I went to the PC Fair today, and I found one camera I could not resist, hence I made a spontaneous purchase.
It was a budget, compact camera. Introducing...
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-LZ8
5X OPTICAL ZOOM, IMAGE STABILIZATION, LEICA LENS
PASM CONTROL MODES
For those of you who have been surprisingly loyal to this blog till now, you must have known that I have started my blogging days with a meager point and shoot camera. I have been shooting with a budget compact camera for over 3 years before the previous one gave up on me and died. Hence someone nudged me to get a DSLR, thus I dived into the world of DSLR which opened me to an entirely different approach to photography.
Nevertheless, I have been using a compact for such a long time, I do miss what a true compact camera can offer.
Why a compact camera?
1) Convenience. Small, light and compact. I can bring it everywhere I go.
2) Being Discrete. I can slide it into any pocket and by its tiny size, it can be hidden and slip pass any places where photography may be prohibited. And usually interesting photography subjects are at those prohibited places !!
3) Video Recording. I know newer DSLRs have this capability, but ALL compact cameras have it. And my current DSLR does not have it.
4) Everyday Camera. I can't bring DSLR to work. Its ridiculous.
5) Security. No one would notice that extra bulge on your pants
6) Budget. Since its dirt cheap, I would not regard it as something overly precious. Less things to worry about when I am on the move.
TEST SHOT: NIGHT LANDSCAPE (hand-held)
TEST SHOT: INTERIORS
Do not get me wrong. I am still shooting with a DSLR. This new Panasonic Lumix is just to complement my photography tools currently. It is to fill in the gap, and perform the duties in places and times my DSLR cannot do so.
I have mentioned, I did snap pictures with a compact for years, I have become quite fond and good with it. I miss the old days, and I do realize a need, and desire to own one.
TEST SHOT: INDOOR SUBJECT
TEST SHOT: INDOOR SUBJECT
But why this Panasonic Lumix LZ8?
1) It has full manual control over photography parameters and settings.
So far no other budget cameras other than my previous Kodak offers full manual control. PASM (Programme, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual) is unexpectedly, but made available in this camera, providing me freedom and flexibility in controlling the camera.
2) 5x Optical Zoom.
More zoom than other cameras in its class. My previous compact camera was a 5x zoom as well, and I do not think I could live with anything lower than that. Additionally, this Lumix has an interesting feature, the optical zoom can go up to 8x by shooting in 3MP mode. If reach is the main concern, this is certainly helpful.
3) Optical Image Stabilization.
Panasonic has got to have the credit to include this !! I have got shaky hands, and having IS on the camera would really aid me in getting more sharp shots in low light conditions. Now how many budget cameras have IS?
4) Really good ISO peformance in low light conditions.
Of course I do not expect the performance to be compared and live up to any DSLRs out there. Comparing with other similarly priced cameras out there, this camera seriously shines. DPREVIEW supported this fact, click to go to their site.
5) Long Exposure/Slow Shutter speed up to 60 Seconds. This should give a good coverage for night photography outdoors !! I do not think this feature can be found on other budget compacts.
6) DPREVIEW crowned this camera the overall winner amongst the group test of budget cameras from different mahufacturers. Yes, it pwned
7) Super value for money. 8MP, 5x Optical zoom, PASM full manual controls.
All for RM380, what more can I ask for in a budget camera?
TEST SHOT: BACKLIT SUBJECT
TEST SHOT: LOW LIGHT MACRO
After purchasing the camera, off I went to test on it right away. A lot of people may be hard to fall back onto the hard ground of earth after being on heaven with DSLRs, but I did not feel that way. I somehow, felt right at home with it !! I miss the lightness and compactness, on how the camera fits so well on my hands. I miss the simplicity and straight-forwardness of taking pictures, just a minor tweaks there and here and let the camera do the rest. I miss using a compact camera, and now I have one.
I did a set of tests, very brief and short ones, but just to have an initial impression of what the camera is capable of. I did an outdoor handheld night shot of the KLCC towers, some indoor shots on the Mercedez Benz, a few macro on the food, and people shots. On the whole, I would say it is too early for me to fully analyze the camera's performance and image quality, but somehow the camera seems to be a joy to use, with minimal fuss. Coming from godlike speed that a DSLR has offered me, a little wait with slower processing was inevitably obvious, but not pushed to the annoying side. I am still comfortable with the operations and general shooting conditions. Autofocus and zooming was smooth and snappy. By the way, the Image Stabilization does its job rather well too.
TEST SHOT: FOOD MACRO
TEST SHOT: MACRO FOOD
Images came out bright and sharp, to the expectations of a compact camera. ISO-noise can be an issue, I only used ISO400, and the grains seemed intrusive and destructive to the photos. Nevertheless, the pictures can still be salvaged by some effort put in post-editing, which I have become lazy to do much of these days. The pictures may be noisy to a certain extent, but I believe they are still very usable for small prints. However, I do have to complain about the color rendition of this camera. There is a strong green cast in the pictures which took me quite some time to remove by editing. And the overall colors just lack the punch and depth that Olympus or Kodak versions are offering me all these while.
On the whole, I do think that this was a value, and a darn good buy. The image may not be top notch, but hey, if you are doing a contest with other similarly categorized cameras out there, this Panasonic Lumix LZ8 does climb to the top with much ease. You have got to admit that for all the features built in, there is just so much bang for the buck that other cameras are lacking.
For RM380 only, I think it is a steal.
TEST SHOT: INDOOR PORTRAIT
TEST SHOT: INDOOR PORTRAIT
Side note: Camwhoring comes more naturally with a compact camera !!
I still need to do more sets of testing before coming up with my definite conclusion on what I honestly think of the camera. Nonetheless, initial impressions suggested very promising results ahead.
It was weird, I used Kodak, then Olympus, and now a Panasonic. I do wonder why I chose this over Canon or Nikon. I wonder why.
Owh, and do not worry, I have not forgotten about the PC Fair chicks. I did snap their pictures using my DSLR. Rest assured you will see them in the next coming entry.
Cheers for the compact camera !!