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Old Oct 31, 2006, 10:16 AM   #1
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Yesterday I've posted this in dpReview forums, but because I've gotten very good information in this forum I would like to share it with you too. I should have presented myself first but I'm going straight to the review. If you want to see what kind of photography I'm interested in - mostly travels - , you can visit my gallery @ http://www.galeriade.com/DeBilbao

My brand new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 is at home. My first impressions are very, very good and I would like to share them with you, they could be useful to someone in the same crossroad as I've already been.

Maybe you've read about me going for a D80 + 18/200 VR, a very attractive set with a high price tag – more than 1700 € here – and a great availability problem that at least has let me rethink the situation and going for the evolution of my beloved FZ20.

I know many of the comments about the FZ50 apply to the FZ30 too because it's an update of it, but since I've been using a FZ20 for almost two years this should be more a comparison between the FZ20 and the FZ50.

I've bought it on-line for about 500 € (200 € less than the MSRP here in Spain) and I've paired it with 2 SD cards. I've chosen the 2GB Transcend 150x that for about 50 € each, are reasonably priced. Definitely, RAW shooting and 10 Mpx are space demanding specs, so my old 1 GB cards are capable, but not convenient. Consider this if you upgrade.

A camera could seem very attractive to your eyes, but you don't really judge it until you hold it and you feel it. It's inevitable; you're going to have a first opinion in this moment. The FZ50 is more camera than the FZ20, a bit larger, it really weighs more even though the final weight is acceptable, and you can hold it nicely due to the new grip material for the thumb in the back and the generous and deep grip for your fingers. If you have large hands – like me – you're going to miss a bit more space in the bottom, because your little finger doesn't have a place, the grip is not as large as your hand.

I need to make a special mention to the great zoom and focus ring in the lens barrel. This is what really makes the FZ50 completely different shooting experience compared to the FZ20, with a much more reflex-like handling. The manual focus is now usable and the feeling is just precise. If you join this with the two dials in the front and the back of the camera for changing values, and a very useful function button that will let you make ultra fast change of ISO, WB and resolution settings, you get a camera that you can use without keeping your eye off the viewfinder.

The viewfinder is really a huge improvement from the FZ20 and one of the main points in my wish list. The greater resolution makes it very detailed and although we're not at an optical viewfinder, it's really usable. It's also located in a better place and the rubber surrounding it is bigger and thus it's more comfortable. The only drawback is that being electronic the colors you get in the mini-TFT-screen are not the actual ones, it seems brighter, more contrasted and also more saturated.

But the fact that you can use it anytime with the grid lines activated, so you compose better not forgetting the thirds rule, and at the same time having a live histogram so you don't burn the highlights make it priceless and a joy to use.

Now the camera turns on quickly and I don't feel I'm going to miss a shot because of this. Also, because of the zoom ring being in the lens barrel and not having a motor it's much faster in total time, from when you see the shot, you start up the camera, you zoom in or out, you get it focused and you shoot. I'm more concerned about the fact that the camera strap is now shorter – though wider and more comfortable – and I need some practice to get my arm out of the trap, because I usually wear it crossing my chest.

Talking about focus, now it focuses much faster. There's a new position for Macro AF that reduces the minimum focal length and I've read that you can keep it always on, because there's only a slight delay compared to normal AF. I need to test it.

I'm not going to talk about the lens. It's really "the heart" of this camera. Having a stabilized Leica lens with an incredible 35-420 mm focal range, with a luminous f:2.8-f:3.7 aperture that also doesn't extends when you zoom in is the main reason of remaining in the FZ series. This lens is also really sharp and very detailed. The only drawback is that I find difficult to get nicely blurred backgrounds and not being wider, but I think I can live with this.

The LCD screen is great. Normally I leave it closed, but yesterday I've had a situation of shooting some flowers that were located very high. I raised my arms and flipped the screen in a 90 degrees angle, so I had a periscope. Very useful.

The mode dial now seems more pro due to the absence of the pre-programmed scenes. Normally I use the A and S modes, depending on the situation and now with the two dials it's very easy to change the exposure values, though I would have been better if they were situated in a higher position. I need to force a bit my thumb and index fingers to reach them but I'm sure it's a matter of time that I get used to it.

Near the mode dial are placed the on-off button – better here than in the back – the continuous shooting set button –I barely use this due to my kind of photos – and the OIS set button, that I would never change though I use Mode 2 always.

The navigator button in the back, also used for changing the flash mode, the exposure compensation, the self-timer and the review button has become smaller and is situated differently. I need to get used to this urgently because I use all of them a lot. I specially love the self timer being so easy to access because even with the stabilizer there are low light situations where I use the 2 sec. self timer to avoid blur.

Battery is new and it resides in a different compartment than the SD card. For me is very interesting because I extract the card often and now is more accessible. Battery life was one of the other important things in my wish list and it's proving really good. Yesterday I got a 100 shot round and it's almost full. I'll say after finishing it.

The graphical user interface when browsing is fantastic. A hugh leap from the FZ20 when you have to page 20 pages for looking to a photo located 200 back. This is more convenient but also a battery saver.

I've tested the RAW mode and I'm sure it's a whole new world to discover but I've come up with three inconveniences:

1. The file size. 22 MB per photo plus 2.5 MB per JPEG is just too much and almost four times the size of some DSLR camera that I've seen.

2. It's so configurable that you are lost. I know it's a matter of time to get used to this but I find it very time consuming.

3. My PC asks for an upgrade. It's a Pentium IV 2.4 GHz with 1 GB RAM and it's slow moving those files.

Anyway, I know that I'm going to love RAW, it's just a matter of time. I've been playing with the SilkyPix and Adobe Camera RAW 3.5. and I consider them great tools for learning, you can see the effect of under of lots of parameters. It's like having a photo lab at home.

But I love the Venus Engine III. Maybe the Japanese guy that have programmed it share my taste but I like the JPEGs as they come out from the camera. I need just a few post processing steps. This comes to personal taste, but I use all the picture settings in STD mode with the noise reduction to LOW and images are a bit under saturated, with a bit of low contrast, and a bit soft. Nothing that you cannot adjust with a just a few simple PS actions.

And there is the 10 Mpx size, fantastic for making very usable crops.

Noise is not an issue for me. It's really there if you push the limits of the camera but up to 400 ISO it's really nice. I have always the ISO setting at 100 ASA and I don't move it unless the situation demands it. I don't like the intelligent ISO's and alike, I prefer to have the control.

After all, we want a camera for taking the pictures we usually shot, and this little gem is going to be with me for a while. It let me capture nice shots:

Enjoy them

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, previously owned FZ-20
Visit my gallery @ http://www.galeriade.com/DeBilbao

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Old Oct 31, 2006, 12:18 PM   #2
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Thanks for this. I have been on the same path... D200 etc.. waiting for the Pentax k10 etc.. some of the fonts appear to be mangled and I wonder what you meant on item* 22. It's so configurable that you are lost. I know it's a matter of time to get used to this but I find it very time consuming.I will go back and try this camera before I buuy. After looking at the pictures from anothers post ...* Autumn.... well I have to say, if this camera does all this it overcomes, for me at least, any concern over noise above 400. HEck I had issues like that with my Yashica in the late 60's and would buy ISO 25 film for shots I knew would be keepers. I doubt I ever blew up more than one picture on purpose, all less than 8x10. I just take tiff or one stop below and then go to iPhoto and make movies and slideshows. So it makes sense to do what you did. Thanks again. I appreciate the forum and all those that contribute, especially Lumix fans.*[img]/forums/images/emoticons/jumping-smiley-004.gif[/img]BTW ccccccccc
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Old Oct 31, 2006, 7:28 PM   #3
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That is an excellent write up. Very clear and very practical

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Old Oct 31, 2006, 10:13 PM   #4
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thanks for sharing.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"things that i need.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"ps: cool pics
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 8:52 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments. I'm really enjoying the FZ50

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Old Nov 9, 2006, 11:59 AM   #6
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Do you know if the DMC-FZ50 will accept the Transcend 150X 4GB SD card or where I could find out? I tried the Transcend web Site. rawtech1
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Old Nov 9, 2006, 12:36 PM   #7
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Very nice review and a nice camera. Your photos are all first rate. I ordered the RIDATA 2GB 150x card from NewEgg for $36.95 and the work great. Just as fast as my Sand Disk lll and a lot less expensive. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820183184

Hope this helps someone......................Don
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Old Nov 9, 2006, 12:46 PM   #8
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The card needs to be marked "SDHC"... if its only SD it will not work.....

this one will work

rawtech1 wrote: [/b]
Do you know if the DMC-FZ50 will accept the Transcend 150X 4GB SD card or where I could find out? I tried the Transcend web Site. rawtech1
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Old Nov 9, 2006, 2:50 PM   #9
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Thanks deBilbao, I already read your DPrev post.

1) I am intrigued by the White Balance.
I also have a 2 years old FZ20, and its Auto WB is generally too bluish, unless a white or grey thing is in the framed imageor the light is a bit yellowish itself...
Also Manual WB is very hard to fix on FZ20 (and you can only save one):
I seldom kick a great WB on my FZ20 doing it with a 2-3x zoom towards clouds, in a sunny day, and including in the WB frame a bit of blue sky to compensate for the cyan cast and most of the white or grey cloud (only a bit of sky or the pics will look too reddish).
Now how does it work on 50, and how does the 4 directions fine tune work ?

2) Resolution:
At 100% FZ20 images will certainly look better than 50's.
But with the latter you have much more resizing factor.
May you please make the same photo of anything and then post a 50% crop of each of them (I mean you resize both the pics at half their size and then pick a portion of the same area, to see how muchresolution and detailsimprove in the FZ50 over the 20 ?).



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