Tag Archives: FZ1000

Panasonic GX8 and Air Show, Part 2

The Planes of Fame Air Show has come and gone. Sunday was a fun day and always a pleasure being able to attend the show at sunrise.  The Sunrise Photo Pass isn’t cheap, but is worth it to me.  Not only do I gain access to the planes sleeping on the tarmac, I also get preferred parking!

In my previous post, I gave some of my initial impressions of the GX8, and included my FZ1000 as well.  I am beginning to think that my FZ1000 is simply the best, most versatile camera I have ever owned.  I wouldn’t dream of attending an air show without it, especially since I only had my GX8 for a few days before the event and wasn’t used to it yet.  But this post is about the GX8 so I won’t keeping gushing on about the FZ1000.

Before I go any further, I want to be clear, this is not an in-depth review of the GX8. There are plenty of other websites and Youtube videos available covering that. This is just my opinion on using the GX8 in an action photography event. I also won’t be going into too much detail on settings, technique, etc… If you are interested in any of that, go to my post called “Aviation Photography for the Average Joe“. Just click the link and it will take you there, and as a bonus, you can download my PDF/e-book covering this topic (don’t worry, its free).

After spending a couple of days with my GX8, I’m both impressed with it and frustrated by it.  The GX8 has an impressive set of features, and I probably should have planned my purchase better so I wasn’t trying to learn the camera during the air show.  Unfortunately while the timing wasn’t great, the price of the camera was!  I got my gently used GX8 for several hundred dollars less than the full retail price.  My purchase was for the body only (I already have several lenses) and everything was packaged in the original box and looked brand new!

The performance of the GX8 was impressive, especially compared to my Olympus E-M5.  As much as I love the image quality of the E-M5, I continued to struggle with it at fast action events like an air show.  Yes, I was able to make it work, but it was a pain in the ass to say the least.  I’ve written about my experiences with the E-M5 in previous posts and you’re welcome to browse those if you’re interested.  And, since I already have invested in several M43 lenses, I was looking to find a body (Olympus or Panasonic) that could make use of them.

To be successful with your photography at an air show, you really need to hone your technique.  Good panning skills are essential and the process doesn’t change no matter what camera system you are using. The GX8 was no different.  I tend to use Shutter Priority most of the time at these events.  Slow shutter speeds are required for propeller planes and faster shutter speeds are for jets.  I went back and forth between the auto focus single and auto focus continuous setting and from a single focus point to multiple points.  This is where the frustration came into play.  With the touch screen activated, my nose kept moving the focus points around, and it usually always happened at the worst possible time, while I was trying to grab some actions shots of the planes passing by.  Sometimes the focus points weren’t too far off and the camera would achieve focus properly, but many times it was way off and the focus would be locked onto something entirely different than the plane I was following.

I want to be fair and not blame the camera, but rather myself.  I didn’t have enough time to figure out all of the settings and functions of the GX8 before the air show, and was learning as I went along.  When I got too frustrated I put the GX8 away and grabbed my FZ1000.  The FZ1000 just seems to do everything right.  I know, it has a smaller sensor, and a fixed zoom lens that only reaches out to 400mm (FF equivalent), but it works quite well in spite of its limitations.

By the end of the air show, I was able to tweak the GX8 enough to get some very decent shots.  The main thing that worked for me was to turn the touch screen off completely.  I’m sure that there is a way to keep the touch screen on and not move the focus points around accidentally, but for now I’m just going to leave it off.  I just need a little quiet time with the camera to figure out all of its secrets!

Here are some of the results from the air show.  Keep in mind that I shoot RAW and post process all of my images.  My normal process includes adjusting the contrast, color, and sharpness in Photoshop CS6 and Perfect Effects 9.  Sometimes I will convert the image to black and white for a vintage look and feel.











I hope the examples give you an idea of what the GX8 is capable of. Overall, I found it to be a solid, well built tool and I’m looking forward to spending time with it and using it for many years!

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

Panasonic GX8 & Air Show, Part 1

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  One is I’ve been preoccupied with our new motorhome.  I was doing a bit of work on it to get it ready for upcoming adventures.  Since this is the one we are going to live in for awhile I want to know it inside and out.  Second is that I’ve just haven’t done much with photography for the past few months, that is except family events.  So I really haven’t had much to write about.

That’s changed now.  I’ve been to 2 air shows in the last few weeks and have had mixed results.  The first air show was the Airfest at March Field in Riverside California.  I opted to view it from the March Field Air Museum, directly across the runways from the actual show.  It was appealing because of a much smaller crowd (and traffic).  The downside is that the flight patterns kept the planes mostly over on the other side of the runways, and not very close to us.  Every once in awhile one would come over and we could grab a few shots.  The main problem I had was in experimenting with ND filters.  I put one on my FZ1000 and my E-M5 (with Olympus 75-300mm lens).  The ND filters I used were too strong and blocked too much light.  I thought it would be a good idea to use them to allow me to get a better aperture with my selected shutter speed.  My mistake was in not checking the results while I was still at the air show and had the ability to make changes.  Oh well, live and learn!

One thing that became very apparent was how well my FZ1000 performed, and out performed my E-M5.  I’ve had limited success with fast moving objects using my E-M5, but it’s been mostly an exercise in frustration. The last thing I wanted to do was buy another camera, but that’s how it worked out.  I got a great deal on a Panasonic GX8 (body only).  The GX8 is quite an advancement over my E-M5.  The specifications are impressive and you can find plenty of websites with as much information as you can stand.

For me, there are a couple of advantages of the GX8 right out of the box.  The first is that being a Micro Four Thirds (M43) camera all of my current lenses will work with it.  The second is the GX8 and FZ1000 use the same battery.  There is a third advantage, and that is the menu system is very similar to the FZ1000.  Finding my way around took very little time.

The Planes of Fame Air Show is happening now, and I’ve been to the Friday Afterburners After Dark session and will return with my Sunrise Photo Pass for Sunday.  Friday was a lot of fun and I was finally able to really put my new GX8 to good use.  It took a bit of time to get used to the way the GX8 handled, but there were some times when I reached for my FZ1000.  My trusty FZ1000 performed quite well.  I’m still impressed with it.  The GX8 has great potential and I’m looking forward to using on Sunday.  So far it’s been wonderful for quickly locking focus and allowing me to grab a few frames.  It processes them quickly as well and has a big enough buffer so it doesn’t seem to get bogged down.

I ending this post and will do a Part 2 after the air show on Sunday.  By then I’ll have put several thousand frames through the GX8 and can form a better opinion.  Until then here’s what I’ve been able to do:

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Timing Really Is Everything!

Timing is everything, really! This is especially true with photography. Sometimes it’s more about your timing than your equipment. Fortune not only favors the bold, but also the well prepared.

When you go somewhere to take some photos, a little planning can go a long way in creating interesting and unique images, vs. snapshots. So, how does one prepare? Scouting a location you’re interested in helps. You can also use Google Earth and Maps to get an idea of what to expect. And, since there’s an app for virtually anything including photography, you should take advantage of them. Personally, I use one for my Android phone call PlanIt For Photographers. This app (and others like it) can tell you which direction the sun will rise and set, but also when the best light will happen. PlanIt also has the ability to tell me when and where the Moon will rise/set, along with the Milky Way!

A quick note about gear. It’s nice to have a high end, high dollar camera and lens. However, it’s not an absolute requirement. My gear costs a fraction of what some of the high end stuff does, but I don’t let that stop me. Learn how to use what you have to maximize the results you can achieve. I’ve done some night shots of city lights using my Sony RX100 (technically a point and shoot camera). To maximize my results, I put it on a tripod and used the timer to get my shots. My point is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear.  Use what you have to get started, and it may surprise you!

In addition to doing your homework and knowing when the best light is for a particular scene, you also need to bring some patience. There are times when the light may seem like it’s done and gone for the night, but it’s definitely worth it to wait. More than once I’ve been at a site, along with other photographers…the sun sets, and the others pack their bags and head for their cars. I waited, not long, maybe 10 or 15 minutes at the most. And – BAM! The magic happens! Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:


The shot above is the Imperial Beach Pier. You can see that the sun has just about set.

Compare this shot to the one above it. They were taken from just about the same spot, but about 15-20 minutes later. Quite a difference!

This next shot was taken when the sun was low in the sky. The light was very nice, and I could have called it good and packed up.

Now in this case, I waited more than 15 minutes. I wanted to get the San Diego Waterfront all lit up.

Personally, I like the second shot much better. While the first version is nice, and I wouldn’t have a problem sharing it with anyone, the second one is much more appealing. In order to make this shot work, I put my Panasonic FZ1000 on a tripod, and used a delayed timer for the shutter (to help minimize vibration).

To sum up this post, here are the main points:
Prepare – use Google Earth/Maps or get an app (PlanIt or something similar).
Timing – get to the location and set up before best light.
Patience – the show may not be over when the sun has set, give it another 10 or 15 minutes.
City Lights – you may need to stay a little longer to catch the city all lit up (bring a tripod).

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