The superzoom cameras like the Panasonic DMC-FZ18 don't get no respect. They're overshadowed by the big fancy DSLRs. And while the bigger, fancier cameras have lots of features, the little guys like the DMC-FZ18 have a few tricks up their sleeves.
One feature of the big cameras is that the zoom lenses have a manual ring that lets you frame the picture a lot faster than the motorized zooms on the smaller camera. In addition, the larger bodies of the fancy DSLR fairly bristle with an impressive array of controls.
But step back for a minute and look at the control placement on the FZ18. The control for the zoom is a lever on a ring that surrounds the shutter release. The other controls are clustered on the right side of the camera, some on the back of the camera, and some on the top. Besides the usual four-way switch, there's an innovative little joystick that you can press to bring up a shortcut menu of the most important settings.
What this means is the DMC-FZ18 can, with a little bit of practice, be operated with just one hand.
So what? Well there are lots of situations where this ability can come in very handy. Say that you're shooting indoors. You can hold the camera with your right hand and an external slave flash in your left hand, positioned well away from the camera to yield more interesting lighting. Or your left hand might be holding a toy in the air while shooting a portrait of a child.
Or you might use your left hand to grab onto some support while standing in one of the towers at Notre Dame in Paris, or at the top of the basilica at St. Peter's in Rome, or perhaps up on one of the towers at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. (I have done all of these and can vouch for the vertigo factor.)
Or there's a beautiful sunset behind your house that you want to photograph, but you also want to toast the sunset with a nice glass of triple-brewed Belgian beer. No problem. In fact, it was to this end that yours truly, in an effort to test out this theory, was willing to try this experiment. No sacrifice too great to advance the world of photographic knowledge.
The pictures on this page were all taken during the same sunset, zooming in and out, fiddling with the exposure, and even shooting a few panoramas.
And the beer was great.
And here's today's new word:
Thumb-o-gram (alternate: Thumbogram) A communication sent using only your thumbs.
Note: Thumb-o-grams can contain photos, but they must be thumbnails.