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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 408
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 — First Photo Outing
Monday 13 April 2015   —   Category: Equipment

This article is the second of a five-part series about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 camera. If you have not read the introductory article, you might like to do so before continuing here.
  1. First Impressions
  2. First Photo Outing
  3. Sharpness Shootout
  4. Wi-Fi Remote Control
  5. Pros and Cons
  6. Special part six follow-up:
    Focusing Revisited
  7. Special part seven follow-up:
    Reader Responses
Not long ago I wrote about my recent first-time photo outing to the Japanese Garden in Portland. There was an interesting convergence of events that week. Only the day before my trip to Portland, FedEx had delivered my new, eagerly-awaited pocket camera, pictured above. Only two days after the outing was my 53rd birthday. The ZS50 arrived just in time — because it’s my birthday, and I wants it.

And it also arrived just in time to come with me to the Japanese Garden. I’ve been on quite a number of photo outings over the past four years, but this was the first time I had purposefully taken two cameras. Even though I had had the ZS50 for less than 24 hours, it was already time to put it through its paces and find out what it was capable of.

During my three hours at the Garden I took 162 pictures with my primary camera — the Olympus OM-D E-M5 — and 49 of the best shots can be seen in the Portland Japanese Garden, Mar. 2015 album.



However, I also took 64 pictures with the ZS50 while I was there. The best 25 have been gathered into a companion Portland Japanese Garden, Stereo 2015 album.

The reason I included the word “stereo” in the title is because about half of the photos in the album are very similar to shots I took with my E-M5 camera, which appear in the other Japanese Garden album. For those 12 similar pictures, I have included the version taken with my E-M5 camera underneath the photo taken with my ZS50 camera, so that they can easily be compared.

Of course, it is not really fair to compare images created by the ZS50 with the images created by a camera with a sensor which is 8 times larger, and which cost, with a good lens, 6 times more than the ZS50. It may not be fair, but it can be quite interesting!

Besides the great differences in equipment quality and cost, it is also not fair that the two sets of photos were taken under quite different lighting conditions. During my first round through the Garden, when I was using the E-M5, it was quite foggy so there was no direct sunlight.

I did take a few photos with the ZS50 at this time, like the first duck picture to the right, but most of them were taken later. By the time I was on my second round, had put the E-M5 away, and was using the ZS50 exclusively, the fog had almost completely dissipated and there was abundant sunlight.

Scenes in which there is a mixture of deep shadows and strong sunlight are always challenging to photograph. Camera sensors have significantly less dynamic range than the human eye. Therefore, it is much harder for a camera to handle the great difference between the brightest parts of the scene and the darkest parts. Furthermore, some sensors handle it better than others.

The E-M5 definitely handles a large dynamic range better than the ZS50. Therefore, it would have been more fair to use the ZS50 when it was foggy, and the E-M5 once the sun had come out. But life is not always fair, and that is not the way it happened.

Be sure to keep these differences in lighting and equipment quality in mind when you compare the similar photos from the two cameras. Actually, given these significant differences, it is somewhat amazing that the images taken with the ZS50 look as good as they do. Capturing them in RAW format, as I always do, definitely helps quite a bit.

For more test photos taken with the ZS50, don’t miss my previous Panasonic ZS50 Test Shots album. I will be releasing one more album of test photos — Bird Feeder 2015 — in the near future. Until then, enjoy the Portland Japanese Garden — in stereo!

For more information about this camera, don’t miss the next article in this series, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 — Sharpness Shootout. For more about the practical use I have put this camera to, you might like to check out these articles:
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 408
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 408
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