Picture this: bigger and smaller

Jan. 7—Digital photography has always been a vocation punctuated by fits and starts. Ideas that one day seem like they'll be the next big thing are gone the next time you look up.

In my estimation, far too much of our photographic lives is dictated by trends and technology, and far too little is from the heart and the imagination.

Technology, however, can enable us to express ourselves more by setting aside some of the complications of the media and letting us tell our stories.

One of those technologies is digital imaging, and it has come along way fast.

Recently I acquired a well-used but otherwise working piece of imaging technology from about 12 years ago, the Panasonic LUMIX GH2. This camera features a sensor size brand new to me, called Micro Four-Thirds, or Micro 4/3. It is so named because the aspect ratio, the ratio of the horizontal dimension and the vertical dimension is 4:3. That means that images made with these sensors are closer to square than those from an APS-C sensor or a so-called "full frame" sensor, which are both 3:2.

I've always thought I could do great things with Micro 4/3 because the cameras and lenses are quite a bit smaller and lighter than other cameras. The sensor in Micro 4/3 is just 17mm x 13mm, which is quite small, but gigantic when compared with smartphone sensors, so it seemed like a very right-sized form factor or someone like me, a multirole photojournalist.

In fact, I know a couple of shooters out there who are doing amazing things with Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras, which, in my eyes, are very neat cameras.

The LUMIX I got ahold of is so lightweight, I can sometimes forget it's hanging from my shoulder, especially when I am simultaneously shooting with a much larger camera like the Nikon D3. The biggest reason these cameras can be so much lighter is that they are, like most of the newest and best cameras on the market, mirrorless, meaning they don't require the heavy and mechanically complex flip-up mirror and pentaprism design, but show you on the monitor or the electronic viewfinder, what the sensor sees.

Smaller sensors tend to create more noise at high ISOs, and the LUMIX is no exception. Photographers tend to overreact to noise, like it ruins every shot, but there are ways to deal with it, and it is less of a problem with every new generation of camera.

The LUMIX makes better video than most of my other cameras.

I'm still experimenting with the LUMIX to see if it will be a good fit for news gathering, or if it might be a little happier as a travel/scenic/fine art camera. I am all about carrying less photographic hardware on my hiking, mountaineering, and canyoneering adventures, since ever pound of cameras I leave behind is another pound of food or bottle of water I can carry.

Overall, I'd say that this is a neat little camera, and I look forward to whatever imaging I do with it.