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Old Jun 3, 2006, 1:36 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 465

A pretty decent camera especially for the money (paid $349). It is harder to get good PIX in low lights than with my C2100 or F717, but a good PIX can be achieved, just more thought has to go into selecting settings. Oh yes, most of the reviews have said that the high sensitivity (ISO800/1600) mode is useless, but I found this mode to be "dynamite" when used under the apropriate conditions & Pansonic was astute for providing this capability.

FZ7 has many (different) settings (more than C2100) & it will probably take a lot more shooting to explore the effects of the different combinations under various lightings.

FZ7 does a phenomenal job in outdoor lighting even in daylight heavy cloud cover (note: most cameras do well in this environment too) & is basically a no brainer point & shoot for the aforementioned conditions. (I have phenomenal outdoor stage shots in these conditions while using 16.5X - totally impressive.) It also does really well indoors using flash as well as it can be made to do good macros.

The fun [sic] begins though with trying to photograph indoor & night outdoor stage scenes each under artificial colored lighting. Perfecting picture taking to the limits of the hardware under such conditions is a work of art in progress. (It is at this point that there may be other cameras easier to use [like C2100],but I now choose to hone my skills with the PANY.) Possibly some of my finds may be helpful.

Mainly, FZ7 electronic control respose to lighting conditions is (how to say this) very non-linear at the lighting conditions end points. In harsh sunlight you will want to throttle back EV to prevent washout of highlights. On the low light side, there is a troublesome tradeoff window for [or when using] the higher ISOs.[Misunderstanding in this area is no doubt why reviews of FZ7 are so negative regarding low light performance.] Once off ISO 100, you will get a lot of noise if the lighting level & ISO are poorly matched [sort of like a concept of impedance mis-match]. That is, if the lighting is sufficiently low, you may actually end up with a better (at least aesthetically) looking PIX shooting ISO800/1600 than trying to eak it out with ISO400 (even with noise reduction) & a long shutter [subject in motion].

Panasonic no doubt could probably easily build this camera to have lower noise (eg, just use a high quality 4mp CCD), but I would be very surprised to see such a thing happen. The camera is P&S & works good enough for this class/price camera. No doubt the manufacturer's view is that if you want to do better then buy a different make/model or a D/SLR.

Anyway, it is a fun camera, not too expensive & I see that it is on Steve's recommended list. (Probably not too hard to make as there aren't that many ultra zoom choices.) If you should decide to try one, then probably you will find that you will want to have a second battery.

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