Like Austin, Memphis has a reputation for great music and a healthy nightlife. Beale Street is where the action is, downtown, with loads of bars, restaurants and live music joints. It’s equivalent to Austin’s 6th Street but with so much more. Not only is it more famous, it’s cleaner and more family friendly. But what really enticed me was the plethora of neon.
I’m a sucker for neon. The colors are wonderful, of course, and when combined with old buildings with texture, at night, it’s a recipe that’s hard to resist. It’s a visual feast for someone who loves to shoot the city. That’s one of the reasons I brought my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, the neon along with my plan of shooting the fireworks during the 4th of July. I knew the higher performance and low light capability of the camera would be better suited than a point and shoot with a small sensor. While I’ve shot successfully with the Panasonic ZS50, I knew it wasn’t well suited for the night.
As expected, the Olympus, with a fairly large micro 4/3 sensor, did a fine job. Coupled with the 12-40mm Pro zoom with a constant f2.8 aperture, scenes like these are easy to capture, especially with the help of a capable in-body image stabilization.
But, on a lark, I put the Panasonic ZS50 to the test and the results surprised me. Under the Scene mode, a “Handheld Night Shot” option did a remarkably good job. The camera shoots a burst of photos and combines them in-camera to create a single clean image. When coupled with the ZS50’s also excellent image stabilization, it’s hard to believe what a small sensor camera can achieve these days.
Is the Olympus OM-D superior in image quality? Absolutely. But for a small, carry anywhere point and shoot that’s 7x less expensive, the Panasonic did a remarkable job. Computer technology has remarkably augmented a smaller sensor to give very usable results, even in tough low light conditions.
Here’s more neon from Beale Street. Not sure which camera I used? Hover over the photograph with a mouse to see the exposure details.