Category Archives: Panasonic

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!

Back Yard Humming Birds

Trying to get a decent shot of back yard humming birds has been an exercise in frustration for me.  It’s something I’ve been working on for several years now.

As far as gear  goes, I’ve used Canon DSLR’s (40D and 60D) and 70-200mm f/4 and f/2.8 lenses.  Lately I’ve been using M43 gear including my Olympus E-M5 and now my Panasonic GX8.  Lens choice for M43 is usually between my Panasonic 45-200mm or Olympus 75-300mm.  Neither of these lenses are considered fast, meaning they have a variable aperture with the 45-200mm being faster at f/5.6 vs the 75-300 at f/6.7 at the long end of their zoom range.

So, what does all of that aperture and f-stop stuff mean?  A faster lens, one with an f/2.8 aperture at full zoom will let in a lot more light than one like mine that is f/5.6 at best.  This means you can use a faster, action freezing shutter speed at a lower ISO setting.  Since I don’t have that advantage, I have to get creative to make what I do have work.

One of the things I tried in order to get a decent shutter speed is to increase the ISO.  With my Panasonic GX8 and Oly 75-300mm combination, I start the ISO at 800 and have gone as high as 1600.  While this does increase the sensors sensitivity to light, it can also introduce noise.

With an ISO as high as 1600, I was able to get a shutter speed of 1/800th to 1/1000th of a second. This seems like it should be enough to freeze a humming bird in flight but my results were hit and miss.

Here’s an example:

It’s not a bad shot, but compared to what I’ve seen on various websites and online forums I know it could be much better!

After some very useful information from one of my favorite online forums, and doing a little research, I learned that some folks have excellent results by using flash. This was something I hadn’t considered before. I have a Yongnuo 560III flash that I have only used from time to time and this seemed like a good opportunity to put it to work.

There isn’t an exact science to setting up the camera. I lowered my GX8’s ISO from 800 down to 400, and set my shutter speed for 1/200th of a second, and aperture at 300mm is f/6.7. This was just a starting point and I made some adjustments based on a couple of test shots on a wandering butterfly. One important note is how I set up my flash. The 560III is strictly a manual flash, no TTL or ETTL. Because of this, I needed to determine how much to adjust it’s power output. My starting point was 1/8 power, and once again I adjusted it based on my test shots, but never more than 1/4 power. One of the benefits of keeping the power output of the flash low is that it will recycle much quicker and be ready to fire another shot within a few seconds.

And now for the results:


As you can see, using flash allowed me to capture the humming bird in flight, and increase the color and detail of this tiny little bird. Even with a much lower shutter speed that when I was shooting in natural light with a hight ISO, I was better able to freeze the action using flash.

While I am pleased with the progress I’ve made, there’s still some work to do. One of the problems I’m having is trying to accurately follow these little speedsters as they flit from flower to flower. There are times when the camera will lose focus, and by the time it comes back, the humming bird is gone. I think this just proves that I still have to keep practicing! In the future, I’d like to try and set up the flash off camera, on a stand and a little closer. I may have to disguise it so it doesn’t spook the birds. And just to increase my odds, I got another humming bird feeder. Personally, I like to capture the birds around the flowers and not have a feeder in view, so I have it there mostly as an attractor.

I’ll close this post out by saying that I am in no way an expert on this subject. If anything, I am humbled by both the humming birds and some of the photographers whose I work I’ve seen and admired online.
If you’re curious or want information from a real pro, check out this website – Gerlach Nature Photography. I plan on picking up one of his books for more insight and how-to information. If you have any tips, tricks, or comments, head over to my Facebook page – Up At Dawn Photography and leave them.  Sorry for having you jump over to Facebook, I’ve given up on comments here on the website, there’s just too much spam to deal with.

That’s it, now get out there and do some shooting!

FZ1000 Air Show Performance

It’s been over 1 year since I first wrote about using my Panasonic FZ1000 at an air show, specifically the Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino, California.  I had just purchased the Panasonic GX8 prior to this air show and brought my FZ1000 along as backup.

The GX8 seems like a great camera, and I did manage to get some good results using it.  But, while it has a lot of features and functions, it also has a learning curve, and I planned very poorly trying to use and learn it during the air show.

This is where the FZ1000  came in to save the day!  The FZ1000 may not be small, but it is light, and operates very quickly.  There is no need to change the lens, and that alone can be stress relieving.  Simply turn it on, make your setting changes, zoom in or out, and fire away!

Now, I don’t want to give the wrong impression.  Not every shot was a keeper.  When a plane would pass in front of the crowd, I would start panning, then lock focus and fire a few frames, then repeat.  Sometimes I would get caught up in the moment, and fire off too many frames and bog the camera down.  Even with a fast SD card, there was definitely a limit on how many frames you could shoot.  It needs to be noted that I shoot RAW, and the files are larger and bog things down more quickly.  When this happened, I had to wait for the camera to process the files before I could shoot again.

The GX8 also has a limitation on how many RAW files (or jpegs) you can fire off in a burst before you bog things down.  The limit is just higher with the GX8.

I don’t want to talk too much about the GX8.  If you are interested, I have 2 previous posts devoted to this subject and welcome you to check them out here, and here.

Some of the talk about the FZ1000 at an event like this revolve around the limitation of the 400mm lens.  Personally, I don’t find this to be a limitation.  It helps me stop trying to get shots of planes that are simply too far away to get a decent picture.  Not only does every little movement magnify when you’re zoomed out, but the atmosphere itself can work against you,  at least at this air show. When I’m zoomed out I can see the heat waves rising off of the pavement, and the distortions in the air can ruin a photo (unless that’s the look you were going for).  Perhaps there are air shows in other areas that don’t have this problem, but this is normal for an arid area like Chino California.  If the planes are too far away for a decent picture, I put the camera down and enjoy the show, and wait.

Another issue is cropping, and yes, I do a bit of cropping.  Having a RAW file size of 5472 pixels x 3548 pixels allows a little room for cropping, the trick is not cropping too much.  I generally don’t look at my files at over 100%, but have been pleased with them when I do happen to view them at higher resolutions.

There is the other end of the lens that I use quite a bit as well, the wide part.  The FZ1000 lens can go to 25mm at its widest point.  This can come in handy when you are trying to fill the frame with your subject.  There is some distortion, but it is easily worked out during post processing.

My FZ1000 continues to be one of my favorite cameras.  It is absolutely the most versatile camera I have ever owned.  And, it doesn’t matter to me that it has a 1″ sensor, the picture quality has matched or exceeded with I could do with my old Canon 60D.  I’ll be keeping, and using my FZ1000 for a long time!

And now for the results:








That’s it for now, thanks for looking and until next time – Happy Shooting!