The Colour Quest (XI) – Spring Calling With The Lumix FZ38

For the last couple of years I’ve been on a photographic colour adventure, finding the (digital) cameras and set ups that give me colours I love without endless (or indeed any) post processing.

You can read previous chapters of the colour quest here.

Since I bought my Lumix FZ38 last October I’ve used it almost exclusively, aside from my Sony Xperia still being my main family photo machine, and a brief excursion for my Pentax K-30 for some home made Christmas cards.

The FZ38 has been firing entirely via its BW Film Grain mode so far, but with spring now in full swing here, I can ignore those abundant colours no longer.

I could just grab one of my lovely Pentax CCD DSLRs and know they’d capture the colours in a way I’d love.

But I’m keen to see what the Lumix has up its sleeve on the colour front.

It does have a CCD sensor too, and whilst it’s obviously not as large as the APS-C sensors of the DSLRs, nor the lens as capable, I’ve not been disappointed on either of these fronts with it so far otherwise.

One option is to use a mode called My Color Mode (sic – they can’t spell colour correctly).

This has three settings, allowing you to adjust the colour between red and blue hues (+5 red through zero to +5 blue), brightness (-6 to +6) and saturation (-5 to +5).

Knowing my preferences from the DSLRs and using Snapseed to tweak the Xperia phone photos, I think taking the colour towards warmer reds, dropping the brightness a touch, and upping the saturation may give me something I like.

Initial experiments with this set up are promising.

The downside of this mode is that, aside from the colour adjustments, the camera is shooting in Auto, and it sets the aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

This works fine with the aforementioned BW Film Grain mode, where the photos can be sketchy (and the ISO is fixed at 1600 anyway which enhances this.)

But for colour shots I might want more control over the ISO (at the sensor’s native ISO80, or at least limited to perhaps 200) and the aperture (to control depth of field more).

So an alternative is using the A (Aperture Priority) mode, then delving into the settings to control the ISO, and being able to adjust the aperture on the fly.

This set up gives some flexibility with colour, with its “Color Effect” setting. Here you can have it switched off, or set to one of B/W, Sepia, Cool, or Warm.

These effects are not particularly subtle though, and shooting a red blanket with the cool setting makes it very magenta, and on the warm setting it’s far too over saturated, like someone’s spilled a tin of red paint all over it.

In the field, I don’t shoot much red, so I’ll experiment with my more typical palette of greens and browns with a little purple and yellow thrown in from those spring blooms, and see how it turns out.

The other approach I could take of course is to ditch my DSLR expectations, and simply find a different colour set up with the FZ38 that I like too.

This is akin to when I shot film, and I enjoyed certain film emulsions (and treatments, or expired film) for their distinct character, even though they were different from others.

Or like I’ve tried with other digital cameras, like the Pentax Q and its Vintage Colour Smart Effect.

I plan to get out over the coming weeks and experiment more, then post a follow up.

Which season is it in your part of the world currently? Does it inspire you to get out and shoot with a particular colour (or b/w) approach?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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7 thoughts on “The Colour Quest (XI) – Spring Calling With The Lumix FZ38”

  1. Still got about 4″ of hard-packed glacial ice here. Not exactly the kind of weather to venture out in. Birds are trying to come home, and end up complaining about the cold every morning! But I have seen the geese flying North so it’s only a matter of time. Another month, probably.

    1. Somewhat colder than here! It’s been around 7 or 8 degrees (Celsius) on average for about a month, a high of 11 or 12 if we’ve been lucky, but later next week we’re predicted 17-19 degrees!

  2. Being in Peru, close to the equator, the weather doesn’t change much along the year in the jungle, highlands or the deserts and tropics of the coast, but a constant is that due the biodiversity (I think only China has more biodiversity in their frontiers) and the culture that likes color in clothes and everything… well, is hard to shoot black and white, at least for me, there is so much color that is a pity not showing it. I use a Samsung S8+, its manual mode allows me to fine tune tint, white balance and color temperature, I get the colors as I love them, it is warmer to almost be golden 😀 the fujifilm is even more capable of so many renderings, I have an app given from a person as generous as you that shares his experiments to get the colors as simulating the aspect of old negative and slide films of the past in his wordpress blog fujixweekly, I like specially his Ektar 100 recipe, aged color and one of velvia. The colors in your photograph are marvelous, I didn’t know Panasonic had such capabilities even for their non professional line.

    1. I usually tend towards the goldens too Francis. With my Sony Xperia phone’s standard output (fine but on the cold and pale side) I tweak any photos I want to keep or print in Snapseed and my adjustments are fairly consistent – use the Tune image tool, take Contrast and Saturation up a little, and Warmth up a little more. Makes portraits look more like they were made on film in the 1970s with the sun shining. : )

      People complain a great deal about the weather here (south east of England, but in England generally!), and it’s always too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry… But I like that we have such distinct seasons and you could arrive in a time machine and know after a few minutes outside which season it is, and probably even which month.

  3. Here in north Georgia, USA, the spring seems to be up to a slow start this year… finally some trees are blossoming, and some others have leaves, but it’s still looking mostly like winter. But this weekend the temperatures really rose up and it doesn’t feel like cold weather anymore. So we did quite a bit of work in the garden… but without the camera as I was busy doing some “man work” and getting my hands dirty…
    I really hope I can go out for some walks and scenery seeing. With the family, of course, which reduces the photo opportunities but it’s ok because being with them is what I enjoy the most.

    1. It’s lovely when spring starts to peep through, then suddenly there’s one day where the skies are clear, there’s new shoots and blossoms around, the sun is warming your face, and you think “ah, spring has arrived!”

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