The Panasonic FZ1000 Camera

For the last few days I've been traveling in Firenze, Italy, and using the camera very heavily. The Panasonic FZ1000 is kind of a brilliant camera: 20MP and a Leica lens assures you very high quality images during the day. But where this gets really interesting is in low light and at night: I'm doing hand-held shooting under street lights and the camera does its computer magic to overlay multiple shots and generate one good shot even in appalling light - a 1 inch sensor is of course a huge help, but I think the extensive post-processing has more to do with the good night images I'm getting than even the sensor.

I use the camera on auto mode most of the time, with HDR turned on. The HDR is subtle but very effective. But the auto-mode's insistence that it should ALWAYS use the widest possible aperture and the fastest possible shutter speed (f2.8 @ 1/4000s ... seriously?) has me frequently switching to Aperture priority and taking the same shot a second time to make sure I've got the depth of field I need (this will also occasionally lead to tinkering with the ISO rating). I'd stay in Aperture mode if the HDR would work in it, but HDR is only available in iAuto. I'm also constantly toggling the Aspect Ratio: the camera defaults to 3:2 (the same as 35mm film), but I'm more familiar with 4:3 from my previous camera and that feels more comfortable. But I use both, and find myself occasionally even switching to 1:1 for very square stuff: it's nice to have it available.

Other things I use very occasionally are the "Vivid" colour profile (you can't use it in iAuto mode, only in Apeture, Shutter, Program, or full manual) and the panorama maker - the latter requires me to turn off Silent Mode, which seriously pisses me off. I have to turn on your noises so you can make a fake camera shutter stutter noise? I don't use it much, even though I really like panoramas - in part because it's proven a bit unreliable about image stitching.

As mentioned, the low-light shooting is utterly astonishing: I've been shooting hand-held not only in museums, where the lighting goes from mediocre to bloody awful, but outside under street lights at night - and I've been getting great stuff. I'm very pleased.

There are a plethora of buttons, and it's taking a while to get familiar with all of them. But they're very well placed, and if I can ever remember all of them, they're all where they need to be: it's very well designed in that regard.

One bizarre annoyance: when you open the panel on the bottom of the camera to access the battery and SD card, you deliberately have to lock it shut when you're finished: it doesn't lock on close. This is a problem because the panel is on the bottom, and if you set it down with the panel open you're going to rip it right off. I'm expecting to do this fairly soon - I consider it a significant design flaw, although possibly the only one.

The camera shoots JPG, RAW, or both. I'm not familiar with RAW so I've stuck with JPG for this trip. It's just as well: RAW seems to take up roughly 10x the space, and I'm already eating gibibytes per day (today was kind of average: 337 pictures, 2.7G).

So yes, I'm VERY happy with the choice of camera. It makes me wonder if most recent cameras are this smart about image creation?

If you've been reading my Firenze travel blog, these are the same photos you saw there. But they're excellent proof of the abilities of the camera.

photo: waiting for business in one of Firenze's main squares

Caricature artist waiting for customers.

photo: the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Firenze, Italy

Ponte Vecchio at night, with admirers.