Category Archives: Fall Color

Panasonic FZ1000, Landscape Camera Part 2

It’s been over a year since I last wrote about using the FZ1000 as a landscape camera.  And I’m happy to report that my opinion hasn’t changed, the FZ1000 is a great landscape camera!

This year, we spent 3 weeks in the Eastern Sierra.  In addition to fishing, photography and golf were on our list of activities.  I brought my Panasonic GX8 (with various lenses) and FZ1000.  One of the advantages of this camera combination is that they share the same battery.  I carry 4 batteries and 2 chargers and have had no problem running out of power with either camera.

Almost all of my photos begin as RAW files.  Sometimes I shoot both RAW and jpeg at the same time, especially when I want to use the FZ1000’s in camera black & white function.  The reason I shoot RAW is because I post process my photos.  This is my personal choice, and is something I enjoy doing, but I understand that it’s not for everyone.  If you’re one that doesn’t want to do post processing, or very limited processing, the jpegs from both the GX8 and FZ1000 are quite nice once you tweak some of the setting to your particular style.

Another benefit of using the Panasonic gear is I can get away with a much smaller/lighter tripod.  Both cameras are equipped with image stabilizers, but when the light is low, or for using long shutter speeds a tripod is necessary.  

And now for the photos:





I’ve had my FZ1000 for almost 2 years now. It has been without a doubt one of the most versatile cameras I have ever owned. There are times when I have to remember that I have a GX8 and need to use it because I will always reach for the FZ1000 automatically. Panasonic has recently release an updated version, the FZ2000/2500, but from some reports I have seen it isn’t a huge leap forward in image quality. It seems that it’s got additional features better suited for video, but the FZ1000 is still a match for it in the still photo department. That’s good to know because I don’t have any plans to move on. The FZ1000 is not only my go-to camera, but also my favorite!

Eastern Sierra RV Trip

Warning – This is another post that isn’t only about photography!  I’m going to mix the discussion up between photography and our annual Eastern Sierra Fall Color RV trip.

Several weeks ago my wife and I packed up 3 little dogs into our Southwind Class A motorhome and headed for the Eastern Sierra.  While it isn’t a difficult drive, we have been breaking it up into smaller chunks by spending a few days in the town of Bishop, California.  Bishop is located on the eastern side of the Sierra right along its base, and within easy driving distance of several lakes and streams.

There’s a nice campground on the north side of Bishop called Highlands RV Park.  It’s a paved RV park with trees, and a nice grass area for walking dogs.  It’s not fancy, but does have full hookups including 50 amp electrical service at each space.  We’ve been staying here for many years and have always found the park clean and the staff friendly.

After a few days in Bishop, we headed up Highway 395.  The long drive up the Sherwin Summit (about 7,000 feet with 6% grades) comes up very quickly once you’ve gotten out of Bishop.  Our Southwind “Goggins” isn’t going to win any races pulling a grade like this, especially since we are towing a Honda CRV, but the Workhorse chassis and big V8 continue to impress me!  In a little under 2 hours we were at our destination, Mono Vista RV Park in the town of Lee Vining.

From the road, Mono Vista RV Park has always intrigued me.  It’s a very pretty RV park with lots of very green grass, and large mature trees.  We’ve been wanting to try something different (we usually stay at a campground on the June Lake Loop) so we booked a site with Mono Vista for 2 weeks.

As far as the park is concerned, it’s very clean.  The spaces for RVs seemed wide enough that we weren’t stacked up on top of each other.  We were in the front row, pull through spot with full hookups, including 50 amp electrical service.

It’s not all sunshine and roses.  Just before we came up, my wife decided to check out some reviews of the park, and came away with some mixed feelings.  It seems that they have a reputation for being rude when quoting their rules to their park guests, especially regarding dogs.  One of their rules says that you CAN NOT leave your dog alone in your RV, at all.  They are also adamant about keeping your dog off of the grass areas around your RV.  There is a tiny area designated for dogs off to the north side of the park, and it connects to a trail that goes off into the bushes.

We love our dogs, and take them with us for rides and walks quite often.  But, we have left them in the RV (with the air/fans set and tv on) when we go fishing or out to dinner.  They don’t make any noise and have never been a problem.  In fact, they are better behaved than most peoples kids!  To be fair, I’m sure others have abused this rule and created problems.  What I don’t like is blanket rules for everyone because of a few idiots.  I didn’t like the feeling that I had to sneak around with my dogs for fear of getting caught on the grass or that I couldn’t go away for a few minutes without them.

Now don’t get the wrong impression.  Our 2 weeks at Mono Vista ended up being ok.  We worked within (and around) the rules and didn’t have any problems.  We were able to go fishing with and without the dogs, and it worked out quite well! Almost all of our fishing was done at Lundy Lake, which is within a relatively short drive from our camp. I think we will keep Mono Vista RV Park open as an option for future stays, but limit our time there to no more than 1 week.

And now let’s talk about photography!  Yes, I did actually spend some time trying to capture a few images.  There are a lot of options for fall colors in the area.  We were also much closer to Mono Lake than we had been in previous years so I was able to make a couple of visits to the Tufa.  I was also able to sit in on a Fall Color Photography presentation by Jeff Sullivan, a photographer that I follow on Google+, Flickr, and Facebook.  Jeff had his book “Photographing Southern California, Vol. 2” available and I picked up a copy.

I’m going to limit this discussion on photography to photos that I took with my LG-G4 phone.  There will be future posts where I share photos and info where I used my Panasonic GX8 and FZ1000, so please check back for updates.

I’ve been pleased with the quality of images coming from my phone.  When the light is good, the phone does quite well.  For post processing, I use an app called Snapseed.  Here are some examples:



After 2 weeks at Mono Vista, it was time to come down from the mountains for the final leg of our journey. One of our favorite campgrounds along the Scenic Byway of Highway 395 is near the little town of Lone Pine. The campground is called Boulder Creek, and is just a couple of miles south of Lone Pine, and sits at the base of the Eastern Sierra, Mt. Whitney, and the Alabama Hills. This campground has full hooks ups, a great store, club house, pool, etc…, along with a very friendly staff. They are also very dog friendly with lots of options for walking (with poopie-bags located throughout the park). What is really nice for your dogs is the completely gated dog park area, equipped with water, tables, and of course poopie-bags! And if you like military aircraft, the F-18’s from China Lake are usually buzzing about. This is a great RV park and definitely worth a look if you are in the area!

I didn’t do much in the way of photography for the 3 days we were camped at Boulder Creek, but there is a great little golf course nearby, the Mt. Whitney Golf Club. With wonderful views of the Eastern Sierra and Mt. Whitney, and almost always having the course to ourselves, we played 2 days in a row. We are much better at fishing than golf, but had fun (no need to add up the score and ruin the day).

That’s it for this post! Check back soon to see what kind of photos I was able to capture with my Panasonic GX8 and FZ1000!

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!