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Old Sep 26, 2010, 3:28 AM   #1
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Default A beginner's experience with the FZ100

My sister let me test out her new FZ100. We got a great discount on it and she was replacing a cybershot that took a swim.

I have been in the market for a new camera but was heading more towards the DSLR route as I want better low light performance. I own an older model megazoom camera, a Sony H-5 (and it's been very good to me, a few thousand pictures for sure). I consider myself a bit of a beginner because this is the first year I've taken my camera out of auto (well, except for when I've used scene modes).

In the last couple of days I've taken about 900 pictures with the FZ100 (800 of them yesterday...my arms are sore!). I thought I'd share a few pictures with you. I know the composition isn't great in many of them. I'm still working on improving composition and such. Plus, with a new camera I was concentrating on getting things in focus and not over exposing. I live in southern California and it was very bright and sunny yesterday afternoon.

Most pictures were shot in P, auto ISO, max set to 400, -1/3 (sometimes -2/3) EV. At some point, focus was changed to Spot/Center, and Metering Mode was changed from Multi (I think that's what it's called), to Spot but I'm not sure at what point in the day I did this. It probably wasn't till the later shots. I have some in the afternoon, and some at sunset. I was just experimenting with different settings trying to exposure and focus under control. I started shooting at around 1pm and it was very bright and shadows were rather harsh in some areas.

Oh, and be forewarned. You'll see that most of these are in 16:9 ratio. I changed it and forgot that I did so because I was concentrating on getting a blue sky instead of a white one. So most of these were captured at 10 megapixels. Actually, it started focusing easier in this aspect ratio, maybe because the reduced megapixel setting? Or that's when I changed the focus type (who knows).

Also, unless otherwise noted, No PP, just resized in Infranview to 1024, jpg quality 100.

1. Flash, indoors. This was the first time I used it and I think it was in iAuto (not a fan of iAuto btw).




2. Flowers in Balboa Park. It was a little windy, so focusing and trying to get a good composition was a challenge.




3. And then I turned on the 16:9 to take some landscape shots and forgot about it...but I kind of like the effect it had on this flower. It was a challenge getting a blue sky, but I think it came out okay. I took a video of this because it was rather breezy, and the video was wonderful!




4. Fountain was actually shot in burst mode (I think). But before I knew that you were suppose to hold the shutter down and it would continue to shoot pictures. Which later I did try and if you're zoomed in at all, it becomes difficult to steady yourself and keep the subject where you want it.



Well that's the first set, more to come... thanks for looking!
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 3:43 AM   #2
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Default 5-9

I took a break and sat down by the fountain. The LCD screen is wonderful on this camera in bright light. Like I said, it was around 1 in the afternoon, and very bright outside. At one point, I was standing in direct sunlight, no shade, with the screen at a 90 degree angle from the camera, and I could still see fine. I did have to take my sunglasses off, but I couldn't use them with the viewfinder either. I grabbed a couple of people shots with the camera on my lap just to try it out.

5. People walking by. But pay attention to the man on the bench in the upper left. Photo 6 will show the zoom in to 106mm according to EXIF (not sure of the 35 mm conversion, I'm too tired for that.)



6. Zoom shot of man on the bench. I actually saw him taking a photo in my direction a few mins later...maybe it was my purple hair...lol.



7. I actually have this same view somewhere taken with my H5...I should compare...



8. The LCD screen came in handy for this one, but I find that it's position to the side of the camera takes some getting use to.




9. I know, it's a bit overexposed at the end. I'm still learning on how to get exposure right all over in a scene like this.





More to come
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 3:53 AM   #3
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Last 5 from the park.

11. The wishing well set up for a wedding.





12. I was a little closer to this building this time and the sky came out better.



13. My shoulders were getting tired, I know, I know... it's a little crooked.



14. The museums are just beautiful in my opinion...





15. This tree is HUGE. When I was a kid in grade school, we use to climb this tree. Now there is a fence around it.




Next up, we go to the bay for some water shots.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 4:09 AM   #4
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16. I think this might have been shot in SCENE - Beach, but I'm not 100% sure. It was about 4 in the afternoon, and the reflection on the water was pretty intense, so I tried to avoid the worst of it.





17. If you look at the top left hand corner of the previous image, this is that same area zoomed in fully. It was a pretty hazy day. There were other horizon shots of the city and the beach across the bay that were just too hazy. This one isn't too bad in comparison.



18. And now onto the beach at sunset. This one was shot in burst mode, in SCENE, Sunset. I think I used either 2 fps, or 5 fps. At this focal length, it was easier to keep the bird mostly where I wanted him. If I zoomed in closer, the camera is a bit more jumpy.


P1000598a

19. Sunset mode. Which, btw, does a pretty good job at capturing the true colors. the sky was quite purple in real life. When I switched over to P, it became more blue and not nearly as dramatic.



20. Again, in sunset mode.



Up next (I'm almost done, I promise), a couple more sunset shots in sunset mode and in P so you can see the difference in the sky colors. BTW, this is only my 3rd try at sunset pictures. The first time was in 2006 on a cruise, the 2nd time was about a week ago with my H5.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 4:21 AM   #5
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Last of the sunset shots. These first 3 were shot using the Sunset Scene mode. These colors are truer to the actual colors that I saw.

21. Surfers




22. Beachfront property...must be nice



23. Palm trees... These are a little soft. It was starting to get a bit dark and the shutter speed for sunset mode was pushing the limits I had set for a minimum of 1/30 and max ISO 400...AND being hand-held.



24. Those same palm trees but in P mode. You'll notice the difference in the sky color.



25. Pier. I thought I had resized this same composition that was taken in Sunset Scene, but apparently not and I'm too tired to go hunt one down. So this is in P mode, but you can obviously see that the sky is not purple - well, not AS purple. I'm sure there is a way to make it that way in P mode on my own, or maybe in M. I did fiddle with that at some point, but i don't remember where... But I think that the Scene modes are a good place to start. It was very useful for me because I got to see how the camera made changes to the f/stop and shutter speed and what the result was.

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Old Sep 26, 2010, 4:32 AM   #6
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Default Last one, I promise...

26. Night scene mode. I think. I also tried one in S mode with an 8 second shutter speed, the longest it would let me do. This is my first try at a night shot. I put the camera on the fence, set a 2 sec timer. BTW, the green hue on the cars is from our house light. Our light has an obnoxious green hue that extends out everywhere (which I never noticed until I was trying to take a picture like this).



27. My first moon shot that didn't come out like I took a picture of a spotlight. I know it's fuzzy, but again, first one that doesn't look like a spotlight. Also my first attempt at using Manual focus. I dont have a tripod. I balanced this on the top of my car, but had to prop it at an angle and the only way to keep the moon in focus somewhat, well that is, keep it from turning back into the spotlight, required me steadying it with my hand, so there is still camera movement. Used full optical zoom, then cropped to fill the frame in PP.

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Old Sep 26, 2010, 5:19 AM   #7
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And after all those images, if you are still with me, here are some overall impressions (keep in mind that my comparison is based off of my experience using the Sony H5 which is 7 megapixels, 12x optical zoom, from 2006.

Size/Weight: It's a little lighter than what I'm use to, but after an hour or so of shooting with the EVF my shoulders really started to hurt. The articulating LCD screen was a nice break. I was able to hold the camera at about my waist with my arms tucked in close to my body. I don't wear cameras around my neck (I have neck issues), instead I carry it in-hand with the strap wound around my wrist, or for short periods (fiddling with my cell phone for instance) I use the shoulder strap over one shoulder.

Ergonomics: I have average sized hands, probably larger than the average woman though (I am about 5 ft 9) and I would have prefered a little deeper grip. My nails aren't very long but they still got in the way a bit. The shutter button and toggle for zoom took some getting use. I'm use adjusting zoom with my thumb in a separate area from the shutter and sometimes fired too soon, but not a big deal.

Video: This I think is really the winner for this camera. It takes excellent video, in good light. Indoors under bad lighting and it becomes quite dark and noisy with a yellow-green splotchy look.

Image quality: You definitely have to work at getting the keepers. Compared to my H5, I'm not seeing a huge improvement, at least not enough to warrant the cost. Of course the video between the two doesn't really compare. The FZ100, by far, takes better quality movies. Low-light, well indoors at least, I think my H5 does a better job, but that could also be to a lower megapixel count.

Ease of use: My H5 is definitely easier to use and takes better pictures in Auto mode compared to the FZ100's auto mode (at least in my experience). The FZ100 has a lot of fun little features, of which I haven't even tried them all. It takes a bit of experimenting to start getting some useable shots.

The LCD screen is a handy feature, and does a great job in bright sunlight. Though it's a bit awkward for composing as I'm use to the viewfinder/lcd to be somewhat in line with my subject and not off to the side.

Overall, it isn't a bad camera. I won't be sad though when it goes to live with my sister. I can say, that I am glad I did not spend 400.00 on it. I don't really see a vast improvement over IQ with my Sony H5, just a lot more features. It's a P&S but definitely not petite.

The focus is more touchy than my H5. It does help to decrease the focus box size. I had a lot of shots where the background was in focus but not the subject I was going for. But this is probably my fault.

When I first started using the FZ100 and was having issues (though, in retrospect, I started out in iAuto to get a feel for the camera), I was having issues and started to doubt my decision to muy a DSLR. But after yesterday's marathon shooting, I feel a little better. I just need to do more reading and more practicing. Though now I'm concerned about the weight I'll have with a DSLR considering how sore my shoulders are, lol.

In summary, since I have the H5, I wouldn't spend the 450+ this is going for. It's also not going to be a fully P&S type camera. You really need to slow down and think more about what you are trying to capture and how to go about doing that.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Thanks for reading!
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 5:43 AM   #8
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Fantastic set of photos and write up of the FZ100. Thanks for sharing
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 8:24 AM   #9
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Wow!
Great review. You put a lot of work into it.
Thanks for all the posting and pictures.
My conclusions with the FZ100 were very similar to yours.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 9:26 AM   #10
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Wonderful pictures, wonderful review.

How did you manage to get a blue sky on #3?

And pictures like #9 is why I prefer RAW. Even if I make a mistake somehow earlier on, I can fix it in PP. I ruined a lot of good shots with jpeg and in camera processing.. my evaluation of shots isn't as sophisticated as others on the board so have to rely on PP.

And what DSLR are you considering?

And if anyone with a dslr can answer this I'd appreciate it, is there a lot more into framing pictures correctly with a dslr too than simply pointing and shooting?
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