LX3 with a viewfinder

7th March 2010

As we all know the Panasonic Lumix LX3 is a fine point and shoot camera. It has attracted lot of attention over the past few months for a number of reasons. It’s small, yet produces good quality images. Its lens is versatile and sharp. It can go as wide as 24mm (equivalent to full frame), and is f/2.0 at this focal length. It’s such a nice camera, that Leica is selling a rebranded version with its name on it. It’s called the D-LUX 4.

And I personally love it, except for one thing. It’s still a point and shoot, and it’s hard to get away from that. When shooting in manual mode, a lot of the controls feel fiddly on such small body, and somewhat unresponsive. However, that isn’t my biggest complaint. That would be the fact that composing an image on a point and shoot always feels unnatural. Holding a camera at arms length and at chest height invariably results in me not getting the image I want. This is no doubt somewhat of a personal gripe, but I find that in order to get the shot I want, I need to have the camera to my eye.

And so I purchased the following:

Panasonic LX3 + Zorki viewfinder

The viewfinder you see above is one made by Zorki. They are relatively inexpensive on ebay, and are much cheaper than the official viewfinder made by Panasonic. The barrel can be rotated to 6 settings:

28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 135mm.

Zorki viewfinder front

The viewfinder slips into the hotshoe nicely, and feels natural to use. However, it does obscure the pop up flash and would not allow the use of an external flash when used.

This has changed this camera for me. I am now shooting (more or less), what I see. And I love it. It has, however, had a few side effects that I did not expect.

Like primes
There are only 2 settings that are within the focal range of the LX3. The range of 24-60mm only leaves 28mm and 50mm as choices. Therefore, I tend to use either at the extremes of the lens' capabilites with these two settings. Essentially it feels like I’m shooting with primes again, and this I like. When using my SLR, I exclusively use primes. I enjoy the way they make me think, and I feel so much more at home using them.

However, many would find this a disadvantage, and this should be considered before acquiring one.

Because you are no longer looking through the lens when composing images, you can get parallax errors, such that when you pull the trigger, what you see is not exactly what you get. This manifests itself in two ways. Firstly is the framing itself and secondly is leveling. Fortunately the viewfinder does offer ways to correct for this.

Parallax errors are most significant when dealing with subjects close to the lens. Therefore, in order to help compensate, the viewfinder can be adjusted slightly by rotating the barrel by a given offset:

Zorki viewfinder profile

This makes a big difference, however leveling errors are still prominent. In order to get the correct horizon, I’ve taken to fixing them in post production. Adobe Photoshop Elements offers a nice horizon fixing tool, as I’m sure most pieces photographic processing software would.

However, despite these issues, I would strongly recommend trying one out. It makes street photography much more discreet and can really change the way you use your LX3.

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