Were the quiet and intelligent as sure of themselves as the loud and ignorant this world would be a better place.
— Eric L. Woods (@EricLWoods) November 15, 2015
I have been and remain brand agnostic. I will occasionally stick with a brand for a time, but if a compelling alternative is offered replacement time all bids are considered. Recently I decided to replace my Note 3. It had served me well, but it appeared that Marshmallow was not in the cards for the old fella so it was time to move on. I liked the Note 3 so much in fact that I did not consider the Note 4 for lack of need. I went to the AT&T store perfectly expecting to walk out with an S6 Edge. If I am honest while the ‘hey that’s neat’ gadget geek was impressed with the side screens the Industrial Engineer in me was not thrilled with the exposed glass of the side screens for fear that they would defy a conventional case design and would be vulnerable to damage. On to the Note 5… Wait. Sealed so I cannot replace the battery or add memory like I can on my Note 3? You will then charge me more for the 64GB model that is the only real choice for me? That is when I found out about the recently released LG V10. What sold me? Glad you asked:
- First off the camera is a photographers dream. Yes, 4 k video, but more relevant to me full manual controls over nearly every aspect of photo and video. OIS is a definite plus slo-mo, burst, time lapse, etc. Excellent image quality as well.
- The build quality is quite impressive with the stiff chassis and exposed aluminum sides. The rubberized and textured material covering the rest of the device looks and feels nice also. I have read that this phone has a military grade drop spec also. I will not be testing that.
- The second screen (top banner in pic with Eric L. Woods.) is quite handy and I have not had issues with reaching across the screen to reach the second screen as I have heard in reviews.
- Very responsive with no noticeable lag switching screens, opening apps, etcc.
- Comes standard with 64GB.
- Does phone stuff well for the record.
- Then there is this picture I took below to illustrate two big selling points. A removable battery and and a micro SD card slot.
That is a huge selling point. For me a sealed camera is close to a deal breaker.
There are many more good things I can mention, but I will wrap this up by saying that this is one impressive smartphone and it has does nothing but impress since the purchase. Arguably the best phone I have owned to date and I have sampled many manufacturers and all major platforms (Android, Apple, Windows, and Blackberry).
Gallery of images taken with my new camera that is also a phone. Up until now any editing occurred on phone and any posting was mostly to social apps. Now is a good time to mention that above producing RAW/dng this is the first phone I have owned that has inspired me to add phone pictures to my post processing flow (currently Lightroom).
Before I fell down the digital interchangeable lens camera rabbit hole a couple of years ago I was in to mobile phones a bit. Like cameras I was brand agnostic. I had Android phones, an iPhone, and a Windows phone. All did what I needed them to do. External, non-phone things drove my switches mostly. Had a Nexus, but Apple finally released 3G and a wide aspect ratio screen so I gave it a spin. Liked it, but a bit smallish for me. Sold it for enough to try out a Lumia 920 and buy my wife an ASUS tablet she is still using today. Loved the Lumia 920, and it had a great camera, but by then I had gotten in to cameras and Windows phones were not covered remote app wise. On to the the Note 3. Lovely phone. Loved the built in stylus in theory, but I rarely remembered it was there. Big enough. Fast enough. Then a few months ago I noticed that the software may have been getting ahead of the hardware. Laggy would be the word. Not horrible, but noticeable. Then a friend shows me his shiny Note 5… Your Note what now? I had forgotten about the 4 altogether. I still did not feel rushed to update since the Note 5 did not really wow me honestly. Like the 4 I thought nice case, but other than a performance bump it was essentially a form factor clone. Not a ding. Why mess with success? I get it. No rush, but I decided to pull the trigger Saturday. Before picking up dinner for the family I would swing by the local AT&T store and pay Eric a visit. A salesman there had given me great advice for my daughter’s first phone. Buy an ASUS Zenfone 2E ($109) from their pre-paid line and add it to the family plan. Genius. Not 2 weeks later the phone had a smashed screen and all I was out was $109 for another brand new phone. Perfect. So I went to see Eric again this time. I went in intending to get a Samsung S6 Edge. After talking with Eric for a few moments I was leaning towards the Note 5 briefly or just walking out once I learned there was no SD card or removal battery. Then he mentions the LG V10 and then points me to David where I hear the words, “Full manual control in photo and video mode, OIS, and RAW.” Then David adds “free 200GB SD card, extra battery and charger”. More words were said, jokes shared, parting handshakes, and then I walked out with the LG V10 and proceeded to get dinner. The phone stuff? Does it all very well. No lag either. Up until now I bought phones with cameras as an afterthought. The cameras were not bad in the last few phones. Just not good enough for me to leave home without a dedicated camera. Would this be. Could this be the first device that would cure me of my no camera nearby angst? My cameras will always have a place, but for daily tasks I decided to rely only on the newly acquired LG V10 for a few days and I am impressed. I am loving other features (2nd screen, 2 front facing cameras, solid build, aluminum side, etc), but none of that would matter to me if it were not for the photo results. I may write about the other featutes later, but here are the photos below. Well done LG. -ELW
A destination is necessary to move forward, but understand that the journey may take you places you would never have imagined you would go. -ELW
Having copped an over-performing, bargain plastic fantastic and completed the business of assembling my frugal lens trinity it was now time to play. And for me that means a macro lens. Macro lenses are great because no matter the weather, the temperature, or any other extraneous conditional variables it is easy to amuse ones self. The most mundane things take on an other worldly air about them when viewed 1:1. One negative is that a macro lens will show you just how negligent you have been in air canning your keyboard or dusting/cleaning anything in general reaping a few throwaway pics due to the yechh factor. Another perk is that due to the nature of macro lenses they are typically tack sharp in other applications. Back in the Oly days I had a 60mm f/2.8 Olympus lens that I loved. I was not in Nikon town long enough to get around to acquiring a macro lens. When I went all lensapalooza with Samsung I did rather like their 60mm macro offering especially on a trip to Duke Gardens. Then there was the beyond frugal frankenmacro which put in a good effort during the Sony A7‘s run. Pentax has quite a few macro lenses to choose from, but I was immediately drawn to the Pentax 100mm f/2.8 WR. Why? Glad you asked:
- WR or water resistant. I did not have a water/dust sealed lens yet to go with my gasket crazy K-3ii and a macro lens makes perfect sense. I plan on getting up close and personal with less than dry and contaminant free environs so this takes away some of my squeamishness.
- Metal construction with engraved text. My prior lenses were well built, but none went so far as to have an all metal build.
- Size. Looking at the specs this full frame compatible lens was physically smaller than the M43 Olympus and considerably more compact than the fellow APS Samsung. Pretty impressive packaging.
- Now that I mention it, full frame compatible. With a pending full frame Pentax body release on the horizon it is nice to know this lens will work with it.
- Price. Right in line with non-water resistant, non-metal, non-full frame offerings from other manufacturers. Further I bought mine used from Amazon (for $100-$200 less than list depending on where you look) which came in like new condition as stated with nary a mark or scratch and all paraphernalia (hood, caps, bag) in box.
- Sample images impressed.
- Lastly I was intrigued by the focal length which was the longest macro Pentax offered (the others being 35mm and 50mm). The Olympus 60mm crop worked out to roughly 120mm, the Samsung 60mm crop roughly 90mm, (Lord knows with frankenmacro) so I figured that the little extra reach the 135mm Pentax 90mm crop offered might be of benefit for macro and portrait photos. For macros it would give me space and for portraits it should help with compression and blur… or at least I hoped it would.
Some on line and customer reviews griped about not having a focus limit switch, which is understandable, but with both AF macros I had previously I tended to switch to MF whenever I wanted to take a macro shot and here that is as simple as flicking the little lever on the from of the K-3ii. Plus I rather like the all of a piece retro-ish metal construction with no switches aesthetic (I know, nothing to do with creating images but it is a factor for me nonetheless.) so it is a trade off I accept easily.
Samsung had IS in the lens, but like the Olympus this lens relies on the camera’s in body IS. In my experience this is the easiest lens to use for macro I have owned yet. Not that the others were bad, mind you, it is that this is the only one so far that did not leave me wishing for more light with macros. Many of the shots with the Olympus and the Samsung made use of a flash or even a flashlight, but I do not have a Pentax flash to my name and the macro shots below were taken with regular room light hand held. I am not sure whether this is owed to the in body IS, the optics, dark magic or some combination of the above, but the results are impressive.
- Note as of the writing of this post: This lens is no longer listed on the Pentax website as far as I can tell, Amazon (best price by $100 presently) has this lens listed as discontinued (but in stock) and it is on back order on B&H, but Adorama seems to have plenty (although with Adorama I did have an instance where I was not told that an item was back ordered until after I made the purchase and I requested a return). So if you want one you may need to act fast.
Just received it, but I must say it ticks off all of my expectation boxes above and then some. One surprise is that it performs quite well at night. Plus I did not get a chance to snap a lot of shots, but the keeper rate was very high. Enough rambling here is a sample gallery (All shots hand held with no flash.):