Saturday, December 23, 2006

Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ50 Review

After reading just about every lumix review posted on the internet for the last 5 months ,I jumped in to buy the DMC Fz50. Most people feel that this camera has just one chink in its armour. NOISE. Reading through the reviews makes you feel that the images are completely unusable and that Panasonic has made a tectical blunder here in upping the megapixel count when noise/ noise reduction should have been their focus.

However , i have been using this camera for the last 2 weeks...have shot around 1000 pictures already. Following are my experiences.

Body and design : 10/10

The FZ50 feels very solid . Close your eyes and you would think its an SLR. The weight is well distributed. The buttons and dials are ergonomically placed. The zoom and focus rings are very good. Once you get used to them you would never use the motorised zooms on other cameras. One thing i didnt like was the flimsy strap . Pana, you can do better than that!

Operation : 9/10

The camera starts up very fast..typically a second or so. Image stabilization is very effective, especially in the tele-photo range. Colour reproduction is pretty accurate. However i feel the high setting on the contrast and saturation tend to over-saturate the hues and the std setting tends to under saturate. Card write times are pretty fast. When i shoot in RAW, it normally takes 3 sec to write to the card (more a virtue of the high speed SD card than the camera).Auto focus is very good. Sometimes i find it a little tough to achieve focus lock at some distances between 1 ft and 3 ft. But this is the same with any camera in this range.

Lens : 15/10

Wow!! Its a leica and its awesome!! Nothing more needs to be said. The 12x zoom is awesome. The extended optical zoom is more a marketing gimmick than anything else.

Flash : 10/10

Pretty decent for distances upto 15 ft

Battery : 10/10

I can shoot around 300 shots without a recharge. So that is pretty good. Lack of motorised zoom does save a lot of power.

Image quality: 8/10

Day shots at ISO 100... no problem
Low light / night shots without flash at higher ISOs.. quite a bit of noise. ISO 1600 and 3200 are not usable. But performance upto iso 800 is commendable considering the size of this sensor. Shooting in RAW gives amazing results. I was able to get an ISO 200 jpeg equivalent by shooting in RAW at ISO 800 and then passing it through SilkyPix. RAW is the way to go with this camera in low light.

Overall image quality is pretty good. Much better than most cameras.

The noise issue is overrated by most reviews. Shooting in RAW produces good results and mitigates noise. It is unfair to compare this camera to simple point and shoot cameras. This one is in a different league of its own. It beats the Canon S2, S3, Sony H1, H2 hands down. No question about it. The Leica lens makes up for the points the sensor loses on Noise reduction.

The very fact that most reviews compare the performance of this camera with SLRs like the D70/RebelXT/EOS speaks volumes about it. I am not saying this camera is as good as an SLR.

It is probably the closest you can get to an SLR right now , paying half the price.

Monday, December 18, 2006

My baby comes home..finally

(Female Parakeet guarding her nest - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Lotuses standing tall and proud - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Two male parakeets fighting over a female - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Pond Heron fishing for food - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Hostile male parakeet - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Tete-a-tete with a Pond Heron - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Male parakeet guarding the female and her eggs - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Autumn flowers - Bougonvilla - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

(Parakeets in love..all's well, that end well :) - Panasonic DMC - FZ50)

This was a special week for me. After months of waiting , my baby finally crossed the Atlantic and came home. I now own my very own camera..finally! A brand new panasonic lumix DMC FZ50. As my friend handed him over reluctantly ,my first impression was ..WOW! This camera sure looked solid. Although i was worried about the noise issue that is painted over the internet, i knew that if handled well, this camera could produce stunning shots. I was not wrong.

These are my very first shots with the fz50... I quickly realised that this camera would need some getting used to. The vast array of settings need to be mastered to get the best results...and it will take some time. This is not a point and shoot camera that you can carry around in yr shirt pocket. However, my preliminary trials produced excellent results...three cheers to Pana and the amazing Leica lens!

I christened him FIGO

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Strike two

(Lotuses in full bloom - Lal Bagh 02-12-06 7:00 AM )

(Squirrel enjoying an acorn - Lal Bagh 02-12-06 7:00 AM )

(Squirrel enjoying an acorn - Lal Bagh 02-12-06 7:00 AM )

(Autumn flowers - Lal Bagh 02-12-06 7:00 AM )

(Wild flowers on the lake bed - Lal Bagh 02-12-06 7:00 AM )

(Standing out - Lal Bagh 02-12-06 7:00 AM )

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

For a few months more...

Due to sudden onset of winter and the lack of migratory birds , this blog shall hibernate till December....

Friday, July 07, 2006

Birds' eye view of Ranganathittu

Painted Stork
(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/800s at 425mm focal length)

Painted Stork
(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/800s at 454mm focal length)

Painted Stork
(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/800s at 400mm focal length)

Black headed Ibis
(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/800s at 326mm focal length)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Feathery wonders

(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/250s focal length 72 mm)

(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/1600s focal length 72 mm)

(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/100s focal length 400 mm)

(Canon S2IS f/3.5 at 1/320s focal length 234 mm)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Slithering wonders

Rat Snake
(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/100 s focal length 72 mm)

King Cobra
(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/40 s focal length 108 mm)

King Cobra
(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/40 s focal length 69 mm)

Russels Viper
(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/120 s focal length 72 mm)

Well i know a lot of you who see these snaps will not like them. To tell you the truth, i hated snakes before i went on this shoot. I guess this can be attributed to an underlying fear that comes to be associated with anything that is dark, slithery and poisonous. This shoot however changed my perception drastically. Snakes are beautiful creatures. Left alone , they rarely harm humans. Most of them are non-poisonous. They move like greased lightning. They are as graceful as a ballet dancer in movement.

The rat snake is a beauty! Its white underbelly is spotless and she is very graceful and slender. She is non venomous and mostly feeds on small creatures in the undergrowth like rats, frogs , etc. The Russels Viper is a highly poisonous snake. One bite can leave you paralysed for life, if not cause death. Its body has an intricate pattern of scales and patterns.

However nothing compares to the king of all snakes ...the King Cobra! This snake can grow upto 15-20 ft in length. One bite usually means instant death. Less than 3 ml of its venom is enough to kill an adult human in a minute. I am told that this guy can stand up to a quarter of his length. That means if a 5ft tall human is confronted with a 20 ft long cobra, the snake can literally look the guy face to face....Scary or what?!! Capturing this snake made the hair on my neck stand up. It made me go weak in the knees to think that this 12ft long creature was just one foot away from me. The diversity in nature never ceases to amaze me... Although my fear of snakes hasn't left me, i have a new found respect for these creatures. If i can describe them in two words it would be SLICK and POTENT!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Flowery dreams - part 2

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/200 s focal length 454 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/200 s focal length 919 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/640 s focal length 223 mm)

Monday, May 29, 2006

The queen of the jungle

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/160 s focal length 1815 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/500 s focal length 454 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/500 s focal length 135 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/160 s focal length 565 mm)

These pics were once again shot on the safari in Bannerghatta Biological park, Bangalore. I hate the caged look provided by the mesh, but these snaps are taken near the entrance of the enclosure and thus give the impression of a cramped place. The lions actually have quite a big enclosure to roam around. Although they do not hunt, they are still pretty aggressive. I didnt spot an adult male, but these lionesses sure made up for it. Their gait demanded fear and awe amongst all of us. I like the pic showing a lioness with a butterfly perched on top...a classic beauty and the beast snap...These pics are not my best , but who cares.. I captured the queen of the jungle!! :)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Feline Glory

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/100 s focal length 919 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/400 s focal length 454 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/300 s focal length 400 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/100 s focal length 454 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/300 s focal length 1420 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/300 s focal length 1149 mm)

(Canon S2IS, f/3.5 at 1/300 s focal length 1405 mm)

This was a shoot unlike any other so far. I have never experienced anything remotely close to this exhiliarating experience. This time i was accompanied by my fav cousin Di. Armed with a Canon S2 and a Nikon F65, we set out to the Bannerghatta Biological Park. The drive was pretty uneventful and we reached there in time for the next safari. I wanted to capture lots of pics of animals in the wild. However, I was hugely disappointed when i saw the bus with huge protective mesh. This was not the kind of vehicle i wanted. I could barely see beyond the mesh, leave alone take pictures. But thankfully the mesh had a small opening at each window big enough for me to slip the lens. The safari promised sightings of spotted and sambar deer,black bucks, bears, tigers and lions. And it didnt disappoint..

We reached the tiger enclosure and looked around. At first we didnt spot any. When we finally spotted one, it made the hair on my neck stand! This was one majestic and beautiful creature. Its coat was glistening in the morning sun. Its gait was worthy of a king. The next 5-10 min saw me in a clicking frenzy. After some time , an adult tiger coolly walked up to our bus..My adrenaline was pumping for some reason. The biggest and mightiest predator in the animal kingdom was all but a couple of feet away and staring at me in all its glory. I felt stupid and kept aside the camera. I couldnt help it but this was some sight! God , you have to see the tiger in close range to understand what i am saying. The driver told me that it was lunch time for the tigers and the forest rangers should be coming anytime to feed them. The tiger mustve thought we were lunch!!

This park houses 37 tigers. I couldnt believe that this was just a cool 17 km from my house! We didnt get to see a fully grown tiger, but what we saw was worth every penny! The royal bengal tiger truly rules the jungle!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The joys of Nature

Azure Damselfly
(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/400 s focal length 919 mm)

Garden Lizard
(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/250 s focal length 919 mm)

DragonFly in Flight
(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/320 s focal length 454 mm)

(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/200 s focal length 340 mm)

(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/125 s focal length 919 mm)

DragonFly in Flight
(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/320 s focal length 575 mm)

I(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/200 s focal length 1815 mm)

This week's shoot was one of my best so far. I was hoping to capture lots of birds this time, especially after getting inspired by my last shoot at Hebbal. This time around i was accompanied by my good friend Nita. Another photography enthusiast, she is one of the most creative persons i have ever met. We reached the lake at 07:45 hrs. It had rained the previous night and the air smelt fresh. Everything still looked wet. We didnt realise how much it had rained till we got onto the shore of the lake. It looked like a marsh land! After a few steps I suddenly realised i was growing taller!! A fleeting glance at my shoes showed me that i was on 2 inch heels. The mud kept sticking onto my shoe in layers and it grew thicker with every step. I suddenly felt top of the world :)

One thing i immediately realised was to never look for birds immediately after a downpour. I have no clue where they all went. I mean this lake was supposed to house 120 different species of birds and here I was standing tall (literally!) and finding it difficult even to spot my loyal house crows. We managed to find a kingfisher and a barbett somehow but it didnt take us long to realise that this wasnt a birdie day. We shifted our focus to the lower strata of the trees and the marshy floor. We saw an assortment of colour and life , living unperturbed in nature's glory. An amazing variety of dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, spiders, catterpillars, moths, .... the list goes on. Nita's ability to spot even the tiniest of creatures is truly amazing. Half my shots should be attributed to her spotting abilities. Each creature was more exotic than the other. It will take me ages to identify every species that i captured . But i promise myself that i will do it somehow.

In particular,the dragonflies really amaze me. These guys are the masters of flight. Their bodies are aerodynamically perfect. They are the fastest insects and can travel at speeds of 70 - 130 kmph! Mindboggling or what! Their ability to hover is unparalleled in the insect world. The only other animal with more specialised flight is the humming bird. The dragon fly is not just adept at flight but is a master of attack as well. Being a predator , it feeds on small insects. It attacks its prey head-on. It calculates its angle of attack such that the prey does not realise that it is approaching. After shooting a lot of damselflies and dragonflies perched on leaves and branches, i got a little ambitious and tried to capture one in flight. Crouching on the floor, i waited for one to arrive in my field of view. One such dragonfly came and whizzed past me so fast that i barely had time to click. If getting one of these nimble and agile creatures is hard enough, you can imagine how tough it is to focus on it when it is in the frame. Only after a good twenty minutes of swatting flies and after lots of blank pictures, I kinda got the hang of capturing these guys . How i wished i had a SLR to actually freeze these guys in flight,immortalizing the moment in time... But i have no complaints for,the S2 has this innate knack of surprising me time and again with its capabilities.

Ever since i could remember i hated reptiles. I guess this could be attributed to a small (rather huge) fear deep down of anything which is slithery and poisonous. But my short stint at photography has managed to change most of these feelings. I now know and truly believe that these creatures are mostly harmless and incredibly beautiful. The complexity and uniqueness of these creatures amazes me. I shot a water snake and a garden lizard. God! they are beautiful creatures :)

A nice shot of a spider coming out of its egg and an adult spider feeding on its prey rounded up my weekend shoot. We spent 15 minutes getting the mud cakes off our shoes and then returned home. Although i went back shorter ;) , I was a changed man as far as my perception of reptiles goes.

I am forever grateful to Gul for lending me her camera week after week. I think i have done more mileage on the S2 than her. It takes a lot of trust to lend something that costs 30g. Thanks pal! I dedicate this post to u..

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pristine Bangalore - part 3

Plain Tiger
(Canon S2IS - f/4.5 at 1/1600 s , 919 mm focal length)

(Canon S2IS - f/7.0 at 1/800 s , 1413 mm focal length)

Crimson Darter Dragonfly(Crocothemis servilia servilia)
(Canon S2IS - f/4.5 at 1/200 s , 735 mm focal length)

Brahmini Kite
(Canon S2IS - f/8.0 at 1/640 s , 1149 mm focal length)

Woolly Bear Caterpillar
(Canon S2IS - f/6.0 at 1/200 s , 1815 mm focal length)

(Canon S2IS - f/7.0 at 1/800 s , 72 mm focal length)

Plain Tiger
(Canon S2IS - f/3.5 at 1/500 s , 1149 mm focal length)