I enjoyed a half hour at the bank yesterday (way back in 2009) and when I got out, the snow was gently falling in huge flakes. I had left the house with both cams with the intent of driving out to the river to see what I could shoot, and so I did.
Before I left the house, I shot an image through my front door of the Lilac bush in the front yard, just to test the settings I was using. Today, I was shooting the Panny in a very automatic mode with its smart exposure features enabled. The Fuji used my usual settings, since there is no better way to shoot the F70EXR in my opinion.
The ZS3 actually looks a little better here, as it has smoother tones and is less sharpened straight from the camera. Fuji are obviously striking a balance where binning is concerned ... the weird shape of the matrix after binning seems to make for blunter or thicker edges so Fuji sharpens harder than they do in other modes. This looks a little harsh at 100%, but is fine at typical web and print sizes.
So after I left the bank, I drove to the point where Folk Fest is held and where I shot round 1 of these comparisons with the wind surfers. I first walked towards a massive willow (I think it is a Willow) next to the parking lot. I shot both at wide and tele, and both cams look great in my opinion. Exposures were very close, with the Fuji slightly underexposing. I equalized both for exposure and white balance in ACR of course, as I am comparing final results with these cameras, not out of camera results.
F70 EXR then ZS3
The Fuji tends to be very good in the show at DR400 ... this because it reduces the contrast which gives the images a brighter look overall. I do try to equalize, but it is actually quite difficult to do that ... the Panny simply looks more contrasty. If you like that, you might prefer working with ZS3 files. Remember, though, that this is really easy light to shoot in ...
And finally, I shot a couple of shore line images ... F70EXR first, then ZS3 in these sequences:
Note here that the Panny has a weird vignetting with warmer colors in the middle ... I am rather perplexed about its response here. Just one more strange color thing that this camera can do ...
Both cams render the snow very nicely here. And despite my attempt to render them with similar colors, the Fuji continues to come out cooler.
That was it for the point. So off I went to Dick Bell Park. I realized as I got there that the place was rather desolate ... the boats were all in dry dock and there was little to shoot. In this sort of snow fall, you need trees ... lots of them. So I continued along and turned up Moodie Drive to hit the Beaver Trail again.
I walked in counter clockwise this time, as I wanted to see the Chickadee feeder again. In fact, it was covered in snow so I didn't bother with it. Turns out that I did not need to work too hard to find Chickadees, as you will see at the end.
Meanwhile, the snow looked stunning on the many branches and fallen trees. A beautiful coat of snow on top of the remaining ice from the ice storm of a few days ago. Pretty magical to walk here.
As always, F70EXR then ZS3 in these sequences.
Again, the difference in contrast remains, despite my attempts to equalize. The Fuji looks more open and soft (and by this I mean contrast, not sharpness) and the Panny is harder and warmer. But both do this beautifully in my opinion.
I saw an interesting formation of trunks and thought I'd shoot to get nice gradations in smooth snow, as well as a close up for details. I used a custom tone curve for the snow in all my images, and it was very necessary for these to pull out the snow detail (which is more like light to dark undulations.)
F70EXR first, then ZS3
The Panny often has strange color casts in shadows, and here I fought with that but ultimately gave up. Both look nice, but for different reasons.
Some animal tracks gave me the chance to try to capture snow detail again ...
F70EXR then ZS3
Again, ZS3 is warmer. Shouldn't be that way when I equalize in ACR, but it's because the bright to shadow color balance is very different ... Panny shadows are cooler, and that's where I try to equalize to gray.
My final tree shot is .... you guessed it (assuming you read my D700 posts) ... a stump. Again, F70EXR then ZS3.
Both retain plenty of snow detail and both protect the highlights just fine.
Now ... at this point I wandered back out, I came across a huge bush that had a bunch of Chickadees in it. I tried both cams and found the Panny AF was hopelessly slow for this task. I never even got close to a decent image of a Chickadee. Whereas with the Fuji, I got several. So from here on it is all Fuji F70EXR, which is far better for quick response.
Note the detail on this bird ... I was really impressed with this shot. 5mp does not hamper this cam much at all.
As ISO rises, detail falls ... but it is still pretty good here.
While I shot these, I had the immense pleasure of having Chickadees perch on me several times. That was so cute. I must admit, though, that it takes a bit of time to get used to the flapping of wings near your ears :-)
After a while, I wandered back towards the parking lot and encountered a young family with two cute little girls in tow. All four were holding seeds out and the Chickadees were going ape-shit ... it was so cute to see. I decided to stand there for a while and creep ever closer to the girls to shoot images of their hands and the birds ... obviously I would not shoot the girls themselves unless I got permission.
The birds move very quickly, so I got an unusual number of shots of birds arriving or leaving. It was really fun to try to time it ...
Leaving with a seed in its mouth.
Arriving ... looks like an airplane.
Landing, I believe.
One perched and one doing a fly by, which they love to do.
I then switched girls, as the first one ran out of seeds.
One looking around for a moment.
She had really poor luck though, so I shot the mother over her shoulder.
And then the two girls stood together, with the first one having a fresh batch of seeds. The little birds unwaveringly went to her.
I must admit that this Fuji is capable in ways that you really cannot imagine. Its response is surprisingly fast. There was no contest today once the action picked up. But for static shots, the Panny does a nice job. Lots of detail, a nice contrasty look.