Sunday, 27 July 2014

new camera


Something came loose internally on the TZ7 and was appearing as a blur or a hair on all the photos taken. The camera was getting a bit knackered and since the TZ range now goes up to 60 (and has wifi and gps and many other things that don't make better photos but mean you can post your photo on facebook before you have taken it) I have been watching the prices of the range around the TZ35 which have been coming down to around £150 on Amazon. Since the previous 2 (Panasonic DMC TZ--) compact cameras have been exceptionally good I didn't consider any other brands although there are a few similar quality compacts from the half dozen major players. Then I saw Argos had a sale and a TZ35 for under £130. That will do nicely.

It is pretty much the same size as the previous 2 incarnations. Mary still uses the TZ3 and it is by far the best build quality of the three, being solid metal with all the controls having a robust feel to them and the whole thing weighing a substantial amount yet still feasibly a pocket camera. And still works fine 6 years on. The new TZ35 is light plastic and a bit tacky! However it got good reviews for lens and picture quality and image stabilisation under the massive 20x optical zoom so I thought it would do for work photos and race photos. However there are a couple of natty features that might see me take it out in preference to my larger Panasonic G3 that I carry for better quality shots.

Mary in the centre of the pic.

I was at a bit of a loose end on Friday - I got the day off unexpectedly and had hoped to hook up with AGF but she had been tiring herself out at the rhythmic gymnastics and weight lifting and postponed our run/swim till Saturday. I was a bit tired after the track session Wed and hill reps Thurs and stomping round the house like a caged animal. So Mary said we should drive to Gullane and she would read on the beach while I did a 5 miler trying out the new camera then both could swim afterwards. Deal.

blackcurrant jelly

This we did. It always surprises me how folk want to sit in close proximity near the car park when less than a mile away there is this nearly deserted beach (only 2 folk) and a much nicer shore for paddling or swimming. This photo was taken with the panorama mode which lets you hold down the shutter release sweeping the camera from one side to the other (specify which) and it takes dozens of images and stitches them together without you doing the hard work on your computer. As you can see in the middle I have to refine the process and sometimes if there is the sun in the photo or a big light change it isn't perfect, but then again I haven't read the instructions yet so there could be a knack to it. That's the other thing about having the same brand: you are quite familiar enough with the controls and ideas already from previous use of similar. Except for the updates and new tricks. Must read the manual. Anyway the panorama mode is absolutely ACE and works better than above most of the time. Watch this space. Some goodies on the way.

So x20 magnification at the zoom end means you can get closer to wildlife. The TZ7 was x12 and the G3 is only x3. So this is like a telescope by comparison although the heat shimmer was causing distortion at maximum warp.

The later pics of people playing badminton at the far end of Aberlady beach and the powerstation were taken from about this distance. The wideangle is 24mm which is also wider (gets more in) than previously. This is particularly handy for interiors where you want to get most of a small room in the shot and can't stand far enough back.

Going in close works well. I left the beach and headed into the undergrowth to see if I could find any creepy crawlies to model.

This I was unfamiliar with. A Carrion or Burying Beetle. Quite large and likes to hang out with dead stuff. Silphidae (Silphinae and Nicrophorinae) beetles are host to several mite species. These are probably Poecilochirus mites which like their sponsor depend on carrion to breed but lack the capability to locate a carcass. So they are using the beetle as transport and do not feed on the beetle. This makes them phoretic. Isn't nature fascinating and how did they all arrange that without chatting?

Here are some people at the other end of the beach most of a mile away. I love how the distortions and heat shimmer have turned them into caricatures, almost more like a painting or animation.

And this would be several miles away. From Gullane Point to the Powerstation as the crow flies is 6 miles.

some more panorama.

There was a haze over the Forth and I think this is West Lomond just putting its head above the clouds.

This 6 Spot Burnet had his proboscis well into this thistle.

Delighted to get an in focus shot of this Fritillary after missing one the other day.

After all that bushwacking I was not really up for a swim. I went back to find Mary (no mean feat as she had moved and I was virtually standing on her scanning the furthest reaches of the beach (having already checked she hadn't driven home) before she saw me and caught my attention. I was about to run down the beach looking through the masses for her while averting my eyes from all manner of exposed flesh. Anyway I ran a piddling 3 miles in the hour and 15 - mostly taking photos and struggling to see the camera screen in the glaring sunshine. Mary was tired of reading and we were both happy to avoid the swim and return home. 

So far the camera seems to work very well with a couple of fun modes that weren't on the previous models. There appears to be a few artistic options that I would normally do on photoshop (sepia tints and exaggerated contrasts) but would be handy if you don't have photoshop. And the super zoom is impressively telescopic while still being compact and pocket sized. Wide angle is as wide as any compact. Movie mode has always been high quality with Panasonic cameras and this one seems to be as good. And I love the panorama mode although it would be good to have a better way to view them - on the camera you can "play" them and they scroll from side to side at full height on the screen. Other than doing this in a video edit I can't see as good a way to look at the otherwise long thin shots. 

I have used the camera since Friday (video underwater in an aquapac as well!) and will blog it shortly. So far I am really enjoying it (even though the feel of it is cheap as chips.) However as the weather has been virtually ideal it has not been fully tested and low light conditions have always been the traditionally poorest area of performance in low cost cameras due to the smaller sensors. Although this is 16mp I suspect this will still be the case. More soon.

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