Panasonic Lumix TZ3 Format Memory Card

How do you format a memory card that's inside a Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3 (review here). Panasonic made this feature annoyingly hidden on this camera, and if you were going through the settings trying to find it, you would be forgiven for thinking that there was no way to format a memory card in the TZ3. But there is. And once you know how to do it, you'll never forget how to do it. So here it is explained below.

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Turn the dial at the top of the camera to playback mode (the one with the little "play" symbol icon). Press the Menu / Set button in the middle of the directional pad and scroll through the settings until you get to Format. It's the last option out of the "Play" settings. Select Format and press the right button on the directional pad. The camera will ask if you want to format the card - all data will be lost etc. Press Yes. And that's it, all data has been wiped. Until the next time amigo. -Still Paused
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Blue Forms Graffiti

Small little blue one word Graffiti piece. Forms. I've photographed a few "forms" artworks over the last year. Some of them are worded / spelt differently, such as Phorms. Same with Pase. I've posted a few of them around the Internet on some of my social media accounts. I don't publish much Graffiti stuff here. In fact, I post almost none of it here, just the odd piece.

forms-blue-graffiti-UK

Might start putting more Graffiti on this blog. But it depends on what else I feel like posting here. Usually its more camera related technical / guide / review type posts. Anyway, this picture was taken last year. Location: UK. Camera: A little Samsung WB500 - more info here.
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Jase Chrome Dub Style Art

Classic style Chrome Dub throw. Jase. Taken on the same day I took the "Tesk" chrome throw. Impulse shot. Same camera (Samsung WB500). Location: Bromford, Birmingham. Near the canal and train tracks.

Jase-Chrome-Dub-Style-Artwork-letters

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Low 3D Blue Chopped Graffiti

Chopped style Graffiti, taken last year some time. I guess you could call it a blue dub lol. It either says Jase or Pase. Problem is, I think there are two different people who go by these tag names, so I don't know which one to credit the piece to. Location: Birmingham UK. Camera: Samsung WB500.

Low-3D-Blue-Chopped-Graffiti

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Blurred Image In EVF View Finder Fix

If you've just bought a digital camera that has an electronic view finder (EVF), and you have looked through the electronic view finder and discovered that the screen is all blurred and out of focus, there is an easy fix. For someone new to cameras, they may think that what they have bought is faulty. However, most of the time this is not the case. This "problem" is usually down to the Diopter being in need of adjustment.

Some symptoms of this are: The EVF screen is blurry but the actual produced images, if shooting using auto focus, are still pretty sharp. But they won't be perfect if you are using the EVF when taking pictures because you are working with an out-of-focus inner screen. Even worse, taking pictures using manual focus will be a disaster, all of them will be out of focus.

What and where is the Diopter


The Diopter is a little dial / wheel type scroller that sits to the side of the electronic view finder. It controls the sharpness and focus of what you see when looking through the view finder. The size and location can differ slightly between camera makes and models. See the picture below for the location.

Diopter-Camera-Location-EVF
This is the Diopter location on a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ50 Bridge Camera

How to adjust the Diopter to sharpness


Turn the camera on and put it on auto focus. Point the camera at a subject with a lot of detail, preferably in the day time outdoors. To confirm that the auto focus is locked and loaded on the subject half press the shutter to make sure. 

Move the Diopter wheel up and down while looking through the view finder and adjust as necessary until you hit the sharpest, most in-detail EVF screen image that's right for you. And that's it, nothing else is needed. Just leave the dial alone and in place once you have found the sweet spot.

All people have different levels of vision. Many wear glasses. So, if you borrow your camera to someone else, be sure to check the Diopter on return. Even if the person doesn't know the purpose of the Diopter, they may have moved it on accident.
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Tesk Chrome Dub Graffiti

Here's a quick graffiti throw that I photographed last year some time. "Tesk". Done in chrome / silver and black (Chrome Dub) and has some cracking going through the letters if you look at the image enlarged. Nice Dub. Location: UK. Camera: Samsung WB500 Point and shoot.

Tesk-Chrome-Dub-Graffiti-England

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Lumix FZ50 Bridge Camera @ 413mm Zoom

Here is a quick sample photo of the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ50 zoomed in on a pair of CCTV cameras @ 413mm. That's close to the full zoom length this camera is capable of achieving. The maximum optical zoom is 420mm (range is 35mm equivalent - 420mm).

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Almost full zoom (413mm)

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Here it is at 74mm zoom. Yes, the rainbow is real.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3 Digital Camera

If you've been doing some research on the 7.2 megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3, I'm sure you have already come across many reviews from some of the big camera websites that list the good points and bad points about this camera. Most reviewers rate it highly, with the only real let down being the lack of manual control over things like shutter speed and aperture.

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But don't let this put you off. Most people who are looking to buy a simple, now older model point and shoot camera like the TZ3 just want something that takes good pictures and is not too complicated to use. That's what you get with the TZ3. Individuals who fall into this category will not miss, or even notice the lack of manual controls. And to be honest, this camera more than makes up for it. This isn't a review. I say this because I prefer to write about anything I choose to mention about the camera rather than have to point out every single detail and function.

Straight shooting: All images in this post, other than the picture of the camera itself (still taken by me), have been taken by me with the Lumix TZ3 and have not been edited in any way other than made smaller.

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All images / content Copyright © Still Paused

Build quality is excellent, and the weight of the camera, while a bit heavy by today's standards, gives it that extra quality feel when in the hand. The 28mm wide angle Leica lens, with its 10x optical zoom works really well. Viewing screen is big at 3 inches for such a compact camera. Overall Images are sharp and have fairly good depth.

Dedicated Macro mode is quite capable, and can, on occasion, score an impressive image capture. Mega O.I.S (Image Stabilization) is close to fool proof on the TZ3. Even someone with no experience of using a digital camera can definitely manage to capture a good picture with no blur after a few attempts.

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Sports mode on a hazy sunny day

Colours can sometimes seem a bit washed out in "Normal" mode, but there are different image settings, such as Vivid, Cool and Warm that can help add a bit more life to an image if the first shot(s) looks a bit dull on the viewing screen. On top of that there is also 20 scene settings that cater for many shooting subjects and situations. Sport, High-sensitivity (ISO  3200), Night Scenery, Soft Skin, Sunset, Portrait and Party to name a few.

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The flash is strange on the TZ3. I find it to be superb. It's dull, but more often than not, when combined with the Exposure compensation settings, seems to be able to produce just the right amount of light to produce a really nice image. It can be tweaked quite easily to find those sweet spots. Some cameras can struggle in this area. Speaking of cameras, check out these two balloon heads below.

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CCTV is in operation: Ever get the feeling you're being watched..

A quick example: I was trying to photograph something the other day in a darkly lit room and instinctively reached for my excellent Canon EOS 700D DSLR. Almost every shot I had taken, no matter what settings I tried, was over exposed and looked terrible. So I tried with the TZ3, and within a few attempts I had captured images that I was pleased with.

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This is not definitive proof that the TZ3 has a better flash than anything else, as it matters on so many variables, such as subject / conditions / angles / light sources / room sizes / flash strength etc. But it just shows that the TZ3 can still be better in some circumstances (with less messing around with settings) than other cameras can be which are much more advanced.

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Battery life is very good. Mine is still on its original battery, and it still lasts a long time. Even when flashing red like its about to die it can still soldier on and keep taking pictures for quite some time before finally giving up and automatically retracting the lens before going to sleep.

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 Macro mode: For a brief moment we were friends, watching the world go by.

Video recording is the one area that is the biggest let down for me. Yes, it can record video footage, and yes, it's not that bad in terms of quality (highest quality is 30fps VGA + size 848 x 480). However, the zoom does not work in movie mode. I talked about this in a review I wrote not long ago about one of the TZ3's older brothers, the TZ1.

I was basically pointing out that it was a disappointment that the older TZ1 can zoom in movie mode but the newer TZ3 can't. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe the DMC-TZ2 can't zoom when filming video footage either.

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Warm mode: Check out this strange image. If you follow the "trail" (they're thin clouds), It looks like a fireball flying across the sky. But really its the sun behind the clouds in a chemtrail filled landscape.

I never even knew there was a DMC-TZ2 until a few days ago. They kept that model quiet. Other than a few potentially major differences, like less mega pixels, smaller LCD with less pixels, and a slightly smaller CCD sensor, the DMC-TZ2 and TZ3 are very similar in appearance and features.

Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3 Pro's and Cons



Pros

  • Good image quality
  • Great image stabilization
  • Decent zoom smoothness
  • Well Built
  • Nice Flash
  • Easy to use
  • Long battery life
  • Good selection of scene settings

Cons

  • Lacks manual shutter speed and aperture control
  • Can't zoom in movie mode
  • Not the best in low light


Also worth noting: User can't view taken images for longer than a few seconds when in normal dial modes. The user has to be in "playback" mode on the dial to be able to view taken images for longer than a few seconds. (same with many Panasonic cameras).

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Sun slithers through a pylon in a moody sky

While its not perfect, the TZ3 has a lot going for it. I have quite a few cameras in my collection, some of which would definitely be considered as much better than the TZ3, but funnily enough, I do still find myself using the TZ3 much more often than I would have expected. That says it all really. Even in 2019 / 2020, it's still an excellent little camera for quick and simple shooting.

Troubleshooting


I can honestly say that I haven't had any problems with my TZ3. But I have read about a considerable amount of issues arising with this model. Some of the more serious being the screen turning either black or purple (showing no image), or the screen (view finder) showing a purple distorted image. The fix for these is most probably either a new LCD display or a replacement CCD sensor. Problem is, it may end up being too expensive to fix, and you would be better off just buying another TZ3 used online from eBay. They are very cheap to buy these days.

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More warm mode: The peeping sun 

However, if you have a TZ3 that has suddenly died and won't respond at all (Won't turn on), it may be the internal battery that might need replacing. If this is the case, you could be in luck, as they are really cheap to buy. The battery that would need replacing is the ML614S/ZT Lithium (3V 3.4mAh Coin cell). There's no guarantee it will fix the issue, but it might be worth a try if you have experienced the sudden death of your TZ3. It has worked for some people. I hope you found this post helpful. Until the next time amigo. -Still Paused.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 "Review". The massive increase in people selling their old point and shoot cameras is at an all-time high thanks to so many people now having a Smartphone capable of taking high quality pictures. I can't tell you how many eBay listing descriptions of people selling cameras I've read that say something along the lines of "don't use it anymore, I've got my phone for taking pictures".

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All images / content Copyright © Still Paused

This trend is not just having an impact on people selling their old point and shoot or Bridge cameras either, it's actually affected the whole camera industry. Camera sales are down across the board, that's all cameras, of all shapes and prices. Smartphones are the main reason. I suppose its just the progression of technology combined with convenience. Why carry around a stand-alone camera. Especially if you're just taking pictures for your own interests, if you have a Smartphone that can do  the same thing and has many more features, such as Internet connectivity and the ability to make phone calls all in the one device. Makes sense, doesn't it.

But for people like me, who don't own a Smartphone (I know, you must think I'm crazy), it's great because with there being so many cheap cameras for sale, there are so many good deals to be found. Anyway, enough about all that. This brings me to a camera that I picked up for really cheap on eBay a while back. The Panasonic Lumix TZ1. This isn't a review, but more of a general talk about this model.

Straight shooting: All images in this post that are not of the TZ1 itself have been taken with the TZ1 and are not edited in any other way other than made smaller.

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Ever seen the TZ1 through Fish-Eye before..

I'm no expert on Panasonic camera history, but I believe this was Panasonic's first camera produced in the TZ range. The name is a bit of a giveaway!

By today's standards, the "spec" of the TZ1 seems very poor. 5 mega pixels is widely frowned upon these days. Some people won't even look twice at a 5mp camera. But don't be fooled, mega pixel count isn't everything. Especially in cameras with small sensors.  This camera can still take good pictures. First I'll go into what I like about the TZ1, then talk about what I don't like.

What I Like About The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1


While the shape is a bit long for what I'm used to, the build quality is excellent. It has a good weight and feels nice in the hand. The zoom button / ring has some resistance, which makes it feel precise and steady.


Easy To Use


Starts up fast and the interface offers a simple but adequate amount of different options. It's very easy to use, just turn it on and its ready to snap away. True to its name - point and shoot. If you're new to the Panasonic user interface, and you do need a bit of help, the manual is available to read or download in PDF format online here.

Features + Specification


Features are quite minimal compared to more up-to-date cameras, but it still has enough modes for most situations. On the dial, the options are Normal, Macro, Simple mode, motion picture and Playback.

There's also 2 scene modes, which have a good selection of image settings catered for different subjects and shooting situations. To name a few of my favourites, or ones I've actually used, are high-sensitivity, snow, starry sky, fireworks, food, night scenery and sports mode.

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 Here is an example image of sports mode. Cars are doing around 50MPH

Manual controls include 3 different aspect ratios, shutter speed adjustment (1/8 - 1/4 -  1/2 - 1), continuous auto focus, various auto focus modes, auto / manual ISO (80, 100, 200, 400 and 800) and auto, pre-set or  manual white balance. Two image stabiliser's also come in very handy. They are also referred to as Mega O.I.S. You can turn stabilization off if you want, but that's not recommended for most situations.

Special Feature


Pick and mix two settings at once. Even some of the newer cameras can't do this. I own a few, much more up-to-date point and shoots that for some reason can only manage one setting at a time. With the TZ1 it has the ability to mix two settings together.

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Quite surreal: Vivid Sepia Test Shot

Example: If I choose one of the colour effect modes, such as black & white, warm or sepia, I can also enhance that further with the picture adjustment settings, which are natural, standard or vivid. So I can have black and white in vivid, natural sepia, or any combination I want. This is pretty cool feature for such an old camera. I also own the Panasonic Lumix TZ3, yeah, the successor of the TZ1, and that model does not have the functions available to do this.

Zoom


The 10 x zoom is very nice on this camera. Slow, measured and steady for a point and shoot. Some zooms, once pressed to zoom in, jolt forward really quickly and can over run the desired zoom range, leaving the user having to zoom out, and potentially miss the moment.

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 Zooming in on motorbike man

This can be annoying. But with the TZ1, it's nice and measured, zooming slow and steady to begin with, then it speeds up a little. It's fairly smooth, and I really like it. However, like a lot of older point and shoot cameras, image quality isn't that great at full zoom.

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This is full zoom


The Lens


I like the fact that the lens doesn't come out at all once the camera is turned on. It only makes an appearance if the zoom is used. And even then, it doesn't come out very far compared to come cameras. The LEICA - DC VARIO-ELMARIT 1.2 8-4.2 / 5.2 / ASPH lens is very capable. Pictures have good depth, and are, overall, fairly sharp considering the age of the camera.

Battery Life


Battery duration from the 3.7V 1000mAh Li-ion has been great. My particular Lumix TZ1 is in pretty good condition and came with the original battery, which, going on how long it lasts, doesn't seem to have been used much. If you buy a used TZ1, the chances are the original battery it comes with may need to be replaced. If this is the case there is no way to know beforehand how long the battery will last, as replacement batteries are so mixed when it comes to quality.

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Messing around with the "warm" mode

I'm not sure if Duracell have replacement batteries out there on sale for the TZ range like they do for other Panasonic cameras, such as the FZ range, including the FZ8 (I have one for my FZ50 - Excellent), but if they do, I would buy one of those rather than take the risk on some unknown brand just because its cheap.

Macro


Macro mode is pretty good. Close up shots come out clear and sharp providing you don't push the camera and try to get too close to the subject. For an older camera the quality is certainly acceptable. In fact, under the right conditions its actually pretty good. Here is a quick example of a flower in macro setting.

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-TZ1-Sample-Photo
Wild Rose in macro

Motion Picture


Shooting film with this camera is obviously outdated considering the highest quality setting available is 30fps VGA (there's also lower quality settings like 30fps QVGA), and these days we have 1080p / 1280p / 4K etc. However, if you just want to "film something" and don't care about the footage being super high quality when watched back on a bigger screen device, the quality isn't all that bad. But do note: VGA isn't as compressed as many of today's formats, such as MP4, so the files are usually a lot bigger. You can always convert them, though, to make them smaller. Check out some video footage that I took below. This is filmed at the highest quality setting - 30fps VGA. Sorry, it looks as though Vimeo have removed the video for some unknown reason.

And, would you believe it. The TZ1 can zoom in and out while filming video footage. I say would you believe it because as mentioned above, I also own the TZ3, and for some reason Panasonic left out the ability to be able to use the zoom while recording video. I don't know what they were thinking, but wow, what a terrible decision. The older TZ1 can zoom in video mode, and the newer TZ3 can not. Seems a bit backwards in my opinion.

Price


While you won't see a lot of people selling this particular model, the few Panasonic Lumix TZ1's that can be found for sale are usually extremely cheap. Websites such as eBay are the best location if you're looking to purchase a used TZ1. I bought mine for literally £10GBP buy it now. (that included postage costs). The price range is generally between £10 - £25. For such a good quality, versatile little camera, it's a great deal.

What I Don't Like


There isn't much I don't like about the TZ1. For an older camera it still ticks a lot of boxes for those of us who want a simple to use, low priced camera. I'm quite easily pleased, and most things mentioned below are me nit picking.

Size


For what I've become used to, the shape and size of the TZ1 is a bit cumbersome. It's not huge by any means, but it doesn't really qualify as a pocket sized camera either. Don't get me wrong, It can fit into a pocket, but the person who's carrying it definitely wouldn't forget it was there.

Image Preview / Review


Like many Panasonic cameras, picture reviewing is slightly annoying. If you want to look at a picture you have taken, and you remain in the mode you were using the camera in, such as normal mode, after a few seconds the camera resets itself back to live view mode.

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Alder leaves in the sunshine

Of course, in playback mode it does not do this, it stays in review mode and allows the user to view a taken image for as long as they like. But turning the dial every time you want to view an image for longer than a few seconds without it resetting back to live screen is annoying. But in fairness to the TZ1, even my FZ50 is like this, so its not an exclusive to this model design fault, many of the Panasonic's function like this.


Lens Flare


Lens flare can be a bit excessive at times.


Shooting In The Dark


Again, like so many Panasonic cameras, they can be fairly poor when it comes to shooting in darker conditions (outdoor and indoor) when in the most popular modes (Normal, Macro, etc). This model is no exception. However, there are several preset scene settings, as well as higher ISO / exposure that can help with this. But make no mistake, the TZ1 is in its element when shooting outdoors on a clear day. Like so many cameras are. And that's about it. Overall, this is an excellent camera. Well made, easy to use, and takes a pretty good picture even by today's standards. Buy one.


Troubleshooting


I have not had any problems what so ever with my TZ1 Lumix, but I do know that the number one issue with this model (and many Panasonic's around the same age) is a dead original battery. People who own this camera, and have left it sitting in a drawer for a few years but now want to use it again, have mostly all experienced the same issue.

They tried to turn it on and there was no response at all, totally dead. This is either a knackered original battery, or the battery has gone into protection mode from being left uncharged with no power for too long. In both cases a new battery will fix the issue. You can revive a battery that's gone into protection mode, but if you have no electrical tools or experience its best to save all the hassle and just buy a replacement battery. I hope you found this review-type post helpful. Until the next time. -Still Paused.
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Dragonfly Footage With The Nikon Z7

Here is some excellent close up Dragonfly footage captured with the mirrorless Nikon Z7 + Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S Lens. Despite what some people think, and how predatory they look, Dragonflies don't have a sting. They are beautiful insects, and some of their colour formations are truly amazing. See another macro video from the same photographer here.


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Canon Powershot S2 IS Sample Photos

Quick snaps. Canon Powershot S2 IS Sample Photos. Since solving the Canon S2 "change the batteries" error message (read about that here), I have took the camera out a few times after fixing the issue. I did take some super macro images with the S2 a while back (here), but the "normal" pictures featured here are taken in either "P" (Program mode) or Auto. All of them in this particular post were taken using different levels of zoom, and practically all of them are of Sheep!

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Or Lamb depending on how old they are. I thought Sheep was very fitting for where we find ourselves right now with society, as there are a lot of people who are still very much like Sheep. Totally oblivious to almost everything other than their favourite TV shows, and, of course, their beloved Smartphone. I think they're called Sheeple.

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Sheep-Image-UK

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I felt really sorry for this one. All the rest were feeding together but this one was all alone and looked very sad.

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I had to knock this one out, as it tried to charge me. Just kidding! I would never do that. It was rolling around having a good scratch. Must have had an itchy back. Not surprising with all that wool / fur.

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I think this one wanted to charge me, but the big metal gate I was behind prevented any chance of that being successful. 

Anyway, I may add a mixed sample photo post to this blog at some point in the future. These images have not been edited in any way other than made smaller. It was a dull but slightly hazy day, so don't judge the camera on these pictures alone. Under the right circumstances it is a pretty good older Bridge camera. Though, most of the time you do have to work a bit harder than you would have to with a newer camera to get a really good capture.
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Distant Landscape Rainbow Ball Image

A quick image of the end of a Rainbow. Far over the landscape, a distant Rainbow Ball captured before it disappeared. Picture taken with the excellent Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 and slightly popped for added effect.

Distant-Landscape-Rainbow-Ball-UK
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Micro SD Card Locked No Switch

I talked about how to fix the "memory card locked" error in another post, but what happens if you have a Micro SD card that is locked and has no switch. If you have a micro SD card that shows as locked, the fix is to borrow or buy an SD card adapter. Slot the Micro SD card into the adapter and flick the switch up for unlock. Then, take the Micro SD card out of the adapter and place it in whatever device you were trying to use it in when it gave the "locked" message. It should now be unlocked.

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If it isn't unlocked, do the same procedure again but this time put the adapter with the Micro SD card inside into a compatible device and turn it on. It should now show no locked message. Then, take the Micro SD card out of the adapter and you're good to go.

I know there are other methods to unlock a Micro SD card with no switch but this is the method that I have always used and it works fine, every time. And I've used it a lot with me having quite a few different types of cameras, lots of which I regularly use with a Micro SD card that's been placed inside an SD adapter. Adapters a very cheap to buy, and sometimes they come free when buying an Micro SD card.
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Camera Shows - "Memory card locked"

If you've recently turned your camera on, be it a Canon, Panasonic, Nikon or whatever and see a "Memory card locked" message popping up, you have more than likely flicked the little switch on the side of your memory card down by accident. This is quite a common problem that catches many people out, but it is very easy to fix.

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To unlock the memory card all you have to do is push the little switch up that's located on the side of the SD memory card. If you don't know where to find the SD card lock switch, please look at the picture for reference. For the image I used a memory card that actually reads "lock" just to make it foolproof. Most cards do not have the word "lock" printed on them. See below for the picture and click to enlarge if you need a closer look.

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See the little grey switch, it should be "up" like in the picture

Anyway, all you have to do is move the switch from down to up and that's it; card unlocked. The picture shows the switch in the correct position for unlocked. Once the card is back in your camera (or any other device for that matter) the message should now be gone. It's one of those silly little errors that once you know about, you'll never be caught out by again.
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Canon S2 IS Change The Batteries Problem

What are the best cheap UK battery chargers for charging rechargeable AA batteries. At the moment I've been trying to get a camera to work that suffers from an annoying problem. The problem can be down to a number of things, and what fixes the issue for some people does not work for others. The camera in question is the Canon Powershot S2 IS, and the fault is known as the "Canon S2 IS change the batteries problem". This is where the camera gives a "change the batteries" message, and won't power up in shoot mode, even though the batteries may be fully charged or just slightly used.

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There's definitely a common fault here, as its not normal for batteries to run out so fast or not be compatible with the camera, even though they are known to be compatible. Some say its a problem with the camera, while others claim its the rechargeable batteries that are the issue because they are old and worn out. Either that or the camera is just extremely fussy about what type of batteries it will accept. Truth is, this problem has been talked about exhaustively on the Internet, and nobody so far has been able to provide a 100% fix for everyone.

A few things that have worked for some S2 owners is replacing the CMOS battery (for the time and date settings), resetting the camera, or using non-rechargeable alkaline battery's. I've tried all these things and nothing has worked for me. But some users have reported that changing their brand and or mAh capacity of rechargeable battery's used has fixed the problem for them. So this is where I find myself right now.

Beings as my Canon S2 came complete with Energizer rechargeable batteries and a charger, I am completely unaware of their history / usage. They could be just as old as the camera itself for all I know. And if that is the case, they need replacing. So for me the next step is to buy a new charger + AA batteries (a cheap bundle for around £10) and see if that fixes the issue.

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I hope it does because I haven't really used this camera much because the batteries only last for a few shots before the camera gives me the annoying "change the battery pack" error, and this makes me have no confidence in taking it out with me on the road. I did write a mini review on the Canon S2 IS, and the battery's lasted long enough to take some shots, but I noticed the problem on that day all the same.

Shame really because I like this camera, it takes great pictures considering how old it is. The lens, and camera overall, appears to be very good for an older bridge camera. That's why I would rather spend some money trying a possible fix than buying another new / used camera. I think I have enough cameras in my collection already! Funny thing is, the amount I paid for the Canon S2 is less than the charger bundle I have my eye on buying.

I'm most probably getting a UNiROSS charger which comes complete with 4 x 2100 mAh batteries. I could buy Duracell, but the UNiROSS bundle seems to be the best deal, and UNiROSS products have always been pretty good for me over the years. It's like one of those non-mainstream hidden brands that are cheap to buy but usually surprisingly reliable.

Actually I got it wrong! It's ROSS that I'm thinking of, not UNiROSS. Unless they are the same company. The name is similar. And after reading some UNiROSS reviews on Amazon, which are quite a mix of good and bad (more good than bad though), I may still go with UNiROSS to see if they're any good.  I will update this post when I buy the battery's + charger to report whether or not it fixed my Canon S2's battery drain issue.

And here is that update. I ended up buying all Duracell branded products in the end. A Duracell charger and Duracell batteries. The charger came with two 1300mAh AA's, and I bought another 2 that were identical to make up the set. Has this fixed the issue? After using the Canon S2 IS numerous times on these new 1300mAh batteries I can say yes, this has fixed the issue for me. I've took the camera out quite a few times now on fully charged batteries and it has lasted for a full day of taking pictures. That includes turning the camera on and off many times, zooming in and out a lot, and recording video.

It has been working without fault, and the "change the batteries" message has only shown up when the batteries were genuinely close to empty. This was confirmed by me removing the batteries and putting them in an old Walkman (cassette player) and leaving it play until the batteries were totally dead. They didn't last long. So that confirms they were very low when they were taken out of the camera.

The Canon Powershot S2, in my case at least, seems to be very fussy when it comes to batteries. My 2450mAh Energizer's just would not work in this camera for very long, even when fully charged. Put those same batteries in a different device and they generally last a few weeks. A different brand, with a much lower mAh has done the trick for me with the Powershot S2.

The exact charger I bought was the Duracell CEF14. This model usually comes with 2 AA and 2 AAA batteries, but mine only came with 2 AA. It's very cheap for such a good, reliable charger. If you want to try what fixed the problem for me to see if it works in your case, you can find this charger for sale here in the UK and here in the USA. I would recommend this charger overall as it has worked really well so far.

And my S2 is now fully functional and shows no "change the batteries" message until its the right time to do so. Fair enough, 1300mAh batteries won't last as long, but for me, as long as I can take the camera out and have a full day (or a good few hours of constant use) of shooting without any silly error messages showing up, that's good enough for me. I can pretty much say this error for me is now marked as - Solved!
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Graffiti Dedication Mural Style Piece

Really cute mural style piece in dedication to Tempo's Mom. RIP.  Credit also to Korsa, Reas, Some, Zooki, Klears and a few others I can't make out who's tags look to be part of the piece. I'm glad that I photographed this before it got drawn over so I'm able to preserve it here still looking at its best. Location: Bromford, Birmingham UK. Camera: Samsung WB500 (Popped).

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Cute-Character-Graffiti-Mural-Birmingham-Piece

Previous Post: Checking Used DSLR Lenses
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Buying / Checking Second Hand Lenses

Buying / Checking Second Hand DSLR Lenses. Buying anything second hand requires a thorough examination to determine whether its worth the purchase or not. Second hand items all have a history, some better than others. You may not have a crystal ball that enables you to see the daily rundown of its past life, but you do have the item itself, and its external condition is a big indicator as far as telling the story of how it has been treated in its earlier life.

This is extremely relevant with most used items, including cameras, and certainly just as important with camera lenses. This is not really a full, in-depth guide, but more of a quick advice post on what to most commonly look out for when buying second hand lenses. A lot of it is down to common sense where lens appearance is concerned.

Of course, the first one just the overall look of the lens. How worn / used does it look? Is there fading, or is it marked up quite badly. Does it have any stand-out marks, such as dents. If so, it more than likely has had quite a lot of use, and could actually be damaged in a way that could affect its image capturing capabilities.

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However, while poor external cosmetic condition is generally a bad sign as far as first impressions go, and a good indicator to probably steer clear, with lenses, it does not always translate to the usability of the lens and its potential to still produce great images. Of course there are exceptions, such as dents on the filter thread (in many cases its best to steer clear of lenses with that).


But as long as there is no intermittent fault and the lens glass is in great condition, there's a very good chance that even a battered lens exterior housing can be deceptive in terms of the lens still being able to create superb quality images. I call this a sleeper glass. It looks battered and fit for the bin, but wow, the results are impeccable. So sometimes, if the price is right, it is worth the risk. Check all the vital signs and go with your instinct.


Quick Lens Scratch Test


Look through the lens while its directed at a bright light. As well as dust, if you see marks, such as scratches, depending on how long and deep they are, it would be wise to save your money and buy something else. But, if you look through the lens and see only a few very light marks, depending on what you are going to use the images for, this is still considered as acceptable. And If the price is low, it may be worth the purchase. Any scratches that are too deep will definitely affect the image quality, most the time in more ways than one.


Mould / Fungus


Also be on the lookout for lens mould / fungus. This is brought on by moisture / humidity. Easy to spot, it looks like a clouding / stringy spider-webbing (similar to a southern house spiders web) that will have formed somewhere on the lens. Again, this can affect the picture quality. But thankfully mould / fungus is not a complete deal breaker. It can be cleaned / removed. There are lots of guides and videos online that explain, in some detail, how to remove fungus from a lens. Also be on the lookout for dust.


How Are The Rings


The zoom and focus rings should be easy to turn and have no restrictions. If they are tight, or feel anything but smooth, they will more than likely need to be cleaned and this can be costly. Or, at least costly enough to not be worth the hassle. What is the condition of the rubber on the rings. Does it look like there's plenty of life left in them, or are they in bad shape. If they are in poor condition, this is another repair job that is going to require more money out of your pocket. Unless its a top of the range lens at a real rock bottom bargain price (too good to be true perhaps), it's probably not wise to invest in repairs / restoration when there are similar used lenses out there that can be found fairly cheap and are in near perfect condition.


Auto Focus And Manual Focus


Does the AF / MF option switch between AF and MF like its supposed to, and does this function change to each mode correctly. Bear in mid that some lens do not have an AF / MF switch, but have theirs located on the body of the camera. Some have both.


Screws


Are all the screws present, and is the lens connection thread (located at the back) in good clean condition. Is there any obvious defects or damage that will hinder a perfect connection.


Auto Focus Confirmation


For this one you will need to have a camera body at hand. Test the auto focus by targeting different subjects in different locations that vary in size and distance. Is the auto focus precise when trying to laser target on certain subjects. Convinced something is wrong with your lens / camera, or just want to perform some quick tests to see if all is well with the auto focus? Take a look over at photographylife, which has a great article about how to quickly test the auto focus, and explains a little bit about different issues that can arise with auto focus in general, such as Phase Detect alignment and calibration.


Depth Of Field (DOF)


Depth-of-field, or DOF as its called for short, is a little button that's usually located near the lens that's within finger reach when holding the camera in hand. This is mainly used for previewing the background depth of field (deep / short) / focus placement. Although not the most important function in the world for most users, the DOF should be tested, as it still has its uses. On older models it would be the shutter thread that you would need to check to make sure it is working as it should.


What About Buying Online


I've seen a few people asking questions like: How can I check these things out if I buy online, from say eBay or Amazon. All these "checks" can't be done when buying used lenses online. That is true. But my answer would be: Have you ever thought of asking some or all of these questions to the seller before committing to buy? A good seller will happily check a few of the easier to perform checks out for you and report back with the information. In fact, the majority sellers should list at least some of the common, age related flaws in their listing to begin with.
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Mountains Above The Clouds

A quick image of mountains above the clouds / fog at dawn. This picture was taken with a Sony ILCE-6000 and has been edited. Nice image, taken by Pexels contributor Muhammad Syahroyni. Location: Indonesia.

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Get Royalty Free Images Free Of Charge

Disclaimer: Please be aware, that using images from sites that offer "Royalty free images for commercial use" does require you to do a bit of research in order to find out if the pictures(s) you intend to download and use are in fact safe to use without you having a potential lawsuit on your hands. For commercial usage Licenses and Releases need to be considered. Don't get too alarmed, there are some easy steps you can take to keep yourself safe from being on the wrong side of the photography laws. For more information please check out the following sources:

How to avoid getting sued using "free" images (Recommended reading)

Potential issues uploading to Unsplash

Is it safe to use pictures from Unsplash (Applies to any free photo site)

What are the best websites for downloading royalty free images that can be used with no copyright hassles and no attribution (no linking back) requirements. Also which websites allow the images to be used for commercial purposes. Read below for the answer of how to legally use other peoples very high resolution images free of charge. Every month there's a new image website that offers thousands of free-to-use images, all copyright free and able to be used for any purpose under a CC0 Creative Commons License. This is great in theory. More websites that offer free high quality photographs to use anywhere means that the person looking for images has a lot of choice. And for the most part that is true.

However, with the main and most established websites being the central points of call for most picture uploaders / contributors, and with the usage rights of the images giving anyone the freedom to do as they choose with them, you will find that there are so many websites that basically just leech from the main image "hubs" and start a website offering free to use images, which are simply just copied from many of the much bigger websites.

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Brooklyn Bridge at night - Image from Pexels contributor, Kai Pilger.

Due to the images being released into the public domain, legally there is nothing wrong with this. But for an end user, it's much better to go straight to the source. Or, at least to a website that has thousands of registered users who are uploading new and unique images on a daily basis.

So what is the number one website. Of course, some are better than others in terms of having the best stock and a wide user base, but this is really down to personal preference, personal experience, and also what type of images you are looking for. Quirky, Formal, Urban, Architecture, Black and White, etc. There are sites that specialize in certain subject matters. But regardless of subject matter, if we keep it general, where a site has a bit of everything, which is thankfully what most of them are like these days, two of the best are pexels.com and pixabay.com.

PIXABAY



Pixabay has a huge repository of high resolution images (well over 1 million). The site is extremely easy to use, and downloading images is a fairly easy process. It's also great for interaction because it allows comments (as well as thumbs up and add to favourites) on each image, which is something that a few of the other top free image websites don't have. There's also a forum if you want to chat about images / photography, or have general questions about Pixabay. The other thing I really like about Pixabay.com is how easy it is to sort by camera type. So you can essentially filter all images uploaded by a certain camera make and model, such as a Canon EOS 700D or Nikon P900. This also makes Pixabay a great site in terms of camera research for people who are in the market for a new camera and want to see what the camera is capable of by viewing (and downloading) some sample images.

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In terms of available images, there's a bit, or a lot of everything here. City Landscapes, illustrations, Nature, Quirky randoms, Funny, Professional, Urban, Rural, Retro, you name it. This is my go-to website if I need an image for a website or blog post that I don't possess myself.

However, sometimes on Pixabay, captcha is enabled if you are not logged in, and can be a bit of a annoyance if you need to download a few quick images but are held up by solving captchas. Furthermore, Pixabay will not allow a user to download an image at full resolution without being logged in. Not a member? You'll have to sign up to be able to download the original, full resolution image. Be aware, that if you do decide to sign up as a member, the verification email can take quite a while to arrive in your inbox. I requested Pixabay to resend the verification email 5 times due to not receiving any of them. Then, after about an hour, they all arrived at once! So if you're having the same problem, be patient, they will ALL arrive eventually.

PEXELS



Excellent site that has some very impressive contributors. Lot's of professional (public domain) images available for free to download. Although the amount of free images is nowhere near what Pixabay has to offer. Again, there's a mix of everything on Pexels.com, from Fashion and Wedding related images, to Nature, Auto, Landscape, Street, Vintage and everything in-between. However, just so you are aware, some of the pictures featured on Pexels are sourced (by API) from Pixabay (and other free images websites). Downloading images from Pexels is the easiest you will find out of all the copyright free photo sites. No captcha, no sign-up or sign-in required, just select the image you want to download, press "Free Download" and it instantly allows you to download at full resolution. You can also choose to download in smaller sizes (even custom size is available), and this simple, effortless process of quickly being able to grab the image is exactly the same.

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Layout and site navigation isn't the best, and interaction with other members seems a bit limited. They do have things like photo challenges and "top photographers", but you can't comment on each individual image and it feels a little bit empty. So in some ways, maybe its just me and my personal experience while using the website, but overall the site feels a bit lonely. That's not really a big deal, because the bottom line is, these sites are predominantly made for grabbing and sharing images, not interacting to the level a person can on social media. But other than that, Pexels is a great site, with a good photo collection that is growing considerably every month.

A great place to instantly get high quality royalty free images for your website or blog today. I know there are so many great image websites out there that have not been mentioned here. These are just the two that I have been using a lot over the last few months and have found them to be excellent. But feel free to comment below and leave your recommendations or experiences with certain websites.
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Spooky Tree Picture

A quick picture of a spooky tree photographed on a dull blue sky background. The blue background makes the tree seem more black in colour than what it really is, adding to the spookiness. This image is unedited (other than reduced in size) and was taken with a Samsung WB500 (HZ10W) in auto mode with no flash.

Spooky Tree Picture UK Silhouette

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Samsung HZ10W Nature Sample Images

Here are some quick sample images that were taken with the Samsung WB500 (Also known as the HZ10W). All these pictures were taken while on a quick walk through the countryside in Berkswell, UK. None of the images have been altered in any way other than being resized (made smaller) to compensate for the website layout and load time of the page. Didn't want to make it too image heavy. If you want to read more about this camera in general, please see this post.

The pictures in this post were taken fairly quickly, without much thought for perfect framing (like usual then!) and choosing the best matching mode for the shot. Although some were taken in manual mode, most were taken in auto to give you a good idea of what to expect when quickly snapping away with the WB500, or HZ10W as it is known in certain parts of the world. Shame there wasn't more animals or insects for me to photograph on this particular day. It was a nice walk though. Unless stated otherwise, all images in this post are Copyright © Still Paused.

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Hawthorn Flower Blossom


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A Peacock Butterfly (Aglais-io) on Hawthorn Flowers


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The strange Prickly Chestnut (Castanea-Sativa) It has great protection from would be thieves. Those needles are very sharp!

Yellow Rapeseed Fields UK
The pathway through the Yellow Rapeseed Fields


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Tree Leaves. No flash if I remember correctly, just natural sunlight coming in through spaces from the surrounding trees. I can't recall what this tree's name is (Update: It's the Castanea-Sativa), but its a real beauty


Hawthorn Bush
Small Hawthorn Tree in white bloom


Flies feeding on white flowers
Like flies around shhh. Flies apparently "feeding" on flowers. Or whatever was on the flowers. They were so busy, they didn't even bat an eyelid. I mean they didn't bat an ommatidium


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Picture of the day: The Large White Pieris Brassicae Butterfly. This was taken at close to full zoom and didn't turn out too badly considering how she didn't want to sit still for longer than a few seconds

The above image of the Pieris Brassicae Butterfly, taken by Still Paused, can be reused under the CC Attribution 4.0 International License. Please visit this page to read about how to give appropriate credit to the author when reusing.
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