I bought a Panasonic FZ5 camera for a family Christmas present and I’m just now learning how to use it. I kept using the old camera in part because it was familiar, and in part because I already had the accessories for it – memory, case, and spare battery – that make a camera handy. Now that I’ve picked up some accessories for the FZ5 and gotten my first good pictures, I’m stoked.
I used the FZ5 for the Alleghany Falls trip and got decent pictures using the Simple mode (marked by a red heart on the mode ring), but nothing to write home about. I got much better pictures (especially this one) at the zoo using the P mode (for programmed automatic exposure) – it’s basically all of the ease of Simple mode, but with generally better results.
The self-timer has a 2 second mode that’s great for taking vibration-free photos. It’s a software equivalent to a remote shutter release.
Likewise the focus lock works as a replacement for manual focus. Focus on an object, hit focus lock, and re-center your picture. The camera will maintain the original focal length you locked in.
The burst picture mode is handy for taking high speed action shots, like the pictures of Katie in the swing.
Pushing the cursor down takes the camera into Review mode. It’s a great way of reviewing pictures without making a trip to the mode dial to enter Playback mode.
The SCN (Scene) mode has presets for a number of challenging situations, including Fireworks, Portrait, Party, Panning, Night, Sports, and Snow (which might have improved these snow pictures taken in Simple mode).
Spare batteries on eBay are cheap. I bought a new battery for $9.98 shipped.
Note to self: experiment with Auto Bracket. It takes three successive pictures, and I think they’re at varying exposures if I’m reading the manual correctly.
I decided to try Picasa’s Create Movie feature (under the Create menu) using the swing pictures. I assumed Picasa would make a flipbook animation in animated GIF format, but it goes beyond that. Picasa presents the first still picture, then pans around it. Then it shows the next still picture, somewhat offset, and pans around it. It’s a soft focus effect I’m sure I’ve seen on Dateline and similar shows. While I was watching the movie I expected to hear tinkly piano music.
The movie is a .AVI and takes up a fair amount of disk space – about four megabytes for five photos using Cinepak compression with the smallest frame size of 320 x 240. Watch it here.
Question – The swing pictures were taken on a sunny day around 1:00. They’re a tad dull because they’re overexposed. How do you know when to reduce exposure, and by how much?