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Old Jan 11, 2005, 12:40 PM   #11
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 8

Hi kash.
I have the Lumix FZ20 and my dad has the DiMAGE Z3 (1.02u firmware). If you have anything specific you'd like me to test, I'll see if I can do it. Later I'll try to post some pictures comparing stuff between the cameras, but for now I'll list the biggest differences for me that I've noticed between the cameras. I haven't had that much experience yet with the FZ20 (I've had it less than a week now) so I may be incorrect on a few points... but I'm sure someone helpful will correct me. So here you go:

In low light, the Z3 really struggles. It has no focus assist lamp, and the manual focus is difficult to use -- you have to set it to manual focus mode, and press up/down on the 4-way pad. Switching to manual focus mode requires stepping through the menu, unless you override the "flash mode" button to change focus modes. Since that's the only overrideable button, you have to choose which mode is most important to you (e.g. flash mode, focus mode, iso setting, white balance, color mode, etc. I left it on "focus mode" since the flash mode is basically determined by whether the flash is up or not). The good thing is that after you pre-focus (half-press the shutter button), you can keep taking pictures without refocusing by leaving the button half-pressed (that is, not releasing the shutter button completely between shots).

The FZ20 on the other hand has a focus assist lamp, which helps in low light by illuminating the subject (and causing only temporarily blindness). And if that fails, there's the manual focus ring to fall back on. Nice and convenient. On the other hand, in auto-focus mode, you can't leave the shutter button half-pressed and keep taking pictures. You have to release the button completely before you can take the next picture.

I've been able to get a shallower depth of field with the FZ20. I think this has to do with the FZ20 being able to hold f/2.8 throughout the zoom range. The Z3 stops down to f/4.0 or so after about 2x zoom I think.

Switching to timer mode is quicker on the FZ20; press left on the 4-way pad to toggle between 2s/10s/no timer. On the Z3, you need to press menu to switch shooting modes, and go to a separate menu to change between 2s/10s.
Changing the exposure compensation, flash output, and bracket settings, is faster on the FZ20; press up on the 4-way pad to choose between these options, right to change, down to exit. In Z3, again, you have to search through the menus.
Switching to burst mode is also quicker on the FZ20; there's a dedicated button for this. Menu again for Z3.
Setting aperture width and shutter speed is faster on the Z3. When you go to A/S/M modes, the 4-way pad adjusts these settings. On the FZ20, you have to press the "Exposure" button first.
Macro is good on both cameras. The Z3 has a macro button, while the FZ20 has a setting on the dial.
Zooming is faster with the Z3.
The FZ20 is a lot larger than the Z3.
The shutter button is in a weird position on the FZ20; I shoot with my thumb a lot. It's in a more comfortable position on the Z3, although perhaps the thumb-shooting method is more stable? Not sure about that.

That's about all I can think of at the moment...
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