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Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-R: Is this not a work of art?

Panasonic DMC-TZ30 Compact Camera

Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-R: Is this not a work of art?

Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-R: Is this not a work of art?

I’m afraid my old TZ7 (which replaced my earlier TZ5 due to my clumsiness) has now had to be replaced with the new TZ30. The reason?  At some unknown moment, my usual dollard-ish clumsiness put a scratch on the lens…..  the whole recent trip to Australia is marred (to my eyes at least) by a fuzzy mark off-centre at 2 o’clock.

I wanted the red one as it’s a beautiful thing indeed.  In fact, I hunted to get one at a good price within a reasonable time-scale, but have settled for the black one for cost and because I can get it now!..  (The Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-K).

Iggy Pop, October 25, 1977 at the State Theatr...

Gratuitous photo of Iggy Pop from October 25, 1977 at the State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s now on the way so watch this space for my opinions and results later!!.  I’m extremely hopeful due to the reviews I’ve read.

I’ve waited and have passed over the TZ20 and other incarnations due to unfavourable comments and lack of substantial change in their features.  Now, the TZ30 has tipped the balance for me.  The GPS feature introduced with the TZ10 hasn’t had much interest to me, but maybe this’ll change all that!

Specification Highlights for me are:

  • The 20x optical zoom (naturally) in a body that’s less obtrusive than my current TZ7.
  • Better ISO performance – reputed to be very good at low light down to ISO800.
  • Better burst mode shooting.  It’s supposed to be 10 fps whereas my TZ7 only does about three….  I have some stop-action movie ideas that I started with my old Fuji FinePix F30 that I’d like to continue and expand upon.  The F30 did reasonable frames per second whereas the TZ7 is just too slow for the effects I want.
  • Semi-automatic panorama shooting.  Much better than the old manual stitch mode….
  • Rapid autofocus (AF) – reputed to be 1/10 second.  Combine this with burst mode and nature and sport shots should be great with at least one being on the button.

The info on the Panasonic site is here, though what it doesn’t mention is that the TZ30 battery is also used in the TZ7, which is a bonus for me!  I even have a spare already!  WaHaY!

Specification Gotchas:

The only one I’ve spotted that directly affects my expectations is that in burst mode, the auto-focus is fixed once the burst starts, at 10fps.  However, to counter this the feature is more variable than I’m used to in that with burst mode set to 5fps autofocus and zoom work concurrently!  This definitely needs playing with!

My Standard Expectations:

  • Minimal blue/purple casts or fringing at high contrast edges.
  • Wonderful summer shots with vibrant colour.
  • Much better focus changing in video zooming.

My Quantum Leap Hopes:

  • The same or better sound quality that the F30 and TZ7 delivered.  Both produced full non-clipped audio sound at rock concerts!  The TZ7 does it in stereo.  (see my Iggy Pop video below, discussed in this post, Iggy at Hammersmith).
  • Much, much faster autofocus and burst shooting than I’m used to.  This includes the continuous autofocus & zoom at 5fps mentioned earlier.
  • Much better auto-focus on video zoom especially and pictures generally.  I’m hoping the intelligence of the thing has been re-jigged……    To explain…….

The tendency on my TZ7 is to focus on the near-field whether it’s bright or dark. Yet I want it to focus on what the human eye drifts to, i.e., bright objects.  On the TZ7 I’ve had to use human intervention to override the camera expectations….
The video below shows this.

For me the prime purpose of a compact camera is to get the best shot possible as fast as possible.

At the Stooges concert at Hammersmith below, I’d waited for ages and then suddenly the band came on and kicked off immediately! There was no time to prime the focus because I knew I’d miss some performance, so I had to make allowances for the camera deficiencies by pulling back zoom and trying to get autofocus on the bright areas by field drifting.
Ideally, I should have asked Mr Pop to restart his concert so that I could stop the video, auto-focussing on maximum zoom to distance and then restarting the video before he kicked off again.  ;-)  Obviously that wasn’t going to happen so I did the best I could without missing any of the performance of my historic bête noire idol.
As it was, my guess was right, even to continuing filming without a break, because against all rumours and knowledge that the Raw Power album was to be played in order, it wasn’t!              Search & Destroy immediately followed Raw Power.
 

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New Lumix TZ5 perhaps?

All good things come to an end and it’s time to move on from my Fuji FinePix F30 to something else…

Ricoh R10After seeing my mate Len’s Ricoh compact I was tempted by the new one, the R10.  However, most reviews I read were less than complimentary.

So fishing about I hit on the Panasonic Lumix TZ5 Panasonic Lumix TZ5 via a quick perusal through the Canon and Casio range.

TZ5 EISA award

TZ5 EISA award

The TZ5 certainly seems to do the business as far as my particular needs go – and it’s got a medal!

What I’ve found particulary good, is expressed in this YouTube review by cameralabs.com.

Around the 4m30s mark, Gordon the reviewer fires the thing up for a 1sec startup and then demonstrates the 10x optical zoom available from the Leica lens system.  Just phenomenal especially when stage 1 stabilisation is employed!  Unfortunately, several reviews mention the microphone being on the top of the camera so that it’s easily blocked with a finger   –  This following video is probably the reason for this as you can clearly hear motor noise!

The best zooming example is probably this one:

https://youtu.be/zfh8z_QBchw    …and all from a hand-held compact.

The crucially different thing to my current machine is that it zooms while recording!  Also, the level of zoom should allow me to peep over into some egrets’ near here that I want to catch in the act, so to speak, of breeding, without disturbing them.  Global warming means it not happened before…

Watch this space.  I haven’t decided yet.

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Bridgwater Carnival 2008

Amadeus Meets His Nemesis in the Land of Make-Believe

Photo Details

These were all taken on my recently repaired Fuji Finepix F30.  Everything was on auto and with virtually no flash used.  It’s a shame it doesn’t have variable zoom and aperture when in video mode.  I could have done with that.

Hopefully, you’ll get some of the mixture of boredom and surrealism that is Bridgwater Carnival.

Carnival Described

It’s been going for over 400 years in celebration of Guy Fawkes and his Roman Catholic chums being ritually castrated, disembowelled and then chopped up after failing in their plot to blow up parliament.  The terrible punishment seems to have worked, because even though the place is a viper’s nest of corruptive practices and intrique, no-one has really tried to blow up parliament since.

BridgwaterCarnival2008_009_Detail

Bridgwater Carnival 2008 009-Detail; I find this Strangely Disturbing...

The Carnival is now what may be termed a charitable competition, where the prize is a cup like the FA Cup say, and to get the prize you need to spend oodles of dosh to have any hope.  As the parade of over 100 entries winds it’s way through town, passers-by are “encouraged” to give money for charitable causes, usually local.  All the dosh is collected by a fleet of slowly moving converted carts and a small army of volunteers who scuttle about picking up falling coinage.  Some of them have bizarre funnel & pipe contraptions to collect from the back of the crowd.

The Carnival is now big – very big.  For years the visitor numbers have been well over 100k, people arrive from all over the country.  This is amazing for a pokey little place of ~30k or something.  There are basically two sets of townfolk – the Carnivalites and their supporters which include people who like Carnival – and those that can’t stand the Carnival or the people that do it.   :-(   Me.  I quite like it, but I’m a foreigner as I’ve only lived here for 19 years …   The only people who make any money are the charities, the hamburger folks and the geezers who flog flickery toys and deflat-o-matic balloons, some of which can be seen hovering teasingly over the town after a child has lost their grip.  For everyone else it’s a labour of love.

Bridgwater is not the only carnival, but it’s the biggest and the oldest.  It’s the one that all the teams want to win, although there is an overall prize for the Somerset Carnival “Season”.


Squibbing

BridgwaterCarnival2008_047

Squibbing

See Squibbing 2008 here.

The next day, the results are posted on the town hall door (see the photo I took).  People were getting quite worked up about them….   You’ll see that Nemesis by the Gremlins won.

I tell you, Harry Potter’s got nothing on this.

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Fuji FinePix F30, RIP. What now?

productDefaultMainImage_1_.jpgMy camera has bit the dust – literally and metaphorically.  Unfortunately, it’s had too many falls from a height onto a hard tiled floor which has bent the external case a bit and made picture taking inoperative.  Picture viewing is okay but everything connected with the “Go” button and the option mode selector on top is defunct.

So if anyone wants an old camera to pull apart, maybe for spares, then let me know! You can have it for the postage.

You’ll need a teeny-weeny tricorn type of screwdriver as well – some screws are posidrive, but others are this three-pronged affair.  I thought I’d check if something was fixable, like a circuit board coming adrift, say – but the weird screws have put me off.

I can’t give you a picture – but there’s a definite gap and looseness on the case edge.

As an afterthought, during WW2, my dad got a Bausch and Lomb pair of naval binoculars (7 x 50), which still work even now.  The naval test was that the binoculars had to survive a drop from 6 feet onto a hard steel deck!

Well the Fuji FinePix F30 optics seem to have survived the physical fall, but the electronics or switches controlling them haven’t!  The lens still expands, the autofocus still clicks and whirrs, and the motorised zoom still works.

But now point and click – I’m bereft!  I always seem to take what I treasure for granted and hoard the rubbish.  It’s a failing, I know.

stockItemMainImage1_1_.jpgNext camera: maybe the Fuji FinePix F100fd?  Any ideas anyone…

Badger closeup

Badger closeup

I really liked the F30.  If I hadn’t had that camera there is no way I’d have got the picture of the local badger.

In my view, it’s (paradoxically) single failing was that the battery lasted for too long before recharge.  When the time came, I’d usually have forgotten where I’d left the charger, and it was so long in the past when I’d last done it that I’d blow a gasket looking for it!

Points to make:

  • The F100fd has a bit more zoom and a bit more low-light level capability.
  • But it’s a few mm bigger all round which makes it harder to squeeze into my pocket.
  • And it’s battery only lasts half the time of the F30.
  • It’s got less functionality over shutter and aperture choice and control – although to be fair, I never used the options that much on the F30 – but it was fun to experiment.

What I want is a neat, fast, intensely portable camera to trap any moment as accurately as possible.  These things are all mutually exclusive compromises – hence my next purchase dilemma.

I need:

  • A camera that is always available – hence the need for long battery life and plenty of storage space.
  • A camera that takes shots in great detail, so that the subject doesn’t necessarily need proper centring, as cropping can be used afterwards.
  • A camera that is fast, to trap rapidly occurring events and capable of getting reasonable results whatever the lighting – the F30 was really good at this.

The F100fd is there;  but it’s a lot of dosh to waste on a lemon if I’m wrong.  Some good comparative reviews by Jeff Keller are here for the F30 and here for the F100fd.  I’m tempted to hunt down another F30/F31fd!  The barrel distortion is a lot worse I think with the F100fd looking at the reviews, plus the other cons I mentioned above..

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Badger in Bridgwater

Strangely post on June 23rd, 2008
Posted in Environment Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Badger Wide Shot

Badger Wide Shot

Finally, after many times nearly standing on the thing while out walking the dog late at night, I’ve got a picture of our local badger!  Turning down to the canal in the pitch dark I nearly stood on it again – and it gave the dog a shock as well.  I don’t know what George the dog expects to happen by chasing after it, but the badger seems really confident and will scuttle off down the footpath, pursued by the dog, till it’s just out of “range” and then continues doing it’s scuffling around in the undergrowth while the dog returns to doing his doggy thing of sniffing, pissing and shitting…  Badgers are supposed to be tenacious when biting so I was quite pleased that it continued running away from me. :-?

Badger closeup

Badger closeup

Anyway, I knew old Brock was ahead so I set my camera to wide angle and flash, then held it against my chest while walking along.  This had the dual effect of cutting out light from the back display, so I’d appear darker, and also, so I would be ready for any movement.

When I heard it I clicked.  Wahay!

You’ll see that the badger has turned towards the camera.  I think it was attracted by the clicketty-clicketty sounds the camera makes as it’s auto-ranging etc just before the flash comes on.  So a bit of a bonus there. :-)

My camera is a dinky little thing – a Fuji Finepix F30.  I always leave the settings at max so that I can crop the subject and still leave reasonable resolution.  It’s a neat little tool that easily fits in my pocket and takes shots at really low light levels – although when it’s like that, I can’t actually see anything in the viewfinder. 8-O

I nearly always crop, resize and re-compress pictures using Irfanview, which is free and about the best there is to get things done in a hurry and/or in batches.  Unless I’ve been really remiss, I usually set the maximum dimension of a picture to 800 pixels and the picture type as jpg @ 85% compression.  These are no different and are 800×600 so should show and load quite well when the java kicks in to blow up the thumbnails.

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