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[icon] Michael C. Berch
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Subject:New camera!
Time:06:05 pm
Current Mood:thoughtfulthoughtful
For a while I've wanted a camera which will be able to take telephoto shots of aircraft, wildlife, and scenery (which the baby Leica does not do), so I've been DSLR shopping. However, I still haven't decided what I want (or if I really want a DSLR at all). In the meantime I thought I'd experiment with carrying around a bigger camera again, which I haven't since my 1980s film SLR (Canon AE-1). So I picked up a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, which is a fixed-lens "long zoom" camera (35-420mm equivalent focal length) with a nice Leica lens.

It arrived yesterday and I took it to SFO on the way home from my dad's house. I shot about 100 pix, and it confirmed for me that it's a great camera, though possibly not quite up to the highly specific application I had in mind, though I'm still on the learning curve of finding the sweet spots in aperture/shutter speed/ISO. Haven't gone through the images yet to figure out what to post, but here's the camera itself:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcb/sets/72157606194670008/

It does have an eyepiece viewfinder (second LCD, not optical) which is slightly problematical with glasses, but I can just push them up and it's fine.
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lrc
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Time:2008-07-17 02:54 am (UTC)
I know that you'll enjoy it. It's a great camera. The two drawbacks are that after using itt if you look through an SLR viewfinder you'll be amazed at how much sharper pure optical is (but an SLR doesn't give you the live histogram), and it deosn't do as well as an SLR in low light situations. But then, the APC SLRs don't do as well in low light as do full frame, and in a year or so, the full frame gear should be getting affordable.

I didn't have any problem with the viewfinder and glasses myself. I believe you can also get a rubber eyecup for it.

If you find yourself needing a more powerful kit for a specific shoot, let me know. Chances are I could trade you my kit for the FZ50 a weekend.

Someone posted some great bird shots to the dpreview pentax SLR forum taken with an FZ50 and a tele-adapter. The raynox 250 macro adapter is supposed to also work very well on it.

But the FZ50 is a great deal when you consider that it costs a little less than my 18-250 lens (27-375 equivalent).

If you don't have much experience with serious digital work, here are a couple of hints that I've picked up in the past six months. If you have, then you probably already know these:

Shoot in RAW, you can recover a lot more from raw files than you can jpegs.
Shoot onto 2G SD cards, rather than SDHC. You'll have a lot less problems with other things reading them, and if one goes bad, you limit the number of shots you lose. I've got a tamrac camera strap with two SD card pockets on it, I keep my empty cards on the left and my full ones on the right.

Get high speed SD cards. Last time I was at Central the had 150X cards for $10 each.

For most shots, set the exposure so that you are just shy of clipping the highlights, then post process for the mid tones. If your feature of interest is way darker than the highlights, then you may have to sacrifice them.

I don't remember if the FZ50 has a monochrome or a 3 color histogram. When shooting something saturated like a flower, you've got to be careful because the monochrome histogram, or the blinkies won't show you saturating one of the colors. I didn't really learn how to use the histogram until after my FZ50 was stolen.

If I was shooting in low light situations, I found that the best solution was to put it in manual focus, and click the prefocus button on my subject, so that when I wanted to take a picture, my subject was already in focus and I didn't have to wait for shutter lag.

I also found that manually focusing on either the FZ-20 or the FZ-50 just didn't work. The viewfinder, even with the expanded resolution during focus, just wasn't sharp enough.
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[icon] Michael C. Berch
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