Category Archives: DSLR

FZ1000, Landscape Camera?

Can a camera like the Panasonic FZ1000 be used as a landscape camera?  I’ve seen questions like this, not only for the FZ1000, but also for other small sensor cameras.  From my experience using several different types of cameras, I’d say – Yes!

Yes, of course you can use the FZ1000 for landscapes, or anything else for that matter.  It all depends on your expectations.  If you want to use the FZ1000 in good light, and put it on a tripod from time to time, I think you’ll find that it works quite well.  The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is big and bright, and the controls are easily accessed to make any changes that you’d like.  Put a 62mm filter on it (like a polarizer or ND) and go for it!

Now, if you want to do some handheld, low light shooting, that’s a different story.  While the FZ1000 does quite well with its built-in image stabilizer and decent high ISO performance, it can’t compete with larger sensor cameras (Canon 6D, 5D, etc….).  If that’s what you want to do, then you need to step up your game, and spend some serious money on the larger sensor camera and even more money on fast lenses.

Getting back to the FZ1000 as a landscape camera, I have to say that overall I’ve been very pleased with its performance.  I was recently able to spend a few weeks in the Eastern Sierra for the annual turning of the leaves.  The Fall Color is always a favorite subject of mine.  I switched back and forth between my M43 Olympus E-M5 and the FZ1000.  Here are a few highlights from using each camera for landscapes:

  • E-M5
    Small, very solid in the hand
    Interchangeable lenses
    Plenty of external controls
    Poor EVF
  • FZ1000
    Not so small, not quite as solid in the hand
    Fixed zoom lens, great range
    Plenty of external controls
    Excellent EVF

My plan of walking/hiking with both cameras was to see how each performed in similar settings.  Nothing scientific about it, just my “seat of the pants” experiences.  To cut to the quick, both cameras worked well.  Trying to keep things simple, I put each camera in its own bag.  Even though the FZ1000 is physically larger than the E-M5, it was lighter in the bag because of its wonderful fixed zoom lens.  The E-M5’s bag was a little heavier because I had to carry a few different lenses to match the range of the FZ1000.  Heavy is a relative term in this situation.  Compared to a larger DSLR and equally large lens, both the FZ1000 and E-M5 are very light and easy to walk/hike with!

Along with the E-M5 and FZ1000, I brought along a small, light weight tripod with 2 matching baseplates for quick camera changes.  Both the E-M5 and FZ1000 have excellent 5-axis image stabilization built-in, but for landscapes, I generally prefer to use a tripod and either a remote shutter release or timer.  I also switched between using the EVF’s on both cameras and the LCD’s.  The E-M5’s LCD tilts up and down, and the FZ1000’s not only tilts, but also swivels.  This allows you to put it in quite a few more positions than the E-M5’s, and is especially useful for getting unusual angels (very low or high).  Don’t get me wrong, both of them worked quite well, but I think the FZ1000’s was just a little bit better.

Please keep in mind that a lot of this comparison is very subjective.  We all have our personal preferences, and they can change quite frequently.  After having used the FZ1000 almost non-stop, I had to pause and get the feel for the E-M5 again.  It always feels solid, and looks like a finely crafted machine.  But it is smaller, along with all of its controls.  The FZ1000 felt more natural to use.  The FZ1000’s EVF is big and bright and made the E-M5’s EVF a pain to use.  But once I got re-acquainted with the E-M5, it ended up working out quite well.

Here are some examples from the FZ1000:




And just for comparison, here are a couple from the E-M5:


** Disclaimer – These images were edited for the original RAW files (that just the way I roll)!

I think the results speak for themselves. Just because you have a camera with a smaller sensor, don’t let that stop you from using it for serious landscapes. Serious in this case means specifically going out to capture scenic views, maybe at sunrise or sunset, rather than just grabbing a selfie or snapshot in passing. Yes, there are some advantages in using DSLR’s with large sensors, but they are by no means the only game in town! Keep your expectations realistic and work within the strengths of your camera rather than its limitations and you’ll do just fine!

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!

Mono Lake Drama

Mono Lake is one of my favorite places for photography.  My wife, 3 small dogs, and I make an annual trip to the Eastern Sierra for Fall colors and I always try to make the short trip to Mono Lake.  This year was no exception.

As usual, I brought along several cameras.  The lineup included my Olympus E-M5, Sony RX100, and Panasonic FZ1000.  So far the FZ1000 has seen the most use, followed closely by the RX100.  Sadly the E-M5 has seen no use (the trip isn’t over just yet).  Why the FZ1000?  Because it is the most versatile camera I have ever owned.  I used it to make photos of everything from the Alabama Hills and Eastern Sierra under nothing but moonlight, and to take quick snaps of a herd of deer passing through camp, handheld in low light.

Getting back to Mono Lake. I had a lot of fun with the FZ1000.  The clouds were really dramatic on the day of my visit.  They were so dramatic that they almost didn’t seem real.  I’m sure Mono Lake has had millions of photos made of it.  One of the things I like to do is see if I can find something different, something unique to set my photos apart.  The stormy sky was a big help with that!  The other thing I did was try out some of the different artistic modes available in the FZ1000.  I did shoot normally (RAW, aperture priority, ISO 125/200), but also made quite a few photos using the “Dramatic Black and White” mode.

Here are the results in Dramatic Black and White:

And just for fun, here are some in color (edited from the original RAW files):

I know there are some of you that are wondering if a camera like the FZ1000 is for you. Nobody can answer that question for you but you. But based on my experience using this camera, I can say with confidence that it is an amazing camera! Yes, it is considered a bridge camera (not a DSLR), and it has a 1″ sensor vs cameras with larger APS-C and M43 sensors. And one more thing, it really isn’t that small. In fact, it’s quite large compared to my E-M5. On the plus side, it is quick and easy to use. And not having to change lenses is huge! I carry it and a few other supplies in a small messenger bag. I think the image quality is excellent, and I’m able to tweak the RAW files as much (or little) as I want. Don’t count this camera out (or one like it) just because of its sensor size!

That’s it for this post, until next time Happy Shooting!

More on my FZ1000

It’s been a while since my last post.  And in that time I’ve been able to use my Panasonic FZ1000 on more than one occasion.  I’m going to share some of my thoughts about the FZ1000, but try not to bore you with a lot of techno stuff.  If you want that kind of info, there are other websites available.

The FZ1000 is by no means small.  It’s close in size to my Canon 60D DSLR, although somewhat lighter.  The advantage the FZ1000 has over a camera like the 60D is versatility.  The built-in lens is of high quality (Leica) and has a very usable range, 25-400mm (image stabilized).  This means that with a single camera I can quickly change focal length to suit the situation, rather than carry a bag full of lenses and fumble around changing them.  I’m able to keep the FZ1000 in a small messenger bag that isn’t a pain to carry around.

During a recent outing to the Planes of Fame Air Museum I was able to make good use of the FZ1000.  In fact, it was the only camera I brought to the event.  Packed nicely in the messenger bag, along with a couple of accessories, it was quick and easy to access and grab a shot or two when needed.  The nice thing about the air museum is the variety of subjects and lighting.  Sometimes the light is just right, but mostly it’s challenging.  Dark interior hangars and harsh afternoon light pouring in from open hangar doors, can be fun and frustrating at the same time!

Speaking of a variety of subjects, I was able to work with both static and moving examples.  The event was titled “Little Friends” and was about the role of the P-51 Mustang as a bomber escort during WWII.  There are a couple of P-51s at the museum, and the P-51D Wee Willy II, provided a flight demonstration.  I found the FZ1000 more than capable for the static displays, but not quite up to snuff with the flight demo this time.  There’s a difference between an air show where the planes fly much closer to the crowd and other events such as this one.  The P-51D did make several passes, but was at a much higher elevation.  The FZ1000 can stretch out to 400mm, but that wasn’t quite enough for this event.  There is a feature in the FZ1000 to increase the range of the lens by using the digital zoom, but at the cost of resolution.  This is something I’ll investigate later and share if it proves useful.  To be fair, I’ve used my Canon 60D with Tamron 200-500mm lens at similar events and found it wanting as well.

There are 2 modes that I used during my time at the air museum.  For the static displays, I selected aperture priority.  Aperture priority is generally my preferred mode for most things such as landscapes, portraits, and most things that don’t move too fast.  When the subject is moving, I tend to shift to shutter priority.  When the shutter speed is set, the camera adjusts the aperture to match.  Because I was shooting WWII propeller planes, I used a slower shutter speed to blur the prop (usually 1/200th second).  Although the camera has the ability to be set for Auto ISO (sensitivity to light), I prefer to make the necessary changes myself.  When the light was bright and in abundance, I used ISO 125, for darker interiors I set it at ISO 1600.  There was some noise at 1600, but nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up in post.  I also shoot everything in RAW rather than jpeg.  I find RAW much more flexible for post processing.

So, with all of the stuff mentioned above, what about image quality?  As far as I’m concerned it’s more than adequate.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts (and elsewhere) that I won’t get caught up in endless debates about pixel depth, sensor size and other technical details.  Personally, I’m more interested in how a camera performs the task I’ve given it, how it feels in my hands, and the RAW image that I can spend time with in post.  I’m sure there are those who will not find the FZ1000 good enough, but I’m not among them.  There’s more to the art and craft of photography than pixels!

Here are some recent examples from my FZ1000:






There’s one more thing the FZ1000 does, and that is video. Not just video, but 4K. In case you didn’t know, 4K has twice the resolution of HD. Video isn’t something that I do much of, but with the 4K ability of the FZ1000, I couldn’t resist. My video skills aren’t that good, but the one thing that I am able to do with a video clip is what’s called a frame grab. Using Adobe Lightroom, I’m able to not only view a video, but break it down frame by frame, and grab one (copy and extract it from the actual video). The resulting image is a jpeg, and has 5 megapixel resolution. Here’s a frame that I grabbed. Other than a little cropping and resizing, I applied no other processing.

So, you may be wondering if the FZ1000 is for you. Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what you want to do with it. For some, it may be too big. It most definitely will not fit in your pocket. If that’s what you want, then you may want to look at a camera like the Sony RX100. The RX100 has a sensor of similar size and quality as the FZ1000, but in a much smaller package. The RX100 will fit in your pocket, or purse! Want to know my solution? I have them both!

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!