Digital Reminiscing and why I brought the Panasonic G9 in 2020.


For those new to my blog I started my creative life as a traditional artist and ‘hobbyist’ photographer. In 1993 I discovered the emerging world of computers and digital graphics, almost overnight I boxed away all my brushes and paints in favour of a ‘cutting edge’ and overpriced Packard Bell Pentium PC from Sears department store.

Obviously, I did not use a digital camera back then, at that time I was living across the pond in Seattle and my everyday camera was the white Minolta Maxxum 8000i. I still have it , it’s a little worse for wear and no longer used (see picture below). It wasn’t until the late 90’s that I got my first tiny digital camera, the Olympus Camedia C-420L.  But from that moment on I was hooked, and over the years I upgraded as and when I could afford to. Unlike so many ‘pro’ photographers I could never really justify the cost of the topflight cameras. Even when I was shooting 6 days a week, I still only used ‘hobbyist’ or ‘enthusiast’ level cameras.

Fellow photographers with deeper wallets than mine wouldn’t think twice about walking around with over £10,000 + slung over their shoulders like it was nothing. There has always been a lot of EGO in the photography world, not to mention elitist gadget worship and techno babble. For me, good equipment makes a job easier but having imagination, a creative eye and knowledge of the subject matter has more to do with a great photo than the latest, greatest camera equipment.

No longer a prince the Minolta Maxxum 8000i fades into history.

The Digital Apocalypse (I digress)

Like many trades, few photographers believed digital technology would affect them greatly.  In the early days of the digital revolution, I recall being told emphatically my silly little digital camera would never replace the wonder of film (some still say it hasn’t). Then as now, I was always able to see the lay of the land before most. Sadly, I was often ill equipped to capitalise on my prophetic visions. Yet I knew digital would replace everything. Millions of people across the globe and in all walks of life lost a lot to digitisation. Personally, I took no pleasure in seeing people losing their livelihoods, my parents included. Adapt or die pervades every aspect of life. It can be ugly, painful and to be frank brutally unfair. Within no time at all, Tech, digital and. com’s ruled the world.

I’ll never buy a camera again…….. But I did

Like most tech digital cameras get better every couple years. Their toy-like simplistic approach gave way to all the complexities of the film cameras they had replaced and so much more. I began to see that even cameras were facing their end of days as smartphones for most people ‘did it all’. When I got the iPhone 6, the image quality was so good for what I created I proclaimed I would never buy a digital camera again. I also made the same rash statement about the iPad Pro which I’m writing this on. I believed I would never need a ‘real’ computer again, but I do.

My digital creative heart wants to be small, streamlined and away from the desk. But sadly, technology is not quite there yet. Yes, phones take great images, but zoom technology is still better on a ‘real’ camera. While I love iPads, I still find myself back on the desktop computer most days, when doing heavy duty graphics. I must confess reluctantly my 53-year-old hands still prefer a mouse and a physical keyboard, now who sounding like the dinosaur lol. The main reason I ended up buying a camera again had more to do with the wish to finally shoot video than stills. Much like the long format post is being replaced by microblogs (don’t worry I won’t be writing many more epics like this) video now seems to trump photos, especially socially.

The world of YouTube has long been the creator of the new ‘rock stars’, no matter how much you deplore Google no other video service as come close to replacing the Tube service. Being able to capture short videos and post them online is nothing new, for years I stupidly avoided it. However, facts are facts people would rather, indeed naturally seem to gravitate towards images that move. I must confess I watch far more YouTube than I do anything else, as the mainstream media offers little that interests. So Sure, you can shoot great movies on a smartphone, but I still think cameras have the edge…..just. Smartphones and tablets will reign supreme in all areas of digital graphics very soon just not today.

So why the G9

Choosing a camera has never been easy, that’s one thing that digital hasn’t changed. Sure, you can view all the reviews and samples without ever leaving the couch but making the decision between all the brands and models is not easy as there is no universal perfect camera. There is only a perfect camera for you at a specific moment in time. Like all tech, the art of compromise is the key. Firstly, budget is usually the biggest factor for most mortals, often one must sacrifice quality for features or features for quality. Size is another important factor especially for me, my testosterone drained body gets weaker by the day (see), lugging a massive camera around in 2020 isn’t sexy or fun. Typically, in the past I bought Canon or Nikon. But after 3 months of going over all the cameras I feel I found the perfect camera for me in this moment of time. May I present to you…. the Panasonic G9

While it’s not a new camera, In fact it’s two years old, it is very capable in all the areas I need it to be. Luckily for me, in November it had a firmware update that made it an even better video shooter. Sure, you can sit for hours pontificating on whether the Panasonic GH5 is the better all-around piece of kit, but ultimately economics sealed the deal. This month Panasonic offered a load of extras: a battery grip, a 25mm lens and a spare battery if you purchased the G9. That was just as I figured out it was in my top 3 of cameras. The other two cameras were in fact camcorders. Yes, don’t laugh I was seriously considering a camcorder.  You see I am not a video person, I am a photographer and a camcorder is actually a lot easier to use than a camera hybrid. I have an old Canon d550 which still takes perfectly respectable images, so I didn’t really need another camera.  I wanted to shoot simple 4K videos from a fixed viewpoint on a tripod for about 3 to 5 minutes. The trouble was all the camcorders I could afford were very old technology only shooting 4K videos in 24p, sadly my d550 was basically hopeless at video. Note I did look at a GoPro which shoots perfectly respectable 4k, however I wanted to be able to zoom into landscapes, something action cameras just can’t do.

While I have no knowledge in video I knew I wanted scope for creativity and growth in the subject, the Panasonic G9 gives me that, shooting up to 60p in 4K with a whole host of speed and size combinations that will boggle my mind for months to come. The camera is a good size, no bigger than the d550 and it had a full tilt screen. I love tilt screens. Oh the images I could have got without laying on the wet ground over the years with a tilt screen. I won’t go into all the techy stuff, but this camera is a micro four thirds. Basically, it means you have a smaller sensor on the camera which doesn’t always give you the perfect image in lower light, but due to this 4/3rds system the lenses are much smaller than other cameras. As I have said buying a camera is always just a list of compromises that fits your current needs. So, I decided to purchase the G9 with a 12-60 lens for £1200 which was less than the Sony ax700 video camera I was looking at … no other camera other than the new Fuji X-T4 floated my boat, I don’t think that model is even out yet and it will cost a lot more than the G9.

Now I must learn how to create simple content for my empty YouTube channel. As with most things in life, I’m braced for a steep learning curve, I think in time I’ll figure it all out, so watch this space for updates.