BUDAPEST OR BUST

 

Boarding a plane to an unbeknown country makes your mind wonder about all the photographic opportunities yougoing to encounter. The beautiful architecture, the mouthwatering food, the characteristic locals; the possibilities are endless. Going to Budapest for the first time with my photography hat on, without a real understanding of the city, was an interesting experience and makes you develop your own style and discover what your eye is attracted to. Travel photographer is probably on everyonetop five dream jobs list, and it felt like I was in a dream strolling around in the forty degree heat waiting for that perfect capture.

With twenty other snappers on tour, we were guided round the cobbled streets in awe for the launch of Panasonicnew range of cameras. As the pioneers of the Compact System Camera with the launch of the Micro Four Thirds G1 back in 2008, earlier this year Panasonic made the brave statement of predicting that by 2015 CSC sales will globally overtake that of DSLRs. When announcing the release of the proposed gamechanger, the Lumix G5, Sebastian Drawert, Product Marketing Manager for Lumix, backed up this claim by saying: "The G5 has arrived to replace DSLRs." With a spec of 16MP, ISO 160-12,800 and sporting a 12-35mm zoom lens itcertainly a contender, but can it produce the goods to DSLR standards?

Hovering in Panasonicdemonstration area outside the conference hall I couldnwait to get my hands on the new bit of kit, searching for anything remotely interesting in a building built for business. Coffee cup, the eureka moment struck with a chance to test out the G5macro capabilities and sadly I was left a little parched. Slow to focus, slow to process, but it did eventually produce an image to my abstract preferences producing a nice shallow depth-of-field focusing on the coffee-stained cup.

Venturing outdoors to a cityworth of opportunities, Panasonic had organised a packed schedule of locations and hot spots to test out the cameras functionalities. First up was a street tour passing landmarks such as St StephenChurch where I made a friend in the form of Mr Metal Man. In bright conditions like this —compared to the grey skies of England —you have to remember to adjust your exposure accordingly to the brightness, and this can be changed via the wheel dial on top of the G5, which was a handy way to navigate. There was no need to fiddle heavily with the white balance as it adjusted to your shooting conditions at a click of a button.

In a very touristy fashion, with cameras hanging proudly from our necks, we were led to a group of graffiti artists, perfect for experimenting with filters to enhance the vibrant colours. Like a child in Toys ’Us, I scampered through the options and soon became fond of ’, ’and funnily enough the ’filter that produced pin-sharp images and gave a punch to a Smarties tube worth of colours.

The next task was low light, shooting in an eerie underground restaurant lit only by candles. Panasonic claims that with its newly designed 16MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Sensor, images will be cleaner and freer of noise than before, particularly with its ISO up to 12,800. Its impressive range of preprogrammed settings from silky skin to appetising food, freeze animal motion and monochrome, made the challenge of low light relatively easy. Selecting the warm, glowing nightscape option for this scene captured candle-lit details with ease. Grain was minimal, mainly thanks to resting the camera on a solid platform, but certainly confirmed their claims of coping in dark conditions.

At the launch, Getty sports photographer Dean Moutharopoulos praised the G5 for its "high image quality that any professional photographer will appreciate," adding: "the silent electronic shutter is great for wildlife photographers and for sport photographers like myself who can get the shot that others canwhen shooting golf or snooker." This was definitely one neat attraction to the camera when stalking a bird, getting closer and closer until he realised my intentions, and would be an advantage to many photographers from wildlife to sport.

A surprise detour came in the form of a courtyard fashion show where it was time to test the video. In Full HD videos were a pleasure to film with the easily selectable function and record buttons, and you can take advantage of the filters to get even more creative with your footage. The G5tilting LCD touchscreen monitor made shooting down low a breeze, making it even more comfortable to shoot videos. Having the ability to move the screen in many directions is a great feature for keen videographers who like to create self documentaries, or are just a little bit vain. Despite this, it drained the battery like water during drought season when left constantly on Live View, leaving me disappointed when having to refuel after the three hour shooting tour. But a plus when shooting stills was the cameraquick response to capture the strutting models at 6fps with its Speed AF’—this can be adjusted to 20fps in reduced resolution.

On tour with the G5 shooting in a foreign city such as Budapest you donwant your pictures to scream TOURIST, so imagination is key. Ita great camera for street photography with its quick-fire shooting that handled the bright afternoon sun well, and the camera is perfect for capturing candid shots of the locals. Opportunities were plentiful when getting creative with filters and taking advantage of rule 101 of photography; composition. To avoid that postcard picture snap think outside the box, and instead of facing the must-have landmark shot ready to press the shutter, turn around and see whatbehind you.

I discovered this as an interesting way to unleash my frustrated creativity when shooting a reflection of the Matthias Church in a mirrored building, amongst many other handy tips to follow.

Priding itself on picture and video quality in low light, the G5 certainly lives up to its mirrorless capabilities with little noise. But referring back to Panasonicclaim of their market domination with CSCs in three years time, while ittrue that it is more portable and affordable than the big guns —and is a great step-up camera for amateurs who want to get serious about photography —certainly at this moment in time pro DSLRs are fine... entry-level models, less so!

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