Friday, June 25, 2010

What's A Lumix?

This week we decided to get a new camera. Yes, my big old Canon Rebel is only five years old, and it takes pretty good pictures, if I do say so myself.

This is my "old" camera.

Suzy's camera is newer than that, and she does a good job with that.

And this is Suzy's camera.

So why do we "need" a new camera? Well for one thing, Al in Bayfield is always getting great shots of birds and other critters in his yard. We have birds, but they are usually quicker than I am. If I keep this camera hanging from my wrist, maybe I can get some good bird pictures too!

The real problem with my Canon is its lenses. The standard lens on our Rebel is a wide angle 15-55mm. It's great for standard scenery, good for taking pictures of people and boats and things. But not good for distant stuff or small stuff that flies before you can take the picture.

The other lens is a big old tele-zoom that can really close in on mountain tops, and can even get in close to birds at the feeder. But that big old lens is always in the camera bag, which is always either in the car or in the house. Even if I had it in my pocket, the picture would be gone before I was able to change lenses.

All of which really says, I wanted a new camera with a wide angle to good zoom ability. With a quick response. With a bunch of other stuff like image stabilization. Oh yeah, it has to be ready in my pocket at a moment's notice!

What I got was a Panasonic Lumix. I mentioned that to Bayfield Al in an email the other day, and he came back in his Thursday blog saying that a bunch of folks he knows have just recently bought the Lumix, including one professional photographer. Golly, maybe I made a good choice!

This is the new Panasonic Lumix.

And here's the Lumix all closed down and pocket-ready.

This Lumix has a big mess of special features that I may never ever learn how to use, or even why. For example, it has a built-in GPS! Yeah, a GPS! Presumably the intrepid photographer is out taking pictures and is so intent on sneaking up on a particular shot that he has no idea where he is, so he turns on the GPS and the camera records the coordinates AND the name of the place (e.g. Benson, AZ, Devil's Tower, Morro Bay, CA). I don't think the GPS will tell him how to get back to his car, however, and that might be more to the point!

There is also face recognition. Now as I get it, this starts with recognizing there is a face in the picture you are about to take. To carry it further, you are somehow able to put a name to this face, although there doesn't seem to be a keyboard on the camera so I don't know how you do that part. Then later, if you take a picture of the same face, the camera should recognize who that is and tell you. There are some limitations on how many different faces the camera will recognize and record.

Fireworks. Now there is one I can use one night a year. Each year for the July 4 celebration (July 3 this year) Benson shoots off a bunch of fireworks over the baseball field, and everyone gathers in the park to watch. Last year we learned that we can see the fireworks just fine from our front porch. This year with the zoom lens and the "fireworks" setting, I'll try to capture the excitement and pass it on to you in a blog.

Here's a setting I know we'll use! It's called "Sunset," and it makes settings that amplify the effect of a sunset picture. The first picture below is taken with just basic automatic settings; the second one is with the "Sunset" feature. Neither picture has been "fixed" with any computer magic.

There are settings for beach, snow, lightning, aerial photos and underwater photos. And I just found a setting that puts a "Happy Birthday" frame around your pictures!

A big adjustment for us is that this is the first camera we've ever had that didn't have a squint hole to look through. We have to look at the LCD screen on the back of the camera to frame our pictures. It's awkward trying to move the camera to get the shot we want, tweak the zoom lens switch to get close or far away, push the little button to set the autofocus and then take the actual picture. We'll get used to it, though.

Changing the subject dramatically -- southern Arizona's Monsoon Season officially opens each year on June 24. This year we got our first few drops of rain on June 24! At 7:00pm, we were out grilling a steak when the drops began to hit us on the head. There may have been 17 raindrops that actually got to me, but Suzy was under the awning, so she didn't get any. During the night there were a few more drops hitting the awning. All of us Arizonans are heralding this event as a tiny down payment.

If you've never been in Arizona during a good monsoon season, you ought to come on down. A good monsoon will bring us maybe 5 to 10 minutes of a drenching downpour at a time, but it is enough to fill the gullies and washes, and every year we lose some locals and tourists as well to flash floods.  In a good year, those short downpours will come frequently, and they will cool off the temperatures to the low 90s maybe, perhaps even to the high 80's.

That's the day's news from ... Our Life on Wheels.


  1. My wife Donna got us a Panasonic Lumix last summer, only difference I can see is ours is a silver color, I misidenfied it in a comment to Al as a Sony, but is definately says Panasonic Lumix and that it what the software that came with it says, I am looking at a Canon sx20 with 12 megapixels so we have a pocket camera and A little bigger model. I had used pentax 35mm for years, but slides are gone and film is going. Have to say the Lumix takes great pictures, I think our is 7 or 8 megapixels. Be safe out there, Sam & Donna.

  2. Congrats on the new camera! Already looking forward to seeing the pictures it takes!

  3. I am also looking forward to seeing pictures taken with the new camera. One thing I don't understand though, is why you would ever want your camera to tell you who is in the picture. Unless you are an undercover agent or something, you either know them or you don't. If you know them then you probably know their names. I'm missing something I guess.

  4. I'm glad you bought a "Lumix" and not a "Lummox" - I did a double-take there for a second! Panasonic Lumix's are great little cameras and I know you'll be very happy with it. I bought Paulette one about a 1 1/2 ago and she loves it.

    Those sunset shots you took sure show a dramatic difference right out of the box. I have the Canon G10 point and shoot and wouldn't trade it for any of the big lens ones - it's just way too convenient and takes great pics too!

  5. What are the specs on the Camera Jerry? Plus how many megapixles is it? There are dozens of models of the Lumix......Is the zoom 12x?

  6. Congrats on the camera, it looks real spiffy.

    My Mom and Dad lived in Prescott Valley or Clarkdale, AZ for over 14 years and we've been there in the Monsoon season. Yeah, lots of water!

    It was also 117 degrees one July when we were visiting them in Clarkdale (next to Cottonwood) and that we'll NEVER forget. Whew...way too hot.

  7. A new camera! Oh happy day :) It's funny to see you take a picture with a camera OF a camera. It doesn't take much to humor me...obviously! Glad I can be back checking out blogs. Missed you guys!


  8. I broke down and ordered a Lumix too. Not so much because Gordon had it but when I saw that grin as he held it, that was the last straw.
    He had ordered an older one for Sandra, and I was jealous then, but reasoned I need to use my Nikon DSLR more. But I never have it with me when the picture comes about.
    I liked Rick's Cannon G10 and thought really hard about a G11, but seemed too expensive. And a bit of a brick in size. If I spend $500 I should buy a new body for the DSLR.
    So the Lumix is a compromise, but I held out for the zs7 as I had to be as cool as you two! LOL

  9. Hope you enjoy your new camera. I'm with you. I need a camera with a heavy duty zoom that is light weight. I like my Olympus because the lens is always on the camera and I can take great bird close ups.

    I'd love to get another better camera but don't want to have to change lenses.

  10. I know you'll love that little pocket camera. That was one of my criteria in selecting cameras that last several times, as I know if it's bigger I won't carry it with me. Have fun with it!

  11. The Lumix is our camera too Jerry. The case looks like it has been through the war but it just keeps on ticking! We bought it about three years ago and ours has a 10X optical zoom. Using the big screen as a viewfinder took some getting used to but as you way, we soon learned. The only problem we have is that when using it outside, the sun often obscures the screen and the little shades that fit it really don't work very well. We just try and stand in the shade when taking a picture.
    The portability is wonderful ... it is always with us (well almost always)and we still haven't learned how to use all the bells and whistles.
    Hugs,Joy and Phil

  12. A Lumix, huh?? Is that somehow related to Spandex..does it stretch to fit around my fat hand?? Seriously, that particular camera seems to be "the cat's pajamas"..We still have our Kodak of 5 years, which is beginning to show it's age, like getting tired of opening, and forgetting the year, date and time...Time..maybe it is Time to get a new camera...right Den?? He isn't answering...Oh well...enjoy yours!!!!


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