The results of the test shots at the Greencastle Music Fest in Greencastle, IN yesterday with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 camera turned out sharp, other than some user error/learning curve with some focusing issues.
The Lumix DMC-FZ300 turned out to be exactly what I needed for this situation - candids of the crowd during the daylight hours. The promoter wanted photos of kids playing in the children's area, adults playing corn hole (we do that a lot in Indiana), and folks just sitting around in their lawn chairs watching the festivities and waiting on the bands to play.
The Lumix DMC-FZ300 turned out to be great for this purpose. I experimented with a few of the settings, including Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and ended up mainly back to Manual. But the issues I was having related to the focusing, something I take for granted with my T3i.
The problem is the Lumix DMC-FZ300 offers several different focusing options, including Face Recognition, 49-Pt Focus, etc. Having only one day to get familiar with the camera, while in the heat of the battle i forgot some of the details I needed to know. I tried using Face Recognition at first because I wanted it to detect people's faces and focus on them, but I now think that means you can customize to recognize particular people that you 'store' in the memory. It's the morning after, so I'm still not sure, but believe that to be true.
Eventually I switched and stuck with the 49-point focus, and I think it worked much better. I need to dig into some YouTube videos and solve the focus setting issue. I need to be able to capture quick focus shots on the streets for my urban candid photos, so I'm looking for the feature that allows the camera to find ANY face and immediately focus on it. I think this camera can do it, and I will update here when I get the answer.
Once I figured out my settings with high shutter speed to freeze action as much as possible (corn hole throwers can be quick!), yet try to get more than the 2.8 aperture to get some depth of field, and staying below 400 ISO to keep noise at a minimum given the smaller sensor, and using the 49-point focusing setting (still not sure that was the best), but I was then getting pretty sharp images. Definitely sharp enough to meet the standards of the event promoter.
They definitely were not as tack sharp as the photos coming from my T3i, but I'm not shooting for large wall mount prints, I'm shooting for internet or publication. The end results means there is honestly a much broader range of quality that is acceptable. And the images produced by the Lumix DMC-FZ300, while maybe a little less in actual data quality, are also possibly a little better in content, which is what the person paying me is most interested in. That comes from the ease of use of the Lumix DMC-FZ300 Again, I'm not talking about the technical aspects, I'm talking about the ability to literally just point and shoot and get a crisp image. The 25-600mm zoom lens (actually a 4.5-100, but the crop factor of the 1 2.3 sensor means it's the equivilent of a 25-600 on a full-frame camera, or about 18-400 on a crop sensor like my Canon T3i) is as good as advertised, and gave me good quality from the 25 all the way to 600, which I did use in a couple situations.
It made it easy to rattle off over 700 images within 90 minutes at all different focal lengths. It was like shooting fish in a barrel with the enclosed crowd, so framing is sometimes even more difficult, which is where the zoom came in handy so I didn't have to constantly be changing position to get a closer or further away shot.
While my T3i has zoom lenses as well, in order to get a 2.8 aperture it's going to be expensive. My 10-18 and 18-250 both start at 3.5, so again, going from sunny to shaded spots within a few steps, and having a very light zoom lens, the ease of use of the Lumix DMC-FZ300 is aided by the light weight of the camera, allowing easy one-hand use, and it doesn't kill your arm holding it up for hours at a time as you may have to while shooting an event, wedding reception, etc where candid shots are the purpose of the shoot.
I still haven't edited all the images, I will update when complete and give my final technical view of the final quality.