Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Eulogy for a brave little camera

This week, I was forced to accept a bitter truth: my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 has not healed itself by sitting alone in a drawer over the summer as I had hoped. Even worse, my attempts to unblock the zoom, thrown off track by fine Sahara sand from Morocco last spring, have now guaranteed that there’s no saving this brave little camera.  It had a fantastic zoom and I could control aperture, shutter speed and exposure.  Okay, sure, I didn’t actually use those features very often, but the fact that I could manually control everything is what made it so special. 

I do love my Olympus TG-3 tough camera, bought to overcome the frailties of “nice” cameras, but it’s much more limited in manual controls. As Christmas approaches, I was toying with the idea of getting my first grown-up DSLR camera, but I’ve now decided that I am not going to do that until I fully master my point-and-shoot. When is that?  A tutorial I was reading recently said “You’ll just know when you’re ready.”  I'm not there yet.

Here are some of the death throes of my little Panasonic from its last conscious days in Morocco. Rest in peace, friend.  (You can click on the photos to get larger images).


popsi kopper said...

On advice about getting a DSLR: Don't!

First you're living in a harsh environment which is hard on all things mechanical and electronic. Most DSLRs are very fragile things, specially the entry level models. To get something robust and weather sealed, you move quickly past the semi-professional stuff into the domain of professional gear. That's thousands of dollars to spend. Cheap DSLR will just die on you.

Then, to benefit really from a DSLR you need multiple lenses and also use them. If you just have one 18-250mm superzoom stuck always on the camera, you don't get any benefit from the DSLR. You're better off with a large sensor compact (the class $500 to $1000) or a bridge camera with a good fixed zoom. And if you go around switching lenses in salty or sandy environments, it's going to be very hard on the gear.

The advantage of better quality of entry level DSLR (anything below $1000 for the body alone) is largely mythical and only exists by shopclerks trying to upsell to clueless customers. And even if it exists, the cheap lens in the kit will destroy that.

You need a proper workflow to take advantage DSLR present with raw-files. This means either Lightroom or Capture One is needed and preparing tmages becomes more work. If you want JPG out of the camera, there will be only little benefit from a DSLR. Also, nearly all competent compact cameras (the $500 to $1000 price bracket) also can produce raw-files.

You’ll be better off with one of the expensive compact cameras professional photographers love to use as carry around cameras. As very good resource for honest and realistic information is Thom Hogan's site: http://bythom.com/camera-lens-and-accessory.html
Here's last years article about what to buy with good explanations. It's still valid and probably updated soon: http://www.dslrbodies.com/newsviews/what-you-should-buy.html

Don't drink the cool-aid dished out by the camera-industry. It's just as bad as in the marine gear industry, only the market is bigger.

Sailing Mareda said...

Wow - excellent advice, Popsi (and it just happens to go along with my present thinking, which always makes me happy !). I've spent a few days surfing the web for point-n-shoot photography sites and I'm convinced that I don't need a DSLR to take great photos. I'm not a pro and don't want to be. I just want to TRY to do justice to some of the beauty I see around me. I have photoshop and a growing bag of tricks that can make up for alot, too. The webs you suggested are goldmines of information, and I'll keep these bookmarked for reference. Thanks !

ELB said...

I have nothing useful to say about what kind of camera you should get, but I would like to note that those pictures are beautiful, and my what a long way you have come from the Levee Road! :)

Sailing Mareda said...

Ha ! Thanks ELB ! You know, I've thought about photographing some of my pictures from high school days and digitally remastering them in photoshop. I'm not sure the result would be very interesting, but from a psychological standpoint, I might be able to resolve some lingering issues ! (bad hair, zits, etc.)

The Cynical Sailor said...

Those are great pictures! Riding camels is so much fun!

Sailing Mareda said...

Thanks Ellen ! It's so nice to have my eyes focus on colors other than shades-of-blue for awhile, and nothing gives those great sepia colors better than a camel in the desert.