What began as a local music festival has morphed into a cultural phenomenon. I’m talking about SXSW, a two week long event that’s so much more than the music festival it started as. Living in Austin for the past two and a half years I missed both previous SX’s but this year I decided to dive in a see what it’s about. What many think is a boring trade show, SX is more of a city transformed from it’s regular, and I’ll say pretty cool, activities into an event that’s kinda hard to quantify. In fact I’m struggling to even make sense of it all as I write this.
Yes there’s a trade show in the convention center which is like every other trade show and you’ll be able to walk the floor in about 20 minutes if you move quickly but the real happenings goes on in the street. On the street is where you’ll find the good stuff and you don’t need a badge or to wait in line for it. This is a very unique form of street culture unlike anything I’ve experienced. The street culture of SXSW is more of a reflection of the best of American street culture, it’s less international than say what happens in Miami for Art Basel. During SXSW you might run into some eccentric artists making a statement with their wardrobe or perhaps someone selling socks. You never know what you’ll run into so the best thing is to be on the streets with camera in hand.
My camera choice for SXSW was the Lumix GX8 and Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7. This combo is one I’ve had for some time but one that took me a while to start to appreciate. Like most things Lumix, the camera’s potential is subtle and sometimes hidden at first like a shy child with the heart of a giant. I kept my kit to one camera, one lens and I shot in program mode most of the time because I wanted to focus on seeing. When you’re on the street documenting the insanity of awesome it’s easy to get distracted and the last thing you want to do is have to mess with your settings. I had the GX8 set to program, RAW and Natural Picture Style which I found to be the closest representative of what the RAW file would look like in DXO One.
Over the years I used pretty much every decent RAW convertor and for years I would do my work mostly in Lightroom. I still use Lightroom but not for processing RAW’s anymore. What I found is that with DXO One the output I get from my RAW’s are far beyond anything I can get, within the same amount of time in Lightroom. Using DXO with the GX8 is a major image quality boost so much so that it’s like having a new camera. So I’m organizing in Lightroom and processing my picks in DXO.
If I’m on the go and need to get a file online quickly I’ll use the handy in-camera RAW processor of the GX8. Quite frankly I find the in-camera processing to be extremely powerful considering the small screen size of the GX8 compared to what I would use on the desktop. Also processing in-camera will get you used to how Lumix processes JPEG’s and if you have a particular formula you like save those settings in a Custom 1-3 for use any time. Up until SXSW I used in-camera processing exclusively for over 5 months. Everything I made with my GX8 I’d process in-camera and send to my iPhone with either the built in WiFi of the GX8 or using the Apple SD card reader for iOS.
If you have the opportunity, come to any of my Lumix sponsored events this year and I’ll show you in person what a powerful system Lumix has become. The system is subtle, designed to be as simple as possible for a future-forward camera, but below the surface lies a beast of a camera system.