Panasonic DMC FZ72…..update


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Well not so good as I originally thought. I am having problems with close-ups of birds.

Recently I have spent a couple of afternoons in the Forest of Dean at the Nags Head RSPB reserve. I have been trying to get some decent shots of Pied Flycatchers and they are mediocre.

It could be my fault, and I would appreciate suggestions. I have tried with the Lumix Automatic settings (for idiots) and I have also tried with shutter priority so that I could use speeds of around 400th second to eliminate movement by the birds or me, I have also tried with the camera on a tripod and with it jammed up against something solid.

Here are some of the results, first of all a Mandarin duck which I photographed at about X40 and it was about 10M away from me. At first sight it looks OK but then I cropped it and it starts to look a bit ‘soft’ and then if you get in much closer, you can see that it is not as sharp as it could be.Nags Head7

Now we have the cropped photo. This is still acceptable?Nags Head8

And now we zoom in and it lacks definition.Nags Head9

May be I am being a bit picky here but now have a look at the  photos of the Pied Flycatcher.Nags Head10

This is what most of my photos looked like, it was taken at X60, or 1200mm and the distance was about 20M away, in good light. Here are two photos, the first is the original and the second is the same photo but cropped by about 50%.Nags Head2

Hmm its OK, a bit dark but that is not the problem its how sharp it is. Here is the same photo cropped.Nags Head3

Well that is not so good now here are another pair, first the original.Nags Head4

As is often the case the twigs are obscuring the bird somewhat. but here is the cropped version where it looks quite fuzzy.Nags Head5

So these were the best I achieved and many more have been deleted so I am not over impressed. They were at X60 so possibly at the optical limit the camera is just not so good.

Finally to finish off here are two other photos one is a close up of a flower (Bugle) which I think is quite good.Nags Head1

Finally a general landscape shot (entrance to Nags Head reserve) which again is, I also think quite good.Nags Head6

So all in all its a good camera for the price but at max optical zoom it struggles.   Over to you for your comments.

Whats on in Poitou-Charentes; May 2015


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v2Fete du Nautisme; Royan : 2nd and 3rd May (more)

Festival International de Music de Chambre en Charente; Chalais  9th May to 7thth June (More)

Journees des Vehicules du Futur Haute Saintonge  17th to 18th May.

Festival de Melle ; Melle: 21st May to 6th June (more)

Musiques Metisses; Angouleme : 22nd 23rd and 24th May (more)

Music/Rock; St Medard: 30th May (more)

Half Marathon; Aytre-La Rochelle: 31st May (more)

Half Marathon: Futuroscope: 31st May (more)

Plan d’eau in Poitou-Charentes


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With all this hot weather I have just added a new ‘page’ to this blog which lists some of the Plan d’eau in the region. I was going to put it on later in the year, probably late May or June  but it may be needed NOW. Click Plan D’Eau to see the listPland'Eau0003 I am sure its not comprehensive so please let me know if there is one near you that I have missed out.

New Camera…..Panasonic DMC FZ72


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Several events have conspired to result in my purchase of this camera. It is what is known as a ‘bridge’ camera, also sometimes referred to as a superzoom.DMC-FZ72EB-Product_ImageGlobal-1_uk_en

The bridge bit comes from it being a bridge between the simple point and shoot type of camera and the more complex DSLR (digital single lens reflex ) cameras which cost a lot more and are more complicated to use.

The superzoom comes from it having a lens which will magnify up to 60 times. Superzooms are lenses which will achieve anything from 40 to 60 magnification.

So why have I bought one when I already have some quite good Canon DSLR cameras?

First of all my camera equipment weighs a ton and when I am out and about for a day or on holiday then being weighed down with a big heavy rucksack does detract a bit. And as I am shortly going on a trip to Canada the thought of lugging all my gear half way across  the world was not something I was looking forward to.

Secondly my big heavy telephoto is a 100mm to 400mm zoom which is quite good, but this is as nothing to the lens on the Panasonic which is 20mm to a massive 1200mm lens. To achieve a comparable magnification with DSLR gear would need an investment of well over £10,000 and a wheelbarrow to move it round.

Thirdly I have been recommended these bridge cameras by ‘experts’ from a camera club which I have recently joined and by a friend in Charente Maritime who has a similar model but of the Canon make.

The down side, first of all you will not get the same quality photo as with the expensive gear. All the photos in Wildlife Photographer of the Year are taken with gear costing anything fro £2,000 to £20,000. This camera costs about £250. However if you are not entering prestigious competions or wanting photos which can be blown up for use on advertising hoardigs then it is not important.

Also when you are taking pictures at 60X magnification you really need to hold the camera still and that means a tripod.

So I have had my camera a few days and here are some photos and comments about camera3

This is a Hedge sparrow taken at 60X mag and with the camera on a tripod. The bird was about 20 meters from the camera. The quality is OK, but if you look closely or zoom in on the original photo then it does lack some camera4

The camera will extend the magnification to 120X but this is achieved digitally. The photo above was at about 80X. It seems difficult to prevent zooming past the 60X optical limit which is to my mind a waste of time as you significantly loose quality and can always crop your photos camera14

I took some close ups and they seem quite good and seem to maintain better definition when you zoom in on the picture, this one of some moss shows this quite camera7

This is a very small hunting spider, the body is probably less than 50mm long, I took this with the 20mm end of the zoom less and then I have cropped it to bring it up to the size you are seeing. Still the definition is good and it will even crop some more, so  am quite impressed with this aspect of the camera.

I will put some of the other photos into a slide show presentation so you can see what else has been achieved.

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I think this is excellent value for money, and if you want to spend a bit more (£600) then Panasonic have a new bridge camera out with a much larger sensor. This is the element of all cameras which controls the quality of the photo, and which is the main limitation of all bridge cameras.

No more Poitoucharentes on Face Book


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When I first started this blog, I also started a face book (FB) page. Initially I set up a page under the name of Alan Waterman. However my daughter said that not many people would respond to that name and a better name would be Poitoucharentes, that would be more likely to attract people to look at this blog.

So I had a page named Poitoucharentes and gradually more and more people became my friends. Some were real friends, ie people I knew and others were friends that I had never met but they became friends in a way because we corresponded and shared views and sometimes had disagreements and in all but physical contact were indeed friends. Whenever I published anything on my blog called it came up on my FB page and this alerted some of my friends to the new publication. I also set up a second blog about a piece of woodland which we purchased a couple of years ago. This woodland is in Monmouthshire Wales and the blog is called

Recently when I tried to log into my FB page up came a message saying basically that Poitoucharentes is not a proper name like Joe Blogs or Betty Boo and that I was really using FB as a front for an organisation or business. As such they said I had to close my Poitoucharentes name and that I could set up Poitoucharentesinphotos as a ‘page’ and I had to use Alan Waterman as my FB page from now on. This means that all my friends have been lost, and that if you were my friend then you will no longer get any messages from me and so you will not know when I have put anything new on either of my two blogs.

I can understand that FB may not want commercial enterprises using the facility to get free publicity but what I was doing was not commercial….. I never made a single penny or euro from my blogs. I have also discovered that FB will kindly ‘promote’ my poitoucharentesinphotos page  and ensure that it reaches a far wider audience if I pay them a certain amount of money. This it would seem to me is the entire reason for their actions.

So it’s no more Poitoucharentes on Face book. If you want to be my friend then please look up Alan Waterman and request my friendship, which I will of course grant. Thank you for your messages and photos and all the other stuff over the past few years and maybe we will meet again sometime.


Alan Waterman…… formerly Poitoucharentes.

Whats on in Poitou-Charentes; April 2015


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Spring is here, well some days it is and more and more events are taking place in the Poitou-Charentes region.expo-bonsai_1

Here is a list of some of the events this month

Bach a Paques; Saint Maixent L’Ecole: 3rd to 6th April (more)

Festival des Cerf-volant – Kite festival: Chatellion Plage: 4th to 6th April (more)

A la table des Princes; Nouaille Maupertuis : 4th and 5th April (more)

Half Marathon;Chatellerault: 6th April (more) ? very hilly ????

Exposition Regionale de Bonsai; Puymoyen: 11th and 12th April (more)

Half Marathon Course des Vallees (Croix Chapeau) 12th April (more) scenic and you can cool off in the lakes.

Foire at Rouillac: 27th April

For other events during 2015 see What’s on in Poitou-Charentes 2015


The Speckled Wood; Pararge aegeria


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This butterfly was out and about in early March in Poitou-Charentes.

Speckled wood

Speckled Wood

I photographed this one whilst walking along a cliff top path near Saint Palais sur Mer on 4th March 2015.

The caterpillars feed on various grasses, and are long green and thin thus resembling a blade of grass and this helps them to avoid be eaten by hungry birds and lizards.

There are normally several broods of butterflies each year. This species overwinters as a caterpillar or as the chrysalid.

There is a similar butterfly called the Wall Brown and they do look quite similar, the photo below is the Wall Brown.wall brown

This photo is from a web site called

Firecrests and Goldcrests


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These are tiny little birds, even smaller than wrens. They are also quite stunning. In England you are more likely to see a Goldcrest, but in Poitou-Charentes you are more likely to see a Firercrest.Goldcrest. Firecrest are the best in that the crest which is the stripe down the centre of its head is bright orange whereas in the Goldcrest it is yellow or gold. Also the Firecrest has more distinctive facial markings in that it has a black stripe through its eye and a white stripe immediately above, in the area which we might call its eyebrow. This is known by birdwatchers as the supercillium. This is a Firecrest. It is not a brilliant photo But it does show the eye stripe etc.Garden birds2

I have recently bought a new camera, it is a Canon 70D which is basically the new version of my previous camera the 50D. I still have the 50D but use that with a normal lens and the 70D is used with my 400mm telephoto. This means that I now no longer have to change lenses and risk getting dust into the cameras.  The down side is my camera equipment weighs even more than it did before. The new camera is slightly different to the old one so I want to practice using it, so that I get used to it before we go on a big holiday to Canada in a few months time.

I had seen a Firecrest in the garden a couple of days ago and this afternoon the weather was vaguely better than it has been for the last week, ie not completely sh.t, so I spent some time photographing small birds.  Not with a huge amount of success but as I said it was a practice session and as you can see I need the practice. This is my best shot of the Firecrest, it is reasonably in focus and you can just see the  fire coloured crest. It is a pity it has its back to me and some of the vegetation is obscuring it….apart from that it is fine!Garden birds3

Here are some shots of a Chiff Chaff a Great tit, a Long tailed tit and a Tree creeper whch I also took this afternoon.

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In all I took over 150 shots ( that’s four rolls of film in old money) and virtually all have been deleted, this is because these little birds are very active and often by the time you have focused on them they have moved. Also in order to get sufficient light you cannot use too fast a shutter speed so if the bird moves, (which they do a lot) then the photo will be blurred, and if you are photographing against a light sky then the bird will be dark (underexposed) You can adjust for this but by the time you have done this the bird will have flown off…… it is quite frustrating and so here are some of the photos which illustrate these problems.

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Angouleme art.


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I am quite a fan of wall paintings/graffiti; where does one stop and the other start? Banksy… Graffiti vandal?Angouleme1

Anyway we had a day in Angouleme today and a good meal in La Cantine , we have eaten there before, some years ago. My wife will do a review of it soon but at the moment is watching the Wales France rugby match (for the runners spot?)

Here are a few photos I took today, ranging from a black and white stencil to a full on 4 story high  3D painting.

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There was also a very nice scooter so I photographed that as wellAngouleme4

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; March 2015


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Quite a lot…… for example we have

Demonstration de Vehicules anciens a Enchillias

Demonstration de Vehicules anciens a Enchillias

So far over 110 different events have been listed for 2015. To see what is on for the other months this year,  click  What’s on in Poitou-Charentes

To get more details about each event click where it says  (more) at the end of the brief event details.

Half Marathon; Taillebourg: 1st March (more)

Demonstration de Vehicules anciens a Enchillias; Rochefort 1st March. (more)

Printemps des Poets; Niort: 7th to 22nd March (more)

Venetian Carnival; Etaules: 8th March

Carnival; Poitiers: 11th March (more) 

Mars en Branconne 2015; Branconne: 13th to 22nd March   (more)







There is lots on in Brancome so do check it out, Jazz with Christian Escoude is just one of the many events. He is performing on 15th March at the Salle du Bourg de Champniers.

Les Musicales; Gond Pontuvre: 13th March to 5th April (more) 

La Tete dans les Nuages – magic, circus,arts, and dance for youngsters; Angouleme; 14thto 20th March (more) 

Half Marathon; Foules de-Saint Eutrope: 15th March (more)

Half Marathon; Bressuire :15th March (more)

Half Marathon; La Rochelle:15th March (more) 

Fete de le Saint Patrick; Bressuire:17th March (more)

Carnival; Blanzac Porcheresse: 28th March

Carnival; St-Pierre-d’Oleron: 28th March

Troc aux Plantes; Chalais (Jardin de la Tude): 28th March

Terri’Thouars Blues: Thouars: 24th to 29th March (more)

Rochefort Pacifique cinema et literature; Rochefort 25th to 29th March. (more)

Johnny Clarke (reggae) Angouleme 29th March (more) could be good

Foire at Rouillac: 27th March

Exposition; Pras dans tous ses Etats; Angouleme: 27th March to 3rd Jan 2016….so no rush for this one then  (more)



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