Tuesday, May 17, 2011

P6000 versus the LX5

If you are hoping for a straight-forward ‘do this’ review, stop now. I am serious.

I have wanted a quality pocket camera ever since this Sony (at right) caught my eye in early December 2007.

The Nikon P6000 and the LX5 are similar cameras. My reasons for choosing these two? The P6000 was recommended for IR conversion and the LX5 from looking Lightscrape’s blog, where he shoots with an LX3 and contemplates an upgrade. I went on the idea that the p6000 would be an inexpensive way to go IR without the learning of another brand interface. The LX5 sensor is a 1/1.63” CCD with 10.1mp. The P6000 sensor is a 1/1.7” CCD with 13.5mp. What? Yes, to my surprise, the P6000 is a Nikon CCD and not CMOS as I presumed from comparing images to my D5000. The LX5 has a 24-90mm at f/2.0 to f/3.3, while the P6000 has 28-112mm at f/2.7 to f/5.9. The LX5 lens is faster with more wide angle range. I like this part of the LX5 a lot. I find the images lacking in sharpness for broad landscape shots.

The GPS capability of the P6000 gives me the creeps. It does spooky things like check your location while powered off. Four times, ninety minutes apart. Did I mention, while powered off? Yup. Like my iphone (which gave me the creeps, too). I think my GPS-enabled devices have more of a social life than I do. Makes one wonder about where things are going. Has anyone else read George Orwell’s 1984 more recently than their senior year of high school?

I abandoned the P6000 to shoot with the LX5 in March. Lately however, I have missed my ‘Nikon pictures.’ The quick decision to convert my dslr to IR was based largely on the observation that the P6000 and the D5000 had very similar images. My enthusiasm for the world of IR justified the conversion of my best camera. That choice can only be unmade by buying yet another dslr. . .and I am broke. So, back to the LX5/P6000: I am unable to compare directly. I make adjustments to the camera to get the shot, more than imagine that the same settings on both would be a legitimate comparison. I like both cameras. The LX5:

And the Nikon P6000:

The P6000 seems to have that Nikon image quality that I am fond of. Indeed, my experience with a CoolPix 8700 is what led me to a Nikon dslr. (Captured most of last June.)

(A weak nod to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with an ornamental glass fishing float, no less.)

I have not been too inspired to shoot. The breaks in the weather come at such unexpected moments. They carry a weight of ‘oh great, suddenly it is nice out, so I better go do something.’ I have not the will nor interest to analyze these two cameras point for point like other professional reviews have done. To paraphrase comedian Brian Regan, “they’re both good. They’re both favorites.”

The P6000 produces images that I like. The LX5 produces images that surprise me and that I also like. The P6000 feels more substantial in my hand. It is slower. It is more Nikon-y. The images are sharper. I like the viewfinder in the P6000 without additional accessories. I really hate the lack of an external charger. Seriously? Plug the camera into the wall? That is so 2-megapixel-1999-style. The LX5:

The P6000:

Even if I wanted to, the shot-to-shot comparisons are tough because the tripod mounts are in very different places: middle of the P6000, odd far left of the LX5. In the end, I had to try them both. I like them both. Bob Dylan comes to mind:
Half of the cameras can be part right all of the time. Some of the cameras can be all right part of the time.
But all of the cameras can’t be all right all of the time.

When you’re dealing with two very nice ‘enthusiast’ cameras, the decision factors come down to completely arbitrary and personal things. Do you like Nikon dslrs and image quality? Do you really want to geotag your shots? Do you want a viewfinder? Both shoot raw. Both take nice pictures. Neither will replace your dslr. Sorry. I really am, in a self-pitying kind of way.

In the theme of indecision, here are two consecutive shots from the P6000 of the sunset tonight.

Instax Postscript
Oh yes, my ambition to begin shooting on film! Life is a crazy train. No, I have not made strides towards that yet, though my ‘serious photographer’ very much wants to move away from these digital cameras. My wonderful Fujifilm Instax 210 gives an analog film feeling when I crave it. I hope that soon, other more sophisticated cameras will appear that can take advantage of this great instant film. Even better would be a back of some sort for a 4x5 camera! When the 210 was new, I learned that I simply took too many pictures to share in the digital world. I don’t care what anyone says, scanning film is way more work than digital photographs. I often shoot the Instax and give away the photos. I rarely bother to share them on this blog. I put all my instant pictures into a chronological photo album. It works to communicate ‘I am a photographer’ with the novelty of a crappy plastic camera and the retro notion of instant film. The artistry is real in front of the person I am sharing with. It is like a blog-on-wheels, or, like in the old days, what people probably once called ‘photographs.’ Here’s some recent ones. First, up Sixes river:

Recently down at the beach. There is a crescent moon in this shot, right hand side, in the upper third of the blue sky.

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