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Old Jan 24, 2005, 5:55 PM   #1
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I have recently ordered a Panasonic FZ20 camera after reading the excellent reviews at this and other forums. I am almost a complete novice to photography. I own a 3MP kodak which was giving me decent photos outdoors and indoors when my subjects are within a few feet as also scenaries in good light. However, I found that it just does not give good pictures in low light and even with just 3X zoom I get badly shaken photos. Moreover, it is very slow. So, I decided to get a good camera that is easy to handle in all conditions with image stabilization. After reading about the FZ20 for months I decided it should be the one I need. I am very excited about getting it soon.
As I said I am a complete novice and would like to learn basics about taking good pictures. I am thinking of taking photography as a hobby if possible. I have also ordered a "Digital Photography All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies" to learn photography. Can anyone tell me how this book is? Or suggest a better book?
I also want to know what basic accessories are needed with this camera. I know I will need a fast SD card and an extra battery. Can anyone suggest which one to buy and where? I know nothing about filters. Do I need to buy them too?
I hope someone amoung you will be willing to get me started. I found this forum has some very nice people helping each other and thought I can also ask for help here.
Thank you all for reading this post by a novice and also thanks in advance for any help.
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Old Jan 24, 2005, 5:59 PM   #2
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try this.........
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Old Jan 25, 2005, 12:50 AM   #3
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I can't speak to your question about the books, as i've never read any of them. i learned photography years ago with a 35mm SLR, and many of the techniques are the same with digital, just the technology and the features on the cameras are different.

I can answer your questions about batteries and memory and so on, though... for the FZ, I'd recommend a couple of spare batteries, if you plan to shoot much. They're supposed to last for 200-240 pictures, and they're probably perty close, but I like to have on in the camera, on in my pocket, and one charging at home so I'm never without power. Spares can be had on eBay for about $15 each, so they aren't all that expensive. Look up the Panasonic #, CGA-S002, or by model # DMW-BM7. As for memory, I'd recommend at least a 256MB card, and 512MB would be better. A 512 card will hold a bit over 200 photos at full 5MP resolution, which will certainly be plenty for you while you're just starting out. High-speed cards (rated "60x" or higher) will let you take full advantage of the camera's burst and continuous modes, but aren't really necessary unless you plan to shoot a lot of action or something else requiring a number of shots in rapid succession. For stills and landscapes, etc., a standard SD card will work fine. But the hi-speed ones aren't that much more expensive, and they do speed up the downloading process as well, so you'll probably be glad you spent the extra $10-15 for the hi-speed version. Lots of places are selling fast 512MB cards for under $50 these days, and prices will only come down as newer and higher capacity cards are introduced. There are tons of places selling them... look up Pricegrabber.com and search for SD memory, and you'll get plenty of options.

Filters are a big help in some situations. The only one you really need starting out, though, is a basic UC or Skylight1A filter, which you should leave on the camera at all times to protect the lens. That way, if Something Bad happens, you only have to replace a $20 filter, not a $500 camera (even with an old SLR, if you damaged a lens, you could put on another and still use the camera; with the FZ's, if you damage the lens, it's all over...). The adapter that comes with the camera is really clunky, though, and puts the filter too far from the lens, so you can get some nasty flare and reflections under certain lighting conditions. I'd recommend an aftermarket adapter like the Phayee or Pemaraal. Those put the filter much closer to the lens. I personally can vouch for the Phayee; it's inexpensive ($22.50 plus $6.50 shipping), and it lets you put filters on just like you would on a 35mm SLR. I leave mine on the camera at all times. It adds a little weight, but not much, and I know my lens is protected. I'd also recommend a polarizing filter as well... they're great for bright sunny days, because they increase contrast and make the sky really blue, plus they cut reflections from non-metal surfaces like water or glass.

Those accessories should get you started. Actually, they should be about all you'll need for most situations. Beyond that, the best advice I can offer is to read the owners' manual thoroughly, to get familiar with the camera, and then just go take pictures. Take LOTS of pictures...
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