Tag Archives: Cameras

First Weekend With My Panasonic TZ7

It’s strange, and I can’t quite explain it, but the camera felt different to when I had one back in August of last year. It felt better and easier to use – maybe it’s just because I’ve finally made the right camera choice for me and my feeling of comfort with the camera gave me a feeling of having a superior piece of equipment. The Intelligent Auto mode is superb and chooses the right scene option very quickly, as well as focusing almost instantly.

The first thing I did was head out into the garden to test the macro mode, something I had been looking forward to doing ever since I’d ordered the camera. Luckily my Class 6 Integral 8GB SDHC memory card arrived on Saturday morning so I knew I’d be able to snap away without any worries of running out of room. These are the first two photos which I thought were good enough to publish on this blog:

Yellow Tulip

Daisy

I’m really happy with these photos – both have been cropped down in Photoshop and the Daisy has had the ‘Auto Levels’ function applied to it, the Tulip as as it came out the camera – the Auto levels left it unchanged, must have been such a good photo!

Next was a scenery shot, taken in Hitchin opposite the Millstream Pub:

Field in Hitchin

Again, very happy with the results. On the Sunday we went for a walk around Hitchin and then to St.Albans where I took a variety of photos, the ones I am happiest with can be seen on my Flickr Photostream, but here a few I liked for a variety of reasons.

Spider


This one was taken in our back garden and although the focus isn’t the best I was really happy to get such a good shot as it was hard to get to and the spider in real life is tiny – this shows the macro mode off really well, I can only begin to imagine how good the photo could have been had I had better access and used a tripod.

Ladybird


This is another shot which was pretty hard to get to but came out really well. Thanks to more auto level applying in Photoshop the colours look a lot more natural, especially the red of the shell which was a bit orangey straight out of the camera.

Canada Goose Teeth


This one isn’t here because of image quality but because of the image quality while zooming in from a long way. This photo is at maximum resolution. Look at the teeth on the goose’s bill and then look at the next photo which is the uncropped original – this camera has pretty spectacular zoom capabilities.

Canada Goose

All in all I’m very happy with the camera and think I have made the right choice. I am keen to get out and take more photos, and to use more of the different features and shooting modes that the Panasonic TZ7 has to offer. I will of course report back here with findings and photos. As always, comments and advice are welcomed.

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Filed under Birds, Macro, Spiders, Zoom

My Panasonic TZ7 Has Arrived!

A little history…

I bought a Panasonic TZ7 last August, but then I thought I wanted to get more into photography and sold it in favour of a Sony A200 DSLR. I hardly used the A200 so sold that and was on the verge of buying a TZ7 again but instead went for the much cheaper Fujifilm F72EXR. I once again had yearnings to get into the world of DSLR photography so sold the F72EXR and bought another Sony A200. I was happy with the A200 for a few days but then thought of our upcoming trip to North Devon and a visit to the zoo. With a 2 year old boy in tow was I really going to have time time to use a DSLR, and without extra lenses was I going to get as close as I wanted to? The answe was no, and so the A200, the second one, was sold. It was then a decision between the Sony DSCHX5VB and the Panasonic TZ7 – the TZ7 won on better zoom and reported better image quality, plus the HX5 has no dedicated macro mode. The £100 cheaper price tag also helped. So there you have it – the story of how I have ended up with my second TZ7, some 8 months after having my first one. The Panasonic TZ10 maybe the upgrade to the TZ7 but I’m not bothered about GPS wizardry  – I don’t go anywhere places varied and exotic enough to warrant a £100+ price augmentation.

At this very moment the battery is charging, which is for the best as I’m at work and have more than enough to get on with. Hopefully I can get out this weekend and give it a good road test, something I never did with the first TZ7, such was my eagerness to sell it and buy a Sony A200. Being Spring there are plenty of flowers in the garden which will be handy to test the macro mode, and I’m hoping for some visitors from the insect world to pose as subjects for my fickle minded photography hobby.

I’ll leave you with a fascinating photo of the newly arrived box and the camera from inside – both taken on my long time superseded Panasonic TZ1. I’d love to hear from other Panasonic TZ7 owners – point in the direction of some photos you’ve taken and lavish me with expert tips.

Panasonic TZ7 In The Box

Panasonic TZ7 Out Of The Box

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The Camera Saga Continues – Fujifilm Finepix F72EXR

First off, this is the first blog I’m writing with the iPhone application so URLs and photos (there is a photo function so I will try!) will be added at a later date if I can’t add them via the iPhone application – please excuse all inevitable typos!

So, it started in August when I had decided that my Panasonic TZ1 was no longer good enough. While the 10x optical zoom us great, having that coupled with a measley 5MP sensor is not going to give the best results. The obvious upgrade was to the much talked about Panasonic Lumix TZ7
– 12x optical zoom and 10MP. I had this for about a week before I sold it – at the time I’d decided I wanted to get into photography properly, and that for that I’d need a Sony DSLR-A200K
.

There’s no denying the Sony DSLR-A200K gave great results, but it’s too big a camera to carry around on a day to day basis. It also needs a lot of time to progress and learn how to use the camera to it’s best ability. Add in the extra investment of lenses and I soon came to realise that the world of DSLR photography was not for me – maybe in the future when I don’t travel 3 hours a day to and from work and when our little boy is less demanding of our time.

So now we are in December and I’m back looking at the Panasonic TZ7 again, although now I’ve been Reading about people having issues with cracked LCD screens and Panasonic not doing anything about the problem. There us also the limited low light performance of the Panasonic TZ7 and add in the almost £250 price tag and I’m looking elsewhere.

After turning away the Canon PowerShot SX200
due to the flash popping up with every photo, whether it’s needed or not, and no optical zoom in video mode, I was seriously considering the Fujifilm Finepix F70EXR. It seemed to tick all the boxes – 10x optical zoom, 10MP, wide angle 27mm lens and these clever EXR settings giving enhanced performance in low light, to name but one benefit. Thanks to Hot UK Deals I became aware of the Fujifilm Finepix F72EXR, which is the Jessops exclusive version of the Fujifilm Finepix F70EXR, for a great price thanks to a £30 cashback offer from Fuji.

I’ve had this latest new camera for just 2 days and am yet to upload any photos to my laptop. Results on the camera’s LCD screen look good, and all have been low light photos so far. I’m looking forward to seeing the actual photos and to giving the camera a good road test outside at some point. The price of the Fujifilm Finepix F72EXR came to £125 with the cashback, a fantastic deal in comparison to the expensive and flawed Panasonic Lumix TZ7.

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Photography: Sony A200 & Panasonic TZ1 Photo Comparison

This past Sunday we took our little boy to the park so I decided to use the opportunity to take a few photos as well. One thing I am beginning to realise is that my standard seems to have risen since I started using my Sony A200, and by that I mean that expect more from a photo and am finding that fewer of the photos I take are meeting my expectations. That aside, on spying a ladybird sitting on a leaf I decided to take a photo with both my Sony A200 and my Panasonic DMC-TZ1 – DSLR v Compact: Macro Battle!

The TZ1 has a 10x zoom with an effective focal length range of 35-350mm, while the A200 was used with the kit lens with an effective focal length range of 18-70mm. The better wide angle setting wasn’t going to help the A200 but was the lack of zoom and macro capability going to hold it back? Let’s look at the evidence, and note that the photos have not had any post production aside from cropping and resizing.

Panasonic TZ1 - f/6.3 - 1/1600 - ISO-800

Panasonic TZ1 - f/6.3 - 1/1600 - ISO-800

Sony A200 - f/5.6 - 1/250 - ISO-100

Sony A200 - f/5.6 - 1/250 - ISO-100

Interesting when looking at he exif information that the TZ1 chose an ISO of 800 compared to the A200 which chose ISO-100. I’d hazard a guess this is due to the superior quality of the A200’s sensor which has picked up more light than that of the TZ1. This could also be why the colours in the photo taken by the A200 are more natural looking.

There is more detail on the leaf of the TZ1 photo but that is because I purposely selected the ladybird as the focus area when using the A200 and increased the aperture setting to get a shallower depth of field.

I’m very encouraged by the photo taken with my Sony A200 and can only begin to imagine what results i will be able to achieve with a dedicated macro lens or a zoom lens with macro capability. Macro photography is an area I am particularly interested in so such a lens is on my wish list – you listening Santa?

I’ll leave you with two more photos taken on the way to the park.

Now that is a blue sky!

Now that is a blue sky!

Dew on the flower petals.

Dew on the flower petals.

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Filed under Aperture, Cameras, Depth of Field, Macro Photography, Photography

Photography: Different focus points, aperture and depth of field

You may remember from the blog about my first set of photos with my newly acquired Sony A200 that I got feedback about my photos all having the subject in the centre of the photo, and that not always being the best for good composition.

Little did I know, because I didn’t read the manual, that my camera has 9 focus points that can be manually adjusted so as to focus on any of the 9 points in the viewfinder, and not just the middle. The image below, borrowed from the awesome Steve’s Digicams, shows these focus points as I see them in the viewfinder.

Different focus points

Different focus points

I also read up on aperture settings and how they affect depth of field. Basically, the higher the aperture setting which is actually a low number, for example f/4.5 is higher than f/22) the shallower the depth of field and thus the less of your photo is in focus.

My aim going out was to combine the 9 focus point options with high aperture settings and hopefully see some results which were different to the standard pictures I took the week before. I took 50 shots in all and got a couple of photos I am happy with – I guess I’ll have to get used to that kind of hit-rate, where more thought and precision is required, good results will be more infrequent – at least for now!

This first photo is my favourite, and one which best highlights my best use of a different focus point and a manual aperture setting. I love how the lone piece of straw (or whatever it is – any fauna experts out there, feel free to correct me) at the front is sharp and in focus as the bits behind are less in focus and the background is not in focus at all.

Shallow depth of focus

Shallow depth of focus

The next shot shows just how much attention you have to pay when taking a great photo, and how I had my mind on lots of camera settings but not on the actual flower itself. As was pointed out to me on AVForums, I should have moved the bud from behind the flower.

Damn that bud!

Damn that bud!

This 3rd photo had the makings of being a good shot but the dandelion is not nearly sharp enough. Not sure why that is, I’m probably not taking enough time to line up and get the shots right before pressing the shutter button – another point and shoot trait I need to lose. It’s a shame because the depth of field behind the dandelion is really good – maybe too good that it starts to lose focus before the dandelion itself!

Not sharp enough

Not sharp enough

All in all I’m pleased with my efforts and it’s nice to be learning about actual photography and different settings can change the outcome dramatically. I’m glad I got rid of the

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Filed under Aperture, Cameras, Depth of Field, Photography

First photos with Sony A200, new website & learning about composition

This past weekend I had a chance to have a proper play with my Sony A200 – quite different to the Panasonic DMC-TZ1 that I’ve been using for the past few years, to say the least.

On the Saturday I mostly shot indoors with my 16 month old son as the main subject. When I looked at the photos on my laptop I thought they looked good quality, and after confirmation from both my wife and Mum I knew that the A200 was a great acquisition. The photo below is my favourite of the ones I took of my little boy, and I think he looks a lot older than his 16 months, even with dried yoghurt all over his face!

Serious face!

Serious face!

Around 6pm I took things outside and decided to do a bit of macro photography with one of my favourite subjects, spiders! Luckily (depending on what way you look at it) there was a big spider above our door so I took about 30 shots from all different angles, using both the macro setting and the normal setting with maximum zoom. I didn’t think the results were as good as with my compact camera, but then that has a macro mode designed to be used with the built in lens. Without a dedicated macro lens, or at least a lens with a far better zoom than my 18-70mm kit lens, I can’t expect world class macro photography. Still, I think this one came out quite well.

8 hairy legs!

8 hairy legs!

The weather on Saturday had been amazing, a beautiful later summer’s day. Sunday however was a different day entirely, much colder and overcast. Most disappointingly the light wasn’t very good, and as an absolute beginner I had no idea how to use the camera to compensate for that. We went off to St. Albans and I set about taking photos of St. Albans Cathedral, where I graduated in 1997, and the park and lake which I had hoped would be drenched on the same sunshine as Saturday. The sun never showed its face, but I did my best all the same. More importantly I had fun, and got more used to the feel of my camera.

I actually set up a new website to show some of my photos. The idea is that I will be putting photos that I am most proud of on there but I also thought it important to post quite a few from this weekend so people can see where I started from in months and years to come. The website is Fable Photos – leave a comment if you can guess where that name got it’s inspiration!

When I posted a few on the Talk Photography Forums I got a comment that about my composition and the subject of my all photos were dead centre and that I cropped too close to the subject. I get that and especially in this photo I took of a goose which got the following comment – It would look much better with space on the right side of it so that it’s moving into space. I have to agree, it looks like the goose is about to bash it’s head!

Goose lake

Goose lake

My composition will improve over time, it’s not something I’ve really thought about much before but is something I will be thinking about when I use my camera next. Below are a few more of the photos I took on Sunday, the rest are at Fable Photos – any comments and advice will be gratefully received and appreciated.

St. Albans Cathedral

St. Albans Cathedral

Hedge life

Hedge life

Arty!

Arty!

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So, I changed my mind – this is the new lens I want for my Sony A200!

OK, so yesterday I did some research and asked around and I was pretty sure that my first lens purchase for my Sony A200 would be a Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO Macro DG Lens.

However, and just further proof that I have a lot to learn, after talking to a colleague today I realised that the range wouldn’t give the option of a decent wide angle and would thus mean I would have to change lenses to take a good landscape shot. I’m not keen on taking 2 lenses out and about on a normal day out and the constant changing of lenses would just mean I’d be more likely to get dust on the sensor.

I asked around and the Tamron AF 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 XR DI II Lens came recommended. With this lens I can get great photos of a much better range and not have to change the lens, big bonus! It’s £170 so I’ll get used to using my A200 and save up for it – no doubt I’ll have changed my mind 20 times by the time I come to buy it. I’m still really tempted by the Sigma lens!

My next lens?

My next lens?

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Filed under Cameras, Photography