Panasonic and Leica go Motorbicycling. G85, 8-18 and a story of neglect

saladin

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In the spirit of @speedy and some content for the Panasonic board, here is a bit of a tale, for better or worse. A word of warning as I begin this thread - there's a fair chance it contains more motorcycling theme than MFT, and almost certainly ends up a pure, waffling, nonsensical ramble. I'm just going to write it , I will not edit it and it will be whatever eventuates, lol. There will, of course, be pictures. Good luck to us all.


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"Neglect!"


The call rings loudly in deep sonorous tones, like the fateful portentous tolling of an ancient bell and my head hangs in shame at the word, unable to mount a defence against the accusation levelled both against, and by, my most pitiful self.

Yea, verily, it is a cold, hard Truth. ( A brief aside: Whether or not there is a warm, soft truth, or even indeed how temperature fluctuations and/or random viscosity values effect such Truths, is a mystery best to be tackled another time, perhaps). I have neglected several loved ones. Over many months. I've known it, and so too most likely do they.

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Above: G85/8-18mmPL. 8mm @ F/5




You see, its been nearly 11 months since my Trusty Piece of British Iron- more colloquially known round here as "Triumph"- vanished into the dim recesses of my shed, and into the even more dimly illuminated recesses of my mind. Oh sure, I glimpse it occasionally lurking down the back there, a pleading glint in the elliptical eye of its headlights and I turn away hurriedly. Next time, old girl, next time.

And then there's the G85. She's a jealous type if I know anything about the thought processes of camera's - which of course I don't, but really who does? Ever tried to decipher the focus proclivities of an Eos M? Sheesh! Err, anyway, lets just go with the decidedly unpoetic license here. Right, so, if missing out on the trip to Sydney for the PenF wasn't bad enough, salted wounds most surely ensued when the Gx8 won my favour for the southern sojourn to Hobart Town. And then when MR 8 got the nod for a family trip to Batemans Bay.... well, i'd rather not go into details. Hell hath no Fury. Suffice to say, I could almost hear the scornful wail from the cupboard as I headed for the taxi "But it doesn't even have REAL Ibis!". Well, yeah, she's nothing if not truthful , though be it of the cold hard kind or otherwise is less clear. And, thusly, Miss 85 was left behind on the shelf, presumably brooding and mulling on her predicament with the -mercifully -happily retired Em5 and a few film bodies.

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above: G85/8-18PL. 9mm @ F/3.2



Finally, there's the Panasonic Leica 8-18mm Lens. Here, Your Honour, I can at least mount some sort of defence to the charges brought agin me. This uptown lass arrived more recently, and she got an outing to NSW a month or two back. As a consequence, we would put to the court that its more a matter of insufficient resources - err, read "time" - than outright neglect.

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Above: G85/8-18mm. 10mm @F/5

Ok, so lets cut to the chase. By a serendipitous confluence of intersecting happenstance - if you've ever read a more ludicrous and self indulgent grammatical abomination I'd be mildly surprised - a property of some Historical Significance was to be open for inspection in preparation for the Auctioning off of said property in the very near and foreseeable future. Not of any Historical Importance to the world. Or even to that part of the world that surrounds it. Oh no, but rather a property of some meaningful meaning to me. For you see, dear reader of this shambling account, it was none other than the former abode of my Great Grandfather. For clarity and education, lets take a brief detour. It is – and was - said by those who should- and did – have suitably appropriate recourse to know such things that Great Grandfather wasn't actually overly great at all. Nor even close. In fact, the appendage "a mean hard old bastard" may have been thrown in his direction in my hearing. Thus is the danger for the unwary of Capitalised titles thrown about willy-nilly and the importance of spotting such nuances. Very often, in my experience, you may find a Right Royal Ass mislabelled as a Sir. Here endeth the detour.

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Above: G85 / 8-18PL. 18mm @F/5


Err, where were we? Ah yes, the old buggers house. I hadn't been inside for nigh on 30 years - his house that is, as opposed to the Big House, where happily, I've never been or even His House which apparently is owned by the Almighty and an entirely different thing altogether. See what I mean about those damn capitals? Figuring this may be the once and final chance to break said drought, I decided to proceed to the locality henceforth. At speed. Lots of speed. And the solution clearly lay at hand. Well, once i'd shifted half a tonne of detritus in the Shed and fought my way through to the battery charger in order to restore life to the British Steed, it lay at somewhat hand. As did the prospect of killing off two other birds with a stone or two. Depending on my aim.

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Above: G85/8-18mm. 18mm @ F/8

For in a moment of inspiration, I did decree that the G85 and 8-18mm would accompany me on the journey to the former family estate. Preparations made then, all aboard and loaded up, the British Stead did look rather fetching, even resplendent in her freshly dusted off Red livery:


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Above: Gx8/ 15mm PL.


That contraption perched atop the fuel tank is one of the new Givi Tankloc Tankbags. It’s a great device and I’ve always loved tankbags for touring about the area. Possibly because I’ve also always loved maps. And Tankbags – well, the good ones – allow a map viewing pocket on top so that you may have some vague notion of where you are going. If you can read them. I have always found it very cool to go all Magellan into the unknown and ride off the edge of the “known” map! “There be dragons” and all that stuff.

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Above: 8mm @ F/2.8


Be that as it may, the bag under discussion contained some spare clothes for a night away, the G85 and the 8-18PL. The intention being to give it a run and put it through its paces as an “I can do anything” allrounder in order to report back to a (very likely long gone) audience here. But then I second guessed myself, worried that a situation may arise that called for a totally different lens. What if, hypothetically, Kate Beckinsale were to burst into my intended watering hole and declare that the future of the world did dependeth entirely on the outcome of a boudoir portrait session in which only one eye could be allowed to be in focus and does anyone in this forsaken town have such equipment!? I couldn’t risk it, could I? Imagine the recriminations from the world at large? So I threw in the 30/1.4 Sigma as an Armageddon avoidance device. Alas, Kate never appeared, but it does mean that most images here are from the Leica wide angle. So that’s probably nice. At least for those who are wanting to see some photo’s from the 8-18/G85 combo. I wouldn’t have minded saving the world though. In an entirely altruistic and entirely-not-self-interested way, of course. Oh, and I cant help but think that the world is a poorer place without a thread entitled “saving the planet with a Beckinsale photo shoot”. Maybe that’s just me.

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Above: G85/8-18mm. 9mm @ F3.1



And then we were off, amidst much fanfare, pageantry and blowing of horns. Sans the fanfare, pageantry and horns. No matter. I did get a kiss from the lovely wife and an admonishment as we parted ways to “be careful and don’t get yourself killed”. “No fear”, quoth I. “The weather’s grand, the pub is hospitable and the open road an old friend”. I should have known better than to tempt such fates as govern the motorbicycling universe. We’ll get to that later. Perhaps.



Oh yeah. I also had a new helmet to debut with the new Tankbag. The old helmet was beaut. But it was pretty ancient, the padding was compressed and the lining smelt like a wet dog had wintered in it. For each of the last twelve years. So like most old things, it eventually had to go. Which reminds me. My wife has pointed out recently that I’m getting old too. Hmm. That’s troubling.

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Be that as it may, the new Helmet is beaut too! Its made by Shark. Well, you couldn’t expect me to wear one that was made by Sloth, or Daffodil or some such could you? No Sir-Ree. At any rate, it’s quiet, it has wide vision and it has a really nifty feature that negates an age-old problem. Countless are the times back in my now overly-distant youth that I would be caught on a night ride with a tinted visor and thus faced with the awkward decision of near-on blindness due to the dark tint, or near-on blindness due to being struck in the eyes by various members of the insect kingdom. But this one, well this one solves that problem by providing a flip-down internal visor. Like So:

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It’s a ripper of a solution to a troublesome issue. Good thinking by Messrs Shark and Co. Which brings me in an altogether circuitous and utterly contrived manner to the Leica 8-18mm lens. You knew I would! Eventually. Otherwise you wouldn’t have bothered with this garbage for this far. Nor, let the record show, Your Honour, would have I. Assuming anyone has. “Stop it, get Back to the Leica! Or Ms Beckinsale”. Quite right, a fair point. It too (the lens, not Kate) has relatively wide vision. And it too has a neat feature that users should value that rivals may lack. By the simple expedient of lengthening the lens case beyond the front element, they have not only protected said element but provided a threaded section that can take filters even on an Ultra-wide zoom lens! Here’s a really poor photo of a really good idea - i'm rather good at the really poor:

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Praise the gods of Optics and Lenses! Ok, sure, I suspect careful selection of thin filter rings may be required or the wide angle may ‘see’ the filter, but its surely a better thing to have available than to not have, umm, available. The Olly 7-14 requires an engineering degree, a lathe and possibly a milling machine to install a filter kit. With the PL, just walk into a store and buy one that screws straight in! Easy Peasy, err, Japanesey? All Praise Herr Leica-San! And whilst we’re on THAT little topic, I’m not overly bothered by how much input Leitz has into the Panasonic lenses. The fact is – lets term this one as luke warm and slightly spongey, just coz we can- that Leica have allowed their name on this lens without suing the pants off Panasonic. That’s good enough for me, we all know that “Leica” on anything immediately makes it 4.7 times better than it otherwise would be. And possibly makes it invisible too, apparently. Which could, incidentally, be an issue if I ever un-mount it from the body and place it down absently…..

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Above: 8mm @ f/3.2




Back to the road! By gaw, I love travelling by motorbicycle. There’s nothing else like it. The first section of the sojourn was a seemingly endless combat with peak hour traffic that could have brought unmentionable curses to ones lips if so inclined. As indeed I was inclined. On several and varied occasions. The second section was a high speed jaunt on open highway into the North West that swapped the curses for a joyful song of , err, joy. It’s like I was in one of those road-trip ad’s with The Hollies playing Air That I Breathe over my left shoulder. Strange huh? Almost ‘Weird scenes inside the Goldmine’ strange. Almost.


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Above: 9mm @ F/5.6

I arrived at the small Victorian town with plenty of daylight, but not plenty of time before Meals closed at the Watering Establishment of Choice. Ok, not that there’s exactly a torrential flood of choice. It’s the only show in town, really. But I made it, enjoyed a very decent meal and an Ale. And then another Ale. And then……. Well, you get the picture.



Dawn broke bright and cheerful. More so than I did if truth be told, and as indeed it should be told. The “And then” ‘ s of the previous night may have stretched on a bit, but I deemed The Good Publican eminently deserving of my patronage and he in turn seemed exceedingly willing to ply the weary and brave traveller with restorative elixirs at journey’s end.

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Above: 18mm @ F/4.0



And now, (“Finally you dithering fool”! Yea, surely can I hear it coming through the ether) we reach the part about Photographing that which needed to be Photographed in order to post on a Photography website. For the Open House was not to be open until after the Morn. As a consequence, the Morn was spent wandering aimlessly (though not so aimlessly as this laughable “review” has probably become) about the locale with G85 and Leica in hand in hope of taking a nice picture or two and finding a beverage of caffeinated content to imbibe. The aforementioned pictures are scattered as seem fit amongst this wreckage of grammatical indecency. I make even less claim on being a decent taker of quality pictures than I do of being a decent and coherent wordsmith. Which is to say, precisely none.
 
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saladin

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But lets pretend for a wee moment to be a Camera Reviewer of Renown. It’s a stretch, I know. Its like pretending Donald Trump could ever be President of the Good ol USA. Outrageous and fanciful, of course. What would said Reviewer do? Well, he/she may well show you what 8mm looks like pictorially. And then in a really clever move give you an 18mm view from the same point. Methinks I can do that. So here goes:

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There’s something else that our mystical top flight Reviewer would plan to do – show you just how much real distortion exists inside this Teutonoic/Japanese beastie and how much is hidden by the camera processing. I DIDN’T because I’m NOT, but rather stumbled on it by sheer accident. Here’s the Raw photo as rendered by ON1 software, followed soon – ok, immediately- after by the in-camera jpeg version.

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Is it excessive? Too much? To be expected? Personally, I stopped caring the moment I bought the lens and forgot this was even a thing. I will say that the images accompanying this waffle are a mix of jpeg and processed raws, but not once in the raws did I manage to remember to correct the image distortion. Maybe I have a distorted view of the world already…..

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So there you go. Two Technical examples most assuredly worthy of DP Review. As indeed I suspect this thread will be worthy of DP Review style critique by readers. I am applying my internet Chain Mail suit as we spea, err, write. Flame away. Not that Chain Mail is a great choice for flaming now that I think about. Asbestos may have been more applicable. It may also have been a better option for the Mail clad Crusaders at Hattin, but that's another tale altogether.



But lets blunder on. Or at least, I will. You are free to go. Or stay. Or alternately both as and when you see fit. What else can this do-it-all-lens do? Well, clearly by definition, everything, else I’m indulging in false claims! How about Portraits? Unfortunately Ms Beckinsale didn’t need me to save the world, so subjects were a bit thin on the ground. Eventually I was able to lure these guys in close.

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Sorry, It’s the best I could do. David Attenborough I am not, but by pretending to have some bread I was able to get in close. The indignant and guilt-inducing looks bandied about when they discovered I was merely waving a few leaves was enough to suggest that they’d learnt their craft from my G85!

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It’s stating the obvious of course that the beauty of this lens doth lay in its two extreme zoom ranges, useful aperture speed and overall image quality. 8mm is wide enough for interior shots and creative angles – for those with such creative talents – and 18mm is long enough to avoid the heavy distortion and function in multiple roles. 8mm is also wide enough for road-side photo’s of the British Steed without condemning you to standing in the road.

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Had I only had the 12mm, I would most assuredly have been flattened very flat indeed. By a logging truck. If the old-school 35mm lens is your bread and butter then this lens has it within its remit. Shoot street at maximum zoom, then step inside a store and widen it out. As best I can, I’ve tried to provide examples of both for your viewing pleasure. Largely in an attempt to mitigate your presumed reading horror. Its weatherproof too, far more so than I was as it turned out, which just adds to the idea that I could tour happily with just this lens.


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Anything amiss with this lens? Well, it flares. There’s more flares than a Scooby-Doo themed 1970’s Swingers Love-in entry door. Personally, that idea doesn’t bother me. Now, back to the lens…..


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Ideally, this lens would have an aperture ring. I like aperture rings. They’re cool. They’re fun. And handy. And cool. Yes, of course I know it’s a variable aperture! It is my lens you know! And it’s a Leica for goodness sake, it HAS to have to an aperture ring! And did I mention that they’re cool? Case closed.



Elsewhere, I think it should have IS. This is not a cheap lens. Unlike at least one of its owners. I don’t care if it’s a short focal length, beer and coffee tremor sufferers need all the help we, ahem, THEY can get! Pairing it up with dual IS would have been great. And wonderful. Especially on the older bodies with lesser IBIS abilities. Hmmm, do I sense a plot to encourage me to upgrade bodies!? Well, Panasonic-San, I am impervious to your cunning plans for world domination. Particularly with Miss 85 in the kit, her Ibis is excellent to behold. Or at least I was impervious until two days ago, when I succumbed to the idea of 6 stops of stabilisation and pre-ordered a G9….. Damn it!

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Other than that, its now joined my Shark Helmet in the This Is Bloody Beaut Club. Can it do everything? Probably not. Photographing the kids playing soccer 60 meters away might be pushing the friendship unreasonably. Mainly if they aren’t your kids of course! But as an everyday lens? Yep, its got your back.

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Speaking of back, having had a wander through the old bluestone house that I’d come to see, and tried to sound suitably and (dare I say) impressively knowledgeable about its history, it was time to head back home. Which promised to be another beaut aspect to a beaut day away. That promise was unceremoniously broken soon after departure when the heavens did open with a vengeance. Oh how it did rain. Cats , dogs and small amphibious creatures. Then, happily, it stopped raining. Less welcome, it replaced it with hail. And a gale blowing across the road. Who’s idea was it to venture forth on a motorcycle!? Which idiot was that?

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Not that the camera and lens seemed bothered. They were snuggly secure in their gasketed union. British Steed didn’t seem unduly concerned either, powering into the maelstrom in a fashion that suggested that after 11 months of captivity it wasn’t going to let mere elemental forces ruin its fun. No, it was the wide-eyed (and probably wild eyed) jockey who had his heart in his mouth as he peered into the spray, listened to hailstones bouncing off the visor and attempted to avoid as many shiny, malevolent looking patches of bitumen as possible as they emerged from the mist. Far ahead, a patch of blue sky beckoned hopefully, but it seemed a long way off. Particularly when the hailstones started to work their way inside my collar and down my back. Discretion always being the better part of non-existent valour, I considered trying to stop. Problem was, the road edges looked lethal and to slow down considerably was to invite being run over by the Learner driver who had been tailgating me for the last few kilometres. Instead, I pressed on and watched with morbid curiosity the small rivulets of water running across the road, pondering which of them was most likely to make an attempt on my life.

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And then, as if a giant hand had drawn a curtain across the landscape over which the stormclouds could not pass, I burst through into brilliant sunshine, the lurking darkness suddenly now just a memory in the mirrors. Not just sunshine either, but a rapidly climbing temperature. Soon enough, the hailstones, no longer content with tormenting my back with their icy tendrils, now adopted a new guerrilla tactic. As the mercury climbed within the leather jacket they converted to steam and attempted to broil me from within. Seriously? Oh the joy.

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Inevitably, the approach back into the ever growing metropolis of Melbourne encountered heavy traffic and the British Steed passed from freedom machine into the role of mere tool. Something with which to deal efficiently with the traffic and its frustrated drivers, a means to an end, just get the job done and move on.

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It’s a lot like our camera’s really. Empirically, in theory , they too are a just an object, something with which to capture an image, a tool hold a memory. But for many of us, they really aren’t are they? They’re more than that. The Triumph has a soul that I can bond with in even mundane moments, always a hint of class and adventure, sometimes threat, available in any given second. It makes you feel alive. Presumably up until such moment as you feel very, very deceased. I’m already looking forward to my next dose.

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That’s also how I feel about my camera’s. Its why some stay and some go and very often it has nothing to do with outright image quality. I am not, and never will be, a Great photographer. But if my gear makes me feel good, want to use it and puts a smile on the dial, then that’s a win. Which is where the Leica 8-18mm fits right in. There’s a feeling of class and pride with this lens. Is it better than the alternatives? Does it even matter? Its different, and its very versatile. Wide enough to separate itself from the quality 12mm’s, long enough to shoot as a general purpose medium wide. Most of all its mine, and its outright good. So too the G85, with its beautiful shutter and rugged utilitarian attitude. Or the GX8 with its tough looking demeanour and EVF to beat all others. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a little Leica grittiness in the files too. We can all dream a little. Sometimes its good to dream a lot. So I most certainly recommend this lens in a most- and mostly- emphatic way. Its expensive and unique, but not uniquely expensive in a system rapidly expanding into premium gear.



Yes, Your Honour, I’m certainly listening? The neglect charges have been dropped? Phew. That’s a Big Relief. Sorry, what was that? New Charges! Crimes against The Language!?

Strewth, I think I’m in trouble! Someone pass me a thesaurus.

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Thanks for, err, looking.
 
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Gerard

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Great images.
I skipped the text after encountering words like: ‘portentious’, of which I don’t know the translation.
Moreover it gave me the feeling that it was a sort op poetic text, which is not my cup of tea.
Nevertheless it is a great write up, I think :)
 

speedy

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I see your post suffered the same fate as mine. It seems that you can post a Panasonic camera image thread in the Panasonic forum, but not an image thread with images from a Panasonic camera :eek-31::eek-31:
No wonder the Panasonic camera thread is so quiet, I would never have found your thread, or mine, where they now reside
 

barry13

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I see your post suffered the same fate as mine. It seems that you can post a Panasonic camera image thread in the Panasonic forum, but not an image thread with images from a Panasonic camera :eek-31::eek-31:
No wonder the Panasonic camera thread is so quiet, I would never have found your thread, or mine, where they now reside
Hi, I normally move threads like this out of the Panasonic or Olympus or Lens topics.
If you wish to discuss it, please open a new thread in Help & Feedback.
 

saladin

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Thanks guys. Suffice to say, I wasn't writing this one with any expectations of being featured, lol.

The 8-18 might be my most valued lens atm, the focal range is very cool to have.
 

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