Arizona & Utah: Big Memories with a Tiny Sensor

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the technical aspects of our gear that we forget that the most important things are the images we capture regardless of the gear we are using. Those images help to enshrine memories. They could be of family and friends, pets, events, or places that we have visited.

A Panasonic FZ28 super-zoom would never be considered as anything much more than a point-and-shoot camera by most folks. After all, its 10 MP sensor is a miniscule 1/2.33″ (6.08 x 4.56 mm), with uninspiring dynamic range and colour depth, and very poor low light performance. But in my mind it will always be one of my favourite cameras because of the memories that it allowed me to capture. Like a sightseeing trip to Arizona and southeastern Utah.

Note: click on images to enlarge

Massacre Cave, Canyon De Chelly National Monument
Massacre Cave, Canyon De Chelly National Monument
DMC-FZ28 @ 17.4mm, ISO 100, 10/1600, f/4.0

We rented an SUV in Phoenix and toured the state for a couple of weeks with our best friends. Making a large loop from Phoenix through Sedona, over to the Grand Canyon, then east to Monument Valley, south to Canyon de Chelly and the Petrified Forest, then back through Sedona and ending back again in Phoenix.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
DMC-FZ28 @ 7.1mm, ISO 100, 10/2500, f/5.6

Unlike a lot of people my favourite parts of the trip didn’t include the Grand Canyon, choosing Canyon de Chelly National Monument and Monument Valley instead.

Canyon del Muerto, Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon del Muerto, Canyon de Chelly National Monument
DMC-FZ28 @ 9.9mm, ISO 100, 10/1000, f/3.2

While the Grand Canyon had big vistas it just seemed to lack the intimacy of Canyon de Chelly.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
DMC-FZ28 @ 4.8mm, ISO 100, 10/1000, f/4.0

When I looked down into the deeply carved valleys of Canyon de Chelly they brought back childhood memories of watching those old ‘Western’ movies on television on Saturday mornings. The gun battles and dusty chase scenes.

Big Hogan, Monument Valley
Big Hogan, Monument ValleyDMC-FZ28 @ 6mm, ISO 160, 10/2000, f/5.0

Visiting Big Hogan in Monument Valley was a special treat. Many folks don’t realize that the famous ‘snake pit’ scene in Indiana Jones The Last Crusade was filmed there.

Eye of the Wind, Monument Valley
Ear of the Wind, Monument Valley
DMC-FZ28 @ 4.8mm, ISO 100, 10/2500, f/5.6

Monument Valley has been used for numerous movies including director John Ford’s classic film Stage Coach that starred John Wayne, and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. Films like The Eiger Sanction, Forest Gump, Back to the Future III and National Lampoon’s Vacation all had scenes filmed in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley at sunrise
Monument Valley at sunriseDMC-FZ28 @ 11.5mm, ISO 160, 10/500, f/3.4

For some reason I have a strong affinity for the beauty of the desert and its rugged terrain. I find the scenery truly inspiring.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
DMC-FZ28 @ 8.5mm, ISO 160, 10/3200, f/5.6

If we’re going to get the most out of our gear we have to simply enjoy it to the fullest. We need to remember that whatever camera we may happen to have in our hands at any given moment – it has the potential to enshrine a memory. Sometimes we sound apologetic about our gear, and almost act as if we’re ashamed of it by saying things like, “I only have a…”. Let’s get over our gear phobia and just enjoy capturing memories!

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8 thoughts on “Arizona & Utah: Big Memories with a Tiny Sensor”

  1. One other comment, now that I think about it. I have some older photos that I took with a D90 (JPGs, not NEFs, unfortunately). I have discovered that even though they are JPGs, I can run them through DxO and still improve them. It brings back great memories to take the time to do this. Did you rerun the above pics through DxO?

  2. Great pics, as always. Lately I have been thinking of getting a Panasonic DMC-FZ200. Good zoom range, f/2.8 throughout. Looks like that, or the DMC-FZ1000 (lower zoom range, f/2.8-4, but larger sensor), might be worth investigating.

    1. Hi William,
      Panasonic makes some great cameras that are worth considering for sure. Another ‘super zoom’ bridge camera you may want to consider is the new Nikon P900. It has an efov of 24-2000mm. There are some trade-offs as the zoom is variable aperture and the camera only takes jpegs for stills.

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