One of my good buddies Dav Cheng gave me his Lumix LX100, to give to Cindy as a digital camera for her to use. We have so far used the Lumix LX100 to make several films by Cindy (it is a very capable video camera), but I haven’t shot many stills on it. Read more: 10 Lessons I Learned Shooting Video (as a Photographer)
After my RICOH GR II died, I went to BIC CAMERA in Osaka, and was frankly disappointed that none of the new digital cameras excited me. Thus in the spirit of making the best of what you got, I just decided to shoot with the LX100 for a few days to see how I like it.
GoPro x LX100 in Osaka
Thoughts on LX100 for Street Photography
- The Lumix LX100 is the same camera as the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109), except nearly half the cost. Literally the same camera: the sensor, lens, and everything. Except the Leica D-LUX has better aesthetics (all black).
- The LX100 has very fast autofocus: I shoot the LX100 in “iA” mode (intelligent auto) mode, which is essentially an upgraded program (P) mode. This makes the camera super easy to shoot with: I literally just point and click. The iA mode puts the camera to automatically choose the best shutter-speed, ISO, and exposure for every scene, and nails it about 90%+ of the time.
- When shooting in iA mode, the dynamic range, colors, and image quality looks good: I have been shooting only in JPEG mode, with iA mode, and when processed with the VSCO Mobile presets for Lightroom (I used VSCO A6 on 1/2 power), it looks fantastic. Nice colors.
- The startup time is a bit slow: I usually keep the camera off when I’m not shooting. When I see a scene, there is a slight lag to turn on the camera before shooting. I find it a bit annoying, but you can circumvent this issue if you just turn on your camera about 2 seconds before you’re about to start shooting. Once the camera is fully “booted up”, then it is EXTREMELY RESPONSIVE, shoots instantly, super fast autofocus, very accurate autofocus, and can shoot in quick secession without any buffer issues.
- The wide-angle 24mm lens is fun, and challenging: I’ve shot street photography extensively on a 35mm lens, and a 28mm lens, but never really a 24mm lens. Shooting with a 24mm lens is really hard. First of all, you gotta get VERY CLOSE to your subjects, and be extremely aggressively close in street photography. Even now, I don’t think for most of my shots I’m getting “close enough”. I need to get closer– probably shoot with the 24mm lens at around .5 meters if I want to get decent photos. When shooting with the 24mm lens, I thought about how Josef Koudelka shot his ‘Gypsies‘ project on a 25mm lens, and how fun/challenging that must have been.
- The macro on the camera is VERY GOOD: You can focus infinitely close to anything. Great for shooting food or photos of your espresso/coffee.
- Exposure-compensation dial is very useful: I’ve been using +1 or +2 exposure compensation when shooting indoors for brighter photos, and -1 or -2 exposure photos when shooting at night, to make more dramatic lighting photos. Exposure compensation really improves the look of your photos.
- Apparently the LX100 comes with a flash, but I don’t have it. I might pick one up to experiment with later.
- ERIC KIM NECK STRAP works very well on LX100 (I carry the camera with me all day around my neck, with no fatigue from the weight). Because the LX100 is light, I can carry it with me all day, which means I shoot more, thus I am happier.
- I like the non-interchangeable lens, because I don’t need to stress about buying the ‘best’ lens for the camera. Also the zoom function comes in handy when shooting sunrises/landscapes — I might experiment more with the telephoto function more.
Great camera for all photography
If you want an affordable, capable camera, and don’t wanna stress about lenses, or spending a bunch of money, I highly recommend the Lumix LX100. It is good for street photography and also for travel/general/everyday photography.
I would ultimately say get the Lumix LX100 if you want to shoot with a 24mm lens, if you like having a zoom lens, and if you want faster/more accurate autofocus.
Photos on Lumix LX100
You can see more LX100 photos here:
- OSAKA GOPRO POV STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
- OSAKA Street Photography GoPro POV Tips, Techniques, Layers Composition
- OSAKA DIARY VIX
Ultimately almost any camera that is small, responsive, light, and compact is good for street photography. My personal lesson is this:
Spend less money on camera equipment/gear, make the best of the camera equipment you already have, and spend your money instead of travel, experiences, education, books, coffee, good food, and of course, more coffee.
There is no “perfect” camera. Don’t fall into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and falsely believe that buying a new camera will make you a better photographer.
- What is the Best Camera and Lenses for Street Photography?
- The Best Travel Street Photography Equipment 2018
- 6 Lessons I’ve Learned After Shooting All the Expensive Cameras
- How to Make Good Photos on a Shitty Camera
- Why I Shoot With One Camera and One Lens
- My Travel Equipment, Winter 2017
- What is the Perfect Camera For You?
- What to Consider When Buying a Camera
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Smartphone Photography
- Benefits of Shooting Street Photography With a Smartphone
- In Street Photography, The Smaller the Camera, the Better
- Film Street Photography Manual
- What I Learned Shooting 100 Rolls of Black and White Film
- What I Learned Processing 164 Rolls of Film
My favorite camera for street photography
There is no perfect camera for street photography and everyone’s tastes are different. My favorite camera for street photography is the Ricoh GR II.
The Ricoh GR II is the best bang-for-the-buck camera for street photography on the market. It has an APS-C sensor (DSLR-sized sensor), a super-sharp 28mm lens (no anti-aliasing filter), and literally fits into your front pocket.
The Ricoh GR II is pretty much the same as the prior Ricoh GR, except it has Wi-Fi built in.
Why do I recommend the Ricoh GR II?
First of all, for street photography you want the smallest, most compact, and inconspicuous camera (that you can always carry with you). I find that with other digital cameras, you end up never carrying them with you 24/7, simply because they are too big. The Fujifilm X100F and digital Leica’s are fantastic tools, but honestly even those cameras are too big to fit in your front pocket.
In street photography, the size of the sensor is also not very important. In-fact, having a non-full frame camera is generally preferable, because you have more depth-of-field in street photography, which is beneficial to “zone-focusing.”
When I shoot with the Ricoh GR II, I generally keep the camera on “P” mode, ISO 1600, and center-point autofocus. I treat it like a point-and-shoot: I simply point and click. This makes me have to think less when shooting, and spend more energy focusing on the composition, framing, and capturing emotion in the photos.
Many photographers bemoan the fact that the Ricoh GR II doesn’t have a viewfinder. Honestly, I feel that viewfinders are a bit overrated — the LCD screen helps you be more creative with your compositions (shooting super-low angle, or a super-high angle), and also helps you photograph your subjects closer (putting a small compact camera close to someone’s face is less intimidating than putting a big DSLR lens into someone’s face).
Also if you want, the Ricoh GR II has a fantastic “snap mode” which allows you to pre-focus to a certain distance (1 meter, 1.5 meters, 5 meters, infinity), which is like zone-focusing on a rangefinder camera. This means when you’re shooting on the streets on a sunny day, you can set your pre-focus to 1.5 meters, ISO 1600, aperture-priority mode in f/8, and take photos that are all sharp and in-focus.
In addition, the Ricoh GR II has the simplest yet comprehensive menu out of any digital camera I’ve used. You can change the function buttons, you can change whether the power lamp is on or off, and everything in the menu is easily searchable. I believe the Ricoh GR II was designed by photographers, not simply by engineers.
The camera is extremely affordable, which means you can save all your hard-earned cash on buying experiences, not stuff. Use that money to travel to a country you’ve always wanted to travel, to buy photography books, and to invest in photography-education (workshops, classes, seminars).
Furthermore, you can charge the camera via USB, which means you don’t need to travel with a bulky battery-charger. As long as you keep the camera off while you’re not shooting on the streets, one battery should last you a full day.
- Read my review of the Ricoh GR II
Best Equipment by ERIC KIM
This is a list of my personal favorite equipment in photography, computers, and life (as of 2017):
Of course, this list probably won’t apply to you — but this is advice I would give myself (if I needed to buy stuff):
My favorite cameras:
Best value digital camera for street photography
Best digital compact camera
Best 3-inch screen protector
For Ricoh GR II: Expert Shield 3” LCD protector ($14)
Best designed mirrorless camera
Best value mirrorless camera
Best digital rangefinder
Best digital video camera
Best SD card
Best fashion digital camera
If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.
Best film rangefinder
Leica MP + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron Lens
Best affordable film rangefinder
Leica M6 + Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Lens
Best compact film camera
Best medium-format film camera
Fujifilm GF670 (discontinued, find on eBay)
Best black and white film
Best color film
Best film scanner
For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800
For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270
Best camera shoulder bag
Best camera backpack
Fits 13” Laptop and Camera: Thinktank Perception 15 (black): $120
Best photography neck strap
Best photography wrist strap
Best photography inspiration website
Best photography news blog
Best photography software
Best video editing software
iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)
Best educational photography book
Best black-and-white photography art book
Best color photography art book
Best photography handbook
Best philosophy book
Best digital tools
Any MacBook Air or Pro
Best value phone
iPhone SE (cheapest model): $400
Best android phone
Best value android phone
Best Mac Apps
Best writing app
IA Writer (for writing) + Ulysses (for note-taking)
Best screen recorder
Best image resizer
Best noise-cancelling headphones
Apple Beats X
Darn Tough Socks Merino Wool
Merino Wool Leggings (black)
Best bank / credit card (USA)
Chase / Chase Sapphire credit card
Best entrepreneurial tools
Best blogging platform
Best paid online services
Best cloud storage
Diet & Nutrition
Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups
Of course this is just a list of stuff that work for me. It probably won’t work for you.
But I got inspired to make this list– because it took me about 10 years to figure out the best equipment for me. And this works for me, and I hope it can help simplify your purchasing decisions (at least in photography and some other details).
I’ll continue to do articles and videos related to equipment– because I do believe (up to a certain degree) having the ‘right’ equipment in life makes life easier. But the problem is falling victim to GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) where we are buying stuff for the sake of it (has happened to me).
If you already have a bunch of equipment that works for you– stick with it. But if you need some help, I hope this list helped you.