V2


    7

    6

    12

    10

    8

    3

    46

    Panasonic LX10

    10

    10

    5

    6

    8

    5

    46

    Panasonic GM5

    10

    10

    4

    10

    12

    2

    48

    Nikon P900


    10

    6

    13

    11

    8

    2

    50

    Sony RX100 Mk4

    8

    12

    7

    9

    11

    5

    52

    Panasonic LX100

    10

    8

    11

    10

    10

    5

    54

    Fuji X-T1

    10

    9

    9

    13

    10

    4

    55

    Canon SX60


    10

    9

    16

    11

    6

    4

    56

    Panasonic TZ110(ZS100)

    11

    12

    4

    10

    14

    5

    56

    Panasonic TZ70(ZS50)

    11

    12

    6

    10

    15

    2

    59

    Panasonic TZ80 (ZS60)

    11

    12

    7

    10

    15

    5

    60

    Panasonic TZ90 (ZS70)

    11

    12

    7

    12

    15

    5

    62

    Nikon B700

    9

    9

    18

    10

    14

    2

    62


    Panasonic G6


    11

    10

    14

    14

    15

    3

    67

    Panasonic GX80/85

    11

    12

    11

    12

    16

    5

    67

    Canon G1X Mk3

    11

    12

    10

    15

    15

    5

    68

    Panasonic GX8

    10

    12

    12

    18

    14

    5

    71

    Panasonic FZ80

    10

    12

    16

    12

    18

    5

    73

    Panasonic G7


    11

    12

    18

    18

    17

    5

    81

    Panasonic G80/85 unmodified

    11

    12

    18

    18

    17

    5

    81

    Panasonic FZ300#

    11

    12

    18

    18

    18

    5

    82

    Panasonic GH4

    11

    13

    18

    18

    19

    5

    84

    Panasonic FZ1000

    11

    13

    18

    18

    20

    5

    85

    Panasonic G80/85 modified*

    11

    13

    18

    18

    20

    5

    85

    Panasonic FZ2500

    12

    13

    18

    18

    20

    5

    86

    Panasonic GH5

    14

    14

    17

    19

    21

    5

    90


    * Panasonic G80/85  4way pad (Cursor buttons and Disp button) modified by addition of shaped Sugru pads to improve haptics. This makes the Cursor buttons, Menu/Set button and Disp button much easier to locate and operate by feel. It is particularly beneficial for users who prefer to move active AF area with the [Direct Focus Area] function.

    # Panasonic FZ300 with epoxy dab on the Disp button to make it easier to locate by feel.

    Canon G1X3 slightly modified with a dab of epoxy resin on the * button to make it easier to locate by feel and a slightly modified lens cap to make it easier to remove.




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    Without data it is difficult to tell which camera made which photo. Any one of the cameras reviewed in this post could have made this. It was in fact made with a Panasonic FZ300.

    Despite the morbid predictions of various self appointed sages it appears the compact camera is not quite dead.


    In fact Canon has recently released the brand new G1X Mk3, the second zoom compact withan APS-Csensor.  The first was the Leica X Vario of 2013, with an 18-46mm lens but no EVF.

    The G1X3 is a  much more useful device than the Leica having a built in EVF, fully articulated monitor and much more.


    I recently bought and have been testing a G1X3 and also happen to have in my camera drawer a Panasonic LX100 and a Sony RX100(4).


    So naturally I have been comparing the three cameras to see how they perform.


    It would appear that Canon, Panasonic and Sony are the only three makers still seriously competing in  the consumer fixed lens camera market.


    This comparison is interesting in that we have one model from each of the three players.


    Unique Selling Points

    I guess Canon might want its dual pixel AF, APS-C sensor to be a big selling point of the G1X3. No doubt that will be used as a marketing point. But plenty of drivers neither know nor care if their car drives the front wheels, the rear or both. So my guess would be that there might be quite a few potential buyers who are not interested in the technical details of the sensor.


    My take is that the best feature of the G1X3 is the accuracy,  consistency and speed of its  autofocus system.


    The standout feature of all the RX100 series models right from the first version is their compact dimensions, making these cameras  pocketable. This is seen as a considerable benefit by some users. 

    In addition you get very good still and video quality.

    LX100 is the only one of this group to have a true multi-aspect-ratio sensor. The image circle is the same or very nearly so in 2:3, 3:4 or 9:16 aspect ratio.  I use this feature frequently. It gives a horizontal angle of view closer to 22mm than 24mm at the wide end of the zoom in 16:9 aspect ratio.


    At introduction much was also made of the hybrid traditional/modern control system with aperture ring on the lens, shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial. Some users say they really appreciate this control system, others are not impressed, preferring the mode dial/control dial layout seen on the Canon.


    Technical stuff
    It is also interesting because one camera, the RX100(4) uses a 15.9mm diagonal sensor (so-called one inch), the next, the LX100 uses a 21.5mm (four thirds) sensor cropped to 19.2mm diagonal enabling a true multi aspect ratio capability and the third, the G1X3 uses Canon’s latest 27mm diagonal (APS-C) sensor.


    The sensor in the RX100(4) is a previous generation version from Sony. The current generation, high speed,  “one inch” sensor finds itself in the RX100(5) and RX10(4).


    The sensor in the LX100 was not the latest version of Panasonic’s 16 Mpx sensor even back in 2014 when the camera was introduced.


    The G1X3 sensor is Canon’s latest and presumably best 27mm model. It has approximately twice the area of the LX100 and three times the area of the RX100(4).


    The Canon sensor has 24 Mpx, the Sony 20 Mpx and the Panasonic in 3:2 aspect ratio has 12 Mpx.

    So with more pixels and more area the G1X3  should  deliver better image quality than the other two cameras.


    Spoiler alert- it does but only just and not in low light.


    Autofocus

    Each of these cameras has a sophisticated auto focus system which works well, even in low light levels.


    However for both still and moving subjects I rate the G1X3 AF the most consistently accurate and reliable.


    In about 1500 still photos I have not seen a single mis-focus from the G1X3 as long as I put the AF frame over some part of the subject on which it could reasonably be expected to focus.


    Note 1: I use 1-Point/1-Area AF with all three cameras. I find this more controllable and reliable than the various other “helper” type AF options.


    Note 2: None of them will focus if the subject consists of horizontal lines only (in landscape orientation).


    The LX100 will mis-focus if presented to a subject with multiple small bright lights.


    The RX100(4) mis-focusses occasionally for no reason apparent to me even in bright light. It  also cannot follow focus accurately on a moving subject.


    Lens characteristics


    Each of these cameras has a variable aperture zoom lens. The chart gives the widest aperture at each focal length (expressed as 35mm equivalent).


    Max aperture

    24mm

    28mm

    35mm

    50mm

    70mm

    G1X3

    2.8

    3.2

    4

    5

    5.6

    LX100

    1.7

    2.1

    2.3

    2.7

    2.8

    RX100(4)

    1.8

    2.5

    2.8

    2.8

    2.8


    You can see that in the middle of the focal length range at equivalent 35mm the LX100 lens has a  1.6 stops advantage over the G1X3 and the RX100(4) a one stop advantage.


    This matters in low light because each of the two cameras with a smaller sensor has a lens which  admits more light than the G1X3 allowing them to use a lower ISO setting which in turn delivers potentially better image quality.


    Lens quality

    My copy of each camera has a very good lens. Each is sharp right from the widest aperture at each focal length. Each makes very sharp, highly detailed pictures at every focal length with sharpness extending well into the corners in each case.


    Overall I rate the lens in the G1X3 as slightly better than the other two  but you have to look closely at matched test pictures  at 100% on screen to appreciate this. The superiority of the G1X3 lens is most noticeable towards the edges of the frame.

    If one were to spend one’s photographic experience taking pictures of test charts and viewing them at high zoom on screen then the G1X3 would be the clear winner. But with pictures of ordinary subjects out in the real world the advantage of the G1X3 is less obvious.


    All three lenses are decently competent against the light although each will show flare with the sun on the front element.


    The G1X3 accepts a 37mm filter. The LX100 takes a 43mm filter. The RX100(4) has a leaf type auto lens cap with no filter.


    High ISO luminance noise levels

    I tested the three cameras with my standard test subject in low light at all available ISO settings. The RAW files were converted in Adobe Camera RAW at default settings for sharpness (25),  luminance noise reduction (nil) and color noise reduction (25) viewed side by side on a sharp monitor after reducing output size of the high pixel cameras to match that of the LX100, to allow meaningful side-by-side comparison.


    At ISO 3200 I found the G1X3 had a just detectable level of advantage (less luminance noise seen as grain) over the RX100(4) and 0.5 stops advantage over the LX100.

    At ISO 6400 the G1X3 had a 0.3 stop advantage over the RX100(4) and 0.6 stop advantage over the LX100.


    This is a rather unimpressive result for the G1X3 which is only just better than either of the small sensor cameras and reinforces just how good the Sony 15.9mm sensor still is.

    Even the ageing four thirds sensor in the LX100 looks good in comparison to the G1X3.


    Low light capability

    The combination of lens aperture and high ISO noise levels give the advantage to the two smaller sensor cameras in low light levels.


    At a focal length of 35mm equivalent the LX100 has a one stop low light advantage and the RX100(4) a 0.6 stop advantage.


    In low light all three cameras focus quickly and accurately without any need for the focus assist light.


    Each gives accurate exposures.


    On my tests I could see no appreciable difference between the three in sharpness, resolution or highlight and shadow detail except that the LX100 was able to operate at a lower ISO setting all the time giving a small image quality advantage.


    Low light capability verdict:

    1. LX100

    2. RX100(4)

    3. G1X3


    Flash

    The G1X3 and RX100(4) each have a built in flash, the LX100 has a clip on flash supplied in the box.


    Each is effective in providing fill flash outdoors or  supplementary light indoors. The G1X3 and LX100 have a hotshoe so can accept accessory flash units. The LX100 is also compatible with Panasonic’s sophisticated multi unit off camera wireless flash system, not that I would expect many users to avail themselves of this.


    Outdoor/ scenic subjects

    Here the G1X3 has a small but definite advantage. With more pixels and a slightly better lens the G1X3 can capture more fine subject detail in scenic subjects than the other two cameras.


    Each has good highlight and shadow detail and minimal distortion.


    Outdoor/scenic verdict:

    1. G1X3

    2. RX100(4) = LX100


    Close-up

    This is fairly straightforward.

    If you want to photograph little things the LX100 gets in closest for the greatest subject size followed by the RX100(4) then the G1X3.


    The G1X3 is an improvement over previous G1X versions but still well behind in this company.

    None of these cameras can compete with a proper macro lens.


    Movies

    The G1X3 lacks 4K so I tested them in Full HD.  I make no pretence at being any kind of expert on video so my testing was not very sophisticated.


    I just filmed domestic scenes and viewed the film clips on screen.


    The results were fairly obvious.  The LX100 produced the most natural, sharpest and best movie picture quality. The G1X3 was the least appealing with unsharp details, un-natural color and contrast and edge artefacts.


    The G1X3 had the best autofocus making transitions from near to far subjects more quickly than the other cameras. However the other two were not disgraced. They both shifted focus reliably enough just not as quickly as the G1X3.


    So even without invoking 4K, the video verdict is:

    1. LX100

    2. RX100(4)

    3. G1X3


    Social documentary and street photography

    Each camera is very well suited to this type of work.  Each produces very good results.

    I rate the G1X3 slightly ahead because of its more reliable autofocus and slightly greater subject detail. But the others are also very good.


    My rating:

    1. G1X3 (just)

    2. LX100= RX100(4).


    Family/children at play

    Many people like to use these cameras to photograph family members including children/grandchildren at play.

    Each of these three does a fine job with fast, mostly accurate autofocus and good highlight/shadow detail.

    I rate the three cameras equal for this task.


    Panoramas

    Each camera can make sweep auto-panoramas stitched in camera.


    The G1X3 is the first Canon camera with this capability.

    I tested the three cameras on my usual landscape subject and also in various settings suitable for panorama. I have considerable past experience with the LX100 as a landscape pano camera and found it to give very good results.


    The G1X3 has the advantage that panorama can be used at any focal length. The others revert to the widest focal length for panorama. The RX100(4) has a dedicated pano icon on the mode dial. The other two have to access pano via the Scene icon on the mode dial.


    Each camera can do pano in portrait or landscape orientation with sweep in any direction.

    Considerable practice is required with each camera to get consistent results.


    The G1X3 permits the greatest sweep angle, regularly reaching around 200 degrees, the RX100(4) allows the least sweep angle.


    Overall pano image quality and best stitching integrity is achieved by the LX100.  The others make  more stitching errors particularly with foliage.


    Panorama rating:

    1. LX100

    2. G1X3 = RX100(4).


    Action

    I doubt many users would expect any of these cameras to be ideal for capturing action.

    However the G1X3 can follow focus on moving subjects very well. The problem with it is the small buffer and tediously slow write to card times.  It is much better if JPG only output is used


    I have used the LX100 for basketball with quite good results. Even with RAW+JPG output the LX100 has a decent buffer which clears decently fast. So I can fire a sequence of shots without the camera getting bogged down in its own processing.


    So best for action is the LX100 if RAW+JPG is required, and either the LX100 or G1X3 if JPG only output is suitable.


    Ergonomics

    Using my standard ergonomic scoring schedule I rate them:

    1. G1X3  score 68

    2. LX100 score 54

    3. RX100(4) score 52


    The G1X3 has the goods: the best EVF of this trio with more importantly the best eyepiece and eyecup, fully articulated monitor, twin dial controls (triple dial if you count the lens ring) and all the rest of it.


    A clear win for the G1X3.


    Summary


    If compact size is your primary criterion the choice is easy: get one of the Sony RX100 models. I recommend the Mk3, or Mk4 as best value for money.

    The G1X3 and LX100 have double the box volume (width x height x depth) of the RX100 models.


    If your preference runs towards indoor sport, low light subjects without flash, video or close ups consider the LX100 even though it is getting a bit old having been announced in September 2014.


    For the best overall user experience and results with general stills photography, family/children, street and social documentary work I recommend the G1X3.


    Comment

    If Canon had given the G1X3 an f2.0-4 lens and a sensor with better high ISO characteristics and a more anatomical handle and faster processor and better video and a few other upgrades and a more interesting shape and style, they might have had a camera of the year to sell.


    As it stands the G1X3 is a decent camera which performs competently in most situations.


    Is that enough in 2018 ??


    I suspect that description would fit the latest crop of smartphone cameras.

    My personal reaction to the G1X3 is that it falls short of  the kind of adventurous excellence which made Canon the leading brand which it is today.


    It is evidently the best Canon compact to date but let’s face it, Canon’s previous compact models have been mediocre little things unlikely to engender much excitement in anybody.


    I think that in today’s market which threatens the very existence of the camera as a type of image making device manufacturers need to produce products which are really special.


    Things with a flavour of exotica after which people will lust.


    There is nothing exotic about the cameras compared here and I can’t imagine too many people lusting after one.





















    0 0


    The G1X3 is a good street camera


    This assessment follows my standard schedule which you can read about here.


    Overall impression  The G1X has most of the elements required for good ergonomic capability but several of these are not implemented as well as they could be.


    Setup Phase of use

    The main menu system has a  reasonably coherent structure. However there are several like items scattered about the submenus and some unlike items located together. Video items are not separated from stills items.


    Canon needs to revamp the whole menu system for greater coherence putting like items together in subheadings readily understood by the user.


    There is a My Menu which is well implemented and which can readily be populated by items selected by the user.


    Menu resume operates by default which is handy for returning to oft used items.


    The graphical user interface is clear and easily read. Navigation is easy.


    Setup score 11/15

    Prepare Phase of use

    The camera is fairly easy to configure for changing conditions.


    The Q/Set button gives quick access to often needed items.


    Others are quickly available via the dials the function of which is configurable by the user and the up and left buttons.

    There are a few quirks. There is no dedicated back button for focus. The functions of the * button and shutter button are linked in ways which are not always clear from the instructions.


    Prepare Phase score 12/15


    Capture Phase, Holding

    With more ergonomic design the G1X3 could have been much better here. The mini handle provides a limited hold on the device. Shutter button height is low in relation to overall height, restricting finger purchase on the small handle.


    The front control dial is oddly placed  requiring a little move away by the right middle finger so the right index finger can turn it.


    This arrangement is completely unlike any of Canon’s EOS DSLR and some EOS M models which have a much more workable front dial position behind the shutter button which is on a proper anatomical handle.


    The thumb support is adequate.


    Holding score 10/20


    Capture Phase, Viewing


    This is implemented better than any other compact.


    There is a good quality, easy to see EVF well positioned above the lens axis with a nice eyepiece and rubber eyecup set well back from the monitor for easy viewing. Unfortunately  EVF color/contrast are not adjustable. Anything vaguely red appears a lurid orange in the EVF.


    EVF display brightness and configuration are adjustable to user preference. EVF blackout after each shot is brief (my guesstimate about 0.2 sec)


    The monitor is fully articulated and is of good quality with a well implemented touch screen capability.


    Unfortunately the monitor cannot be configured to look like the EVF. You are stuck with camera data superimposed over the lower part of the preview image, making this data sometimes difficult to read.


    Viewing score 15/20


    Capture Phase, Operating


    Primary and secondary exposure and focus parameters can be adjusted while viewing through the EVF with  a low level of disruption to grip security. Some disruption to the right hand grip is required to operate the front control dial.


    The rear dial does not move as easily or securely as the similar module on some other cameras I have used such as the Panasonic LX100 and Sony RX100(4)..


    The camera is decently easy to control in any of the shooting modes.


    The touch screen function is well implemented especially for moving the AF frame when viewing through the EVF.


    I found the * button very difficult to locate by feel so I dropped a little dab of epoxy resin on it with a toothpick. Now I can find it easily by feel.


    I find the lens cap really irritating. As supplied the finger lugs are inadequate, making the cap difficult to grip. I raised their profile with some polyester resin which fixed that problem. But the cap is still sometimes difficult to remove as the grooves appear to get stuck, requiring a bit of a wrestle to get the cap off.


    Operating score 15/25


    Review Phase

    All the basic functions listed in the review schedule are enabled. The user can scroll from one review image to the next at the same level of zoom and at the same location on the frame.

    Many functions can be performed in review phase.


    Review score 5/5

    Total score 68/100


    Comment

    This is the best ergonomic score to date for a compact camera. However I have to say the competition thus far has been decidedly unimpressive.



    Canon could easily improve this score considerably with a redesign within the envelope of the dimensions of the G1X3.


    0 0

    The cameras in this comparison. From the left, FZ1000, FZ2500, RX10M4, FZ300


    My dream camera is one which can do everything, never requires changing lenses, is reasonably compact and reasonably affordable.


    Camera makers are well aware of the potential market for such a device and have for years offered a range of models which attempt to fulfil the brief.


    With no background in interchangeable lens cameras it is not surprising that Sony was early into the market with all purpose-do everything models.


    One of the earliest was the Cybershot DSC-D770 of 1999.


    This was about the same size and weight as the current RX10Mk4.


    It had a one megapixel sensor and the lens covered a focal length range of 28-140mm.


    Sony returned to this camera type at various times over the years but it was not until their “one inch” (actually 8.8x13.2mm, 15.9mm diagonal) sensor found its way into consumer models that the genuinely “do everything” camera started to look more like it could become a reality.


    In the bridge camera genre the RX10 appeared in 2013 with a DSLR-like shape and a constant f2.8 24-200mm lens. This model had little appeal for me due to the limited zoom range and poor ability to follow focus on moving subjects.


    In due course Sony allowed other makers to purchase their 15.9mm sensor.  


    Panasonic’s response to the RX10 was the FZ1000 with double the zoom range and much better follow focus capability.


    The FZ1000 was the first camera which convinced me that I could give up all interchangeable lens models and do everything with just one camera.


    In due course I added a wide aperture compact for interior low light situations.

    However the FZ1000 has been the most important single camera model for me because of the change it made possible to my photographic practice.


    It seems others are of like mind. The FZ1000 was announced in June 2014 so it is now over three years old but still available new and still selling well according to vendor listings.


    I often read posts on user forums from FZ1000 owners who also found this camera allowed them to give up all their interchangeable lens gear with no regrets.


    Sony followed up the RX10 with a Mk2, still with the 24-200mm lens then the Mk3 with a new and very impressive 24-600mm f2.4-4 lens of very good quality. Unfortunately the Mk3 still lacked a convincing follow focus capability.


    This deficiency was at last rectified with the RX10 Mk4 which has impressive ability to hold focus on fast moving subjects.


    Panasonic released the FZ2000/2500 towards the end of 2016. I see this as a complement to the FZ1000 but with enhanced video capability, rather than a replacement for it. 


    The FZ300 was announced in July 2015. This in my view is easily the best of those bridge cameras which have the very small so-called ½.3 inch (actually about 4.5x6.2mm) sensor. Although the FZ300 lens and sensor have the same specs as those of the previous FZ200, I find the FZ300 a much better camera with very responsive performance and good handling.


    I have included the FZ300 in this comparison because on its own merits it is a very capable and versatile model which can make pictures good enough for most people most of the time in most photographic circumstances.


    When I first thought of doing this four way comparison I envisaged it as a multi part work with detailed analysis and comparison of the features and capabilities of each model.


    But after using the RX10Mk4 for a week and several thousand exposures it has become clear that this camera has clearly better picture quality and performance than any of the others, making it the obvious winner of  the comparison and clearly best of the bridge camera genre, notwithstanding its ergonomic limitations.


    Sony RX10 Mk4

    This model retains the excellent lens and many other features including the body and most of the hardware from the RX10 Mk3 and adds on chip phase detect autofocus plus several refinements including a big speed boost to produce the best all-in-one bridge camera that has ever been made.


    The RX10 Mk4’s specifications, features, capability, image quality and performance are all clearly better than the other models reviewed here.


    For those prospective buyers who are not daunted by the price, look no further. If you want the best here it is.


    For those who might be deterred by the price, wait for the deals which vendors offer at various times.

    The RX10M4 offers continuous autofocus for stills at 24 frames per second, the highest rate ever achieved by any camera and higher than even the flagship A9.


    I  can’t find a use for this in my photographic practice. In fact I find even the Medium rate of 10 fps a bit faster than I need and yet the slow rate of 3 fps a bit too slow. An intermediate 6 fps would suit the work I do just fine.


    I guess with the 24fps rate Sony is maybe doing two things


    a) Saying “cop that you lot” to the other makers, establishing dominance in the camera specs “more and faster” contest and maybe


    b) Moving forward to eventually merging stills and video into one capture type with variable frame rate.


    The weakness of the RX10M4 (and the previous RX10 variants) is the ergonomics.


    The Human-machine interface (HMI) as the technical  people call it.


    This is blighted by numerous faults and deficiencies which I will detail in another post. Suffice to say here that none of these is sufficiently egregious as to form an insurmountable barrier to purchase.


    Panasonic FZ1000

    Now getting a bit old the main appeal of the FZ1000 for the new camera buyer is its great value for money. Depending on the retailer and the deals on offer you can get almost three of these for the price of one RX10Mk4.


    The FZ1000 still makes really good pictures and for those who find  400mm a long enough  focal length it can be a very attractive option.


    On my recent testing I found the ability of the FZ1000 to follow focus on moving subjects  less accurate and consistent than the RX10Mk4.


    There can also be significant lens quality variation between copies of the FZ1000 although the RX10M4 also appears to suffer from this on occasion, based on user forum reports.


    Panasonic FZ2000/2500

    This camera has easily the best handling and ergonomics of the four models compared here. All camera makers (including Panasonic !!) should note carefully how the user interface and the controls of  the FZ2500 have been designed.  It is a real photographer’s camera, a pleasure to control like a sports car.


    Unfortunately this camera is let down by its lens.  On its own merits the lens in the FZ2500 is not bad, (although some lenses on early release copies were reported to be unstisfactory) it is just not up to the standard of that in the RX10Mk4.


    Over hundreds of photos of matched subjects I found the lens on the RX10Mk4 delivered sharper pictures than that of the FZ2500 at all focal lengths.


    Panasonic FZ300

    This is the smallest, lightest and least expensive of the group. I have used the FZ300 extensively and have become well acquainted with its capabilities. I rate the image quality achievable from this camera with RAW output and careful use to be at the upper end of what I could get from 35mm film and good quality prime lenses back in the film days. Add in nice handling, a very nice viewfinder, fast performance, ability to capture BIFs and that interesting 25-600mm f2.8 lens and you have quite an attractive package.


    What’s more you can get almost four of these, new,  for the price of one RX10M4.

    If somebody told me that I have to use the FZ300 and only the FZ300 for the rest of my life, I would not be too distressed. I would just buy a clip on flash for indoor work and carry on making decently good photos.


    Recommendations


    1. If you want the best, forget the rest, get the RX10M4.


    2. Those who use their camera primarily for video may be very well pleased by the FZ2500.


    3. For the best value for money in a bridge camera used mainly for still photos, either the FZ1000 or FZ300 can do a good job. The FZ1000 with the larger sensor has better image quality but the FZ300 is smaller, is weather protected, has a longer, wider aperture lens and costs less.  Note that both the FZ1000 and FZ300 can also make good quality 4K video.


    What about the Canon G3X?

    A 500mm supertelephoto lens and no EVF. What on earth were they thinking ???

    A camera which takes several seconds to recover from one RAW shot. Who did they think would buy this thing ???

    A long zoom camera with no effective ability to follow focus on moving subjects.  Why ???


    Canon has fallen waaaayyyy behind Sony and Panasonic in the bridge camera space.


    What about Nikon and the rest of them ? Missing in action mostly.

    Nikon does still have the P900 and the B700 which make decent photos considering their tiny sensors. But their performance is tediously and frustratingly slow.


    What can Panasonic do now ?

    We shall find out in due course I guess but to speculate:

    They could try to match the RX10M4 point for point. This would mean starting with the excellent body of the FZ2500 and fitting a lens to match the Sony in every respect plus an upgrade to the DFD AF-C capability. My guess is they could do this and the result would likely cost about the same as the RX10M4.

    If the FZ2500 had a lens and AF-C capability to match the RX10M4 it might have come out on top of this comparison.

    Or maybe they could pull a rabbit out of a hat and come up with a greatly improved small sensor, which would allow a smaller overall body/lens size.

    We shall see.

    I think they have to do something though and fairly soon before big discounts make the RX10M4 more attractive financially.


    Size and mass specifications all as measured by me

    Model

    Width

    mm

    Height mm

    Depth with filter and lens cap mm

    Box volume c.c.

    w x h x d

    Filter diameter

    mm

    Mass with battery, card, filter, lens cap, lens hood

    Sony RX10Mk4

    132

    95

    157

    1969

    72

    1170

    Panasonic FZ1000

    137

    99

    138

    1872

    62

    890

    Panasonic FZ2500

    138

    103

    144

    2047

    67

    1055

    Panasonic FZ300

    131

    92

    124

    1494

    52

    750


    You can see that the FZ2500 has the greatest box volume. The extra width compared to the RX10M4 makes a fatter and more comfortable handle possible together with a control layout which requires fewer actions each less complex.  The extra height allows a larger eyepiece and eyecup to be fitted for more comfortable viewing.

    The extra length of the RX10M4 makes it more difficult to fit into standard camera bags.












    0 0


    Dolce Vita Sydney Harbour
    RX10M4 Shot from a moving ferry
    Straight out of camera JPG


    The RX10Mk4 is the best  bridge camera you can get right now with a level of picture quality and performance which surpasses other models on the market including those from Sony. 


    The RX10M4 really does make an interchangeable lens kit redundant for many enthusiast photographers.


    Unfortunately the least well implemented aspect of the RX10M4 is the user interface in all its aspects. This detracts somewhat from the user experience in both the Setup and Capture Phases of use. It is the reason the RX10M4 did not get a Camera Ergonomics camera of the year award for 2017.


    Fortunately none of the ergonomic deficiencies are of sufficient magnitude as to prevent me from keeping the RX10M4 and making it my go-to camera for most purposes.


    However there are many small to medium level ergonomic problems which together lead to user frustrations which could easily have been eliminated with better design.


    I will try to illustrate these using descriptions, photos and comparison with the Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 which manages to deliver optimal ergonomics in almost every aspect of camera operation.  

    The weak links in the FZ2500 imaging chain is the specification and optical performance of the lens and the antediluvian auto ISO programme.


    Let’s start with the overall concept and realisation of the package. Sony has done a remarkable job in fitting a 24-600mm (equivalent) lens and a 15.9mm sensor into a very compact package.


    The RX10M4  has actually 6mm less width and 8mm less height than the FZ2500.


    The lens is longer as you would expect, but the diameter of the Sony lens housing (80mm) is actually less than that of the Panasonic (83mm) yet the Sony filter is larger (72mm) than the Panasonic (67mm).


    RX10Mk4 rear 


    But there is an ergonomic price to be paid for this restricted body height and width.  Basically it means there is less real estate there for the various viewing and control modules which must be fitted.


    There is insufficient width for a fully articulated rear screen.


    The handle width is restricted and consequently the handle is forced to be of the thin type which cannot be shaped to conform to the anatomy of the hand and fingers as easily as a fatter handle type. 

    You have to use the cameras for a while to appreciate this.


    The RX10M4 handle is serviceable, but it could be better if the designers had more width to work with.


    Height available for the viewfinder eyepiece and eyecup is limited. Again the one supplied is serviceable but could be better if more space had been available.


    The control panel (the area to the right of the monitor screen) on the RX10M4 is about 5mm narrower than that on the FZ2500. This might not sound like much but it restricts the width available for the thumb support which is much wider on the FZ2500 allowing the thumb to adopt a more natural position and at the same time opening up a space above the thumb support for the rear dial. Panasonic could have elected to embed the rear dial in the thumb support (as per the FZ1000 and GH4/5) which is my preferred location, but elected not to, I know not why.


    The next big body shape item to consider is the slope of the shoulders. The top deck of the RX10M4 slopes down considerably on the right side. Presumably this has been done in the quest to make the body appear compact. The downside is that shutter button height and handle height are restricted. Users with small hands will be able to get a full five finger grip on the handle but those of us with slightly larger hands may not. This is not a huge deal but is not trivial either as the camera weighs 1170 grams ready to go. A good solid grip on the device is essential particularly when working at the long end of the zoom.


    It occurs to me that there is no identifiable Sony styling or control layout  theme here.


    Check out the Alpha A7 and A9 models which have a hump top but a flat top panel and the Alpha A6000/6300/6500 models which have a flat top, no hump style.


    Why are they all different ??  The same people with the same hands are expected to use them.


    RX10Mk4 on the left, FZ2500 on the right. This is one of those situations where a photo does not tell a thousand words. To the casual observer these two cameras might seem very similar. But in practice one handles much better than the other.


    Now let us look at the top deck where we find something really strange — an LCD panel.


    LCD panels were introduced to digital SLRs because the optical viewfinder on this camera type can display only a limited amount of camera data.


    But the RX10M4 has an electronic viewfinder and an electronic monitor screen both of which can display vastly more information than the LCD panel (or not, if you prefer) and the data displayed is user selectable.


    So what is the LCD panel doing there ??


    I can tell you for sure it is taking up some of the most valuable real estate on the camera and preventing the Mode Dial from being located there.


    In my use of the RX10M4 I NEVER  look at the LCD screen. It is useless. Redundant. Actually it is worse than useless, because of the opportunity cost to the entire control layout of having the LCD panel where the Mode Dial should optimally be located.


    To the right of the LCD panel we find a dedicated exposure compensation dial. These things have been fitted to all manner of cameras in the last few years, from compacts to full sized ILCs.


    In my view they are an ergonomic mistake. Why ?


    A much more versatile arrangement is to have two control dials on top of the camera. The user can then decide what to do with them. One option would be to use the rear (or front if preferred) dial for exposure compensation. This gives the user the option to configure the camera to personal preference.


    It also allows the user to configure exposure compensation to re-set to zero whenever the camera is switched on, or to enable the set level of compensation to be retained if desired.


    With a dedicated exposure compensation dial none of these options is available.


    The argument for the dedicated EC dial is that the level of compensation can be seen on the dial. 

    Which some users might rate a benefit except that you cannot see the dial when looking through the viewfinder and adjusting exposure with the zebras as a guide.


    As it happens the EC dial on the RX10M4 is quite stiff and getting the thumb onto it with enough force to turn the dial is quite an awkward procedure, requiring one to stop taking photos, shift the whole right hand upwards allowing the thumb to move forwards.


    By way of contrast the rear dial on the FZ2500 is easy to access and turn with the thumb but it is not so easy to turn that the dial moves inadvertently.


    If you have an opportunity to get both cameras in hand at the same time you will quickly discover this for yourself.


    What’s missing from the RX10M4 top plate ?


    We already saw that the Shooting Mode Dial had to move over to the left side.


    But now the Drive Mode dial has nowhere to go so on the RX10Mk4 it disappears into one of the buttons with user assignable function. That’s not the end of the world, but  Drive Mode is actually one of the functions which it is useful to be able to see directly in Prepare Phase of use.


    Now notice there are no control dials on the top plate. OOPS !


    The optimal location for a front control dial is behind the shutter, Canon style. If the handle is well designed and the shutter button optimally positioned then behind the shutter button is the best location for the front control dial.  An alternative arrangement which can work well is the Panasonic/Olympus style “around the shutter button” circular type front dial.


    The optimal location for the second control dial is either embedded in the upper part of the thumb support as per the GH3/4/5 and FZ1000 or on top of the thumb support as per the FZ2500, FZ300 and several other cameras.


    Unfortunately The RX10 series designers lost the plot completely on the subject of control dials. 

    There are two of them but they are both badly located and implemented.


    The upper rear dial is sitting under the right thumb in normal shooting position. So it must be set forward to avoid accidental activation. It is also small with fine serrations making it difficult for the thumb to engage confidently with it.


    The lower control dial surrounds the multifunction module low down on the control panel. A camera like this needs one of these in addition to not instead of a proper high mounted rear control dial.


    All the buttons on the back of the camera are too small and are flush with the surface or nearly so. 

    This makes it very difficult to find any of them by feel. I put a small dot of clear epoxy resin on the AEL and C3 buttons so I can more easily find them by feel.


    The focus mode rotary switch is located in a most inconvenient place, on the front of the body near the bottom where the user cannot see it from the operating position.


    The equivalent switch  on the FZ2500 is right next to the thumb where the user can easily see and operate it.


    Now we come to the aperture ring. I have been using cameras for 64 years. For most of that time the only way to change the lens aperture on any camera was to fit some kind of ring around the lens, connected to a gear mechanism which changed the position of the aperture diaphragm blades.


    But on modern lenses the aperture diaphragm is operated by a little motor of some kind.  This can be triggered via any kind of control point located anywhere on or off the camera.


    The old fashioned aperture ring is redundant.  Worse, the RX10M4 forces you to change aperture with this ring and by no other method.


    The RX10M4 is a “Mode Dial+Control Dial” camera. The aperture cannot be adjusted directly unless the shooting mode dial is in the A or M position.


    So to change aperture you have to move the mode dial to the required position and then use the whole left hand and several fingers to move the aperture ring. This requires many more actions, each more complex than changing aperture with a front or rear control dial which can be done with just one finger if the dials are properly located and configured.


    The other obvious issue is that the lens on the RX10M4 has a variable aperture so if the aperture ring is set at say, f2.4 that will only be the actual aperture at 24mm focal length. Only if the marked aperture is f4 or a greater f number can you be sure the marked aperture will correspond to the actual aperture.


    The inclusion of an aperture ring on a camera like the RX10M4 is a complete ergonomic absurdity.


    Now for some minor matters:


    The memory card can be awkward to extract. I cannot get my finger between the card slot cover and the card itself. So I have to grab the card by the sides. No big deal just another minor inconvenience which did not need to be there.


    About the lens hood: There is a trick to getting the lens hood on and off its mount cleanly. Squeeze the hood at the sides, not top and bottom. Then it goes on and off easily with the petals facing forwards or backwards.


    And so we come to the Menus.


    Sony has been inflicting clumsy, badly designed menus on its long suffering camera users for many years. I am informed by those with experience that the RX10M4 menu system is an improvement on that of the Mk3 and previous iterations of the line.


    That’s welcome, but Sony has still a long way to go before I could say the menu system is decently user friendly.


    The designers have tried to clean up the layout with subheadings and that is a step in the right direction to be sure.


    But video items are still in with stills items. There are still too many like items in different places in the system and too many unlike items lumped together.


    There are way too many mystery items with abbreviated names the meaning of which is, to put it mildly,  not clear.  [Swt.V/H AF Area] for instance.  There are many others like this. 


    There is an on line Help Guide (with a PDF version if desired)  which is useful for unravelling the secret of some of the mystery items but not all of them.


    There is an [in camera guide] which can be allocated to one of the buttons with user selectable function. Problem is, the words offered by the in camera guide are often just as cryptic as those it is supposed to explain.


    There are way too many menu items altogether. Together they look like the results of a shopping spree where the buyer bought a whole load of stuff because it was on special and hoped that somebody might find a use for it someday.


    There are many items pertaining to focus which appear to be of dubious usefulness to me.


    So the whole menu system is cluttered up with items which I very much doubt many owners will use.


    At the same time very important items which every owner who wants to use the P,A,S,M modes will definitely want to use such as [Focus Standard] are buried deep in the submenus, are cryptic in name and their function is not explained.


    As it happens [Focus Standard] is the function you need to assign to the center button if you want to use that button to activate the AF frame so the position of the frame can be moved and its size can be changed.


    The user experience

    With so many ergonomic problems the reader might be excused for thinking the camera would be almost unusable. But in practice it is not so bad.


    The reasons are:


    Once the setup process is completed (I will wrestle with this in another post) and selected functions assigned to the 9 modules which can be user configured, then making function selections in Prepare 

    Phase of use is quite easy. Of course you have to remember which function you allocated to which button but that applies to any modern camera.


    Most of the time the camera works just fine in P Mode.


    There is little need to adjust anything beyond zoom and AF frame position during the process of taking photos.


    The process of moving AF frame position can be streamlined by leaving the focus frame active as shown by the bounding arrows. Then the AF frame position and size can be moved directly with the rear dial/buttons.


    The secret to P Mode success is the excellent if cryptically named Sony [ISO Auto Min.SS].


    This is the best auto ISO programme in the business. It is focal length responsive, essential on a superzoom camera, and can be set to Standard, which preferentially selects a shutter speed 1/focal length (equivalent) or to Slow, Slower, Fast or Faster.


    The setting can be saved as part of a Memory Recall set allocated to the MR spot on the Mode Dial.


    I use P Mode most of the time for hand held work only reverting to A Mode when the camera is on a tripod.


    So the RX10M4 is a camera which despite its rather low (for a flagship model)  ergonomic score of 72/100 works decently well in practice once it has been set up to the user’s preferences and once the user has figured out how to get the best from it.











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    At Circular Quay  RX10Mk4    JPG straight out of camera



    Camera

    Setup Phase

    Max 15

    Prepare Phase Max 15

                  Capture Phase

    Review Phase Max 5

    Total Max 100

    Holding Max 20

    Viewing Max 20

    Operating Max 25

    Sony A3500


    5

    5

    12

    7

    8

    2

    39

    Nikon 1 V2


    7

    6

    12

    10

    8

    3

    46

    Panasonic LX10

    10

    10

    5

    6

    8

    5

    46

    Panasonic GM5

    10

    10

    4

    10

    12

    2

    48

    Nikon P900


    10

    6

    13

    11

    8

    2

    50

    Sony RX100 Mk4

    8

    12

    7

    9

    11

    5

    52

    Panasonic LX100

    10

    8

    11

    10

    10

    5

    54

    Fuji X-T1

    10

    9

    9

    13

    10

    4

    55

    Canon SX60


    10

    9

    16

    11

    6

    4

    56

    Panasonic TZ110(ZS100)

    11

    12

    4

    10

    14

    5

    56

    Panasonic TZ70(ZS50)

    11

    12

    6

    10

    15

    2

    59

    Panasonic TZ80 (ZS60)

    11

    12

    7

    10

    15

    5

    60

    Panasonic TZ90 (ZS70)

    11

    12

    7

    12

    15

    5

    62

    Nikon B700

    9

    9

    18

    10

    14

    2

    62


    Panasonic G6


    11

    10

    14

    14

    15

    3

    67

    Panasonic GX80/85

    11

    12

    11

    12

    16

    5

    67

    Canon G1X Mk3

    11

    12

    10

    15

    15

    5

    68

    Panasonic GX8

    10

    12

    12

    18

    14

    5

    71

    Panasonic FZ80

    10

    12

    16

    11

    17

    5

    71

    Sony RX10Mk4

    9

    14

    12

    16

    16

    5

    72

    Panasonic G7


    11

    12

    18

    18

    17

    5

    81

    Panasonic G80/85 unmodified

    11

    12

    18

    18

    17

    5

    81

    Panasonic FZ300#

    11

    12

    18

    18

    18

    5

    82

    Panasonic GH4

    11

    13

    18

    18

    19

    5

    84

    Panasonic FZ1000

    11

    13

    18

    18

    20

    5

    85

    Panasonic G80/85 modified*

    11

    13

    18

    18

    20

    5

    85

    Panasonic FZ2500

    12

    13

    18

    18

    20

    5

    86

    Panasonic GH5

    14

    14

    17

    19

    21

    5

    90


    * Panasonic G80/85  4way pad (Cursor buttons and Disp button) modified by addition of shaped Sugru pads to improve haptics. This makes the Cursor buttons, Menu/Set button and Disp button much easier to locate and operate by feel. It is particularly beneficial for users who prefer to move active AF area with the [Direct Focus Area] function.

    # Panasonic FZ300 with epoxy dab on the Disp button to make it easier to locate by feel.

    Canon G1X3 slightly modified with a dab of epoxy resin on the * button to make it easier to locate by feel and a slightly modified lens cap to make it easier to remove.

    Sony RX10Mk4 with a dab of clear epoxy resin on the AEL and Fn3 buttons to make them easier to locate by feel.




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    Surf race start. RX10M4 at 600mm equivalent.



    The RX10 Mk4  has a  high level of specifications, features, picture quality and performance but is let down somewhat by mediocre ergonomics which could be greatly improved with relatively minor modifications to design details.


    Setup Phase of use

    Here the user encounters Sony’s interpretation of the menu system. Sony does appear to be improving its menus with successive models but still has some considerable way to go in the quest for a decently pleasing user experience.

    There has been progress with grouping items together. So for instance we have AF1, AF2, Exposure 1, Exposure 2, Quality/Image size 1, Quality/Image size 2, and so forth. This is a step in the right direction.

    But movie items are still grouped in with stills items and even after considerable use I find myself having to trawl through many items to find the one which I seek.

    There are way too many cryptic and mystery items. Unfortunately the in camera menu guide (which can be allocated to a  button) is often just as cryptic and of little help.

    There is a well implemented My Menu which is a good place to gather frequently accessed items.

    There is an on line Help Guide available through Sony national websites. There is a link in the Help Guide to a downloadable PDF version of the same guide.

    This (593 page !) guide is essential reading for the user wanting to understand how the RX10M4 works. Unfortunately despite its many pages there are still some functions which I found difficult to understand and which I thought were not well explained by the help guide.

    One of the biggest problems with the menus is that there are so many items, many of which it seems to me are of unclear value. I will post a series on setting up the RX10M4 soon in an attempt to clarify some of the more confusing features.


    Setup score 9/15


    Prepare Phase of use

    This is the few minutes one takes to reconfigure the camera for a new photographic situation. This could be moving from outdoors to indoors or from landscape to sport/action and so forth.

    The RX10Mk4 mostly manages this quite well.

    There are 9 buttons with user assignable function plus the Mode Dial, rotary focus mode switch and rear dial.

    In addition there are two memory recall functions, one reached via the MR position on the mode dial the other assignable to one of the buttons. These can be confusing to set up as they each work in a different way and have a different set of user assignable functions. But once set up they do work.

    The focus mode rotary switch is badly placed on the front of the body where it is invisible in normal use and it is also very difficult to set by feel.

    I rate the LCD panel as useless and a waste of valuable camera top plate real estate.


    Prepare Phase score 14/15


    Capture Phase, Holding

    The handle and thumb support are serviceable but could easily have been  much improved if the designers had allowed the body to be a bit wider. This would allow a fatter, taller, more anatomical handle and a wider thumb support.


    Holding score 12/20


    Capture Phase, Viewing

    Viewing arrangements are generally good. The EVF and monitor are both of high quality with a fast refresh rate particularly with continuous high speed shooting. Both use the desirable  “viewfinder” style with key camera data outside the image area. The font style of the data could be fatter for better readability.

    The EVF eyecup is serviceable but could be larger and softer to advantage.

    The monitor is of the swing up/down type. It is not fully articulated.


    Viewing score 16/20


    Capture Phase, Operating

    The great saving grace of the RX10M4 is that once set up it can be operated mainly in P Mode due to the excellent [ISO Auto Min. SS] algorithm. Thus adjustment of focus and exposure parameters is not often required during a shooting session.

    Which is a good thing because making those adjustments is nowhere near as smooth and efficient as it should be.

    I identify along list of sub-optimal controls which could easily have been designed better at no cost.

    The LCD panel pushes the Mode Dial off to the left where it in turn pushes to Drive Mode dial off the hard dials altogether and the Focus Mode switch down to the bottom front of the body where is effectively invisible.

    There is no top/front dial and no top/rear dial, an incredible omission on a flagship camera at this price point. The upper/rear dial provided is awkward to operate and feels mushy.

    All the buttons are small, flat and recessed. I put a dab of epoxy resin on the AEL and C3 buttons to make them easier to locate by feel.

    The Exposure Compensation dial cannot be repurposed and is stiff.

    The presence of an aperture ring on a modern electronic camera with a variable aperture zoom is a clumsy anachronism. A standard Canon style top/front dial behind the shutter button is a much more effective way to control aperture using fewer, less complex actions than are required by the aperture ring.


    Operating score 16/25


    Review Phase

    The RX10Mk4 manages this phase well. One flick of the zoom lever brings up the review image at 100% at the focussed point. Scrolling between frames at the same point and level of enlargement is easy.  The camera provides for many user specified options in Review Phase but I find most of them un-necessary.


    Review score 5/5


    Total score 72/100

    Comment

    For a high performance flagship type model this is a rather low score. Even the humble little Panasonic FZ300 manages better with 82.


    But the RX10M4 makes better pictures so these days I take out the RX10M4 and leave the FZ300 at home.


    Sony can and should do much better ergonomically.




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    Pied cormorant,  RX10M4

    The RX10Mk4 is one of the most capable bridge cameras you can buy at the moment. It has a very large number of features and capabilities and offers the user the opportunity to configure many aspects of the camera to personal preference. This is a wonderful thing but the number of options creates so many permutations and combinations as to baffle the new user and even some more experienced ones.

    It is now several months since the RX10Mk4 was released but there are still many busy discussions on user forums about how to get the camera set up properly with different interpretations of the process and numerous differences of understanding about how the many and various options interact with each other.

    The process is complicated by Sony’s use of many cryptic and mystery menu items together with complex processes for setting up many of the available functions.  Of course Sony is not alone in this, all the camera makers are guilty to some extent.

    Hence this series of posts. As with all my ‘setting up” posts this series began with my need to figure out how the camera works. Having done so at least to my own satisfaction in most cases I find it useful to clarify my findings by presenting them in a public forum, subject to external scrutiny.



    Readers please note: There are literally billions of different ways to set up the RX10M4. Each individual user will have his or her ideas about what is required and those ideas will very likely evolve over time with experience.
    So please take my suggestions as a starting point for your own voyage of discovery around this complex camera.
    Please experiment with all manner of different settings particularly in the early days of ownership but be aware that in due course you have to remember what settings have been allocated to which buttons/dials/switches and you need to train your brain memory and muscle memory to make the appropriate actions in each photographic situation.
    That means arriving at a collection of settings which work for you.

    Beginners to camera photography can leave the RX10M4 in Auto (green) Mode and fire away. The camera will make fine photos.


    The Help Guide

    The camera ships with a printed 37 page Instruction Manual which is definitely worth reading carefully to identify the camera parts and make initial settings for operation.

    The much more comprehensive (almost 600 pages) Help Guide is available as an online document from any Sony national website. Scroll through to the support section from the product information. On the front page of this document you will find a link to a downloadable PDF version of the same document.

    I strongly suggest any new RX10M4 owner plod through this document with camera in hand. It will take a while.

    Please refer to pages 20-27 and 47-75 of the Help Guide for more information about making the camera ready for basic photography in Auto Mode.

    I want to press on with suggestions for using the camera in one of the P,A,S,M and MR  modes which allow a great deal more user control.


    At purchase

    When you buy the camera be sure to purchase with it the following items:


    * A high quality 72mm protect filter. I use best quality (go by price) Hoya or B+W filters. These protect the (expensive !) front element of the lens with no detriment to image quality at all.  It is MUCH safer and easier to clean the filter than the front element of the lens.


    * At least one, preferably two if you plan to use the camera for lots of photos each day, NP-FW50 batteries and a charger. The camera ships without a separate charger although it does enable in-camera battery charging by USB connector. The separate charger allows you to use the camera and charge a battery at the same time. As the batteries take a long time to charge this is useful.

    I use and recommend the Sony battery+charger kit ACC-TRW-W series which consists of one battery and a charger unit.


    * A generic or Sony branded screen protector. Fit this immediately after photographing the   camera (see below) as the monitor screen cannot be turned inwards for protection.


    * A microfiber cloth for cleaning the lens filter, EVF eyepiece and monitor screen. Keep this in a small plastic Ziploc bag.


    * A cheap generic wrist strap. Some people like to fit the neck strap, I never do. I find it much more convenient to carry the camera in a shoulder bag without the neck strap which I find forever gets in the way when I am making photos.


    * A carry bag. I am currently using an old Lowe Pro Apex 140 AW. However these are no longer available and this model is over sized for purpose anyway.

    Other suggestions include Lowe Pro Adventura SH 140 (2), One of the Lowe Pro Urban models, Manfrotto Amica 30, Benro Element S20.

    The best way to carry a camera in a shoulder bag is with lens axis horizontal, handle up. This way it is always easy to grab the camera by the handle and remove it quickly. I have over the years tried several of the top load zoom type bags and been frustrated by them every time.  


    Unboxing


    * Check that your camera came in a sealed box. If not find out why. Check for any evidence the unit is not new (if it was sold as new).


    * Put on clean gloves and before you do anything else photograph the camera, before you touch it with your bare hands and before it gets covered in thousands of tiny little bits of skin. Assume that sooner or later you will sell every camera you buy and having pristine photos comes in very handy at selling time.


    That pesky lens hood

    The lens hood mounts with a bayonet type fitting with the petals facing forward for photos and backward for transport and storage. The main thing to remember is that when fitting or removing the hood in either position grip the hood by the sides, not top and bottom. Do this and it can be mounted and removed easily. If you try to remove the hood while gripping it top and bottom excessive twisting force is required.  It all gets easier with repeated use.


    Getting into the menus


    * Focus Standard.   Users having long time familiarity with Sony menu crypto-code will understand the importance of this item. The rest of us have to learn.

    Focus Standard refers to the button you have to press to activate the focus area to enable it to be moved with the up/down/left/right buttons.

    See page 75 of the Help Guide.

    Go to Menu > Camera Settings 2 > Custom Operation 1 > (screen 9/10) >Custom Key (Shoot) > scroll down to Center Button > Press center button to bring up the selection menu > scroll to Focus Standard > press center button again > press Menu button three times or half press shutter button to exit to normal shooting condition.

    You have now allocated [Focus Standard] to the center button which is the most practical button for that particular function. It can be allocated to another button but the center button is the easiest to find and operate quickly by feel.

    Now go to Menu > Camera Settings 1 > AF1 > (screen 5/14) > Focus Area > set this to [Flexible Spot]. 

    This is the only Focus Area setting which allows you to control both the position and size (small, medium, large) of the focus frame. I use and recommend this for all general photography.

    For sport/action I use [Wide] Focus Area. I will talk more about this in another post.

    Now when you press the center button the focus frame brightens, four bounding arrows appear and you can move the focus frame with the up/down/left/right buttons.

    Rotate the rear dial to change the size of the focus frame.

    Press the C3 button to re-center the focus frame. I put a dab of clear epoxy resin on the C3 button so I can find it easily by feel.

    Press the center button again to de-activate the focus frame, see the bounding arrows disappear. Do this to regain the assigned functions of the up/down/left/right buttons.

    I allocate Focus Area to position 1 on the top row of options accessed by the Fn button.


    Note that you can have [Face Detect] operating at the same time as [Flexible Spot] focus area.  This can be useful when photographing a person.

    Go to Menu > Camera Settings 1 > Face Detection/Shoot Assist (screen 14/14) > Smile/Face Detect > Face Detect ON.

    I allocate Face Detect as one of the functions available by pressing the Fn button.


    * Creative Style

    Sony uses this term to describe the camera settings which determine the appearance of JPG pictures. RAW files are not affected by this setting.


    But first we need to make settings for noise reduction. Settings for noise reduction are in a completely different place in the menu system from picture style. This makes no sense to me as a camera user but there it is. Canon and Nikon do this also.

    Go to Menu > Camera Settings 1 > Quality/Image Size 2 > (screen 2/14) > (stills: the little mountain pictogram refers to adjustments for still photos)  > High ISO NR > Set this OFF.

    The logic of this is that you can always apply noise reduction in post process in if desired but if NR is locked in at capture it will reduce noise but will also reduce sharpness which may not be what you want at all.

    Now go to Menu > Camera Settings 1 > Color/WB/Img.Processing1 (screen 10/14) > Scroll down to Creative Style > At this point you have a series of choices.  You can go with one of the presets such as Standard, Vivid, natural etc or you can create a personal group of settings from any of the presets.  Press the right button from any of the presets to bring up a little submenu with adjustments for Contrast, Saturation and Sharpness.

    This is still a work in progress for me but after several thousand JPGs I have settled on Standard modified to Contrast -1, Saturation 0, Sharpness 0.

    I live in Sydney where conditions are often bright and sunny with clear air and few clouds. Yes I know it’s tough but someone has to live here.  Anyway these conditions often produce high subject brightness range, hence my use of slightly reduced contrast. Users who live in places with hazy conditions and/or poor air quality or low levels of sunlight might want to experiment with the Vivid preset or Standard with increased contrast.

    Beware of overdoing the sharpness. Too much can look un-natural. You can always increase sharpness in post process but you cannot undo excessive amounts if they are baked in at capture.

    It may be worth allocating Creative Style to the My Menu for easier access. I have done so.


    Next we want to look at DRO, Dynamic Range Optimiser. This is Sony’s term for an in camera adjustment to JPGs to cope with high subject brightness range.  All the makers have a similar feature. Canon calls it Auto Lighting Optimiser, the Panasonic version is i-Dynamic.

    The idea of this is to reduce exposure a bit from standard to protect highlights from blowing out then apply a tone curve adjustment to bring up the middle tones so they look normal.

    It only works on JPGs.

    Go to Menu > Camera Settings 1 > Color/WB/Img.Processing1 > (screen 10/14) > DRO/Auto HDR> Press the center button > this brings up a little menu and some more scrolling.

    * D-R Off

    * DRO at level 1-5 or Auto. I use and recommend the DRO Auto setting. You can set and forget this. It will work if picture Quality is set to JPG and will work on the JPGs if quality is set to RAW+JPG. It does not slow down the camera in any way that I can detect.

    * HDR at 1-6 EV steps and Auto. In this mode (JPG only) the camera makes three exposures then merges them in camera to output a single file. It only works if quality is set to JPG not RAW+JPG.  This works, I suggest you try it and see if you like the results.


    * ISO Auto Min. SS  

    This is yet another of Sony’s cryptic menu designations and is very important. It refers to a key Sony technology for the Auto ISO algorithm which is responsive to lens focal length.

    I recommend allocating this one to one of the programmable buttons.  I have it on the right button.

    Go to Menu > Camera Settings 1 > Exposure 1 > (screen 7/14) > ISO Auto Min.SS. You can set the minimum shutter speed to a single speed by scrolling down the options here.

    But I recommend selecting the much more versatile topmost option [ISO A SS] then scroll left/right. You will see the options are Slower, Slow, Standard, Fast, Faster.

    With P set on the Mode Dial and [Standard] set for [ISO Auto Min.SS] the camera will set a shutter speed of 1/focal length equivalent, light levels permitting.  This is very useful for general photography. You can leave the Mode Dial on P then zoom out knowing the auto ISO algorithm will keep increasing shutter speed as the lens focal length increases.

    This is my standard setting which I use for most types of photography of subjects which are not in motion or at least will sit still for a second or so, like birds.

    If [Faster] is set the camera will set a shutter speed of 1/1000, light levels permitting. I use this for sport/action situations.


    Touch functions

    Reviewers and some users make a big deal of touch screen capability. Here are my suggestions for setting up for touch screen operation.

    Step 1: Go to Menu>Setup>Setup2 (2/6)>Touch Operation>Touch Panel+Pad.

    Touch Panel works with monitor screen viewing, Pad works when EVF viewing.

    Step 2: Go to Menu>Setup>Setup3> (3/6)>Touch Pad Settings>

    * Operation in V Orien. > On

    * Touch Pos. Mode > Relative Position

    * Operation Area > Right half

    Now you are good to go with touch screen operation for moving and selecting the focus area.

    BUT

    I have touch switched off.  I move the focus area using the up/down/left/right buttons on the 4Way controller.

    Why ?

    I find that using the hard buttons is faster, easier, requires fewer actions each less complex and causes less disruption to my grip on the handle than using the touch function.

    See Focus Standardabove.


    Next post:  button function allocations







      




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    RX10Mk4 


    Buttons with user assigned functions


    The RX10M4 has 9 buttons with user assignable functions plus the Control Wheel plus the Fn button.

    Most of the buttons allow selection of one function from a list of 126 options (21 screens with 6 options on each screen).

    The resulting possible number of permutations and combinations exceeds the numerical capacity of my calculator.

    This allows the thoughtful user to create a camera to his or her own specifications, which is a wonderful thing.

    The downside of all this hyperchoice is the possibility (probability ?) of great confusion and uncertainty.

    There is also the ever present possibility of the user becoming so immersed in the convolutions of choice that just using the camera to make pictures becomes excessively difficult.


    Anyway, today’s post is about buttons with user assignable function.

    I will describe briefly how to work through the mechanics of this and detail my own settings with reasons.

    The reader might find this a useful starting point on the journey of evolving  his or her own preferences.

    Go to Menu>Camera Settings2>Custom Operation1>Custom Key (Shoot)>

    This brings up a 2 screen menu with Control Wheel, Custom Button1, Custom Button2….etc.

    You have to select one option for each control point from the 21 screen list which appears for most of them.

    The overchoice is mind boggling so I offer some basic principles which might help.

    The function of these buttons will most often be invoked in Prepare Phase of use.

    There are four phases of use, Setup, Prepare, Capture and Review.

    Prepare is the period of perhaps a few minutes used to re-set the camera for a new photographic situation.

    This might be moving from, say, landscape to sport/action, general hand held to tripod, outdoors to indoors, …..you get the idea.

    In Setup Phase we want to make settings which can stay in the menus.

    In Capture Phase we want to quickly adjust primary (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) and secondary (exposure compensation, white balance) exposure and primary (activate AF, MF) and secondary (move AF area and/or type  and change size)   focus parameters and zoom.

    In Prepare Phase we want to change the various modes which proliferate in modern cameras and some other key functions.

    So as you trawl through screen after screen of options think about these principles.


    My settings, which by the way are a perpetual work in progress are:


    * Control Wheel (This is the lower of the two wheels, the one around the 4Way controller)

    Not Set. This is the default.

    Reason: I work this dial a lot and don’t want it doing something unexpected in the middle of a shoot.


    * C1, ISO. I want ISO to be readily accessible.


    * C2, Drive Mode. I want this readily accessible.


    * C3, Shutter Type. I don’t change this often, come to think of it, hardly ever. I leave it on Auto most of the time. C3 is a bit out of the way but still reasonably accessible.


    * Center Button, Focus Standard. See the previous post.


    * Left Button, Steady Shot. I want this where I can reach it easily.


    * Right Button, ISO Auto Min.SS. Another one I want to reach easily.


    * Down Button, Quality. I want to be able to switch from JPG to RAW+JPG easily.


    * AEL Button, AF-On. This is for back button focus when required.

    Note that allocating AF-On to the AEL button does NOT disable AF on the shutter button. So if I want to have AF activated only by the AEL back button I have to disable AF from the shutter button in a separate operation.

    I allocate [(stills) AF W/Shutter] to  My Menu, it cannot be allocated to a programmable button, and set [AF W/Shutter] Off  if I want AF to be controlled by the back button only.

    You would think with all those gazillions of options this one would be more accessible, but it’s not.


    * Focus Hold Button (that’s the one on the left side of the lens barrel).

    I currently have this set to [Recall Custom Hold 1]. I will discuss this and other memory recall functions in a bespoke post soon. It’s complicated.  


    Function button

    You can access 12 functions with this button so it is potentially very useful.

    Menu>Camera Settings2>(9/10)>Function Menu Set> See lots of options.

    There are two rows with 6 functions on each row. As usual there is a great long menu of options from which to select for each position.


    Fn button is still very much a work in progress for me. I currently have:


    Top row: Focus Area, Self timer during Bracket, Flash Mode, Flash Exposure Compensation, Smile/Face Detect, Center Lock-On AF.


    And on the bottom row: AWB, DRO Auto, Creative Style, Picture Effect, Picture Profile and Shoot Mode.


    I don’t use the last three and need to think some more about what should go in the Fn button list. One day.


    Lens Ring Setup

    This is the next item down from Function Menu Set in the Custom Operation1 screen.

    I just leave it at default which is rear ring does zoom, (which I set to step zoom, leaving the zoom lever to do continuous zoom) and front ring does manual focus.

    See Menu>Camera Settings 2>Zoom (screen 6/10) for the zoom settings which I think are sufficiently are self explanatory.

    Clear Image Zoom and Digital Zoom can only be set if Quality is JPG only, not RAW+JPG.




      





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    Lyre bird, Taronga Zoo. RX10M4 original JPG tweaked in Adobe Camera Raw


    Memory recall functions   27 January 2018


    There are so many functions and optional settings on cameras these days it becomes useful to group them so they can be recalled  together.


    Most camera makers have a system by which this can be achieved.


    Not to be outdone Sony has two of them.


    Two separate, unrelated systems. In the same camera.  

    This has caused  considerable confusion leading to much discussion on user forums.

    One system saves groups of settings which can be recalled on the MR setting of the Mode Dial.

    The second saves a different group of settings accessed by a different process to one or more of the user programmable buttons. The settings only apply while the button is held down.


    Let’s start with the more conventional system accessed via the Mode Dial.


    Step 1: Think about what groups of camera settings you want to commit to a programmed set which can be recalled.

    My current practice is to use the P,A,S,M modes on the Mode dial for general photography.

    For sport/action  I set up the camera with a bunch of different settings and save these to Memory 1.

    For tripod/landscape work I save a different bunch of settings to Memory 2.

    You get the idea. Your specific needs will differ but the principle is the same.


    Step 2: Very carefully configure the camera for the group of settings which you want to recall.

    To see what settings can be saved by this function turn the Mode Dial to MR, see that 1, 2 or 3 is highlighted along the top and see the menu of settings available. Scroll down to see them all. There are lots of them, it’s not just the first page .  You cannot make or alter settings from this menu, it is information only.


    Step 3: See Page 267 of the Help Guide.

    With the camera still in whatever Mode you used to set up in Step 2,

    Go to Menu>Camera Settings1>Shoot Mode/Drive1> (3/14)>Cam1/Cam2 Memory>Press Center Button>Scroll left/right to highlight 1, 2 or 3> Press the Center Button again.

    You have now saved a selection of settings to the Memory recall function.


    Step 4:  See page 146 of the Help Guide.

    Turn the Mode Dial to MR. Scroll left/right to select the desired number 1, 2 or 3.  (note: the other numbers MR1-4 can only be saved to a memory card)

    Press the Center button.


    The camera will now operate with the settings saved to memory.

    To check this turn the Mode dial off MR briefly to M or Movie then back to MR to bring up the menu again. Scroll down this to confirm all is as you wish it to be.

    If you make a mistake or just want to change one or more settings go back to Step 2 and start over.

    Note:   MR can save Shoot Mode but  not  Focus Mode, Aperture or Exposure Compensation settings.

    So when I want to change from general photography on the P,A,S M modes to sport/action on MR1 I have to remember also to turn the Focus Mode rotary switch from S to C.

    I have a notice stuck on top of the camera to remind me of this, after forgetting it several times.


    Reg Cust Shoot Set  (Registering shooting settings to a custom key)  See Page 268 of the Help Menu.

    This is the second type of memory recall function available on the RX10M4.

    This function allows you to program a memory recall set to 1, 2 or 3 of the buttons with user assignable function.


    Please read Page 268 of the Help Guide. This has a description of the process required for setting up the function.


    To summarise:


    Go to Menu>Camera Settings 1>Shoot Mode/Drive2 (4/14)>Reg Cust Shoot Set (it’s the only item on that screen)> Recall Custom Hold 1, 2 or  3>See a submenu. You can select each item On, indicated by a check mark in the box (scroll left to reach the box), or Off. For each item selected  On, press the center button with the item highlighted to open up a submenu. In this submenu you can select which Shoot Mode, Drive Mode, Shutter Speed …….etc as you wish. Keep scrolling down until you come to [Register] then press the center button again.

    You have now registered a group of shooting settings to a Reg Cust Shoot Set.


    Now you need to allocate this set to a button with user assignable function.


    Which button ?


    You need to be able to operate the camera which at a minimum means pressing the shutter button and probably zooming while holding down the custom button, without too much disruption to the hold of either hand on the device.


    The only two feasible candidates are the AEL button and the Focus Hold button on the left side of the lens housing. I am currently trialling the Focus Hold button. This is not altogether satisfactory with either left-hand-under or left-hand-over hold but it can be done.


    Go to Menu>Camera Settings2>Custom Operation1>Custom Key(Shoot)>Scroll to the button to which you wish to assign the Recall Custom Hold function>Select>Scroll to screen 2/21>Recall Custom Hold1> Select.


    Now you have assigned the Recall Custom Hold function to a button.

    The custom camera settings will be recalled while you hold that button down.


    Note: When using this function it is possible to have the Shoot Mode, Focus Mode, Aperture and Exposure Compensation setting ALL different from that indicated on the respective hard dial.


    Is this function useful ?


    The problem I am having is that there are so many options, settings, groups of settings and functions that it all gets darn confusing.


    I don’t think I can remember from one day to the next just exactly what I assigned to which button and when those assignments consist of whole groups of functions the opportunity for confusion and mistakes rises sharply.


    I am finding the MR function on the Shoot Mode Dial to be useful, yes.

    Maybe users with sharper brains and better memories than me will also find the [Reg Cust Shoot Set] function useful.

    Anyway, give it a try.












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    Classic Sydney Harbour scene. Ferry, Opera House, Bridge. RX10M4


    Modes (Still photos)


    Modern camerashave lots of modes. We usually want to make mode selections in Prepare Phase of camera use to get ready for a change in photographic requirements.


    Shoot Mode

    I will assume that anyone reading this series of posts is an enthusiast photographer or a camera owner heading in that direction. This involves using the P,A,S,M Modes most of the time.

    Hence I have little to say about operating the camera in Auto (green) Mode on the shoot mode Dial.


    The RX10M4 is really not a beginners or snapshooters camera. It is a complex, high performance  device better suited to enthusiast and expert users.

    There are plenty of snapshooter friendly bridge cameras on the market. Sony has the HX400V and several variants.


    The topic of “best shooting mode” always provokes plenty of debate on user forums with users strongly supporting their preferred approach.


    Any of the P, A, S, M modes is of course able to make correct exposures. But different circumstances favour different modes.


    My practice is to use P (Programmed auto exposure) for all general photography. This works well on the RX10M4 because of the flexibility and versatility of  the ISO Auto Min.SS function, see previous posts.  The auto ISO algorithm is very effective at picking the optimum aperture/shutter speed/ISO firing solution in most circumstances.


    In addition Program Shift is available simply by turning the control dial. This changes the Aperture/Shutter Speed relationship without changing exposure.


    I suspect there might be a bit of a cult on forums involving users who appear to believe that P Mode is for dummies and that “real” photographers use the more difficult to manage A, S, M  Modes. It ain’t so.


    I reserve A (Aperture Priority auto exposure) Mode for those times when  the picture taking process is deliberative and I want to control depth of field. This might be for a landscape situation or with the camera on tripod at night.


    S (Shutter Priority auto exposure) can be useful when photographing sport/action or other subject requiring a fast shutter speed. However for these situations also consider P Mode with [ISO Auto Min.SS] set to [Faster].


    M (Manual exposure) is essential for specific situations including multi shot panorama (for stitching in post processing) and fireworks.


    For general photography it is not so suitable as adjusting aperture with the ring around the lens housing is slow and requires many movements each complex and the control dial which changes shutter speed is an awkward thing to use.


    I think that people who say they routinely use M Mode are just making life difficult for them selves.


    I described use of the MR Mode Dial position in the previous post.


    Video and HFR are not covered in this series of posts.


    Panorama is executed so badly on the RX10M4 I regard it as useless. I gather from users on forums that this was also the case on the RX10M3. Apparently Sony has not managed to fix the stitching process yet.


    This needs an urgent update.


    Scn Mode   I never use this as the various functions hand control of most settings to the camera.


    Focus Mode

    See Page 70 of the Help Guide.


    S (Single) and C (Continuous) are self explanatory.

    I have noticed on user forums that some people say they routinely leave the setting at C, even for still subjects. The rationale for this appears to be the idea that S uses contrast detect AF and C uses phase detect AF and some users think the phase detect AF works better.


    My experience after several thousand exposures is that AFS works just fine for still subjects including perched birds. So I use it routinely for all general photography and anything not in continuous motion.


    Obviously for subjects in motion, sport/action, birds in flight and the like, you need the AFC setting.


    Between S and C is an A setting. This appears to have a function similar to that of AFF on Panasonic cameras. It is a “helper” setting supposed to work like AFS if the subject is still and switch to AFC if the camera detects subject movement.


    I never found this to work reliably on my Panasonic cameras so have not really tried it yet on the Sony.


    DMF allows you to have AF+MF simultaneously. This could be quite useful for specific subjects such as close ups where you might want to fine tune focus. The manual focus aids (peaking, zoom-in)  spring into action when you turn the manual focus ring.

    M is Manual. This is essential for panoramas and fireworks and other subjects where you must ensure focus if fixed for a series of shots.


    Go to Menu>Camera Settings1>(12/14)>MF Assist, Peaking Level and Peaking Color to adjust these settings.


    Drive Mode

    This is best allocated to one of the buttons with user assigned function. I have it on the Right Button.


    See Pages 104-105 of the Help Guide which describe all the options quite well.


    There re lots of options on this mode including various kinds of bracketing.


    By the way you can have the self timer together with exposure bracketing on this camera. So if the camera is on a tripod you don’t have to press the shutter button at the time of exposure.


    To set this up,


    1.  Allocate [Self timer during bracket]  (pick your timer delay) to the Fn button.


    2. Then go to the Drive Mode and scroll down to Continuous bracketing and select the number of shots and EV interval you want.


    Switch the Drive Mode back to Single for normal shooting.


    There are three options during Continuous Drive, Hi (24 fps), Mid (10fps), Lo (3.5 fps).

    The signature feature of the RX10M4 is that incredible 24 fps high frame rate with AF on every frame. This is video speed for still photos.


    No doubt that is a remarkable technical achievement for Sony. The thing is I cannot find a use for it. 

    Even the Mid rate of 10 fps generates a huge number of files in just a few seconds. Yet the Lo rate of 3-3.5 fps is a bit slow for many action subjects.


    My preference is a rate of 5-6 fps which captures the elements of action without generating an excessively large number of files.


    Focus Area

    I make this one of the modes accessible via the Fn button.


    See Page 72 of the Help Menu.


    As usual there are many options.  


    Wide is really a multi-area option with the camera deciding which single or group of focus points it will select for focus. I have found that when Wide is combined with AF Continuous the camera preferences subject elements which are closest to the camera and/or are moving. This works well for sport/action most of the time.

    It is also effective with birds/helicopters etc in flight when it is impossible to keep the subject exactly centered in the frame.


    Center is just what it says.  I find no use for this at all. somebody will though.


    Flexible Spot  is not really a spot focus area but a selection between three AF areas by size, small, mid and large. The small setting is useful for birds and other small subjects surrounded by visual clutter.


    I use Flexible Spot for all general photography.


    It is the only focus area mode which allows the user to control both the position and size of the area.


    Expand Flexible Spot appears to be just Flexible Spot-small with an automatic expansion to Medium if focus is not achieved on the small area. I have not used this as I am not sure how it might be better than Flexible Spot.


    Lock-On AF  is a “helper” mode, only available if AFC is set on the rotary focus mode switch.  The idea is that focus is acquired on a part of the subject (such as the head of one’s running dog) then tracks focus on that same part of the subject as it moves towards/away from the camera and around the viewing frame.


    In practice this produces lots of excited little green focus indicators dancing around the frame but I am yet to be convinced it is useful. Maybe I need to spend more time experimenting with the feature.  


    Metering Mode

    This is can be allocated to the Fn button. This is one of those modes which could encourage the ambitious user to make his or her life much more complicated than it needs to be.


    As usual in typically Sony fashion there are multiple options.


    The one I use routinely and leave set all the time is Multi. This is the safest mode to use for general photography.


    Then we have Center, Spot (Standard and large), Entire Screen Average and Highlight.

    Some users say they use Spot for birds which are often small in the frame. That might be all right except if the bird is black or white when Spot will likely under or overexpose.


    Flash Mode

    I allocate Flash Mode to the Fn button menu.


    True confessions:  I have not used the flash except to check that it works. I generally set minus one stop of flash exposure compensation for fill flash if required.



    See Page 199-204 of the Help Guide. 


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    RX10M4


    The RX10 Mk4 is Sony’s latest and best  high performance bridge camera with some amazing capabilities including continuous autofocus on moving subjects at 24 frames per second.


    The RX10 Mk4 was announced in September 2017.


    The FZ1000 was announced in June 2014, almost four years ago.

    Sony started the “one inch” (diagonal 15.9mm) bridge camera arms race with the release of the original RX10 in 2013, with a 24-200mm (equivalent) f2.8 zoom lens.


    Panasonic trumped this with the FZ1000 using the same or very similar sensor from Sony by increasing the zoom range to 25-400mm  making the FZ1000 a more versatile proposition.


    Sony followed up with the RX10 Mk2 in 2015 with some improvements but the same body and lens then the RX10 Mk3 in 2016 with an excellent 24-600mm lens. Unfortunately the RX10 Mk3 has limited capacity to follow focus on moving subjects so it did not really pose much of a challenge to the versatility of the FZ1000. 


    The RX10 Mk4 changes all that. This camera uses the same body and controls as the Mk3 but has the on chip phase detect AF and super fast processor from the RX100 Mk5. This transforms the camera into a sport/action powerhouse with very high capability and performance.


    I have now made over seven thousand exposures with the RX10 Mk4 putting me in a position to compare it to my trusty FZ1000 which is over three years old and is much travelled.


    I photographed test charts, set piece landscape scenes and several types of moving subject including running people and moving cars and speedboats.


    I have enough data to make a meaningful comparison.


    Spoiler alert: In practice the main difference between these two cameras is the lens focal length range.


    Apart from that they are surprisingly similar in specifications, capability, image quality and performance.


    I say surprising because the FZ1000 is getting a bit old in the digital camera world. Not only that but you can buy almost three of them for the price of one new RX10M4.


    Specifications

    I won’t bore you with information better summarised elsewhere but the main difference between the two is the lens focal length and the maximum frame rate with continuous autofocus. The Sony can do 24 frames per second, the Panasonic about 5 fps.


    Image quality 

    Lens  Note: Substantial sample variation in lens quality has been reported for both cameras.


    I happen to have a very good copy of each and find they test just about identical for sharpness and resolution. The FZ1000 is a bit better at 200mm but that’s about the only difference I found.


    Both cameras keep chromatic and other aberrations, purple fringing and other faults to a minimum.


    Both are able to achieve very high levels of resolution at all focal lengths from wide open, sufficient for huge enlargements.


    The Sony has about half a stop, maybe 0.6 stop less noise at high ISO values.


    Dynamic range appears to be very similar with similar ability to recover highlights from RAW files.


    Performance

    Both cameras are very responsive with fast shot to shot times. Neither gets in the way of rapid fire photography.


    Both can follow focus quite well on moving subjects.


    On my tests of moving cars at about 50 kph at 400mm focal length, each camera scored about 75% of frames in sharp focus, 20% just out of focus and 5% unsharp.


    I had the RX10M4 at 10 fps for these tests.


    Of course the RX10M4 shot twice as many frames per second as the FZ1000 so I ended up with more in focus frames per second with the Sony.


    Actually I find 10fps rather too fast for most purposes but the Sony does not offer a 5-6 fps option. You get 24, 10 or 3.


    Ergonomics

    Here the FZ1000 is clearly a more appealing device. It is easier to set up and more streamlined to use with fewer actions each less complex.


    The handle is more anatomical and the controls laid out more thoughtfully. The buttons are larger, the dials easier to use.


    I score the RX10M4 at 72, the FZ1000 at 85. You can readmore about my camera ergonomic scoring here.


    Summary and recommendation

    If you don’t absolutely need the extra reach of the RX10M4’s lens then seriously consider the FZ1000 which can still be bought new at a very attractive price. It is a very good, capable and versatile camera.


    If 24-600mm in one fixed lens and high speed follow focus capability with very good to excellent image quality is important to you  then the RX10M4 is the only place to go right now.







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    This is the scene with localised color fringing correction applied as described in the text. I used the Grad Filter on the top right of the frame and the Adjustment Brush on the walkers in the sun on the right side. This has removed most of the fringing without adverse effects elsewhere in the frame.


    The Canon G1XMk3  is a good camera within its capability envelope. Many people myself included had hoped that envelope would be larger, extending to a wider aperture lens, more advanced video and a faster processor among other things.


    But it is what it is. Overall picture quality is about the same as that delivered by my little Sony RX100 Mk4. The G1X3 has better ergonomics and marginally more resolution of fine subject details but you have to look very closely at matched images enlarged to 100% on screen to pick this. The RX100Mk4 is better in low light because of the wider aperture lens.


    I took my G1X3 out recently and stress tested it with some scenes having high brightness range. This revealed a problem. Actually two problems, one leading to the other.


    The G1X3 is prone to color fringing in RAW files at the edges of subject elements where there is considerable brightness change across the boundary between the subject and the background.


    This is typically seen on tree branches and foliage in bright sun but can occur on any type of high contrast edges.


    Characteristically the camera produces purple/red fringing on one side of a subject element and green fringing on the opposite side.


    Enlargement of the top right of the frame showing uncorrected purple/red and green fringing.


    Over several thousand images I have found that the out of camera JPGs automatically correct for most of this fringing without adverse secondary effects.


    However when converting RAW files with Adobe Camera Raw I encountered the second problem which is grey fringing on subject elements distant from the corrected color fringing.


    Camera Raw has dual sliders for correcting color fringing. One controls the purple spectrum, the other controls the green spectrum. These sliders are effective in removing most of the fringing.


    This is what the image looks like after global defringe corrections have been applied in Camera Raw. It might seem OK until you look closely when you will see grey fringing in many locations.


    However when the fringing is prominent, as it can be in some situations, this correction produces the unpleasant phenomenon of grey fringing elsewhere in the picture.


    This problem is not exclusive to the G1X3 or to Canon equipment but I have not seen it present in such obvious fashion on my Sony and Panasonic cameras in recent years.


    Clearly Canon’s JPG engineers are well aware of this issue as they have pretty much eliminated it from the out of camera JPGs.


    This is an enlargement of the center section of the full frame showing the grey fringing more clearly. You can see it easily on the legs and other parts of the of the lady running, the neck of the girl with the apricot T shirt and in many other locations.


    After some experimenting with various options I have come up with a fix for the grey fringing issue which appears to work decently well in most images.


    I identify where the color fringing is present, it will usually be around the periphery of the frame, then select either or both the Adjustment Brush or Grad Filter in Camera Raw and apply a local defringe correction using the generic Defringe slider. This does not allow fine tuning by color like that seen under the Lens  Corrections>Manual tab but it works well enough to remove most of the obvious fringing.


    The point is that the defringe function is not applied to the whole image thus avoiding the grey fringing problem.


    I was unable to locate any setting in the ACR Lens Corrections tab which eliminated the problem.


    The photos and their captions illustrate the issue.


    The problem only occurs in certain situations and will likely not be encountered often or at all by some users.


    I have no idea whether other RAW converters including Canon DPP  have this issue. I don't like DPP and never use it in my regular photographic work flow.



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    Rainbow Lorikeet. RX10 M4. Nothing to do with camera bags but a more interesting photo.


    My Panasonic FZ1000 and FZ2500 cameras fit perfectly in theLowe Pro Apex 110 bag.  

    But the RX10M4 has a longer lens so I had to seek a different carrying solution.

    The carry bag needs to protect the camera from knocks without being over built, allow the camera to be inserted and removed easily with the lens hood in reversed position and provide compartments for spare batteries, microfiber cloth, memory cards and a cable release if one is planning on tripod work.  Some owners use the neck strap so they need a bag with space for this. I prefer to use a simple wrist strap which makes the process of using the camera more streamlined. I do not carry the camera around my neck.


    Here are two options which fit those criteria.


    Lowe Pro Toploader Zoom 45 AW (II)


    Lowe Pro Toploader Zoom 45 AW (II) 

    This is the smallest and lightest bag which I have been able to find in Australia which is suitable for the RX10M4.  With a protect filter on the lens and the lens hood reversed, it is just high enough to squeeze in the EVF eyepiece with no spare room. In particular there is no space to accommodate the neck strap.


    The camera goes into the bag easily enough but can be a bit awkward to remove. See the photo for the way I grab the camera to remove it.  I find that if I try to lift the camera by the handle it does not want to come out so easily.


    Extracting the camera from the TLZ bag


    I have some concern about the weight of the camera bearing down onto the  lens and wonder if any damage might result. Probably not I have never heard any such described.


    Otherwise the TLZ45 does a good job. It has a raincover and an external zip up pocket for  accessories.


    The top cover opens away from the body.


    It doesn’t hang straight though. The attachment points for the shoulder strap are at the rear which causes the bag to tilt forward when loaded. This might be an issue for some people.


    Handle up in the Adventura SH 140 (II).  Easy to extract. Note basic wrist strap.


    Lowe Pro Adventura SH 140 (II)

    This bag is larger overall and a bit heavier. It is higher than required for the RX10M4 but otherwise a good fit with the camera either handle up or screen up.


    I use it as shown in the photo, handle up. The bag is exactly the right width with a protect filter and reversed lens hood on the camera.


    I find this setup allows me to insert and remove the camera most easily. It also provides enough space for those who wish to use the neck strap.


    There is a rain cover and plenty of space in the front compartment for accessories.


    The strap attachment points are mid way between front and back allowing the bag to hang straight when loaded.


    The top cover opens away from the body.


    I always find that a suitable carry bag is an important aspect of the ergonomics of owning and using a camera.

    Either of the two described here is satisfactory for the RX10Mk4.




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