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The independent source for study and review of camera ergonomics.

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    With  help from Adobe Camera Raw, the FZ1000 was able to handle the extreme brightness range from the stained glass windows to the interior of the building with a single RAW image.


    I am enjoying  the versatility of the FZ1000 which provides me with a comprehensive photographic kit in one small carry bag. My interchangeable lens kit has not been used since I got the FZ1000.
    Telephoto.  Photographed through a wire fence
    Underground shopping mall. Although well lit there is much less light here than outside.
    Construction
    I saw these flowers with their busy ants by the wayside. No need for a macro lens with the FZ1000

    Geometric building, wide angle




     

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  • 10/12/14--00:15: All My ILCs Have Gone

  • FZ1000 at E400mm focal length

     

    And all the lenses


    ILC:   Interchangeable lens camera


    This Blog is about  camera ergonomics. In my view the most ergonomically unappealing feature of any camera or system which I have used over the last 60 years is the whole business of changing lenses.


    The first camera I ever used  was a Baldafix folding medium format film camera.  By modern standards it was a  primitive device  with a lens just barely adequate for contact prints from the 6x9cm negatives. But it was very compact and simple.


    Then along came  the Single Lens Reflex (SLR)  and the camera world changed forever. We got interchangeable lenses, a  20th Century  solution to the problem of  providing wide, normal and narrow angles of view.


    A 21st Century  solution to the same problem is the zoom lens, the size of which has shrunken dramatically in the last few years with the use of  sophisticated aspheric lens technology, even in consumer products.
    This has allowed manufacturers to produce fixed lens cameras with a very versatile zoom range, compact size and consumer accessible price point.


    Six months ago  I bought a Panasonic FZ1000 and recently realised that I had not picked up any of my very sophisticated and expensive Micro Four Thirds kit since the FZ1000 arrived. The M43  kit was based on a Panasonic GH4 with a full suite of the best M43 Panasonic zoom lenses.
    Now all of this gear has been sold on E-Bay.  I am sure the new owners will be very happy, it was all top quality equipment in excellent condition.


    What have I lost (that I might have wanted) ?  
    * The  ultra wide angle view provided by the Panasonic 7-14mm (E14-28mm) lens.  If  I  was an architecture or  real estate photographer that would be a crippling problem and a definitive reason to keep the ILC kit.   But I am neither of those things and for occasional use the E25mm wide end of the FZ1000 does well enough for architectural subjects.   The truth was, I hardly ever put the 7-14mm lens in my bag and rarely missed it.  For a wide view I can use the sweep panorama function or make several overlapping shots and stitch them together  in Photoshop.
    * An ultra long lens. The Lumix 100-300mm zooms out to E600mm at f5.6.  The FZ1000 stops at E400mm  at f4.  That is good enough for most purposes and gives good results. I have explored the various JPG only options for longer effective focal lengths and concluded that cropping from RAW probably allows for slightly better results.  Some people have tried attaching a teleconverter optical module to the front of the lens but none has yet reported  very good results.
    * A bit of high ISO noise performance. I can usually compensate for this by using a slower shutter speed, relying on the very effective 5 axis OIS built into the FZ1000.


    What have I lost (that I didn't want) ?
    * Four  lenses, which had to be bought, at great cost, carried about and changed whenever the need for a different focal length range presented itself.  Towards the end of my time with ILCs I had become so averse to changing lenses that I usually just mounted the Lumix 14-140mm on the GH4 when going forth to take photographs and I always used just this one lens when going away or on holiday.
    I soon realised that the FZ1000 was a more versatile and much less expensive option than the GH4 + Lumix 14-140mm.
    What have I gained ? 
    * Some funds recouped from the sale of the M43 gear.
    * The freedom which comes with knowing that my entire photographic kit is one camera in one small carry bag.
    * A renewed interest in photography and increased use of the camera precisely because my kit is now so compact and portable so it comes with me more often and I use it more often. I can have the camera ready to shoot in a fraction of the time which was normal with my ILC kit. I don't need to mount a lens onto the camera because it's already there.
    What is the next step for me ?  The evolution of my camera kit over the last 10 years has been a story of downsizing,  from SLR to DSLR to Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless interchangeable Lens Camera to Fixed Zoom Lens Camera.  I think the next step is further downsizing, plus a little diversification. At the moment there are two FZ1000s in our family, his and hers.  This is fine but do we need them both ?
    Panasonic has just introduced an even smaller full featured camera, the LX100.   This lacks the long lens range of the FZ1000 but in the wide to normal range looks very appealing.


    I am very keen to stay with fixed lens cameras and will probably get an LX100 in addition to at least one of the FZ1000s.
    Which way  are the other camera makers going on the downsizing issue ?  At the recently concluded biennial Photokina in Germany we saw camera makers going in all directions looking for a profitable niche.
    Nikon reallywants you to buy a full frame DSLR camera. Fuji, Samsung and even Olympus have released big, look-at-me zooms in the upper enthusiast/professional category. Sony appears to be fully engaged with downsizing camera bodies but both their 28mm and 43mm (diagonal) sensor sizes require large lenses at the telephoto end of the range.   Canon appears to have lapsed into copying either itself or Sony.
    Panasonic appears to have an edge in the production of aspheric lenses which has allowed them to push ahead with fixed lens designs which would have been impossible just a year ago.


    We live in interesting times.


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    Impressionist Painting Effect
    FZ1000  Subject 1.3 kilometers from the camera over ocean and beach, I-Zoom at E800mm. Strong atmospheric distortion.
     
    In the good old days  of film there were not many sizes from which to choose. Most people used 35mm film which was actually 35mm wide,  and I suspect many would  have been only vaguely aware that any other  size existed.
    However since the beginning  of digital photography there has been a profusion and confusion of sensor sizes. Adding to the muddle, camera makers got into the habit of naming their sensor sizes in the most bizarre way. They used as reference the diameter of a notional cathode ray tube which would have been required in the 1950's to incorporate the particular sensor. To make matters worse they described this in inches then expressed the dimension in a weird inverted fashion like [1/1.7 inches].  Nobody presented with this bit of nonsense would have the faintest  clue how large the sensor might actually be.  
    Maybe the manufacturers were deliberately obfuscating the size issue, perhaps to divert consumer's attention from the fact that most digital cameras used a sensor very much smaller than the imaging area given by 35mm film.
    There is a simple, useful alternative  namely to designate a sensor by it's diagonal dimension. Lets' see how this works in the table below:


    Sensor Type

    Aspect Ratio

    Nominal Dimensions

    (mm)

    Diagonal (mm)

    Area (squ.mm)

    Focal length Factor

    Medium Format

    Various

    Various, about 44x33

    Various

    about 55

    Various

    about 1452

    Various

    about 0.78

    Full Frame

    3:2

    36x24

    43

    864

    1.0

    APS-C

    Sony et al

    3:2

    23.5x15.6

    28

    367

    1.5

    APS-C Canon

    3:2

    22.3x14.9

    27

    332

    1.6

    Four Thirds,

    Micro 4/3

    4:3

    17.3x13

    21.6

    225

    2.0

    One inch

    3:2

    13.2x8.8

    15.9

    116

    2.7

    2/3"

    4:3

    8.8x6.6

    11

    58

    3.9

    1/1.7"

    4:3

    Various about

    7.5x5.6

    Various about 9.3

    Various about 42

    4.6

    1.2"

    4:3

    6.4x4.8

    8

    30

    5.4

    1/2.3"

    4:3

    6.1x4.6

    7.7

    28

    5.6


     

    So, instead of calling  the sensor in the Panasonic FZ1000 and several other cameras, "one inch" which means nothing it can be described by the diagonal which is 15.9mm which is at least something real and useful for those consumers who might want to know the size of the sensor in their camera.


    I really don't know  why this simple naming system has not become universal, it seems so completely obvious to me. Not to others apparently.


     


     


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  • 10/22/14--22:25: FZ1000 Close Up Options


  • The FZ1000  is a tremendously versatile camera.  With no additional equipment or accessories it can deliver good results with general photography, sport/action, wide angle, telephoto and much more.

    This post is about close up options.


    Several years ago  I  used to de- stress from a hectic workplace by going into the bush on weekends and photographing flowers of the Sydney region. I used a 35mm SLR with a macro lens, cable release, slow transparency film, tripod and  light diffusers which required at least one more tripod.  It was all very peaceful but setting up for a photo would take at least 15 minutes.


    Fast forward  to the digital era and much has changed. But the basic operation of a modern DSLR is just the same as a 1960’s  SLR using film.  The greatest leap forward in versatility has been in cameras with a fixed zoom lens and this has come from new technology in the construction of zoom lenses, particularly the use of multiple aspheric elements. 

    This has enabled lenses with a long zoom range and also the capacity to focus very close.  Both of these capabilities have been available on cameras with very small sensors (usually with 7.5mm diagonal)  for some time, but the FZ1000  adds a decent sized (15.9mm diagonal) sensor and very good picture quality to the equation.

    At the same time cameras have acquired improved quality in the middle  ISO settings range and more capable focus and drive capabilities.


    All these developments  have granted the intrepid close up photographer new freedoms and have encouraged new ways of working in the close up domain.


    A traditional macro lens,  when used for close ups,  works within a limited  range of distances between the camera and subject. But the FZ100 introduces a new set of options.  Close ups can be had with the front element of the lens almost touching the subject or with the camera one meter from the subject or anywhere in between.

    I will illustrate some of the options with reference to the photographs: By the way all the photos have been cropped for publication.




    The picture above was made in my front garden.  The camera was hand held. RAW capture. Focal length E86mm, f8, ISO 125, 1/225 sec. I brought the camera as close as possible without provoking the red AF box and “too close” warning.  I used autofocus and a largish AF box (size 6/15).  There was some wind, causing the subject to move about and the insect was moving about, as insects are wont to do.  I set the Drive Mode to Burst M and fired off a series of short bursts of about 5 frames each.  Many of the resulting frames were unsharp but several were quite sharp and I selected one.

    This is an example of a close up with the camera at an intermediate distance of about 250mm from the subject.




    For the photo above the front element of the lens was almost touching the flower. I had to remove the lens hood. I usually find little use for this option which brings the camera so close it blocks light from the subject and would spook any little creature thereupon. But this little flower was mostly backlit so the light was not a problem.  The flower was up high, above my head on a small tree. It was a windy afternoon causing the flower to wave and bounce about all over the place.  It appeared to be an impossible challenge for a close up shot.

    So I set Burst M (7 fps) and AF continuous, swung out the articulated monitor so I could view above my head and fired off a series of bursts. Of course most of the frames were blurred but some were acceptably sharp. This is the first time in my life I used Shutter Priority, Burst and AFC for a close up shot and it worked.


    ISO 160, Shutter Priority AE, 1/640 sec at f5.6, Focal length E25mm. RAW.




    Now we come to a close up shot with a camera to subject distance of  just over 1000mm.  The bees were working little flowers which flourish in the grass. I bent over at the waist, pointed the camera straight down,  used AF Single and Burst M, shooting in bursts of about 5 frames with RAW capture.  Of course plenty of the shots had either the bee or the flowers or both unsharp but quite a few got both the bee and flower acceptably sharp.


    RAW capture, Shutter Priority AE, 1/640 at f4, ISO 125, Focal  length E400mm.





    This  photo is of the same little flowers and bee (well maybe it was a different bee) but this time I set the Quality to JPG and enabled i-Zoom for a focal length of E800mm. I think you can see the RAW version is better.   In fact after making many hundreds of photos with i-Zoom I have come to the conclusion that I get better quality results with RAW capture, cropped in post processing.





    This is another shot which would have been almost impossible in the good old days. The spider in its web was moving back and forth about 50mm  in the breeze making focus very difficult.  The web was back lit with the sun only just out of frame.  I put the camera on a tripod but left the head unlocked so I could change the camera angle.  I used Manual Focus as the AF would not focus on the spider  because the background was so busy.  Again I used Burst M with multiple bursts when the spider appeared to be coming into focus.


    Nobody is about to enter this shot in a competition but the fact the FZ1000 enabled me to take any kind of photo at all in such complicated conditions is somewhat remarkable.

    RAW capture, Aperture Priority, f8, ISO 250, 1/80 second, Focal length E93mm.




    The last photo illustrates the use of a close up lens, screwed to the front element of the camera lens.
    I used a 58mm Canon 500D which is a 2 element 2 diopter lens.  It is optically very good and enables real macro shots towards the long end of the FZ1000 range.  This permits a useful working distance between the camera and subject.


    The photo was made in the early morning in low light. Hand held, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority f8, 1/160 second, focal length (as recorded by the EXIF data) E398mm.  The flower is about 25mm across.

    Technically the close up lens probably offers the best close up performance of all the options covered in this post.  It provides the smallest angle of view, a useful working distance and good optics while retaining OIS, AE and AF.


    But I hate it.  This is the ergonomics blog and the ergonomics of using one of the available good quality close up lenses are dreadful. I have a B+W slimline protect filter on the FZ1000 with no front thread. There are currently no 62mm double element CU lenses available new and the (very) old Nikon ones available second hand are often exorbitantly priced. 

    Update: Thanks to Brad on the DPR Panasonic Compact Camera Forum I learned that Marumi makes a 62mm achromatic close up lens of +3 diopters  (Marumi 330).  I will investigate.

    So to use the 58mm Canon 500D I have to remove the front filter from the FZ1000, put it in a clamshell container, take out the 500D, dig the 62-58mm step down ring from my bag, attach it to the 500D then finally attach the step down with 500D affixed onto the front of the FZ1000. The whole process is much worse than changing lenses.  Every time I do this I drop at least one of the (fairly expensive) bits and the whole process is so time consuming it is hardly worth while.  In addition I have to carry an oversized bag to contain the accessory bits and pieces.

    Now IF someone made a good 62mm 2 element or aspheric CU lens I would consider getting a protect filter which does have a front thread and trying again. But for the moment I will pass on the CU option.

    Hoya makes  single element 62mm CU lenses, which I might try at some stage.


        


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    Sculpture By the Sea

    I have been using cameras for 60 years. In that time I have been able to own or use just about every size and type of camera ever made.


    Until very recently the enthusiast/expert photographer like me had a choice:  I could have


    * An Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) with a bunch of lenses.  This was the most capable option and probably  still is.  But it is also the most expensive, large, heavy and unwieldy due to the need to carry and change lenses.  This is the 20th Century answer to the problem of providing a wide range of lens focal lengths. Some Micro Four Thirds (M43) kits can be very compact but you still need to buy, carry and change lenses and that is the least ergonomically satisfactory aspect of camera use.


    * A fixed lens camera with good picture quality but with a single focal length or limited zoom lens.


    * A fixed lens superzoom camera with a broad range of focal lengths but a very small sensor delivering suboptimal picture quality.


    Many people,   myself included,  wanted  a superzoom  style camera with ILC equivalent picture quality.


    I almost bought a Sony RX10  which comes close to my requirements on paper, apart from the restricted lens reach at the long end. But I was not happy with several aspects of the RX10’s ergonomics.  The handle is too thin, the shutter button perched on the tip of the handle so the right index finger has to pull back to engage with the button. The thumb support is way across to the right forcing the thumb into a vertical position rather than the preferred diagonal  position which is both stronger and more relaxed.  The user interface is a curious, and to my way of thinking somewhat incoherent mix of modern and retro features. Aperture is changed with a ring on the lens, but there is a Mode Dial and Control Dial.  There is live view on both the EVF and monitor but the top deck has an LCD panel which appears redundant to me.  There were other complaints from reviewers such as slow zooming and focussing.

    Anyway I am now glad I passed on the RX10 because the Panasonic FZ1000 came along with (reportedly) the same very good 15.9mm diagonal BSI sensor, almost double the zoom range, better performance and better ergonomics at a lower price.


    So I bought the FZ1000  three months ago and have now sold all my ILC gear including some very good and expensive lenses.


    Of course  I could easily find an ILC with a wider lens or a longer one, but not both at once. I could find a more compact camera with better picture quality. But only at one focal length.  I could find an ILC with better high ISO image quality. But I would have to mate it to a wide aperture lens to gain full benefit of that quality. I could find an ILC which performs better with moving subjects with the right lens.


    But the thing I could not find until the FZ1000 came along  is any kind of camera with enough of those things for my needs in one single package with one lens which I do not need to change.


    The FZ1000is versatile. It is:


    * Quite compact considering it provides a complete camera kit in one unit requiring no accessories other than a 62mm protect filter on the lens and one or two spare batteries.   This fits into a small carry bag which is easy to carry. I use a Lowe Pro Apex 110 AW which is exactly the right size.


    * Very reasonably priced considering the functionality on offer. When the FZ1000 was released, some observers cried “it’s too expensive”. I suspect they were probably comparing the FZ1000 with small sensor superzooms such as the FZ200, most of which are half the price.  But these cameras also offer half the picture quality. The real comparison is between the FZ1000 and an ILC with two or three zoom lenses. This makes the FZ1000 look very appealing even if those lenses are budget small aperture types.


    * Able to quickly zoom from convincingly wide (E25mm) at one end to usefully long (E400mm) at the other and provide very good to excellent picture quality all the way.


    * Able to manage static or moving subjects even indoors, with a decent percentage of keepers.


    * Easy to use (practice and a good knowledge of the operating instructions are required) with good ergonomics.


    * Fast and responsive in all conditions.


    * Has a built in flash for those who require this feature.


    * Can do 4K or less ambitious video.


    * Can be driven from a smartphone.


    The march of progress  in camera design has seen the SLR morph into the DSLR. In recent years we have seen  the  Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera  (MILC) challenging the DSLR for market dominance in the ILC category. 

    But now we are starting to see fixed lens long zoom cameras which question the need for any kind of ILC at all for many enthusiast/expert photographers.  This is the 21st Century’s answer to the problem of providing a range of focal lengths.


    I was intrigued  and frankly a bit surprised to see that at the recently concluded Photokina in Germany not a single manufacturer challenged Panasonic with an offering to compete with the FZ1000.  Even Sony which started the trend and supplied the sensor, did not upgrade the RX10.

    Maybe they are waiting to see how well the FZ1000 performs in the marketplace.  Maybe they don’t want to challenge their own ILC product lines.

    Maybe they are just dozing at the wheel of their product development convoys.

    We shall  see. In the meantime I am enjoying the FZ1000 and making more photos with it than I have  done with any other camera.







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  • 10/31/14--23:29: FZ1000 Firmware suggestions




  • Having made several thousand photos with the FZ1000I now have some ideas about improvements to the functionality of the FZ1000 which I think could be incorporated into a firmware update.  I would like to see:


    1. Allow users to stop the lens retracting after the Playback button is pressed.


    2. Allow users to retask the Video Button as a Fn button.


    3. Adjust JPG algorithms to better protect highlights in conditions of high subject brightness range.


    4. Allow users to create a My Menu with most frequently accessed items.


    5. Allow the use of Timer and AEB together.


    6. Rectify strange frame rate behaviour in Burst M.  At present the camera fires about 6 shots at 7 fps then fires in bursts of two or three shots with a delay between each burst.



    7. Allow setting a minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO. Enable this to change (get faster) as the lens is zoomed out.


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  • 11/26/14--14:26: FZ1000 A Week Away

  • Motorway



    I took the FZ1000 away for a week recently. As usual I found it to be very versatile, allowing me to
     photograph in a wide variety of circumstances with no need to change lenses and no need for extra equipment.



    That should confuse them



    Eastern Yellow Robin, rainforest, South East Queensland
    These little birds flit about at high speed, perching for only a second or two at a time.  Responsive operation and fast AF allowed me to get the shot even in low light. This has been heavily cropped.



    This juvenile regent bower bird is apparently getting in some early bower building practice. He was happily working only 4 meters from the pathway for humans through the rainforest. The shot was difficult with low light and much foliage between the bird and camera. I used the smallest size AF box to focus on the bird not the clutter.


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    This is the full frame from the LX100

    I have been comparing  results from my newly acquired LX100 with those from the FZ1000.  The LX100 has about 12 megapixels (depending on the selected aspect ratio) the FZ1000 has 20. You might expect the FZ1000 to have markedly superior imaging resolution to the LX100.


    Indeed I have found that when the two are compared using my usual test chart which includes a lot of fine printing, the FZ1000 does out resolve the LX100. The difference between them is not great but it is definitely there.


    If one were to dedicate oneself to photographing test charts no further enquiry would be required.

    But out in the wide world I have found the LX100 makes sharp, clear pictures with very good rendition of fine subject details and textures.


    The flowers shown in this post are growing on a tree in my garden. I have found in the past that they are a good test of the ability of a camera/lens/sensor/processor system to resolve fine subject details especially at the lighter end of the brightness spectrum. Some cameras just can’t render the little flowers clearly even though on paper they should have excellent resolution.


    So I photographed them today with each camera at f4, hand held, RAW and adjusted the RAW files slightly in ACR applying a little sharpening and highlight reduction. The adjustments were not exactly the same for each as the originals have a slightly different histogram.


    My impression is that:


    * There is not much difference between the two.

    * To my eyes the LX100 rendition provides slightly better definition of the flowers even when the two files are adjusted to be the same size.

    * The background is sharper (less out of focus) in the FZ1000 version due to the smaller sensor.



     LX100 crop from the center


    FZ1000 crop from the center




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  • 11/26/14--22:19: LX100 The World at f1.7

  • This location has plenty to test any camera. High subject brightness range, mixed light sources, constant human traffic and lots of detail. LX100, handheld, P Mode, Auto ISO, f1.7. One of several frames I made in a few seconds, each separately (auto) focussed.


    It is early days in my time with the LX100   but already I am discovering that the best setting for general handheld photography is [A-A] (a.k.a. [Program]) Auto Exposure Mode with Auto ISO. 

    Indoors the camera will often select f1.7 at the wide end of the zoom range.


    Here are two photos demonstrating that picture quality at f1.7 is very good and depth of field is fully adequate for the subject in each case.  That does not mean everything is in focus but neither does it need to be.


    The implication of this is that is the camera wants to use f1.7, let it do so, the results are just fine.



    These photos are taken from RAW but the concurrent JPGs are almost as good. 


    Underground railway. LX100, handheld, AF, P Mode, auto ISO, f1.7. The people moving are blurred but the still parts of the subject are sharp.  The notice on the blue support post at 7 o'clock from the round #3 platform numeral reads:   "To help with trains departing on time doors may close 20 seconds prior to leaving".  This level of detail won't survive compression for the net but it is there in the original.



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    LX100 Hand held, Program AE Mode, Auto ISO. 1/125 sec, f5, ISO 200.  RAW capture.


    Some surprises here



    When a new camera  arrives in my house I always want to compare it with any other camera available.  This set up a comparison between the LX100 (the new) and the FZ1000 (the not-very-old).

    Published image quality tests such as those on Digital Photography Review indicate that the high ISO noise performance of the LX100 is about half a stop better than the Sony RX100(3) which uses the same sensor as the Panasonic FZ1000.  DPR uses certain test conditions and Raw Converter settings and I have no doubt their results are valid for those conditions and settings.


    But I use a less “technical” and  more “real world” approach.


    I photograph a set of books on shelves at each available ISO setting with each camera, each using the same aperture and equivalent focal length. I use AF, tripod, timer delay.


    I then view the files after conversion in Adobe Camera Raw at default settings, whatever these may be. I do this because that is my normal work flow. I open the files in Photoshop and compare them, first at the default ACR settings then after tweaking the sliders in ACR until I have achieved what I consider to be a “best result”.  Again, this is my normal work flow so this approach is most relevant for me.


    In a separate test I also photographed my standard test chart with each camera to evaluate resolution.


    Expectations  The LX100 uses a larger sensor with less pixels than the FZ1000.

    The table shows the actual figures:

    Camera

    Sensor effective diagonal (mm)

    Sensor effective pixels (millions)

    Crop Factor

    Panasonic LX100

    19.4

    12

    2.2

    Panasonic FZ1000

    15.9

    20

    2.7


    Notes:  The LX100 uses a cropped 4/3 sensor providing a user selectable variable aspect ratio. 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 each have a diagonal of approximately 19.4mm. 

    The pixel count on the LX100 varies with aspect ratio but averages about 12Mpx.

    I would expect the LX100 to have convincingly less noise at high ISO settings than the FZ100.

    I would expect the FZ1000 to have convincingly more resolution and sharpness than the LX100 especially at low ISO settings.


    * When viewing files side by side in Photoshop I reduced the size of the FZ1000 files on screen to match those of the LX100.


    LX100 at ISO 6400, from RAW original

    FZ1000 at ISO 6400 from RAW original


    Findings  Somewhat to my surprise, I found only one of those expectations was confirmed.


    As expected:  


    * The FZ1000 did produce higher resolution of fine details on the test chart at low ISO settings. By the way, this benefit is difficult to see in real world photographs even with subjects containing much fine detail.


    Unexpected:


    *  The high ISO files from the LX100 were slightly sharper at default ACR settings.

     So I slightly sharpened those from the FZ1000 to match the LX100.


    * After doing so I found the luminance noise levels, sharpness and color  rendition  at each ISO setting up to 6400 to be identical.


    * At ISO 12800 the FZ1000 developed false colors with excess magenta in the dark tones and green in the light tones. The FZ1000 files were also slightly less sharp even with extra sharpening applied. Luminance noise levels were the same.


    Conclusion  Contrary to expectations I found the sensor in the LX100 provides no high ISO advantage over that in the FZ1000  up to and including ISO 6400.


    The only advantage gained by the LX100 over the FZ1000 in low light is provided by the lens which allows a larger maximum aperture (smaller f stop) at comparable Equivalent (to full frame, 24x36mm sensor) focal lengths . This in turn allows a lower ISO setting to be used.

    The table shows the actual aperture for each E Focal Length and advantage to the LX100 in EV steps:


    Equivalent Focal Length Emm

    24

    25

    28

    35

    50

    75

    LX100

    1.7

    1.8

    2.1

    2.3

    2.7

    2.8

    FZ1000

    N/A

    2.8

    2.9

    3.1

    3.3

    3.7

    Advantage to LX100 (EV) Approximate

    N/A

    1.3

    1.0

    0.7

    0.7

    0.8


    Discussion  

    For low light hand held work with no flash the LX100 does have a modest advantage over the FZ100 due to the wider aperture lens. Both cameras have fast, generally reliable single shot AF and both are very responsive with fast operation.


    I have not had the opportunity to test the Sony RX100(3) but this camera uses the same sensor as the FZ1000 and has a lens with equivalent focal length and aperture very similar to the LX100. So I would expect the RX100(3) to have very similar high ISO performance to the LX100.


    In previous testing I found that the Panasonic GH4 has a high ISO advantage of about 0.6 stops over the FZ1000.


    So it would appear that the LX100 has gotten Panasonic’s second rank sensor, which is frankly a bit disappointing.


    It would also appear that Sony is well ahead of the competition when we look at the relationship between sensor size and high ISO performance.


    All this leaves me wondering why Panasonic elected not to use the Sony 15.9mm sensor in the LX100. Had they done so they could have given the lens an even wider aperture and/or longer focal length range resulting in a super category killer product.


    Had Panasonic used their top rank sensor the LX100 would presumably have had better high ISO performance.

    In either case it looks like an opportunity missed, it seems to me.

      


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  • 11/28/14--15:45: LX100 Best Exposure Mode ?

  • The LX100 is a good street camera. 


    My other camera is a Panasonic FZ1000. I never use this in P (Program Exposure) Mode because the Program Exposure algorithms result in some combinations of aperture, shutter speed and ISO which don’t work for me. So with the FZ1000 I generally use A (Aperture Priority) Mode at the wide end of the lens zoom range and S (Shutter Priority) or M (Manual) Mode at the long end to ensure an adequately fast shutter speed to prevent blur from camera shake.


    The LX100 is different 

    First, there is no really long end to the zoom range so camera shake is a less pressing issue.

    Second, the camera uses different and more appropriate Program Mode algorithms. With Auto ISO These deliver a combination of ISO, shutter speed and aperture which I find very close to optimal in most situations.


    So I use Program Auto Exposure Mode   with Auto ISO and Multi Metering almost all the time for general hand held photography with the LX100.  This is set when the Aperture ring and Shutter Speed Dial are both at the red [A] position.


    Outdoors  as brightness increases the camera will set ISO 200, a shutter speed of 1/125 and increase the f stop to f5.6. If brightness increases further the camera will hold f5.6 and increase shutter speed.

    This behaviour gives good results in a wide variety of outdoor situations. I am finding I rarely need to intervene but should I want to alter the aperture for a specific reason such as wanting less depth of focus for a portrait I am finding it is easier to do this with Program Shift using the rear Control Dial than switching to Aperture Priority with the Aperture ring on the lens.


    Indoors  As light levels decrease the camera will open the aperture to the widest available for the focal length in use then reduce the shutter speed to 1/60 (wide) or 1/125 (long) then increase the ISO to 1600.  This sequence covers most indoor photographic situations in my experience.  The lens works well at its widest aperture at all focal lengths. A good balance of aperture, shutter speed and ISO is achieved.


    In darker conditions the camera holds ISO at 1600 and lowers shutter speed to about 1/8 second.  It will not increase ISO above 1600 until the shutter speed would otherwise fall below about 1/8 second.  This is the only time I have a problem with the Program Mode algorithms.  The camera has good OIS and with good technique can be hand held at 1/8 second with reasonable success but human and animal subjects move about and will be blurred at this shutter speed.  Program Shift is not useful in this situation which can be managed by either:


    * Manually increasing ISO until shutter speed comes up to an acceptable level.  I have enabled this by assigning ISO to the lens Control Ring.  I find this the most straightforward way of working as the ring can be operated with one finger of the left hand.  When looking through the viewfinder I generally use the “left hand over” (the lens) position as I find this more stable and comfortable than “left hand under”.  In this position the Control Ring falls naturally under the middle finger of the left hand.


    * Setting Shutter Priority by moving the Shutter Speed Dial.  This requires more movements each more complex. Some LX100 users might think they can operate the Shutter Speed Dial with either the right index finger or the right thumb but I find that for consistency both fingers are required. This in turn disrupts grip with the right hand. This is not a big deal but does slow proceedings a bit. 


    * Using the flash.  Oh……..Right………….there is no flash.  Wait a minute, yes there is a flash unit but it’s  separate and a nuisance to carry about and by the time it has been retrieved from its bag or wherever and slotted into the hotshoe the subject has probably wandered away and the photo op has been lost.   Anyway, I hate the look of direct, on camera flash photos so I leave the flash at home all the time.






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    The LX100 is more of a "close in" than a "close up" camera. But some subjects as here lend themselves to the close up treatment.


    If memory serves  correctly my first compact was a Minolta which I bought in the 1960s. This was basically a Japanese copy of the famous Minox spy camera which used 9.2mm black and white film.

    The Minolta was really a novelty due to the very small film size which meant picture quality was not wonderful.


    Over the next few years I bought and used several film compacts, all taking 35mm film in cassettes.


    The Olympus Mju-1 was indeed very compact and made reasonable but not wonderful pictures.



    So did the little Ricoh GR with a 28mm lens which I found too wide for general photography.

    Two Nikon film compacts passed through my hands. One was inexpensive and had a dreadful lens. I forget the model number. The other was a 28Ti with a 28mm lens of decent quality and quirky little analogue dials on top.  There must have been something wrong with it as it didn’t last long in my household.


    The Contax T2 was wildly overpriced but it had a nice lens and was a very good all round performer. I took it on a hiking trip in Nepal as an adjunct to my “proper” camera kit which was a Canon SLR with three prime lenses. In retrospect I think I should have left the Canon gear at home as most of the memorable pictures from that trip came from the Contax as it was much easier to bring out and have ready for a shot.


    Our families last film compact was a Pentax travel zoom. I took this on a hiking trip on the glaciers of far north Pakistan as an adjunct to my main camera which at the time was a Mamiya 7.  Again I think in retrospect I should have left the Mamiya at home as most of the memorable pictures came from the Pentax.


    The digital era    My first ever digital camera was a Canon Powershot S70 compact with a clam shell design reminiscent of the Olympus Mju-1. The S-70 had various deficiencies but it did alert me to the possibilities of digital capture in a small package.



    Then came a series of Canon Powershot G compacts. I think there was the G7, G9, G10, G12 and lastly the G16. For several years this series was the industry leader in compact technology, bringing good picture quality and moderately but not very compact size to the equation.  Unfortunately Canon lost the plot somewhere between the G12 and the G16.  The G12 needed a good quality built in EVF and a fully articulated monitor but the G15 then G16 provided neither of these things. I took a G16 as backup camera on a southern ocean cruise stopping at Macquarie Island. But I found it  almost impossible to use outdoors due to the lack of an EVF. The picture quality was quite good but not outstanding.



    A family member came home one day with a Canon G1X (the first version).  Canon brought this thing to the market with great fanfare and extravagant claims of excellence. But it proved to be a most disappointing camera with slow performance, average picture quality and poor ergonomics. I saw it as yet another sign of Canon's decline from the top rank of camera makers.

    I used a Samsung EX1 for a short time. This camera had some quite sophisticated features but one big failing. With subjects having high brightness range it would grossly overexpose leading to severely blown out highlights. 

    I tried two compacts from Panasonic. First came the LX2 which was “interesting” with a native 16:9 aspect ratio and plenty of technical sophistication. But the JPGs were unimpressive and shot to shot time was 6 seconds with RAW capture. This was entirely unacceptable.


    The LX5 was a much better performer in every way. It made very good photos in most conditions. But the lack of a built in EVF and rather fiddly rear control dial did not endear it to me.


    The Fuji X10 was another “interesting” camera. Add “quirky” to that. It worked reasonably well  if you were prepared to leave it on one of the fully automatic JPG modes all the time.  But try to shoot RAW and the confusion mounted quickly.


    On the specification list the Nikon Coolpix P7800 appeared to be almost the perfect advanced compact except it wasn’t all that……you know…..compact. But it had a built in EVF, an articulated monitor and a very nice lens with a useful zoom range. But I discovered it was  sloooooowwwww. Slow to start, slow to focus, slow to operate and exceptionally slow to recover after each shot. This was most frustrating especially as Nikon was simultaneously making DSLRs with very acceptably fast all round performance.  Do the Coolpix guys not talk to the DSLR guys ??? Lunch together ??? Share technology ???   Anything ??


    The penultimate camera on this list is the Sony CyberShot RX100 (original version). There are two of these in our family so I have had plenty of opportunity to work with the camera. In many respects it and the subsequent Mk2 and Mk3 versions are the ultimate advanced compact cameras.  No other camera packs as much picture quality into such a small package. The photographer who must carry his or her camera in a pocket need look no further.


    But I never pick up the RX100 and never feel as though I want to use it. The problem is ergonomic. The RX100 is so small it is difficult to hold and its controls are cramped. It is efficient and functional but not enjoyable to use.


    What have I been seeking   with all these compact cameras ? 

    Basically I guess I want exactly the same thing as many other enthusiast photographers. This is big camera picture quality in a small camera package.

    The Sony RX100  does deliver this but I don’t enjoy the process of using that camera.


    And so we come to the Panasonic LX100.


    Does this tick all the boxes for me in real world use ?

    In a word, yes. Well, almost all of them.  It’s not perfect and I will have much to say about this in subsequent posts over the next few months. But none of the imperfections (as I see them anyway) is a deal breaker and it comes closer than any previous compact to meeting all my requirements.


    It is compact but not too small, so I can hold and operate it properly. It has excellent focus and operating performance. It makes high quality pictures in a wide variety of conditions, indoors or outdoors. It has a good quality EVF always at the ready, so I can use it easily in Australia’s bright, hard sunlight.


    It’s a keeper. 


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    LX100 the street camera

    Smartphones  have killed off the budget compact camera.


    This has  changed the game for camera makers and for those of us who would still like to use a camera to make photos.  Many smartphones are better picture making devices than a standard compact.


    The challenge now is for manufacturers to produce advanced compact cameras with  the picture quality, performance and ergonomics  of a good interchangeable lens camera (ILC), either DSLR or Mirrorless ILC.


    Ideally this photographic mini wunderkamera would have an anatomical handle and thumb support, built in EVF, fully articulated monitor, large aperture zoom lens covering the wide to short tele range, built in flash and a full set of controls for expert use.  It should also be enjoyable to use.

    Several of those features are at odds with each other. For instance giving the lens a longer zoom range or larger aperture will inevitably make it less compact.  Providing a larger sensor to improve picture quality will force the camera body and lens both to be larger.  A very small body has simply not the space available on which to fit every desirable feature.


    So the designers have several technical challenges to overcome and they must arrive at a solution to these challenges which results in a product which consumers will want to buy, own and use. One for which no excuses need be made. One which is enjoyable to use and will deliver good pictures in almost any circumstance.


    The other challenge for manufacturers is that should they succeed in producing the ideal mini wunderkamera, then demand for ILCs will presumably fall.

    When out and about I see plenty of people with their entry level DSLR and kit lens. The latest advanced compacts are smaller, lighter and in some ways (for instance electronic viewfinder, focus accuracy, lens aperture and sharpness)  more capable than entry level DSLRs.


    When these little wonders become popular I think they will challenge the relevance of  entry DSLRs and mirrorless ILCs  and that might present the manufacturers with the need to make a big shift in product priorities.


    Here follows  my very brief and undoubtedly incomplete analysis of  current advanced compact offerings.  My apologies if I fail to mention someone’s favourite camera.


    The product development people have to decide on a sensor size as that determines everything else.
    Larger sensors provide better image quality but restrict the possible zoom and aperture range of the lens. 


    The compact with the largest sensor is the Sony RX1. This has a so called “full frame” 24x36mm sensor with a diagonal measurement of 43mm. The lens is a 35mm f2. There is very little space on this camera for much else. There is no built in viewfinder and no zoom lens.  But the purist wanting the best possible image quality in a compact body need look no further. If he or she can afford it of course.   Many full frame DSLRs cost less.

    Next down in sensor size comes  the so called “APS-C” with 28mm diagonal.  Several compact and not-so-compact cameras feature this sensor size.  None has a zoom lens.


    I will give lens focal lengths for all the following cameras in full frame equivalents so you have some basis on which to compare them.


    The Fuji X100 and its S and T updates are not particularly compact but come with a nice bright E35mm f2 lens and a built in viewfinder which can be either an EVF or an OVF. No built in flash though.


    The Ricoh GR with E28mm lens has its little band of devotees as do some other Ricoh cameras. There is no built in viewfinder and many people find the E28mm focal length really too wide for general photography. But it does have pop up flash. The lens is an f2.8 which allows the whole lens module to be quite small and substantially retractable. Overall size is quite compact.


    The Nikon Coolpix A is very similar to the Ricoh with an E28mm f2.8 lens and no built in viewfinder.


    The next smallest sensor size is the so called “four thirds inch” which appears in the new Panasonic LX100. The LX100 actually uses only 19.4mm of the sensor’s total 21.5mm diagonal. This allows Panasonic to incorporate a multi aspect ratio feature which many Panasonic users have grown to appreciate from experience with the GH1 and 2, also the LX5 and 7. 


    I think this sensor size is well chosen as it allows a camera body which is small but not so small it is hard to handle. A bright zoom lens with an aperture range of f1.7-2.8 is provided as is a built in EVF.  This camera comes close to having my ideal feature set for an advanced compact. The only things not provided are a built in flash which I am finding I do not miss and a fully articulated monitor which I do miss. However the monitor has a viewing angle up to about 80 degrees from the optical axis.  For composition I find anything up to about 45 degrees is usable.


    Going down in sensor size we come to the Sony RX100 in original, Mk2 and Mk3 versions.  These cameras have picture quality very similar to the LX100 in a smaller package.   They use the so called “one inch” sensor with a diagonal of 15.9mm.


    The Mk3 even has a built in EVF although you do have to pull it out from its hiding place for use.  There is a pop up flash too, but no hotshoe.  The RX100 cameras are a collective engineering triumph but are so small they are difficult to hold securely and have ergonomic limitations.


    The Canon G7X uses the same Sony sensor as the RX100 Mk3 and a  lens with longer zoom range. No EVF unfortunately, and reviewers have criticised the G7X performance.


    The so called “2/3 inch” sensor has dimensions of  6.6x8.8 mm with a diagonal of 11mm. Fuji’s X10, X20 and now X30 cameras have each used this sensor size. The feature list of the X30 looks quite appealing. There is a built in EVF, hotshoe, pop up flash, PASM Dial and control dial.  The problem for Fuji and its potential customers is that the body is larger than that of the LX100 or RX100 but the sensor is smaller.


    Moving right on down the sensor sizes we come to the so called “1/1.7 inch” sensor with a range of actual sizes but most are around 9.5mm on the diagonal.  Just two years ago this was the most often used sensor size for advanced compacts.


    These include the Canon G16, Panasonic LX7, Pentax MX-1, Olympus XZ-2, Olympus Stylus-1 and Nikon P7800.  


    Right now this group is struggling for consumers attention with the larger sensor models available.

    However I think that in due course developments in  technology will permit much improved picture quality from the 9.5mm sensor. At that time a camera similar to the Olympus Stylus 1 with its E28-300mm constant f2.8 lens could become very attractive as an all purpose model in  compact form.


    And if that comes to pass consumers will likely wonder why they would bother with an interchangeable lens model.






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    JPG from the RAW file after conversion and editing

    JPG straight from camera

    I have been running some tests  of picture quality using different settings on the LX100.

    Overall  The camera/lens/sensor/processor chain delivers a remarkable amount of subject detail for an 11-12Mp (depending on the chosen aspect ratio) unit with good highlight/shadow detail, definition and color.


    JPG vs RAW  I have been recording all my photos as JPG+RAW to compare the two and to experiment with different JPG settings in the Photo Style Tab at the top of the Rec Menu.

    I often find myself in conditions with high subject brightness range which influences my choice of JPG settings.


    I set [i-Dynamic Auto] in the Rec Menu.


    Settings in the Photo Style Menu are Contrast -2, Sharpness +3, Noise Reduction -5, Saturation 0.


    These settings are a work in progress but I am so far reasonably happy with this combination.  They give good results in a wide variety of general photographic subjects.


    I convert the RAW files in Adobe Camera Raw.


    I have not encountered a single photo where the JPG turned out better than the RAW file processed to my best ability.


    The JPGs are quite good but lag behind the RAWs in two main ways:


    1. JPG colors are frequently off. In particular greens in foliage are excessive. Typical trees in Australia are yellow or blue green or mainly grey, but LX100 JPGs render them as though they were  lush tropical verdant green.   Colors in the brown to slightly red spectrum are sometimes wildly off  appearing as vivid red in the JPGs.  Blues and in particular purple blues are often rendered incorrectly.


    2. None of the JPGs at any setting (even with Noise Reduction at -5) has quite the level of fine subject detail which is available from the RAW files.

    Having said that I think the JPGs will please many users quite well so long as they are not too fussy about color fidelity.


    Best lens aperture  The lens is very good,  providing clear sharp results at all apertures and focal lengths. My copy is well centered with no obvious difference in sharpness between one side of the frame and the other.


    Good photos are readily available from  the widest aperture at all focal lengths. If in P Mode the camera wants to use the widest aperture I suggest letting it do so. The corners and edges are a bit soft at the widest aperture but this is rarely an issue in the kinds of photos most people will be making at those apertures.


    Best sharpness across the frame is achieved at f5.6 at the wide end of the zoom range and f8 at the long end.


    Sharpness starts to fall away a little at f8 (wide) and f11 (long).  By f16 test images are quite soft due to diffraction, which causes me to wonder why Panasonic included f16 on this lens. 







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  • 12/02/14--21:13: LX100-vs-FZ1000-JPG-vs-RAW
  • FZ1000 JPG
    FZ1000 From RAW


    LX100 JPG


    LX100 From RAW


    I have had  several requests to compare JPG with RAW using both the LX100 and FZ1000.

    I used one of my standard subjects. It has considerable subject brightness range and much fine detail in the marina facility and the foliage in the background.


    All photos hand held with OIS on, focal length E75mm, aspect ratio 3:2, cropped top and bottom for final output, [i-Dynamic Auto].  In each case Photo Style settings are those I have arrived at after trying many alternatives.


    LX100 settings:

    Exposure in P Mode 1/800sec, f5.6, ISO200

    Photo Style Custom: Contrast -2, Sharpness +3, Noise Reduction -5, Saturation 0.


    FZ1000 Settings:

    Exposure in A Mode 1/640sec, f5, ISO 125

    Photo Style Custom: Contrast -5, Sharpness 0, Noise Reduction -5, Saturation 0.


    The JPGsare straight out of camera.


    The RAWs have been edited in Adobe Camera Raw to the best of my ability thensaved as JPGs.


    Comments


    * There is very little difference between the RAW conversions despite the difference in pixel count, even on close examination at 100% on screen.


    * In each case the edited RAW file gives a better result than the JPG but the difference between the two is greater in the LX100.


    * The LX100 RAW file has a bit more luminance noise than the FZ1000. This is likely because

    a) The FZ1000 used ISO 125 and the LX100 used ISO 200. 


    b) To compare the two at the same size on screen I reduced the FZ1000 file to 75%, leaving the LX100 at 100%.



    * Both cameras make excellent pictures.


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  • 12/04/14--19:15: LX100 Sweep Panorama
  • Hand held, camera in portrait orientation. I locked in exposure and focus in the middle of the scene than repositioned the camera to start the sweep. This one turned out reasonably well but there are two vertical bands of softness above the left and right ends of the wire cage.

    Like many new cameras the LX100 has a sweep Panorama function. This relies on the  high level of fast computing power built into the operating system of a modern camera.

    The camera makes about 80 exposures as the user swings the camera around slowly then in less than 1 second stitches them together into a single panoramic JPG image.


    The camera can make a horizontal panorama with the camera held in landscape or portrait orientation or a vertical panorama with the camera held in landscape or portrait orientation.


    With practice, good technique and optimal conditions, very good results are possible.  I should also say that  disappointing results are easily achieved  with inadequate preparation, suboptimal technique or poor subject selection.  Having said that I still find it remarkable just how much the process will tolerate less than optimal technique and still deliver a worthwhile result.


    This one turned out well. I stood on a table to keep the camera as level as possible.


    Setting up 

    * Set Quality to JPG Fine.  JPG+RAW will not work.


    * In the Rec Menu, Page 4/7, set the Panorama Direction. You get 4 choices, in each of which the camera can be held in landscape or portrait orientation.

    The top tab is left>right horizontal sweep, landscape orientation, or vertical sweep which can be low>high or  high>low depending on which way you hold the camera in portrait orientation.

    The next tab down is right>left horizontal sweep or vertical sweep as above.

    Third down is low>high sweep with the camera in landscape orientation or right>left sweep with the camera in portrait orientation, handle side up.

    At the bottom is high>low sweep with the camera in landscape orientation or left>right sweep with the camera in portrait orientation, handle side up.

    When in doubt play around with the options and sweep in the direction of the on screen arrows.


    * Focus Mode AFS.


    * Autofocus Mode 1 Area


    * Drive Mode Panorama Shot.


    * AF Box size 4/15.  There are 15 sizes from which to select. Any will work but 4th up from the smallest seems to be a good working size for many subjects.

    If an option is greyed out this means there is an incompatible setting somewhere in the menu system. You might have to go on a fishing expedition to find it.


    When Panorama Shot is set some settings are automatically disabled. For instance, stabiliser is switched off, AFF and AFC are disabled and several screen displays such as the level gauge and grid lines are disabled.



    A difficult shot. There are numerous soft jaggies on the horizontal lines, subject brightness range is beyond the JPG dynamic range and nothing is really sharp due to the wide aperture and slow shutter speed. I used a tripod for this which helped to keep verticals in line.

    User adjustments enabled   With Panorama Shot you can adjust Exposure Compensation [+/-], ISO and Manual/Auto focus.


    User adjustments disabled   You cannot change the lens focal length, it is set at E24mm. Aspect Ratio is fixed regardless of the position of the slider on the lens barrel.  Aperture and shutter speed are set by the camera regardless of the positions of the aperture ring and shutter speed dial.


    Subject selection 


    * Outdoors is easier. Indoors the camera will likely select f1.7 which restricts depth of focus, together with a slowish shutter speed which adversely affects sharpness as you are deliberately moving the camera.


    * Try to avoid prominent subject elements close to the camera. Apart from depth of focus issues this can cause a problem specific to multi shot stitched panoramas.

    Ideally the camera should be rotated around the “no parallax point” of the lens. This does not happen with the usual technique for making sweep panoramas. The result is that each successive shot of the sequence places near and far objects in a different lateral relationship to each other due to the parallax effect.  The camera’s computer might not be able to fully correct for this leading to stitching errors.

    How close is “too close” ?  I think this depends on many factors so trials are indicated.


    * Architectural subjects with straight horizontal lines are prone to stitching discontinuities as they tend to be rendered as curves in the panorama.


    * Moving objects such as people and cars create amusing effects in the final result as they part company with the space/time continuum.  Generally though moving subject elements are to be avoided.


    * A reasonably evenly lit subject is desirable. The camera will use the same exposure for every frame in the sequence.



    I included this to illustrate how the panorama scanning process deals with moving subjects. The lady crossing the road has been rendered as a clear singularity although she would have appeared in about 10 frames. Somehow the software has figured out an optimal rendition. The green car was not so lucky.

    Technique


    * Decide whether you intend to hold the camera in landscape or portrait orientation.


    * Focus manually if you decide on that option.


    * Decide which part of the subject you think will make the best area on which to base the exposure. Point the camera in this direction, half press and hold  the shutter button to lock in the exposure (or use the AF/AEL button for this) then point the camera to where you want to start the panorama sweep.


    * Hold the camera so it is vertical as you look at it, not tilted left or right. View with the monitor or the viewfinder. The camera can be pointed up or down somewhat and you can still get a good result. You will have to experiment to test just how far up or down the stitching software will tolerate.


    * Fully depress the shutter button (a short press will do).


    * Rotate the camera by swinging your whole body around. Try to swing smoothly without otherwise altering camera orientation.


    * Experiment with the speed of rotation.


    * Apply exposure compensation if  required.


    * Expect to need several trials for most attempted panoramas.





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    A key attribute  of  picture quality is the ability of the lens/sensor/processor pathway to render good highlight and shadow detail with subjects having a high brightness range (SBR).  In other words the ability to faithfully render detail in bright highlights and dark shadows simultaneously.


    This is often referred to as “Dynamic Range”.


    I tested the highlight/shadow capability of the LX100 and compared it to the FZ1000 in identical conditions.


    I chose a subject with very high brightness range and made exposures at the meter indicated level and also several levels of negative exposure compensation.


    I kept reducing exposure until the zebras (set to 105%) on the brightest part of the scene almost disappeared.


    I used JPG and RAW capture.


    I set i-Dynamic Auto on both cameras. This serves to improve highlight/shadow detail in JPG images.


    I used the following Custom JPG settings in the [Photo Style] tab of the Rec Menu.

    Camera

    Contrast

    Sharpness

    Noise Reduction

    Saturation

    LX100

    -2

    +3

    -5

    0

    FZ1000

    -5

    0

    -5

    +2


    I reached these settings after experimenting with the options over many hundreds of photos.

    You can see the results in the photos.








    Comment


    * Both cameras handled high brightness range very well, especially with RAW capture.


    * I was easily able to derive from RAW capture with editing in Adobe Camera RAW a better photo than any JPG combination or setting which I tried.


    * With RAW capture I was able to recover good highlight detail with both cameras from the frames exposed according to the camera’s recommendation, using Multiple Metering.  This was true even though the Zebras at 105% were blinking on the bright tones.


    * With both cameras JPGs exposed at the camera recommended settings had blown out highlights.


    * This was successfully managed at the time of capture by dialling in negative exposure compensation until the Zebras just disappeared.  With the subject used for this test that was minus 1.33 EV steps.    However the resulting files had darker shadows than the edited RAWs.

    Auto HDR can also be used with high SBR and JPG capture but this involves 3 exposures and the risk of mis-registration if  something or somebody moves during the exposure sequence.


    * I have found from previous experiments that it is highly desirable to use i-Dynamic Auto when applying negative exposure compensation in JPG capture. This applies a curve correction to bring up the dark tones.


    * With the RAW files, in each case I moved the sliders until I had achieved what I considered a best possible result. To ensure fair  comparison I made key highlight and dark tone brightness the same with each camera.


    The edited RAW files from the LX100 had slightly better highlight detail and slightly less shadow luminance noise than those from the FZ1000.  I had to look closely at 100% on screen to see the difference however.









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  • 12/06/14--01:34: LX100 OIS Effectiveness



  • The Image Stabiliser  in the LX100 is not quite as effective as that in the FZ 1000 but it doesn’t need to be as the LX100 lens has a much shorter zoom reach.  It is still very useful however.


    I ran tests using a subject with plenty of detail and a hand held camera at the wide end then the long end of the zoom range.  I photographed the subject at a range of shutter speeds with the OIS on then off.  I have steady hands.


    I held the camera with my eye to the viewfinder and also while composing on the monitor.


    Results


    Wide

    Long

    Actual Focal Length  mm

    10.9

    34

    Full Frame Equivalent Focal Length   mm

    24

    75

    1/EFL  Shutter Speed

    1/25

    1/80


    OIS  ON

    OIS  OFF

    OIS  ON

    OIS  OFF

    Monitor View Slowest sharp SS

    1/8

    1/30

    1/30

    1/125

    OIS Benefit


    2 EV Steps


    2 EV Steps

    EVF View Slowest sharp SS

    1/8

    1/30

    1/30

    1/60

    OIS Benefit


    2 EV Steps


    1 EV Step



    Notes  [1/EF/L shutter speed] refers to an old rule from the 35mm film days. This held that if the user held the camera steady the slowest shutter speed which could safely be hand held was the reciprocal of the focal length in millimetres.  
    This rule worked well enough for film but the high pixel density of modern cameras might suggest that a more stringent rule be applied, perhaps the reciprocal of twice the focal length.


    Comment  In my reasonably steady hands OIS on the LX100 confers a 2 EV step benefit except at the long end of the zoom with EVF view, where it is 1 EV step. I suspect that is because I  hold  the camera more steadily with EVF view than monitor view. 



    When using the camera particularly at the long end of the zoom I can easily see by the steadiness of the preview image in the EVF whether OIS is on or not.  I have it on all the time for hand held photographs.


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    Photo courtesy of  camerasize.com


    Sub title: The obvious is not obvious


    I have noticed on user forums   several posts asking members to cast an opinion as to which of these cameras they might prefer.  At first sight one might wonder why they would be compared.


    One is a Mirrorless ILC, the other a compact. One might imagine they would inhabit different worlds.


    But maybe not.


    So I ran a little comparison between the two based on specifications. I have and use the LX100. I did not have an A6000 in hand to test.


    It appears there are many photographers who want a compact camera which can be taken almost anywhere and which delivers high quality pictures.


    The LX100 obviously fits that category.  
    But so does the A6000 with a kit zoom lens. The A6000 is very small for an ILC and the Sony E 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 lens is very compact. This makes for a good comparison with the LX100 as both lenses have the same effective focal length range.


    Size and Mass


    Width mm

    Height mm

    Depth with lens mm

    Box volume with lens cc

    Mass with lens  grams

    Panasonic LX100

    115

    66

    65

    493

    393

    Sony A 6000

    120

    67

    75

    603

    460


    So we see the A6000 is a bit larger and heavier than the LX100 but not dramatically so. Neither will be carried in a pocket but will likely find a place in a small bag carried over the shoulder or on a waist belt.


    Price  The A6000 is being very aggressively priced as I write this. So are many entry and upper entry DSLRs. The A6000 is 10 months from announcement and being discounted. The LX100 is about 3 months from announcement and selling at full price.


    Typical prices, retail in Sydney today are


    LX100, AUD1079.


    A6000 with 16-50mm kit lens,  AUD848. Some retailers are including a bonus 55-210mm lens at this price making for a very attractive deal.


    Lenses:   Both are collapsing power zooms



    Actual Focal length  mm

    Equivalent (to full frame) focal length  mm

    Aperture Range as f stops

    Advantage to LX100

    as stops

    LX100

    10.9-34

    24-75

    1.7-2.8

    2

    A6000

    16-50

    24-75

    3.6-5.6



    So you can see the  Panasonic has a 2 stop advantage across the zoom range. This means that at any selected focal length the LX100 can operate at 2 stops wider aperture than the A6000.


    I have not had an opportunity to compare one lens against the other. The Sony E16-50mm has been tested by SLR Gear and found to give good sharpness in the center but not the edges. I do not know if it can resolve all the A6000’s 24 Mpx.


    In my testing I have found the  LX100 lens to be very sharp in the center but a bit soft in the corners at the widest apertures.


    DXO Mark Score  I don’t want to get into a debate about the merits or otherwise of  DXO Mark scores. For the sake of this exercise let us take them as given and see where that leads us.


    Overall

    Color

    Dynamic Range

    High ISO

    Megapixels

    LX100

    67

    22.3

    12.5

    553

    12

    A6000

    82

    24.1

    13.1

    1347

    24


    You can easily see the A6000 has a better sensor than the LX100. It has more pixels, better subscores and a better overall score, which is 15 points higher than the LX100, representing a 1 stop advantage in the DXO scoring system.


    Summary  At the risk of oversimplifying a subject which can be as complex as someone wants to make it, I see the essence of the matter as being:


    The A6000 sensor has a 1 Stop advantage


    The LX100 lens has a 2 Stop advantage.


    Overall the LX100 has a 1 stop advantage at any focal length.


    The A6000 has more pixels and that might be important to some users. It also means that for any given output size A6000 files require less enlargement and therefore less apparent luminance noise. 


    For the same pixel resolution in print or on screen,  images from the A6000 will be 1.4x larger in any linear dimension than those from the LX100.


    This might be thought a persuasive argument in favour of the A6000.  
    However  I am finding that the LX100 squeezes a remarkable amount of subject detail from its 12 Mpx.  
    I have been making prints up to 800mm wide from the LX100 and finding they look very crisp and clear displayed on a wall.


    Conclusion  The subtitle of this post is “The obvious is not obvious”.   In this case the superiority of the A6000 sensor might lead one to conclude that it would obviously be a better camera than the LX100. Indeed for some users and for some purposes it may well be. 

    But with the 16-50mm kit lens mounted the sensor advantage is lost by the lens.


    Of course you can fit a variety of different zooms to the Sony but all are considerably larger than the 16-50mm and none has the wide aperture of the LX100.




    http://partners.cmptch.com/images/1x1.gif




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    The silly season  is almost upon us. At this time of year many photo websites and blogs like this one post some kind of  “camera of the year” award.


    In previous years I have not thought any single product was sufficiently noteworthy to merit an award. I have instead put the view that  Micro Four Thirds was the most promising system available  and I still believe this.


    But I am just one member of a substantial cohort of camera users who really hate changing lenses.  


    I have for many years lived in the hope that some clever maker would produce a convincing all purpose, do everything mega zoom camera which would offer very good picture quality with  access a full range of focal lengths without having to change lenses.


    Several manufacturers have been improving their superzoom offerings in the last few years.


    Panasonic’s FZ200 looks appealing on paper. I bought one and found its picture quality and performance wanting.


    The Sony RX10 comes close to meeting my requirements. But its zoom range is a bit limiting and I have several concerns with performance and ergonomics.


    I bought a Panasonic FZ1000 as soon as it became available in Australia and soon sold all my interchangeable lens camera gear, with no regrets then or now.


    Here is a quick summary  of the FZ1000:


    Specifications and Features 


    * All in one camera requiring no accessories beyond the 62mm protect filter on the lens and one or two spare batteries.


    * Very good quality 16x zoom lens ranging from E25mm to E400mm focal length.


    * Built in high quality EVF, fully articulated monitor, flash unit and full complement of controls for the expert user but also with fully automatic operation for snapshooters.


    * The camera is very versatile.  It works well for a wide range of purposes and settings; landscape, architecture, candid, street, documentary, wide angle, telephoto, macro, sport/action, wildlife………the list goes on.


    * As a bonus it does 4K video straight out of the box without the usual handcart full of accessories required for decent quality video. Users have reported however that an external microphone is desirable.


    Picture quality


    * Excellent at low to mid ISO settings.


    * Usable for most purposes at high ISO settings.


    Performance


    * Very fast, accurate operation, autofocus and continuous shooting.


    * Very responsive camera.


    Ergonomics


    Setup, Prepare and Review Phase actions are all carried out very efficiently.

    In Capture Phase, Holding, Viewing and Operating are all efficient, effective and user friendly.


    Limitations,  and some workarounds:


    * No ultra wide focal length.  For real estate and architectural photographers whose bread and butter is ultra wide angle interiors, the FZ1000 will not suit. For occasional situations however either the automated sweep panorama function or stitch panorama can be used.


    * No ultra  long focal length. Workarounds include using one of the JPG only e- Zoom functions, or cropping RAW capture.   


    Actually I think there is a substantial niche for a dedicated wildlife/sport/action/bird camera with a smaller sensor than the FZ1000 allowing a lens of longer effective focal length and wider aperture. This camera would not try to offer the wide angle end of the focal length range, but would concentrate on the long end with fast AF, big buffer and fast operation.


    * Luminance noise at high ISO settings. This is not the first camera I would select for indoor sport/action photography. I have used it however for indoor junior basketball and produced quite decent results. 


    I think that some camera users who post on internet sites have gotten themselves overly exercised about luminance noise in photographs. Some cameras these days exhibit almost no noise up to extreme ISO settings.  I suspect this has given rise to expectations that all cameras will have this capability. This is both unrealistic and un-necessary. High ISO photos from the FZ1000 print very well even at large sizes.


    * Limited buffer for RAW capture. The workaround is to use JPG capture for sport/action. A bigger buffer and faster clearing would be nice however.


    * The small sensor (compared to full frame) means that depth of focus at any lens aperture is greater than that found in a full frame photo. This can be a benefit for the documentary style photographer who wants everything in frame to be sharp but a disadvantage for the sport/action worker who wants the background to be smoothly out of focus. I guess you can’t have everything.


    Summary

    I regard the FZ1000 as a game changing product. It comes very close to making entry to mid level DSLRs and Mirrorless ILCs redundant.


    With 2 spare batteries, spare memory cards and  microfiber cloth it fits into a Lowe Pro Apex 110 AW bag and weighs just 1270 grams including the bag.  


    In my house, it replaced a Panasonic GH4 with high grade wide, mid and long zooms, a kit which was much more bulky, heavy and 5x as expensive as the FZ1000.







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