Side Note: All photos in this entry were taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8.
It was one week ago that Allen had a brief visit to Kuala Lumpur, and I had a chance to meet him up for dinner. Since he was itching to play with his wireless flash system, I suggested the venue of KLCC, which he has not shot with his DSLR before. After a quick dinner at Subway, we headed out to the open and start clicking our shutters happily.
I brought along my tripod (obviously you need this for night time shooting) and my compact camera, the Lumix LZ8. I know I have tested the camera on night shooting before, and even some long shutter exposure stunts which turned out rather satisfactorily, but I have not shot the camera much using the built in flash. Hence, I was eager to try out the flash of the Lumix on night outdoor environment.
I did not have high hopes on the flash performance, and the results were nothing out of what you would expect from a compact camera. The flash exposure was very uneven, and harsh highlights can be seen everywhere, creating a very unreal looking photo. Skin tone comes out terrible, and the camera was struggling to keep the white balance between the ambient light and the light produced by the flash. The colour rendition has somewhat become very flat.
MEET ALLEN ANG
If you were thinking that I was comparing the compact camera with my current DSLR then you got your assumptions invalid. I have used three compact cameras before (Kodak CX7430 and C875, they all died due to my ungodly chronic usage) and I know well enough of what to expect when it comes to a compact. My previous cameras did not fare too well either when it comes to flash exposures, but they performed decently better than this current Lumix of mine. Not to mention the recycle charging time for the flash (pause between each shots fired with flash) for Lumix LZ8 is quite unbearable, averaging from 4-5 seconds.
Another issue I encountered with the flash of Lumix was the inability to “tone down” the firing intensity according to the focus range. For example, I was shooting in macro mode, capturing the cup of hot latte at probably 10 cm away from the camera, and as I released the flash the entire photo was blown out bright white. This problem was not encountered on any of my previous compact cameras before. Nevertheless, this can be easily remedied by applying a piece of white tissue paper directly onto the flash to diffuse and soften the flash intensity.
I could not find any white tissue papers around that night (all tissue papers were brownish) hence I decided to bump up the ISO to shoot in the low light situation without the aid of flash. At ISO400, I was shooting at shutter speed of 1/5s and I could get away with blur free shots. The noise issue has become apparent, and somehow this has gravely affected the overall colour production of the photo.
I am not asking the compact Lumix to perform miracles, but it was good to test and understand its capabilities and limitations. After all it is going to fill in and perform its jobs at places and times my bigger Ollie could not make it for whatever reasons.
That was my first visit to Dome in Malaysia, and having the Latte there reminded me of my old times in Perth. I know some of you will go “oh no, not again, all those nostalgic Perth moments”. One of the things I do miss is the coffee culture. You just go to the coffee house and order a cup of anything hot, and sit down there, chat and practically cruise your time into the night with really cool bunch of friends. There is just something about coffee that makes the whole evening special, something not even beer can do.
Oi Chong, when are we going to do the PnS frenzy session?