A tree on the Capitol grounds. Taken between work shots.

I found the perfect commercial use for the Panasonic fz 1000 camera. A client that I just finished shooting 30 beautiful, environmental portraits for followed up the portrait assignment with a request for artistic detail shots of corners of buildings with dramatic skies behind them, abstract urban and construction photographs and other images that would make wonderfully engaging backgrounds for the main pages of their website. Since it's the kind of work I also love to shoot for myself I was very happy with the commission. It sounds to me as if someone just said, "Walk around downtown Austin and shoot anything that catches your eye. Be sure to leave a bit of clean space in the top left corner for our logo treatment."

The only impediment, currently, to full scale fun is the weather. We're having zany weather in Austin this Fall. Lots of cloud cover and lots of on again, off again rain showers. The photographs that the client and I have in mind are more likely to work with some deep blue sky peeking around striations and puffs of clouds. And I very much want direct, slanted sunlight on the buildings to jack the saturation and contrast to the right levels, without having to go nuts in PhotoShop.

I found some great structures over near the state capitol building ( actually, just south) and I shot as much as I could until the gray sky cover rolled back in to douse the sparkle. I looked up the weather report on my phone and it suggested that the clouds might burn off. Since I was near the capitol grounds I strolled on over and planted myself on a bench on the main pedestrian thoroughfare and indulged in some people watching while keeping part of my brain committed to the task of observing the weather.

As the clouds moved around and suggested that more visual opportunities may be nigh I gathered myself together and started walking back toward Congress Ave. and the promise of downtown. Over to my right I spied this little tree and, though I am not a landscape photographer by any means, I decided to give it a shot.

During the course of my first day out shooting the abstractions and buildings I have come to appreciate the true value proposition of the fz 1000 camera and its one inch sensor and gorgeous (for the money) EVF. The camera is fairly light (east to carry)  but it's big enough to provide a stable platform that encourages good handholding techniques. The one inch sensor means Panasonic could design a really long and good lens for the camera --- one that's perfect for shooting outside in daylight. I could go from 25mm to 400mm (all equivalent focal lengths based on 35mm) and get the perfect crop for every shot I saw.

While I'm not sure the image stabilization in this camera is quite the equal of the vaunted, Olympus EM5.2 it's no slouch. When I push the shutter button half way down the image in the finder becomes very stable and still. Having examined hundreds and hundreds of stabilized files at this point, from this camera, I can say that I have yet to find a photo that was shot at a reasonable setting which is not tack sharp. Since the lens is well corrected and since these kinds of scenic shots don't call for very narrow depth of field I am happy to leave the lens set at f5.6 for almost everything. Again, looking through the take each afternoon, I am happy with the detail and sharpness of the lens. The only thing it requires in post processing, to be totally competitive with my other cameras is a boost of contrast and a little nudge on the clarity slider in Lightroom. A little correction and the files pop.

So far the camera meter and I agree almost all the time. There are instances where I want my image to be darker and moodier but my thumb falls right on top of the exposure compensation dial and the amount of correction is displayed in the finder. I am certain that (barring camera boredom syndrome) I will be able to handle the whole project quite well with just this Panasonic camera.

And the other attributes speak for themselves: A full range of focal lengths in one. No need to carry any extra accessories or lenses in a bag. I brought along an extra battery in my pocket but even after shooting over the course of three hours yesterday I still did not need to grab that spare. The one accessory I did take with me, attached to the camera at all times, was a circular polarizing filter. It makes the skies more fun.

It was cloudy most of this morning and, while we have a break now, it's supposed to cloud up a bit later on. I'm not concerned, the client understands the nature of this kind of shooting and is the picture of patience. I'll shoot until I have a nice catalog for them, then we'll know when the project is really over.

I'm not saying you personally need one of these amazing bridge cameras but I'm pretty sure if I didn't have an fz 1000 I'd be working harder and not getting anything that would please me more, as far as the files go. An alternative? The little Sony RX10.2. I've been playing around with one and it is at least as nice as the first version I owned. Each camera has its strengths and weaknesses. Right now I'm just appreciating that wonderful reach of the Panasonic's Leica designed zoom lens. It's really well done.

Hope you are having a fun Wednesday. I'm spending the rest of my day retouching portraits. But nice portraits of interesting people...  I'll share with you when their site goes live.


Dave Jenkins said...

Beautifully simple, simply beautiful.

J.R.Terrell said...

Hey Kirk. Great post, as usual. You have me very interested to see if the FZ1000 might be the lighter alternative camera I've been looking for. One question: Did you ever resolve the issue of mixed lighting and odd white balance that you talked about? Right now I've been playing around with an Olympus 4/3rd camera (not the em5 mk II unfortunately)and I've noticed that it's sensor really struggles with white balance indoors in mixed light. Did you solve that puzzle?