Build complex toys and simple tools
by Tony Karp
Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2
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Acupuncture dummy -  A portrait of Pinhead - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A portrait of Pinhead

Here's some advice on using the ZS40. Most of it will work with the ZS50 as well.

Turn on intellightResolution. It seems to make the pictures a little sharper.

Set the picture size to 12 megapixels rather than its normal 18 megapixels. Besides the smaller files, you get a slightly longer zoom range. The image quality for both file sizes is about the same.

Use the viewfinder. It isolates the image. It blocks out daylight. It's always the same. You need it for the longer focal lengths. It will help to steady the camera for long exposures. You'll take better pictures.

Calibrate the viewfinder. Take a picture with a wide range of tones and colors. Keep a copy on the camera and copy it to the computer. Now compare the image in the viewfinder with the image on your computer's monitor. Go to the camera's setup menu and adjust the viewfinder image until it matches the computer monitor.

Set the front ring (the one around the lens) for exposure correction. This will make it easy to change the exposure. You'll need it for what follows.

The ZS40 tends to overexpose, and most people complain about pictures that are overexposed or washed out. You may even hear of "blown highlights" and lost highlight detail. You can fix some of this by shooting in raw format, but a better answer is to get the right exposure when you shoot the picture.

Next time you take a picture, use the viewfinder and study the scene carefully, not just for framing and composition, but for exposure as well. Look for the brightest area of the picture where you want to have detail in the finished picture. Now try moving the ring around the lens, increasing or decreasing the exposure until that area looks right. Chances are that decreasing the exposure (darker) is what you're looking for.

Experiment with this, until you learn how use a some underexposure to move things into the correct, balanced look. This will take some practice as the viewfinder might look too dark, but the review image that you see after you shoot will look correct. Don't be afraid to shoot lots of pictures to get the feel for this. It's free.

This is just a brief outline. I'll have more to say about getting the right exposure in future articles.

 -  Icicles at a winter window.
 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Icicles at a winter window.
 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A very wide panorama on a cold and gray winter's day, with a view of the artist's muse. I don't use the camera's built-in panorama function. Instead, I shoot a bunch of images and use panorama stitching software to assemble them.
 - Mask -- a study in  black and white.  - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Mask -- a study in black and white.
 -  Bed sheets. A study in tones. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Bed sheets. A study in tones.
 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Shooting at 12 megapixels instead of 18, extends the ZS40's zoom range to 36x. A little bit of trigonometry shows the plane is about 1.8 miles away. And the OIS is pretty good, too. This was shot at 1/30th sec.
 - Ceiling fan.  - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Ceiling fan.
 - A self portrait of the artist and his muse.  - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A self portrait of the artist and his muse.
 - The mailbox at the church that has a labyrinth.  - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
The mailbox at the church that has a labyrinth.
 -  A medical evacuation by helicopter after a fire at a farm near our house. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A medical evacuation by helicopter after a fire at a farm near our house.
 -  Making the arrangements to transport the patient. The ZS40's long reach made it easy to zoom in on this scene. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Making the arrangements to transport the patient. The ZS40's long reach made it easy to zoom in on this scene.
 - Getting ready to depart.  - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Getting ready to depart.
 - Liftoff.  - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Liftoff.
 -  A close-up of a snowstorm. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A close-up of a snowstorm.
 - Twin steeples in Manassas.  - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Twin steeples in Manassas.
 - A beautiful steeple that we found in our search for the labyrinth. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A beautiful steeple that we found in our search for the labyrinth.
 -  An imaginary steeple in Purceville. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
An imaginary steeple in Purceville.
 -  Doors and shadows. A study in light and dark, black and white. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Doors and shadows. A study in light and dark, black and white.
 -  Self portrait in a vertical tree panorama. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Self portrait in a vertical tree panorama.
 - Bee on a dandelion. This picture demonstrates the ZS40's capabilities when shooting wildlife. - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Bee on a dandelion. This picture demonstrates the ZS40's capabilities when shooting wildlife.
 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
On the farm where these free-range chickens reside, there's a sign that says "Pasture-Raised." At first glimpse, I thought it said "Pasteurized." But, if you stand in the field, you might see a pasture-raised chicken go past your eyes.
 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2 - Panasonic DMC-ZS40, DMC-ZS50, DMC-LF1 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
For all of those helicopter parents who are afraid to let their young ones play outside (too dangerous), here are some free range children. Looks like they're having fun.

Retrospective note: Looking back, I find lots of reasons to like the DMC-ZS40. Viewfinder, good image quality, and long zoom lens says it all. It's not as refined as the DMC-LF1, which has better image quality and more camera-like features (like a sharp, fast lens and a real black and white mode). But it sure is a lot of fun to shoot with.

So I'll be shooting with the ZS40 in situations where I'll be needing its impressively long reach. Otherwise, I'll be using the LF1.

Some technical notes: All of the pictures were shot with my Panasonic DMC-ZS40. The post processing was done with LightZone-3.

Closing note: I now have a DMC-FZ50, the newest model in this series. It has an improved viewfinder and they've dropped the megapixel count from 18 to 12.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, I was not able to get the same image quality out of the ZS50 as I got from the ZS40. So I still recommend the older model, even though the ZS50 looks great on paper.
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Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2
Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 1
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