Sunday, 11 December 2011

PANASONIC FZ100 - a camera for artists

Some people have asked me what camera I used for taking the photos of the museum interior, so here is a post about my choice of camera, and why I chose it.  I consider my camera to be part of my "information collecting" kit. My reasons for buying a camera are not the same as a photographer's reasons.

This PANASONIC LUMIX FZ 100 is a jolly nice bit of kit, with an excellent quality Leica lens. I bought it fairly recently and I am delighted with it,  for all sorts of reasons.


I use a camera for taking reference photos more than any other reason, tho I have used it for family and tour photos.  Anyway, as a painter primarily,  my needs are:

1.  It needs to be lightweight.  My painting/sketching kit is heavy enough, without adding the burden of a heavy camera and extra lenses. 

2.  It needs a good zoom lens, so that I can choose my composition - near, far, in between.   And the lens needs to be built in, not a separate piece of kit, so this camera, which is called a "Bridge" camera - sits between a pocket camera, and a single lens reflex posh job.  No need to change lenses....this one has a built-in 24 TIMES OPTICAL ZOOM - quite amazing.  For those of you familiar with old-style slr film cameras, this is the equivalent of a 25-600.  Just think of the size of the lens you would have had to carry around to get that much zoom!  Also, there is the added issue of dust and grit getting into the camera if you change lenses frequently, and as I sometimes go out and about with pastels which are chalky, dusty things, there would be a large risk involved in changing lenses, just as there would be on a beach.  Imagine dropping your camera while changing lenses on a beach!  Aaargh!  Bye Bye camera.  Also, I cannot be bothered with the fag of fiddling around with lenses - I like to point and shoot.

3.  I do sometimes like to photograph individual figures or groups of people from a distance when I am out and about, to capture the shape accurately,  but I really prefer to be discreet about it.  Pointing a camera very obviously at someone can cause offence in certain situations - on the beach, for example, or in a cafe, and even in some countries were photos are believed to capture the person's spirit as well as their image. So I like the LCD panel at the back to be large and, importantly,  it needs to be one which swings out and tilts.  Then, I can point the camera in one direction while I face another!!! I can even have the camera on my lap, and be looking down at my lap...and the lcd panel... when I take a photo.  

4.  I like ease of use.  Although the camera can be used manually, with all the control in your hands via all the knobs and wheels, I like to leave the camera to do the job, and Panasonic's superb "Intelligent Auto" setting suits me just fine. The camera simply chooses the most appropriate combination of settings for the current situation. The 6 available scene modes are Macro, Portrait, Scenery, Night Portrait, Night Scenery and Sunset, so obviously not all situations are covered by Intelligent Auto Mode, but for me,  it does work for virtually every situation. It makes it possible for everyone, even an inexperienced photographer,  to easily take well-exposed, sharp pictures of people, scenery and close-ups by simply pointing and shooting the camera. 

The autofocus is extremely fast and reliable, with very good low light performance, focusing just as quickly in twilight as in full daylight. It has a very bright and well-focused AF assist lamp with a range of about four metres, and focuses with this very quickly even in total darkness.

I could go on and on, but these are my main reasons for choosing this camera.

For a really comprehensive review, you can look at this page:

Here are a few examples of the camera in use.  This first photo was taken without using the zoom.  Take a look at the group of trees at the back of the garden.  There is a fat round bush there at the base of the tall fir tree, which is sitting in front of a distant garden pond.

Now here I zoomed right in on that bush and what was beside it.  !! You can even see the ferns at the base of the bush and the rocks around the pond.  And it is still quite sharp, even tho I did not use a tripod and have a rather shaky hand ...the camera has "image stabilisation".  Wonderful. 

and here are some pics taken on a recent trip with a group, in each case, the lighting conditions were challenging, yet I did NOT use a flash:

Having said all of this, if you are someone who prefers to carry a camera around in your pocket, this is obviously not going to do the job for you.  BUT I did take these superb photos when I was in Canada, using another in the Panasonic range, their small pocket camera , the LUMIX DMC TZ3, with 10xzoom Leica lens,  which has now been superceded by more recent TZ models.  I was absolutely stunned with the quality of these photos, from a small, relatively inexpensive pocket camera (It was approximately £170 when I bought it and the newer models are about the same price now).  It does not have the super-long zoom or tilting lcd of my larger camera, but the advantage of being able to keep it in a pocket is not to be dismissed lightly.  This photo of the base of the glacier was taken from a ship, which was anchored well out into the bay, for fear of falling ice.  Yet just look at the quality of the image.  Although newer models exist, one can still pick up this camera refurbished or second-hand if you are on a tight budget but want a really good camera.

this one without zoom;  the top one with the zoom.

Whatever camera you buy, the moral of the story here is to make sure you buy it for the RIGHT REASONS if you are an artist and want your camera to be part of your "information collection kit".  There are so many cameras out there today, it is jolly confusing and difficult to know what to buy, but if you are clear about your specific needs, it does help to narrow the field.


  1. Love your blog Jackie, great tips on cameras, thank you!

  2. I agree a superzoom is the most convenient camera. Mine is a Fujifilm HS10 30x zoom.


  3. I'm with you on the Bridge Cameras - unfortunately they seem to be trying to make them more and more like DSLRs and they're getting bigger and heavier as a result

    I'll take a look at this one as I always like to know what i'd buy next if my current one breaks down.

  4. Katherine, this camera is actually very lightweight - one of my important criteria - and I absolutely love the ability to be secretive when taking photos of people!


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