Sunday, May 9, 2010

Trying Out New Camera

I picked out a new camera at National Camera Exchange yesterday for an early birthday present from Dave -- the zoom on the Nikon Coolpix has not worked in several months and it was only a 3x zoom anyway -- fine for family photos, but not so useful for close-up nature photography. I'm not sure yet if we'll keep the new arrival -- the Panasonic DMC-Z25 (NatCam has a nice 30-day return policy). It's got a 25mm wide-angle and a 12x optical zoom/16x "Intelligent zoom," both of which are amazing, and it has manual shutter speed and aperture controls, unlike my Coolpix, which will give more control in unusual lighting situations.

I took this series of scenes at Lake Byllesby in the late afternoon (between 6 and 7 p.m.) yesterday using the automatic setting. (The shot immediately above is a zoomed-in version of the same view as in the first photo.) The wide angle is great for this type of photo, and the clouds and reflections were really nice. Still, if you click through on the photos you see they have a slightly unreal, almost painted quality to them.

Its automatic setting knows how to do a lot of things, but it seems to leave a pixelated appearance on close-up view, at least in some circumstances.

For example, on the way back we passed several wild turkeys in a field. The photo above was a nice shot of two turkeys, both of them in full display. This was taken at full zoom, at about 7:15 p.m., so lighting was probably an issue, but if you click on this photo (which is a crop of the full photo) you'll see it doesn't look like a photo at all, but a digital distortion of a photo.

Today I am experimenting with the manual settings and so far I don't seem to be having the same issue, so maybe the lesson with this camera is if taking something you plan to crop in on, like distant shots of birds, it's essential to use the manual settings.

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Mary S. said...

Top photo is amazing, and it does look almost like a painting. I'm not familiar with the camera you bought, but one great thing about National Camera Exchange is it offers free classes (2, I believe) when you buy a camera. I found them extremely helpful in figuring out what my camera could do and how to make pictures with the effects I wanted. If you have time to get to them, the courses are worth it.

Penelope said...

Yes, I do intend to take advantage of those classes this time. There is much to learn, and it should help me figure out if this camera is a good choice for me. As a blogger I like the in-my-purse, always-ready convenience of a point-and-shoot, but am looking forward to having more control as well.