There are many times when walking Bobby that I want a camera with me but a hefty DSLR and zoom lens are not the easiest of things to control. Many years ago I bought a Pentax Optio, sturdily built, small enough to go in a shirt pocket, 3X zoom lens, 3.2 M pixels and video facility (very poor). At the time it seemed great but technology has moved on since then and the quality doesn't come up to my expectations any more.
A few days ago I was looking through some blogs and saw a video taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 and was very impressed. A quick search for its specifications showed it has a 12X zoom (the equivalent of 25mm to 300mm on a 35mm camera), 10.1 M pixels and the ability to take HD video. That did it, along with good independent reviews, I had to have one. Looked on the Argos site - out of stock in every store within 30 mile radius. Looked on the Amazon site - a bit cheaper than Argos and in stock. Opted for overnight delivery and it arrived Friday morning.
It's a bit larger than the Pentax but still pocketable, sturdily built and easy to hold with the main controls within easy reach. As is usual these days there are endless menus which take some getting used to but easy to read on a large clear LCD screen. No viewfinder which is a pity as even a modern bright LCD screen is hard to see in bright sunlight.
First trials were around the garden. With the lens set to wide angle and using the macro facilities it is possible to get as close as 3cm to a subject so I tried it out on various plants. The auto focus and image stabiliser worked well. All of the photos have been cropped to some extent, some more than others.
Next thing was to take it out and about. A couple of riders were coming down the street so out with the camera, fire it up, point and press.
To get a photo of this horse in the paddock I had to poke the camera through a gap in the hedge.
Back at home a ladybird co-operated even with the lens about 3 cm from its body.
And this unknown bug was so determind to have its portrait taken it landed on my hand.
Of course a photo session would not be complete without a shot of my ever lively Bobby.
Finally after a couple of visits to the churchyard I managed to capture some video of the Black East India Ducks. The video has been processed to reduce the file size.. The original is 848 x 480 pixels HD. Filmed hand held.
All in all I have been very impressed with the performance of the Lumix TZ7 and its Leica lens. Battery life is a lot shorter than the Canon DSLR - up to 300 stills or 90 minutes of video are stated in the handbook. The camera has approximately 40 MB of internal memory which can be used for photos or low quality video otherwise you need to buy a SDHC memory card to take full advantage of all its facilities. Photos are stored in jpeg format and videos in AVCHD lite for HD or QuickTime motion jpeg for other video sizes. Software is supplied for handling the HD video format though I found that my copy of Daniusoft Video Converter will convert any of the camera files to WMV or MPG (or many other formats).
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