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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!

Tell a Story

Wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I posted last.  Sorry, it’s almost shameful!  This time of year isn’t my favorite and I usually just work though it, hide from the heat, and wait for Autumn!

One of the good things I have going for me is a library full of images that I can go through, deleting some, and trying new editing techniques on others.  If you’ve followed any of my other posts or have seen my work on other websites, you know how much I love to post process my images.  To me, that RAW file is like a film negative, waiting to be developed.  I’ve gone from not processing an image at all, to over-cooking them with too much HDR!  As time goes on, I’ve tried to cut back on that and have gotten much more into black and white and the aged/antique look.

Another thing you probably know about me, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, is how much I love air shows.  Over the years I have shot literally thousands of frames of planes doing everything from sitting on the ground to high-speed passes and stomach churning aerobatics.  Like so many others I hang out with at the air shows, I’m always after that perfect shot (whatever that is).  What constitutes the “perfect shot” is a good question.  It would also be different for different people.  For some, it’s a shot of a Blue Angel’s F-18 frozen in air and tack sharp.  And for others, it may be a P-51 Mustang making a pass with the propeller nicely blurred and the body clear and sharp.

I think for me it’s a variety of shots.  Yes, I do want those tack sharp images of planes in the air, but I noticed that there are a lot of those floating around out there.  How do I know?  Because I frequent quite a few other websites and photo sharing communities and see them.  Some are quite good, but after a while I find myself wanting more, at least for my photos.  I want more than just another shot of a plane in the air, no matter what kind it is.

During the last air show I attended (the Planes of Fame Air Show), I talked about this with some photography friends and acquaintances.  One of the guys was taking pictures of some of the action on the ground, and others were playfully teasing him.  He said he was looking for shots that would tell a story.  When I heard this, I understood what he meant.  There’s a lot more going on at an air show than just the planes in the air.  This is something I’ve had in my head but hadn’t put words to it in this way.  I just called it a variety of shots.  If you look at my galleries you will see a mix of images.  Some may be better than others for many reasons, but in a few cases I’d say it’s because an image can tell a story.  It makes you want to know more, or just wonder what it would be like to be there.  Maybe it just makes you stop for a better look for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on.

Like I said, there are a lot of great shots of planes in the air out on the web, and maybe even a few from me.  But I believe it’s worth thinking about, or trying.  Look around, maybe there’s a picture waiting for you to frame and press the shutter that tells a story.

 

 

In the two examples above, you can see that there are air planes.  But there are also people, and activity.  What are they doing and where are they going with these planes?  Are they just moving them across the yard, or are they getting ready to put them in the air?  And doesn’t the black and white make you wonder when these were taken?  Are they recent or were they made back in the 40’s and 50’s?  Those are the types of things I mean when I want a picture to tell a story.  There’s more to it than just a plane against a blue background.  Don’t get me wrong, those are great too and I have plenty of them.  But I think it makes a gallery or collection much more interesting to mix it up with photos that tell a story!

That’s it for this post.  Hopefully it won’t be so long before the next one!  Until then, Happy Shooting!