Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A third brood of my house martins

Well yesterday after returning from a day at work and wondering what to do, I thought it is about time to unpack the new camera and have a play. I can't believe I've had this camera since last Thursday and it was still in the box until last night. I'm slacking. Actually just haven't really had the time to sit and play with the functions.

I used to be a big SLR fan before digital came along, then the prices rose and as compacts became more and more sophisticated I switched to those, not least because a lot of the time I'm out and about, so a small compact which does the job, while also slipping into a pocket is the boy for me. Film is still superior though in my book, just expensive to process now.

I used to have a wonderful Canon G9, well actually I still have it. But after nearly 7,500 images over 18 months the sensors began to fail, and finally turned over and shuffled off this mortal coil about 6 months ago. In this throw away society, repairs were more costly than buying a new camera. But I was in a quandary what to buy. A replacement, the G11 was an option but I had niggles after the G9 failed. So since the G9 failed I've been using my BlackBerry (actually not bad) and my ancient Canon Powershot A35 which I actually like but it's not ideal for macro.

Research led me to the Panasonic TZ range with Leica lens's, and after much faffing about - a good deal on a now superseded but brand new TZ7 made my mind up. Hasn't quite got the functions of the G9, however it does have one advantage - a x 12 optical zoom. The G9 could go to x24 as a digital zoom but actually over x8 it was hopeless, with only the in-built image stabilising saving the day.

So last night I unpacked the camera and went outside to photograph the house martins.

I moved into this house in December and a house martin nest was in the eves, boding well for the summer. Well the summer came and the martins returned, festooning my windowsills with, shall I call it the aftermath of feeding. I loved lying in bed hearing the little martinettes squawking and squabbling just outside, however the mound of aftermath grew. A few weeks ago after the second brood had fledged I cleaned the windowsill, only to discover immediately that 'it' was beginning to accumulate again. I give up. But excitingly this is now the third brood of my house martins.

But back to the photography. After taking the first photograph above, I wondered what the zoom was like just standing there and hand held. These shots were taken at exactly the same spot as the one above, just zooming in.

This one above is at x 6

This one above is at x 12

I have to say considering this wasn't the best light possible and I'm new to the camera's sensors, this hand held x12 shot of the nest is pretty good. I like my camera already......!

But then thought I wonder how fast the shutter speed is. Can I photograph the martins going into and out of the nest. The G9 had a super fast shutter speed allowing shots like this to be made quite easily. This Panasonic has just a fractionally slower shutter speed. So after half an hour and the light starting to fade, the image above of the parent arriving at the nest and the one below (that white tail bottom of frame) of it leaving aren't the best I took, but were the best of the bunch.

More practice needed - of course it could be operator error!

About an hour later a stunning sunset began over Bristol Channel and beyond to Wales (I'm only 10 miles away as the crow flies) and using the special 'sunset' function I have to say I'm impressed with the end result as it maintained the colours well.

So far so good then. I'm off to Dartmoor tomorrow for work, so will have an opportunity to try out the macro function on some wasps. If any images make the grade, I'll post them on the blog.


  1. the tz's are meant to be good. nice pocket sized package

  2. How wonderful to have nesting house martins. I love the sunset photo and looking forward to seeing more pictures.

  3. Hi Pete, so far i'm pleased with it. the macro is a bit more cumbersome than the G9 with less depth of field but time and practice will win the day.

    Hi Robin, the house is just 15 years old but has house sparrows, bats and starlings in the roof space - I love it. Thought the starlings and sparrows sound more like clog dancers in the morning as they shuffle about.

  4. What a wonderful nest they've built. I think it's just super that you have all of these creatures in the roof space.