I received a phone call from Donna inquiring about my DSLR Photography Lessons and if I had time for a lesson before she soon left for a trip to South America. Fortunately, both our schedules worked out and we were able to have our first of four lessons before her trip. Donna just got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Micro Four Thirds style camera. This was my first time to get hands on with one of these compact cameras that has interchangeable lenses. To be honest, my first impression is I would never own one of these types of cameras. If I was not going to bring my DSLR around with me, I would probably then opt for something like the Nikon Coolpix P7100 or the Canon Powershot G12. Still, I found the mostly menu driven DMC-GF3 to be pretty intuitive as I could figure out everything without having to delve into the manual.
The Lumix DMC-GF3 does have all the exposure modes of a DSLR, including aperture and shutter priority modes, as well as full manual. Therefore, I could teach Donna my (someday) patented 4-step process for getting the correct exposure and sharpness for any given shooting conditions. We started in aperture priority mode and once we hit the limits of her lens (f/5.6) and then also the shutter speed limit of 1/50th (what I feel is safely possible to handhold with a wide angle lens on) I had her switch to manual mode and force the shutter speed to stay at 1/50th of a second, but increase the ISO acccordingly to still get the desired exposure.
We tested the built-in pop-up flash of the Lumix DMC-GF3 for casual indoor portraits. It worked as well as most pop-up flashes, which means it was passable. When Donna returns from her trip we will work on more composition focused lessons. I look forward to seeing her South America images!