Sheffield wasn’t the end of our travels. Next day, Saturday, we were up bright and early again, this time to travel to Havant, to visit relatives. We spent the day there, returning in time for supper.
Sunday was finally a day of rest after we had breakfasted at Pane Vino and then dragged the trolley round to Sainsbury’s for the weekly shopping. We came home in the rain and decided to take it easy for the rest of the day.
By bedtime, I was able to announce that I was starting a cold. Tigger had also had one and had in fact taken a day off work with it. I had seemed to escape it but now it has caught up with me. I just hope we don’t ping-pong it back and forth between us.
I was supposed to be going out today. A friend and I had arranged to go to the London Camera Exchange together, for reasons I will explain later. First, my friend became ill and then I caught this cold. I could have gone on my own, I suppose, but I really don’t feel like it. In any case, it will be nicer to go together another time.
The reason why I was going to the camera shop is that I am already thinking of replacing the camera I bought fairly recently, the Panasonic CGA-S007E DMC-TZ5. It is a very good camera and for doing what it was designed to do, it could hardly be bettered. The problem is that it is not suitable for the sort of photography that I do.
In the first place, it has no viewfinder, just a preview screen. I had always used the viewfinder with my old camera but thought I could manage without, like everyone else using pocket cameras. That was a mistake. In the first place, I find it quite awkward holding the camera away from me to use it. There is a risk of camera shake or not holding it level. Worse still, it is sometimes difficult or impossible to see anything in the preview screen. This happens in very bright conditions or at night, for example.
The camera has a very good range of sensitivity and I can almost always get a picture even in low light but then I cannot see the scene in the preview screen!
The worst problem is the automatic focus. This seems to be somewhat capricious. I compared notes with another user who had the same experience. As long as you are photographing scenery or people, it’s fine. If you try anything a little more adventurous, the poor thing gets confused and produces a blurred image. Three examples will help to illustrate the problem.
Inside a high station building, I tried to photograph a bird perched mid-distance on a sign board. The station roof is pin sharp but the bird, who is the subjet, is out of focus. The camera could not be convinced to focus on the smaller object.
In the aquarium in Plymouth, I tried in vain to photograph the fish and other beautiful creatures. I failed consistently because the camera kept focusing on the glass! Tigger, with her cheaper camera, has some good shots.
When we were at the London Wetland centre, I tried again and again to photograph a caterpillar but the camera focused on everything in the field of view except the caterpillar. In a similar incident, Tigger held out a leaf with a lady bird on it. In the resulting photo, the leaf occupies most of the frame but it is out of focus. The grassy ground, visible in only two corners of the image, is pin sharp!
What is needed is an option to switch to manual focus but this camera does not have this facility. I doubt whether manual focus would be practicable with a preview screen, anyway.
The ideal solution would be an SLR but such a camera is likely to be beyond my means. That’s without considering the camera’s size: I like to have a small camera that I can carry everywhere with me and whip out at a second’s notice. I don’t know whether there is a camera that meets my rather contradictory demands.
I could just struggle on with my present camera but I think that would simply lead to increasing frustration. Perhaps the good folk at the LCE can suggest a model that would suit me.