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You Should Be Dancing dance center & Club 412
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An Evening with Abakua - Salsa, Cha-Cha and Boogaloo at Club 412 with a Review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 camera

by Robert Abrams
December 28, 2007
You Should Be Dancing dance center & Club 412
412 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
212-244-0011
Party begins at 9 pm
Every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month
Music by DJ Frankie
Hosted by Manny
General Admission $10
www.abakuadancers.com
Tonight I field tested a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3. This is a compact point and shoot digital camera. I found the camera to have good responsiveness for a camera in this class. In the relatively dim light of social dance venues, responsiveness is a function not only of shutter lag, but also the time it takes the auto focus to lock. There was a noticeable lag, which is unavoidable at present in this camera class, so you are going to get a good number of photos that are not what you were hoping for, but the lag is small enough that you won't be waiting multiple seconds for the camera to finally decide to take the picture. Some social dance venues have dimmer lighting than others, so it remains to be seen how the auto-focus responds in such other venues.

This camera can be set as high as a 1250 ISO. For reasons I have not been able to determine, no matter what ISO I used, the camera always shot at an aperture of 3.3 and a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second (when using the flash). Normally a 1/30th of a second is slow enough that photos of people dancing will turn out fairly blurry. Despite this, the photos almost always were sharp, at least for web use.

The camera's zoom starts at a relatively wide angle for a camera in its class, which is useful for social dance photography. It also has a 10X zoom, which is not so useful for most social dance photography, but could be attractive for other purposes.

The three inch LCD screen has three display modes, which proved quite useful for viewing the screen when the camera was held at odd angles.

The camera has two main problems. First, while it has a plethora of modes that are supposedly optimal for various situations (including a mode specially designed for taking photos of pets), as well as a mode where the ISO is automatically adjusted depending on what the camera senses, there is no way to set the aperture and shutter speed manually. This is not a huge problem as the camera does a reasonable job of choosing settings, but as someone who takes photography seriously, even when shooting with a point and shoot, I feel that omitting a manual exposure mode verges on insulting. Second, sometimes when using the flash, the resulting photos had several spots. Based on tonight's photos, I thought the problem might be dust on the lens, but another test the next night, where I cleaned the lens with a professional lens cleaning solution and cloth, still resulted in spots, though perhaps not as many. My suspicion is that the flash was bouncing off of people's watches, the mirrors and the like.

The spots would be unacceptable in a more expensive camera, but in a point and shoot they are mostly annoying. The lack of manual exposure controls will rule out this camera for some photographers, but the results using the automatic settings produce results that are good enough so that it might not matter. On balance, I thought the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 is an acceptable camera if you are looking for something small enough to fit in a pocket for when you don't want to lug an SLR to a party. If Panasonic could get rid of the spots, I would be happier, but even with them, I think this camera is good enough.

It should be noted, though, that I found a potential problem with the camera, that while not fatal, needs to be watched. After I sprayed some cleaning solution on the lens and cleaned it with the cloth, the built in shutters that serve as a lens cap did not close completely when I turned the camera off and did not open completely when I turned the camera on. I could get them to close or open by carefully nudging them with my finger. Eventually the lens cap shutters returned to normal function. I suspect that a tiny amount of cleaning solution residue was interfering with the shutters. As I said, while this is not fatal, it is somewhat worrisome given that cleaning a lens is normal activity, and that if one put the camera into a pocket with the shutters partially open, the lens might get scratched.

Click for the second test of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3.

The party had great energy. The large room was nearly empty at 9 pm, but this is a Latin party, so that is to be expected. By 10 pm or so, the place was packed. There were a range of dancers in attendance, including quite a few with serious style, both kinetic and sartorial. Club 412's full cash bar was available.

One of You Should Be Dancing's performance classes gave a Salsa performance, which was quite good as far as I could see, but I was standing about five deep in the crowd, so my view was not the best. Someone needs to develop a set of portable risers that would make it easier for people to see shows at dance studios.

I got in some dancing of my own tonight. The first few times were just awful, but no fault of my partners. I couldn't find a groove. Then, later on, I was asked to dance when the floor was so crowded, I had no choice but to dance in a 14 inch square. Keeping my movements small helped me find my groove. The dancing may not have been as styled and intricate as some of the other people there (and I am not a Salsa specialist in any case), but it reaffirmed that the basic rhythm of a dance can sustain even without room for embellishment.

An Evening with Abakua was a great party that deserves a second look. Fortunately, the party is offered twice a month.
Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Salsa at Club 412

Salsa at Club 412

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams

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