Tag Archives: Panasonic

I Switched to FujiFilm!

Seems like I start all of my posts this way –
“It’s been awhile since my last post”.  Sorry about that, I haven’t had much going on in the way of photography lately.

Part of my downtime can be attributed to my switching from M43 (Olympus and Panasonic) to FujiFilm.  I sold off just about all of my M43 gear, except my Olympus E-P3.  Unfortunately, this camera was just too old and not worth much, and I didn’t want to just give it away to the camera store, so I kept it.

What I ended up with is a pair of very nice Fuji’s, the X100T and the XT-1 with 18-135mm lens.  This post will mostly be about the XT-1.

Why did I do this?  First off, there was nothing wrong with my M43 gear.  It all performed quite well.  I was just looking for something, different.  It’s hard to quantify.  The Fuji’s have some advantages over the M43 gear.  One of the main things is the sensor, it’s an
APS-C sensor, making it larger than the M43’s sensor.  The Fuji’s are also much better at low light using high ISO’s.

One of the other reasons was that I needed to trim down the amount of equipment that I had.  There were times when we packed up our motorhome for a trip, and I loaded up 5 camera bags.  If I had it, it went in a bag and cluttered things up.  So, this was a good time to make a move.  I did a lot of research and the Fuji’s seem to rate quite well.  Following will be my impressions of the XT-1.  Please note – these are just my opinions based on my experience and usage.  Nothing scientific here.  I’m sure you can do a Google search and come up with plenty of that!

On Saturday (Feb. 4th), there was a Ham Radio event at the Palm Springs Air Museum.  I have a Ham Radio license, and have recently gotten more active.  The venue for this event happens to be a wonderful air museum.  The Palm Springs Air Museum is right next to the airport and has a beautiful back drop of San Jacinto Peak and the San Jacinto Mountain Range.  The weather was great, mostly clear blue skies and about 70 degrees.  There was some wind, but that’s to be expected with a storm heading into the area over the next couple of days.

I packed my XT-1 with 18-135mm lens in a small messenger bag and headed out.  There are several planes out in front of the museum, so I started off with an F-18.  The XT-1 feels very solid in my hands, like a precision instrument.  It’s just big enough to feel like I can get a good grip on it, but not so big that it’s a pain to carry around.   One of the things that I really liked about the Fuji’s is all of the external  controls.  There are quite a few dials on the body, and it saves you from having to constantly having to dive into the menus to make a change.

After I pulled the XT-1 out of the bag, I grabbed a couple of quick shots of the F-18.  Since I wasn’t used to the camera, I took a look at the results on the screen.  Oops!  I should have paid more attention to all of my settings.  I thought I was in Aperture Priority mode, but was actually in Manual mode.  I made the appropriate adjustments and fired off a couple more frames.  The results this time were better.  I needed to slow down and be much more methodical and deliberate than I was accustomed to when using my M43 gear.  I realized that I was still in the “getting to know you” phase with my new Fuji.  

The 18-135mm Fuji lens seems like a good choice for an all around, general purpose lens.  While it is a little larger than most of the M43 lens (physically, not in focal length), it wasn’t a burden to use in this setting.  One of the nice about this lens is that it’s stabilized.  I like the range of this zoom, it seems to cover most of what I need for most of what I do (landscapes, family gatherings, etc…).  If I need to go longer, I did keep my Panasonic FZ1000!

My time with the XT-1 was somewhat short, just a couple of hours, and some of that time was shared by wandering around the Ham Radio event.  Overall, I am more than pleased with the XT-1.  I’m looking forward to getting out and using it more.  I also have the Fuji X100T that needs some quality time.  I’ll write about that in another post.

Once I got home and downloaded the photos, I was happy with the results.  I found the images clean, with very little noise.  I shoot in both RAW + Jpeg, but have found that both file types require very little in the way of post processing.  I still enjoy giving my photos that personal touch, but they do quite well all by themselves.

Here are some of the photos from the Palm Spring Air Museum.  If you are in the area, check it out!

F-18 Hornet, Palm Springs Air Museum.
F-14 Tomcat, Palm Springs Air Museum
SBD Dauntless, F-8 Bearcat, TBM Avenger on the backside of the Palm Spring Air Museum
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Miss Josephine , Palm Springs Air Museum
P-51D, Bunny, Palm Springs Air Museum
F8 Bearcat, Palm Springs Air Museum
AT-6/SJN Texan, Palm Springs Air Musuem
Submarine Spitfire, Palm Springs Air Museum

 

That’s it for this post. Until next time – Happy Shooting!

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!