Digital photography "must haves"?
January 24, 2006 10:23 AM   Subscribe

I want to take my photography to the next level. What should I invest in?

I'm a total amatuer, this much is true. I've thought about taking a class or two, but mostly I just want to experiment and take better, more interesting pictures. After working with my Panasonic Lumix FZ5 for about a year I decided to kick it up a notch and just ordered the FZ30. I'd like to buy a few things to help me experiment and widen my digital horizons.

What lenses and filters or other accecssories would you recommend? Are there particular brands of lenses/filters that I should look into, or perhaps more helpful, that I should avoid?

Partial list that I'm looking at right now:

- UV filter
- Polarizing filter
- Macro Lens
- Wide Angle
- Remote Shutter Release cable
- Adjustable Tripod and maybe a tripod clamp

What else should I consider? What is on the list that I could do without?

The accessories for this model appear somewhat hard to come by, anyone know of a good supplier? I see lots of options on eBay, but not the OEM Panasonic parts. BH Photo has a few of them listed, but always out of stock. Would the alternatives on eBay be okay? Lesser quality? There seems to be a big price difference, so I'm a little concerned.

Any other thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by FlamingBore to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (44 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I know you just plunked down several hundred dollars on a new camera, but have you thought about just getting an inexpensive dSLR?

The accessories you list are all fine, but you should realize that they won't work with any future camera you buy (probably). The wide angle lens and the macro lens only consist of a simple lens that is put in front of the built-in lens. It's rather like holding up a magnifying glass between your camera and your subject. The resulting images won't be terrible, but you'll have CA, strange distortions, and flaring.

Really, though I'd like to know more about your photographic goals. Is there a particular kind of photography you like? Are you happy with your current photographs, but you'd just like to have more latitude (focal range)? Are you interested in improving the quality of the images that come right out of the camera?

What are you going to do with the images once you get them? Are you planning on printing them out? Sharing them via the web?

And, what did you like and not like about your FZ5?
posted by bshort at 10:36 AM on January 24, 2006

I'll second that. If you're getting adventurous, I'd pick a dSLR system you like and get the entry-level model.
posted by selfnoise at 10:39 AM on January 24, 2006

There are two obvious advantages to a dSLR system:

1. The lenses are interchangeable. So if you want to take huge, sweeping panoramas, you can just buy a wide angle lens. If you want to take pictures of teeny little bugs buy a macro lens (although not a "zoom macro". Lots of telephoto lenses claim to be macro lenses, but they're just lying to you).

When you decide to eventually get a new camera at some point your lenses will work on the new camera as well, provided it uses the same lens mount.

2. The imaging chip is much larger than the chip in your FZ5 / 30, which will give you a better image, inject less noise into your images, and allow you to have a narrow depth of field like this (self link).
posted by bshort at 10:47 AM on January 24, 2006

If you want to kick it up to the next level then you should probably invest time in an understanding of photography rather than equipment. Take classes in portraiture, composition, lighting, etc so that you can start to expand your horizons. Even with a full equipment bag, you will be horribly limited if you don't have a complete understanding of all the basics of photography.
posted by JJ86 at 10:49 AM on January 24, 2006

As with many things, if you want to get better, practice practice practice. Gear-wise, I'd say a tripod is really important, it opens up a lot of creative possibilities since now you don't have to worry about camera shake at low shutter speeds.
posted by GreenTentacle at 10:49 AM on January 24, 2006

Equipment won't fix much of anything without the knowledge behind the camera. Make sure you've done everything you can to improve your photography BEFORE spending a bundle.

Make sure you have the basics mastered, here (article 1, article 2) are a couple of great places to start. Once your equipment is the only limiting factor, start throwing money at it. For most of us, the problem isn't our equipment, it's us.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:53 AM on January 24, 2006

I'd recommend getting a manual 35mm camera which will force you to learn how cameras work and how to get the shots you want. I have a Canon AE-1 that I love.
posted by meta87 at 10:55 AM on January 24, 2006

I'll repeat that you should invest your time and effort into learning about photography.

With just 35 mm black and white film and a camera with a 50 mm lens, Henri Cartier-Bresson was able to take pictures like this. Really, an expert knowledge in timing, lighting, and composition easily make up for equipment that's not fancy.
posted by driveler at 11:03 AM on January 24, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the input.

I decided not to go the dSLR route yet because I want the balance of the fleixbility that this paritcular model offers and the simplicity.

I've owned a 35mm camera and used it with great success in the past. I'm not looking to go back to film though, thanks.

I have a basic understanding of using a camera. Check.

Over the last several months I've been taking tons more photos and that's why I want additional filters, a tripod, etc. I plan on having the FZ30 for a few years. At which point I'll probably be ready to take the dSLR plunge. I've got no problem with dropping an additional $500 on outfitting this camera and enjoying the fruits of my labor for that time frame.

b_b: I've actually seen both of those links and have been putting them into practice, particularly recently. Thanks though.

As far as my goals: I currently share some of my stuff on flickr, I do order up prints for framing and hanging. I get compliments from friends and family, heck sometimes even from strangers. I'd like to continue to do this, but with a wider latitude and more interesting options. Some of which REQUIRE a tripod/clamp or particular filter. Part of why I wanted to step up was that the Panasonic allows for easy use of filters, and even a fish eye lense. I learn best from doing and experimentation, hope that helps to clarify.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:13 AM on January 24, 2006

driveler, there's a distinction to be made. A film camera with manual controls and a focus ring qualifies as "fancy" compared to a digital P&S without manual controls and with LCD-only electronic focusing.

Obviously there are exceptions, but generally you want the camera to express your vision, not the other way around.
posted by Caviar at 11:21 AM on January 24, 2006

The best equipment you can buy to improve your photography:

Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography by Bryan Peterson

Photographic Composition by Tom Grill and Marc Scanlon
posted by caddis at 11:26 AM on January 24, 2006

FlamingBore - Then I'd focus on getting the following things:

1. A tripod. Or one of those beanbag-tripod things. I love those.

2. Remote shutter release. How does it work on the FZ series? Is it a wired shutter release or a little remote control dealie?

3. Maybe a polarizing filter, if you're feeling fancy.

I don't really use any other filters, since I can always change my white / color balance in Photoshop.

Seriously, I'd pass on the extra lenses. You'd be better off getting a camera that has a wider lens built in.
posted by bshort at 11:28 AM on January 24, 2006

Equipment is never going to improve your photography if you don't have the MadSkillz. How do you get MadSkillz? Practice. Practice. Practice.

I think you're wrong to focus on purchasing new equipment until you've read some books and/or taken some classes. I highly recommend taking photography classes from your local community college; you'll learn a lot, meet other photography buffs, and gain a better understanding of what you want to get from photography. After you've taken a class or two, you'll have a clearer idea of what sort of equipment is best for you. (Other than a tripod: buy the best tripod you can afford. That's one key to improving your photography now.)

But seriously, it's not about the equipment. You can give me the best camera equipment in the world, and I'm still not going make photographs that are as good as my instructors can make with a $30 point-and-shoot camera. There is no substitute for knowledge and experience. Just as the latest up-to-date computer doesn't make a novice a better programmer, fancy camera equipment doesn't make an amateur a better photographer.

Take some classes. Read some books. Check out the tutorials at Even just learning the basics (get closer, use a tripod, it's all about light, etc.) will help you immensely.

I've spent thousands of dollars on camera equipment, but the investment that has helped me the most is the $150 each term to take a photography class.

I'll stop repeating myself now, but really: don't buy new equipment, take a class!
posted by jdroth at 11:31 AM on January 24, 2006

Response by poster: Caviar - the FZ30 has dials to allow for aperture and shutter speed adjustments. It's a big reason I went this way. Just an FYI.

bshort: The remote shutter release is only available wired as far as I know. Thanks!
posted by FlamingBore at 11:35 AM on January 24, 2006

Response by poster: jdroth, really, I appreciate that and it's something I've considered, but I'm not talking about being a complete newbie here. I know how to take a decent photograph. I've read some, I've a brother who's been published and gives me tips/tricks, etc., but he's a film camera guy and hasn't seriously looked at any digital equipment.

So, I really want to experiment. I don't want someone else telling me how I should be taking photos. Some of the photos I find most interesting break all the rules, you know? But I do take all those suggestions to suck it up seriously. Thanks!
posted by FlamingBore at 11:41 AM on January 24, 2006

There's a fundamental difference between a point and shoot (even a very nice one like yours) and an SLR. Megapixels and Photoshop don't matter much, but learning to look through the camera does.

I was in your position a little more than a year ago, and I've learned much from working with an SLR. I also shoot, develop and print my own black and white film. While not nearly as convenient as working with a digital, it's really helped me to "see" photographs when I'm out in the field.

Still, I'm just an amateur. My plan for getting a bit better is to simply take several thousand more photographs.
posted by aladfar at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2006

Response by poster: aladfar - that's kind of my idea: lots and lots of photos. But certainly there are a few accesories that make taking good photos easier. A key filter (UV or polarizer) and a tripod seem to be the consensus.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2006

Everyone is caught up I think in your description of taking it to the next level, which really is not about the equipment. Accessories can open up more options, and the tripod and polarizer are a good start. An off camera flash and a flash diffuser can help with flash photography. The flash on the camera is not conducive to flattering or interesting photos, but is fine for simple recordation of what you see. Varying lenses can offer different perspectives, but this camera does not accept different lenses. A filter thread close-up lens can be fun, but usually the quality is just so so.

It is a great camera, take some pictures and have some fun with it. I think the greatest impediment to great photography is lack of time to contemplate shots and think creatively. We stop, see something interesting and shoot. Sometimes great shots come when instead of a 30 second set-up and a couple of shots, we spend an hour or so getting the right perspective, an interesting angle, or waiting for just the right light, such as at dawn or sunset. Perhaps I am just a slow photographer, but taking it slow and concentrating on the composition and lighting always seem to pay big dividends for me. Sometimes I force this on myself by putting the camera into fully manual mode. The extra time to get the right focus and exposure seems to translate into more time for thinking about the shot as well.
posted by caddis at 12:14 PM on January 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

bshort: The remote shutter release is only available wired as far as I know. Thanks!

Really either type is fine, since you just need some way to fire the camera without touching it.

Oh, and here is the beanpod tripod thing I was referring to.

It's not perfect, but it's much much smaller than a tripod and very compact.
posted by bshort at 12:15 PM on January 24, 2006

With all respect, your photographs will improve when you improve your eye and your skills. Buying more stuff is fun and opens up some options, but some of the most interesting photos are taken with the least of equipment. So, first some advice on making better, more interestng photos:

1. Take more (many many more) photos with any camera
2. Study composition, lighting, etc. in others' photos that you like
3. Experiment with composition, light, flash, color, etc.
4. Assign yourself themed projects (i.e. "seasoned citizens," "fire," "mauve," "circles," "shoes," whatever) and go shoot them
5. Pick things or just junk at random, then determine that you will make an interesting photo of it. Attack from all angles, distances, compositions, exposure, time of day, etc.
6. Slow down, Speed up

If you want to buy something, here's a list. Keep in mind that none of these will make you a better photographer; they will only give you more options to make good or bad photos.
1. Tripod
2. DSLR (or used med format, like Yashicamat 124G)
3. Photoshop
4. Remote Shutter
5. lenses, filters
6. Flash
7. Big 1-4GB memory cards
posted by mumeishi at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Tripod, yes. Assuming your subjects will wait around for you to get the tripod set up and properly adjusted.

UV filters are of questionable value, and should be considered optional. I use them for lens protection, others say they introduce flare. I don't see the problem, but I'd agree that they're a matter of preference, not necessity. In some cases, they'll cut haze in outdoor shots.

A polarizer, in my opinion, is probably a waste of money. Good ones are expensive, they take time to use properly. If I'm reading this correctly, the Lumix has an electronic viewfinder, which may make determining the proper orientation of the polarizer difficult. Unless you have a specific reason for wanting one, I'd spend the money on something else.

Further on that, I think the EVF is a point against this camera. I've never looked through one that I was happy with. I'm curious to hear if anyone's used one with a manual focus camera. How'd it go?
posted by Caviar at 12:37 PM on January 24, 2006

I used a Panasonic FZ10 for quite a while and got VERY good results with it.
I went down the DSLR route because I became professional... otherwise I would still quite happily be taking very good shots with my FZ10, so I do understand where FBore is coming from.
Here are some suggestions for you:
.External Flash is probably one of the most important accessories. The Sunpak 383 is the one most recommended in Panasonic forums. You can bounce and swivel it, it's powerful and it won't fry your camera.
.A polarizer is essential. The dynamic range isn't as wide as a DSLR... the polarizer will deepen the highlights on a sunny day if you shoot at right angles to the sun and rotate the ring on the filter accordingly. You'll get much better detail in your shadows.
.I did get a Nikon macro filter for the FZ10... it didn't give the results I was after. I never tried this, but you may want to experiment with a reversed 50mm lens and a lens coupler.
.If you can afford the Panasonic accessories, go for it! But they are very expensive. Most people go for the Olympus teleconverters and wide angle converters.
.I enjoyed playing with the Cokin P filter system on my FZ10. Graduated filters are VERY useful when shooting landscapes, and it can be fun to play with other effects such as starburst. Take a look here to see what you can do with them:
.Only use the UV filter to protect your lens. Bear in mind that extra filters will cause more lens-flare if you're not careful. Your camera already filters UV light.
.A reflector can be useful when shooting portraits. You can also bounce flash off one.

Hope this helps!
posted by BobsterLobster at 12:47 PM on January 24, 2006

Wow... what happened to my link? Here you go...
posted by BobsterLobster at 12:51 PM on January 24, 2006

An EVF has some advantages. In difficult exposure situations you can just adjust the exposure until it looks correct in the viewfinder. This may seem trivial, but an awful lot of creative photos involve difficult exposure situations. I have a camera very much like the FZ30 and I really like that feature. As for a polarizer, I see no reason why the EVF would limit you. It is pretty much WYSIWYG. As for expense, yes a good polarizing filter costs real money. You want to get a circular polarizing filter so that it won't interfere with your autofocus. A good one will probably be be $50 and you can pay more.
posted by caddis at 1:07 PM on January 24, 2006

But EVFs, or at least all the EVFs I've ever tried, also have some serious disadvantages.

The image you see is usually pixelated and has serious color issues. I've found it almost impossible to judge focus, and the image itself is usually very very small.

I was all set to get one of those Leica Digilux 2's until I actually looked through the viewfinder.
posted by bshort at 1:13 PM on January 24, 2006

Yeah, a polarizer is next to impossible to judge through an EVF because it adjusts to the level of light coming in. However, you can work out where to turn it to depending on where the sun is. There is a very informative web page somewhere dedicated to using polarisers with EVFs, but I'd have to spend some time hunting it down.
posted by BobsterLobster at 1:14 PM on January 24, 2006

I don't know why everyone is suggesting that you get a dSLR. Your Panasonic already has a much better lens than the kit lens that comes with a typical dSLR. If your P&S lens covers the range you need, you really have no reason to pick up an expensive and bulky dSLR.

Yes, if you get a crappy zoom lens to put on the front of your dSLR then you're going to get crappy images. You can get a very very nice prime lens (non-zoom) for very little money (~$100-200) that will put your Panasonic's lens to shame. Also, the difference in sensor sizes is very significant. The difference in noise and depth of field is massive.

You already have Leica glass on the front of your Panasonic. If you want different Leica glass, you are looking at a $3000 Epson R-D1 and then hundreds to thousands of dollars each M-mount lenses. If you really wanted to step down to a Nikon or Canon, you would need to buy expensive Canon L-glass or Nikkor pro grade glass to keep up with the quality you get with your Panasonic.

"Leica glass?" Yeah, Leica's great and all but I guarantee you that you'll get better quality images from a Digital Rebel and a $79 50mm prime than you ever will from your Panasonic.

You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on high end zoom lenses or on an RD-1 to get excellent results.
posted by bshort at 1:18 PM on January 24, 2006

I've been thinking about this question some more this afternoon. I know that you're more interested in equipment, but I have another non-equipment suggestion on improving your photography: share your best work.

That is not to say that you shouldn't take a gazillion images. You should. But don't share them all. When you find an interesting subject, take dozens (or hundreds) of images of that subject, working it from every angle, from above and from below, with a telephoto lens and with a wide-angle lens, in low light and in bright light and in the long, slanting golden rays of evening. Once you've produced your pool of images, examine them with a severely critical eye. You must be your own worst critic. Out of, say, a hundred images, you might pick out five that are worth sharing with others. From their responses you can winnow these down even further until you have only the best of the best.

Learning to self-edit is one very important step in taking your photography to the next level.

This advice is so much easier given than put into practice. If I could learn to self-edit, I'd be a happy man.
posted by jdroth at 1:30 PM on January 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

To piggy-back on jdroth's sharing suggestion, I'd suggest you share the best few takes of the slew you take of a single subject. You might find that what you like is not what others like. Say you take 100 shots of the same thing, from various angles, etc. but of about five different "takes" of the subject. Share the best of all five. If category four is your favorite, the consensus of others is likely to be category two.

At first this can be frustrating, since you're so attached to #4, but in the end it can help you see things you might have otherwise missed and work on images you might have otherwise ignored.

All that said, another cool (and helpful) thing to buy is a light meter. You can spend from $10 up to $600 or more.

A good, fast 50mm prime is a suberb lens for not much money. If you go Nikon, the 50/1.4 is excellent.
posted by mumeishi at 2:02 PM on January 24, 2006

Yeah, a polarizer is next to impossible to judge through an EVF because it adjusts to the level of light coming in. However, you can work out where to turn it to depending on where the sun is.

What do you mean? I found a number of web sites, mostly discussion boards and nothing definitive, that either suggested using a polarizing filter with an EVF or more on point said that they work well together.
posted by caddis at 2:02 PM on January 24, 2006

I haven't found the link... but what happens when you turn the polariser is that everything darkens when you hit the optimum point. An evf will keep everything at the same level, so you won't know when it has become darker. If you've ever tried doing this, you'll know what I mean. However, if you point the mark which most polarisers have at the sun, that will correspond to the point at which you'll see the viewfinder go dark on an SLR.
posted by BobsterLobster at 2:12 PM on January 24, 2006

I see what you are saying, but FB's camera has pretty high resolution in its EVF. Usually you are trying to darken the sky or eliminate washed out areas with a polarizing filter and in most situations you should be able to tell when these effects are maximum with a high resolution EVF. If not, you can always put the camera into manual exposure mode while you adjust the filter.
posted by caddis at 2:25 PM on January 24, 2006

What mumeishi and jdroth said is excellent advice, and I would add to it that it's more fun and more helpful if you have a friend hanging out while you go through your photos, trying to pick out the keepers. They'll give you different perspectives on things and they'll like different things. Also it may make you articulate what you like about a particular shot, which will help you.
posted by aubilenon at 2:29 PM on January 24, 2006

Take a class with someone whose photographs you like. Learning to look and to use what you have is much more important than getting better equipment.

I was a commercial artist for many years. In a pinch, I once made a poster using a shirt cardboard as a straightedge and drawing curves by running my pen around the edge of a nickel.

In his old age, Ansel Adams used a Polaroid camera almost exclusively, with no loss in the quality of his work.

Great cameras and accessories are a joy to use, but the good work comes out of your head, not your equipment.
posted by KRS at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2006

i'm still stuck in the stone age-- i use a film camera. that said, i diggit. i like the ideas of taking a billion pics, and i also like the idea of limiting yrself to taking a few pics (self-imposed with little dough and 24-36 exposure rolls of film).

- shooting a lot of fotos and picking out the nice ones with someone else will clue you in to what makes a swell pic.
- shooting few fotos and taking a lot of time, or at least investing some thought into each click will make you think about what you think makes a swell pic.
- space out yr purchases. after you buy each piece o gear, take the time to really, REALLY get bored with it. explore it as much as you can.
- read. lots. look at lots of fotos of photographers you admire.

have fun! 8D
posted by herrdoktor at 3:37 PM on January 24, 2006

I'm a photo professor, so I think I have some expertise in exactly what you are asking. I have two recomendations and one observation.

1) You'll learn more by looking at the work of other photographers than by nearly anything else. Find work that is interesting and DIFFERENT. I stress "different" because seeing how someone does things differently gives insight into your own process.

2) Copy the work of other photographers. I spent many years trying to be Irving Penn. That taught me an enormous amount about composition, about lighting, and about what it takes to create a great photograph. After doing that for about 5 years, I found myself making my own photographs, photographs that have little to do with Penn, but everything to do with all the insight I had gained.

Observation: A camera is a dark box. That's all. The camera is a tool for what you want to take pictures of. If you want to make Ansel Adamsy landscapes, ditch the Panasonic. If you want to take fast actions shots on the street, it may work wonderfully. If I want to drill holes I don't use my Leica, I use my Makita. You'll figure out the equipment when you have technical problems that a new camera will solve.
posted by johngumbo at 8:30 PM on January 24, 2006

Best answer: Since almost everyone seems to be interpreting your question as "Tell me I should buy an SLR or that accessories won't make me a better photographer please", you might want to visit the Panasonic forum at Digital Photography Review to ask your questions. Do some searches first, as most of them have already been answered many times.

I've had an FZ30 for a few months and I love it, it's completely changed the way I take pictures and I've taken a few thousand, which is great practice. One thing nobody has mentioned is that most of the DSLR options won't give you an anti-shake mechanism without spending a fortune, and with shaky hands, that feature of the FZ30 has helped my photography more than anything.

Two of my three must-have accessories for the FZ30 weren't on your list, so I'll list them:

1. More power: the included battery will last for 250-300 pictures. If you take pictures like I do, that's not nearly enough, especially on a vacation where you're taking pictures all day. OEM batteries for the FZ30 are hard to find, but there are some cheap not-quite-as-good but serviceable replacements. Personally I use a DPS-9000, it's a bolt-on battery pack that lasts for at least 1000 pictures - I have yet to ever run it out so that's a guess.

2. More storage: get a huge SD card or two. The FZ30 supports up to 2 GB cards. Card speed does make a bit of a difference with this camera, so get Sandisk Ultra IIs or equivalent. I use 2-3 1GB cards.

3. UV filter: this one's on your list. I keep one attached at all times since I'm prone to touching the lens, bumping it into things, and wiping it off with my abrasive shirt. I'll replace it every year or two and save the real lens. Get a multicoated one from a reliable manufacturer (B+W, etc.)

All three of these basically mean "more pictures" to me - I want to take as many as I can, without limitations, and I want the camera to last a long time. So I guess they fall under the same category as some of the "practice, practice, practice" advice above.

I guess a tripod would be on my list too, but I have a couple from previous cameras that work fine.

For wide-angle lenses and others, see the forum linked above, there are lots of knowledgeable people there who will make recommendations without telling you you should have bought an SLR.

Good luck! The FZ30's a great camera, and by the time you feel like you really need a DSLR to get to the next level, you'll have taken a few thousand pictures with it and will be a much better photographer.
posted by mmoncur at 11:10 PM on January 24, 2006

Oh, I should have mentioned that I mostly do outdoor photography, landscapes and nature. If you plan on taking lots of portraits or indoor shots, an external flash would be at the top of the list. The FZ30's flash is pretty good, but you will get redeye and glare in some shots.
posted by mmoncur at 11:15 PM on January 24, 2006

On review, the choice of a digital camera can be very important for taking good pictures. Just to emphasize b1tr0t's advice, the most important thing to be aware of is the presence of either RAW shooting format or the newer general DNG format. If you are serious about getting the most out of your digital photography then shooting in these formats is a must. On the Adobe website there is a list of supported cameras.
posted by JJ86 at 8:46 AM on January 25, 2006

After you get a dSLR as recommended by other posters there are a some filters I'd add to your list.

1. Neutral Density filter(s). They usually come in 3 densities, .3, .6 and .9. If you're only going to get one, then I'd get a .6, if you can afford 2 (but not all 3), then a .3 and a .6 (which together would total a .9).

2. Graduated Neutral Density filter(s). Similar suggestion as above.

The ND filters will allow you to keep the shutter open longer at your desired Aperature. This is useful for shooting things where you want to show a lot of motion, like waterfalls.

The GradND filters will allow you to shoot landscapes and get both the sky (bright) and the ground (dark) exposed properly. The usual result without the filter is that either the sky looks perfect and the ground is black or the ground looks perfect and the sky is overexposed or totally white.

posted by LittleMonkeyMojo at 8:47 AM on January 25, 2006

johngumbo-- I'm a pretty humble photographer, but I really like your advice. I'll let you know how your advice works for me... in five years.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:55 PM on January 25, 2006

gesamtkunstwerk-- I'll be waiting!
posted by johngumbo at 10:48 AM on January 26, 2006

As an advanced beginner myself, I find my photos dramatically improved when I started asking myself one question as I look through the viewfinder: What is this picture really about? Then compose and shoot.
posted by wordwhiz at 9:29 AM on January 28, 2006

Just an update on BobsterLobster's point about a polarizing filter now that it is Saturday and and can test it in sunlight: I have one for my Dimage A200, which is quite similar to the FZ30, and it is more difficult indeed to tell through the electronic viewfinder when you have the filter adjusted properly. In manual exposure mode it works just like on an optical through-the-lens viewfinder. In autoexposure modes the image adjusts in the viewfinder as the exposure adjusts, making it difficult to tell when the sky is darkest. Nevertheless, in adjusting it in autoexposure and manual mode several times I always arrived at almost the exact same setting. It just took more time and care in autoexposure mode.
posted by caddis at 12:41 PM on January 28, 2006

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