Mid-February Sunday Musings From Beetley

It has been a quieter week, and I am pleased about that.

More bright sunshine heralded every day. It was so nice one morning, I took Ollie out early, and managed some photos in decent light. If you didn’t see that post, here’s a link.

A Sunny February Morning With The Camera


That sunny and cold weather is set to change though. Heavy rain is arriving from the Atlantic Ocean, set to drench us later today, and during the coming week.


Ollie was 10 years old yesterday. He loved his new toys, which seem to have rejuvenated him. He spent most of yesterday rushing around playing with them, and went straight to his Walrus when he woke up this morning. I am hoping this coming year will see him free from the infections and medical issues that have plagued his short life.
But my fingers had to be crossed as I typed that.


Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Julie and I only exhange cards, and we do not buy into the ‘Valentine Industry’. Flowers are hiked-up in price, restaurants are fully-booked with themed menus, and heart-shaped gifts just end up at the back of cupboards, never to be looked at again.

If you intend to celebrate, please spare a thought for the lonely and unloved in your community too. All this outpouring of love and affection must be annual torture for them.


I haven’t spent much time on Twitter lately, so apologies for not forwarding many of your tweets, or noticing if you have done the same for me.


Wherever you are, I hope you are happy today, and enjoying a wonderful Sunday.


A Sunny February Morning With The Camera

Brilliant sunshine this morning, despite a chill in the air. I took Ollie out early, before the winter sun got too low in the sky. Over to Hoe Rough, with the small Panasonic Zoom Compact in my coat pocket.

(All photos are posted from Flickr, and can be enlarged there by clicking on them)


The little camera has a 24-720 zoom. To show the extent of that, I took two photos from the same spot.

Wideangle, 24mm eqivalent.
Full zoom on the distant tree, 720mm equivalent.

By the river, the snowdrops were out in abundance.

But it hasn’t been cold enough for the mud to freeze, so I still needed my Wellington boots.

An ingenious cow-watering device. They push their snouts against the yellow lever, and it sucks water into the reservoir from a pipe placed in the river.

Ollie was happy to have his photo taken today. I think the tiny camera covering less of my face calms him down.

After a much-needed drink in the rainwater pool that never dries up. You can see where the fur has not grown back on his legs and back.

I sat down in The Dell, and he came for a stroke.

Then I was able to get more photos of him as he stood around waiting.

That rainwater pool, with the river beyond.

Some trees were felled there a couple of years ago, as their roots had been undermined by the river flooding.

The logs were left as habitat for creatures, and Nature is finally reclaiming them.

A walk of just under two hours, rewarded with some photos, and the fact it was not raining. 🙂

An Early Present To Myself

I bought myself an early Christmas present, and didn’t have to wait until the 25th to unwrap it. Always keen to expand my digital camera collection, I have currently been trying to find small cameras that I can carry around easily when I am out walking with Ollie.

Not long ago, I bought a second-hand Panasonic LX100 that fits nicely into a coat pocket. I have been pleased with it so far, so explored the range further. I found an immaculate used Panasonic TZ70 silver version, advertised as boxed with all accessories and instructions. The price was around a third of what it cost new in late 2015-2016. It arrived this morning, and is in first-class condition, as promised. In fact, it shows no signs of use whatsoever.

As well as a rear screen, it also has an electronic viewfinder, albeit a very small one.

The control ring on the front can be set to perform an operation of choice, whether to change aperture, white balance, or exposure compensation. As you can see, it does lack the range of knobs and dials that I usually prefer, but there is a reason for that.

It is VERY small!

It is actually small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, and is barely half the size of my Oppo smartphone. The downside of this is that some of the controls and buttons are fiddly to use, even with my small hands. It came with a dedicated wrist strap that doesn’t even fit over my wrist.

Yes, we are talking small!

However, this diminuitive digital camera launched in 2015 has two huge selling points. Like the LX100, the lens is manufactured by Leica. Unlike the LX100, it packs a massive 30 times zoom into the small body, offering a range from 24mm-720mm. (Equivalent) The compromise for this is the sensor, which is only a modest 1/2.3, the same as the one on my Fuji X30.

To help with the very long telephoto range five-axis stabilisation is built in, and as well as most features you might expect from a modern digital camera, it can also shoot video in 4K resolution. Add numerous effects filters, a tiny built-in flash, various focusing and exposure modes, and Panasonic really threw everything into such a small package.

Once I have charged it up and adjusted the settings, I will take some photos and let you know what I think of it in use.

My Latest Camera: First Impressions And Some Photos

As some readers may recall, I recently bought another camera, a secondhand Panasonic LX100 Compact.

It took me some time to actually remember to take the camera out on a walk, so with the benefit of a bright and windy afternoon yesterday, I put the camera into the pocket of my fleece jacket, and set off on the usual walk with Ollie. I took 50 photos, and these are the seven I have chosen to show you.

They have all been uploaded to Flickr, so clicking on them will take you to the photo on that site. Using the magnifier icon, you can enlarge them greatly on there, and move around them too. They are all standard j-pegs from the camera, with no post-processing applied.

An impressively large lone mushroom, spotted on Beetley Meadows.

The cap of the same mushroom.

A black and white version.
Black and White Mushroom

The river bend at Beetley Meadows.

Ollie on the riverbank.

Ollie standing in the river.

A fallen Silver Birch, in the woodland area.

My impressions of using the camera? Well, let’s say it has pros and cons, like anything.

*It is very light. Despite metal parts, it sat easily in my jacket pocket, was unobtrusive, and the weight was hardly noticeable.
*All the main controls are set using dials and buttons, so no need to explore the electronic menu whilst taking photos.
*The electronic shutter is completely silent, very useful in some situations.
*Zoom action from the 24mm-75mm lens is smooth, especially using the lever around the shutter button.
*Buffering to load the image onto the Pro-spec memory card was almost immediate.
*The electronic viewfinder shows all the information I need, and gives a completely accurate representation of the final photo.
*The Leica lens renders true images as seen in the viewfinder.

*Focusing is not perfect. I had 3 completely out of focus images from the 50 taken, and changing the setting around the lens to Macro focusing made very little difference to the close-ups of the mushroom.
*The small size of the camera can make it fiddly to hold and use. My hands are comparatively small, and I was still able to inadvertantly move dials or press buttons. This size also makes it potentially easy to drop, so I had bought a Paracord wrist strap and attached it before taking the camera out.
*The Panasonic 1-inch processor chip seems to favour browns and greens, with little colour ‘pop’ on brighter colours.

So, all in all, I am very happy. If you can find one of these old-model cameras for less than £250, I recommend you consider buying it.

A Camera Disappointment

This post is about a camera, and some technical photography stuff. If you have no interest in such things, please skip it.

In September 2020, I was offered a new camera and lens, free of charge. This is because I am on the Amazon testing panel, and they wanted me to review it. It was the Nikon Z5, with a basic 24-50mm zoom lens, and at the time the retail price for the kit was £1,699.
(It can now be bought for around £1,200 new)

This is a full-frame camera, with a 24.3 mp sensor that produces very large files. Despite the light weight of the lens, and the limited maximum apertures of f/4-f/6.3, photos taken with it can be clear and sharp.

Like most modern digital cameras, it has a host of features, including electronic and mechanical shutters, a comprehensive viewfinder and rear screen, and a selection of customisable buttons. Add a double card slot and in-camera image stabilisation, and you get quite a lot for your money.

So it would seem.

After owning it for a year, I finally took it on holiday, deliberately leaving all my other cameras behind so I had no alternative but to use it. If you have seen any of my recent posts including photos from our holiday in Lincolnshire, they were all taken using this camera.

So why is this post titled ‘Camera Disappointment’? (I hear you cry.)

Getting such a well-specified camera for nothing, you would think I might be grateful and excited. And to a large extent I was, and still am.

However, it was sent to me to test and review, so it is only fair to list the many things that I don’t like about this camera.

1) The user manual.
This is as good as useless. Other than telling you how to attach the lens, charge the battery, and insert the SD cards, it doesn’t go into enough detail about the huge number of menus and functions. Yes, you can access extensive Nikon help online, and probably download pages of user instructions too. But that’s not much use when you are nowhere near a computer, or there is little or no wi-fi signal. I want what I need to know to be in the book please, Nikon.

2) Not enough dials and knobs.
Other than one large mode dial, the camera offers most settings and adjustments through the electronic menu system. This means me having to make sure to carry reading glasses (which I do not need to see through the viewfinder) and reading small menu instructions from the rear screen that can be hard to see in bright light. (As when on a summer holiday in good weather.) Exposure compensation is not offered as a stand-alone dial, and exposure lock has to be assigned to a button by using the in-camera menu. Using Aperture Priority, it is necessary to assign the aperture option to the small control ring behind the zoom ring of the lens, instead of just having a conventional aperture ring marked accordingly. I would like all of those functions to have their own buttons or dials please, Nikon.

3) Build quality.
Making a camera lightweight is not a bad thing. Easier to carry around all day in a bag, and to use one-handed if you like to do that. But you still have to ensure that a camera of this price is relatively solid and durable. For example, inserting the charged battery, I knocked the camera against my desk. It was a very slight knock, but enough to fully detach the flimsy door to the battery compartment, which fell onto the floor. That meant a long time fiddling about trying to secure the door back on, which now only works properly when fully locked. Open the door to charge the battery again, and it falls off. I have visions of the battery just falling out one day, as I am taking a photo.

4) Sensor.
The sensor in this camera is far from being great. As you can see from the photos I took, it renders them rather dark. This can be cured by fiddling with the exposure compensation of course, but refer back to 2) and you will know this is a frustratingly fiddly operation involving assigning a button and remembering which one that is.

I just didn’t enjoy using the camera enough to be bothered to constantly mess around with its functions.

Compare this to my old Fuji X30 compact. Exposure compensation dial, aperture ring on the lens, intuitive menu system, and a tiny 2/3 sensor that renders lovely rich colours with file sizes large enough for most users. And it cost about the same when I bought it as the lens alone on this Nikon.

In conclusion, I would suggest you buy a different camera. The full-frame offered on this one doesn’t make up for its shortcomings.

My New ‘Toy’

**This post will only be of interest to anyone who likes cameras and photography. And even they may not be interested**

I bought myself another camera last week, and it arrived this morning.

Many years ago, I saw that Minox of Germany were producing a replica of the Leica M III film camera. But it was a digital camera, in miniature.

(Photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them)

At first, it only boasted two megapixels, and had a small internal storage of 2 mb. Later versions extended the capacity to three, then four megapixels, and added a live rear screen, as well as the facility to use an SD card for storage. But it was ridiculously expensive, and little more than a collector’s item

The last manifestation of this tiny camera extended to 14 megapixels, and also allowed a 32 gb SD card. Now it was becoming more desirable, but also more expensive, at around £180. I thought about it, then forgot about it.

I looked on Ebay recently, and found an ‘open-box’, unused camera, for a fraction of the original selling price. It came with a still-wrapped charging cable, the original metal display box, and full instructions. It was for sale in Germany, from a ‘trusted seller’. So I bought it. The only downside so far is that I cannot work out how to change the menu language, so have to translate from the German shown, using Google to find the meanings of the words.

In this photo, it is next to my Sony RX 10 zoom compact. You can easily see just how tiny it is, palm-sized in fact.

The camera has metal parts alongside the plastic components, and is lovingly engineered as a replica. The film winder and self-timer levers both move, although they have no function. The lens focusing ring does work, changing focus from infinity to other settings. The metal viewfinder operates like one from the 1930s, as it is quite cloudy and distorted. However, the small screen at the rear serves as a back-up for composing photos. It also has a digital menu, allowing changes to white balance, and some other functions.

You won’t find a good review of this camera online. The tiny 1/2.3 sensor has its limitations, and most camera magazines and websites describe it as little more than a ‘toy’, with limited practical application in the modern world of photography. The lens is fixed at a full-frame equivalent of 46 mm, and the digital zoom feature is best avoided.

But I happen to think it is a thing of beauty. And it takes photos too.

Ollie and The Lumberjacks

Yesterday, I took Ollie out for a change of scene. A drive of just over an hour, down to Thetford Forest. It was a lovely day, despite a chilly breeze, so it made sense to get out, and take a break from the routine walk around Beetley Meadows.

I forgot my camera though, so that was yet another photo opportunity missed.

I also managed to get lost on the forest paths, after wandering aimlessly, and not concentrating on where I was going. I doubled back, sure that retracing my steps would see us right. But I was embarrassed to discover that I was nowhere near where I had started, and had been walking in the wrong direction entirely. Not that Ollie was in the least concerned, as he was certain that I must know where we were going.

Luckily, I spotted some Forestry Commission workers, busy felling trees with chainsaws. I am not too proud to admit to someone I was lost, so approached them to ask directions. But Ollie wasn’t too fond of their chainsaws, and they kindly turned them off to hear my question. With their help, I managed to find the car park in less than ten minutes. Had I carried on without asking them, I have no idea where we would have ended up.

I am planning to go and look at a 11th century motte and bailey fort today, in a place called Castle Acre. I will try to remember my camera this time.

And try not to get lost too.

Camera Conclusion

This is a very niche post. For those of you with no interest in cameras or photography, delete now.

For anyone still left, this is an appraisal of the new camera that I bought recently, after some time of using it. As you know, I decided on the Fuji X30. This was partly driven by price, but also because I was somewhat familiar with the Fuji system, having owned one of their SLR cameras for a few years. I like their colour rendition, the way they set up the HDR, and the option of their unique ‘film simulation’ modes.


Although not my first choice, the little Fuji has proved to be surprisingly good, especially considering the price of £284 that I paid for it. I was worried about the small processor as it is only a somewhat dated 2/3, but I needn’t have concerned myself. Fuji manage to cram a great deal into a small package, and the resulting fine jpegs have been exceptional. Detail is retained, even up to 800 ISO, and they are also easy to manipulate on post-capture software, if that is something that appeals to you. The EVF is simply a wonder to behold. So bright, with 100% coverage, and no lens intrusion, it also provides all the necessary information, without affecting composition. In fact, I have not even used the tilting rear screen, although that is also crystal clear. I have added a nine-box grid, and an electronic spirit level from the menu, both of which have aided composition, and good horizons.

Despite not having to use the flash, I have every confidence that it will work well, when needed. The electronic lens stabilisation, combined with high auto ISO values by default, has meant that using flash has not been necessary at all, at least on outdoor shots. The zoom range of (equivalent) 28-112 mm has been more than adequate for everyday use, and combined with minimal lens extension, and a manual zoom ring, it has been a joy to use. The solid dials for selecting exposure compensation and choice of shooting mode, have proved their worth, and the manual aperture ring was exactly what I required in a camera too. Everything feels solid, but that is not reflected in the light weight, that makes the camera portable in any and all conditions. Battery life has been very good too, and has not let me down at all, on an average shooting day.

The menu system is easily picked up, and all of the main functions are rapidly and easily accessible. The various options include different aspect ratios, film simulations, electronic filters, and special effect filters too. Manual shooting is available, and spot and centre-weighted metering are provided, alongside the very effective multi-zone evaluative system. Focusing areas are selectable if desired, and the options for focusing are easy to get to, via a switch at the front of the camera. This camera adds most modern options that we have come to expect too. Panorama function, face recognition, highlight adjustments, fully automatic programmed operation, and many more. The special effects filters include B+W filters for Red, Green, and Yellow, as well as Sepia, and selective colour. Multiple exposures and burst-shooting are also possible, and the only limitation is the size of the memory card.

So, is it faultless? Well no, but what is? The downsides include to some extent, the light weight, that can make it tricky to hold. I am getting a case to help this, and would recommend that others do. The much lauded largest aperture of f2.8 is only available at the 28 mm zoom setting, not through the full zoom range. For those of us that like to see a lot of depth of field, minimum aperture is only f11, not f16, or f22, both of which would be preferable. However, in such a compact package, compromises are inevitable. The metal lens cap cannot be secured to the body, so must be accommodated in a pocket or bag. The battery must be charged through the camera, unless you purchase an after-market charger. Despite the all-metal construction, that is both pleasing to the eye, and to the hand, the battery door is made from cheap plastic for some reason, and does not feel as if it will endure the life of the camera. I opted for the silver and black version, but find that the base plate is easily scratched, even after such a short time of ownership.

But these niggles are not really reflected in the user experience. Manual zoom control, manual aperture ring and compensation dial, all help to make using this camera a joy. Add to that the brilliant EVF, easy menu system, and portability, and you have a camera that you want to carry around, and use all the time. That alone makes it worth the money.