Friday, January 30, 2015

Back to the Philippines - Very Soon

Manila bay sunset.

Well after many delays my return to the Philippines is finally coming.  It has been nearly 7.5 years.  I will make my planning and logistics trip in February with plenty of time for exploration and visiting friends.   After that, if all goes well I'll make my final retirement move by summer.

I've been to the Philippines twice before, the second time I worked there for a year.  It is an incredible country with wonderful people.  An archipelago of 7,107 islands of which approximately 2000 are inhabited.   Yes, you may read some bad things about the country from some people, but the fact is that it is no worse then any other country.  Their challenges are simply different.  But the beauty of the island is as great as any you can find anywhere.    The treasure of the country is their many beautiful places (outside of Manila National Capital Region) and the wonderful hospitable nature of the people almost everywhere.   Yes even Manila and the NCR has many interesting and great places to visit.  Lots of culture both local and international.  

The country has a rich and ancient history.  8 primary languages and 120+ dialects.   The main languages spoken all over are Filipino (a composite of the 8 primary based mostly on Tagalog)  and English.  You will find some Spanish words or derivations thereof also due the 333 years of Spanish rule.  You will find people everywhere who speak some English though they may be shy about trying if they haven't had a lot of practice.  You will find many other languages spoken to varying degrees as well.
The culturally iconic Jeepney

The iconic Jeepney is a primary means of public transportation and comes in many shapes and forms.   It was created after World War II when the US military left behind thousands of Willy Jeeps and military trucks.  The every creative Filipinos took them and turned them into all types of transportation and shipping vehicles by expanding their wheelbases and adding on large passenger or cargo sections.   Over time owners began decorating them with whatever materials they could find to make each one unique.   The modern Jeepney is larger and built to modern standards.   You will even find a few air conditioned jeepneys, but most are open air vehicles with plasic flaps they lower down when it rains.

Other means of public transportation include taxis and modern Air conditioned buses for longer range travel.  There are also substantial systems of ferries and airports to get around among the islands.  

The former Island Fortress of Corregidor is now
a World War II monument that must be seen.
There are numerous historical and natural places and events of interest including beautiful beaches, the underground river of Palawan, chocolate hills, and many more to mention.   Many of which I will visit and describe in upcoming posts.  The scenery in places is mind boggling.

The image to the left is a WWII defense gun located on the Fortress island of Corregidor which guarded the entrance to Manila Bay.  It was the last stand of Filipino and American forces against the Japanese in WWII.  Between Bataan and Corregidor the Japanese used so many resources to capture those areas that they were not immediately able to continue their conquest of the South Pacific.   They wanted Manila bay to use a launching point on their way to Australia.  Until they took Corregidor they could not gain access to Manila bay.   The Philippines was invaded by Japan, just 10 hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Greatly outgunned and outmanned Filipino and American combined forces held off the Japanese complete control of the islands until May 5, 1942.  Their sacrifice allowed allied forces to regroup and begin to launch counterattacks against Japanese forces throughout the Pacific.

There are hundreds of thousands more interesting places that can be seen and visited.  Eco-tourism is also an up and coming venue for those interested in nature and the wild.  

I'll have a lot more to share in the years to come.   A lifetime is not long enough to see all that the Philippines has to offer.  For all its challenges it is still a land of enchantment and wonder   Soon to be my final home.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

iPhone 6 Camera Test and mini review

Well, the day finally came, after 4 years of constant and sometimes hard use, my old Apple iPhone 4 was coming to its end of life.   Mind you it was still in great physical shape thanks to an Otterbox case, despite my usual clumsiness.   But after 4 years where it was seldom off, the battery was starting to not be able to hold charge.  Worse, the touch screen was getting flaky.    Mind you it had served me well despite a fair amount of abuse.   I definitely got my money's worth out of it.

This is a personal, non-technical review with some image samples and my personal opinion.   If you are looking for a full blown technical phone and camera review, check out the new 11 page detailed review at DPReview.  Another good review is the DXOmark measurements (strictly technical.)

After a lot of research and thought, plus constant referencing of my budget, I decided on the iPhone 6.   Since I use Apple computers mostly these days, it is nice to be able to synchronize all my equipment and share images and information easily.  So far I am very happy with it, though still working on setting it up the way I like.    One of the things I was curious about is how its camera and video capabilities would compare to my old iPhone 4.   

I can tell you, the difference is quite large.   Quite frankly while the iPhone 4 was capable of some good photos in good light and up close, it did poorly in less then optimum light and at distances.  I expected that the iPhone 6 would be better, and I have not been disappointed.   Mind you, if you are serious about photography, the iPhone 6 is not going to entice you to give up your good gear. However as a phone-camera that is always with you, it does pretty well to grab some of those unique shots or video moments that would otherwise pass you by.   

Like most  camera phones, the lens is a single focal length and is wide angle.   I haven't found the exact "angle of view" for the iPhone 6 yet, but would estimate it would be roughly equivalent to 35mm on a full frame camera (correction: found out it is 29-30mm equivalent)     Like many other phone-cameras, the iPhone 6 does have a digital

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Panasonic FZ-1000 Collection of Reviews

Hey everyone.  Thanks for not giving up on this blog.  Sorry I haven't posted in a while but been battling a few personal health issues and heavily involved in the care for an elderly Aunt with dementia.  That has taken most of my time.   Hopefully in the next few weeks things will settle down a little.  Do have a few things planned.

Here are a few links to some Panasonic FZ-1000 Reviews for your general perusal if they interest you.  This camera is getting generally very positive reviews and looks to fill the needs for many people but not all.  Like all cameras, there are pros and cons.   I am very interested in this camera in particular for its all around, all in one, capabilities and it checks most of the items on my want list but not all.   Still if I had the money, it would probably already be my go everywhere choice when I don't want to carry a kit.

1" sensor, increased dynamic range, 25-400 (equivalent) focal length, powerful video capabilities including 4k and slow motion, RAW files, very fast focus (fastest of any other bridge cameras), fast burst rates, and many other enhancements and capabilities.   All of those are things that interest me.  However, it won't be a camera for everyone, but then no such camera could ever be built.  Photographers have too many different needs and preferences.  Still this looks like the ideal camera for illustrating and narrating my long dreamed about Travel Blog.  Not perfect but it hits about 85-90% of my wants and that is a pretty long list.  The few shortcomings that exist are not deal killers for me.

There are a great many other reviews but I don't have the links handy at the moment.  Will add as I find them again.

UPDATE :  Rob Knight - Field Testing the LUMIX FZ1000
This is a users report, not a technical report but is quite well done.

Enjoy! - David


Imaging Resource

Luminous Landscape

Photography Blog


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thoughts on the Panasonic FZ-1000

panasonic fz-1000
Panasonic FZ-1000 with the swivel LCD facing forward and up a little.

From the day it was announced, I found the Panasonic FZ-1000 to be one of the most interesting cameras in many years.  It is very much the camera I hoped for but didn’t think could be built today.  Prior to its announcement I was looking at the Sony RX10 as a possible future purchase but not quite satisfied with its 200mm limit or its high $1300 price.   The Panasonic FZ-1000 however meets my minimum desired telephoto needs while at the same time introducing some very nice features that I liked in the Panasonic GH4 and some earlier FZ series cameras.   But more then that the FZ-1000 introduces some amazing video capabilities at an excellent pricepoint.

Now before I proceed, let me state clearly that I have not had a chance to see or handle the FZ-1000 directly so this article is based solely on information I have gathered from multiple sources, my prior photographic experience with many different cameras and my personal preferences and opinion.   It is not necessary for anyone to agree with me or my thoughts.  The process of writing is every bit part of my attempt to organize and clarify my thoughts and to evaluate them as I go along, for myself.  

The more I look at the Panasonic FZ-1000, it compares well against the Sony RX10 and at lower ISO's does very well against equivalent resolution m4/3, APSC and even some full frame. It won't be a high ISO champ in my mind however. It is excellent at 125-200, very good at 400, good at 800, acceptable (to me) at 1600 but 3200 and above you will be better off with larger sensor cameras if detail and low noise are important to you.

I do like that once again (from what I can determine) like most FZ and other Panasonic cameras, the FZ-1000 allows you to tweak all the JPEG profiles to a high degree for contrast, sharpness, saturation and Noise Reduction. You're not locked in to Panasonic’s idea of what the style should be and can change or modify most of them easily. You can even create your own “custom” style to some degree if you like.  This means that while Panasonic provides a point and shoot solution for the casual photographer, they also allow more experienced and enthusiast photographers to not only have full manual control but also to tweak the cameras defaults quite easily.  This is a significant consideration for me, as I generally like to shoot RAW+JPEG.  RAW so that I have maximum detail and JPEG as a reference.  However since I don't always like Panasonic's default JPEG look I like that I can customize any Photostyle for my preference.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Imaging Resource posts first Panasonic GH4 studio images.

Imaging Resource has posted their first studio images shot with the new Panasonic Lumix GH4.   Not sure why, but above ISO 3200, the GX7 actually looks to provide cleaner images then the GH4.  Not sure if they have a final firmware yet or not.   While they shot RAW images and made them available, there are not RAW convertors yet for the GH4 that I have found.

Here is the link to Imaging Resources studio JPEG and RAW.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Brief test video of the Panasonic GH4 at ISO 1600 and various settings.

Amadeusz Andrzejewski has posted a short video showing the Panasonic Lumix GH4 at ISO 1600 and with various noise reduction settings as shown in the video itself.  This short video does demonstrate the effect that various noise reduction settings have on the final video.  

This is rather quick and not well defined, but it does show how the noise reduction settings will affect the final video image.  Shot in 4K definition.

EOSHD posts a comparision of the Panasonic GH4 and the Sony A7s

Panasonic GH4 vs Sony A7S compared – who wins the 4K battle on paper?

The good folks at EOSHD posted a short introductory comparison between the Panasonic GH4 and the newly announced Sony A7s hybrid  still and video camera.   They address the pros and cons of each system.   The new Sony A7s, with its 12mp full frame sensor will surely be the King of very low light and high ISO video, but beyond that there are several important differentiations.  

This should be a must read for those wanting to hop on board the 4K video train.  Expect both to have strengths and weaknesses, depending on use.   Click the title link above to go to EOSHD

"In my opinion, I expect the GH4 to be the nimble and quick go everywhere do everything Photographic Ninja, that draws upon a diverse skill set to get the job done regardless of odds.    The Sony A7S however looks more like a hardened low light warrior, a specialist that does a few things extraordinarily well, but does not try to do everything.  Both have their place.  - Lightweaver" 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Panasonic GH4, still photos from Osaka Japan - by Wasabi Bob

Click the Link below to visit Wasabi's Flickr account and check out the Panasonic GH4 photos.

Wasabi Bob posted some Panasonic Lumix GH4 still shots on his flicker account.  Taken in Osaka Japan, they at ISO from 200 to 1600.  Looking pretty good to me.   Looks to be firmware version .04 or .05.  

The GH4 still looks like the camera to beat so far this year for all around flexibility, durability and high quality, detailed images in both video and stills.   

Check out Wasabi Bog's GH4 images on Flickr.   

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Panasonic GH4 - EOSHD demonstrates how much improvement 4K brings to video and how the Panasonic GH4 fits in.

In my previous blog entry, Panasonic Lumix GH4 - More then just a Pretty Face I raised the idea that the future of 4k video lies not only with the entertainment and enthusiast producers but equally so with the technical (military, industrial, scientific, biomedical, surveillance) industries.  The GH4 is so far proving to be a real detail monster for any use.  So while some gearheads, argue whether 4k video is worth it or not, take a look and decide for yourself.   4k video is the future to replace Full HD (1080p).   Panasonic GH4 is the first hybrid (stills and video) camera to make it cost effective and user friendly.

The good folks over at EOSHD have posted "Panasonic GH4 4K Production Diary – Day 3 – EOSHD Shootout" which clearly shows both the esthetic and the technical detail improvements that 4K brings to the video world in general.   The also address very briefly the Panasonic GH4's cost advantage over other current products.

The image below (from EOSHD) shows a brief glimpse of the Panasonic Lumix GH4 4K quality and detail.    Click the link above and go directly to EOSHD article and be sure to read Day 1 and Day 2 articles as well.

Image is from EOSD "Panasonic GH4 4K Production Diary – Day 3 – EOSHD Shootout"  Visit their website to get all the nitty gritty details.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Andrew Reid and Frank Sauer of EOSHD, shoot with the Panasonic GH4

Andrew Reid and Frank Sauer  (Professional Videographers) have started a Panasonic GH4 Production Diary over at EOSHD

So what are their initial impressions with a pre-production Panasonic GH4?

“So the big question has arrived – is the GH4 worth kicking your girlfriend out of bed for at 5am to catch the magic hour light? The answer is yes and we are putting our new girlfriend through her paces with a week of action packed shooting, featuring free-runners, drones, gimbals, abandoned theme parks and apocalyptic Berlin factories.”

“Image quality in 4K is out of this world. It really feels like the full capability of the lens is right there in your images. If a lens is low contrast wide open you know about it. If a lens is sharp and punchy you see this no holds barred. No more fuzzy 1080p – this is the real deal. It looks and feels like a moving DSLR still. Detail is so crisp and smooth when you view 4K at 2.5K on a 27″ iMac. I don’t yet have a 4K display. For one thing I don’t feel I need one. 4K looks WAY better than 1080p even on my iMac screen.”

“The EVF however is all-out mega. I used it a lot and didn’t miss the Zacuto Z-Finder one bit. A new option – Monochrome Live View – can be enabled to help further with focus.”

“The GH4 is one of the most exciting cameras I’ve ever shot with. The whole ethos of this camera I love. Feature after feature packed into it, the convenience factor of an efficient 4K codec and no more huge file sizes or bulky external batteries – not to mention the accessible price for the masses and astounding image quality in 4K – both of us were in awe of it.“

Great stuff.  They have some good B roll stills up, and state they will have some video soon.

GH4 ballade a Causeway Bay HK - 1080P

Ballade avec le GH4 à Causeway Bay avec le GH4 (modèle de pré-série)
1080p50 ALL I 200mb/s
Lenses :
Leica R Summicron 50mm f:2
Leica R Elmarit 24mm f:2,8
Metabones Speedbooster Leica R to M43
Panasonic Lumix 12/35 f:2,5
Color with Filmconvert

Hong Kong - Ballad by Night - Panasonic GH4, 4K

Here is another excellent sample of GH4, 4K video at night.

By Emmanuel Pampuri. This really shows off the low light capabilities of the Panasonic GH4. Quite excellent! 

Ballade à Honk Kong avec le GH4 de nuit (Camera de pré-série firmware beta 0.4c)
Hong Kong ballad by night in 4k with Panasonic GH4 Pre-Production Camera and Beta Firmware 0.4c
4096x2160p24 All I mode 100mb/s internal recording
Cinelike D
Lens : Panasonic 12/35 f:2,8
ISO 800 to 1600
no grading

Can also be viewed on Vimeo which will provide less compression then on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Panasonic Lumix GH4 - 4K 4096x2160 24p - day and night videos, Krabi Thailand

Repost of two early Panasonic GH4 videos, shot in 4K cinema mode with a pre-production model. For more information visit the producers site:

Published on Mar 23, 2014 by 2011peopleasia

Night Street Walking, Krabi, Thailand

Per the Poster 2011 peopleasia: "I had tested shooting Panasonic GH4 4K at night time in available light. I walked around the night time local market with Panasonic GH4 firmware version 0.4, shooting without any additional light.

Camera setting : 4K 4096x2160 24p 100mbps
ISO : 800ASA
Shutter : 172.8 degree
Lens : Samyang 16mm F2.0
Camera Profile : Natural, Contrast -5
Camera Gamma : Normal
White balance : 4000k

Daytime tour, Krabi, Thailand - Added 3/27/2014

Everything shot hand held. I used normal gamma curve because I wanted to know how far the sensor and the new encoded h.264 codec could handle.

I put the original footage in to Adobe Premiere Pro CC at native size. No color changed just only adjusted slightly high light, shadow and contrast.

Camera profile : Natural, Contrast -5
Gamma : Standard
Firmware Version : 0.4
Internal record : 4K 4096x2160 24p 100mbps to SDXC MicroP2 card
Lens : Lumix 7-14 F4.0, while shooting the F-stop varied from F4.0-F14
ASA : 200
White Balance : 5600k
Shutter : Variable from 11-172.8 degree

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Panasonic Lumix GH4 - More Than Just a Pretty Face

Photography blogs across the net are talking about the new Panasonic Lumix GH4, micro four-thirds hybrid camera with 4K video that comes in at a new more affordable price then most (if not all) other 4K video cameras to date.

Already, discussion and gear forums have erupted with the time honored tradition (if you can consider 15 years, of consumer digital a tradition) of weighing the pros and cons of necessity and success.

Before I continue, a little history about me and my background:   I am an old school photographer, having started in film while still a teenager in the 1960's.    I studied photography during 2 years of college and then went into the US Navy and became a Naval photographer specialized in still photography.    My professional background in photography during the next 15+ years was more technical oriented then creative, involving military, industrial, biomedical, surveillance, legal and other various technical forms of photographic imaging.    For that kind of work, 35mm was still considered "insufficient" and most of our work was done with large or medium format and/or VHS video cameras with long zooms on the rare occasions I shot video.   There was no autofocus, no high speed drives, no auto-exposure and photographers still managed to get the photos without all the modern bells and whistles.   High ISO (then called ASA in the United States) was Black and White Tri-X (400) processed in something like Accufine to provide grainy and detail lacking ASA 1200.
Now, lets move forward a few decades and we find the entire photography world has changed.   Small cameras are replaced by cell phone cameras and a significant portion of the population in more affluent countries carry some kind of imaging device, most of the time.    Photography no longer only the domain of professionals and enthusiasts, contributes for better or worse to modern societies information overload.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Photo of the Day - Butterfly Profile

Westminster, Colorado Butterfly Pavilion - Panasonic GH1 with Pan-Leica 45mm F2.8 Macro.

Photo of the Day.  Butterfly Profile with Panasonic GH1 and Pan-Leica 45mm F2.8 macro.
Butterfly Pavilion, 6252 West 104th Avenue, Westminster, CO 80020, USA

Trying to get myself geared back up to publishing on a regular basis again.   Hopefully the next month will see a freeing up of my time to get back  to the photography I love.  Have a new article in the works already.