Posts tagged panasonic

Mark II Firmware, GF1 Firmware and then some

Canon has released 2.07 Firmware for the 5D Mark II

This firmware update (Version 2.0.7) incorporates the following improvements and fixes.

  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the aperture exhibits abnormal movement when shooting movies in manual exposure mode and Aperture Priority AE (Av mode) using some Canon lenses (such as macro lenses)
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the exposure level shown in the LCD panel differs from what is shown in the viewfinder when shooting still images in manual exposure mode.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the Wireless File Transmitter (WFT-E4 or WFT-E4 II) may not automatically power off when used for FTP transfers.
  • These phenomenon only occur with the Version 2.0.4 and Version 2.0.3 firmware.

Download it from here.

Of course Panasonic already released updated for the micro 4/3s system such as my GF-1. Firmware 1.2 can be downloaded from here and it fixes the following:

  • Improved operation menu for image stabilizer ([OFF] will be added under [STABILIZER] only when LUMIX G VARIO 14-42 mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. (H-FS014042) is attached).
  • Improved AF (auto focus) performance with lenses of other manufacturer.

The GF-1 update doesn’t affect me at the moment. I’ve only noticed the Mark II problem once in China but update I will.

Been busy on work but also working on two Photobooks, and prepping some small surprises come second half 2010.

Yes, cameras do grow on trees!

Panasonic GF-1 – real world experience

I’ve had my little Lumix GF-1 for two months plus now. This is not a technical or “proper” review of the camera but it’s more like my experience using it. My GF-1 comes with the 14-45mm stabilized lens. I might add the 20mm pancake lens at some point but for now, it’s a one-lens camera. My reason for the GF-1 is purely to complement my full-sized 35mm DSLR. I use the 5D Mark II by the way so the GF-1 is not a replacement for my main cameras. The GF-1 is used for situations where a larger DSLR and lenses are not required. For me, it’s primarily for travel and all-round carry with me camera. My need for the GF-1 comes from situations where I would like a better camera than my iPhone but the situation doesn’t warrant me carrying my 5D.

Stabilizer worked well here – ISO 800, 1/10s, f/5.1

Travel. I always travel with my full kit of photo equipment. However, there are times the GF-1 gets used such going down for the hotel breakfast, on the flight, serious hiking when my DSLR is stowed because I need my hands. Since the GF-1 is lightweight, I can have the GF-1 around my neck, ready to shoot something. It’s also less intrusive when doing street photography. As the GF-1 can look like a little point and shoot camera, more likely everyone’s going to ignore what you’re doing. When not traveling, the GF-1 goes with me to little restaurants, coffee shops, work (sometimes), and all sorts of places. Currently, either I carry it naked as is or in my ThinkTank Photo Speed Changer. I’m looking to get either the Trim Changer or All the Other Stuff as a permanent GF-1 case though. It’s a relatively hardy little camera though and fairly well built.

A small camera is less intrusive and hence, most people will allow you to take their photo. ISO 100, 1/125s, f/4

Performance
The GF-1 is pretty much fast enough for almost everything I use it for. From street photography to people and a little bit of action. Yes, the buffer is small when you shoot raw but if I’m shooting fast action, chances are, I’m using my DSLR. Quality is good if you keep the ISO below 800 and if you shoot raw. In well lit scenes (i.e. outdoors), the quality can be comparable to a cropped sensor DSLR (i.e. 500D, 50D, etc). In low light, the sensor does struggle but you can have everything. Battery life is amazingly good — I do have a spare and I only charge it after three days. Note that I do use my DSLR as well so remember that this is assuming a second camera. That said, I have the camera power save set to five minutes and it’s hardly turned off. Auto-focus is mostly good with occasional misses. The stabilized lens helps here. The lens hood works well to minimize flare and I’ve used the GF-1 in light rain, heavy wet fog without problems.

The ability to shoot HD movies is great although audio capture is just average without an external mic. The wind-filter works to some extent but it doesn’t help stop user and other little sounds from being captured. The AVCHD lite codec is a pain in the ass to work with though.

Nanjing Road night scene, ISO 1600, 1/200s, f/4.5

Ergonomics and usability
The menu system is overly complex and the usage of icons and abbreviations doesn’t help. I find it easy to inadvertently set something up when the camera is bumping around powered on. The small size however makes camera shake more pronounced. The shutter lag is almost negligible with the camera focusing and taking the shot almost as you press. That can’t be said about the video though. The dedicated video start/stop button is great but it’s laggy and sometimes takes a second or two to register. That said, if you ensure the shutter speed is relatively fast (1/100s), you can get great results. It’s also the camera I let other friends, local guides or strangers to take photos of myself or our group.

Image quality
In China, I shot RAW exclusively. While noise levels above ISO 800 was fairly high, it definitely beats any point-n-shoot’s pixel dense sensor out there. The ten-plus megapixel (I’m no fan of 4:3 ratio images so the GF1 is set to 3:2 ratio) images are quite awesome – with some processing, they look great. With ISO 1600 or 2500, a bit of noise reduction processing (I use Noise Ninja), the output is still pretty fantastic. With ISO set below 800, prints up to 12R (12″ x 16″) are quite achievable and look indistinguishable from any mid-range DSLR.

Discrete shooting at the Nanjing Mass grave site, ISO 2000, 1/30s, f/3.5

Crowded & packed train stations means the GF1 is always on-hand. ISO 1250, 1/13s, f/3.5

Or even hiking. West Sea Canyon, Huangshan, China. ISO 100, 1/200s, f/4.5

For some real reviews, you can check DPReview or Steve’s Digicams.

Suchan Deli and my GF1

Suchan Deli has been around a fair bit. It was around when I started work at Computing giant Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was around before it got swallowed by Compaq who got swallowed by HP. Anyways, it had great cakes, great food and a cozy atmosphere. Well, how times have changed. If anyone asked me for a nice comfortable place with good food and will not break the bank, I’ll recommend Food Foundry instead.

We went for dinner which may not be a good idea considering the area Suchan is located in was dark and poorly lit. It didn’t help that the restaurant itself didn’t look inviting. I think now people are looking for bright, cheery, simple and wi-fi! The cluttered interior with lots of knick-knacks is just so 1980s.

The Pai Tee or Top Hats. Not the way I remember how they used to be.
Wild mushroom soup. Only excellent dish we had.
Nothing special here. The Gado-gado was pretty good however.
Note the yellowed banana leaves. Past due. Not good.
Banana-peach crumble. Soggy, black-ish bananas. Sorry, I CAN make better crumble than this!

While they may still make an awesome tiramisu, the rest of the menu is a no-go for me. Well, just maybe, just the wild mushroom soup. All photos – Panasonic GF-1 with 14-45mm lens. ISO2500, RAW, processed with Adobe Camera Raw 5.6. Am loving my lil’ GF1 a lot.

Gee-Aff-One

You know what’s the best things about presents when you receive them? It’s not the value. It’s the abso-freaking-surprise when it’s something you really, really want and that the person went through great lengths to research (blog, twitter, social, whatever) what you really want. So, from the bestest brother ever, I get this awesome little thing of black plastic and magnesium alloy.

It’s so awesome but the most hilarious thing is my mom going “like are you sure you’re gonna buy this camera expert a camera? It’s not even a Canon. It’s a Panasonic! He’s already got enough cameras (ahem)!” A small camera, just what I need. This is OMG Awesome. Yeah, so Canon, if you’re listening, I want an EF-S mount (EF with adapter) body the same size as the GF1. APS-C Sensor and HD Video.

Small camera conundrum

The digital camera industry today is churning out point & shoot cameras like no tomorrow. There are new models released by major manufacturers almost every six months. The real deal is that I find them so boring. Tweak here, tweak there. Raise the megapixel count or put in this silly feature. Nothing really appeals to me despite that I’ve been looking for a small camera since Chinese new Year this year. That means in the last six months, I’ve not found something that I really like.

What could I want in a small camera? My DSLRs churn out amazing image quality and superb full HD movies. Actually, I want a camera I can carry with me 24×7. So what’s the current toss-up? Canon’s SX200IS and Panasonic’s TZ7 (ZS3). At this time, the TZ7 is a strong contender and I’m about 90% sure of getting it. Until of course recently, Panasonic just unveiled a bunch of new compacts. The FX60 looks strong as well. Since Canon usually releases around the third week of August and that’s not very far away, I’ll give myself another month before I jump into the fray 🙂

Panasonic’s excellent TZ7