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Photographing Chicago with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 –

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 is marketed as a pocket-size travel camera, and that’s exactly what I used it for. During my recent See! Chicago photo tour, I grabbed this camera and threw it in my pocket.

Why a compact, point-and-shoot for leading a photo tour?

I had a couple of reasons for not carrying my usual camera bag and gear. First of all, I decided that since I was leading the tour, I wanted to focus my attention on the participants and not create my own images. This allowed me to wander freely, pointing out possible compositions and subjects for them to photograph. It also allowed them to photograph what they saw and interpret it in their own way rather than seeing and perhaps copying what I was photographing.

Curved glass building reflection Navy Pier
The Yard building at Navy Pier

Secondly, I knew that carrying my bag and gear would weigh me down after the first few hours and I wanted to just travel lighter than usual. I typically only carry my Canon 6D, the Canon 17-40mm lens and my Tamron 100-400 anyway. Not overly heavy, but enough that I know when it’s relatively warm out and we have hours of wandering that I get impatient with it. 

Struggles with the Lumix DMC-ZS60

I love that the Lumix DMC-ZS60 can be switched to RAW and that’s what I had it set for. But, the touch screen caused me some issues along the way. A few times I randomly switched settings by accidentally touching the screen when I was carrying the camera or bringing it up to take a photo. I ended up with several one to two-second videos and had no idea how to turn that off or back.

Another time the coloring was off because some setting was changed, again by accident. I’m old school, and not a fan of touch screens, especially for my photography.

Also, I’ve never really learned how to use this camera and don’t use it enough to remember what I did before when I was using it on manual settings. So, again, I wanted to focus on the tour participants so I just put it on the Intelligent Auto setting and had fun.

I learned something anyway

Because of the accidental videos, I learned how to grab a single frame and save it as a single image. Yea me! Honestly, it made me so happy because I got at least one pretty cool shot that way. I haven’t gone through the rest of the videos yet. And, looking at the product page it states, “Thanks to 4K technology, 4K photo allows you to capture the perfect moment in 30fps and select your best photo after shooting.” 

Lumix DMC-ZS60 person crossing street in Chicago
This image is a still frame from one of the several videos I accidentally shot.

It’s still all about the composition

No matter what camera you use, it’s still all up to you to create a good image. Composition is the key to that. You can take pretty scenes and make pretty photos, but being intentional about what you are putting in and leaving out of your frame, makes the difference between pretty images and good photography.

I really enjoyed being unencumbered by gear. Being able to carry my camera in my pocket and still know that I could come back and process RAW images were great. And yes, I took my share of phone shots too and even played with Lightroom Mobile a little. But, even that was too time-consuming at the moment to mess with for my taste.

girl running through Crown Fountain Chicago Lumix DMC-ZS60

There is something to be said for letting go of the technical and not thinking about much other than what you see and what you want to photograph. Just playing is good for you creatively. It’s very freeing and allows your mind to wander more and, in the end, see more.

The Lumix DMC-ZS60 may not be the latest and greatest, and the images could be a bit better quality. But, it was truly fun to have and use. Sometimes fun is the most important part of photography.

If you’re interested in joining me for a See! Chicago tour in 2023 be sure to check out the information here.

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Rafael Jones

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