5.09.2020

B. At the Galaxy Cafe. Re-worked in Luminar for a different aesthetic.


I think we both look forward to a time when we can go back to our favorite restaurants. I'm probably much more anxious to do so because I'm one of those "horrible" extroverts who has a pressing need to be around people. Lots of people. B, on the other hand, is a pure introvert and is enjoying every moment of sheltering in place. She's got a project to work on at all times. Painting the porch, refinishing a book shelf, experimenting with special inks and watercolors, doing yoga.

I think her favorite part of the day is when I stop buzzing around the house and announce: "I'm going out to the studio to play with some photographs." 

But I do think of my favorite introvert as the "lifeguard" in my pool of existence. She's good about enforcing habits that keep me safe. But enforced in always the kindest way.




B. At the Galaxy Cafe after a trip to the Blanton Museum. From the archives but recently re-worked.



 Yes, Some times when I say stupid stuff I still get "the look." 


A variation on yesterday's black and white post. Re-imagined in Luminar.


From a session at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC for Samsung. Shot with a Galaxy NX camera and the 85mm f1.4 Samsung lens. They got a lot right...

Anyway, I played around some more with Luminar 4.x and it's actually a great program for quickly retouching and enhancing portraits. You'll have more fine control in PhotoShop (for instance you can control eye size for each eye in P.S. instead of having a combined setting in Luminar) but Luminar is great for fast skin smoothing, detail enhancing and color correction. The filters also work well and you can dial back the effects with sliders.

I'm having fun with it. And it's not too expensive. I'd buy it again.

Not supported or sponsored by Luminar....or any other photo company or retailer. So there.

5.08.2020

One black and white portrait photographed for sharpness and clarity.


As photographers it seems we've spent so much time trying to 
get shallower and shallower depth of field; as though that would 
be a process by which to distill beauty...

But if a subject is, indeed, beautiful why wouldn't we want to be
able to look at our photo in all the detail we can see with our own eyes?

Black. White. And all the Gray in Between. 

Re-imagining a portrait in a different way. Post processing to get a softer look.


I'm always trying to get weight into my photos.
That, and shadow. 

This was originally a very sharp negative that I reworked in the darkroom many years ago with a technique that softened edge detail and areas in the frame. It spilled light into shadows and shadows into light areas. I made a print and stored it in a box. 

Recently I pulled out the print and scanned it and then re-worked the 
scan in Luminar imaging software. 

I like the softer look of Lou's face in this now. 

I wish I could have people in the studio now. I miss taking portraits 
more than any privation so far in this crisis. I feel disconnected from my passion. 

Destinations I have on my shortest short list for a time in the future when we are free to travel fearlessly again.

Siena. Italy

I'm a bit frustrated. I think we're all a bit frustrated. I just finished up all my major "adult" responsibilities and was looking forward to doing more traveling with my partner and my camera when the Covid-19 pandemic put us all into lock-down. But, ever the optimist, I am planning and looking forward to a time in the (hopefully) near future when we've all been vaccinated, tested and approved for limitless excursions. In that spirit, and at the suggestion of a smart commenter, I've been working on a list of places I want to go; some to revisit and others to see for the very first time.

Here's my list: 

I want to go to St. Petersburg, Russia in the dead of winter. I was there in February 1995 and I had such interesting adventures there that one of the new novels I'm trying to finish writing is set in that time period and in that city. I think seeing it again would help my writing and I think seeing the Hermitage Museum again would be great just because it may be the most comprehensive and wonderful museum in the entire world. Why winter? To match the season of my last visit during which I found the biting, stinging cold to be refreshing and in keeping with my vision of Russia. 

I desperately want to go back to Rome. I've visiting Rome probably more than any other city in Europe except Paris and I find it, as a photographer, endlessly captivating. The people are as wonderful to photograph as well as the ancient architecture. I love the giant public squares and I also have a favorite hotel and a favorite restaurant that I think about frequently. We'd start at the Borghese Sculpture Museum and who knows where we'd end up. It will probably be the rooftop bar at the hotel.... I don't want much, just three or four weeks and the stamina to shoot endlessly. If I can make it happen it will be my first totally film-less engagement with Rome. I also remember Roman women as being both beautiful and very well dressed. 

Istanbul. When I was very young my father (and by extension, the rest of us) was assigned to work in Turkey for two years. It was near the end of the 1960's and I remember it as one long, exhilarating adventure. In the city where we lived there were still horse drawn carts and many vendors with work worn wooden push carts. Occasionally flocks of sheep would march by front of our five story, downtown apartment building. Our parents purified the drinking water with chlorine drops (or something like that) but when they weren't looking we would drink from the garden hose; we didn't want to waste time going upstairs for a drink. In the two years we lived in Adana we didn't own a TV set and missed out on US trends like, "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" but we didn't know we were missing out, we were too busy having sling shot fights and buying Turkish candy from the cart vendors. 

I remember my mother taking the family camera after we'd all gone off to school and getting a taxi to go to the outskirts of town to a gypsy encampment. She photographed for an afternoon after negotiating with the chief, then things went south. But that's a story for another time....

At any rate, whenever we could catch a free flight mom and dad would take my brother, sister and I to Istanbul --- for some culture. My mom taught herself Turkish and got pretty fluent so she knew how to handle most situations. We ate in so many great Turkish restaurants and were in awe of the incredible mosques. 

I'd like to spend a couple weeks in Istanbul, see how much it's changed and how much it's stayed the same. My memory is that it was a photographer's paradise. We were going to shoot a corporate show there in 1998 but there were some terrorist attacks against western companies and the multi-national I was working moved the show at the last minute to Lisbon, Portugal. I've had it in my mind to go back to Istanbul ever since. 

I want to go to Montreal, Canada again around my birthday in late October. Belinda and I had a great time walking through the old town, taking the metro everywhere and spending time in the museums and open air market. It was relaxing, refreshing and so convenient since it was barely 7 hours away from Austin. This time we will not miss Quebec City and we'll explore in a wider circle outside the cities. 

One trip I really want to take is two trips combined. I want to see Seoul, S. Korea and I want to go to Tokyo, Japan right after that. No sense flying trans-Pacific round trip twice if you can put the time aside to do both in one trip. 

Those are the top spots for my first trips when the world opens back up. There are so many other places I'm anxious to see as well. A winter return to Iceland is in the cards as a solo trip. A vacation to San Miguel, Mexico is high on the general list --- we haven't been there in 34 years... Time rushes by so quickly and there's so much unseen stuff everywhere to uncover. Passport ready, credit cards ready. Now we just need the damn vaccine. 

What did I miss? Where will you go when the restraints are lifted? What will you see next?

Rome. 

austin.

5.07.2020

Torture via webcast. Endless failures on YouTube.


So, we're all just a bit bored right now but I sparked up when I saw one of my favorite camera makers was doing a live video presentation about black and white with a 'famous' photojournalist. Biographical fallacy is a vicious thing. When I heard the "experienced pro" speak it was all the hoary stuff you hear from every know it all duffer who shot in the film days and is now fascinated with how easily they can now produce work with a digital camera. Dismissive of anyone who has never touched film...  

"He just sets his camera to black and white and shoots. He loves Seattle because the light is always so flat.... People get too wrapped up in technical stuff (generally translated into: I haven't kept up with lighting or post production = I love shooting Jpegs!)  Look at how easily I can silhouette two people sitting next to a window!!!"

I watched and listened until I just couldn't bear it anymore. Do any photojournalists from the film days ever learn to light? Do they ever make interesting images in these modern times or are they just enamored of the fact that they don't have to go into the darkroom anymore to produce a flat and lifeless monotone print? I guess I learned my lesson = any light is good light, as long as there is enough of it.

Frame after frame was flat, boring, lifeless, hackneyed. And so was the brittle and smug attitude of the interviewee. I give the interviewer a pass; he was trying his best to squeeze something; anything! interesting out of the interview. He just needed some programming with.......real content.

Now I see why so few people are willing to pay for "professional" photography. The pros keep doing stuff the way they did it with Tri-X and number two contrast paper in 1986. They conflate "no color" with "virtuous art." The rest of photography has moved on. Someone forgot to invite them to 2020. 

A bit mean-spirited on my part? You didn't just lose ten minutes of your day to ..... snore....zzzzz..... oh, sorry. I thought I was still learning how to take flat, B&W snapshots with my digital camera. I must have nodded off...

Somehow I thought the program could have been more enlightening than, "I just turn the dial to monochrome, ignore the prevailing light and aim it at boring shit."

Youtube can suck. People need speaker training. Companies need to better vet interviewees and do a better job matching programming to their brand, and to the sophistication of their markets.

I'd rather watch Jared Polin...(kidding, just kidding....).



Writing in overdue praise of the conventional 24-70mm f2.8 lens. Revised thinking now posits that it's a glorified normal lens. Takes me a while...

this was the frame I had the camera set to shoot. And Lightroom honored that choice 
automatically. It's a shot of one of the many boulder fields at Enchanted Rock.

I can't help it. I started taking photographs in the 1970's and my Leica toting mentors at the time assured me over and over again that..."All zoom lenses are crap." Even though I know that's not the case and hasn't been since the 1990's all those subconscious prejudices die hard. Oh sure, I've bought more than my share of professional caliber zoom lenses over the years but I always compartmentalized and rationalized those purchases as necessary tools for commerce. If I was shooting for The Kirk Tuck Museum of Incredible Contemporary Photo Art and Philosophy it was pretty much a forgone conclusion that I'd be doing so with a "real" lens. A prime lens. And in all probability it would probably be some focal length between 49 and 51 millimeters.

I always saw 28-70 and 24-70mm zoom lenses as compromises; I thought people just "settled" for lesser performance because they were too lazy to carry a bevy of primes and too eager to follow the "herd."

I should have changed my beliefs after using the original Nikon 28-70mm f2.8. It was superbly sharp and, truth be told, blew the doors off the Nikon 50mm f1.1:2 ais lens when one compared both at f4.0 and f5.6. But dogma won't always heel when you want it to.

So while I dutifully carried the holy trinity of zooms around during working hours (20-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm) as soon as I exchanged the Cole Hahn oxfords for flip-flops and the Burberry shirt for a T-shirt with a beer logo on the front I'd pick up my "real" camera with my 50mm OMG-o-flex Prime on the front and do the art strut. I'd poo-poo zooming and announce to anyone who would listen that serious photographers knew how to zoom with their feet...

About two and a half months ago I broke down and bought the Lumix 24-70mm f2.8 Pro lens. (It was all Eric's fault. He used mind control on me when we were at Precision Camera....).  At the time I justified it to myself based on the video friendly features like the fully manual focusing ring (hard stops at both ends) and the quiet focusing motors. And let's be frank; I loved the little line of type on the bottom side of the lens: "Leica certified." 

While the theater was still open I used the 24/70, in conjunction with the 70/200, to make all kinds of show production photographs and videos and was generally very happy with the lens. The constant f2.8 works well for video and the ability to do accurate focus pulls was great too. But it seemed too large, heavy and cumbersome to be an all day, street shooting lens. I left it home when I went out to shoot my artsy stuff and relied on groovy primes instead.

Well, I was grappling with what single lens to bring along on yesterday's adventure at Enchanted Rock and I knew two things: One was that I really wanted to use an S1R camera body so I could get as much fine detail as possible. And, two, that a single, normal lens would be too limiting, given the ever changing subject matter. In my masochistic prime only! days I would have packed a 24mm, a 50mm and an 85mm and spent the whole dusty day trying to change lenses over and over again without getting those lovely diffuse spots on my finished images. It was finally time to join the "lazy herd" and submit to the zoom tyranny.

While in the VSL clean room I carefully inspected the camera sensor and the back of the lens before mating the 24-70mm to the S1R (yes, the same one that came back from repair a few months ago...).  I placed them into a Think Tank Airport Essentials backpack and headed out.

Cutting to the end of story: I was very happy with the performance of the lens at both extremes and in the middle. I knew from my experiences at the theater that the lens performed better than most of my previous primes even at f2.8 but now I was seeing the lens at its optimum apertures of f5.6 and f8.0. It's still big and heavy and brutally expensive but it certainly does deliver high optical performance over all of the camera's full frame. For paid, commercial work, or those times when I can use those focal lengths to get exactly what I want, it's really a fabulous lens.

Were I to get an equipment re-do for yesterday I have to confess that I'd probably choose the 24-105mm f4.0 instead. I didn't really need a fast lens in the bright sun and the 24/105 would have given me a bit more range... and weighed half as much. Still, I'm not sure I would have gotten quite as much clean detail with the slower zoom lens. There's something about the 24-70mm that just screams  = optical performance. At least in its limited focal range envelope. Okay. I'll admit it. I now really like my 24-70mm. I'll keep it around.
this is an enlarged crop from the bottom right corner of the square frame.

this is an enlarged crop from the top right corner of the square frame. 

this is the full frame from the camera with no crop.

this is a the lower left corner of the full frame shot, just above.

5.06.2020

Don't pet the rattlesnakes! Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Day trip to Enchanted Rock. Walking, climbing and getting lost.

this shot is level. That is the incline on the big rock. 

I needed a change of scenery. I made a reservation last week, got up super early and headed due west to Fredericksburg, Texas where I took a left onto a rural highway and eventually drove through the front gates of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. I grabbed my backpack, my wide brimmed hat and a paper map of the park and got moving. 

Enchanted Rock is the largest granite rock in the continental united states and peaks at 1800+ feet above sea level. Lots of people climb the rock via the Summit Trail and it can be a tough climb in hot weather but at least the trail goes straight up the tamest side. The rock soaks up heat from the sun with a brutal efficiency. And the climb is a steep angle. Best to do your climb in the early part of the morning.

For my traditional climb to the summit I took along a Panasonic S1R camera with the Lumix 24-70mm f2.8. Seemed the right mix of focal lengths and the right kind of resolution. My backpack had two insulated water bottles, the map, some hand sanitizer, a small first aid kit, a German Army knife, an extra bandana and my phone. Oh, and a tube of sunscreen. Which I used. Liberally. 

I've climbed the rock many times before but I have to confess that I trudged up a bit slower this time and was a little winded at the top. When I was twenty I could have run up it in a flat out sprint. In fact, I think I did that once or twice in the company of a very competitive friend. At 64 a nice, steady pace seemed like the ticket. 

When I got to the top I sat down in the shadow of a big boulder and meditated about life and the interesting times that we now find ourselves in. So much has changed so quickly. I thought I'd be banging out photos for corporate clients for a few more years and then I'd throw in the towel and leave on a high note. But I think that high note might already have been sung. We'll see. Either way fate pushes the plot I'll be fine with it. One seems always convinced that they are in control of their own destiny until something comes along to remind you that you continue to exist by the grace of nature and chance. On the other hand you only get one shot at being alive so it's best to focus on enjoying what's in the moment. "Be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment."  -Star Wars: the Phantom Menace.

I wanted to spend time in this particular park today for a selfish reason. It's also why I came alone. To be honest I always think that I'm fighting off the inevitable process of aging when I'm swimming hard in the pool. But now that there is no pool I often find myself worrying that I'm getting soft, letting myself go. Giving into inertia and entropy and slowly shuffling toward a physical decline that seems always to be lurking; waiting in the shadows, ready to slow you down and tire you out. 

My intention at Enchanted Rock was to start with a baseline jaunt up the big rock and then descend on the south side through a challenging field of huge boulders and loose granite. Halfway through my descent, off the beaten path but through a boulder field I'd traversed a couple of decades ago, I had a moment of genuine fear. I had to jump a gap between boulders and land on a small spot. Fear riveted me and I paused. Then I took off my backpack and packed my camera down into it. That was the only way I felt I could make the scramble. I needed both hands free in case I had to grab onto the rock to keep from falling. The camera swinging in front of me on the strap was throwing off my balance. 

I made the climb down by the skin of my teeth--- but I made it. I would have felt really stupid if I'd have fucked up and crashed but since I was the only one in that more remote area no one would have seen an embarrassing (and dangerous) fall. Not my smartest bit of logistics but I survived and having replicated a descend that was challenging for me 20 or 25 years ago brought a smile to my face; under my face mask. I could still move. My balance isn't gone yet.

I spent most of the morning, from 9 to noon, exploring and doing non-technical rock climbs in other boulder fields in between two of the bigger rock domes. Then it was time for lunch. I shot a lot of stuff with the S1R and 24-70mm but damn, it's heavy stuff. I headed back to the car to grab my lunch and to find a picnic table in the shade. I had a peanut butter (salted, crunchy) and black berry jam sandwich on sourdough bread, with a water chaser. Then I pulled the map of the area out of my pack and planned out my afternoon. Where the morning was about challenging myself on the rocks the afternoon was about an endurance walk.

There is a Loop Trail called... the Loop Trail that rings the entire park. It's a little under five miles but it's got lots and lots of steep elevations and descents, it's a primitive trail and it's annoyingly poorly marked in a number of places. I had one full bottle of water left in my pack and I also switched out cameras. I left the S1R in the car and took the Sigma fp with the Zeiss 50mm out for a spin. It's lighter.

I slathered on sunscreen, memorized the curves and cutbacks on the map and then headed out. Some of the trail intersects with smooth, angled granite fields and it's easy to miss the continuing trail on the other side of a 200 meter run of rock. Most of the trail is dry clay or gravel but parts just disappear and you have to survey the 180 degrees in front of you in order to pick out where it continues. Every 100 steps or so I stop just to listen to my surroundings without the crunching sound of gravel beneath my feet. 

At one point, about half way around the trail and up on a little granite hill I stopped suddenly to listen and heard a distinct rattle. I stayed motionless and watched as a six footer slithered out of the grass, across the trail about 15 feet in front of me, and into the rocks on the other side. I watched it move away but I stayed still and waited because sometimes (many times) rattlesnakes travel in pairs. I scanned the grass with intensity and then, wavering a bit from the heat of the direct sun, I moved forward on the trail trying to keep my foot falls as soft as I could. No sense attracting attention. 

The park threw me a bit of a curve ball today. I'd gone nearly 80% of way around when I hit an actual roadblock and a sign that the end part of the trail was closed right now and I'd need to detour back to Turkey Pass Trail and then follow it to Front Side Trail. The clear sky meant the sun was warming up the afternoon quickly and I'd made a bad calculation about the amount of water I needed to carry in. After all, it's a series of primitive trails with no amenities. No restrooms. No water.

The detour added nearly two miles and required me to scramble back over some of the steeper parts of the trail that I'd just come through. I'm happy I had a map and a compass with me... A bit more water would have been nice too. 

I found some shade on the edge of a granite ledge and decided to take a break and savor the last few ounces of water in my bottle. I was about to take off my pack and sit down when I heard another rattle just a few feet into the brush line. I decided to back away slowly, across the granite ledge, and find somewhere else to sip water. I didn't have snake bite kit with me and I didn't know exactly how far I'd have to go if nature tossed me a bad hand. 

Half an hour and a bit of sweat later I walked out of the primitive trails and back onto the main Summit Trail. I'd made it back to the start. I walked over to my car, tossed in the camera and back pack, took off my straw hat and sat on the open tailgate taking stock of my situation. My life. And, in that moment of honest reflection I decided that I was pretty damn happy and satisfied. It's fun being a photographer but I no longer needed to define myself by my job. I'm getting older but I can still knock out a physical adventure at pace. I can still make it up a big dome of pink granite ahead of a lot of people less than half my....level of experience. 

But what I really needed just in the moment, after reflecting that life is still exciting and fun and happy for me, was something cool and refreshing to drink. I headed back toward Fredericksburg, Texas and did something I'd never get away with if my friends or family were with me... I headed to the McDonalds and got a large Coca-Cola from the drive thru. Crushed ice, sugar and phosphoric acid never tasted so good!!! 

As I headed back to Austin at the end of a tiring but life affirming day I pulled the Joni Mitchell CD out of the car's player and stuck in the "Best of Cream." Eric Clapton got so much just right. "I Feel Free" and a big Coke. What more could a sweaty rock climber want?

the rock face across the way looks so close but it's hundreds and hundreds of yards  away...


that particular boulder is at least twice as tall as me.

man in blue shirt included for scale.

That's the incline. It gets to you after a while. Going up or down...












this part is the crappiest part of the trail. Too much sand and gravel. Nothing solid.



Keens makes great hiking shoes. Love them. Have two pair which I rotate.
This is the new pair. 

Have fun out in real life. Don't put stuff off.

5.05.2020

Test Walk. Under reported camera testing. Hello Panasonic fz1000-ii.


Hot on the heels of Sony's original RX10 "bridge" camera Panasonic introduced their own one inch sensor, wide focal length range bridge camera, the fz1000. I handled it when it came out and, even though I had a Sony RX10-2 at the time, plunked down money surreptitiously taken from the VSL slush fund and bought one for myself. The camera was very similar to the Sony product but gave users like me a 25-400mm f2.8-4.0 zoom lens that was adequately sharp and contrasty. It also delivered a nice, clean 4K video file. It's a very good overall camera but more beneficial perhaps to still photographers than videographers who are pursuing video for the majority of their work. 

After having had good experiences with the original fz1000 I was delighted when Panasonic came out with the fz2500. This camera, an evolution of the 1000 included nearly everything I wanted. It came with both a microphone input and a headphone jack. The lens was a bit longer, which I did not care about one way or another and the camera (finally) included built in neutral density filters as well as an automatic ND setting. The video codecs were upgraded to offer higher data rate 4K and a 200 M/bs, All-I codec for 1080. I used the fz2500 for several short, commercial video projects and also shot a lot of photography work with the camera as well. 

Early reviews from big sites complained about a lack of lens sharpness but with the help of a good friend who was an early adopter of the fz2500 I got the AF settings figured out and then found the camera more than capable of delivering sharp files at every focal length range. 

After some turmoil in the VSL inventory, which included a few big purges of equipment, I found myself out of the bridge camera game alogether until a few months ago when I picked up a very clean, used fz2500. I've been using it a lot lately and was delighted with the color and overall integrity of the files I made of the downtown graffiti responses to the wholesale closing of all businesses on Sixth St. 

I also made a few short videos using the 1080p All-I codec and was once again impressed by the well structured video files I got from the camera; not to mention the great audio...

About a year ago Panasonic launched yet another one inch bridge camera which seems pretty much like a mild but worthwhile evolution of the original fz1000. It's called the fz1000-ii. According to fanatic fans of Panasonic Lumix camera products both the lens and sensor have been tweaked to provide the best performance for high resolution photographic files. The specifications clearly indicate that the sensor is a BSI-CMOS and that alone would be an upgrade from the original. The scuttlebutt is that the anti-aliasing filters over the sensor have also been massaged to make the still files from this camera obviously sharper than files from the fz2500, the implication being that the filter glasses over the sensor on the fz2500 were optimized for good 4K video performance while keeping artifacts and moirĂ© out of the mix. I have no idea if any of this conjecture is rooted in fact but I decided to put a sample of the fz1000-ii to the test. 

I picked one up from Precision Camera, did a quick read of the manual, popped in one of the hundreds of BLC-12 batteries I seem to have laying around into the camera, formatted a UHS-2 Hoodman Steel SD card and took the camera out for a walk. The menu is nearly identical to the fz2500 so getting up to speed wasn't a stretch. 

I've only shot the camera for a couple of hours and most of the time I was using one of the monochrome settings but I do have a few observations. 

1.  Do NOT buy this camera thinking you'll have a great hybrid video/still camera that does a great all around job. They must have intentionally borrowed a "cripple hammer" from Canon because they ditched nearly everything that makes the fz2500 a better video camera. Gone are: the headphone jack, the .Mov wrapper for video files, the higher bit depth 1080p files, and (especially missed) the neutral density filters. I'm sure the .M4P 4K video files are just fine because Panasonic seems to know how to do good, compressed, consumer 4K but..... they are no match for the video files coming out of the fz2500. 

There are lots of other little extras for video that you get with a 2500. One of my favorites is a smooth deceleration in the zoom mechanism and smooth aperture changes. 

If you want to create the best video you can with a bridge camera then the choices are simple; you either get the Panasonic fz2500 or the Sony RX10-IV but you DO give a pass to the fz1000-ii. The 2500 is well worth the extra $100. 

2. Do buy the fz1000-ii is you are a fan of the Monochrome L and the Monochrome L Dynamic B&W settings that are in the S1 Pro series of full frame cameras and select m4:3 models. They make for great black and white files and are quite customizable. I shot for most of the afternoon in Monochrome L. D. and loved the images from the camera. 

3. If you love fine detail and crisp files you'll find the images coming out of the fz1000-ii need a lot less sharpening/detail enhancing than files from the 2500. Might be something to the theory of video optimization after all.... (conspiracy theory alert!!!). 

4. The color out of both the S1 series and the last two bridge cameras from Panasonic is nicely mature and doesn't have disturbing Jpeg artifacts. In fact, the colors are gorgeous and quite neutral. 

5. Both the 2500 and the 1000-ii have great 5 axis image stabilization in all modes except when shooting in 4K. Since processing power is shared across the processor for both focusing and image processing it's only logical that when shooting high data rate video files something has to give --- especially in this price range. Seems they opted to let the I.S. degrade rather than the quality of the image files. I think it's an appropriate trade off. Learn to use a tripod when you shoot 4K. Your audiences will appreciate it anyway even if you do think it's groovy to shoot everything hand held. 

Currently you can buy a new USA Panasonic fz2500 for around $900 and an fz1000-ii for around $800. Your use case will very much determine which direction you'll want to go in. Both offer great EVFs, as well as great touch screen implementation. Both are quick to auto focus in S-AF.

If you really get into bridge cameras I'd suggest that you might want both. One for video intensive jobs and one for ultimate photographic quality. They share the same battery (and, incidentally, it's the same battery used in the Sigma fp and the Panasonic GX-8) so you have a nice interchangeability going on. Maybe the 1000fz will make a nice "B" video camera along with the fz2500 as a main camera.

Why even buy a new camera, the features of which are more or less duplicated by a camera we already have? Especially, why?, in the middle of the new Great Depression.? I'll plead curiosity, partly. Lack of impulse control for a percentage, but a desire sometimes for a camera with an extensive focal length range which is also light enough for a daylong expedition and mostly because the black and white is so nice. It's also a fun camera and with life in lockdown any excuse to have fun is valid and worthwhile.
Don't worry, we'll use it on a bunch of pro bono projects and everyone will benefit.

I am heading to Enchanted Rock at first light in the morning. It's more an adventure than a photo intensive journey. I'm taking a camera, of course, but scrambling across the big rock (second biggest rock in the world after Ayer's Rock in Australia....but ours is granite while their rock is just sandstone) dome and hiking the arid trails is my real motivation to get moving in the morning. 

I'm taking one camera and, as of 9:36 pm the night before the choice of camera is down to the Sigma fp with the 50 Zeiss, the S1R with the 24-70mm f2.8 or the Panasonic fz1000-ii. I'm packing my water and sandwiches and safety stuff this evening but I'll leave the three contenders on the dining room table tonight and let them figure it out. The one that first catches my eye in the morning gets to come along for the ride. That, and a thermos of Organic Ethiopian Fair Trade coffee.