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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    3

    Dealing with wide-angle lens in new camera

    Hi all - I'm hoping someone can help me with my issue:

    I recently purchased a Panasonic (Lumix) DMC-SZ6 (compact megazoom) to replace my dead Canon S2 IS. The new camera lens is wide angle (25-300 mm equivalent), while the Canon was not (36-432 mm equivalent).

    The problem is that when shooting tall buildings and towers on our vacation, there is almost always distortion on the sides of the pictures when the building is not smack in the center of the frame - towers and walls which should have been straight instead lean toward the center of the photo. This is very annoying, as having the object in the center of the photo makes for boring composition. I never had this problem with the Canon or my previous film camera with a 35-300 mm. lens.

    Are there some settings I can adjust to mitigate the distortion? (I know I can process it out later, but I'd rather not have to.) I called Costco, where I bought the camera, and they put me through to a Panasonic rep, who suggested I use a smaller aperture and higher shutter speed. This sounds a bit spurious to me, but I can't find anything on-line to confirm or refute these instructions (and haven't been around a tall building this week to try it out myself.)

    I like just about everything about the camera but this, so I'd like to figure out if it's me or the camera before returning it. Also, my research seems to show that all of the newer non-SLR cameras are wide-angle. If there's no hope for the camera, but someone has a recommendation for another model without a wide angle lens, I'd appreciate it. (I'd get a used S2 or S3, but I want to get away from those nasty AA batteries, which die way too soon.)

    Thanks for any info/advice you can offer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    So Calif
    Posts
    3,226
    Because the top of buildings are proportionally smaller due to the fact they are further away than the base when looking up at them, they have no choice but to lean. If you use software to unnaturally make the sides of the building parallel, it will fool the eye and appear to be wider at the top.

    On the other hand, if you used a telephoto and shot from a far distance, the top and bottom of the buildings would be relatively the same distance from the camera, and they would not lean in. The telephoto tends to stack subjects on the same plane and make them look the same size.


    So, in a nutshell...it's is the reality of the angle of view, not the camera. If it bothers you, simply don't use it at the widest setting. There is no alternative.
    Last edited by SpecialK; 07-25-2010 at 09:49 PM.
    Pentax K20D/K5/15/21/40/70/10-17/12-24, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5/150-500, Tamron 90 Macro/70-200 2.8, Canon SX20 IS/Elph 500HS
    (formerly Pentax 50 1.4/50-200/55-300/K100D, Sigma 18-50 2.8/70-300 APO, Tamron 28-75, Viv 800, Tele-Tokina 800, Canon S3 IS, Samsung L210)
    http://s133.photobucket.com/albums/q78/KylePix/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Exeter, UK
    Posts
    883
    Stand back and zoom in a bit?

    Just because the lens goes out to 25mm equivalent you don't have to shoot at that focal length.

    Or point the camera exactly horizontal, and crop any boring blank expanse of foreground later. If you're lucky, you might find a composition with an interesting foreground.

    As SpecialK said, the converging verticals are a fundamental geometric property of the image, dependant on the relative position of the camera and the subject.

    As you suspected, the Panasonic rep's suggestions of smaller aperture and higher shutter speed were b*llsh1t, or else he didn't understand your question - there may be some barrel distortion in the lens at wide angle which might reduce slightly on stopping down. The higher shutter speed is irrelevent, and would just force a higher ISO, giving a noisier picture.

    You might find this article helpful:

    http://www.photographyblog.com/artic...ing_verticals/

    BTW, what have you got against AA batteries? They give great flexibility, including lithium disposable, NiMH (high capacity or low self discharge), and sometimes lithium-ion rechargeable (CRV-3), and are far more cost effective than most manufacturer's proprietary li-ion. Make sure you're using the right type for what you want to do (which is hardly ever alkaline disposable).
    Last edited by AlexMonro; 07-26-2010 at 07:12 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    3

    Thanks.

    Thanks, guys. I had a feeling that was what I was going to hear, which is fine. Regarding the batteries, I purchased rechargeable NiMh batteries (specifically the high capacity ones meant for electronics/cameras), and they had terrible life span (so much so, that I resorted to cheap disposables, which lasted much longer than the NiMh's did).

    Thanks for the link as well - I'll have to read it in more depth, but it seems like it has exactly the type of tips I'm looking for.

    So, the camera stays, and I learn more about the optics to compensate.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    So Calif
    Posts
    3,226
    Quote Originally Posted by SPi View Post
    Thanks, guys. I had a feeling that was what I was going to hear, which is fine. Regarding the batteries, I purchased rechargeable NiMh batteries (specifically the high capacity ones meant for electronics/cameras), and they had terrible life span (so much so, that I resorted to cheap disposables, which lasted much longer than the NiMh's did).

    Thanks for the link as well - I'll have to read it in more depth, but it seems like it has exactly the type of tips I'm looking for.

    So, the camera stays, and I learn more about the optics to compensate.

    Eneloops are highly recommended AA batteries. And a peak charger.
    Pentax K20D/K5/15/21/40/70/10-17/12-24, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5/150-500, Tamron 90 Macro/70-200 2.8, Canon SX20 IS/Elph 500HS
    (formerly Pentax 50 1.4/50-200/55-300/K100D, Sigma 18-50 2.8/70-300 APO, Tamron 28-75, Viv 800, Tele-Tokina 800, Canon S3 IS, Samsung L210)
    http://s133.photobucket.com/albums/q78/KylePix/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,173
    If they weren't lasting as long as alkaline batteries then there was something wrong with the batteries or the charger. But getting Low Discharge NiMH batteries (like Enloops) is definitely the way to go. Mine last 500 shots easily in my S3 if I'm not using the LCD.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    3

    Battery suggestion

    Thanks for the battery recommendation. I'll keep that in mind for future devices.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    6,931
    Another vote for Eneloops, the best AA rechargeables I have come across. make sure that you buy a real charger though not some $10 piece of rubbish.
    I recommend a Powerex MH-C9000 they are an ideal companion for the Eneloops.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Exeter, UK
    Posts
    883
    A possible area of confusion is that there are at least 3 different things we can mean by "battery life".

    The first is how many pictures can we take straight off one after another, and is mainly down to the charge capacity. Here lithium disposable (Energiser Ultimate Lithium etc.) or high capacity NIMH are the winners, and are best choice if you're doing major shoots taking hundreds of shots a day. The downside of high capacity NiMH (which sounds like the problem that you had, SPi) is they suffer from self discharge, so if you charge them up, then only take a few shots over a month or two, they'll be flat when you next want to use them. The lithium disposable might be a better choice if you're only doing mega shoots occasionally, say every few months, and they will hold their charge for ten years or more (as long as the camera doesn't have a standby drain, or you remove them), but they're not rechargeable. Alkaline disposable types (e.g. Duracell) also hold their charge for a few years, but don't have nearly as great a capacity as lithiums, particularly with high current peak devices like cameras, and may only last a few dozen shots. Note that most rechargeable batteries need to be put through a few charge / dischage cycles from new to reach their full capacity.

    "Battery life" can also mean how long the batteries hold their charge - i.e. if we charge them up, or buy new batteries, can we have them sitting around for months before we want to use the camera? Low self discharge NiMH, such as the Eneloops reccomended by others, are a considerable improvement here, typically hanging on to their charge for a year or more. The don't have quite such high capacity, so you won't get quite as many shots from them if you do a mega shoot a day or so after charging (maybe 2/3 - 3/4 as many pictures as you could with high capacity NiMH), but they will give you a fe hundred shots several months down the line. As mentioned above, disposable batteries (lithium or alkaline) are also good on this criterion.

    Finally, when applied to rechargeable batteries, "battery life" can also mean how many times can we recharge them? Or how many years before we need to buy a new set? Here, the different types of rechargeables are fairly similar - most NiMH (both high capacity and low self discharge) quote around 500 - 1000 charge cycles. However, this does depend very much on how you use them. If you use a fast 15-minute charger all the time, in hot conditions, you may find that you get a lot less out of them after only a few dozen charges. Using a slow 8 hour charger that controls the charge on each cell individually is likely to get you a lot closer to the rated lifetime.

    Lithium ion batteries work a bit differently - they start decaying as soon as they're made, and will start showing significant reduction in capacity after 2 or 3 years from manufacture. They have built in charging control circuits, so it's a lot harder to damage them by overcharging (though it can be done!)

    For most people, who want to keep their camera ready for instant use, but might only take a few dozen shots one day, then leave it a week or two, low self discharge type NiMH (Eneloop, Hybrio etc.) are probably the best bet. Carry a spare set in the camera bag (in one of those handy battery cases so they don't short out on metalic objects), and swap them out when the camera show low battery warning. Recharge the flat set on a slow overnight charger when needed.

    If you do mega shoots regularly, say every week or two, then the high capacity NiMH might be better. Get a set or two, and always charge them the night before the shoot. You might want to carry a set of disposable lithiums as an emergency reserve.

    If you only shoot mega shoots once or twice a year, then just using lithium disposables might make sense, but always make sure you have a reserve fresh set on hand.

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