DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Switch: Canon G9 to Panasonic GF1

From Canon G9 to Panasonic GF1

warning: this blog contains photo geekery, pictures of flowers and real opinions.

I loved my Canon g9. I shot the hell out of that camera. In fact, I bought a spare, that’s how much I loved it. I walked around with it all the time, bought an underwater housing for it and found myself falling in love with photography again, largely as a result of having a very versatile and capable camera with me at all times.

After a couple years of non-stop use though, I started to see some of its limitations and when I started to see the reviews of the micro four thirds cameras, with their relatively large sensor and ability to use high quality lenses, I felt the very real pangs of camera envy growing.

I read review after review, dug out my old Contax G2 with its 45mm f2 and 90mm f2.8, read reviews of all the adapters, looked at shots and video clips and opinions on message boards…I obsessed. Then after I got home from Sweden this year, I pulled the trigger. I ordered the GF1 with the 20mm f1.7 and the 7-14 f4 from
“The Camera Store” in Calgary. I like supporting a small non-chain camera shop, and the fact that they support my friend Mark Gallup clinched it for me. The price was as good as I could find in Canada and from the time I hit the “buy” button until the time it was in my hands was about 4 days. My review of “The Camera Shop” is 10 out of 10.

So you get a new camera…what next? Charge the battery, read just enough of the manual to take a picture, and shoot the first thing you come across. I walked out on the deck, cranked the 20mm wide open and shot the garden. Then I shot the dog. Then I took some video. I’m sure you know this story. I worked my way through the ISO settings, shot inside and out, checked the close focus distance and started to download the shots to take a peek.

The 20mm, wide open at 1.7, 1/1600th ISO 100. Looks pretty good eh?

100% crop of the above image with no sharpening, noise reduction or whatever. Hmmm. Nice.

This is what my patio looks like with the 7-14 on 7mm, f4, 1/2000. Note the interesting distortion and fabulous teak patio furniture.

My computer didn’t recognize the rw2 files. I use CS3 and bridge. I like it, don’t try to convert me. I’m happy. I used to be able to download, rename, convert to .dng and add metadata all in one step, but obviously I was going to have to change my workflow. After some tinkering I figured out how to convert to .dng, and realized that for my needs, mpeg was going to be way easier to deal with than avhdc codec for video format. So now my downloading takes a little longer. The “Silkypix” included software has a smattering of followers and supporters so I downloaded it, but the UI turned me off. I might get there eventually, but I’m too impatient to learn a new system right now.

Eventually I ended up with the .dng files that my computer knew what to do with and I was ready to get started. And the files were good. First the 20mm lens. It’s sharp as shit. Wide open sharp, stopped down sharp, really good. It’s also fast, and that, combined with improved performance at higher ISO compared to the G9, makes this setup a killer in dim light. Which is good, because I’m not that enamoured with the GF1 onboard flash.

The 7-14 is not as fast, but it’s a really nice lens. It’s expensive though, and I probably should have thought about some longer lens options before I got something so specialized. I did however, have to shoot some house photos for a Real Estate listing the day after I got it, and found it to be pretty much the perfect lens for the job. No barrel distortion makes for a nice open room without the freakshow angles. I haven’t really done a ton of walking around with it yet, but I liked it for landscape and environment shots when I was

Shows the whole room without the crazy distortion of a fisheye.

I didn’t use this one for the listing, but I like the symmetry.

So one of the things I was most excited about with this camera was the ability to use some of the lenses from my old Contax G2. I read extensively about the pros and cons of all the adapters, and it sounds like some of them were evolving as I was reading, but I eventually settled on the Metabones because of its large focusing ring. (Bought on ebay, shipped from hong kong, took about ten days -ish)

After it finally arrived, I was back out on the patio, shooting the garden, checking out the specifics of the lenses and trying to get used to manual focus with and lcd and 90mm that is equivalent to 180mm on 35! Here is what I have to say about all that. Handheld is really hard with the 90mm. The GF1 helps you to manual focus by zooming in on the screen, and it’s really effective, except that when you are using such a long lens any minute movement from your hand translates to a drastic shake on the screen. Is it impossible? No, of course not, and I have used the 90mm quite a bit, but it is difficult. So I mentioned it. You could easily solve this problem with a tripod, but then you’re carrying a tripod. The 45mm was quite a bit easier to focus because of its shorter pull and it is a pretty amazing piece of glass. I leave the adapter on it most of the time.

Back out to the garden with the 45mm. OOOOooooooo!

100% crop. No processing.

The process of shooting slows down with the manual focus prime lenses, and for some this defeats the purpose of a small, high quality camera. I admit, when I’m out walking the dog with my wife and she’s just trucking away, I often have mere seconds to compose, focus and shoot before being left behind. In that situation the Zeiss lenses aren’t my go to choice.

No chance I’d be pulling out my DSLR in this situation. 20mm, 1.7, 1/25th with +2/3 stop exposure comp

I found the autofocus to be extremely fast and accurate, catching moments like this where the g9 would have lagged.

So here is the crux of the issue; when does your small camera become too big? That’s obviously different for everyone, but for the GF1 to be truly portable for ME, the 20mm is the lens I’m working with. When you start using the other lenses it becomes a whole different class of camera. And that’s not bad, because the quality is in a whole different class. But I miss the versatility of the G9’s zoom relative to its body size.

I went by the Monster office the other day and there was one of the MTB athletes in there. They needed a quick portrait for the website and I had my GF1 and 20mm. In 5 minutes, with ambient light, I had a shot I was happy with. To me, that tells the whole story. Could I have got it with the G9? Well sure, I mean, they’re all just cameras, but the quality of the image with the GF1 is better and I feel way more confidant pulling it out to get the job done.

This isn’t the shot, but you get the idea.

There have been lots of times when I have wished that I still had the G9 in my pocket, but so far I still reach for the GF1 when I’m walking out the door. I have lots of opinions and impressions, if I haven’t covered something that interests you, leave a comment.


GF1 Pros:

Image quality
Lens quality and variety.
Speed of operation

G9 Pros:

Camera size

Everyone loves sunsets

Long exposure with the GF1 balanced on a mossy rock and 2 sec. self timer. 1 sec, f22.

The 7-14 excels at this sort of thing.

Nice light in the woods.

Black and white? I hear the black and white mode that’s built in is nice. Haven’t tried it yet.

two old dudes, toy boat, hugging couple and a cute girl

4 photos


Annie Leibovitz Exhibit in Stockholm

Had a nice tourist day in Stockholm yesterday. Walked around, took the “hop on, hop off” boat, went to the Vasa Museum and saw the Annie Leibovitz Exhibition at the Fotografiska photography museum. More later. Gotta go do some shopping.


military cadets at the palace.

that dude.


this thing sat underwater for 333 years.

and now, some swedes.


Louise in Stockholm

Took the train to Stockholm yesterday. Had lunch with some family and then made our way around town. What a perfect town for walking or riding a bike. In fact, it’s one of the most bike friendly cities I’ve seen. Louise enjoyed being a tourist dog and wore herself out.

More Stockholm today.


tight streets of old city

perfect swedish bike guy


tight streets

Then we found this cafe with really great light across the street. Had a couple beers and shot some people. This is an awesome little set but I don’ have time to work on them right now. Here are a couple.


We had some rain yesterday.

we had some rain yesterday...

but then it cleared up


More photos from France and Switzerland

Well I have seen just over half the prints for the show this weekend. I'm pretty stunned with the quality. I don't print nearly enough stuff and that is going to change right here and now. Nothing on a computer screen can compare to a 30 inch supergloss print. It's like rediscovering your work.

I had breakfast with my friend Cole yesterday. He's in Vancouver waiting on weather in between jobs. Kid is on a tear right now having just made the PDN "30 photogs to watch" list. So young and so talented. Good people also.

It's been dumping snow all over Whistler and Blackcomb this week at last. I'm taking care of all the stuff that piled up while I was away and then I'll be on my way up to get my share.

Here are some more shots from the trip. I thought I'd point out that pretty much everything I put up here on the blog is shot with my Canon g9. It came up in a conversation the other day so I thought I'd clear that up. Some of the stuff from the archives and the Snowboard Photo Blog of course are from the Nikon SLR's, but most of my walking around stuff is on the g9.

Also, you can follow me on twitter here. If you're into that sort of thing.

fist tree!

light shadow


looks terrible. tastes great.

tram to the top of Le Brevent.

Vancouver Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver's downtown eastside is rough. I spend a lot of time walking down there and I've seen all sorts of madness from the bottom end of humanity. Drug abuse makes people into husks. One dimensional creatures with a simple agenda; get more, do more, by whatever means. Crime is rampant and the streets are full of characters that you don't want to meet in an alley after dark. I don't make eye contact often.

There is, however, a lot that I want to take pictures of. I've begun to get a little braver with the camera, and it comes out pretty much every day now, but I'm still not ready to take a picture of an addict in the middle of a psychotic speedball episode. It's not really what I'm interested in to be honest. It feels a little cheap to go looking for the truly depraved so that middle class folks can point at the pictures and say "that's the problem."




Several steps

My life is getting torn in several directions lately. It's exciting to do new things and have new challenges, and it's also difficult to let other things wait.

Yesterday was the beginning of the media campaign to promote Grenade Games 5, this spring and it went very much according to plan. As the days move on we'll be bringing more information out and continuing to work to make sure that the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler is the best it has been in years.

On the other hand, the winter in BC has being very difficult and isn't cooperating in the making of snowboard photos. I find that to be frustrating. C'est la vie. Life moves on. Mine continues to be very, very interesting and unusual. As I shoot more and more in my neighbourhood, I am starting to really "see". Themes start to become obvious and I spend more time developing the ones that speak loudest to me. This is a long process and It's very interesting. The best part about it is that as you live longer, the things you see change. How you see changes. What is important to you personally and photographically change. This means I'm often dismissive of some of my past work as I move past it, and also some things from my past that didn't resonate with me immediately grow on me over time. My work evolves even after it's in the can.

As my snowboard photography suffers in a bad season, I become a better photographer.

Here are a couple shots from this week.

s canoe

dog run

casino bird

the fog

Vancouver is setting a record for the longest stretch of fog ever. I mean, I heard that anyway. It might be true, maybe not. This was taken at noon. (That also may not be true.)


Roatan dive photos - Photoshelter gallery

Check out some shots from diving in Roatan, Honduras.



I've been shooting lots of stuff lately and not posting any of it. So now I have a whole gang of photos just burning a whole in my hard drive. Here are some of them. Enjoy.

grrrr. i'm all enraged and stuff.


this crow is not one bit intimidated b those spikes

gold medallists will stay here

I'm a sucker for this kind of thing

more damn crows.

this is the last photo I took in maui. from a moving car.

dog walks look like this. it was way colder than this.

we have two young trees named yarbit and narbit. this is narbit.

Blue skies and happy days.


Sorry about that last rant. Things were a little dark at that point. In the old days that might have sent me off on a week long bender but now I just blog, shrug, and move on.

Here are some photos to look at and think about all things non-governmental.


happy clouds

happy forest

Back to the good stuff

My good friend Alex Warburton got married on the weekend in Victoria. The weather held out for him on Saturday and it was spectacular. Sunday morning brought the rains and on the ferry ride home I got lost in all the great colours and textures of the boat. It felt like a really good time for a little photo essay. One of these photos is my favourite. Can you guess which one?


pull this lever

lifeboat icon

rainy windows

boat. wake.

Bc feels like this more often than not. Arriving back in Tsawwassen.

from one boat to another


Well after the Pemberton Festival last week took a day away from work, I have been running around like a chicken with cutoffs on his head trying to catch up. Adding to my is complications is a giant sized rockslide that has closed the road to Whistler and made it very difficult to do a shoot there this weekend. Luckily the clients have pushed back the dates to next week, but it still appears that this monster slide won't be cleared in time and I'll most likely have to fly. Not the worst thing in the world except for the weight restrictions on helicopters and small planes and the fact that I need to travel with a whole bunch of gear. Luckily I have lots of photographer friends in Whistler and have been sourcing gear from them.

In the middle of all this, there were
fireworks on Wednesday so T and Willie and I went for a little walk to watch things that go boom.

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Pemberton Festival Madness - super post, lots of photos.

Pemberton Festival photos, band photos, and so on.

Dog days of summer

More shots from the hood.

Not to much to say about these. Folks have told me they like the photo updates so they will keep coming. I like the fact that I am shooting things that have no home and no expectation of sales. My entire career I've been making pictures with the exclusive purpose of sales, but with my group of "walking around town" shots, I never think, never try to make something commercial, just click away at things that look cool to me for whatever reason, and that's all I need. They're probably the most honest pictures I take. They aren't challenging or groundbreaking, but if you look long enough, you'll learn everything there is to know about me.

I think you will notice a theme

trash chute and construction

great f'n shapes, reflections, and light

that balloon is so crooked

bald dude taking a morning break.

What do salad dressing and feminism have in common?

The other day I was walking to a meeting in Gastown when I passed an interesting little shrine on a bench.

Feminist author Marilyn French's three volume tome "From Eve to Dawn" took over 15 years to write, but has been criticized for playing fast and loose with the facts in its 1700 pages.

Kraft's Calorie Wise Thousand Island dressing hits you with just 20 Calories per serving and is versatile and delicious.

But what are they doing sitting together on a bench watching soccer practice?


More shots from the hood

This week I have a couple of shooting gigs, which will be a nice change from what I've been doing. Lately I've been up to my eyes with the book project and with selling shots from the winter, and while both of those things are going really well, it's just not the same as shooting photos. In fact, the only time I'm shooting at all these past weeks is walking the dog around the hood.

I still love my Canon g9 for this kind of thing, it's so small and portable and durable too.

Here are some shots of my hood:

Cirque du soleil is across the street all summer

One of those cool buildings that gets really thin and one end. This one is called Hotel Europe.

Lone dude on the soccer field. Looks like the turf needs some work

Taking a break.

Sailing is hard

I love what old glass does.

The dominion building and victory square.

stock photography, vancouver city photography, vancouver street photography, buildings in vancouver, whistler photographer, snowboard photos

The summer. It is come.

As the summer finally hits in all its glory, I am swamped with work. I am convinced though, that I live in the best place in the world. My fascination with Vancouver's old buildings continues, while new ones pop up all over the place.

Here are some shots of the world around me. More coming soon. I love the Canon g9 more every day.

She casts a long shadow for a short dawg.

Pixelated clouds



these colours were making my eyes hurt.

evening glow

nice new shapes


reconnecting with old friends is the best. me and Jon Stewart used to ride for Crazy Banana in the 80's...

A change and some rain

So I have to change the address of my blog, and I'm going to be doing that over the next couple days, so for all you millions of people who have your rss feeds directed to this web address, please check back in a day or two and re-subscribe to the new address. I've been putting off doing this for awhile, but as I get to know more about all this web nonsense, I can see that I'm going to be a bit phooked if I don't change now.

So how is the weather in Vancouver?



from the hood

Just trucking away on submissions around here. Getting a budget and business plan in place for the summer project. Hope to get the green light by the end of the week so I can break the silence and get to work.

I still find time for walks around the neighbourhood. It has finally become spring around here and we've been loving the warm weather. Here are some shots from the last few days. The last one is HIGH-larious.

waiting for mommy.

traffic pattern change. ain't that the truth.

t said that this looks a little like our wallpaper.

boots on the ground


such a cliche, but so rad. shaka!

the title of the washed up book is "How to Start a Home-Based Photography Business". Timely Visual Metaphors are epic.


We waited in the clouds for hours yesterday. When the sun finally peaked through, it had mostly left the jump we were set up on. Ejack hit it anyway, went way, way too far, and punched his board. I'm pretty sure he kneed himself in the eye too. Here he is describing the crash...


Waiting in the sun = never fun.

My crew for today did a pretty monster drive to get here and shoot in the sun. Unfortunately they didn't make it all the way. It's not a perfect day out there, but it's pretty nice, and I'm waiting. At least it gives me a little time to work on this last minute job that came up for this week. There is quite a bit to get organized in a short period of time so I'm doing a little scrambling. Well, to keep you occupied until then, here are some more G9 shots from around the hood last week.

Tinsletown. Watch your step.

The hood. Pretty stoked that I live here.Except that I'm in Whistler.

Flags and cranes around the Olympic village site.

g9 stuff

As promised, some g9 stuff:

shopping is hard

our front yard. (it's a parking lot for now)/ wind vane chimney.

sled drop parking lot.


Solberg and a sunset.


my g9 weighs a ton

So I was in the park at Blackcomb this week, taking care of some contract shots, and in the process had a little time to mess around. Everyone knows I'm a Nikon guy, but my point and shoot is a Canon g9. It's a great little camera and you can read all about it here or wherever you like to get your online info. So in between laps of my riders, I had my g9 out, you can set it all manually so it's a really flexible tool. So much so that I decided to see how it would hold up against the dSLR and 70-200VR glass.

Is this photo from the Nikon or the G9?

Well of course it's from the point and shoot. But it's pretty amazing that a 500 dollar camera can match angle and composition with a 7 thousand dollar rig and not really be that far off. I'm still getting used to the g9 but I have no doubt that I will have lots of photos published from it in the next 12 months...maybe even some action.