Tasmania, April 2018

I knew nothing about Tasmania before setting off; not even that it’s a whole separate island from mainland Australia. My schedule leading up to the trip was too busy for me to even think about it, let alone look it up on a map. Because everything had been planned by my in-laws, I just had to show up. All I knew was that I’d probably get a few good landscape photos out of it, and be horrified by the lack of fast internet access.

On the first point, it turned out to be quite a beautiful place indeed, if not very convenient to get around. You’re in for hours of driving between small towns if you want to visit the main attractions, and some of the windy roads literally border on death traps—you can slip down the side of a mountain with a swerve.

Quick camera review:

The Panasonic LUMIX LX10 camera I bought just before the trip performed well; no regrets picking it over the pricier and less grippy Sony RX100mk4 or mk5 which have essentially the same 1″ sensor but with more 4K video capabilities. Although I shot RAW almost throughout, processing “on the road” with Lightroom CC on my iPhone, I played around with developing the RAW files on the camera and it works well. The built-in JPEG profiles render color much better than I’d expected. My last LUMIX, the decade-old LX3, tended to put an unpleasant green tint on images under certain lighting conditions. As many reviewers have noted, noise reduction is aggressive. I turned it down to -5 and turned saturation up +2 on the Standard profile and quite like the look.

This is my first proper camera with a touchscreen and it took surprisingly long to adjust to having tap-to-focus, despite doing it all the time on a smartphone. I wish it had an EVF, but I knew that going in and still chose it over the LX100 (4 years old at this point, and still on the market at full price in its Leica-branded incarnation, the D-Lux Typ 109). That’s really the main knock against this model, followed by an overly sensitive lens control ring that isn’t too big an issue. I’d love if it looked a little less plain from the front too. It’s one of the most featureless designs ever—a red dot would go a long way!

The outdoors highlight of the trip was probably Cradle Mountain, which I figure is an official national park. An industry of lodges and cabins around its entrance is sustained by casual and serious hikers alike. We were firmly in the former camp; the only trail we did was about 3 hours long, taking us around Dove Lake on a bright, clear, and very still day. It’s amazing how much variation occurs in the landscape around one body of water. Turn around a bend and you can suddenly find yourself amongst a whole new batch of plant life, bearing little relation to the last, like landing on a new procedurally generated planet in No Man’s Sky. Yeah I just equated those things.

There was also a moment on a ropeway? A ski lift? Supposedly the world’s longest suspended line of its kind, over Cataract Gorge. I looked it up, it’s called a “scenic chairlift”. Seeing the words “world’s longest” on any sort of amusement ride in a relatively remote part of existence normally fills me with dread, but it was pretty fun.

After awhile, being outdoors just starts to blend into a big mess of memories of being tired, maybe a little sweaty, and wondering why I decided to bring this or leave that in the car. Wineglass Bay was a particularly draining uphill climb to an observation point. But I saw a portly neckbeard with a smoker’s cough attempting it, along with a couple of slight Chinese women with babies strapped to their chests, so I figured I wouldn’t suffer any lasting consequences from the effort. The cold-looking bit at the end of the next few photos were from the top of Mount Wellington, where your delicate flower scraped his knuckles on a rock and was very disappointed at the clumsiness.

It wasn’t all roughing it. We also spent a few days in the city of Hobart, which has an excellent museum: MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art), which is very dependent on a smartphone app; they have no wall text at all. The highlight there is a wing dedicated to the work of American artist James Turrell, who does crazy things with colored light. One installation has 2 viewer at a time lying on their backs, assaulted by really, really intense flashes of light. After awhile your brain just fries and you start to see things that aren’t there, and you feel disassociated from your body. I got sweaty feet. It wasn’t a comfortable experience, but it was definitely something else. If you have epilepsy, I think being in the same building at all should probably be avoided. I was actually worrying, “This is probably how I’m going to discover I have epilepsy.”


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