Lumix LX100 Review for Street Photography

Selfie with Lumix LX100 and GoPro mounted. Osaka, 2018

Selfie with Lumix LX100 and GoPro mounted. Osaka, 2018

Selfie with Lumix LX100 and GoPro mounted. Osaka, 2018
Selfie with Lumix LX100 and GoPro mounted. Osaka, 2018

My RICOH GR II died a few days ago, and I’ve been shooting with the Lumix LX100 for the last few days, and actually found out that I quite like it for street photography!

Thanks Dav

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

Man in cafe at night. Osaka, 2018
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Apparently the LX100 comes with a flash, but I don’t have it. I might pick one up to experiment with later.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

LUMIX LX100 Selfie. Osaka 2018

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.

But if you have the choice between this and a RICOH GR II, just buy the RICOH GR II (it is lighter, more compact, and has an integrated flash for street 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

Out of focus bokeh dots, Osaka
Osaka, 2018
Salary man suit eating offal barbecue. Osaka, 2018
Salary man suit eating offal barbecue. Osaka, 2018
Salary man drinking a beer. Osaka, 2018
Salary man drinking a beer. Osaka, 2018

osaka old school colors

triangle composition layers

salary man eye contact

GoPro selfie red and blue background

Osaka

You can see more LX100 photos here:


Conclusion

Coca Cola. Osaka, 2018
Coca Cola. Osaka, 2018

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.

BE BOLD,
ERIC


Equipment

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.

If you’re not feeling inspired in your photography, I recommend you to buy books, not gear. Also check out these 75+ Inspirational Photo Books You Gotta Buy. You can also download my free books.

Equipment Articles >

Smartphone Photography >

Film Photography 101 >


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.

1x1.trans Street Photography Camera Game Changer: The Ricoh GRD V
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.

If you end up buying the camera, I recommend picking up a 3” LCD screen protector, shooting in RAW, and using my free Lightroom film simulation presets.


Best Equipment by ERIC KIM

eric kim photographer hanoi portrait by cindy a nguyen
LINDBERG glasses / UNIQLO button-up / UNIQLO jeans-joggers / Nike Flyknight Motion RN

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):

Cameras

My favorite cameras:

Digital cameras:

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7030

Best value digital camera for street photography

Fujifilm X100F Review // Buy on Amazon for $1300 >

Best digital compact camera

Ricoh GR II Review // Buy on Amazon for $600 >

Best 3-inch screen protector

For Ricoh GR II: Expert Shield 3” LCD protector ($14)

Best designed mirrorless camera

Olympus Pen F (silver): $1200 + Olympus 17mm f/1.8 Lens: $500 //my review

Best value mirrorless camera

Fujifilm XT-2 ($1600) + Fujinon XF23mmF2 WR Lens ($450)

Best digital rangefinder

Leica M10 + Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH Lens

Best digital video camera

Sony A7S II ($2700) + Sony 35mm F2.8 Sonnar ($800)

Best SD card

Transcend 128 GB SD card UHS-3: $73

Best fashion digital camera

Pentax Medium-format digital 645Z ($6500) + Pentax 55mm F2.8 AL ($960) // 7 Lessons I’ve Learned Shooting Fashion Photography For the First Time


Film cameras

If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.

eric kim melbourne benjamin thompson
Portrait by Benjamin Thompson // Leica MP + Henri Neck Strap + SF 24D flash + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH lens

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

Contax T3

Best medium-format film camera

Fujifilm GF670 (discontinued, find on eBay)

Best black and white film

Kodak Tri-X 400 (pushed to 1600): $5

Best color film

Kodak Portra 400: $8.50

Best film scanner

For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800

For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270


Camera accessories

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7340

Best camera shoulder bag

SAIGON SATCHEL

Best camera backpack

Fits 13” Laptop and Camera: Thinktank Perception 15 (black): $120

Best photography neck strap

Best photography wrist strap


eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7189

Best photography inspiration website

MagnumPhotos.com

Best photography news blog

PetaPixel.com

Best photography software

Adobe Lightroom

Best video editing software

iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)


Books

buy books not gear eric kim

See all my free books.

Best educational photography book

Magnum Contact Sheets

Best black-and-white photography art book

“Exiles” by Josef Koudelka

Best color photography art book

“The Suffering of Light” by Alex Webb

Best photography handbook

Street Notes

Best philosophy book

On the Shortness of Life – Seneca ($8) // 10 Lessons Seneca Has Taught Me.


Best digital tools

Best laptop

Any MacBook Air or Pro

Best tablet

iPad Pro 10.5 inch, 64 gb, space grey

Best phone

iPhone X

Best value phone

iPhone SE (cheapest model): $400

Best android phone

Samsung S8

Best value android phone

OnePlus 3T ($440)


Best Mac Apps

Best writing app

IA Writer (for writing) + Ulysses (for note-taking)

Best screen recorder

Camtasia

Best image resizer

JPEGmini Pro


Audio

eric kim hanoi street photography-0012663

Best noise-cancelling headphones

BOSE QC 35 (black): $350

Best earbuds

Apple Beats X


Apparel

Cindy Project Monochrome-3

Best watch

Casio Men’s F108WH Illuminator Collection Black Resin Strap Digital Watch: $13

Best underwear

ExOfficio Men Boxer Brief (black): $26

Best T-shirt

Outlier NYC Merino Wool T-Shirt

Best socks

Darn Tough Socks Merino Wool

Best shoes

Nike Free Flyknight RN Motion (black/white) // my review

Best pants

Merino Wool Leggings (black)

Best glasses

LINDBERG – Titanium


Finance

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7232

Best bank / credit card (USA)

Chase / Chase Sapphire credit card


Best entrepreneurial tools

Best blogging platform

WordPress.org + Genesis theme (I use the ‘Academy Pro’ theme).


Best paid online services

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7360

Best cloud storage

Dropbox (Pro)


Diet & Nutrition

Food

Intermittent fasting — with one big meal a day (only dinner)

Workout

Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups


Conclusion

eric kim hanoi street photography-0012576
Hanoi, 2017 // Portrait by Cindy A. Nguyen

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).

Cindy Project Monochrome-12

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.

Always,
Eric