Tuesday, November 28, 2006

HVX200 Video! Plus, There's Always Something I Forget...

Stage fright.
You may get over it, but you never forget it.

I just finished with the guest speakers at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, and I still get nervous when all eyes stare back at me! Terry Dalton, who has hosted the annual event in which professionals - mainly from different news-gathering entities - visit his class to share information about their field of work.

I had told Terry back in the summer that I had a surprising presentation and couldn't wait for November, yet I actually had nothing in hand to show. Usually, the talk would revisit the year's work. Last year, I shared my images from Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami. This year, I felt my work was seriously lacking, since I've been swamped with learning the HVX200.

Being stoked about the shift towards multimedia journalism, called "the voice in the story," I gathered some finished work from some of the staff. Algerina's sound slides of the Basilica, Monica's work on Factor VII, David Hobby's images of a tree in the fall, and Chiaki's piece about the Pleasant family's double-whammy cancer fight were some pieces short and good enough to send a message. I saved Barb's project on Recher Rock for last, just to let the class watch a little about indie bands.

The message was the same that I learned months ago: don't just be a photographer. Or a camera operator. Or a reporter, or audio technician, gathering for radio. Do all of those things, and learn through practice. Being sure to make eye contact, I didn't let the students know that I'm actually introverted. Well, I did hint at that, when sharing the fact that I feel more comfortable behind the camera, silently documenting others.

Maryland Terrapins' DJ Strawberry hustles and dives after ball!!

Ending the chat with some HVX footage of a basketball and a cool clip I shot at a Maryland Terrapins game (which is WAY down-rezzed by the YouTube folks, but I hope you still can enjoy it), a couple of those listening seemed a bit in disbelief that people are actually doing well by creating multimedia projects and blogging online. One, who stayed after class, picked my brain about the concept.

Everyone in her class has taken photos. With the cameras of today, anyone can take a pretty darn good image, if they work on it. Regarding the hybrid cameras, just a couple of clicks on the dial, and your still digital can instantly begin capturing sound and video. So, if you have any kind of light budget (or know someone who wants to loan you the gear) you can put a hybrid camera in your hot mitts and start teaching yourself about how to document the world around you.

The important thing I failed to share was that a web visitors can be limitless. Instead of showing your product to your friends, you now have an audience that's worldwide (depending on internet access and whether any particular country will allow your work to be accessed). Newspapers have always trained their sights on local coverage. But the web allows for worldwide viewing of whatever might be published. So if a newspaper's subscription total was 250,000, locally, it would be seen by an estimated 500,000 people.

On the web, there are billions of people online, and the viewers are growing in numbers, so there will always be an audience, until or unless the web decides to stop or change. No one can even fathom that happening, so the only one stopping you, is you. The web has opened the whole world to those who can access it. And it lets you and I be our own journalists, columnists, publicists, critics, managing editors and publishers. That's why big media has stumbled. People now have the ability to cover each other. Instead of waiting for the local news at 6pm, or the next day's paper,you and I can simply post it online ourselves. CNN and Fox have been getting their news clips and information from daily blogs and YouTube posts. The infamous video of "Kramer" Richards losing control? It was captured by an audience member's cell phone.

Find your niche and work on it. Whether it's a sport (or love of one), a hobby, a particular rant you care to vent, or the latest bad driver that carelessly drove past you, remember the most important thing: many people are just like you, and feel the same way. And they're currently Googling phrases that you could have already been writing about.

Looking for Santa
Conor gazes into the night, his eyes trying to spot Santa and Mrs. Claus.

As for this blog entry, much of it was written in the parking lot of a Cactus Willie's during some down time between jobs. The rest was finished here, at a Panera Bread in north Baltimore, after I transmitted pictures of 4-year-old Conor, searching the skies for Santa at a tree lighting ceremony. So, keep your laptop with you, at all times; at some moment, you may suddenly get the urge to fire up your PowerBook and pound your keyboard during a brainstorm.

Don't give up on your passion if no one flocks to your site at first. If you want that, you have to expose your site and make it searchable and easily-accessed. That's one reason why I've switched from MySpace, since they require membership, just to view a person's page.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Review: Panasonic AG-HVX200


Equipment and software reference for this post:

Panasonic AG-HVX200 HD Camcorder (review)
Red Camera 4x Digital Super 35mm Camcorder (info)
Panasonic AG-DVx100 Camcorder (review)
Hybrid, multiformat camera (list)
Canon EOS 1DS Mkii (review)
Nikon D2XS (improvements)
Final Cut Pro 5 (review)
Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD (info)

We just received a Panasonic AG-HVX200 DVCPro HD camcorder and I tell you, it's got more menus than a powerhouse Chinese restaurant. It's not for people who enjoy the pyro-friendly camera; there are menus with the depth of a 15-layer cake. The reason is because the camera can be configured into over 100 different ways of shooting!

The HVX200 gives the new user a challenge to sink or swim, because it thrusts you into deep water. If you've ever shot with the DVX100, you'll adapt to the HVX quite well, from other reviews I've read. Being a still shooter for a major city daily newspaper, we're moving towards high definition gear to shoot movie clips and pull frames for news print. With this in mind, the camera's color retention are quality. But I wish the configs were a bit simpler. It's taken months of time to learn this new format of news-gathering, but I see the potential with this gear.

One big drawback that I see is that the menu buttons are on top of the camera, beside and beneath the handle. Try shooting in the field and change your recording format, and it's an awkward feat to accomplish, since you're looking through the viewfinder (or watching the fold-out screen) as you scroll through the layers to figure which is the best recording format.


Would I consider giving this camera up? Hail, no. It's a powerful tool, and the result is what the image quality is about. The color shift with reds and greens and blues are minimal, unlike other samples from competing cameras that I have seen. This, coupled with the ability to drop files into a PowerBook with Final Cut Pro makes it a fast and efficient companion to get files changed to .mov format to drop them into ftp for web publication.


Delete unwanted files as you record. Drop the files onto a hard drive and wipe your P2 card to shoot some more. But you'd better have your software and hardware in order before you plunk down $6,000 retail,, just for the camera (and no mounted boom microphone - sold as an acc). A 4gb card sells $600, the optional 100gb Firestore costs $2,000 (which is about the same price as a couple 8gb P2 cards), Final Cut Pro 5 costs $1,000, and you aren't even talking about the need for a GOOD fluid head tripod ($500), wireless microphone system ($700), Blu-Ray or HD/DVD burner (for the multitude of gigs of recording files), extra batteries and perhaps a large external drive to store clips as you figure how to keep all the hundreds of gigs of files from overloading all your open drive space. The HVX eats drive space like a great white eats people. It doesn't think, it just does, and at up to a gigabyte per minute.


Even with working for a newspaper, we still have to adjust our budget royally to get what's needed for one HVX camera. Add filters and a 4x4 filter system and, yeesh. Or, kerching. It's bling bling for the developers, while you've just spent the same amount for your camera, just to get it up, and running.

**Rule of thumb, boys and girls: plan to spend double the camera's cost to outfit a system; aka, you'll have to fork out over $11,000 to effectively shoot in the field and edit in-house.**


For those in the pro field, it's probably worth it. For the casual user, or someone just getting into indie film making or trying to make money off the business, it might be worth it to wait. The HVX200 is a groundbreaking camera, like digital cameras revolutionized photography. Tapeless production will be adopted and will change the face of video production in the coming years. The price will drop as others compete for market share.


Hopping on the new gear bandwagon can kill your budget. Think about it: If you plunk the five grand for the camera alone, and it happens to be updated or significantly changed, you suddenly have a dinosaur on your hands. Some suggest that you should get the gear whenever you're ready, and I tend to actually subscribe to this. The big question you should ask yourself is, when do you truly feel you're fully in the market for such gear? Because there are already more significant gains being created and developed now, that are making this equipment primed for obsolescence. The Red Camera, for instance, can shoot digital Super 35mm movies, which add up to 12 megapixels per frame. Its projected cost is $17,500, while it claims to shoot in UHD (ultra high definition) that could be more than the best high definition sets can ever project. But the interesting thing is that such quality is perhaps, better than the Nikon D2HS and D2XS, including some of the Canon digital 35mm cameras.


Technological history very well should follow the same pattern: Technology results in price cuts as the first generation UHD cameras yield to next-generation camcorders, with subsequent models achieving better quality, more compact sizes, and deeper price cuts. So I plan to go on a limb and predict that the UHD camera will become widely available within the next 5-7 years. The price cuts will drop the retail cost to somewhere in the $7,000 window.

So, here's where the clash will come:
  1. $7,300, the Canon EOS 1DS Mkii, with a 35mm full frame CMOS sensor, shooting 4 frames/second for up to 32 shots before it must pause to write.
  2. $4,700, the Nikon D2XS, with a 12.4Mp, shooting 5 fps in full size mode, with a 60-frame buffer at cropped mode (8 fps, too).
  3. Many entry-level cameras are gaining popularity as hybrid cameras, able to shoot stills or video, on the fly.
  4. More and more people will want to see high quality video on their high definition monitors, which are also gaining popularity, just like video.
  5. The HD and UHD camcorders, dropping in price, will gain critical options, like interchangeable lens systems.

traffic light

We're on the edge of a big and sweeping change in the next generation of hybrid cameras, which currently boast decent still image quality with a wide zoom range (between 8x and 12x, average) while able to capture standard definition movie files with sound, at 640x480. As these hybrids get ramped up to their own next-generation quality, the widescreen format will be addressed in the video files, while the quality issue MUST be addressed in order for them to be considered as the NTSC television sets are phased out and HDTV is phased in. This means that the video quality must shoot in some kind of HDTV, either 1280x720, or 1920x1080.


The issue we faced was that it was time back in March, to choose a camcorder that shoots in high-def. At the time, the HVX200 was the choice, and we've ordered another one since. The time to choose is now, but it's wrong to speculate and wait, when you're ready to purchase. You have to go with a choice, because there will always be gear waiting in the wings, ready to replace the most brand-spanking new gear that just replaced the latest obsolete equipment.

In closing, here are some clickable thumbs, shot in different resolutions from NTSC standard (640x480) to HDTV (1920x1080).

mans-best-friend Shoot voting 1080i-72dpi-a navy-tight DEMOLITION19P3 waiting bromo-tower country-rail-fence 1920x1080-200dpi worker lamp vertical-volleyball casting

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving, to You.

Please enjoy yourselves today, as best as you can. We get so caught up in our own lives that sometimes, we neglect thinking of others who are struggling with their lives, in one form or fashion. Please think about helping someone in need. Reach out and share your thanks, to help someone else smile.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lumix FZ30 Shoot: First Video Embed; Frame Stills & Still Photo

These stills are frames from digital movie clips with the Panasonic FZ30. At the bottom is a comparison between the footage and an HQ still image, shot with the same camera.

Short Clip shot with the Lumix DMC-FZ30

As I wait for the accessories to start coming in for the HVX200, I'm training myself to learn how to creatively shoot digital film clips with the Lumix FZ30. It's actually a terrific starter camera for those considering video, considering it was around $500 new. It should be less, now that the FZ50 has been introduced. By allowing the user to switch between digital still and movie, an interesting process can be exploited.

Panasonic FZ30 footage clip: dashboard
Mac drives as the camera shoots from the dashboard.

I decided to record a subject who plans to design an ethanol plant, which forced me to work around a rather constricting location: his pickup truck. Mac drove his Dodge through the wind and rain of a strong nor'easter as we headed south towards Pocomoke City on the southeastern corner of Maryland. In that time, I shot about 25 minutes of footage while Mac shared the plans and vision of the plant.

Lumix FZ30 Footage: turning
The portability of the FZ30, working in the footwell.

But I also didn't want to conduct the interview outside for several reasons. First, it was a soaking, cold rain outside, and I had already begun feeling that tingly sensation in my throat, showing that I'm getting ill. I'm also using a camera with no external microphone, whose mic is built onto the upper left portion of the camera body, facing up.

Panasonic FZ30 footage clip: hand
A little hand detail captured while Mac speaks.

Remembering an important tip given by Brian Storm, I chose to let Mac speak about the ethanol process from inside the cabin of his truck, which is actually a truly great location to conduct an audio recording. The closed doors seal out much unwanted noise, and the interior creates a sound dampening room as the voice is absorbed, rather than reflected. The interior of such a tight space can be a challenge for someone who wants to express a creative side, but practicing the effort can yield better composition, creating visually appealing scenes by looking beyond the obvious.

Panasonic FZ30 footage clip:  eyes
A tight shot as Mac focuses on his destination.

The obvious scenes are capturing your subject from the position of the passenger. Shoot that way for more than a couple minutes, and the viewer will get pretty bored, because that turns the subject into nothing more than a talking head. They may as well stand behind a podium. Capturing such a perspective exclusively constricts your own vision, blinding you to other opportunities that can make the package fresh and appealing. Give your viewers angles that they haven't seen. Adding those unusual perspectives can heighten your audiences' interest, making them want to see what angle might fill the next scene.

Panasonic FZ30 footage clip: rain
Rain pelts the window while the FZ30 gathers audio.

What I love about a hybrid camera like the Lumix is that you can see composition by shooting digital stills. The FZ30 has the option to shoot still images in 3 formats: 4x3, 3x2, and 16x9. These are all formats currently in use in standard television, widescreen HDTV, commercial movie cinema, and 35mm film.

Panasonic FZ30 footage clip: mirror
Mac, framed in his rear view, rides to destination.

Switch between the 3 still formats and see how your composition changes. It's a mind-altering experience, because you now have a scene-capturing camera that acts as 4 different cameras at the switch of a preference or a dial. You'll see how composition really matters, depending on the format. If you don't adjust between format sizes, you will wind up wasting vital space (I'll try to remember writing about cropping in a later blog).

Lumix FZ30 Footage: pickup
A frame from the short, 7-second clip above.

By shooting footage, you may even be inspired to shooting some stills, switching your camera over to take some pictures, which happened to me, when we headed up to a farm that was purchased for the plant. I recorded him the first time we drove towards the farm, but wanted some still images, because the visual style I honed in on while shooting footage gave me some ideas to shoot the stills I needed.

Panasonic FZ30 footage clip: farm
Mac explains the proposed site, outside.

The majority of the footage was inside his truck, and Mac apologized for the bad weather, thinking it wouldn't make for a good camera day. But my opinion was that the situation presented itself well for a successful shoot, even though only a minute or so was spent physically on the property, outside his truck. After writing a caption for my Flickr page, I see now why the frame fits the subject.

Panasonic FZ30 footage clip: mirror
Frame still from footage while driving to the site...

Lumix FZ30 Still Photo: still-farm
...yields this portrait, which makes people look more.

The image captures a different-style portrait of Mac, a traveling man who was given the assignment to find a viable site for an ethanol plant. Photographing him outside made him look more like the owner of the place. Seeing this image and analyzing it, Mac is separated from the site by glass, sitting where he's best known to be: always on the go. As his task winds down, he plans to tow the portable trailer that he's lived in, back to Richmond.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Late Evening, so Just a Note

My day started at 11am in North Baltimore (covering "back-in angle parking"), and it's finally ended at 11:25pm here in Salisbury, after a detour up to Millington, MD (taking photos of a family whose son is fighting for the country in Iraq). So, the noodles are fried, and I'm packing it in for the evening. Make sure to have a small case stashed in the back of your car with a change of clothes and toiletries, just in case. I just learned that, myself, since these assignments were dropped on me this afternoon. Always keep yourself prepared for at least an extra day. Fortunately, the hotel has some bathroom items. My day starts early Wednesday by swinging down to Princess Anne to photograph a farmer.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Early Rise=No Photos; Lumix FZ30 Shoot: Murder Suspects

I plan on posting the media clips from today's assignment; the clips right now are stuck in another location, so I'm attempting a direct link, which is a popup script. We'll see if the links to the clips (below) work, meanwhile. If they do, just follow them from here.

Police release details of arrest
Kyneita talks about what happened

My first day (I had hoped) of starting at 7AM in order to begin shooting some footage for the paper's website! The task: Meet with Paul, who works for the state, who cruises through the DC metro area (Maryland side), helping starnded motorists and accident scenes. It was a reshoot of an assignment that had to be postponed from the original shoot intended for last Friday. Calling him on my cell as asked, the call went directly to his voice mail.

Red flag number one.

Perhaps he's in the middle of helping with an emergency scene, I thought. Oh well. I left a message as I started driving south on I-95 to meet him just inside the Capital Beltway at 8am. Traffic crawled by the MD-216 exit near Laurel, but I was happy enough, gloating about the latest win for the home team in NFL football, being doubly happy that the team near Washington had lost again (sorry, 'Skins fans). Reaching the destination with a few minutes to spare, Paul's orange roadside assistance van was nowhere to be found among the parked cars and vans at the Park & Ride. A call to his cell went directly to his voicemail again. Leaving a message, I waited, finally feeling a little impatient after 30 minutes had elapsed with no return call. Since the shoot was for a daily story, I waited some more, firing up my PowerBook to copy some images from a recent shoot onto the desktop.

Finally, I'd had enough. At 9am, I called the picture desk and Jeff said to pull the plug. On the way back to Baltimore, I made a detour to Clarksville to grab a quick photo of a high school athlete of the week, then rolled straight to city police headquarters for some kind of presser. The time wound up being pretty tight as I parked the buggy on the sidewalk across from HQ behind some TV trucks. It was Lumix Day, I figured. Any press conference would be ideal to try shooting some video for the web. Since the accessories - especially the 100GB recording drive -- hadn't come in, I figured I'd use just the FZ30 to capture stills and video during the announcement.

Baltimore Police announce the arrests of 2 children,
charged as adults
in the stabbing death of Nicole
"Nikki" Edmonds, 17.

Five minutes after arrival and the press conference began. The police made an announcement that two suspects - both children - were being detained, charged as adults for the murder of 17-year-old Nicole Edmonds, who had gotten stabbed to death after getting off at a light rail stop with her brother. The two were returning from Anne Arundel County, where they worked until midnight, and I understand that officials have accused at least 4 people of taking part in an ambush in order to take a cell phone. The FZ30 silently captured footage as they gave their accounts of how the boy and girl were found and arrested, and I switched over to the still mode to shoot some frames for print publication after feeling that enough footage had been recorded.

By 11:30am, a CD of the raw clips were taken to Steve, who started editing for a web post. Meanwhile Gus, who had been working on the story took me along as we tried to find the families of the ones accused of the crime. Striking out at our first location, we tried another 2 homes north of downtown. The door opened and then shut for several minutes as we waited outside as those within the home made up their minds. Eventually, we were allowed to come in.

The glum faces told the story as loved ones struggled to cope with the fresh news that someone they knew and loved had been named a murderer by the police. The family opened up slowly as we started to learn more as Kyneita began sharing more about her sister, 16-year-old Lataye.

The toughest part a journalist has is having to document the survivors dealing with the loss of an untimely death. But that's one of the aspects of being a journalist. And Kyneita refused to have her picture taken when I first asked.

Letting the interview continue, I listened to every word, because the job remains to exhaust every possibility to complete the story. Eventually, I asked again, expecting "no" for an answer. And that's when I had to tell her about what we had to go with if "no" was her final answer.

The only thing that anyone would know about her little sister is that Lataye was charged as an adult. The only thing people would see are images of a police mug shot. The only thing that people would hear would be what the police accused her of. Gus pulled out a photocopy of her mugshot, which was a hard dose of reality for them, as each family member wept when they saw an image of someone that they all loved, reduced to the label of an accused murderer.

Kyneita, 19, weighed her options and finally agreed to be photographed.

Kyneita, 19, pauses while talking about her younger
sister, Lataye, 16 following
Lataye's arrest, charged
in connection with Nikki's murder

Responsible journalism means trying to understand the whole story, and not just what any one party says. It was only a day since the boy and girl were charged, but some, like Lataye's family, wanted to let people know that it's not her nature to do the crime that she's been accused of. A big piece of the puzzle is missing, they said, saying that the adults said to have been part of the crime may very well be that big missing piece.

Taking her to a window near the kitchen, the FZ30 silently captured photos as Kyneita pondered about her little sister. Finally as we ended the interview outside, Kyneita shared some of her own thoughts in digital footage that she wanted to say to those who can't grasp why anyone had to be murdered at all.

Returning to the office, I burned another CD with the new footage to add to the short package and I edited the photos of Kyneita and the copies of her sister, who had posed while 12 years old, in images frozen in time as she had pictures taken of her in her cheerleading outfit, proud and outwardly happy and at peace for that moment in her life.
Lataye cheerleading at 12 years old.

As I was about to leave the office for the day, Chuck finally told me what had happened with Paul, the roadside assistance guy that never returned my calls. "It turns out that he was on vacation," Chuck said.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30

Adding this camera for review is a no-brainer; I have used it to capture VGA movie clips as "B roll" for my Panasonic HVX200. It makes a great addition to those who want to shoot both large-file stills and video. In addition to my own thoughts about the cameras mentioned here, added are links to other reliable reviews (and a couple accessories) that helped me choose the cameras that I have in my shooting arsenal.

Independent Camera Reviews:
Lumix DMC-FZ50
Lumix DMC-FZ30
Lumix DMC-FZ20
Nikon D2H
AG-HVX200 Note: I've found lots of techie HVX reviews, & hope to write one that's informative and not over- technical.

Feel free to check them out as well. Make an informed decision before you purchase!

The Good:
Easy menus
Quick format changes
Ability to shoot still images or video
Silent while shooting
Zooming during video
12x zoom range
Built-in flash and hot shoe
VGA (standard TV size) and QVGA video
People ignore you when you shoot
Manual override or point/shoot
1/2000th sec-60 second shutter range

The Bad:
Digital noise over 100 ISO
no external mic option
delay doubles when shooting over 1 second exposures
(a 1-minute exposure can take 2 minutes)
A thing called "chromatic aberration" or "color fringing."
Lack of widescreen video option (the newly-released FZ50 has this)

I've had the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 for about a year, now, and have had some grand successes. I had upgraded to the FZ30 after working with the Lumix FZ20, a smaller camera that survived with me through Hurricane Katrina. For its shortcomings, which included the lack of an exterior zoom lens, I was glad to have had it.

One of the biggest boons of this low-profile camera is its method of being largely-ignored by the subjects that are covered. How often have I been shooting (or recording video), and yet the subject rarely recognizes that I'm capturing images or movie clips. I have yet to figure whether the FZ30 can have a tally light turned on (the small red lamp that blinks or glows when recording film clips), but I'd rather have it that way. How often do I pick up a camera like the Panasonic AG-HVX200, and people recognize... or want to be recognized.

One of the great things is how this little big camera can be configured. Multiple preferences within the camera can be easily accessed, and it's user-friendly with no heavy depth of sub-menus, like the Nikon D2H or HVX200. A pro shooter can turn the camera into a manually-adjustable unit, or change to a variety of shooting styles like Aperture/Shutter priority and Program modes. The other thing that's sweet is how those who have the mindset, "don't think; just shoot" can turn the dial to an easier mode. The methods, which are combined by picking your preference in the settings inside the LCD viewfinder, can allow you to choose a host of options, including "Snow," "Food," and "Baby," which I haven't bothered. For some truly mixed light, like tungsten, fluorescent and daylight, the "Food" option has somehow delivered the best white balance than many of the other categories, so I have that one as an option.

I try to shoot as often as I can at ISO 80, but it can be really hard to keep this as an option, especially when many of my shoots are available light. If I'm forced to, I crank up the ISO and try to mildly tone down the extreme digital noise in Noise Ninja." I only use this camera in low-light situations when the job requires a quiet camera, since the D2H body screams for attention, every time the shutter fires. The FZ30 actually saved several photo shoots, like a live performance by the Annapolis Symphony. A reassurance to the director by firing the camera to demonstrate its silence when shooting allowed a rare chance to capture images during a performance, which was capable of being used as lead art in a newspaper front.

This truly sings when trying to capture an event or moment when not wanting to be noticed. As recently as 2 weeks ago, as two people argued during absentee voting, I banged off 50 images during a heated exchange. Try doing that with a large camera that makes the click-whirr sound, and one or both parties would have demanded that the photography stop.

And this chromatic aberration can make for an added amount of post-color-adjustments. There is some blue fringing with highlights, like a person wearing white, or a light point. The camera's images drift toward a blue base, and I've been known to desaturate the blues. I have also seen some red artifacts as well, and it can be a pain in the film canister to deal with this. If the FZ30 didn't have so much going for it, I'd divorce myself of it. But for everything it lacks - poor audio in noisy situations (what camcorder doesn't have that issue), I wouldn't like to leave this little bronco home. I keep it with or near me and take it on any out-of-town excursions. At any point, I can turn from tourist to multimedia shooter, able to cover virtually anything for news publication or web. The option of switching between QVGA and VGA video shooting is great for when you want to quickly web-post. QVGA (320x240 pixels) is half the size of VGA (the NTSC television standard, which is 640x480). So, get a few 1-GB or 2 gigabyte SD cards, and you're almost good-to-go. Purchase a few batteries (CGA-S006 and DMW-BMA7 work, and I've made several solid buys at Power101.com) and you can shoot until your cards fill up. But watch shooting in VGA. It can fill your 1GB card if you shoot it for 6 minutes straight. At the full 30 frames/second and audio, video always eats up card space. Many choose to shoot in half VGA, since a lot of people simply post to web, and that option offers around 12 minutes of continual video shooting.

You can turn the dial to "playback," which lets you edit your clips. You can delete one file, a host, or all of them at once. Scroll through images one-by-one, or look at them by thumbnails. This is why I call it a bronco; it's small but packs a wallop of a kick in features, way too many to add here. One added thing I got for the FZ30 is the Raynox HD-6600PRO-55mm wide angle adapter. You can purchase a ton of lenses for the FZ30 at Raynox. The 6600 I have doesn't provide "zoom-through," so you can only zoom about 3X before the image starts losing clarity. Other lenses allow full zoom-through. Again, make sure about what you want. And with any lens add-on, you can also add on a loss of clarity, but I enjoy the ultra-wide 23mm equivalent that the adapter provides.

If you've read THIS FAR, you're either having a boring day, or you've actually gotten something from my thoughts.

Adding some images of what the FZ30 has provided (these thumbs are clickable to see the larger size:

ISO 80, with wide angle adapter. Notice top left corner blur.

ISO 80, with Raynox wide angle adapter.

ISO 80, no lens adapter.

Long Range Binoculars
ISO 80, no adapter.

Keeping Watch
ISO 80, no adapter.

ISO 80, shot through a plane window

And if this works, I'll add some square thumbs that you can check out.

Dual-Cloud-Deck Franklin Rooms Growing Licchen Winchester Rooms Natural Gas Leak Telephoto.jpg DMC-FZ30-portrait Palm Leaf Massanutten Camelhumps Welcome Sign Natural Smile Lagoon